Cayli Reviews: The Visitor by J.L. Pattison

10/10

This was a very thought-out piece. Very creative!

I absolutely loved how the story wasn’t focused on what happened exactly when Blair went back in time. It made me think that him coming back to the past wasn’t really the main idea, but an event that started the plot. All it gave to the readers was that Blair went back in time, got the date and place wrong, and handed off the letter. I thought that was an excellent way to go for a short story. Not taking too much time on something that isn’t really worth it. Instead, this story focused on the conversations when passing on the information.

Speaking of the conversations, I found it more believable that the reactions of Theodore Quade were actually realistic. To move a plot along faster, an author (I raise my hand because I’ve done this) would make the character jump ahead in their development, believing something that isn’t very easy to believe. What happened in this story, Theo nor Quade believed that there was an actual time-traveler that predicted the future until it was played out in front of them. That showed a lot of realistic decisions. It really made the whole story a lot better.

As a reader, I was genuinely entertained reading this. The plot was interesting along with the history that went along with it. I enjoyed the writing style as well. Some styles of writing can be a little off, like how often they use dialogue for instance; it will throw me off if I can’t get into the flow of the story. Although, this story had me hooked from the very beginning and I could visualize everything so clearly in my head.

Final thoughts? EPIC. AWESOME. LOVED IT. Keep on writing, Pattison!

 

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Kester Reviews: The Visitor, by J. L. Pattison

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this short story from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way.

In addition, I have requested, but not required, the author to subscribe and help publicize the book. I have also requested some authors for autographed bookplates and swag. These requests are outside of the trade agreement.

 

Rating: 8.5/10 stars

 

In J.L. Pattison’s debut short story The Visitor, a Georgia farmer in 1899 finds himself in front of an unlikely visitor, a time traveler, who came from the future to warn the nation  about impending events. Years later, that same farmer gets interviewed by a young reporter, who is given the letter the time traveler wrote, and soon he finds himself and the country approaching the next prediction on that paper, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In this thriller, the reporter will soon find out whether the course of history can change or the course of history is already set.

 

I read this story after I read the author’s other story Alibi Interrupted, and I was pleased with the outcome. It kept on the edge of my seat! I was hooked. I thought the other story was better than this one, but nevertheless I still enjoyed it! I loved it! This author is really one to look out for.

 

The idea of changing the past is still a fascinating subject for me. Although this is not exactly a time travel book, it did regard changing history, which I do love. Alternative histories (like the Infinity Ring series) make me wonder what will happen, but in this case, it already told me what might happen if JFK was actually assassinated, which was cool! I did in fact feel as if these effects could happen in real life! As I was reading this, I was wondering whether history can change for the better or worse. The years tick down with each page, getting closer and closer to the final fate of America. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, making you interested and spooked at the same time.

 

This really did feel like a Twilight Zone episode, especially the ending. As the story progressed, it got creepier and creepier. It made me think about morality today and in the past. I really did feel that our country is going to devolve into the nation that the time traveler warned about. I pondered over the message of the story a lot, and my view on the government and society is a little changed thanks to this story. You can actually feel the air of suspense becoming thicker, and it may give you goosebumps. That ending was probably one of the best (and creepiest) I have ever read. I love shock and twist endings (and you may or may not expect it- I know I partially did), and it felt so eerie and Twilight Zone-ish that I imagined it in black and white!

 

Now, it was not as great as Pattison’s second story. It wasn’t as suspenseful and thrilling as I thought it would be, but it was still. Because I have to compare these two works, this one, although really good, deserves a 4-star just because Alibi Interrupted was so much better! This book really focused on dialogue about issues rather than action. If there was a little more action regarding the letter and Kennedy Assassination, I might have been even more interested. Sadly, since I can choose which story was better, the rating for this book had to be lowered a bit.

 

Nevertheless, I loved it! It was marvelous, and I could see that the author was inspired by The Twilight Zone! It was short and sweet, which is one thing I love about certain books! If it is an amazing book in a short number of pages (like Davenport House), then it’s a great book to me!

Recommendation: Yes. Go read it!

 

If you want to purchase any of J.L. Pattison’s stories, buy them here at Amazon!

Amazon

And if you want to be a visitor to his blog, then check it out!

