Fever (Wither #2) – YA Dystopian Book Review

•April 29, 2017 • 1 Comment

I’m enjoying this series because I love a good dystopian story, and I’m anxiously waiting for the resolution in the 3rd and final book of this trilogy. Check out my review of Wither here.

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I will say, though, that while this second book, Fever, was still a good read, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the first. As is the case in some 2nd or middle books of a series, you find yourself kind of in that in-between stage of initial action and climax. It’s not quite as intriguing because you’re already familiar with the storyline and the conflict is already established, but you’re not quite to the climax of the series yet. That generally happens in the 3rd and final book. So there you are in that slow-moving, melancholy state, when you’d really just like to get the show going and see what will ultimately happen.

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At least that’s how I felt with this book. I remember thinking the same thing with the 2nd book in the Twilight series and a few others. I didn’t think that in several other series, though, like The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, etc., so it’s not impossible to keep the momentum going.

I think part of the issue is that much of the book dealt with the narrator, Rhine, being either drugged and hallucinating, very sick and out of it, or very depressed and out of it.  Or all of the above at once. It got a little repetitive, but not too bad. I think the author did okay with using different descriptions and phrases most of the time, but it did get kind of melancholy and slow. I wanted action and scenes where I could imagine what’s happening, and instead there was a lot of inner monologue about her emotions, what she was going to do or wanted to do, and the crazy things going on inside of her groggy/hallucinatory head. With so much abstract, hard-to-grasp stuff, I became kind of lost at times. Not confused lost, but just…lost. Which is probably what the author was going for – for us to go with Rhine in her trippy, in and out of consciousness state. I just didn’t like to stay there or go back there that often.

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Aside from that, like I said, I still enjoyed the book and got through it fairly quickly. I’m still enjoying the series and can’t wait for the end. I’ll let you know what I think when I get there. Until then, happy reading!

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Wither – YA Dystopian Book Review

•April 26, 2017 • 2 Comments

First, let me say that I truly love dystopian novels. I love seeing how screwed up the dystopian societies are and then getting to the hope at the end. It forces us to look at our own world, sometimes with appreciation that we’re not as bad as their society, but often with somber reflection, knowing we aren’t that far removed from some of the corruption and evils illustrated in these novels.

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Now let me say that I have mixed feelings about the Chemical Garden Trilogy so far. I’ve finished Wither and am about 1/4 of the way through Fever. With dystopian novels, you have to try to keep in mind that these characters grew up in this messed up world and many don’t know any better or think it’s normal. Oftentimes, we can sort of excuse some of their faults because of this. Effie in The Hunger Games is the perfect example. She clearly represents the corrupt and frivolous Capitol, but we soon realize, as Katniss does, that she’s simply a product of her society and how she was raised. It’s not her fault, and she does have some redeeming qualities. So we pity her and even eventually like her instead of hate her.

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A society being screwed up in a dystopian novel is just a given. And sometimes the reality of that society is a hard pill to swallow, like in the Unwind series. However, I found this dystopian world to be especially disconcerting. And maybe that’s why I had a hard time knowing how to feel about the “Effie” of the book, Governor Linden, who has 3 wives including the main character, 16-year-old Rhine, and a 13-year-old girl. Although the book isn’t exactly graphic about what goes on with the characters, we know exactly what happens, and I must say…it doesn’t always set well in my stomach.

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I will say the author does a fairly good job of being realistic yet careful with how Rhine feels about her husband, Linden. Her emotions and thoughts make sense, but it also leaves us kind of confused and torn when we really just want to hate the guy.

The premise is that a disease has taken over the population so that males die at 25 and women die at 20. Because of this, to keep the population going, and to produce babies to be experimented on to find a cure, girls as young as 12 or 13 are snatched off the streets and sold to be sister wives or worse, prostitutes. Some are even killed if they can’t be sold. Girls are seen as disposable things to be used and thrown away if they have no purpose anymore. Many young orphan girls who eventually grow into young women are forced into prostitution to make a living.

