Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: Between by Megan Whitmer

BetweenBetween

Author: Megan Whitmer
Series: Between
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 384
Release Date: 29th July 2014

Synopsis: When a supernatural freak of nature forces her family to separate, seventeen-year-old Charlie Page must turn to her frustrating (yet gorgeous) neighbor, Seth, to help reunite them. Seth whisks Charlie to Ellauria—a magical world filled with the creatures of myths and legends—and tells her of the Fellowship, the group charged with protecting mystical beings from human discovery. (All except Bigfoot: that attention whore is a total lost cause.) But when Charlie learns that she's under the Fellowship's protection herself, well, "stressed" is an understatement.

Ellauria should be the safest place for Charlie while the Fellowship works to find her family, but things in the mystical realm aren’t what they seem.

Magic is failing, creatures are dying, and the Fellowship insists Charlie holds the key to saving everyone. With her family still missing and the danger in Ellauria growing, Charlie doesn't know who she can trust. She's dealing with a power she never asked for, falling for a guy she can't have, and being forced to choose between her destiny and her heart. And if she chooses wrong, she could destroy magic forever.

Charlie may be in over her head.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars 

Between is a book that started off a little strange for me, everything seemed to happen at such a rapid pace that my head was spinning, one moment everything was normal, we have siblings conversing and a family dinner and in the next moment we are thrust into fantasyland or in this instance the Between, it was all mind blowing but in saying that it quickly settled down and I started to really enjoy this book, to the point where I stayed up until all hours just to finish it.

Seventeen year-old Charlie Page was a likeable character without a clue as to her importance in a realm she never knew existed until she is attacked by a ‘Mothman’ and her life as she has known it she soon discovers was based on complete lies.

Separated from her mother and brother when she was whisked away and now in the mystical realm of Ellauria, Charlie is forced to navigate through her new reality and hone in on magical abilities she didn’t know existed, all with the help of someone she thought she knew – Seth but he too isn’t who she thought he was.

Seth is a broody, protective sweetheart; I adored his interactions with Charlie and the sweet stolen moments they were able to share but a relationship between them is my favourite kind - forbidden but I won’t tell you why. Their chemistry was wonderful.

Also helping Charlie was Keiran, I thought he was fabulous and I thought we’d have a love triangle which I always dread but nothing eventuated thank goodness, I was surprised by Keiran’s past and I am intrigued about what is to come of him now.

The world-building was interesting and the plot entertaining with some great action scenes. There was never a dull moment as we see Charlie train, search for her mother and brother, work out why magic is weakening and the Between wilting and also learn about why Charlie had been hidden and her importance to the realm, It all came together nicely.

After the rapid start things slowed down and we got to enjoy the amazing imagery of the Ellauria setting which was wonderfully detailed and vivid, you could picture everything clearly which I appreciated. I also liked the creatures that reside there such as fairies, centaurs, elves, unicorns, harpies etc. and the part the Fellowship play in all of it. The bad guy was also quite interesting, I’m curious to see how everything now plays out in future instalments.

Between doesn’t read like a debut novel, it is very well written and engaging with some wonderful dialogue and witty banter; I am definitely eager to read the next book in this series.

Thank you to Spencer Hill Press via Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review Between by Megan Whitmer.


Megan WhitmerAbout the author: Megan Whitmer lives in Kentucky with her family. She loves all things Southern, and has a soft spot for football, kissing scenes, and things that sparkle. Aside from her personal blog, she's also a contributing blogger forwww.YAmisfits.com,www.allthewritenotes.com, andwww.herkentucky.com. When she's not writing, Megan spends her time drinking absurd amounts of Cherry Coke Zero and wishing someone would pay her to tweet. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy called BETWEEN, will be published by Spencer Hill Press in July 2014.

Waiting on Wednesday - Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson and The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

 
Hi everyone!! thank-you so much for stopping by today.

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW’s for this week are Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson & The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, both sound amazing but the wait is going to be agonising.

Conspiracy Girl
Author: Sarah Alderson
Series:  -
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: 19th February 2015


Synopsis. (Goodreads)

Everybody knows about the Cooper Killings – the Bel Air home invasion that rocked the nation.
There was only one survivor - a sixteen year-old girl.
And though the killers were caught they walked free.

Now eighteen, Nic Preston - the girl who survived - is trying hard to rebuild her life. She’s security conscious to the point of paranoia and her only friend is a French Mastiff bulldog, but she’s making progress. She’s started college in New York and has even begun dating.

