Snippet Sunday

Snippet Sunday is a writing meme created by Samantha @ Reed’s Reads & Reviews in which you share a snippet of your current writing project. It’s been forever since I’ve done one of these, but today I bring you the “unofficial official” synopsis for my Shaman Novel. This is the blurb that I’ve posted to my Camp NaNoWriMo profile, but it’s subject to change as I continue to edit the story. I hope to have the book ready for beta readers by June, but in reality it’s probably going to be more like August or September…
Since you guys are following my book/writing blog, I’m assuming you’re all readers, writers, or both. That means you probably know a thing or two about books and their blurbs, so please let me know what you think of mine in the comments! Does this synopsis make you want to read my book? Is there anything you don’t like about it? Any and all feedback is appreciated! 😉


Nico Deverow’s entire life is built on secrets, lies, and blood. His family built their fortune in blood money and poisoned their way to a seat on the Royal Mist Council, but Nico doesn’t belong in that life. Ancient murders, restless spirits, and the uncensored truth in everyone’s auras are all revealed to him through residual layers of energy, and no one can ever know about it. The second sight is a shaman power, and a Deverow with a shaman gift would kill his bloodline’s reputation completely. His mask is flawless as his family name decrees, but underneath he’s shattering. With no one to help him contain his powers, the magical drug called Bliss and the raiser sharp blade of a dagger become his only salvation. But when natural born healer Adam Rachadon discovers his abilities, Nico is given a choice: trust a shaman with a secret his family would kill him for, or refuse his offer of help and continue to live a lie.

Fear the Drowning Deep

Fear the Drowning Deep
“And with the melody came the unmistakable sound of water slapping against the rocks far below us, slowly eroding the foundation of Port Coire and everything I loved.”
-Sarah Glenn Marsh, Fear the Drowning Deep

