Review: The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle

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What’s It About?

When Naomi is kidnapped, naturally she is terrified.  However, the more she gets to know her captors, the more she begins to feel that perhaps she would rather be there with them, than back at home.  For the first time in her life, Naomi feels that she finally belongs and is surrounded by the love that has always been missing from her life.  As time goes on, she begins to face her past but ultimately must make the choice to either stay or escape and turn in the people she has begun to see as her true family.

My Thoughts:

One of the things I love about Michelle’s work is that I never know what to expect.  Every book from her is a new adventure, a different genre with different themes running through it.  (You can read my reviews of Michelle’s previous books here and here.)

I am not sure what genre The Breakaway actually falls into as it is far more complex than a tick in a box, which is what I loved about this book.  I was kept questioning and wondering throughout the entire story, which of course meant that at times, I had difficulty putting the book down (which is something that every writer should aim for in my opinion).  However, I found that the questioning didn’t stop when I reached the end of the book.  While it was relatively tied up, there was just so much that wasn’t answered (and I’m not talking about a cliff-hanger, I’m talking about motives of the characters) that left me feeling a little unsettled and annoyed.  I’m hoping that the sequel (which Michelle talks about here) will shine light into those answers.

The other main issue I had with this book was the point of view.  Almost the entire story is told through Naomi’s point of view – which makes sense as she is the protagonist.  However there were a few chapters in Karen’s (Naomi’s mother) point of view.  And I really loved reading about her thoughts and actions so my issue was that there was so little of this in the book.  I feel that if you are going to have multiple points of view, you should include both/all throughout the entire book.  As Karen’s points of view were so sparse I felt cheated as this point of view was introduced quite close to the beginning, and then wasn’t explored again until quite a substantial way through the book, and even then, only barely.

These were the only issues I really had with The Breakaway.  I enjoyed the story and was glad that it wasn’t predictable.  The character of Naomi is not a stereotype, and is so fully formed that I felt as though she was a real person with her own issues and quirks. This of course meant that I could never fully understand her, even though it is in her point of view, so part of the reason I kept reading was because I wanted to get to know her.  I wouldn’t say that Naomi is a person I would want to be friends with but that didn’t stop me from being intrigued in her and her situation.

The other characters were all ‘real’, which made reading much more interesting as it feels much more real and believable.  However, most of them I never got to really understand (part of the questioning motives which I mentioned earlier) but I don’t think this was necessarily a bad thing as it meant I was led along the confused and unpredictable path that Naomi is living.  I only got to see and know what she saw and knew about the kidnappers, so was never pulled out of her point of view.  As for Karen, while I got to know her from both Naomi’s and her own point of view, she is still shrouded in mystery for me.  I never understood her and I really wanted to.  The short parts in her point of view just made me want to delve deeper into her character but was only able to through Naomi’s very subjective point of view.

Overall I enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different than mainstream predictable storylines.  I am definitely going to read the sequel when it is released.

Overall rating: 4/5

[Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.]

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Review: Grasping At Eternity (Kindrily Series #1)

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What’s It About?

When Maryah’s family is murdered, she goes to live with her godmother whom she has never met – at least, not that she can remember.  Maryah doesn’t realise that her new adoptive family is actually her spiritual family who can remember every single one of their past lives; as could Maryah until she erased her memory.

Nathaniel is convinced that his family’s attempts to bring back Maryah’s memories are pointless as he tries to discover why she erased in the first place.  After all, she had promised to be with him forever and now Maryah is convinced that she hates him.  And now he has to deal with the reality that his soulmate will never come back, even though his love for her is undying and he knows he will do everything he can to keep her safe.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit I wasn’t too sure how I felt as I started reading this book.  The reason was that it started with a very sudden, unexpected, violent scene – one I think may have worked better as a Preface or told in retrospect throughout the book.  That said, that was the one and only thing I didn’t love and I read the rest of the book in one day.

The storyline sounds a little clichéd but it is anything but. I was constantly thinking and trying to work out what would happen and when the truth would come out and the reactions this would leave to.  There are a lot of characters involved, all are fully-formed and all serve their purpose in strengthening the story which is what I think makes this book stand apart from other immortal love stories.

