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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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Visit the Author on Goodreads

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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Visit the Author on Goodreads

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…)