Sunday, March 6, 2016

Honesty by Seth King

Honesty by Seth King
Release date: February 29, 2016
Series status: Standalone

Summary (from Goodreads): 

A radiant story of first love and self-acceptance for fans of John Green, Jandy Nelson, and Rainbow Rowell 

“Maybe we weren’t meant to collide. Maybe we were meant to explode.”

As a closeted teenager in the Deep South with a holy-roller father and the scars to prove it, bookworm Cole Furman has resigned himself to experiencing life and love only within the pages of his favorite novels. But after Nick Flores seems to walk off a page and starts to rewrite his story, Cole finds his dreams spinning into a dazzling – and complicated – reality.

If you have ever found yourself on the wild breathless thriller ride that is young love, Honesty will rip you back again in screaming color.

My rating: 5 "chandelier" stars

I've already done a review of one of Seth King's books: The Summer Remains. I specifically recall calling it "the best book I've read in two years." And it was. Because Seth King has a way with words. 

He has a way of ripping your heart clean out of your chest and making you feel so much for the characters. He has a way of making the characters come alive. 

In The Summer Remains, King tackled the difficult subject of life and life beyond death. In Honesty, King does it again but this time, it's LGBT rights. 

Cole Furman is gay. He doesn't want to be gay. In fact, he fights so hard to be as un-gay as possible. Being gay in America is a struggle to begin with but being gay in the South? Absolutely horrible. Time and time again, I see Cole struggle to come to terms with himself and his attraction to other guys. He hates himself, hates not being able to measure up to what his gay-hating father wants from him. 

And my heart seriously hurt for him. 

But his miserable life suddenly changes when he meets Nicky Flores at a exercise program that his father dragged him to. Nicky Flores is beautiful. 

"He was magnificent, really. As I pretended to stretch, I admired the curve of his shoulder muscles and his shortish, curly hair, which was medium brown, but touched by the sun on top. I noticed the thoughtful expression he always took, like he was figuring out a math problem that was just out of reach." 

Cole is fascinated by Nicky the moment he sees him. When Cole downloads a gay dating app and finds Nicky on there as well, sparks fly. Over the course of the next months, Cole and Nicky enter into a beautiful, tender secret relationship. 

"'I don't know," I said. "But I think I was meant to love you."'

But their relationship is so full of pain. While Cole is more comfortable exposing himself as possibly gay, Nicky is downright frightened. With straight jock friends, Nicky feels the need to hide his relationship with Cole. And it hurts both of them so much to keep their love a secret. 

Throughout the entire book, King emphasizes the dogma and homophobia that exists in their little Southern town. And it almost made me cry to see people's cruelty through Cole's eyes.
"'Exactly. We can't walk down the street, Nicky. We literally can't walk down the street. You'll only ever love me with the lights off."'

Cole is a beautiful, kind boy. If he was real, I would give him a big ol' hug. This boy has gone through so much--he has to literally hide his true self. But he stays honest and true throughout the whole book and in the end, he grows from a shy, insecure teenager to a strong, confident man. 

Nicky Flores is something of a puzzle to me. On one hand, I want to love him so much. He loves Cole so much and is so entirely sweet with him but at the same time, Nicky wrongs Cole many times. He's a complex character because I know that Nicky is scared to be himself when being himself will result in being shamed by his friends and family. I guess King is trying to emphasize that we are all human and we make mistakes.

This book was just great. It leaps into a struggle that is very real and current. I was personally shocked by how far behind the South is in terms of gay rights. Cole and Nicky are literally gawked at by people everywhere they go. Regardless, the bigotry in the South toward gays or anybody not straight has got to stop. There is nothing wrong with loving someone of the same sex--because at the end of the day, deep down, it's same love. 

I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil too much but this book is just so freaking realistic and complex. King poured his heart and soul into this book, people. Every word is imbued with meaning. It was like reading an autobiography. And at the end of the book, King wrote a heartfelt, beautiful Author's Note relating his own experience that I still cannot recover from. 