Violence against women, sex trafficking, and the sexualization of women are topics that I am very passionate about, and that’s probably why it’s been so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this is normal for this society. Many characters don’t think it’s right, but most have given up hope that it will ever be any different.

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On a positive note, the premise and the plot are both very intriguing and kept me hooked the whole time. The author also has some very beautiful and poignant ways to describe things to set the tone, help us understand the characters, or illustrate a theme. I didn’t find these gems as much in the first half, but there are several after that.

On a negative note, I felt like there was some lack of detail in the world building. Some of the issues I just didn’t really buy into. Like why do the guys have to kidnap their wives? Can’t they just get married like usual but just young? How did women/girls become so degraded and thought of as nothing so quickly? I understand that as an author you don’t want to spend too much time giving information, but some of “the way things came to be” stuff wasn’t fully explained or believable.

Now, all that being said, I would still give this book a 4/5. Dystopian books are hard to write, and I recognize that a lot of this is probably just my personal bias and perspective because of my beliefs and feelings. It is still a very good read, and I will definitely be finishing out the series. I might be cringing through the whole thing…but I will finish it. 🙂

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Coffee is Life

•April 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

And now for something a little more light-hearted. Happy Friday, everyone!

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To anyone who has ever said they could never foster…

•April 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In honor of the Oklahoma Call to Action day (along with National Child Abuse Prevention and then Foster Care Awareness Month coming up)…

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To anyone who has ever said they could never foster…

 

If and when you lose a foster child,

As hard as it may be,

You won’t think,

“Gee, I wish I loved on that kid less.”

Because once you cross that line from detached caregiver to loving parent –

The line that, once crossed, binds your heart to theirs –

You won’t regret anything.

A love like that makes you go through fires willingly,

Realizing that whatever that child needs you would gladly give it…

Even if it means ultimately giving away a piece of your heart.

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Therefore, I vow to love these children with my whole heart,

Because whatever pieces I may lose, I know God can and will replace them.

And I would rather have a patchwork heart,

Molded and shaped by the Master Creator,

Than a stiff heart too scared to love.

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Release Day Giveaway and Promo Offer!

•March 17, 2017 • 2 Comments

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I am so excited to finally share with the world the sequel to Shadow Eyes, Luminous Spirits!

To make things interesting I’ve put together a little something, something for you. A giveaway AND a discount! Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a print copy of either book in the series! 1 winner will get that, and 3 more will get an eBook of their choice.

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Also, from 3/17-3/24, the first book, Shadow Eyes, is on sale for ONLY 99 CENTS!

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Get your copy here!

For those who haven’t read Shadow Eyes, let’s look at the synopsis.

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Iris thought she could ignore the shadows…until they came after everyone she loved.

Seventeen-year- old Iris Kohl has been able to see both dark and light figures ever since a tragic incident three years ago. The problem is, no one else seems to see them, and even worse…the dark figures terrorize humans, but Iris is powerless to stop them.

Although she’s learned to deal with watching shadows harass everyone around her, Iris is soon forced to question everything she thinks she knows about her world and herself. Her sanity, strength, and will power are tested to the limits by not only the shadows, but also a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows, a new friend with an awe-inspiriting aura, and a mysterious, alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, Iris must ultimately accept the guidance of an angel to revisit the most horrific event of her life and become the hero she was meant to be.

Now let’s check out the synopsis for Luminous Spirits

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Old habits die hard. Old enemies, even harder.

Iris must now perfect her newfound abilities in order to help her shadow-oppressed family and friends, but more importantly, she must prepare for an impending fight with her most hated adversary. After the arrival of a new mean girl who seems to have history with Iris’s boyfriend, Iris quickly figures out that she is anything but the typical mean girl. She not only creates havoc and conflict among Iris and her friends, but her presence also means that Iris’s inevitable confrontation with her enemy may, in fact, be closer than she thought.

If Iris can figure out why the new girl is there and what her enemy is planning, she’ll at least be one step ahead of their game. But will she be ready when the time comes to face her biggest challenge yet? Or will they succeed in tearing Iris apart before she even has the chance?

