While I enjoyed this book, for me, it had no big zing. The writing was solid, but I like books with lines that are so beautiful I have to read them over and over again, and this book didn’t have that lyrical style I prefer. The story was well-plotted, but I saw every twist coming from a mile away. The magic system is clear, but much of that is because the idea of a philosopher’s stone having great power at the cost of a curse isn’t exactly new.
That being said, the curse was very well handled, and I enjoyed seeing a young girl find herself by herself. It was refreshing to have a story that let a toxic relationship break down and not be instantly replaced. Samantha let Bee (the MC) stand on her own, and find happiness alone, which I loved. Though I didn’t love this, I have quite a few fiction students I’d recommend this book too.
The Truth Project follows Cordelia, a teenage Alaskan poet struggling with the age old question Who am I? as she accidentally stumbles across a family secret when her Genequest results reveal the man who raised her isn’t quite the man she thought.
Best of all, it’s written in verse. An entire book written in poetry! Check out this sample from the first page:
Before I go on, I need to admit something: I’m one of those DNA kids. You know, the people who accidentally find their biological family online? Yep. That’s me.
Because of my experience, Cordelia’s story hit me in one of the softest, most protected parts of my heart. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much. Maybe.
But really, I think my love for this novel is a testimony to the beauty and rawness of Cordelia’s emotional arc. Verse novels are hard—I’ve written a POV in verse, it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve tackled—but in The Truth Project, Cordelia’s story isn’t held back by the unconventional format. Instead, the story is better because of the verse. Every word holds weight. Every line has a punch. The pages read like the wishes we’ve all made in our quietest moments—heartfelt, tender, and authentic.
Despite my obvious emotional attachment to Cordelia discovering her DNA surprise, there were other parts of this book I loved just as much. Sana, Cordelia’s best friend, is an absolute firecracker in all the best ways. The complex relationship between Cordelia and her sister, Bea, is relatable. Kodiak Jones, the bad boy love interest (is he really a bad boy though?) is my favorite love interest this year.
Yeah, I said it. My FAVORITE. Kodiak Jones deserves a fan club.
The best part of this book is the way it leaves you. Happy, a little bruised, yet warm and fuzzy on the inside. Positivity is something we all need, especially this year, and this story is a tough journey that ends with Cordelia in a gut-wrenching, yet better place.
If you’re looking heartwarming story that’s got something new to offer, read The Truth Project. As I give this book five stars, I wish I could give it more.
“The birches- wizening old man arms bursting from the black soil and piercing heaven- are like the columns of some ancient temple.”
This is not my normal fare for books. However, sweeping lines such as the one above hooked me in, and I am very glad I was caught.
The Mark of the Shadow Grove is a horror novel telling three separate stories loosely connected by the leading women’s bloodline and the monsters they revolve around. Each ending is left a little open, giving them creepish mystery. I don’t usually like open endings but it worked so well for this book I can’t say anything else would be better. The book explores the dark elements of witchcraft, ancient cults, and necromancy.
Ross Smeltzer has a writing style which could be considered antiquated. His language architecture often reminds me of Wilde, Emerson and Lovecraft. Part of this may be because the book is set in the past so the language style fits its time period. I think there is more to it. Smeltzer possesses the old talent of creating a captivating setting by using long, flowing descriptions. His style is old fashioned. At the same time he manages not to droll. Many of his strongest lines were simple.
“True evil needn’t be flamboyant about itself.”
The above statement is said in a very colorful setting by a dramatic character. It is one of the most basic lines in the chapter. However, the line caught my attention with it’s simple truth. Smeltzer has similar moments scattered throughout this book and they are my favorite parts of his writing style.
The Mark of the Shadow Grove is not a light read. Its prose sweeps you in and manages to make mundane things come alive with the dark, gloomy mood Smelter casts over his setting. I wouldn’t recommend it for most readers. This book is a certain style built for a certain taste, but the audience it is written for is sure to love it. People with an adventurous and curious side will love it too. The Mark of the Shadow Grove is a gritty example of gothic horror, and I enjoyed it so much I think I will start picking up the genre again. When I was little I would sneak-read Rebecca and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by the lowlight coming from my bedroom window. I forgot how much I enjoyed them. This book reminded me.
