Review and Q&A – The Marian by Taylor Hohulin

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Book: The Marian
Author: Taylor Hohulin
Release date: September 19, 2014
Page count: 228


Blurb

Fifteen-year-old Ethan Denby doesn’t know how he got on the Marian. He just woke up one day inside the body of its captain.

The Marian is unlike any ship Ethan has ever seen. It crawls on long, metal legs over dunes of salt in search of water, despite laws granting exclusive harvesting rights to a corrupt organization known as HydroSystems Worldwide.

HydroSystems is closing in, tensions are mounting aboard the Marian, and on top of all that, Ethan is beginning to think the dreams he’s been having aren’t completely harmless. If he doesn’t get home soon, Ethan could die inside someone else’s body in this wasteland of a world. The only way back seems to be through the Cloud, but how can he convince the crew to take him there when it means confronting a dangerous cult and venturing into a place where the very fabric of reality has worn thin?


Review 

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The first chapter of this book jumps straight into the crazy, chaotic and sometimes confusing adventure. Soul swapping is a really unique concept, the fact that you’re not in control of your own being any more and I haven’t read about it in any of the other books I’ve read. Whilst a world with out water like in the book seems like it would never happen it could actually happen to us in the future and I think this helps make the background premises of the book appear to be more realistic. In this world water is as good as having all the money in the world and people will go to the ends of the earth quite literally to make sure they have some. Ethan the main character of this book deals with being in an entirely new world amazingly well, his curiosity helps him gather the knowledge he needs to survive. He is a strong and brave hearted character. I enjoyed this book but even with all the action it does feel as though it’s dragging in some parts but overall it was a really fun read.

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Q&A

1. Where did the idea for the novel come from?

It basically came from a desire to write a pirate story that was a little different from the norm. I’ve always thought the elements of fantasy pirate stories were really compelling and fun, but, to be honest, I haven’t read enough of the genre to be able to write a traditional pirate story without being overly derivative. So instead of going that route, I started with a simple question: “What would be the weirdest thing for pirates to steal?” I decided the answer was water. Then I asked, “Why would anyone steal water?” and landed on the obvious conclusion that water would have to be scarce. I kept on asking questions and picking at the edges of this core idea until I ended up with The Marian. It was a bit of a roundabout way of doing it, but I think it helped me to come up with a much richer world to set the story in.

2. Is the main character based on someone you know in real life?

Not really. I’ve never actually based a character on someone I know. Most of my characters start off as caricatures. I define them by one or two over-the-top characteristics, and as I write, I start toning them down and finding nuances in their personalities to hopefully get them to a place where they’re a little more real. It’s usually when I’m roughly 50,000 words into the story that the characters start jumping off the page for me. At that point, I’ve worked with them so much and honed them so much that I almost instinctively know what they’d say and how they’d react in various situations. I do inject small pieces of myself into my characters here and there – for instance, Ethan, the main character in The Marian, plays drums like I do. I think he’s way better than I am, though.

3. What was the first scene you wrote for the novel?

The opening scene. Usually, when I’m drafting a novel, I go from beginning to end. I wrote a few lines of dialog in my original story outline this time around, but no complete scenes. I know some authors like to write scenes out of order, but I’ve never been able to handle that. Writing in the order the book is meant to be read helps me keep track of little things like what clues have and haven’t been dropped yet and what bits of exposition have already been revealed.

4.  Is there a book you’ve read that you wish you had been the one to write?

The entire Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I guess if I had to choose one book from the series, I’d go with The Waste Lands, since it’s my favorite of the seven. I love the way he blends genres throughout the whole thing. There’s a little bit of science fiction, some fantasy, some horror, some western…and underneath some really good character drama. I’d love to write an epic series at some point, and if I did, it would probably be similar, at least in tone.

5.  Is the end of the novel the same as when you started writing or did it change as the story evolved?

It’s more or less the same. I already know how the last book in the series will end, so there were certain things that needed to happen in this book to set up stuff in the last book. I changed a few details around the ending of this one to make the ending a little more exciting and to raise the stakes a bit more, but the important stuff remains unchanged.

6. Do you have a specific strategy when writing? If so what is it?

I try to get at least a little bit written every weekday. When I’m writing, I try to turn off that internal critic and forget about whether or not what I’m writing is even good. I just want to see the word count at the bottom of my window grow. No idea is off-limits when I’m writing. I end up with some ridiculous lines of dialog and some jokes that really don’t land, but I also end up with some cool outside-the-box moments and some fun twists to put on different characters. When I come back for edits, I try to put myself in a hack-and-slash mode. Rewording awkward sentences is nice, but if I can delete them and keep the meaning, that’s what I do. When I delete stuff, I put it in a separate document in case I come back on the next round of edits and find I miss it. I usually don’t. The short version of this strategy is that I write like I can do no wrong and edit like I did nothing right.