Do yourself a favor and read this mind blowing, spectacular novel. 

"So: I am going to love you forever, regardless of whether I am ever strong enough to love you out loud or not. What would you say if I did ask you all this, once we built this perfect world, or it built itself? Would you take me as your real, actual, official boyfriend, once the wreckage and the bullshit was cleared?

P.S. --here's the thing I was never able to say in person, for a million reasons and one: I love you, Coley. Someday I hope we both can free." 

Let's change the world, guys. Let's make it truly perfect. 


Seth King is a twenty-five-year-old American author. He enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with his family.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sands by Kevin Nielsen: A Review-Interview Combo

So folks, the review and interview package for Sands is here! I corresponded with the author Kevin Nielsen over the course of the week and he has been very speedy with his responses. So thank you, Mr. Nielsen! I've been pretty excited about this post because honestly, his answers are great and his book is amazing. The second book Storms is coming out on January 7th, 2015. So if you have read Sands or want to read it after this review, please keep a look out for Storms! 

Sands by Kevin Nielsen 
Page count: Paperback, 283 pages
Release date: July 23, 2015
Series Status: Book 1 of the Sharani Series

Summary (from Amazon): 

For nine months of the year, the sands of the Sharani Desert are safe. The genesauri—giant, flying, serpentine monsters who hunt across the desert in enormous packs—lie dormant. The smallest of their kind is able to take down a single man with ease, and the largest is able to swallow entire clans. The people of the desert have always been able to predict the creatures’ appearance, but this year, the genesauri have stopped following the rules. 

When the genesauri suddenly attack her clan, seventeen-year-old Lhaurel draws a sword in her people’s defense—a forbidden practice for women of any clan—and is sentenced to death by her own people. Chained to a rock and left to be eaten by the next wave of genesauri, Lhaurel is rescued by a mysterious, elusive clan said to curse children at a glance, work unexplainable terrors, and disappear into the sands without a trace. 

With the fate of the clans hanging in the balance, Lhaurel discovers she possesses a rare and uncontrollable power—one that will be tested as the next deadly genesauri attack looms on the horizon and the clash between clans grows more inevitable by the hour. 


Rating: 4 "mystic" stars 

Okay, so this book was pretty awesome. As I've said before, I love strong heroines. Strong heroines are awesome people, friends that I want to have. And Lhaurel is definitely a strong heroine. 

The moment I picked up (well, bought with one click lol) Sands, I was reminded of Dune. I mean, duh, even the summary on Goodreads calls attention to Dune fans. However, I hadn't read many books that took place in deserts and the characters sounded cool so I decided to give it a try. 

I'm so happy that I did. Usually, I devour a 300 page book at about 100 pages per hour.  This book took me about an hour and a half. After I finished, I regretted not savoring every description Mr. Nielsen gives us. Oh well, I had homework to do. 
This book is seriously awesome. That is the adjective I'm naming this with. It's just awesome. Awesome people, awesome abilities, awesome creatures and awesome plot. Awesome, awesome, awesome. 

As seen in the summary so kindly provided by Goodreads, Sands is about a girl named Lhaurel who is kicked out of her clan, the Sidena, for raising a weapon. If you can't tell already, this is an extremely sexist society where girls are left to die for holding weapons. In this society, women are property of men and have no say in what happens to them. They are only there to give the men children--specifically sons. *The feminist in me roars*

Anyway, in this horrible society with gender equality, Lhaurel is a rebel. She tries her best to disobey in small ways. When she is forced to marry the old warrior Taren, Lhaurel is horrified but unable to stop it. Until the genesauri attack her clan. The genesauri are basically three types of monsters, the smallest of which (a sailfin) is bigger than a grown man. The biggest of them all can easily swallow entire clans. Luckily for the Sidena clan, the genesauri that attack them are sailfins. However, the loss of life is still devastating and when Lhaurel tries to defend her best friend with a sword, she is knocked out by the people in her own clan and left to die. 

