Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher #atozchallenge

You can't stop the future. 
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Review:

So I initially was going to read thirteen before I binge watched the new show. Yeah.... that didn't quite work out. lol. My daughter really wanted to watch it and I ended up watching the whole thing in one sitting. 

I liked both versions equally. They both bring a very dark subject into the light and I think give it the attention it needs. I heard from someone recently that there has been some backlash. That some people are saying they feel both the book and the show glorify suicide. As someone who has had their own close relationship with the topic I have to disagree. I even recently read an interview that the author gave that said originally he planned to have Hannah live. But decided against it because it would have given the reader the idea that suicide wasn't permanent, or something along those lines. 

But I am not here to start a debate or fan girl over a tv show. I am here to review a book. (and maybe fangirl over it a bit. lol)

So on with the show!

I loved this book. I think it takes a heartbreaking topic and shows it in an honest light. Because of it's huge popularity it also opens a door for the readers to discuss said topic without the stigma that has become attached to it.

The characters. OMGS. Just yeah. I knew how the book ended. There wasn't going to be some magic last minute twist that brought Hannah back, yet I still couldn't help getting attached to her and Clay. Obviously you don't get to know the supporting characters as well in the book as you do in the show. But I didn't miss that. The book didn't give me a chance to. Where the show investigates how everyone effected Hannah and was effected by her death, the book is just the raw emotion of Hannah and Clay. One isn't better than the other, they're just different. But since the only two characters who's viewpoints you get to see in the book are theirs it just makes it a bit more raw. You also get to a better look at how she saw Clay. Why she was interested in him in the first place. Why she didn't see a way to make things work for him. 

The author did an amazing job of telling Hannah's story from her pov. You read it and you want to say "But no Hannah, there are other choices!" But that's the point. In her mind there wasn't. That's one of the hardest parts to explain to someone who has never had to struggle with suicidal thoughts. Even if you know there are better choices. You need help to get away from that mind set. In Hannah's case she even realized that, but when she reached out the person she asked for help just didn't. 

That's another thing, a lot of the time when someone reaches out they aren't taken seriously. I admit it is a hard thing for someone in good mental health to understand. That things are SO bad that the only acceptable plan of action would be one that leaves the opportunity for other choices to never happen again. But that's where a suicidal persons mind takes them. Sometimes even when they have enough left to want to ask for help they still can't take it. The person who wants to help them has to realize they have to hold on and not let go. Because it can be a constant battle. Somehow Asher is able to bring all of that to the table. He shows Hannah acknowledging that she can't do it alone. At the same time showing Clay coming to the realization that maybe there was something he could have done if he had just seen the signs. But that at the same time even someone who was supposed to see them wasn't able to help her. I'm not trying to be negative and say that she couldn't have been helped. I just think the help she needed was way more than Clay would have been able to provide on his own. 

But Asher is able to weave both their voices together to show both sides of the issue. From the very first page the reader is drawn in and long after the final page they still aren't let go. This isn't just another teenage angst ridden ill-fated romance. If you haven't seen the show or read the book, for whatever reason, I think that you should definitely at least read the book. Yes, It's heartbreaking. Yes, the girl died. No, I'm not going to give a spoiler alert on that one, you find out she's dead at the beginning of the book.  There is no magic or hero. There is only Clay and Hannah and their story. But it is so worth reading for whatever lesson you think to take from it. Whether it's suicide isn't the answer to you should be kind because you never know how your actions effect others. I think this is a book that should be read and discussed and read again. Even in it's simplicity the author has found a way to move the reader. For that reason alone it deserves to be read.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

S is for Salem's Vengeance by Aaron Galvin #atozchallenge

Salem's Vengeance

Amazon Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Kelly never expected to meet the Devil’s daughter. She only sought innocent dancing in the moonlight, not a coven entranced by their dark priestess. 
When her friends partake of a powder meant to conjure spirits - and the results go horribly awry - Sarah is forced to make a choice. To keep their secret risks her own damnation, but to condemn them may invoke the accusing remnants of Salem to rise again.

