Book Review: Defenestration by Matthew W. McFarland

***I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review***

Defenestration

Noun

the act of throwing a thing, or especially a person out of a window

All it takes is one random deviation from the run of things to send a life spiraling out of control; An underachiever from the retail sector with a degree in geography and a taste for younger women. An attractive pharmacist with addiction issues. An enigmatic taxi driver with a penchant for theology. All three are brought together when Adam is thrown from the twelfth storey of an apartment complex in mysterious circumstances. As he falls towards almost certain death, he contemplates his fate, killer whales, flying cats, and the untapped potential of the human mind.

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I loved this contemporary novella. It was written in Adam’s first person point-of-view, and switched into third person when showing how other characters fit the puzzle. The author did a brilliant job with characterization; every character was given a backstory, a personality, and they shined in whatever scene they were in.  Most importantly, the author did a great job of setting up the reveal of who could have possibly shoved Adam out of the window!

After he was pushed from the window, Adam met Gabriel and Michael. They helped him piece together the mystery of what had happened that night at the party. I really enjoyed reading about the anti-heroes of the story. Life had dealt them a terrible hand. By their own fault or bad luck?  You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Reading this novella reminded me of a Judd Apatow movie. I could picture Seth Rogen and James Franco as starring roles. The sarcasm really made me laugh.

My favorite lines: 1) When a week went by without any contact, she knew his laziness had overcome his libido. 2) “As I was falling, I looked back up, and there were two faces. We found one, so who was the other?”

I REOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

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Book Review: A Portrait for Shy by Justin Kenneth

Fans of We Were Liars will devour this psychological supernova.

At seventeen, Jared Sedgwick wanted to share his artwork with the world, marry his first love, and get the hell out of Vermont. But he put down the brush when his relationship fell to pieces, and his cracked phone still says it’s another cold day in Bennington.

He only opens up to his best friend Stan, the one who’s there for him when he feels suicidal, who listens to every word and sits through every heartbreaking detail just waiting for some cat food; Stan never offers much advice. But that’s okay now because Jared’s got a new story, and her name is Eloise. She’s a cat-loving bookworm with a passion for starting over, new in town from California, and she’s making him forget that he ever had a past.

It’s a fresh romance for both until she questions the whereabouts of his ex-girlfriend, soon to discover an awful truth much worse than cheating.

A PORTRAIT FOR SHY is a twist-riddled narration of undying love in the wake of tragedy, an upper-YA/crossover contemporary *Mature content novel.

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***I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review***

The opening line, There’s this game I play with Stan called Scratch-me-if-you-can, where I tap behind his paws until he tears apart my hand, caught my attention right away. The story was told in Jared’s first person point of view, and Stan was his cat. I loved this story because Jared’s quirky personality kept my full attention. Picture this book as an indie quirky drama or a quirky romance movie. Something you’d see on Sundance or the IFC Channel.

Jared, Jared, Jared. From the beginning, it was clear he wasn’t all sane, but that made him endearing. I felt bad that he couldn’t let go of the past. He was in a love triangle with  his high school sweetheart Shy, and his new neighbor Eloise. I loved that everyone’s backstory was twist after twist. I’m all about mystery.

Even though my favorite scenes where of Jared bonding with Eloise and Shy, I wish there would’ve been a little more interaction with other people. They lived in Vermont, so I pictured a small town, which the author did a great job capturing Vermont’s beautiful landscape. I wanted to get a feel if his neighborhood found him odd or if he just faded in the background. I was happy that he became less lonely when Eloise arrived into town.

Eloise’s dialogue used alot of exclamation points. That made me think she was eccentric or youthful. My favorite line was There was a pause that swallowed. But I closed my eyes, and then I heard her voice. As a reader, I usually have a clear cut couple I’m shipping if there’s a love triangle. However, I really liked Shy and Eloise, both for different reasons.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Into the Deep End By Leesa Freeman

**I received a free copy in exchange for a honest review**

Before didn’t exist–not for Luke Stevenson–not anymore.