But then one night her apartment is broken into and the life Nic’s worked so hard to create is shattered in an instant. 

Finn Carter - hacker, rule breaker, player – is the last person Nic ever wants to see again. He’s the reason her mother’s killers walked free from court. But as the people hunting her close in, Nic has to accept that her best and possibly only chance of staying alive is by keeping close to Finn and learning to trust the person she’s sworn to hate.

Fleeing across a snowbound New England, frantically trying to uncover the motive behind the murders, Nic and Finn come to realize the conspiracy is bigger than they could ever have suspected. But the closer they get to the truth and the closer they get to each other, the greater the danger becomes.

To survive she has to stay close to him.
To keep her safe he has to keep his distance.

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1)
Author: Melissa Grey
Series: The Girl at Midnight
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: 28th April 2015


Synopsis. (Goodreads)

For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo'sShadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

What are most anticipating this week?

PS. If you are interested in children’s book reviews (3-12 years), I have started a new review blog Here – Little Ones Read

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

FAE - Interviews with Kari Castor, Christine Morgan and Kristina Wojtaszek

FaeFAE”

Publication Date: July 22, 2014 • Fantasy / Horror Anthology
Trade paperback, 250 pages • ebook
ISBN: 978-0692207918
Edited BY RHONDA PARRISH

Alpena, MI (May 8, 2014) – World Weaver Press (Eileen Wiedbrauk, Editor-in-Chief) has announced Fae, a new anthology of fairy stories from classic tales to urban fantasy, edited by Rhonda Parrish, will be available in trade paperback and ebook Tuesday, July 22, 2014. 

Synopsis: Meet Robin Goodfellow as you’ve never seen him before, watch damsels in distress rescue themselves, get swept away with the selkies and enjoy tales of hobs, green men, pixies and phookas. One thing is for certain, these are not your grandmother’s fairy tales. Fairies have been both mischievous and malignant creatures throughout history. They’ve dwelt in forests, collected teeth or crafted shoes. Fae is full of stories that honor that rich history while exploring new and interesting takes on the fair folk from castles to computer technologies and modern midwifing, the Old World to Indianapolis. Fae covers a vast swath of the fairy story spectrum, making the old new and exploring lush settings with beautiful prose and complex characters. Enjoy the familiar feeling of a good old-fashioned fairy tale alongside urban fantasy and horror with a fae twist. With an introduction by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, and new stories from Sidney Blaylock Jr., Amanda Block, Kari Castor, Beth Cato, Liz Colter, Rhonda Eikamp, Lor Graham, Alexis A. Hunter, L.S. Johnson, Jon Arthur Kitson, Adria Laycraft, Lauren Liebowitz, Christine Morgan, Shannon Phillips, Sara Puls, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.


Kristina Wojtaszek author of “Solomon’s Friend”


What was the inspiration for your Fae story?

Solomon's Friend is actually my own very personal story of raising a son with Asperger's.  All of Kadie's doubts about herself as a mother are mine; all of Solly's unique views of the world around him are my son's (although not everything Solly does or says in the story are true to life).  Hobby, the cantankerous, brash old hob that narrates much of the story, came from an often-ignored voice of my own-- a well of common sense and courage that sparkles every now and again on a quiet, moonlit night, reminding me that I am making some of the right connections with my child, that I am loving him every moment of every day, and that there is still a bit of magic left in the world, especially in the curious and cautious mind of my child.  And maybe even in me.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

That depends on how you define fairy or fae.  There is a great variety of fairy-types across cultures, and many of those overlap easily with creatures that we might classify as something else altogether.  I have a hard time deciphering the difference between fae and elves, myself, so if you consider the human-sized elfin spirits as creatures of fae, then yes, I've written of them, and even named them fae in my novella, Opal, and in the sequel to come.  What intrigues me most about any type of fae is the idea that they can see and interact with elements of nature that we blatantly miss out on.  Is it truly they that are strange, or are we humans even more bizarre in the way we have segregated ourselves so completely from the natural world we were born a part of?  I like taking on a viewpoint that makes the world of nature more meaningful, more magical, than what we humans deem it to be.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?

The narrator of my story is a hob, which is a type of Brownie, or household spirit.  There are many species of household spirits, some more menacing than others (like the hobgoblin or the boggart).  According to myth, these household spirits are often quite involved in domestic upkeep, and prefer to go unseen and unacknowledged except for an occasional gift left out of a bit of food or milk.  But if you try to seek them out and give them payment for their work, especially in the form of clothing, they take great offense and will disappear from the home forever. 
They are also offended by laziness.  My own hob takes great delight in licking dust from every surface and finding a multitude of crumbs in couch crevices and underneath car seats.  I'd say he's a bit more tolerant of accumulated filth than most house spirits, but his rules about gifts of clothing still stand.