My Review:

Salem's Vengeance was a good read. I was intrigued by the authors take on the Salem incident. Just to clear up something though, the story itself does not take place in Salem. 
The story is told from the MCs POV.  But through her eye you are still able to get a decent understanding of the supporting characters. I like them all enough to want to find out what happens to them after the end of the book.
While the ending does leave some strings untied, it doesn't end on a cliffie, which is always a good thing in my book. lol
From the looks of this one the series should be good. I definitely plan on picking up the next book as soon as I get the chance.  

Salem is quick paced and a solid read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to fill their summer reading list. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

R is for The Rescue by Keith Ward #atozchallenge

The Rescue

Bookfunnel Summary:

Courage Can Be Deadly
Kertram isn't what he was. Yesterday, before the Transfer, he was meek and timid. Today, he's bold and fearless. His life has taken a turn for the better, he believes. 
That belief is challenged when he comes face-to-face with the most fearsome animal alive. Run or fight? Life is full of tough choices when you're 10.

My Review: 

The Rescue is a solid introduction to Slypht, the world that Ward has created.

I liked the characters, the creatures and the magic. The story is short and is set up to lead into a larger story or series, but it is still capable of standing on its own. Although I really do hope that Kertram's story is continued in another, hopefully longer, book. I liked seeing his world through his new eyes.
I also want to see what else the world of Slypht contains. Especially what other kinds of dragons there are.    

I received a copy of The Rescue as part of subscribing to Keith Wards Newsletter. I'd love to provide you with a link to where you could purchase it, but I couldn't find it anywhere besides the link in the newsletter. So I've given you the link to sign up yourself instead. On the upside I got a cool book out of it and he doesn't seem to blowup my email with a new newsletter every 10 minutes. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Q is for The Queen of the She-Zombies by Raol Mavin

Red Blade is a legendary Paladin, the youngest and the most skilled of the Holy Knights. Young and having lived in exclusively sheltered monasteries where women are not allowed, Red Blade is not comfortable in the presence of women. Now he has to face the vicious but sensual she-zombies.

Azulanja, the Queen of the She-Zombies, raises an army of she-zombies with her demonic power. Her foul and evil minions are sexually arousing, allowing the She-zombies to easily subdue and hold in thrall their male victims, before sucking dry their life and flesh. 

Vi is a deadly and sexy assassin, the most beautiful woman that Red Blade has ever seen. She was in her quest of ridding the world of demons and zombies when her path crossed with Red Blade’s. Now, together with Red Blade, she is trying to stop Azulanja and her horde of she-zombies.

Will they manage to rid the world of the terror of the she-zombies? Or will they end up as the plaything of the Zombie Queen?

My Review:

So earlier this month was zombies in space.  Today I bring you zombie erotica...

Yeah, you read that right. 

Zombie. Erotica.

(and it's not written by Tina Belcher.

I wasn't too sure about zombie sex. I'm still not. But if you're going to make a porno with zombies this is definitely one way to do it.

So when I read erotica that has a story I expect that if I take out the sex scenes that there will be an actual story. I think with Queen you can could get that. I mean you would have to re-write how the zombies take the males energy. But I think it could be done. There were also parts that I actually laughed out. They were just really over the top. I'm not sure if that is what the author intended. But they were funny to me. 

There were some spots that felt rushed. Considering the length of the book I don't see any reason for it. Obviously the author was going for some kind of story, not just straight porn, so it didn't need to be rushed.  Also there were a couple things that just felt thrown in for the sake of it. For example the final sex scene involving the MCs. It went from being erotica sex to romance sex. Love and feelings and all that. Look I get it, he's a virgin. They tend to fall in love with anything that will let them do it. But still. Really? I could see them having feeling yes, but Love of their lives type feelings... Not just yet. Then there was the tentacle rape scene... It just felt like it was thrown in to get the hentai crowd. 

