Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke






Title: The Boy Who Could See Demons
Author: Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Publication Date: May 10th, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Pages: 288
ISBN13: 978-0345536549
Source: ARC from Publisher

Rating:

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Bestselling author Carolyn Jess-Cooke has written a brilliant novel of suspense that delves into the recesses of the human mind and soul—perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Lisa Unger. The Boy Who Could See Demons follows a child psychologist who comes up against a career-defining case—one that threatens to unravel her own painful past and jeopardizes the life of a boy who can see the impossible.

Dr. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, is called in to work at MacNeice House, an adolescent mental health treatment center. There she is told to observe and assess Alex Connolly, a keenly intelligent, sensitive ten-year-old coping with his mother’s latest suicide attempt. Alex is in need of serious counseling: He has been harming himself and others, often during blackouts. At the root of his destructive behavior, Alex claims, is his imaginary “friend” Ruen, a cunning demon who urges Alex to bend to his often violent will.

But Anya has seen this kind of behavior before—with her own daughter, Poppy, who suffered from early-onset schizophrenia. Determined to help Alex out of his darkness, Anya begins to treat the child. But soon strange and alarming coincidences compel Anya to wonder: Is Alex’s condition a cruel trick of the mind? Or is Ruen not so make-believe after all? The reality, it turns out, is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.


A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Boy Who Could See Demons sets out to challenge the imagination and capture the way life takes unexpected turns. In the best storytelling tradition, it leaves the reader changed.

  


Carolyn Jess-Cooke was born in 1978 in Belfast, Northern Ireland – right around the corner from C. S. Lewis’ birthplace. She started writing as a child, producing first a book of illustrated short stories at the age of seven, then a series of novels and poetry collections. After years of pestering publishers she finally saw her work in print at the age of seventeen; since then her work has appeared in such prestigious publications as Poetry Review, Poetry London, Ambit, Magma, Poetry Wales, The SHOp, Poetry Ireland, and The Stinging Fly, and on a variety of non-print media, including a poem that has been set into a 700m ribbon of steel at the Roseberry Park Medical Facility in Middlesbrough – currently the largest piece of public textual art in the UK. Carolyn has performed her work at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, the Ledbury Poetry Festival and at the Irish Writer’s Centre, and has received numerous awards, including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a place in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, an major Arts Council of England Award, the Tyrone Guthrie Prize for Poetry, and she has twice received a Northern Promise Award.
Following a first class honours degree in English Literature and Classical Studies at the Queen’s University of Belfast, Carolyn received a scholarship to study for a Masters degree in Creative Writing, during which she developed the first drafts of what would later become her debut poetry collection, INROADS. Working as a piano tutor, pianist, photographer, and the occasional acting stint, Carolyn travelled the world during this time and lived for several years in Sydney, Australia. Later completing a PhD in Shakespeare on film, Carolyn took up an academic post in film studies at the University of Sunderland in 2005 followed by a senior post at the University of Northumbria in 2009, where she was Programme Leader for the degree in English and Creative Writing.

Carolyn has published four non-fiction books in the areas of Shakespeare, film, and sequels, a poetry collection (INROADS [Seren, 2010]), and her debut novel, THE GUARDIAN ANGEL’S JOURNAL, about a woman who dies and goes back in time as her own guardian angel, was published in the UK & Commonweath by Piatkus/Little, Brown as their 2011 superlead title and immediately hit the Bookseller’s Heatseeker’s chart. The Guardian Angel’s Journal is published in 22 languages. Carolyn’s second novel, The Boy Who Could See Demons, was published in the UK by Piatkus and in the US by Bantam Dell/Random House, as well as in 10 other languages to date. Carolyn’s second poetry collection, Boom!, about motherhood, is being published by Seren in 2014.


      The Boy Who Could See Demons is a phenomenal psychological thriller written with a fluent rhythmic prose and a storyline that will haunt you in the most delectable ways. Carolyn Jess-Cooke has emerged from a background of poetry and created a novel-sized masterpiece that will leave you breathless. This is one of those books that will cause you to slowly and carefully turn the last page and soak in the richness of everything you just experienced. It's one of those books that requires a "moment of silence" after you've finished reading it. I don't think I can stress how brilliant I found this book.

     Dr. Anya Molokova is a psychiatrist who is treating a young boy with a troubled disposition and the ability to see demons. However, Anya is also fighting with demons of her own kind after acknowledging the 4 year anniversary of her schizophrenic daughter's death. For those who are fascinated by psychological thrillers, the journey through the boy's treatment and the family dynamics integrated into the story will leave you reeling with questions and eager to turn the next page.

