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Dreamer Review

Hello Friends!

I’m so excited to see everyone here, and to present you with my review of Dreamer! (It’s also posted on Goodreads, so be sure to head over there and add the book to your “want-to-read” shelves.)

I first came across Ja-Mel Vinson because of his ARC unboxing video that popped up in my twitter feed, and his genuine excitement and enthusiasm about his story caught my interest.

I also thought the cover was really neat and conveyed an air of mystery and wonder, so when an opportunity came along to review Vinson’s novel, I jumped at the chance. I feel that reading this book has given me a better understanding of Vinson’s brand as an author, and re-introduced me to a genre I’d almost forgotten about.

You may have noticed the picture that accompanies this review – in one of my livetweets from my reading sessions, I said that I hoped people would be eager to cosplay Vinson’s characters, and since I dabble a bit in the art myself, I thought I might as well lead the charge on that one. I had a lot of fun putting this together, so without further ado, let’s get to my thoughts about Dreamer.

Dreamer Dreamer by Ja-Mel Vinson | Category: NA/YA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(Age range 14–25)
3.5 stars out of 5.

ja-mel-vinson

**Note: I received an ARC for this blog tour that in no way influenced my honest review**

“Dreamer” tells the story of Maya, a young adult whose troubling dreams begin to unfold in reality just as she embarks on her college adventures. Soon she discovers long buried secrets and a host of dangers that affect the lives of everyone she cares about, and in the middle of it all is the mysterious Lucent, whom Maya feels strongly compelled toward, for reasons she doesn’t understand.

I did like this novel. The opening of the story definitely grabbed my attention, and though I’m not a huge fan of first person POV, in this case that actually helped me to sink into Maya’s perspective and really believe the story was being told by a young lady and not the male author.

For the first six or so chapters, I had a hard time connecting with the story, particularly because of the rather high stakes presented with very little build up, but when the corset dresses were introduced, things began to click into place for me, and I realised that with its large cast of strong female characters, sparkly transformative powers, and animal companions that are more than they seem that “Dreamer” falls into the same category as “Cardcaptor Sakura,” “Tokyo Mew Mew,” or “Sailor Moon.” I felt like I was reading an anime in novel form, and that was only reinforced more and more as the book went along. Once I was able to visualise the novel in that way, the rest of the book made a lot more sense, as the storytelling tropes and plot devices of the genre sometimes referred to as “magical girl anime” rely on a set of very different rules that are not typical to your average western YA novel.

I very much enjoyed all the strong friendships the characters have, and the underlying mystery surrounding Lucent helps drive the story and keep it interesting. There are a few big plot twists and key events that Vinson pulled off nicely, and the way “Dreamer” ended was quite well done. For a story that foreshadowed rather a lot, and explained even more, I still found myself pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t quite predicted how everything would turn out.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the writing. “Dreamer” has good, clear prose interspersed with more poetic lines that demand attention without tipping into purple prose. It’s very easy to imagine what the characters look like, and my favourite bit of description comes from Chapter 10:

“The moon moved with its star-servants but remained higher and closer and larger to the eye. Atop its stellar seat, it commanded attention while clouds grew and shrank like animals bound by a leash. The moon was the ringleader, wielding power over everything, presumably even the bestial and elongated vapors that drifted ahead of it.”

(As an aside, having read the story, the cover is very symbolic of quite a few different events that happen, and I can see why Vinson is so thrilled with it.)

The one thing I was curious about was how the Tri-Curve looked, and upon reaching out to the author, he kindly provided me with a graphic which greatly helped to visualise it properly, and I’ve included my stylised version of it in this review:

Now, the world of Dreamer is similar to ours, but also quite different, with a large set of internal rules and in-depth history, and because of this, there is a lot of exposition to explain how everything works. At times this really slowed the pace of the story, and dragged out scenes longer than they needed to be. At some points, explanations are included very organically in the story, through training sessions, or information presented in class through learning games, but at other times, the story would be progressing, a new element would be introduced, the plot would pause as Maya reflected on it, and then the story would resume. For me, this resulted in uneven pacing that lacked urgency, especially when new expositional information continued to be introduced near the end of the story.

Overall pacing was also a little stilted, and I felt like the story really began once we reached chapter 12, which made the preceding chapters feel like backstory, or at least story arcs that could have been told at a later point to preserve the forward motion of the narrative. (Not that the novel ever came to a standstill, but sometimes I felt as if it were in slow motion.) I often felt that I was waiting for the plot to really kick in. Because of this, my actual rating for “Dreamer” comes to a 3.5, although I am giving it 4 stars since I don’t believe the quality of the novel merits only a 3, and there’s no option for including half star ratings.

All in all, I think this book is something 14-16 year me would have loved, given my (somewhat concerning) obsession with anything anime at the time, and I don’t doubt that other teens and young adults will enjoy it and relate to the characters and their friendships and conflicts. I’m looking forward to what Vinson produces next, and believe that his storycrafting can only continue to advance.

See all my reviews


(So there you have it, my review of Dreamer by Ja-Mel Vinson. I wish him much success with the launch of his debut novel, and many thanks to Shealea for making this whole blog tour experience very smooth and easy to navigate. (Launch post and other bloggers on the tour here.)

Don’t forget to join in on twitter March 2nd, 2019 for a live chat regarding Dreamer, and a chance to win a signed ARC of the novel!

 

 

Happy reading!
ETJ

Something Sweet for Valentine’s Day!

