Book Tour & Excerpt: Hatred Day by @tspettibone


Hatred Day

Author: T.S. Pettibone
Publisher: Chrysanthalix Press
Published: January 29th, 2016
Pages: 356
Audience: YA
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited


Blurb:

In the year 2052, it's not love but hate that unites the world. 

Humanity is unified against the Inborns, an extraterrestrial species with godlike intelligence and abilities whose arrival on earth caused an environmental and biological crisis. 

Enslaved and despised even by her own Inbornkind, 18-year-old Snofrid Yagami reawakens to the world after having her memories stolen and is certain of only one thing: she will do anything to ensure her freedom. But her resolution is soon tested when the son of a high-ranking human official is murdered and her home city becomes the center of the interspecies war, one that might see the Inborns purged. Desperate to find a way out of the city for herself and her family, Snofrid risks making a deal with the manipulative Inborn Commander, Hadrian, and his brutal cadre of soldiers. Her task is simple: take part in a historic hunt that will bring wealth and fame to all who survive. Unfortunately, Snofrid’s role is one in which survival is rarely seen—the bait.


Excerpt:

A Girl and Her Ghost

Age 4
The Empyrean City

I lived alone in a room without windows. It had one door that only opened on the last day of the month. There were giant chests of toys in the room. I kept my dolls in a wooden trunk with flower carvings, and my thirty books, I stacked in neat rows along the walls. All of my dresses were stored in a wardrobe beside my bed; if I left one on the floor, it was hung by the morning. Each time I woke, a tray of meat, fruits and vegetables, and a pitcher of water was on the table. Someone took care of me; I didn’t know who, but I think the person liked when I was neat. I named the person Ghost. I wanted to make Ghost happy, so I always made sure my toys, books and clothes were put away before I went to sleep. I used to stay awake, hiding my face with my covers, waiting to see Ghost when it came in, but nothing ever happened. Once I stayed awake for hours, and by the twenty-ninth hour, the food still hadn’t come. I stopped trying to see Ghost after that.  

But I talked to Ghost every day.  

I told it about the things I read; I sang for it; I told it stories; I told it when I was sad, or afraid, or when I felt lonely; and I asked it questions, even though it never answered back. Almost every time I did these things, the floor creaked on the other side of the wall, so I knew Ghost was listening. This usually made me happy, but sometimes it made me sad. I wanted Ghost to let me see it and play with me in the room.  

I didn’t know where the room was. I’d stopped wondering a long time ago. I hadn’t seen sunlight, or beasts, or plants, or the stars; I only knew about these things from pictures in my books. My favorite pictures were ones of the sky, and of giant towers with windows, and of beasts with bright feathers and furry tails. 

I had no idea what I looked like. I’d never seen my own face, only a blurry reflection in my food tray. I knew my eyes were large and that I was very small. I hoped I was pretty like the highborn women I read about.  

The two tall, masked men who walked me to the library each month to choose thirty new books were the only people I’d seen. One of them was skinny and so white he looked sick. He wore a black robe and always tugged on the sleeves until strings fell on the floor. The other one was as big as a warrior. I’d learned by heart the House insignia on his breastplate—a cold blue wyvern head with seven silver horns above five golden keys. Around it were silver cypress leaves and golden anemone flowers; if I looked closely, I could see the soft outline of a solar eclipse behind the wyvern’s head. I liked the swishes his blue robe made as he moved; the clicking sounds his spurs made when he walked; the way the light made his silver pauldron shine; and even the slow way he breathed.  

When the man in the black robe would lift me up to reach the books, he’d say in his raspy voice, “Don’t only choose science books. Some of the history books might have sweets behind them.” The man in the blue robe never let me stand close to him. I didn’t think he liked me. His silver eyes looked sad, sometimes mad, through his mask eyepieces. Every time I stared at him, he squeezed something in his pocket. It must’ve been sharp, because afterward his pocket would have blood on it. 

Then one day I left the room forever.  

I’d been drawing a picture of a beast for Ghost when the door opened. I was so afraid, I dropped my pencil. The man with the silver eyes picked me up and carried me down a passage for a long time. He didn’t talk to me or look at me, only held me in one arm, and kept the other one behind his back. I tried tickling his chin, but he didn’t smile. He had a big black Mohawk on his head and I touched it to see if it was sharp. It was poky and soft. When he didn’t talk to me, I told him about my friend Ghost. He stayed quiet. I fell asleep on his shoulder.  

When I woke up, he was setting me down before a metal transport. I’d seen a picture of one in a book and knew the guns on the side were dangerous. The door in the transport opened and I moved back when a young man with short black hair came out, smiling at me. He was handsome like the highborns in the books I read, but his brown eyes were slanted funny, and he didn’t wear armor. He crouched in front of me, and said, “I’ve waited to meet you a long time, Snofrid. My name is Ryuki Yagami and I’m going to take you to a new home.”  

I was afraid and hid behind the silver-eyed man’s leg. No one had ever spoken to me before—except for the raspy-voiced man behind the wall, who taught me about Inborn etiquette, and how to read and speak English. I didn’t want to go to a new home. I liked my room. I liked my books and my flower chest, and I didn’t want to leave Ghost. The silver-eyed man picked me up and put me inside the transport. Then, for the very first time, he talked to me, and said, “Daringly dared, half of it won, Snofrid.”  

I didn’t know what these words meant. I wanted to ask him, but he’d already put his back to me was talking to Ryuki in a language I didn’t understand. 

There was a little boy with golden brown eyes sitting in the back seat eating dried leaves. It was the first time I’d seen a person as small as me before. I wanted him to like me, but I was too afraid to sit close to him, so after I greeted him, I sat behind him. He stared over his seat with wide eyes, and said, “Stone me! You look just like my aunt Lorna.” His voice was loud, and I didn’t know how to answer, so I just nodded. The boy talked a lot more after that and I listened. He told me his name was Desya, and that we were going to live in a place called Hollowstone City, and that Ryuki was a good dad, and that we’d never have to be afraid with him, even though we were shamed. I didn’t know what he was talking about really, but after a while, I started saying things back. 

We drove through the passage for a long, long time. When I first saw the sunlight, it happened so fast that I screamed. It was the brightest light I’d ever seen. It was brighter than all my candles and lamps, and it burned my eyes. Desya gave me a pair of black goggles. As soon as I put them on, I was able to see the mountains, the trees, and the flowers. I thought of Ghost right away and was sad I couldn’t tell it how happy I was.


About T.S. Pettibone:

T.S. Pettibone is the pen name of identical twins, Brittany and Nicole Pettibone. They were born in California, grew up in Kansas, and these days, live and write in California. On the rare occasion that they break from writing, they enjoy being outdoors, taking their dog on night walks, reading the classics, drinking too much coffee, traveling the world, making friends out of strangers and learning new things—especially when these things are in any way related to architecture, foreign languages and cultures, cars, motorcycles, weapons and martial arts.

Website: http://tspettibone.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tspettibone

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/tspettibone/

Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/tspettibone/

Tumblr: http://tspettibone.tumblr.com
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Book Tour: The Colony by @KathleenGroger + #GIVEAWAY #freebook


The Colony

Author: Kathleen Groger
Publisher: Leaf & Thorn Press
Published: March 31st, 2016
Pages: 292
Audience: YA
Genre: Science Fiction, Aliens

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Trust no one.

Never go out in the dark.

Always have a weapon.


Sixteen-year-old Val lives by these three rules etched on her arm. Her rules and her gun are the only things standing between her and assimilation by hordes of human-looking aliens she calls Raspers.

By day, Val gathers supplies. By night, she hides and wishes she could go back in time…before her family died…before the annihilation…before the Raspers began stalking her and demanding she join their collective.

But when the Raspers attack in broad daylight, the truth becomes startlingly clear. 

They’re evolving.

A fellow survivor crashes into Val’s life. Adam’s full of charm and promises—like rumors of a safe haven—but there’s something wrong. He’s survived with no supplies, no weapons…no plans. Time is running out. With the formula for survival shifting around her, Val must decide how many rules she’s willing to break to escape the Colony.


My Review:

Due to an unforeseen technical difficulty, I have lost my file of written reviews. So I have no notes to go on and cannot give you an in-depth review with quotes and gifs like I usually do. For today, since The Colony is a part of a book tour, I will give my general thoughts and later post my full review on Goodreads and Amazon (and will update this post).  

