Annette Gilson is a master of fiction. She has spent several years perfecting her craft, and it shows in her novel New Light.
It’s not exactly a romance, nor is it a philosophical or scientific work. It’s not fantasy, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s based on reality. New Light is a hybrid of a myriad of genres neatly woven together to create a whole new kind of novel.
Gilson takes on the awe-inspiring task of taking a mysterious and otherworldly subject – visions – and explores what makes it so fascinating by using a blend of scientific and poetic language. If any other author tried to do so, I’m sure it would have become a muddled mess, but Gilson does so with ease. She is able to perfectly balance her vivid images with scientific jargon that overwhelms and pacifies the reader into understanding.
Thomas Lynch does something absolutely amazing in his memoir, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. He takes a job that most people don’t think about – and when they do it’s not for happy or positive reasons – and takes you down a winding path of stories about his life and the lessons he has learned over the years.
For being a poet, he isn’t heavy with the fluff and romance most people associate with poetry. His writing is very clear and concise, with straight forward similes, metaphors, and images that pack a punch. The details that are given are precise and paint a clear picture without being too grandiose. He lets the weight of the stories drive the book forward, not his ability to write. Don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t write. He is extremely talented and an expert when it comes to pen and paper.
A few months ago I entered a contest to win a signed copy of The Burning World by Isaac Marion. For those who don’t know, this is the sequel to the very successful novel Warm Bodies, which became a blockbuster hit that I adore. After forgetting that I even entered, I learned that I actually won the contest and just a few days ago received my copy! As I haven’t reviewed Warm Bodies yet, I figured I would do a general review of both of these novels and give them the love they deserve.
As a preface, it’s been a while since I read Warm Bodies. I first read it back in 2011 when Borders was going out of business. I stumbled upon Warm Bodies sitting alone on the shelf and thought the cover looked amazing. So I bought it and then spent 5-6 hours binge. It instantly became one of my favorite novels of all time.
That being said, I re-read back when I purchased the prequel, The New Hunger. That was a few months ago and my memory of these novels are fuzzy. However, I will do a brief review of both of these novels before diving into The Burning World, which is freshly in my brain.
A brief disclaimer: the books in The Orange Moon series are not intended for children. They are adult oriented romantic novels that include steamy erotic scenes that might make you blush. You’ve been warned.
The first book in the series is Under the Orange Moon, which follows Ben McKenna, a boy who has struggled with a difficult past, and Dylan Mathews, a bright and artistic girl who is suffocated by her four older brothers. The book highlights their relationship and what happens after Ben returns home after leaving Dylan for five years.
The second book, Beyond the Orange Moon, follows Charlie Mathews, who has suffered a terrible hardship, and Lucy Dalton, who has witnessed that hardship first hand. This novel shows their relationship build from the bottom up, and how easily it can come crashing down once a huge secret is revealed.
Never fear! Both stories end happily, as most romance novels do. However, don’t let that safety net fool you. You will become so absorbed in the story that you will forget that there is a light at the end of the long, angst filled tunnel.
I don’t want to spoil too much about what happens in either, so I will instead focus my review on Frances’ writing ability.
To put it simply, she has a ton of it.
Neal Shusterman has released another fantastic novel over the holiday weekend (which I immediately purchased on Black Friday.) This time, instead of a dystopian world where abortion is illegal and kids between 12 and 17 can be “unwound,” Scythe takes place in a utopian world where all knowledge has been been achieved and death has been conquered. However, in a world where overpopulation is quickly increasing due to the lack of, well, people dying, an organization of sanctioned killers must take it upon themselves to glean those humans. Those who must take on this task are called Scythes.
The story follows Citra and Rowan, two seventeen year old kids who are chosen by Honorable Scythe Faraday to learn the ways of scythdom and to become the next Scythes. However, only one of them can become a Scythe – and eventually, a new rule is declared where the winner must glean the loser.
I was immediately intrigued by this story, and Shusterman does a great job of throwing us into this world. The first chapter follows Citra’s first encounter with Scythe Faraday, who comes to her home for a meal and then visits their neighbor to glean her. The second chapter follows Rowan, where he is at school when Scythe Faraday arrives to glean the star football player.
Both of these chapters were powerful scenes that established what this utopia was like, thrust the plot forward, and made me connect with the main characters.
Throughout the book, I flipped on who I would want to win this battle between apprentices: Citra, who has strong morals and is quick on her feet, or Rowan, who has the strength and skill to be a good Scythe. I won’t spoil much, but the ending was very satisfying regarding who you end up rooting for. Shusterman does a great job at making it an even race and showing the growth between these two young adults as they’re forced into a world they would much rather ignore.
Lately I’ve been binge watching Criminal Minds on Netflix. It’s probably my favorite crime drama to date (not including Lucifer, which is both a crime drama AND paranormal show that I absolutely adore to bits.) So, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine the giddy excitement I felt when I picked up The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. While I’ve made it a goal to forgo series and spend some time with well written stand-alone novels this past year, but I made an exception for this first novel in a growing series, and I wasn’t disappointed!
I’ve already completed the first three books of the series: The Naturals, Killer Instinct, and All In. Rather than reviewing one book, I’m going to review the series as a whole.
To start, the series follows the story of Cassie Hobbes, who finds herself naturally talented when it comes to profiling strangers. She is dragged into the world of the FBI and other naturals like herself to help solve cold cases. Alongside her is Michael, a natural emotion analyzer; Lia, a human lie-detector; Sloane, the statistic analyzer and human thesaurus; and Dean, another natural profiler like Cassie.
One of my favorite authors of all time is Neal Shusterman. I fell in love with his Unwind series, and have been influenced greatly by his writing style and story telling. However, his novel “Challenger Deep” moved me in ways I can barely describe. This was by far one of the best books I’ve read this year for so many different reasons.
First, I was instantly drawn to this book by it’s subject matter. As a person who deals with anxiety and has a strong interest in mental illness and psychology, I couldn’t wait to read this story, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is one of the most important books of the year in my opinion. It takes a subject that affects so many people on the planet and fashions it into a medium where we can all safely step into the shoes of someone who is dealing with these challenges. It sheds a light on a serious medical condition that most people shun or abhor.
Second, the writing is perfection. Neal Shusterman is a master at writing compelling stories with gripping and realistic characters. I was able to sink myself into the book with ease, much like Caden does with his thoughts. The book is divided into small segments, almost like diary entries, and are titled with compelling sentences that peak your curiosity. And then there are the shifts in pov. When Caden is at his worst, at his most dissociative with himself, at his darkest, the perspective shifts from first person to third person. You really feel like you are disconnected with reality as you read Caden talk about himself like he was watching a movie or a play. This was a brilliant way to demonstrate the dissociation that happens with schizophrenia.