The Making of Nebraska Brown – Review

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To start off, I’d like to say that I absolutely adore the cover! When Rebecca first sent out the news for the tour, I stared at the cover for a good two minutes; it is definitely my favourite of…at least the past year.

Onto the review!

Wow. Well, let’s see if I can make at least partial sense. As I’ve already mentioned elsewhere, this book needled every available feeling…several times over.

In short, Louise Caiola has done a magnificent job telling Ann Leigh’s* story. Now all we need is the tale of when/how the disgusting sea urchin Tommy dies. … I just harbor a lot of hatred for him. I didn’t like him from the very beginning, he’s one of the types that I despise. Still, Ms. Caiola’s storytelling skills are so remarkable that even my most hated person throughout the entire bloody novel is memorable. This might not seem like that big of a deal–the hated are often remembered, are they not? For me, though, not many people that I hate are so easily stuck in my memory–I tend to forget them within a few days/weeks. I don’t think I’ll forget him anytime soon…
Enough of that, I suppose. I’d rather focus on how much I love this book! When I first started my review, it got extremely long in an exceptionally short span of time. I have, over the course of the past week, trimmed it down. Way down.
“The Making of Nebraska Brown” is, without question, one of the best books I have ever read. Not just within the past X days, months, or even years–no, of all time.
“You can go home again. But it may not be there when you finally arrive.”–this is my favourite quote. Possibly my favourite thing ever. I’m all too aware of how true this is, and I believe this message is why, even though I’ve never been in Ann Leigh’s exact position, I can relate to her so closely. Why I have such a connection with her. In the end, it all goes back to Louise Caiola’s incredible writing, way of connecting us–me–to the most complicated of situations that I haven’t a personal inkling of…she deserves an award, to be honest. All the awards! I can go on and on, but nothing will ever fully express my love for this book. I did promise myself I wouldn’t gush for too long, so I suppose I can simply end it here. Well, after I give my rating!

I’m extremely guarded when it comes to 4.5 and 5 star reviews, but this…it stole my heart almost immediately. It’s something I hope to revisit within this year, that’s how good it is.

Without any hesitation, I give “The Making of Nebraska Brown” 5 stars.

*I refuse to call her “Ana,” I don’t care what anyone else says.

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A Monster Calls review

It’s rather hard to find the words for this… This is such a powerful story, there’s nothing in this world that I can say to farther enhance it or make it come even more alive.

First, I suppose I should start by saying how much I love A Monster Calls. All of the lessons, each and every moral, hits home in some way, some more than others. Let me be perfectly clear: no, I have not lost anyone to cancer. A friend does have a small tumour, benign, but that’s not even close to being the same. I have, however, lost people, whether to death or time. We’ve all lost people in one way or another. People die every day, people move out of our lives just like we are but mere apartments. Letting go of anyone, in anyway, is something that that individual has to deal with on their own. My reason for saying this is due to some comments that no one would react to loss in the way Connor does. Excuse me, who the hell do you think you are? It’s quite impossible that you know how every single person reacts, so you don’t really know what you’re talking about, do you? I think these opinions might be influenced by Connor’s age, as he’s only nine years old. I was younger than that when I first lost a loved one to death, and I reacted in a very similar way. Almost on the dot, really. How you react, how I react, how the homeless man on the street corner will react, it’s personal. Or perhaps it’s not so personal, but it’s still a personal reaction. Connor is extremely brave, but that doesn’t mean others who react differently are cowards. We all have to deal with loss; we all have to deal with pain. How you choose to, that’s up to you, and I’ll not badger you for it. I ask for the same in return.

Enough about that. This book, this magnificent tale… I can’t find the words to sum up just how much I love it, how glad I am I stumbled upon it. The detail, the characters, the ideals… This is definitely going to linger with me for a very long time. The writing is simple. The type of simple that I love. Patrick Ness, you’ve done a marvellous job, and I salute you, sir. I think Siobhan Dowd would be very proud of this.

On a more personal note, I wonder if it’s too late… Is it ever too late? I don’t think it is… Many moons have come and gone, but perhaps my own monster will come walking soon.