     There were so many elements of The Boy Who Could See Demons that I devoured while reading. The consistency of the text was spot on, and the reader has something to learn in the process. It was enchanting to absorb the mind of someone who suffers from mental illness. The author clearly did her research and opened a whole new territory of reality to her readers who may not have experienced situations such as these. I love books that keep me curious and asking questions.

     I will note that there are two versions of this book. There is a UK version and a US version. The two are similar other than their covers, and most importantly, their endings. They are the same book until you reach that final chapter. Apparently, the author rewrote the ending when it was released in the US. Now, I haven't read the UK ending, but I've read about it. I won't give any spoilers, but there are some controversies about how the book ended. My opinion? I LOVED the US ending. I thought the book was brilliant before, but after that...it raised to a whole new level brilliance that I could barely even comprehend. I hope to somehow get a chance to read the alternate ending so I can compare.

     If you like to delve into the mind of those suffering from mental illness, and enjoy a good mystery and suspenseful plot-twist written by a true word-painter...then you need to grab yourself a copy of this book! I had received a copy for my eReader, but I've already purchased the hardcover for my own personal library and recommended it to several of my Social Work friends. 5 bright, shiny, red giant stars!

Here's the UK cover. Which one do you like better?

Review: The Donor (The Donor #1) by Nikki Rae






Title: The Donor
Series: The Donor #1
Author: Nikki Rae
Publication Date: July 14th, 2014
Publisher: Amazon
Genre: Novella, New Adult Mystery
Pages: 31
Source: ARC from Author

Rating:

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Casey Williams and her family are poor. Her parents work non-stop and so does she, just so they can keep the trailer roof from leaking.

They’re getting by fine enough when the headaches start. Then there’s the nosebleeds. And the inevitable doctor’s bills.

Fortunately for Casey, there’s MyTrueMatch.com: an exclusive, quick, and almost easy way to pay it all back before her parents even have to know.

All she has to do is give a man she’s never met whatever he wants from her body.


Inside or out.
 



Nikki Rae is a writer who lives in New Jersey. As an independent author, she has appeared numerously on Amazon Best Seller lists and she concentrates on making her imaginary characters as real as possible. 

Nikki writes mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely. 



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      Okay so my review for this is going to be a little different since this is the first volume of a series of novellas. Oh. my. lanta. I am really anxious for the next novella!! Nikki Rae's writing style is smooth and consistent while her story development is rich in content. 

The Donor begins with Casey, an 18-year-old who works to make ends meet for herself and her family. A co-worker tells her about this website called MyTrueMatch.com. Granted, we assume what this site is used for. But as the story unfolds, we get a better glimpse into what this website is really about. Thus, Rae sets quite the mystery into motion and leaves you nothing short of wanting more. 

So far, I've been captured in these first 31 pages. I wish I could write more, but it was over before I knew it, and the reader is left on a bit of a cliffhanger. It's going to be difficult waiting for the next installment! 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Series Review & GIVEAWAY: The Star Catcher (A Star Child Novel Vol. 3) by Stephanie Keyes






Title: The Star Catcher
Series: A Star Child Novel, Vol. 3
Author: Stephanie Keyes
Publication Date: November 10th 2013
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Genre: Young Adult Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 421
ISBN13: 978-1-93959-021-3
Source: ARC from Publisher

Rating:

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
 Magick and destiny intertwine as he fights to save his kingdom and the goddess he loves.

Her kiss…the feel of her skin…the beat of her heart…For seventeen-year-old Kellen St. James, each memory is marred by a single sentence on a lone strip of paper.
Cali has been taken…

Armed with an amulet that channels the ultimate power of Faerie, Kellen searches for his love. However, control of the amulet’s energy comes with a price, and Kellen soon learns that Cali’s captor has plans for the stone. With the threat of the Star Catcher’s evil looming above Kellen and his kingdom, he’ll have to free the Heart of Faerie and break the curse the binds the Children of Danu to the darkness. But before that, he has to find his real father, the king. No pressure, right?

Kellen and Cali will battle bewitched armies and unknown foes as they fight to stay together. Will Kellen embrace his immortal destiny? Or will his world, and the man he is fated to become, be destroyed by The Star Catcher?

Praise for The Star Catcher:

“Imaginative and fast-paced. Couldn’t put it down!”—EG Foley, New York Times bestselling author of The Gryphon Chronicles

“Magnificent—Keyes imagination is on fire!”—Linn B. Halton, author Never Alone


  


Stephanie Keyes is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child, which currently includes The Star Child, After Faerie, The Fallen Stars, and the soon to-be-released finale, The Star Catcher (November 2013), all from by Inkspell Publishing. Mrs. Keyes is hard at work on a new YA Paranormal Romance.

