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review 2017-07-18 01:20
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Naturals - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

(Whoops, the character I kept calling "Derek" is actually named Dean. I think I fixed all the instances.)

 

The Naturals is YA Criminal Minds with some of the usual “secret school for special teens” mixed in. I read an ARC copy I picked up at a conference several years ago (yes, I'm terrible about reading ARCs, which is why I rarely request them).

When Cassie was 12, she entered her mother’s dressing room only to discover a bloody crime scene, but no body. Her mother's body and murderer (because how could she still be alive after losing that much blood?) were never found. Cassie is now 17 and living with her father’s family. She doesn’t feel like she fits in, but she also doesn’t want to be the focus of her family’s often overbearing love and concern.

Ever since she was little, Cassie has had a knack for noticing little details about people and figuring things out about them using those details. She used to use her ability to help her mother, who worked as a psychic. Since her mother’s death, she hasn’t used her skills for much beyond privately guessing things about customers at the diner where she works, so she’s both intrigued and suspicious when a handsome boy gives her an FBI agent’s business card.

The agent presents her with an offer she can’t resist: she can become part of his “Naturals” program, a team of teens with natural skills that take most adults years of training to learn. Because the program members are all minors, they only get to deal with cold cases, but Cassie still jumps at the chance to do something good and useful with her abilities. However, she and the other program members can’t resist getting more and more involved in a difficult, and possibly personal, active case.

Although this book made for smooth and easy reading, I felt like I’d already seen/read a lot of it before. The school-like setting and characters reminded me of books like L.J. Smith’s Dark Visions series and Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning. As for the serial killer/criminal profiling aspects, I’ve already mentioned Criminal Minds, and one particular revelation probably won’t come as a surprise to fans of Barry Lyga’s Jasper Dent books. Dean’s self-loathing and efforts to push Cassie away reminded me strongly of Stephenie Meyer’s Edward Cullen.

It wasn’t bad; it just didn’t feel terribly original. It didn’t really help that a lot of this book was geared towards setting the stage: introducing the characters, the lingo, and a little of the criminal profiling thought process. The really interesting stuff, the active case, didn’t come up until fairly late in the story.

Still, the Naturals and their abilities interested me. Lia was a natural liar and lie detector. Sloane was a walking collection of statistics who couldn’t help looking for patterns. Michael could read people’s emotions via tiny details in their body language and facial expressions. Dean, like Cassie, was a natural profiler. Sadly, because of the book’s first-person POV, only Dean and Cassie’s abilities received much detailed attention, and Lia and Sloane nearly faded into the background once the love triangle between Cassie, Dean, and Michael was introduced. This was especially awkward considering that Michael had an on-again, off-again relationship with Lia.

I’ll probably read the next book in the series at some point, but I sincerely hope that the love triangle either disappears or fades into the background a lot. It felt like the boys were snapping over Cassie like dogs over a bone. I got the impression that she was leaning more towards Dean, so the kissing scene with Michael near the end really bugged me - it was stupid and seemed entirely intended to add just enough fuel to the love triangle to make the collection of characters in the final showdown more possible. Here's hoping that future books also give Lia and Sloane more of a chance to shine. Sloane seemed sweet, in an awkward sort of way, and I really wanted Lia to be more than the snarky girl potentially standing between Cassie and Michael.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-07-14 00:39
Christmas in July – Merry Chris Witch by C K Dawn @CloakedCKDawn
Merry Chris Witch - CK Dawn,Karri Klawit... Merry Chris Witch - CK Dawn,Karri Klawiter,Celine Fowler

Welcome  to Christmas in July and Saturday Shorts.

 

Today I am welcoming C K Dawn and her FREE novella Merry Chris Witch.

 

I love this beautiful cover by Karri Klawiter

 

Merry Chris Witch

 

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

How does the magical community spend Christmas? Well, they don’t scrub the floors. A simple wave of their had and the house is clean. I would love to be able to do that too.

BUT, Chris isn’t supposed to use magic. He’s a witch, so, like Harry Potter, he feels the need to test his abilities. He’s ahead of his class and easily bored. If he doesn’t quit getting in magical trouble, they’ll strip his powers and send him to human school.

 

He hates everything about Christmas, except his birthday, until….

 

He meets Nichole.

 

At first it’s fun and games, but when Nichole asks Chris for his help, he drops everything.

 

This sweet and innocent romance shares young puppy love, wonder and adventure, traveling the world through magic, flying through the air in Nichole’s Lamborghini.

What a sight to see.

 

In the magical realm, all things are possible, which is why I love to read about the paranormal and supernatural, and C K Dawn has done a wonderful creating a world of imagination and dreams that will entertain the young and old alike.

 

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

 

Read more here.

 

  • You can see my Giveaways HERE.
  • You can see my Reviews HERE.
  • If you like what you see, why don’t you follow me?
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  • Leave your link in the comments and I will drop by to see what’s shakin’.
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Source: www.fundinmental.com/christmas-in-july-merry-chris-witch-by-c-k-dawn-cloakedckdawn
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review 2017-07-03 05:42
Raven Black
Raven Black - Ann Cleeves

A young girl is found dead in a field and the police begin questioning everyone in an effort to find out who did it and why.  The community was sure it was an old man who lived alone and was a bit "daft".  He was questioned after another girl went missing 8 years earlier but that girl's body was never found.  This time Detective Jimmy Perez wants to make sure the right person is caught and not rush to judgment to get a fast resolution.  

 

I had never heard of this author until I won a book giveaway for the 7th book in this series. I wanted to start at the beginning and I was very intrigued by the different setting. I learned some things about Shetland as I read to help me visualize the setting and have a better understanding of the people, language, and culture. I located it in an atlas and looked up several terms that I was unfamiliar with too, like dram and churlish. I really enjoyed the book and the writing. I never was sure who murdered the girls and was surprised by the ending.

 

Shetland sounds like a cold place with a lot of wind and few trees. I live in Alaska so I know about cold but we don't get much wind here.  Wind changes everything.  I think living near the water with all the wind would be torture for me.  I'm in pain today since it is raining and I'm sure in Shetland I would feel like that every day.  

 

I will definitely be reading the rest of the series and would recommend it to anyone who has the patience to get used to the different lingo (unless you are from there).  I love learning about different places so this was right up my alley.  I think Ann Cleeves is one of the best writers I've ever read.  The writing was so crafted and nothing was predictable.  

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review 2017-06-15 23:48
Granpa, tell me about when you were little
Boy: Tales of Childhood - Roald Dahl,Quentin Blake

What a great biographic piece. Dahl is an excellent story teller, and puts that to use: he doesn't waste pages in the minutia, or get scared of leaving swathes of time undressed, but picks the bits he wants to tell about his early life, because they are important, interesting, colorful, defining. It turns into a very entertaining read.

It paints a picture of a time. I was impressed by his mother courage and strength (and humor, and mettle, and pragmatism... she comes across as one awesome lady), horrified by much of the sadism involved in his education, and somewhat enlightened on the reasons for his often irreverent characters.

I laughed a lot. There is humor inside every part, from the comfort of hindsight, fondness of remembrance, matter-of-fact way harrowing or ridiculous situations are described, or dry irony.

I plain loved it.

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review 2017-06-03 01:39
ARC Review: Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski
Symbols - Mario Kai Lipinski

Gosh, I wanted to love this book. I mean, read the blurb - the bullied kid who's spent his days hiding from everyone slowly falls for the gentle giant at the high school they both attend, until an act of violence threatens to tear them both apart... yeah, I signed up immediately for the ARC.

And for the first half or so, this book held me in its grip, as the story between Matt, the bullied kid, and Shane, the gentle giant, unfolds, as Matt begins to trust Shane, as they fall in love and forge a path together.

Yes, sure, there were some issues with the dialogue, which I attributed to the author not being a native speaker and not living in the US so research into how teens talk these days would have been tricky. And yes, sure, the principal pontificates to Shane when he first starts about there being a zero-tolerance policy at the school, and yet she has no idea that Matt has been bullied for years, hiding in corners, shaking and utterly miserable, terrified, in tears, something that even the cafeteria cashier has noticed, yet the principal has no clue - how's that possible? And why wouldn't the cafeteria cashier talk to an adult at the school? Many of the bullying incidents happen in hallways or inside the cafeteria, and yet nobody addresses it.

Still, it was engaging, and was invested.

However, right about the time, Matt is beaten up and ends up in a coma in the hospital, this book took a massive nose-dive. The asshole detective that arrests Shane for allegedly causing Matt's injuries (he didn't), the subplot with Shane engaging Matt's long-time nemesis to find the real perpetrator, the court date, the dramatic last minute rescue by Shane's former friend, the drama with Matt's mother's reaction to Shane's size, the nasty old woman on the bus, and, and, and - it was just all too much and too over the top and too unrealistic in how much was piled on Matt and Shane's shoulders.

Look, I got that the author tried to make the point that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, i.e. a teenager by his size and tattoos, but good grief, that point wasn't just made so much as hammered home time and again. And Shane, whom I adored, just took the judgments time and again, making all kinds of excuses for people's reactions to him. I hated that he did that. I hated that people would judge him just based on his looks and not his actions. For Matt's mother to think that Shane had hurt Matt, for anyone to think that Shane would hurt a fucking fly just because he's super tall, just pissed me off.

And yeah, I knew who the villain was going to be, but the reasoning behind the violent attack was pathetic. The perpetrator's characterization up to that point didn't indicate anything like what was given as a reason - I didn't buy it at all, and thought that it was just too convenient.

I loved both Matt and Shane, and I loved how gentle Shane was with Matt, and how Matt came out of his shell over time, and became the stronger one of the two. Their relationship was well done, and the author did a fantastic job bringing across the emotional bond between the two young men. What I didn't like so much were the multiple incidents of miscommunication and false assumptions that both of them make, but I chalked that off to them being young.

I think it can be very difficult for a non-native speaker to successfully write authentic dialogue as language continually evolves, especially in this day and age, and that the manner in which teens talk cannot be gleaned from, say, books, TV shows, or movies.

The premise was fantastic - the execution not so much. Still, three stars is nothing to scoff at. I did enjoy reading this book for the most part, and I did love Matt and Shane.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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