Title: Fear the Drowning Deep
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adutly, Historical Fiction, Romance, Mythology
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: October 11, 2016
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Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.
Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.
Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Fear the Drowning Deep is told through the eyes of the main character, Bridey, who embarks on a quest to figure out what is making her friends and family willingly walk into the ocean to drown. At the beginning of the book, Bridey is terrified of the ocean that surrounds her island home, and haunted by memories of the night her grandfather jumped from the cliffs with a smile on his face. She saw a ghostly creature riding the waves that night, and now that others in her village are vanishing, she believes that it might’ve returned to claim more victims. However, she is ridiculed because of her fear and belief in the supernatural and apprenticeship to the island’s only witch.
Bridey’s character arc is one of the most complex and well developed transformations that I have seen in a while. It is very interesting to see how the first and last scene mirror each other to demonstrate her transformation. The first scene shows her watching as a drowned girl is pulled from the water. She’s afraid to be so close to the water, but at the same time she can’t quite make herself walk away. The girl reminds her of her grandfather and the creatures that ride the waves at night. The last scene is a mirror image of the first. Bridey has made peace with the sea and its inhabitants, and she sits proudly beside her father on his fishing boat, far out in the water that she was once terrified to go near.
Bridey’s character is strengthened further by the setting of the story and the cultural beliefs that she has grown up with. The book is filled with words in Manx, (Bridey’s native language), and mentions of her village’s superstitions and traditions pop up throughout the story. These cultural influences provide backstory in little bits and pieces, rather than large chunks, and make Bridey seem more realistic. It’s easy to dismiss all of the bits of language and beliefs as a fantasy world out of Sarah Glenn Marsh’s imagination, but in reality, they are parts of history! Manx and the culture surrounding it were very well researched, and as far as I can tell, everything mentioned in Fear the Drowning Deep is historically true to the setting and time period.
The plot of Fear the Drowning Deep is very fast-paced, but that doesn’t detract from any other aspects of the story. The plot, character arcs, and world building blend together almost seamlessly, playing off one another so they form an almost perfect balance. Every plot point causes Bridey to grow as a person, and the world building creates a perfect backdrop for the events to unfold. It’s usually easy to say whether a book is plot driven or character driven, but Fear the Drowning Deep weaves the two together so that they are inseparable!
With its smooth writing style, strong character arcs, and fast-paced plot, Fear the Drowning Deep is a very quick and easy read! Just don’t start it when you need to be productive because it will catch your attention and hold it until you’ve read the very last page!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Spoiler Free Review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Cover
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.”
-Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Genre: young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 422
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Published: September 27th, 2011
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Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Coming from someone who is sick and tired of romance over-riding fantasy plots in books, this five star review is high praise! I literally cannot find fault with this book!
The quote at the top pretty much sums up the basic plot. An angel and a devil fall in love, and things end badly, but there is so much more depth to this story!
Karou makes an awesome main character! She knows nothing about where she came from at the beginning of the story. All she knows is that she’s caught between two worlds. One is made of magic, teeth, and monsters; the other is made of humans who can never know the truth. Karou keeps her secrets by telling the truth in such a way that people think she’s lying, which is a nice change. It seems that most fantasy characters simply weave a web of lies, but Karou hides behind a mask of sarcastically spoken truth.
The world building in Daughter of Smoke and Bone is super complex but blends almost seamlessly! In the beginning, Karou is part of two worlds: “Elsewhere,” where she spent her childhood, and the human world. However, her two worlds end up colliding with a third world: Akiva’s angelic realm. I can’t really continue with this train of thought because spoilers abound, but the way in which the three worlds meet is written very well. I don’t think I’ve ever known a book to juggle three worlds as well as Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Something interesting is the way in which the “big reveal” was written. For the majority of the first half of the book, Karou has no idea where she came from, and that question is eventually answered through what is basically a giant flashback to her past. This kind of seemed like a writerly copout to me, but it also worked well in the situation. It was a little confusing to jump into another time and setting for a few chapters, but I honestly don’t know how it could’ve been done differently without altering the plot in a big way. I would typically knock off a star for something like this, but the writing was good enough that I decided to let it slide.
As you can probably tell, this is one of those books that you can’t really talk about without spoiling everything, so I’ll go on and end my review here. Overall, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an excellent read, and I definitely recommend that you have the second book ready to go as soon as you finish it because… talk about a cliffhanger!

Writing Up Wednesday #2: What Genre is Your Novel… or Does it Even Have One?

Writing Up Wednesday is a weekly writing link-up created by Lizzy @ The Bent Bookworm. This week the theme is “What genre is your novel… or does it even have one?”


My “shaman novel,” (currently code named flawless Cracked and Broken), is very… complicated. Teens are my target audience, but I think it could appeal to a certain kind of adult as well. My main characters are all between the ages of thirteen and seventeen for the most part, but the story does touch on some heavy issues like mental health and drug addictions, and it gets pretty darn dark in some places!
As far as a specific genre is concerned, I’m gonna call it a weird cross-over between fantasy, paranormal, and SciFi. It’s got magicians, shamans, demons, brownies, (the little pixie-like critters, not the chocolate things), goblins, ghosties, elementals, and all kinds of other things that inhabit the “Unseen”, which makes it super fantastical, but there’s also a giant plot twist that I am not going to tell you about that strays into the realm of SciFi. It’s kind of one of those crazy books that everybody sticks in a different genre but hopefully will appeal to several different audiences!