I'm so sorry Kathleen Groger!! 

The Colony is a fast paced - action packed thrill ride. There was another review that stated that the show reminded them of a Walking Dead & the short-aired show "V". 

When I saw that I literally screamed "YAAAASSSS!" That is the perfect description for it, except the main character - Val - is a sixteen-year-old girl with a very strict rule book for surviving the alien invasion.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the characters and world - both of which felt natural. The plot was fantastic and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book.



About Kathleen Groger:

Kathleen wrote her first story in elementary school about a pegasus named Sir Lancelot. It had no plot or conflict, but it sparked a dream. After serving a fifteen-year sentence in retail management, the bulk in big box bookstores, she turned her love of reading into a full-time career writing dark and haunting characters and stories. She writes paranormal, fantasy, suspense, horror YA books.

She lives by the mantra that a day is not complete without tea. Lots of tea. Kathleen lives in Ohio with her husband, two boys, and two attention-demanding dogs. When not writing or editing or revising, you can find her reading, cooking, spending time with her family, or photographing abandoned buildings.


Book Tour & Review: Daughter of the Sun by @zoekalowriter + #GIVEAWAY


Daughter of the Sun

Author: Zoe Kalo
Publisher: Zoe Kalo
Published: April 1st, 2016
Pages: 330
Audience: YA
Genre: Mythology, Paranormal & Urban

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew. 
But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities. 
Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.


My Review:

Daughter of the Sun brings Egyptian mythology to the modern world. If you read my previous reviews, you’d know that I’m a bit of a fan when it comes to modern mythology re-imaginings. So when I had the chance to pick up a book offering me not only that, but also a promise of a mystery – I was SOLD!

“I happen to share DaVinci’s opinion that cats are the masterpieces of nature.” – Daughter of the Sun, Zoe Kalo

The story started off interesting. We are introduced to Trinity who is an orphan in London. The circumstances behind Trinity’s abandonment and the whole mystery grandmother to come out of nowhere was extremely interesting, but then the book began to stall for me. It was like that for a while until the mystery really picked back up.

There were some smaller “mysteries” that were a bit obvious to me, but that didn’t negate from the excitement of the story. At times Kalo had be fully engaged in the plot. A plot that was basically this in a nutshell:

“Why couldn’t I shake the feeling that there was something darker at work, that, unknown to me, I was taking part in someone else’s play?” – Daughter of the Sun, Zoe Kalo

Trinity wasn’t a character I connected with. I didn’t really care about her, but I cared for her story. I wanted to know everything. Why she was abandoned? Why were mysterious things happening to her body? What did this all have to do with the Cult of the Cat? WHAT WAS WRITTEN ON THAT PAPYRUS? (as you can tell that didn’t bug me – at all)

Seth and Ara were characters I truly enjoyed. Both had more depth to me and seemed more of an actual character than Trinity. The dynamics between all the characters were spot on and Kalo’s descriptions of a girl who’s completely infatuated were hilariously spot-on:

 “But my eyes were listening to me. They kept straying like naughty, disobedient street urchins.” – Daughter of the Sun, Zoe Kalo

I especially liked this simple quote about young love. It really rung true with my own strict upbringing:

“No wonder the nuns had been so admonishing about what could happen between boys and girls. This was powerful stuff.” – Daughter of the Sun, Zoe Kalo

If you are a fan of Egyptian mythology, crazy cat ladies, mysteries galore, old family curses, breaking & entering, and an ancient papyrus with a hard-to-translate script – all of this on a mysterious island right off the coast of Istanbul (not Constantinople) – than Daughter of the Sun is the book for you.



About Zoe Kalo:

A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery… 

A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.


Book Tour & Review: Demigods and Monsters by @RayeWagner + #GIVEAWAY


Curse of the Sphinx


Series: Sphinx #2
Author: Raye Wagner
Published: April 25th, 2016
Pages: 273
Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology 


Source: YA Bound Book Tours - I received this book for free from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

Can Apollo’s curse be broken?

Seventeen-year-old Hope Nicholas is done running. Apollo’s curse has ruled her entire life, limiting her choices and robbing her of the things that matter most. But she refuses to live in fear any longer. In fact, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to break the god’s power over her existence. 

When the goddess Artemis instructs Hope to impersonate a demigod and infiltrate a conservatory to get access to the Olympian library, she doesn’t hesitate. As she sees it, there’s nothing left to lose. 

But once inside, Hope discovers the only way to get what she needs is to work with her sworn enemies. As the lines between demigod and monster are crossed again and again, Hope has to dig deep for the courage to accept her fate or fight for the freedom to save herself.

Demigods and Monsters is the second book in the Sphinx series.


My Review:

You may remember me reviewing a book called Curse of the Sphinx a while ago where I exclaimed: Myths. Gods. Monsters. EMOTIONS!

I had the honor of being able to review the second book in the Sphinx series – Demigods and Monsters and boy, it did not disappoint.

“Hope wasn’t going to be a pawn for the gods. But she wasn’t above asking for a little help either.” – Raye Wagner, Demigods and Monsters

Again, we enter Hope’s world – where the stories of Greeks gods are more than just myth. They’re fact. And hope is living in this world as a human who changes into a monster two days a month. This curse – brought upon Hopes ancestors by Apollo – has taken everything from her. Her mother. Her sense of safety. Her ability to choose who she wants to love.

Hope is a wonderful protag. Her though processes and emotional responses to others and the various situations she finds herself in is refreshingly mature, but also appropriate for a 17-year-old.

“If patience was a virtue, Hope was a serious detriment to the moral fiber of society.” – Raye Wagner, Demigods and Monsters

Wagner again blew me away with her story-telling and vibrancy in description:

“Desperation made a foolish companion, and he wore his recklessness like a heavy cord, tangling his intuition and instinct into a messy knot.” – Raye Wagner, Demigods and Monsters

Her knack for describing emotional conflict is spot on:

“The words fell to the floor, the insincerity bouncing off the ground and pelting Hope from every direction.” – Raye Wagner, Demigods and Monsters

Demigod’s and Monsters picks up exactly where Curse left off. Hope has fled back to Seattle with Priska without letting any of her friends know. She’s on a mission this time to break the curse of Apollo and live her life in relative safety – as safe as she can be for a monster.

There were new characters introduced and a good chunk of backstory for them and Athan. These new characters were all amazingly written. As the title suggests, most of the characters were Demigods and Monsters – giving Hope a deeper insight to their world. Through her interactions with these characters she learns that not all Demigods are eager to murder monsters and not all monsters are good or safe.

“Hope looked down his longs legs to his bare feet, and the fire licked at her heart.” – Raye Wagner, Demigods and Monsters

There is a love triangle in this book. I’m usually not a fan because usually the other guy is only thrown in for conflict. I didn’t see Xan as an interloper. Xan’s purpose is to guide Hope through the nuances of conservatory life – taking her under his wing. Even though his feels grew for Hope and her attraction to him changed as well, she never could fully commit. 

Honestly though, the only conflict in love in this story is the fact that Hope is attracted to men who could be/ have been dangerous for her.

If you love mythology brought into the modern world, curses, stalker gods with a nasty temper, FEELINGS, and a girl discovering the world isn’t just black and white – then Demigod’s and Monsters is for you.



About Raye Wagner:

Raye Wagner grew up just outside of Seattle, Washington. As the second of eight children, she was surrounded by chaos, and escaped the mayhem by reading. 
Raye studied the art of medicine long before she had an interest in the Gods on Mount Olympus. 
One sunny afternoon, the history of Apollo’s ancient curse and the myth of the Sphinx dropped into Raye’s consciousness. She started scribbling notes down after her sister convinced her the story was worth writing. 
She writes young adult fiction for teens and adults.
Curse of the Sphinx, a YA urban mythology, is her first novel. Demigods and Monsters, the second book in the Sphinx series, will be released April 2016.


Book Review: Sky Drifter by Paris Singer (@DakuKarasu)

Sky Drifter

Author: Paris Singer
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Published: August 27th, 2015
Pages: 223
Audience: YA
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Exploration

Source: I received a copy of this book from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Wandering in the vastness of space, is the Sky Drifter; an academy reserved for the best students in the known universe. Seven is just such a student. Gifted in strategy and Sphere, he lives happily on-board with his friends Iris and Pi, taking on his rival, visiting planets for exploration and competition. Everything is the way he likes it, until he sees a mysterious girl in a red coat, who will reveal to him a secret that will bring everything he thought he knew crashing down around him.


