Greystone Valley

November 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Greystone Valley“Which one of these could I read out loud to my daughter?” I always ask that question when perusing piles of books these days.  Not necessarily because I will read the title to my kid, but should she walk up and say, “Read it LOUDER, mommy,” because I’m not reading out loud at all – I want to feel comfortable with the words coming out of my mouth and falling on her ears.

She likes to hear my voice.  Not my singing voice, just my voice.  Which surprises me.  No one likes my speaking voice – no one.  As pretty as I sing, my speaking voice is annoying to the ears.  It grates.  I know this.  This isn’t self-deprecating, this is knowing myself.  So when my daughter wants to hear me talk, it surprises me.

Jason, the head honcho of awesomeness at Grey Gecko Press, pointed at Greystone Valley and said, “Greystone Valley for sure.”  He began telling me about the little girl, featured in her pajamas on the cover.  About Keely, about the world, about all of it.  Sold.  Well, not technically, I got a freebie copy from them on my kindle.  But I put it on my priority reading list.

And I’m so glad I did.

Greystone Valley is so much fun! With the holidays coming up and everyone setting out to buy gifts – even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving, so don’t get me started – this is the book I want to put into all the parents’ hands.

It’s not just for kids.  It’s not just for parents.  It’s for both, for the relationship you have with them.  It’s for the magical worlds you want to share with them, but instead you’re caught up teaching them about the real one.  It’s pretty spectacular in every way.

For all the kids who finished Harry Potter, who know Chronicles of Narnia like the back of their hand, and have moved on from A Wrinkle in Time… for the ones looking for that next classic fantasy and just haven’t found it yet – It’s Greystone Valley, hands down.

Charlie Brooks has created something that can stand the test of time all alone as an individual story, but I’m still tapping my fingers on my night stand demanding a sequel (for the record).

Please, this holiday season, when you’re picking out book gifts for your loved ones: remember to shop indie and shop small.  There are amazing things out there to be discovered that don’t have giant window displays or the backing of multimillion dollar publishers, but that doesn’t make them less amazing.  Charlie Brooks of Grey Gecko Press is one of those amazing authors whose book deserves a special place for a special little someone under the Christmas tree.

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A Real-Time Review

June 23, 2013 at 12:33 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I always take notes and comment in the margins or in a journal through out my reviews.  But recently, I read a friend’s novel while he was on facebook chatting with me and I gave him a real time review… moment by moment, thought by thought.  He seemed entertained by this, so I thought I could try doing this with more books.  What if instead of editing a formal review after a book, I just shared my streaming thoughts?  With Prominence League Part Two, I’m giving it a try.  The following is directly from my journal this afternoon –  no edits.

Prominence League IITitle: The Prominence League Part Two

Author: C. David Cannon

Publisher: LucidBooks

Genre: Young Adult

Length: 230 pages

Mandarin Moon in my Scentsy warmer, coffee depleted, still in my pajamas, I sit down to read The Prominence League Part II. I truly enjoyed the first book, but that was baseball and this is martial arts – my element. From line one, I’m HOOKED.

Already the book shows a level of writing maturity – that confidence that radiates “I am a seasoned author now.” I hope my second book shows the same degree of improvement over my first.

I love that he starts the chapter numbers where the previous book ended. It gives you an immediate sense of continuation and begs the question – “Is there an omnibus in my future?”

Still, Cannon keeps with his love for knocking out characters. Carriane is a fainting Queen with a flair for drama. It kind of makes you wonder if she was mildly based on anyone he knew in real life and what that was like.

My favorite thing about dystopian society fiction is how it points out intentions behind real world current events.

“Now I see why people did nothing to stop it,” Ian says looking at the timeline of events in the report.  “It happened too slow, and was covered in lies the whole way.” […]

“That’s right Ian […] they weren’t trying to keep us safe from terrorists like they claimed.  In fact, they encouraged new reports of terrorist attacks, because they always beefed up their measures after one.  This was obedience training plain and simple.”