Shiny Broken Pieces, (Tiny Pretty Things #2)

Shiny Broken Pieces

Title: Shiny Broken Pieces
Author: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Series: Tiny Pretty Things #2
Pages: 385
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: July 12th, 2016
Amazon
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Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.
June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.
After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Wow… I have kind of fallen in love with one of these characters. Remember how I said the characters were kind of underdeveloped in my review of book 1? Shiny Broken Pieces almost completely turned that around! All of the characters had more depth, but I was able to connect with June in particular. The others seemed less relatable by comparison, but I also think June had more of a story to tell than the others.
The plot was still as much of a roller coaster as it was in Tiny Pretty Things but I felt like it was a bit tighter. The first person narrative that I mentioned as a downfall in Tiny Pretty Things was one of the biggest strengths in the plot of Shiny Broken Pieces. It allowed the readers to know who was doing what and why, but it still allowed a bit of mystery because one of the key players was not a narrator. There weren’t a ton of plot lines like there were in Tiny Pretty Things, and that made it a whole lot easier to follow! Shiny Broken Pieces picked up right after the massive cliff hanger ending of Tiny Pretty Things and wrapped up all of the loose threads that it created.
The ending of Shiny Broken Pieces did leave me a bit disappointed, not because I wanted more of the story or thought it was a bad ending, but because I didn’t like where some of the characters ended up. Honestly I felt like the ending was dragged out longer than was really necessary simply for the sake of throwing in one last plot twist. It could’ve ended about three chapters earlier than it did, and life would’ve been great! But it didn’t, and that’s what caused some characters to end up in places other than where I wanted them to go. Without totally spoiling everything, June did not make the choice I wanted her to make, Gigi did lots of unnecessary traveling but eventually landed right where I wanted her, and Bette got exactly what she wanted and she did not deserve that by any stretch of the imagination!
I love these characters and have become invested in this story by now, but I really hope there won’t be another book in this series. It’s starting to feel too much like Pretty Little Liars, and that series went on forever and ever and eventually got to where it just didn’t make any kind of sense at all… I don’t want that for this story. One more book might be good if it were done well, but the plot and writing style of the first two books makes me doubt that it would contribute anything to the series besides another plot roller coaster that would intrigue the reader at best and make them exhausted at worst. The potential for a third book is certainly there, but I don’t think it should be expanded upon.
In the end, Shiny Broken Pieces gets a solid four stars. I have criticized it, but id told a good story, added some depth to the original characters, tied up all the dangling strings, and provided me some entertainment as I listened to it and cleaned out iCloud Drive so my iPad would stop yelling about not being backed up. When it comes right down to it, books are supposed to entertain, and entertain this series does!

Tiny Pretty Things — Spoiler Free Review

Tiny Pretty Things
“The moment you think you’re on top is the moment you’ve lost your passion.”
-Tiny Pretty Things