My Review:

First of all, look at that cover. BEAUTIFUL!! And absolutely perfect for the book - it truly captures not only the SciFi theme, but the plot as well. WELL DONE!!

Sky Drifter is a prime example of mixing intrigue and action with AMAZING world building. The characters are well-developed, especially Seven – who is extremely likeable and despite his exceptional intelligence and -almost- perfect life. Then a mysterious girl shows up in a red coat and cue plot twists. 

All that being said, I did not care for the writing. It seemed a little juvenile at times and the manuscript desperately needed another round of editing. If the plot, characters, and world wasn’t so AMAZING – I would have put the book down before 20%.

If you liked Ender’s Game, charming characters, mysterious girls, colorful alien planets, schools on spacecraft, deception, and intrigue then Sky Drifter is the book for you.


Book Tour & Review: Starr Valentine by @WendeDikec + #Giveaway


Starr Valentine

Author: Wende Dikec
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Published: March 26th, 2016
Pages: 176
Audience: YA
Genre: Science Fiction

Source: I received a copy of this book from Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:


What happens when the beautiful swan becomes the ugly duckling?

Starr Valentine has a perfect life in Middleton, Ohio. She was named captain of the cheer squad, her mother finally allowed her to get highlights, and the cutest boy in school asked her to homecoming. But everything comes crashing down when she finds out her parents are actually monarchs in exile from a mysterious planet called Vega. Starr doesn’t want to leave, but loves the idea of being a princess, and decides moving to an alien world might not be so bad. When she gets there, however, she discovers that something is terribly wrong.

Starr has always been the winner of the family, but now everyone is fawning over her chubby older sister, Astra. And everyone, even a handsome and annoying young duke named Julian, seems to hate her. That is when she realizes the awful truth. Astra is now the pretty one. Astra has all the friends. Astra gets all of the attention. And Starr Valentine, voted Miss Perfect, is now the ugly duckling. Her biggest fear is…will she be able to turn back into a swan, or is she doomed to be a loser forever?


My Review:

Starr Valentine is your typical popular high school girl. She's beautiful, spoiled, the hottest guy asked her to homecoming - where she expects to be announced Queen. Her sister - Astra - isn't as lucky in the looks department, but she has maturity and kindness in spades. When their mother announces that they are aliens and will be returning to their home planet, Starr is ecstatic. She always knew she was princess and now it will be official, but everything on their home world is not what Starr expected.

Let me give it to you straight... Starr is exactly how the bratty, spoiled girls when I was in school acted. Let me say, it wasn't pleasant to be inside one of their heads. I REALLY didn't like listening to Starr commenting of the fatness of her mother or just how "special" she is. Although, once the story progressed and Starr realizes that she's not the most beautiful person on her home world, Vega, she does have an attitude change that is much needed - it felt like I had to be inside of her head more than I would have liked. 

My absolute favorite aspect of Starr Valentine is the world Wende Dikec created. Vega is imagined to be a wondrous place that I wish I could visit. Her prose and world-building are spot on. (I had to read this on a different device than I usually do, so I don't have examples and quotes for you, but trust me - the writing is amazing!)

I think the moral of the story kind of overlaps the romance - which I actually enjoyed. Julian is a charming love interest. It especially pleased me that he wasn't falling over himself to be with Starr. She had to make a positive change in her life in order to be truly attractive to him. Again... love it!

If you a fan of selfish brats learning valuable lessons, handsome Dukes with a good head on their shoulders, a mother and sister who are beautiful - even when the narrator doesn't think so, alien worlds with vivid imagery, and a smooth writing style that flowed - then Starr Valentine is the book for you. 


Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card to a Newsletter Subscriber, to be awarded June 1, 2016.

Subscribe to Wende’s Newsletter Here:  http://madmimi.com/signups/177092/join


About Wende Dikec:

Wende Dikec has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, and fun. Fluent in several languages and married to a man from Istanbul, Wende is a trekkie, a book hoarder, master of the Nespresso machine, and mother of three boys. A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.


Book Tour: Operation Omen by Taylor Brooke @taysalion + #GIVEAWAY


Operation Omen

Author: Taylor Brooke
Publisher: limitless publishing
Published: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 240
Audience: YA
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, science fiction

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

After an epidemic spreads through the country, Brooklyn Harper’s high school years come to an abrupt end.

Implanted in a rural camp, Brooklyn and her friends are cut off from their families and the outside world. Each day is filled with combat training to assure their safety against the crazed, belligerent, and deadly— those infected with a mysterious virus.

If the world couldn’t get any crazier, a letter ups the insanity…

After being assured day after day that the world outside their little camp had been compromised, Brooklyn’s cabin-mate, Dawson Winters, finds a letter that turns everything they’d known upside down. There is a world outside the trees that surrounds their camp, and the virus they all feared seems non-existent.

Determined to see it herself, Brooklyn plots with others to attempt an escape…

On the outside, Brooklyn finds the world is as normal as ever. But when they are attacked in the city, they dispose of their attackers far more efficiently than any normal human.. Is there more to Brooklyn and her friends then just being highly trained?

As their exploration continues, the group is faced with impossible feats. Betrayal, love, death, and a powerful sense of camaraderie lead Brooklyn and her friends to fight for their life, their freedom, and most of all, each other.



About Taylor Brooke:

Taylor Brooke is the author of the sci-fi adventure trilogy The Isolation Series. She started out as a freelance makeup artist, and quickly discovered her love of elves, zombies, mermaids, kaiju, and monsters of all kinds. After receiving eight professional certifications in special effects makeup, working on countless projects, and fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures, she turned her imagination back to her one true love — books. Taylor has had a knack for writing since she was a little girl, and received recognition for her skills throughout grade school and junior college. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of steaming hot tea in her hands, scanning the shelves for new reads, or hiking one of the many mountains that surround her home in Oregon.

Book Tour & Review: The Little Flame Series (1-5) by @melissalummis + #Giveaway


The Little Flame Series

Author: Melissa Lummis
Publisher: PeacePipe Productions
Published: September 30th, 2014
Pages: 495
Audience: New Adult, Adult, 18+
Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy

Source: I received a copy of this book from Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Fiamette Jurato is on a mission: to fix her broken past. She’s teamed up with the world famous DJ, Maximillian, to search for the ex lover who can help her put all the pieces back together. There’s only one problem: he’s been dead for over two hundred years.

As a healer to the supernatural, she’s no stranger to navigating the impossible maze of magical complications. But getting lost in the magic isn’t the problem; finding her way back home is. 


My Review:

This book series is for 18+ due to graphic sexual scenes. If that is not your scene then you should probably move on.

Every now and then I run across a book (or in this case a series) that is a great mix of storytelling and character development that is neatly wrapped in a lighthearted package. The Little Flame Series, books 1-5 are exactly that.

In the Little Flame world, paranormals live side-by-side with humans in what I gathered was modern America in relative peace. The series is centered on Fiamette or Fia. She is a healer - a supe with preternatural abilities allowing her to see the Qi, the physical life force, of the universe and be able to channel it - or so she thinks. Her healing abilities are different and much stronger than other healers and then there is how she has to “feed” – not to mention who she has to feed from - in order to refuel her energy reserves.

“Sometimes, the best way – the safe way – to hunt was allow oneself to be hunted.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

This world is fantastic. From the way the supes are organized to how Lummis integrated them into our human world – everything blended and worked within this universe. Over the five books in this box set, you discover a little more with each story that adds to the overall plot. Within there are subplots that not only add depth to characters, but give you more perspective on the world Fia lives in and the emotional and physical conflicts between all the characters.

“She sounded like the young, insecure girl she was – a lovely girl who didn’t know if she was enough. My stomach felt an old, familiar pang.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Fia is a great main character. Lummis did an amazing job making her relatable and complex. I felt like she was every bit her “age” with her inner musings like the quote above. I adored that Fia’s strength came from her intense devotion to those around her – especially those she loves. Her inner monologue is both hilarious and endearing – particularly there were a few times I laughed when she was being intimate.

“I felt like a safe being unlocked on click of the tumblers at a time. Five to the left. Twenty-three to the right. Nine to the left. Oh – I came undone in a bright wave of pleasure.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Although I love how she described the sensation above, it made me chuckle. Not sure why – it’s probably just me.

