Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review of VOODOO BUTTERFLY by Camille Faye

Welcome to my 2015 holiday book review! In this special post, I've chosen to review a book that I absolutely adored. This year, I'm reviewing VOODOO BUTTERFLY by Camille Faye.

I'm sure I'm not the only one running around trying to purchase last minute gifts for my loved ones (and, let's be real, for myself).  So make this year's gift-giving a little bit simpler and purchase VOODOO BUTTERFLY today.

But don't take my word for it. Read all about the book for yourself...



Synopsis:

When twenty-five-year old Sophie Nouveau inherits her grandmother's voodoo shop she knows nothing about voodoo. Or her family's history of Mind Changers, who have the power to change evil people to good. To complicate matters, someone doesn't want Sophie in New Orleans and sends a series of death threats to scare her away from her new enchanted life.

Tipped off by her grandmother's ghost, Sophie realizes her mind-changing spell's been missing one magic ingredient: true love. If Sophie cannot experience transformative love, she cannot make her spell work, and she will be powerless to fight back when confronted by the one who wants her dead. 


#

If that synopsis doesn't catch your attention, then I don't know what would. I've been excited to read this book ever since it came out, and I'm so happy that I was able to.  

The main character (and her inner circle) is incredibly lovable, and she has just the right amount of angst in her past to make her interesting, and not to mention, relatable. I also liked that she's in that New Adult age range, instead of falling into the Young Adult category. At this point in my life, New Adult books have a significantly higher appeal.

I also couldn't get enough of the setting. New Orleans is one of my favorite vacation spots with all of its history, lore, and mystical appeal. Getting to travel there in book form was the highlight of the plane trip where I gobbled down this book.

But best of all, I found myself stopping to add quotes from the book into my journal. I LOVE quotable books! And this one certainly has many memorable lines in it. 

Thanks to those quotes, the characters, and the unique story line, I rated this book 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. I hope that you'll support this amazing author and purchase  VOODOO BUTTERFLY this season--one copy for yourself and one copy for someone special. I promise you won't regret it!

See you in the New Year!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Review of REDEMPTION by Jessica Therrien

I am so happy to review REDEMPTION by my fellow author and friend, Jessica Therrien for you this week in lieu of my normal "end of the month" book review!!!!! I've been a huge fan of Jess's, since I first was on the spotlight tour for OPPRESSION, the first book in her Children of the Gods series. This next book certainly did not disappoint.

But without further ado, let's jump into the book cover and synopsis!


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WDIc2l5iqVA/VXd5hQJZLjI/AAAAAAAACT4/4KmBP4yKuXI/s1600/Redemption%2BFirst%2BEdition%2BCover.jpg 


Synopsis:   

Lead Council member, Christoph, is dead by Elyse’s hand, and Descendants have begun to emerge, exposing their secret to the world. Some see this as the prophecy come to fruition, but the prophecy caries a heavy consequence. It was never meant to be as peaceful as most had hoped.
 
Humans and Descendants struggle to live together in a world that isn’t ready for such a change. America is divided. Those who glorify the supernatural race believe Descendants truly are the gods they claim relation to. Others see them as a threat.

When Elyse gives birth to the next generation oracle, she sees one final vision—war. The destruction of the country’s major cities, and the end of America as we know it.
After her daughter is born, Elyse finds herself without the ability she needs to predict the future. Desperate to save the world from such conflict, she puts her faith in the hope that Descendants are the key to survival. After all, they have the power to supply a broken society with the means to survive.

Only from the ashes can a new world be born.


 ***

 Wow. Just getting to read the synopsis again makes my heart beat faster. I absolutely loved this book. Elyse is such a strong female character--and not just because she is a descendant of the gods. As I've been reading books these days, I've analyzed them for feminine power, and not the kind that comes with their ability to attract men. Do the women have strong voices, create change, and show leadership? Elyse does all of these things and more. #fempower

Jess's ability to weave a great story always blows me away as well. Her creativity and skills at putting new spins on age old tales has impressed me, since I first read OPPRESSION.  Sometimes I peter out after the first or second book in a series--these days it takes a lot to hook me--but I'm already waiting on the edge of my seat for Jess's next book. 