He once dreamt of winning Olympic gold and escaping his crappy little New Mexico town, but that dream shattered the night a drunk driver took his twin sister and confined him to a wheelchair. Mourning Bethany and struggling to cope with his new paraplegic life, Luke is blind with rage at everyone and everything.

Adriana Toomey, the only other survivor of the crash, can barely crawl out of bed after burying her fiancé, Luke’s best friend. But what haunts her most, she has no memory of that fatal night.

An old friend who manages a camp for special needs kids, strong-arms the broken pair to act as counselors for three weeks. Seeing each other again is painful. Luke reminds Adriana too much of the man she was going to marry. Luke, who secretly loves his best friend’s girl, has no idea how to be the kind of man any woman would want. Disabled and destroyed, what could he possibly have to offer now?

Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.

I loved this heartbreaking novel. I was wiping tears away left and right. The opening sentence: “Before didn’t exist. Not for me. Not anymore.” hooked my interest right away.  And, I thought it was cool that the main character was American Indian. I enjoyed hearing about some of his culture. 

My favorite line was: “You’re always alone. Ever since that night you’ve done nothing but be alone.”  The story was written in Luke’s first person point of view, which really highlighted how much he was broken. As a reader, I cared for Adriana since he loved her so much. I really rooted for them but sometimes you have to let someone you love go and be free.

The story focused on the camp, then Luke’s life afterward. This was a tearjerker, and had many uplifting scenes. I could see the story as a Lifetime movie because the author was able to capture a vivid picture with her descriptions. 

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Five Years (A Fire In Redbridge) By L.M. Langley

***I received a free copy in exchange for a review***

Nothing much ever happens in Redbridge. Nothing, until Nate, a bright young man who is visiting his family during his freshman year, drives over the town bridge and onto his death.

Casey watches as her high school sweet heart leaps to his death. Together with Alex, his best friend, she will look into what happened. How far are they willing to go for someone they may not have known at all?

Casey has always been an outsider in the small town of Redbridge. Her only tether was Nate. When he died, she turned to the person who had been closest to Nate when they were in school, best friend Alex. Casey doesn’t know that Alex has a few secrets of his own… secrets that are about to affect her life in unimaginable ways.

18755888I enjoyed this 20 chapter book. My favorite lines: 1) He sounded so far away, it almost felt pointless to answer him. 2) “I’m–I always wondered how much happier everyone would be if it had been you in that car…”

The story was written in Casey’s first person point-of view and Alex’s third person point-of-view. They hadn’t been friends even though they were both close to Nate, a friend who died in a car crash. I thought it was cool that Casey lost her memory after Nate’s car went over the bridge–sort of like the brain blocking painful memories. The mystery of if it was murder, suicide, or an accident was intriguing. Finding out the answers kept me motivated to continue reading until the end. It turned out that the Sheriff’s daughter, Clara, was crazy and pretty obsessive over Nate. Unrequited love. Did she have something to do with Nate’s brakes not operating correctly? You’ll have to read to find out.

L.M. Langley did a brilliant job of making me care for the characters. I’m a sucker for sympathetic characters. I felt bad that Casey returned to town; she was an outcast. She lost her ex-boyfriend and friend just like that, without any closure. Talk about a mind trip. I definitely, definitely, definitely felt sympathy for Alex and Nate. They held a secret that there was no reason to be ashamed of, but their small-minded town shunned them. Casey found out that Alex and Nate had hooked up once. I hated the way Alex’s mother treated him.

I loved the characterization. It helped that the story seemed character-centric, so it helped me feel like I was going on a journey with the main characters. Even the secondary characters were full of personality. I loved the drama and tension on all ends. Alex’s fiance broke up with him after his secret came out, Nate’s older brother had fathered a child with Alex’s ex-fiance. It was great how all the characters were three-dimensional. There definitely weren’t any Mary Sues or Gary Stus in the bunch. As a reader, my favorite characters tend to be the bad guys or villains.