Speaking of the writing, I enjoyed how Lummis weaves lighthearted humor throughout each story and when she introduces complex situations and heavy emotional scenes, Lummis can turn on the depth.

 “I didn’t want to be without his skin that smelled like ancient forests warmed in the summer sun.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

The Little Flame series is one of the few books that I read where the main character breaks the fourth wall. Sometimes it works and other’s it seems out of place. In this series it was the latter. Every time Fia would address the reader it seemed a bit sudden and rude - which isn’t Fia’s personality at all. I’m sure Lummis was going for sassy – which is exactly Fia’s character, but it didn’t come off that way to me.

“Most healers sensed it through intuition, thus the third eye association. Chakra theory. Look it up.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Max is an interesting love interest. He’s a DJ and surrounds himself with interesting supes. Fia and Max run into each other while she was working as a dancer for one of his shows. They hit it off, but Fia struggles with her succubus nature and her feelings for Max. Their relationship is natural and progresses in a way that is believable regarding the subplots and background that is uncovered throughout the series. Although, I feel that – at times – Max is a little bland compared to the sassy Fia, they are a good fit.

“In that simple act of comfort, I discovered that unconditional acceptant and, dare I say, love were real. I squeezed him tighter, and he chuckled.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

There is a pseudo-love triangle. It’s not your typical “who do I pick” type of situation, instead it’s brings more complications and brings plenty of realistic drama to Fia’s life. It doesn’t truly develop until later in the series when Fia’s emotions for Max become actualized.

There are so many other characters in this series that are equally amazing in their own right. Each side character is just as developed as the main ones with intricate backstories and their own plot lines that do add to the overall plot. There isn’t a single character that I didn’t like and that’s including the antagonists. Not that I liked their antagonizing, but their characters were spot on.

“How did he do this to me? How did he steal the sulk and self-pity right out of me and replace it with this lightness?” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Overall, if you’re looking for a series that is fun, full of magical vengeance, steamy love scenes, supernaturals around every turn, antics galore, and a female lead who finds herself in hilarious situations – The Little Flame Series is for you.



Melissa Lummis writes new age suspense in a fantasy setting, but her stories are also straight up, steamy adult romance. The Love and Light Series is currently available at Amazon exclusively, as well as the Little Flame Series, a spin off focusing on the character Fiamette from the Love and Light world.

 

mellissa lummis.jpg

Melissa considers herself a truth seeker and a peaceful warrior, in addition to a paranormal and fantasy author. With too many interests for her own good, she has rarely been content with one vocation. Her first professional life was as a high school English teacher, which led to another incarnation as a wife and an instructional designer /technical writer. After starting a family, she found herself reincarnated yet again as a mother, yoga instructor, and personal trainer.

While all her past lives have contributed to who she is today, yoga has become a part of how she gives back, maintaining her Registered Yoga Teacher status with Yoga Alliance so she can help people one-on-one to overcome physical limitations and heal themselves. But she has always been and always will be a writer. She’s authored dozens of wellness articles for various publications, as well as maintains a blog focusing on wellness, healing, and living a life on purpose.

A Yankee by birth and a Penn State graduate, she lives in rural Virginia with her husband, two children, an Alaskan Malamute, and a myriad of forest creatures. Melissa believes the universe conspires to help an adventurer, and if we live our lives as if it is a daring escapade (and it is!), then everything we need will find its way to us. 


Book Tour: Never Stop Falling by Ashley Drew @ashleydrew88_ + #GIVEAWAY


Never Stop Falling

Author: Ashley Drew
Publisher: Ashley Drew
Published: March 1st, 2016
Pages: 288
Audience: New Adult
Genre: Contemporary, College

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

She didn’t expect to fall for her best friend.
He was always waiting to catch her.

Corinne Bennett lives in the moment. Whether she’s skydiving out of an airplane, or setting off on the road to anywhere, she’s ready to dive into the next adventure. That is, if best friend and always-by-the-book Nicholas Kelley doesn’t put his foot down on her wild stunts first.

When Corinne gives in to her growing feelings for Nicholas the summer before their freshman year of college, she takes the ultimate risk, making this one adventure he has longed to explore with her.

But the moment they take that irrevocable leap, a shocking revelation blindsides Corinne, exposing her vulnerabilities, baring her fears, and shattering her beliefs about love. With their future—and most importantly, their friendship—now clouded in doubt, she must decide if love is really worth the risk.

Because when it comes to love, you never stop falling.


Excerpt:

“Tell me what you find so funny? What’s going on in that cute little head of yours?”

Fucking-A. Did I really just say that? A Freudian slip? So I said the word cute. Big deal, right? That word could have multiple meanings other than in a flirtatious context, and I’m not flirting with her, at least not on purpose.

Cori’s laughter never wavers in spite of me backing myself into a corner with my word choice. Maybe she didn’t hear it. Maybe she doesn’t want to think that she heard it. Or maybe she doesn’t want to make the situation awkward for either of us, so she pretends like it’s the most casual thing in the world. I think she and I both know that surely isn’t the case.

Once the laughter subsides, she takes a look over the guardrail, surveying the drop to the beach. I’ve seen that look in her eyes multiple times before. It’s the same look she had before she convinced me to trespass and investigate the farmhouse up on the hill near our houses, the one rumored to be crawling with ghosts. It’s also the look she had before she got Braiden and me to jump out of an airplane with her.

“I know that look,” I recognize, watching every calculating move of hers. “Please tell me you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking.”

She turns her head in my direction, a Grinch-like smile spreading devilishly across her face. “Of course I am. You want your money shot? We’re gonna go get it.”

She begins to walk in the opposite direction of the Jeep when I tug at her elbow, halting her to a stop. “Hell no. Not happening. Can’t do it.”

“Says who?”

“Says that sign over there saying it’s completely illegal to go down to the beach. Plus, it doesn’t look safe at all, and I’m not going to let you leave here with a broken ankle or leg.”

I would never admit it out loud because I’d look like a pansy, but chances are, I’d be the one leaving here with the broken something, and Cori sees right through my assumption.

“Well, that’s rather sexist,” she smirks, crossing her arms. “For all we know, you could leave here with the broken leg.”

“No one is going to leave here with anything broken, because we’re not doing it.”

I’d like to say that putting my foot down on Cori’s crazy antics in the past had been pretty effective, but I’d be lying. What normally started off as me putting my foot down usually ended up with me and my foot in my mouth because I’d often end up going along with whatever she wanted to do. But not today. The climb down would be too dangerous. Plus, it’s getting darker by the minute, so nothing about doing this would be safe. I think she gets it, but it doesn’t mean she won’t stop trying. It is Cori I’m dealing with here.



About Ashley Drew:

A San Francisco Bay Area native, Ashley Drew currently lives in Los Angeles. When she’s not going cross-eyed after writing for five hours straight, or burying her nose in a book, you’ll find her sprawled on her couch watching General Hospital, having alien conspiracy discussions with her husband over a bottle of bubbly, and dancing to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album with her daughter.


Book Tour & Review: Princess of Tyrone by Katie Hamstead @KatieTeller1


Princess of Tyrone

Author: Katie Hamstead
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Published: March 31st, 2016
Pages: 256
Audience: YA
Genre: SciFi, Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Source: I received a copy of this book from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Apolline is happy hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the blood and guts of her kills. Never once did she consider she could be the missing Princess of Tyrone. 

All her life, she has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable.

Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—but he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Her guardians warn her against her new found friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms.

But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever. 

A quirky, adventurous retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a less than princess-ly princess!


My Review:

One of my favorite types of books are fairy-tale retellings. Especially when they are re-imagined as science fiction. When the Princess of Tyrone showed up in my email, I jumped at the opportunity to review it. Literally.

First, look at that cover. Just soak in the beauty. Lovely, right?

Princess of Tyrone is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with all the fantasy and science fiction/ galactic goodness. With the exception of a few other retellings, most I've come across have been mostly fluff. So, I wasn’t expecting such depth in Princess of Tyrone. There was not only a complex plot line, but Hamstead intertwined other Grimm Brother tales into the history of this universe, as well as, included a varied cast of fairy tale characters in the current time of Princess of Tyrone.

