Review: Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

deadoverheelsDead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 16th, 2016

Publisher: Frith Books

Pages: 38 pages

Source: Author

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.

After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?

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*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I really enjoyed reading this story. It is a creative, inventive, and truly captivating tale that pulled me in from page one and took me completely by surprise. This is one of those stories that keeps you wanting more—the sort that will make you voraciously tear through it, and really packs a punch.

Despite the fact that it is short in length, the plot and its characters are completely fleshed out and multidimensional. This is a story that will stick with you long after reaching the end. From the mysterious situation that the two main characters find themselves in all the way until the shocking conclusion, Braun hooks her readers and fluidly pulls them into every page.

In this story, we follow our main character, Veronica, as she finds true love under the most peculiar of circumstances. After an unexpectedly deep connection occurs between her and her new beau, Sebastian, they soon learn just how unbelievably deep it actually goes. The two share very many similarities, the main one being their painful pasts—each one has lost a parent at a young age. But just as quickly as their relationship blooms, they are forced to quite literally face the ghosts of their pasts and relive a true nightmare. And when their individual histories play out before them, their love is put to the test as renewed pain threatens to break them apart.

There is so much packed into such a short amount of time, and Braun expertly unfolds a compelling and detailed plot within the length limitations. It is fast-paced and exciting, full of twists and turns, and without a single dull moment. Her writing style flows well and is easy to get swept up in.

This was unlike any story I’ve read before, and I applaud Braun on her originality in creating such an intriguing supernatural mystery. Her characters are relatable and likeable right from the beginning, and the full arc of their relationship ends in a shocking and unexpected conclusion. Filled with romance and humor, darkness and tragedy, this novella will keep readers on the edges of their seats and craving more, even after the final page.

4.5 TARDISes

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Review: Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid

pretendwearelovelyPretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: July 18th, 2017

Publisher: Tin House Books

Pages: 284 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Consuming and big-hearted, Noley Reid’s Pretend We Are Lovely details a summer in the life of the Sobel family in 1980s Blacksburg, Virginia, seven years after the tragic and suspicious death of a son and sibling.

Francie Sobel dresses in tennis skirts and ankle socks and weighs her allotted grams of carrots and iceberg lettuce. Semi-estranged husband Tate prefers a packed fridge and secret doughnuts. Daughters Enid, ten, and Vivvy, thirteen, are subtler versions of their parents, measuring their summer vacation by meals eaten or skipped. But at summer’s end, secrets both old and new come to the surface and Francie disappears, leaving the family teetering on the brink.?

Without their mother’s regimental love, and witnessing their father flounder in his new position of authority, the girls must navigate their way through middle school, find comfort in each other, and learn the difference between food and nourishment.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Pretend We Are Lovely is one of those novels that really makes you think—both during and after—but where the real impact of the plot and themes within it hits you a little while after you have turned the final page. After you’ve let it simmer in your mind for some time. This is a story that revolves around hunger and nourishment of both the body and soul. And behind the façade of food and hunger, starving and eating, the true needs of this family shine through the cracks. It is a perfect warm, summer day read, whose pages will fly by quickly, but will simultaneously strike the reader with the surprising depth and heaviness of the subject matter.

This story follows a few months in the lives of the four members of the Sobel family. Mother Francie is struggling to deal with a great loss as well as the mental and emotional scars that come with it. Thirteen-year-old Vivvy and ten-year-old Enid are dealing with their own coming of age and new place in the world, all while attempting to cope with their struggling family life and their mother’s overbearing rules, primarily about food. Father Tate is trying his best to hold his family—and all of their lives—together as Franice begins to spiral out of control, further cracking the household’s foundation.

I’ll admit when I first started, I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to end up enjoying this novel. It took me a little while to really get into it, but as soon as I did, I was fully captivated. This story is full of broken and lost, but deeply and utterly beautiful souls. They are surprisingly loveable and incredibly easy to connect with. Each one has their own distinctive voice and personality, and I found that they were very realistically portrayed. Reid demonstrated remarkable insight and skill in her creation of this fractured family.