What would you do if you wanted to get revenge? That was the main theme that Alex and Casey had to face throughout the book. From Nate’s journal entries, they figured out that Clara was sort of stalking him. They devised a plan to avenge their best friend’s death. They felt so lost and lonely without him. It was cool seeing the different stages of their relationship–first, Alex and Casey hated each other, which turned into an acquaintance-ship in order to find answers, which turned into becoming buddies. I always got a kick out of Alex asking to sleep on her couch.

At first, it was confusing because of the time jumps without any warnings. But once I figured out what was going on, it was pretty smooth sailing. It was a very interesting twist at the end, regarding Nate’s brother. I didn’t see it coming! It made the story even more clever. What would you do after you got closure? You’ll have to read the book to see what Alex and Casey decided to do.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Interview With L.M. Langley, Author of Five Years (A Fire In Redbridge)

I would love to welcome my special guest L.M. Langley, author of Five Years (A Fire In Redbridge). Please enjoy her insightful interview.

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1.  Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

I think you just need to be patient. Be good, and keep your motivation up. I know it’s easier said than done, but it will pay off eventually.

2.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to  your readers?

Thank you for giving my story a chance. I know it’s always a bit of a gamble to go for self-published writers so I hope it has paid off.

3.  What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?

I think it’s terrible, to be honest. If you are giving away a huge chunk of your royalties over a certain amount of time, you should get some marketing done for you. Now you do your own marketing and even if the Big Six are publishing you, there is nothing there but name association. It is a very difficult part of the process. I think the shift towards self-marketing is taking advantage of first time authors with trade publications.

4.  What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?

I write young adult books. I think of my books as consumable literary fiction–the type you could read in an airport, but have to think about to get. My favorite aspect is the actual writing. The planning is probably my least favorite part–I wish it could all just flow and fit perfectly.

5.  What are your current/next projects?

I have started working for a small alternative publishing house called Dark Nexus Fiction and should have something published by them very soon. My next novel is a coming of age set in Newcastle Upon Tyne and tentatively titled the City Steps.

6.  Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?

I usually do my first draft on my own and then call in the cavalry. I’m just one person and I make mistakes, so it is always useful to ask my writing group for feedback.

7.  How do you find time to write?

In between assignments. I guess that’s one of the advantages of being a freelance writer.

8.  Did you always want to become an author?

Yes, since I was very little.

9.  Is there any writing rituals you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?

Not particularly. If I have an idea, I write a paragraph, leave it for around a day and then reread it. If it clicks, I continue writing it.

10.  Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?

I always write the beginning first. I can’t just go around writing other scenes when they may be changing slightly as I write other things that lead up to them.

11.  Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Yes! All the time. Writing is hard and sometimes I’ve had to abandon projects because I hated them, even though I loved the concept.

12.  Which is the easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?

Probably a short story. I have a short attention span and I like words to be condescended. To me, good writing is tidy writing, and it is easy to get there with a short story.

13.  While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?

I really hope not! My characters are very flawed. I love them but I really hate them.

14.  How did you come up with the title?

Five Years was the song I was listening to on repeat while I was writing my book. It is also the span of time that the book takes. It’s not very specific, so I thought referencing a certain, pivotal event in the book was important.

15.  What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?

I wanted to use an academic concept–The Death of the Author–and use it in a literal sense. I thought about the way that a young person would react if they could find someone else’s thoughts but they weren’t allowed to ask them any questions, especially if that person was not who they thought he was in the first place. The book is about these two young people trying to find closure after their friend dies and realizing that his death may not be an accident.

16.  Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?

Sure. My author site, my Facebook, and my twitter:  @lmlangleyauthor.

Book Review: Triceratops By Marcus Gorman

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

A story of musicians, writers, painters, and alcoholics.

Set in New York City, Henry & Charlotte — two twentysomethings who never thought they’d see each other again — reunite for three short weeks filled with art, music, and liquor that cause them to rethink their relationships, their pasts, and their futures. Told from both Henry and Charlotte’s perspectives, Triceratops speaks to a generation of readers raised on nostalgia, sitcoms, antidepressants, and iPods.