Title: Tiny Pretty Things
Author: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Series: Tiny Pretty Things #1
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 448
Publisher: Harper Teen
Published: May 26th, 2015
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Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Are you a Pretty Little Liars lover? You’ll probably like Tiny Pretty Things! I can’t help but agree with the majority of the Blogosphere and say that Tiny Pretty Things is basically Pretty Little Liars in a fancy dance school with minority characters, but also the fact that I gave it four stars begs to differ with that statement. This is probably gonna earn me some angry bookworm screeches in the comments, but PLL doesn’t even register on the rating scale for me. Honestly the only true comparison I can draw between the two is the plot. The plot lines are very similar, but Tiny Pretty Things outshines Pretty Little Liars in every other aspect.
I must admit that I was pretty confused at first, but then I figured out what was going on. Tiny Pretty Things is told through the eyes of three POV characters, and what’s interesting is that it’s written in first person. Publishers warn against that, and now I see why… For the first three or four chapters, all of the characters kind of sounded like the same person, and it was hard to tell who was narrating, especially since I listened to it in audio and therefore didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the chapter headings. It also began in the past, but it looked like the first chapter instead of a prologue. Publishers warn against prologues too, but come on! If you’re gonna start a book in the past, please don’t confuse my poor little bookworm brain by making me think it’s the first chapter!
The characters didn’t seem to be well developed in my opinion, but the cast was definitely diverse! The main focus of the character arcs was how African American and Korean girls fit into the ballet world. The redeeming quality of the characters was getting a look at several different cultures instead of dealing with the average cast of prissy white girls competing for head diva status. It almost seems like the characters were intentionally poorly developed to direct focus towards the plot, but I also think that the plot would’ve been enhanced if there had been more emphasis on the character arcs.
The plot was… classic. What happens when you throw a bunch of girls in a ballet school and make them compete for major parts? They fight, people get hurt, and lives are ruined! Everyone does something horrible to look out for their own status, and you spend the majority of the story wondering who you’re supposed to trust! You go through plot twist after plot twist, and that is what reminded me of Pretty Little Liars the most! But thankfully the writing of Tiny Pretty Things was much better, so I was intrigued enough to keep reading.
I feel like I have thoroughly trash talked this entire book now, so you’re probably all wondering why I gave this thing four stars. The answer to that is actually very simple! It provided mindless entertainment and a good mystery after a crazy school week. You know those weird reality shows that are kind of pointless and stupid but still manage to hold your attention? That’s Tiny Pretty Things in a nutshell! The plot and character motivations were just flat enough to be ridiculous and hold my attention, and I even got a good laugh out of it when the title of the book was directly stated in the context of the story. It was hilarious because it really seemed like it was just there to relate the plot back to the title in any way possible!
All that being said, I really did enjoy the story, and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs an easy read that will keep them guessing. I’m invested enough now tat I want to know what happens to the characters because some of them did have some serious issues, (they just seemed a little underplayed to me), and that cliffhanger ending was epic! I actually have Shiny Broken Pieces downloading as I type this because of that ending. I don’t think this series will be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s definitely worth a try if you want something different and entertaining!

The Killing Game (DNF review)

The Killing Game
Title: The Killing Game
Author: Toni Anderson
Genre: Suspense, Romance
Pages: 366
Publisher: self-published
Published: April 12th, 2013
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Synopsis From Goodreads:

Wildlife biologist Axelle Dehn isn’t about to let anyone harm her endangered snow leopards—not the poacher intent on killing them, nor the soldier who wants to use them as bait. But Axelle is unknowingly entangled in a conflict that stretches back three decades, a conflict that could spark a war between two of the world’s great nations.

British SAS soldier, Ty Dempsey, is on a mission to hunt down an infamous Russian terrorist in a remote region of Afghanistan. Dempsey hasn’t failed a mission yet, but when Axelle is kidnapped by the Russian, he is forced to choose between duty and his heart. He risks everything to save the determined, prickly woman he’s fallen for, but in doing so sparks a deadly series of events that threaten to expose the most successful spy in history. A spy who will destroy anyone who gets in his way.

My thoughts: ☆☆

Remember that “blind date with a book” challenge I took a while ago? Yeah… This is the book I got.
Let me begin by saying that I really do not like reviewing books I don’t finish. I want to be a published author in the hopefully near future, and I wouldn’t want someone publicly judging my book when they didn’t read it all. I try to do authors the same courtesy that I would like them to give me by just never speaking of books that I don’t enjoy, but since this was part of a challenge that I just kind of dropped, I thought I’d go ahead and review it on here so you’d know how that ended up. However, I will not be posting my rating on Goodreads or Amazon like I normally would because I don’t want my two star rating to factor into the average over there. This rating is based on the first sixty pages, and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt! But complicated ramble aside, here’s what I thought:
I knew this book wasn’t in my preferred genre when I picked it up, but I started it with an open mind because I’ve really enjoyed other genres the few times I’ve branched out. If I can connect with a character or theme, I can almost always find something to like about the book. But unfortunately that didn’t happen with The Killing Game…

The Writing
The writing style was very choppy, and it made it reeeeeeeally hard to get into the story! Here’s a snippet of the notes I started taking for this review just to give you a taste:
•Ok… I get it… It’s cold.
•Yeah… Harsh landscape… Got it!
•Wait a second! There are two “D” names, and idk who’s who anymore!
•AWWWWWWW! Leopard cubs!
•How long are we going to drag this out can we please either capture the guy or let him go or kill him already?!

