A Fairy’s Fate

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Fairy godmothers are responsible for helping people find their happiness, but who intervenes for them to find their own happiness? Nissa: A Contemporary Fairy Tale by Bethany Lopez depicts the fateful mission that changes a young fairy godmother’s life forever.

At 900 years old, Nissa is a young fairy. Taking on the role of Godmother from her mother, Nissa has been training to help improve humans’ lives. In her first solo mission, Nissa is tasked with helping a teenage girl, Vicky, with her self-confidence, which seems a simple enough job. The complicating factor for Nissa’s personal life is the girl’s older brother, Levi, who Nissa believes, no matter how outlandish it might seem, is her life mate. If that’s true, the decisions that Nissa makes will change all their lives forever.

This was a quick, light, fun read. While the story started off with an info-dump-esque introduction to Nissa and the world of fairies, once the premise was established, the rest of the narrative read as a more natural progression and reveal of necessary information in this brief tale, although there could be more development of character and world description. Addressing the pervasive topic of bullying, this narrative fortunately doesn’t having anything too dark or graphic happen to Vicky, but it still demonstrates the effect that bullying can have on a person and how it could alter their typical behavior.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

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Unexpected Upgrades

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Moving house is hardly ever an easy task, but when moving into a different social status at the same time, there’s bound to be a learning curve associated with it, as in Diksha Basu’s The Windfall. 

Having worked hard for years and living in a neighborhood with people who are incredibly involved in each others lives a sudden turn in fortune changes the Jha family’s lives. When the website that Mr. Jha developed is bought for an incredible sum of money, Mr. Jha is determined to enjoy the spoils of his labor by moving his wife into a new home in a wealthy part of East Delhi while his son studies business in America. In moving to this new home, Mr. Jha is eager to fit in and becomes concerned with the trappings of status, creating tension between himself and his wife, who is more reluctant to change too much about their lives.

A light social satire, this story provides a taste of life in India and the attitudes toward wealth and status, with some comedic situations and moments of insight, without much biting commentary. As the narrative follows the Jha family and their changing social status as they move neighborhoods, it demonstrates that even as some things change drastically much of life is, in reality, really staying the same – namely, impressing nosy neighbors. Though the story and family dynamic was developed well and built some tension, the breaking of that tension was lackluster and unsatisfying in comparison to the buildup.

Overall, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Adventuring in the Apocalypse

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When the world as we knew it has come to an end, the struggle to survive takes on new heights in Al Barrera’s All That Remains.

Thirteen years after the demise of the world as it once was, Kyle, Sara, and Tim are out from their community looking for more essential supplies when they encounter some of the creatures that destroyed their world. In trying to escape from them them with their lives, they are pulled from their single-minded mission when they hear the cries of a young girl, Kaylee, whom they rescue from the carnage surrounding her. Kaylee’s mother was working for the government on something that could save humanity. While battling their various inner struggles, this group of survivors are trying to find the safe place in Tennessee where they might find salvation.

As a fairly standard apocalyptic story, the trajectory of the narrative was easy to follow; however, it seems to have used a lot of established zombie-esque, apocalyptic narrative tropes along with some intriguing supernatural elements (that weren’t fully addressed) to construct this story, depriving it of much originality. I found that this text could use some more editing attention as there were some progression issues along with standard grammatical issues – for example, there was a moment when the trio of survivors are asking Kaylee about some men, where she said only “men” and the adult asked her about the “bad men;” this jarred me out of the text to wonder how the guys knew they were bad without her saying so. There’s a lot of action taking place throughout the story, but there isn’t an adequate amount of explanation of how the world came to be in its current state and the creatures that made it that way.

Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Zombies Rising

The Resistance is Dead: Book One: The Outbreak by [Mooseles, Kevin]

Zombies are typically pretty intriguing and there are many iterations of zombies and how they came to be. In Kevin Mosseles’s The Resistance is Dead the rise of zombies in America is just getting started.

The beginning of a zombie outbreak is in its first stage. Disguising itself as a flu-like illness, the virus runs its course, leaving the victims feeling like new just before they die…and then rise again with a hunger for humans. As this situation unfolds across the country, a group of friends well-versed in zombie video games, movies, and books prepare themselves to take on the hordes while President Adam Chambers tries to learn more about what’s happening and keep his family, and the American people, as safe as possible.

As an origin story to the start of a zombie apocalypse, this narrative offers a variety of character perspectives on how it arises and could be dealt with, most humorously from that of the video game players, which I found to be the most relatable. The type of third person narration was roving in nature, shifting from character to character by paragraph, which, while offering a whole picture of the situation, was occasionally disorienting. I also found it a little strange to have zombies referred to as “zeds,” which is a British English thing that hasn’t really jumped the pond to the United States where the story was set.

Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Incarceration Investigation

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Spending time in prison, though a downer, might seem like it’d be a safe place since there are guards, locked cells, and constant supervision; however, in M. J. Arlidge’s Hide and Seek, a life behind bars is just as dangerous, if not more so, than life on the outside.

Within the walls of Halloway, a women’s prison, women are mysteriously found dead in their locked cells, their bodies adorned with a sadistic mutilation signature. Recently incarcerated Detective Helen Grace takes it upon herself to investigate, to the best of her abilities, what is happening to these women and who the perpetrator is. Meanwhile, beyond the walls of the prison, a dedicated former co-worker of Grace’s is trying to prove that Grace’s nephew framed her for the three murders that placed her inside Halloway.

Written in brief chapters that rove through the perspectives of the numerous key characters, the narrative moves quickly and maintains a sense of urgency and suspense throughout as Helen Grace investigates the crime of the insular prison community. There are a few candidates for the murderous culprit and reasonable doubt and suspicion is laid out for each of these, with a satisfying turn of events toward the end. While this is an installment in a larger series that features Helen Grace, there isn’t any real need to have read any of the others as the story is rather well self-contained, although there is probably a greater payoff to any emotional investment or to the broader story arc if you have knowledge of the rest of the series.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

Madame of Movies and Matrimony

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Marriages take a lot of work, so most people stick with one, maybe two marriages, in their lives. But not everyone adheres to the typical, as in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Evelyn Hugo’s career has been prolific and her scandalous life has been the subject of many tabloid stories throughout the years. As she’s aged, she’s not offered interviews or access to her life to the press, opting instead to keep away from the limelight. But as she’s auctioning off some of her gowns for charity and gaining some press for that, she decides to finally break her silence about her life, but only if a relatively unknown journalist, Monique Grant, is the one to write it. Monique learns about Evelyn’s life, her seven husbands, and the one love of her life through day-long interview sessions at Evelyn’s home. In hearing how Evelyn worked hard to gain her fame, Monique slowly realizes her own potential and ability to get what she deserves and wants, as well as an unexpected revelation about her family.

Strong and captivating storytelling within the pages of this book filled with glamour and drama. I enjoyed having snippets of news articles about Evelyn’s life while she recalled narratives because it helped to demonstrate the difference between reality and manufactured image; the calculating nature of stardom and where to appear when and with whom was both fascinating and disgusting, as it showed the fakery within Hollywood that created a “truth” for the public, which only makes you think that stars are just ordinary people with ordinary wishes and extraordinary means. While I had been anticipating some connection between Evelyn and Monique’s father from the get-go, the reveal was still well done and played up the drama aspect that was threaded throughout the entire narrative.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.