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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

REVIEW // “Bloodmark” by Aurora Whittet

11 Dec

It’s mid-December and the holidays are quickly approaching!

By some miracle I survived November. I even have 50,000 words to a novel to show for it! Despite “winning” NaNoWriMo, my novel is not finished. I see that as a good thing though, 50,000 words novels for me are typically not long enough. I know I have many places to go back and add details, change things, work on my characterizations, but I’ll save that for after the New Year!

In other news, I’m still up to my eyeballs going through the backlog of submissions for the YA publishing company I work for. Who know acquisitions would be such hard work! I’ve closed the doors to new submissions until I can get caught up, hopefully by mid January, if not sooner.

I did however, find the time to read a book for pleasure. The following review I received a request for in my email and it sounded like my kind of book. Once NaNoWriMo ended I dived right in!

“Bloodmark” by Aurora Whittet

3 Stars “I Liked It”
Young Adult Paranormal Romance

“Bloodmark” is the first in the Boodmark Saga by author Aurora Whittet and follows the story of a young Irish werewolf princess named Ashling.

From the start I liked the character Ashling. She has lived a life sheltered by her mother and brother. From a young age she is sent away from her fathers territory and, unlike all other werewolves, she is not branded at birth with the Bloodmark of her pack. Due to her abnormal upbringing, she doesn’t really play by the rules. In Ashling’s world women are subordinate to the men. Because the werewolves don’t age like humans, many of them are thousands of years old and refuse to change with the time. Having grown up away from most of her pack, Ashling was able to grow up with the freedom to think for herself.

Despite liking Ashling’s character, I had a hard time getting into the story. It wasn’t until Ashling was sent away yet again, this time to America, that I started to get into the story. The character Grey is introduced and immediately he and Ashling hit it off. To be honest, I found the beginning of their romance too quick and cheesy for me. I have a hard time buying into Insta-Love, and that’s what they had.

The end of the story did bring me around again. I loved the ending and it leaves the door open for book two, “Bloodrealms.” This book has a satisfying ending in my opinion, but I really do want to find out what happens next.

Now, this book did have its flaws. I felt some of the characters lacked consistency. Also, the story is told from Ashling’s POV and yet she tells us visual things that she can’t possibly know. Additionally, there was at least one dream sequence that came out of nowhere and there was no real segue out of it, leaving me confused and trying to figure out what I missed.

The two other things that I wished were different was calling Ashling’s species “Werewolf.” I wish they had some other name because they’re not true werewolves that change only on the full moon. I’d compare them more closely to the “werewolves” in the Twilight Saga, although the moon does play some role in the Bloodmark werewolf lore. The other thing being the “Bloodsuckers” — the enemies of the werewolves. The name implies vampires, which they’re not, but they sort of are. I just wish they had a different name because I totally rolled my eyes when I came to these villains in the book.

I also don’t care much for the cover. To me it doesn’t scream YA, I feel it would fit an adult novel a little more. It’s nice, it just doesn’t do it for me.

Overall I think that Ms. Whittet is a promising writer with a good story on her hands. If you can look over some of the inconsistencies and Insta-Love I think you’ll enjoy this young adult werewolf romance.

** A copy of this book was provided by the author free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

*** Fun fact – the author of this book is from Minnesota, just like me!

 

REVIEW // “Waiting For Dusk” by Nancy Pennick

6 Nov

Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in writing!

It’s November which means it’s time for National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo for short.
For those of you not familiar with NaNoWriMo, people who dream of being writers set forth to torture themselves for a whole month. This torture hopefully results in 50,000 words that mostly make sense and make up the first draft of a novel. The goal is to write 1667 words every day for 30 days to reach the ultimate 50,000 word goal.

I am participating for the 4th year. I gave it a shot in 2009, 2010 and 2012. (I skipped 2011 since I had a 2 month old baby at the time!) For the first time ever I am right on track and thrilled beyond words. Someday I hope to see my book featured on book review blogs!

If you’d like to follow my progress you can check it out on the sidebar and also right at the NaNo website here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/faerietears

So, because I’m tying up all my time in NaNoWriMo + regular work + my weekend job, I’m going to share with you a review that I have on my Goodreads account from September. I’ll see about getting the review for the sequel written up soon as well.

Without further ado………………….

Review MAY contain minor spoilers – nothing I don’t think you’d guess just from reading the synopsis though!

 

“Waiting For Dusk” by Nancy Pennick

4.5 Stars // “It Was Amazing”
Young Adult / Fantasy

When I first picked up “Waiting For Dusk” and started reading, I was sure I wasn’t going to like it. The first couple of chapters were kind of boring and Katie was just irritating. But oh boy am I glad I stuck with it! After those first couple of chapters, once the story got going, I was SUCKED in!

When Katie complains about being bored because all of her friends have “abandoned” her for summer vacation, her mom gives her a book to read. Katie isn’t too thrilled, she hasn’t read a book that wasn’t required for school in forever.

However, Katie does read the book then falls asleep… and wakes up in 1927!