Apolline is one of my favorite protags that I’ve read this year. She’s exactly how I imagined a girl raised in an enchanted wood on some distant planet to behave. I love her tomboy side:

“Are you telling me she misses out on the best part?” I lifted the heart in front of Ashlan’s face and squeezed it, making blood ooze down my arm. – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

And how she’s interested in weird stuff:

“I loved her lab; it appealed to my gory side. She, like Sophronia, had animal parts on shelves, but Fantine’s were in jars and cans to be sued for her potions.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

She had legit reasons for not wanting to be pretty and it wasn’t just “to be different than other girls”:

“I had no desire to look pretty. We lived on an outer perimeter planet where girls who made themselves look pretty usually were whores.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

Apolline’s snarky sense of humor was refreshing. Especially when Allard came into the picture. She didn’t just fall over her feet at the sight of some handsome guy.

“That was… impressive. Very classy.” I rolled my eyes. “Look around you. This isn’t a ballroom.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

Speaking of Allard… I loved him. His and Apolline’s romance story arc is my favorite part of this book. The tension of the “I’m betrothed to someone else, but I’m really starting to like you” was amazing. Although, going into the story, if you ever watched Sleeping Beauty, you know the outcome of their romance. BUT it doesn’t deter the intense feels as you watch the two of them struggle with their own emotions.

“Opening them quickly, I forced my feelings aside. I couldn’t have feelings for him, it was breaking a vow. A vow I didn’t make, but a vow all the same.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

I loved how over time Apolline allowed herself the freedom to be more than just a huntress who lives with three eccentric ladies in the woods. She opens herself up to the idea of being attached to someone else. To explore the idea of wearing dresses or visiting with people her own age.

“The slight smile, and twinkle in his eyes told me he felt he’d accomplished something. My heart melted, and I didn’t feel like I needed to be so tough around him.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

All of the supporting characters were amazingly written with their own background story’s that gave them depth and a realism that added to the overall story. I especially liked the background story between Apolline’s parents and the antagonist – Bryanna.

“Happily ever after is something you have to make yourself, it won’t just be handed to you. I think the king and queen are happy, despite all their tragedy. So just imagine how much happier they will be when their daughter returns.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

You will love Princess of Tyrone if you’re a fan of the Grimm Brothers, Firefly (I mean – who isn’t), a huntress who is also a princess, a relentless prince, and a love story that is half angst and half so sweet your teeth may hurt. 



About Katie Hamstead:

Born and raised in Australia, Katie's early years of day dreaming in the "bush", and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

When her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, climbed into bestselling status, she believed she was onto something, and now has a slew of novels now available, and is published through Curiosity Quills Press, Soul Mate Publishing, and REUTS Publishing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports, and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.


End of March Roundup

Hello Beautiful People!

This was supposed to post on March 31st... Oops! 

March has been one hell of a month. It started off fun and full of adventure as my family went on our yearly big camping trip. This year we went to Big Bend National Park. We went last fall, but it was with my husbands grandparents and we didn't have much say over what we did or where we went. 

Camping in Big Bend, Texas

Camping in Big Bend, Texas

But we loved the area. Especially me - I fell in love with a little town called Marfa, a little hipster town in the middle of the dessert. The town is filled with both modern culture and history, but what attracted me the most was their mystery lights. Especially since - while I'm finishing Shift, I've been working on my next book which is set in a desert town in southwest Texas. The mystery lights fit with the lore of my next world and I just adored being able to immerse myself in Marfa. 

Other than a little book research, my family and I hiked a lot and enjoyed the ABSOLUTELY amazing view of the night sky at Big Bend. The park is one of the few places in America that can boast having low light pollution, making the night sky brilliant. My future Space Engineer son (his idea, not mine) enjoyed looking through his new telescope at his favorite constellations.

My future Space Engineer listening to a lecture on Solar Flares.

My future Space Engineer listening to a lecture on Solar Flares.

One of the Big Telescopes at McDonalds Observatory

One of the Big Telescopes at McDonalds Observatory

While in the area, we visited McDonalds observatory where my son and I got to listen to a few presentations on mapping the night sky and solar observations - Yes, my 5-year-old son was interested - he hates to read, but will listen to an astronomer drone on and on about zodiac constellations. My entire family went to the star party where we had the chance to look through their telescopes at differently heavenly bodies. Our favorite was Jupiter and three of his moons.

I'm so glad my family had the chance to get away and have such an amazing time together, but as we drove home I received some news that shook me to my core...

If you have read any part of my acknowledgements in The Caelian Cycle or just know me in person, I am a member of a group of women/moms who all had children the same month and year. We call ourselves the JanMoms. We're a tight group who have multiple get together's throughout the year. We share joys and heartaches. We are a support group. 

I was close to one amazing woman in particular, Jo. She and I bonded over our love of geek culture, anime, and fan fiction. It was Jo who encouraged me to write and publish my book. It was Jo, along with Kathryn (another awesome JanMom), who read Lost before anyone else. 

Needless to say, we were pretty thick. 

Jo & I a few years back

Jo & I a few years back

On my way home from vacation, I get the news that Jo passed away. She had been struggling with some issues due to a surgical complication for months and her body finally gave out, but it was a shock to me. Before I had left, she had gone home and was doing better. During the vacation, we had no electricity and a signal was hard pressed to come by so I didn't see that she went back in to the hospital.

I was blindsided. 

Her passing tore my heart in two, but not just because the world lost an amazing woman. My heart broke for her husband and daughter - who is the same age as my son. With help from my fellow JanMom's I was able to go to her funeral the weekend after we got back from vacation. It was hard to witness, but I'm incredibly glad I had the chance to say goodbye.

The rest of March flew by in a blur, there was Holy Week, my grandfather's cancer came back, and another funeral to attend. Next thing I know I'm looking at April. I hope that I find peace in April. 

With lots of love!!! Stay awesome.

Book Review: Revolution by Jessica Frances

Revolution

Author: Jessica Frances
Publisher: Jessica Frances
Published: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 334
Audience: YA
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

I was raised in a world where humans no longer rule. 
In the past, we made a terrible mistake by creating a new species we thought would serve us as our army, which led to our downfall. 
There was a war, we lost, and many lives were massacred. It was the end of life as we knew it and the beginning of a hell we were now trapped in. We became enslaved to what we now called Superiors, becoming pets to them, simply there to entertain. 
In a world so miserable, I managed to do the unthinkable: I fell in love. But even that was doomed, because to love a Superior was forbidden.
What the rest of the Superiors didn’t know was how deeply a human could love or how resilient we became when we were hurt.
The Superiors never could have imagined an uprising, which was why they never saw it coming.
Humans deserved to be free, and I would stop at nothing to deliver that promise.
My name is Tilly, and I am still alive with one sole purpose: to begin a revolution.

~

I had been raised to believe humans were worthless. We owned them and controlled them, and when we were done with them, we threw them away. Therefore, I never thought I would ever feel more for Tilly than disinterest. I never expected to want to save her.
It was forbidden for a Superior to love a human. No one had ever crossed that line, but I did. I fell madly in love with her, so it was no surprise how we ended up.
I was raised to be a soldier, and that was what I was always going to be. However, I was not a soldier for the Superiors, not anymore.
I became a soldier for humans, and I would stop at nothing to help them. They deserved to be free, and I would die protecting them.
My name is Johnny, and I am here with one sole purpose: to finish a revolution.


My Review:

In Revolution, we find ourselves in a world where human technology progresses to the point of its own destruction by creating an advanced race of human. These Superiors enslaved humanity – treating them like animals and sometimes less than that. Hope is found when a human girl and a Superior boy fall in love.

I wanted to like this book. Really I did, but it didn’t catch me. Honestly, I almost gave up around 3%, but I decided to push through it. What hung me up the most (other than me not connecting the Tilly) was that there was a lot of repetition – the same thoughts mentioned within the same chapter and throughout the book. It was distracting. I also wasn’t a fan of the writing style it was at times to formal and other’s it just didn’t flow – but that is my issue. Although it started out slow, the story did progress and became interesting enough to capture my attention until the end.

“I have never been much of a crier, used to the abuse and bleak life I have often have to face. However, since I have been down here, my tears have been endless, and suddenly, everything feels like it is too hard.” – Revolution, Jessica Rowse

My favorite aspect of Revolution was the narrative. It is split between the two main characters Tilly and Johnny, but the catch is that you find out rather quickly that Johnny is dead. Johnny’s narrative starts in the past and Tilly’s is present day. The two narratives are woven together well and despite knowing about Johnny’s fate, it didn’t negate from the tension.

