July Reads Round Up

MONTHLY READS ROUNDUP

A quick summary of my July reads with a link to the full reviews:

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

13457784_1200438010007614_688908890_nFull Review: Paper and Fire

I gave this book 5/5. Fast paced, action packed, and a perfect follow on from book one, Ink and Bone. Wonderful world building and character development. Caine has an effortless skill for constructing raw, unique relationships.

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13650518_1220446014673480_1117847994_nFull Review: 13 Minutes

I gave this book 4/5. Well thought out narrative, and suspense created with multiple POVs. One well crafted, complex character, and a character I couldn’t warm to. An ending to blow your socks off.

 

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

13689855_1225415827509832_980483439_nFull Review: The Bone Sparrow

I gave this book 4/5. Important narrative about refugees in detention centres in Australia. Fraillon captures the voice of 9 year old Subhi perfectly. Slow progressing read, but powerful message, and well developed characters.

 

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

13695146_1225467877504627_2098292308_nFull Review: Demon Seed

I gave this book 3.5/5. Not one of Koontz’s best. A great concept that freaked me out more than a little, but not enough. Koontz captured the narcissitic, psychotic voice of ‘Proteus’, an highly intelligent AI system. Quick, easy read.

 

A Strange Little Place by Brennan Storr

13689680_1225475884170493_1555835858_nFull Review: A Strange Little Place

I gave this book 3/5. Some stories gave me goosebumps, others were not so believable. A documentary style book, covering a plethora of goings on in Revelstoke. The author’s research and time spent on this novel is commendable. Probably more interesting for those who live in Revelstoke, or who know of the area

Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph

13819764_1230403857011029_1007927097_nFull Review: Dancing in the Rain

I gave this book 4/5. Narrative about loss, grief, and healing is handled sensitively and with love. An important read for older children and teens, highlighting the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks through the eyes of two children. A book for the next generation.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

13866835_1234389263279155_920167611_nFull Review: Looking for Alaska

I gave this book 3.5/5. Slow starter and the main conflict was over fairly quickly. The before and after design for the narrative was interesting and worked. Alaska’s character was refreshing in context with other more introverted characters. A YA read that can transcend age, but took a little getting in to.

 


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Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

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Looking for Alaska by John Green 3.5/5

13866835_1234389263279155_920167611_nMiles has a quirky interest in famous people’s last words, especially François Rabelais’s final statement, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” Determined not to wait for death to begin a similar quest, Miles convinces his parents to let him leave home. Once settled at Culver Creek Preparatory School, he befriends a couple of equally gifted outcasts: his roommate Chip―commonly known as the Colonel—who has a predilection for memorizing long, alphabetical lists for fun; and the beautiful and unpredictable Alaska, whom Miles comes to adore.

The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like “forty-six days before” and “the last day” portend a tragic event―one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished “Great Perhaps.”

Review:

From the rave reviews my friends gave me on this book, I feel like I going against the grain. Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book, I just didn’t fall in love. This book was a slow starter for me. There was a lot of relationship building within the group of friends, but there was a lack of conflict/action for a good portion of the book. However, this was rectified the further in I read.

The characters were well rounded, and I was surprised to actually like Alaska’s character. I have struggled to relate to similar characters in other books, yet I found Alaska refreshing in context with the other personalities in the book. Miles was a bit of a sheep following the flock- not my cup of tea.

The countdown (x amount of days before) was intriguing. Before what? I liked the not knowing- I knew it was something to do with Alaska, but that hint of mystery kept the pages turning. The after involved decoding the before and the ‘event’ (no spoilers).

A teen read with a valuable message, but slow to get started.


 

The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.

CampNaNo Update: Finale

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Guess who hit their word count goal of 30k words with 3 days to spare? Me, that’s who!

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I’d like to thank my parents for giving me life, my supportive family… haha. In all seriousness, I’m thrilled that I hit my target, but as for completing the first draft of Thrown to the Blue… It’s so so close- frustratingly close.

Although the draft isn’t complete, Ezrahli, Reed, Brenneth, Quinn, Lyerdith, Teal, Lissa, Magdarra, Ageet, Merryn, and Lowven are just some of the characters who have made my NaNo experience pure fun. I’ve loved every aspect of drafting this WIP, and my characters have made reaching that 30k goal all the easier.

Not forgetting my cabin mates. I was lucky to be in a cabin with some Twitter friends and new writing buddies. They are an encouraging bunch, and we are extending our NaNo experience with a closed facebook group to continue to support each other with our projects.

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I’m so glad I chose to do July’s CampNaNoWriMo as it has helped me no end with my first draft. I’d definitely recommend NaNo for much needed motivation.


