Tour Guest Post/Giveaway: Broken Aro by Jen Wylie

Candied Memories

Guest Post by Jen Wylie

There is something about Halloween and memories. My memory is pretty crappy, but I do remember a lot of Halloweens. I remember running up and down village streets and getting excited over whatever got dropped into my pillowcase. (Pillowcases are the way to go- not those silly, tiny store bought baskets) I remember my mom’s smiles as we’d show her our loot and beg to be driven to the next village or group of houses. Yes, we lived in the country. “Oh poor child,” you think. Not so! Though cities you hit a lot more places in a shorter amount of time, in the country you GET more. I’m talking 10 houses will half fill a pillowcase more. You can get brown lunch bags of candy with your name on it. You’ll have houses dump their whole bowls in your bag because they don’t think anyone else will be coming.  Country Trick or Treating is awesome.

Back then we had fun with our costumes too. I never had one fully purchased at a store, though sometimes accessories were. When I was very little Mom hand made a clown costume and a witch another year. My sister and I wore those until we grew out of them. Then we were punk rockers a few years, full of spiked, glitter filled hair and too much makeup. Once I dressed up as Zorro- I think I just wanted the sword. Sadly, I also remember the growing up… of going out with friends, and even dressing up, but not going door to door for candy. Instead came parties and pretending to stay out of trouble.

Now I have kids of my own. Sometimes I think I have more fun than they do when we go out. Since my sewing skills suck, I never made them costumes. The last few years they have been wanting to make their own sometimes. No matter how silly, I’m all for that. I did it too, it’s a learning experience. I have good kids and am glad they aren’t to the partying age yet. As long as they’re still trick or treating, I can still steal their candy… except the candy corn… how can people eat that?


Broken Aro (The Broken Ones #1) by Jen Wylie

Publisher:  Untold PressGenre: YA epic fantasyBroken Aro released September 2012.  You can purchase it on Amazon for US or UK.

Book Description:  Open your eyes to darkness. What do you see? Does the darkness frighten you? Now imagine the darkness being the cargo hold of a slave ship. Your city has fallen. Your family is most likely dead. You don’t know anyone around you, and some of them aren’t even human. Giving up would be so easy to do, but not for Arowyn Mason. Not after being raised in a military family with seven brothers. Every great story should begin with a plan. Aro’s was to escape and to survive.

Escape comes, but at a price. As they reach the shore, Aro and the other survivors learn that freedom doesn’t mean safety. The slavers want their property back and will do anything to get it. The party uses every ounce of their brute strength, a hearty helping of cunning, and even ancient magics to keep themselves alive. Sickness, danger, and even love surprise them at every turn. Dealing with danger becomes their way of life, but none of them ever considered that nothing can be quite as dangerous as a prophecy. Running turns into another race altogether as her world falls to pieces again and again.

About the Author:

Jen Wylie resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her  two boys, Australian shepherd and a disagreeable amount of wildlife. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories.

Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  | Goodreads  | Facebook  |  Amazon

Giveaway:

The author is giving away one ebook copy of Broken Aro.  To enter, leave a comment with your favorite Halloween memory or favorite Halloween candy.  This giveaway is opened internationally.  One lucky person will be chosen and emailed November 2nd!  The winner will be selected by random and have 48 hours to respond by email or another person will be chosen.

Please check out the other stops on the tour:

Book Review: Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

I originally agreed to review this book back in August and expected to get to it on my TBR list last month.  Had I known how much I would of liked it, I would have read it the instant the author sent it to me.  I suppose that one good thing about waiting is that the sequel The Burning Bush released September 28th, so I don’t have to wait long before finding out what happens next with Lenore.  You can check out more information on Burning Bush (Habitat #2) on Goodreads.  I haven’t had much luck with Urban Fantasy books, but Fire Baptized changed my mind about removing that genre from the list of books I review.  Check out my review below and then make sure you pick up your own copy.

And dare I say this….I’ve had amazing luck with books this week.  I think I’ve loved every single one of them!


Fire Baptized (Habitat #1) by Kenya Wright

Publisher:  Dragonfairy Publishing

Genre: Urban Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook or paperback Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Review:

Overview:  I was seriously done with urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  I’ve began to feel like it’s the same old characters with the same old problems and they all end the same.  Urban fantasy in particular has disappointed me lately and I admit that it took me much longer than it should have to finally read this book.  After reading the first chapter of Fire Baptized, I KNEW that this was special and different.  First off, this main character is not a detective or in law enforcement.  Secondly, Lenore is not your average female.  Thirdly, this book is much darker and more disturbing than most urban fantasies.  This book never scared me but there were several disturbing and gory scenes that gave it a horror feel at times.  Fourthly (is that a word?), Lenore is part of the underclass and the segregation and class differences/lack of rights is really compelling.

Characters:  There is a love triangle, but this is no love triangle you’ve ever read before.  Lanore has two male companions who both want to be with her.  She refuses to be exclusive and instead chapter by chapter she alternates between the two men becoming more and more involved with each one.  This drives MeShack and Zulu crazy with jealousy, but they only pursue her further.  In other words, Lanore is a playa.  This role, usually reserved for males, makes for a very entertaining read.  I couldn’t guess which one she wanted and I’m guessing that she would have been happy with both – had the guys agreed.  There are some awesome lines in this book:

“I don’t need your protection.”  I extended my hand to the side, pushed a large fireball out of my palm, and said, “Wow, look at that.  Isn’t that amazing? I did it all by myself. I can dress myself and wipe my own ass, too.”  – Lenore to Zulu.

Plot:  The book begins with Lanore witnessing a murder and the murderer knows.  Lanore notifies the police but she’s unsatisfied with being idle and searching for the identity of the murderer on her own.  Be careful which characters you get attached to in Fire Baptized, but the murderer is not satisfied with killing only one person.I appreciated the details the author made to make this fantasy world seem authentic.  There were several references to historical events that she put an urban fantasy spin.  Like, the black panthers were actually black panther shapeshifters.

Ending:  The mystery of who the killer is (and who Lenore will be with) is solved, but Lenore (and the reader) gets a glimpse of something at the end, which will change everything she thought she knew.  It’s a decent end to this part of her life, but I’m so thrilled that the next book is already released so that I don’t have to wait too long before finding out what happens in her life next.

Book Description:

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

Rating:  A

An urban fantasy containing a love triangle with almost too much love.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.


Book Review: Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Publisher:  Momentum Books

Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure

Arcadian Genesis released September 1st, 2012.  You can buy it on ebook Amazon, iTunes bookstore, Kobo, or Booki.sh.  More reviews available on Goodreads and more information available on the publisher’s website.

Review:

The first thing I noticed when reading Arcadian Genesis was how vivid and complete the world of Alex Hunter was.  It’s like the author slipped on his favorite pair of shoes when writing this book.  It’s so polished that you’d think Alex Hunter himself was writing the book.  Being written (mostly) from the POV of an emotionally detached guy, there is some trouble feeling for the other characters, which is a good thing considering how many deaths there are in this book.  And in some chapters, there is so much carnage and chaos that you’re not quite sure who is left alive until the next chapter begins.

I must say that the pacing is incredibly fast for the majority of the story, and you really have to pay close attention or you’ll lose track of what’s going on very quickly (and with a small child running around, I did have to reread some parts).  Every word counts in this story and by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you read a story twice as thick because of how much information, world-building, and action is crammed into Arcadian Genesis.

As far as technical care, Greig Beck’s writing feels a lot like Brad Thor, but Alex Hunter is way less of a ladies man than Harvath.  Alex is consumed by revenge for the deaths of his family and no detailed is spared in exactly how he transforms into a cold-blooded killer.  Lots of gore and death.  No character is safe.  For anyone that has read other books in this series, you know how it ends.  For anyone else, you will be surprised.

