Echoes in Time by Cherie Mitchell

Summary

When Zoe and her best friend Jamie find themselves hurtling through time on an adventure she could never have dreamed possible, Zoe quickly learns that perhaps modern-day teenagers don’t have it so bad after all.

From Ancient Greece to the last voyage of the Hindenburg, from Victorian England to the Wild West, from Viking-era Scandinavia to convict-era Botany Bay and old Egypt, and many, many more recognizable periods in history, Zoe discovers that in times gone by teenagers lived a very different life to the one which she and Jamie enjoy in 2017.

But how can the girls find their way back home to their own place in time? The aperture appears to instantly open and move them on whenever the girls are in any kind of danger, but they don’t seem to have a choice as to which part of history they will end up in next. Or do they?

Can Zoe discover the answer to the riddle given to her by their new friend Baozhai’s Chinese grandmother – and will the answer help them find their way home? And will Jamie’s attitude help or hinder the girls’ chances of safely returning to where they belong?

Characters

I just couldn’t connect with either Zoe or Jamie. Jamie was over the top may times and very one dimensional. When I actually saw hope that she might change about halfway through, I was sorely disappointed it did not take. Zoe was equally as disappointing but she at least grew some with the novel and developed into more of a two dimensional character. Recognizing her adventure for what it was. Unfortunately most of the characters were very flat. Baozhai presented as an interesting character but is gone before I could even connect with her.

Plot

I couldn’t discern any logic in their zigzag through time but it was very interesting. A lesson and reminder that we are fortunate to live in our present time. A lesson that we as a species have grown but only by looking back can we move forward and grow. I can tell the author went to great lengths to stay historically accurate and I was very impressed by the span of history. However, I did not see the point of moving into the future…that was very random!

Overall

If you like history this is an interesting and quick read. This is not a character driven novel, really more about the bouncing from one historical event to another, all highlighting the life of teenagers throughout the world during different iconic times. It also touches on important aspects of being a woman in all of those times as well. It was very informative and it was nice to see that the characters didn’t just visit fun places. The holocaust being among the locations in addition to Pompeii. You are in for one wild ride!

Rating

3 stars

If you like history and would like to learn about different times this is a fun read, just don’t pay too close attention to the characters.

This is a voluntary review.

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Mosaic by Chris Keaton and Rick Taubold

Summary

Twin girls discover a mystical world contained within a crumbling mosaic, and they must restore it before an evil witch seizes its power, even if doing so could tear their family apart.

Secrets. It all started while looking for secret passages. Chloe Tozier’s impulsive twin, Zoe, insisted that all old mansions had them. Grandma denied the existence of any here. Except for the boarded-up service elevator that she conveniently forgot to mention before the girls discovered it, the elevator that didn’t seem to go anywhere. They had been living in this private museum with their grandparents since the death of their parents during an archaeology trip to Egypt.

Mysteries. Why have a museum in a tiny town in the middle of Kansas when what’s on display is nothing unusual? Sometimes packages arrived wrapped in plain brown paper that the girls never saw again. Grandpa disappeared overnight and they haven’t heard from him since. And before going to Egypt their parents had mentioned something about a mysterious mosaic. Maybe Zoe was right about family secrets. Maybe it was time to dig further.

Characters

Chloe and Zoe are super cute but very much cookie cutter characters. I never felt like they really broke out of their shell and were very two dimensional characters for most of the book. I also struggled with the story being primarily from Chloe’s perspective and almost not at all from her sister’s. That being said as the book progressed they grew on me. There are a plethora of supporting characters but most of them are amazing! Favorite character by far was Severin. He saved this book in the character department for me! I would read an entire book with just his story! The villain was a little flat, but decently evil.

Plot

This is for sure a YA plot. I loved the back story and was totally engaged in those chapters. Totally swept up in them and transported to a land before magic was taken. The plot was wrapped around a big baddie escaping and two twin teens being the only ones who can set everything right. After a wonderful opening chapter the rest started off a little slow but that was because it felt like the origin story to a series. Once you get past that introductory piece the plot focuses on the Mosaic and that is when the real fun begins. I consumed the last 40% of this book in one sitting because I JUST HAD TO KNOW!

Overall

The world building and originality of the plot behind the mosaic was this book’s strength. It is a whirl wind adventure for the second half of the book and you won’t want to put this book down once you reach that part. The writing was easy to follow and written for a YA crowd but adults who enjoy YA would enjoy as well. Vivid fantasy characters/creatures were woven throughout the book that were awesome! There were scenes that I could see playing as a movie in my head.

I was totally sucked in for the second half of the book! I’d get excited every flash back or Severin chapter showed up. They were by far the highlights of the book. The history of the Mosaic and their guardians is well with the rest of the book. If you’d like a fun adventure with a YA feel, but sure to pick this up!

My personal opinion was this would have made for an epic adult book and was actually limited by its YA characters. Although cute and fun it could have easily competed with other wonderful books had it shed its YA skin. Its YA main characters and YA friendly villain drained some of the excitement and originality of the story.

