The Mentalist Series

The Mentalist Series

The Mentalist Series by Kenechi Udogu (Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy)

When I was contacted by author Kenechi Udogu, I agreed to read Book One of this series, Aversion. Ms. Udogu sent me the box set, and I’m glad she did, for when I finished Aversion, I needed to know what was going to happen next and ended up reading all four books. Since each book is more of a novella, reading the foursome was a reasonable undertaking and, in reality, the first three should have been a single book. (The fourth is a prequel.) Neither of the sequels to Book One is a stand-alone novel; they both require knowledge of the preceding book(s) in order to make sense.

Aversion and Sentient are told from the point of view of the protagonist, Gemma, who has always known she was different, but at the age of fifteen, going on sixteen, is still learning just how different she is. What I liked about her is that she’s basically a normal teen in a normal world but has inherited special gifts and responsibilities as an “Averter” — one who can step in and avert tragedy by telepathically convincing a potential victim to avoid the risky situation. Her gifts require her to keep her distance from peers and follow rules laid out for her kind, but when she becomes involved with classmate Russ, everything in her life changes and keeps on changing, not always for the good.

Keepers (Book Three) is told in chapters alternating between her point of view and Russ’s. After two books told only from Gemma’s POV, this was a surprise and took some getting used to. Constantly going back and forth allowed the author to build tension by ending the chapters at critical points, but as the reader, I found it frustrating to have the POV change just when I was getting used to the current one. This book wraps up the three-part story sufficiently but does not resolve everything, leaving room for future books, should the author wish to write more.

Broken Ties is the prequel to the other three books, relating the story of how Gemma’s parents came together. Again, it is told alternately by her father and mother, but this time the approach works well, since it’s fun to see how each perceives the other. Without prior knowledge of why this story is significant, however, I’m not sure a reader would find the ending sufficient to make this a stand-alone novella.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style very much. She had my interest from the first sentence and kept it all the way through. I can’t say enough about how much I liked the characters and the story. Unfortunately, the reading experience was lessened by annoyances like a constant lack of commas around the names of people when they were being addressed (“Let’s eat Grandma” vs. “Let’s eat, Grandma”) which could have been avoided by a good editor (or a knowledgeable Averter). Run-on sentences and improper use of semi-colons also would have benefited from intervention. That said, I believe Kenechi Udogu has a real storytelling talent and her books are worth reading.

Bella gives The Mentalist Series four stars. 4 stars

Potty-mouth Index: CLEAN

Bella Reads and Reviews Books received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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How to Keep Rolling After a Fall

How to Keep Rolling

How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo (Young Adult)

Wow. This book grabbed me from page one and didn’t let go. It immediately sets the stage: Nikki, the seventeen-year-old narrator, is volunteering in a rehab center, fulfilling a community service requirement after being accused of cyber-bullying. Although others were involved, the incident has turned her into a pariah in her small New Jersey town. She has lost all of her privileges at home, her parents barely acknowledge her, and her friends have abandoned her. In her senior year, she’s forced to go to a new high school after being expelled from the one where she was a cheerleader, an accomplished stage performer, and one of the most popular girls in her class. Notoriety dogs her; once strangers realize who she is, they reject her, adding to the terrible loneliness that has become her norm.

Except for Pax. Matthew Paxton is an attractive, athletic young man close to her age who comes to the rehab center to play wheelchair rugby. An automobile accident two years before has left him paralyzed from the chest down. When he attempts to befriend her, she tells him her story up front—no use prolonging the inevitable rejection, she thinks. Instead he says he believes in fresh starts, and for the first time in a long time, she has a friend. But then, that’s how he insists they keep it—strictly friends—in spite of a growing mutual romantic attraction.

While this story could have descended into darkness or a pity party, it never did. Nikki’s narration is full of personality that made me like her immediately and care about her future. Pax is a survivor with just the right amount of vulnerability to keep him from being a cliché. Their dialogue rings true, and Nikki’s priorities are realistic for her age while showing real growth by the end of the novel. I believe young adult readers, as well as adults in general, will find these characters engaging and the book hard to put down.

Grandma gives How to Keep Rolling After a Fall five stars. 5 stars

Potty-mouth Index: MINOR

Bella Reads and Reviews received How to Keep Rolling After a Fall from the publisher as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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