BOOK REVIEW: Brittni Chenelle “Cold Kingdom”

419tsE4RbKL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Cold Kingdom

Author: Brittni Chenelle

Genre: YA/Fiction/Action

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

First of all, I have to say that this cover is stunning! It captures the essence of the book very well, so props to the designer!

Brittni Chenelle is a very promising writer. Her style and flow was so easy and I really enjoyed the prose. The story was promising also, but I found I couldn’t get on board with the characters, particularly Charlotte. I realize that the characters were supposed to read younger, as they were as young as 16. However, there was a pettiness about Charlotte I couldn’t stand. She was snobby and annoying, and it made it difficult to read anything from her point of view.

The representation in this book was awesome! I understand the author lives in South Korea and is very influenced by the culture; it shines through in her writing. The cast of characters were diverse and colorful, which I appreciated.

The political intrigue the author was trying to infuse here didn’t quite work for me, but I appreciated it nonetheless! Plus, there were some funny moments that keep the book light-hearted despite some of the darker tones.

Chenelle is on my radar after this read. Even though I may not have loved Kingdom Cold, I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future.

An e-arc was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Purchase the book: Amazon

Meet the Author: Wattpad | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

BOOK REVIEW: Thomas V Harris “Three Gorges Dam”

51wtwUNcBWL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Three Gorges Dam

Author: Thomas V Harris

Genre: Fiction

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

CHINA’S WESTERN FRONTIER IS A POWDER KEG.

ITS BUDDHIST AND MUSLIM MINORITIES ARE ABOUT TO LIGHT THE FUSE.

Michael Brannigan and the People’s Republic of China are concluding a triumphant week. The PRC’s top energy consultant has fallen in love with Australian geophysicist Kylie Ryan while traveling in Xinjiang Province. President Lao Ming is in Beijing hosting a game-changing summit with the United States. CNN is broadcasting the new reality: the Communist juggernaut has surpassed the US.

Brannigan’s train is retracing Marco Polo’s historic journey. When the Silk Road Express reaches the Far East’s Far West, his team of engineers will assist the Chinese in developing the world’s richest oil fields. Brannigan is heading deeper into the Taklamakan Desert as President Lao’s motorcade approaches the end of its parade route. In a few hours, Lao will celebrate his victory in the Hall of Purple Light.

All that changes in two blinks of an eye. China’s Young Turks and Fighting Monks rock the country. Caught up in the violence, Brannigan’s love affair meets a tragic end. The Reds and rebels engage in an escalating cycle of provocations and reprisals. In the midst of the turmoil, Brannigan returns to China for a hush-hush assignment at Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric facility. There he overcomes his demons and finds lasting happiness. Everything is coming up aces.

UNTIL THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS.

My thoughts:

First of all, my deepest thanks to both the author and Smith Publicity for sending me a copy to review!

Sadly, this didn’t end up being my cup of tea. While I do enjoy political intrigue and stories with interesting settings, this book was too technical for me to enjoy fully. It didn’t feel like a story so much as a news report.

The author wrote well enough until it came to the dialogue, which is where things got dicey. That’s not to say the dialogue was bad, but the way it was formatted was incredibly confusing, making it difficult to know who exactly was speaking at any given moment. We could have an entire page full of dialogue with absolutely no indicators like, Brannigan said, etc.

That’s not to say others who enjoy politically-charged books with cultural infusion won’t find much to love about Three Gorges Dam. You can tell Harris did plenty of research for his story and it shines through. Sadly, it just wasn’t something I could get into.

 

Thomas V Harris: Website | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Charles Martin “Send Down the Rain”

35554138Title: Send Down the Rain

Author: Charles Martin

Genre: Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Allie’s second husband is killed tragically when his 18-wheeler crashes into the rocks near their home in Cape San Blas–the tanker was full of fuel and the explosion could be seen on overhead satellites. She’d already lost the beloved waterfront restaurant her parents started and now losing her husband, no matter how unfulfilling their marriage was, might just push her over the edge.

Joseph’s time in Vietnam left him with scars that never seemed to heal. No matter how he’s tried to love or what he’s tried to do since then, he can’t pull himself out of the wreckage of his former life. His trust and security shaken, he isolates himself in a cabin. But every morning, he faithfully pours two cups of coffee, drinking his while he sits with the second, and then pouring out the full cup.

It’s no small coincidence that Joseph found a mother and her two young children lost in the woods near his cabin. Or that when he helps them return to family in Florida, he’s near enough to see that explosion. Near enough to know it’s close to home. Near enough to know that his childhood sweetheart needs him.

The years have built so much distance between them, but it’s the secrets that may be their final undoing. Send Down the Rain reminds us of the beauty of truth . . . and the power of love to wash away the past.

My thoughts:

This book took me on a dang roller coaster ride and I loved it.

I had no idea what to expect from this since this is my first time reading anything by Charles Martin; also, I can tell you now that the synopsis does not provide nearly enough information to prepare you for the flurry of emotions that you’re going to end up feeling. There are so many layers and different story-arcs in this book that no one would be able to fit the essence if this in a short summary.

Send Down the Rain follows Joseph, a veteran in his 60’s who daily fights demons and the memories of his time at war. In no particular order, Jo-jo’s past begins to unfold for the reader in surprising twists and heartwarming turns, and you grow to truly love his kind, giving, broken soul.

Each of the secondary characters have either been directly or indirectly affected by the selfless acts of Joseph: Catalina and her two children, who he rescues from Juan Pedro and 5+ years of captivity; Allie, Joseph’s high school sweet heart who he saves both physically and emotionally on numerable occasions; Bobby, his brother whose status is all thanks to him; Suzy, a radio host at a station that Joseph calls into frequently to relay war stories. Ultimately, he manages to touch the lives of thousands of people by the end of this book through his testimony and heroic actions.

This book snuck up on me in a way I never expected. Of course, you never open a book thinking you’re not going to love it, but I had no expectations going into Send Down the Rain. Yet by the time I was finished, I had shamelessly added every book Charles Martin has ever written to my reading list.

Some of the subject matter is a little heavy but it never feels overwhelming. The writing is lovely and easy and smooth, and by the halfway mark there was no stopping me: I was hooked. All of the characters were believable and likable, and truly there was little to hinder my enjoyment of this.

Later in the book, Joseph recounts to Allie how he had returned to their hometown on several occasions to check and see how she was doing. He never actually revealed himself to Allie any of these times; always watching and observing from a distance. Even though Jo-jo’s nearness ended up saving Allie’s life a few times, I can’t help but think that his behavior is a little creepy and stalker-ish.

Also, without revealing any spoilers: there’s a part towards the end of the book where some distasteful information comes out about Joseph, and his friends all feel rightly betrayed. However, I feel they were unnecessarily cruel to him in the events that followed this reveal, especially considering all the kindness and generosity he had showed them throughout this entire book.

Overall, this was such a sweet, heartfelt story, and I truly hope to read more by this author soon. Thank you to Smith Publicity for sending me a copy for review!

 

Charles Martin: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Leila Sales “This Song Will Save Your Life”

22014863_1813506502012766_621267476_nTitle: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales

Genre: Contemporary/Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

I’ve owned the book This Song Will Save Your Life for several years, initially attracted by it’s eye-catching cover and intriguing title. It’s sat on my bookshelves for several years, waiting to be discovered, realized, and felt. I’ve heard this book calling out to me on several occasions since being bought, begging to be read. Finally, for some unknown reason,  I had the urge to pick this up a few days ago, and I am so thankful that I did.

This book was such a journey, and so heartfelt. I understood it’s main character, saw myself in her, and knew her. The story follows this main character, Elise, who’s a social outcast and does everything she can to change it. She spends an entire summer researching all the things that “cool” people do, wear, and know. She reads up on the lives of celebrities that she doesn’t care about, TV shows she doesn’t watch, and to her dismay, popular music that she hates. Then when it’s time to put this newfound knowledge to use, Elise realizes that none of it would ever make her cool. The trendy clothes that she spent a fortune on, the person she’s pretending to be… they always see through it. She can change how she appears all she wants, but she can’t change who she is. She can’t change the ill-timed questions or comments, born from a social cluelessness that she’s struggled with her whole life. Nor can she change the years of loser persona that she has perfected and her peers have come to know her as.

Somehow, Elise happens across an underground nightclub, where music rules the night and the people have no idea who she is during the day. No longer is she Elise, the loser. She’s Elise, aspiring DJ.

Elise’s story hit me so deep. While I was fortunate to be homeschooled and a part of a relatively accepting group of fellow homeschoolers, I was definitely never cool. When I was enrolled in private school for a short time, I was teased, and I absolutely know why. I was actually one of the most annoying kids ever. I liked to raise my hand in the middle of class because I had a comment or story relating to what the teacher was talking about. I picked my nose in public. I wore oversized hoodies and I never, ever, brushed my hair. I was the last of all the girls in my grade to get a training bra. I said things out loud that I probably shouldn’t have. I was a social nightmare.

When I left school and started interacting with new people, I was so excited to start over and try to be a cooler person. However, I learned the same thing that Elise did: it’s not cool to try.

This book also deals with having suicidal thoughts and cutting, and while I’ve never harmed myself in that way, I’ve had thoughts of killing myself before. However, this story stresses the fact that sometimes, people aren’t driven to kill themselves because something significant and horrible happened to them. Sometimes, it can be because a group of girls forced you to clean up their mess after lunch. It’s not about cleaning up the mess, though; it’s about that and every moment leading up to it. For Elise, it had been every torturous thing that happened to her, every mean thing anyone had ever called her, all the time she had spent trying to be cooler, trying to be better, and all her work being good for nothing. For me, it was every boy I had ever cared for rejecting me. It was finally being in a relationship, and not being happy. It was being treated like crap by the only boy who had ever liked me and wondering if this was how I was going to feel for the rest of my life.

Elise found her happiness, though, and so did I. Her story is inspiring and beautiful, and it touched me in a way that few stories have. I didn’t expect to love this book so much, but now that it’s a part of my life, I’m so happy to be able to share it. Elise’s story mirrors many of our stories, and it deals with some of the same pains and heartbreaks that we have faced.

This is my favorite book I have ever read that deals with suicide. It’s an encouragement to all those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and an anthem to all those who have overcome them.

Please read this book.

 

Leila Sales: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads