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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-09-09 17:09
Book Review : The Mark Of Noba By GL Thomas
The Mark of Noba (The Sterling Wayfairer Series) (Volume 1) - G.L. Tomas

 

The Mark Of Noba  By GL Thomas

 

 The Mark of Noba Cover

 

The Mark Of Noba By GL Thomas (Book #1 of The Sterling Wayfairer Series)

Cover by: Alice Bessoni

Available for purchase on Amazon

 

 

In preparation for a slightly long-winded review, I’ve opted to put all the main details at the top of this post instead of at bottom since this story and series has a lot of context to it. I also decided to include the full Goodreads synopsis instead of a short, piecey and inconclusive one below:

 

Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career—distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date. But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: He and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction. Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra. If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive…

 

Reading gifs for blog post

 

I was lucky enough to have received my copy of The Mark of Noba through a giveaway from the authors of the book, GL Thomas. With out a doubt, anyone can sit down with this book and not realize they’ve been reading for six or seven hours without stopping. 0__0 I do not want this to turn into an essay or anything, but there were a lot of things that were so great about this book.

 

OVERALL:

 

The GL Thomas duo have fashioned a realistically believable, angsty yet pleasingly comical Young Adult/ Science Fiction story that takes place on an alternate Earth-like planet called Geo.

 

The authors were smart to not only give us First Person POV, but give us the story from both Tetra and Sterling’s POV so the reader is able to immerse themselves in the story from two different angles without any of the mystery or the story being blatantly obvious or ruined. In addition, the reader will not feel ridged or confided to feeling like they’re reading a YA fiction that’s just for boys or just for girls.

 

I thought it was funny that when I got to the back of the book, the writers ask the reader which team they were on, #TeamTetra or #TeamSterling, but as it goes back and forth between the two of them in the book I found that I couldn’t just choose one side. The writers do a great job at exploring each character individually as well as they do a unit.

Dutch & Johnny From Killjoys Tumblr site

 

Without giving too much away, I do not want to say that Tetra and Sterling end up as a couple, because they aren’t. It's just that while reading this book you get to see something so genuine; their relationship and connection is so much more than words. The two of them have this amazing bond {do you see what I did there? ;-) }

 

If you are the type who enjoys reading/watching a thing/a connection between two people grow, I guarantee you that The Mark of Noba is the book for you.

 

 

Moreover, it you are the type of reader who just enjoys reading about characters whose friends, family, or their life in general takes comedic jabs at them, then this is the book for you.

 

Sterling’s character is clearly the reader/audience of the book as we, like him leave normal, or what we perceived as the norm, after officially meeting Tetra in the book. And although the POV goes back and forth between the two, in Tetra’s POV the reader is not privy to all the answers that Sterling (we) has through out the book. With him, we get to revel in his actions and reactions because he’s basically an average senior at CCI (City Collegiate Institute) that you cannot help but root for while simultaneously laugh at.

 

 

Haha, I cannot remember the last time I felt so much second hand embarrassment for someone.  And to be fair, it wasn’t all second hand embarrassment. Reading about Sterling’s life growing up with a Mother whom suffers from schizophrenia is also another enthralling aspect about both him and The Mark of Noba.

 

Tetra’s character on the other hand is clearly the objective voice in the book o for the reader as she contradicts the social standards and restrictions in Geo that parallel our own.

 

Needless to say, often reading Tetra’s POV was one of my favorite parts about The Mark of Noba because she strips away and exposes the baseless and fallacious foundations of nearly every reason or excuse Sterling presents to her for ‘how’ or ‘why’ things were the way that they were on Geo, particularly in regards to gender.

 

Which completely differentiates from Tetra’s home planet, Noba, where its people function in a way that wasn’t rooted with gender barriers, a person—no matter who—is defined by their skill set and their skill set alone.

 

I am known for my over analyzing things---

 

but there were a lot of great things about this story.

 

 

However, there were a few things about this book that I did not like or felt if-y about but they DO include spoilers, so if you want to continue with a spoils-free impression about The Mark of Noba, then please stop here.

 

 

Spoilers for The Mark of Noba

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-09-06 17:30
Book Review: The Occasional Diamond Thief By J. A. McLachlan
The Occasional Diamond Thief - J.A. McLachlan

Brief Synopsis: “16-year-old Kia must learn the secret behind the magnificent diamond her father entrusted her with on his deathbed – without letting anyone know she has it.”

 

J. A. McLachlan has created a highly addictive, inspiring, and adventurous Young Adult/ Science fiction story with The Occasional Diamond Thief. The main character, Kia, is smart, stubborn, analytical; free willed, strong and 100% an independently thinking individual whom still exhibits truly the most moving moments of venerability as the result of an a strained relationship with her family, excluding her brother, Etin.

 

Despite all of this, the young, inquisitive minded teen still manages to make friends and gain a few trusted allies across the universe on a semi-technology backwards/basic planet called Malem, whose people openly reject and dis-trust foreigners. While unknowingly developing a truly heart-warming bond with a (unique) Select–Agatha—who fills the maternal absentness in Kia’s life she was not aware she needed.