Book Description:

Alex Hunter – in the mission that turned him from a normal man into the weapon known as the Arcadian – and the elite team of soldiers known as the Hotzone All-Forces Warfare Commandos must enter a hostile country to rescue a defected Chechen researcher from the center of a country at war.

But the HAWCs are not the only ones looking for the rogue scientist and the mysterious package he carries with him. A brutal and relentless killer and his death squad are on the trail too – and they bring a savagery with them that Hunter and his team have never witnessed before in modern warfare.

In this stunning prequel to Beneath the Dark Ice, the HAWC team must race the clock to rescue the scientist, prevent the package from falling into the wrong hands … and save the world from a horror that should never have been woken.

Arcadian Genesis features a sample chapter from Greig Beck’s forthcoming novel Black Mountain.

This is the prequel to the Alex Hunter series.  Check out the covers to the other books in this series.

Rating:  A

This is a great book for those who want grit of an action novel in a vivid science fiction world.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

I’m an Australian author residing in Sydney with my wife, son and oversized black German Shepherd named Jess. My novels are now available in more than ten countries, and coming soon in full AUDIO format.

I grew up spending my days surfing at Bondi Beach before entering a career in Information technology which took me around the world. After completing an MBA, i was appointed both an Australasian director of a multinational software company, and tasked with setting up the USA arm of the organisation.

Today, I’m still involved in IT, but spend most of my time writing… with plenty left over for surfing.


Book Review: Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Publisher:  Samhain Publishing

Genre: Horror

You can buy it on ebook Amazon or from the publisher’s website.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

I’m not sure what I expected from this novella, but Swamp Monster Massacre was one hell of a fun book to read.  As typical of monster novels (and movies) there is a very large cast in the beginning of the book and a much smaller cast by the end.  There are some characters that didn’t have much opportunity to develop before they suffered a very painful and gory death, but the ones that survived until the end definitely had my vote.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that I liked it.  And as much as I love horror novels, I typically hate how stories in this genre end.  Not so with this book.  It ended perfectly.  There was just enough closure to know that the worst could be over for the survivors.

I did enjoy the fact that the characters had a different flavor than what I’m used to.  The star of the show was the original bad guy.  The rest of the cast is different and enough is said about them to know that they’re typical people who got on the wrong boat.  I’m pretty sure that none of them will ever decide to tour the Florida Everglades again.  I did have a hell of a fun time reading it, but I wasn’t scared.  This is more focused on the gore and if you like brains and dismembered limbs, than this is a perfect book for you.

Book Description:

Deep in the overgrown swamps of Florida, where humans rarely dare to enter, lives a race of creatures long thought to be only the stuff of legend. They walk upright but are stronger, taller and more brutal than any man. And when a small boat of tourists, held captive by a fleeing criminal, accidentally kills one of the swamp dwellers’ young, the creatures are filled with a terrifyingly human emotion—a merciless lust for vengeance that will paint the trees red with blood.

Rating:  B

This book guarantees hours of entertainment for monster lovers.

I received a copy of this book as part of the RABT tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal, as well as the upcoming Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He is also half of the Monster Men video podcast, a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Book Review: More by T.M. Franklin

More by T. M. Franklin

Publisher:  TWCS Publishing House

Genre: YA Paranormal

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and on paperback only for Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:  The best thing about this book was that it used split perspectives effectively.  It was amazing how different Caleb and Ava viewed the world and how each one was essential to the story.  Caleb’s POV described the magical world and his role as protector.  Ava’s POV described the normal world and how Caleb’s attitude and protector status was downright creepy stalker at times (but at least he acknowledged that his actions did imitate that of a stalker, which added to the realism).  It’s true that there’s always three sides to a story, and the reader’s job is to connect the two versions and fill in the blanks.  I really think that this book was THE best dual POV book I’ve read all year.

