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Book Review: Breathless

BreathlessBreathless
By Cole Gibsen
Published March 21, 2012
Crescent Moon Press
Paperback
Author’s Website
Paperback | Kindle

Obituary-reading emo girl Edith Small is broken – the end result of forcing herself inside a mold that doesn’t fit. All she wants is to conform to her strict sergeant stepfather’s rules long enough to make it to graduation day.

But a boat accident threatens to unravel the life Edith has worked so hard to keep. After waking up in a hospital with a lacerated shoulder, Edith fakes amnesia. Because admitting she received her injuries from a blue-haired girl who breathes underwater is all the reason Sir needs to send Edith on the first bus to military school.

Safe at home, Edith struggles to put the nightmare behind her. But the mysterious creatures that live in the ocean aren’t about to let her forget.

After meeting Bastin – a strange boy with silver hair and black eyes – on a secluded dock, Edith learns about the war raging undersea to end human existence. A war that Edith, unwittingly, has become the key to winning.

In a world where death is an ever-present shadow and motives are as dark as the bottom of the ocean, Edith must decide if her life is worth risking for a love that can’t survive past the shore.

JEN’S REVIEW:

That’s right! We’re back with yet another mermaid story! I just can’t get enough of these. Today’s spotlight is on BREATHLESS by Cole Gibsen. I came across Breathless months ago and counted down the days till its release. The cover immediately caught my attention. Yes, the young woman standing provocatively in a prom dress is beginning to become exceedingly cliché, but the fact that the cover revealed a woman underwater drew me in. I knew it could possibly only mean one thing – Mermaids! And I was right. Gibsen’s portrayal of mermaids was unique because instead of dealing with merMIADS, we are dealing with a merMAN. That’s right! Our main scaly friend is indeed a man!… Well, half a one anyway.

Breathless is about a young woman named Edith who lives in a home with a very strict, military regime. Her stepfather is more heartless machine than father and all Edith wants is to be good enough in his eyes. Edith’s life is in jeopardy. Her stepfather is threatening to ship her off to military school after she is accused of causing a severe boating accident which resulted in multiple deaths. Edith can’t afford to divulge the truth of how she survived the accident. No one would believe her. Worst of all, the creature who was responsible for her rescue won’t allow her to forget. Edith has now been sucked into a world she never could imagine existed and brought into a war that has been brewing between her kind and theirs for countless years. Will she have the courage and strength to do what needs to be done in order to save the human race?

Plot: 7

Based upon the book description this story sounds fabulous. Unfortunately, my quest has led me to a most frustrating end where the description on the back cover does not live up to the pages within. One of my biggest pet peeves is when an author will write a book that feels like nothing more than one big prologue and Breathless is certainly one of those books. Now I’m not saying the whole book was horrendous. I actually enjoyed it here and there. But if any of you are waiting for a book with serious content, depth, or character development, then you’re just going to have to wait for future books in the series. Regrettably, even then I can’t make any guarantees.

The author actually brings up some very interesting and great topics in her novel. I love books that focus on the little things, the most forgettable yet most gratifying moments in life. One of the main topics the author ‘swims’ around (Yar har! I’m so punny!) is what makes us human. However, the author fails horribly with the ever so important concept of showing, not telling. The characters have these great discussions about what it’s like to be human but the author doesn’t provide any experiences or background to help the characters come to their conclusions. These thoughts just seem to magically appear in their little noggins. Epic. Fail.

I must take a moment and warn those of our followers who reside more on the sensitive side. The material at the beginning of the book is iffy. It involves teenagers doing inappropriate things: underage drinking, smoking illegal substances, and a lot of cursing. Luckily, this kind of content is only at the beginning with the exception of the cursing. Foul language is pretty much throughout the whole book.

Characters: 8

Some of the characters in this book were enjoyable and some were a bit difficult to digest. The stepfather is a horrible, vicious man. Get ready to loathe him entirely. I enjoyed Edith because she reminded me a lot of myself. So I related to her easily. Edith is not the type of person who is temperamental or lashes out at others when she’s upset. Instead, whenever she is provoked she lashes out in her mind. On the outside Edith is calm and collected but on the inside she’s screaming. Edith is a bit of an emo-child. She chooses to be rather gothic in appearance but she has clear justification for the way she dresses and it’s not your overly common, ‘I hate the world and everyone in it’ kind of attitude. It was actually really interesting to get into her mind and come to understand why she chooses to wear nothing but black.

