Book Review: Flow by Clare Littlemore

Another book review was done by @saramact for Flow by Clare Littlemore. This one is a great book for YA readers who are into dystopian futures.

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Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Quin lives in The Beck, a savior society. Her community has risen from the ruins of a land shattered by Mother Nature. But Beck law is tough. Quin knows that the rules must be followed in order to sustain life in a place where floodwaters constantly threaten existence. A single violation could land her in Clearance.

But some laws are harder to follow than others. And as Quin discovers the horrifying truth, she knows she cannot stay silent forever.

This novel is about a girl named Quin who lives in a dystopian society called The Beck. The story focuses on her struggling to survive in the strict society and discovering more about the ways it works, finally discovering its darkest secret.

The story begins with her working in Agric, a group that is responsible for cultivating the food for the entire society, with her two best friends, Harper and Cass. We are shown the strict requirements for maintaining a role as a productive member of The Beck society in their daily life and in their twice-yearly fitness and mental testing. Soon after this test, the three friends are separated – Quin to be transferred to Patrol (a police-like group within the society), and Harper to Clearance, where those no longer deemed fit enough for Beck society are sent, never to return.

This is where the story gets even more intense, as Quin moves to her new training with Patrol and gains more access to information about how The Beck society works. Quin and her new patrol friends attempt to investigate the Clearance section of the society, and soon discover the dark secret they would wish never to have learned.

The novel is well-written with good flow that keeps the story moving naturally. We become attached to the characters easily, and all the twists and turns are well revealed. The novel kept my interest easily, and I was always eager to sneak in a few more pages whenever I had the chance. I love dystopian novels, and this society was just as intriguing as the big hitters in this genre like Divergent and The Hunger Games, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

My only complaint is that the end of the book felt more like the climax one would expect in the middle of the book, with very little resolution – so I’ll have to read the sequel immediately. It’s definitely a cliff-hanger ending, where we only get a taste of the direction Quin and her new Patrol friends must turn to try to improve the horrific society they have found themselves in.

Book Rating: 5/5

Click on the image below to check out the book’s Amazon page 🙂

Disclaimer: We were sent the book by the author to read and give an honest review.

Rakuten Kobo Canada

 

 

Book review: The Mark of Wu – Hidden Paths

Another book completed and added to the library. Another review to be read 🙂

I finished The Mark of Wu: Hidden Paths by Stephen M. Gray. The book was actually pretty good. Picture Mulan but the male character from that movie and instead of being G rated, it’s more of an R rating.

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I will post the synopsis in case you didn’t read my book highlight post.

Synopsis: Yuan, a State of Chu warrior, stands front and center on his chariot, reins in hand, holding at bay a spirited team of horses. He is anxious for a chance to unleash his rage on the invading Wu barbarians in the battle before him. His eyes fix enviously on a fellow soldier, a halberdier who extends his hooked weapon over the shoulder of an enemy who desperately sprints away from the charging chariot. Yuan knows the result before it happens. The wicked blade rips through flesh and muscle, and sinks into the enemy’s collar bone as screams echo off the Dabie Shan Mountains.

Yuan glances toward Field Marshall Wei Yue, thirsting for the order to charge into the fray. He needs this fight to restore his family’s honor. But on the march to battle, Chu’s brilliant General Yang Gai dies, and the less capable Wei Yue snatches control. Can the newly anointed Field Marshall rise to the challenge?

The Emperor has lost his grip on the feudal States, and brutal rivalries, both new and old, now rule. Individual States constantly collide, and noblemen must rise in power to overcome the crushing will of warring factions. Only two outcomes are possible – prevail or perish.

Yuan finds himself catapulted into the throes of treacherous enemies, not only on the battlefield but also at home. This superior warrior will need all his skill and cunning to stay alive.

So this book was an adventure packed thrill ride. I normally am not the biggest fan of history but this book turned China history lessons into intense action war scenes that made you want to know more about how and why the different clans were fighting and how they became these badass armies. I will say that there are some parts that over explained instead of getting to the point but this book is still worth reading. The storyline and characters make up for the over descriptive parts.

Now the characters were all very well rounded and the author gave you just the right amount of background for each to be a relevant part of the story. Prince Kuang and Yuan were my two favorite characters. They are adversaries and both possess the talent and strategy for war tactics.

