Dream Me by Kathryn Berla

Title: Dream Me
Author: Kathryn Berla
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Source: Netgalley

From Goodreads

Zat is a dreamer from the distant future—a time when humans no longer dream and Earth is a desolate wasteland. He dreams of the beautiful Earth of the past, and a fiery-haired beauty named Babe. Against the wisdom of his peers, Zat decides to risk everything to travel back in time and live in Babe’s dreams…

Babe is the perpetual new girl in town. Her father’s job frequently moves the family around the country, and Babe just longs for a place to call home. As she settles into the sleepy town of Sugar Dunes, Florida, Babe begins to have strange dreams of a green-eyed boy named Zat. Night after night, Babe shows Zat her world. But the dreams come at the cost of nearly crippling migraines every morning. Babe’s life outside of her dreams pales in comparison to her growing love for Zat and their time spent together.

But the more time Babe and Zat spend together in her dreams, the more Babe’s pain increases, and Zat begins to question the reality of his existence. How can he live a life with Babe, when all they have is her dreams?

Can a dream become a reality?

It’s kind of hard to review Dream Me. I really did not enjoy this book so it’s kind of hard to describe it. I guess I can just break down the description. I have to admit that I skimmed the latter half of this book, but still feel like I missed absolutely nothing.

“Zat is a dreamer from the distant future—a time when humans no longer dream and Earth is a desolate wasteland. He dreams of the beautiful Earth of the past, and a fiery-haired beauty named Babe. Against the wisdom of his peers, Zat decides to risk everything to travel back in time and live in Babe’s dreams…”

Okay so right here I am thinking ‘oh this is cool, he’s from the future earth and it’s dying and he somehow he dreams of the past. Maybe he has some sort of magical powers that lets him see things from the past. And cool he can time travel how awesome…wait…he lives in her dreams? I don’t know what that means, but maybe it won’t be weird.’
We only get to see a brief glimpse of this future earth and it’s a terrible glimpse. There isn’t a whole lot of world building, there’s an attempt to describe the world that he lives in, but it isn’t very rich and skims on the surface of what it’s actually like. I think that fleshing out Zat’s world, showing him interacting more with people that from his own time, letting us learn who Zat really is could have done a wonder for this book.

“Babe is the perpetual new girl in town. Her father’s job frequently moves the family around the country, and Babe just longs for a place to call home. As she settles into the sleepy town of Sugar Dunes, Florida, Babe begins to have strange dreams of a green-eyed boy named Zat.”

Okay let’s look at this; this introduction here tells me that there are going to be alternating POV’s in the book. Okay cool, I’ve had really great success recently with these kinds of books recently. We meet this girl named Babe and learn about her background and based on her father’s career I thought this took place in the near future, but then nothing in this book really follows up on that. The highlight of the book is honestly the description of Sugar Dunes, Florida. It seems to be the only thing that is described in depth in this book.
The two different narrations don’t really work in this book, they are uneven and don’t shine for either character. We spend most of the time with Babe, but everything is so superficial and I never ever get a sense of who Babe really is. She comes off as really juvenile and immature and her conversations just don’t feel natural. We don’t get a sense of her beyond the surface. Fleshing out both of these characters would have brought the book to life.

“Night after night, Babe shows Zat her world. But the dreams come at the cost of nearly crippling migraines every morning. Babe’s life outside of her dreams pales in comparison to her growing love for Zat and their time spent together.
But the more time Babe and Zat spend together in her dreams, the more Babe’s pain increases, and Zat begins to question the reality of his existence. How can he live a life with Babe, when all they have is her dreams?
Can a dream become a reality?”

This is where the premise of this book becomes way too strange for me. Zat is a time traveler who really just takes over people’s mind hence showing up in Babe’s dreams. He invades her mind without her knowing or her approval and then she ends of falling in love with him. This is not okay with me. It rubs me the wrong way and it creeps me out. It’s no different than her being held against her will and then falling in love with the man who does it. He should not have just entered her mind without her knowing and honestly even if she gave permission, the fact that she doesn’t even understand the future’s method of time traveling would have made it super unrealistic and weird. Even the ending of the book when he shows up for real is strange and it doesn’t work for me.

The best stories, no matter what their genre, are grounded in reality. They show real struggles, real emotions, and real decisions. This book doesn’t do that. If it tried, then it failed. There are other things that I disliked about this book, but I will just still with the ones already listed. This is not a book that I would recommend.

Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather Reid

 

I am taking part in a new meme hosted by What's Beyond Forks? where we take a book that’s been on our TBR list and we review it! I’ve had this book for quite sometime but I’ve never had a chance to read it. I had the pleasure of working with Heather Reid during my internship a few years ago so I am so excited to finally read her booK!