The element of food and hunger becomes very prominent as we begin to get to know each of the characters and the dynamic of the household. They all harbor a hunger for something more on an emotional level that masks itself in a battle with their eating or dieting behaviors. And these battles manifest uniquely in each person. Vivvy and Enid each look to a different parent for cues on how to treat food. Enid follows her father’s habits of carefree eating while Vivvy mimics her mother’s struggle with food and obsessive dieting.

The relationships and constant instability of the foundation of this family was incredibly poignant. We watch Enid and Vivvy coming of age and learning to deal with many of the harsh realities of life. Francie and Tate are drifting further and further away from one another, and Tate is struggling to hold the family together as best he can for the sake of his daughters. Vivvy’s and Enid’s relationship with each other was my particular favorite to watch as it changes with the highs and lows of growing up. Tate’s love for his daughters was another one of my favorite aspects of this novel.

The writing style used in this novel might not be a hit with everyone. The perspective alternates frequently between each of the four members of the Sobel family, so the reader gets an intimate look at everyone’s perspective on the events of the plot. I found it quite interesting to see the shift in the behaviors and outlooks of the all of the characters, but it can be a bit confusing at times. There is quite a bit of jumping about, and this can make the plot a little tricky to follow. However, once I started to get used to it and became more aware of each character’s personality, it flowed a lot smoother.

The other aspect of the writing to note is the almost stream of consciousness-like style that Reid uses. For me personally, it really worked well and I enjoyed the tone that it set. It truly feels as if we as readers are intimately following the lives of a realistic family, and that brings so much depth into the novel and the messages it sends. However, I realize that, though it adds a great deal to the realism of the plot and characters, it can be somewhat of a difficult writing style to follow—so there are definite pros and cons to it for the reader.

It reads just the way a person’s train of thought would go, but that can also make things feel a bit disjointed. On top of that, the constant shift in perspective takes a little while to get fully immersed in, especially prior to really knowing the family. As a whole though, I ended up loving the format in which Reid wrote this novel. There were a lot more pros that out-weighed many of the minor cons in the style, and she completely sucked me in.

Overall, this was the big-hearted and consuming read it promised to be. Reid beautifully set the painful, destructive, yet loving atmosphere of a family in turmoil. I felt like I really connected with everyone, and found that I truly cared about each and every one of them. I experienced the hurt they both felt and inflicted, but also the small moments of caring, love and hope. Every emotion was tangible and I was completely wrapped up in their lives. The bittersweet final few chapters particularly stood out from the rest, and they are the ones that held onto me the longest.

4.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Leave This Song Behind by Teen Ink

leavethissongbehindLeave This Song Behind by Various

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: April 26th, 2016

Publisher: HCI

Pages: 216 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This was a poetry collection that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. It is a wonderful and broad compendium of some of the fantastic teenage voices in the literary world. Full of beautiful prose and sentiment, these poems were stunningly thought-provoking and held such meaning and depth. It definitely shows the true power and significance of the written word, particularly that which comes from the mind of a young person. Each poem is so poignant and pure, which shows the beauty of the young mind. The writers have allowed themselves to enter the depths of their mind and soul, and bravely expressed what lies there.

I absolutely love how much Teen Ink encourages young people to express themselves and find their voices. Poetry—and writing in general, really—was something that helped me a great deal during my teenage years once I discovered it. It was a way to get my feelings out when I felt like I had no other option. And I always felt very thankful to be in a situation where I had a lot of support and reassurance from the people in my life in regards to my pursuit of writing. It is wonderful to see that there are some great resources to give teenagers this much needed support. I truly enjoyed my reading experience. This is an important and highly inspiring collection of words that I hope many people will read.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

bigmushyhappylumpBig Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Sarah’s Scribbles

Date Published: March 7th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 128 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Swimsuit season is coming up! Better get beach-body ready! Work on those abs! Lift those butts! 

…Um, or how about never mind to all that and just be a lump. Big Mushy Happy Lump! 

Sarah Andersen’s hugely popular, world-famous Sarah’s Scribbles comics are for those of us who boast bookstore-ready bodies and Netflix-ready hair, who are always down for all-night reading-in-bed parties and extremely exclusive after-hour one-person music festivals.  

