1. Half-Blood Dragon by K.N. Lee ***** – The opening chapter to Half-Blood Dragon was great we are introduced to Rowen and Brea who work in Withraen palace. Rowen is different from the people around her in Draconia – the dragon kingdom, unlike her friend Rowen doesn’t fit in here because she is a half blood; half dragon, half human meaning she is looked down upon in society, she also can’t do things other dragons can like flying but she does have gifts of her own which she has to keep hidden or she will die. Rowen needs to escape to get away from the dragons and the mysterious man in her prophecy into the human kingdoms but Brea feels this is too dangerous for Rowen. We are also introduced to Elian who is hunting the red dragon and may be the mysterious man from Rowen’s vision, Elian is also told to go to Withrae where Rowen currently is.
2. Home by Eleni McKnight **** – The opening to Home was strange and a little confusing but amazing, we learn from the offset that this is a dystopian zombie novel and that our protagonist Suzannah lives in the Handmaiden House with other humans with their society regulated and controlled by the Deacon. This society is quite religious and archaic with the women being the weaker sex and they aren’t allowed to look at men sexually until they become wives and even then they don’t get much more freedom and after an innocent accident Suzannah is taken to be punished for compromising her purity despite having done nothing wrong.
3. House Arrest by K A Holt ***** – This first thing I noticed about this book was it is told in weeks over the course of a year, we meet the protagonist Timothy was is on probation after stealing some money. He has been court ordered to keep a journal which is what we are reading. Timothy doesn’t have the best home life with an absent father, overworked mother and very sick little brother; Levi. Timothy bounces between several emotions but the main ones are anger, sadness and humour which makes for some interesting reading. I was pleasantly surprised at the themes present in this novel which seem a little heavy for a middle grade novel.
4. The Seduction of Violette Tournaline by Shawnee Small **** – The opening to this story was great we meet Violette who is the only child of the richest textile merchant and she is to be suited a husband which displeases her greatly as she is quite a forward thinking young woman. During the ball she mets the englishman; Gabriel Marcheur who she is immediately smitten with, his handsome looks and charm draw her in completely.
5. Agoraphobic by Sara Secora ***** – Agoraphobic is a short story written by Sara Secora who also wrote Throne of Lies which I have also reviewed. We met Kade who is 28 and living with agoraphobia, this short take is told from his perspective and how he feels living with this illness. The illness is personified as a black shadowy demon constantly clinging to him and when he goes beyond its reach I.e. outside he can feel it calling to him playing on his fears and desperation.
6. The Fairy Killers by Eric Slade *** – The opening pages to the Fairy Killers were great, we meet Pappaw Gentry and several of his family members preparing to face what seems like some unknown enemy. The family members were are introduced to include Gentry’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, although we aren’t given the narrators name it does provide us with a unique perspective on the whole event.
7. 2446-89: Stassi’s Diary by Sophie Davis ***** – The opening to Stassi’s Diary was great, we meet our protagonist Stassi who has lived in a work camp outside of Knoxville, Tennessee for the most of her 17 years. When the girls turn 17 they are given the chance to earn a placement outside of the work camp and make something of themselves, Stassi seems to have an edge on the other girls because she can read and write. When Cyrus Atlic arrives on calling day Stassi immediately knows he is different from the other rich men present as he seems interested in each girl and what she has to say.
8. Rocky: The Rockefeller Christmas Tree by J E Nicassio ***** – For a children’s picture book I really enjoyed Rocky. It is about a thin, wiry tree named Rocky who wants to be chosen as the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and is made fun of because he doesn’t conform to the idea of a traditional Christmas tree.
9. Alone in the Dark by J A Cipriano ***** – This short story was amazing we are introduced to Lillim whose mother likes to play “games” with her. These games can be deadly if Lillim does keep a cool head. This particular game in which Lillim finds herself in involves being locked alone in a dark basement in a house filled with vampire only half hour before sundown. As Lillim works her way through the house she contemplates how she ends up in these games and what some of them involve. While we don’t get masses of detail due to the dark setting of the story we can still feel Lillim’s terror and anxiety with each step.
10. An Understanding by Holly Heisey ***** – The opening to this short story was great we meet Barein who is trying to close a wound in time by finding the person the wound relates to. He finds Lorin whose daughter was stolen from her and taken through time to another place where only Barein can retrieve her. After going through the time wall he finds the daughter only she is an old woman as time passes different once you pass through the walls. we also learn that there are two main races; Aezthena and human and only the Aezthena can cross through the time walls. This was a great little sci-fi story and sets up the larger story perfectly. I really enjoyed the small elements of this story especially Barein’s perspective and his emotional state at w
anting to feel and be human once more.
11. Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ***** – Gemina is the action-packed follow-up to Illuminae, a book quite unlike any I have ever read before. A combination of transcripts, reports and IM conversations. We are introduced to a whole host of new characters as well as some old ones. a new setting, but the same heart-racing, page-turning, rollercoaster-ride-of-emotion that I experienced with Illuminae.