Title: Pretty Dark Nothing (Pretty Dark Nothing #1)
Author: Heather Reid
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Source:Publisher/Netgalley

From Goodreads

It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.

The story opens with Quinn being tormented by demons of unknown nature. It wasn’t clear to me at the start whether or not these were actual evil forces attacking her or if she was dealing with some pretty serious mental illness. It wasn’t until we meet Aaron and his peculiar sense for always knowing when Quinn is in trouble that I realized there were real demons. The way the story played out though had me questioning it all at times. Were the demons actually there? Or was Aaron only sensing her distress and not the actual demons? And if he was only sensing her distress does that mean that the demons really could be all in her head. It was difficult to gage all of this until the very end.
The plot involved Quinn dealing with her father abandoning the family to start a new one hundreds of miles away, her absent mother who works more than she sees her daughter, the pain of watching her ex-boyfriend flaunt his relationship with resident nemesis, a boy at school showing up whenever she needs him to, and of course the demons. There’s a lot going on in Quinn’s life. There’s a lot to follow. It could seem like all of this would be too much for the story, but Reid was able to keep everything in check and make it play into the larger story quite well. It all really fit together like a puzzle.
We also got to see Aaron’s point of view as he struggled to figure out why he kept being pulled towards Quinn. Of course he starts to fall in love with her, but is only confused by the way that she reacts. (He obviously doesn’t know that her erratic behavior is caused by the demons) What I liked about all of that was it was natural. The tug of war of love is something that is natural and if he wasn’t confused at any point then it all would have been too easy.
The authenticity of their relationship was enough to make up for the sometimes over the top and awkward speech patterns by the characters. Reid sometimes uses way too many words to have her characters say something and it doesn’t come off as easy to read as she would have hoped. The best character in terms of authentic speech patterns is Marcus. I felt like all of the things that he says were things that could come out of a teenage boy’s mouth.
The ending of the book made up for any errors at the end. The end of the book came up suddenly for me. One second I was ¾ ways done with the book and next thing I knew there was no more. Up until the ending this may not have been a series I would have continued with which is unfortunate. If Reid had introduced this plot point maybe in the middle of the book instead of the end, I would have been more interested in it from the beginning. There’s a lot that she could have added to the book by changing the pace and switching where this point came into play. I really think the book could have been a lot stronger that way.
Overall this wasn’t a terrible book; it sits solidly at the three stars. If I came across the second book and had time to read it, it’s something that I would read.


Ophelia Adrift by Helen Goltz

Title: Ophelia Adrift
Author: Helen Goltz
Publisher: Atlas Productions
Publication Date: July 1, 2016

From Goodreads

In her wildest dreams, Ophelia Montague never imagined she would leave the city, her friends, her school and move to a seaside village. But when her parents die in an accident, that’s just where she finds herself – ensconced in a rambling house on the beach, with her uncle Sebastian, his boarder – nineteen-year-old Adam Ferrier, and two Great Dane dogs named after shipwrecks. By the ocean’s edge she meets Jack Denham who seems to command the sea and the moon—and if he has his way—Ophelia, too

There are many feelings I have about Ophelia Adrift and unfortunately none of them are good. I was 33% into this book when I realized I didn’t like it. I was 40% into this book when I wanted to put it down. I was 50% into this book when I stopped and was going to DNF the book. At this point I set it down for a few minutes and thought about what I wanted to do. I had recently written a DNF review and I really didn’t want to do another one so close to the last so I sat down and forced myself to read this book.
There were a lot of things I really disliked about this novel, but in order to appear semi organized I will focus on the following points:

