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Review of Timebound (The CHRONOS Files #1) by Rysa Walker

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Lisa M. Green

Author & Copyeditor at Lisa M. Green
Lisa M. Green is the author of The First, a novel of mythic and paranormal fantasy. She is also a high school English and Special Education teacher. As a life-long writer, she considered a career in screenwriting or journalism before deciding on a career in education. As a teacher, she enjoys educating high school students about writing.
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Timebound Book Cover Timebound
The Chronos Files
Rysa Walker
Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult
Skyscape
January 1, 2014
Print, Kindle, Audiobook
374

2013 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Grand Prize and Young Adult Fiction Winner

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and her genetic ability to time travel makes Kate the only one who can fix the future. Risking everything, she travels back in time to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the murder and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does Kate have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

Timebound was originally released as Time’s Twisted Arrow.

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Author’s Website @ rysa.com

MY REVIEW OF TIMEBOUND

Rysa Walker won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013 for her debut novel that was originally titled Time’s Twisted Arrow. I don’t always agree with changing things up like that, but I think I like the new title better. It has a feel that suits this amazingly distinct YA novel.

This story has depth to it that borders on surreal. First of all, let me warn you: I started the sample and put it aside after a chapter or two for a couple of months. Why? Not that it was bad, but it didn’t reach out and grab me. Plus, the beginning comes across like this will be a much more juvenile novel than it really is.

Let me explain.

The whole scene at the beginning with the object and grandma at dinner: it seems a bit hokey at first glance. I read and enjoy quite a bit of YA literature, so I didn’t think this lightly. However, I did pick it back up and decided to give it a shot, as the overall story sounded intriguing.

And, boy, am I glad I did. That first scene doesn’t seem quite so silly looking back, now that I know the backstory and so much more about the characters involved. In fact, that scene now holds a special place in the story for me.

I’ll be honest: I have no clue how Rysa Walker handles the storyboard for the meandering plotlines involved in this story (and beyond into the rest of the series so far). Did you ever watch the T.V. show Heroes? No? What the hell is wrong with you? That was only, like, the best show ever made in television history (if you don’t count anything beyond season 2 part A). Seriously, you need to go get the first season right now and prepare for epicness with a side of holy-crap-now-that’s writing! Then stop watching before the train wreck that was the “Writer’s Strike” happened to it.

Huh? Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes! Time travel, and sci-fi, and crazy cults: oh my!

So, my point about the show was this: did you see the episode where the strings are criss-crossed all around the room to represent all the possible timelines and connections?

Hiro's Timelines

That’s what I imagine Rysa Walker’s office to look like. Okay, so bear with me here. It’s not a light read. This book makes you think in the sense of forcing you to try to keep track of who is who and which who is which and where and when which who went… and you get the point. Parts can be confusing. But in the most exciting way! I swear you will probably either love or hate this book. But you have to give it a shot beyond a couple of chapters. Remember watching all three Back to the Future movies for the first time? Sometimes your brain would hurt a little, and you’d find yourself stammering “but wait… what?” yet wasn’t it so worth it in the end once you wrapped your head around it? You can’t tell me seeing Marty come careening in and running down between the flames toward Doc after he had just sent him on his way home wasn’t pretty awesome.

If I just spoiled that for you, you seriously need to have a Netflix night.

I really, really like the main character, Kate, and that isn’t always the case for me with YA books. Kate is… normal. And I mean that in a good way. Yeah, she’s a teenager. Yeah, she has flaws and makes mistakes. But the author didn’t try to make her into either a Mary Sue or her dreaded opposite: Anti-Sue. The Anti-Sue has become such a trope among YA literature that I think it may be turning back around. For those of you unfamiliar with these terms, a Mary Sue is a character who is too perfect, the idealized hero with virtually no flaws that always does the right thing and always saves the day. We won’t get into why authors do this right now. Just know that an Anti-Sue is, you guessed it, the perpetual screw-up, the anti-hero to the max with very few redeeming qualities about them. In my opinion, a lot of female characters in recent years have been popping up, particularly in YA, with such a bad case of Anti-Sue that you really just want to spit on them and walk away. I mean, really. I want a main character that is human, who makes mistakes, but not every single time. And not because they are truly just annoying and selfish to their very bones. That is not a hero, or even an anti-hero. Anti-heroes are redeemable. Teenagers may be selfish to some degree in general, but they aren’t all as bad as some authors would have you believe. Suzanne Collins is an example of someone who got it RIGHT. In The Hunger Games, Katniss is flawed, makes mistakes, but she cares about her loved ones and her people. That’s all I’m saying people. And Kate is a normal girl. Thank you, Rysa Walker.

Nothing else about this book is normal though. The timelines get more complex as the story moves on, and some of it is crushingly sad in my opinion, but overall this is a wonderfully exciting thrill ride of a book…err… series. The time travel mechanism and rules are some of the most well-thought out I’ve ever seen. The second book is out, as well as the prequel. Both of them are awesome as well. This is definitely one of my top three series right now, and I cannot wait for the next book in the CHRONOS files to come out. Congrats to Ms. Walker on a job well done, and good luck to her in future endeavors! I’ll be following this series and many more I’m sure.

 

Review of Eleanor by Jason Gurley

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Lisa M. Green

Author & Copyeditor at Lisa M. Green
Lisa M. Green is the author of The First, a novel of mythic and paranormal fantasy. She is also a high school English and Special Education teacher. As a life-long writer, she considered a career in screenwriting or journalism before deciding on a career in education. As a teacher, she enjoys educating high school students about writing.
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Eleanor Book Cover Eleanor
Jason Gurley
Magical Realism, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Currently self-published - Acquired by Crown Publishing (U.S.), Harper Collins (U.K.), Editora Rocco (Brazil)
June 27, 2014
Print, Kindle, Epub
450

1985. The death of Eleanor's twin sister tears her family apart. Her father blames her mother for the accident. When Eleanor's mother looks at her, she sees only the daughter she lost. Their wounded family crumbles under the weight of their shared grief.

1993. Eleanor is fourteen years old when it happens for the first time... when she walks through an ordinary door at school and finds herself in another world. It happens again and again, but it's only a curiosity until that day at the cliffs. The day when Eleanor dives... and something rips her out of time itself.

And on the other side, someone is waiting for her.

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Author’s Website @ jasongurley.com

MY REVIEW OF ELEANOR

This book had an odd effect on me, both emotionally and psychologically. I can’t explain exactly why I enjoyed it so much, especially considering how strange so many aspects of the story were. If someone were to give me a full synopsis of the book, including all the of major details, I’m pretty sure I would have never picked it up.

But I’m so glad that I did. It’s a beautifully written story with a heartbreaking tale of family drama and supernatural events based on a past grief that has ripped them apart. This was an emotional roller coaster of a story, with some of the weirdest paranormal and supernatural elements I have ever come across. You know what? It works. It totally works. I was reminded a bit of Lilith by George MacDonald, not in theme or storyline, but in the storytelling itself. Much of it doesn’t make complete sense, but somehow it still works.

Had the author chosen a different style of telling this story, I might have balked at the concepts he touches on, possibly placing it in my “Did Not Finish” pile. I honestly didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, and I don’t think it would be for everyone. If you have read and appreciate the dark storytelling style of Lilith and enjoy books with magical realism and paranormal elements, you should definitely check it out.

I can’t explain it, but I truly enjoyed this book. I’m excited to read more by Mr. Gurley, and I can see how Eleanor became a bestseller on Amazon so quickly, even as a self-published book. Good luck to him!

Wool by Hugh Howey

Review of The Silo Saga by Hugh Howey

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Lisa M. Green

Author & Copyeditor at Lisa M. Green
Lisa M. Green is the author of The First, a novel of mythic and paranormal fantasy. She is also a high school English and Special Education teacher. As a life-long writer, she considered a career in screenwriting or journalism before deciding on a career in education. As a teacher, she enjoys educating high school students about writing.
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Wool Book Cover Wool
Silo Saga
Hugh Howey
Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Simon & Schuster (Print), Broad Reach Publishing (ebook)
January 25, 2012
Print, Kindle, Audiobook
528

In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.

A New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller, as well as Kindle Book Review’s 2012 Indie Book of the Year, the self-published eBook blockbuster Wool will now be available in paperback from Simon & Schuster.

Buy it on Amazon
Visit the Author on Goodreads
Author’s Website @ hughhowey.com

MY REVIEW OF THE SILO SAGA: WOOL (Book 1), SHIFT (BOOK 2), and DUST (BOOK 3)

Okay, so let’s get the weirdness out of the way.

I haven’t written in a few weeks, I know. There has been a lot of negativity in my life, and this caused some mental shifting on my part. Things don’t go as planned more often than not, and trying to remember that “it takes all kinds” is difficult at best when life fast-pitches you some lemons straight to your face.

So, to combat all that negativity, here’s a bit of positivity to brighten up everyone’s day. Without further ado, I give you my review for a book (series) that has affected my life in more ways than I can count.

Hugh Howey is my new best friend. Why? Well, certainly not because he write a thoughtful reply to the email I sent him in my out-of-character (for me) fangirl moment a few months ago. No, he didn’t personally respond to the email, but he did have an extremely hilarious auto-response email set up for any and all who would like to shoot him an email (I’m not officially encouraging this, but the automatic reply is pretty darn funny!). No, he is my new best friend because he came into my life as a result of one comment, and nothing has been the same since. Now, he may or may not actually be aware that he is my new best friend (I’m guessing not unless he reads this review), but he has made a huge impact on me as a reader, as a writer, and as a human being.

I took a chance and purchased the Omnibus version of Wool (the first book in the Silo saga) because of a comment in a review for my book. Someone stated that my book reminded them a little (in certain ways) of his book. This got my attention, as I had never heard of it before. Therefore, I bought it and began reading what would become what one might call “my life” for days thereafter. I devoured this story of humanity at a threshold, of human perseverance tested beyond its limits, of the simple act of human kindness in a world where people need it most. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I cried buckets throughout the entire series as I read all three books back-to-back. I haven’t been this excited about a book in years. His story touched me in a way I can’t explain. My husband is currently reading them (he’s reading Shift now, the second book in the saga) because I pestered him to death about reading them. I couldn’t explain why. I just needed to be able to discuss these books with someone I know. I knew he’d be just as captivated as I was, but I dread the moments when he hits a sad part and gives me that look that says, “Why am I reading this, again?” But the highs and lows of Howey’s book are all part of the experience. And it is an experience. Something that seems so insignificant or fleeting will later become the crux for a major plot development. Yeah.

I noticed a little while back that some people had rated it low because they were disappointed in the science fiction label, which they felt was inaccurate. I can understand their frustration because if you are looking for hard sci-fi, this is not it. This is a dystopian world built within a science fiction setting in order to portray a story that transcends all genres (I know I sound like his publicist or something, but I swear I’m merely a lowly fan). I think the reason this upsets people is that the fans of traditional sci-fi are looking for a story built around an intricate science fiction setting as opposed to what Howey offers us: a sci-fi setting built around an intricate story. That isn’t to say that science fiction can’t have intricate stories. I love all forms of speculative fiction from fantasy to sci-fi, but you need to come to this book with the understanding that he didn’t write a science fiction novel. He wrote a story about people who just happen to live in a dystopian world. The message, as opposed to the world around the characters, is key. As a side note, I’ve read a little of his more “hard” science fiction (which many seem to like and has won awards), but I wasn’t really into it. Another novel of his, Sand, is very similar to the Silo series in style. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to the sequel-in-progress. But I digress.

This book resonated with me so strongly that it has taken me months to write this review. I feel like I can’t do it justice. I tell my friends and family to read it. I can’t say enough good things about the entire series (Wool, Shift, and Dust). I can’t really say anything at all without giving away too much. But if you are willing to take a chance here on something new and different, you can find something you love no matter your normal genre of reading. This series isn’t for “science fiction” readers; it’s for humankind.

I usually try to keep a balanced review and point out something that I felt detracted from the story. But you know what? Any issues I came across must have been trivial because I can’t even remember them.

No negativity here.

(Okay, seriously, you have to go read these books! And mine! Can’t forget to throw that in there…)

The Royal Wizard by Alianne Donnell

Review of The Royal Wizard by Alianne Donnelly

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Lisa M. Green

Author & Copyeditor at Lisa M. Green
Lisa M. Green is the author of The First, a novel of mythic and paranormal fantasy. She is also a high school English and Special Education teacher. As a life-long writer, she considered a career in screenwriting or journalism before deciding on a career in education. As a teacher, she enjoys educating high school students about writing.
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The Royal Wizard Book Cover The Royal Wizard
Dragonborn, Book One
Alianne Donnelly
Fantasy—Romance, Epic
March 3, 2013
Print, Kindle, Epub
341

The kingdom of Wilderheim stands bastion between the world of humans and the Otherlands. It is ruled as much by people as it is by creatures Other and as such, it must always have a wizard at the right hand of its king. Nico has seen three generations of rulers sit the throne; he knows he will not see the fourth. Desperate to find a worthy apprentice, when Nia appears like a godsend in his path he wastes no time taking her under his wing as his last sworn duty to the young king Saeran.

But Nia and Saeran have many trials ahead of them. With destinies converging toward an inevitable battle for power, countless lives hang in the balance, including theirs. As love brings them together, so strife tears them apart and as the balance between justice and magic shifts, the royal wizard and her king get caught in a maelstrom of colliding forces. Nothing is ever as it seems with a trickster hiding in the shadows. When the gods begin to play, mortals tremble… 

New Adult appropriate.

