5 Star Review: Characters

So what is 5 star review?  Well, this is where, as a reviewer, I let you know what makes me rate your book 5 stars – or not.  This week’s topic: characters.

Please note that some things that turn me off to your book as a reader/reviewer turn others on and vice versa.


Characters

There’s so much I could write about characters, so I picked just a few things.  Characters in books I rate 5 stars are likeable, evolving, and complex.  Characters are the “who” of the story.  We typically think of them as people, but animals, and even objects can be personified and become characters.

  1. You could describe an ant as hardworking and persistent.  You could write a story about how an ant overcame seemingly impossible odds to find food and feed its colony.
  2. You could write a story about a train that wants to take a trip off of the tracks – oh, wait…that’s called The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper.

But there needs to be someone or something that is the center of the story.  Someone that we can connect to as a reader.  Someone that is likeable.  This would be your POV (point of view) character.  The reader needs to be able to “feel” and “care” for the people telling the story.  Would you go to a random person’s wedding or high school graduation?  Do you cry when you read the obituary section in the newspaper?  If you have nothing invested in these people, then no…you don’t care.  The closer you become with the people, the more you are affected by what happens in “their” life.

I love You.  I hate You.  Either way, I care enough to notice you.

Now, don’t confuse “likeable” with good.  Sometimes the villain is more likeable than the hero – like Hannibal Lector vs Will Graham in Red Dragon by Thomas Harris or Megamind vs Metroman (yes, I know…a movie!).  Sometimes the hero is horribly flawed like Sherlock Holmes – socially inept.  Humpert Humpert in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – pedophile.  And if you can make both the villain and the hero likeable, that’s even more awesome.

And likeable certainly does not mean perfect.  Think about it.  Would you want your best friend to be rich beyond belief, gorgeous, athletic, brilliant, and extremely lucky?  And why don’t we also make this person have a few supernatural powers and be the Chosen One.  No, I don’t think you want to be friends with Mary Sue.  Besides the obvious jealousy, readers have trouble relating to a character like that.  You have flaws, therefore your characters should have flaws.

And CLUMSY is not a big enough game changer of a flaw to be the only flaw.  Unless…you plan on your character tripping, smacking into the villain and the villain’s extended knife, which is perfectly positioned to plunge into the heat, and the character dies.  If that happens, I can say, “Man, I’d rather be ugly than clumsy.  At least no one ever died from being too ugly.”  Then, and only then will you get full points in the character department with an otherwise completely Mary Sue character.

The Story of Evolution

There are two types of characters:  those that change over the course of the novel (dynamic) and those that stay the same (stagnant).  Most novels have both characters.  The key to having dynamic characters is to make their evolution from the starting person to the end a very believable transition.  The change in the characters need to be proportional to the situation for it to be believable.  You can either have a lot of minor events that contribute to the change or you can have one major event that triggers a change.

Character trait:  Character is a loyal wife.  Then she has an affair.

  • Believable:  Scene after scene we have the wife doing things without her husband.  He spends no time with her and she grows increasingly lonely, until she meets someone to fill the void – a neighbor.
  • Not-believable:  Husband forgot take out trash.  Wife screws her neighbor when she sees him at his trash can next door.

Character trait:  Character used to love spending all her time with animals.  Not anymore.

  • Believable:  Character quits veterinarian job after own pet dies and there was nothing she could do to save Fluffy.  Every animal she sees reminds her of her dead dog and she can’t bear it.
  • Not-believable:  Character quits veterinarian job because ants have invaded her kitchen and THIS MEANS WAR!  Every animal is a potential enemy now.

A thousand faces

Do you act the same way in front of your parents or your boss as you do your friends?  Your lover?  If the answer is yes, then please find the nearest exit and “get a life”.  teenagers especially treat different people differently.  They might be more joking around their friends.  Quieter around someone they like.  And more conservative (both in dress and speech) in front of their parents.  There might be conflicting information for the reader.

