Tag Archive | novels

Book Review – Joshua’s Island by Patrick Hodges

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After reading the synopsis of Joshua’s Island (James Madison Series Book One) by Patrick Hodges, I was compelled to download the book and give it a go. Even so, initially I wasn’t sure how captivating a story about middle schoolers would be for an older reader like myself. But with each increasingly eager page-turn, I became all the more invested in the story and the plight of the characters.

The story centers on Joshua and Eve, two eighth grade students on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum: he, a small-for-his-age social outcast; and she, a beautiful A-crowder, newly minted by the school’s it-girl Rhonda.

My heart immediately went out to Joshua, a victim of bullying—something that has plagued him for his entire middle school existence. The psychological effects have been relentless and lasting, not only from living in constant fear of the next assault (courtesy of chief tormenter Brent and his band of cronies), but also from having been ostracized by the entire student body, including those he had once considered friends.

Joshua’s and Eve’s worlds are forced to collide in Science class, where much to their dismay, the teacher pairs them up as lab partners. Beyond horrified with the arrangement, Eve is none too subtle in her vocal objections. As expected, this sets off their teamwork experience (or lack thereof) on rather uneven, uncomfortable footing.

But neither of them would be prepared for the life-altering journey on which they were soon headed.

Always a glutton for a good love story, the one that gradually buds and then all-out blossoms in Joshua’s Island had me smiling my head off every step of the way. There’s just something about young love, and the way it’s written here in particular, that tugs at the heart strings like no other. The honesty. The awkwardness. The innocence. The sweetness. The sigh-inducing, chest-panging “awwww” moments that I’ll admit had me tearing up on more than one occasion.

Although Joshua and Eve are the driving force of this story, there are several supporting characters that also become crucial to its impact and momentum. Deservedly, some of these stand-outs get their own story in subsequent books in the series, and I look forward to reading them all.

When it comes down to it, Joshua’s Island is much more than a love story. It’s about friendship, family, loyalty, forgiveness, righting wrongs, good versus evil, and standing up for your convictions no matter the consequences. The lessons to be learned are invaluable, and you will walk away from this book not only contemplating how you treat others, but inspired to pay it forward.

Bullying is an issue that hits close to home for many, including myself, and based on the depth and authenticity of the characters and plot, I would imagine that Patrick Hodges was writing from a very personal place. In doing so, he has undoubtedly given hope to others who have experienced similar harassment and abuse, as well as the comfort in knowing they are not alone.

Needless to say, I adored this book and will be passing it along to my teenage daughters to read next. I just know they’ll love it too.

Please do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Joshua’s Island today.

Get in on your Kindle

Get it in Paperback

Get in on Audible

And don’t forget to leave a review. 🙂

To find out more about Patrick Hodges, visit him on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!

~ Sue

 

Image source: Amazon.com

 

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Why Romance? Why not?

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There are dayslike todaywhen I find myself on the receiving end of…

The look.

It’s the one people lay on me after learning what I do for a livingmore specifically, the fact that I write…

Wait for it…

ROMANCE.

It’s a look that evolves from…

Are you serious?

To…

No, you can’t be serious.

To…

Holy @#%&, you ARE serious.

To…

Oh, how cute. You actually think you’re a REAL writer.

And, to further drive the spike into my already fragile ego, a saccharine-laced response usually piggybacks “the look,” something along the lines of…

“Those books are okay to read if you don’t want to think too much.”

Ouch.

Unfortunately, this perplexing (and rather unwarranted) romance-is-a-subpar-genre attitude is something I’ve been running into for as long as I can remember.

There’s an assumption shared by many that neither effort nor intelligence is required to write romance novels and that their pages contain nothing but embarrassingly sappy drivel. And if you actually read them, then God help you, because you’d better be armed with one mother of a justifiable reasonnamely, your brain needing a sabbatical.

Pffft.

Personally speaking, I can tell you that reading and writing romance has nothing to do with a lack of creative depth or an unhealthy penchant for heaving bosoms and quivering loins.

By the way, 99.999% of romance imprints did away with those terms eons ago.

Fact: Romance consistently wins out as the best-selling literary genre…by a landslide.

Yet, ironically, it comes up the rear in terms of respect and credibility…which, if I’m being frank, kind of steams my clams.