 "But AimeeKay!!," you say, "IT'S a friggin' erotica!!"

 Yeah, I know. But the book felt like a story with extremely erotica tendencies, not just an erotic novel with intervals that were just lead ins to the next sex scene.  So I'm gonna judge it on a different scale. Now if the author says he wants me to just judge it on its erotic moments...? Well that's a completely different review. 

So anyway. The cover does have the warning about mature, explicit, offensive content. Yes, that is definitely a truth in advertising warning. DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK FOR YOUR KID!!! NO!!! 
Now if you're an adult that's a different story. It's free for kindle on amazon at the moment. It's a unique twist on zombies. And like I said some of it's so over the top it's fun. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

P is for Project Snow by Cherita Smith #atozchallenge

Snow White meets genetic engineering in this captivating novelette that blends science fiction and fairy tale — you'll be hooked from the very first line... 

Like most engineered kids, Amara can't wait to turn sixteen. Sixteen means confirmation of immunity to the aging infection that plagues mankind. And confirmation means freedom, leaving behind the quarantine of the Tower where she's lived all her life for a new life in the city — no filtration veils required.

But the queen has other plans. The queen is dying and needs a new heart. Daughter or not, Amara's will do. A Guardsman wants to save Amara, but is it for love, or his own dark want?

My Review:

I love rewritten fairy tales. It's always fun to see how the author decides to re-invision a classic. Sometimes it ends up not even resembling the original. Honestly as long as it is written well that's all that matters. In the case of Project Snow there are definite nods to the original and it definitely excels in the well written category. 

I really enjoyed Smith's version. It isn't an obvious  Snow White. There is an evil queen and a huntsman as well as a few other Snow White references. But here's the thing, if you took out the references that make it obviously a new version it would still be a really good book. The world Smith has built is interesting. The characters make you care about them.  Even the ending, which I hope is a set up for either a larger novel or even the start to a series, has it's own unique twist.  

Even if you're not a big fan of fairy tale rewrites I still think you should pick up this book. Especially since it's currently only .99 cents on Amazon. It's well written. Even if there aren't any further books related to this specific title, I still can't wait to read more from this author.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

O is for One for the Road by Chad Lutzke #atozchallenge

A teenage boy deals with his family's decision to keep his undead grandfather captive in the attic. How far would you go for those you love?

My Review:

One is short, only 14 pages, but it is interesting. I'd like to see what the story would look like if expanded into a larger format. The ending feels kind of abrupt. After all the word the kid goes through I would have liked to see what came of his actions. Obviously his parents are going to find out.  But otherwise it was a decent short story. I definitely got a feel for the authors voice and I would be willing to read more by him.  In the end isn't that the main point of short stories? Especially free ones? To give you a chance to meet the author and their creation without having to commit to a full length novel. This story did that and achieved its purpose to those ends. Again there are still some unanswered questions and as this isn't listed as being a prequel or connected to another book or series I don't feel I'll have them answered. But I did enjoy the story. I do plan to pick up more of his work and I would recommend this story to others.

Monday, April 17, 2017

N is for Not Just Voodoo ~~ Anthology #atozchallenge

To celebrate the release of Something Like Voodoo by New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton, we've put together this paranormal fantasy collection of short stories that include works from some of her favorite authors!

Most of the stories in this specially curated collection are brand new, exclusive content - never before distributed anywhere else and yours for the taking!

If you're in the mood for unique magic and familiar creatures, this anthology is sure to add spark to your day!


Margo Bond Collins - Major Arcana 

Erin Hayes - I Wish I Weren’t A Djinni 

Aileen Harkwood - Splintered Magic

L.C. Hibbett - Wicked Witch

Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squiers - Journal of Abigail DiAngelo 

Katerina Martinez - The Witch and the Thief

K.N. Lee - Awakened

Nicole Zoltack - Gavin’s Gamble

Debbie Cassidy - Deadtown

Alicia Rades - Visions Among Frost 

Monica Corwin - The Dying of the Light 

Jasmine Walt - Tested by Magic

Thea Atkinson - Reaper’s Redemption

Rebecca Hamilton - Leaves Like Magic

My Review:

I found out about Not Just Voodoo through Rebecca Hamilton's newsletter.  

