The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds

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I don’t normally read what is classified as Middle Grade Fiction, but something about this book spoke to me. Perhaps it was the fact that our main character and narrator Atticus Hobart is bullied and so were my best friend and I. Maybe not, but upon discovering that the book deals in a way with the topic of bullying, I had to read it and see what it was about.

Atticus Hobart is a 13-year-old boy who is good at pretty much nothing except for imagining things. He is quiet, unassuming, and frankly, he’s picked on. Every school has its bully and Pitts Middle School has Danny Wills—son of the local Little League baseball team coach and the chairwoman of the school board. Of course, having his mother be the school board chair makes Danny think he’s hot stuff and can’t be touched for anything he does—including beating up on other students.

When the 8th grade English teacher goes on maternity leave, Mr. Looney is her replacement. He’s a character all right, a seventy-seven year old man who feels his main purpose is to teach students something that traditional school learning can’t. And he does his job well, to be perfectly honest.

This book doesn’t read as much like middle grade fiction as I thought it would. I was looking for something a bit more juvenile than it actually turned out to be. It’s a great read for any student who is middle grade or higher. Even some adults could learn something from this book. This book teaches how courage comes from within and that you don’t have to be the textbook definition of brave to actually be brave.

I highly recommend this book for any middle grade or higher student—especially those who are being bullied.

I received this book for free from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Noir by Jacqueline E. Garlick

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It’s unfortunate when the second book in a series doesn’t live up to the first. I finished Lumière and I immediately started Noir because I wanted to know what happened. But a funny thing happened – I simply cannot get into Noir at all. I’ve tried multiple times and I just can’t seem to get into it.

For whatever reason, Noir does not capture my attention, much less keep it. I had to relegate it to the abandoned shelf on Goodreads. Perhaps someday I might be able to return to it and actually read it, but at this time, the book holds no interest for me. It happens – sometimes a first novel is brilliant but the second in the series just doesn’t live up to the first. In the music industry they call it the “sophomore slump” –where the second record simply doesn’t live up to the expectations or sales of the first–and it appears that this can also happen in the world of books as well.

I can’t give it one star because it’s not truly that bad, but I can only give it two stars because if it can’t catch and hold my attention after its preceding novel, I can’t give it more than two stars.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

The American President by William E. Leuchtenburg

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I’m going to be completely honest. I am not a history buff. But I was challenged to read a book outside my normal genre over Fall Break by my college instructors. I figured history would be a good idea since I don’t do history. American Presidents seemed like a great idea, only not so much.

I’m not going to say that if you’re a history buff the book isn’t a treasure trove of awesomeness. But I am saying that for someone who isn’t into history or politics, this book is definitely not a great read. I actually had to abandon it because the book is written in a very dry, academic style.

Long and short – if you’re a history buff or a politics buff, you’ll most likely love this book. If not, I wouldn’t waste your time with it.

 

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Lumiere by Jacqueline E. Garlick

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Lumiere is a novel that might just be the ticket to getting you into steampunk if you aren’t already. Set in the 1890s, this book makes use of fantastic inventions and machines and to me, just has a steampunk feel to it. I’m not a big fan of steampunk but I will say I very much enjoyed this book.

While the book starts off a bit on the slow side, it picks up around Part 2 (there are 55 chapters in 4 parts). You have to read this story to understand. The story centers around a girl’s search for her father’s machine that she believes will stop her seizures from happening if she uses the machine enough. But when she gets too close, all hell breaks loose.

I like Eyelet, the main character in the book. She’s sassy, tenacious, and yet she’s also terrified of being declared Mad. Urlick is a fun character as well, just as odd as Eyelet but in a different way. And the merry band of misfits that resides at Urlick’s compound are wonderful as well! Such odd characters yet they fit right in to the scheme of things.