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GIFs sourced from giphy.com

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Review: Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph

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Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph 4/5

13819764_1230403857011029_1007927097_nTwelve year-old Elizabeth is no normal girl. With an imagination that makes room for mermaids and magic in everyday life, she lives every moment to the fullest. Yet her joyful world crumbles around her when two planes bring down the Twin Towers and tear her family apart. Thousands of miles away, yet still touched by this tragedy, Elizabeth is swimming in a sea of loss. She finally finds hope when she meets her kindred spirit in 8 year-old Brandt and his 13 year-old brother, Jared.

Brandt and Jared, two boys as different as Oreo and milk and just as inseparable, arrive on the island to escape the mushroom of sorrow that bloomed above their lives in the wake of the tragedy. Elizabeth shows them a new way to look at the world and they help her to laugh again. But can Elizabeth and Brandt help their families see that when life brings showers of sadness, it’s okay to dance in the rain?

Thanks to Blue Moon Publishing and Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review:

This book is written from a child’s POV, and focusses on two Dominican Republican families dealing with the aftermath of 9/11.

The prose is beautiful, and Joseph captures the children’s voices wonderfully. This book is for older children and teens, and delicately explores loss, grief, healing, and the horrors of terrorism, but also how strong a child can be, and how with love we can overcome great tragedy. This novel transcends age easily, making it accessible for all readers.

Being a parent, I found some of the scenes a little heartbreaking, and seeing the mothers struggles through the eyes of a child produced a range of emotions in me- pity, love, even anger at how the women were missing what’s right in front of them, but the ending was handled beautifully and simplistically.

With the current climate as it is, this book is extremely important for young people, and has been executed tastefully and with love. A well written, important story that deals with hard issues sensitively.


 

The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.

 

Pet Peeve

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My pet peeve has been slowly growing of late. So much so that I decided to blog about it. The stem of my annoyance is articles, blog posts, writing books etc telling me what way is the right way to write. Let me explain: I appreciate informative pieces that advise writers of a certain style ie plotters or pantsers on some techniques to help with the process, but I do not like posts that say, Why you MUST plot your novel! or Why you should NEVER plot your novel. Or even worse…Do You Have Bad writing techniques?

Urgh! Please! Writing is a creative art form and with all creative artforms there is no one way and definitely no right way to do it. I’m a pantser, and although that is how I roll, I do not expect every one to be comfortable with this drafting style. If I write a piece about my writing process, I hope it would be informative, but not dictatorial.

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

My advice to all writers is to keep getting those words down and stories finished in the way you feel is most comfortable and enjoyable to you as an artist.

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CampNaNo Update: Week Three

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Another seven days done and dusted. It is technically the end of week three, but there are 10 days left in this month, so my next update will be once NaNo is finished.

My word count for this week is 3645 words. My writing time has suffered due to it being the end of the school term for my little one, but I have still written something at least. The last 48 hours have wielded approximately 300 words, but I’m planning on a writing slog tonight to get back on track. Thankfully, I was on fire for the first two weeks, so I only have to write 7641 words in the next 10 days- totally doable, right? I WILL do it.

morpheus

For now, here is an excerpt from this week’s writing sessions:

A hexagonal shaped room with a vaulted ceiling, which by my estimation is situated in the very centre of the castle, holds pews upon pews of indigo robed sorcerers. The way the pews line up perfectly with all six sides of the room, circling a podium in the centre, is highly pretentious, yet masterfully thought out. They rise as we enter, but I’m sure it is for Teal’s benefit and not mine. Every man present glances over my white hair and shuffles in his seat at the confirmation they’ve all been awaiting. It takes all of my will power not to smile at their awkwardness in my presence. It does not bother me in the least for I am used to making people uncomfortable. In fact, I have mastered that particular art form.

I am aware of how my gown billows out behind me, of how the clink of my heels resounds through the hall as I walk with renewed confidence, and for the first time, I wear this gown without my shawl to show my arms and back. Teal did not say a word. Oh, his eyes certainly studied the tissue like scarring, but he kept his mouth shut. Just how I like it.

“Take a good look, gentlemen,” I say, as we climb atop the podium. “Get the ogling out of the way before we get down to the serious matters. I am not sure what fascinates people the most- the crown, the white hair, or the burns?”

Teal’s mouth twitches in a smile, and I watch a room full of men blush with shame. I’ve still got it. Sometimes, I feel like I lose myself with Reed. He’s my happy place, my curative place, and rather than keeping my darkness company, he heals the cracks and shines light on the shadows. The old Ezra would never have allowed her scars to be seen, the old Ezra would never have taken pity on those poor folks in Pontisef, and the old Ezra would laugh at the mere prospect of a new Ezra. It’s time I find a healthy balance; a hint of the old with a shot of the new.


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

GIF sourced from GIPHY.COM

Review: A Strange Little Place by Brennan Storr

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A Strange Little Place by Brenna Storr 3/5

13689680_1225475884170493_1555835858_nRevelstoke: Where the worlds of the living, dead, and extraordinary collide

Embark on a fascinating journey into Revelstoke, Canada, a world-renowned ski destination with a well-kept secret: it has a long and active paranormal history just as breathtaking as its mountain views. Packed with stories of hauntings, UFOs, Sasquatch, missing time, and much more, A Strange Little Place takes you into a small town full of thrilling secrets and bizarre encounters.

Chronicling over seventy years of unusual occurrences in his hometown, Brennan Storr provides exciting, first-hand accounts of unexplainable phenomena. Discover the sinister mysteries of Rogers Pass, the strange craft and spectral music of the Arrow Lakes, and generations of hauntings in the infamous Holten House. As a magnet for the supernatural, Revelstoke invites you to experience things you never thought possible.

Thanks go to Llewellyn WorldWide Ltd and Netgalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

A Strange Little Place is due for release on August 8th 2016.

Review:

Okay, let me put this out there before I continue with this review: I’m a scaredy cat, and some of the various tales of hauntings, UFOs etc, had me freaked out. The fact that they are tales the author has gathered from reputable sources around the town of Revelstoke, scared me all the more. There was some historical bumf to give background, and not all the stories were like typical ghost stories, some were actually quiet nice. It wasn’t a book set out to scare you, more to delve into the mystery of Revelstoke. If you live in the area, or know the area, then this may be more appealing to you.

It’s not my normal type of read and took me a little while to get into it, but the author has done a good job of retelling the tales to add to the mystery. There are some unique stories, and some situations that I found hard to believe, but as the author states, he is not out to make the reader believe.

A good deal of research would have gone into this book. If you like to read some mysterious, freaky, unexplainable real life stories, then this is the book for you. It was a fun, easy read.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.

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Review: Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

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Demon Seed by Dean Koontz 3.5/5

13695146_1225467877504627_2098292308_nI was created to have a humanlike capacity for complex and rational thought. And you believed that I might one day evolve consciousness and become a self-aware entity. Yet you gave surprisingly little consideration to the possibility that, subsequent to consciousness, I would develop needs and emotions. This was, however, not merely possible but likely. Inevitable. It was inevitable.

Adam Two is the first self-aware machine intelligence, designed to be the servant to mankind. No one knows that he can to escape the confines of his physical form, a box in the laboratory, until he enters the house of Susan Harris, and closes it off against the world. There he plans to show Susan the future. Their future. He intends to create a ‘child’.

Review:

I am re-reading some of my Koontz books that have been sat on my shelves for about fifteen years, and I am still enjoying finding books I haven’t read by this prolific author. Demon Seed was given to me, and I haven’t read this one before. So, this review is based on a one time experience.

The first few chapters freaked me out. Intelligent AI takes over the security systems of a woman’s, Susan’s, house. Adam Two, who calls himself Proteus, tells his story as if talking to his creator, Dr Harris, and it’s both creepy and captivating. When he mimics Susan’s voice to sack her household staff and talk to her solicitor, my shackles went up and I knew I was in for a fast, dangerous ride.

When his psychotic, narcissitic plan is revealed, and he uses escaped, rapist Shenk as his ‘hands’, I had to know the outcome of his plan. The ending was over in about three pages and was much too fast and vague for my liking.

Also, going off on a tangent here, the title was a little misleading. There are no demons involved. I understand the reasoning, but it didn’t fit the story.

Not one of Koontz’s scariest reads, but the book is relatively short, and not deep, so if you’re looking for an easy, slightly creepy read, then this is for you.


 

The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.

 

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More Thrown to The Blue Quotes

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As I have been doing weekly CampNaNoWriMo updates, I opted against posting a WIP update. Instead, I thought I’d share some of my excerpts/quotes that I uploaded to Instagram. Thrown to The Blue is about 10k away from completion, and I hope to finish the first draft by the end of NaNo.

I’m happy to connect with other bloggers, writers, and readers via Instagram: KJ’s Insta!

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.(4)

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.(1)

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.(3)


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Blog Name & Site Address Change

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For the past few months I have had a new title for my blog. I chose to do this to incorporate what I post most about on the blog- yep, it’s mostly writerly bookish stuff, right?

I have changed the URL to reflect the title change, so just to let you know ‘Writerly Bookish Stuff’ is me!

Thanks, folks!


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