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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 // “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 ~ INK: Fine Lines (book 1) by Bella Roccaforte

15 Aug

“INK: Fine Lines” book 1 by Bella Roccaforte Review

2 Stars “It Was OK”

INK: Fine Lines is the first in the series and follows Shay, a young woman aspiring to be a comic book artist. Her twin sister is dead, her mother is dead, and she is somewhat estranged from her father.

The story begins with Shay’s birthday, her on-again-off-again boyfriend Aiden shows up at her house and, despite her protests decides to crash at her place. Shay awakes from a nightmare and heads off to her art studio in her garage to draw out the scenes for her comic book, about a specter who is murdering people. Soon enough, Shay is arrested for a double murder and her world spirals out of control.

Onto the review…. To begin with, I won a free ebook copy ARC from a blog, I probably would never have paid for this with my own money.

THE GOOD:
This book is well written and the storyline concept is interesting.

The prologue starts out with a bloody, gruesome bang. I’m not really a fan of horror, but Ms. Roccaforte did a brilliant job writing the prologue murder scene.

This book also contained numerous one-liners that had me chuckling, always a good thing!

McNab. Finally, someone who seemed to move the story forward.

The end – something FINALLY happened and it was an epic WTF?!? moment.

THE BAD:
The cover. I’m sorry, but this cover does nothing for me. The angle of the girls face is just not appealing at all. The title is nice and big to read as a small image, so that’s about all the good I can say about it.

Once I got past the prologue I just kept waiting for something to happen. We get a lot of drama between our protagonist Shay and the men in her life – the bad boy Adien who constantly asks her to marry him, only to turn tail and run, and Eli, the childhood friend who has always been there for her, but has his own demons – namely, a drinking problem. I got sick of watching Shay switch between them at the drop of a hat. She’d be hardcore macking on Eli one minute, then an hour later sucking face with Aiden. Either pick one, or let them go.

If I had been editing this book I would have said, cut down the first half of the book, make the current ending the climax, and put a little more at the end. One of the key rules to writing is that something has to happen. You have to have a sense of urgency for the protagonist so that the story moves forward and the audience is engaged. I didn’t feel that hardly at all. Shay, in her head, was somewhat distressed about everything that was happening, but her actions didn’t reflect it. I can’t imagine, being accused of murder, and then going on with life as if nothing had happened.

I won’t be reading the next book in this series. Though I’m slightly curious to know WTF was going on in the last scene, I simply can’t bring myself to care enough to read it.

There are a number of good reviews out there, I seem to be in the minority, so if you liked this book: Great!

If you didn’t care for this book, well, you’re in good company.

And again, I’ll say, the book was well written. It was essentially the pacing I had trouble with.