Tag Archives: novella

Unfinished by Kendra C. Highley

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unfinishedUnfinished by Kendra C. Highley, e-novella, 56 pages, published 2014.

Quinn is an “artificial”, a fake human, designed with enhanced intelligence and capabilities. Now his creators are making him a friend; the same type, but this time, a girl, Lexa. Together they will train, learn and grow, and prepare for their greater purpose, whatever that might be. The head of the project, Maren DeGaul is a harsh and feared woman, who is willing to do anything to get what she wants. She believes Lexa is flawed and should be terminated, but Quinn is determined to keep Lexa alive.

I started reading this story not realising that it is a prequel to a book series, Unstrung. I was quite taken with Unfinished; it did not take long for me to read, nor did I want to put it down. I am quite keen to read more of the story in Unstrung, when Quinn and Lexa are grown up.

Fascinating and compelling, Unfinished, is an entertaining piece of science fiction. Beings that look and grow like humans, with human DNA, but also with enhancements and controls; very interesting indeed. Could this or something like it, be in our future? The lower models are considered as slaves by “real” humans and are often treated poorly, and with disdain. It’s an appalling situation, the master has total control over their slaves, including administration of punishment and even termination for any perceived misconduct. One of DeGaul’s henchmen, Piers, is particularly brutal to the artificial. He enjoys meting out punishments, especially when he is able to torture Quinn, who is but a child for the majority of this story. I found the adults of the story to be mostly despicable and immoral, with the exception of Doc Mendel, who really tried to help Quinn and be his friend.

I liked both Quinn and Lexa. They exhibit some truly amazing abilities, well beyond the levels that ordinary humans can accomplish in the same fields, such as speed and strength. Lexa is quite fiery, as well as being a phenomenal climber and sneak, while Quinn is more level-headed with advanced strength and camouflage skills. He is capable of being perfectly likeable and agreeable in order to obtain his objective. Together, they like to have fun playing pranks and causing trouble for their creators and masters. They are capable of the full spectrum of human emotions, including love and empathy. This gives Quinn hope that he is more than just a manufactured artificial human.

There were murmurs of political and social unrest outside of DeGaul’s facility that were not addressed in any depth. These issues were applying pressure to the artificial project, as DeGaul seems to be an important member of society. These rumblings are probably described and explained more thoroughly during the book series, so it may have been prudent to read the series and then the prequel for a better understanding of the situation into which Quinn and Lexa are brought.

Unfinished does contain some violence and abuse, and is most suitable for high school students.

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Mrs Miller – Christmas Killer by Paul Nolan

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mrsmillerMrs Miller – Christmas Killer by Paul Nolan, e-book, 98 pages,published through Createspace in 2016.

Holly Glover is starting at a new school at the start of December. She finds it strange that there are no Christmas decorations up, and the school is so quiet, with none of the usual childish banter and laughter. She soon discovers that the Head Teacher, Mrs Miller, hates christmas to the point where it has been banned at the school. Mrs Miller terrorises the teachers and students alike, and immediately takes a dislike to Holly. Can Holly bring Christmas back to Mount Pleasant Middle School?

This Christmas themed short novel was a fun read that I finished in one sitting. The story had a funny side, especially when Holly’s Dad was around, though there’s nothing funny about the despotic nature of Mrs Miller’s rule of the school.  I would not have liked being a student under her reign! It also hit on some more serious matters, like making new friends, death, and supporting your loved ones so they don’t feel hurt.

The characters were well-written. I liked Holly and her new friends, Meera and Chris. Mrs Miller is very scary, and I can see why no one wants to cross her. I liked the way that she was contrasted against her deputy, Mr Castle. Holly’s father seems somewhat eccentric. Everything he does is humorous for everyone except Holly, who finds his behaviour utterly mortifying. Between his terrible spray tan business, clothing choices, belchy old van, and his obliviousness to Holly’s embarrassment, Mr Glover tops the list of most embarrassing Dads. I feel a bit sorry for Holly, since she has to endure such embarrassment at a new school, but he’s her Dad, he loves her, and he doesn’t mean to embarrass her. I love that two of the teachers at Holly’s school are called Miss Meek and Mr Mild!

