Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

White SpaceFrom Goodreads: In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it’s as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she’s real.

Then she writes “White Space,” a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.

Unfortunately, “White Space” turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she’s never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she’s dropped into the very story she thought she’d written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they–and Emma–may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they’ve been brought to this place–a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written–before someone pens their end.


I absolutely adore most of Ilsa J. Bick’s novels, but this one was just so hard to read. It begins with Lizzie’s story and, truth be told, it doesn’t make much sense. Readers get the feeling that Lizzie lives in an alternate world, especially with all the made up words and strange references, but then Lizzie references London, and you have to wonder if she’s living in our world, or an alternate one, because her story with the white space and her father bringing characters to life just seems so surreal. It isn’t until Emma’s story begins that some semblance of a story begins to protrude, and it was here that I had my first “aha” moment! Emma lives in what I consider the here and now–a University student, I could easily connect with her and she made sense to me, unlike Lizzie and her family. As we learn about her and her odd life, we realize that she is connected to Lizzie in a way, but readers really have to read slowly because the connections are minute to begin with, and truth be told, you have to think a whole lot while reading this book. If you’re just looking for a fun story that you can sit down and read, well, this isn’t it. As the story progresses, and more and more characters are added to the mix, the reader knows they’re all connected, but may struggle a bit to follow everything because the points of view jump from one to another often–leaving many “stories” with cliffhangers until the next time. While I love this style of narration, and Bick is a master at it, employing it in all her novels, this time I had to work extremely hard to keep the stories straight, and though I loved the twist and putting everything together, and my mind was racing with possibilities connecting Lizzie and her family to everyone else, this was more like homework than a pleasurable evening read. If you miss any of the finite details that produce a connection, then… you’re lost for quite some time. And so, reading this extremely long work of fiction became more of a chore than a leisurely activity.

I was really into the story until about 30%, when Emma enters the house. From here, I either missed something extremely crucial, or it just became too weird, but I stopped really enjoying the book at that point. Nothing made sense any more, and while I think that the point is to keep readers guessing, at nearly 600 pages, it’s just too much for too long–without making sense. Around 60%, Bick drops a bombshell that I wasn’t expecting–in fact, I thought just the opposite the entire time I was reading, but even so, it wasn’t enough to bring me back into the novel full circle. I think this is a great idea–I LOVE Matrix and the idea of Inkheart is extremely interesting, but this was just too long and drawn out. I know Bick’s novels are generally long, but this one could have definitely dropped about 300 pages, in my opinion.

Note: This is a horror story with some exceptionally horrific tales and twists, so readers should beware. While it doesn’t start out all that horrific, Bick definitely takes readers there with her descriptions of blood and gore as the novel proceed.  I actually liked that part, but the rest was just too dense.  Two and a half stars.

2.5 stars

Egmont USA has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read and ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 11, 2014.

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17347389From Goodreads: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after.


Unfortunately, this series apparently just isn’t for me.  While I didn’t particularly enjoy the first novel, I was hoping the story would grow on me in the second, especially because so many of my friends really adore these books.  But, it just isn’t meant for me, which happens.

I had a very hard time following the plot line of this story, similar to my personal issues with the first novel, as it turns out.  The novel jumps around too much for my taste, as well, and it was so hard for me to keep track of the characters and all the paranormal aspects. The characters are interesting, but there are a lot, more than I can handle, apparently, though I find that a bit weird because I generally don’t have any issues following characters all over the place.  But, in the end, that doesn’t really mean anything.  Some books just aren’t meant for some people.

Basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that those who loved the first book will thoroughly enjoy the second novel, as it’s the same writing style, jumping around from character to character and delving into the paranormal, with a slice of romance.  If you didn’t necessarily enjoy the first novel, then this second might be a little difficult for you to read, but in the end, I think it all comes down to reader preferences, and while this series doesn’t seem to be for me, don’t write it off until you try it.  Two stars.

2 stars

Scholastic has been very gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 17, 2013.

{September 3, 2013}   {Review} The Seed by Fola

12204117From Goodreads: Throughout our lives, many things may lead us to forget who we truly are. Result? Slowly yet inevitably, cages and chains enslave our thoughts and slay our freedoms.

Down the ages, men have thus fallen for hosts of illusions, confusions and fears – except for the seven dreamers whose stories this book contains. These mad truth-seekers (who oddly share the same name) did not follow others’ flow to slavery; rather, they heeded a voice in their heads that led them to obsession with an idea long thought extinct, buried beneath the sands of time: The Seed.

