Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cornerstone Series Review


Cornerstone (Cornerstone, #1)Author: Misty Provencher
Series: Cornerstone #1-3
Books: Cornerstone, Keystone, Jamb
Published: November 7th 2011
Buy: Amazon


Nalena Maxwell has been branded ‘The Waste’ at her new school, due to her mom's obsessive paper hoarding. Nalena desperately wants something to change in her life, but when she receives a sign (and it's the wrong dang one) inviting her into a mysterious, ancient community, too much changes. What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable. Seventeen years worth of family skeletons come crashing into Nalena's life and it is the boy...the one that smiles at her like he wants to hear everything she'll ever say...that already knows her powerful secrets. But it is only Nalena that can choose between protecting the life that is already crumbling beneath her feet and the one that might sacrifice everything she could ever have.
This review is for the first three books in the Cornerstone series:

You know how there are indie authors who, by all rights, should be superstars? I heard that they have a secret club and that Misty Provencher is their club president. Her Cornerstone series is the most original YA I’ve read in a long time. YES! You read that right. The. Most. Original. And in a genre that is in desperate need of originality.

The Cornerstone series has been getting a lot of positive reviews, but I honestly didn’t expect to lose two nights of sleep over it, and yet I found myself fully awake at 4 am holding a cup of tea in one hand and gripping my Kindle with the other. I almost squeezed the life out of my poor Ferguson. Cornerstone, then Keystone, then Jamb, all in less than two days. Every time I dared to think that it couldn’t get any better, Misty Provencher took things a step further.

Looking back, out of the three books, Cornerstone seems to be the weakest link. Provencher didn’t rush her worldbuilding or character building in the first book, which was later repaid with the sheer brilliance of Keystone and Jamb. Her worldbuilding is, admittedly, of the sink-or-swim variety, but that is my favorite kind if the new information is timed right. I was able to discover the community alongside Nalena, and the way in which Provencher did it achieved two important goals: first, she eased me into an extremely complicated, multi-layered world; and second, the confusion I occasionally felt matched Nalena’s confusion, and that made it easier for me to identify with her and like her all the more.

Truth be told, Nalena and I didn’t get along at first. She appeared to be weak and tended to get dizzy and faint a lot, and her ability to stand up for herself left a lot to be desired. I’m afraid I have very little patience for delicate flowers and it seemed that Nalena would be just the type of character I can’t stand. But as the story progressed, she found her footing and she slowly became a different person altogether. This was perhaps most evident in her relationship with Garrett. She never allowed him to take over her life (not that he ever tried to), choosing to question her feelings and build her independence instead. Their relationship is a beautiful, mature thing, something we don’t get to see often enough. Instead of losing themselves in each other, Garrett and Nalena found a way to function as two individuals who happen to be together. The difference is subtle, but it’s present in every decision they make.

With two characters like Nalena and Garrett and a complex, ever-expanding world, a lesser author would probably neglect the secondary characters, but Misty Provencher did the exact opposite. Garrett’s family, Addo Larry, other Alos and Contegos, each of them will become your best friend by the time you’re done with the first two books. In am fully invested in each of these characters and every time something happens to one of them, I lose a small piece of my heart.

Of course none of these books is without editing issues. Homophones are often misused (their instead of they’re and so on), but if that’s the price I have to pay for such a wonderful read, I’m happy to pretend not to notice. I’m sure these will be smoothed out in time anyway since Misty seems to be an author who approaches her work with utter seriousness and professionalism.

Cornerstone is now $0.99 for Kindle. I recommend getting a copy as soon as you can, it is quite possibly the best buy you’ll ever make. My 4.5 star rating is for the entire series: there were a few things I wasn’t happy with (the cliffhanger at the end of Jamb bothered me most of all), but there were also several breathtaking, unforgettable five-star moments.



49 comments:

  1. Yes some indie authors should be superstars! I've met some from that club but not their club president. How could I miss that. I haven't seen this series before but when you say original boy I don't need more. Amazing review Maja :)

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    1. Maja totally flatters me, Tanja! I am so honored by her.
      I hope you'll try out Cornerstone and let me know if you feel as Maja does. I would love to hear from you!

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  2. I've only seen these books on one other blog, Rainy Day Ramblings, and Heidi sings Misty's praises, too! Despite this I've always forgotten to get her books so thanks for the nudge, I just bought book one!

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    1. I am so excited to hear you'll be reading, Vegan!! I hope you will enjoy the stories! Please come back and let me know what you think!

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  3. I saw that you had enjoyed this on Goodreads! I know Heidi is a big fan too, so I definitely hope I can squeeze this series in some time later this year. I too have very little patience for delicate flowers, but I'm glad to hear Nalena grows well over the course of the series. And I think I can forgive a few editing issues if the rest is good enough. Fantastic review, Maja!

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    1. Hi Sam! I am happy to hear you are considering reading the series and the good news is that Cornerstone has been re-edited. I hope that the errors Maja encountered are long gone and will not impede your enjoyment. I'd love to hear from you if you decide to give it a go, Sam, and tell me what you think of Garrett and Nalena!

