Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Books · JKS Communications · Reviews

Binding of Bindings #15: 10 Male Authors You Need To Know About

Binding of Bindings #15 isn’t just for the gallant, creative and amazing male authors out there!
Apparently, it’s also for a TON of Science Fiction stories that will make your head SPIN!
The ladies had their turn, now it’s time for the MEN!!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

~ 10 Male Authors You NEED To Know About~

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

1. Michael Duda (M. Duda)

 

Michael Duda.

The author with the ability to reach into your mind, flip your thoughts sideways and upways, and then leave you lying there questioning your entire existence.

He’s an author of a collection of Shadow Books: A Cat Will Play, Bedtime for Seneca and Deny the Father. Each book contains three to five short stories, and each one will hurt your heart, your morals, or both. Some are creepy an show the negative side of human nature, and some show the beauty in life.

He has become one of my favorite authors because he can take such a simple interaction between characters, and turn it into one dripping with a thousand different meanings.

His latest release was Stars in the Winter Sky (see my review here) and it was, as usual, a delicate and wistful story. It follows two women as they travel into the woods to find the Winter Revelers, a supposed group of people who mysteriously perished.

If short stories aren’t your thing, it doesn’t matter. Read these books.

 

2. Evan Ronan

 

Evan Ronan has a special place in my book heart.

He is the VERY FIRST author to send me a book for review, and it was the first in his series, The Unearthed. The series follows Eddie McCloskey and his team of local ghost hunters as they travel around the country investigating claims of paranormal activity. The series can get quite dark, scary and gritty – so definitely for an older audience.

The series has 7 books in total, and they are so addicting. So I suggest just buying them all at once 😉

Otherworld is Ronan’s first attempt at a YA Fantasy story…and he killed it! It is a hugely imaginative and creative story filled with giant Venus flytraps and talking trash bins. It is guaranteed to make every reader feel like a kid again.

 

3. Arnulfo Cantarero

emotions.jpg

Emotions is a Sci-fi/Fantasy about an extraterrestrial being who is born to human parents to live a life as a human, in order to better understand human emotions. The reader follows Jason Ariaz as he grows and navigates a world he has trouble understanding. With the assistance of his implanted thinking computer, Jason is able to better understand the feelings of humans and hopefully feel them himself one day.

This is the first book in a series, and hopefully the next one will be releasing soon. It is a really interesting and unique idea for a story, and one that immediately grabbed my attention.

This author just knows how to think outside of the box!

 

4. Cory Barclay

 

Another HUGELY talented author is Cory Barclay.

He has historical fiction DOWN, but where he really shines is his plot development and his amazingly dynamic characters.

His Of Witches and Werewolves series is a little Fantasy, a little Mystery/Horror and you guessed it, a Historical Fiction. It’s set in 1588 in Germany, and is based loosely on actual events that went on for about 20 years of the “Werewolf of Bedburg“. It jumps between various characters who are affected by the gruesome murders taking place in the countryside, and the series goes on to weave a haunting and disturbing tale of treachery.

This series started my Historical Fiction obsession, and it will always be one of my favorites due to his multitude of themes.

(See my review for book 1 here)

 

5. Doug Goodman

 

For all you adventure seekers who love a science fiction twist, Doug Goodman has you covered!

Goodman’s Zombie Dog series follows main character Angie Graves, who trains dogs to work with law enforcement to sniff out anything from guns to bodies. But when Angie and her dog come across a cadaver with a giant wasp attached to it’s skull, she changes up her line of work as a zombie tracker. After finding a half-dead and brutally beaten dog on the side of the road, Angie brings him back to health and begins training him to track the zombies that are taking over Colorado.

I am currently reading the last book in the series, and I am reading as slow as I can so this adventurous tale doesn’t end.

Goodman uses his real-life experience as a former search and rescue worker and love for the outdoors for his inspiration into this series, and you can REALLY tell that he knows what he’s talking about. His writing is superb, detailed and the reader will get lost in his story.

 

6. Jonathan Ballagh

 

Another Sci-fi series for your inner child to drool over.

The Quantum Door and The Quantum Ghost or books 1 and 2 in The Quantum Worlds series, but can definitely be read separately if desired.

The Quantum Door follows young brothers Brady and Felix as they stumble upon a door to another world where A.I.’s have taken over, and are slowly crumbling the world into nothing short of danger. The Quantum Ghost goes back to the same world where A.I.’s and “Elder Minds” rule, but follows a young girl named Remi Cobb.