Example:  Suzy tells John that she can’t stand Bobby, but Suzy then tells Bobby that she likes hanging around him.

What does this mean?  It means that either Suzy is hiding her true feelings from John about Bobby or Suzy is hiding her true feelings from Bobby about himself.  To one of these guys, Suzy is honest.  To the other guy, Suzy is a liar.  She is still one person, but has conflicting character traits.  She is complex and that’s how I like my characters.

Readers:  What do you think makes a character likeable?

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Booking Through Thursday: Cover Story Part 2

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Booking Through Thursday asks a random question to bloggers each week.  This week’s question:

Are there any good books that you read IN SPITE OF the cover and ended up wondering what on earth the artist and publisher were thinking to pair up a cover that so badly represented a perfectly good book?

And … if you didn’t like the cover, what made you pick up the book? The author? Assigned reading from school? A recommendation from a friend?


I’m going to get blasted for this one, but I did NOT like the Harry Potter book covers.  I thought that they were cartoony and childish.  Despite all of my friends saying how awesome the books were, I waited until book 5 was released before I finally picked up the book.  I loved it.  I’ve read it probably 10 times since then.  I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction.  I played Harry Potter RPGs.  I took hundreds of sorting quizzes online – I’m a Slytherin by the way.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Seriously, I was so wrong on this one.

5 Star Review: Pacing

So what is 5 star review?  Well, this is where, as a reviewer, I let you know what makes me rate your book 5 stars – or not.  This week’s topic: pacing

Please note that some things that turn me off to your book as a reader/reviewer turn others on and vice versa.


Pacing

Since we’re talking about good pacing this week, I promise that I won’t ramble on like I have with these topics before.  I’ve read quite a few books that suffer from a lack of good pacing.  I think one of the biggest amateur author mistakes is including too much non-relevant information.  There has to be a point to every scene.  Worse is when the pacing slows on the “boring” parts of the characters’ stories and speeds up when the “exciting” stuff happens.  It’s frustrating to read four or five pages about Mindy drinking her morning coffee and then two sentences about how she ran over a guy last summer.  Why couldn’t there be five pages about the hit and run instead?  Even as a flashback, it is much more entertaining than reading about someone eating or driving a car or sleeping.

So, what is the pace of a story?  It is how fast the plot advances in the story.  The plot advances much faster in action scenes than in narratives and the writing on the page should reflect this change.  Let’s start by focusing on this post.  The top section of the post is wordy and the text takes up the entire page from left to right.  It will take you, as the reader, double the amount of time to read these two paragraphs than to read the next two “sections”.

How to speed up the pace:

  1. – Shorter sentences
  2. – Less descriptions
  3. – More action
  4. – Back and forth dialogue.

How to slow down the pace:

  1. – Long, complex sentences
  2. – More descriptions
  3. – Minimal action
  4. – Monologues/narrative

Of course, there needs to be a balance.  Too much white on a page is just as tiring as too little.  I like a very fast pace “thriller” feel to the books I read.  In my mind, if the characters aren’t talking or the characters aren’t moving, then it’s not important.  Long narratives lose my interest quickly and so do long monologues, which tend to happen when the author is trying to “info-dump” through dialogue.  Other readers might enjoy the slower sections of the novel to relax their mind and “take a breather” so to speak.

Books that I thought had awesome pacing:

Books that I thought had problems with pacing

Reader:  Do you like fast paced books, leisurely paced books, or something in between?  Or does it depend on the genre?

Booking Through Thursday: Cover Story

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Booking Through Thursday asks a random question to bloggers each week.  This week’s question:

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but there’s no question that it can make a difference!  What book(s) have your favorite covers? Something that’s perfect for the story, the tone, the colors, the mood…  And did you pick up the book BECAUSE of the cover? Or were you going to read it anyway, and the cover was just serendipitous?

Well, there’s one book that I did pick up for its cover.  Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.  I just love the vibrant orange color.  I haven’t finished reading it because my review list keeps getting in the way, but I’m glad that I did pick it up.  Tinkerbell was my favorite Disney character for a few years and its such a delight to read a retelling of Peter Pan from her point of view.