Looking back at those notes, they seem kinda harsh, which is exactly why I hate writing DNF reviews! Again, take this with a grain of salt, but the writing was just very hard for me to read. I kept getting confused at who was talking because there were… I think three POV characters that I saw??? And I kind of had a hard time transitioning between them because I didn’t connect with any of them. Which leads to my next point…

The Characters:

I know I didn’t get far enough to really see any character growth, but every single character seemed very flat to me. It was all “telling,” not “showing.” Everything was directly stated, and there was no subtext for the reader to fill in the blanks.

The Plot:

I think the plot is probably the best thing this book has going for it. If the writing had flowed a little easier, and there wasn’t so much description of cold weather and rough landscapes, I would’ve probably finished it just to see what happened.

Conclusion:

Please ignore everything I’ve said here and give this book a chance if you’re interested in this genre. It could very well be that romantic suspense or whatever on earth this thing is just is not my cup O tea! For all I know, suspense books are supposed to have choppy writing and cardboard characters! If you read this kind of thing regularly, please enlighten me on the writing style and characters of a typical book in the genre because now my writerly nerd side wants to know…

Let’s Chat!

Have you read The Killing Game? Did you finish it? What are your thoughts on DNF reviews? Have you ever written one? Would you consider writing one? Under what conditions if any would you write one? Let’s chat in comments!

These Broken Stars (minor spoiler with warning)

These broken stars book cover art
“For a moment the image before us is frozen: our world, our lives, reduced to a handful broken stars half lost in uncharted space. Then it’s gone, the view swallowed by the hyperspace winds streaming past, blue-green auroras wiping the after-images away.

Until all that’s left is us”
― Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, These Broken Stars

Title: These Broken stars
Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 374
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Published: December 10th, 2013
Find It On:
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Synopsis From Goodreads:

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My Rating: ☆☆☆

Please allow me a moment to fangirl… I love this story and these characters even though they both have their flaws, but I promise I’ll try to be coherent!

The Writing:
To have a dual point of view, this book flows amazingly well! The writing is very elaborate as is typical for the genre, but it’s elaborate in a way that seems simple if that makes any sense at all… It pulls us as the readers into a new world and makes sure we know all the important details, but it also isn’t overly descriptive.

The Characters:
Lilac and Tarver are awesome characters! They are both very distinct, and even if the chapters weren’t clearly marked with who does the narrating, I would be able to tell them apart with no problem!

The Plot:
Uhh yeah… The plot does get a lil weird closer to the end, but let’s just… look over that and focus on the cool characters and setting! Just kidding!

What lost this book two stars?

I knocked off two stars for the plot because there are a few things that really bugged me, but these things could very easily be subject to opinion:
•Scenario: A boy and a girl have been flirting. Girl pretends to hate boy because father orders her to do so. Boy and girl get thrown onto a deserted planet. Boy and girl fall in love. Shocker…
•Minor spoiler alert pertaining to plot tropes! Skip to the next bullet point if your concerned: You know how sometimes characters die, and then they come back to life when the love interest is heartbroken and can’t seem to move on without the “dead character? I’m not saying that happened exactly, but yeah…
•The ending was a little sudden. One minute things were happening, and the next minute Lilac and Tarver were headed back to wherever their home planner was! Huh what???

What won this book three stars?

•Very distinct characters.
•Strong internal and external conflict.
•Really cool alien beings!
•Interesting use of character backstory.
•Easy to read writing style.
•Other general awesomeness!

Conclusion:

If you like SciFi at all, I think you’ll like this book! I will definitely be reading the rest of the series!

Share your thoughts?

Have you read These Broken Stars? Do you wanna read it now? Any thoughts on my rather scattered review? Let’s chat in comments!

