Book Review: Within by Clare C. Marshall

Within
By: Clare C. Marshall

Within

Trinity Hartell’s life changed after the accident. Left with irreversible brain damage, she becomes a burden to her mother, a cause for heartbreak for her boyfriend Zack, and a flattened obstacle for her best friend, Ellie.

But then she starts writing. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the psychotic, murdering protagonist of her novel bears a striking similarity to the charming Wiley Dalton, a mayoral candidate in the upcoming election.

Or, perhaps not… – Goodreads

While it sounds like the plot for a lot of young adult novels out there, especially at the start with the accident and has the potential of going in a very generic direction, however, author Clare C. Marshall has her own unique vision for the story and while it still has the YA elements here, the story takes a much more intriguing turn of events and drags a connection between different elements in the society and the city that these teens live in. The story changes form, touching from one genre to another and making it quite a page-turner.

The novel follows the different characters as it flows through the story. With a more focus on its few leading characters and their observation of Tiffany, it gives each of them a certain level of development. At the heart of this, the main mystery will have to be for Tiffany who doesn’t really get her own narrative but as she is being observed and has each of her episodes, it is suspenseful as it is never certain whether her episodes are supernatural or something else as a result of her accident. On the other side of the spectrum, Ellie as her best friend definitely has her spot and drives the plot development but somehow has some elements that develops which makes her not quite likeable. However, Ellie and Zack are two teenagers dealing with something which is quite over their heads. However, there are always those staple characters like Tiffany’s mother who seems to genuinely lack the understanding and caught up in a situation which causes things to be slightly frustrating at times. However, a really nicely written character is the main character of Tiffany’s character and the politician in running as mayoral candidate who finds his place somewhere near the middle of the story but does have quite a presence and depth. Its one of the well-written characters in the story.

With that said, there are slight pacing issues here. The beginning bits as the youths deal with the accident and their friend with a bright future suddenly reverting back to a child’s mentality is fairly dramatic and very much in the generic which also moves too fast without the characters lacking depth to make it as involving as it should be however, the characters each have their layers and as the plot thickens, the pacing picks up to its advantage creating its suspense and mystery. There are some really plot ideas here and the execution overall works.

Goodreads score: 3/5 (would be 3.5)

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Blog Tour: The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw [Review & Giveaway]

The Space Between Time
By: Charlie Laidlaw

The Space Between Time

Expected Publication Date: June 20th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Drama/Dark Comedy

SYNOPSIS

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

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REVIEW

The Space Between Time is a novel of many good qualities as is expected with Charlie Laidlaw. While I’ve only read one other book from him last year, his writing style and the voice he gives his characters (especially the main one) is very unique. At the the same time, the structure and the story also work very well. In this case, The Space Between Time truly benefits by creating this parallel of the main character Emma’s constant comparison to her grandfather’s theorem of space and time to draw the different events that happen in her life. It is also the unique angle of the story. The novel itself takes form by its different parts (cleverly titled with different space formulas and titles) that take us into the different stages of Emma’s life.

While The Space Between Time does have a good few characters that come in and out of Emma’s life, the main character here is Emma used in a first person voice. This is particularly effective for this story because of one circumstance which helps round up the story and might hit spoiler territory so I’ll avoid it but the second is that it helps capture, like a journal, the different ways of talking as well as the different point of views as Emma grows up, from when she was a little girl just until the present, being an adult. A lot of the novel and plot benefits from this element because the story itself is one that is more dramatic and with that, heartbreaking.

The Space Between Time overall works quite well. It is both unique, well-structured and creative with some unique ideas. The character of Emma is complex, has depth and also is one that grows over time as she fights some of her own inner monsters and grows up to understand more and change her perspective of the people around her. There are so many lessons to learn in this novel through Emma’s story. Its a story about love and loss, family and communication as well as letting go and forgiveness. Its about coming to terms to the different sides of a character.

A lot of elements in The Space Between Time lands really well. The only small issue here was some areas dragged on a little too much with descriptions. There are also some moments where some of the stories seem to drag on too much but then in the sum of things, especially with how it ends, some of the little mundane things come back in the storyline and have their own purpose. On a more personal note, there is a decent amount of dark humor here which (at least for myself) didn’t quite always land as much. However, as much as there are some small issues with the pacing and such, The Space Between Time tells a story about Emma that should be told and probably needs to be told because it highlights some very important elements of life.

Goodreads score: 4 out of 5

Purchase Link

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

charlie laidlaw

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Website
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GIVEAWAY

I have 2 signed copies of The Space Between Time to giveaway, 3 fun coffee mugs featuring all 3 of Charlie Laidlaw’s books, and 3 digital copies of the book in the winner’s format of choice! Amazing right? Click the link HERE to enter!

*Open Internationally – Giveaway closes June 30th

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Blog Tour: The Finest Supermarket of Kabul by Ele Pawelski [Review & Giveaway]

The Finest Supermarket in Kabul
by: Ele Pawelski

The Finest Supermarket of Kabul

Publication Date: October 30, 2017
Genre: Novella/Terrorism/Inspired by True Events

Synopsis

Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2011.

Merza, a freshly minted Parliamentarian receives ominous threats after he wins his seat. Alec, an American journalist, flies from Kandahar without his editor’s permission to chronicle daily life in the capital. Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Kabul to train female magistrates, is distracted by unwanted attention from a male justice. On this grey, wintry Friday, all three are embroiled in a dramatic and savage bombing. Inspired by true events and places, The Finest Supermarket in Kabul follows Merza, Alec and Elyssa as their idealistic and visionary hopes for Afghanistan are deeply challenged in the aftermath.

Goodreads

Purchase Links

Quattro Books
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Indigo

Review

The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is best described as three intertwined stories. What works really well is choosing these characters because one of them is a Parliamentarian, giving the readers an inside scoop of Kabul and the political struggles there. At the same time, having the outside eyes be the opposite side of an American journalist which also gives us the outside perspective while the final one acts somewhat more of a middle ground. They live there for longer duration and know the lay of the land but is still an expat. Their stories definitely are carefully intertwined as the bombing occurs as each person is at a different location and they all react differently but in their timelines still manage to brush past one of the characters in the process. It gives a continuity and fluidity to a thought with taking the time to add that detail.

The stories itself are engaging and intriguing especially as there is a different perspective so the landscape of the lead-up to the actual bombing event also is well-paced. Perhaps, because of this, it has the tightly knit story (or stories) making it a page turner as there isn’t time to add fluff in the middle, and that is fine because the stories being told doesn’t really need it. The story itself is as direct as its characters. At the same time, what makes it a great read is the descriptive nature used it, highlighting the innocent and the unknown and the helplessness for all those involved and the uncertainty of whether they are as well. On another hand, the three stories intertwine here and emphasize a further point that everyone has a different point of view and will be caught up in a different way whether it is physically being there, witnessing its aftermath or even from the sidelines. There’s a lot of thought in the details in The Finest Supermarket in Kabul and that makes all the elements put together a worthwhile one to check out.

Goodreads: 4 out of 5

About the Author

Ele Pawelski

Ele Pawelski has lived in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. She has climbed in the Himalayas, walked the Camino and hiked in Newfoundland. Now living in urban Toronto with her husband, she’s always planning for her next travel adventure. Her stories have appeared in magazines, journals and newspapers. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is her first novella.

Quattro Books
Twitter: @Eleinthecity

Giveaway

3 print copies of The Finest Supermarket in Kabul and 5 $20 Amazon GCs (North America Only)

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King of Me (King’s Trilogy #3) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Check out the review of the second book, King For a Day, here.

King of Me (King’s Trilogy #3)
by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

King Of Me

What if you were asked to love a dangerous man who betrayed you at every turn, who terrified you even in your sleep? Could you do it to save the people you hold dear?

Mia Turner is ready to give it all—her body, her heart, her soul—to the mysterious, ruthless billionaire who holds the cards to saving her family. But when this sinfully sexy man, simply known as King, demands something more, something horrifying, Mia will be forced to face the impossible truth about their lives.

Sometimes the truth brings salvation. And sometimes the truth breaks you. – Goodreads

In the final book of the King’s Trilogy, King of Me is a pretty decent read. It has a lot to thank for the first two books doing a great build-up to this point. Of course, this third book also has to bring an end to all the teasing and seducing and arousal from before so we finally get some sexual action here. However, the core of the story is Mia embracing who she is as in the time of danger she escapes to the past before King was cursed. However, history is set in a certain way and even Mia’s Seer abilities aren’t almighty so there is some mystery behind what she does and how things turn out. Its journey to the past that feela destined and changes Mia’s mind about King and his demons and also drawing comparisons to the other people linked to King as well. Its a big unveiling and does a decent job. Everything makes sense and the erotic scenes play out well. It adds even more depth and development for all our characters, King and Mia but also Mack and the Spiros as well as the truth behind the story from the last book while seeing why Mia falling in love with King is the key to changing everything one way or another, at least for a better outcome.