Bastin was an absolute sweetheart. I’ll admit his physical appearance was extremely strange but he is so sweet towards Edith. He’s the type of person who would do anything to make her happy. His soul purpose in life is to give Edith the world. He’s also very mysterious. At the beginning when he keeps visiting Edith on land he genuinely seems interested in getting to know her and learn more about humans. But you know deep down there is more to his frequent visits than he’s letting on.

Setting: 7

Unfortunately, the setting for this book caused one of the most confusing reading experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I keep questioning whether I read it correctly or not. I don’t know whether to blame the author for her lack of description or myself for possibly missing something important while reading. Where in the world are we!? Is Edith’s house next to the ocean or a lake of some kind? Majority of Edith’s and Bastin’s secret meetings take place either on the beach or at the lake and I could never tell where they were at. If I thought they were on the beach it turns out they were at the lake, and vice versa. You’ll understand my frustration when you read the scene where Bastin dives into, what you think is the ocean, and returns with an alligator in his arms. I went berserk. I thought, “Alligators are not salt water creatures, Author Gibsen! Epic fail on your part!” But it turns out during that particular rendezvous they were in the Bayou…Yeah, I really wish someone would have told me.

Pacing: 6

I regrettably had some pacing issues with this book. The moments where Bastin and Edith were apart were not strong or interesting enough to keep me focused. Therefore, I skimmed a lot. One thing you must know about me is I love romance novels – but not the trashy ones! Which is why I stick with YA books. More times than not I always come across a book that doesn’t have a strong enough storyline or plot which means the only reason I continue to read it is for the fluffy content. It doesn’t happen very often but an author should know he/she has written a wonderful piece of literature if they’ve got me sucked in and entertained without the romance. Breathless is NOT one of those books. On that romantic note, I should also warn my fellow readers to brace themselves for a case of “Insta-Love” on Edith’s part. When Edith learns who Bastin is there is a split second of denial but then she seems to move on from that rather quickly. She accepts who he is and falls into fixation way too fast.

Style: 6

There are two specific things I despised more than anything else in this book. Number one: Course language. This may not bother some but to others, like myself, it was incredibly annoying. I am a firm believer that profanity is a weak mind trying to express itself forcibly. However, I do understand that in the world we live in that’s just the way people talk. So although it was annoying I was able to move past it relatively quickly. Number two (and this one felt like my wisdom teeth were being pulled out all over again): Typos. While reading, I always seem to catch at least one or two typos and normally I don’t bring up those mistakes in my reviews because I understand mistakes are made once in a while. However, the fact that I’m talking about this is a sign that there were too many typos in this book to keep my mouth shut. I strongly recommend that Gibsen either hire herself an editor or fire the one she’s got.

In the end, Breathless by Cole Gibsen was an enjoyable read but it was nowhere near a mind blowing novel. At this point I’m planning on reading the sequel but don’t expect me to be counting down the days this time.

Grade: 84

Book Review: Incarnate

Incarnate
By Jodi Meadows
Published January 31, 2012
Katherine Tegen
Hardcover
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

New soul. Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. No soul. Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? Heart. Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies–human and creature alike–let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

JEN’S REVIEW:

All I can say is – DRIVE ME TO DRINK STRONG BEVERAGE!! This book was sadly a bit of a disappointment. The thing that makes me want to cry is the fact that this book held so much potential. It truly had the makings of a fantastically, epic novel. Unfortunately, Jodi Meadows is a weak writer. You have no clue how much I wish I could break this story down for you bit by bit and elaborate on why it failed on so many levels. But, of course, that would result in me spoiling everything for you. Therefore, let me just say this: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows will leave you confused and with a lot of unanswered questions.

Plot: 6

The one thing that tears me up inside the most is the fact that initially I was thoroughly enjoying this book. It was exciting, suspenseful, heart-pounding, and full of action and adventure. At the age of 18, Ana finally decides to seek the answers to the questions she’s held in her heart all her life. Where she came from, why she’s here, and why she replaced Ciana when she died. Tired of living with an unscrupulous mother, Ana leaves behind everything she’s ever known and sets out for the city of Heart. Along the way, Ana gets into some serious trouble but is saved by a mysterious man named Sam. Sam decides to escort Ana to Heart and to help her find the answers she’s looking for.