Characters:  There is no instant love between Ava and Caleb and the back and forth between the two is quite entertaining.  I really liked Caleb’s attitude and the fact that he was willing to lie to Ava straight to her face repeatedly.  Ava kept asking Caleb if there was something strange about him.  Caleb’s answer?  “Nope…”  *touches Ava’s forehead and delete Ava’s memory of the conversation…again.*  He totally reminded me of MIB.  Lucy was a fun character too and I really enjoyed how she tried to push Ava and Caleb together when the couple kept resisting a romance.  Ava, herself, took a very realistic approach to the whole magic thing.  She didn’t outright deny that it existed (like most heroines) and sought instead to find evidence that things weren’t as they seemed.

Plot:  Ava always wanted to be a special girl.  She thought she did magic this one time.  But, she never expected how special she really was or how much her life would flip upside down when Caleb started tutoring her for college physics.  This was a fun, quick read for me.  The action/drama takes precedence over the romance, which is a good thing.  The only predictable part of the book was the romance.  The plot was definitely not predictable.  Ava kept doing the craziest things, which made me love her more and more.  There was a steady flow of twists to keep the reader busy if the chemistry between Ava and Caleb wasn’t enough.

Ending:  It took me the entire book to realise how the cover ties into the story.  Nice touch.  So, all I can say is “sequel, please?”.

Book Description:

Ava Michaels used to think she was special.

As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn’t so bad after all.

Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core.

Because Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he’s not entirely human, and he’s not the only one.

Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she’s not actually normal . . . she’s not even just special.

She’s a little bit more.

Rating:  A

This is how you use dual POV.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Author’s Website.)

T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.


Book Review: The Last Grimm: Red’s Hood by H.L. Wampler

The Last Grimm:  Red’s Hood by H.L. Wampler

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre: Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:   I think that this book needs more polishing.  There were a few minor things that drove me crazy, such as Abigail saying that ten minutes had passed in the narrative but she didn’t know what time it was.  How exactly would she know how much time had passed if she knew what time she arrived but not the current time?

Characters:  I think the characters were the weakest part of the book.  Most of the characters were one-dimensional and predictable.  Abigail, our heroine, didn’t seem to act her age.  In some scenes she felt 15 and others she felt 18 or 20.  I didn’t feel like this was an adult novel.  Even the sex scene felt like an awkward teenage experience.  I think that the novel would have been stronger if Abigail was younger.  With her as an adult, the scary scenes felt cheesy and the romance felt juvenile.  Abigail was a very unlikable girl.  She was quick to throw a fit and threw tantrums in nearly every chapter.  She was mean to her co-workers and friends, but always thought SHE was the victim.  Connor was rather pathetic.  He followed Abigail like a lap dog, bowing down to her every whim.

Plot:  Although the transition between scenes felt clumsy at times, I really enjoyed the plot.  I liked the action, the deaths, and the back story.  If the characters were more developed then I think that this would’ve been an awesome story.  I think that Abigail tried to visit too many places in the novel and so there was less of a visual connection made to each scene.

Ending:  It was quite cheesy and rushed at times, but I couldn’t help but smile while reading.  Overall, I’d recommend passing on this book, however I do believe that the author has a knack for storytelling and future books are worth a second glance.

Book Description:

Abigail Grimm stopped believing in fairy tales years ago. She is a college freshman who just landed the internship of the year. Things were going great; she even met a devastatingly good-looking man, Connor, who could not seem to get enough of her.

Then she witnesses the receptionist mauled to death by a giant wolf in the middle of downtown. The skeletons in her family’s closet come falling out as Abigail discovers she is actually the last in a long line of fairy tale guardians. And Connor, well he is not quite what he seems and has a few skeletons of his own.

Abigail must abandon everything she thought was real for make-believe and fantasy. With Connor by her side and a forbidden love budding, she must track down the wolf and save humanity before it’s too late.

Rating:  D

This book is an interesting retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

H. L. Wampler lives in the great city of Pittsburgh with her husband, twin sons, bad dog, and one fat cat.

Along with writing novels, H. L. also blogs, tweets, Facebooks and works part-time as a HUC at Presby.

She is a woman of many talents.

