REVIEW // “The Ghosts of Camals College” by Annette Siketa

20 Jun

I’ve welcomed my friend and fellow author, Erin Elliott, to help me with reviews.

This is her first contribution. Based on her review, I’m interested to know more!

About the Book:

Professor Lution, the Chancellor of Camals, (The College of Customs and Myths and Legends), has a problem. Although there have been Darlings at Camals for generations, there is considerable opposition to the latest candidate, Grace. As a compromise, Professor Lution proposes conducting a suitability test, which on the surface, is relatively simple – follow the clues and find a book.

Being ignorant of these facts, Grace is introduced to the world of the supernatural, and finds herself in Beatrigone, which is in effect, a giant film set. However, when the test is hijacked by the evil Viletrix and his hideous spectral army, Camals loses control.

With the assistance of Wendy Wallace – who just ‘happened’ to be there, Pan, Arjunar – a historical archer, Gwiffyn – a mysterious wise woman, and four extremely angry Incan ghosts, amongst many others, Grace wins the battle for Beatrigone, but it is not over yet. Upon returning home, she must decide whether to attend Camals, or have all knowledge of Beatrigone, its strange and quirky inhabitants, and indeed the college itself, wiped from her memory.

“The Ghosts of Camals College”
by Annette Siketa

4 Stars

Grace Darling is your average eleven year old, with two exception: her creative imagination and the fact that she is a Darling. On the verge of her twelfth birthday, Grace finds herself thrown into a world that is unlike anything even the creative Grace, could imagine. In the land of Beatrigone, Grace confronts mammoth talking snakes, friendly giant snails, fairs from times past, and a variety of other characters along the way.

Grace is trying to find a way home for her new friend Wendy and herself, when she finds herself plunged into a war of good versus evil, the winner takes Beatrigone. Using all the creativity that she possesses and all that she has learned from her new friends along the way; Grace finds that the balance of this strange land rests on her shoulders. Will she be able to fix all that is wrong in this strange land full of ghosts and other wonderful creatures, finding her way home in the process? Or will she fail to destroy the land that evil has filled, destroying her chances of finding the way home?

This book was a strange mix of Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter, with a little Greek mythology thrown in for a little more strangeness. The story is constantly unfolding, leaving the reader wondering; what could possibly happen next. It even ends in such a way that will have you looking for the second book in Grace Darling’s new life at Camals.

I would rate this book four out of five stars and recommend to those who like a continuous adventure, with no rest to regain your thoughts.

Buy it on Amazon

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REVIEW // “Hidden Gem” by India Lee

18 Apr

“Hidden Gem (Hidden Gem #1)
by India Lee

3.5 Stars

Hidden Gem is the story of Gemma, a teenage girl who, after spending the last year living the life of International teen pop star Queen Bee, has returned home to the good ol’ US of A to attend a public high school as herself.

Gemma thought being a pop star was tough, but that was before she developed a crush Lucas. The problem? Lucas is the boyfriend of Gemma’s new best friend Madison.

Can Gemma find a balance between her life as Queen Bee and Gemma? Will she have to sacrafice one for the other?

Overall I really liked this story. There were a few editing mishaps and at one point some “head hopping” that totally pulled me out of the story.

However, the good outweighted the bad. There was real conflict, what you expect to happen from the beginning doesn’t necessarily happen, and I liked that.

I think my favorite parts were the “news clippings” that preceeded some of the chapters. Little “articles” from the Internet or magazines about Queen Bee. They reminded me of the society pages clips before the chapters in The Luxe seires (by Anna Godbersen and Gossip Girl (though I never read the books, just watched the series.)

If you’re in for a fun, light read, give this one a shot. I’m already reading book two.

Buy it on Amazon (FREE at the time of this posting!)

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REVIEW // “Play With Me” and “Ryan Hunter” by Anna Katmore

14 Apr

 Today I’m reviewing two books together because they are the same story, in separate books, told by each of the main characters.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Play With Me by Anna Katmore

(Grover Beach Team #1)

5 Stars

If you are in the mood for a super sweet innocent romance, this is the book for you.

 

Liza Matthews has been in love with her best friend Tony Mitchell since forever. The summer between Sophomore and Junior year he comes home from soccer camp and to Liza’s utter dismay, begins spending time with a girl she dubs Barbie.

 

Enter Ryan Hunter. He’s the captain of that soccer team responsible for stealing away her quality time with Tony. Hunter is a playboy, a new girl every week but when he begins paying special attention to her she begins to wonder if she could actually love someone else.

 

Play With Me is a super fast read. I could not devour this book quick enough. Liza is so likable and Hunter is dreamy. My favorite scene involves a shot of tequila and some karaoke.

 

My only minor “issues” with this book are my moral qualms. There is quite a bit of underage drinking and specifically drinking after driving. The parents seem to let their kids do whatever the heck they want, for the most part. There were also a few typos/grammatical errors but considering I’m pretty sure the author is not a native English speaker I’m very impressed with the quality of this book.

 

None of my minor “issues” would prevent me from recommending this book to someone to read, though I wish there was some sort of disclaimer stating that the author doesn’t promote the underage drinking and so on. (Yes, this is the parent in me coming out!)

 

BONUS: The cover is adorable and fits the feel of the story perfectly.

Add it on GOODREADS

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~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Ryan Hunter by Anna Katmore
(Grover Beach Team #2)

3 Stars

“Ryan Hunter” is the counterpart to “Play With Me” in that it’s the exact same story but from the guys POV. I love stories like this because I get to enjoy a story that I loved (if I didn’t love it I would’t bother reading the counterpart!)

This one I didn’t love as much though. I liked being able to see into Hunter’s head, but I couldn’t get over the fact that all he had on his mind at all times was sex. In “Play With Me” Hunter was mysterious and sexy. In “Ryan Hunter” he’s kind of sleazy. I was really glad I read “Play With Me” first because I’m not sure I would have read it had I read this one first.

As I said in my review of “Play With Me” I didn’t care for the underage drinking and basically bad moral behavior. There were also a few more grammar errors in this one than there were in the last. Not enough to pull me out of the story, but enough to remind me that the author is not a native English speaker. Honestly though, despite the few errors, I’m very impressed with her ability to write so fluently in her non-native tongue.

I’d say if you really want to find out what’s going on inside Hunter’s head you should read this. If you’d rather he stay mysterious and sexy stick with the first book and leave a little to the imagination.

…. I also don’t care for the cover as much. The blue text on the blue jeans just does not stand out enough to catch my interest.

Add it on GOODREADS

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REVIEW // “Love You to Death” by Melissa March

11 Apr

I’ve been a terrible blogger, I know. I’ll try to do better. Off the top of my head I know that I have at least two other reviews that I need to post aside from this one.

Without further ado, my review of the brilliant New Adult novel “Love You to Death” by Melissa March.

“Love You to Death” by Melissa March

“Love You To Death” by Melissa March
5 Stars (MUST read!)
Contemporary New Adult

“Love You to Death” is the story of Seventeen-year-old Arden Elliot. Street name Cherry.

An orphan, Arden turns to the streets rather then live with an aunt who does nothing but trash talk Arden’s mother. She quickly forms a bond with Stewie, a young man in his twenties with the mental capacity of a nine-year-old.

When Arden meets Cass all of her warning bells go off, but Cass offer her food. Shoes without holes and clean socks. He helps her in her time of greatest need and soon enough, she’s his. Cass scares her and she knows that if she doesn’t escape, one day he will love her to death.

Along her great escape Arden meets Southern gentleman Gideon and while her heart is telling her yes, her mind is reminding her that she belongs to another and he will stop at nothing to find her.

I could not put this book down. Arden is smart and beautiful and has a real smart  mouth that I can appreciate. She’s so real that by the time I got to the end of the book I was almost crying because I felt like I had to say goodbye to some really good friends.

My favorite character in the book though was probably Sissy, Gideon’s grandmother. She’s a real country gal — overalls and all — and brings a lighthearted humor to the story.

March addresses a lot of deep issues in her book including homelessness and domestic abuse and she does it with such grace and tact that one has to admire her skills as a writer.

Seriously. This book is a must read and Melissa March is an author I’m going to be watching. I can’t wait to read what she comes out with next!

Buy It Here: http://www.fireandiceya.com/authors/melissamarch/loveyoutodeath.html

Add to Goodreads Here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21825370-love-you-to-death

 

** Note: This book is published by the company I work for, I did design the cover art and do receive royalties for each copy sold, however I would never give a positive review to a book that I have not read and/or would not recommend. This book is a gem!

 

REVIEW: “Vampire Academy” MOVIE

6 Feb

I am a huge Vampire Academy fan (written by the beautiful Richelle Mead.)

When I learned they were making a movie I began following the production company’s Facebook page for the movie. Being able to follow the progress of the film was amazing. Watching the casting announcements come, the promo pics finally released and then the trailers. Not to mention contests mixed in.

Let’s talk about the trailers for a moment. A lot of fans were disappointed by the teaser trailer. They played up a lot of the vampire stereotypes and set it to some kick ass music. I didn’t mind the trailer but it left me wanting more.

Fast forward to the first real trailers. Now we’re talking. I thought they were fabulous. Rose is known for being very sarcastic and in your face and the trailers really played that up. But a lot of fans thought they had turned the film into a comedy. Trust me. It’s a supernatural high school movie packed with ACTION, DRAMA, ROMANCE and COMEDY. A good balance of all four.

Even when the darker more action packed trailers came forth they were still complaining. I guess you just can’t please everyone.

Well, thanks to my diligent following of the aforementioned Facebook page, I won preview passes to see the film tonight at the Mall of America. It was a longish drive for my BFF and me (about 40 minutes, maybe longer, thanks to lots of city traffic and multiple car accidents – not us!) But it was worth it.

The film opens up with Lissa (Lucy Fry) and Rose (Zoey Deutch) out in our world, just like the books. We’re introduced to what the Moroi are and what Dhampir’s are. Soon after we get to see a lot of action, it’s been a while since I last read the book, but I think more action than we saw in the book. We’re then introduced to the Strigoi. The introductions are similar to Cady’s introductions in Mean Girls, but not exactly the same.

At school we see all the drama that was in the book. There’s the mean girl – Mia (Sami Gayle) – who is dating Lissa’s ex-boyfriend and is out to make her life hell. There’s the mysterious dead animals that are turning up everywhere Lissa goes. Lissa begins hanging out with the boy Rose does not approve of. And, oh yeah, Rose begins lusting after her instructor.


I swear, the names Rose calls Mia here make sense! 

The movie is hilarious. Zoey did a brilliant job of channeling Rose’s essence and bringing her to life.

Sami, as Mia, made me both hate her and feel sorry for her.

Christian (Dominic Sherwood) is dark and brooding and totally hot. The chemistry between Dominic and Lucy was great.

Lucy, as Lissa, was classy and regal, just as she should be. I think they glossed over some of her darker issues that were in the book, explaining it away in under a minute and casually mentioning it again (those who read the books should know what I’m talking about! Those who have not, I’m trying not to spoil it!)

Dimitri (Danilia Kozlovsky) was not quite as stoic as I’d hoped he’d be. He and Rose had good chemistry as well, though I think Lissa and Christian win in the chemistry department. Dimitri and Rose have some steamy scenes. And also very comical scenes together.

Natalie (Sarah Hyland) was hilarious as well. So dorky. So adorable. I don’t recall in the books her having much personality, she just kinda hung around. In the film she absolutely has personality. She even has a crush on another Moroi that I don’t remember being in the book, but that I absolutely loved in the film.

The action in this movie is awesome. The scenes were very cool. Dimitri really showed everyone what a “god” he really is when it comes to destroying Strigoi.

The one element of the books that could have turned out terrible in a movie translation is the fact that Lissa and Rose are spirit bound. This means that Rose will pop into Lissa’s head randomly. This worked great in the book to tell Rose’s POV, but also glimpse into what Lissa was up to. In the film they did this by giving Rose really cool gold eyes and a vacant stare. While in Lissa’s head she would talk to/at Lissa as though Lissa could hear her, though the bond only works one way. Those were some of my favorite scenes. Very nicely done.

Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy

Basically, I think if you love the books you’re going to really like the movie. The changes made were minimal, that I can remember. None of the changes affect the plot/outcome. I was actually surprised that, with as many subplots as there were, they pretty much all made it into the book.

If you haven’t read the books, I think they did a good job of explaining what’s going on without dragging it on. It was fast paced.

And best of all? The end sequence sets this up PERFECTLY for the sequel, “Frostbite” to be made!

So, do us all a favor and go see the film opening day! (Friday February 7, 2014)

REVIEW // “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth

2 Feb

“Allegiant” by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3)

“Allegiant” by Veronica Roth
3 Stars “I Liked It”
Young Adult Dystopian

When I recommend books to friends, the Divergent series makes the cut, but it’s not at the top of the list. From the beginning the main problem I had with the series was the ridiculous society that Tris, Four and the gang live in. A world where people are divided by factions? With the Divergent —able to be intelligent, selfless, brave, etc all at once— being the odd ones out? It just didn’t make sense.

Allegiant brings us closure to the trilogy, and answers as to how and why the world got to the point of separating individuals by faction. We pick up where Insurgent left off, with Tris, Christina and the rest of the gang (sans Tobias) in lockup for revealing the Edith Prior video to their entire city. Tobias’ mother has taken charge and is putting them on trial for treason. Blah blah, stuff happens, ultimately, they leave the city and discover what lays beyond Chicago and the Factions.

The story is full of emotions, I’m not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby at the end. Tobias discovers things about himself that make him question who he is, resulting in some poor choices. Tris, as always, stays true to her beliefs but realizes that when you love someone, you love them entirely, faults and all.

The back cover of the book proclaims “ONE CHOICE” all over and that is the central theme. One choice can make the difference between life and death, love and betrayal. One choice can change your entire world. And in the end, one choice did change their entire world.

While reading Allegiant I noticed the very matter of fact, staccato way the book was written. Both from Tris and Tobias’s POV’s. I can’t remember if the other books were that way but I’m not sure how I feel about it. I suppose I prefer more “flowery” text versus this very sterile writing style.

While this book, and series, is not one I’ll probably re-read, it is one that I’m glad I read. It was a book that at 500 odd pages I managed to devour in about six days. And I am by no means a quick reader.

When it comes to rating this book in stars, I have to go with dead center, 3 stars. I didn’t dislike the book, but I didn’t love it. Books with endings like this just leave me unsure how to feel. So…. 3 stars it is.

Book Debut // “Pony Dreams” by K. C. Sprayberry

29 Jan

Today I’m sharing with you a book that I have not read… yet! But it sure looks good!

It’s called “Pony Dreams” by K. C. Sprayberry and is published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books.

I signed on to promoting this good looking book when the author asked.  Keep reading for all the details!

“Pony Dreams” by K. C. Sprayberry ~ Cover art by Stephanie Flint

About the Book:
Abigail Weston’s starry-eyed dream is to become the first female Pony Express rider. Ma, Pa, and six overprotective brothers won’t even let her near the corral to train mustangs for the mail venture, so she gives up her dream to sneak out and talk to the ponies, teaching them to accept her weight on their backs.

Then her life changes and all her dreams are dust. Or are they?

Buy the Book:
Fire and Ice YA Books (EPUB, HTML, PDF and PRINT)

Lulu (PRINT)

Amazon Kindle

Smashwords

About the Author:
KC Sprayberry started writing young, first as a diarist, and later through an interest in English and creative writing. Her first experience with publication came when she placed third in The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge contest while in the Air Force, but her dedication to writing came after she had her youngest child, now in his senior year of high school.
Her family lives in Northwest Georgia where she spends her days creating stories about life in the south, and far beyond. More than a dozen of her short stories have appeared in several magazines. Five anthologies feature other short stories. She has four books that are Amazon best sellers: Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice. Her other novels available are: Take Chances, The Ghost Catcher, Family Curse … Times Two, Secret From The Flames, Where U @, The Wrong One, and Grace.

Follow the K. C. Sprayberry: 

** Note: This book is published by the company I work for, I put no work into this book and therefor am not compensated in any way.