Website

Fun Fridays: Kester’s Time Travel Story

Hi guys! It’s Kester, and because my recent review was on a short story on time travel, I would like to share my own time travel story that I wrote last year for a creative writing class (so tough!) which is a funny story about a guy from the 70s who travels to the present to revive disco. It’s one of my magnus opus’s, so enjoy!

Time to Groove

By Kester Nucum

    I suddenly appeared in the middle of a sea of tourists; freeing myself from the crowd, I stumbled in front of the Chinese Theater. I gazed upon my new surroundings: cars rolling down Hollywood Boulevard and screens flashing moving pictures. Jeepers creepers! I thought. I can’t believe I actually traveled in time. Now I could achieve my dream: reviving disco in the future.

    I stashed my invention into my pocket, which read, “TRAVELED FROM FEB. 1, 1979. TRAVELED TO FEB. 1, 2016.” I strolled along the current of the passersby, noticing that many of them were staring at me. I thought, Is it my spiffy threads? Did my afro look too big? Some were even pointing colorful boxes at me. Maybe those boxes were a new technology? 

I kept on walking, searching for the nearest record company, until my eyes laid upon a neon sign directly in front of me that flashed the words “Diss Co. Records.” I booked as hard as I could through the crowd, bumping into people as I tried to reach the building.

I stood in front of two glass doors, and when I was about to push my hand against them, the doors automatically slid open, as if it recognized my presence. I was hypnotized by the contraption, stepping back and forth and watching the glass open and close, until I regained my composure and walked through. Wowzers, I thought, so much has changed in the last 40 years.

I stepped inside, only to find a receptionist desk with a foxy mama behind it. The young lady looked similar to me, especially the eyes. Could she be? I thought. I didn’t think so.

“What’s shakin’?” I said. “Please do me a solid. Can I speak with your manager?”

She glared up at me, returned her focus to the computer, and said, “I’m sorry, sir, but he is currently unavailable right now. I could leave him a mess-”

“I want to speak to him right now, you know. Can you dig it, man?”

She stared at what looked to be a thin computer. “How about, hmm, March 24th?”

“You gotta be joshin’ me, dude! That’s bogue, man! I want to see him now!”

“Security!” 

Two guards suddenly appeared and grabbed me by the arms, hoisting me into the air.

“Chill! Please! Why not we hang at my crib later?”

“Let me think about that! How about, uh, no? Guards, take him away!”

Before the guards even moved, a young man with a brick house and fancy clothes entered

the foyer, saying, “Release him at once!” The guards obeyed, and I fell on the floor with a thud.

    “You wanted to see me? Dan C. Diss, manager of Diss Co. Records,” he said, as he approached me and extended his hand.

I shook his hand, saying, “Scott Jones. Thanks for saving me back there, man.”

“You’re welcome. Let’s walk to my office, shall we?”

    He escorted me down a labyrinth of hallways into a corridor with multiple doors. He tapped a button on the wall, and ding! One of them opened. We entered into the elevator and rose up to the 7th floor, where we disembarked and moved into an office filled with framed records and photographs, possibly of those of his clients. Behind the desk was a window that spanned the entire wall, and in its view was the Hollywood Sign off in the distance.

    As Mr. Diss sat onto a chair behind his desk, he said, “So, Scott, why are you here?”

I also helped myself to a seat in front of him and said, “Mr. Diss, I time-traveled here from the 70s to deliver an important message for you: you need to revive disco, you know!” 

“Time traveled? From the 70s? Ha! I don’t believe you.”

“I have proof, man,” I said, removing the device from my pocket and showing it to him.

“Okay, now I believe you, but you can’t revive disco. People today are interested in listening to different music. I’m sorry to break it to you, but disco is dead!”

“Say, what? No way, Jose! It is the best dance music ever! It’s so far out!”

“Have you listened to today’s music, bro? The ‘Whip/NaeNae’, or ‘Hit the Quan?’”

“Hit the who? No, but I can show you some disco moves and-”

“Hold up. You want to revive disco music without knowing what today’s music is like?

I’ll show you! As you say in the 70s, ‘let’s boogie!’”

