Review: Chewy Noh and the March of Death by Tim Learn

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Publisher: Self-published
Release date: January 29, 2016
Format: ebook
Source: Author
Pages: 311
Goodreads || Amazon

Chewy Noh should be happy. He has a best friend like no other and by using his secret abilities, has found a way to connect Korea and America forever to keep him.

Unfortunately, none of this matters after Death’s messenger comes to tell him that he has one week left to live!

Knowing his death is coming soon, Chewy scrambles to figure out a way to avoid it, but every direction he turns seems to lead him further and further away from his goal—a dead body, a missing person, and at the heart of it, the secret that started that it all.

In the end, if Chewy doesn’t learn how to change, Death might just come out on top.

MY THOUGHTS

25 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Chewy Noh and the March of Death is the third book in Tim Learn‘s middle grade series. I have reviews for the first two books, Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang and Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter.

While it is possible to read the second book without reading the first, I don’t think it’s possible to read The March of Death without reading book 2, The Phantasm of Winter. It’s been a couple of months since I read the first two books and I couldn’t remember all of the details, which was one reason why I struggled a little with this third book. I’m usually a series marathoner but on occasions when I do read instalments as they come out, I rely on the short recaps and reminders that are weaved into the story, in order to remind myself of things that had happened in previous books. I thought The March of Death was slightly lacking in that aspect and it took me a while to get into the story and remember who some of the characters were, especially because they had foreign names. Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue if you read the books back-to-back, but I think a good sequel should sprinkle in enough information about the previous book (but not too much that it’s repetitive) that readers aren’t lost if they haven’t read it recently.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book and it was a lot of fun to read. I think younger readers would definitely enjoy the adventure and thrill of everything that happened in this book. In The March of Death, we follow Chewy as he tries to escape death, which involves outsmarting Death and his servants. We also get a story arc about Chewy’s grandfather and his time as a soldier in the Korean war. This side story is linked to what is happening to Chewy in the present and I liked how they were connected and how everything was revealed. As with the previous books, this instalment incorporated some Korean mythology. While I cannot attest to the accuracy of what was written, I really enjoyed learning about things like the So-chon garden where flowers that possess different abilities and effects grow.

What I had issues with in terms of the plot was the flow of the book. The first third of the book, for me, seemed to lack clear direction and I just felt a bit lost and had no idea where the story was going. This was definitely the kind of book that presented lots of little puzzle pieces and connected them at the end, but the reading experience wasn’t very enjoyable for me because I felt like I was being pushed and pulled in different directions. I also felt like there was too much happening but not enough description and explanation of each scene to fill the gaps. It just lacked a bit of clarity and there were times when I wasn’t sure what was actually happening. There were some things that weren’t really resolved before we had moved on, and I was left wondering what the point of it actually was. I enjoyed Chewy’s grandfather’s storyline a lot more than what was happening to Chewy in the present because his story flowed well and made more sense to me.

In addition to the issues of flow that I had, I thought there were far too many perspectives, which made the book even more busy and choppy. I’m not sure that all of the perspectives were necessary in this book because some added very little to the story. I also had a minor problem with the narration changing from third person in present chapters to first person in the grandfather’s chapters. I can see why the author decided to do that but it was a little bit jarring for me.

What I probably struggled with the most was how unrealistic some of the events were, which made me think that I was probably a little bit too old for this. I definitely had to suspend my disbelief while reading The March of Death. The casualness of death (a phrase that I picked up from Jeann @ Happy Indulgence’s recent discussion about character deaths) was a bit of a problem for me. There were multiple instances of characters dying out of the blue and being brought back to life, and it was honestly a bit hard for me to digest because it was so unrealistic even for a mythological fantasy read. Maybe I just haven’t read enough of these types of books… Because of this, I had to just go along with what was happening, without being fully immersed in the story. I also wasn’t a fan of the absence of parents and the role that the grandmother played in the book. She’s very much the only adult figure in Chewy’s life throughout the whole book and she came across as very irresponsible and flighty. She did things without any clear explanations, and the characters, as well as myself as the reader, were just left guessing a lot of the time.

This was by no means a terrible read. I really enjoyed a lot of the plot and how everything came together in the end, as well as all the Korean culture and mythology. I loved the little bit of historical fiction that we got and reading about the Korean War was super interesting to me. However, I thought the book needed a bit more development and better flow. I struggled a little while reading it and thought it needed a bit more polish.

Wrap Up: October 2015

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Hello everybody. Wow, the month has flown by pretty quickly! Where did all the time go? Before we get into what I read in October, I should share my exciting news that I announced last week. I am now a co-blogger at Happy Indulgence! Head over there to see more from me! My first post (a review of The Next Together) is now up!

I had a fabulous reading month in October. I read some pretty high quality books and I’m now 30 books away from my 2015 reading goal of 200 books! I think 15 books in November and December sounds doable (I’ve already finished my first book of November, this morning at 2am!)

Let’s get started with what books I read this month. As always, these appear in the order that I read them throughout the month and my reviews are linked.

