Month: April 2015

Review & Interview: ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

All The Rage.inddALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

St. Martin’s Griffin (April 14, 2015) YA

Branded a liar when she accuses the sheriff’s son of rape, Romy Grey walks in two contrasting worlds:  the community who bullies her for speaking the truth and the cafe she works at where no one knows about her past.  Where she meets a young man who becomes the example of how men should behave toward women.  However, Romy can’t escape the shame and silence of her past and it clouds this budding romance.

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Review: DREAMFIRE by Kit Alloway

DreamfireDreamfire by Kit Alloway

St. Martin’s Griffin / Feb 2015 ~ 4.5 Stars

This well written debut novel introduces readers to Joshlyn Weaver, a dream walker who like other members of her family saves people from their worst nightmares. She either solves the problem, wakes up the person who is actually dreaming or aborts the mission – escapes from the nightmare. Dreamwalkers are just as human as those they try to protect and they can die in the nightmare worlds too. Joshlyn knows this better than anyone. She lost her boyfriend and her mother in one of those realms.

Now, on her 17th birthday, Joshlyn is considered an adult by her society and one of the best, most talented dreamwalkers of her generation. With the new status, comes a new responsibility. She must train an apprentice.

Will delivers pizzas and never expects an introduction to literally strange new worlds when he agrees to a job interview at the Weaver household. Abandoned by his own parents, he finds solace in self-help books. This knowledge will not only help when he begins entering other people’s nightmares, it also helps with his “trainer,” who suffers from PTSD. Despite his background or perhaps because of it, Will is kind, empathetic and a healer who doubles as a warrior. Then again, he could be a warrior who doubles as a healer.

As the nightmares intensify during Will’s training, the two find themselves contending with gas-masked adversaries who break what Josh thinks of as the tenets of dream walking. Her usual allies in the so-called, “real” world just aren’t there for her this time. Tensions mount, not just with what she faces, but also between her and Will when she finds herself attracted to him. And then she has high school too! Aargh!

The story started out a bit slowly, but the pacing eventually picked up by about a third of the way into the book. Kit Alloway’s descriptions of the nightmare worlds entranced, horrified and trapped the reader as much as the characters. Some of these characters weren’t as well developed as they could have been, but there were sufficient hints at the beginning to let me know who Josh trusted and didn’t trust.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a series since there were unanswered questions and unresolved issues between Josh and Will. They are falling in love, but more importantly they “like” each other and they are “real” partners, which will hopefully save both their lives. Now, if Alloway will only write another book about Josh and Will to share what happens to them after this story because it simply can’t end here.

This review was provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the April 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: REBELLION by Stephanie Diaz

RebellionRebellion (Extraction #2) by Stephanie Diaz

St. Martin’s Griffin / Feb 2015 ~ 4 Stars

This is the second book in the Extraction series and some readers may be a bit concerned if they missed the first book. They don’t need to worry. Clementine, the heroine shares more than enough of her backstory that those readers probably won’t miss the initial volume. She lives or rather survives on Kiel, a planet with a toxic atmosphere. At sixteen, she passes the tests to move to the Core, the safe interior below the surface, and be with the elite society on her world. Yes, this is similar to what happens in Divergent with overtones of Hunger Games. However unlike those books, Clementine doesn’t have any parents to advise her or a kid sister to guide and love. So, where does her community originate? That may have been a question answered in the first book.

Leaving her true love, Logan on the surface to continue being slave labor, Clementine soon discovered that her new perfect home wasn’t a home, wasn’t perfect. So, Clementine unites with the other dissatisfied, angry militants and joins the revolution which is where this book starts. She and Logan are determined to save the day as well as their fellow citizens.

This was a fairly fast-paced story, except for all those flashbacks when Clementine remembered every bad thing that happened to her previously in the Core. The episodes of PTSD felt authentic. More description of Kiel and the social structure would have added to the tension. How did Commander Charlie, the adversary in charge of Kiel become such a dictator? He certainly wasn’t elected to the position, but how was he chosen? When did the people who lived and slaved on the surface give up their autonomy? There must have been previous rebellions. If not, why not? And if there were, what happened to those people? Hmm, another question rose – if the kids on the surface had to worry about being tested for Extraction at sixteen and being killed at the age of twenty when they didn’t pass the tests, then how did Commander Charlie continue to have a labor force?