Lumiere is the first book in the Illumination Paradox series and it won’t be your last. You’ll want to start Noir (the second book) as soon as you finish Lumiere. I know I did!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book 1) by Rick Riordan

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to review this one being that it is technically 10 years old (the copyright date is for 2005 although the listed publication date on Goodreads is 2006) but then I decided I had to. Why? Because there has to be someone out there, like me, who hasn’t read this book yet. And that, my friends, is a travesty.

I admit I’m late to the Percy Jackson game. I saw the trailers for the Lightning Thief movie and I was mildly interested but didn’t pay much attention because at the time I wasn’t reading (the dreaded reading slump) and because I actually didn’t know it was based on a book at that time. I learned that later, but still didn’t watch the movie or read the book.

But as I was perusing the library shelves at my college, The Lightning Thief was sitting there in all it’s glory and I decided I might as well see what the fuss was about. I saw – so much so that I actually finished the book (devoured it) the same day I checked it out, which was actually yesterday (Oct. 12, 2015).

I’m a Greek Mythology nut. I absolutely love it. Yet I found characters from the Greek myths that I hadn’t heard of before in this book. Which is a good thing because it wasn’t boring to me when the Greek myth characters were in the mix. I loved how the gods were portrayed – especially Artemis, who is included even though she’s chosen to remain a maiden and therefore wouldn’t have children. At first Ares was a bit of a shock but then I could see where a biker would be a good fit for him. And I’m still laughing about the fact that Poseidon looks like a beach bum/tourist when Percy meets him.

I won’t tell you, if you don’t know, who Percy’s father is, but I will say it didn’t take me long to figure it out. But then again, that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually quite helpful.

It’s hard not to give away the entire story – you just have to read the book for yourself if you haven’t already. Trust me, this book is amazing.

Death Vigil Volume 1 by Stjepan Sejic

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I’m going to start by saying I’m not a big comic book or graphic novel fan. Sure I’ve read a few issues of X-Men and Wolverine. I’ve read a couple of Spider-Man and Batman comics. And I used to be addicted to Archie and Richie Rich comics when I was a kid. But other than that, I’m not a big fan.

So when I decided to check out Death Vigil Volume 1, I was expecting to be blown away. I was right. First, a female reaper – always awesome. Second, the reaper and her group are here to protect life from the Primordial enemy and Necromancers, not to put people to death or collect their souls.

This graphic novel is truly amazing – a must read for anyone who loves graphic novels and comics or anyone who wants to get into graphic novels. The panels were easy to follow – something I’ve often found lacking in graphic novels. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and the cover gallery at the end is not to be skipped! There’s a picture of Bernadette in there I’d love to have a poster of to be perfectly honest.

The storyline was very interesting as well. I sincerely hope there is more to come in the Death Vigil series because I will be sorely disappointed if Death Vigil Volume 1 is the only one there is!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

The Girl With Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson

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The Girl With Ghost Eyes is amazing. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown  in 1898, it follows Xian Li-lin – a Daoshi of the Second Ordination in the Maoshan tradition – on a journey to save Chinatown. But the story is so much more than that, because we get to see Li-lin go on a journey that takes her through hell and see her face the consequences of the choices she makes. As you will see, the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished rings true, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean by that.

One of the best things about The Girl With Ghost Eyes is that the main character is not just another white girl. This girl is Chinese born, brought to America by her father, a Daoshi of the Seventh Ordination. This isn’t a typical book. Xian Li-lin is a 23 year old woman, a widow, and a daughter who is hell-bent on saving her father, and her people in Chinatown. We see her fear and her determination. We also get to see what she sees with her “yin eyes” or “ghost eyes.”

Even the “bad guys” in this book are more misunderstood than bad – one wants revenge for his friend’s killing because he believes the “old ways” are what got his friend killed. Another wants revenge for having been bullied while training to be a Daoshi. They aren’t necessarily bad or evil, but more misunderstood and misguided. It’s easy to empathize with the “bad guys” once you know their stories, although it is also clear that the paths they have chosen because of their tragedies is not the path they should have taken.