Jonathan Ballagh is an expert at Science Fiction writing. He can easily transport the reader into another dimension that feels both exciting and frightening, while keeping the reader completely enthralled throughout.

This author is the reason for my love of Science Fiction now, and if you just read his books, you will know why.

 

7. Peter Brunton

The Stolen Child

I reviewed The Stolen Child back in 2015, and was BLOWN AWAY by Peter Brunton and his writing.

This book, is beyond AMAZING.

As I said in my review: “This book has literally robbed me of my acceptance of living in this ordinary world we call reality, and thinking that it was enough for me to escape into made up stories once and awhile. “

It’s THAT good.

The Stolen Child is a YA Fantasy set partly in London, and partly in a place called the Borderlands where flying ships and a floating Utopian society resides. It flips between two young female characters who live in different parts of the world, but are pulled together by strange events that happened before their births.

It is a WILD, magical and action-packed ride and I am f*****g shocked that it doesn’t have more review on Goodreads. This author is a born story-teller. His writing is flawless, his story building is vivid and creative, and I just can’t get enough of this book!

 

8. Mark C. King

 

I have had the IMMENSE pleasure of working with Mark C. King in all four of these books as an Alpha reader through his editing process, and was even written into Whispers of Bedlam Asylum.

I was made into a woman in an insane asylum.

Fitting? You know it.

The first three books are in the Sigmund Shaw series, which is a Sci-Fi Steampunk adventure collection. It follows Sigmund Shaw who has a penchant for breaking the law, but naturally only for good! The series is filled with gadgets, motorized carriages, and some rather sinister happenings.

The Book Reapers is set in England in 1891, where Naomi Gladwyn is sent to live in a work house after the mysterious death of her parents. It is a curious and riveting tale of a group known as the Book Reapers, who are a secret society who work to protect the world from the emotions that books can bring out in a person.

Mark is an amazing writer and one who has grown and improved so much over the years. I definitely recommend giving his books a try!

 

9. Robert Pence

 

Robert Pence is a fantastic writer of young Middle Grade books filled with mystery and SO much imagination!

One Deed Dude follows Otis who is cursed to only do one good deed a day after accidentally killing a gypsy boy-scout. Enraged by the accident, the mother of the gypsy boy-scout curses Otis to only be able to perform one good deed a day or else suffer terrible living nightmares.

Thump Squash is the tale of a creature who kidnaps children and chops off their feet. After the disappearance of eleven-year-old Billy, his friends go on the hunt to find Thump Squash and get billy back.

Both stories are delightfully spooky and unique for their strange plots, but ones that are WAY too good to pass up. Robert Pence is a witty writer who gives his young characters thoughtful and incredible voices.

 

10. Gary McPherson

41Q282pFA6L.jpg

I was just introduced to Gary McPherson by JKS Communications when they sent me this book for review, and I was pleasantly surprised with his writing and story.

So much, that he has been given the honor of making it on this weeks book list! 😉

Joshua and the Shadow of Death is the first in the fictional Berserker series. It is the story of a childhood development psychologist that diagnosed two young boys with Berserker syndrome, a condition that causes the person to fly into a blind rage, and how he guides one of the boys through adulthood. After the father of one of the boys is found dead, the obvious suspect is his son who has been known to become quite angry and violent.

The reader is taken on a “who-done-it” ride, while also getting some interesting insight into the psychology of children.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

As usual, stay witchy!

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

Smoke and Key

 

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: A sound awakens her. There’s darkness all around. And then she’s falling…

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start; bodies that are burnt to a crisp. After being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she becomes the next victim…

Opinion:  

Death, lost love, walking corpses, corsets, propriety, falling from graves, curious momentous and magic.

Finally.

The spooky Historical Romance that your Gothic little heart was searching for.

Smoke and Key was just as beautiful, dark, sorrowful and mysterious as I’d hoped it would be.

Kelsey Sutton is Queen when it comes to ingenious and creatively mind-bending YA plots. She brings fantasy to life and completely astounds me with her imaginative ideas for books. Countdown clocks to death in Gardenia, a book of poetry about a girl living a life of imagination in The Lonely Ones, and a world where emotions take human form in the Some Quiet Place series?!