October15

Reading summary header

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs  45 stars

A wonderfully mysterious and creepy book about a cast of peculiar children with peculiar powers living in the 1940s. It contains some amazing black and white photographs and beautiful writing!

2. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs  5 stars

The second book in the Miss Peregrine’s trilogy. This was my favourite book in the trilogy and definitely was not a ‘filler’ book in the series. It had me dying to read the next book.

3. Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs  45 stars

The final book in the Miss Peregrine’s trilogy. This was action-packed and thrilling, and everything I wanted this last book to be. Has a completely resolved ending and I’m sad that the series is over.

4. Zeroes – Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti  35 stars

The first book in a new series about a group of kids with special abilities. It was exciting and filled with action. I fell in love with some of the characters and cannot wait to read more about them in the next book.

5. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness  5 stars

This was a really dark and emotional read for me. It had a wonderful story with beautiful writing.. and it gave me all the feels.

6. Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang – Tim Learn  35 stars

The first book in a middle-grade series by an indie author. This book features a Korean main character with a unique superpower and how he deals with his bullies!

7. Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter – Tim Learn  4 stars

The second book in the Chewy Noh series. It did a great job of blending in Korean mythology and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Korean culture.

8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo  4 stars

The first non-fiction book I’ve read in a while – this book had lots of great tips and tricks on storage and decluttering.

9. A Little Something Different – Sandy Hall  15 stars

This was an extremely disappointing new adult contemporary. It was written from 14 different perspectives and was done quite unsuccessfully. I had many problems with the plot, characters and writing.

10. Outspoken – Lora Richardson  4 stars

This is probably the best self-published novel I’ve ever written. It was an incredible YA contemporary debut about finding your own voice.

11. Ice Like Fire – Sara Raasch  35 stars

The second book in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy, this book fell a little bit flat for me. There wasn’t very much that happened plotwise, and many of the characters went through some massive changes.

12. The Next Together – Lauren James  4 stars

A unique blend of contemporary, sci-fi, mystery and historical fiction. This book follows two characters that are reborn over and over, but end up together each time. It was filled with little notes and email exchanges and I thought it was a great debut novel.

13. Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff  4 stars

The first book in a sci-fi trilogy, Illuminae is written completely as a collection of classified materials. The formatting and graphics in the book were amazing and it was a unique reading experience.

14. The Billionaire’s Forbidden Desire – Nadia Lee  4 stars

It’s been a while since I’ve read an adult romance book and this one caught my eye as I was browsing through the iBooks new releases. It was good but had too many sex scenes for my liking.

15. The Lake House – Kate Morton  5 stars

This was my favourite book of the month. It’s a fantastic mystery, with the most beautiful writing and very realistic characters. I also loved the historical elements of the book and really enjoyed the 1930s Cornwall setting.

16. Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo  35 stars

The first book in the Grisha trilogy, Shadow and Bone didn’t really wow me. It has some interesting characters and a world that I enjoyed reading about, but I found it to be a little bit lacking. A full review will be up soon.

T10T

This month I did four Top Ten Tuesday posts:


Thanks for visiting. Did you read any of these books this month and what did you think of it? What was your favourite book of October?

Review: Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter by Tim Learn

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Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release date: July 15, 2015
Format: eBook
ISBN: 1505851459
Pages: 312 (eBook pages)
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Chewy Noh has many problems. Besides his mom becoming a mu-dang—a Korean fortune-teller possessed by his dead grandmother who can read minds—the school bully, Kent, is still on the warpath to get Chewy kicked out of school. With his secret ability to win at everything, none of this bothers him until he starts disappearing for no reason while a mysterious force attacks his fellow students, and he must scramble to figure out what’s going on before he becomes its next and final victim.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received an electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter is the second book in a middle-grade series by Tim Learn. I have written a review of the first book: Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang. You don’t need to read the first book in order to enjoy this second one, but it would give you a better background on the characters and the family history of Chewy.

Chewy is an 11 year old Korean boy who has a strange superpower. He has the ability to perform perfectly on all tests, in any format. This includes games like basketball and chess. But behind his superpower are some family secrets that are starting to cause some chaos in his life. He begins to disappear and reappear with no conscious memory of what happened. His classmates and friends become unconscious and are trapped in a coma. Chewy suspects that there are magical beings or spirits involved and he must get to the bottom of the situation before anybody else is harmed.

This second book in the series has a great plot! It was action-packed and extremely unique. It weaves together Korean mythology with everyday troubles that Chewy faces at school. As Chewy fends off attacks from his bully (who we met in Book 1) and his new teacher who is suspicious of his perfect test scores, he is also burdened by the fact that his family history might have something to do with the spirit that seems to be out to get him.

I thought the Korean mythology in this book was the most interesting aspect. I’m familiar with a little bit of Chinese and Japanese mythology, which shares similar aspects with Korean mythology, but it was fascinating to learn more about it and the names of different mythological creatures. I also really liked that it wasn’t an info-dump and that we learnt about the mythology through an original story arc that was incorporated into the book. The Phantasm of Winter definitely includes a lot of Korean culture and I really enjoyed it.