Depending on the Anthology I have 2 ways of reviewing. The first, where I review the collection as a whole. The second is where I do a mini-review for each story.  I've decided to do the second for Not Just Voodoo. 

Overall I really enjoyed the anthology. I definitely recommend picking it up. 

Major Arcana by Margo Bond Collins -- So sweet!  Some twists I did not expect.  Plus it's a prequel to another book, so can find out more about the characters that I was starting to become attached to.

I Wish I Weren't A Djinni by Erin Hayes -- Liked this one too! lol. It's a stand alone, but I wouldn't mind visiting Hayes worlds again.  Lot's of fun and a HEA. 

Splintered Magic by Aileen Harkwood--Creepy, in a good way. Towards the end it felt rushed. I don't know if that would be the case if it had been a longer format. I definitely want to find out more about the MC and her family. So I'd be willing to read more from this author. 

Wicked Witch by L.C. Hibbett -- Loved this one! The series it is a part of comes out this year. Can't wait! I want to find out what happens to Destiny. I also want to see more of the world the author has built. It looks like tons of fun.

Journal of Abigail DiAngelo by Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squiers -- This one started out slow, but evened itself out. By the end I had really started to root for Abby and I hope that there is a book out there that tells more of her adventures.

The Witch and the Thief by Katerina Martinez --Interesting. It definitely is set up to lead into a larger story. The story didn't pull me in as much as some of the previous ones did.  But I'm still putting it on my wish list since I am interested to see where the story goes.

Awakened by K.N. Lee -- This was drew me in. Again, it is more of a lead in than a stand alone. I still have so many questions. How is Willa going to live in the Spirit Witch's castle and still be married, much less attend university? How was she planning on keeping her secret from whoever she ends up marrying? and many more. I want to know!! 

Gavin's Gamble by Nicole Zoltack --So this one ends rather suddenly. So suddenly it feels a bit incomplete. I know, I know... Most short stories these days are prequels or lead ins to a full-fledged novel or series. But usually they feel like they can at least some what stand on their own. I AM curious to find out what happens to Gavin and from the author info after wards it looks as if this is a prequel for one of the authors books. So I should be able to see what happens to him. But again the way it felt like it ended mid story kinda threw me off. 

Deadtown by Debbie Cassidy --Oooooo... this one is GOOOD!!! I really hope a book comes out with more adventures of Daria and Ethan. The world Cassidy has built for them to run around in looks really cool too.

Visions Among Frost by Alicia Rades -- Ok. So sad. I mean it has a not so sad ending. But still wanted to cry. 

The Dying of the Light by Monica Corwin -- I don't usually like crime stories. But this one looks interesting. I especially want to find out more about the world the author has created.

Tested by Magic by Jasmine Walt --Another procedural. I swear I can hear the *dundun* at the beginning of each chapter. lol. While I AM serious about that, I will say that I enjoyed this one a lot too. Between the world that Walt has created and the MC I was drawn in from beginning to end. The other thing about this one. It felt longer then it actually was, but in a good way. 

Reaper's Redemption by Thea Atkinson -- This one's short, yet interesting. You get just enough of the story to leave you wanting more. I'm definitely going to have to check out the series that it's a part of. 

Leaves Like Magic by Rebecca Hamilton -- Another one that feels almost like a complete story. The characters and their world kept me reading. I do want to find out more about both. 

Overall I think this anthology is awesome! I really love anthologies anyway because you get to see a whole bunch of writers in one place. You get a sense of their voice and it's in a short story/novella format so if you don't enjoy one author in particular it's not like you've committed a huge amount of time.  I definitely have a whole bunch of new authors to check out after the challenge is over.