In addition to the most recent Sarah’s Scribbles fan favorites and dozens of all-new comics, this volume contains illustrated personal essays on Sarah’s real-life experiences with anxiety, career, relationships and other adulthood challenges that will remind readers of Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. The same uniquely frank, real, yet humorous and uplifting tone that makes Sarah’s Scribbles so relatable blooms beautifully in this new longer form.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Are you finding yourself over-thinking every aspect of your day-to-day life? Have you ever exchanged a day of social interaction for a book and/or Netflix binge? Do you have days where you really just can’t “adult”? Then Big Mushy Happy Lump is the book for you!

This was an incredibly cute, hilarious, and relatable read—exactly the kind of book I needed at this moment in my life. This was my first experience with Sarah Andersen’s work, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Along the lines of one of my favorite books in the entire world—Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh—Andersen’s adorable doodles perfectly capture the awkward, neurotic, introverted book lover that is me. However, one does not have to be as self-conscious and irrationally anxious as I am to have a good time with this collection. A satirical and candid look at what makes all of us human, these little vignettes portray feelings and life experiences that are very easy for anyone to connect with.

This is one of those books that makes you feel as though the author has read your mind and flawlessly rendered your entire life and thoughts in a highly comical format. For me, that totally clicks with my sarcastic and humorous outlook on life and myself. It reminds me of my various “delightful” quirks and makes me remember that, while me and my thought processes can be exceptionally…unique, I am not entirely alone. In fact, many of the things that make me feel as though I am an alien that must have accidentally fallen out of a UFO at some point and landed on Earth are actually what make me—and every one of us—human.

My only—very small—complaint with this book was the fact that there wasn’t more of a personal essay element. There was a bit of this, but not nearly enough. It ended up being a sort of jumble of randomly collected cartoon panels that were entertaining, but left me wanting something beyond just that. I always like to read a little story along with these types of cartoons—a peek at the author’s own life experiences. I believe that storytelling aspect allows the reader to connect their life, their thoughts and feelings, even further with those that are depicted, creating a more engaging reading experience.

That bit aside, this was a very quick read and a wonderful pick-me-up as I fought to get out of a horrific reading slump. And now I can continue on, fully embracing the over-thinking, neurotic, reclusive person that I am. I can find even more humor in watching my painfully awkward floundering through adult life and social interaction. And, most importantly of all, I can get back to reading voraciously as I take on my true form—a big mushy happy lump…with a huge pile of unread books.

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4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

cruelcrownCruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: The Red Queen Series

Date Published: January 5th, 2016

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 208 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Two women on either side of the Silver and Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.

Discover the truth of Norta’s bloody past in these two revealing prequels to #1 New York Times bestseller Red Queen.

Queen Song—Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.

Steel Scars—Diana Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.

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This is a spoiler-free review.

Once again, I appear to be in the minority when it comes to my opinion on Victoria Aveyard’s novels—however, this time, it is in the complete opposite way. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading these two novellas. These are the first prequel novellas to Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series—a series that I have not been a major fan of so far.

Though the idea for the plot of Red Queen is intriguing, unique, and something that would normally be right up my alley, I do not believe it is executed as well as it could be, which ends up being a massive detriment. However, Cruel Crown has further confirmed two thoughts I’ve had ever since I began the series last year. First, that Victoria Aveyard is in fact an absolutely spectacular writer. And second, that there is just something about the main character, Mare, that I genuinely cannot stand.

Over the course of these novellas, we get an opportunity to see Aveyard write from two completely fresh points of view. Whether sharing the thoughts of a young girl from a lower class Silver family as she turns into a queen, or exploring the mind of an influential member of the Red rebellion as she realizes her full potential, Aveyard masterfully portrays her various characters. Her talent as a wordsmith cannot be denied and these novellas—with their varying points of view—allow her to present us with a more solid demonstration of this than Red Queen did.

As she has been displaying since her debut novel, Victoria Aveyard has a natural aptitude when it comes to world building. Her background in screenwriting is quite apparent as she creates every setting, unfolds every single action, with a vivid palette of words. This is something that has caused me to completely fall in love with her writing style, despite not always being thrilled with her characterization or what she chooses to focus on in her plotlines.

I’ll now briefly touch on my specific thoughts about each story individually.

Queen Song (Rating: 4/5)

Queen Song briefly recounts the life of Coriane, queen of Norta, first wife of King Tiberias, and Cal’s mother. We learn of the trials she faced through her younger years—her struggle to find some source of happiness. We are able to get a brief glimpse into her romance with Tibe and the torments that plagued her through the final years of her life. A damaged, desperate, yet inherently brave young woman fighting against demons—both tangible and intangible—Queen Coriane’s story is truly a captivating one.

This ended up being my favorite of the two novellas—in fact, I really wish that this story were a full novel in itself. I would have gladly read many more pages about Coriane’s life, as well as the life of the kingdom itself prior to the events of Red Queen. It is hard to imagine feeling for anyone other than the Reds, but Coriane’s story is surprisingly heart wrenching. This is due primarily to the fact that Aveyard forms her into an extremely kind, relatable figure, despite her slightly elevated standing in society.

Right from the start, Aveyard shows the same vivid and technically proficient writing as she demonstrated in Red Queen. Coriane’s pain is understandable, clearly rendered and fluidly woven into the overall tone and atmosphere of the novella. There is a repetitiveness and childishness to the way she thinks and handles the emotions she faces through the beginning of the story. This at first got on my nerves, but the more I thought, the more I realized how perfectly Aveyard captures the way in which a young girl might confront extreme sadness. As Coriane ages, this repetitive method gives way to a much stronger, more mature one, displaying solid character progression in a short amount of text—not an easy feat.

The biggest complaint I have is not even much of a complaint, per se. I really just want more. I want more details about her early life—more of her relationships with her best friend, brother, and father. I want to see more of her courtship with King Tiberias. Their love story is sweet and beautiful, not only elaborating on their history, but also adding a new dimension to Tiberas’ character. However, it is a comparatively small portion of the novella. The ending is quite rushed—understandably—and though I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, I do wish there was just a bit more to it.

Steel Scars (Rating: 3.75/5)

In Steel Scars, we follow Captain Diana Farley—a key figure in the Red rebellion—through the months that lead up to the moments when her life first becomes entangled with Mare Barrow’s. Alternating between Farley’s point of view and a series of secret transmissions, Aveyard paints a picture of a strong, ambitious leader discovering her true strength as she pushes through her fears and weaknesses to do what she believes is right.

Though it starts off a bit slow, this story quickly begins to pick up, and I found myself pulled into the highs and lows, the triumphs and struggles that made up Captain Farley’s past. Though we do not begin at the start of her time in the rebellion, we get to see a very different side of Farley—a more impulsive, vulnerable side as she tries to make a name for herself and establish a place of power in the rebellion. It was interesting to see how she has changed, how much she matured, and the full extent of both her personal and professional strength.

Again, Aveyard’s writing is as beautiful and skillful as always. I found her world building in this particular story to be some of her best so far, and the action sequences were exciting and enthralling. As this is a spoiler-free review, I will only go as far as saying that the mystery guest who makes an appearance in this plotline and their relationship with Farley was probably my absolute favorite part. This is what has made me particularly eager to continue onto the next book in the series.

I must admit, the decoded messages were a bit confusing and difficult to follow at times, but as the story progressed, I found myself getting more used to reading them. Since each series of messages follows a new chunk of plot, understanding what events they are referring to and whom each codename belongs to becomes quite straightforward. They also consistently become more and more intriguing, which aids the ease of reading them. Though I was not a complete fan starting out, they grew on me, and I ended up really appreciating the reality they add to the atmosphere of Farley’s story.