Mr. Diss grabbed a remote off of his desk and pressed a red button on it. Immediately, the

lights dimmed, a curtain covered the window behind him, and a disco ball dropped from the ceiling and started to spin. I was up first, so I chose to play “Boogie Wonderland” and “YMCA” and busted out my signature moves: the Hustle and the YMCA. I pointed my hand back and forth diagonally, then rolled my arms, and topped it off with my arms spelling YMCA. I thought, I’m for sure going to convince him. I was hip to the groove.

    In the middle of “YMCA,” the music suddenly stopped and changed into one of 2016 dance anthems. Based on the lyrics, I assumed he was doing what people in this decade called “The Whip and NaeNae.” Mr. Diss then bursted out into dance, punching his fists into the air and then waving his hands while stepping backwards, and then it took an even stranger turn when he started to rotate his leg on the ground. Just like the lyric being repeated, it looked so “stanky”. 

    Is this how dance in this generation is like? I thought. It was so crazy, yet it seemed fun. It looked so funkadelic! I fought the urge to dance, but the catchiness of the song defeated me. Next thing I knew, I started doing the Whip and the NaeNae. I just couldn’t resist! Then, Mr. Diss showed me this dance called “The Quan,” and we both flailed our arms like windmills while ducking and swaying. When we finished, I realized we spent an entire hour having a dance party, grooving to disco and “hip-hop”, as Mr. Diss calls it.

    I said, “Wowzers! I can feel the funk. Your tunes are right on! What a fry!”

    Grinning, he said, “Disco is not dead! It’s amazeballs! It’s on fleek!”

    “Well, I better return to 1979. I can’t wait for 2016 to come! Catch you on the flip-side!”

***

    The sun started to set over the peaks looking over the San Fernando Valley, creating streaks of red and orange across the sky. The sunset was the perfect end to this day. I listened to the radio as the host said, “It’s 6:30 p.m. right now on this beautiful day of January 31, 2016.”

I reminisced over my time-traveling experience like it was yesterday, which is actually tomorrow. After I got back from 2016, I destroyed my time machine and lived my life from 1979 to now. The world changed a lot since then, from technology to conflict to music.

Trying to avoid traffic, I cruised along a scenic road near Santa Monica, with the land breeze washing over my face. I recently got off the phone with my daughter, who told me all about her new job at a record company near Hollywood Boulevard. I started to lose focus when all of a sudden a businessman ran across the street right in front of me, but I slammed the brakes a few seconds too late. My Lexus convertible slammed into his body, flying across the hood. As fast as I can, I jumped out of the car and inspected the body in front of me to check if he was still alive. He seemed familiar, somehow. I checked his pulse, but unfortunately, there wasn’t any. 

I searched for his driver’s license, and the name and picture on it nearly made me faint.

I just messed up the space-time continuum.

Author Interview with Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Hi guys! It’s Kester here with a special, exclusive interview with award-winning middle grade author Nancy J. Cavanaugh. I really enjoyed Just Like Me, so I asked her a few questions for you to enjoy!

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1. What is your book “Just Like Me”, in your own words, about?

A fun camp story about girls figuring out who they are and what they have to do to get along.

2. You have a daughter, Chaylee, who was adopted from China. Was she the inspiration for this book? Are there parallels between Chaylee’s and Julia’s stories?

Chaylee (and her Chinese sisters – the girls adopted by the families in our China travel group) definitely inspired this story. These girls have such a unique life story and a connection to each other that they won’t ever have with anyone else. But even though these girls inspired the story, the characters in my book are completely fiction – their names, their personalities, their issues – that’s where the creativity of writing comes into play. Often times authors are inspired by real life, but it most often takes A LOT of fiction in order to turn those real-life situations into a book.

3. Why do you like writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed? 

I have always like to write. It was one of the things I enjoyed in grade school, and even later in high school and college, I would much rather write a paper than study for a test. I think one of the reasons I like it is because I can take my time figuring out what I want to say, and I am able to keep working on a piece of writing to make it better and better. One of the things I like best about writing fiction is creating characters and the imginative world they live in. The characters become very real to me. It’s almost like having imaginary friends.

4. Who are your favorite authors? Who has affected your writing style? Who are also your favorite authors, and which have had an impact on you?