In addition to reviewing the book itself, I'd also like to review the cover. People have been saying that young adult books with faces on them are trite. I disagree! I love seeing a glimpse of a character on the front cover! I think the eyes tell a story before you even open to the first page! Jess's cover designer did a beautiful job with the font as well. 

So all in all, from cover to cover (literally), I loved this book. If you're looking for fall reads or holiday presents, this one is for you. On Goodreads, I rated REDEMPTION 5 out of 5 stars. If you read and love Jess's book as well, please leave some comments below! I know she'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, readers!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review of DREAMTHIEF by Tamara Grantham

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing DREAMTHIEF by Tamara Grantham. In the spirit of full disclosure, Tamara is a good friend of mine (lucky me), and I've known this book, since it was a synopsis. I'm so happy to see such a wonderful friend and book make it so far in this difficult day of publishing.

But enough gushing. I'll let the book speak for itself. Check out the cover and the synopsis below.




Synopsis:

Visiting Faythander is a nasty business. Forget the fairies and unicorns, most people come back with lost memories and mental problems. Olive Kennedy knows. She's the therapist who treats patients suffering from Faythander's side effects. Despite her empty bank account, she takes pride in her job as Houston’s only Fairy World medical doctor. She's never failed to cure a client—until now.

Traveling back to Faythander wasn't on Olive's to-do list. But she has no choice. The fate of both Earth and Fairy depends on her ability to stop an ancient being called the Dreamthief. To complicate matters, she may be losing her heart to someone who can’t love her in return. Saving the world, she can handle. Falling in love—not so much.

As if battling the forces of evil wasn't difficult enough…


***

Tamara sent me a copy of the book to review a little over a week ago, and I'm already finished with the book and putting my review together. That in itself, with my backed-up log of books, should tell you something about my love for this little novel. 

As fall is rolling around, I truly recommend curling up with this book by an open window with an afghan on an upcoming weekend. Even with all the plot twists and turns, DREAMTHIEF is sure to put a smile on your face.  

I love the conversational style that Olive, the main character, engages in with both the outside world and in her own head--Who doesn't have a Bill Clinton or Albert Einstein that chats away at times in addition to the primary voice in our heads (the child, the adult, and the parent, perhaps)?

I also loved the world-building of Faythander. I don't want to spoil too much of the plot, but Tamara uses well-loved fairy tale character classes and mixes and matches them in ways that I can't remember reading before. 

Tamara is also a master of wit, which comes through in the love story between Olive and Kull (a crazed Viking who likes elves none too much), and also a master of action. Some of my favorite scenes are the action-packed thrills that come one after another toward the end of the book through the climax. And the climax isn't quite the end. I have my fingers crossed that I'll be lucky enough to review the other books in the series!

I rated DREAMTHIEF 5 out of 5 on Goodreads, and only a small portion of my rating had to do with my love for the author. You can learn more about Tamara and buy her fun fantasy romp here

I'll see you all next month when I'll be back with my next book review! Until then, keep reading!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review of THE SUFFERING by Rin Chupeco

This month I had the shivery pleasure of reading and reviewing THE SUFFERING by Rin Chupeco. I have to say, the more young adult horror I read, the more I want to--and this book was no exception.

But before I jump into my review, I'll share the book cover and the synopsis...




Synopsis:

Over the last year I've gone against faceless women, disfigured spirits, and grotesque revenants. Some people keep dangerous hobbies; skydiving and driving at monster truck rallies and glacier surfing. Me? I cast my soul into the churning waters of potential damnation and wait for a bite.

It’s been two years since Tark Halloway’s nightmare ended. Free from the evil spirit that haunted him all his life, he now aids the ghostly Okiku and avenges the souls of innocent children by hunting down their murderers. But when Okiku becomes responsible for a death at his high school, Tark begins to wonder if they’re no better than the killers they seek out.

When an old friend disappears in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest’, both must resolve their differences and return to that country of secrets to find her.

Because there is a strange village inside Aokigahara, a village people claim does not exist. A village where strange things lie waiting.

A village with old ghosts and an ancient evil – one that may be stronger than even Okiku…


***

If you haven't gotten the impression from my introduction to the review that I enjoyed the book, then I'll tell you now--I really liked THE SUFFERING! This is definitely a read that I recommend buying. But let me tell you why.

THE SUFFERING opens up similarly to most horror stories--humans against maniacal poltergeists--then quickly shifts to a beast of its own. I haven't read too many stories in which the main character's sidekick is a dead, rage-driven girl who looks creepier than a crypt on Halloween. I also love how Chupeco ties in so much Eastern culture to a book set initially in America. 

The main character, Tark, is highly likable, brash, young, and yet refreshingly modest for a cute boy with a couple of girls chasing after him. Not only did I like Tark, but I couldn't tell this was the second book in the series, the author did such a seamless job of weaving the previous story into this one. And with places like "suicide forest," strange, foreign villages, and ancient hold fasts of evil, Chupeco does a fantastic job of creating scenes and location. 

I truly enjoyed reading this book and hope that I'm able to review the second book as well. THE SUFFERING will be available for purchase September 1st. If you buy a copy, I'd love to read your comments. You can leave them below this review.

I'll see you next month when I'll be back with a new young adult book review!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review of NIGHTFALL by Jake Halpern

Wow. All I can say is wow. I finished NIGHTFALL by Jake Halpern a couple of days ago, and I still haven't stopped thinking about it. I haven't read a book that gripped me so completely for quite some time.

Before I hop into the review, I'm just going to tell you now...You'll want to buy a copy of this book the day that it comes out (September 22nd, 2015).

But don't take my word for it; check it out for yourself in the post below.




Synopsis:

A story where edge-of-your-seat horror meets post-apocalyptic thriller, perfect for fans of Lois Lowry and The Mazerunner.

Night is coming.

On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours--it comes every twenty-eight years. Each sunset, the townspeople sail to the south, where they wait out the long Night. None of the adults will tell Marin, Kana, or their friend Line exactly what happens when they leave the island, but when the three are accidentally left behind in the gathering dusk, they learn the truth: at Night, their town belongs to others, and those others want them gone.

Fleeing through the now-alien landscape that used to be their home, the three confront shocking transformations and uncomfortable truths about themselves.  They are challenged to trust one another or perish. Marin, Kana, and Line must find their way off the island...before the Night finds them.


***

As for my review, as I've gotten older, my tastes in literature have changed. I enjoy horror a lot more than I used to and actually find myself seeking out thrillers with an otherworldly feel. When I got the opportunity to read the Advanced Reader's Copy of NIGHTFALL, I jumped on it. 

NIGHTFALL appealed to me for dozens of reasons, but especially because it brilliantly combined the horror and young adult genres. In the synopsis, this book is compared to THE MAZERUNNER? I read MAZERUNNER and liked it, but I loved NIGHTFALL even more. 

I fell hard for each of the three main characters whose stories, struggles, and voices are all so distinct. I fell for the island of Bliss and the tantalizing, yet terrifying Desert Lands. I cringed as Night descended, and the young people that I cared about so much were trapped in its clutches. 

Halpern made Night come alive in his book. I read NIGHTFALL while on the plane and sat on the very edge of my seat the entire time, oblivious to everything in the real world--but piercingly aware of every sound and shadow in the book. 

The trials that the characters must go through ramped up and up and up until I thought there wouldn't be any way for them to survive. But the unique traits that each of them possesses from the first page of the book helps through even the most perilous of situations. But are they safe? I believe that Halpern leaves the ending up to each reader. 

Normally I finish reading a book, and I'm irritated that it's the first book in a trilogy because I don't want to read two more books to get the whole story. When NIGHTFALL ended, I wanted to cry because I wanted so much more of Kana, Line, and Marin. I still haven't accepted that I might never get to venture into their world or their minds again (Here's my plea, Halpern! Please write more about these beautiful characters!)

So if this review hasn't convinced you that I liked the book enough to eat it, I also gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, which isn't something I do often. 

Again, NIGHTFALL will come out on September 22nd of 2015. If you're interested in pre-ordering the book or learning more about Jake Halpern, click here

I'll be back next month with another book review. See you then, readers!

 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review of THE MUSE by Meghan O'Brien

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing the Advanced Reader's Copy of a book outside of the young adult genre, which I don't often do.

As I do normally do young adult book reviews, it has to be said that this review may be PG-13, but no one under the age of 18 should probably be reading THE MUSE unless given parental permission. This isn't to say that I didn't indulge in books like Anne Rice's The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty Trilogy in high school, but still...

Whenever I have the opportunity, I like to support the LGBTQIA community's art, and reviewing O'Brien's book gives me the perfect opportunity to do so.




Synopsis:

Erotica author Kate McMannis has crippling writer’s block and a deadline in less than two months. When a beautiful woman named Erato appears at her house and claims to be her muse, Kate isn’t certain whether Erato is mentally ill or truly her supernatural savior. Either way, when the incredible sex Erato offers leads to genuine inspiration, Kate isn’t inclined to refuse her unusual brand of help.

When a little fantasy fulfillment with Erato inadvertently leads her to the shy and gorgeous Olive Johnson, unexpected feelings threaten to derail Kate’s motivation once again. Erato is just as determined to keep her writing on track as Kate is to explore her very real attraction to Olive—which leads to friction that threatens not only Kate’s ability to meet her deadline, but also her burgeoning romance with Olive.

Caught between a contractual obligation and her heart, is there any way for Kate to have it all?


***

So...if the cover alone doesn't grab you, I'm not sure what will. But in all seriousness, I read most of THE MUSE while on a plane and spent a lot of the ride blushing furiously and hoping no one else could see over my shoulder--in the best possible way. 

As a writer, it's hard not to fall in love with the idea of having your own personal muse descend on you and force your creative hand. However, what starts out  as an erotic twist rapidly devolves into chaos that, in a loose sense, reminded me of MISERY by Stephen King. 

I mentioned in an earlier post that my tastes in reading have slowly been shifting to novels that have a nail-biting quality to them, and though I knew that all would end well in this romantic tail, I did chew down to the quick waiting for the end to resolve itself. 

I gave the book 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads and wished that they had an option for 4.5. Unfortunately, O'Brien doesn't seem to have a huge online presence, but you can purchase the novel online as it came out this June. 

Thanks, readers, as always for taking the time to browse this review. Go make this author happy, and purchase her work! I'll see you next month.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review of ALIVE by Scott Sigler

This month I have the pleasure of reviewing the young adult novel, ALIVE, by Scott Sigler, the first in the exciting new Generations Trilogy.

Before I hop into my thoughts, I'll give you a sneak peek of the cover and the synopsis of the story.



Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler comes something utterly new: a gripping sci-fi adventure trilogy in the vein of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. A group of young adults awake in a mysterious enclosed space with no knowledge of who they are or how they got there…and an indomitable young woman must lead them not only to answers but to survival.

A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth.


***

Sound interesting? I can assure you it was. I read all of ALIVE on a plane flight, and I'm pretty sure that if we had crashed, I wouldn't have even noticed, I was so busy flipping through the pages. 

The stakes are high in the book. The pace is quick. The characters are sharp and well-developed. As stated above, the story is reminiscent of great young adult works like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner (I'm not a huge fan of the Divergent books). The book is more than 350 pages long, and I buzzed through it in a little over two hours. 

Sigler had me guessing what the grey dust, exactly where the characters were, and how they came to be in their world up until he explained it all. Holding my interest so absolutely is a difficult thing to do, but I can tell you that Sigler managed it. I'm very much looking forward to reading (and hopefully reviewing) the rest of the trilogy. 