Whether or not people admit it, they’re reading romance and lots of it. So, you know what I say?

Be proud!

When you’re engaged in bookish chit-chat with someone who asks you, “Why romance?” you can fire back with a simple, but effective…

“Why not?”

Then point them in the direction of a book like Pride and Prejudice and I’ll bet they never ask you that question again.

The one thing I love most about voracious romance readers is that they…just…get it. If you’re reading this right now, then chances are, you do too.

And I am so grateful to have you along!

Of course, I’m not suggesting that everyone should go gaga over romance novels, because as we all know, art in its various forms is subjective. What one gets off on the other may yawn over. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Even as a self-proclaimed sucker for all things swoon-worthy, I still enjoy dipping my eyeballs into horror, mystery, suspense, and fantasy.

Stephen King, if you’re reading this, I love you!

(Who am I kidding? There’s no chance in hell he’s reading this.)

What I’m saying is that romance deserves equal inclusion as a legitimized, stigma-free genre among its industry counterparts.

Does that mean all romance novels are worth critical acclaim? Heck no. There are some sucky ones out there for sure. But do other genres have their own share of craptastic representation? You betcha.

Again, if you follow this blog, then I’m probably preaching to the choir. Maybe you’re actually a romance writer yourself. If so, then you’re also familiar with “the look.”

There will always be people who don’t understand, or even want to, and that’s okay. Because the rest of us know that with the romance genre, there is so much more than meets the eye upon that curious first glance. It’s the type of fiction that gets into your mind and stays there, the type that explores love and intimacy from within the intricate tapestry of the human condition. It inspires hopeand yes, even change. So…

Whether you read it…or create it…

I hope it inspires you too.

If you’re proud to be a romance fan, let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: flickr.com – Tsahi Levent-Levi, artist

 

 

Book Review – Web of Darkness by Paris Andren

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It’s official. Paris Andren writes unputdownable books.

After devouring her debut release—Pointe of Darkness (LA Dark Series) (Volume 1)—in one nail-noshing sitting (read my review here), I couldn’t wait to get my stubby, greedy fingers on her highly-anticipated sequel…

WEB OF DARKNESS (LA Dark Series) (Volume 2)

And wouldn’t you know it…I also consumed this book by way of a single, multi-hour adventure in page turning.

It’s that good.

The story picks up where Pointe of Darkness left off, with its main characters fleeing from, yet still chained to, the underground world of sex slavery and human trafficking. The heavy nature of the subject matter is neither trivialized nor glorified, and I am enormously impressed with the special care Ms. Andren took to treat it with the staunch realism it deserves.

Speaking of which, Web of Darkness almost gives off a non-fiction sort of vibe, a testament to the author’s ability to pull readers into the crux of a problem that is closer to home than we think. We ride every emotion in tandem with the characters until they become our own.

Now, that’s talent.

Web of Darkness didn’t just give me feels…it gave me all the feels Joy, sorrow, desperation, heartbreak, terror, devastation, hope, anxiety, desire, love—you name it—I was in total immersion mode.

Andren’s writing is superb, using alternating points of view to the story’s advantage, deepening our connections to returning protagonists Ava and Sage, introducing us to new characters, and giving us an unobstructed look into the evil mindset.

The description, dialog, and pacing were on point(e) (see what I did there?), keeping me in a near constant state of pulse-thumping suspense. I seriously couldn’t stop reading if I tried because I just had to know what was going to happen next. Every time I was convinced I had it all figured out…BAM…it was time to think again!

This book is chock-full of page-turning elements: darkness, action, mystery, intrigue, blush-inducing eroticism, and most of all…

Romance.

Because at its essence, Web of Darkness is a love story…albeit an unconventional one, but that’s what makes it special. After all, love isn’t conceived from puppies and unicorns alone. Sometimes fate brings hearts together under extraordinary circumstances. And, to me, there’s something especially satisfying about witnessing the progression of love as it fights against all odds to prevail.

But, the big question is…

Does love indeed win out in the end?

Well, you know I can’t tell you that!

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of Web of Darkness today!

Get it on your Kindle

Get it in Paperback

And don’t forget to leave a review. 🙂

To find out more about Paris Andren, visit her website: http://www.pariswrites.com.

Happy reading!

~ Sue

 

Image source: Amazon.com