Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Echo by Lorena Glass

echoEcho by Lorena Glass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Echo by Lorena Glass is a time-travel fantasy romance that follows two cursed lovers as they battle through time to be together. The novel opens with Karissa, who travels from the early 2000s back to ancient Roman times to reunite herself with her deceased soulmate, albeit in one of his previous lives. Due to the curse, each time they are together, Karissa and Adregin (her lover’s name in his life as a Roman soldier) are separated by death and must continuously search for one another in their other incarnations.

If you love romance for the sake of romance, you will adore this novel. Karissa and Adregin have an inexplicable bond, and they love one another with a passion akin to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (including both the praises and critiques of that relationship). While at times this love may seem foolish, their devotion to one another is admirable and is, of course, the driving factor of the plot.

The characters are well-developed and complex. Their personalities are understandably different in each of their lives, but they still have defining traits that span their incarnations. Personally, I did not find all of the characters likable, but I do not hold that against the author. It just goes to show that Glass has crafted realistic, flawed characters.

As to the plot of the novel, I felt like Echo was two or three books in one. It carried over into multiple lives of the characters, and each segment felt like a different book. The ending, while somewhat of a cliffhanger (to set up the next in the series), does not have the dramatic effect the author intended. After all, Glass shows us the basic idea of what will happen earlier in the novel, when the lovers are separated for the first time. I would have found the work much more effective if more detail and time had been spent in developing the characters’ relationships and the book split in two. In addition to this high-level/structural revision, the novel could also do with a copy edit.

I cannot comment on the accuracy of the historical elements of the novel, as I am not a history buff. However, nothing jumped out at me as being hugely inaccurate or unrealistic. As far as the time travel element is concerned, I wish that had been better explained. It is still unclear exactly how the time travel works, and given the element of danger Glass implies, it seems unlikely that a normal, 20-something like Karissa could have gotten her hands on the technology. That is an element I hope will be explained further in subsequent novels.

Overall, Echo by Lorena Glass is a captivating love story that does the work of two books. If you enjoy relationship-driven plots and intense romances, you will really like this novel.

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echoIf you are interested in reading Echo and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it through my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

 

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: A Time to Reap by Jonas Lee

Jonas BookA Time to Reap (The Legend of Carter Gabel #1) by Jonas Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

A Time to Reap (The Legend of Carter Gabel #1) by Jonas Lee is a young adult science fiction novel that follows teenager Carter Gabel on the most difficult and exciting adventure of his life (thus far). Carter has the ability to travel through time, an inherited trait and one which the government monitors closely in individuals. Like Carter, Mo is a teenager with powers, only hers are telekinetic. As Carter’s and Mo’s abilities develop, the government becomes more interested in them, and they must go to great lengths to protect themselves and those they love.

A Time to Reap is one of the funniest novels that I have read in a long time. Lee’s narration reads like the authentic thoughts of a teenage boy, and it moves smoothly between moments of awkwardness, tenderness, and hilarity. Carter balances moments of tension and danger with funny thoughts and snappy dialogue that lighten the mood and contrast cleverly with the novel’s dark antagonists. Because the novel takes place in the future, it is also filled with modern day (1980s to present) movie and music references that will make any culture buff smile.

Perhaps the best part of the novel is the relationships between the three main characters. Carter and Mo have a natural chemistry that simultaneously encapsulates the light-hearted puppy love of puberty and the mature understanding of life partners. Likewise, Carter and his mother have a wonderful dynamic, and they feel both like mother and son and like friends. To complete the triangle, Mo and Carter’s mother develop a touching friendship as the novel progresses.

As is the case with many science fiction novels, A Time to Reap is very high concept. There are several different types of “supernatural” powers, complex rules for how these powers operate, and multi-tiered governmental systems. At times, all of these elements can be a bit confusing. Whenever these were explained, I found myself having to slow down to really focus on the text. However, despite my best efforts to find plot holes or contradictions, all of the rules and systems are solid.

Without giving away the plot of the novel, I can say that it is fast-paced and full of twists. As new characters and information emerge, the plot grows more complex and will keep readers engaged and guessing. There is rarely (I would argue never) a dull moment. The ending of the novel wraps up the main plot points; however, it also introduces enough of a cliffhanger to make readers anxious to read book two.

A Time to Reap by Jonas Lee is authentic, charming, heartfelt, and fun. It evenly balances the self-discovery of being a teenager with the complexity of science fiction and the danger of life-or-death struggles. If you love science fiction, appreciate a little romance, and have a good sense of humor, you will adore this novel.

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You can find out more about Jonas Lee on his website, and you can read an interview with him on The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour here.


Jonas BookIf you are interested in reading A Time to Reap and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

zach bookThe Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. The copy I received was not the final copy, but rather the one issued to beta readers.

The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski is a young adult novel that blends historical fiction and magical realism. In the novel, the protagonist, Gabrielle, is given a magical bracelet that allows her to transport through time and place to experience the lives of the bracelet’s previous wearers through their eyes. This novel is the first in the series, and it covers how Gabrielle receives the bracelet and the first wearer’s life.

Right away, the reader is fond of Gabrielle. She is spunky, curious, and intelligent (as exhibited by the sophisticated tone and vocabulary of the narrator). When faced with situations that would terrify most young people, Gabrielle displays boldness and compassion. Like Gabrielle, the supporting characters have distinct personalities. The three key supporting characters: Alexandra, Heather, and Fionn, are well-developed and each have clear motives in the novel. Their relationships to Gabrielle are purposeful and emotional.

The plot of the novel moves quickly, but the fast pace is comfortable to the reader given the amount of action in the novel. There is rarely a dull moment as Gabrielle moves from one experience to another and slowly learns about the power of the bracelet. Without providing spoilers, I will say that the ending of the main plot leaves a few questions for the reader and the stakes do not feel as “high” to the reader as they may to Gabrielle. However, the ultimate ending of the novel is a strong cliffhanger that will leave the reader anxious for the next book.

During my beta read of the novel, I only had three criticisms. First, there are times where the writing did more “telling” than “showing.” Second, the point of view varied slightly between third-person limited and third-person omniscient, which can make emotional scenes somewhat jumbled. Third, the specific settings of the novel (Gabrielle’s hometown and the place she is transported) are unclear. However, the vagueness of Gabrielle’s hometown contributes to the novel’s sense of timelessness, and the place she is transported is discernible by a reader with sound historical knowledge.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. Chopchinski’s writing style contributes to the timelessness of the novel as well as Gabrielle’s intellectual sophistication. Gabrielle, herself, is everything a young girl wants to be, and her adventure is exhilarating, moving, and when necessary, scary. With a bit more writing experience, Chopchinski will easily overcome my few technical criticisms, but regardless, I have full confidence that the rest of the series will be just as fun and engaging as this first novel.

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You can find out more about Zachary Paul Chopchinski on his website, and you can read an interview with him on The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour here.


zach bookIf you are interested in reading The Curious Tale of Gabrielle and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.