All that said, I gave the book 4 out of 5 starts on Goodreads. I withheld the final star for a couple of reasons. It's hard to write a main character--especially in first person--who is the opposite gender as you. Before I became familiarized with Savage, I confused her with being male. She reads very masculine, and here and there, had several lines that, as a female, I couldn't identify with. 

Beyond that, each character is marked with a symbol on their foreheads. I never felt as if I got a good sense of what the symbols meant. This could have been a lack of observation on my part, as I did read the book so quickly, but I felt like I wanted more. The same went for the Catholic school uniforms that the characters woke up in...Why Catholic uniforms if we're so far in the future? Again, just small anomalies that I wanted to explore further. 

ALIVE is set to be released on July 14th. I absolutely recommend readers snap up a copy of this book. I can very easily see it being made into an equally gripping movie and hope that I will get to see the characters and their world on the big screen. 

For more information about Scott Sigler and his writing, click here. This link will also take you to a page where you can pre-order a copy of ALIVE for your very own. 

If you read ALIVE and have comments, feel free to leave them on my blog! I'll see you next month, readers!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Spotlight Tour--Cover Reveal for Children of the Gods by Jessica Therrien

Hi Readers!

In June of 2013 (how long ago that seems!), I reviewed UPRISING by Jessica Therrien, the second book in the young adult Children of the Gods trilogy.

Jessica's trilogy has been so successful and so loved by so many readers that it's now being re-released with all new covers. I'm happy to be able to bring you those new covers today.

In case you missed the series before, I'm also including a synopsis for each book in the post.

Enjoy!




Synopsis of OPPRESSION (Children of the Gods #1):

Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than average people, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's well over eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal.

For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability.

Or so she thinks.

Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time.

Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable—except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning—and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.




UPRISING (Children of the Gods #2)

Elyse has done everything she can to protect her friends from The Council's reach. As long as they believe she's dead, she has time to rest and train for war. And war is inevitable.

When Kara arrives with the news that Anna and Chloe have been captured, Elyse is faced with the realization that no one is safe until The Council is stopped and Christoph is destroyed. She doesn't need a prophecy to tell her to lead an army. Christoph has done the one thing that ensures she'll fight to the death. He's threatened the people she loves.

It will take more than the words of an oracle to help them fight against the most powerful Descendant alive. To break The Council's oppression and rise up against a plot so many years in the making, Elyse will need to get dangerously close to her enemy. So close, in fact, she may not survive.




REDEMPTION (Children of the Gods #3)

Lead Council member, Christoph, is dead by Elyse’s hand, and Descendants have begun to emerge, exposing their secret to the world. Some see this as the prophecy come to fruition, but the prophecy caries a heavy consequence. It was never meant to be as peaceful as most had hoped.

Humans and Descendants struggle to live together in a world that isn’t ready for such a change. America is divided. Those who glorify the supernatural race believe Descendants truly are the gods they claim relation to.

Others see them as a threat.

When Elyse gives birth to the next generation oracle, she sees one final vision—war. The destruction of the country’s major cities, and the end of America as we know it.

After her daughter is born, Elyse finds herself without the ability she needs to predict the future. Desperate to save the world from such conflict, she puts her faith in the hope that Descendants are the key to survival. After all, they have the power to supply a broken society with the means to survive.

Only from of the ashes can a new world be born.


***

The new books with never before read chapters will be released on the following dates: September 2nd (OPRESSION), October 2nd (UPRISING), and November 2nd (REDEMPTION).

Trust me, this is one trilogy that you won't want to miss. Happy reading, and I'll see you next time!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Spotlight Tour--Guest Blog by Linda Joyce (Author of BAYOU BECKONS)

Hi Readers!

I'm happy to report that the Spotlight Author Tour continues this Saturday with guest blogger Linda Joyce whose book BAYOU BECKONS (the third in the Fleur De Lis trilogy) just came out on June 3rd, 2015.