Lhaurel is saved by a mysterious man named Kaiden, one of the Roterralar, a secretive clan seriously feared by the rest of the clans. They are said to be demons and to have strange abilities that no one has seen before. However, as always there is a twist: people's perceptions of others aren't always truthful I won't give away what the Roterralar do but it isn't that surprising when you think about it. Lhaurel is plunged into the world of this mysterious clan full of intrigue and newness. The Roterralar indeed have powers, powers that they reveal to Lhaurel. And as Lhaurel assimilates into the clan, she discovers that she has a rare hidden power that is unlike anything anyone has seen before...

All in all, I really liked this book. It was fun, amazing and really cool. As I've said over and over again, I am a fan of awesome characters with badass skills. And Lhaurel is both badass, mentally and physically. She is so caring of others but she has a strength about her that told me that this girl can kick ass when she wants to. I also loved the aevians--falcon-like creatures that carry the clan people of Roterralar around. When the Roterralar come of age, each get their own aevian. I love animals so I was totally down for reading about the aevians. They are hilarious, awesome creatures and reminded me a little of Buckbeak from Harry Potter. :P 

Of course, there is always room for improvement. I would've liked to see more development in some of the characters in Sands. For example, my favorite character in the book is a snarky, sweet man named Tieran. He was hilarious and I would've liked to see more facets of his personality. If Tieran and a few others were more developed, I feel like this book would be even better. Also, I think more description of the scenery would have made me love it more. The desert is so beautiful in its own way and I would've enjoyed hearing more about the setting. 

Furthermore, the book was a bit predictable. Maybe it's because of my immense prescience (lol, not) but I felt like I knew what was going to happen before it happened. I knew ten pages before Lhaurel figured it out her power. If the book was a little more unpredictable, perhaps I would love it even more than I do now! 

Overall, this book is really well done, especially for a debut novel. When I learned that Sands is Mr. Nielsen's first book, I literally freaked out. What. Talent. There are also some serious gender issues that are raised in Sands. For example, gender equality. As a pressing issue in our own society, I liked that Mr. Nielsen incorporated some of that into the world of Sands. I seriously recommend this book. Be prepared for a wild ride full of excitement, cool mythological creatures and kickass characters. 

Adjective I would use to describe this book: Awesome 

Interview listed below!!

Interview with Kevin Nielsen :)

SN: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Mr. Nielsen. There are a few questions I would like to ask you regarding your book Sands. First of all, Sands has some similarities to the famous science fiction book Dune by Frank Herbert. What type of book were you trying to create with Sands? What type of book would you classify it as in terms of genre? 

KN: Sands does have some certain similarities to Herbert’s Dune, though more in the environment than the scope of the novel.  Dune has a far richer level of complexity and mysticism than does Sands. 

When I started writing Sands, my intent was to create a new, exciting epic fantasy world, but geared more toward the current YA audience rather than just an adult readership.  I think I was able to pull that off.  I would classify it as YA epic fantasy, especially since it was intended to be a five book series.

SN: Throughout the entire book, Lhaurel and other women in the clans are discriminated against because of their gender. Is there a message you are trying to send with Lhaurel's subsequent actions in the book? 

KN: There are certainly messages I’m trying to send.  All books, even and sometimes especially children’s books, have some sort of message they are trying to convey.  However, I will leave it up to the readers to determine what that message (or messages) is.  As an author, my intent is more to ask questions and present possible answers rather than to give you “the” or “a” right answer.  So through the Sharani Series readers will see lots of scenarios that would defy initial stereotypes and see some that fall well within them.  Each are there for a reason and have a purpose in helping the reader to find their own answers.

SN: There are a lot of awesome butt-kicking characters in Sands. My personal favorite is Tieran. Which character is your favorite and why? What or who is the inspiration behind him or her? 

KN:Well, that’s a tough question.  All the characters in Sands, even the “bad guys” are special to me in their own way.  They all have their own stories to tell and I’ve enjoyed experiencing those stories with them.