I look forward to reading more from both Ness and Dowd, who’s idea for the book this was. She passed away before she could pen it, though. Yes, cancer.

I’d recommend this book to…anyone. Everyone. All who will listen, all who have a moment to spare, read this book.

Cate

Bluff review

Bluff Cover

Synopsis: To the medical world, I was a host body, surviving only to bring a new life into the world. And while I wanted to die more than anything in the world, I never wanted this. No, I never wanted to cease to exist. This was the worst death of all.”

 Jude Black lives in that in-between, twilight place teetering on death but clinging to life in order to bring her baby into this world. Only she knows the circumstances surrounding her mysterious fall off the bluff that landed her in the hospital being kept alive by medical intervention. Only she knows who the father of her baby is. In this poignantly crafted literary novel, the mystery unfolds and the suspense builds as the consequences of Jude’s decisions threaten to reveal everyone’s deceptions, even her own. BLUFF offers a sensitive look at essential questions such as the value of human life, the consciousness of those in a coma and the morality of terminating life support. At the core is the story of a tragically misunderstood woman who finds peace, acceptance, understanding and even love on her deathbed.

Damn. Yeah, that’s the first word that came to my mind when I finished this book. …And when I was in the middle of it. …And when I started it.

I honestly cannot begin to tell you how much I absolutely adore this book. The only thing I can possibly pick at is a few errors in grammar/punctuation, but they didn’t hinder my reading at all, and, truth be, I don’t even remember what the errors where, I just know I saw them! So… I have nothing to pick at. I have nothing bad to say about this book. On with all the good things I can say!

This is the first book I’ve read in which the main character is in such a state that only memories, letters, and an unheard/unseen presence, her spirit, remains. I need to read more like this! I’m serious, do you have any suggestions?

That being said, I wondered how close I’d be able to get to the comatose Jude. Ah, such thoughts seem trivial now… I definitely feel close to her, closer than I feel to any of the other characters. I absolutely love her and, as I delved deeper into the novel, I kept hoping she’d come to peace as Lenore Skomal promised in the synopsis.

She didn’t disappoint. I cried several times throughout this book, I had to gasp for air pretty much every time I opened it up, but I think my reaction to the ending was hilarious. I blinked, stared at my Kindle for about five minutes, and then asked an empty house, “Is that it?” No, no, not because I feel anything was left out, left unanswered. *shrugs* I just want more. I was not ready for this book to end; I truly wanted to hold on for a little while longer, even though I wished Jude peace and an ultimate end. I had very conflicting emotions and I’m still reeling!

I’m not going to go over all the characters, but I will talk about a few of them. First, I should mention that there are quite a few characters from both the past and present on the ride, but Skomal does a fabulous job with them and I never once had to pause and wonder who the hell I was reading about. The viewpoint does change often, but I love the way it’s done and I think the frequent changes prevented me from growing bored with any of the characters.

I’ve already spoken about how much I love Jude, so I’ll move on to her best friend, Frances.

I didn’t care for her. At all. When I was first introduced to her, I was neutral…that went downhill fast. She’s very eager to adopt Jude’s baby once she learns it’s healthy. I realise that Jude’s case is all but hopeless while the baby’s is not, so obviously, as the synopsis says, she’s just there to serve as a host body until she comes to term. I get it. For me, Frances was just a bit too eager. As we learned her near obsession with adopting the child was only growing from what was already there, I even became suspicious and wondered if she had anything to do with Jude’s fall. Yes, yes, I know. She couldn’t know that the baby wouldn’t be hurt, but still… I’m no stranger to just how obsessive and mad a person can get, so I thought perhaps she’d snapped that day and, without a thought to the one thing she couldn’t stop thinking about, she shoved her best friend off the bluff. My dislike for her only grew as the story progressed, as she was revealed more and more.

Well, onto the next character.