In this book you will take a rollicking metaphysical ride that starts in ancient Egypt, moves to the Grand Greek Era, then to Rome, Arab Alexandria, on piratic High Seas, to Switzerland and circuses, into a Christian era interlude, then to modern Egypt (2007) and lastly, to a sort of Garden of Visionary Epiphany that leaves you on and past the brink of enlightenment…


Unfortunately, this book is not for me. It is highly philosophical and scientific, and my brain just isn’t wired that way. All the characters are one person who lives across the centuries, morphing into different beings, be they male or female, young or old.  The tale begins in Ancient Egypt, and this is where I was lost almost immediately.  It begins with the main character, who is obsessed with numbers and inventions, launching into a diatribe about how his life changed when he began writing on walls due to his epiphany over the number two and was then thrown into the mad house for acting crazy (which he was). It’s told in a very choppy format with constant references to numbers and riddles, and it was all beyond me.   The main character’s narrative jumps from him being in the palace to being thrown into the Nile, living in the madhouse, being set free, drinking with the gods, and well… I just couldn’t keep up with he narrator’s cut and dry tone and constant changing of scenery.  I had no idea what point he was really trying to get across because of his constant changing of topic and referencing of numbers, truth be told.

When the main character becomes a young girl living in the middle east, the flow changed and the story became much easier to understand, but as her marriage barter comes and she finds out she’s being wedded to a gay man only because her teacher is blackmailing him and wants to sleep with her, well… that turned me off. And suddenly, she’s on a rock, or maybe a cliff, I’m not sure because this is where the text became full of more riddles and philosophy, and she becomes a pirate, shifting into another character all together.

The stories do become easier to read as the main character progresses further into the present, but some of the stories really turned me off, such as trial over sex and murder. That episode just wasn’t for me and I couldn’t stomach it. In my opinion, it was unneeded to further along the plot, more for shock value than philosophical engagement, but then again, as I’m not a philosophical thinker by any means (I nearly failed that class in college; seriously), it is possible that I just don’t understand what the author, Fola, is doing in this scene, or the many others.  Truthfully, I didn’t understand this novel, which made it impossible for me to enjoy, but I do think that those who like a philosophical debate and deciphering riddles, ones who like to chew over the materials in their novels, will really enjoy this novel.  I, personally, can only give it one star, though.


I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

12483465From Goodreads: Once upon a time there was a US President who thought he was wise and could stomp out terrorism. Only the ‘terrorists’ did not quite agree with him. Soon paranoia ran rampant among every nation on this earth until all started annihilating one another.

Out of the ashes, mythology tells us the phoenix is supposed to rise. However, it was not the phoenix that arose, it was a new power amongst the people who survived. It was a Rising Power!


I’m sorry to say that this novel just isn’t for me.  The premise is intriguing, especially with it’s look at what would happen to the world should the very real threat of terrorism and WWIII arise alongside the use of nuclear weapons, but the execution of this story was very difficult for me to follow as a reader.  It begins with very long, dense description of the world in its current state, after extreme war, but the writing is extremely formal and I found it read more like an essay than an actual story, which was a bit jarring.  However, the next two chapters were much more reader friendly, focusing on the lives of Amanda and Sarah Richardson, two young women living a simplistic life with their family in what’s left of devastated America.  It’s a much easier story to follow, and it piqued my interest, but all too soon, I was whisked away to another long, dense chapter filled with pages upon pages of description of the 99th Division Convoy, breaking down every single wagon and troop, with its trailers and container units, which, for someone like me, isn’t appealing at all.  The novel follows this format pretty much throughout the rest of its pages, jumping from story to story, character to character, and interspersing rather long descriptions of inanimate objects and such throughout.  This style made it a very difficult read for me because I wasn’t able to connect with any characters since there was so many and I felt not enough time was given to any one scene or chapter.  Likewise, I found the dialogue shifted quite often between formal, informal, and even archaic wording, following no one specific pattern, which further made it difficult for me to connect with characters as many of the interactions seemed unreal and forced.

Overall, the constant jump from new character to new descriptor really made this novel difficult for me to read, especially as there are so many different mini plots and characters to keep track of, such as Field Marshal Drey, Amanda and Sarah Richardson, their father, Mike Howard, King Jeffrey, Henry, General Humpries, Samuel O’Flynn, and the list goes on and on.  The novel itself is also extremely long and I personally think it wouldn’t hurt to be pared down a bit with a professional edit, removing some of the vast descriptions and stabilizing the dialogue to make it flow, focusing on less characters and moving the plot along.  One star.

1 starI received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

et cetera
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