4.7 stars for The Mark of the Shadow Grove. I took off because I personally appreciate a slightly quicker pace, and there were instances where the scenes jumped around and I was a tad confused. However, these “flaws” have more to do with me than the book, so I won’t take off much, and as you all know…
I round up!
So five stars will be my rating on all of the review sites.
Grab your own copy of Ross Smeltzer’s The Mark of the Shadow Grove here. It is well worth your time!
So there’s this book pitch contest called #PitchMAS. Maybe some of you have heard of it?
PitchMAS is run by Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya around Christmas once a year. It’s free. It’s a good opportunity. I finished my novel The Mercy Killers recently, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I e-mailed my submission. Here it is, and it wasn’t great.
A young gypsy girl trades freedom for protection from a disease-ravaged world, but not without sacrifice. When the plague’s cruel ending threatens her sanctuary, only one man can help. Problem? He was the sacrifice.
I didn’t make the top 50.
I wasn’t surprised. I’m not great at pitching, so I figured I wouldn’t make it. Pitching an entire novel in such a restricted format is not an easy feat. I read the winning pitches and I was impressed! I could see how they used each word to their advantage. I learned from it and decided I would try again during the #PitchMAS party!
On Friday morning I woke up and posted the first two pitches that came to me on my twitter feed, sporting #pitchMAS and my genre hashtag.
There are worse things than dying from the Plague. You could survive it and be forced to become a Mercy Killer #YA #NA
The Governor’s son has a new GF. She looks sweet, but she isn’t. She’s a mind reading blade-wielding gypsy with a dark past #YA #NA
I walked away for a few hours, refusing to obsessively refresh twitter all day. I’m not an amazing pitch doctor and I know it. Why stress?
I was talking on the phone with a close friend when I decided it was time to check my feed. I had a few notifications, but I didn’t get excited. It could be anything.
I received 4 likes.
For those of you who don’t know what that means, 4 agents/ editors “liked” my pitch enough to request my query.
I lost my mind!
I wondered if I was seeing things. Was I reading the twitter feed right? Was I on the right page? DID THEY DO IT ON PURPOSE!?!?!?! My friend who was still on the phone thought something was wrong.
“What is it Jessica? Are you okay? IS THERE BLOOD!?!?!?!”
No blood. Just confused joy.
You see, I just finished my novel. I entered into a few contests, signed up for a query class which starts in January, and started on the novel’s sequel. I created a rough query letter a week prior to try my hand at the process, but I hadn’t done anything with it. I wasn’t expecting anything. #PitchMAS is a big contest, many authors participate, and I am very unseasoned.
I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, so I threw up another #pitchMAS tweet-
Greylin is a Socialite, promised to Attica’s next ruler. She hides telepathic abilities and skills with weapons.Why? #NA #YA #R
I received three more likes, two by editors.
Okay! This was really happening!
Overall, I received 6 partial manuscript requests. I spent the next 24-48 hours getting my submissions ready. I was so grateful I already possessed a basic synopsis and query letter! I strongly encourage putting together something as soon as you complete and edit your novel, just in case! I tried to craft each submission to the Agent/ Editor requesting, and made sure to follow the submission guidelines the best I could. I am not a practiced query writer, but I gave it my all.
About a week went by, way to soon to hear anything. An average turn around response for a partial is 30-60 days. So when I woke up with two full manuscript requests from two separate publishing companies, I made sure to read both e-mails twice so I could be 100% positive I was reading them correctly.
Did they mean to send this to me? Were they serious? DID THEY DO THIS ON PURPOSE!?!?
Are you noticing a trend?
So…I sent my manuscript in!
I won’t lie, my manuscript wasn’t perfect. The story is finished (except for a few tiny tweaks I keep obsessing over, but that’s normal, right?) and edited to the best of my ability, but there are bound to be mistakes in a 100k word manuscript. I was nervous, but I hit send.