My Unique Readers

•March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Marketing the Shadow Eyes series is an interesting and challenging venture. The series fits under many “umbrellas,” which helps in some ways when trying to find readers.

The easy part is that it’s a young adult novel, which is such a rapidly growing genre, appealing to ages way beyond the teenage years. I’ve had women pushing 70 that read and loved Shadow Eyes, and I know of several “grandmas” that regularly read young adult fiction. The genre is a lovely balance of entertainment rivaling any popular movie or TV show and deep meaning with themes that relate to anyone, not just teens.

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The Shadow Eyes series is also classified as Urban Fantasy, so readers who generally like supernatural/paranormal/fantasy elements that are set in a realistic world they can relate to will probably to enjoy it. Think The Mortal Instruments (City of Bones), Supernatural, Twilight, Teen Wolf, and Buffy (for those who go way back…). This genre is one of my favorites (dystopian is the other!) because it allows us to delve into fantastical characters, ideas, and events that would be impossible in our lives, but it’s not so out there like typical fantasy that we can’t easily imagine ourselves as the protagonist. Because, let’s face it, putting yourself in the protagonist’s shoes and living vicariously through her/him is one of the best parts of reading!

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The thing that SETS THIS SERIES APART from others, however, is the SPIRITUAL YET EDGY aspect. The Shadow Eyes series is not what you’d call Christian fiction (it’s a little too racy for that, honestly, and it doesn’t say anything overtly religious), but it does have spiritual undertones by the nature of the plot of shadows and light figures (demons and angels) and by the way I chose to portray this world and how the characters interact in it. I believe my stories are just as intriguing and edgy as most popular young adult books, but they have an added spiritual and moral undertone. My goal was not to preach to kids but to give young people (and old) a genre they could read that uplifted and influenced them in a positive way instead of encouraging or condoning typically-accepted bad behaviors. The classic theme of good versus evil shines through this series, and that’s something anyone can relate to. I’m excited to continue writing in this unique crossover genre – Edgy YA Spiritual Urban Fantasy – in future series as well.

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Image Copyrighted – Eti Swinford, Dreamstime

So read it for your own enjoyment and/or give it to a friend, daughter, granddaughter, or niece (guys enjoy it too but it is a little more geared towards girls/women).

CONTENT WARNING: Just know that there is some content, in the first book more so, that is PG-13. You may want to be cautious recommending it to anyone under 14/15, though, depending on what they’ve already read.

Check out the Shadow Eyes series page for the synopses of both books, or click on the links on the side.

Old Habits Die Hard; Old Enemies, Even Harder

•March 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

We are go for launch!

You can now pre-order Luminous Spirits, the long-awaited (and I’m talking 5 years for some people) sequel of my young adult, urban fantasy, Shadow Eyes! It’s up as a kindle ebook on Amazon here. The paperback will be ready to order soon on Amazon as well. Also, both are available for free in kindle unlimited!

For those who haven’t read Shadow Eyes yet, here’s a little insider’s tip…Shadow Eyes will be free on release day, which is now pushed back to Friday, March 17th! Also, some time after that I’ll be promoting it for 99 cents.

For now, here’s the cover again and the synopsis!

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Old habits die hard. Old enemies, even harder.

Iris must now perfect her newfound abilities in order to help her shadow-oppressed family and friends, but more importantly, she must prepare for an impending fight with her most hated adversary. After the arrival of a new mean girl who seems to have history with Iris’s boyfriend, Iris quickly figures out that she is anything but the typical mean girl. She not only creates havoc and conflict among Iris and her friends, but her presence also means that Iris’s inevitable confrontation with her enemy may, in fact, be closer than she thought.

If Iris can figure out why the new girl is there and what her enemy is planning, she’ll at least be one step ahead of their game. But will she be ready when the time comes to face her biggest challenge yet? Or will they succeed in tearing Iris apart before she even has the chance?

 

Also, if you haven’t checked out the trailer, here it is! My former student, Jake Dickerson, composed the music for me, and it is so fitting for the book. I love it!