In addition to those unanswered questions, sometimes the characters felt too familiar. There were so many similarities to other popular dystopian YA novels. Despite those similarities, this story actually worked very well. It had an interesting setting which needed more details, a strong female protagonist that whined a bit more than necessary but she was willing to put her life on the line to save others, and a decent plot with a climax that successfully leads toward the third book, the culmination of the series. It may not happen until this summer, but readers can look forward to learning what happens next and root for Clementine and her allies as they continue and hopefully win their war.

This review was provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the April 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: AN UNTAMED STATE by Roxane Gay

An Untamed StateAN UNTAMED STATE By Roxane Gay

Grove Press, Black Cat (May 2014) Women’s Fiction / 368 pages

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places.

Not always easy to read, but impossible to put down, this book captures the reader and doesn’t turn you loose until the last page.

The first half of the book is Mireille’s ordeal at the hands of her captives. They systematically break her down until even she has to deny that Mireille exists to endure their torture. In her mind she becomes nothing because it doesn’t matter what happens to nothing.

The last half is her powerful journey back to herself as friends and family struggle to comprehend what she has been through and how to help.

Ms. Gay’s writing is exceptional. If I had to find it flaw it would be the amount of backstory that was integrated into the first half of the book. Most of it was necessary but the constant digression was a bit distracting sometimes. Still, I highly recommend this powerful, haunting journey of a victim who becomes not only a survivor, but an overcomer.

Reviewed by the Eclectic Express for the April 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: JUST YOU WAIT by Jane Tesh

Just You WaitJUST YOU WAIT Grace Street Mysteries By Jane Tesh

Poisoned Pen Press (Feb 2015) Mystery with paranormal elements / 255 pages

David Randall, a private detective short of work, invites his psychic friend Camden into a case. Miss Viola Mitchell, an aging local actress, has recently been reported missing. While Cam rejects demands from his fiancée that they marry this month his psychic gifts have expanded. Meanwhile, a new Grace Street client is searching for her arrogant, absconding partner. Randall tracks him to Clearwater, Florida, and soon finds himself chasing shoplifters stealing pharmaceuticals and helping a jazz musician woo his woman while failing to woo his own love, Kary. Will Randall and Cam piece all this together?

Another great addition to the series, Just You Wait brings us back into the lives of the residents of 302 Grace Street. While I usually wouldn’t use the word “delightful” when talking about a mystery, this series is a delight to read.

Tesh’s series are not an edge-of-your-seat mystery but I find I can’t put them down. Full of surprises and marvelous characters this book delivers.

Reviewed by the Eclectic Express for the April 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: DEAD FLOAT: A Cal Claxton Mystery by Warren C. Easley

Dead FloatDEAD FLOAT: A Cal Claxton Mystery By Warren C. Easley

Poisoned Pen Press (July 2014) Mystery / 250 pages

If you are a fly fisherman, it doesn’t get any better than the salmon fly hatch on the Deschutes River, Oregon’s legendary trout fishing venue. Cal Claxton–a small town lawyer who works to fish–has to pinch himself when his best friend and fishing guide, Philip Lone Deer, asks him to help guide an upcoming trip with a group of executives from a high tech firm in Portland. But the trip through the remote Deschutes River Canyon turns ugly when a member of the fishing party turns up murdered. Everyone in the party is a suspect, including Cal himself. Does the fact that the company’s value is about to explode play into the crime? And what about the freight line running along the river. Does Philip’s theory that the killer came and left on a train hold water? Cal better come up with answers because he’s suspect number one…

The setting of this book is Dundee, Oregon and I happen to live in the next town so I know what I’m talking about when I say he captures setting beautifully.

Easley’s characters come alive, his plot complex and full of surprises. Grab a copy and start to read because the only thing better than a great mystery is a mystery that includes a day on the river.

Reviewed by the Eclectic Express for the April 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: DAYS OF LOVE: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of LoveDays of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle Published July 2014

This book, a compilation of Elisa Rolle’s blog entries over a period of several years, is a work that belongs in every college and university that has a Gender Studies or Queer Studies program. If I were wealthy, I’d order copies for every public library in America.

Elisa is well-known by gay authors and fans of gay romance for her reviews and film listings – I have found things on her blog that I’ve seen nowhere else – but I think that this book will outlive her and serve as a lasting resource for anyone who wants to get a sense of the scope of gay history. T

hat may make this book sound dry and academic. It is anything but. This is a wonderful collection of love stories, sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic, always real. For those of us who came out after Stonewall, Days gives a glimpse of how tough things were for those who came before. For our elders, who lived through it, I hope it gives the recognition that is their due.

If I were doing by-the-number scores, I would give this ten catnip toys out of a possible … 5.

It is just that good.

Reviewed by Ace Katzenbooks for the April 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.