I’ll start with what I did NOT like about the book:
As I said above, the story didn’t grab me right away. I love a book that hooks me from the first chapter or, even better, the first page!
I also didn’t really care for Katie’s attitude, she acts like a typical teenage brat – which is fine – except that I don’t think an 18 year old mature boy, like her love interest is, would be into that.
I also thought that the characterization of Tyson was strange. I get the importance of his character arch, but it just seemed to come out of nowhere, I feel like Katie should have had a clue about how he felt about her considering they’d been best friends since they were 8. He came on too strong. But hey! Maybe I just didn’t like Tyson! I also wish there had been more interaction between Katie and Drew before they begin professing their love for each other, it is implied that weeks have gone by, but we don’t really SEE much of that interaction. I wanted to read more about their courtship.

What I DID like about the book:
While a lot of the story was predictable, it was still very fun and there were still twists that I did NOT see coming! I loved the supporting cast in 1927. I can’t put my finger on it, but there was something in this book that just grabbed me and would not let go. I literally spent almost an entire day laying in bed reading this book, getting up only to feed my child and change her diaper. I read it aloud to her when she craved my attention, because I couldn’t put it down.

If you have read the Time Travelers series by Caroline B. Cooney (Both Sides of Time, Out of Time, For All Time, Prisoner of Time) you will LOVE the Waiting for Dusk series. It’s got a lot of the same elements without repeating the same story that Cooney told. I would happily have both sets of books on my bookshelf.

I’m looking forward to reading Call of the Canyon, the second in this series, because the end of Waiting For Dusk left me craving more. (OK, who am I kidding? I literally finished this book and then went and downloaded the second onto my Kindle!)

Buy It Here: http://www.fireandiceya.com/authors/nancypennick/WaitingForDusk.html

Add to Goodreads Here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17279864-waiting-for-dusk

***Note: This book is published by the company I work for, but I stand by my review that this is an awesome book!

REVIEW ~ Into the Deep (#1) by Missy Fleming

22 Oct

“Into the Deep” by Missy Fleming

5 Stars “It Was Amazing”
Young Adult / Fantasy

*** This was an ARC and will be released Wed Oct 23 at the publisher’s website as well as Amazon Kindle. Other vendors to follow.

I am a huge fan of Missy Fleming’s book “Happily Never After” so as soon as I had the opportunity to get my hands on the ARC for her new novel, “Into the Deep”, I jumped at it. I abandoned the other 3 books I was reading and dove right in.

On the outside, Into the Deep is the story of Zoey, a young girl who has just turned 16 and discovered she’s actually the daughter of a mer-king. This story is so much deeper than that though.

This story tells the tale of a young girl learning to accept who she is, flaws and all. When Zoey was six years old she was attacked by a shark and lost her leg. She’s spent 10 years learning to adapt to a prosthetic leg, but has never felt whole. She always felt out of place and awkward, like a spectacle among her peers. Becoming a mermaid allows Zoey to become comfortable with her body, and in finding love with her mermaid form, she also comes to love and appreciate her scarred human form.

This is also a cautionary tale to humanity about the destruction of our plant, especially our oceans. The emotions Zoey experiences as she witnesses first hand the pollution to our oceans is tragic. I could really feel her pain.

But don’t worry, this is not overly in your face PSA’s! I feel Zoey’s emotions, but I don’t feel the author shoving the message down my throat.

I can’t say enough good things about Missy Fleming’s writing. There was a scene near the beginning of the book, where Zoey is at the aquarium and something scary happens, and had I not been laying in bed reading, I would have been on the edge of my seat!

Also, have no fear, there is a touch of romance. The first merman Zoey meets is Nerio and be still my heart, I have a crush! He’s a guard in Zoey’s father’s kingdom and therefor, not an acceptable merman for her.

There’s also Xander, an acceptable match, as his family is second in power to Zoey’s. Their match would be one the kingdom would rejoice over. Xander made me a little uncomfortable at first, he felt like the popular boy at school who’s nice to the shy awkward girl, and she feels like he must be playing a trick on her. Especially compared to Nerio who was so honest and genuine. After reading about Xander a bit, it danwed on me just who he reminded me of – Adrian from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series (but less mentally unstable!) His level of confidence can be overwhelming.

And, amidst the boy drama, Zoey also has a step-mother and half-sister who are cold to her and won’t even acknowledge her presence if they don’t have to. And the oceans? Yeah, they’re rising in both temperature and level, causing disastrous effects to both the humans on land as well as the inhabitants of the sea. The cause is a merwitch named Calandra who is taking over the kingdoms of the ocean one at a time, will Zoey’s kingdom be next? Will her people be able to stop the witch?

The ending? Yeah. You’re going to love/hate it. Pretty much everything Zoey has known her entire life has changed. You think you know where it’s going and then BAM! Ms. Fleming pulls the rug right out from under you. I can only keep my fingers crossed that the next book gets written asap. I need to know what happens next.

The only negative thing I can say about the book is that there was some repetition of Zoey’s thoughts, but not enough for me to dock a star or even half a star.

Five stars.

Buy It Here: http://www.fireandiceya.com/authors/missyfleming/intothedeep.html (Oct 23, 2013)

Add to Goodreads Here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18689912-into-the-deep

***Note: This book is published by the company I work for, but I stand by my review that this is an awesome book!

** Secondary Note: I designed this cover, though I can’t take credit for the awesome mermaid, I did do the text layout and added the dolphin.