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  4. I really need to read this series, I have all the books out so far I just need to find the time and, you know, stop accepting ARCs and author requests so I can do it!

    I am so glad you loved these as well!!

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    1. Oh, my Kindlemom. I will chase you and wear you down until you give in and read, my lovely! I promise, I will!

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  5. Brilliant review, Maja! I'm glad that you enjoyed this series. I haven't heard of these before, so I need to look out for them. I think indie authors are underrated and there are so many amazing books that aren't popular enough. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Yay! I'm so happy to hear when a blogger reaches someone who hasn't heard of the stories before. I hope that they will bring you joy, Zoe, and that you'll let me know any which way! Thank you for considering the series!

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  6. I have seen so many positive reviews for this series but I never feel like reading it for some reason. I really must just give them a shot, though, because such a high rating from you means a LOT. Lovely Series Review, Maja! :D

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    1. I have to say I understand, Keertana. My blurb for Cornerstone is admittedly not very revealing I never wanted to give any of the story away, as I felt like it would lessen the reader's enjoyment. The backfire of that decision is that lots of people have passed over the story because the blurb doesn't properly sell it. I've gone round and round with myself many a time, fighting over whether or not to chuck a different blurb on the book.
      I hope that you'll give the stories a shot and I hope you'll let me know if I've done my job correctly or if I missed the mark with you. It makes a huge difference to me to hear back from folks about what they thought and I would love to see what you think.

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  7. Thank you so much for reading, Maja. I love the review. I would absolutely LOVE to be in the superstar club and if they'd have me for their president, well then, THERE'D BE CANDY FOR ALL!! lol

    Seriously, though, Maja, thank you for the lovely review and for letting others know. I am grateful and honored.

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  8. This sounds like an interesting series I might enjoy, Maja - despite the editing issues.

    Thanks for the honesty. :)

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    1. Hiya Joyous,
      I hope Maja had an old copy. I recently re-edited Cornerstone in February, so if you have a new copy, I hope that none of the old editing ghosts will haunt your enjoyment now. Please let me know!

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  9. Ooooh, thanks for putting this one on my radar, Maja! I honestly hadn't heard of it before, but I am always up for anything that can be truly described as original in a genre and age group where things become so played out. I'm also glad to see that the series grows, and that you had such great moments with it despite Cornerstone not being a smooth start relationship-wise.

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    1. I am excited to hear that you haven't hear of the series and may consider reading, Heidi. I will be very excited if you'd make a round trip if you do read and tell me your thoughts!

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  10. I went and downloaded the first one (which is free on kindle, yay!) after seeing your positive response on GR... will definitely have to check this out. It's always great to find some awesome indie author that deserves far from credit than he/she deserves. Thanks for pointing this one out for me! :)

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    1. Bonnie, thank you for reading! I hope that Cornerstone will bring you much joy. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on the story- I hope you'll find me and let me know. Thanks again for reading!

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  11. I'm so glad you gave in and gave these ones a go! I LOVE this series, so much! So every time I see a new review I get very excited!
    Cornerstone has been re-edited but when I read it I apparently never noticed the errors because I was immersed in the story or something.
    Anyway, fantastic review of this amazing series!

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    1. Thank you so much, Candace. Thank you thank you so so much for always letting people know about the books. <3

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  12. I loved that you had to read this back to back and stay up too late. I thought they were brilliant and I agree about the cliffhanger at the end of Jamb that was miserable. I see that plenty of people have been at least noticing me raving about this series and now with you on board that extra nudge should get a lot more readers. It is really such an original and entertaining series. So happy you loved it!

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    1. So many have noticed, Heidi, and I can not thank all you bloggers enough for reading the stories and letting others know what you thought. They would never have gone anywhere without the help of people like you and I will never forget that. Me = grateful.

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  13. So many of my blogger friends love this series that I KNOW I need to read them! I'm going to download them and add them to my TBR (*screams as it collapses and hopes someone finds her body under the deluge of awesome books*). Still not a fan of the covers, though. I'm a total cover 'ho and these -- while they match (yay) -- just don't scream "BUY ME! I'M AWESOME!" *shrugs* Shouldn't judge a book by its cover, I guess.

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    1. It's funny, Mary- I loved the Cornerstone cover when I got it, but then a few people pointed out some things to me. They said the cover looked Biblical and didn't say young adult. I struggled with finding another cover, but I did love the original and came back to it. However, I understand when you say you're not a fan of the cover and I'm not upset a bit.

      I hope you will look past the covers and give the story a chance! I would love to see what you think of them! You sound like an honest girl and if I could slam it out of the park for you, that would absolutely make my day!

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  14. I bought Cornerstone a good while back after reading Heidi's glowing review but it's sat on my kindle since and I've yet to get to it. I'm glad to see you loved them so much, three books in two days says a lot about how good they were. I don't mind minor editing problems in exceptional self published books either. Great review as usual :)

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    1. Oh Suzanne, I hear that so much- that folks get the book but it sits on their kindle. I hope you'll give it a shot and I hope to goodness that you'll be one of those people that loves it to pieces and writes me saying 'why didn't I read this before?'. That would be a beautiful gift!

