Over The Rainbow by Brian Rowe: review

17792829Over the Rainbow by Brian Rowe
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
3 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: LGBT, Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: August 6th 2013
Synopsis: A modern re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz!

Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious.

When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn’t know what’s happened, but she’s determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion, a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world’s population have mysteriously disappeared. But that’s only the beginning…

All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.

My Thoughts:

Looks like Dorothy is going to be walking down the yellow brick road with her well-loved companions again. Oh, wait, it’s actually Zippy who is going to be walking down the yellow brick road with her companions in a world that had just experienced the “rapture”. And, uh, the yellow brick road she’s walking down is cluttered with abandoned cars and… dinosaurs? DUN DUN DUN!

Over the Rainbow has a heck of an oddball story. It’s weird, trippy, and really unbelievable. But hey, Over the Rainbow is a super-fun romp that I enjoyed reading. Oh, and Jurassic Park fans: you just might get a kick out of this book. All those dinosaurs stomping about were awesome and totally appealed me, a lover of the movie. Over the Rainbow actually brought back a lot of memories of when I was a little kid going to my grandparents’ house and watching that dino-tastic (I did just say that) movie over and over.

Besides the dinosaurs, I also liked Zippy, our tiny, fun-sized, protagonist too, and not just because she shares my love of  Jurassic Park. She’s brave, strong-willed, comfortable in her own skin, and fit the role she played quite well. And to be honest, it’s really hard to not be impressed by the girl when she faced and killed a dinosaur with only an ax in hand. Her doing that was one of my favorite scenes in the book, actually.

Zippy’s companions, while they weren’t exactly memorable, were fun. Frankie, Mr. Balm, and Elle complimented each other and had good chemistry. I think that these characters could have had a little bit more work done on them, but they satisfied the roles they were meant to be in. Zippy’s father, however, was a pretty well-made character. In the beginning, he is only portrayed as a bigot who cares more about his job than Zippy, but over the course of the story, you learn that he does care for his daughter but his prejudiced opinions keep him from showing that.

What really gets in the way of Over the Rainbow‘s being a great book is that it was published too soon. I think that some more editing could have been done. The characters seemed to underreact to their situation at times. Sometimes the dialogue was choppy. The emotional scenes could have been polished up some more. And the new, post-rapture world could have been painted more vividly. I honestly believe that Over the Rainbow could have been an amazing book, but the lack of editing got in the way of being that amazing book.

But even though this book has its fair share of flaws, I did enjoy reading it. Over the Rainbow is a weird, fun romp that I didn’t mind spending the evening reading at all. AND THE DINOSAURS! I LOVED THEM SO MUCH!

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Gadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata: review

Gadget Girl: The Art of Being InvisibleGadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata
Stand Alone
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: GemmaMedia
Release Date: May 17th 2013
Synopsis: Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother’s muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity.

When Aiko’s mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She’d much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life.

Gadget Girl began as a novella published in Cicada. The story won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction and was included in an anthology of the best stories published in Cicada over the past ten years.

My Thoughts:

Awhile this book could have had a little bit more ‘oomph’, Gadget Girl is a quiet, mellow read with dashes of both sadness and sweetness. A reader may find it hard to get through the less-than-enjoyable but necessary beginning, but afterwards, the reader will want to read until the end.

Aiko, the protagonist, is a girl who has lived with cerebral palsy for her whole life and is also her artist mother’s muse. But even with her mother’s attempts of showing that Aiko is beautiful through art, Aiko still has self-esteem issues from being mocked by her classmates.

Her solace, though, is her creation: the Gadget Girl manga, and her hopes of travelling to Japan and meeting her father the indigo farmer for the first time.

Unfortunately her future plans are interrupted when her mother finds a new man she loves, Raoul, and wins the grand prize on an art show, thus allowing her to go to Paris (instead of Japan). But Aiko will learn that Paris might be better than Japan as she unwittingly finds herself on a but of a journey, learning to accept herself for who she is , to forgive, and maybe even what first love is like.

When reading this book, I felt myself really enjoying the time I was having with Aiko. She is a bit of a killjoy and understandably so, but there was something very strong about her. And the fact that we had common interest like manga was a pretty good thing too 🙂 I was very engaged in her story of self-acceptance and learning to forgive.

The relationships that Aiko builds with the people that she meets in France, with her mother, and Raoul are what made the story, for me. The kind-of romance is done pretty well, the love and conflict between Aiko and her mother is done amazingly well, and Raoul’s relationship with Aiko is more of a comforting one. I could really feel the feelings that Aiko had toward these people and how they were affecting her. That is no easy feat.

And the art element! I love it! Gadget Girl gives a lot of information about famous artist and their works, including manga, of course. So if you love art and are looking for a book that has many references, this might just be for you 😉

The prose and dialogue could have had more life put into them. The writing isn’t remarkable in any way for the most part except for its readability. But in the times Kamata really needed to, she wrote with passion and I could really feel the emotion flooding me.

Despite my overall enjoyment of this book, though, I do have one major quibble. And that is how boring the beginning is. It was a necessary beginning, but I feel that there could have been something down that could have made it more than a bland but necessary part of a story.

Gadget Girl is just a well-written story that does a great job depicting a teenage girl’s troubles in life and how she learns to overcome them. This isn’t a story for everyone since it isn’t overly emotional or exciting, but Gadget Girl will find an audience that will appreciate it.

This post is part of the Gadget Girl Blog Tour. An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review.

Transfusion by Nikki Jefford: review

TransfusionTransfusion by Nikki Jefford

Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #1

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: New Adult

Genre: Paranormal, Romance

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: December 9th 2012

Synopsis: If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either.

Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis right before she has to finish the job… by hand.
Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire. And if he’s a vampire, will she be forced to kill him?

My Thoughts:

There are many books that people read just for the sheer entertainment value. Transfusion is one of those books. Awhile it does have an entertaining vampire story it doesn’t offer anything new to the paranormal genre. Nor does it execute a vampire story better than other popular vampire novels. But it is funfunfunfun.

Aurora is our uniquely names protagonist. She is a very tough girl who goes through a lot of trauma. Her reactions to the things happening to her are fairly realistic. She does have does times when the terrible things to her become to much for her, but she bounces back! Her voice and personality are both disticnt. All in all, Aurora is a character that is easy to root for.

The side characters could have been more fleshed out, I believe. They were good for side characters but I felt like the story could have been a lot better with a fleshed out cast of characters.

The prose and dialogue could have been polished up. Some similes or metaphors felt awkward to me and a few conversation didn’t feel very smooth. But if you just want a book to read to have fun then the awkwardness shouldn’t be that big of a bother.

The story starts out with a big bang! The conflict is introduced quickly and there are some adrenalin pumping action scenes. I loved that about the beginning. But as the story went on drama started to leak into the plot. Instead of blood-sucking vampires and awesome fights there was more drama that could have been left out. More vampire and less drama with have been better 😛

I would recommend Transfusion to people who just want a book that is fun. It isn’t the best book in the world but I got a lot of enjoyment out of it. So if you are having a bad day go read this book and just be happy you aren’t Aurora.

*This post is part of the Aurora Sky Blog Tour. An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review.

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky: review

The Time-Traveling FashionistaThe Time- Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Series: The Time-Traveling Fashionista #1

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Genre:  MG Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Poppy

SynopsisWhat if a beautiful vintage dress could take you back in time?
Louise Lambert has always dreamed of movie starlets and exquisite gowns and longs for the day when she can fill the closet of her normal suburban home with stylish treasures. But when she receives a mysterious invitation to a vintage fashion sale in the mail, her once painfully average life is magically transformed into a time-travel adventure.
Suddenly onboard a luxurious cruise ship a hundred years ago, Louise relishes the glamorous life of this opulent era and slips into a life of secrets, drama, and decadence. . . .

My thoughts: When I saw the cover of this book I was in awe. Look at it! That cover is gorgeous! I flipped around the pages a bit and found out that this book also has a lot of pretty illustrations of dresses and some other things scattered throughout the book. I grabbed it off the shelf of the library and checked it out. I was a little disappointed though.

The characters fell a little flat for me. I had little to no emotional investment in the characters of this book. I thought that Louise would be a likeable and unique character. She loves vintage fashion, she is a young girl, and she time travels! You would think you would like her as a main character. I didn’t hate her but I didn’t like her either. She seemed to just go through the motions of a likeable character but I didn’t find much personality to her. The side characters were even more flat then the main character. I did like Anna though.

The idea was amazing! A book about a time-traveling fashionista seems pretty fun. I was bored out of mind though at the beginning. There is no real time traveling until about seven chapters in and even then I was a little bored. All we got to read about for one hundred pages was Louise trying on dresses and looking around the ship. I would have enjoyed that if the characters were quirky and fun but they were not so I was bored most of the time. I was very excited when the actual conflict was introduced. I thought that something exciting would happen. It was a bit exciting but not so exciting that I couldn’t put down the book. I thought that Louise showed more personality in the second half though and I did start to like her a little.

The writing was pretty good and with the illustrations it seemed even better. The descriptions of the clothing was not to descriptive and the pictures that accompanied the descriptions gave me an image in my head of all the characters.

The reason I give this book 3 stars instead of just 2.5 stars is because I did enjoy it at some moments and I loved the illustrations. The book simply does not deserve a low rating of 2 stars. Although this book is labeled young-adult I thought that it would be enjoyed more by lovers of the middle grade genre.