Linda, a dear friend of mine, prepared this wonderful and brilliant post specially for the readers of this blog and fans of romance. I dare you not to buy her trilogy after what you read today.

Thank you, my friend, and without further ado...

***

Left Brain? Right Brain? Make an Apple Pie! Then follow the call: BAYOU BECKONS.





Does apple pie correlate to left-brain or right-brain dominate? I think so. I’ll lay out premise for you to decide; however, you’ll actually have to do some work. Quiz Time! I hope you’ll share your results.

Learning style and brain dominance are a science. Frankly, when doing research for this topic, reading very clinical papers made my head hurt. In simplest terms, I learned the difference in the power of the left and right brain has to do with how we process information.

All of us have two sides to our brain. The left side takes in information in a logical and sequential order and houses our language skills. For intuitive and random information processing, the right side steps up. If we process with only one side of our brain, we will get lost in the world.

Communication between people with different brain dominance can be tricky. For example, when purchasing a dress with my husband along, I’ll ask his opinion. Then, I’ll rebut his “looks fine to me” comment. He doesn’t appreciate the nuances of my airy-fairy descriptions about why the dress doesn’t work for me. To him, the comment requires ‘yes or no.’ Which demonstrates husband and I process information differently. We make decision using different sides of our brains.

So battle lines are now drawn between the left and the right…I’m still talking about the brain here—not the political scene. However, to get the most out of life, seeking balance between our brains allows us to broaden our learning, thus life experience.

This is where the apple pie comes in. Baking is said to be an art. How the pie looks with a braided or scalloped edge enhances the visual appeal of the dessert. It’s said we eat first with our eyes—and when the pie is pulled from the oven all golden brown and steaming with aromas of apples and cinnamon, my eyes get big and my tummy shouts, “Yum!”

However, to reach that mouth-watering experience, we begin with the left brain—logical and sequential ordering. Baking, more so than other type of cooking, requires precision measuring. Too much flour or too much fat and the crust isn’t flakey. Too much brown sugar and cinnamon masks the apple flavor. Accurate handling of the ingredients is needed to have a tummy-satisfying experience.  

My point: To be your best, no matter what you do—writer, poet, accountant, or physicist—learning to strengthen the less dominate side of your brain will enable you to have a fuller life experience. However, before undertaking a cure to have whole brain usage, you have to know which you are—Left or Right Brain Dominate.

For those of you who don’t have time to bake a pie, I’m including two websites with quizzes to determine your dominance. The Left Brain Right Brain Quiz will score your brain-side use, showing what’s higher and lower. The second one is Left Brain Right Brain Quiz for Teens. Even though you may be past your adolescence, I think you may find the analysis paragraph when you’re finished very insightful.



Now, how does this fit with Bayou Beckons? It’s a story about a woman seeking redemption and the man who lassos her heart. But he’s very unforgiving about infidelity, which is the ugly secret from her past. Do they make apple pie? No, but you’ll experience food through their eyes. The one thing I hear over and over again about my stories: Your books make me hungry! I’m a foodie, and I incorporate the sensations of good food and eating into my books. So when the Bayou Beckons you, heed the call. Even if your brain is confused, your emotional stomach will bless you.


***

Linda Joyce is an award-winning author published in poetry, memoirs, and contemporary romance. Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Linda’s southern root run deep. If you wander in New Orleans cemeteries, you’ll find many of her family buried there. Her grandfather captained the General John Newton and her grandmother retired from the New Orleans police department. Linda’s a foodie, a big fan of jazz and blues, and a dog lover. General Beauregard, Gentleman Jack, and Masterpiece Renoir are her constant canine companions. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and four-legged boys. Please visit her at www.linda-joyce.com.




BAYOU BECKONS, book three of the Fleur de Lis series is her third novel with The Wild Rose Press. BAYOU BECKONS: http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Beckons-Fleur-Series-Volume/dp/150920122X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Please connect with Linda on Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter: @LJWriter  https://twitter.com/LJWriter

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review of SPELLED by Betsy Schow

Following my last post--the spotlight tour for Betsy Schow's book, SPELLED--I'm now happy to post my official review!