She published her first novel, The Last Grimm: Reds Hood, on 8/1/2012. While getting rave reviews with friends and family, she strives to get it out to the strangers of the world.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |

Book Review: The Serpent’s Ring by H.B. Bolton

The Serpent’s Ring (Relics of Mysticus #1) by H.B. Bolton

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre: MG Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:  I know that it might seem cruel to rate this mediocre when I liked the story so much.  The Serpent’s Ring hit a few pet peeves and if you aren’t bothered by these things, then this could be a 5 star book for you.  I let my 9 year old *nephew* read the first few chapters and he adored the characters and the action.  Now that I’m done reading, he can’t wait to finish.

Firstly, the beginning is slow and it feels like every other fantasy novel.  There’s a couple of kids who get an epic quest, some magical powers, and have to finish it before the world ends.  Another things is that there isn’t much “he said, she said” in this book.  There are quite a few “exclaimed, grunted, yelled, shouted, declared” and so forth.  Besides that, the book is very well written.

Characters:  What I really appreciated about this book was the fact that Evan and Claire had personality and attitude.  A lot of main characters in this age group are timid and follow adults without question, but not these two.  Evan is sarcastic and definitely thinks that he knows what is best for himself – just like a fourteen year old teenager does.  He does hold his tongue on a few occasions in this book, but only when an outburst might be lethal.  He’s blunt but not stupid.  It’s hard to say which sibling acts more mature.  Claire is better at keeping a calm head in stressful situations but she can be such a GIRL! at times.  I like how the two didn’t always get along, yet they knew the other sibling would always be there when needed.

Plot:  Though horribly predictable at first, I liked the twist and pacing after Evan enters the underwater world.  The first few chapters are bogged down with explanations about this magical world and Dr. Irving’s disappearance and connection to the serpent’s ring.  Once the world was established, then this book shined.  I just wish that the beginning was less dialogue and introduction.  The later chapters managed to create a believable and visual world underwater effortlessly.

Ending:  I kind of expected The Serpent’s Ring to end on a cliffhanger and it didn’t.  The plot was wrapped up nicely and there’s little teasers for what to expect in book two.  I was kind of surprised how long the children remained in the world after the plot wrapped up.  Typically in this genre, the honeymoon is over quickly and the kids are shipped back home in the next paragraph.  Not here.  Definitely a different sort of ending then I’m used to and I liked that.

Book Description:

Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring museum … that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.

Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous bird and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.

Rating:  C

Kids and teenagers will love this MG fantasy.

I received a copy of this book from CBB Book Promotions as part of a tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Currently, Barbara Brooke resides in sunny Florida with her supportive husband, two adorable children, gorgeous greyhounds, and scruffy mutt. She is actively creating new worlds and interesting characters for the next book in one of her series. Shhhh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write spellbinding, heart-pounding women’s fiction, she also writes books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young adult fantasy story. These particular books are written under the name H.B. Bolton, but that is another story altogether.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |

Feature and Follow: Accomplishments

I don’t normally participate in feature and follow, but I HAD to because I love this week’s question.  This week’s featured blogs are Book Liaison and Angela’s Anxious Life.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is it to one day become an author yourself, just for fun, maybe get some online attention, or maybe something very different?

I do wish to one day become an author myself, but that isn’t what drives me to post every day and read 4-5 books a week.  I’m a huge fan of dark fiction and horror.  It is severely under-represented in the market and on blogs.  Most of the blogs I see like books that are YA with HEA.  I don’t like guaranteed happily ever after endings.  I don’t like books where romance is the only plot-line.  I’m not one of those bloggers who becomes a super-fan of some book guy because he’s “hot”.  I like books with a fast pace, lots of drama, flawed heroes, a couple gory deaths, and a bittersweet ending.

Maybe I’m being selfish with promoting the genres and books that I do.  I write YA horror.  I know that the only way to get better with my writing is to read YA horror – and it’s probably the most difficult genre to find in the bookstore (read: Anna Dressed in Blood is the only book).  I would love to only cover this genre on my blog, but I simply can’t find the books.  I hope that within the next few years that YA horror becomes more popular.  Until then, if my blog can help find and promote the books that do exist (and I get a chance to read), I’m satisfied.

