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Book Review #5: Futureless, by K. J. Draeghan


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not paid by or affiliated with any organization, author, or publisher, and everything I write here is of my own opinion.

 

          Title: Futureless (Beyond Oblivion Trilogy, #1)

          Author: K. J. Draeghan

          Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

          Length: 496 pages

          Publication Date: Monday, 28 July 2014

          Buy This Book: Amazon

          Synopsis: 

          In a world far, far away, there exists a giant mass of land that five                         unique races call their home – Ilreya.

Long ago, Ilreya was torn asunder by the gnashing jaws of a vicious war: The Blood War. The five nations of this land had never known true peace, their racism and distrust creating great rifts between them. With this war, the rifts grew wider still. When all the continent seemed about to perish at the hands of its inhabitants, a treaty was struck. This treaty, despite ending the bloodshed, did not mend the hate the races felt for each other and soon all contact ceased between them.

Now, many centuries later, war threatens to rear its hideous head yet again. The barbarous William Blaise, current ruler of the weredragon nation, has grown mad with his desire for power. With his awesome might he plans to bring the other races of Ilreya to their knees and claim the entire continent as his own.

There is only one way he can be stopped: A group of youths from the Ilreyan nation of Coruka must band together and bring an end to the monster’s rule before war begins anew. Though they will face incredulous peril and devastating trials, success is their only option. If they fail, if they cannot find it within themselves to defeat such a formidable foe, the only world they’ve ever known will languish under the weight of the chains Blaise will bind it in.


Take a quiz to find out what Futureless character you’re most like by clicking here.


“He grinned at the way she was scrutinizing him and revealed pearly white fangs. ‘If you think this part of me is good . . .’ And then he stepped completely out of the shadows and she gasped. Enormous membranous wings, black as the darkness form which he emerged, unfurled behind him.”

My Review: 

While reading Futureless, I found myself willingly drawn into a world filled with creatures and characters I had never before imagined. From Kuljians to werecats, there were so many different beings and races that I couldn’t wait to see what would appear next. Though Futureless has many appreciable qualities, there were three aspects that made an impression on me the most.

  1. Detail: Draeghan wrote with such thorough detail and imagery. Every situation that occurred and every new creature that emerged were painted so vividly in my mind that I felt as though I had been transported into the universe she had created.
  2. Dialogue: I was amazed at how perfect the majority of the dialogue was in this book, especially because dialogue is one of the writing facets I have the most trouble with. Draeghan did an exemplary job at using dialogue to enhance and reveal her characters’ backgrounds and dispositions; her word-choice was clever, humorous, and dead-on.
  3. Romance: Though I did get a glimpse into some budding affections, there were no we-just-met-and-now-we’re-in-love-and-will-live-happily-ever-after moments. The emotional development was realistic, and I was impressed to get through an entire book without reading even one actually defined relationship – just the promise of potential ones.

The biggest critique I found in this novel was that some of the names and places (though beautiful in their own right) were extremely hard, if not impossible, to pronounce. I found myself pausing to wrap each word around my tongue for much too long a time, until finally giving up and skipping over the words whenever they reappeared. I understand that these words were meant to amplify the fictional world of Ilreya. That being said, I dislike it when I attempt to have a bookish conversation with another reader, and instead of discussing the book, we get sidetracked in arguing over whose pronunciation is correct. This has happened to me with various books, and I fear Futureless will become one of them.

A page-turner at its best, Futureless had me intrigued to the point where I struggled to put it down. I would recommend it to any fantasy fiction lovers. I, for one, enjoyed it immensely and will be (im)patiently waiting for book two to be released.

My rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

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pleading kittens

Next book. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up… Please.


“You cannot evade your past. I have been here, inside of you, waiting for you to awaken. You cannot evade the present. You are my child and I am your daughter. Your hate is my hate. Your blood is my blood. You cannot evade your future. I will be your fangs; your claws. I will bring you infinite power and joy. I will bring you unrelenting weakness and sorrow. You cannot evade me. Our hearts will beat as one for the rest of all eternity.”