Astonishingly enough, despite my mixed feelings on this series as a whole, I am actually feeling quite eager to continue on with it after reading these novellas. The time away from it and this brief glimpse at some of the other characters and their backstories has been oddly refreshing. I did not enter this novel with high hopes, but I came out of it very pleased with what it held. Though these stories are not necessarily integral to one’s understanding or enjoyment of the series as a whole, I would personally recommend giving these two novellas a try as they do enrich the world.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Katzenstein

campmidnightCamp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Katzenstein

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 3rd, 2016

Publisher: Image Comics

Pages: 248 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Ben 10 and Big Hero 6 creator Steven T. Seagle returns to comics with New Yorker Magazine cartoonist Jason Adam Katzenstein for a new graphic novel! Reluctant Skye is accidentally sent to the wrong summer camp. Not wanting to please her step monster, Skye is dead-set on not fitting in. That won’t be a problem, as everyone at Camp Midnight-with the exception of fellow camper and fast-friend Mia-is a full-fledged monster! The perfect book for fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, but wish it had more bowls of gooey eyeballs.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I’ve been in the mood to read some new graphic novels lately, so when I saw this one, I figured I would give it a go—and I am incredibly glad that I did. Camp Midnight is a fast, wacky, and highly enjoyable read for both the young and young at heart. Bizarre creatures and humorous dialogue fill the pages, creating a story about the power of friendship and the importance of acceptance, with a clever supernatural twist. It is truly one of those simple, feel-good novels, perfect if you are in the mood for something light and positive.

The story begins as the protagonist, Skye, is very reluctantly heading to spend the summer with her distant father and obnoxious stepmother while her mother is away. She is not at all excited about the prospect of staying there, but finds out that they have concocted an even worse plan behind her back—summer camp! Wanting to punish her family for this shocking betrayal, she is determined to have as horrible a time as possible. But fate has other plans. Turns out, they have put her on the wrong bus, and Skye is in for an unusual and far more monstrous summer than she originally expected.

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I thought the writing itself was fantastic—everything about it was absolutely spot on. The dialogue was often quite hilarious and the humor was right up my alley. It was clever and witty, and had me smiling to myself many times throughout my reading of it. In addition to the humor and silliness, however, there was also a much deeper message underneath it all that I was not expecting to get out of this novel.

The plot deals with some themes that everyone will be able to easily relate to. This is a story that makes you think about what the true definition of a monster really is, and does it in the most literal way possible. As Skye finds out, sometimes humans can be far more monstrous on the inside than those who are on the outside. This less than realistic story focuses on the very real topic of tolerance and acceptance of others based on what’s on the inside, not on outer appearances.

Seagle and Katzenstein have worked together to create a cast of wonderfully quirky and memorable characters. Sassy, sarcastic, and hilarious, Skye makes a solid protagonist. Though certain aspects of all the characters were a bit exaggerated for the purpose of the story, she was exceedingly relatable—we have all been through similar experiences and realizations in some form or another.

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Mia is lovely and absolutely adorable, playing an extremely important role in both Skye’s life and in the plot as a whole. The parents and the stepmother are all written to be ridiculously horrible, either in their behavior toward Skye or in terms of taking care of her. After all, they didn’t even notice that she had gotten on the wrong bus for camp. They are all a bit of a caricature, but the over-the-top way they act fits with the atmosphere of the comic. It is supposed to be exaggerated and amusing, and their personalities serve as a means to convey this feeling.

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The art in this novel is absolutely phenomenal and works brilliantly well with the text of the story. The design of it is very reminiscent of what I normally think of as classic comic style. It is simple and cartoon-like, very much like sketches, with various marks and patterns used as accent details. Certain features of both the setting and characters are amplified in order to exhibit what Seagle wants the reader to see as most important, furthering that caricature-like feel. This type of drawing matched perfectly with the comedy and quirkiness of the story, while still portraying the creepier, monstrous aspect of the setting and supporting characters.

The multihued color palette varied from vibrant shades to darker or more muted shades, corresponding flawlessly with changes in mood, setting, and time of day. On numerous occasions, Katzenstein juxtaposes the vibrant and muted tones to further bring out the atmosphere of each panel and current emotions of the characters. As a whole, the art was incredibly effective when it came to breathing life into every aspect of the story.