*Swoon*

But my newest Kelsey Sutton obsession centers on Smoke and Key. It’s an eerie Gothic mystery dripping in fog and Tim Burton tendencies. The story takes place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and moves between Key’s memories of her life and her time in Under. It is a time when young ladies are thrust into corsets and skirts, where propriety is everything, and when being caught with a member of the opposite sex in public, without a chaperone, is downright scandalous! It is a YA Crimson Peak (without the weirdness) and Corpse Bride mashup, stuffed with romance, murder and magic.

Under is neither heaven nor hell, it is a place in between, or so its inhabitants think. The place is downright creepy, and I was enamored with every moment of it. There is only dirt, cold and corpses in this depressing place and each person who walks its floor possesses the names of the objects they came with: Key, Smoke, Ribbon, Journal, Pocket Watch, Doll. The characters and the world of Under is like a funhouse for the dead. It’s filled with charismatic characters whose flesh and organs are literally decomposing before the readers eyes, and they’re tipping over the Looney Tunes side of the sanity spectrum.

Though there is no clear indication of what age characters like Key, Smoke and Journal are, I would have to guess that they are in their late teens or very early twenties. I found Key to be an absolute dream and am so grateful the author didn’t turn her into an immature wailing female. Key is the picture of poise and manners, even in death, and she comes off as an incredibly strong-willed lady of the dead. Match her up with the brooding, curious and dashingly Gothic Smoke, and we’ve got ourselves the match-up for every bleak black heart out there!

But obviously, the real addiction here is the thrilling ride the reader takes as they begin to uncover what Under is, and how these people got there. As Key’s memories begin to surface, she gets snippets and clues of her life when she was alive. A big house with a girl who calls her sister, a boy in a library, and American with an infectious grin and a knack for fighting. Each memory brings Key closer to learning about herself and how she died, but it also brings her closer to the dark side of her life.

This book brought out so many emotions in me while I was reading. Sadness, longing, excitement, disgust, curiosity. I LOVE the world this author created and the characters that fill its pages. It was so different from every YA Fantasy story currently out right now, and it is bound to be a favorite if you love a Gothic tale with magic. I devoured every page and am still hopelessly looking for more…*sigh*.

I’m going to be looking at cemeteries with longing in my eyes now.

 

5-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Stars in the Winter Sky by Michael Duda

Stars in the Winter Sky.jpg

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Michael Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Paranormal

Plot: Who needs the paranormal? All Gina can think about is her ex-boyfriend. She can’t get over the breakup.

Anna wants Gina to forget about Todd. So she tells a scary story about the Winter Revelers. They were a mysterious group that had disappeared years ago in the woods behind Anna’s cabin.

So what do the two women decide to do on a cold Saturday morning? They take a winter hike in the woods to search for the missing Revelers.

But when they get lost, they encounter more than just the cold. The supernatural Winter Revelers want Gina to do something for them.

Opinion:

Reading a Michael Duda story is like falling into a black hole of raw human nature.

He will bring forth your fears and the sides of humans you pretend don’t exist, while also showcasing innocence and sweetness on a platter that makes your heart melt.

Michael Duda will rip back those shear black curtains obstructing your vision from seeing the world through an artists eye, and force you to appreciate everything, the good and the bad.

If you have been following my reviews for the last few years, you will have seen books by Michael Duda (M. Duda) pop up countless times on my blog. Most known for his eerie and dark short stories that he has compiled into shadow books, Michael flawlessly creates characters and scenarios that teach the reader a valuable lesson. While also pushing them to think.

His most recent work I have had the immense pleasure of reading, is Stars in the Winter Sky. It is a short story about two women who travel into the woods seeking adventure, but find something much more than just rows of trees and snowfall.

The characters are two ordinary women, just like you an I. Gina is in the midst of heartbreak and her dear friend Anna, a wilderness enthusiast, is doing everything in her power to lift her spirits. In an attempt to distract her from her woes, Anna shares a story with Gina about the Winter Revelers, a group of people who would travel into the woods every January to celebrate the snow. But one year, only two came back, and the others were lost forever.

Stars in the Winter Sky is a beautiful and delicate tale that will make a readers heart sing. While the Gina and Anna traveled through the woods to seek out the Winter Revelers, I could almost hear the silence from the snowfall. Picturing the scene was effortless due to Michael’s talent for bountiful compacted descriptions. I was so curious and intrigued to see what direction the author would take this story, and I am so happy with how it tied together.

