Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

book review(1)

Stealing Snow (Stealing Snow #1) by Danielle Paige 3/5

14805553_1306343342750413_826693064_n.jpgFirst kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.

Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

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

Review:

Snow is cooped up in a mental health institute all of her life because everyone thinks she is crazy. She quickly finds that she is not insane, just unique. After Bale disappears and a mysterious man who tells her of another kingdom comes to her in the night, she makes a decision to change her life and everything she knows. Through ‘the tree’ Snow finds a world that makes her seem normal, but she really isn’t, not even in Algid. She is the one they have been waiting for.

There was brilliant world building, magical descriptions, and an intriguing narrative. Paige’s writing style is easy to read, not overly wordy, but still captures the essence of the story.

The characters were distinct, although there were times when the love… square (let’s call it a square) became unbelievable because I couldn’t fully embrace why one corner of the square would have fallen for Snow. When Snow was with another corner it felt natural, and I was screaming ‘Just kiss him- I would!’ Needless to say, I have a favourite from the love square; a favourite who was part of the most interesting group of people from the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions, the ‘rules’, and the not so nice or trusting personalities. The final corner, Bale, was vital to the story, but I wasn’t rooting for Snow and him to be reunited in the ‘happily ever after sense’.

For a YA book, I can see this being well received by teens, and the action, love, and fantasy really draws you in. However, there were just a few unbelievable aspects for me. That being said, I want to keep reading this series because I need to know if Snow finally locks lips with my favourite ‘corner’.


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

Save

Advertisements
Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph

book-review1

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.

 

Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: Nowhere by Jon Robinson

Nowhere by Jon Robinson 3/5

Blurb:

‘No one’s coming for us.
Not our families, not the police.
No one.’

Alyn, Jes, Ryan and Elsa are Nowhere.
A concrete cube in the middle of a dense forest.

Imprisoned inside are one hundred teenagers from all over the country. They’re all criminals. But none of them remember committing any crimes.

Who has put them there. What do their captors want?
And how will they ever break free . . . ?

Review:

The concept appealed to me, but I felt more could have been done with this narrative. I was half way through the book and the pace hadn’t picked up, and the story hadn’t progressed enough for my liking. I was waiting for something to happen.

Nowhere is written in third person, but regularly switches perspective between a number of characters. This allowed insight into both the captors and the captives. I liked Ryan’s character because he felt the most rounded out of the bunch. I didn’t feel emotionally drawn/ attached to any of the others. Character development  really lets this book down.

The prose was simplistic, but well written, and the rapid switches between perspectives was handled well. Nowhere is set in present day/ near future. It makes a change from a lot of dystopian YA novels on the market. I am a fan of science fiction and urban fantasy, and that premise is what drew me to the novel in the first place. I just wished Robinson fulfilled my expectations a little more.

The ending only added to my questions rather than answered any. This is most probably due to Nowhere being the first in a series, but I needed a little more closure than what was offered.

In summary, a great concept that needed a little more oomph.

EVO Nation: Book One

EVO Nation Chapter One

In June 2015 I self-published my debut novel, EVO Nation, a science fiction, and Urban fantasy novel.

Blurb: The government tortures her, her own kind uses her, and she is learning the true meaning of ulterior motives. Teddie Leason has been dragged into the festering underbelly of the secretive world of EVO. A world about to be blown wide apart.

Now, the reclusive teenager who couldn’t get upset without her unruly ability causing destruction has to somehow embrace her gift to save her new friends and her new love.

Will the actions of one man fuel a suppressed, supremacist cult’s desire for war and vengeance, or will Teddie be strong enough to stop him? 

CHAPTER ONE

The refrigerator lies upturned amid an array of broken glass, furniture and rubbish. My mother, Shana, stands rigid in the corner. Small pearls of red materialise on her skin; glass cuts dotting her complexion like a pox rash.

I slump down against the wall, feeling my own face. My hands come away with the same crimson stain as hers. Although my face doesn’t hurt, the beginnings of a migraine play behind my left eye. Not unusual after such an episode.

The bin lies askew, its contents strewn across the lino in a festering, sludgy mess, and its smell catches in my throat. My already iffy stomach churns like a washing machine, and arching forward, I vomit. Bile stings my throat and the bitterness plays on my tongue, again not unusual after an episode. The only unusual thing is that the episodes are becoming more frequent and stronger.

