“Among Animals” and “Out of Breath” Book Reviews:

*Ashland Creek Press sent me these books in exchange for review but that in no way influences my opinions on the novels!*

Title: Among Animals

Editor: John Yunker

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Short Fiction

Publisher: Ashland Creek Press

Format Read: Paperpack

Synopsis: A collection of short stories depicting animals and humans and their intermingled relationship in society. This collection of contemporary short fiction explores the ways in which animals impact humans, and how humans impact animals. The stories’ animals range from cats and dogs to elands and emus.

The narratives are seen through the perspective of zookeepers, shelter workers, researchers and even the animals themselves. Although sometimes unsettling, “Among Animals” has stories you won’t soon forget. Within these pages are glimpses of the world through the eyes of a zookeeper, a shelter worker, a penguin researcher, and a neighborhood stray, among many others-all highlighting the ways in which animals and humans understand and challenge one another.

Among Animals is a dynamic collection of stories from the world’s most gifted contemporary authors-those who pay close attention to the creatures with which we share our planet, and who inspire us to pay closer attention as well.

Things I liked: (spoiler free)

i. Unique Narratives: each story had a very distinct voice. I was worried that a collection of short stories all about animals would get a little repetitive, but each author had their own voice and story to tell and each one was unique.

ii. Unsettling Message: I loved how the collection went even deeper than “man’s best friend” or really cutesy relationships with animals. Not a lot of the stories had happy endings, and many of them left a bad taste in your mouth. You aren’t likely to forget these stories any time soon, which I think is hugely important for readers in today’s society. Human’s have a very complex, and not always good, relationship with animals.

iii. “Meat”: I thought one of the short stories “Meat” deserved special recognition. Everyone should definitely read it. I thought the message was really powerful and just SO important and prevalent.

Things I didn’t like: (spoiler free)

i. No happy endings: Honestly I would have liked to see at least a few happy endings… I think it’s a little unrealistic for every story to end badly. Some of the relationships between humans and animals should have been happier– as animals have brought me only joy and happy endings in my life.

ii. Engagement: not all of the stories grabbed my attention. Obviously, that’s to be expected in a collection of short stories, but I wish I had connected to or liked more of them. I thought each had a unique message that deserves recognition, but I’m all about liking the story, and I found that difficult at some places!

Title: Out of Breath

Author: Blair Richmond

Rating: n/a

Genre: Paranormal, YA

Publisher: Ashland Creek Press

Format Read: Paperpack

Synopsis: (taken from le goodreads)

Nineteen-year-old Kat Jones has been a competitive runner since she was a young girl, but after her mother’s death, the path her life was supposed to take begins to crumble around her — until one day, she finds herself on the run in a literal sense, this time in a race for her very life.

Kat’s journey takes her to the Pacific Northwest town of Lithia, the place of her last good memories, of the days when her mother was still alive. But soon after her arrival, strange things begin to happen in Lithia — and when one of her new friends disappears under mysterious circumstances, Kat begins to realize that Lithia’s inhabitants are not all of this world. Worst of all, she is falling in love with one of these otherworldly locals, and the friend who hopes to save her has secrets of his own.

As Kat tries to rebuild her life, she is also training for a race that will turn out to be her biggest challenge yet, as she must outrun not only the demons of her past but the demons of the here and now, who threaten her very existence and that of the entire town.

****DID NOT FINISH****

Unfortunately, I had to DNF this book, and because of that, I’m going to take a different approach to my review. I read up to page 100 and I was just unable to get into the story. Honestly I do not see myself picking up this book in the future, but I am in no way trying to persuade others from reading it! Please keep in mind that this is just my opinion 🙂

One of the things I did like about the book was the vegan message. I’m all about that vegan life! I loved how often veganism was mentioned in this novel and how Kat didn’t take any shit for it. I’ve never read a story where the main character was vegan or where veganism was mentioned at all, so I really enjoyed it!

To be honest, I found it difficult to relate to Kat. As a passionate anti-runner (lol) I just struggled to relate to her and how much she loved running. I really tried to finish this book but I just have too many other books on my TBR that I am looking forward to reading and though I am SO grateful for Ashland Creek Press sending this book to me, I have to be honest with my review and the fact that I didn’t finish the book. I found many aspects of this book kind of frustrating, and could not continue.

First of all, I could see the love triangle coming on and I absolutely cannot read a book with a love triangle. Not only that, but although some aspects of the book made it unique, many of the tropes in this book didn’t make it stand out in the YA genre. There’s the dark, handsome vampire and the caring gentle nature boy and Kat the “loner, doesn’t know she’s beautiful type.”

In addition, I couldn’t really get into Richmond’s writing style. I found it a little jerky and never felt myself getting sucked into the story. I didn’t find myself wanting to know where the plot was going or feeling curious about what would happen.

I think I might have enjoyed this book if I were a bit younger, but nowadays I just don’t care for the genre of paranormal romance. I HATE comparing books to other books (if that makes any sense) but I couldn’t help comparing this book to twilight. The northwest setting, love triangle and loner, doesn’t know she’s beautiful type of girl just reminded me a little too much of Twilight.

I feel the need to say this again: I LOVED the vegan lifestyle insert. The vegan and environmental focus really stood out to me and I am very glad that this book is out in the world for people to enjoy and to just bring awareness to veganism which is literally never represented in books! So I do have a lot of respect for Richmond in that regard.

Thank you Ashland Creek Press for sending these books my way!!

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