Growing up I loved Beverly Cleary, and I think her books made me realize how much you could love characters and how real they can become in readers’ minds. I also really love Kate DiCamillo and Katherine Patterson. I love how powerful the emotions are in their books. These are the kinds of writers who have influenced me. I hope to write books that will make readers feel the way I feel when I read my favorite authors.

5. What is your favorite genres to read and write? What are you favorite books?

That’s easy – middle grade, realistic fiction. I love reading it and writing it!

6. What do you do when your not writing? Is writing a part-time or a full-time job for you?

Right now I am writing full-time, but I also homeschool my daughter. This keeps me pretty busy!

7. Have you ever had summer camp experiences like Julia?
I went to camp when I was younger; and in high school, I was a camp counselor. For JUST LIKE ME, I drew on those camp experiences, but the same way I fictionalized the characters in the book, I fictionalized the events in the story. I took bits and pieces of things that happened to me and added things to them to create something brand new.

8. If you had to only choose one place to live, either Florida or Chicago, which one would you choose?

Boy, that’s a really tough one! Not sure I could choose, so I’m thankful for right now, I don’t have to. 🙂

9. Do you like Chinese culture? Have you ever been in China?

I have been to China 3 times. Years ago, I taught English there for 2 summers. It was a wonderful experience, and it’s because of those 2 summers that I knew, when my husband and I decided to adopt, that we would adopt from China.

10. Who was your favorite character to write?img_5951-1

That’s pretty hard to say. It’s kind of like asking a parent who their favorite child is. For me my favorite characters are the ones I am presently writing about.

11. How did you feel when you won awards for your books?

Surprised and excited!!! And most of all thankful!

12. What other books have you written? What are you currently working on?

I have several manuscripts (full books) in my writing files. Hopefully one day some of those will become real books.
Currently I am working on a book called ELSIE MAE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY. It is historical fiction set in the 1930’s in the Okefenokee Swamp. I’m really excited about it because it’s a book I’ve wanted to write for a really long time. It is due out in the Fall of 2017.

13. Do you have any tips to recommend to aspiring writers?

READ, READ, READ – in the genre you want to write. And WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.

Thanks so much Nancy!!
If you want to purchase and preview her books, here’s her Amazon page!

Amazon

Kester Reviews: Alibi Interrupted, by J.L. Pattison

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review.

I have also asked, but not required, the author to help publicize my blog. I have also contacted some authors for bookplates and swag. These requests are outside of the trade.

 

10/10 stars

 

Alibi Interrupted: Time Travel Always Has Its Consequences is the suspenseful, thrilling conjoining of two timelines. In the original timeline, Stewart Hudson travels back in time to 1963 to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but after a shocking revelation and turn of events, he gets stuck in the past. In the new timeline, Stacy warns Stewart of how to make his mission successful, but she makes a big risk, risking her entire life turning upside-down.

This short story, although only 32 pages long, was amazing! I loved it! This story is basically The Twilight Zone meets 11/22/63 (even though I haven’t read that book or watch that TV show). It was that good. I was on the edge of my seat, or edge of my bed really, wanting more and more! 
First of all, I love time travel! Although the possibility of it is practically impossible, alternate histories and universes and timelines fascinate me. I would be like “What if President Kennedy survived?” and imagine either a world where the United States is thriving with  moral and economic and scientific prosperity, or the United States is a nation with a false sense of security and “being the best” which leads into war. I don’t know. It’s fascinating! This book did not disappoint! The author really played with timelines and history, and he crafted the story well. Well-researched and had the perfect mix of history and science.
What surprised me most is how such a great, plot-twisting, thrilling plotline fits into 32 pages! Stephen King used 800 pages to write a book on the Kennedy Assassination (which still I want to read and I heard it is amazing), yet J. L. Pattison managed to write something so interesting and amazing in just 30! I felt a little hesitant to read this since I was unsure how one could make a good story in just a few pages, but the author definitely exceeded my expectations. I was pleasantly surprised! 

In addition, it’s The Twilight Zone-esque feeling gave me chills. So many twists and turns and things you had to think about. It was eerie. The ending creeped me out, too! It may have been intended to be warm, but it felt more dark and sinister like the ending to a Twilight Zone episode instead. It was awesome!