Tilly wasn’t a character I clicked with. Did I sympathize with her? Hell yes. Did I root for her? Yes. Did I like her? Not really. I can’t tell you why I didn’t click with her, I just didn’t. She seemed a little too well-rounded for a girl who spent most of her life a slave. Yes, she had Charlotte and Johnny – but the abuse she endured was something I feel would have left her with more pronounced emotional scars.

Johnny’s story was endearing and I loved every single one of his chapters. Watching him struggle with what he was told and what he sees with his own eyes that leads him down the path of loving Tilly was heartwarming.

“I hope my eyes are no longer the blue Tilly mentioned liking earlier. My default appearance was something she liked, and I don’t want to steal that comfort away from her. For some reason, I can’t bear the thought of hurting her while I looked like that.” – Revolution, Jessica Rowse

His past chapters detailing the abuse his father gave not only to Tilly, but to him and his sister were offset by Charlotte – his human-loving, caring sister. Over his chapters, Johnny struggles with discovering his emotions – something that is obvious to us the readers, but not in an annoying way.

I really enjoyed the moral implications of Revolution. How it exaggerates racism to its extremes, exploring what life would be like if the entire human race was subjected to super beings who hated them. This moral that makes the core of Revolution is important – even in its exaggeration – it is something that I feel needs to be written about more. 

Book Review: Borrowed Magic by @shari_lambert

Borrowed Magic

Author: Shari Lambert
Publisher: Shari Lambert
Published: January 30th, 2016
Pages: 287
Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

After a three-year siege, Lord Kern, the dark mage, is dead. Magic has left Tredare, and life is almost back to normal. 

For everyone except Maren, that is.

Before the siege, an attack by Lord Kern left Maren near death and with a sliver of magic buried deep inside her. Now, for reasons Maren doesn’t understand, that magic has been triggered, giving her the ability to “see” the truth: that her world is nothing more than a magical façade; and that the kingdom’s hero may not be a hero at all.

But this gift of sight comes at a high cost. Maren is in constant pain, and fears her own death is imminent. Plus, no one believes her suspicions that another Dark Mage has risen, and that Tredare may be in just as much danger as it was when Kern was alive. 

With the country’s future in the hands of a man who’s vowed revenge on its king, Maren must convince someone else of the truth. Unfortunately, the only person powerful enough to help is also the one man she can’t trust; the man she almost married; the man who abandoned her and disappeared for three years: Kern’s son.

As Tredare crumbles around them, Maren must persuade him to help - before the king is murdered by the very hero he reveres; and before the same magic that gives Maren the gift of sight also takes her life.


My Review:

Not many books keep me on the edge of my seat, but Borrowed Magic’s nerve-wracking plot and unrelenting heroine was the perfect recipe for just that.

The story starts after a three-year war against the dark mage Kern. Maren, our heroine, is the King and Queen’s closest friend and is nervously awaiting the return of her childhood friend, Phillip, whom she hasn’t seen since he left Maren confused and broken-hearted. When Phillip returns with fellow war hero and mystery-man Teige, who makes Maren uncomfortable – in more than one way. She discovers that not everything is what it seems and becomes a pawn in a deadly game.

“Respect, over time, could transform into love and sincere devotion. It would make people follow a leader without questions, trusting in him not to lead them astray.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

I’ll tell the truth. The story started off kind of weird. You were thrown into a conversation between the Queen and Maren without context and I don’t think anything said was explained later. However, once Phillip and Teige arrived, the plot moved along at a steady, building pace that put my emotions through the ringer.

Lamberts prose was on point – it was polished and vivid.

“That’s what poetry is,” she said, running her hand over the well-worn cover. “Truth in beautiful words.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

One of my biggest pet-peeves in literature is a weak heroine. I want the girls I read about to be flawed, but strong of character and Lambert delivered when she wrote Maren. Maren is a different type of heroine – she a lady, grew up in a castle, and lives in a society where woman do not have leadership roles. She’s not a warrior/ bad-ass. HOWEVER, that doesn’t negate her strength. Maren is intelligent – the King’s friend and trusted adviser (although in a non-official capacity). She is sweet, kind, and gracious to all those around her even Lady Kira – the castle mean girl – and even those she find’s unsavory.

Maren’s struggles throughout the story are hard and although she succumbs to A LOT, she doesn’t go down without a fight. Sometimes her self-preservation is non-existent and I wanted to scream at her, but even though I felt that there were times she could have saved herself pain, I don’t feel her character would allow even an ounce of selfishness when her loved ones are involved. I simply adored how Maren - who isn’t your typical heroine -was integral to saving the kingdom.

Phillip is a brooding Lord with an interesting history that you discover well into the story. He was the one who found the soldiers and trained them in order to finish the war against Kern – although Phillip was the one to put a sword in his heart. Phillip and Maren have a long history – they loved each other since childhood. Yet, when Phillip discovers a secret that he thinks Maren kept from him, they part after a series of hurtful words were spoken.

“She’d always wondered about girls who cried over a broken heart. Now she understood. It was something intangible that she couldn’t explain. But it brought with it a physical pain that shot through her chest and robbed her of breath.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

I won’t lie and say that didn’t bother me because it soooooo did and Maren’s continuous declarations of wanting Phillip to trust her were echoes of what I was thinking. Yet, I completely understood both sides and their reactions. They were young and when they meet again after 3 years and a devastating war, they were both changed. Their love story is beautifully woven throughout a gristly tale. Both characters growth is immense and they have plenty of hardship, but love is never an easy road.

“She recognized the feel of his arms and the sound of his voice, but is was more than that. She recognized him.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

Lambert is a master at building your anticipation and tearing your heart out to where you felt there was no happy ending in sight. Although I adored this book, the ending felt rushed. There were a few emotional points that I felt were skipped over that didn’t rise to the standard Lambert started the book with.

If you are a fan of medieval fantasy with mages, a monarchy that you would be happy to live under, a heroine that is selfless and brave, and a deep plot that demands your attention then look no further than Borrowed Magic. 


Cover Reveal for Shift

Hello Beautiful People!

I'm pleased to share the final cover of The Caelian Cycle in it's beautiful entirety. Seriously! I'm so excited...

Are you ready?

*****

***

*****

You sure?

Isn't it beautiful? I could look at it all day...  which I sorta do since it's my lock-screen wallpaper on my phone. Let me know what you think? 

Book Review: On the Verge by @GarenGlazier

Just look at this GORGEOUS cover!

Just look at this GORGEOUS cover!

On the Verge

Author: Garen Glazier
Publisher: Only Child Press
Published: September 16th, 2015
Pages: 224
Audience: NA/ Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Freya is just a student at the University of Washington worried about grades and making her next tuition payment until a gorgeous succubus interrupts her post-exam latte with a proposition: come work for her boss, Seattle’s reclusive heiress and antiquities collector Imogen Beldame. Eagerly agreeing despite a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach, Freya finds herself swept up in a deadly quest at the behest of her psychopathic new employer. Beldame has given her until Halloween to collect three magical pigments that hold the key to crafting mesmerizing portraits that can access the Verge, an undiscovered borderland on the edge of human reality, and the powerful beings that call it home. 

Freya’s reluctant journey takes her to a goblin stronghold in the Cascades for the color blue, to the Seattle Underground to request the color red from Baba Yaga, and to the Fremont home of a beautifully gruesome Cambodian ahp, or spirit of the night, for the color yellow. Working together with Rusty, an enigmatically disfigured man intimately connected with the Verge, and a motley crew of mercurial demons and loyal friends, Freya must come up with a plan to stop Beldame and preserve the fragile balance between fantasy and reality that is at its most vulnerable on Halloween.


My Review:

On the Verge is a supernatural adventure filled with macabre thrills and a dark, sensual energy that will leave you turning the page well into the night. How do I know this? Because I lived it.

Prepare yourself for a lot of quotes because if there was any book deserving of a million quotes in its review it’s On the Verge.