The Islands at the End of the World (spoiler free review)

The Islands at the End of the World cover

Title: The Islands at the End of the World Author: Austin Aslan Series: Islands at the End of the World #1 Genre: Young Adult, SciFi Pages: 384 Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books Published: August 5th, 2014 Format Read: Audio Find It On:

iBooksamazonGoodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads

Right before my eyes, my beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I …

Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she’s an outsider – half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic.

While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.

A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

My Rating: ☆☆☆

Before I get into this, I have to say that I would probably give this a two star rating had I read it and not listened to the audio book. There are a lot of long passages of Hawaiian language, and I think it would have detracted from the story had I been trying to read the text. When I see a word I don’t know in a book, I usually end up googling how to say it because it bugs me until I know. That being said, the audio book made all the Hawaiian words sound Beautiful! It pulled me into the story rather than bringing me out of it because I wasn’t struggling to read words I’d never heard before.

The Plot:

The plot was very original! We’ve seen stuff like this before: worldwide power outage, people panic, economy shuts down, government is obviously keeping a massive secret, there’s lots of fighting, and alien attacks and biblical prophecies come into play. However, The Islands at the End of the World does a really good job of putting a new spin on things. Because it’s set in Hawaii, we become amerced in a new culture that adds to the mystery. Austin Aslan does a fantastic job of pulling you into the Hawaiian world and making you believe in the culture, and then he throws a massive plot twist into the mix that creates an ending you’ll never expect.

The Characters:

Ok… Several of the characters seemed a little flat to me, (Leilani’s dad for instance), but Leilani kind of makes up for it. First of all, she has epilepsy, and it’s not one of those things where the character has a medical disorder just for the sake of having a medical disorder. It does cause a couple problems, and it is relevant to the plot. The only problem I have with it is that Leilani’s dad tends to have a… somewhat downplayed reaction when Lei has an epileptic seizure. There’s one point where she wakes up, and he’s just like, “Hi,” and I was left going “Shouldn’t you be a little more concerned that the world is in chaos and your daughter just had a horrible seizure?!” I personally have a disorder where my adrenals don’t work, and I’ve had some pretty bad seizures before, and my parents are not exactly cool, calm, and collected when I come out of it… I also question some of the language used when Lei has a seizure. It’s referred to as “fits” a few times, and I think I remember reading somewhere that that’s not accurate. Epileptics can feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong!

Why is this not a five star book?

•Several flat characters. •The thing with the Hawaiian language mentioned above. •Downplayed reaction to epileptic seizures. •Some awkward dialogue. •Possible incorrect medical language concerning epilepsy.

Why is this rated three stars?

•Hawaii makes for an interesting setting. •Cool new culture. •Epileptic character that isn’t just epileptic for the sake of being epileptic! •Original spin on an old plot. •Cool Hawaiian shaman people. •Hawaiian language sounds beautiful in the audio book. •An ending you’ll never expect!

Conclusion:

I will be reading the second book as soon as I find it! I did point out a lot of flaws, but quite honestly I didn’t notice those until I started taking notes for this review. The writing pulled me in, and held my attention until the end.

Share your thoughts?

Have you read The Islands at the End of the World? Do you want to read it? What are your thoughts on the use of foreign language in books and characters with medical disorders? Let’s chat in comments!

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (Spoiler free!)

Girl In Pieces
“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.”
― Kathleen Glasgow, Girl in Pieces

Title: Girl in Pieces
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 416
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: August 30, 2016