Shana steps forward causing glass shards to crack and grind under her slippers. Her complexion of ghostly white has a fluorescent look against her limp red hair and dark eyes. The same red hair I inherited and now use to shield my own dark eyes from her glare.

“No more,” she says, more to herself than me. She appears to have sobered up somewhat, and rummages in her bag.

“Mum—”

“Don’t Theyda, just don’t,” she replies. Her hollow voice sounds as detached and empty as an echo. She hasn’t used my birth name since I was five years old, and now, thirteen years on, the sound of it hangs in the air like a thick, leaden smoke.

Our relationship is strained at best. Now, the cord that bound us, the tether that I have always grasped at, has finally snapped for good. This has been seven years in the making. The destructive mess is a perfect surmise of our broken relationship. Not a glass, plate, nor ornament has survived the ordeal, and I can’t help but blame Shana for it all.

It’s more than just mess, its seven years of denial- Shana’s denial. I just want my Dad, Rob. I’ll ring him in the morning when Shana has passed out.  I can’t mention his name without a row, and I can’t live under the same roof as a raging alcoholic anymore.  It’s no wonder I can’t control myself around her. I can never hold it in despite how I try. It is as if my emotions on the inside manifest themselves on the outside.

“Let me guess…headache?” she asks.

She knows too well how I suffer after an episode, but lately it isn’t just after an episode, it’s all the time. I can’t focus and my short term memory is shot. My mind seems to eat my thoughts before I can even think them, and I have that odd feeling of being half in and half out of a daydream.

“Here, take two of these and get out of my way while I try and sort this bloody mess,” she says, handing me sleeping pills.

I take them willingly, desperate for the warm, calm feeling to spread through my body, to transport me away from here.

Shana attempts to right some furniture, and then realising how big of a task it is, she sinks to the floor with a bottle of Jack Daniels. I will probably find her in the same position and covered in her own urine and sick in the morning, but I can’t think of doing anything except falling into bed.

Agony spreads through my skull as I climb the stairs, and as my head hits the pillow the darkness engulfs me. Darkness is my friend.

***

I awake to cold water splashed on my face. Someone leans over me, slapping at my cheek. A rough hand pulls me to a sitting position, and even though I want to open my eyes, the sleeping pills still have me in their grasp.

“You need to wake up, Teddie,” whispers a familiar voice.

I can’t place the voice; my brain won’t do anything for me except coax me back to sleep.

“Come on, we’ve got to go,” it says again.

Torch light shines in my eyes, followed by a frustrated sigh.  I’m lurched into the air, and a hard shoulder jostles about under my stomach. Being carried registers in my mind, but I’m not scared. Why am I not scared? The smell of coffee and cologne mingles in my nose and a spark fires in my brain.

“Dad?”

“It’s me, Sweetheart. Stay quiet okay?” he says.

I think I nod.

The chill of the night air bites at my bare feet, and the sound of his shoes crunching on the gravel keeps me from drifting off again, that and the leaves whipping against my face.

Dad stops, lowering me to the ground. It is wet, and something scratches against my lower back.

I allow my eyes to slowly acclimatise to the dark. “Why are we in the bushes?” I ask through a dry mouth.

Dad slaps his hand against my lips and raises a finger to his own. He smiles briefly, but his piercing blue eyes betray fear, darting like blue bottle flies, and making me feel queasy.

The sound of an engine approaches and a car stops just metres away from us. Someone climbs out of the driver’s side, but I can’t see who it is because the headlights blur my vision with bright spots.  Their footsteps are so close I could easily reach out and grab their foot.

Dad’s hand tightens over my mouth, and he slips back into the shadows with me. I inhale and don’t exhale again until the driver opens the door to the house without knocking and heads inside.

Dad peers through the leaves, and satisfied the person is inside, he lowers his hand from my mouth. “We need to move,” he whispers. “Can you walk?”

“Yes, but I’m not wearing any shoes.”

His eyes dart to my feet. “Never mind that. When I say so, we’re going to run to the cove. Do you understand me?”

I nod, desperately trying to shake the fog from my mind. “What’s happening?”

“Later,” he says, pushing himself into a crouch.