12. The Brothers Locke Episodes 1-8 by K C Hunter ***** – I loved how this collection was told in episodes and the first episode Solas was amazing it introduced us to some amazing characters like Perry; a security officer in a shopping center in pursuit of a thief. We are also introduced to Avidity, the largest city in the western part of the Dea and the thief turns out to be one of the brothers Locke who are identical triplets; Sharp, Echo and Mouth. These boys are very smart, cunning and very humorous. I love the fact all the brother has a disability of some sort and use it to their advantage rather than letting it be a hindrance. Sharp is unable to speak, but has perfect eyesight, Echo is blind but has amazing hearing he can hear everything from radio waves to the communication of animals and finally Mouth Locke is hard of hearing but possesses a voice that could shake buildings.
13. Undoing the Loop by Nesha Tandon *** – As a non-fiction book this review will be structed and written slightly differently to my other reviews. The introduction to Undoing the Loop was great, Tandon first presents us with what inspired her to undo the loop of repetitive emotions and thoughts which even lead her to do a doctorate in psychology. In Part One: The Art of Translating Emotions, Tandon presents the idea that as babies we present unconscious requests for love and nourishment and as young adult we being to make conscious requests and it is around here that the loop begins has the way our parents and teachers live their lives has been pressed upon us for a young age and we begin to exhibit repetitive thoughts, actions and emotions. One thing we have to accept is what we believe dictates how we live so if you don’t believe in killing animals for food you don’t eat meat, but if we blindly believe all thoughts without examining them in detail then are living a life of slavery and our masters are our own minds. A great example the author provides which actually happened to me is when we think about events that occurred yesterday or will occur tomorrow, our breathing becomes shallow, because our thoughts have become shallow. But if we are empathetic and connect with the present moment and whoever is with us in that moment, our thoughts slow down and move deeper into a place of now.
14. High & Dry by Sarah Skilton ***** – The opening pages to High and Dry were amazing and filled to the brim with teen angst. We meet our protagonist Charlie who has recently been dumped by the girl of his dreams Ellie without explanation and he wants to find out why. We also see from quite earlier on Charlie has a bit of drinking problem brought on by this break-up. While I am not a massive fan of angst in YA novels in this particular book it sets up the atmosphere and gives an insight into Charlie’s personality and the state of his life at the present moment. The pacing of this novel are great and by the end of the first chapter Charlie has been framed for drugging a person at the party previously. I was completely drawn in by the writing style and was flying through the pages at an astounding rate.
15. Weathered but Polished by Mimi G ***** – The first thing I noticed about this book was that instead of photographs or pictures this book has penciled artwork along side the poetry. As a poetry review this review will be slightly shorter than my average review.
16. Bride Interrupted by Taylor Anne ***** – The opening to Bride Interrupted was good, we meet Kayla who is a wedding coordinator and her pregnant friend Christi who are looking at renovating a beach side business into a suitable wedding venue, she just had to convince her grandfather’s business partner: Colton who she has never met. When they finally meet neither is partially interested in the other but both share a common interest in Earls health, Earl is Kayla’s grandfather who has had a stroke.
17. The Gecko’s Gate Assassins by Dennis Stein ***** – The opening chapter to The Gecko’s Gate – Assassins was amazing we are introduced to different races of reptiles including geckos and their respective cities. I loved the fact that all the characters we have meet so far are anthropomorphic and it is something I haven’t seen much of and was very excited to continue reading. I loved the vivid descriptions of the characters and the different kinds of nature surrounding them. The novel gets very suspenseful earlier on when one of the Emperors is murdering by a monitor called Cyrus. Emperor Cyrus then send a mission to the Guild; where the assassins are training to kill the Chameleon King. Earlier on in the novel we learnt of previous wars between many of the kingdoms and this feels like there is another war to come.
18. Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein **** – The opening to Rose Petal Graves was great, it was very intriguing to read we meet Catori whose mother Nova has passed away and has come home to her parent’s funeral home. We also meet Cruz the medical examiner who has traveled to prepare Cat’s mother for her final rest and we also meet Brake Cat’s ex-solider friend who is very sweet. We learn that Cat’s mother was she believes was murdered and Catori despite better advice is determined to find out why. From very early on in the novel we can see there is something quite strange about Cruz and he seems to be drawn to Cat and I can definitely see either a romance or love triangle forming with these characters.
19. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling **** – This was my second reading of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, I also had recently re-watched the movie version which made it even fresher in my mind, but I discovered that by watching the movie first and then reading the book, I got a fascinating look inside the mind of a screen-writer. By doing things this way, I gained a whole new appreciation for the movies, and for how difficult it must be for a writer to translate a book to the screen. I know this is a bit of a caveat from my book review, but I thought it worth mentioning for those who are critics of the movies like I have been in the past. Now on to my thoughts about the book.
20. Oh yeah, Audrey by Tucker Shaw ***** – The prologue to Oh Yeah, Audrey was great we meet an unnamed protagonist who is obsessed with Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s so much so she is “running away” to New York to have her own Hepburn experience. One thing I discovered upon flicking through the book is that the whole book in told in under 24 hours so I was super excited to see what would happen in this single day. In the first 10 pages of the novel we have been properly introduced to Gemma who has run away to New York for the first annual screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s to honor Audrey Hepburn’s death and she is going to be meeting other people who share her obsession.
21. The Keeper of Portals by V. S. Nelson – DNF