However, that’s not the question.  The question is “who is my favorite,” yes?  Well, my real favorite character is no longer in the book in her original form.  In the first draft Khari played a much smaller role in book.  She wasn’t even a mystic.  She had a niece, Kharienerah, who was and who ended up being the one who taught Lhaurel both how to use the sword and how to recognize and understand her powers.  Throughout the course of edits, however, that character ended up having to merge with the “then Khari” to form the hybrid character which is the Khari in the published manuscript.  While I still like her, there were bits of Khari’s personality which weren’t my favorite and changed the character of both women enough to create a new person.  I still have a certain fondness for that original character though.

I guess my favorite character from the published book would have to be Gavin, though.  He’s a representation of everything I’m not, in some regards.  He’s optimistic, naïve, quick to judge, and a little rash.  Yet there’s an enduring earnestness to him that resonates with me too.  You’ll see throughout the series where he goes and understand his vital role in this world as it progresses.

SN:What is the point of the aevians in the book? Are they just cool magical creatures that you thought would've made the book more interesting or do they represent something more?

KN: The aevians are both cool creatures and represent something more.  They are a representation of balance.  The genesauri monsters needed to have an enemy, something that would hunt and feed off them in some regard.  Also, the Roterralar needed some way to travel the Sharani Desert.  I combined the two to create the falcon-like aevians.

There are other reasons, of course, but I’ll have to give you a “read and find out” (RAFO) on those as the rest of the books in the series come out.

SN: In the book, the three kinds of mystics are very important to the Roterralar. However, as the book proceeds, we realize that Lhaurel is something entirely different. Is there a reason you chose what you chose for her magical ability?

KN: Short answer, yes – there’s a very specific reason why Lhaurel has the ability she has.  Long answer – you’ll need to read the rest of the series.  Lhaurel’s abilities are at the core of the series and the world in which she lives.  I’ll give you a hint though, Lhaurel is not the only one you’ve seen who has abilities greater than what she should – and there’s a reason for both of them.

SN: At the end of the book, there are a series of revelations that come to life. Can you give us an idea of what characters will be playing big roles in the second book?

KN: Well, pay attention to Lhaurel, Gavin, and Khari – the three main ones you see in the epilogue of Sands.  There are some minor characters from Sands who will take on larger roles in Storms (the sequel to Sands).  You’ll also be introduced to some new characters – one of whom is the most complication character I’ve ever created.  Storms comes out on January 7th so hopefully you’re looking forward to that with as much anticipation as I am.  Trust me, it’s even better than Sands.

SN: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! Sands is a wonderful book!



"I am of the sands and stones. I am he of the aevians, a warrior of the sands and metal that make up our world, a man of the Rahuli people." 

"This was freedom. To pass through the skies, move through the limitless currents of space--it defied reason and time. It was exhilarating. Pure, unadulterated joy."


Kevin L. Nielsen's journey into writing began in the 6th grade when an oft-frustrated librarian told him there simply wasn't enough money in the budget to buy any more books. She politely suggested he write his own. His teacher at the time also challenged him to read the Illiad by the end of the year (which he did). Kevin has been writing ever since (and invading libraries and bookstores everywhere)..Kevin currently resides in Utah with his amazing wife and two wonderful children. He's still writing and continuing a lifelong quest to become a dragon rider.You can find Kevin on his website,

Monday, December 7, 2015

Awesome Upcoming Interview with Kevin Nielsen!


So...I have some news. Kevin Nielsen, author of Sands and Resurgent Shadows has agreed to an interview! I will be doing a review pretty soon on Sands since that is the book that I read. Along with that will be my interview with Mr. Nielsen. So keep a look out for that post because it's going to be awesome :P

In the meantime, keep yourselves busy by checking out Mr. Nielsen's Sands!

<3 Star Noble

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Down the Wormhole by Ana Franco (A Self-Published Novel)

So as promised, folks, here is a post on Saturday :)

Down the Wormhole by Ana Franco 
Page count: 173 pages (in e-book format)
Release date: September 21, 2015
Series status: Book 1 of Wormhole Series

Summary (from Goodreads): 

Medusa is a nice girl, Aphrodite is empowering, Loki vanished on thin air, Isis doesn’t have a memory and Anubis is the only sane one. Join them all in an adventure that mixes the styles of ABC’s Once Upon A Time and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson. What this can possibly mean? Why, chaos, of course! 