Following his lead, I wait silently for his word. He edges out of the bush, pulling a small silver gun from his trousers, and fear ebbs over my body in ice cold waves. Dad doesn’t own a gun, or at least I have never seen him with one, not even a hunting rifle.  He beckons me to follow, and I stand unsteady on my weak legs. The car’s engine is still running. The headlights illuminate the house windows, but I cannot see movement.

“Now,” says Dad, taking my hand.

At first my legs don’t register the switch from asleep to running and I stumble. A torch light shines on our backs from an upstairs window. Dad rights me, and gives me a look. He doesn’t need to say anything, his face is glistening in sweat, and his hand is shaking in my own. I know I have to move, and move fast.

A break in the cloud allows the moon to give the black night an indigo glow of spilt ink and it is enough to light our path. The sound of the front door slamming follows us as we run, and we push faster through the field that stretches out before us to the cliff top.  Dad is taller, so his strides are bigger than mine. I have to sprint to keep up with him, and my hand slips through his sweaty palm. He wraps his hand around my whole wrist, dragging me on until we reach the coastline.

The torchlight searches for us again, and across the field a short, rotund figure of a man stands silhouetted in the tree line. The unnerving thing is how slow he is moving. He doesn’t appear to be in a rush, and walks towards us with a confident step, the torch held aloft.

The pathway down to the cove is lethal enough in the daylight let alone at night. Luckily, we have both navigated it numerous times. The choppy sea spray soaks us through in seconds, chilling me to the bone. Dad goes first, and I keep a hand on his shoulder to steady myself. I still feel frail from my episode, and my lungs ache from the run.

Dad slips, dragging me down with him. I can’t stop myself on the seaweed covered rocks, but he manages to brace himself on the cliff face. Sliding through his legs, I shriek out as my ankle slams into the rock.

He grabs the collar of my shirt and drags me back against the cliff face with him. “I want you to listen to me now. We don’t have much time,” he says, breathless. “There’s a boat tied to the rocks down there and we need to get to it.”

“Why? What’s going on? Where’s Mum?”

“Your mother has betrayed you and now you’re in danger.” He speaks fast and clear.

I half laugh. “Mum…what? I don’t understand.”

“I don’t need you to understand right now, Teddie. I need you to hear what I’m saying. That man back there is called Alan Roscoe. He works for the government, and he knows about you and what you can do. He is here for you; to take you away to god knows where, to do god knows what to you. A few months ago we were contacted by someone who warned us of him. That’s half the reason why Shana kicked me out. I only ever stuck around for you, Sweetheart. You do know that, right?”

I nod. I do know that. Shana is poisonous, and the more poison she pours into herself, the more poisonous she becomes. How could he feel anything except resentment towards that woman? It is all I feel.

“Who contacted you?”

“Isaac Woodman. He found out that Roscoe was on to you and risked a lot to contact us.”

“Why does he care? Who is he?”

Dad holds my hand tighter than before. Bringing my knuckles up to his mouth, he kisses them, and then taking a breath to compose himself, he takes my face in his hands. “He cares because he’s your father.”

I instantly feel faint and brace myself against the rocks to stop from keeling over. “My father? You’re my father—”

“No, Teddie. Isaac is your father,” he says, his eyes full of tears. “I didn’t want you to find out like this, but I have no choice. Come on, there’s no time and we need to get to that boat.”

I pull back, my eyes searching his. “You’re not my Dad?” I say, choking back sobs.

“We can’t do this now, Sweetheart. Please hurry.”

I half climb, half stumble down the pathway behind him. The tide is in, and with the salt water wetting our trousers, we run through ankle deep water toward the boat at the far side of the cove. It is tied to a vast expanse of rock and bobs around precariously in the current a few metres out.

Dad lowers himself into the sea, gasping from the chill of the water. It is neck deep on him which means it’ll be out of my depth. The idea of sinking into the blackness is not a fun one and I hesitate. The man in front of me isn’t my father. The one person I trust has been lying to me. He holds out his hand to me and I stare at it as if it is something alien.

“I’m your Dad, Teddie Bear,” he says, spitting back the rising water, “I love you, and as far as I’m concerned you are my daughter. So, you’re not my blood? I’ve been there for you for eighteen years, and I still am here for you.” For a well-built man he looks vulnerable. “Let me be your Dad for a little bit longer.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” I ask, but he doesn’t reply.