If you have any recommendations for this genre, I’ll be happy to check them out!  If you have a blog, what do you hope to accomplish?

Book Review: Wilde’s Army by Krystal Wade

Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls #2) by Krystal Wade

Publisher:  Curiousity Quills Press

Genre: YA Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook  or paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

(This review contains major spoilers for both books.  Read my review of Book #1 Wilde’s Fire)

Overall:  It’s kind of hard to suck the danger factor out of a book where there are evil people in every scene, but the author does it brilliantly.  Apparently, Kate has a reset button on her life because she dies not once but twice in this novel…only to be saved by her magic powers that she can access with the help of her sister – but, of course, she doesn’t give her sister any credit.  The dialogues from Wilde’s Army would fit better on Dora the Explorer.  The characters over explain the situation and the feelings.  Here’s an example of how ridiculous the dialogue.  This is from Arland’s father immediately after Kate and Arland bind and they have trapped the Head Leader with their magic:

“What is the meaning of all this?  Why is the Leader of Encardia encased in magic, and why are you an my son glowing with a Binding Spell?”

Well, sir.  I don’t think it is because they ate radioactive food.  I really hate that I’m giving so many spoilers for this book, but it is definitely not worth reading.  Everything I said I liked in the first book is missing here.  I won’t be reading the third installment of this series.

Characters:  I honestly felt like I was eavesdropping on the Mean Girls while reading this book.  Although Kate might think she is self-righteous and helping out her friends, she is nothing short of selfish, dumb, and whiny in this book.  It’s outrageous how she continuously calls her mother out for belittling her sister and then does the same exact thing to Perth, sometimes in the same scene.  I felt so bad for Brit and Perth, since they were truly outcasts in this book.  Kate got upset at her sister for having a crush on Brad – no, not upset.  Kate didn’t know how to TRUST and FORGIVE her sister for having a secret crush on Brad.  If you’re not familiar with Brad’s backstory from the first book, he’s the guy who was madly in love with Kate and then ended up possessed by a demon god.

Kate’s mother was nothing short of a bad mother.  I was seriously hoping that she’s end up being a traitor because she treats everyone like crap throughout the novel.  The worse is how she treats her own daughter, Brit.  Kate’s mother is constantly saying how Brit is the un-special daughter, the one who isn’t useful, the one we can spare, the one that isn’t worth crap.  Kate knows her mother is wrong by saying these things but NOT ONCE does she ever speak up in her sister’s defense.

My favorite character of the first novel is barely even mentioned in this one.  Flanna mopes the entire novel about her beloved that died.  Gone is the nosy, chipper gal that I adored.  Instead, Brit takes over as Kate’s best friend and she’s not nearly as interesting.  In fact, poor Brit seems to have been ignored in every department.  She has almost zero personality and doesn’t even registers how badly the people around her treat her.

Plot:  Kate much gather an army by pretending to be in love with Perth instead of Arland.  That’s the entire plot.  You want to know how the author managed to stretch that to 348 pages?  By over-explaining “feelings” and what happened in the first book.  About 50% into the first novel, Kate finally realises that Brad LOVED her and everyone knew it but her.  Okay.  I could tell by chapter 1 of book 1 and it took Kate one and a half books to figure it out?  Geez.  Worse, Arland is the one to have to explain this to her.  He has to break it down like she’s some mentally challenged – and still she’s too focused on herself to grasp the whole situation.

There is a love triangle in this book like the first, but it’s ridiculous.  Perth likes Kate, while Kate verbally says how much he disgusts her.  And he’s actually a nice guy!  She’s the one who is a super b—!

Ending:  Kate uses superhuman powers to kick everyone’s butt.  No, I’m serious.  That’s actually what happens.

Book Description:

Hello, Katriona.”

Those two words spark fear in Katriona Wilde and give way to an unlikely partnership with Perth, the man she’s been traded to marry for a favor. Saving her true love and protector Arland, her family, and their soldiers keeps her motivated, but the at-odds duo soon realizes trust is something that comes and goes with each breath of Encardia’s rotting, stagnant air. The moment when concern for her missing sister spirals out of control, all thoughts of trust are pushed aside and she finds herself trapped by the daemon tricks Perth warned her of.

However, rescuing those she loves is only half the problem.

Kate still must get to Willow Falls, unite her clashing people, and form an army prepared to fight in order to defeat Darkness. When so many she’s grown fond of die along the journey, her ability to play by the gods’ rules is tested.

How will she make allies when the world appears stacked against her? And will she still be Katriona Wilde, the girl with fire?

Rating:  F

A big letdown in a YA fantasy series I kind of liked.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers–who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas–sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read. How else can she cope with a fifty mile commute?

Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.

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Book Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Publisher:  Atria Books

Genre: YA Contemporary

You can buy it on ebook, audio, or paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Review:

Overall:  I completely expected not to like this book.  I delayed buying this book for a month even at the insistence of a few close friends.  It wasn’t until I discovered this title on Netgalley that I gave it a shot.  Let me also say that I don’t typically read contemporary novels – ah, but this is no ordinary contemporary novel.   If you’ve ever wanted the poster-novel for dark fiction, Slammed is it.  Layken has a pretty shitty life who can’t catch a single break as the novel progresses.    Does she give up?  No, she learns to be strong and deal with whatever life throws at her.  Slammed is definitely a novel that will compel you to read in one sitting.  It will tug at every emotion you have in your body – even the tin man would weep during sections of this book.

A key part of this novel is slamming, which is performed poetry.  I rarely read poetry and I have trouble understand poetry that is very metaphorical.  These poems performed by the characters either during poetry class or at Club N9NE are best if read out loud with extra emphasis on the bolded words.  I must say that this is the first book I have ever wished to purchase on audio.  Instead, after reading this book I immediately purchased a paperback and gifted it to my mom so she can enjoy it too.

Characters:  There are no cheerleaders or nerds in this book, even though it’s set primarily in the high school.  Layken isn’t loved at first sight by every male in the vicinity – in fact, she’s largely ignored by her classmates, except for a spunky girl named Eddie and her small group of friends.  Eddie has her own demons (she’s a foster child) but it’s hard to tell by her cheerful demeanor.  It’s refreshing to have the two teenage girls survive an entire novel without fighting – can’t think of another YA that does.  In fact, there are surprisingly few cliches used to define any of the characters.  I wasn’t sure what the characters would do next or what tragedy would strike next, and I think that was a major factor in my liking this book.

Plot:  It’s hard to explain what happens in this book without giving away an early spoiler, which is why Will can’t date Layden.  At the start of the book, Layken has moved with her mother and brother across the country to snowy Michigan.  Layken meets her neighbor, Will, and they hit it off immediately.  She goes on the best date of her life and thinks that life is starting to improve.  Not so.  When Layken starts her new school she (and I) was completely shocked to find out that she and Will have to end their relationship (for reasons I won’t spoil).  Her life complicates further when her brother and Will’s become best friends and she sees Will almost constantly.  Not sure what his true feelings are, Layken can’t help but be depressed.  At the same time, her mother is becoming increasingly distant and has a secret of her own.  One that definitely is not good for Layken or her brother.

Ending:  I liked how this novel ended, and yet after experiencing all the trauma Layken dealt with in Slammed, I’m not quite sold on finding out what life throws at her in the sequel.  I like her so much that I’d rather her not have to do this all over again in the second book.  She deserves better.  This ending is sad, depressing, but you can’t help but smile because Layken is optimistic about her future.

Book Description:

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.
Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

Rating:  A+

This is dark fiction.  I loved it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

I’m addicted to and seriously floored by the talent of The Avett Brothers band, which is obvious in both of my books. They are 99% of my playlist. The other 1% being Eminem and Jason Mraz.

I love lindor truffles (the white ones with the chips inside) and have an unhealthy addiction to diet pepsi. A serious addiction.

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