About the Author: 

K. J. Draeghan was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1991. Soon after this she moved to the United States, where she grew up. Due to her tempestuous home environment she became very familiar with stories, taking particular interest in ones that drew her into a different world. Finding solace in writing shaped her into a wordsmith, her ability to write coming naturally to her. Later in life she was often credited by her professors as having a “gift” for writing. Her results of the English aptitude test she took for college were quite nearly flawless – surpassing even university-level graduates.
Draeghan now lives in Quebec with her hedgehog Pearl.

Official Fan Email: K.J.Draeghan@hotmail.com

Book Review #4: Holly(Woods), by Naomi Laeuchli


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not paid by or affiliated with any organization, author, or publisher, and everything I write here is of my own opinion.

 

          Title: Holly(Woods)

          Author: Naomi Laeuchli

          Genre: FictionRomance, Mystery

          Length: 304 pages

          Publication Date: Friday, 31 January 2014

          Buy This Book: Amazon

          Synopsis: 

          In the first book of the Holly(Woods) series, Holly has moved             to Los Angeles in hopes of pursuing a film career. When she’s             cast in a small role on a popular TV show things start to                         look up, but she soon learns the world of Hollywood is                           a difficult one to navigate and not everyone can be trusted.

With the help of Evelyn Martin, a faded starlet, and Peter Glades, a man with a past he’s desperate to keep hidden, Holly tries to learn the ropes and deal with the politics of fame that follows her budding relationship with Hollywood heartthrob Alan Ryder.

But just as Holly starts to find her footing, a dark secret from the past threatens to destroy everything she has worked for.


“What was he doing here? And why was he sleeping on her couch?
She considered for a moment what to do, and then, picking up a pillow from one of the chairs, threw it.
It hit the man squarely in the face. He jerked up and looked around blurrily. He caught sight of Nikki and focused. Then he glanced down at the pillow.
‘You throw things a lot, don’t you?’ he asked and then yawned.”

My Review: 

Though Hollywood fiction isn’t a genre I venture into much, I agreed to review Holly(Woods) with the purpose of broadening my horizons and trying something new. As I began reading the first couple of chapters, I wasn’t sure whether or not I had made the right decision. I wasn’t too fond of Laeuchli’s writing style and couldn’t empathize with the novel’s protagonist, Holly Woods. Thankfully for both the author and myself, as the story progressed, the storyline became more interesting, and my gratification escalated.

This book is separated into two story lines. The main story centers around aspiring actress Holly Woods who is not only conflicted in the reality behind her career but also in her relationships. Though it may at first be difficult to relate to Holly as a person, she becomes much more likable the further the story continues.

The other plot, seemingly more of a side story to the first, focuses on the social concept of a teen star overwhelmed by the weight of publicity and alleviating that pressure through drinking, sex, partying, drugs, etc. What’s intriguing about Nikki’s story is exactly who it is that forces into her life as a confidant in redeeming her reputation. It was very unpredicted and entertaining, and I loved it. In fact, I kind of wish there was a whole book devoted to Nikki and her struggle as I found myself looking more forward to her story than Holly’s.

Despite the fact that Nikki’s story comes to a pleasant close, Holly’s leaves us dealing with a pretty massive cliffhanger. As much as I dislike cliffhangers, I must concede that Laeuchli did a genius job in guaranteeing I read her second book. I just have to know what happens next!

My rating: ★★★ (3/5)

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Wow Seriously

That cliffhanger! I mean, seriously!


“‘Excuse me,’ she laid a hand on a passing bystander, ‘won’t you bring me a drink? I think I see gin and tonic over there. Thank you.’
‘I don’t think that was a waiter,’ said Holly as the person walked off.
Evelyn shrugged, ‘I don’t think so, either, but he’ll bring me a drink.'”

   Naomi Laeuchli       

          About the Author: 

          Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Naomi Laeuchli has lived overseas in nine               different countries on three different continents where her family                 was posted with the American Foreign Service. In November 2012                 she moved from the Democratic Republic of the Congo back to the                 states and currently lives in Arizona with her family and three                         horses. She enjoys board games, video games, comics, reading,                       riding, and film.