Honestly, I have nothing against this story. It was perfect. Period. Amazing! Exclamation point! You should read it, or would you travel back in time to get yourself to read it earlier? Comma, Question Mark? I’m such a Grammar Nazi, to be honest.
Anyway, to sum it all up, read it and enjoy it! Savor it! You’re gonna like it!

Recommendation: Since I am currently watching America’s Got Talent right now, I will use my Golden Buzzer on this story right now! This will go straight into the semi-finals! Maybe I might do a book elimination contest at the end of the year!

Amazing Catholic Books I’ve Just Read

Hi guys! This is Kester. As a Catholic, I want to try to publicize some books that I just recently read that  anyone learning about the faith should read! I might try a little evangelizing here, but certainly I hope that you might read these books and soon get immersed in the wonderful faith! If you are interested in Catholicism, I recommend these books.

 

DISCLAIMER: I received free copies of some of these books from different websites and organizations. I’ve had to subscribe to some blogs or organizations to receive these materials.

 

The Our Father, Word by Word, arranged by Jennifer Fulwiler

Jennifer Fulwiler is an atheist-turned Catholic. I’m really hoping to read her memoir Something Other than God soon. Her story is very inspiring, and now she’s a really devout Catholic. In her new book, Jennifer arranges a collection of essays from many other Catholics, especially bloggers, such as Brandon Vogt, …, who talk about one word or tiny phrase of one of the most famous and most powerful prayers, the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer, explaining what it means to them. It’s truly inspirational, and it’s worth reading.

You can get the e-book version for FREE by signing up for her e-mail newsletter on her website.

 

Meet the Witnesses of the Miracle of the Sun, by John M. Haffert

The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 is one of the most well-known miracles in the Catholic Church. 70,000 people have witnessed a great spectacle where the Sun danced and changed colors in the sky. Don’t believe me? Listen to the testimonies of 70,000 people! Even the secularist newspaper of Portugal recorded this event, saying that this was true. I hope that reading this will strengthen your faith, and hopefully guide you to the Church!

You can get a free copy of this book sent to you from America Needs Fatima.

 

The Doctors of the Church 1 & 2, by John Fink

I’m currently reading these two volumes, which are really good. Only 33 men and women, comprising of 30 men and 3 women, have been pronounced Doctors of the Church for their great works and influences in the Catholic Church. You have people from St. Athanasius who fought against the heresy of Arianism in the 4th century, to St. Augustine who is probably the most brilliant mind and the greatest of the Doctors, to St. Gregory the Great who is the Father of the Medieval Papacy in the 1st volume that summarizes the life and works of the first 17 Doctors in the 1st Millennium. In the 2nd volume on the 2nd Millennium, 16 Doctors are featured, including the only three females to be declared Doctors. One can read about St. Anthony of Padua who is the Patron Saint of Lost Things, to St. Thomas Aquinas (my patron saint) who wrote the marvelous Summa Theologica (a great book to read!), to St. Alphonsus de Liguori who is the greatest moral theologian in Church history. Also featured are the only 3 female Doctors, including St. Therese of Lisieux who is if not the most popular saint in the Catholic Church, St. Teresa of Avila who was the first female to be a Doctor of the Church, and St. Catherine of Siena who was a remarkable women who did so much along with her mysticism and activism in her such little time on her. These saints are so inspiring, and their works will help you grow more spiritually.

 

Youcat: Youth Cathecism of the Catholic Church, by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

If you are a teenager (or an adult who doesn’t want to read thousands of sections), then this book is the perfect intro for learning about the Catholic Church! So many people don’t like the Catholic Church because they don’t know what the Catholic Church actually is! People think we’re idolaters, or Satanists, or superstitious people, etc. and it gets on my nerves (and funny bone) whenever I hear an accusation that is so misinformed. My friend thought we (and this is for real) that the Catholic Church is just an excuse to drink alcohol and go to church whenever you want and pay money for your salvation and create man-made doctrines that stretch the Bible… I was laughing so hard! I want to be like “Here dude, it’s a Youcat- and everything you find in there does not contradict the Bible so…” It’s very brief, and very understandable! I’m still trying to get through it, but it’s a great reference tool!

