Hello friends, fans and readers.
The FINALISTS for the 2014 Readers’ Favorite annual International Award Contest have been announced! We were fortunate enough to have two of the three books judged to be finalists. While the third book did receive a 5 STAR review it did not make the finalist group. We’ll learn the final rankings on 9/1/14.
This is the first book in the CUL8R series that I’ve read, but having read it I shall certainly be going back to read the others. Although it’s probably aimed at teenagers, with its short length and young cast – I can vouch for the fact that it can be just as easily enjoyed by adults.
The story starts out introducing the main protagonist, Kelly and giving a brief overview of the previous adventures that she and the gang have been involved in since their discovery of the `spirit radio’ – an invention that allows them to communicate with the dead. Readers new to the series are quickly brought up to date, meaning it is possible to start out with this third book in the series and not feel lost. The details that people familiar with the series will already know are spliced in with new events occurring between Kelly and her aunt Jane, so that fans of the series will be kept as engaged as new readers. The plot develops at a good pace, with enough action to keep you hooked and plenty of character development to boot.
The characters are the real crowning glory of the book. All vastly different, they are vividly portrayed in such a way that they really come to life in the imagination. You quickly come to recognise their various traits and what makes them happy, sad, or fearful. It is impossible not to care about each character and this really helps to draw the reader into the story. Even characters with a small supporting role feel real and fully fleshed out. The author has a real talent for characterisation. Adult readers will find themselves transported back to their high school years – experiencing again the joys of trials of first love, crushes, awkward self-consciousness, pride in achievements, dreams of the future, and flourishing new friendships that they might have thought they left behind long ago. It is so easy to empathise with the characters and they don’t seem at all simple or childish, despite their youth.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good entertaining read. I am looking forward to the next offering and will definitely fill the intervening time by reading the first two books!
Life’s What Happens does for Kent State students what Derek Robinson’s Piece of Cake did for WWII pilots in 1939. A large cast of characters, often irreverent, teasing, hard-working and hard-playing, comes to life in the first part of the novel where students ponder what the future might bring, and threats of a draft lottery begin to loom large. The photographer, the dissector of dead cats, the poor rich guy and the newly successful poor friend, and more, live out their everyday lives against a backdrop of eateries, drink, tests and dreams. Girlfriends abound, and the relationships have that vivid teenage immediacy of indestructibility and rebellion. But destruction looms large.
The day of the lottery is captured in photos by the photographer, and becomes hauntingly real to the reader as numbers are called and accidents of birth offer the destruction of dreams. But life goes on, through physical exams, unanswered appeals, the folly of regulation, and the sudden danger of overwhelmed emotions.
An innocent trip downtown turns disastrous near the end of the novel, and tension rises with the terrors of historical events, making this novel truly haunting and hard to put down. The author wisely keeps politics out of the picture, telling just the story of real people, caught in an unreal situation. By the end it’s clear that nobody ever sees the future, and all of us see differently when we look back at the past. I’m glad to have seen through the eyes of these students, through the words of this author. And Life’s What Happens is highly recommended.