Book Review #3: The Maze Runner, by James Dashner


Disclaimer: I am not paid by or affiliated with any organization, author, or publisher, and everything I write here is of my own opinion.
 

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

 
Thomas becomes trapped in a manufactured world where children are pawns, existence is lived day to day, and only the strongest survive. Though his only certain recollection is that of his first name, he acclimatizes rather quickly to the surroundings unwillingly thrust upon him. But Thomas’s arrival begins changing things, forcing the Gladers to adjust the way they had dealt with the maze thus far. Exploiting upon his intelligence, the connection he feels towards the only girl in the Glade, and the raw churning of instincts and sensations that appears to lure him towards his purpose, Thomas struggles to unravel a solution that may not have ever existed in the first place.

I picked up The Maze Runner for only two reasons. One, I am DEFINATELY going to see the movie since Dylan O’Brien is playing the lead. (I developed a major personality-crush on Stiles, a character Dylan played in the hit television series “Teen Wolf,” and can’t wait to see how well Dylan does with Thomas’ role.) Two, my friend happened to own a copy.

Reading this novel was the best book-related decision I’ve made so far this year. It was very refreshing to read a story with a leading male character. The majority of the books I read –and I mean around 9 out of 10– contain female protagonists. Because the novel’s written in third-person limited, we are only given a sneak-peak into the workings of the male mind, but that small glimpse really piqued my interest.

I also loved that this book did not centralize around a couple’s budding relationship. In fact, there isn’t very much, if any, romance at all. (Sorry ladies. Though I’ll give you a hint that there may possibly be a little more romance in the next novel. This is only a prediction of course. 🙂 ) I’m very glad Dashner decided to take this route and keep the lovey-dovey stuff on the down low, because I believe it would have seriously taken away from the storyline –though when I think about it, he didn’t really have much of a choice seeing as the book consists of basically all males, excluding Teresa of course.

Dashner did a phenomenal job with the fantasy portal he created. He covered all his bases and ended up building a descriptive and intriguing world that I became apart of. I felt Thomas’ perplexity at the strange language the Gladers spoke and the familiarity with Teresa’s presence. I cringed and curled into myself every time he faced off with the viscid, oily Grievers. I felt his courage, his dejection, his humanity. From cover to cover, I was with Thomas both physically and emotionally.

I can’t wait for the movie to come out!

My rating: ★★★★★
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Book Review #2: Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous


Before I begin, I want to apologize for posting this review so late. I actually had this book finished about a week ago, but college related life took hold. I could say it won’t happen again, but it probably will- so bare with me.

Disclaimer: I am not paid by or affiliated with any organization, author, or publisher, and everything I write here is of my own opinion.

 

Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous

 

Unfortunately, there is not much good I can say about Go Ask Alice, and my faults with this book do not even include its most commonly received barbs: that it is a fictitious piece wrongfully posed as a real diary and that the accounts of being under the influence are inaccurate. On the first, I cannot say for sure whether or not the diary was actually written by Beatrice Sparks (though any well-read person, including myself, would have began doubting the validity of this work early on), but if Go Ask Alice were to succeed in warning children away from drugs (which I believe was its intention), then whether it is real or a work of fiction shouldn’t matter. And on the second, I have not and do not use drugs in any way, shape, or form; therefore, I have no right to discredit this novel for its so called “inaccuracy.” That being said, there are some opinions I can and will address:

1. Though this book didn’t make me want to use drugs, I can honestly say it failed at making me NOT want to use them. I refuse to use drugs because of a personal choice I made, not because Go Ask Alice scared me away.

2. Not only does the narrator have no known name, she is extremely annoying and lacks personality. Maybe I’m too much older to understand her… Maybe I’m too Christian to emphasize with a drug addict… Or maybe she’s just completely non-relatable. I wanted to reach through the pages and strangle her every time she felt the need to repeat her words three times, and then I would feel “great, great, great.” I mean, come on! Who actually talks like that in the real world?