Buy the book on Amazon
Available on Smashwords
Order it from your local bookstore
Visit the Author on Goodreads
Author’s Website @ aliannedonnelly.com

MY REVIEW OF THE ROYAL WIZARD:

Wizards, and dragons, and gods. Oh, my!

I have to admit that I’m a big fan of mythology. I’ve always loved the weaving interconnections between cultures and stories that exist because we, as humans, all have a shared history to some degree. Way, way back at least.

That’s one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book. The author uses some basic elements of Norse mythology and creates a unique story that involves original characters who come into contact with some well-known major players from the ancient Norse tales.

And she doesn’t shy away from showing both the light and dark sides to those characters and elements. I loved the way that ideas from several different types of stories were used in original ways. I loved the world she creates.

I only have two gripes, one being the relationship between the two main characters. The main characters, in my opinion, act ridiculous and silly when it comes to their relationship with one another, a fact that—when used sparingly—can lead to heightened suspense in the reader. However, in this case, it goes a bit overboard and becomes annoying. It didn’t really ring true to me as a reader (and yes, I realize this is fantasy, but characters should still act according to some semblance of normal human behavior). But maybe that’s just me.

My other issue is with the editing. Let me start by saying that it isn’t terrible, and there aren’t errors on every page. I’ve seen worse, and I’ve seen better. It can be distracting at times, though. I know that I can be a bit nit-picky because I am an editor (and an English teacher), but I’m pretty forgiving when written for style or effect. As an author myself, I know how successful these things can be when used properly, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. When it’s a small typo here and there, fine. There were quite a few blatant errors, many of which were repetitions of the same problems, something that could be fixed by an editor. I will say, though, that I’ve noticed more and more errors in TRADITIONALLY published books that would presumably have PROFESSIONAL, EXPERIENCED editors looking them over (it’s scary at times). In those cases, I don’t really blame the author, as it isn’t their job to fix the problems, and they don’t usually have a lot of say-so when they are contracted through a company. However, if you don’t hire an editor (or you ignore what the editor tells you to fix), you have to own those mistakes yourself. So, I don’t feel that this author is much different from popular authors in her writing ability (which is strong), but I do think she should take the time to make corrections.

In the end, though, the story is engrossing enough to keep you going. The ending made up for the slower beginning segments and answered many questions, leaving you with a clear sense of a satisfying ending to the story. I would be interested in reading the next book when it comes out, and I do have another of hers on hand to start soon. The Royal Wizard was worth the time and money spent, and I look forward to more of her work (and artwork, which she certainly has a gift for). I like her writing style and her ability to weave a great story, so I do recommend this book with a solid 3.5 stars.

Review of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Lisa M. Green

Author & Copyeditor at Lisa M. Green
Lisa M. Green is the author of The First, a novel of mythic and paranormal fantasy. She is also a high school English and Special Education teacher. As a life-long writer, she considered a career in screenwriting or journalism before deciding on a career in education. As a teacher, she enjoys educating high school students about writing.
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Throne of Glass Book Cover Throne of Glass
Throne of Glass, Book One
Sarah J. Maas
Young Adult, Fantasy
Bloomsbury
May 7, 2013
Print, Kindle, Epub
432

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Buy the book on Amazon

Order it from your local bookstore

Visit the Author on Goodreads

Author’s Website @ sarahjmaas.com

MY REVIEW OF THRONE OF GLASS:

It’s not extremely often that a book pulls me in completely before I even finish the sample, let alone the first few pages. Bam…I was hooked. Not because of anything crazy going on, but Maas knows how to write a character. Her portrayal of the protagonist begins with the first words, and I immediately felt something. Like? Dislike?

I wasn’t sure at that point.

But I knew that I wanted to like her, and I wanted her to win. Despite her somewhat acerbic (WORD OF THE WEEK: expressing harsh or sharp criticism in a clever way) attitude, you can see the intricate layers that make up the complexity that is Celaena Sardothien. Sure, she’s flawed, but in oddly likable ways and for surprisingly understandable reasons (for the most part).

I will just say that the Throne of Glass series is pretty phenomenal. At first, I thought Maas was ripping off a good bit from The Hunger Games until I read that she started writing it a decade ago. It’s an interesting twist on the Cinderella story, and a fantastic read for anyone who loved The Hunger Games. It was a refreshing read with a well thought out plot and substantial character development. I look forward to delving more into this fantasy realm with the next in the series, Throne of Midnight.

Happy Reading!