Kari Castor author of “The Price”


What was the inspiration for your Fae story?

I was reading some Grimm's fairy tales, and I ran across this very short tale the Grimm brothers had collected and called "The Rose."  It was such an interesting snippet, and I'd never heard it before, and I really wanted to take the idea and expand it into a fuller story.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

No, I actually have another short story that deals with fairies that I started working on before "The Price" ever sprang into my mind, but that earlier story is still in the revision stages right now.

If no,  why do you write fairy stories? What is it about them that appeals to you?

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by magical creatures, including fairies, so as I got older I went seeking out a lot of the legends and folklore behind the pretty stories.  I think the discovery that the original stories often weren't so pretty -- that there was actually a lot of darkness in those tales -- made me love them even more.  There's something very compelling to me about the way the old stories intermingle beauty and danger.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?

"The Price" definitely hearkens back to the old legends, particularly those that come out of the British Isles (like Sir Orfeo and "Thomas the Rhymer"), where the fairies are prone to kidnapping young men and women and whisking them away to the realm of Faerie.  These, of course, are not the small fluttering creatures we so often conjure up today in response to the word "fairy" - like John William Waterhouse's La Belle Dame sans Merci, they are more or less human in size and appearance.  They're not necessarily good or evil, but they tend to have their own agendas and desires and don't care much for what suffering they might cause others in the pursuit of them.

Christine Morgan author of “Rosie Red-Jacket”


What was the inspiration for your Fae story?

It was one of those articles about toy marketing for girls vs. boys, the dreaded "pink aisle" and special girly LEGO and that kind of thing. It led me into thinking about the whole history of toys and "traditional" gender-based play, which then led to all that stuff about snips and snails and puppy dog tails, boys are active and rambunctious, sugar and spice and everything nice for little girls all clean and polite ... and it annoys the heck out of me. Then I started thinking about Peter Pan, and how here's this wonderful world of excitement and adventure for the boys, but Wendy's expected to be the nice mommy, and wanted to write something where ... what if it went kind of a different way around? Why should the boys get to have all the fun? Why not make them pay for it, in a kind of malicious way?

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

Not at all. Always been very into them, going back to when I must've checked out a couple of those Andrew Lang color collections (the Green Fairy Book, the Red Fairy Book, etc.) every week. As I got older, I realized how much of a powerful female perspective they had ... as they should. Sure, it was the Brothers Grimm who collected them and got the credit, but it was the mothers, the big sisters, the grandmothers, who were making up and telling these stories. For me, as a writer, the real fun is in taking the classics and giving them a new twist or fun quirk, to play with the old tropes. And, sometimes, to do weird mash-ups or re-imaginings just to see what happens. I've recently, for example, sold one called "The Arkham-Town Musicians" to an anthology of Lovecraftian fairy tales, and I've got a heist version of Cinderella, "Cinder's Twelve," in another upcoming book.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story? Is that your favourite type of fae?

I think of Rosie as being of the Fair Folk / Puck-ish variety, sprite-like, but a little mean. Puck's depicted as a trickster, but generally benign, seeking to make amends and all that. Rosie's more the kind who would grow up to steal babies and replace them with changelings, or do real harm. That kind, for me, is the most fun to write about because they might look human enough, but their attitude is completely inhuman, not bound by or even understanding human morality. I also like the little winged pixie-types; more Disney's Fantasia with the nature magic and the flowers and the snowflakes ... which mostly didn't interact with humans but just flitted about and did their thing.

Fae will be available in trade paperback and ebook via Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo.com, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram. You can also find Fae on Goodreads.

Anthologist Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for over five years now (which is like 25 years in internet time) and is the editor of the benefit anthology, Metastasis. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast and Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com.

World Weaver Press is a publisher of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction, dedicated to producing quality works. We believe in great storytelling.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard

Fool Me Twice (If Only . . . #1)Fool Me Twice

Author: Mandy Hubbard
Series: If Only #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Australia
Pages: 272
Release Date: 1st May 2014


Synopsis:

Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple . . . until he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they're back where they first met—Serenity Ranch and Spa, where they are once again working together for the summer. Talk about awkward.

Then, Landon takes a nasty fall and gets amnesia. Suddenly, he’s stuck in the past—literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when he and Mack were still together, so now he’s calling her pet names and hanging all over her. It's the perfect chance for revenge. The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling love, and then BAM, dump him. There’s just one problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon all over again.