The story is told from the point of view of Maryah, a normal teenage girl (or so she believes) and Nathaniel, an Eternal who can remember his past lives and the Mary (now Maryah) who is his soul mate. I found this a little disjointing in places but overall felt it was necessary to understand what was happening.  It also meant that the reader has much more insight into the relationship between Nathaniel and Maryah (which wouldn’t be possible with only Maryah’s point of view) making me want to believe and hope for them much more strongly.

Now, I want to read the next book as I need to know what is going to happen next and how their relationship continues (unfortunately it isn’t out yet!).  There is so much left unanswered at the end of this book, enough that it wraps up the story, but more than enough for me to want to spend many more books with these characters.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

[Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All op.]inions are my own

Review: Shifter by Steven D. Jackson

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What’s It About?

John is living a mediocre life when suddenly the world changes around him and no one else notices, except him.  John is forced to reconsider how the world works when changes continue to happen, and many of them seem to be focused on him.  He doesn’t know if it’s him causing the changes or someone else changing his life, but soon that is put out of his head as he is forced to fight for his life against a mysterious organisation whose goal is to eradicate anyone who might be causing shifts in the world.

 

My Thoughts:

The premise of this book sounded really interesting to me so I was excited to read it.  Unfortunately, the idea behind the book is the only positive thing I can say about it.

The characters weren’t well-formed and I didn’t really feel a connection to any of them, which meant I didn’t really care about the outcome.  They were just pawns moving the story along rather than people I wanted to survive and win.  I felt they definitely needed some back-story to make their motives understood, rather than feeling that they were just following a script.

As for the plot, it was very predictable.  Other than one page at the end of the book, I already knew what was going to happen and who the real shifter was (and the ties they had to the other characters).  I had hoped that I was being misled and the writer would surprise me, but that didn’t happen.

The writing, while not bad, lacked the magic needed to bring me into the story.  It was very bland and felt boring to read (kind of like reading an essay by a schoolkid – this happened.  Then this happened, etc).

Overall, I felt this book was a waste of time.  It had so much potential, which it doesn’t live up to.  I think it would have worked better as a YA book (I actually thought that it was based on the blurb I was given) and believe that this book was not worthy of being published – it is one of those manuscripts that should just stay a manuscript as the writer works on his craft and produces something amazing in the future.

Overall rating: 1 .5/5

[Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.]

Review: if nobody speaks of remarkable things by Jon McGregor

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What It’s About:

if nobody speaks of remarkable things is about an ordinary street on an ordinary day until something unexpected and terrible happens which changes the lives of everyone who are there when it happens.

My thoughts:

if nobody speaks of remarkable things is one of those remarkable literary books that makes you realise the beauty of the written word without actually having anything to do with writing.  The prose read more like poetry and made me fall in language all over again.  However, the words don’t subtract from the story that is painted through snippets of life – if anything, it just enhances the feeling that the normal and regular are truly amazing, if only you could see them through the right lens.

The story is set in two time periods, both of which are told in present tense (one in third person and one in first).  I found this a little disjointing at first, but soon fell into the rhythm of the storytelling.  As far as plot goes, it is hard to see one at all as you read through the scenes of life unfolding.  I believe the author is rather trying to show the how life could be seen if you knew everything and were able to lock onto a detail or two at a time.  With this view, I actually found the ending quite disappointing as I felt it undermined the rest of the book, although it was certainly a twist that I hadn’t seen coming.  And it wasn’t the first one.  Seeing the world through such attention to detail means that you are caught up in what is happening right at that moment to the point that you feel you are there, and therefore there were a few moments when completely unexpected events happened – events that are hinted at in the ‘future’ storyline, but never known until you experience them as the characters do.

On the note of characters, there are only a few that are given names and only in the ‘future’ time period.  However, it is clear that names aren’t needed to get a thorough picture of each person mentioned as the attention to detail is so specific that an image forms in your mind, slowly being added to as you read.  There were a few moments when I got confused about who was who but I could usually work it out before the end of the scene.

I would highly recommend this book just on the way it is written.  Every writer will come away with an even higher appreciation of language, and every person will come away with a different perspective about the world and how it can be seen.  If you enjoy short stories, poetry or characterisations then I would say you have to read this book (and if not, you should probably read it anyway).

Overall rating – 4.5/5

by Tamara Epps