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  15. Wow, I've never heard of this series before, Maja! I tend to stray from indie authors because I have extremely low tolerance for errors in books I read. Hearing that homophones are misused in this one makes be a bit hesitant to try it, BUT... your review is pretty great, haha. I love a good romance and a strong heroine. I think I'll have to try this series soon! Thanks for the marvelous review, Maja! :)

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    1. Hi Sophia!
      The book was recently re-edited in February, so I hope all the ticks and sqwerks are now gone. Hope it helps you to make a decision!

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  16. I've heard of this series but I didn't really know much about it. I'm glad it's so original though; there are a lot of indie authors that probably deserve way more recognition than they get, so thanks for spreading the word about one! Yay for a relationship that doesn't consume the MC.

    -Lauren

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    1. Hi Lauren! If you decide to take a shot at it, you can still try-before-you-buy on my blog! You can read the first five chapters for free and Cornerstone is bargain-priced at .99 cents. But I hope I can hook you and make you feel that you got the steal of a lifetime too. That would be absolutely FANTASTIC!

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  17. I need to pick this up because I know if you love something, Maja it must be really good! I know Heidi loves this series as well. I don't like the sound of a cliffhanger but that's not until the 3rd book. Lovely series review! :)

    There's another book by Misty I wanted to try: Hale Maree. I've seen great reviews for that one, too. *runs off to amazon*

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    1. Oh Rachel, thank you so much for giving my work a try. I will have my fingers crossed (and toes, legs, and eyes crossed too) that you will fall in love with them. Please let me know!

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  18. Oh, awesome! I'm not really familiar with this series at all. But you've sold me after only this one review, the first I've read! I admit, I can be pretty wary of indie reads because of poor editing sometimes - even the little things drive me up the wall! - but I think I should make an effort to get over that in this case. Because you're right: originality is a tough thing to find in YA these days and I value it immensely. Thank you so much for this enlightening review, Maja!!

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    1. HI Aylee,
      I've been trying to let folks know that Cornerstone was recently re-edited and I believe Maja had an older copy. I hope that all (if not, then the vast majority) of squerks and wiggles are out of the text now and that you will be free to enjoy the story.

      Thank you for giving it a try!

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  19. Yup, definitely agree with that first paragraph. I love Misty's books!!

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    1. Christy, you KNOW how much I love you, don't you? You deserve a cape! Thank you for the sweet compliment!

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  20. I love the idea of a series review! I read Cornerstone and though I thought it WAS original, I had a lot of trouble with the characters. Nalena yes, though I really just felt sad for her, but I did not like some of Garrett's previous behavior either. However, my friend Heather has been raving about the rest of the books, so I do want to pick them up and see where the story goes. I like that several are released so I can read a chunk of them together. I can't wait to see the characters and world building get stronger.

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    1. So sorry you didn't care for Garrett's behavior, Lauren. We'll just have to straighten him out! But I am very happy to hear you are still interested in reading the rest of the series. Enjoy!

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    2. Oh good! I know it's silly, but I am still angry at him for his previous 'relationship' with that horrible bully. But I definitely want to finish these books!

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    3. I hope that he does the right thing!! Thanks again for reading!

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  21. Oh, how interesting! I haven't read nearly enough indie novels, because I find it really difficult to find ones that are actually good—there's a lot of weeding through Amazon that must be done. I have seen many, many positive things about this series, though, and I think when you say it's the most original YA concept you've seen, Maja, that's saying something.

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    1. Thanks so much for considering the stories, Renae! I did have an agent at one point, but we did part ways. I decided not to pursue the Traditional publishing methods at that point, and I hope that I will not disappoint! Thanks again!

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  22. "I’m afraid I have very little patience for delicate flowers." Lol, me too! It's good to hear then that Nalena grows throughout the first book and the series as a whole. I normally don't read books by self-published or indie authors but I think I'll give this one a try based on your recommendation, Maja.

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    1. Wow, Canadian Girl! Thank you so much for giving the story a whirl. And thanks again to Maja for passing the word along!

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  23. Ok, between your series praise and Heidi's I feel even worse for shoving Cornerstone to the back burner for unexpected work and traveling craziness over the last week. I meant to start it last weekend, now I'm kicking myself! I will have to make time for it this weekend, because it sounds AMAZING. I love being kept up into the early AM hours, unable to put a book down. Thanks for the subtle kick in the butt I needed to get started on this series (finally!). Wonderful review!

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    1. YAY, Lauren!!! I'm so happy to hear that you'll be giving Cornerstone a try!!! I suppose the best I can hope for is that it will leave you sleepless as well, my girl! Hahaha

      I hope you'll let me know if you get through this weekend and come back with dark circles and a smile. I'd love to hear from you!

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  24. Wow! That's amazing! I picked up the first book when it was free, and really do need to get to it. I also know who's doing the reading for the podcast story. :) Thanks for the wonderful news about this series!

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    1. Thank you for trying it out, Melissa! I am excited to hear what you think and yes, there is a podcast in the works, if Starla can work it into her busy schedule. She's got a voice like BUTTAH, that girl!

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