The plot is wonderful – a great mixture of backstory, action, and even some adventure. A definite must read. If you are looking for more diverse main characters, this book is definitely one of the tickets to that adventure. While the author does state that the Maoshan tradition found in this book is purely fictional, the Maoshan tradition of Daoism does exist. M. H. Boroson expertly wove fiction and fact together to create a truly wonderful novel.

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Earth & Sky Trilogy by Megan Crewe

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As much as I wanted to love this trilogy, I simply didn’t. I couldn’t read past the first couple of chapters in any of the books. They simply weren’t that great. Nothing captured my attention in any of them. Of course, to fully understand The Clouded Sky (book 2) and A Sky Unbroken (book 3) you need to read Earth & Sky (book 1). But after five or six chapters of Earth & Sky, I was totally confused and highly disinterested.

Skylar (Sky) is a shallow character whose main concern is her own little world and whether or not something is “wrong.” While this does play into the plot of the book, I just found her to be a shallow, vapid character as she didn’t seem to have any regard for others, only herself. And the premise that she could be one of the few people on the planet who are able to tell when an alien race has “messed with” Earth, while it might sound interesting at first, ended up being less than stellar in execution.

I definitely would not recommend The Earth & Sky Trilogy to anyone unless utter confusion six chapters into a story is your thing.

I received these books for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Sound by Juliet Madison

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I read and reviewed the first book in The Delta Girls series, Sight, back in May. I loved Sight, so when I saw that Sound was now available for review, I knew I had to check it out. Boy am I glad I did.

Sight focused on Savannah, who is able to see the future. Literally see the future and the occasional ghost. But while she can see the future and the occasional ghost, her sister Serena (who happens to be one of a set of triplets along with Savannah) is able to hear the future and the occasional ghost. Sound is Serena’s story.

I found Sound to be a great, quick read. I read it in a little over 24 hours, although had I not had other things to do, I probably would have devoured it in a couple of hours like I did with Sight. The concept is simple – 5 sisters (a set of twins and a set of triplets) who happen to share a psychic ability – each can see the future via a particular sense. Talia – feel, Tamara – taste, Savannah – sight, Serena – sound, Sasha – smell. When they “connect” they can get a “full picture” for the vision. It’s a great concept and one I’d never seen before in books that deal with psychic phenomena.

Like Sight before it, Sound compasses a bit of teen romance along with the paranormal that makes it a perfect combination. The action from the paranormal keeps the book moving along at a great clip and the romance portion just rounds it out. After all, we all need love, even psychic teens!

The characters are well-rounded and well thought out. Each is unique in their own right and make the story a joy to read. And you’d never guess who is in danger from the beginning –  even the sisters had it wrong!

Do yourself a favor and check out Sound (and Sight for that matter). You won’t be disappointed!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

The Hurricane Lover by Joni Rodgers

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How do I put this without seeming like I’m being a whiny brat? I really don’t like this book. And I’ll be honest, the reasons I don’t like it are that for a mystery/thriller it moves quite slowly and the characters just, well, suck.

First, the pace of the book. Come on. I’m over half-way through the book and they literally JUST discovered the dead body and who the dead body was. What? A mystery/thriller that doesn’t have a murder victim until after the half-way point? Granted, the guy was killed before the half-way point, but come on – I was 55% done with the book and found out at about 52% who was dead? No…. I get that the story centers around events happening during/after Hurricane Katrina but good grief, the story could move a bit faster.

As for the characters – they lack depth. Shay has little to no back story at all. Corbin has more back story than Shay but even then it’s still very little. These are the two characters we see the most of and honestly, they’re not worth reading about. I prefer characters that have some substance to them – not a rich brat who works because she wants to, not because she has to and a “doctor” who is a hurricane specialist. The characters just don’t work for me.

The plot was a good one, just not well executed time-wise and the characters just needed to be more well-thought-out.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.