I found the ending to be wistful and caring, and it even brought out a small smile onto my face that has since ceased to go away. Even now, my brain is working through every possible meaning the author was trying to make in this story. This is what I love about Michael’s stories, they make me THINK!

My only complaint is that Michael’s stories are so short. I am patiently waiting for the day that I can entomb myself in a creation of his that will render me incapacitated for hours.

Don’t leave me hanging here Michael.

5-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

 

 

Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Wrap-up · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews · Simon and Schuster · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #13: March Book Wrap-Up

Another Day, another Week, Another MONTH!
WOOOOO! Can you feel it?
Those Spring vibes!!!
Can you feel it in your bones?! Don’t you wanna just DANCE?!

New Books, new themes, new characters, NEW EVERYTHING!
BYE MARCH! It was nice knowin’ ya!
But we’re leaving you behind and dancing into April like…

But first, let’s recap.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

~ * ~ March Book Wrap-Up ~ * ~

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

1. We Set the Dark on Fire (Book 1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set The Dark on Fire

So I’ll admit, March started off a little bit on the s****y side for me.

BUT, Bad Books + Forced Positive Outlooks = No F****s Given!

We Set the Dark on Fire is set in a world where girls are trained at a young age how best to serve men they are eventually purchased as a wife. In this world, each man has two wives, one for giving him children and the other to be his right hand. The story starts as our main character, Daniela, is approaching graduation and the start of her new life as a Primera, helping her husband and serving him in any way she can. But she has a past she is trying to keep hidden, and to keep her secret she is forced into making a deal with a rebel group. Basically the rest of the story is her acting as a spay…blah blah blah.

It’s not a bad book, I just didn’t really care for it. My mind kept wandering while reading, there was an exaggerated use of detail that took away from the story, and I didn’t connect with any of the characters.

Oh well.

(See my review here)

 

2. Yesterday I Was the Moon by Noor Unnahar

Yesterday I Was The Moon.jpg

This book of poetry will make your heart sing.

There are countless poems in here that EVERYONE can connect or relate to. It is a book of poetry for every soul, and it is just so damn beautiful.

Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking, and some just make you want to do a little dance with hearts in your eyes.

These poems just make you feel GOOD.

Here is one of my favorites:

It only takes

a second or two

to look into their eyes

and decide

whether you’re home

or at just another

perfectly decorated house

 

Okay…one more.

 

You’re the moon

and the world is

a lonely wolf; it cries

at the sight of you

for you are glorious

and so out of reach

 

3. Bloodleaf (Book 1) by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf

What a lovely beginning of March it was.

Like a roller coaster.

First it went down, then it went up.

And then, it went down again.

Bloodleaf is the retelling of “The Goose Girl” and has royals, magic, murder and…a pacing that is way too fast for a series.

It is about a young girl named Aurelia, who is the princess of Renalt. In Renalt, anyone who is suspected of wielding magic or being a witch is put to death. So when the secret comes out the Aurelia is…UH Oh…a witch, she is forced to leave. The destination? The kingdom of Achleva, where the prince she is betrothed to resides.

Along the way her traveling party turns against her, her “friend” takes her place as the princess, and they leave her for dead. The rest of the story is how she makes her way into Achleva, meets a mysterious guy named Zan, and they both try to save the kingdom.

For me, the story went WAY too fast considering it is supposed to be a series. I wanted the author to drag out scenes more, help me get to know the characters better, have a CONNECTION. But no such luck.

(See my review here)

 

4. As Directed (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery, Book 3) by Kathleen Valenti

As Directed

Oh s**t, we’re back in it!

Toss out EVERY one of those other Suspense Thrillers you have collecting dust on your over-stuffed shelves!

Allow Kathleen Valenti to come into your life, fill you with snarky characters, bask you in the sunlight of witty metaphors and countless twists and turns.

Obviously, this is the third book in this series. Did I read books 1 and 2? No, not yet. But was it necessary to read this WoNDERFUL book.

No.

It is the story of Maggie O’Malley as she starts her new career as a pharmacy technician. One day while walking down the aisles, she trips over an unconscious body, who eventually is pronounced dead. But it starts to get strange when two more bodies are found unconscious in an aisle. Soon the media leaks that there may be a series of poisonings affecting customers. The story continues with Maggie searching for clues as to who the culprit is, and finding some seriously scary stuff along the way.