Mrs. Keyes holds an undergraduate degree in Business and Management Information Systems from Robert Morris University and a M.Ed. from Duquesne University. She is a member of the Society For Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as well as a featured author in the global group of writers, Love a Happy Ending.com.


  The Star Catcher by Stephanie Keyes is a superb conclusion to her Star Child series. I had the pleasure of reading all three books, and I'll be honest with you, it's been quite a while since I've read a Young Adult series that I felt was written fluently and I actually enjoyed as a whole. Stephanie Keyes' style of writing is easy for readers to understand, but that doesn't take away from the content at all. Through the Star Child series, she grabs her readers by the hand and escapes into a world of adventure, sacrifice, mystery, and most of all, indefatigable love.

In this series we meet Kellen St. James (okay, how awesome is that name?) on his graduation day. Kellen has been the victim of the most unfortunate circumstances: his mother is dead. His father is a rich snob who wants nothing to do with him. He is very much alone, aside from his 'Gran' who lived all the way across the globe until her death 3 months earlier. The only hope he has is a dream that has materialized into an experience and he isn't even sure if it's real.

As we travel through Star Child and The Fallen Stars, Keyes brings fantasy to a whole new level. By the end of the second book (which ends on a huge cliffhanger, BTW!) my mind was reeling. She had a way of adding just the perfect amount of intrigue that kept me wanting more. Just when you think you have most things figured out, she throws a curveball at you and mixes things up again.

The newest book, The Star Catcher, did not disappoint. Usually I find that in a series that one book lacks in content, or the author seems to have completely rushed the ending (this happens way more often than I wish it would. Note to authors: Keep going strong until the very end!). I was extremely pleased to find that the momentum of the story kept up until I turned that last page. This results in major brownie points for authors in my book! But anyway, I thought this was a great series. The only thing I would make a note of is the beginning of the first book started out a little slow. That isn't to say that nothing happened, but we didn't really get into the story until about a quarter way through. Other than that, I thought this was a great series.

If you're looking for a Young Adult series that is rich in content and will take you on a  magickal journey of love and sacrifice with a touch of plot twisted pandemonium, then you need to run to the store and grab this series...you will love it! Oh, and you'll even enjoy looking at these GORGEOUS covers! I could just stare at them all day. I hope to see more from this author in the near future!
Don't forget to grab a copy of the first two books, too!
    



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spotlight: Coral & Bone by Tiffany Daune








Title: Coral & Bone
Author: Tiffany Daune
Publication Date: July 7th, 2014
Publisher: Jester Ink Press
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal/Fantasy
Pages: 290
ISBN: 9780993653704

Synopsis (from Author): 
Halen knows the sparks igniting under her fingertips are dangerous. She has spent her entire life trying to quell the tingly feelings that make her destroy things, but now that she is back in Rockaway Beach, where she watched her father drown, the flames have become impossible to tame. 


Halen is trying to hold on, but when she is thrust into a mysterious new world, the underwater realm of Elosia, she unravels the secrets of her past and can't help but ignite. As she explores Elosia, she realizes her life has been a lie. And when those who have deceived her come to her for help, Halen must choose—walk away or unleash the magick that could destroy them all.
 