 

More Recommendations for Books I Have Not Read by Catholic Saints

 

The Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

I have not read this book, but I am about to start it soon. I heard it’s a great book, and you will really become informed on why Mary is so important to us!

The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

I have not read this one either, but I will start on it soon! St. Therese of Lisieux is a great saint! You should definitely read this!

The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, by St. Faustina

I really really really want to read this! Really! Just want to so badly! I love the Divine Mercy devotion! Heard it’s really great and should be really savored!!!

Summa Theologica, by St. Thomas Aquinas

Very long, but very informative. He’s going to convince. Like 90% sure.

Anything by the Church Fathers (Sts. Augustine, Iraneus, etc.)

 

Well, that’s it for this blog post. I hope that God will continue to bless you!

Say Welcome to the Newest Member of Our Team!

Hi guys! Since Lilly and I cannot read and review books too frequently, we have decided to add another member to the LILbooKlovers family! I hope you will give a warm welcome and enjoy the future reviews and posts of Cayli! Here are some stuff from her:

Cayli: Hey! I’m happy to be on the team. I can’t wait to get started reviewing books for you all. I’ll try to post as much as I can and when I can’t, I’ll be reading something to review when I get back 🙂 I have updated my information so if you’re interested, go check it out!

Enoch and the Stars Above, by Rich Paz

DISCLAIMER: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way.

I also asked, but not required, the author(s) to subscribe and help publicize the blog. Some authors I request for signed bookplates and swag. These requests are not in exchange for a review.
9/10 stars

“Enoch and the Stars Above” zooms through the story of Enoch Sotheby, an average kid who doesn’t think he’s special, who soon is thrust into an intergalactic war that has the fate of Earth in his hands. With the help of his best friends and Uriel, an Arc, Enoch soon discovers his purpose in the cosmos while fighting against the forces of evil that has already corrupted the human race.

Oh my goodness. This is not what I’d expected. For a both author and series debut book, this was really strong. Really strong. It really grabbed my attention so many times! I was so hooked! It was short and sweet- really nice!
The main thing I love about the book is the symbolism. The first thing that blared in my head was Uriel’s name. Surprisingly, I have a keychain and medal folder of Uriel the Archangel, who is the Archangel of Justice. There are other Arcs, which I realized stands for Archangel- so that might be a hint for some symbols. There’s also much more symbolism hidden inside the book. I loved uncovering and unmasking each one!
The story was really interesting and suspenseful. There were parts that I was really interested that I re-read them a few times to think and ponder over them.

 

Another thing I love about the book is that is was really suspenseful and interesting. There were many parts, mostly historical things, that interested me, especially how the story intertwined with real history. It was also surprising at many parts. Sometimes, you wouldn’t expect some things. Other times, you’re so hooked into the story you don’t want to stop! I loved it!

 

There were a few things that bugged me a bit. I think that author should have toned down on the onomatopoeias. It felt too much at times. Also, some characters came too sudden. One character I thought was a typo until I realized she was another character separate from that character I thought she was supposed to be. There was another one that was so minor he didn’t have to be there unless it’s a hint for upcoming plot lines. There were a few flaws, but I understand that since this is a debut book.

 

Overall, I liked this book. I’m actually looking forward to the next one. I love those kinds of endings (am I spoiling it too much?). It was really nice! It captivated me a lot! This series has a lot of potential! I guess this book is one of those “stars”.

Recommendation: Yes!

 

Kester Reviews: Just Like Me, by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book from a giveaway hosted by Sourcebooks through the TeachingBooks.net blog. In no way does this affect my review.