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
This is going to be one of those reviews where my words simply cannot convey how beautiful and heartbreaking the story really is. Sometimes you just have to read things yourself to understand the full scope of the words, but I’ll try my best!
Girl in Pieces was NOT an easy read for me. It took a long time for me to finish, but it wasn’t because of any fault in the writing. It is a very… I’m going to call it “heavy” read that deals with a lot of rough situations and difficult subjects. I am not typically one to read such, so I was a little out of my element. I originally picked up the book because I saw lots of really amazing reviews floating around youTube, and I am addressing some of the same mental health factors in my own work in progress. I thought it would help me out with research for my story to read from a character’s perspective who had those issues, but I really didn’t expect to get sucked into the story like I did!
The entire book is narrated in first person by Charlie Davis, a 17 year old girl who has gone through more than anybody should ever have to go through in a lifetime. Her father committed suicide, her best friend committed suicide, her mother abused her physically and emotionally, and the only source of comfort she came to know was her “tender kit,” a box containing the pieces of a broken mason jar and everything she needed to patch up her own cuts. She wrote her pain on her own body; every physical scar came to represent a much deeper internal scar that no one but herself could see. She shut the world out, built up a wall, refused to let even herself in sometimes.
Charlie’s story unfolded over three parts, each part revealing another layer of character growth. The beginning is rough, choppy, and somewhat disjointed, but it wouldn’t have been true to Charlie’s character to do it any other way. Charlie isn’t a character that anyone can just instantly connect with; you have to understand her first. The middle was smoother, but had a bit of a lost quality to it. Charlie was on her own, completely alone, and didn’t have any idea how to find her place in the world. She relapsed into old ways, fought her way back to the light, got caught up into toxic situations like she had before, and fell into the darkest point of the whole story as a result. The third part came full circle. Charlie found friends, came out of the silence again, and found a place where she belonged. The writing of the final part has an almost lyrical quality to it, and it gives a sense of hope and strength for Charlie’s future.
After finishing that last page, I feel like I understand self-harm and PTSD in a way I didn’t before. It’s one thing to read out of my psychology text book, perform extensive Google searches, and watch more youTube videos than is probably necessary or healthy, but another thing entirely to read something shown through the mind of a character with a particular disorder. Like I said before, this isn’t something I would normally read. I’ll almost always pick fairies and rainbows and witches trying to kill people over a YA contemporary, but something drew me to this book because I am trying to incorporate some of the same issues into my novel with a fantasy twist. It is definitely on the darker and heavier side for a young adult novel, but I realize now that it’s important for stories like this to exist because people are in all kinds of situations. As terrible as it is, there are a LOT of teenagers in situations like Charlie’s. I actually Googled the exact statistics because of my psych nerd tendencies, but I didn’t write them down, so I’ll spare you.
Throughout the book there is a strong theme of letting your voice be heard, of letting your story be known, and at the end of the book, Charlie is ready for the world to know her story and hear her words. It stresses the need to find an outlet for emotions, be it writing, or drawing, or music. In a way, I think that writing is an outlet for authors to share their own stories with the world. Even if they create their own fantastical world from scratch, it’s still going to hold a part of them in it because it came out of their brain. I somehow managed to not cry while I was reading Girl in Pieces, but that author’s note almost did me in. You’ll understand more if you actually read it, but it is clear that Charlie Davis and her story is Kathleen Glasgow’s way of sharing part of her own story in order to make an impact. It’s books like this one that really get the message across more than any news article ever could.

Conclusions:
Girl in Pieces is NOT for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of blood and drugs and alcohol involved, and some harsh language. Don’t read it if you’re gonna have a problem with that, (I am warning you now!)
■This is a book that is going to make you think about some rough stuff. If you don’t wanna think, go read something with unicorns and rainbows!
■It’s a little hard to read in some places because the writing is a little choppy, but it wouldn’t be true to character otherwise.
■The ending is beautiful, and I know it will give somebody hope.
■The whole theme of the book is to let your words be heard and your story be known. Charlie made her story known by the end of it, and I know her story will help a lot of people understand those like her.
■This book is amazing, and it gets a five star rating!

Share your thoughts?
Have you, or are you planning to read Girl in Pieces? Tell me what you think of the book, (or my rambling review), in the comments or on Twitter @Cheyenne_writes!