Rating

4.5 Stars

This is a solid 4 star book and well worth the time, particularly if you love YA books and characters that are tried and true. Overall a fantastically original plot/idea, but not very original heroines so I just couldn’t give it 5 stars.

This is a voluntary review.

No Fourth River: A Novel Based on a True Story by Christine Clayfield

Summary

Electroshock therapy, child abuse and modern-day slavery… just another day in Christine’s life.

Take a heart-wrenching yet inspiring ride through one woman’s incredible journey that is so compelling that you are simultaneously trying to look away and unable to stop yourself from reading on.

Christine’s father is a wealthy, tyrannical man renowned in the diamond business. At the age of just five, little Christine is cast aside into a boarding school where she is ridiculed for two embarrassing problems. She grows up in a never-ending circle of traumatic experiences both in her boarding school and at home. It culminates into a falling out between father and child that was never fully mended, leading her into a world of promiscuity and alcohol, eventually landing her in a violent marriage.

Driven to the limits of despair and heartache, she creates a plan to escape her world of misery. Will her plan work?

A story that asks: How do you find the strength, when you suffer almost unbearable abuse and are broken beyond repair, to pick up the pieces of a shattered life?

Overall

Since this is based on a true story it is a little difficult to cover “characters” and “plot.” Instead I’ll speak to the book a whole. It was touching and inspirational. There were parts that were difficult to read because of their content. I could tell the author was pouring directly from her soul as she recalled her childhood trauma. Her family was vividly detailed. When I read the part about why she named the book “The Fourth River” I was totally sucked in.

Following Christine on her turbulent journey at its heart about making choices and the power to control your destiny. It was about a terrible childhood, yes, but more than that it was about her journey to find herself and grow into the person she was always capable of being. The love story in the second half of the book was amazingly touching. The only downside to this book was there was an excess of content and repetition, both likely due to the fact that it was the author telling her story.

Rating

4 Stars

This was a powerful book. For those who ever feel like they are trapped by their circumstances will hear this author’s battle cry.

 

 

 

Game Hunter (Game Hunter, #1) by Mark Kloss

Summary:

“ZOMBIES OF THE CITY FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS”

Explosions from experimental chemicals spawn zombie mutations and turn the once famous City of London into a dark dystopia. With it comes a live TV show of grim survival between zombie and man, called Game Hunter.

Teenage male and female half-zombies, Tremayne and Red, have no choice but to be part of the dangerous zombie team in three such shows playing against seven of the deadliest game hunters money can buy. As the first show approaches death and betrayal rule, so who will you be rooting for?

Characters:

Tremayne is adorable. He is so painfully awkward but also awesome. He is sort of stuck in his younger self. He is a complex character that was fun to follow. Red is spunky and tough as nails. They make a great team and are sickeningly adorable together—cute budding romance. There is a whole host of supporting characters. Although some of the bad guys are a little over the top they were still interesting and played their part well.

Plot:

This is almost non-stop action. There are a few down time moments but it almost goes forward at a breakneck speed. I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised by most of what happened. Although some of the action did get a little repetitive most of it moves it forward. At times I’d forget this was a zombie book. I liked the aspect of being different doesn’t mean you aren’t still a person who deserves rights.

Overall:

This book was a lot of fun! It was funny and didn’t take itself too seriously. It starts off really strong but sort of languishes in the middle before circling back around and getting right back to being awesome. The characters are very well written and I liked nearly all of them!

Rating:

4 Stars

A fun zombie romp! If you love zombie books with a coming of age plot and lots of action this is perfect for you.

 

 

2017 in Review – Best Reads

2017 Reading Stats

Goal for 2017: 45

Number of books read: 59

Number of books reviewed: 55

Best Books of 2017:

1st place goes to:

Where the Waters turn Black.jpg

Patrick, Benedict – Where the Waters turn Black (Fantasy) (Review) (Amazon)

Here is why: For the second year in a row I’ve been blown away by Benedict’s amazing writing style and unique approach. Where the Water Turns Black is completely different from this first book and I would give this book six stars if I could. Where They Mostly Come Out at Night amazed me, this endeared itself to me from the get go – amazing plot, fantastic characters, and vivid world building. Not to mention the ending was just AMAZING! This is a must read!

FYI the third one is out and I am STOCKED to read it!

2nd place goes to:

Burner (5 Stars).jpg

Lenore, J.S. – Burner (Supernatural) (Review)(Amazon)

Here is why: I love The Dresden series and this was like Dresden’s spunky love child. Burner was a unique and addicting read. It was hard to put this book down once I started reading it! Not to mention the main character was so wonderfully stubborn but lovable. Looking forward to more!

3rd place goes to:

Michael's Passion.jpg

Crofoot, Joel – Michael’s Passion (A Series of Angels #1) (Paranormal Romance) (Review)(Amazon)

Here is why: When I started reading this book I wasn’t expecting much. Perhaps it was the silly cover but after page two I was sucked in. I couldn’t put it down. It was steamy and romantic, yes, but there was an actual plot! A unique take that just grabs you by the shoulders and pulls you on a romantic journey – don’t worry there are more and they are just as good!