• Characters
• Story
• Writing

Characters
It’s hard to say who the main characters were in this novel. We got to see the story through the eyes of Ophelia, Adam, Jack, and Holly. Four characters. That’s a really high bar to set for this novel. Two different points of view are hard to pull off successfully and Ophelia Adrift tries to show us four.
Jack’s narration was weird and creepy the entire time. He is definitely a stalker and from the beginning you get the feeling he is also some sort of predator and murderer even if we don’t know why yet. Ophelia’s narration was lackluster and lifeless. I could not relate to her at all. Adam’s point of view was okay, but didn’t do anything to strengthen or add to his character. The only point of view that I didn’t mind reading was Holly. Holly was the only one that seemed really grounded in reality and who was relatable.
Outside of the point of view issues, I did enjoy uncle Seb, but we didn’t really get to know too much about him besides surface facts. None of the characters, even the ones that we got to see into the minds of, were fully fleshed out and developed. All of them were flat and dull and definitely forgettable.
Story
What in the world was this?!? Seriously. This was not a good story at all. Stalking was oddly romanticized and normalized in this novel. Ophelia sees someone outside her window in the middle of the night in a brand new town who is staring right at her and instead of closing the drapes she decides to go down to the sea to meet him. What? In what world is that normal? Even if you did just lose your parents and were in the middle of a huge life transition that is not normal. What’s even more not normal is the fact that she is thrilled to see him when he shows up at her high school. He shows up at her high school in the middle of the day and she isn’t in the least bit worried, in fact it’s the opposite. He loves the fact that he is there and that he found her. No! She falls in love with this guy she doesn’t even know super-fast. Seriously, even when he tells her his life story she doesn’t actually get to know him. She also just follows him into the water because she wants to see the room he built for her?!? No!
Goltz does try to write in there that each of them has a power over each other and that’s why their “romance” blossomed so quickly, but she fails to do anything other than tell us. Maybe it’s because this was an incredibly short YA novel (214 pages) but that section was just not executed well at all. There was no suspension of disbelief in this and everything felt incredibly rushed.
Writing
The speech patterns of the characters were terrible. Goltz mentioned in the book that uncle Seb talks a lot. Okay, good, that’s fine if it were just him and it was just part of his quirky personality, but it wasn’t. All of the characters in the book talk way too much and the way they speak isn’t natural. Ophelia mentioned that Jack has either an accent or his speaks very formally. If that were the case then you need to SHOW us how this is, not TELL us. That was a huge issue with this book, way too much telling and not showing.

Overall this book was really disappointing, so much so that I would say it’s one of the worst books I’ve ever read. Normally I like to encourage everyone to read my review and if you still want to read the book and form your own opinion, but this book is not worth the time. One star.


Blood, Ink & Fire by Ashley Mansour


Title: Blood, Ink & Fire
Author: Ashley Mansour
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Upturn Publishing
Source: Netgalley

From Goodreads

Imagine a world without books…
In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.

Blood, Ink & Fire is a gripping, evocative tale that asks, who would we be without books?

This is a book that I really wanted to fall in love with and unfortunately did not. I tried for months to work my way through this book and when I hit the halfway mark and was still not invested I had to put it down making this my first Did Not Finish review.
The book certainly had an interesting premise. It’s about a world where the written word has been taken away and where literacy is illegal. All information and learning is controlled by a computer system called Verity. Our main character, Elle, is a Reader. Maybe one of the last ones. I never got far enough in the book to figure out if there were any others like her. Elle has to go on a journey to save the written word and save everyone from the control of Fell and Verity.
There have been other books like this before of course and the ones I’ve read have been really good. I really wanted to see how Mansour was going to be able to pull off a unique take on a popular topic. My interest in the book went up and down. At first I was really excited to read it and then I wasn’t and then I was. That’s what kept me going for so long with it. If I could get excited some of the time, then surely finishing the book would be worth it. I wanted to finish it and see that the good parts outweighed the bad parts. I was rooting for this book.
Not being able to connect with Elle is certainly a reason why it was hard for me to keep going. We figure out that she’s a reader pretty early on in the story, but it never seems to occur to her how important that is. Yes, it’s something that scares her as it should, but she should also be able to realize the power that she holds because of it. I would have liked to see her character develop a little more in the first half of the book into someone who realizes the strength she holds within herself.
Not understanding a character is not something I usually have to deal with, but in this book I could not wrap my mind around just what Ledger was. When I first realized what had happened and the body that he now inhabited I thought that it was really cool. I wanted to see where she was going to take this, I wanted to see how the relationship between Ledger and Elle would develop. Every time the conversation turned the just what exactly was Ledger, I was confused. My brain cannot wrap my mind around the fact that the written word literally came to life and planted itself into the body of a recently deceased human. The written word. Came to life. Not like a movie adaptation, but actually and literally came to life. It’s not something that I could make sense of.
Ledger’s relationship with Elle was also very odd to me. He is inhabiting the body of someone she was very close to and yet she can fall in love with this new being inhabiting the body as if she was flipping a switch. Yes, at first there was an awkwardness, but then almost instantly it changed and the relationship developed very awkwardly and not organically at all.
Another thing I did not feel was organic at all was the speech patterns used in the book. They didn’t feel real. She also had Elle ask a lot of questions for clarification. It was as if Mansour knew that the audience would be confused and wanted to make sure we understood what was going on. Once or twice wouldn’t have bothered me as much, but it felt like it was all the time. It felt like there was a lot of telling and not showing in this novel and that’s probably why the writing didn’t feel as real to me as it should have.
While the novel didn’t have a completely original concept, I was disappointed in the execution. There were so many aspects of this book that had so much potential and could have made it amazing. Some parts were so clever that I had no choice but to keep reading, but unfortunately the parts that I didn’t connect with got in the way of all of the good things. Because I was unable to finish this novel I cannot give it a star rating. DNF.