Sketching his crooked smile had become a habit for Halen, not easily tamed. Flipping through her notebook, the boy’s gray eyes flashed back from the pages—almost one hundred drawings in three months. She turned to a blank page, not caring if the teacher noticed, and set the tip of her pencil on the paper. Closing her eyes, she knew the boy would be there. He never kept her waiting. His face flashed into view. His forehead was creased in the center, and his usually full lips were pressed with a tight line. Her fingertips sparked, and when she opened her eyes, her hand was already penciling in the edges of his jawline. Halen sketched him quickly; she was familiar with the hallow of his cheeks which dimpled when he smiled, and how one side of his jaw was a little more round than square, and how his nose hooked ever so slightly as if it had been broken at one time and had not been set properly. His imperfections were perfection. 
As she shaded the rims of his eyes with deep charcoal halos, she longed to climb into the page, and asked him what was bothering him. She had a lot of questions for him. Finding a page filled with his broad smile, she smiled inside. As her fingertips brushed his lips, she bit back her own. If only—if only you were real. 
Halen first drew the mystery boy the morning of the move. Coming back to Rockaway Beach was a nightmare, so when she had woken from a dream with the boy's face etched inside her eyelids, and her fingertips igniting with sparks, she feared the worse. She knew the sparks were a warning; she had fought the flickering flames her whole life. There was more to this boy, more than she cared to admit. There was more to Rockaway Beach than she cared to face. 
The boy smiled knowingly. Like you care. With a sweep of her hand she drew a long handlebar moustache under his nose. Then tearing the page from her book, she crumpled it in her fist. Instantly, her palm warmed as if she were holding a hot stone. Only she knew the heat was coming from inside her. She quickly scanned the classroom. Most of her classmates were still filling in the test answers, with penciled circles. A few students were reading. Her fingertips flickered with heat, and she dropped the paper, fearful it might combust in her hand. She hadn't set anything on fire, not in a long time, and she wasn't about to start. She shook her hands by her side, and as she did, a jolt of pain gripped her wrists.
Halen. A whispered voice brushed her ear.
She spun around. Toby Creston shot her an annoyed glare as he shielded his score sheet with his arm. As if she would copy his answers. She sucked at algebra, but she had studied; Toby Creston would be lucky if he figured out how to fill the circles in. 
Haaaalennnn.
A searing pain spread up her arms, and she inhaled a sharp breath. She whipped around to face the front of the class. Mr. Ajax sat with his long nose wedged between the pages of his book. He peered over the rim of his catlike glasses when she let out a gasp. 
HalenHalenHalenHalenHalenHalenHalenHalenHalenHalenHalen.
Beating like the thunderous wings of a thousand birds, the whispers swarmed her thoughts. Her fingertips pressed the squishy foam nestled in her ears. No way. She couldn't take her earplugs out. Her earplugs were her salvation, the only things keeping her from blacking out. Besides the sparks, sound had become her enemy since moving back to Rockaway. Her mom's diagnosis—stress. "You're suppressing your grief," she had said. "You have to let yourself have a good cry." Her mom overestimated the power of tears. Halen's father's bones lay in a bed of sand—tears would never bring him back—tears would never drown the fire raging inside her. Tears would not save her now.  
  The chants grew louder, now drilling into every crevice of her mind. She pounded the sides of her head. The blond girl beside her scooted her desk away from her, shooting her an evil glare. 
Stop! Halen begged as the whispers hammered her brain. She didn't have a choice, she had to…

She tore the earplugs from her ears. At once the chanting ceased, only now to be replaced with the chaotic clatter of the classroom. The blond girl now tapped her pencil on her desk. The metal eraser band hitting the desktop sounded like a jackhammer. She could hear the click clack of some other student's gum, and the strike of a pointed heal on the linoleum floor. Toby Creston's heavy breath was a rush of howling wind. The sounds united with the next student, and then the next, until the whole classroom exploded with a deafening cry. Halen fought to hold on as the classroom blackened around her. She caught the word freak, someone calling for Mr. Ajax, and the blond girl shrieking. The last sound Halen heard was the thud of her skull as her forehead slammed against the desktop. 


 I write stories about magick, love and dark creatures lurking in the shadows. When I'm not lost in Edit Land you can find me reading a book from my towering TBR pile or at the movie theater nibbling licorice. I don't have a lucky number, but my favorite time is 11:11. 

I completely believe that the fortunes found inside cookies will come true and that you must be careful when wishing on stars. I live on an island, so if you want to visit you'll need a boat, and if you want to survive the passage, be sure to bring candy for the mermaids.  

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Doctor Who: Keeping Up With the Joneses by Nick Harkaway






Title: Keeping Up With The Joneses
Series: Time Trips
Author: Nick Harkaway
Publication Date: February 6th, 2014
Publisher: BBC Digital
Genre: Sci-Fi
Pages: 51
ISBN13: 1448141877
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating:

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Deep in the gap between the stars, the TARDIS is damaged by a temporal mine. It's not life-threatening, but the Tenth Doctor will need a while to repair the damage. But he's not alone. The strangely familiar-looking Christina thinks the Doctor has arrived in her bed and breakfast, somewhere in Wales. In fact, the TARDIS seems to have enveloped Christina's entire town - and something else is trapped inside with it. A violent, unnatural storm threatens them all and - unless it's stopped - the entire universe.

  



Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall, UK in 1972. He is possessed of two explosively exciting eyebrows, which exert an almost hypnotic attraction over small children, dogs, and - thankfully - one ludicrously attractive human rights lawyer, to whom he is married.

He likes: oceans, mountains, lakes, valleys, and those little pigs made of marzipan they have in Switzerland at new year.