The If Only romance line is all about wanting what you can't have, and Mandy Hubbard's hilarious break-up/love story is sure to captivate anyone who has ever wished for a second shot at love.

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

Fool Me Twice is the first book in the If Only series, each book written by a different author and featuring different characters.

I really like the premise for Fool Me Twice and I was in the mood for a bit of a break-up revenge sort of light-hearted book and this one was fun, nothing deep but quite cute and entertaining if not over the top with the cheesy, fluffy moments.

Fool Me Twice follows Mackenzie and Landon’s story, Landon broke up with Mackenzie in a terrible way but since hitting his head and ending up with amnesia he has no memory of them ever breaking up which is perfect for Mackenzie so she can play along, exact her revenge and break his heart as he did to her.

Both of the MC’s were ok characters but their actions didn’t really endear me to them, they were childish and definitely not true to themselves – Landon’s behaviour definitely grated on my nerves as did Mackenzie’s willingness to please. The side characters were great, I liked Bailey and Adam.

The do-over plot was simplistic and the ranch setting wonderful, I really enjoy second chance romances and despite their first relationship (if that’s what you’d call it) not being long term and based more or less on untruths it was nice seeing them start afresh but in saying that there were a lot of cringe worthy moments that didn’t feel realistic at all.

Mandy Hubbard’s writing is witty and fun but the dialogue and the characters juvenile behaviour let it down overall. If you are after something quick and light-hearted, Fool Me Twice would be perfect.

Thank you kindly to Bloomsbury Publishing Australia for the opportunity to read and review Fool Me Twice.



Mandy HubbardAbout the author

Mandy Hubbard is the author of PRADA & PREJUDICE and YOU WISH, both novels for teens now in stores. 

In 2011, her releases include BUT I LOVE HIM (written as Amanda Grace) and RIPPLE. She is also a literary agent for D4EO Literary Agency. For more information, visit her website.

Twitter - Goodreads - Website - Facebook


Friday, 18 July 2014

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling
Publisher: Bantam Press
Pages: 432
Amazon - TBD
Release Date: 17th July 2014

Synopsis

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother - Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid - was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea's uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea's 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding...

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom's heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother's legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea's story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance - it's about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

The Queen of the Tearling is a book that kept me immersed from the very beginning but fantasy can either be hit or miss for me and despite enjoying it mostly there were aspects which I found repetitive and we are left with a number of unanswered questions but I was also intrigued by the interesting characters and the fascinating world Erika Johansen has created.

Nineteen year-old Kelsea Glynn is the heir to the Tearling throne, she has been raised in the secluded woods by foster parents Carlin and Barty Glynn away from the royal life all those years but now needs to take back control of her kingdom and defeat the Red Queen of Mortmesne. Kelsea was a self-doubting, thoughtful heroine, believing herself plain she was often ridiculed and looked down on; lacking in the necessary experience that came with ruling a kingdom, especially one that is in tatters and is full of corruption it was certainly an interesting journey Kelsea had to undertake to be the person her followers needed her to be.

The richly detailed world-building is an aspect that was done well in present time but I feel the past needed further explanation; the creative storyline was balanced with an exciting mix of politics, social drama and a smidgen of a potential romance that I’d love to see further developed. I liked learning about Kelsea’s mother, Queen Elyssa, the power of her sapphire necklace and the events which happened under her uncle’s reign. A portion of the book was spent with Kelsea travelling to the Keep which did become tiresome with the guards unprofessional antics and for me made the pacing lag but it did give us more insight in to her as a regular insecure girl and then seeing her progress as the book did as a respected future queen. The side characters each played an important role and I’m eager to see a few relationships flourish and progress; Fletch has me intrigued.

I had a few minor gripes - There are many unanswered questions which I’m sure will be answered over the course of the series, I am still a tad clueless about the overall setting and the lack of technology, the time period and what happened with America and Europe? And the crossing is still an aspect I am not completely sure about; it was baffling.

This book certainly didn’t read like a debut novel, rich in detail and highly entertaining with simple, easy to understand language, it all flowed well and is a nice start to the series. Warner Bros have snapped up the film rights before it was published and will reunite the Harry Potter dream team of producer David Heyman and star Emma Watson – very excited about this.

Overall, the story is engaging, the characters are fascinating, and their relationships keep developing in a genuine manner. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Queen of the Tearling.

 


About the author: Erika Johansen grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.