❤️Hello Friends, & Happy Valentine’s Day!❤️

Although Tedenbarr of Have Lath is an action packed adventure tale, you might be surprised to learn that love is Tedenbarr’s driving force throughout the story. Love for his friends, his home, and most importantly, for Keira, the girl he left behind on Have Lath and is (secretly!) betrothed to.

The story begins with this lovely poem:
_
Stormy winds blow hard
But to you I shall return
My love, wait for me.

_

And not much later we find Tedenbarr thinking of his love while tending to his duties on board “The Sailing Prison.”

“Dear one, I know that you are anxious to have word of my well being. Worry not, for I am quite safe and remain in good health.
_

Yesterday, the ship sailed past that peculiar rock formation known in legend as Slvyn Reigh, which marks the middle point of the Sheana sea. If all goes well, the captain anticipates that we shall reach the Eastern Kingdom in about a month. The return journey is predicted to catch the summer easterlies, and I shall be home much before the forest begins to turn gold.
_

Tell Myrc that I have not yet forgotten him. And my love, waiting is hard I know, but take comfort in the fact that three and a half months do not last forever. With love, your love,
Tedenbarr.”


_

As a boy, Tedenbarr had love on the brain when they met, (though he didn’t fall for Keira until his teenage years):

Tedenbarr thumped his head back against the cold walls of the pit. There was nothing he could do but wait and try to keep himself warm. He began to pace the confined space, singing to distract himself.

_
The song was a simple one that Myrc had taught him. The words were foreign and the cadence harsh, but he relished the feel of the ancient language gliding over his tongue, and though Tedenbarr was unsure of the exact meaning of the individual words, he held in his mind the translation that Myrc had provided, enjoying the sound of the sweet melody in the crisp forest air.

_
My love, true love
Abandon me not, if I thou lovest
Sayest not thou art improved
When in solitude thou art
Blue skies call thus,
Where birds sweetly sing,
And late summer’s harvest is grown and gold

_
“Oh, that’s bonny!” piped a voice, and Tedenbarr jumped in surprise, turning sharply in the direction of the newcomer.

_
“Who’s there?” he called. “Can you get me out of here?”

_
“I dinna ken,” replied the voice, and all of a sudden Tedenbarr saw a girl about his age peek over the edge. She smiled down at him. “Well yer in a right mess. Dinna ye worry though, I shall run an’ tell faither, an’ he’ll help ye.”

_
She skipped off, leaving Tedenbarr to wonder who she was and whether she would return.

Even in his most harrowing moments, Tedenbarr is strengthened by the thought of Keira waiting patiently for him, and though he knows their vastly different social classes will make the path to their happiness a struggle, he also knows that they can prove all the naysayers wrong – if he can survive the pirates, bandits, and other perils that face him on the treacherous journey back to Have Lath.


Written for middle grade audiences, “Tedenbarr of Have Lath” can be enjoyed by the whole family, read quietly in a secluded nook, or read aloud as a bedtime story (one half chapter at a time) to inspire adventure filled dreams.

It is my sincerest hope that as you read of Tedenbarr’s tales, no matter how old or young you are, that the deep love pervading the Tedenbarr’s hopes and wishes inspires you to hug the ones closest to you and tell them how special they are every single day.

So this Valentine’s day, to celebrate the love in my novel, my gift to you is the ability to freely download the kindle version of Tedenbarr of Have Lath, both today and tomorrow (the 14th & 15th), and dive into a fantastic story of adventure, love, and overcoming even the most challenging of hardships.

Happy Reading!

ETJ

Tedenbarr of Have Lath

Happy Birthday Tedenbarr!

Hello Friends!

Today is the winter solstice and Tedenbarr’s birthday!

Tedenbarr spends the day running and fighting, but he’d much rather be reading. So to celebrate, for the entire day, you can pick up the kindle version of Tedenbarr of Have Lath completely FREE. Now that’s a reason to break out the cake and candles!

Read on for a (slightly spoilery) mention of Tedenbarr’s birthday:

“Won’t the boats rot if we leave them in this filth?” Tedenbarr asked. The brisk pace set by the Alliance reduced the tingling numbness in his limbs.
_

“Not if we can spring Chester by Solstice,” Tiana replied.
_

“So soon? I’ll have seen twenty and one winters by then.”
_

“You as well? If we survive this, I’ll make a honey-cake for you.”
_

“Ah’d nae trust her cooking, if I were ye mate. Anne’s told me some horror stories about this one’s abilities wi’ food. Now Teddy, ye on t’ither hand,” Lach said, clapping a hand on his friend’s shoulder and addressing Tiana, “he used tae do anything tae avoid the galleys back on the Sailing Prison, but whitever his fingers touched tasted as if came from Lsai itself.”
_

“I thought telling fanciful tales was my talent, Lach?”
_

The young man looked outraged. “I never! Yer food’s ambrosia, fit fer Myrna’s pallet.”
_

“I’ll bake Teddy a honey-cake,” Tiana reiterated and glared at Lach, “and it will be delicious, and you won’t have any.”


Do yourself a favour and download this fantastic story of adventure, friendship, and overcoming even the most challenging of hardships.

Battle alongside Tedenbarr against bloodthirsty pirates, flee from nefarious bandits, and uncover the secret that might just change everything.

And if you know anybody looking for their next favourite read this holiday season, send them Tedenbarr’s way, and wish him the happiest of birthdays by immersing one more bookaholic in his epic tale!

Happy Reading!

ETJ

Tedenbarr of Have Lath

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