Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review & $50 Gift Card Giveaway - Stim & Kaleidoscope by Kevin Berry

Title:  Kaleidoscope
Series: Stim #2
Author: Kevin Berry
Release Date: January 3, 2014
Pages: 173
Goodreads Rating: 4.55/5 Stars
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary New Adult 
My Content Rating: NA (Some sex; Language)

Summary from Goodreads: The sequel to STIM…an Aspie new adult contemporary novel set in an earthquake zone.

Chloe is different. She has Asperger’s Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder and probably a few other inconvenient conditions as well. She’s a quirky, resourceful and clever psychology student, but her world is literally about to be shaken apart. A devastating earthquake sparks a chain of events that spiral her life out of control. She’s off her meds. Her oddly-named cat is missing. She doesn’t know what she wants out of life any more. Misfortune and uncertainty don’t mix well with bundles of energy and Chloe’s tendency to ignore consequences. It’s as if mayhem and trouble are her constant companions.

Will Chloe be able to cope with the earth-shaking events that rock her world? 

***NOTE: This review is for the second book in the Stim series. I tried not to include any major spoilers for either book in this review. Since this tour is technically for Kaleidoscope, I'm putting the review for that book first, but scroll down to see my review for book #1 in the series!***

Book #2 in the Stim series gives us another fresh perspective on the Aspie world. In Kaleidoscope, we see Chloe's tumultuous response to the earthquakes that continue to plague her home. While I didn't love this book as much as I did the first in the series, I did enjoy it, and I think I might have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't read the two books back-to-back (read on for more details about why I think that ...)

What I loved:
  • Chloe.  I fell in love with Chloe in the first book, so I was very happy that this book would be told from her perspective. Chloe is fun, interesting and quirky - and she knows it. She's used to having a pretty good grasp on how to handle the world, despite her Aspergers, but she finds herself completely adrift when the earthquakes take away all of her routine and stability. In the first book, Chloe always seemed pretty self-aware, but she definitely loses some of that confidence in herself in this book - I enjoyed her journey to get that back!
  • Depiction of Asperger's and Bi-Polar Disorder.  Just like Stim, this book gives great inside into the heart and mind of someone with Asperger's. I love Chloe's perspective - the fact that she doesn't see herself as having anything wrong with her, she's just different. At the same time, she does have parts of her personality (mostly her bi-polar disorder) that need to be tempered with medication. Otherwise, she puts her own life and the lives of those around her into turmoil. Chloe struggles with this - and her internal struggle makes for very interesting reading!
The negatives:
  • Similarities to book #1.  I think my biggest issue with this book was actually that I read it right after reading Stim, and it just felt a bit too similar to the first book without all the fun, lighthearted moments (which were a big part of what made me love the first book!). Chloe's voice is very similar to Robert's, except that she replaces strange economics references with her own made up hybrid words. When disaster strikes and she finds herself without medication for an extended period of time, she responds much the same way that Robert did in book #1 when he upped his dosage of medication. I felt like it was just a little too similar, and therefore didn't enjoy it as much. But if more time had passed between reading the first and second books, I really think I would have appreciated the unique Aspie voice more and Robert's story wouldn't have been right at the forefront of my mind. It was hard not to compare the two books - and I found this one to feel a bit repetitive - similar, but a bit more depressing and not as much fun. Still a good read, though!
    While I didn't love this book quite as much as the first one, I still think that it's a great read and that anyone touched by Asperger's (which is pretty much everyone, in some way or another) should definitely check it out!  I give this one 3/5 stars.

    ***Disclosure: These books were provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

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    Title:  Stim
    Series: Stim #1
    Author: Kevin Berry
    Release Date: October, 2013
    Pages: 176
    Goodreads Rating: 4.21/5 Stars
    My Rating: 4/5 Stars
    Genre: Contemporary New Adult 
    My Content Rating: NA (Some sex; Language)

    Summary from Goodreads: Robert is different. He has Asperger's Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population. Follow his entertaining and highly empathetic story as he struggles to realise and accept who he really is, try to understand other people—which he cannot—and find a girlfriend. Especially find a girlfriend—he's decided it's his special project for the year. Accompanied on this transformative journey by his quirky flatmates, Chloe (who also has Asperger's, amongst other things), Stef (who hasn't, but doesn't mind) and their oddly-named kitten, Robert endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl...and not even a major earthquake will stop him.

    This absorbing and humorous story is starkly told from Robert's point of view, through the kaleidoscope of autistic experience.

    Stim is an incredibly insightful book, written from the perspective of a person with Asperger's. I so enjoyed seeing the world through Robert's eyes!

    What I loved:
    • Insight into the Aspie world.  Anyone who knows someone on the spectrum will benefit from reading this book because it's written from the POV of a person with Asperger's (and also by an author with Asperger's - so he knows what he's talking about!). Getting a glimpse into the mind of someone who thinks differently is such a unique experience - Robert doesn't see the world the way that we do. He knows this, but that doesn't mean he can change it - or that he even wants to. As we go through an average day from Robert's POV, we are shown how a person with AS responds the world around him - what he wants, what he needs, how he orders the world around him. It made me truly think about my interactions with other people, and it gave me an awareness of what people with AS go through on a day-to-day basis. I loved this unique insight!
    • So funny!  Robert's misinterpretations (or, at least, different interpretations) of the world around him often led to incredibly funny scenes in the book. I can't tell you how often I laughed out loud! One of my absolute favorite scenes was when Robert, Chloe and Stef decide to play monopoly. Robert, being an economics major (and being incredibly interested in economic theory and history) turns the game into something quite different than your average Monopoly game - I couldn't stop laughing at Robert and Chloe's solutions to the problems of the game!
    • The romance. Robert's plan to get a "normal" girlfriend leads to lots of entertaining moments. Throughout the book, I was rooting for Robert to find what he needed (which wasn't necessarily what he thought he wanted)!
    The negatives:
    • Overplayed jokes.  I felt like certain jokes seemed to go on for a bit too long. For instance, Robert and Chloe decide on a highly unusual name for their cat, which led to LOTS of humorous misunderstandings. I felt like that particular joke was played out a bit too much, though. 
    • Difficulty connecting sometimes. Robert's voice was unique and interesting, but his lack of contractions and sometimes emotionless delivery occasionally made the book harder to connect to. Of course, this is part of the character's innate personality and essential to the book. Luckily, the humor really helped mitigate the effects of this dry POV a lot!
      I highly recommend this book if you're looking for something unique and interesting. Robert's POV on the world will truly make you think about what is "normal" and why we value it so highly.  I give this book 4/5 stars.

      ***Disclosure: These books were provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***
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      About the Author

      Kevin Berry is an indie author. His particular niche is writing Aspie New Adult contemporary novels set in an earthquake zone. The first of these is STIM, published in October 2013.

      His first novels, co-written with Diane Berry, are Dragons Away!, Growing Disenchantments and Fountain of Forever (humorous fantasy). These are available as paperbacks and ebooks at Amazon and elsewhere.

      Author Links:
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