It is FANTASTIC, please read it. Your inner sleuth begs you

(See my review here)

 

5. Girls with Sharp Stick (Book 1) by Suzanne Young

Girls with Sharp Sticks

My March just kept getting BETTER and BETTER!

My dreams came true, and Simon and Schuster sent me a physical ARC of Girls with Sharp Sticks for review…and let me just say…I almost died.

Of EXCITEMENT!

This book, was

It is set in a future that is basically the present, but…sort of the future.

At Innovations Academy, young women are bred for perfection. They are taught manners, to stay in top physical form, and above all else, to be obedient. The girls at Innovations Academy listen to EVERYTHING the men who run the academy tell them, because naturally, they know best. But when one of the girls starts to act out, it starts a chain reaction and many girls start to realize that what they see and know is only the surface of what is really going on.

I know that’s vague. But this book is anything but.

It touches on BIG issues that women face on a daily basis. It will hurt your soul to watch these characters be belittled and hurt, but you will have an overwhelming sense of empowerment by the end. 

(See my review here)

 

6. Alarum (Walking Shadows, Book 1) by Talis Jones

Alarum

Allow me to introduce you to the reason for my new obsession with Dystopian Westerns.

The U.S. has fallen, and in its wake is a lawless country. Children have been ripped from their families, pushed into Corrals, trained to be soldiers and slaves, and then sold to the highest bidder. This story follows a girl with many names, as she traverses this new world and tries to make sense of it.

It is EVERYTHING I could hope for in a Dystopian Western. As a lover of Mad Max, this story is just dripping in female badassery that closely embodies the goddess Imperator Furiosa.

I am currently Beta reading for book 2 in the series (YAY) and I cannot wait to finish it. This series is going to be addicting and so enjoyable to read!

(See my review here)

 

7. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Trutch ABout Alice.jpg

I haven’t done my review for this yet, but SOON, I promise.

The Truth About About Alice should be required reading in every high school.

Each chapter switches back and forth between characters, who are all gossiping and talking about Alice. It is a story of rumors, of the cruelty that your peers can bestow on you, and the strength it takes to stand up against it.

I really loved reading this story, and can’t believe I waited this long to get to it!

 

8. White Rose by Kip Wilson

White Rose.jpg

You might want to cry, but don’t.

White Rose is a book of celebration.

White Rose is based on a true story and follows Sophie Scholl as she joins an anti-Nazi resistance group called, you guessed it, White Rose. It flips back and forth between the “before” and the “end” of her time in the group. With several other German University students, Sophie and the group created leaflets that spoke out against the tyranny and oppression of the Nazi regime and Adolf Hitler.

The group distributed the leaflets all over Germany, in the hopes that it would compel others who craved a Germany that embodied justice, to rise up. Though the story ends with the death of Sophie and Hans School, and Christoph Probst being convicted of treason and sentenced to death; it is a beautiful and inspiring story about young people who stood up when few others would. 

But the best aspect of this story, is that the entire book is in poems. It gives each scene and character an incredible voice, and it was SUCH a pleasure and gift to read.

(See my review here)

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

I hope your March ended as wonderful as mine did!
But that’s in the past!
HELLO APRIL!!

Stay Witchy!! XoXo

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Edelweiss+ · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: White Rose by Kip Wilson

White Rose

 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Poetry

Plot: A gorgeous and timely novel based on the incredible story of Sophie Scholl, a young German college student who challenged the Nazi regime during World War II as part of The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group.

Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators.

Opinion:

RESPONSE

Fritz tells me

Officer’s mail

Isn’t

Censored,

 

That I should

Feel free

To say

What I like,

 

Which is good

Because I have

Plenty

To say.

 

If you want to know what true beauty, conviction, bravery and strength looks like….read this book.

White Rose is the rebellion story that begs to be witnessed.

White Rose is the story of how a young German student, Sophie Scholl, became part of an anti-Nazi resistance group that was formed by her brother Hans, Willi Graf and Christoph Probst. Having grown up as members of Hitler Youth and experiencing the brutality of war, the boys craved a Germany that followed rules of justice rather than one of genocide. And so, the White Rose was formed in June of 1942 and was made up of many University of Munich students who protested the mass murders of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. Though the group only lasted until 1943, hundreds of copies of six political resistance leaflets were drafted and distributed across Germany, in the hopes of inspiring German citizens and students to revolt against oppression.