In all this fabulous story telling, though, I want to slap Carriane and her obsession with her relationship status.  But Cannon’s behind the scenes take on our current education system quickly makes me get over it, until Emerald reinstates the token young adult love triangle.

What’s with the Caleb kid that all the females salivate at his very existence? It’s like sitting through high school watching girls fawn over the boy that became the man I married.

And it’s not just the writing that is better than ever [I note after seeing a new graphic], I’m especially impressed with this round of maps and graphics.  And for the first time in the series we see a worldwide view of Carriane’s reality.

By Chapter 26, my daughter is using me as a full on jungle gym.  She has no idea that what I am reading now will be passed onto her in about eight to ten years.  There’s just so much to discuss afterward… the obvious dystopian society and personal worldview stuff – but then also the less obvious near dive into meta-fiction with Carriane’s self-absorbed reality show fantasy and the ever interesting relationship between a hero and their adventure.

Once again I find myself reading an American novelist, possibly sending me on an escape route to Canada.  Man, I need to visit Canada already! It is so often deemed a safe haven.  do they write novels in Canada about escaping to the United States?

There’s this book by Olivier Dunrea that I read to my kiddo literally every night called BooBoo,  BooBoo is a little blue gosling who likes to eat.  Almost every page she eats something and the line after goes: “Good food,” she says. My internal ear is all wonky with toddler stories as I read Cannon’s book and creep up on the end… I just want to close with:

Andi read another book.

“Good book,” she says.

So there you have it folks… my first official stream of consciousness review.

Other books you might enjoy if you read Cannon (or if you enjoyed you should read Cannon):

The Hunger Games

Seed Savers

Gone

Fizz & Peppers (Not dystopian, but an awesome adventure!)

1984

Arlington Park (Totally random – Just in case you enjoy the desire to slap characters.)

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Storybound

June 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

StoryTitle: Storybound

Author: Marissa Burt

Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens

Genre: Middle Grade/ Young Adult/ Fantasy

Length: 406 pages

Phenomenal premise! It hooked me (and the kiddo) from the cover.  It’s a delightful mix of Chronicles of Narnia meets Harry Potter.

Just look at that cover – it imbues pure magic.

Yet, it took me far too long to read it.  Mind you, a lot of it was out loud to the toddler, but even so I felt a little disconnected.

I think Storybound is genius in concept, and I even think it is well written.  A girl from the World of Readers (yes, our world) gets WRITTEN IN to the World of Story – where kids are trained on how to be heroes and ladies, archetypes are studied, there’s a class on Villainy, and the Talekeepers are basically the government.  And the Muses? A mystical group of entities from the past that have been eradicated.

Absolutely genius!

I think, however, I finally found a modern young adult book that is truly meant for young adults and didn’t manage to grasp the adult audience as the fad of young adult books has done so far.  That’s perfectly fine… it’s a fantastic book, and I intend to hunt down the sequel (Story’s End) and read it as well.  I also intend to own these sometime and have them available for my daughter to re-discover when she can read on her own.

But I will wait to find them used.  I don’t feel the need to rush to Barnes & Noble and purchase fresh new copies NOW.

As a reviewer I find this sort of situation the most difficult… you know the one: I LOVE the book, but I’m not IN LOVE with the book.  I feel as though I have failed the author in some way, like I didn’t give it a proper chance.  Maybe if I read it over here I’ll get the butterflies while I read, maybe if I change the music, maybe if I set the mood just right it will work the way I expected it to.   I’ve done this with boyfriends in the past – “he was perfect, but I just didn’t have that connection…”  That’s how I feel about Storybound, it’s perfect, but we just… didn’t… have that… connection.

So here is one I recommend, and encourage you to read; but my passion isn’t stirred and I may have to be reminded to add it to my friend and customer-renowned lists.

Adults that do fall in love with this will probably be ones who are die hard fans of the TV Show Once Upon A Time –  a show I wanted to love, but didn’t.

Kids who should get their hands on this should also have The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Above World (by Jenn Reese), The Land of Stories (by Chris Colfer), and The Castle in the Attic books (by Elizabeth Winthrop).

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