 

 

Best Crime (Mystery/Suspense):

Midnight over Moores (5 stars).jpg

Johnson, A.M.H – Midnight Over Moores (Book #1) (YA Paranormal) (Review)(Amazon)

I really surprised by how cute this novel was. The best part was the mystery!

 

 

Best Fantasy:

Where the Waters turn Black.jpg

Patrick, Benedict – Where the Waters turn Black (Fantasy) (Review) (Amazon)

I cannot get over this book! It was that fantastic.

Best Romance:

Michael's Passion.jpgAsael's Nature (5 stars).jpg

A tie for two of Joel’s books.

Crofoot, Joel – Asael’s Nature (A Series of Angels #3) (Paranormal Romance) (Review)(Amazon)

Crofoot, Joel – Michael’s Passion (A Series of Angels #1) (Paranormal Romance) (Review)(Amazon)

Once you start reading these just realize you are kissing a weekend goodbye – they are that amazing!

Best Paranormal/Supernatural:

Burner (5 Stars).jpg

Lenore, J.S. – Burner (Supernatural) (Review)(Amazon)

Loved all the twists and turns of the mystery but the supernatural aspects of this novels really made it one of the best!

 

Best Short Story:

Loved in Hell (4 stars).jpg

Cole, Dia – Lover in Hell (Short Story Paranormal Romance) (Review) (Amazon)

The fact that I don’t like zombie anything and I enjoyed this short story tells you it was good!

Best Urban (anything):

In What Remains (4.5 stars).jpg

Rose, K.B. – In What Remains (Romance) (Review) (Amazon)

I was really floored by the gritty realism of this book. It was a nail bitter that was hard to predict!

Best Young Adult:

The Shadow Girl (5 Stars).jpg

Mount, Misty – Shadow Girl (Young Adult) (Review)(Amazon)

Perfect for ages 10-25. If you are socially awkward and love fantasy this is a must read!

Best Wattpad:

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Boring is the new Black by Megan Bryce (Review) (Amazon)

Once more I love Megan Bryce!

 

If you loved these make sure you check the Best Books of 2016

Unsung Hero of 2016:

This is a book that I loved that didn’t win a placement last year.

Burn - Elemental Hearts Book 1 (5 stars).jpg

This book was hot hot hot! I read it late in 2016 and didn’t realize how much I loved it until later into 2017 when I read the 2nd book in the series. For sure a steamy must read!

Painted by Kirsten McKenzie

Summary

When art appraiser Anita Cassatt is sent to catalogue the extensive collection of reclusive artist Leo Kubin, it isn’t only the chilly atmosphere of the secluded house making her shiver.

Upon entering the house, Anita stands before a silent audience of portraits clustered on every wall. Every painted eye is watching her, including those of the unfinished portrait on the artist’s easel. A portrait with an eerie familiarity.

Kubin’s lawyer didn’t share the detailed instructions regarding the handling of the art, and Anita and her team start work in ignorance of the very instructions designed to keep them safe.

Disturbed, a man eases himself out of his portrait and stretches. Free at last from the confines of his canvas, he has no intention of ever returning. He has a painting to finish…

Characters

This was probably the biggest drawback to this book. When I started reading this Anita was a pretty well formed but blah character. After the rest of the group shows up I just couldn’t stand her! She kept making the same stupid choices but then so did all of them. I felt like they were all the typical horror movie characters. I was almost rooting for the villain! (The ghost not the other evil one). Almost none of them have any sense of self-preservation. Downside the author does a ridiculous amount of head hoping instead of going full narration. Also the lawyer is so over the top that it was a little painful to read at times—pretty sure he didn’t have a single good trait.

Plot

This is a horror based ghost story. It does an excellent job building the tension and is without a doubt super creepy. The ancient house, the moving portraits, and the hapless heroine. It had all the elements of a horror story and was super gripping. Downside it was such a cliche! I struggled through the idiotic characters and almost repetitive decision making.

I did appreciate two major points of this book. There was a plot within a plot and the author didn’t play it safe with the ending. Those were what took me from despising this book to sort of blinking in surprise at the last page. I don’t want to give anything away but it was refreshing!

Overall

I have a love hate relationship with this book. There were aspects of it I just loved and there were aspects I just hated! I liked the start of the book with Anita but after others arrive starting with the lawyer, all of the characters take a nose dive and never really recover. Mostly because of their completely illogical decision making that seemed only to exist to shock or drive the plot in a very specific direction. While the nail biting plot had me hooked and I just had to know the ending. Although I did see aspects of it coming, I was utterly surprised at the way the author ended it. That aspect is what really hit home as being a good book.

Rating

3.5 stars (one up and one down)

It doesn’t deserve 3 stars because it was better than that, but it wasn’t a solid 4 star book in my mind. A tense book that has all of the hallmarks of a good horror just not good characters!

This is a voluntary review.