I also asked the author for signed bookplates and swag. This does not affect my review, too.
Rating: 10/10 stars
“Just Like Me” revolves around Julia, an adopted Chinese orphan who does not want to identify herself as Chinese along with her “Chinese sisters,” two orphans named Avery and Becca also from the same orphanage Julia was from. Told through a powerful narrative and Julia’s journal entries in her Mrs. Marcia journal, Julia doesn’t want to be at Camp Little Big Woods, especially with Avery and Becca, and even more so with Avery and Becca’s enemies, the mean Vanessa and Meridith. With this year’s theme being “Find the Missing Peace,” Julia sees her cabin trying to find their missing piece and herself trying to find her own identity.
Wow. I was shocked with this book. I had a little low expectations because this was a middle grade book, and sometimes middle grade books aren’t always the best books (for me, of course), but I was fairly surprised! I loved it! 
The book got me hooked. Nearing the end of the story, I just wanted to get done with all my Algebra II classwork so I could finish this book! That’s how good it was. I told my friend, “I just want to read my book instead of this!”
Another positive note is that it was really relatable to me. With the main character being Asian, just like me (did you see what I did there?), I was like “Yes! An Asian character!” Another thing was that I felt the same feelings Julia felt when I was younger. When I was a kid, I was like “I want to marry an American, not a Filipina” or something else. I did embrace my Filipino side, but not as much as my American side. It was crazy. I liked America so much better than the Philippines. Reflecting back on the book, I was Julia almost. When I moved here, I didn’t want to move back. Now moving to the Philippines is a possibility after college (if I weigh the options carefully). 
I didn’t think there were any downsides to the book. There was a good plot, conflict, characters, setting, etc. I don’t think I have anything to criticize! It was great! A book you should definitely read!
Recommendation: Definitely!

Grim Nora and the Secret of the Skull, by A.M. Albaugh

Hey guys! This is Kester! Before I start, I would like to say that because the school year has just started, and Sophomore Year is getting a little hectic, I might not be able to read as much as I can, but I will try to! If you are an author and have requested for a book request, it might take a little longer, but I will do my best. Just note that sometimes I have to listen to it as an e-book (you can get your iPhone to speak PDF files for you!) so the review could be a little under since I do not comprehend as great listening to an audio.

 

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. In no way will this affect my review.
In addition, I ask of all authors to subscribe to and help publicize the blog. I ask some authors for book swag. This is not part of the copy-review exchange.

 

Rating: 8/10 stars

 

“Grim Nora and the Secret of the Skull” follows Nora, a girl who’s father has recently died in a mysterious shooting, who is soon thrust into the middle of an ongoing magic war. She holds in possession a special skull clock, which actually leads to the world’s most powerful weapon. When her brother gets captured by the enemy, she, along with a ragtag group of magical beings and skilled humans, travel to another world to try and save him, but find themselves in the epicenter of an ongoing war between their enemy and the rebellion. Nora finds herself conflicted in trying to save her brother and surrendering herself and the weapon or defeating the enemy once and for all.

 

I found this book actually quite interesting. Although I am not a huge fantasy fan, this entertained me very much. I found myself quite hooked from time to time. This was well-written, but I feel like it could have been better.

 

I am a sucker for suspense and thrill, and this book has some nice action, thrills, and twists. Sometimes I’m like “What?” and other times I’m like “What just happened?” It grabbed my attention. From the beginning all the way through the plot twists and surprises to the ending that I feel like was nice, I had quite a ride.

 

The thing with fantasy I don’t like is the introduction of so many characters, and I mean a LOT of characters. BUT I feel like this book has done well with that, except for a few parts. The minor characters, like those who only appeared a few times, got me a little confused, but the rest of the characters were so unique in both personality and naming that I could tell who is who. Sometimes I am afraid to read through the “Lord of Rings” because I might go “Wait, I though Bilbo was Sam?” or “Which Gandalf is good, then?” or something like. In this, I didn’t have that problem a lot, which was good.

 

Now, because I did have to read this as an audiobook, I was not that interested as I thought I would be. It caught my attention at times, but sometimes I didn’t feel as attentive as I should be. Plus, there were a few things that were confusing, too. Sometimes, it might be details; other times, it’s characters. I was confused, but not too much, which is good. 

And a quick note, I would have dialed down the romance. Romance many times breaks books because it focuses too much on it. This book wasn’t one of those books, fortunately, but it felt too much for me. First, you have a love triangle, then it becomes a love square, and then that turns into a love hourglass! Then there was another romance! It felt too much. I would have tried to lessen the romance if I were the author.
Overall, this book is good for a debut. I think the author did well with some things, but honestly they could be improved upon. Just like Tom Twitchel and the “Benjamin Brown” series, this series has potential. I’m hoping the second one will be better than the first! Although I’m not big on fantasy, this I enjoyed. It might not be my favorite, but it was enjoyable in many ways. Good read to start off with!
Recommendation: Yes. 
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