Book Description:  Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Book Review: Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

I originally agreed to review this book back in August and expected to get to it on my TBR list last month.  Had I known how much I would of liked it, I would have read it the instant the author sent it to me.  I suppose that one good thing about waiting is that the sequel The Burning Bush released September 28th, so I don’t have to wait long before finding out what happens next with Lenore.  You can check out more information on Burning Bush (Habitat #2) on Goodreads.  I haven’t had much luck with Urban Fantasy books, but Fire Baptized changed my mind about removing that genre from the list of books I review.  Check out my review below and then make sure you pick up your own copy.

And dare I say this….I’ve had amazing luck with books this week.  I think I’ve loved every single one of them!


Fire Baptized (Habitat #1) by Kenya Wright

Publisher:  Dragonfairy Publishing

Genre: Urban Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook or paperback Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Review:

Overview:  I was seriously done with urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  I’ve began to feel like it’s the same old characters with the same old problems and they all end the same.  Urban fantasy in particular has disappointed me lately and I admit that it took me much longer than it should have to finally read this book.  After reading the first chapter of Fire Baptized, I KNEW that this was special and different.  First off, this main character is not a detective or in law enforcement.  Secondly, Lenore is not your average female.  Thirdly, this book is much darker and more disturbing than most urban fantasies.  This book never scared me but there were several disturbing and gory scenes that gave it a horror feel at times.  Fourthly (is that a word?), Lenore is part of the underclass and the segregation and class differences/lack of rights is really compelling.

Characters:  There is a love triangle, but this is no love triangle you’ve ever read before.  Lanore has two male companions who both want to be with her.  She refuses to be exclusive and instead chapter by chapter she alternates between the two men becoming more and more involved with each one.  This drives MeShack and Zulu crazy with jealousy, but they only pursue her further.  In other words, Lanore is a playa.  This role, usually reserved for males, makes for a very entertaining read.  I couldn’t guess which one she wanted and I’m guessing that she would have been happy with both – had the guys agreed.  There are some awesome lines in this book:

“I don’t need your protection.”  I extended my hand to the side, pushed a large fireball out of my palm, and said, “Wow, look at that.  Isn’t that amazing? I did it all by myself. I can dress myself and wipe my own ass, too.”  – Lenore to Zulu.

Plot:  The book begins with Lanore witnessing a murder and the murderer knows.  Lanore notifies the police but she’s unsatisfied with being idle and searching for the identity of the murderer on her own.  Be careful which characters you get attached to in Fire Baptized, but the murderer is not satisfied with killing only one person.I appreciated the details the author made to make this fantasy world seem authentic.  There were several references to historical events that she put an urban fantasy spin.  Like, the black panthers were actually black panther shapeshifters.

Ending:  The mystery of who the killer is (and who Lenore will be with) is solved, but Lenore (and the reader) gets a glimpse of something at the end, which will change everything she thought she knew.  It’s a decent end to this part of her life, but I’m so thrilled that the next book is already released so that I don’t have to wait too long before finding out what happens in her life next.

Book Description:

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

Rating:  A

An urban fantasy containing a love triangle with almost too much love.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.


Book Review: Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Publisher:  Momentum Books

Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure

Arcadian Genesis released September 1st, 2012.  You can buy it on ebook Amazon, iTunes bookstore, Kobo, or Booki.sh.  More reviews available on Goodreads and more information available on the publisher’s website.

Review:

The first thing I noticed when reading Arcadian Genesis was how vivid and complete the world of Alex Hunter was.  It’s like the author slipped on his favorite pair of shoes when writing this book.  It’s so polished that you’d think Alex Hunter himself was writing the book.  Being written (mostly) from the POV of an emotionally detached guy, there is some trouble feeling for the other characters, which is a good thing considering how many deaths there are in this book.  And in some chapters, there is so much carnage and chaos that you’re not quite sure who is left alive until the next chapter begins.