“The best art is a spiritual experience that unites us once again with our true selves, and often what we see on the canvas is raw, unsettling, and even disturbing, because it’s true. Art reveals to us the divine and the damned in all of us.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Freya is a senior in art history who drifts between school and sleep without much regard to anything separate of Seattle’s art scene. Enter, Ophidia, a representative for a popular, albeit eccentric art dealer with an offer of a part-time job that although against her instincts, Freya accepts. This job leads Freya to the Verge:

"The Verge is a borderland that surrounds your world. It's an undiscovered frontier on the edge of human reality wherein exist all the creatures and beings of myth and legend. We[...]are the dreams and nightmares, gods and devils of the human imagination." – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

The Verge is an alternative dimension where beings of human imagination and passion are brought to life before they emerge into our world. Every creature known to mankind. Glazier is a genius to create this world with the Verge because there is no limit to what can happen or what creatures from mankind’s legends she could bring to life. Within the world of the Verge, beings can be either bound to physical objects in our realm and they can be sent back to the darkness of the Verge if something vital is taken, making them lose their identity.

“Freya couldn’t help but note the strangeness of the scene, a grown woman in mourning clothes cradling an enchanted little dolly in the middle of a meat-eating plant menagerie.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Glazier's prose is exquisite, sinuous, and poetic. Making the complex, prodigious plot sing with perfection. Within the unique and vast universe Glazier created, she keeps within her own boundaries and laws – both of which are realistic and interesting. There is plenty of external and internal conflict for the protagonist, as well as, a complex centralized conflict – due to demonic alliances and lack thereof - that affects mankind. From start to finish, this plot – it sucks you in to where putting the book down is akin to climbing Mt. Everest. Not many could pull it off.

“For a bookish girl with artistic sensibilities and a naiveté born from spending too much time alone with her daydreams, she actually felt a bit excited about what might be in store for her.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Freya is an amazing heroine for this fantastical world that Glazier created not only because she has a type of dark sophistication mixed with some skepticism, but because she isn’t like most fantasy heroines that fall into the lost hero or the warrior hero. She’s just some art hipster who finds herself in a life threatening situation that leads to a wild journey through Seattle and the Verge. Freya is a very real, grounded character in a world of fantastic beings. She laments her situations:

“Oh, man, I cannot believe I am here to see a witch about bugs,” Freya said. “How is this my life now?” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Her emotions are complex and diverse:

“She woke from these disconcerting visions feeling the excitement of a lover tempted and the mortification of a transgressor caught in the act.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

All these things grounding her character and making her relatable.

“The man was tall and imposing with a lugubriousness that pervaded the atmosphere around him. Freya always envisioned him as a kind of Teutonic angel, full of latent wrath and self-righteous superiority.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Other characters, both from the Verge and from our world, fill this book with so much depth. Glazier plays with the notion that nobody – human or creature – is truly evil or good. Both have propensity for either. I don’t want to go into much detail about the characters because I want to leave them as a surprise for you, but I will say that those who fall on the side of evil are wondrously creepy and take a sick pleasure from the results of their actions.

Then there is Rusty, he is not your typical love interest. He’s a meaty, mountain man with a disfigured face – not exactly the muscular man-models seen in almost any novel with a romantic subplot. At the beginning, I was actually expecting for Freya and the sexy-but-moody professor to get together because that is was usually happens. I was pleasantly surprised for Freya and Rusty.

“She had found that the truth was sometimes hard but always real…” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

My only and I mean ONLY complaint - because this novel is in itself a work of art - is Glazer’s tendencies to overuse her descriptions. I understand that the characters are all intellectuals, the scene is set in the art community of Seattle, and the main character is a deep-thinking hipster. But there’s no need for an excess of words such as “lugubriousness” and “crepuscular” to be thrown into the narrative. It makes the passages seem longer – probably because I had to use the dictionary function on my Kindle often.

Garen Glazer is a mistress of written word and I am so thrilled to have had the pleasure of reading her work. Fans of fantasy and adventure will love this tale of an art student’s incredible journey through an extraordinary world. It’s a story that has been told a million times, but Glaziers refreshingly modern retelling will capture and engage readers from start to finish. Although the book ends solidly, with all major plot lines tied up nicely, due to the complex world and the nature of the Verge itself there is room for a sequel. One I hope to see.

Playlist for Shift

Hello Beautiful People!

This playlist is by far one of the longest I have ever released and it was after spending weeks cutting it down to a manageable size. There is just so much emotion in Shift that resonated with me in these songs. 

One of the more interesting facts about this list is that there is quite a few metal songs - a genre I typically don't listen to, but I was drawn in by the songs on this list. Many of them were actually sent to me by my husband, who has spent a surprising amount of time finding music to describe Sadie's feelings. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do... now back to writing.

Stay Awesome!


Book Tour & Review: Curse of the Sphinx by @RayeWagner + #GIVEAWAY


Curse of the Sphinx


Series: Sphinx #1
Author: Raye Wagner
Published: August 11th, 2015
Pages: 344
Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology 


Source: YA Bound Book Tours - I received this book for free from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.

 


Blurb:

How long can a monster stay hidden in plain sight?

Seventeen year-old Hope Nicholas has spent her entire life on the run. But no one is chasing her. In fact, no one even knows she exists. With her mom, she’s traveled from town to town and school to school, barely staying long enough to meet anyone, let alone make friends. And she’ll have to keep it that way. It’s safer.

When her mother is brutally ripped away from her, Hope’s life shatters. Is this the fulfillment of Apollo’s curse, murder from the shadow monsters of the Underworld, or have the demigods finally found her? Orphaned and alone, Hope flees again, but this time there’s no one to teach her who to trust—or how to love.

Set in a universe where mythology is alive and well in the modern world, Curse of the Sphinx irresistibly blends action, suspense and romance.


My Review:

Myths. Gods. Monsters. EMOTIONS!!

Curse of the Sphinx is a refreshing take on the modern Greek mythology story. The premise is so incredibly fascinating – Greek god’s still ruling in modern society and people are aware of it. In fact, many people still worship the gods, honor heroes/demigods, and fear monsters. This story, unlike the plethora of other urban mythology’s out there, is told from the point of view of a monster – the sphinx. 

Wagner is a great story teller, whose prose is vivid and poetic. I adored her depth in explaining emotions

“There were no words. Hope stared at her hands as if the answers might appear within her palms, but the only thing she saw were the lines and cracks, a map that went nowhere, that meant nothing.” – Raye, Wagner, Curse of the Sphinx

How she described interpersonal conflict.

“I’m so sorry.” The words fell all over the floor, the mess too big to step around, opening a gaping chasm between the two of them. – Raye, Wagner, Curse of the Sphinx

Her vibrant depictions of scenery.

“The store was old’ its white tile floor grayed with time, and the fluorescent lights cast unnaturally bright light, emphasizing the worn appearance of the store.” – Raye, Wagner, Curse of the Sphinx

I could go on about how much I enjoyed Wagner’s writing, but I’ll just leave this here…

My only issue with the actual story was that there were a few points where I was confused because there wasn’t any in-depth explanation of the world Hope lived in and the pacing of the story made it seem forever until I figured out what was going on. The reader jumps into this world that is similar to ours, but vastly different at the same time. It was confusing. Apparently there is a prequel that explains more, but I didn’t have the privilege of reading it before starting Curse of the Sphinx.

Hope is a great protagonist. She’s not typical in what I usually like in a female lead. She’s not some badass girl out to save the world. She’s a monster – hunted, scared, paranoid, and due to events in the story, a little broken.

“I do trust you.” But even as she said the words, she knew they were a lie. – Raye, Wagner, Curse of the Sphinx

All of her flaws doesn’t make her weak or incapable – it makes her human.

One thing I really enjoyed was exploring Hope’s struggles. Hope is a victim of a long-standing Greek curse that dictates every moment in her life. Throughout the book, she constantly wavers between wanting a life, but fearing the consequences of befriending her peers. The never ending struggle of keeping her identity secret because she is something that the world fears, rules her entire existence. It was extremely refreshing to see this struggle from the “monsters” point of view.

The romance was refreshing. It was so the opposite of insta-love that at times, I wondered if I was actually going to get a romantic subplot. That is not to say that the slow build up was bothersome. Quite the opposite actually. I loved witnessing Hope’s attraction to Athan grow at the pace it did because it made since coming from a girl who was weary of everyone.

You start the story knowing who Athan is, but that doesn’t take away any mystery in the story. Actually, it added another layer – I can’t add any more to that without being spoilery, but trust me. It’s a good thing. Also, knowing who Athan is from the very beginning gives the reader the chance to understand him better throughout the story.

