Justine Winans

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Smashwords book reviews by Justine Winans

  • Paradise Squandered on May 24, 2013

    Paradise Squandered is an excellent coming of age novel that can appeal to those of all ages and tastes. Beautifully written and thoroughly real, the work will leave readers thinking long after they read that final page. Andrew is an excellent narrator. The kind of character that you feel you shouldn't like, but end up liking regardless. He has that connectable, witty sarcasm in his voice, displaying an honesty that hasn't been seen this successful since the narration of Holden Caulfield. The characterization that Stefansson crafts is remarkable. Paradise Squandered holds many great themes and lessons. I found the writing to be breathtaking, and the quoting opportunities are just about endless. Anyone who has dreams but trouble figuring out what they are going to do next can easily connect to the story. The authentic voices and feelings of the darker sides of teenagers is captured within these pages. This novel will have you entertained and emotional throughout the entire ride, all the way to the ending - which I thought was the perfect closing spot. A shorter read, Paradise Squandered holds more content and relevance than the majority of other novels in its genre, and is a breathtaking find. Bold, brilliant, clever and refreshingly honest, Paradise Squandered is not a novel to miss. Stefansson is able to write to change the reader's mood and thought, and really get them to feel - and I think that is something really amazing. Would highly recommend.
  • Unleashed on Aug. 05, 2013

    When I first read Unhinged, I fell in love with the characters and the series so greatly, that I didn't really think I could fall deeper for them. But, now that I have finished Unleashed, I found out that I could. Unleashed is one emotional roller coaster. I don't normally get so involved with the characters and there decisions that I dictate words out loud like the stereotypical sports fan, but I was. I had to step away and rant for a little. I'm not going to ruin anything, but the ending is so perfect and heart-warming that I might just cry a little bit. If you read my reviews, you should know that I am a very emotional person. Fans of Unhinged will be blown away by Unleashed. Not only does it keep all the great character development, action, and breathtaking dialogue (Hadrian) of the first novel, but it dives deeper into those characters, has constant twists and turns, and has so many great quotes that I would have to highlight the entire novel. The amount of commas in that sentence still to not grasp how excited I am about this series. I devoured Unleashed, once I started, I just couldn't stop. Readers will definitely not be disappointed. An absolutely stunning sequel, I cannot wait to see more of what Avery has to offer.
  • Rae of Hope on Sep. 30, 2013

    Sometimes, I know exactly what I am looking for in a book. I can think to myself and say, hmm, I could go for a Victorian-style ghost story right about now... I get an idea, and the yearning is there until I can fulfill it. Other times, I will come across a book, not entirely sure what to expect, but upon reading, I realize that this is exactly what I have been looking for. Whatever that was, this is it. Rae of Hope was one of those books for me. Okay, okay, it wasn't a total surprise. First of all, it has a unique plot, which is not as easy to find in YA fantasy. Not to mention, I have a little bit of a thing for boarding school stories. Especially when they involve something supernatural. But these vague characteristics alone do not automatically craft an amazing story. No, May manages to do that all on her own. There were so many things that I loved about Rae of Hope that it is a little ridiculous. First, the idea of the tatùs. Absolutely beautiful, and exciting. The description of the markings and the power behind them is nothing short of enchanting. All the different abilities shown really added to the story, and gave a true feeling of a whole community throughout the school. Second, the plot. Folks, this one is a wild ride. An absolutely brilliant back story (if you read my reviews a lot, you should know how I feel about a good back story) created a great foundation for the novel. There were many twists and turns. Even in scenes that were relatively normal days, I felt incredibly excited reading. Certain parts toward the end? A complete surprise! It definitely kept me on my toes. Third, Rae herself. I feel like I mention if a novel has a great voice a lot, but character is such an important part of narrative that I can't overlook it. Especially when there is a great female character, and Rae is definitely one of them. She is the kind of person that I could see myself hanging out with and really talking to, which allowed me to feel closer to her during the actual read. I think that is very powerful. Might I add, I would absolutely love to go to Guilder. Okay, maybe it is a little much that I nearly fell in love with every single male student that was introduced, but I can't exactly complain. They just all had there own thing going on, and it works so well. Maybe the high amount of swoon-worthy males is not entirely realistic, but a girl can dream, right? On that topic, I would like to add that the romance in Rae of Hope is tastefully done, and unique from a lot of other stories, which is very refreshing to read. My inner romantic definitely approves. All in all, Rae of Hope is a brilliant start to a series. With everything from casual fun teenage exchanges to incredible supernatural abilities to dark secrets from a darker past, this novel really does have it all. I can highly recommend this book and not even feel guilty if that means I'm asking people to spend money. (It's kinda worth it.) It's the kind of book that sticks with you, so you can make guesses and think about it afterward, and I can't wait to read more.