Review – The Evolution Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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Book: The Evolution Of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: February 28, 2013
Page count: 527
Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance, mystery, horror, suspense

Mara Dyer knows she isn’t crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she’s not unstable and doesn’t need to be hospitalised isn’t easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability…before anyone else ends up dead!

A lot of the time sequels often feel dull compared to the first book in the series, thankfully this book is not one of those. This book is equally as good if not better than the first book.  At first I was put off reading this trilogy because of the fact that Mara is an unreliable narrator and we still don’t know weather or not to trust her, but now that same reason is why I love the trilogy so much. I want everything that’s happened to Mara to be real because she has Noah but there’s a part of me that thinks I’m going to get to the end of the third book and find out that she really is crazy. The fact that I question everything that happens to Mara to me adds to the overall experience of reading this book. Hodkin’s writing is hauntingly beautiful, every sentence flows from the page. The story feels smooth with no awkward lags in any of the chapters. I wanted to devour this book in one sitting but I also wanted to read it as slowly as possible to savior the story and the characters I love so deeply. The flashbacks in the book are written so well that I honestly felt as though I had been transported to another time and place completely.  Noah and Mara are unconditionally in love with each other, so much so that it’s as if they are one anthers shadows. If one takes a step then the other follows as gracefully as a dancer, they would go to the end of the earth in order to save one another. This book is full of suspense and often had me fearful of reading it in the dark, there were so many unexpected and unique twists and turns in the story whilst Noah and Mara were trying to figure out how their abilities came about and the secrets about their families. Last but certainly not least, the ending HOLY SHIT was it good, I had tears in my eyes and my heart in my mouth for a good hour after finishing the book and I desperately need the final book now.

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Review: The Fallen Stars by Stephanie Keyes

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Blurb 

When all is lost, he will have to make the ultimate decision.

Kellen St. James was just your average seventeen-year-old prodigy, until he eighty-sixed the Lord of Faerie and proposed to the Celtic Goddess, Calienta. But then everything in Kellen’s life gets turned upside-down when he and Cali end up on the run from a seriously irritated group of faeries. The worst part? They have zero idea why they’re being hunted.

Suddenly, Kellen is stuck in the middle of another prophecy that foresees him turning away from Calienta and embracing the dark. He’ll be forced to take sides in a struggle to claim his birthright, while discovering secrets about his father’s past. Meanwhile, his passion for Cali grows stronger, even as the prophecy threatens to tear them apart.

In the end, will Kellen and Cali survive the fates? When the ultimate power is within reach, which side will he choose?


Review 

From the first sentence I was immediately transported back into the world I love. Keyes jumps straight back into the action. It was really interesting to me to see how his friends react to this strange girl in his life. It was especially interesting seeing how Cali reacts to becoming a mortal how she has to adapt her entire persona although she’s been observing this world for years she doesn’t actually know much about it, so seeing her struggle to fit in really gives her a sense of vulnerability. Kellan’s life is shrouded in secrecy and he really has no idea how to deal with it, but through it all his best friend Gabe, who I have a major book boyfriend crush on, is there to make him laugh and comfort him. I love Keyes writing style, everything just flows and there are no awkward lags in the story. Her descriptive writing is so good that right from the start I felt as though I was inside the story with them. My only issue with this book is that the pace felt significantly slower than the first book, I felt as though nothing much happened for  the first three quarters of the book and the suddenly everything happened at once. I can not wait to continue on and finish this series.

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About the author 

Stephanie Keyes grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent years traveling and working as a Corporate Trainer before she made the decision to pen her first novel. As a teen, her family always accused her of having an “overactive imagination.” Now, she’s encouraged to keep her head in the clouds and share her world with readers.

Still a resident of the ‘Burgh, Steph is now Mom to two little boys who constantly keep her on her toes. In addition, she’s best friend to her incredible rockstar of a husband. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as well as a featured author for Love a Happy Ending Lifestyle e-magazine.

Keyes is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child, which currently includes The Star Child, After Faerie, The Fallen Stars, and The Star Catcher, all from by Inkspell Publishing. The Fallen Stars was a 2013 semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards. The Star Child has topped the Amazon best-seller list several times since its 2012 release. Steph writes YA novels because she’s a hopeless romantic who lives to believe that Magick truly does exist. She is hard at work on a new YA novel.

You can find Stephanie here -

Website: http://www.stephaniekeyes.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Keye…;
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/StephanieKeyes


Review – An Evil Mind by Chris Carter

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Book: An Evil Mind
Author: Chris Carter
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: July 31, 2014
Page count: 496
Genres: mystery, crime, thriller

I received a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the Sheriff’s Department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery – a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years. The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception – can he be believed?

The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behavior psychologist and lead Detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD, Robert Hunter, is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man. These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could’ve foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed …

Let me just start off by saying that I absolutely adore anything and everything to do with criminal behavioral analysis so the fact that Chris Carter has actually got a degree in criminology made me love the book before I had even opened up the first page. Carter’s knowledge and experience helped this book become more believable and realistic. He does a great job of introducing the characters and giving the readers some insight into their back story and therefore make the readers more able to connect with them. Every page is full of gripping suspense and one more page turned into one more chapter more times than i though possible. This book reminded me of American Psycho because of how much self control the twisted murderer has, his routine makes him appear to be a very intriguing, intelligent and manipulative character. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and there was never a dull moment, the twists and turns had my heart racing.

