Review: Gifted by HS Stone

Rating: Maybe

Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen several variations on this theme, but this story, for all of its promise, felt flat. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed Stone’s other novel, In The Hands of Children. After reading this, I think it probably should have been labelled as middle grade rather than young adult, and a few tweaks would have kept it perfectly in line with this.

Gifted-cover2This young adult fantasy follows twins, Voima and Vennd, who are quite different. Voima is a giftless young woman, while Vennd is gifted with the power of nearly-instant healing (Think Wolverine pre-adamantium skeleton). This story bounces between their POVS and the king’s, who is capturing all Gifted people and making them fight to the death. We don’t really receive a clear explanation why, but power-hungry as he is, it’s self-explanatory.

The twins have a close relationship, and it’s obvious as the story unfolds that they’ll do anything to save each other. The stakes become clear when Vennd is discovered and captured by the king’s men.

This leads on to what made the story flat to me. Rather than experiencing the ensuing drama through Voima (or Vennd), most of her POV is spent reacting to things, rather than the story coming alive. I very much felt, at one point, that she was a character going through a plot rather than a person experiencing a horrifying, life-changing event. Part of it is because of how the scenes play out, with her reacting constantly without significant, real change from beginning to end. Part of what plays into this was constantly being told about her emotional state rather than experiencing it with her.

Having said that, the plot is fun to read through. We watch Gifteds struggle against the king and his sister’s tyranny. We get to experience life as Gifted’s on the run and how they manage to survive in a world which hates them. The cast is lively, and with more space or in future novels, would really shine on their own.

If you enjoy a quick, good read with an adventure fantasy plot, then this book would definitely appeal to you.

Gifted can be purchased at Amazon.

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This Week’s Read: Gifted by HS Stone

In a kingdom where the Gifteds are captured and thrown into fights to the death, Voima is fortunate that she is just a Regular. However, her brother, Vendd, isn’t so lucky. Since his Power started manifesting itself, the siblings have lived a life on the run, barely escaping the king’s soldiers. Just as Voima and Vendd have settled into a new home, a fleeing Gifted enters their lives, begging for help Gifted-cover2but bringing soldiers after him. Despite the siblings’ efforts, the soldiers discover Vendd’s Power. Now Voima, an outmatched Regular girl, must find a way to defeat the kingdom’s most dangerous Gifteds in order to save her brother from certain death.

Gifted can be purchased at Amazon.

 

Even before he could read, H.S. Stone wanted to write a book. Fascinated by the stories that seemed to leap from his kindergarten teacher’s books, he went home and wrote his own book, with illustrations and bound by staples. Of course, since he didn’t know how to read or write yet, the book was full of gibberish. Undaunted, H.S. eventually mastered the ABC’s and continued to write throughout his grade school years, adolescence, and into adulthood. Despite earning a degree and working in a field not related to writing, he continued to pursue his writing passion. H.S. Stone’s publications include novels aimed at Young Adult and Middle Grade readers as well as several short stories. He currently lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

 

 

Carmine Tarrenborough and the Ravenwood Fetch – Cate’s Take

Genre: YA fantasy

Rating: Yay

Carmine Tarrenborough is a courier from the township of Tarrenborough. An orphan, she lives with other orphans who are either teaching, learning, or actually making deliveries. On one delivery to the remote town of Ravenwood, she wrecks her aether-bike, which presents a multitude of problems, including possibly raising ambient aether levels to toxic amounts. Bad, right? Throw in a loveable but daft man named Tomas and a sneaky fae called Alkallen, and…well…

There’s a lot to love about this book. I particularly enjoyed the minor steampunk elements in the aether-bike and how it seemed to have its own personality. Carmine herself is an enjoyable heroine. Spunky,  unforgivingly sarcastic and smarter than she thinks, she definitely drives this first person narrative. At first, when Tomas and then Alkallen were introduced, I feared there would be some kind of love story or triangle or who knows what else, but this is where the book is a breath of fresh air–there’s neither! *Tosses confetti* It’s so refreshing when that happens. Excuse me while I dance a small jig.

The book isn’t without problems, though. At some points, Carmine’s personality can be a touch overbearing. Being in her head can almost feel like yelling at yourself, but at the same time, I don’t feel the story would be as effective in a third person perspective. There are also some flaws in grammar and homonym usage. However, if you can overlook these issues, which in the end are only minor, you will likely enjoy this book.

Get your copy of Carmine at:

Smashwords

Author bio
Katherine Fosso grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and went to college at Washington University in Saint Louis. There she earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology, and soon learned that clinical work was not for her. She moved back to Indiana to write, draw, and work, where she lives with her boyfriend and two cats.

This Week’s Read: Carmine Tarrenborough and the Ravenwood Fetch by Katherine Fosso

front coverIt’s not easy living in post-war Lorane. Humanity is just getting back on its feet after hundreds of years in a post-nuclear apocalypse, and the world is finally green again. Still, it isn’t safe. Aside from the ever-present nuclear and aetheric radiation, there’s the supernatural to worry about: strange miasmas, mad aether-wielding Harrows, and the achingly beautiful and deadly Fae.

And trouble never met a girl it liked better than Carmine Tarrenborough. She’s sixteen years old, a weirdness magnet, and a courier. It’s her job to deliver, rain or shine, sleet or hail. But, when a number of people turn up missing and a strange dark figure haunts the roadways at night, she may just have to add solving mysteries to her job description.

Get your copy at:

Smashwords

 

Review: Hera, Queen of Gods

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: Yay!

HERA, QUEEN OF GODSSo to be upfront, I’m not a huge young adult fan. Given the glut of YA that’ve popped out in recent years and the rather unimpressive writing that goes along with them, I tread carefully with YA.

Hera, Queen of Gods follows Hera as she leads a handful of the Olympic gods on Earth as they run after the Fates. Bound in mortal form and with only one power each, the gods must battle against their inner politics, the problems of Olympus, and the forces of darkness as they try to recover one of the most powerful beings around.

The entire story is rife with Greek mythology and its inner workings, and although some of the more intricate details are explained, anyone who isn’t familiar with the pantheon and the more popular parts of Greek mythology should bone up before reading this. It’s not for the Greek-ignorant. While I can understand not wanting to break into the incredibly lengthy and rich past for every character, a few more details here and there would have greatly helped for people who aren’t well-versed in the mythos.

Having said that, Hera is a strong, sympathetic character. As the goddess who’s constantly cheated on and given unhappy circumstances in her personal and professional life (Corralling those gods would be a majorly sucky job, let’s be honest), it’s easy to see how she’s developed the strength of character in adversity, and why she makes some choices. It’s also understandable why the first sign of positive male attention leaves her in a strange, difficult situation. Yes, there’s romantic elements. No, they’re not graphic. They’re quite sweet, so no need for parental concern about sex.

Because of the accelerating timeframe and rapid developments in the plot, the action turnaround is fast and furious. There are some points in the novel that have so many quick switcharounds that I would have appreciated some breathing space to really get into Hera’s head and feel more of her. For a book that has the first person POV, there’s not very much in the way of internal monologue. She feels a bit set apart from the reader, and I Think the book would have been better off as third person for that reason. If we’d had more time and space with her, it would have really used first person to full effect.

Still, this in no way ruins the story, which in and of itself, is fantastic. The mystery of who took the Fates and who the heck is this Justin guy who keeps helping keeps you in suspense throughout. There are consequences for the characters—gods who die and mortals who perish. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and it’s bloody glorious.

Hera, Queen of Gods can be found at:

Amazon

Goodreads

Website: http://www.td-thomas.com