April, Jude’s sister.  I liked her. Yes, she’s vain and quite rude, but I liked her for some reason. I actually began to wonder if this is due to the fact that she was the only one who could stop Frances from getting what she wanted. …Man, I really disliked her. Anyway, I think it’s because April stood up for herself. Frances did too, but I’ve already gone over that. As I went on, I began to like April more and more as she realised she’d simply been a pawn to her mother, as she seemed to peek out of her own little world. Frances thought April didn’t care about the baby at all, that she only wanted to take custody in order to spite her; I actually agreed at first, and I had to question if I’d rather someone who didn’t care get the baby, or I’d rather someone I didn’t like get it. Truth is, though, by the end, I didn’t think Frances would make a good mom at all. Overall, I liked April and I’m glad she, in her own way, found peace.

Everyone in this book is damned in some way. We all come from something, we all have a past, and I was overjoyed to see even the exteriorly “perfect” characters had things to hide, had pieces to pick up.

That leads me to the final character I wish to talk about.

Gay, Jude’s mother. Wow. She was…well, she was definitely someone a person, depending on their stance, could grow to either love or hate very quickly. I acknowledge that she stood up for what she believed in, she certainly had no doubts about what she was doing/saying, she knew what she wanted. That being said, Gay was a woman who used one daughter, an almost clone at the time, against the other. She played April like a violin and she used her as just another weapon in her arsenal against Jude. She really wanted to hurt Jude. She used everything she could. Jude’s sexuality, her sister, and nothing Jude ever did was good enough.

Well… I suppose that’s about it. I loved the writing style, I loved everything about this novel. It’s truly an intense look at several controversial topics, and I’m so glad I decided to do this.

Job well done Lenore Skomal!

A solid five stars to Bluff, though it deserves so much more.

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway!

Cate

Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of Bluff?

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Bluff tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! Since I can’t directly run Rafflecopter contests on my blog, please visit the tour page linked above.

Lenore Skomal

About the author: Lenore Skomal wants you to eat her books. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. She is an award-winning author with the single goal of resonating with others. Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, her catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, 18 books published, a daily blog and weekly newspaper column, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues of the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence. She has won many Society of Professional Journalist awards, the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference honorable mention for best fiction, Writer’s Digest 73rd Annual Fiction Contest, New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens 2003, and most recently, the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award for humor for “Burnt Toast.,” her first anthology of her award winning humor columns. From journalism, to literary fiction, to humor and biography, her writing is consistent, if not in genre, then in message.

Connect with Lenore on her website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

Get Bluff on Amazon.

A Review of Mistfall by Olivia Martinez

Mistfall cover

Mags has lived in hiding most of her life. One of the two last jinn of her kind, she’s being hunted by one of the Kings of Hades and the menacing Elf King for her power. When one disastrous date sends her on the run, Mags knows her life will never be the same. The only question is, will she survive it?

Mistfall centers primarily on Mags, a powerful jinn full of potential and sarcasm. Potential.. I definitely think that Olivia Martinez has potential as well, but with the multiple grammatical and punctuation errors (just to name a few of the reasons), I cannot rate Mistfall more than 2.5 stars.

The Characters

Just to go over a few..

Mags: I like her. While I did find her annoying at certain points, overall she’s pretty damn awesome. Her wit, sarcasm, and entire personality are hilarious!

Luca: I never trusted this fucker. Not once, not from the very beginning. He annoys me, he pisses me off.. Ugh! I just kept hoping he’d die.. The thing..attraction or a crush or whatever it was between Luca and Mags was a huge annoyance, as well.

Hailz: I absolutely LOVE her! I honestly cannot even speak to how grand of a character she is!

So there you are! These are just a few of the characters, though, but they’re the most memorable to me. Martinez’s solid knowledge of her characters, her strong grasp on who they are, that’s the strongest point, the thing that makes me think she has the potential to become great!

The Detail and the History

I thoroughly enjoyed the history given throughout the story, although it was a bit clumped together in places. As far as I can recall, none of my questions regarding the history were left unanswered…

The detail is decent. It’s not near as detailed as I like, but in certain places (especially near the end), that’s probably a good thing for a lot of people.

Lastly, the Ending

The ending was extremely bittersweet, but it was also very random, in a way. Not in content by any means, but the timing just seemed off to me.. It was rather choppy, but perhaps this is due to Mistfall being the first book in the series.