16112760I loved this 8 part, no chapter book. I loved the author’s writing style, and I thought he was very talented with characterization and voice. Since he was very descriptive, I could picture this as an IFC or Sundance movie. But on the other hand, Henry and Charlotte (plus the other characters) were quirky, cool, witty that I could also picture the story as a Judd Apatow movie.

  • It was pretty intense when Xavier killed himself in front of Charlotte. She has to find a place to stay, and runs into Henry. They had hooked up once on the west coast. Henry had a crush on Sophia, and Noah had a crush on Charlotte. As a reader, I really enjoyed all the scenes where Henry and Charlotte hung out. I liked that she was very sarcastic, keeping him on his toes while he was the sensitive guy type. As a reader, I was really invested in their friendship, even hoping they may get back together again.

My favorite lines: 1) “There’s no honor in being a cockblock.” 2) “We need the what-the-fuck factor. Its power knows no bounds.” 3) “Confusion is a powerful weapon.” 4)  With Xavier, we can be silent for days and not have it be some kind of relationship red flag. Because it’s not a relationship. We hang out, we fuck a lot, I stay over but don’t live here, and neither one of us says anything about our goddamn feelings.

It was cool that Charlotte had complete knowledge of sitcoms. I enjoyed the references of taking it old school. As you can probably tell, she was my favorite. The story was told through Henry and Charlotte’s first person point-of-view. My favorite scenes: 1) when Noah confesses his feelings to Charlotte 2) when Henry and Charlotte first meet in New York 3) the stealing-the-painting heist 4) finding out Shelby and her boyfriend’s secret 5) the ending 6) all the scenes with the older female neighbor who loved Xavier but could care less about Charlotte.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Paranoid Contracts By Gordon Kenz

The detective agency set up by Cerys encompassed her perception of amoral and legal enquiries taken up on behalf of her clients. However those persons investigated found themselves in situations which involved rather more of a deception than a perception. How moral was the work? How could it be justified to smash personal relationships, to break apart marriages, to destroy careers or to feed the greed of managers at the expense of their colleagues? To what lengths would such investigations go and where would the work of the agency finally end up? When staff started to break the rules of engagement, the whole of the agency began its inevitable collapse. Cerys was no longer in control and methods used were clearly not as she had started. Individual and poorly planned investigations brought an end to her careful planning and outcomes rested on poorer levels of work. This in turn led to a financial downturn in the profitablility of her agency. Where would it all end?

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I enjoyed this 20 chapter book divided into 5 different parts. My favorite lines: 1) Your imagination is often a long way from the truth. 2) Maybe it simply was that Paranoid Contracts were the perfect crimes undertaken. Perfect, of course, because they were not crimes.

The story used a non-linear approach of telling the story–not in chronological order. It was told through magazine clippings, the Paranoid Contracts play-by-play handbook, and through the victims and clients sharing their experiences. It seemed like omniscience point-of-view was used to recount what happened instead of relying on emotions.

  • However, I enjoyed this type of narration because it seemed like I was getting the full picture. I got to see things from the clients, victims, and co-workers’ perspectives. Plus, characters I was interested in had a follow-up instead of things left open-ended.
  • It was cool seeing the way Cerys and her team operated in setting people up (not all of the victims were celebrities). Some ideas came from her husband Jock. He loved to play pranks on people. After a while, Cerys’s conscience started to kick in–they were ruining peoples’ lives after all. An old victim decided to give her a publishing contract, so she could write a tell-all book. Juicy!

My favorite scenes were the ones that the characters finally realized they were duped but it was too late. Those moments seemed more personal to me as a reader. The two cases that stood out for me the most: 1) after Edward got duped, he decided to investigate things for himself. It ended up with someone committing suicide 2) One client was stubborn, never listening to Cerys’s directions, so he left a voicemail message. The guy it was meant to hurt kept repeating the recording and decided it was a fake, so he and his girlfriend (intended victim) got revenge on all parties involved.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby