Sunday, 31 March 2013

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Stung



Hey guys!  Today I'm part of the tour for Stung, by Bethany Wiggins.  Be sure to drop by the other blogs; you can find the schedule here.  And of course, don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Title: Stung
Author: Bethany Wiggins
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Released: 2nd April 2013
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Purchase: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Amazon UKThe Book Depository | IndieBound

Fiona wakes up in her room, assuming it's a day like any other.  That's until she notices the poor state of her room - and not just her room, but her whole house.  Everywhere is faded, dusty...empty.  And everything outside is dead.  Then there's the strange tattoo on the back of her right hand.  She learns that those who have been branded with this tattoo all turn into beasts, savage and insane; the streets, sewers and tunnels are their hunting grounds, preying on anyone not careful enough or quick enough.  A wall exists to separate the beasts and their prey from the elite, and those who live on the other side of the wall are determined to kill all of those who have the tattoo.  Fiona's status as a marked person - a marked girl - has now made her a target.

When reading this you're struck with the frightening thought that some of this could actually happen.  The causes of the new, barren world in Stung are fully explained, and there is a possibility that something like this could happen.  And it all comes down to bees.  A lot of us look at them as insects to avoid at all costs because big buzzing creatures that sting?  Not exactly best friend material.  And yet we rely on them far more than we might think.   There is also irony in the fact that those in society who used to be the elite are now the mindless beasts who roam the streets, something that is also brought up within the book itself.  Wiggins presents an intriguing yet harsh world, in which you can see clearly just how much it takes to survive.

Fiona was a bit of a mixed character for me.  I liked her in the sense that she is a good person, and I appreciated her readiness to fight.  I liked that she wasn't afraid to confront something, instead doing what she could to defend herself - for the most part, anyway.  At the same time, however, I didn't fail to notice how easily tears seemed to come to her.  I accepted that she had lost an incredible amount, and that there were times when those tears were definitely deserved.  But I also wanted her to be a little bit stronger.  In addition to this was her lack of thinking.  This made her somewhat frustrating at times.  Bowen was much more sensible, and I liked the contrast between the tough side of him and the more vulnerable side.  His history is a sad one, and I did feel sorry for him.  The relationship between them was sweet, although this did come with its problems.  It started off slowly, which really worked, but then seemed to develop too quickly for my liking.  Still, there was a conspicuous absence of insta-love and love triangle, which in itself is something to be very grateful for.

Overall Stung is a book that, while flawed, is easy to enjoy.  Wiggins manages to create this dystopian world and provide hope for it in one book, which is very impressive.  I did see mention on her website of a second installment to come next year, so I'm definitely curious to see where this will be taken.  This is still one that can be read on its own, however, as all the questions that are brought up while reading this do get answered.

About the author
Bethany Wiggins has always been an avid reader, but not an avid writer. She failed ninth grade English because she read novels instead of doing her homework. In high school, she sat alone at lunch and read massive hardback fantasy novels (Tad Williams and Robert Jordan anyone?). It wasn't until the end of her senior year that the other students realized she was reading fiction--not the Bible.
 
Once upon a time, Bethany's sister dared her to start writing an hour a day until she completed a novel. Bethany wrote a seven-hundred page fantasy novel that she wisely let no one read--but it taught her how to write. She is the author of SHIFTING, STUNG (April 2013), and CURED (2014).
 
The Giveaway 
On offer are FOUR SIGNED copies of Stung and honey sticks. 
Please note that I am not responisble for the giveaway; go here to meet the hosts.
 
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Friday, 29 March 2013

Cover Reveal: Of Silver and Beasts

Of Silver and Beasts (A Goddess Wars Novel)
Release Date: June 1, 2013
Genre: New Adult Dark Fantasy
Cover Reveal Organized by: YA Bound
Cover Designed by: Steven Novak

Summary from Goodreads:
In the sand-covered queendom of Cavan, the goddess once saved a young Kaliope’s life, preventing the mercury her father attempted to hide in her blood from reaching her heart. Now, a cybernetic clamp filters it, but the silver streaks swirling faintly beneath her skin are a constant reminder that she’s different.

When nineteen-year-old Kaliope is chosen as head of the Nactue Guard, she becomes the sworn protector to her empress. In the midst of an invasion on a neighboring land, Kaliope is placed in charge of guarding Prince Caben, the last heir to his kingdom. But when they’re attacked by the feared Otherworlders, Caben and Kaliope are abducted and taken below to a realm where they must fight for their life in a caged arena. 

Kaliope struggles to protect her princely charge, keeping him and herself alive while battling inhumanly opponents, and trying to save the stolen, sacred relic that will restore her empress’s life force and all of Cavan. And if she can somehow awaken the goddess within her, she may save what’s most important.


***Excerpt***

I open my mouth to say something comforting, but I’m unsure of what. In this moment, I’m reminded that I know little about him. Other than the sarcasm and desire to understand nothing of my queendom, he hasn’t allowed me past the surface. But then, I have my own walls, hiding things I’d never want him or any other to know. And I understand that need to hide them. You can’t trust anyone. “Caben…” I start, but still can’t find the right words. He lowers his hand from his face, never taking his eyes off the glinting water top. “You’re right,” he finally says. “Let’s find the access to Lilly’s section.” A hollow pang hits my chest, and I’m not sure why. Something in his voice sounds lost, broken. I imagine the gears around my heart spinning faster, trying to keep up with my racing heart. When he sidesteps me, I reach out and grab his arm. “Caben, I didn’t mean—” “It’s fine, Kal,” he snaps. “We have work to do.” “No, I’ve said something to offend you.” I drop my hand, but keep close to him, not allowing him to leave my side. Goddess, trying to understand the male brain is harder than anything in protector training. I’ve heard people say that you have to tip-toe around a woman’s emotions, but a man’s ego is every bit as fragile, if not more so. He releases a heavy breath through his nose and walks back to the pool. He sits down along the edge and rolls up his pants, then slips off his boots. “I honestly don’t think Bax or his goons will be returning tonight.” He sinks his bare feet into the water and sighs. Glancing at the back of the cave, I plant my hands on my hips. We don’t have time for indulgencies, but the prince is still my charge. If it were my empress, I’d give her anything she’d ask for. Allow her as much time as she needed to collect herself. I have to watch over his mental state as well as protect him, so I try to push the pending need to find Lilly aside and sit down next to him. “Here,” he says, turning his hand out near my crossed feet. “You have to feel this.” A smile tugs at the corner of my mouth. “I can remove my own—” “Have you never been pampered a day in your life?” he asks, lifting an eyebrow. “I know that the Nactue are fierce and will put a hurt on any man for touching them. But try to relax.” “Is that the rumor in Perinya?” “What?” I bite my lip, suddenly regretting my blurt. “Nothing. Never mind.” From the corner of my eye, I see his lips pucker into a pinched smile, as if he’s trying not to. “Ah,” he says, like he’s made some great universal connection. “Well, there are many whisperings about the Nactue. Some I dare not repeat for fear I’d leave here missing a limb, but that’s one, yes.” He takes my booted foot and begins to unlace it. “I’ve heard that the empress’s protectors are untouchable—forbidden to give themselves to men. And that they’ll snap a man’s neck just for making an advance.” My mouth drops open. Appalled, I counter,“That’s not true.” “All right,” he says, as if he hasn’t just insulted my very existence. “It’s only rumors. Things men jaw about in pubs. The unattainable woman is a fantasy, Kal. Don’t be offended.” “Unattainable?” I grit my teeth, trying to maintain my composure. “Tell me, prince. Do men in your country just go around bedding every woman they can in order to keep them compliant?” I shake my head. “If their fantasy is a woman that would have nothing to do with them, it seems to me it’s their way of feeding their egos after being rejected.” His eyes widen. “No! How does your brain come up with these—” He bites off his words, his lips thin as he presses them together. “Look, it was a joke.” I nod, many times. “Another joke. I’m glad that our hard work and sacrifice is amusing to the men of Perinya.” Caben lets out another sigh and slowly pulls off my boot. His warm fingers skim my calf as he inches up my pant leg. “Just stick your foot in,” he says, then adds lower, “while I stick mine in my mouth.” Unexpectedly, I laugh. “At least it’s now clean,” I say. “Would you like some help getting it to your face?”
 

***GIVEAWAY***
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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Review: Being Henry David

Title: Being Henry David
Author: Cal Armistead
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Released: 1st March 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

'Hank' wakes up at Penn Station in New York with no memory of how he got there, why he's there or who he is.  He possesses nothing but the clothes on his back, a $10 bill and a copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden.  He spends his first night after waking up on the streets with Jack and Nessa, two runaways, but after some trouble he escapes to Concord, where Thoreau and some of his contemporaries are much revered.  Gradually he pieces back his memory, but with this comes guilt, grief and pain, and Hank needs to figure out how he's going to move on.

I think the first thing that caught my eye about this, and one of the things that I really liked, was that this is from a male perspective.  I read so many books where the protag is female, so this was a nice change.  For some reason I find it appealing to read from a guy's POV, at least if it's done well, and Armistead has managed to do that here.  Having said that, though, Hank isn't a particularly memorable character.  Right now I'm struggling to think of anything that distinguishes him from the sea of YA protagonists that are out there.  I might attribute it to my awful memory, but just before this I wrote a review for a book I read even before Being Henry David, and I was able to recall the heroine just fine - which means at least some of the problem lies with Hank.  I thought characters like Thomas had much more personality.

The other thing that interested me slightly was using Walden and Thoreau as part of the basis for this book.  Don't worry if you haven't read it or come across Thoreau before, because it gets explained - really, Thoreau pretty much permeates the novel.  In a way I liked the idea of Hank following Walden, looking for answers to his past.  I liked the quotes that were used and getting to know another classic author this way.  But I felt it was also taken a little too far, because there seemed to be an element to it almost supernatural.  Therefore I found myself a little confused when I remembered that this is a contemporary novel; the two points at which it seemed to slide just outside of contemporary felt out of place and bizarre.

The writing itself was not bad, but something about it just fell flat for me.  I wasn't able to connect with it as much as I would have liked, and this was something that stayed with me right from the beginning.  Parts of it really did hold my interest, did have me reading in curiosity, especially when it came to Hank really trying to remember how he had ended up at Penn Station.  But when I found out the reason, I couldn't say if it was really all that believable.  Tragic, yes, but it seemed to me just a little much.   The romantic element, too, was somewhat irritating.  There's an emphasis on how Concord is a close and safe town, where people do, for the most part, trust each other.  Yet you have to wonder at the naivety of a girl who would give a guy her number after meeting him only minutes before.  Nor did I really appreciate the whole 'high school experience' side that worked its way in.  The second half of the book, it seems, was not particularly impressive.

Despite genuinely enjoying parts of Being Henry David, I am left, on the whole, feeling dissatisfied.  Perhaps some of these things could have been overlooked, or at least tolerated, had the ending helped to compensate.  Instead it was too open, and I am left with more questions than I am comfortable with.  This was a decent read, but nowhere near as powerful as it could have been.

Cover Reveal: Broken Gates

(P.J. Stone Gates Trilogy #2)

Expected publication: May 24th 2013 by Dragonfairy Press 
 Genre - New Adult Paranormal Romance

P.J. Stone is a Seer who saw too little, too late.

In the past, her biggest worries were boys and school—but war has a way of changing things. Now, the alien Riders are trying to overrun the world. As the last of their kind, P.J. and her friends must find a way to save humanity before there’s nothing left to save.

After choosing a mate, P.J. hoped she'd have time to enjoy her love life. But with everything changing so quickly and major secrets revealed, who knows what the future will bring?--
Goodreads
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First book in this series
 
 
Click on the cover for book information.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Blog Tour: Review: Altered Souls

Hey guys!  Today I'm part of the tour for The Witch Avenue series.  Be sure to drop by some of the other blogs; you can find the tour schedule here.  Also, please note that Lonely Souls, the first book in the series, is FREE on Amazon during the tour.

Title: Altered Souls (The Witch Avenue #2)
Author: Karice Bolton
Publisher: Bulldog Press
Released: 28th October 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Altered Souls picks up right where Lonely Souls left off. Triss is determined to get her mother back and do whatever she needs to do to achieve that goal.  But this journey brings with it discoveries about her ancestry, and she herself will need to learn to confront the concept of dark magic, battling her own demons and learning about the power within herself.  With Logan at her side, she enters a world of Altered Souls and knows that not only do they have to save them, they need to prevent anyone else from suffering the same fate.

This middle installment is in ways definitely better than the first book.  For one thing, it brings in a lot more of the witchy action I had kind of expected to see at the start of the series.  Witch books tend to be a bit hit and miss for me, but with this I really enjoyed encountering all the different spells and potions; I find myself quite fascinated with things like the symbolism of colours and flowers and herbs, and this is something that both books have fulfilled for me, at least in terms of learning more about plants.  I was especially impressed with the ending.  The ending brought with it tension, pace, anticipation, and the true personalities of some of the secondary characters really become clear.  I found myself questioning the true intents of a couple of people, uncertain whether they were really on the right side, whether their viewpoints would change, and I liked that suspense.  The ending was then a reflection of the growth of those characters.

Triss is also much stronger in this.  As in the first book, she does question herself a lot, unsure of her own self-worth and what she could possibly do to make this new world she's in any better.  But at the same time, she is also very ready to do what she thinks needs to be done.  She is much more decisive, and much more prepared to fight for her loved ones.  I found myself admiring of the lengths she went to to get her mother back, knowing full well the risks she was taking.  Logan, too, remains as supportive in this installment as he was in the first.  I loved how he was both prepared to help her no matter what and how he also accepted her as her own person.  The romance in this series so far has proved to be wonderfully sweet and endearing.  There is a lot of light banter between them, interspersed with much more serious moments.  Both work at getting the other to open up more and let people in; it is very much a give-and-take relationship.

I'm so glad that after reading Lonely Souls, I was able to read this immediately after.  As much as I liked Triss and Logan before, they have come a long way, and I really appreciated seeing this growth.  Added to that is the much greater presence of the fantasy elements.  The combination of these has made for what I feel is a stronger sequel, leaving me very hopeful for the conclusion to this series.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Review: What's Left of Me

Title: What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1)
Author: Kat Zhang
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: 18th September 2012
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I kept meaning to read this book for so long. The reviews trickled in, my reading pile grew, my workload climbed ever higher...and as time went on this book was pushed to the back of my mind, in the farthest corner, and left there to gather dust, until finally.  Finally, I read it.  And it surpassed any expectations I ever had.

In Eva and Addie's world, each person born into the world is actually two people, where one body is home to two souls.  Of those two souls, one is dominant and one recessive, and it is the latter that is supposed to eventually fade in childhood.  In this case, Eva is the recessive soul - but she didn't fade.  Tests were run, theories were made, until finally Addie was pronounced healthy.  All this time, Addie has had to pretend that she's normal like any other person, because hybrids are the biggest thing that people have been taught to fear. This goes on until Eva and Addie discover that there may be a cure, a way for Eva to have her own control.  But this propels them into circumstances that they've been trying to avoid all their lives, and now the matter of survival is greater than it ever was before.

What's Left of Me swallowed me whole right from the start.  Zhang brings to us an original and intriguing concept, and with an excellect idea came excellent execution.  The idea of two souls in one body is a frightening one.  In the first instance, I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have another soul inside of me.  My own head is chaotic enough without someone else adding their own contributions, and I know I wouldn't be able to stand anyone's voice in my head for any amount of time, let alone my whole life.  Even more than that, imagine having no control?  As a recessive soul, there'd be no way for you have your voice heard, for you to move where you want, do what you want.  I think that kind of life would honestly drive me insane.  And for the disappearance of this soul, the effective death, to be an accepted thing?  Truly horrible. Zhang managed to underline perfectly everything that comes along with this concept of two souls, exploring it to its full potential.  Her writing is beautiful and captured everything, from emotions, to voices, to personalities.

The relationship between Addie and Eva is a fabulous example of this. Eva's frustration, and her desire to be acknowledged, accepted, loved, came across so clearly.  There were times I disliked Addie for her selfishness, willing her to at least understand that Eva had a right to life just as much of her.  But at the same time, it was obvious that she did understand.  Despite their occasional disagreements, it's clear that they love each other and that neither can really do without the other. Both have their own distinctive voice, and I was very admiring of the fact that the author never confused her pronouns, separating Addie's actions and experiences from Eva's. I imagine it must have been hard to try and keep up with it, yet there were no mistakes.  In fact, every secondary character was fleshed out; every soul met has their own personality.  Even the romance worked.  There was little of it, but what there was was laced expertly in the plot and proved to be very enjoyable.

The plot itself was brilliant.  It started off slow and then gradually picked up, but the pacing was always exactly right.  But I can't begin to tell you how emotional I became reading this.  The revelations, twists and turns that made up the plot left me feeling angry, horrorstruck, full of sorrow.  I couldn't believe the lies that people were believing.  The ordeal that hybrids were put through.  The fact that they were on their own.  I sort of liked Eva and Addie's parents, I felt sorry for them, but there came a point where I was so disappointed in them, even though I had seen it coming.  Eva and Addie in comparison had so much strength.  Kat Zhang has truly created something amazing and heart-wrenching here, for me at least.

What's Left of Me has proven itself to be a tremendous story of hope, pain, courage.  It's a story that has more than lived up to its potential, and I for one can't wait to see what happens next in this journey with Addie and Eva.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Blog Tour: Reviews & Giveaway: Sometimes Never & Blackbird

Hey, guys!  I can't even tell you how super excited I am to be part of this tour; for the tour schedule click here, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Title: Sometimes Never (Sometimes Never #1)
Author: Cheryl McIntyre
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 19th December 2012
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

This.  This was what I needed.  A compelling contemporary with a heart-stopping romance and beautiful friendships.  Granted, this was by no means a light read.  It was dark and intense, which admittedly is the kind of book I usually go for.  But aside from revelling in this side of the story, the pages of Sometimes Never are home to characters I fell head over heels in love with.  Cheryl McIntyre has, without a doubt, made it onto my list of favourite authors.

Hope's life has been far from easy.  She never knew her father, and her mother was uninterested in raising a daughter, instead either leaving the house unexpectedly or bringing home undesirable company.  Then she died.  For the past few years Hope's lived with a foster family, and while she's much better off than before, she still can't erase the pain and the scars that her past has inflicted on her.  And love?  Out of the question.  Mason is now at his eighth school in five years, a result of his mother's constant desire to move.  He's tired of not being able to stick around long enough to make proper friends, tired of having to leave places behind - especially his home of Illinois.  He lets his temper get the best of him and uses girls as a way of trying to forget and to lose himself, but doesn't really believe in love.

And then they meet.  And everything changes.

McIntyre deals with difficult issues in a very sensitive manner.  Looking at the cover, it does kind of give the impression that this is perhaps something of a heavier read, but there is no specific mention of the topics that get brought up, leaving me surprised when I started reading.  A lot of these stem from Hope's character.  Hope has had some truly traumatic experiences, and because of that is a character completely and utterly broken.  Both within the book and as a YA protagonist, she stands out from the crowd.  Strangely enough, I felt almost no frustration with her character.  I could see how much pain she was in, how she genuinely felt that she wasn't worthy of love and that she would destroy any kind of relationship she had, not realising that her friendships were relationships in themselves. Commitment is an absolute no-no for her, and that makes her almost oblivious to how differently other people might feel.  She's also one hell of a fighter.  She does struggle with herself quite a lot, and by the end of the book she's come a long way from where she was at the start.  Not completely healed, but I think almost as much as possible for someone who's been through her experiences.

Now, if anyone were to ask me to name all my book boyfriends, it's safe to say we'd be here for...well, for a long while, let's just say.  So what does it tell you when I say that Mason would be among the first names you hear?  And he would be.  Because he is honestly that amazing.  This guy does nothing but help Hope and be there for her.  He is just more sweet than I can describe.  He makes mistakes, and then does his utmost to rectify them.  The relationship he shares with his younger brother is also touching; these two don't fight and yell at each other.  Mason is the responsible older brother who takes the time to do things with him, and you can see clearly that Kellin respects him.  He gets along with his mother too - although this was a woman who had lost my respect by the end.  She pulled a move that I was so scared would happen, and when I was proved right, I couldn't believe she would do such a thing.  Yet somehow Mason has turned out to be a genuinely good guy, someone who stands up for what is right, makes his own choices, and refuses to go along with what others want him to do.

The secondary characters are brilliantly fleshed out as well.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I adored the friendships in this book - between Mason, Hope, Guy, Chase, even Kellin and Misty.  Guy is Hope's absolute best friend, and she's pretty tight with Chase as well; all three of them are part of a band, and Park is the fourth.  Out of the secondary characters, Guy was by far my favourite.  I loved him.  Completely.  He's been there for Hope ever since her mother died, and he understands her like no-one else does.  At the same time, he says his mind.  But even though he's my favourite, I love Chase too.  I'm a little mixed with Park.  On the one hand, I can see where he's coming from, but at the same time he does something that's pretty unforgiveable.

I adored this book.  Pure and simple.  It's so clear that Cheryl McIntyre knows every single one of her characters back to front, inside and out.  And every single relationship in here, whether it's familial, platonic, romantic, loving, indifferent, painful - every single one of them is deep, layered, expertly written.  Sometimes Never is all about the characters and their struggles to move on in their lives and, without fully realising it, this is what I needed to read.  And if this review has made even one of you add it to your TBR, I feel like I've accomplished something.  Because this is a book that deserves to be read.

Title: Blackbird (Sometimes Never #1.5)
Author: Cheryl McIntyre
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 19th February 2013
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blackbird tells the story of the years between the final chapter and the epilogue of Sometimes Never, in which Hope and Mason do their separate things while still trying to make their relationship work, and also learn to confront their own issues once and for all.

I loved this one because in Blackbird, Mason's problems become more obvious.  You can see just how messed up he is.  In the first book, his anger and the difficulty he has with his own past are visible, but in the novella, while Hope still struggles a great deal, there is also more emphasis on Mason's struggle.  He has to learn to address his temper, his quick impulses.  On top of that, his problems are worsened by the fact that his mother is being frustratingly stubborn.  In a way, I can understand where she's coming from and why she's acting the way she is; she has Kellin to think about too.  But then I also don't think that she should be acting that way.  In the first instance, it makes her a hypocrite, which I loved Hope for pointing out to her.  In the second, it shows a lack of understanding on her part.  It just emphasises her inability to deal with life and the readiness to give up. Despite her own pain and grief, she can't seem to comprehend that of someone else, and the pressure that she put on Mason because of this, the hurt she inflicted on him, really had me feeling for him.

As I said before, Hope is still struggling a lot here.  She thought she had things figured out, but going to college has made her realise that actually, she has no idea what she's going to do.  It feels like there are too many things happening, too many things to think about and decide, and they're suffocating her.  There were a couple of close calls, and she put Mason through a lot, but I was happy when she really made an effort to overcome her fears and impulses.  Even more so when Guy and Chase came along and speeded up the process.  I was glad to see that despite everything, she did want Mason to be happy, and she was offering to sacrifice a lot if it meant his mother would allow their family to go back to how they used to be.

The ending for this is adorable, as is the epilogue of Sometimes Never.  I'm so happy it ended that way.

I can't say any more.  Just know that I love Cheryl McIntyre, I love her books, her characters, and even if I had her companion novel, as yet untitled, in my hands right now, it still wouldn't be soon enough.  I'm going to go stalk her on Twitter now.

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Please note that I am not resonsible for this giveaway.  You can find the tour hosts by clicking on the image below.

 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Blog Tour: Review, Trailer & Giveaway: Shadow Eyes

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy of Shadow Eyes, your full name in the sequel and a Kindle Fire!
 
Title: Shadow Eyes
Author: Dusty Crabtree
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Released: 15th July 2012
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Iris Kohl has the ability to see shadows.  They lurk around unsuspecting people, encouraging them to break the rules, pushing some of them to the point where they do things truly evil.  Iris struggles with it, but she does her best to be normal.  And it's kind of going OK until shadows start hanging around her crush and he becomes less like the sweet boy he was.  And that's just the beginning.  There's the new teacher who somehow brings light and scares the shadows. There's the new girl in school with a glowing aura.  And finally, the new guy in school whose mystery plus a conspicuous absence of shadows around him make him very appealing.  With their arrival comes an increase in the aggressiveness of the shadows, directed specifically towards Iris, and for her to find out what is going on and how to combat them, she needs to face up to the memory of her fourteenth birthday, the worst day of her life and the one where her ability to see the shadows started.

Iris was, for the most part, a likeable character.  She wasn't constantly moaning or whining; instead she actually tried to work past the shadows and have something of a normal life.  I loved that she had this good relationship with her sister too, one where they could be open with each other.  Her sister doesn't know about the shadows, but they still have an easygoing relationship where they can joke with each other and talk about things.  They both also watch out for their mother who, while not exactly helpless, is somewhat emotionally worn.  What I couldn't appreciate, however, was Iris' refusal to question anything.  She knew that Mr Daniels and Kyra were obviously aware of the shadows, and she could see that Kyra and Patrick have some sort of history between them - not through a relationship, but in the sense that they know each other already and there's something that's created a rift between them - and yet she said nothing. Just watched with wide-eyed confusion.  And her friendship with Kyra was somewhat questionable because she always felt like she shouldn't disappoint Kyra.  Again - why?

My biggest issue with this book is that for the longest time, nothing happens.  And I would say that Iris' lack of questioning helped contribute to that.  The writing itself is really good, so I spent a great deal of this reading contentedly. But I got to a point where I realised that really, something should be happening by now, and the writing wasn't enough to completely make up for that.  The revelations, when they came, were good, and I think these could have been paced more througohout the story.  Still, I did enjoy finally finding out what was going on and the revelation about Patrick in particular was pleasantly surprising.  He's a very conflicted character, and without even knowing why he was behaving in a certain way, I felt sorry for him because I could see he didn't want to be that way - although there was a point where his behaviour was taken a bit too far.

Despite the issues, this was, all in all, an enjoyable read.  Shadow Eyes could have done with more action and better pacing, but it was still good nevertheless.  The writing, while not completely redeeming, did still help, which was why it took me as long as it did to realise that little had actually happened in terms of plot movement.  The ending acts as a wonderful opening to the sequel, and I look forward to reading it.




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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Avery Shaw Experiment



Title: The Avery Shaw Experiment
Author: Kelly Oram
Publisher: Bluefields
Format: ebook
Genre: YA contemporary romance
Release Date: May 2013

Summary:

When Avery Shaw’s heart is shattered by her life-long best friend, she chooses to deal with it the only way she knows how—scientifically.

The state science fair is coming up and Avery decides to use her broken heart as the topic of her experiment. She’s going to find the cure. By forcing herself to experience the seven stages of grief through a series of social tests, she believes she will be able to get over Aiden Kennedy and make herself ready to love again. But she can’t do this experiment alone, and her partner (ex partner!) is the one who broke her heart.

Avery finds the solution to her troubles in the form of Aiden’s older brother Grayson. The gorgeous womanizer is about to be kicked off the school basketball team for failing physics. He’s in need of a good tutor and some serious extra credit. But when Avery recruits the lovable Grayson to be her “objective outside observer,” she gets a whole lot more than she bargained for, because Grayson has a theory of his own: Avery doesn’t need to grieve. She needs to live. And if there’s one thing Grayson Kennedy is good at, it’s living life to the fullest.

Teaser One - Avery

Grayson finally noticed Aiden and I on the couch. “What are you two dorks doing?”

“Learning about steroids,” I said cheerfully. “You should probably know that using them can cause acne, testicular atrophy, decreased sperm count, prostate enlargement and gynecomastia.”

Grayson looked rightfully appalled. “Gyneco-what-ia?”

“Enlarged breasts in men,” Aiden translated. “So you should lay off the juice before you have to start borrowing Avery’s bras.”

I gasped at the mention of my underwear and whacked Aiden’s shoulder hard.

Behind me, Grayson laughed. I knew he was about to deliver a comeback, but I refused to look at him. Seconds later his breath was warm on my neck. He whispered just low enough that his mother couldn’t hear what he said. “I like my bras colorful and lacey, Aves. Not sure your collection would do it for me.”

Total mortification. Grayson may be as close as family to me, but he was still one of the hottest, most popular guys in our whole school. Him discussing my bras in that low sexy voice that could stop a girl’s heart on the spot made my lungs constrict. Plus, he was right of course. My bras were all of the plain white cotton variety.

Teaser Two - Grayson

I started to leave the room but she stopped me at the door. “Grayson?” Her tone tugged at something inside me. “You really want to take me with you tonight?”

She sounded so small and unsure of herself. It was how she always sounded at school and around strangers, but never when she was at home with us. I think my brother had really broken her. I was seriously going to have to beat him sometime.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I know I really freaked out on you earlier, but I promise I’ll be fine. Aiden’s right.” She swallowed back a lump in her throat. “I’ll manage without him somehow.”

“Aiden’s a tool. You can learn how to manage tomorrow. Tonight’s New Years Eve and for once in your life you’re going to spend it without Aiden or The Discovery Channel.

I knew I was making progress when she cracked a smile and asked, “What about Whootylicious in 7 B?”

I thought of the luscious booty I’d originally planned on seeing tonight and sighed. “That will be an unfortunate loss, but, like you, I will just have to deal.”

I winked and then decided I’d give her ten minutes before I came back and physically dragged her out of bed.

Other books by Kelly Oram




About Kelly Oram...


Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which family and friends still tease her. She's obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and loves to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

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Monday, 18 March 2013

Blog Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway: Disconnect

Hey guys!  Be sure to enter the giveaway and drop in to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour; you can find the tour schedule here.

Title: Disconnect (Divided Worlds #1)
Author: Imran Siddiq
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 26th January 2013
Rating:
Purchase: Amazon UK / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Excerpt
The orange glow of internal lamps within Shantytown blurred above Zachary’s rush. The home he shared with his dad lay on the ground floor of a tower, a short distance from the entrance to the town.
He altered his grip of the supple package so as not to alert the attention of the beggars that lived along the gutter-trenches.  Yanking keys attached by string from a pocket, he undid four door-locks on his front door.  The inside offered a stove, table, and two chairs in the first section.  Opposing corridors in the middle led off to the two bedrooms and at the far end was the bits-and-pieces zone.  From behind ragged cloths attached to the corrugated iron-sheeted walls, he took a match from a box and lit the single lantern to illuminate the area above the table.  Shadows formed like creeping creatures, moving deeper into the dark at the rear.
He peered down at the contents of the saucepan on the single electric plate of the stove. Minced rabbit meat. Spores of white fluff covered it. A putrid smell, worse than the sewers, invaded his nostrils. With his thoughts attached to the Intercom, he’d trusted the claim that it was fresh meat when he bought it. Zachary retched. Nothing came out.
Shekhar’s seven Leo-coins would have purchased an armful of potatoes instead, but it’d been months since he’d consumed something worth chewing. Almost all his dad earned disappeared to the slumlords of District Two and the Resourcers, who didn’t deserve payment for their volt-line stealing induction coils.
With one cup from a tub of water into the saucepan, then, nostrils squeezed, he slid the lid over it.
Zachary drew back the curtain next to the stove.   Inside the alcove, a Haulage-404 droid hung mid-way from bolts secured to the wall.  The Haulages were ancien, labour-efficient droids used for construction purposes. Oblong headed with two circular eyes and a blocky plated jaw, the droid resembled a muscular human clad in copper armour.  With one defunct eye, its left arm removed, and nothing below its waist this was a little more complete than the one on Biro's table.  Skin.  Zachary wriggled the image from his mind as he stroked the droid's torso.  No - this was how droids were meant to be.  Metal and screws.
To the rear section of his home sat the Bombay core-generator. He often wondered how his bulky-framed dad managed to step over the toilet-hole to reach it. Five LEDs along the Bombay’s top remained empty. Zachary swapped two crocodile clips over, and then rotated the generator’s wheel. The LEDs remained unchanged, even after a third rotation.
“Come on.”
His dad had paid the Resourcers their twice-weekly charge – hadn’t he? Loosening his tense fingers, he banged the top of the generator. An internal component whirred as two of the LEDs lit up with a soft aqua tone.
“Next time you do that, I’ll shove my screwdriver in and dismantle you,” Zachary growled at it.
Back at the droid, Zachary took the coiled-tube that ran the length of his home from the stove’s socket. Clearing dust from an exposed chest-plate on the droid, he thrust the coiled-tube inward. A current sizzled along twisted circuitry. Tiny blue lights illuminated its functioning eye.
“Hello, Patch,” said Zachary pulling over a chair.
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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Strength

Hey guys!  Today I'm so happy to be part of the tour for Strength by Carrie Butler.  You can find the rest of the tour stops here.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Title: Strength (Mark of Nexus #1)
Author: Carrie Butler
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Released: 7th March 2013
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon UK / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Usually when I read a book, I re-read the synopsis first, because by the time I've finally managed to get hold of it, I've forgotten what it's about.  If I don't read it, I find that before I can get too far in, I feel like I have to read it.  With Strength, however, I felt no such compulsion and as such, I had no idea what to expect going in, bar the fact that this was paranormal.  What I got, then, was a unique add to the paranormal genre, a healthy smearing of sizzling romance and a snarky protag who you can't help but love.

The rumour on campus is that Wallace Blake is not a sane person.  Stories circulate about what happened to his old roommate, and weird noises can be heard from his room in the evenings.  As such, everyone stays well away from him.  That is, until Rena Collins unwittingly crashes into him on her way to see a friend.  That encounter, accompanied by a couple others, leaves her intrigued.  He seems perfectly normal - and yet, there's something different about him.  Not his sanity.  But there are questions, such as how he leaves her with bruises after only minimal physical contact.  Soon she learns that he isn't human and now, somehow, she's landed herself in a situation that is soon going to spill into war.  She's being watched, and the only way for her and Wallace to make it out alive is by fighting.

I've been feeling, for want of a better word, somewhat dead lately, simply because things have been really hectic and intense for me.  But for the time I was reading Strength, I felt so much more awake.  With the very first page, Carrie Butler had me sitting up alert and reading keenly.  The scene you find yourself in upon opening the book is not a typical one.  In fact, there is little to be found here that is typical.  The paranormal element is certainly a different one.  I appreciated this, enjoying the revelation of Wallace's true identity and then finding out more about his family and the magic of his bloodline.  In reading Strength I found myself laughing frequently, annoyed every time I was forced to put it down.

This is in large part due to Rena.  Tough, sarcastic, funny, hers is a voice that will not fade quickly.  It's one that really does call out to you from the start.  Rena is not your average heroine.  She's not afraid to fight and doesn't simply end up paralysed every time she gets stuck in a difficult situation; nor does she give up.  Her sarcasm and wit make her all the more likeable, not to mention the fact that she ends up being funny without meaning to.  Added to all of this is her genuine concern for the people around her.  Wallace, too, is not simply a cardboard character.  A good guy surrounded by people who misunderstand him entirely, he suffers a lot of pain, both physical and emotional.  I was glad to see him finally have the chance to open up more and to really be supported by Rena.  He, in turn, supported her whenever she was feeling vulnerable.  Their relationship is a slow one, plagued by doubts and insecurities, but finally working its way to a positive end for both of them.

That's not to say this book didn't have flaws.  Because it definitely did.  There were character and plot issues that I found myself unhappy with, where certain things were overlooked or caused me confusion.  Early on there was also an element brought in that did have me concerned about where the story was heading, and I was thankful when it didn't go that way.  Yet at the same time, it made me wonder what its purpose was, because that particular line was never brought back.  Nor did I like Rena's friends, Gabby and Aiden.  Both irritated me for various reasons.

All in all, however, there is no denying that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Strength.  Despite my concerns, this is still something different, and I loved reading from Rena's perspective.  It was great as well to have a love interest who, while strong, dark and fierce, is not a bad boy.  I will certainly be keeping an eye out from now on to see what more Carrie Butler has to offer.

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Friday, 15 March 2013

Sometimes Never & Blackbird Blog Tour Kicks Off Monday!


Cheryl McIntyre is a mother, author, and insomniac, as well as a reader, movie critic, and incredibly bad singer. She’s lived in the same area of Ohio her whole life, though she secretly has dreams of moving somewhere a little warmer—preferably near a beach.
Her life revolves around four things: family, music, books, and really bad scary movies. If she doesn’t have a kid on her hip, an iPod in her hand, or a laptop in front of her face, it’s one of those rare moments when she’s actually sleeping.
You can follow her author page on Facebook where she lives part time. On Goodreads, which is like crack for avid readers. Or on Twitter, though it’s rumored she has yet to master the art of tweeting.


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Monday, 11 March 2013

Book Blast: Excerpt & Giveaway: Astarte's Wrath











Astarte's Wrath is the companion novel to... 




Check out Trisha Wolfe's other books...



A peek inside Astarte's Wrath...
“I’ve found you.”

I turn to see Xarion leaning against the frame of my terrace door. A slight smile curves his beautiful lips, and his arms are crossed over his bronze muscled cuirass.

Feeling brave, I slip close and wrap my arms around his waist, the brass studs of his belt pressing against my stomach. “I wasn’t hiding,” I say, looking up into his face. I can see his exhaustion there, in the dark crescents under his eyes, though he’s putting on a good front. “I’d never tempt a great hunter.”

He chuckles as he steps away long enough to slip off his breastplate, then he embraces me. Leaning down, he whispers in my ear, “You’re always tempting.” Running his thumb over my cheek, he lowers his face before mine, his breaths shallow. “In fact, your power of seduction is having its desired effect on me right now.” His lips softly brush mine, sweet and inviting at first, then he deepens the kiss.

I realize that anyone could walk in, and I begin to pull away. “Xarion, my room is not secure,” I say between his kisses.

He groans against my lips, and the deep rumble sends my hands into his hair, pulling him to me. I feel him smile. He scoops me into his arms, his lips never leaving mine, and walks us inside.

My sense breaks through, and I whisper, “Lunia or Phoenix could come looking for me and—”

“That’s what locks were designed for,” he interrupts.

I laugh. “Oh, that will not stop either of them.”

He turns the bolt on my door, keeping his arm sturdy beneath my legs. Then he takes me to the bed where he lays me down. I let my head fall back against the coverlet as he hovers above me, his fisted hands pressing into the mattress on either side of my head, his knees parting my legs.

Suddenly he bounds up, and I think he’s come to his senses. My stomach tumbles as I realize how much I don’t want him to be responsible—but we can’t chance it here. Only he grabs the chair from my desk and kicks the back. My eyes widen in surprise. He places one of the panels against the door, securing its ends in the torch brackets.

“That should give them some difficulty,” he says as he unbuckles his belt, the action making my heart beat wildly. “And give me enough time to hide in your dressing room like a clandestine lover.”

A smile twitches at my lips. “You mean, like exactly what you are?”

Shaking his head, his dark hair falling against his eyes, he counters, “I’m offended.” He strips off his leather armor. I pull my bottom lip between my teeth as my eyes slip over him, and a crooked smile hikes his face. “Ah, but that does it for you, huh? You like stealing kisses in the shadows, the constant fear of being caught.” Climbing onto the bed, he positions himself above me. “I bet your heart is pounding hard right now, the adrenaline claiming your body”—he presses his palm over my heart—“with a need only your clandestine lover can satisfy.”



About the author...

I’m the author of the YA Steampunk DESTINY'S FIRE (Omnific Publishing), the upcoming YA Utopian FIREBLOOD (Spencer Hill Press, Oct. 2013), and a new YA Dark Fantasy series releasing June 2013, OF SILVER AND BEASTS.

I’m the creator of YA Bound, a promotional blog for the Young Adult genre. A proud member of the SCWW and The Apocalypsies. And I’m also a business owner, partnered with my partner, my husband. When I’m not busy doing all of the above, I’m a wife and the mother of a gorgeous teen boy who's the sounding board for my male characters.

Check out my website TrishaWolfe.com for more on my books and bonus material. You can also follow me on Twitter @TrishWolfe or like my Facebook page for updates. 



 GIVEAWAY IS OPEN INTERNATIONAL! 
Must be 13 or older to enter. 

Contest ends March 18th! 

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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cover Reveal: The Wicked Within & Giveaway



Blurb coming soon!

Release: September 17th 2013!
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2013 by Simon Pulse

Other books in the series...



Love this cover!  In a way it's quite simple, and I love the use of the mask, especially with that snake.  I can't wait to read this.  What do you guys think?

To celebrate the reveal Kelly is giving away a copy of Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil, book one and two in the series. Best part? It's open international!



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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Review: Legacy of the Clockwork Key

Title: Legacy of the Clockwork Key (Secret Order of Modern Amusementists #1)
Author: Kristin Bailey
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: 5th March 2013
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

I hate writing negative reviews.  And it pains me to say that for a book I was quite looking forward to, this was a major letdown.  When I was thinking about what I wanted to include in this review, I struggled to come up with much that was positive.  My experience with this book was pretty much: let's just get this over with.

Meg's life now is that of a maid, a complete contrast to the comfortable lifestyle she led before her parents died and Lord Rathford took her in.  All she has left of her family and her past life is an old pocket watch.  But one day she realises that it's not actually a pocket watch.  It's a key, one that only she can use.  It leads her to the discovery of a secret society made up of select members - including her parents.  And with this discovery comes the knowledge that someone is murdering members of that society, and it all links back to a dangerous invention made some time ago.  Meg finds herself suddenly involved in a whole new world, in which secrecy and danger play a significant part.

Meg, I think, was my biggest issue.  I disliked her almost immediately.  Whiny and selfish at worst, impulsive and irrational at best, she really annoyed me.  She didn't actually think about what she was doing, her reasons for jumping into things were all wrong, and her attraction to Will came out of nowhere.  Near the opening of the book, after first meeting the stable hand, she would continually go to him with whatever problem she suddenly faced, or whatever new bright idea she had.  All I could think was, why?   Why are you trying to involve him in things that have nothing to do with him?  All it could possibly do was bring him trouble.  Will himself I liked marginally better, but I felt no spark between them.  Their relationship was tenuous and exasperating.  For me, Lucinda was a far better character.  She had spunk, spark and life.  Yes, I'm aware they basically equate to the same thing.  But that just emphasises how much character she has in comparison to Meg!  Lucinda was actually pretty funny and I liked her daring nature.

The plot, sadly, did little to redeem the book.  I love steampunk, and I loved all the different inventions that had been thought of.  There was definitely some originality there.  But some of those inventions were complex to the point where I couldn't really imagine them properly.  More than that, I wanted to know how they worked.   How were they able to do all these amazing things?  The storyline became repetitive and consisted of one simple layer.  Even in the opening, after the first few pages I was unconvinced by what was happening, having too many questions going around in my head.  I did actually have to really force myself to read this by the time I was a quarter of the way through.  There was so much potential here, but unfortunately the book was sorely lacking.

Legacy of the Clockwork Key was massively disappointing, though somehow I still can't say whether I can find it in me to read the sequel.  I'm curious about the murderer, and yet I'm not sure it's worth coming back to the series, so chances are I probably won't.  Characters like Lucinda and Oliver helped liven it up a bit, but ultimately I'm sorry to say that this was not a book that worked out for me.