 

Sophie & Hans Scholl with Christoph Probst 1942

 

AFTERMATH

We soon learn there’s been

An enormous wave

Of arrests throughout Germany

Of hundreds of teenagers

Including Hans, on his military base

All of them accused

Of getting together

In youth groups other than

The Hitlerjugend

Singing banned songs

Reading banned books

Things we do

Because

Ideas

Cannot

Be

Banned.

 

The group drafted six leaflets in total and distributed hundreds across Germany until the capture of its members. Due to the lack of paper and stamps that were available, the mailing of leaflets to different members of the White Rose was incredibly dangerous. The number of stamps and envelopes purchased by one person was tightly monitored by the Gestapo, and any suspicion of anti-Nazi propaganda was swiftly dealt with by arrest and biased trials at the People’s Court of Berlin, which usually ended in death by guillotine or imprisonment.

 

1310_Muhlenkamp_Rose-up

 

1940

Fritz doesn’t understand

Why this defiance matters

So much to me,

Won’t acknowledge

That our strongest weapon

Is our refusal

To follow blindly.

 

Vati says nothing

But his smile

My father’s approval

When I stand up

For what’s right

Means the world.

 

The beautiful and daunting telling of the White Rose group is so much more than I imagined it would be. When I requested this title from Edelwiess, I wasn’t even aware that it was a story told in poetry! But after reading it, I can’t imagine it being told in any other way. These poems give these brave young adults a HUGE voice. Their conviction and feelings are screaming through to the reader on every stanza, every page.

The members of this group quickly become a friend you could have known from school, a neighbor, a sibling. They are familiarized to you by their thoughts, and brought in close by their actions and movements. Kip Wilson has woven their story, and their actual letters to one another, into this riveting and gut-pummeling piece of artwork. By the end of the book I was fueled with an anger for what happened to these people, but also left in awe for how brave and fiercely they stood up for their beliefs of a better Germany.

 

SELFLESSNESS

Letter to Fritz: June 1940

Dear Fritz,

People shouldn’t be

Ambivalent

About the world around

Them simply because

Everyone else

Is ambivalent.

People who

Refuse

To open their eyes

Are more than ambivalent-

They are guilty.

How can we expect

Justice

In this world

If we’re not prepared to

Sacrifice ourselves

For what’s right?

 

My only complaint is that I wanted more time with this book…and more time for these beautiful people who took a stand when so few others in their country would. It is a frightening thought, to stand up against a power and force so strong as the Nazi regime. But it is a truly beautiful notion, to think that these young adults made up their own minds on what they thought was right, and then acted on it until their deaths.

Books like this, that tell the true story of people like Sophie and Hans Scholl, Kurt Huber, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Christoph Prost, who stood up against tyranny with their lives, are what makes me incredibly happy to be human.

 

A REALIZATION

Our deaths

Will mean

Something.

 

The world will react,

And someday

Someone

Will punish

 The people

Who are doing

These terrible things.

 

The ribbon widens,

Flooding

My mind

With a river of hope.

5-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: Alarum (Walking Shadows, Book 1) by Talis Jones

Alarum

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Talis Jones, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Dystopian/Fantasy

Plot: I fled as they destroyed my home.
I watched as they murdered my family.
I stood silent as they stole my name and threw my life in chains.

I stare coldly at my fading reflection with only one question to ask:
Them or Me?

Set in a future where the United States has fallen, a girl is ripped from her home as a child and forced to endure the harshness around her or else surrender to the dust of bones she treads on. Her life becomes simple: kill or be killed. What she didn’t count on was the heavy cost this world would drain from her soul. When she crosses paths with a curious stranger who offers to show her a place without a map, they head across the crumbling land in search of the fabled Sanctuary. Neither enemies nor elements that rip her hair and claw at her heels can stand in the way of her will to survive.

They say demons lurk in the shadows, but here they strut boldly under the angry sun.

Opinion:

What started out as a coming-of-age story in a lawless dystopian land;

ripe with casual murders, children being trained as soldiers and slaves, and the occasional back-stab

…turned rather suddenly into a story that, quick and silent as a wraith, may have just crumbled my feelings into dust.

My hearthurts.

“Never trust strangers, unless you’re on death’s row anyway in which case you’ve got nothing to lose, Hero advised.”