3. I couldn’t help but notice that the narrator’s voice completely changed when she described her drug highs. It wasn’t only her emotion that changed, from depressed to fascinated. It was almost as though the drug specific entries were being written by a completely different person. I could have let this slide if she had written the entries “while” under the influence, but her experiences were always vividly portrayed as what had already happened.

4. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought quitting drugs cold turkey caused varying withdrawal symptoms. Like I said earlier, I don’t know much about drugs or even drug addicts, but the idea that the narrator would be able to quit, start back up, wonder why she ever quit in the first place, then quit again without any trouble at all seemed ridiculous to me. And this process was repeated several times in the novel. I would think she’d have some problems after constantly quitting so suddenly, but she didn’t seem affected in the least. (Again, forgive me if I’m wrong. I’m only going by what I learned throughout health lecture classes in high school and college.)

Though I didn’t very much enjoy this book, I must give it some props for even attempting to display the emotional turmoil of a young girl suffering from addiction. I may not offer Go Ask Alice to my own child (because underneath all the drugs, identity crises, and splintered relationships, resides a world of rebellion, rape, greed, and prostitution that I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to read), but I understand some mothers or fathers would. All I advise is that you read it yourself first before allowing them to.

My rating: ★★
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Book Review #1: The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan


 

Disclaimer: I am not paid by or affiliated with any organization, author, or publisher, and everything I write here is of my own opinion.

 

The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

 

When I first picked up Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, I didn’t know what to expect, but after quickly scanning over the summary and eyeing the two colorful Chinese dragons on the novel’s front cover, I was excited about the culture I would be introduced to upon opening the book. And boy was I not disappointed in the least. This book is the epitome of Chinese culture, from the section titles like Feathers from a Thousand Li Away to the powerful Chinese mothers and their philosophies. But this book isn’t only a great choice for those who love studying ethnicities and cultures but for mothers and daughters as well. That’s all this book is truly about: four stumbling mother-daughter relationships. If your mother-daughter relationship has hit a rocky patch and you both thoroughly enjoy having your face stuffed in a book, then this is a MUST read. You do not have to be Chinese to understand what it is trying to teach you.

Though this novel is great, it does contain some major faults. I would first like to point out that a story’s job is to keep its reader engaged throughout its whole. When I began reading this book, even though I was captivated by each word I consumed, I still became quite perplexed. Separately, each chapter was beautifully written, but together they just seemed to become a muddled mess. I had trouble deciphering the connection between the individual stories, but I continued to push myself through it. It wasn’t until I had made it to the second of the four parts that understanding began to dawn on me and the link was established. Even so, it took me longer to read the first part then it did the last three parts put together, and this is something that should have been avoided.

I would now like to warn that this novel is made up of four independent mother-daughter relationships joined together by the joy luck club itself. The confusion this caused could have also been prevented. As I read, I found myself continuously flipping back to past stories asking myself things like, “Okay, so this is the daughter of this mother? And this mother was?…Oh! She was the one who had that happen to her.” Frustrating, right? And this happened at every single new chapter. To keep myself from intermixing certain mother-daughter relationships with others, I had to rewind to past reading, refresh my memory and gain the proper background information depending on which relationship I was on, and then – and only then – could I proceed to the new chapter. I would almost warn people to take out some paper and form their own little diagrams, which is much easier than scavenger hunting through the entire novel. If I had been Amy Tan, I would have turned this novel into four completely separate short stories that would fit together in a series called “The Joy Luck Club.” This way the different characters wouldn’t become so jumbled together.

All in all, I did enjoy this book, but I would not recommend it to inexperienced readers for it is by no means an easy read. They would probably consider their bewilderment as proof that they shouldn’t be allowed to pick up a book at all. (I know some people like this.) If you are a more practiced reader, you must read this novel with an open mind, the patience it deserves, and maybe even a piece of notebook paper, but I do recommend it for The Joy Luck Club really is a fascinating cluster of stories.

My rating: ★★★
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