He does not like: bivalves. You just can't trust them.
                                           





        
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             For the next installment in the Doctor Who: Time Trips reviews, I chose Nick Harkaway’s, Keeping Up With The Joneses. For this Time Trip short story, we accompany my personal favorite, the tenth doctor on an exciting romp through the TARDIS (the doctor’s trusty time machine and space ship that is bigger on the inside).  After hitting a temporal mine (a time machine trap) that shouldn’t exist anymore, the TARDIS gets damaged and systems start going haywire all over the place.  Time starts moving differently in different parts of the ship and a Welsh village appears inside the TARDIS.  Inside this village the doctor finds a very familiar looking woman and no shortage of danger and intrigue. The Doctor and his new companion must navigate dangers in both the mysterious village and the TARDIS to figure out how to fix the damage before the TARDIS is destroyed, taking a big chunk of the universe with it.

                Out of all of the Doctor Who stories I have read, this one is easily my favorite. From the first page to the last it is chocked full of the whimsy, intrigue, mystery and fun that I have come to expect and love from Doctor Who.  Maybe that is partly due to the inclusion of my favorite doctor, but the way he was written was absolutely flawless.  The decision to include the banter the Doctor has with himself in his mind was perfect, and the execution was right on.  From his hilarious paranoia to his childlike wonder and excitement, the Doctor’s personality and character could not have been written better.  The story itself was very well-written and captivating, with its fair share of wibbly revelations and danger.  The characters were all fleshed out perfectly, and the ending was brilliant.  If any of the Doctor Who written material that I have read should be turned into an episode, I would choose for this one to be it.

                For any fans of Doctor Who, Science fiction, comedy or light reading in general, I would absolutely recommend picking up a copy to enjoy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: The Garden by Daniel Shum






Title: The Garden
Author: Daniel Shum
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2012
Publisher: WestBow Press
Genre: Christian Speculative Fiction
Pages: 126
ISBN13: 978-1449740863
Source: Paperback from Author

Rating:

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
If Genesis is the book of origins, then the garden of Eden is the first grain of sand to fall through the hourglass of time. It is a microcosm of God's intention for mankind. It shows us a passionate and creative God who desires someone like Himself, someone to relate to. 

Parents adore their first child and fill scrapbooks and photo albums with "baby's first . . ." 
Have you ever considered that Adam was God the Father's first child? Have you ever meditated on the kind of relationship that God desired to have with mankind or wondered what it means to be created in His likeness and in His image? Have you ever imagined what it would be like to walk and talk with the Lord, face to face, without the sin barrier? 

The Garden explores that place, that time, where the most passionate heart in the universe prepared a garden as a habitation and a place of fellowship for His first son and daughter.

  



Daniel is passionate about studying and teaching the Word of God. Even from his youth in the farmlands of north central Kansas, he began writing daily devotions and teaching the Bible in youth group at the small Baptist church he attended with his family. 

A perfect afternoon for Daniel is to be alone on a hillside or by a stream with his Bible, guitar, and notepad. Daniel Shum resides in Springfield, Missouri with wife, Alicia, and daughter, Rebekah. He has served as a lay youth pastor for seven years at Fountain of Life Christian Fellowship and has also served as the worship leader for fifteen years. 


 "He Chose to Give Birth to us by Giving us His True Word. And We, Out of all Creation, Became His Prized Possession."
James 1:18 NLT 

     Daniel Shum's The Garden is a short, easy read (novella size) that eloquently touches the surface of what the experience in the book of Genesis could have been like. He takes the elements of what is provided in text and transforms them into an exquisite painting of re-telling the Creation Story. His rhythmic style of interpretation will captivate and interact with the reader as though they are reading a candid book of poetry.

     The Garden is rich in content and provides a remarkable artistry of what it must have been like to be right there with God in the beginning of Creation. I loved how smoothly the text flowed together and how in depth the author developed the interpretation of events. It causes the reader to see the book of Genesis in a different light, allowing them the opportunity to become engaged with Adam and Eve and their relationship with God. It guides the reader to understand God's intentions as not only the Creator, but the Father as well. There were several points I found intuitive and made me stop to consider the extent of interaction God wants to have with us as his children. 

     The only true point I found that I wasn't partial to was in the Prelude where everything is referred to as the Word, the Sacred One, and the Will. I liked the idea of this, but it became a little confusing and probably would have served better further in the text so the reader doesn't feel intimidated from the start. Other than that, I thought this was a great book. It reminded me a lot of The Shack or Redeeming Love, not in content, but in the sense that it brought the bible to life in a way that readers can relate to. 

     If you are looking for a fresh perspective on the book of Genesis and to experience a candid view of events that could have happened in the Garden of Eden, then you will love this book. Daniel Shum's style of writing is fluid and easy to understand, making this a great book to add to your collection!