After the collapse of the world that we know, a girl of many names is thrust into a time of lawlessness and endless miles of desert. Trained as a young child in skills to be made a soldier or slave in a place called the Coral, Flinch is taught the ways of fighting cruelly and self-preservation. As a teen, she is called Vizsla, and sold to a man named Hans to work as a slave at his homestead in Alabama.  But when a man in need of a blacksmiths’ skills arrives at the homestead, he takes an interest in Vizsla and makes an offer to buy her. With her new companion named Connors, Vizsla is given a new name, and given back her freedom. So ensues the tale of a girl with many names, and her journey to keep a promise that she made as a child.

I wasn’t equipped for this world. I had a vial of adrenaline and a knapsack of dreams and with every year that blew by another hope was plucked from my pockets, pinched from my purse, slipped from my bag. When my last hope was ripped from my rib cage I fell to my knees deflated and empty.”

This story is gritty.

You’re going to feel your lungs fill with dirt, your skin bubble under the angry sun, and your heart begin to turn to cold hard steal.

Alarum begins in the United States after it has fallen to harsh climate changes and the anger of the sun. The cities and towns have been decimated, flattened or completely wiped out. The population has dropped significantly, and only the strong and cunning survive. This world is lawless and unforgiving, where every man is out for themselves.

“Funny thing about this world, when it shifted and twisted it blew gales of sand in storms more powerful than anything our nation had seen before. Whole cities torn down, entire landscapes scraped flat, and all because of a lethal combination of wind, fire and earth, all set into chaos by some fool unknown.”

Though there isn’t an exact explanation of how the U.S. is destroyed, due to our main character being a young child during its demise, I found that the lack of explanation made the story feel so much more authentic. The reader is given just enough information on the subject to enjoy the story, and honestly, who really cares how it happened. Right?

Our main character is, like I said above, a girl of many names. We meet her as Vizsla, formerly called Flinch, afterwards called Kid, eventually called Fury, and another name that was given before all others. As a young child she endures gruesome deaths, brutal fights of survival, and a harsh realization that things will never again be easy. I found her character to be EVERYTHING that I could hope to be if the world ever crumbled: resilient, strong, sassy, capable and methodical. I instantly was fond of her character and became incredibly protective of her. Though I knew she could take care of herself, I kept finding my heart race and skip when something horrible would happen to her.

But probably the best trait of Fury is her perpetual affinity for snarky one-liners and sarcastic retorts.

“These glasses are worth more to me than gold.

He nods towards my dirt-smudged lenses. ‘I trust you’ve got a backup pair somewhere?’

‘Yep.’

Connors squints at my face. ‘Liar.’

‘I don’t see why you say that, Connors. This is the damn end of the world, there are prescription glasses galore and I always make sure to carry a plethora of options at all times to coordinate with all my outfits.’”

This story follows Fury as she lives in the present, growing through the years, but also switches back to moments of her past. I really liked the switches between past and present in this story, because it gave me an amazing amount of information on Fury and how she lives up to her fierce name. Instead of the author TELLING me all about her past, the reader is immersed in those moments with the main character. I felt every bit of anger, sadness, disgust, terror, and happiness that she felt! Countless other characters were entwined in this story, and each given the care and consideration of being developed well. There are characters that you will hate, ones that you will love, and multiple you wish you had more time with.

I did have a few qualms with the story, by way of some moments not being fully explained or rushed over too quickly. Alarum moves fast. This book covers a TON of ground in its 422 pages, so it would be VERY hard for your attention to wander or for you to lose interest. But because it moves so quickly, I found there were a few moments that I had to go back and read again due to its quick pace. I found myself getting slightly confused in parts of the story by innuendos or confusing descriptions, but nothing that deters from the plot or makes the story hard to get through.

I think the true selling point on Alarum comes down to the writing. Talis Jones has an alluring way with words. She describes EVERYTHING in so much detail, with so much feeling, that you get swept away in the tale that she so elegantly lays before you. She does everything I am so un-used to by authors. Her sentences are LONG. Her characters have the substance of someone who is both enlightened and cursed. She has characters fall in love, but the ROMANCE DOESN’T TAKE OVER THE STORY! She introduces key characters throughout the book, and she even kills off the one’s you’ll grow attached to.

This book was everything I have always wanted in a YA Dystopian styled western.

I am officially hooked on Talis Jones and her stories, and I fully expect you all to be as well.

“Self-preservation makes demands on your body and I refuse to lay down and ignore the call.”