The other characters were clichéd, but typical high school students. Haley – the gabby friend. Krista – the queen b*tch. Krista’s posse of mean girls.  There were others, but not much was mentioned about them in this book.

Curse of the Sphinx, is a superb YA filled with mythology, a curse, some intense emotions, and the beginnings of a sweet romance. 


About Raye Wagner:

Raye Wagner grew up in a family of dragon slayers. She never wanted to be a princess, and spent her time searching for adventure with her siblings in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington. She read heaps of books while locked away in the upstairs room of the family castle. Enchanted with the idea of magic, Raye studied to become a wizard in the arts of healing, and continues to practice her special brand of sorcery in the realm of gastroenterology. 

One sunny afternoon, the idea of a cursed mythological creature popped into her head, and her writing journey began. 
Raye enjoys creating delicious bakery sweets, practicing ninja skills (just in case), and escaping to sunny tropical destinations. She lives with her husband, who has nature wielding abilities, and their three children in the realm of Middle Tennessee.


Book Review: Repulsion by @JSteenbeeke

Repulsion


Series: The Unbound Series, Book 1
Author: Jeroen Steenbeeke
Published: December 28th, 2015
Pages: 76
Audience: YA
Genre: Paranormal, Science Fiction 

Source: NetGalley provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.

FREE TO DOWNLOAD


Blurb:

I used to think I was a pretty normal teenager: I got up in the morning, went to school, did my homework, played video games, and dreamed about Karen—one of the girls in my class. When I found out she liked me, too, I thought I was the luckiest guy alive. But everything changed when we kissed. Something awakened inside of us, and now we know that we're not normal teenagers after all.

For a while I thought these powers were pretty amazing—I mean, who wouldn't want superpowers? But it stopped being fun when Karen started hearing a voice in her head. A voice that told her I was her enemy. A voice that could take control of her. A voice that was only the first glimpse of a world we never knew existed.


My Review:

This review has been hard to write. Not because I didn’t think it was a good story – it was. It just didn’t leave an impression on me as much as I hoped.

First of all, the cover is gorgeous, it immediately caught my eye. Then the blurb drew me in. Teenagers with mysterious superpowers – yes, please. I even loved how the story was paced and even though the writing was geared more toward the younger end of YA, I still enjoyed it.

Yet as I was reading there was just something that bugged me and I couldn’t put a finger on it until after I had finished. There was a lack of description that, for me, left the book a little bland. This is 100% a “me thing”, but when I read, I look for that descriptive sweet spot. Too much and I spend most of my time skimming through unnecessary details. Too little and I finish feeling a little cheated. Repulsion fell on the latter.

Another small thing that I’m not quite sure if it bugged me or not was that there were multiple 80’s references spread throughout a novel geared toward modern teenagers. Some were clever and didn’t make me feel as if the author were trying to force some of their favorite nostalgia in the story:

“My mom always told me that if he ever were to put on “normal clothes” and get a shorter haircut, he’d look just like a young Matthew Broderick. If she hadn’t made me watch Wargames I wouldn’t have known what she was talking about.” - Repulsion, Jeroen Steenbeeke

And then there were other’s that made me think otherwise…

“watching Freddy Krueger turn a very young Johnny Depp into a geyser of blood was a worthy substitute.” – Repulsion, Jeroen Steenbeeke

One of my favorite aspects of Repulsion is how the characters felt like they were exactly their age - sixteen. The boys in the story reminded me of how my brother and his friends would act at that age, a little immaturity mixed with crazy hormones. And speaking of hormones, the romance between Thymen and Karen was sweet, but rushed, in my opinion. I’m sure the quickness the two become close is because of the story’s length. Quickness aside, I did feel that the progression was natural enough.

The side characters, Rob and Sarah, are well developed. I enjoyed their presence in the story as much as the main characters. Kudos to Steenbeeke for making Sarah a math wiz! There isn’t enough female STEM representation in YA literature.

The other aspect I enjoyed was the setting. As an American who has never set foot in the Netherlands, I felt as if I understood the culture well enough. For what was lacking in description of feelings and surroundings, the author didn’t skip on explaining certain cultural aspects – such as Queens Day.

What I take away from Repulsion is that I just wanted more. More description. More character development. More information. Because there was just so little for me to connect with, I chose to give it three stars – that and a rushed, cliffhanger ending. I literally closed my Kindle and looked to my husband and said, “Well that was abrupt.” 

Book Review: Link by @SummerWeir

Link


Series: The Shadow of Light #1
Author: Summer Weir
Published: September 29th, 2015
Pages: 215
Audience: YA
Genre: Science Fiction

Source: NetGalley provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

For seventeen-year-old Kira, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than being surrounded by friends and huddled beside a campfire deep in the woods. And with a birthday in the peak of summer, that includes late night swims under the stars.

Or at least, it used to.

Kira’s relaxing contemplation of the universe is interrupted when a piece of it falls, colliding with her and starting a chain of events that could unexpectedly lead to the one thing in her life that's missing—her father.

Tossed into a pieced-together world of carnivals and gypsies, an old-fashioned farmhouse, and the alluring presence of a boy from another planet, Kira discovers she’s been transported to the center of a black hole, and there’s more to the story than science can explain. She’s now linked by starlight to the world inside the darkness. And her star is dying.

If she doesn’t return home before the star’s light disappears and her link breaks, she’ll be trapped forever. But she’s not the only one ensnared, and with time running out, she’ll have to find a way to save a part of her past and a part of her future, or risk losing everything she loves...


My Review:

The premise of this book was really interesting and the cover is gorgeous, so I decided to give it a shot. I love it when a SciFi has actual science in it instead of just “science themes” and the idea of worlds being connected by black holes is just brilliant. This book was both more than I expected and a little bit of a letdown.

My favorite thing about this book is the world *ahem* universe Summer Weir created. Weir blends magic and science seamlessly to where I am left bummed that insta-travel to other planets isn’t real. That being said, I felt that the parts of the book that involved the science aspects were vague at times and because of the ambiguity, huge chunks of the story were confusing to me.

Another aspect I liked about the book was the mystery. Other than the parts I felt were under-explained or just plain left out, there was plenty of other plot points that left me begging for an answer. Some of the reveals actually shocked me and others were expected, but I was thrilled about them as well. I will say that there are quite a few questions left unanswered, which will hopefully be explained in future installments.

Kira started out as a relatable character, who through her relationships with her mother and friends, as well as, her believable choices and reactions to an absentee father made her feel like an actual human instead of a fictional character. Her relationship with Zane was probably the most believable romance I have read in a YA SciFi in a long time – it was natural. Yet, as the story continued she became a little erratic. Many of her choices later in the book were both understanding and stupid. Although, I can applaud her for listening to heart when it comes to the main antagonist.

“… no façade can mask a dark soul.” – Link, Summer Weir

The other characters were great and I liked them, but I felt there wasn’t enough story to make me love them. During parts of the book I felt they were just “there” and the story could have moved along without them. I really liked both Zane and Evan. I felt that each boy’s past was well developed to where I felt they were interesting enough for me to remember them. How Kira’s relationship with her mother develops over the story is probably my favorite thing outside of the actual plot. It felt natural to me (although she did kind of disappear at the end)

“Mom had been right: not everyone has a choice in their fate.” – Link, Summer Weir

Which brings me to the romance. Like I said earlier, Zane and Kira made sense. They are adorable, believable, and refreshing to a market that is filled with insta-love. Then Evan showed up. Let me start off by saying, I have nothing against love triangles per say – I am just tired of how prevalent they are in YA. Most love triangles are there only for character angst. That being said, I am not entirely sure the love triangle in this book is meant to be that way. For one thing, the attraction between Evan and Kira is heavily-handed on one side. Evan had that insta-love moment regarding Kira and although I’m sure many will not agree with me, I think that type of behavior fits with his character development and history. Kira, although she is attracted to Evan and does have moments of feelings, she keeps a pretty level head when it comes to Evan. I’m intrigued to see how the romance in this particular story turns out.

“The soft blue light of his eyes, the mournful twilight of his heart, soothed my soul.” – Link, Summer Weir

Link sets up the series nicely, giving the reader a taste of the universe Weir created. Although confusing at times for both the right and wrong reasons, I would recommend this book to those who are interested in black holes, space-time travel, sweet romances, magic, and mystery.