Before I hop into my thoughts, I'd like to follow up the spotlight tour with a new synopsis of the story, which also shows off the author's writing style quite well.



Synopsis:

Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.


***

So I love stories that take tales we're all familiar with and spin them into something new. Schow definitely turns the Wizard of Oz on its head. She weaves a far different version of Oz than that which we know. I enjoyed some of her inventive slang, like "What the pix?" I also grew to like the main character's love interest and his transformation into a chimera. Schow's novel is a light, fun-filled romp, and since it comes out in early June, that makes its timing perfect for summer.  

All that said, I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. My primary reason for falling in love with the young adult genre is because it often seems to be one of the last bastions where writing doesn't have to feel formulaic, and ideas about philosophy, love, the human condition, and so much more can be freely explored. I read YA to find the depth in a seemingly innocuous story. Unfortunately, I found those elements lacking in Schow's book. 

At times, I found the character's contrasting selfishness and self-deprecation bothersome. I felt like many of the other characters in the book lacked development. I wondered at the book's value other than its ability to retell a well-known tale. I wished that some of the humor had been cut out or toned down because it seemed forced and unnecessary. Will I read the sequel? Probably not, unless I review it.

That said, many people look for many different things in books. Were I fifteen years old, I probably would have rated the read higher. Would I recommend people not to read it? Of course not! You can whip through the pages in an afternoon on the beach and have been swept away into a fantasy world. The writing is adequate, and as I stated before, the slang clever. 

SPELLED will come out on June 2nd. You will be able to find it in major booksellers and online. If you read it and have comments, please feel free to leave them on my blog!

Next month, I'll be reviewing ALIVE by Scott Sigler. You can expect to see that review the last week of June. See you then, readers!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spotlight Feature of SPELLED by Betsy Schow


Hi Readers!

I have the great pleasure of being a part of the Spotlight Feature Tour of young adult fantasy novel SPELLED by Betsy Schow.  

If you're looking for summer reads, you will be able to pick up a copy of SPELLED, starting June 2nd. Also in June, you can expect a review of SPELLED by yours truly. 

For now, enjoy this truly special post, brought to you by Sourcebooks!
 

Spelled
By Betsy Schow
Sourcebooks Fire
June 2, 2015


Advance Praise for Spelled
“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” -School Library Journal
“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” --Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series

“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” --J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.

A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, "Spelled" is one fabulous read…Kick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” --Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)


Book Info:
Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.



Betsy Schow:
Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals. 



Excerpt from Spelled:

Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.
Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.
Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”
The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.
I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”
“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.
In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”
Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.
I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.
Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.
After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.
Until he opened his mouth again.
“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”
Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.
And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

*****

Sound interesting? Once again, SPELLED will be available for purchase on June 2nd, just in time for the summer vacation you've been planning for months. 

And for the lucky winner of this giveaway, you could get your copy for FREE!
Rafflecopter Giveaway Link:
<a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7111/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="54ca7af7111" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_yuthmdfr">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>


Good luck, and keep checking back for my review!

Until next time!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review of THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel

Being snowed in means lots of reading for me in New England. Some books have been better than others, but THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL is one that I've been looking forward to reviewing all month.

Before I hop into the review, let me give you a little background on the book. I went into it not knowing that the story is based off of a YouTube channel and has already been picked up to be produced as a movie. How cool! But more details about that in a moment.

The book is the joint effort of Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel. To learn more about them, click on their names. To watch the book trailer, click here.

But enough prelude! Here's the cover and synopsis of a book that I'm sure you'll want to read.




Synopsis:

"Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother, Kat, move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they cross the Washington state line, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows something about their new house is just…creepy.