Overall, it was a fair read. I did find myself growing very bored about halfway through and so forth, so I flipped through several pages. Still, as I said, I can see Olivia Martinez getting better and becoming popular. :3 I wish her well and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next!

Until next time,

Catherine

A Review of Abby Richards’ Blackened Cottage

“The human mind..the most powerful, exciting, terrifying thing in existence.” – Catherine Knox

When tragedy strikes, how do you cope?

Some people inhale pint after pint of ice cream.. Some people cry into pints of ice cream.. Some grow completely numb and frozen to the world, not even the sun can warm their face.. Some grow obsessive over perfecting their world, building walls so no intruder can taint the perfection.. And then some, whether by choice or not, build a whole new life as a different person..

How far would you go to regain that which has been stolen from you?

A dark and miserable place as your home, sunlight has a bitter struggle to even touch the land.. The one person who keeps you alive, the one soul you cherish more than life has been sent away.. Is there anything you wouldn’t do to be reunited with your beloved once more?

Do you trust your eyes to tell you the truth? How about your mind?

Things aren’t always what they seem, are they, love? Dr. Gregory House once said that the mind will play along with an illusion so long as it’s allowed. The mind is a complex, teasing little thing.. And that’s coming from me, one of the biggest con-artists you’ll ever meet. The mind can transform the simplest of things into a whirlpool. I should know.. How willing are you to take things as true at a glimpse? Have your eyes ever played tricks on you? Has your mind ever lied to you? Think hard, now..

 Blackened Cottage cover

Her only chance is to run…

Victorian England, 1875

When her mother leaves Blackened Cottage, Lisbeth grows increasingly terrified for herself and her little brother Eddie. Desperate, she befriends a disfigured girl, but when her father finds out he imprisons her in the cottage and invites his lecherous friend to court her.

Lisbeth discovers that her father has sent Eddie away and escapes to find him. Pursued by the two men, she embarks on a dangerous journey and captures the eye of a psychopath who seeks to possess her body, mind and soul.

As Lisbeth flees, she is shocked to discover how little she remembers about her life, and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must face.

 

This amazing novel voices the journey of Lisbeth Cutteridge as she’s snapped from familiar dreary days at Blackened Cottage to a hunt for her little brother and, more so, an escape from those who wish to captor her, all of her.

I truly cannot express how much I love A.E. Richards’ work without spoiling it all to Hades, and I do fear I’ll do just that if I’m allowed to continue for much longer..

I did notice one or two mistakes but, truth be told, if you’re going to pick at every single thread, you’re going to find yourself amongst others who cannot enjoy art without destroying it. For me, it did not deteriorate the story whatsoever, it did not pause me.. I only noticed because I found myself reading several scenes multiple times..in complete, stunned awe.

Richards has left me completely breathless, wanting, needing, craving more.. I do hope to see more from her soon! I love, desire, crave details, and such has she provided.. She’s masterful with weaving together the threads, she’s a brilliant storyteller, her descriptions are absolutely amazing, and not a single one of my questions was left unanswered.

Even the vilest of characters received love from me in some way; seriously, guys, Richards is that good!

A first-rate first novel from a high-quality storyteller, this is! It’s been a long time since I’ve loved a book this much.. Far too long! This definitely goes into my favourites alongside the Harry Potter series and Wuthering Heights!

This is a highly-suspenseful, absolutely breathtaking novel with remarkable characters and vivid descriptions. I honestly have to wonder if Richards somehow looked into my mind, viewed what I’ve been craving, and plotted. Mission accomplished!

There’re not enough stars held in the universe to rate this, but for those who desperately need a number, Blackened Cottage easily receives 5/5 stars on my end!

You should look for an interview with Abby Richards to be posted tomorrow and I’m hoping and praying that we’ll both find time to do one other little bitty thing I desperately desire.. And, no. I’ll not spoil what that might be.

For those of you considering reading/that are reading this beautiful book, just remember.. Things aren’t always what they seem!

Until next time!

Catherine Knox