 

4-5-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book #1) by SuzanneYoung

Girls with Sharp Sticks
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster: Simon Pulse, for an honest review.
Genre: YA/Fiction

Plot: The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Opinion:

Girls with Sharp Sticks is a YA Fiction with a message that is most certainly, non-fiction.

You’re not leaving here without a few stab wounds to your heart and soul, so get those bandages ready.

Innovations Academy breeds obedient, beautiful girls. They are taught to set a table in Modern Manners, how to speak and act formally in Social Graces Etiquette, to keep their figures in Running Course, and to never accuse a man of inappropriate behavior in Modesty and Decorum – for that would be worse than any crime! As graduation nears for the girls at Innovations Academy, they are primped and put on display for their parents and sponsors in order to find the “perfect opportunity through success”. The girls need only listen to the men and Professors at the academy, for they have their best interests at heart, and they know best.

“Too much thinking is bad for your looks”.

But when the sudden departure of one of the girls becomes know to the students of Innovations Academy, Philomena and her closest friends can’t let it go. As they search for answers to why their dear friend left, Mena starts to notice strange things from the men she so easily trusts and respects. Strange glances, lingering hands, comments and commands laced with possessive entitlement. It isn’t until the girls band together that they finally open their eyes and see, that their lives may not be exactly what they think.

“They’ve trained you not to believe what you’re told by others. You have to come to it on your own. I can’t wake you, Philomena.”

“Wake up.”

Girls with Sharp Sticks is everything your feminist heart has been looking for in a YA series.

It guides you into a building of structure and poise with a gentle tug on your arm, sits you at a table of love and respect with the smiles of every girl you see…

…all the while shredding your heart and leaving you feeling dirty, violated and used.

If you start to feel nauseous while reading, it’s because you can relate to some part of this.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned about this book, is the girls of Innovations Academy. They are pure innocence, inner beauty and kindness. They possess an amount of compassion so big your heart will seize, and you will care for them so deeply that you’ll feel as if a part of YOU has been endangered or hurt.

Because these girls are all of us.

They are light and happiness, delicate and resilient. They are unfiltered contagious smiles, and the sisters you always needed.

These girls are everything.

Therefore, it pains me to express how horrible these wonderful girls are treated. They are belittled by their teachers, taken advantage of by their guardians, thrown around like ragdolls, and told that what is best for them is to stay quiet and obedient. They are trained to be the perfect girls. Intelligent, modest, pure, compliant, and above all, beautiful and always put together. They are put on display at Open Houses where the girls can mingle with their parents, investors or sponsors in the hopes that they will be “purchased” for their exceptional looks and demeanor after graduation. For these girls, being pleasant and following the rules is of the utmost importance. Their worst fear is disappointing their parents or the staff at Innovations Academy.

This story has been created so intricately and worded so perfectly throughout, that it makes it SO hard to express the magnificence of it without giving away key details. I am incredibly impressed with how flawlessly Suzanne Young has woven this story into one with countless twists and dangers. The writing is breathtaking. It gives Mena and the girls HUGE voices and personalities that make them impossible to forget. There is an intricate balance of purity and grit throughout the story. It makes you want to latch on to every good fleeting moment, and wish that you could take a pill to forget the horrors.

An author having the ability to make me feel so sick after reading a book, is…an amazing gift to possess.

It’s almost impossible for me to focus while typing this, because I feel as if I was right next to these girls as they learned what their purpose really is. Where their friend really went. And it’s…devastating. The author has pulled out the inner child deep inside me and has both comforted and hurt her. She’s cut a hole in my stomach and sealed it back up with dirt and scotch tape. I am ravaged. I am stripped raw and laid bare.

I wish I could say more, because I feel like I need someone…ANYONE…to pour my heart out to about the tragic beauty that this book is. The story kept me hooked and addicted the entire time, pushing me to find the answers and to know what was happening at this elusive academy. The teachers were terrifying and sadistic, the investors even worse. But even though there was an overwhelming theme of possessive males forcibly overpowering what they thought was THEIRS, there is a bigger theme of strength and resilience. The message to RISE UP and fight for yourself and others is such an incredibly profound message that NEEDS to be screamed.

I can’t thank Suzanne Young enough for that.

With that said, I really cannot say anything more. I know this is vague by way of plot, but you would hate it if I told you more than this. All I can say, is YOU MUST READ THIS. It is The Handmaid’s Tale for the young adult and for every female who has felt frightened or overpowered. Your heart will thank you later for giving it this. I promise.

5-stars

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF