“The Mermaid’s Sister” by Carrie Anne Noble Review

Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook version of this book.

The Mermaid's SisterThe Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say about this book? A lot really. I absolutely loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it!

You know how we always read stories where the main character is the chosen one, the magical one, or the one all the adventures are about? I was interested in this story for the very thing it’s not.

Auntie, the guardian of two young teenagers, tells the story a hundred times – perhaps more – for they love to hear it. She raised two girls from babes. The first arrived in a conch shell. The second was delivered to her doorstep by a stork. When Maren starts becoming a mermaid, it is up to her sister Clara, the stork’s delivery, and their childhood friend, O’Neill, to take her to the ocean where she belongs.

Clara is an ordinary girl in a lot of ways – beyond her odd stork-ish beginnings. She loves her family, loves a boy she realizes loves her sister and hates herself for her jealousy and her love, and she doesn’t believe in herself. She isn’t brave. She isn’t as beautiful as Maren. She fully believes she might become a stork, as her sister is becoming a mermaid. She is full of doubt and modesty, but beyond that, she is a loving and caring soul. She’ll do anything to save her sister. She’ll doubt herself along the way, but she will do everything humanly possible to see her sister returned to the sea.

That’s one of the things I loved about this book. Maren was a mermaid, a fantastical creature. O’Neill and his father, Scarf, were traveling people who sold their wares and told fantastical stories and played a bit of magic or tricks. Auntie was a healer with a bit of fae blood and able to cure anyone of any ailment they had. It was Clara who was the most ordinary of them all, unless you want to count her friendship with their pet wyvern, Ausbert. So many times, the main character is someone who is magical themselves, and it was so refreshing to have someone who wasn’t as fantastical as those around them – and still managed to find a way to use their skills to keep themselves out of trouble.

And trouble did indeed find them as they journeyed from the mountainside in their attempt to return Maren to the sea from which she came. Who wouldn’t expect trouble when one travels with a mermaid? Again, these troubles were – in their own way – magical and odd, and Clara was still the most ordinary among the people surrounding her.

I loved that there was no real love triangle. There was the possibility of such, but Clara’s feelings were always clear, even if she did try to deny the way she felt about one of them as she believed (with all her heart) that he belonged to someone else. She never led either boy on, and it was fantastic because it allowed us to see more of her personality. Her loyalty to her friends and her sister and her own feelings was amazing. No one could sway her in her emotions. She hid them from some, mainly the young man she had feelings for, but when the other young man tried to draw her out, tried to turn her affections toward him, she spurned him, and she spurned him hard. It was amazing.

There was so much faith and love and promises and magic and music and stories in this tale. It was, by all rights, a magical piece of storytelling that I can’t wait to read again.

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“Self-Editing on a Penny” by Ashlyn Forge Review

Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook version of this book.

Self-Editing On A Penny: A Comprehensive GuideSelf-Editing On A Penny: A Comprehensive Guide by Ashlyn Forge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book, but only because I was listening to the audio book rather than reading a physical or Ebook copy. Note to self: grammar and editing books are not as good in audio book format. I will be re-reading this book at some point to see how each compares.

There were several good tips in this book, like several other editing books I’ve read before, and didn’t offer a lot of new information about the editing process I didn’t already know. However, the way the information was delivered had a bit of comedy, and there were several examples to showcase the author’s viewpoint. It was extremely well-done in that sense.

This is a quick book to read, and great for writer’s who are new to the editing process. Even if you aren’t new to editing, there are some decent tips that are perfect for a refresher course as you go through the editing process (like I’m about to do).

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“Beastly Bones” by William Ritter Review

Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook version of this book.

Beastly Bones (Jackaby, #2)Beastly Bones by William Ritter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had forgotten how much I loved this series, but I was once again reminded as I listened to this audio book. I absolutely LOVE this series.

This book takes place shortly after the events of “Jackaby” and Jackaby and Miss Rook have a new case that pulls them into Rook’s preferred profession of paleontology. As someone who wanted to be a paleontologist the first time she watched “Jurassic Park”, I fell in love with the story. There were creatures that mimic their prey and take on the body and shape of the creature they eat. There were missing dinosaur bones (that may or may not) be a dinosaur at all. There were mysterious strangers with odd auras. It was a conglomeration of events that all built upon one another and it was amazing.

Once more, I listened to the audio book (as I did the first), and I loved it in this form. The first reason is that they seem to be written in a way as to be accounts of events after they have already happened. Once more a chapter was left out and noted as well. “The contents of [insert chapter] have been removed from the record…” This isn’t an exact quote, but the gist of what is mentioned, and I smiled when I heard it because I had forgotten that the same was done with the first book until I heard it once more. It’s an odd thing to occur in a book, but it works for this series, and I love that it was once more included (and I hope to see it in future books).

All-in-all, this is a great read. I love the characters. I love the relationship Abigail Rook has with Jackaby, her boss, and how he’s awkward (he doesn’t think he is, but he is a strange man) but there are no romantic feelings between the two. It’s refreshing because in a lot of what I read these days there is a romance between co-workers, and it’s nice to see that there’s NO relationship beyond that of work-related between the two main characters of this series.

That said, there is a bit of a budding romance between Miss Rook and the Charlie, the cop we met in the first book, but it’s slow and (again) awkward, and not the emphasis of the book. The main focus is on the mystery and the case, and I loved that the romance did not take the forefront.

There are a lot of new characters in this book, but I was pleasantly surprised and reminiscent with seeing some of the same characters from the first book appear as well. It was like greeting an old friend, and I loved it.

Can you tell I loved this book?

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“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson Review

Disclaimer: I read the paperback version of this book.

I'll Give You the SunI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. While I liked the story for the most part, it threw me off that each chapter was from a different time period and a different character. It starts from the prospect of Noah at thirteen years of age, but for the next chapter it switches to his twin sister, Jude, three years later, and it does this for the rest of the book. If we’d read all of Noah’s parts first and then Jude’s it would have been a lot easier.

Also, even though I’m strange myself and I couldn’t begin to describe the random thoughts inside my head, being inside Noah’s head was so strange, and not always in a good way. He didn’t think like most young kids. He was often “painting in his mind”, which is not a bad thing, but then he would name whatever scene that was occurring, as if it was a painting, and sometimes it made no sense and disconnected me from the story because it didn’t seem to fit. Because the style continued throughout the book with each appearance of Noah, it did fit, but it didn’t feel like it.

Jude’s parts were much easier to understand (once I got past the fact that her parts took place three years later, and I *STILL* had trouble wrapping my brain around that) as she seemed like every moody teenage girl who hated the world and everyone in it. That being said, her connection with spirits and the conversations she had with her dead grandmother were strange at first because it made me think that this was a supernatural book and the girl had powers, but I knew it was a contemporary, so it was just another thing I had to wrap my head around.

The writing style for Jude’s chapters and Noah’s chapters were so different from one another that it was easy to see who’s perspective was who’s. They definitely didn’t share the same thoughts and feelings about things, but again, the flip-flopping of time periods threw me off a lot.

There are several controversial topics in this book: sex between teenagers, coming out and forcing someone else to come out, as well as cheating and affairs. Overall, it conveys all these topics well and we see each subject in a different perspective between the two characters, and we watch them handle it separately as well as together.

What I think I loved most about this book was that it broke the stereotypical setting I see with twins. Whenever I see twins in literature, they look exactly the same and have the same personalities. It’s easy to see the differences in the Jude and Noah’s personalities, and one of the other characters makes his surprise at their being twins known because he expected Jude (who he met second) to look “like Noah but with boobs” as she so elegantly put it.

I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did, and I might go back through it and re-read it so that I read all of Noah’s chapters first and then all of Jude’s chapters second to understand it better because that was the main issue I had with it. I can handle the POV change, but it was the timeline change that killed me. It probably works for others, but it just did not work for me.

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“5,000 Words Per Hour” by Chris Fox Review

Disclaimer: I read the ebook version of this book.

5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting concept for writing and adding to one’s writing, and something I wouldn’t mind attempting. There is heavy emphasis on using an app the author created to make this plan work, but that app is only available to iPhone and Mac users (Apple products) rather than Android and Windows users, which is kind of depressing, but he did provide a spreadsheet that can follow the same process, so it’s not as bad as it could be.

Second Read-Through
I enjoyed this book a little more this time around. I think the only reason I dislike it actually are mentioned in my original review above.

Sometimes, re-reading a book can be a good thing. Both times I read straight through without doing the exercises laid out in the book, but it doesn’t matter if you do them at the end of the book or as you read along. The point is to do them. I don’t remember doing all of them the first time I read this book, but I did see the value in most of them. This time, I completed each of the exercises and I found more value in the book overall. It also helps that I’ve started tracking my word counts in more months than just NaNo months, so I’ve seen the results of what Fox discusses in this book and how I’ve improved over time.

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“A Fox’s Love” by Brandon Varnell Review

Disclaimer: I read the ebook version of this book.

A Fox's Love (American Kitsune #1)A Fox’s Love by Brandon Varnell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve never read an anime novelization, although I watch a lot of anime and read a lot of manga. That said, I really got the anime vibe from this book and there were a lot of anime tropes in here that were recognizable and fun. Random nose-geysers and fainting at the sight of nakedness being one of them.

The story itself is lighthearted (for the most part) and fun.

Kevin is a decent kid, although I didn’t really understand why, throughout the entire book, which took place over the course of a week or two, he didn’t contact his mother. She was out of town, but I can’t remember what she was doing (working, that much I know) or why he never once called her. Teenagers. *shrug* What can you do? Still, I loved his character, although there were plenty of times I felt he made situations worse by not being completely truthful with Lilian from the beginning. A lot of problems might have been prevented if he’d just talked to her. Again, teenagers. What can you do?

Lilian was funny, albeit clingy. She’s super cute, and I love how she doesn’t care what other’s think. In a way, she’s innocent and naive, but in others, she’s completely manipulative and mysterious. I like that we got to see both sides of her. I’m interested to see how she develops in future books. I like her right now, but I don’t like how much trouble she causes Kevin or how he doesn’t really do anything to stop it. Their relationship is… strange…

There were several side characters that didn’t get as much screen-time that I hope we see in future books, because I do plan on reading more of these. I’m not to keen on Kevin’s best friend. I didn’t mind him being pervy, but he was a lot worse once he met Lilian, although I’m starting to wonder if he wasn’t just affected by her being a kitsune more than anything else.

There was a lot of fourth-wall breaking, but I didn’t see much of it until about halfway through the book. Lilian was the one breaking it, and she doesn’t talk right away, but there were several moments, reflecting back upon some of the first scenes she appeared in and spoke, where it would have been great to break it. I didn’t notice her breaking the fourth wall until much later than when it *could* have started. The moments where it did happen were great though and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Overall, I liked this book and can’t wait to read the next in the series. I’m interested to see what happens next between these two not-so-crazy-about-each-other (at least on Kevin’s end) lovebirds.

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“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman Review

Disclaimer: I borrowed this audiobook from the library.

The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook, which I’d checked out from my local library.

In a way, this novel felt like a collection of short stories all featuring the same characters at different points of Bod’s (Yes, Bod. Short for Nobody Owens) life. That’s not overly a bad thing, but it was certainly different. I felt as if each chapter was meant to be its own story and that “The Graveyard Book” was just an omnibus collection of those short stories. It was certainly a different way of writing.

I found myself disliking most of the characters. They weren’t badly written. Quite the opposite. Each character was fleshed out in its own way so that you had a clear image of their personalities and their traits. They just weren’t the greatest people in the world. With some of them, those who were dead and stuck in the times they had lived in, it didn’t bother me as much, but those who were living – such as Scarlet (Gods, I hated Scarlet the most actually, even more-so than the bullies honestly) did because they weren’t good people. I did like Silas (for the most part) and Bod, but there were a couple things near the end of the novel I can’t reveal without spoilers that annoyed me about both.

Overall, I liked the story. I liked how the sections of Bod’s life all tied together, how each new character that was introduced impacted his life. It was wonderful storytelling. What I liked the best was how each of the chapters seemed to start with something that seemed to have no correlation with Bod and his life, but it would all be tied back to it in the end. Especially the discussion of ghoul gates. That was my favorite chapter because it started talking about how every graveyard has a ghoul gate and what to look out for, and as I sat there listening, I couldn’t help but wonder why there would be a mention of ghoul gates. However, Bod had a short adventure dealing with ghoul gates in which he discovered what they were and how they operated, but on top of that, he was able to use that knowledge near the end of the book (again, I can’t reveal more without spoilers).

This story was Bod’s story. Mainly. There were several “interludes” where we got glimpses into the lives of some of the other characters (Silas, Scarlet, and Jack), but overall it was Bod’s tale. That being said, it would have been interesting to know more about what Silas is/was and the Honour Guard. It would have been interesting to learn more about the Jacks of All Trades and their organization.

This is a good book following the life of a boy who grows up in a graveyard and those surrounding him, who (for the most part) are all dead. Neil Gaiman is a master at weaving a story that you feel compelled to read even if you don’t like the characters in the story (Gods… Friggin’ Scarlet…). If you like Neil Gaiman, you should read this book. And if you like audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to it. It’s read by Neil Gaiman and it’s perfection to listen to.

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