One thing I did notice it’s that this book is kind of like Game of Thrones in the sense that you can’t keep any characters near and dear to your heart. The reason being is because at any minute they could be killed off. I don’t know how many times when I was reading this book that I would say, “hmm I really like this character” and then the next chapter they would get murdered or killed in some other way. Personally, I think this adds to the book and makes it more cinematic 😛

I would recommend this book if you want an intense action book with really cool fight scenes and smart battle strategists.

You can find the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author’s publishing company for an honest review. 

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Book Review: To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin

Another book review for the shelves. This one was called To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin. It was more of a novella as it was only about 43 pages but I have found a certain love for these types of books. They are not too short but also not too long and they always end with one last line that sticks with you for days afterward.

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Synopsis: A well needed week away from the mainland sounded like a great idea. But this innocent trip to a private island won’t end as well as it began. Tracy finds herself in a situation she could never have imagined as she gets to know the secrets of her love – Ryan Bailey.

The question is: when love turns to fear, how will you survive?

I was drawn in rather quickly to this novella. The main character Tracy was likable and the type of person that has had to earn everything she has. She deserves a break and decides to go on this trip with her friends. The trips starts out great but quickly turns into a nightmare.

I won’t spoil it because it is a pretty short book but I will say that I would not want to be in the circumstances she was in. She has to endure some pretty brutal stuff just to survive another day. You can guess where the plot is going if you have this genre of book but I would still suggest checking this one out.

Another thing that I loved about the book is that it was based in Australia. It has been my dream to go to Australia since grade 4 I think and I will make it there one day.

If you wish to get the book, you can click the link :

You can connect with the author on her website www.melinasvoice.com or catch up with her on her Facebook Page.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent the book by the author so that I could read it and give an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way.

 

Book Review: Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak

Another review for you guys by our one and only Chris Connors of the BreakEven Books team! He took on Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak this time.

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In the 1970s there was a fad among writers to have their book end with a most unexpected ending. Sometimes the ending was ambiguous—no doubt that makes for good classroom discussions on what really happened—and sometimes the ending was “everyone dies”, or at least the raison d’etre of the main character dies; and other times someone dies but it is ambiguous.

This is a book that harkens back to some of that 70s writing. Despite my dislike for that type of book, this is a good book; in fact, it is probably a really good book.

I jumped into this book without reading anything about the book so I enjoyed the adventure as it went along. The author doesn’t lay everything out and doesn’t explain many things, but instead drops hints so that you gradually put together pieces of the puzzle to figure out where things are going. Just the reading itself was like slowly unwrapping a multi-layered gift with each new wrapping revealing something new, but still not fully exposing what is at the heart of the gift.

And, what is quite refreshing is that just as you think you know where this is going the author drops another throw-away line that makes you say, “Wait?! What?”, and you have to go back and reread the preceding paragraph to make sure you’ve read it right.

This book, set in New Orleans, takes you on a journey through some of the seedier aspects of the human condition, the drug wars, gang life, poverty, racial violence while also discussing beginner philosophical and religious tenets, family, and life in general. This journey itself was artfully done. I imagine an English literature teacher in high school would get a few weeks of discussion material (the writing stylings actually reminded me a bit of Timothy Findlay’s The War, that English lit book that was all the rage for so long).

Then just when you think you know where this book is going there’s another big twist that transforms the book completely, and suddenly the whole thing turns almost surreal. It is like reading what you think is a romance novel only to suddenly have a Jason Bourne-like character show up for a big reveal (not that this book is a romance book or has any Jason Bourne character, but the switch is just as big and interesting).

There are a few misused words (“granite” for “granted” e.g., “Taking her family and existence for granite then clinging to both when they were proven as counterfeit”). It would also be easy to criticize the book for the “bad” guys rather convoluted Rube Goldberg way of going about their plans. There were so many different, quicker, cheaper ways of getting to where they wanted. As well, there are many unanswered questions, but the writing skill displayed makes you overlook these things; or at least overlook till the wee hours of the morning when your brain says, “Psst, wake up. Let’s talk about the
novel”.

It seems the book isn’t so much about the storyline, but more about the human condition; the plot itself is of lesser importance than the exploration of the inner workings of people—at least that is my sense after my brain woke me up at 2:40 a.m. and made me type this out.The fact that this book did that indicates just how well-written, and even powerful, it is. A five-star book that will stay with me for quite a while.

Book Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: This book was provided to us by the author in exchange for an honest review.