I really liked how well the different story arcs were integrated. The events of the past and the Korean mythology really come into play throughout the whole book. It was a well-developed story and everything made sense together. There were a couple of awkward chapter transitions between the chapters of the past and the chapters of the present, which made me feel like I was jumping around all over the place. But ultimately, everything that happened made sense together. There were a couple of things that were left unresolved but I expect that they’ll be resolved in the next book.

I liked the characters in this book a lot more than I did when I read The Fall of the Mu-Dang. I still thought that their dialogue was too mature for their age but they didn’t do anything that I wouldn’t expect a fifth-grader to do. The bullies were also mostly absent in this book, which made it a much more pleasant reading experience for me, because those kids are nasty. We also have the addition of Chewy’s cousin, Su-Bin, in this book and she very much acts like an ally to Chewy. I really liked that we had our very own awesome threesome, just like Harry, Ron and Hermione, and I wish we had seen more of this threesome.

I thought that the book was the perfect length. I finished it in about 2-3 hours and the ending left me wanting to know more about Korean mythology, as well as where Chewy’s story is heading. Chewy Noh is a really fun middle-grade series and I recommend it if you’re looking for a fast-paced middle-grade book that you can finish in one afternoon.

Review: Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang by Tim Learn

chewy-noh-and-the-fall-of-the-mu-dang

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release date: September 8, 2014
Format: eBook
ISBN: 1505814804
Pages: 386 (eBook pages)
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Chewy Noh has problems. He was born with them. Two weeks after his birth, the family fortune-teller saw bad things in his future…and she was right. The school bully hates him and will stop at nothing to get rid of him. His mother suddenly can’t get out of bed, complaining of horrible headaches. And worst of all, the secret his grandmother is hiding may be at the root of it all. But why should he worry? He’s a superhero with a power no one’s ever seen before!

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

I received an electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang is the first book in a middle-grade series by Tim Learn. This will be a five-book series, with two books released so far (A review for Book 2 will be up in a couple of days).

When the author asked me if I would like to read and review Book 2: Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter, I was a little bit hesitant to accept because I had a whole pile of ARCs from big publishers that I was trying to get through, and reading two more books seemed like a massive task I did not want anything to do with. But after reading the description for the book, I knew I had to read this series! It’s full of fun and adventure, and I would have loved this book as a pre-teen reader!

Chewy Noh is a Korean boy who recently moved from South Korea to the US with his mother. He’s incredibly smart and gets perfect scores on all his tests. But what you don’t know is that his ability to perform perfectly on tests is a superpower that he has been granted by a mu-dang (a Korean shaman/fortune-teller). His power starts to make him some enemies at school and these bullies will do anything to get Chewy kicked out of school. On top of that, there are some family secrets that are causing strange changes to his mother and his life.

I thought this book had a really fun and exciting plot. I loved how adventurous it was and I really enjoyed being along for the ride. The book was so packed full of action and had me wondering what would happen next. There were times when I thought the transitions between events could have been smoother – I felt like sometimes I was being jerked from one event to the next. This was probably a result of there being too many plot lines. It was a little bit hard for me to follow all of them and integrate them. I was just a bit confused at times about what was happening and why it was happening. There was also a little bit of unnecessary information at times, or descriptions of mundane events, which made the book feel very long. I think it could have been a whole 100 pages shorter.

The book had some chapters set in the past, describing the family’s history and secrets, and I thought these were some of the most interesting chapters because we got to see a lot of Korean culture. The book also transitioned very seamlessly from ‘past’ chapters to ‘present’ chapters. But there were also some chapters (mostly in Part 2) that all ended on cliffhangers, which I didn’t really like. It made the book feel overly dramatic and I didn’t think it needed to be that way.

The writing in this book was very easy to read, and I flew through this in about 3 hours. This book suffers a little from lack of editing, probably due to it being a self-published work. The writing isn’t as smooth and polished as I’m used to but I didn’t have too much of an issue with it since it’s a middle-grade book that’s supposed to be about the characters and their adventures. As long as there isn’t a huge number of typos, I’m fine with a little bit of weird grammar and awkward sentences.

I loved our main character, Chewy, and his best friend, Clint. They have such a great, supportive friendship and I really enjoyed the scenes where they were together. But other than those two characters, I didn’t really like anybody else in the book. Our bullies are terrible people and behave in ways that I could’ve never imagined. I’m glad I’ve never met anybody like them. They were really hateful and manipulative and I just found them to be despicable and their behaviour was honestly disgusting. The problem that I had with all of the characters was that they seemed to be a lot older than they actually were. They’re supposed to be fifth-graders but they say and do things that I would expect from much older kids. It just wasn’t believable and I almost had to imagine that they were high schoolers instead (I also hope that no 11 year old is capable of doing the things that these kids do in the book).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of things that would appeal to a middle-grade audience, as well as an older audience too. It was action-packed and has some diverse characters that you don’t see in very many books. If you enjoy reading about superheroes and their adventures, I think you would really like this story.