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free PDF of Down the Wormhole by the author Ana Franco in exchange for an honest review. However, I regret to inform you rabid readers that Down the Wormhole just did not do it for me. And it saddens me a lot because I really looked forward to this book. I mean, a combination of Percy Jackson and ABC's One Upon a Time! Who isn't down for that? 

So as seen in the summary above, Down the Wormhole is about a bunch of teenage gods and goddesses pulled from different mythologies. You've got Thomas, a Celtic prince, Natalie, who is actually Medusa, Andrew, who is Anubis. And you've got "Kitty", an orphan girl who pops into their midst. 

The premise of this book is great and it had the potential to be a wonderful, engaging novel but it fell flat for me. For one, I couldn't really understand it. I know that Ana is not a native speaker of English and therefore, I applaud her commitment and effort on this piece of writing. You can truly tell that she worked hard on it. But the plot, the characters and the writing all didn't make sense to me. It didn't flow. The characters did one thing, jumped to the next and did something completely insane without any good reason why. Not only that but the plot was completely crazy--just all over the place. The romance between Thomas and Kitty...ugh, no, that didn't make me sigh, it made me cringe. The girl just decided to have sex with this dude and get pregnant! She's sixteen, for God's sake. 

The writing wasn't great. It was choppy and broken up and I couldn't make sense of what the characters were doing to each other. I couldn't keep track of who was who, who did what to who and why who did what. It was very hard and strenuous for me to read because of that. 

Furthermore, there was really no character development. I hated Kitty. I'm sorry but it is true. The girl burst out of nowhere and changes her mind so quickly. One moment she's talking about having sex with Thomas, then she's having sex with Thomas, and then she's having his freaking baby!! I mean, what?? Kitty is a completely stagnant character...I see no signs of mental and emotion growth. All I see is her getting horny and doing it with her Celtic boyfriend. In my opinion, the plot seriously deteriorated towards the end: it was just sort of fanfiction. Her reactions to things are completely unexpected and wild and halfway throughout the book, I was ready to hit her over the head with my phone. 

Not like the other characters were that much better. Thomas annoyed me to no end, Eris was a douchebag. She's the goddess of discord! She's a pest, something that just infuriates people! She shouldn't be so powerful. Had I been any of the other characters, I would've liked to punt her over the fence. Natalie and Andrew were a little better but only a little. 

All in all, I didn't like this book that much. I didn't know what the characters' aim was and I didn't understand their internal dilemmas. I am a reader that likes things to be obvious and I usually don't get it unless the author pushes it in my face. I want to see glimpses of the characters' deepest fears and what tugs at them when they go to sleep at night. I want that deep stuff, framed by vivid verbs and descriptive adjectives! So yes, I am a reader that asks for a lot of things. I am just disappointed that I didn't see much of it in this book. 

I would like to say kudos to Ms. Franco for some great descriptive language. The beginning was very engaging with the fight between Sif and Eris. I think she should continue to write because this series has a very interesting premise. :)

Some pointers I would give to Ms. Franco: Think about the connections between your characters' actions. What motivates them to do the things that they do? Why do they do it? Also, I would try reading over your work like you're a new reader yourself. That may be hard to imagine but I think it may produce some surprising outcomes. :))

Adjective: Alright

“But you mark my words: I will be there when everything you love is destroyed. Everything you didn't even believe you would have.” 
“It's rather good to pretend to be normal with someone.”  

Ana Franco was born on a small town on the interior of São Paulo, Brazil. She is known as a blogger under the name of “Ana the Bookworm” and her Young Adult novel, “Down The Wormhole”, is her first take in writing in English. Ana attends to college of Literature and Teaching in her country as well as she has taken courses in areas of Children’s Literature, Literature in schools, influences of the world wars at the world’s cultures and in writing for a global market.