Illusionary by Desiree Williams

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
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Illusionary by Desiree Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A tumble down the stairs lands Kamryn into a different world, the Land of Ur, where she meets a handsome storyteller who can bring stories to life. The storyteller takes Kamryn to the Oracle, who gives Kam a dangerous rescue mission to complete before she can get back home. But the mission proves to be much more than it appears to be in Illusionary, a novel by author Desiree Williams.

Awe. Some. Ness. I wasn’t ready.

I mean, the book starts out cute and funny (and Kam is a pretty funny heroine throughout, by the way.) Then the parallel world escapades begin. I’ll confess that it took me a while to catch up with the romance, as I didn’t enter as quickly or deeply into “the feelings” as the heroine and hero did. And my overall interest waned a tad through some of the traveling and in-between parts.

But the story would stop me in my tracks in places, sometimes with a single, spoken word. “Heal.” “Hope.”

“But hope…now that’s a mighty thing,” Kamryn says. You’ve got that right, sister! And before and after a crucial twist, this story presents an assortment of other wonderfully woven themes: growing up and innocence, grief and illness and regret, finding out who you really are and what you’re capable of. True bravery!

It’s a fantasy tale like The Chronicles of Narnia in that it’ll speak to you on multiple levels if you have the ears to hear it—but whether you go to those other levels or not, it’s still a darn good adventure.

And I’ll have you all know, I had to push past imminent tears to even write this review. Good grief, Desiree Williams…

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Illusionary Blog Tour Giveaway!
Ultimate Book Lover’s Grand Prize

The winner of the giveaway will be selected on Monday, June 12th at approximately 9 AM (EST). The winner will be announced on Desiree Williams’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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The Underground by Suzanne D. Williams

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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The Underground by Suzanne D. Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Phoebe is on the run from an abusive past, but she’s headed in the wrong direction, literally. A guy on the bus offers instructions to help her—right before he thwarts an attack on his life by stopping a bullet with his bare hand. Phoebe’s acceptance of help from this guy (Crowne) will mean entering a strange world below ground, but the stakes of joining that world are high in The Underground by author Suzanne D. Williams.

I’m still a science fiction newbie (book wise, at least), but I enjoyed this novella. Given Phoebe’s predicament and all she doesn’t know, I wondered for a while if she’d only be a “damsel in distress” type of character: confused, scared, and depending on superhuman Crowne for everything. So I was pleased to find that even with her pain, Phoebe is smart and curious with wit and fire to her.

Some awkward wording and commas in odd places put a little hitch in my reading a few times. I was kind-of expecting more of a central “mission” to be accomplished in the story, but there may be more of that later in the series. Besides, finding out exactly who you are and how you fit into someone else’s life can be quite a mission on its own.

Though I know that sci-fi often requires readers to accept things that may seem off or bizarre, my quasi-conservative self wasn’t sure about some stuff in this book. But a compelling thread in the story kept me reading: the thought that your destiny is greater than other people’s questionable or faulty plans or actions toward you.

It could be interesting to see what happens next in the series…

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The Underground is Book One in the Superhuman series.

The League (Superhuman Book 2)The Coalition (Superhuman #3)The Family (Superhuman #4)The Child (Superhuman Book 5)

Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

She had felt sorry for the girls she had known who had married right after graduation from high school… But now…Barbara was beginning to change her attitude and to wonder if there was something she could do to speed up love. All she needed was a boy.

Barbara’s older sister is getting married, and all the wedding and newlywed business has got Barbara’s sixteen-year-old mind whirling in a poetic daydream. But she may have a thing or two to learn before the coming ceremony is over in Sister of the Bride, a novel by author Beverly Cleary.

Although it’s the fourth book in the First Love series, I wouldn’t at all call this book a romance. The bits of Barbara’s pre-adventures with love are mostly on the fringes of the story here and there, and they follow something of a Jean and Johnny and The Luckiest Girl pattern.

This novel is mainly about wedding preparations and what Barbara learns and observes during the experience, especially what she learns about herself. I can see how I might’ve found the read more thrilling back when I was still looking forward to being sixteen, and rereading it now would’ve had that added dash of nostalgia. Instead, in reading it for the first time now, a good deal of it felt pretty slow, and, well, ordinary.

Still, the humor had me laughing, the lightness was delightful, and I could absolutely empathize with Barbara on various levels. The lover of old-fashioned fiction in me is quite content for having finally read this old-fashioned but relevant tale.

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Here are my reviews of the other three novels in the First Love series.

  

 

 

Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

black-white-otherBlack, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

…I find three whole chapters of MISS SARAH ARMSTRONG: ON THE RUN. Sarah, who might actually be the only person on the planet I can relate to. The only problem: she’s dead.

Nina’s black father and white mother have decided to divorce, a racial uproar is spreading through Nina’s hometown, and it seems her fellow teenaged classmates and friends are now dividing everything along color lines. Seeking direction, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery in Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by author Joan Steinau Lester.

What a story this is about family and friendship, injustice and unrest, slavery and freedom, legacy and identity. I’ll admit that Nina got a few head shakes from me, when she’d slip into bratty, know-it-all, disrespectful mode, even when only in her head. And I don’t automatically shrug that stuff off just because a character is a teenager in a YA novel. But I didn’t find her too unbearable to read about, particularly during her moments of protectiveness and dry humor. Besides, the lessons she learns are more than worth it.

Along with my head shakes came nods of appreciation for different points raised in the story, including how so many of us (no matter our “color”) are really more mixed than we know, and about how slavery is not merely something that happened back in the past, in one country.

Whether you’re an inspirational fiction fan or not, a young adult fiction fan or not, I’d recommend this as a worthwhile and moving read.

But a part of me argues back, telling me that just because things aren’t perfect or easy or right, it doesn’t mean God’s not here.