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The only real complaint that I had was that I felt the ending came rather abruptly. I would have liked to see a little more regarding how Skye’s experiences at camp changed her ways of thinking about and acting toward others. I would have even liked to see just a tiny bit more of her final days at the camp. Everything finished rather suddenly following the climax, and it felt like I had missed out on some important events in the plot. Though there was an adequate wrap up to the story, it was lacking a bit when it came to tying in the main message.

Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this graphic novel, and I think I would have loved it even more had I been reading it back in elementary or middle school. Camp Midnight was a charming story, brought to life with colorful art and equally colorful characters. Seagle puts a wacky spin on a common theme, conveying the message in a unique and intriguing way. This ended up being a quick, satisfying read that hooked me from page one and kept a smile on my face until the very end.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Doctor Who: The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack

thewaythroughthewoodsDoctor Who: The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Doctor Who: New Series Adventures

Date Published: April 28th, 2011

Publisher: BBC Books

Pages: 241 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: ‘As long as people have lived here, they’ve gone out of their way to avoid the woods…’

 Two teenage girls disappear into an ancient wood, a foreboding and malevolent presence both now and in the past. The modern motorway bends to avoid it, as did the old Roman road. In 1917 the Doctor and Amy are desperate to find out what’s happened to Rory, who’s vanished too. 

But something is waiting for them in the woods. Something that’s been there for thousands of years. Something that is now waking up.

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This is a spoiler-free review.

I have been a Doctor Who fan for a long time now, but I have only discovered this series of novels that connect to the show within the last year or two. Suffice it to say, finding them made me quite excited, particularly because it was during a hiatus between seasons. A few of these stories come out along with each new season and star the current Doctor and companion at that time. Now that I have read through quite a few of these novels, I will say that they definitely tend to be quite hit or miss, most likely due to the multiplicity of authors writing them. However, I am very pleased to say that this one fell into the “hit” category.

Though the Tenth Doctor is my favorite from the television series itself, the Eleventh Doctor novels tend to be my favorites, and this one was no exception. The Way Through the Woods was an incredibly fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I sped right through it; it is definitely one of my favorite Doctor Who books I have read so far. This is one of the few instances where, as a reader, you truly want a novel to be reminiscent of another work. Since it is based off an already established collection of characters and stories, you do not want it straying too far from what you know and love. I felt that the plot itself was very characteristic of Doctor Who with just enough of the author’s personal touch to make it very satisfying.

I am always a bit wary when the authors of these stories split up the Doctor and his companion(s); this is something that is extremely easy to execute poorly. Not having a good balance between each character’s storyline and the contribution they make to the overall plot can completely ruin a novel. For the most part, I felt that McCormack did a fairly decent job of balancing each character’s time in the limelight, though I do wish that the Doctor himself had played a slightly bigger role.

I liked the intrigue of the plot; it kept me guessing and wanting to know more. There was a very mysterious and sometimes eerie tone and atmosphere in the story that I found to be quite good. The fact that this took place in multiple time periods while retaining a closely connected set of characters was another interesting aspect of this story and added to the overall mystery. I also really enjoyed McCormack’s writing style and the imagery that she produced. I had a very clear picture of all the locations visited by the Doctor, Amy, and Rory, particularly the woods and the location that Amy ends up in near the end.

The author did an excellent job of capturing the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory individually as well as the interplay between the threesome. McCormack also created a great supporting cast of characters to complement them, and her portrayals of their interactions with the main three were done very well. Of course, one of the most important parts of any Doctor Who story is the alien or aliens causing havoc, and in this novel, I personally thought that the alien was fantastic.

This book was very well crafted, with solid writing and a concept that was very imaginative and creative. Apart from a few instances of awkward dialogue and interaction and an ending that didn’t particularly blow me away, it had a very strong plot. I would have absolutely loved to see this as an actual episode of the show.

I must say, I do tend to rate and review the books in this series on a much different scale than I would with other books, primarily because I do not expect quite as much from them. While these novels are not the greatest works of literature, they are extraordinarily fun to read, and I would highly recommend giving them a try if you are a Doctor Who fan.

4.0 TARDISes

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