I must say that the pacing is incredibly fast for the majority of the story, and you really have to pay close attention or you’ll lose track of what’s going on very quickly (and with a small child running around, I did have to reread some parts).  Every word counts in this story and by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you read a story twice as thick because of how much information, world-building, and action is crammed into Arcadian Genesis.

As far as technical care, Greig Beck’s writing feels a lot like Brad Thor, but Alex Hunter is way less of a ladies man than Harvath.  Alex is consumed by revenge for the deaths of his family and no detailed is spared in exactly how he transforms into a cold-blooded killer.  Lots of gore and death.  No character is safe.  For anyone that has read other books in this series, you know how it ends.  For anyone else, you will be surprised.

Book Description:

Alex Hunter – in the mission that turned him from a normal man into the weapon known as the Arcadian – and the elite team of soldiers known as the Hotzone All-Forces Warfare Commandos must enter a hostile country to rescue a defected Chechen researcher from the center of a country at war.

But the HAWCs are not the only ones looking for the rogue scientist and the mysterious package he carries with him. A brutal and relentless killer and his death squad are on the trail too – and they bring a savagery with them that Hunter and his team have never witnessed before in modern warfare.

In this stunning prequel to Beneath the Dark Ice, the HAWC team must race the clock to rescue the scientist, prevent the package from falling into the wrong hands … and save the world from a horror that should never have been woken.

Arcadian Genesis features a sample chapter from Greig Beck’s forthcoming novel Black Mountain.

This is the prequel to the Alex Hunter series.  Check out the covers to the other books in this series.

Rating:  A

This is a great book for those who want grit of an action novel in a vivid science fiction world.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

I’m an Australian author residing in Sydney with my wife, son and oversized black German Shepherd named Jess. My novels are now available in more than ten countries, and coming soon in full AUDIO format.

I grew up spending my days surfing at Bondi Beach before entering a career in Information technology which took me around the world. After completing an MBA, i was appointed both an Australasian director of a multinational software company, and tasked with setting up the USA arm of the organisation.

Today, I’m still involved in IT, but spend most of my time writing… with plenty left over for surfing.


Book Review: Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Publisher:  Samhain Publishing

Genre: Horror

You can buy it on ebook Amazon or from the publisher’s website.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

I’m not sure what I expected from this novella, but Swamp Monster Massacre was one hell of a fun book to read.  As typical of monster novels (and movies) there is a very large cast in the beginning of the book and a much smaller cast by the end.  There are some characters that didn’t have much opportunity to develop before they suffered a very painful and gory death, but the ones that survived until the end definitely had my vote.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that I liked it.  And as much as I love horror novels, I typically hate how stories in this genre end.  Not so with this book.  It ended perfectly.  There was just enough closure to know that the worst could be over for the survivors.

I did enjoy the fact that the characters had a different flavor than what I’m used to.  The star of the show was the original bad guy.  The rest of the cast is different and enough is said about them to know that they’re typical people who got on the wrong boat.  I’m pretty sure that none of them will ever decide to tour the Florida Everglades again.  I did have a hell of a fun time reading it, but I wasn’t scared.  This is more focused on the gore and if you like brains and dismembered limbs, than this is a perfect book for you.

Book Description:

Deep in the overgrown swamps of Florida, where humans rarely dare to enter, lives a race of creatures long thought to be only the stuff of legend. They walk upright but are stronger, taller and more brutal than any man. And when a small boat of tourists, held captive by a fleeing criminal, accidentally kills one of the swamp dwellers’ young, the creatures are filled with a terrifyingly human emotion—a merciless lust for vengeance that will paint the trees red with blood.

Rating:  B

This book guarantees hours of entertainment for monster lovers.

I received a copy of this book as part of the RABT tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal, as well as the upcoming Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He is also half of the Monster Men video podcast, a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

5 Star Review: Content Rating

So what is 5 star review?  Well, this is where, as a reviewer, I let you know what makes me rate your book 5 stars – or not.  This week’s topic: content rating

Please note that some things that turn me off to your book as a reader/reviewer turn others on and vice versa.


Content rating – What is appropriate for each age group?

At the moment, books don’t have content ratings like movies or video games on the cover.  The debate as to whether they should is split evenly according to this poll on Hellum.  So how do readers know whether or not there is offensive material within a book without these ratings?  Are there sex scenes?  Graphic deaths?  Make outs or just kissing?  Lesbian/Gay relationships (which I don’t find offensive, but some people do)?  Animal cruelty?  Drugs?

Books don’t have content ratings. Or do they?  Bookstores separate books by more than genre.  In fact, genres are a subcategory when searching for the book you want.  The primary division in a bookstore is age.

There is a section for children’s books, middle grade, young adult, adult, and erotica.  Although there are some books that bend the “rules” of an age group like Go the F*** to sleep, most adhere to what is and what isn’t appropriate for a particular age.  As a reviewer, I mention in my reviews whether I feel like a book is geared towards a particular age group or if it would fit better somewhere else.  I think practically any topic can be in any age group, but I do think that it needs to be handled very differently for each age group.  Please note that what I think is appropriate might be different that what you think is appropriate.  This topic, however, has impacted what I rate a book in the past.  So, let’s break this down, shall we?

Picture/Children’s Books:

Although I don’t typically review picture books on this blog, I will rate them on Amazon.  Picture books are meant for children under five and usually read out loud.  Sensitive topics like death, abuse, divorce, and sex need to be handled with care.  You shouldn’t have a character “die”.  Children don’t understand the concept of someone never coming back.  If they see someone die, then they think that the person is sleeping and not waking up.  Children want to be reunited someday with this person, so probably the best way to handle death is to say that the person went to Heaven, on vacation, or a special place.

As far as sex goes, I really don’t think that any parent wants to explain the physics of sex and making babies to a child.  Kissing is about as hardcore as you can get with this age group without having your book thrown into a fireplace or on the banned books list.  Abuse is a difficult topic but one that I’ve seen handled very well for this age group.  I don’t think that you should ever have the abuse “on screen”.  This is better told and not shown.  The most important thing when handling this topic is to emphasis that abuse is WRONG and the victim (whether a child or adult) is never to be BLAMED.  Like abuse, the important thing to remember when talking about divorce is BLAME.  It is not the child’s fault and parents shouldn’t badmouth each other “on screen”.

Middle Grade:

There isn’t much difference between what is appropriate for picture books and what is appropriate for middle grade books, except when dealing with death.  By this age, children understand that the deceased won’t be coming back.  Children this age still see the world in black/white, so convincing them that a murderer is the good guy or that a parent is evil is a hard sell.  They understand the simple equation that guy + girl = baby and even the parts required to make babies, but keep everything off screen but the kissing.  No naked people.  No touching the nether regions.  Sometimes there are four letter words in this age bracket, but the person who speaks these obscenities is always casted in a negative light or punished for speaking like that.  Likewise with drugs and alcohol.  Don’t glamorize these vices in middle grade books.

Young Adult:  

I’m a real advocate for anything goes in this age bracket.  Well, except hard porn.  Soft porn is okay.  Nipples.  Crotch.  Naked people.  The major difference between young adult sex scenes and adult/erotica is the focus on the scene.  In young adult the focus is on the emotion.  The characters are in love and awkward.  They worry.  They think.  There is more narrating about what the character is thinking than what the character is doing.  In adult/erotica the focus is about performance and orgasms.  The details are in the positions and not what the characters are thinking.

Violence and gore is something that I don’t have much of a problem reading, but many teens and adult fans of this genre don’t enjoy reading.  So, I would say that it’s okay to have someone get shot in the head.  It probably wouldn’t be okay to have the gray brain matter splatter all over someones else’s face and then start describing what it tastes like.  (I do wonder how authors know what things like this taste like.)  Also, animals and children are off limits.  You can kill them, but no torture at all.

Adult/Erotica:

I’ve downrated books in this age bracket for being too safe. When writing a book for children and teens, you should be concerned about what topics to tread carefully with.  When writing a book for adults, you should be concerned about telling the story and not about offending people.  Fade to black during fight or sex scenes makes me feel like you were too lazy to write it.  Sex is exciting.  It is way more exciting that reading about your character’s morning routine after having sex.  I also expect that the characters advance past first base – please don’t make the climax his tongue is her mouth unless this is chick lit.  Obviously, if I were to read an erotica novel that didn’t have graphic sex scenes, the book would be rated poorly.  A book about soldiers in battle should have detailed battle scenes.  Show.  Show.  Show!

TL;DR?

If the book is for people under 18, be careful how you write certain topics.

If the book is for people 18 and older, always show not tell.

Readers:  What rating would you give a book that had teenage characters but detailed sex scenes?  Would it be YA or Adult?  Would you let your kid read Go the F*** to sleep?

Book Review: More by T.M. Franklin

More by T. M. Franklin

Publisher:  TWCS Publishing House

Genre: YA Paranormal

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and on paperback only for Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:  The best thing about this book was that it used split perspectives effectively.  It was amazing how different Caleb and Ava viewed the world and how each one was essential to the story.  Caleb’s POV described the magical world and his role as protector.  Ava’s POV described the normal world and how Caleb’s attitude and protector status was downright creepy stalker at times (but at least he acknowledged that his actions did imitate that of a stalker, which added to the realism).  It’s true that there’s always three sides to a story, and the reader’s job is to connect the two versions and fill in the blanks.  I really think that this book was THE best dual POV book I’ve read all year.

Characters:  There is no instant love between Ava and Caleb and the back and forth between the two is quite entertaining.  I really liked Caleb’s attitude and the fact that he was willing to lie to Ava straight to her face repeatedly.  Ava kept asking Caleb if there was something strange about him.  Caleb’s answer?  “Nope…”  *touches Ava’s forehead and delete Ava’s memory of the conversation…again.*  He totally reminded me of MIB.  Lucy was a fun character too and I really enjoyed how she tried to push Ava and Caleb together when the couple kept resisting a romance.  Ava, herself, took a very realistic approach to the whole magic thing.  She didn’t outright deny that it existed (like most heroines) and sought instead to find evidence that things weren’t as they seemed.

Plot:  Ava always wanted to be a special girl.  She thought she did magic this one time.  But, she never expected how special she really was or how much her life would flip upside down when Caleb started tutoring her for college physics.  This was a fun, quick read for me.  The action/drama takes precedence over the romance, which is a good thing.  The only predictable part of the book was the romance.  The plot was definitely not predictable.  Ava kept doing the craziest things, which made me love her more and more.  There was a steady flow of twists to keep the reader busy if the chemistry between Ava and Caleb wasn’t enough.

Ending:  It took me the entire book to realise how the cover ties into the story.  Nice touch.  So, all I can say is “sequel, please?”.

Book Description:

Ava Michaels used to think she was special.

As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn’t so bad after all.

Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core.

Because Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he’s not entirely human, and he’s not the only one.

Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she’s not actually normal . . . she’s not even just special.

She’s a little bit more.

Rating:  A

This is how you use dual POV.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Author’s Website.)

T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.


Booking Through Thursday: Burn

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Booking Through Thursday asks a random question to bloggers each week.  This week’s question:

 If your house was burning down and you could save just one book from your collection … what would it be?

My current collection of books is only a few years old.  The books that I truly cherish are in a relative’s house a few thousand miles away…stuck in storage until I can figure out a non-expensive way to transport them.  In that collection of books, there is one that is very special to me.  It is a copy of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery that was given to my mother from her parents as a child.  It is the only thing of my grandparents (they’re both deceased) that has survived the many moves that both my mother and I have made over the years.  I’d be devastated if I lost that book permanently.

What book would you save?