With that said, King of Me did suffer some of the erotic novel pet peeves that I have. I have some odd ones and it comes from a little similarity of finding redemption for King drawing some comparisons to Christian Grey in the last book of Fifty Shades trilogy. Its this way out where they feel compelled to make love center to just giving in to abusive behavior. However, King of Me does give it a reasonable route afterwards to somehow shed the light a little on why there was this drastic change in that point in King’s history that Mia had stepped into.

Overall, King of Me was decent as the supposed final book of the series. It answered all the questions and sorted all the emotions out. It was fast paced and added depth to the characters.

Of course, reading it after the initial release means I also know that the trilogy turned into more so this isn’t actually the end. There currently two more books, #4 Mack and #5 10 Club. I was hoping to wrap up the series and move into something else. I will try to catch up to the final two books later this year. With that said, I wonder how they will be seeing  as the original idea was a trilogy but these two has now turned it into a series. Hopefully it will work out well.

King for a Day (King’s Trilogy #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Check out the review of the first book, King’s here.

King for a Day (King’s Trilogy #2)
by: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

king for a day

When Mia Turner’s life becomes tethered to a mysterious billionaire, who she swears is the devil himself, she knows she must break free. It doesn’t matter if everything about him—those sinful lips, those pale gray eyes, that perfect male body—keeps her awake at night. He’s evil. She has to get away.

But when this man, known simply as King, suddenly disappears, Mia will discover she’s not home free. Because without King, she’s no longer safe from his ruthless, depraved, power-hungry social circle.
To survive, Mia will have to conceal King’s absence and walk a mile in the evil man’s twisted, cruel shoes. What she discovers will leave her more terrified and her heart more conflicted than she ever imagined.

King is not who she thought. She wasn’t even close. – Goodreads

One of the things I love the most from the King’s Trilogy, and maybe it has to do with Mimi Jean Pamfiloff’s writing but I have only read this trilogy so I have no comparison, is that the setup of the mystery and the characters are quite multi-layered which makes it intriguing to read. In the first book, we learned the basics of Mia and her dilemma, got hints of King and how he is not quite human and of course, the twisted elite 10 Club and the disturbing people involved. But those are fairly skin deep and leaves a lot of room for both the mystery and the characters to grow. In King For a Day, that was exactly what happened. And no one was left out in this character and situational development process, which is always nice to see, making all the characters meaningful to the story as a whole and more depth for the mystery in this one. At the same time, the scope expands with the story widening to other locations and the extent of King’s “powers” being revealed a little bit more.

King for a Day does fall into a familiar path that I didn’t really want it to go down. Part of it was rather predictable and the story line here really seems to fall away from why I found it unique in the first place. However, Mia stays true to her character and King, well, is King, filled with mystery and discovery. The fantasy of figuring out bad boys really never dies. You know, the quiet and cryptic ones who seem to have a lot to hide and are probably wildly dangerous. This story feeds on that mentality for sure. Its always nice to remember when to pull a character out to cool down a little just as King of a Day does as it removes King and makes him disappear, leaving Mia to fend for herself with the help of King’s loyal helper, Mack. Both properties of King, the 10 Club is ready to claim them and they need to find a way to hide the fact that he is missing even if they know who is behind it all. It add tension when the main character is left in the dark especially when the secrets and dangers seem pressing.

With that said, this is a fast-paced read. Even with the few twists that come in play, there is still a playfulness to this one that transforms quickly into a mix of feelings. It builds primarily the depth of King’s backstory and who he is, while also giving Mia her strength and building upon her learning more about what it means to be a Seer and her abilities. At the same time, what I loved from the first one is that this one teases sexual tension and attraction but manages to keep Mia from doing anything that will betray herself even if she finds this strong attraction and pull to him, not only because she was marked (or claimed) by King. Its been one of the characteristics in this series that I’ve enjoyed a lot.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with King For a Day. Its a worthy sequel. There were some predictable moments but it was a fast-paced read. The story and characters both had a decent amount of development to not only keep the mystery and suspense keeping the matter at hand fairly contained but building on the backstory for King as well as the future of Mia and King as well as their tension. At the same time, the other characters never feel dispensable as they also get a fair growth and development to their characters to make them necessary in the story.

Blog Tour: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw (Review & Giveaway)

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead
by: Charlie Laidlaw

Things We Learn When We're Dead

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor
Publication Date: January 26, 2017

Synopsis

With elements of The Wizard of Oz, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Lovely Bones, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead shows how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, and how sometimes we can get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home. – Goodreads

Review

Leaning much more towards the contemporary fiction than humorous side for myself, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead works the best in its creative setting. Perhaps the best way to start is that The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is set up in a structure that takes us between the present state of after Lorna’s accident and waking up in a foreign place that she realizes is a spaceship called HVN and is run by a man calling himself God. How can you not stop to think about whether heaven is actually run by some alien life who is stranded in limbo and has the power to live for eternity. The constant question is whether this was the vision of her death or was this all in her head or maybe some other situations will come to mind as we also get Lorna’s significant moments in life that create a connection to the memories that are regenerating as the time passes by in heaven. In many ways, the story here is something of a character study in itself because of the focus pretty much solely on Lorna. Other characters, no matter how close, were simply passing through her life and things that affected or observed her choices. In that way, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead works very well. It actually achieves quite a few moments of where we get to see the little details of her pass sprinkle into the present people and locations that she visits in heaven.

However, where the story that fall a little bit apart is something of the overly descriptive spots or sometimes feeling like the past had way more focus and detail than it needed to have. It is the defining points of her life but sometimes it also failed to really see the importance of some of the people that kept recurring or simply situations that didn’t seem to matter so much. While that is the case, the writing and word choice is something that I haven’t seen in a while using some obscure things in comparison (at least in my opinion) and added that extra bit of detail and creativity that gives it merit. I guess what I’m saying is that the writing overall was very good but the story was a little overly long for its own good and as the book progressed to the end, the past events dominated over the present and it felt like it lingered a little bit too long and the balance of the two was lost on me.

Overall, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is a decent read. Its not exactly a page turner through and through but the creativity here deserves a lot of credit. Life is made up of our choices and how we choose to live our lives and in many ways, Lorna’s life story in all its detail is very honest and realistic. It might have dragged at certain parts but very few stories do hit those personal journeys with so much honesty and it works on that level. At least I was able to relate to some of her sentiments that she went through.

On a side note, the guy characters here have last names related to birds, “Bird, Dove, Crow”, it makes me wonder if there’s something more about freedom or something linked that I can’t find a connection to, or maybe I’m just overthinking it.

Goodreads score: 3/5

Purchase link: Amazon

About the Author

charlie laidlaw

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault.  That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father.  That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist.  I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries.  Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa.  What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then.  However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Twitter: @claidlawauthor
Facebook: charlielaidlawauthor
Website: www.charlielaidlawauthor.com

GIVEAWAY

2 Printed Copies of The Things We Learn When We’re Dead

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f35/?

Blog Tour organized by:

r&r book tours

Screams You Hear by James Morris

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

Screams You Hear
by James Morris

Screams You Hear

For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.

When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone? – Goodreads

Screams You Hear is something of a deceptive experience. Its starts off perfectly harmless, not the premise per se but rather that it reminded me of a few ideas from this and that from movies and books but as the story progresses, it manages to make its small group of teens very personable while intermittently putting in the now as we see the main character, Ruthie talks about a bit of how she feels now after all the events she has been through to the officer listening to her. Perhaps the only downfall was not being able to create the uniqueness in the beginning to keep me quite as captured as I was once the story really got rolling however, it might also be deliberate to let our guards down so the shocking turnouts as the story progressed would be more unpredictable.

James Morris creates some incredible characters here, much like watching a horror film with the normal group of teens from the nerds to the jocks. There will be characters that you want to cheer for and others that you don’t as much.  However, what makes for some great thrills is the setting on a quarantined island and the detailed descriptions of each scenario which truly can build the tense and creeping atmosphere while building up the picture of the horrifying situations with our own imagination. There is a fine line between being overly descriptive and the right amount of description situation for whichever genre and story that is being told. The author here definitely has found a nice balance.

Being that this one is a thriller, its hard to dive very deeply into the story itself in fear of ruining the twists that this book has to offer. However, in terms of the premise itself, it had quite a few nice traits to it. For one, it had something of a survival element which gave the young characters room to grow. It allowed us to look deeper into the survivor’s outlook after the quarantine. It had some zombie movie elements, which gave me flashbacks of stories like Train to Busan, where they saw the town go to hell and had to use their own observations to slowly piece together what these new-formed enemies were capable of and how they could strategize to escape. As the characters looked over the shoulders, we were also scared for their lives especially since we knew that our main character is the only one who pretty much makes it out and wonders how the others had their demise.

Thrillers are hard to put together. However, James Morris does a great job here. Overall, Screams You Hear has a lot of great elements. The beginning starts off a little familiar and it does seem like the book has some scattered parts that do remind me of other horror films I’ve seen, however, his skillful writing particularly in the descriptions and pacing does help build atmosphere and the characters while giving us just enough to picture each dangerous scene one after another. Nothing is more powerful than our imagination and he does a great job and making sure that our minds are racing with every decision and plot twist that Screams You Hear throws at us. Consider me thrilled! Highly recommend!

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