Misaligned: The Celtic Connection, by Armen Pogharian

7_15_17 Misaligned TCC


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I love the idea of pairing children with anything to do with magic, or mysticism, or fantastical things like that . They’re so curious and open to the world that hasn’t turned them cold and bitter. They’re more receptive to the idea that they might be a wizard, or have special powers. It saves the whole denial part of becoming a hero and allows for something else.



Young Penny has an interesting array of abilities at her disposal. Between her, her friend Duncan, and her science teacher, she has to face down spiritual forces that want her out of the way.



A bizarre science fiction spin on magic, King Arthur, and multiple dimensions, Misaligned: The Celtic Connection draws a lot from Welsh and Celtic culture. I liked how they were blended together. The way things were structured and explained made sense, and didn’t feel like an extraordinary stretch.



Characterization was pretty good. The relationship dynamic between Penny and Duncan was nice. Dialogue didn’t ever feel too clunky. The tone made sense for a character of her age. The climax felt a little flat. Things wrapped up nicely, however, and prepared the reader for a sequel.
Not a bad little young adult read. Certainly imaginative, with a fair amount of originality.



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The World Without Crows, by Ben Lyle Bedard

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I think the most interesting parts of zombie novels are the origin stories. Was it a virus, radiation, or an unfounded allegory to how “kids these days” spend too much time on their phone? Whatever the origin story, the point is that they’re all different. That includes all the different variations of the above mentioned.

In The World Without Crows, it was a viral worm. You had regular zombies and cracked zombies…there were several tiny nuances that set these zombies apart from others. Interestingly enough, the zombies are merely the backdrop of the narrative. The story itself follows a young man named Eric on his quest to reach an island in Maine. While zombies are certainly a huge concern, Eric’s real challenges come from the living and the self.

I think the fact that this wasn’t just a “survive the zombies” type novel. There were roving gangs, bad decisions, and some pretty shady people along the way. There was no centralized military trying to evacuate and round people up.

A big theme of this novel was a journey of self-discovery. Watching Eric’s development from beginning to end is not only wild, but mildly heartbreaking. There’s many metaphors placed throughout that give the reader a pretty good indication of how he’s coming along as a character, but there’s one classic scene at the end that really sums it up.

There’s a variety of different people Eric meets along the way. They’re all an incredible mixture of good, bad, and ambiguous. Each of the encounters is designed to further along Eric’s development, for better or worse. Like most people, there’s so many ups and downs it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.

The overall writing style was fitting. I liked how well-blended the dialogue and narration were. The description was the best kind of horrifically gory. The kind that’s difficult to illustrate with writing. It had its suspenseful moments, its thriller moments, and its gory moments. Not scary, but definitely on par with expectations of horror enthusiasts. The inclusion of more than just the “token” POC was nice as well. There was a bit more diversity featured here that doesn’t fit with classic horror stereotypes.

Waging a war of moral versus immoral, where both sides become gray areas is an interesting thing. Decision making in the apocalypse isn’t easy, and it changes a person. This was a pretty intense journey of the self, with one crazy zombie background. Well done.

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A Gleam of Light, by T. J. & M. L. Wolf

7_11_17 Gleam of Light

4 stars

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To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what goes better together than traditional Native American legends and ancient aliens. Seriously. Looking back at tales of sky people and creation stories—why can’t aliens be the answer? Now, the word ‘alien’ is never technically used, but…we all know. We want to believe.



After a crazy incident on a plane at 30,000 feet, Una Waters ends up distancing herself from her home. Now, as an adult, life has called her back to her Hopi roots. It winds up being exactly what she needs. A cave’s been discovered not far from her home, and now the military threaten the place she grew up.



The first thing this novel makes clear is that the main character, Una, is a POC. Not white, not ambiguous—she’s straight up Hopi and proud of it. In fact, not only does it focus on Hopi legends and traditions, but the plight of the Hopi and many other Native American cultures. They’re trying to preserve what little they have left with all the resistance from the white man. In many ways, the story parallels current events. There’s a lot of information given about the tribe, and it helps the reader to sympathize with Una’s plight. The information comes in intervals, as it becomes relevant to the plot.  Quite a bit of time and effort appear to have gone into researching the subject matter. Things don’t feel stereotypical.



With very much a Circle of Life vibe, the novel eventually comes full circle, as well. Coincidence is one thing, but the foreshadowing placed at the beginning of the novel shows that coincidence and fate are very intertwined.



If you’re looking for an action-packed thriller, you’re looking in the wrong place. For all of the conflict that does occur, the tone of the novel is still pretty mellow. It reflects Una’s character well. While she recognizes when she should have a sense of urgency, she feels very much at peace with herself and things around her. It’s an envious state of mind, to be sure. The relaxing narrative helped the reader to sit back and learn something new.



There was an incredible message wrapped within the entertaining narrative. It’s educational. A Gleam of Light is spun in such a way that it would make many UFO chasers sit down and say: “yes, please.” It’s only book one, and I’m very interested to see where Una’s journey’s takes her next.