And if you wish to connect with the author, check out his Tumblr page!

Book Review: The Dark Gray Blanket by Howard Burns

I recently finished a book called The Dark Gray Blanket by Howard Burns. This book is a fictional account of a real-life investigation of a serial killer in the Detroit area. It was a pretty fascinating read in the fact the author actually lived through this and turned it into something that can be shared with the world but also bring awareness to the incident.

Backstory: In the harsh Detroit winters of 1976 and 1977, four children were kidnapped and brutally murdered. This infamous serial killer has been dubbed the “Babysitter Killer” from the way they carefully cleaned, dressed and cared for the victims’ bodies before placing them in plain sight to be found. The murders still remain unsolved to this day.

Author H. Burns was living and working in the peaceful Detroit suburbs during the time of the murders with his wife and two daughters, who were the exact same age as the victims. With the last victim found less than three miles from their little suburban home, the story of the Babysitter Killer and Burns time right in the middle of all the action has haunted him to this day and would become the basis behind his novel, The Dark Gray Blanket.

Synopsis: The Dark Gray Blanket is a fictional account of an over the hill detective, Frank Pellegrini, and his strange obsession in the pursuit of the Babysitter Killer. During the snow-swept dark Michigan months, Frank, a brash and washed up yet lovable cop, makes plundering attempts at solving these mystifying crimes. The unique blend of fact and fiction weaves a captivating mystery set in a Detroit of days gone by and culminates in a killer that will surprise just about everyone.

Overall, I rather enjoyed this book. I liked Frank as a character with his constant pursuit of justice and that he always went with his gut feeling and trusted his instincts. I felt that the story was a little weak in the second chapter because it was basically just a history lesson about Detroit and not much storyline (if you like history, then you would really enjoy this chapter). But as soon as I got past the second chapter, I was in it till the end, adventuring along with Frank in his pursuit of the serial killer and solving the crimes! And the constant thought in the back of your head on why Frank chooses to take on the cases of children being murdered….what happened to him that makes him want/need to solve these cases and how does he do it while keeping his emotions in check?

I will not spoil anything because I think if you are interested, you should pick up this book! Howard Burns is a very generous person so, in remembrance of the victims, a donation in their name from the proceeds of The Dark Gray Blanket will be made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free by Smith Publishing to read and review. The copy for the backstory and synopsis was provided by Smith Publishing, everything else is my own writing.

You can find the book on Amazon:

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

What inspired you to write The Dark Gray Blanket?

Burns: I and my family lived in Northville Michigan during these horrific events. Our daughters were the exact age of the victims, 10 and 12. The last victim was found less than 3 miles from our home (skateboard sticking out of the snow). Due to me and my wife working, our daughters had to walk one mile to school by themselves.  1/4 mile through a wooded area. We had to drill into their minds “if someone approaches you, even if it is your grandmother, your teacher, a neighbor, a policeman, a fireman, someone looking for a lost puppy, just run to the closest home, bang on the door and scream for help.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Burns: Never aspired to be a writer – just wanted to tell the story and if possible assist the foundation that searches for missing children.

What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

Burns: The treasure of a child and the importance of protecting them.

When you are not writing, what do you do for fun?

Burns: Movies, concerts, fishing, hunting (for food, venison, elk, pheasant), dining out, and travel vacations on bus or train enjoying all the beauty and intrigue our wonderful country has to offer. But most of all, spending my life with the woman of my dreams! Just sitting on our deck, looking out over the lake and sipping a cup of tea is one of God’s greatest gifts.

 


And there you have it. Another great book to peek your interest. Talk to you soon bookworms.

What book changed your opinion about something?

Alright this is going to sound kind off silly but the book that changed my opinion about something would be The Martian by Andy Weir. It changed my opinion because I used to think Mars would be so cool to visit but after reading about Mark’s time trying to survive on Mars, I think I am good just staying on Earth 😛

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Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads): Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

This book was so intense! I loved that it was scientific but that it dumbed it down a bit for you to understand. The way Mark survived for so long all by himself with very limited supplies was amazing. You find yourself constantly wondering how this guy is still alive (I know if I was in these circumstances, I would not last long :P). This is one of those rare cases where the movie followed the book almost exactly and was just as intense. Andy Weir is a great writer and I would strongly recommend checking him out if you ever get the chance. I know he recently just came out with another book which I will have to pick up soon.

Let me know which book changed your opinion on something in the comments!