The concept is fascinating and I imagine Meadows initially builds a lot of excitement in her readers. They want the answers to Ana’s questions just as badly as she does. Unfortunately, when the time comes to deliver, Meadows falls short. I feel as if I’ve been given a decadent piece of cake only to take my first bite and discover it’s contaminated with nuts! I was so looking forward to that cake…and now I have no choice but to go home empty-handed. I truly wish I could give you details as a means of justification for my brutality but the only thing I can say is Meadows’ attempts at explaining why things are the way they are fall flat and don’t make sense. She clearly expects her readers to take things at face value and not question the why’s and how’s. Incarnate is a book that has far too many questions with no answers.

Characters: 9

Oh Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam…You wonderful man you. I’m pretty sure in one of Sam’s former lives his name was Johnny Lingo. Sam is the type of person who would pay eight cows for a woman whom everyone believes is not even worth one. He is one of the sweetest fictional characters I’ve ever come across. He is caring, considerate, loving, and passionate. When everyone around Ana thinks she’s worthless, Sam believes she is worthwhile, entitled, and just as deserving as anyone else. Sam’s goal is to make Ana see that, regardless of what she has been brainwashed to believe, she has the privilege and the potential to become anyone she wants to be. A very worthy lesson we can all take to heart.

It was difficult for me to connect with Ana because, let’s face it; I have a loving family and friends, whereas she does not. For 18 years she has been treated like a bug to be crushed. Many times she has emotional breakdowns and throws a bit of a hissy fit. I tried my best to sympathize and see the world through her eyes so I may understand the reasoning behind her tantrums but in all honestly she just came off as a bit childish to me. But you’ve got to admire her courage, strength, and fortitude to attempt to let go of the past and start building a more promising future for herself.

Setting: 6

Once again, a wicked storm cloud of pure confusion has befallen upon my brain. From beginning to end I was fasting and praying for some sort of clarification regarding this world Meadows had created. Am I reading a fantasy novel or a Sci-fi? Am I reading about planet Earth or a different planet entirely? For the love of all that is good and holy what year is it!? The people of Range utilize a lot of gizmos, gadgets, and advanced technology which leads me to assume I’m reading a Sci-fi novel. But then I am led to assume I am reading a fantasy when the setting consists of people living in small cottages and battling dragons, trolls, giants, and sylphs on a daily basis. Good gravy Batman I felt I was reading Tolkien! Oh and don’t forget the modern twist when some of Sam’s and Ana’s belongings consist of flashlights, tents, and sleeping bags.

Okay. Let’s just assume Meadows has created an entirely new world. First, let me just say I commend her for her efforts and for taking risks. However, I must shake my fist at her for hitting the ball out of the park but saying ‘screw it!’ to running around the bases. Allow me to clarify by providing one of MANY examples. Sam just happens to be a very famous musician. In one scene, he is explaining to Ana how he first discovered music. He explained how he learned that if you bend string and rub it together it creates sound. So essentially, Sam is the creator of musical instruments. Sure, I’ll accept that. But here’s the kicker. Why is it, if this is an entirely different world, that all these musical inventions have the exact same names as they do on Earth? A piano is still a piano, a flute still a flute, Violin still a violin etc. Yeah, ya know what? Don’t cheat like that. If you’re going to take the risk of creating your own world you have to go all the way. Don’t insult my intelligence by spitting in my face and telling me it’s raining.

Pacing: 7

Initially, the pacing was perfect. As previously stated, at the beginning the book was exciting, suspenseful, and adventurous. I started this book Saturday night and I was convinced I was going to be up reading all night. Unfortunately, after its gripping beginning it became so slow it was utterly painful. The only thing that kept me going was the desire to at least have one of several questions answered. To at least be making progress with the storyline. I figured, if I came this far there’s bound to be some solutions soon. But I continued to read and they never came. By the halfway mark I’ll admit I was skimming. Let me be frank with you folks, if anyone has the ability to skim through your book and still understand the main premise of the story, you’ve got some serious trimming of fat to do on your novel. Get rid of all the crap that isn’t absolutely crucial to the plot.

Style: 7

Although the writing was horrific it did have great potential. With a lot of practice, I’m sure Meadows has the capabilities of becoming a wonderful author. She just needs to learn to give her readers some closure and not leave them utterly befuddled and discombobulated!

In the end, I’m truly heartbroken by this book. But I’m still hooked enough that I’ll be looking out for book number 2. I’m not going to tell you to stay clear from this book because you may have more patience with it than I did. Heck, you might even enjoy it. Just be warned that you better diminish any high hopes before diving in. It will soften the blow.

Grade: 85