I understood it takes a while to hear back from publishing houses. I wasn’t expecting anything.
I swear, not expecting anything works!!!!!!
I received my first “we are interested in publishing your book” e-mail a few days later. I am currently staring at a contract with my name and my novel’s title printed at the top.
I don’t know if I will sign it (although I am very strongly considering it), my lawyer is looking over it (I don’t have an agent! I just wrote some tweets!) and I want to talk to my hubby bubby about it face to face, but the publishing contract exists! This is amazing to me!!!!!
GUYS!!!! I WROTE A BOOK AND PEOPLE DON’T HATE IT!!!!!!!
I won’t be making any rash decisions about my novel this week. I asked the publisher for a certain amount of time to consider everything and get my ducks in a row, and they kindly obliged. The firm is new and fairly small right now, but I believe in small beginnings. After all, I’m just an Accountant/house wife who got bored while her husband was deployed, couldn’t find a book that hit the spot, so I wrote one!
Everyone starts somewhere.
My book started at 2am on a sleepless night when one of the characters insisted on being put down on paper. My writing journey was wonderful and came naturally. I wasn’t sure how my journey to publishing would start.
It looks like it started with #PitchMAS and a little fantasy!!
I requested this book on a whim. I’ve read an abundance of dark dystopian lately, and although that genre will forever be my favorite, I needed something else in my life. Something with more lovey-dovey boy drama and a little less “the world is burning down around us”. “Wonderwall” caught my attention because of the cover and the promise of a bad-boy rock star. It promised me drama and love, and that’s exactly what I was in the mood for.
Did “Wonderwall” deliver?
Yes! Wonderwall is Wonderful! ( Sorry, I couldn’t resist the play on words).
Wonderwall is a contemporary romance centering around first love, first heart break, life’s rough punches, and the cost of fame. Olivia, the girl next door, and Sebastian, the boy next door, fall in love at a young age. The rug is ripped out beneath their friendship-turned-romance when a tragedy sends them spiraling into messy territory. Sebastian can’t cope (and no one with a heart can blame him) and Liv pays the price. Fast forward a few years and Sebastian is an international superstar in a boy band. Liv is living out her career dreams with a brand new internship at a posh London hotel. They’ve moved on with their lives-
Except for their damaged hearts, which are still stuck on each other.
Queue the lovey-dovey drama people!
It’s going to get sticky!!!!!!
I enjoyed this book. It has a few cliché’s in it, but they are well executed. The plot is driven. The pacing is great. There are clever lines scattered throughout, and the writing is worth reading . The characters are likeable, loveable, and sometimes hate invoking, which is what readers should experience in regards to a novel’s cast. I wouldn’t let a young teen read this book because things get risqué here and there, but it is a solid New Adult Contemporary Romance.
And it has bad-boy rockstars. So, that’s a big plus.
“Bas” is a mess. He’s a tortured guy who seems to have everything on the surface, but there is a gaping hole is his heart. There is only one person who can fill it, and it is not his model girlfriend. He is a jerk most of the time, but he loves Liv, despite his best efforts not too. Liv has not been able to move on, and it doesn’t help that the ex love of her life is so famous his face pops up everywhere.
There is some heavy subject matter in “Wonderwall”, but for the most part I’d consider it a light read. I read it for entertainment, not for life changing lessons. It fulfilled its purpose quite well. Parts of this book get cheesy. Especially the ending. It is horribly, wonderfully, tickly butterflies in my stomach cheesy. Not everyone appreciates cute. I get that. I have to be in the mood for mushy gushy. But when I am in the mood, what can I say? I LOVE ME SOME CHEESE!!!!!
The only issue I had with this book was how easily Liv caved when Bas came back. I mean, make him work a little harder! But I guess it would be easy to forgive a gorgeous guy who professes his love for you on stage in front of thousands of people.
Still, I can’t give the book five stars because Liv gave in too easily.
Four stars for M.H Soars “Wonderwall”! This is the first book of her new series, and I will be reading the next installment.
Add me to your newsletter M.H Soars! I will happily write a review for the next one. Good job!