On their first night in Ridgemont, Sunshine is awakened by the sound of footsteps coming from above, followed by a child’s ghostly laughter. In the days that follow, things just get more frightening. But Kat seems oblivious to the terror, insisting that Sunshine’s imagination is getting the best of her. Determined to prove her mother wrong, Sunshine begins taking photographs, desperate to catch evidence of the supernatural presence. At her new school Sunshine meets Nolan Foster, a cute—if slightly bookish—classmate. Nolan also has a passion for photography—and, more importantly, for ghosts. He offers to help Sunshine figure out exactly what’s going on.

What they uncover is a story that’s much bigger and runs deeper than they could have imagined. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become stranger—and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger—Sunshine learns that everything she thought she knew about her past has been wrong."

***

So I LOVED this book. I whipped through the entire thing on my flight from Connecticut to San Diego, and it made the trip fly by, no pun intended. 

THE HAUNTING was a breath of fresh air. I think I enjoyed the story so much because it had all the traditional elements of young adult fiction--a fated love story, paranormal elements, coming of age struggles--but it was also highly suspenseful and creepy. I can also say that I didn't foresee the turn that the book took about halfway through. I was expecting traditional horror and ended up with so much more. 

Because of the book's singularity, it's comfortable, conversational style, and the likeability of both the main and secondary characters, I'm giving this book a solid 5-stars on my Goodreads. I also plan to purchase and read the next (several?) book(s) in the series. 

Furthermore, I LOVED that this is a story being told in several mediums. The way we can use social media blows my mind. This is an excellent example of how many possibilities there are for readers, writers, and viewers to tell and seek out stories that we can fall in love with. You better believe that when THE HAUNTING comes to a theater near me, I'll be right in the front row on the edge of my seat. 

But enough from me. Now it's time for you to go out and form your own opinion!

THE HAUNTING debuts on March 24th, 2015, and I would recommend pre-ordering a copy. I'm hoping that reading buddies of mine post comments here once they finish the book on their opinions. 

Next month, I'll have another have another young adult proof to review! Find more details about my review schedule on my Facebook. Check back often for other updates--like my upcoming review of the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY movie. 

Till next time! XOXO
 

 


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review and Cover Reveal of SEEKER by Arwen Elys Dayton

Hi, everybody, and welcome to 2015! Before I jump into the book review, I want to do a small update on the blog. This year, I'm hoping to review one proof copy of upcoming publications each month. Each review will be posted before the book comes out for purchase, and I'll send out reminders to followers on Twitter and Facebook. Click on the site names to follow me!

Here's to a fabulous 2015 full of writing and reading!

Now without further ado...

My January book review is of YA fantasy novel SEEKER by Arwen Elys Dayton. SEEKER is the first book in a new series (the second book is titled TRAVELER) and is Dayton's second published novel.

Here is a quick synopsis and cover reveal:

"Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her."



I didn't read the description of the book before I read it because I often like to be surprised by a book's contents. I was surprised in this case because the cover led me to believe I was reading a true fantasy novel, but SEEKER takes place in an alternate, futuristic society (although in the first page or two, you may not realize that).

To be honest, I had a hard time getting into the book. I found Dayton's writing style to be fairly elementary, and her characters felt underdeveloped to me, despite all the back story with which readers are almost immediately assaulted. Perhaps because of this, the book's rating on Goodreads is only at 3 stars.

On the other hand, I'm glad that I stuck with the novel. Dayton introduces a battle style that I found intriguing, and I thought Quin's journey as a character was a worthy one. If I can review TRAVELER when it's available in proofs, then I certainly will.

I hope Dayton keeps developing her writing skills, just as Quin is developing hers. She has great concepts that I look forward to seeing her flesh out even more. If you're looking for a book to read on a long plane flight, or if you're stuck inside this winter,  pick up a copy of SEEKER.

SEEKER will be available for purchase on February 10th. For more information about the book and its author, visit Dayton's website here. The website truly is beautifully designed, and Dayton keeps an updated blog, which is always a plus.

On my Goodreads, I plan to give this book 3 stars with the expectation that I'll rate the second in the series higher. For more of the books that I've read and reviewed, click on the link.

That concludes my first review for 2015! I'll see you all again next month. Until then, keep reading and writing!