 

Another thing I appreciated about this book was the fact that it not only revolves around a strong female protagonist of color, but that it equally balances differences in Culture/Languages, Social Standards and Religion with Morality, Identity, and Humanity without losing it’s comedic, adventurous and mystery elements. There are just so many quotable/memorable moments from this book that you can relive over and over again.

 

 

Itohan—his name means ‘mercy’. My father was Itohan Ugiagbe, I want to say to the Malemese hurrying about their business, ignoring me, a foreigner in their midst. He came here and suffered like you. I watched him die all the years of my childhood and I didn’t understand.

 

Every time I pass another death house, empty and boarded-up, I understand a little better my father’s long despair. What would he have been like if he hadn’t come to Malem? I never really knew him. Already his image is fading in my memory. I look around the dirty streets as I walk.

 

They stole him from me, but they might also be able to give a little of him back. If I can find out what happened to him here, I’ll know him in a way I never did. The Malemese diamond must be mixed up in it somehow.

“Tell me,” I whisper to the cold, gray streets. “Tell me who my father was.”

(spoiler show)

Excerpt From: J. A. McLachlan. “The Occasional Diamond Thief.” iBooks.

 

It is one of best YA books I have read in a really long time and I wish I could have read a book like this when I was younger. As I followed Kia through this book and read her learn not only more about her a strained father’s past but learn to have more confidence in herself and trust in others, I found that I too was learning with her.

 

Besides the fact that I am sad that the book ended at all, I give this book 4.5 stars because we were not able to see any resolution between Kia and her family when she finally left Malem. (Unless that’ll be in the next book? *crosses fingers*)

 

But at some fundamental human level where the fear of not being understood touches us all, Central Ang ties the human universe together.”Excerpt From: J. A. McLachlan. “The Occasional Diamond Thief.” iBooks.

 

As a person who finds comfort in my studies and in moments of solitude when being around my family or friends feels like I am an outsider or a stranger, I recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t belong.

 

If it were not for sleep, eating and work I do not think I would have taken breaks reading this book. It is a true page-turner. I was fortunate enough to win this as a free e-book from Librarything.com, but I’ve purchased a hard copy of this book also to have on my bookshelf forever! Ms. McLachlan, if you see this please, please bring Kia back for another adventure :-) . I will wrap this up with one last quote from the book:

 

“Malem isn’t on the cyber link.”

“God doesn’t need the cyber link.”

I let that one lie. Excerpt From: J. A. McLachlan. “The Occasional Diamond Thief.” iBooks.

 

 

Thanks for reading ^__^ (It feels good to be back). Until next time,

Gia.

 

 

 

 

NOTE: You can pick up your own copy of The Occasional Diamond Thief following the links below. Be sure to check out J. A McLachlan’s  Goodreads account & her website too. :-)

 

Purchase your own copy of The Occasional Diamond Thief at EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy Books  OR  Buy The Occasional Diamond Thief at Amazon

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review 2014-12-12 20:42
Review: The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant
The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant - Joanna Wiebe
(I received this title as an ARC from NetGalley)
 

In an effort to refrain from spoiling too much for you, I'll give you just the basics.

Anne is back on the island, back at the school, and face to face with a new headmaster who is scary as hell (no pun intended. Okay. Pun intended) but also, to Anne's extreme annoyance, devastatingly attractive. Things get weird when the charming, odd, headmaster takes a liking to Anne and asks to be her mentor. Like she has time to deal with another demon! She's already got her hands full trying to deal with Ben and his infuriating lack of will to survive the Big V.   With the fate of friends and foes resting uncomfortably in her hands, Anne has to get down and dirty to make sure that they all have a chance, especially Ben, no matter the consequences.

I read the first of the V trilogy books earlier this year, also as an ARC. My expectations were low for the first title, as I'd seemed to have had a string of so-so books right before then. After the first few chapters of "The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant", I guessed that I was in for a wild ride. I was not wrong.

When I got the chance to read this second book I wasted zero time. I expected this book to be as thrilling as the first, so it was no surprise that only the reality of 1am and an early morning the next day could force the book from my hands.

Intelligent, dark, and in some cases so disturbing or disgusting that I made faces my Mr. Darcy will not soon forget.

The meshing of mythology, philosophy, and the questions surrounding personal identity created a work that is thought provoking, entertaining, and creepy as an asylum basement.

There's a lot going on in this book, and I admittedly felt frustrated a few times with how slowly things are revealed to the reader, though most of it was well worth the wait, and the conclusion was a bit slapdash, but left plenty of space open for a third title.

I was a bit taken aback by how brutal this second book was, but the author made her points well and pushed the violence and sexuality just far enough make her point and have readers both grimacing and fanning themselves in intervals. 

An edgy, interesting, and compelling second book. Will definitely be reading the third.

Source: www.auggietalk.com/2014/12/review-wicked-awakening-of-anne-merchant.html
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review 2014-08-31 17:44
Wilkie Collins: Armadale
Armadale - Wilkie Collins,John Sutherland

No spoilers here. Just a reaction.

 

It's been years since I read The Moonstone and The Woman in White. It seemed like time to revisit the other two Wilkie Collins books that are most often recommended: Armadale and No Name, so I'd added them to my Book Jar. 

 

Last Sunday, I pulled out the slip for Armadale, and spend my entire week's work commute so deeply immersed that I nearly missed my stop on two occasions. As thoroughly melodramatic and convoluted as my childhood beloved, Dark Shadows, often having me pause with the same mixture of the desire to laugh and an absolute need to know what happens next.

 

Don't judge the book by its summaries. In the end, what I loved in this book was the spectrum of characters that Collins developed so firmly beyond stereotype (hmm... Collins....I'm only now wondering if Wilkie is why Dan Curtis chose that name for the Dark Shadows family). The plot overflows with impossibility, but the people are richly believable and fiercely human. Lydia Gwilt is particularly astonishing, a villainess so well-developed that you can't stop yourself sympathizing with her. 

 

If this sounds like your kind of book, you can currently download it for free on Kindle! 

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review 2013-12-29 16:00
5 (+ 1) Super-Satisfying Reads of 2013
Dodger - Terry Pratchett
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel - Rachel Joyce
Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
Angelmaker (Vintage Contemporaries) - Nick Harkaway
The Orphan Master's Son - Adam Johnson

I'm putting a bow on 2013 by noting my five most satisfying reading experiences of the year - and one memorable other. There are no spoilers here! You can get enough plot details from book blurbs and dozens of other sources.

 

So here they are, in no particular order:


Dodger, by Terry Pratchett

 

Pratchett does for Oliver Twist what Peter Carey did for Great Expectations (in Jack Maggs): he takes a critical supporting character out of Dickens and puts him at the helm of his own historical novel. Pratchett's twist (so to speak) places the intrepid Dickensian rogue and his unusual mentor at the center of a Boy's Own adventure that covers mid-19th-century London from sewer to palace. Along the way, there are cameos by a number of familiar historic figures. It's a charming ripping yarn. What makes it a little more than this is that the London of this story is richly informed by the work of Henry Mayhew. Mayhew himself even appears as a character. Happens I spent a couple of undergraduate years enthralled by Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, so Dodger was extra special to me.

 

The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce

 

I know I said no plots, but I can't seem to talk about this without giving the elevator pitch: pensioner Harold Fry starts walking the length of England, armed nothing but a pair of Docksiders, and the determination to atone for past mistakes and sins of omission that suddenly feel too heavy to set aside. Along his way, random encounters expose him to the contradictory galaxy of emotions and actions that are the human condition. Written with deceptive simplicity, this is a perceptive, unsentimental book that brims with heart. Let us hope that Hollywood never stumbles on it, because they would surely try to turn it into something cute and spoil it entirely!

 

Wool, by Hugh Howey

 

I take it for granted that the most-talked-about-whatever is never going to live up to the buzz. Well Hugh Howey, the poster boy for self-publishing, sure proved me wrong. Wool is the best piece of pure scifi that I've read in years.Howey grabs you in from the first page and never lets you go. Like all good speculative fiction, Wool explores the present by projecting a highly plausible potential future. The writing is clean and direct. The characters are heartbreakingly real and every rivet is believable. If you read scifi/spec-fi at all, you owe it to yourself to read Wool. And if you're one of those who continues to eschew the genre, I suggest making a New Year's Resolution to give it a chance, starting with Wool.


Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

 

In the first few pages, Ursula, the heroine, is born, dies immediately, and is born again. That's not a plot: that's a conceit. Consider those pivotal moments, when your own life changed entirely. Now imagine what it would be like to press "reset" to go back to that point and take a different turn. This utterly fascinating book is one such "what if…" after another, so deftly told that it all seems plausible. And, despite the fractured lives, the characters remain miraculously true to themselves. Not that I don't enjoy the Jackson Brodie books, you understand; but I'm very glad to welcome back the Kate Atkinson of Behind Scenes at the Museum and Human Croquet.


Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway

 

You know how you set out to see a blockbuster film, all excited about the fun you're going to have? And then it turns out the only good bits were in the trailer? Well, reading Angelmaker is as much fun as as that blockbuster would be if only the whole film were as good as the trailer. I can only assume the lack of deafening buzz is due to the difficulty in labeling this book (we do love our labels, don't we?): it's a Cold War thriller, with neo-Victorian steam-punk  trimmings, married to a pulp fiction gangster caper. Winding it's way through the whole is a classic Campbellian Hero's Journey. And that's all I'm going to say except for "READ THIS BOOK!!!" I have been saying this a lot, to everyone I know who reads for pleasure, because Angelmaker is a generous portion of undiluted pleasure. When was the last time you found yourself smiling from ear to ear for as long as it takes to read an almost-500-page book? 


AND

 

I can't close the books on this year without mentioning Adam Johnson's tour de force, The Orphan Master's Son. This brilliantly written story (I am in rare agreement with the Pulitzer committee on this one), set in the dystopic present of North Korea, was too disturbing for me to call it "satisfying." I admit that I'm a coward: I prefer my emotional agitation to be buffered by fantasy or the distance of time, or softened by the potential for preemption. That said, this is a tremendous novel.

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