The sound of voices carry on the wind, and the figure with the torch appears on the cliff top accompanied by at least five other figures. They start making their way down the pathway at speed. Their outlines look big and fast, and they are definitely carrying guns.

Jumping into the icy water, I desperately fight to keep my head above the waves. Dad grabs my arm, and we both swim for it. The voices sound louder and increasingly urgent, but I won’t look back. I kick my legs and allow the current of the water to aid me in my race to the boat.

We reach the boat and I grab a hold of the edge to catch my breath. Dad pushes me up and out of the water. I manage to muster some strength, hook my leg over the side, and tumble in. Taking his hands, I pull with everything I have in me. He swings a leg over the edge, flopping into the boat like a cod.

Dad pulls at the motor and it splutters pathetically. Swearing under his breath, he tugs the cord again- still nothing. His eyes meet mine, and then glance back to the figure on the cliff top. The other figures are already down the pathway. They race across the cove, guns poised.

The thrum of propellers fills the air, and a black helicopter flies in low over the cliff top. A bright beam falls on us, and as I squint upwards, I see a man in a grey uniform hanging out of the chopper with a gun raised in his hands.

Dad desperately pulls at the cord again. “Teddie, three coves down in that direction is a cave. You can’t miss it. Drive the boat right into it and it’ll come out the other side in a private bay. Isaac and his people are waiting for you there. They’re special like you. Isaac will look after you now.”

I am so scared I can feel my heartbeat in my eyeballs. “Why are you telling me this?” I shout at him.

A red dot appears on his chest, and a shot rings out. Dad falls backwards onto the motor. Red spreads across his white shirt, and he groans in pain. He staggers to his feet and pulls at the motor cord again- this time it roars into life. Another shot rings out, hitting him in the back. The water in the bottom of the boat quickly turns to a watery pink, and I hear a scream- my scream.

“Get to that cave, Teddie,” he splutters through a mouth full of blood. He pulls out a huge weapon from under a blanket on one of the benches, fumbles with it, and then without warning, he fires it at the chopper. “Get down.”

“Bazooka!” hollers the man in grey. He jumps into the sea seconds before the whole chopper turns into a fire ball.

Huge clumps of metal rain down around us. Dad piles himself on top of me, kicking the motor into forward, and we race away through the debris and out of the cove.

We speed into the second cove. Dad is losing control, and puts the boat in neutral. He is spluttering and coughing through blood, and his breathing has become laboured. I push him off of me, lifting his shirt to put pressure on the wound. A circular, dark hole in his chest oozes scary amounts of blood, and taking off my cardigan, I hold it to the wound tightly. I daren’t to think of the one on his back, but he is lying and I can’t reach it.

He places a hand on top of my own, pulling my fingers away. “Pointless,” he groans.

The thrum of propellers sounds on the wind once again, and a second chopper emerges over the cliffs.

“Jesus Christ, NO!” Dad shouts. He tries to stand, to steer the boat, but he just falls to his knees. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart. I’ve let you down. Please forgive me.”

Sobs wrack my body as I watch him slump onto his stomach. “Dad? Dad, you’ve not let me down. I love you. Can you hear me? I love you.”

A stinging pain nips at my shoulder, and a small, metal dart sticks from my skin. Instantly, a fog spreads through my mind, and my legs feel full with lead. The chopper drops back, cautiously waiting as I sway and stumble.

Roscoe’s rotund, short frame is silhouetted on the sand of the second cove like a cloaked shadow. He stands motionless, watching the scene unfold before him, watching me sway, watching my Dad die.

Another sharp pain shoots through my shoulder blade, and I slump forward onto my own knees. Dad is lying face down beside me, his white shirt now a deep maroon. I squeeze his hand one last time. My tunnel vision is focussed on Roscoe, and my hearing has reduced to my own heart beat and the beating of propellers.

A familiar surge of power floods my chest. I don’t have the capacity to fight it; I don’t have the capacity to do much more than drop to the floor of the boat. I can’t think through the pain in my head. All I can manage is a scream. The noise from the chopper grows louder, and so does my scream.

The deafening noise of metal on rock echoes around the bay, and the last thing I see, just as another dart pierces my forearm, is a second ball of fire rising from the cliff face.


Buy EVO Nation : Book one in the EVO Nation Series by K.J.Chapman for just 99p!

All excerpts are the works of K.J.Chapman