Mrs Miller – Christmas Killer is suitable for middle and upper primary school students. I enjoyed it, it’s a good story to read before Christmas.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Falling Fire (Part Two) by Caroline Peckham

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fallingfire2coverFalling Fire (Part Two) by Caroline Peckham, e-book novella, 43 pages, published in 2016.

This novella picks up where Falling Fire (Part One) left off. Rogan and Quinn have always been expected to marry, so they have never had the opportunity to date other people or even to explore how they feel about each other. They both have reservations about their relationship, so they make a deal to kiss some one else to see how it feels. Due to their fame the whole deal must remain a secret, but will the people they choose to kiss see it the same way?

More from the wonderful world of Aleva with all its magic, I love falling into this world. This is a captivating novella that I read in one sitting. At the end, I immediately wished for more! The plot is quick with good detail. Overall these two novellas are very entertaining.

All the characters are interesting and complex. I’m back to being annoyed with Quinn, she’s far too self-centred and selfish. She acts like Rogan isn’t in the same situation that she is, but she doesn’t talk to him about it, she slinks off to Larkin, who she barely knows. Larkin is so vain, so annoying, so jerkish, ooo I just want to slap him! I can’t see why Quinn would want to be friends with him, let alone kiss him. And then he goes and does something noble. I still don’t like him, but at least now I know he has a human side.

I enjoyed Rogan’s defence class, and his interaction with Katrina. Making fire balls into the shape of animals is amazing. I liked that Katrina wasn’t fawning all over Rogan too.

Lovers of fantasy and young adult novels should love this! Read this wonderful novella after Falling Fire (Part One) and then check out the other books in The Rise of Isaac series, they are well worth your time. It is suitable for high school students and up.

 

*I received this advanced reading copy as a digital version from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Falling Fire (Part One) by Caroline Peckham

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fallingfire1coverFalling Fire (Part One) by Caroline Peckham, e-book novella, 42 pages, published in 2016.

Set a couple of years before Creeping Shadow, this novella introduces Quinn Thorn and Rogan Ganderfield, two of the most famous young mages in Aleva. To protect the magical line, mages are paired off in arranged marriages. Quinn and Rogan are one such pair, becoming engaged at sixteen because it is expected of them. Now they are starting university, they must develop their magical skills, make friends, and maybe even fall in love.

Novellas are so short, but there is a lot packed into this one. I loved coming back to Aleva! Meeting Quinn and Rogan at a younger age allowed me to know them more thoroughly and to appreciate them for who they are and how they grew up. I found Quinn rather rude and snobby in Creeping Shadow, but now I actually feel sorry for her. Her life is hard, even though it glimmers on the outside. She is famous, rich and beautiful, but she has to act a certain way and there are many expectations placed upon her. She doesn’t really get to be herself because people are always watching (and often staring), and she never knows if people want to spend time with her for her, or because of her fame or money. Rogan also endures similar pressures, but handles them with more aplomb. I really like him as a character. Despite his fame, he is quite down to earth and approachable. I still want to punch Larkin, but I suppose every story needs someone to hate!

It was exciting reading about the magical lessons Quinn and Rogan are taking at university. I wish I had the ability to heal injuries like Quinn! Though using magic to make her hair sit perfectly or move clothes into the closet seems a little overkill, but when you grow up with it, it’s probably just second nature. While magic must make life move more smoothly most of the time, it is also a huge responsibility and in some cases, a burden. I have a much greater appreciation for Quinn and Rogan now.

Falling Fire (Part One) is suitable for high school students and up. If you enjoyed the other books in The Rise of Isaac series, you should definitely check out this wonderful novella. I am very happy I have Falling Fire (Part Two) to go on with!

 

*I received this advanced reading copy as a digital version from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.