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Reviewers Wanted!

Fred Call
TBH, Cromartie High School is just who I am this week


Caleb Broderick, author of The Junkyard Kids, is looking for people interested in reviewing said novel! Serial killers, homeless orphans, and POC that aren’t stereotypes. Check out Caleb’s Amazon page for more information! No purchase necessary.


Comment with your e-mail address below if you’re interested!

Audio Recording is Done!

CHS Freddie
I’ll let Freddie here show you how happy I am

I’m happy to announce that the recording for the audio critique of Moristoun is finished! Post-production shouldn’t take too long…if it ever finishes downloading. Living in the boonies isn’t just about copious amounts of sweet tea and racism. There’s really bad internet, too.

The Man Who Loved His Dog, by Jerry Rondelay

The Boy Who Loved His Dog felt like a juvenile fairytale. Not quite young adult, but not so much a kids book either. Sort of in the area of like the Babysitters Club or maybe even Nancy Drew-type age groups.

Comparing it to the tale of Aladdin would be most appropriate, I think. Except without the genie and set in ancient Sumer. A young prince escapes a hostile takeover of his kingdom and takes up refuge in an oasis with a dog. He’s safe…for now.

The uniqueness of the setting was nice. I can’t say I’ve read a book set in ancient Mesopotamia. The author does well to provide some background to familiarize the reader with the culture. It still felt like a standard medieval-type kingdom, economy, and way of life.

The narrative itself was pretty standard. Easily predicable while still being relatively enjoyable. The ending made me think of the Battle of Helms Deep from Lord of the Rings. Writing style was simplistic. Humorous and lofty, while still being very direct.

It wasn’t the most original story, but it still had its good points. The bond between Azira and his dog was an enviable one, serving to prove that humans aren’t always the best companions.
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Junkyard Kids, by Caleb Broderick

Junkyard Kids was a tale of the different variety. A dark, crazy variety. But, oh man, was it good.

After witnessing a murder, and subsequently becoming involved, a gaggle of homeless kids embark on the most terrifying journey. Serial killers, hallucinations, guilt, and plot twists.

There were quite the handful of unique things about this novel. We’ll start with the protagonists. Normally when homeless people are involved, the end goal is, of course, a home. Not in this narrative. To be honest, their main goal is survival. Food, shelter, clothing…all of that takes the biggest back seat. So the author is already deviating from standard tropes.

The main character is a POC. And he’s not a stereotype either. There’s a few intersecting storylines involved in the narrative, and I can’t decide if his or Leon’s is more heartbreaking. His level of development throughout is astronomical. He’s not the only POC in the novel, either. They’re all respected characters, not bad stereotypes.

Alright, now the tone and writing. Easily my favorite part. Mostly because of the dialogue. Instead of keeping everyone speaking “proper” like many novels do, these kids have imperfect grammar. They stutter. They feel like actual, real people.

Character dynamics between each other really came full circle, I feel like. They start together, split up, then come back together. Through everything that happens, they stick together. And, I mean, why not? It emphasizes the point that they’re all each other has left.

I liked the way the plot was set up. It teased readers with the appropriate amount of information. There’s several twists throughout. Most of the time, the reader won’t see coming, even if they recognize the foreshadowing points. I thought I had things all figured out. Nope. Not even close.

I will say some of time jumps took me a second. Chapters are marked with what time period each one takes place in, but it doesn’t feel like the smoothest transition. They did do an excellent job of providing backstory for the reader. They focused on all of the junkyard kids, how they met, and how they got to their current state of things. It’s adds a bit more emotionality and sympathy for them when the reader realizes just how bad things are for them.

Junkyard Kids provides such a powerful, colorful picture. These kids are crazy tough and resilient. And yet, they’re still brilliant. Not just smart (and believe me, they are), but they’re excellent people. This is such a wild, worthwhile read.
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Live to Tell, by Livian Grey 

People think writing is easy. That being an author is simple. But Stephen’s life is far from such. While trying to reconcile things with his wife and daughter, he ends up in the kind of situation he couldn’t imagine writing about. He becomes the star of his own gritty crime-filled drama.

I liked the way the conflict was set up for a few different reasons. Reason one: Stephen and his family are going through a tough time, emotionally. However, there was never a feeling of absolute hatred or even animosity within the family. They were taking care of their problems like adults–something that I don’t see often.

Reason two: the circumstances felt like a redemption arc, and not just for Stephen and his family. While they were certainly tied in, yes, just desserts were also served for the remainder of the conflict.

Writing style and tone were suited to the narrative. The story progressed in a well-timed way. Dialogue served as the majority storyteller. That was great and well done, but I felt like description lacked just a bit. I liked the diversity that was included with character personalities, and the extra attention paid to the women.

This was kind of a quick, heartbreaking read. What makes things worse is that there are parallels to real-life events.

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