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Review & Giveaway – Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband by Natalie Young

22588573 Book: Season To Taste
Author: Natalie Young
Publisher: Tinder Press
Release date: July 3, 2014
Page count: 272
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Crime, Literary Fiction

I received a copy of this book by the publisher via BookBridgr in exchange for an honest review.

Always let the meat rest under foil for at least ten minutes before carving… Meet Lizzie Prain. Ordinary housewife. Fifty-something. Lives in a cottage in the woods, with her dog Rita. Likes cooking, avoids the neighbours. Runs a little business making cakes. No one has seen Lizzie’s husband, Jacob, for a few days. That’s because last Monday, on impulse, Lizzie caved in the back of his head with a spade. And if she’s going to embark on the new life she feels she deserves after thirty years in Jacob’s shadow, she needs to dispose of his body. Her method appeals to all her practical instincts, though it’s not for the faint-hearted. Will Lizzie have the strength to follow it through? Dark, funny and achingly human,Season to Taste is a deliciously subversive treat. In the shape of Lizzie Prain, Natalie Young has created one of the most remarkable heroines in recent fiction.

Let me just start off by saying this book is not for the faint hearted, nor should you read it on a full stomach. Natalie Young’s descriptive writing is so well written that on more than one occasion I almost gagged whilst reading this book. To me this just show’s how much of an amazing writer she is because if a book can touch me that deeply then she must be doing something right. The main character Lizzie seems somewhat disconnected throughout the book from what she’s done to her husband. After his death she seems to be constantly in a daze and as such it can be somewhat hard to keep up with her. The flashbacks in the book show that Lizzie was in an unhappy marriage filled with cracks. I personally found it slightly confusing trying to keep up with the flashbacks because of the fact Lizzie could be in a pub and suddenly she’s having a flashback but there is no obvious indication as to weather this is a flashback or not. I loved the fact that Young incorporates a “instruction manual” throughout the chapters in the book because i felt like it added another layer of depth to the story and the characters and helped the readers better understand what Lizzie was going through. I felt that overall this book was a bit flat after the shock  of the dismemberment of Lizzie’s husband it felt to me as though nothing else really happened, it didn’t get my heart racing or grip me and make me want to find out what happened next.

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Giveaway 

I am giving away my copy of Season to Taste by Natalie Young.

This is a UK giveaway.

This giveaway ends 4/8/2014

Enter here 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c3dcf4ca2/

 

Review & Giveaway – You by Caroline Kepnes

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Book: You
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: September 30, 2014
Page count: 432
Genres: suspense, thriller, romance

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Love hurts…

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.

In this day and age it is so easy for someone to be stalking you and for you to not even know it. Gone are the days of being followed by a person, now everything you do is online and a simple Google search can reveal everything about you, thus meaning it is possible for a person to stalk you from the comfort of their own home. I often think about this fact and upon reading this book I did have to break up my reading a take a break because the book caused me to feel paranoid almost as if I was being watched. I did feel as though Beck and Joe’s relationship was less stalker/controlling and more that they were just bad for each other. It seemed as though Beck knew from the beginning that something was off with Joe but kept going because of the attention he was giving her. I really enjoyed the fact that Kepnes incorporated music and literature into the book as it gave Joe’s character a lot more depth and made it easier to picture him as a real person. The beginning of the book for me was the best part as it really kept me in suspense of what was going to happen next but by the end I was simply intrigued and had already guessed what the ending was. Caroline Kepnes writes articulately but at times this book simply felt subdued.

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GIVEAWAY

I am giving you guys, my fellow readers the chance to win an ARC of You by Caroline Kepnes.

This giveaway is UK only

This giveaway ends 29/7/2014

Enter here

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c3dcf41/

Review – One Kick by Chelsea Cain

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Book: One Kick
Author: Chelsea Cain
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: August 19, 2014
Page count: 320
Genres: suspense, thriller

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

I received an arc of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This has to be one of the most gripping books I’ve read in 2014, I devoured it in a matter of hours. This book deals with a lot of dark issues but in a way that they are not sugar coated but also not to overly graphic that you don’t wan’t to continue reading. Cain’s writing kept me intrigued , the suspense I felt whilst reading had me on the edge of my seat and I often forgot that I had other things to do. Kick Lannigan is a great character although what she’s been through has changed her she doesn’t let it define who she is. I thought that the book might feel a bit winy and was afraid that the main character would constantly be seeking pity from those around her, but instead Kick became her own hero and did everything she could to save and protect those around her. This was my first time reading a novel by Chelsea Cain and it sure as hell did not disappoint. I look forward to continuing this series in the future.

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