Genre: Young Adult

Book Review: Surfacing by Shana Norris

25 Mar, 2014 by in mermaids, netgalley, paranormal, shana norris, swans landing, YA fiction Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Surfacing by Shana Norris

Surfacing

by Shana Norris
Series: Swans Landing #1
Published by Shana Norris on December 19th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
three-half-stars
Source: Netgalley
Buy the BookGoodreads
Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.

But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.

As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.

Surfacing is the first book in the Swans Landing series.

I downloaded Surfacing off of Netgalley drawn by the idea of a remote seaside town, reached only via ferry and intrigued by the legend of mer people or “finfolk.” Main character Mara is thrown into a situation she is less than fond of when her mother passes away and she’s sent to live with her father who she know nothing about.All of her life she’s felt abandoned by him, and now she will have to live with him in Swan’s Landing. Form the moment she arrives in town she can tell she’s not welcome. There’s the strange woman who tells her “she’s not supposed to be here”, and a division amongst the town people– Mara seems to be right int he middle of the heated battle. Only she’s not sure why?

Why is it that no one will tell her why she is being bullied and singled out, or why there is so much tension in this new hometown?

I enjoyed the premise and legend behind Surfacing as well as the cover and the back story included on the author’s website. I also liked that the school staff, townspeople and teens take a stand against bullying. However, the voice of both Mara and her nemesis Sailor started to grate on me after a while as they were so full of attitude, anger and drama. This definitely feels YA, but the angst was a bit heavy handed for my taste. Love triangles are not my favorite either, and Mara leaves my favorite pick in the dark about what is really going on.  I liked it enough to finish and read the sneak peek of book two, but it’s probably not a book I would buy for my shelves. I did like the fleshing out of each character, enough so that I felt I knew them. I enjoyed seeing progress in the relationship between daughter and father. I also really love it when indie authors put their works on Netgalley so we can be exposed to a wide variety of YA titles. Thanks to the author and Netgalley for a chance to read it!

Content: older teen (highlight to reveal) in depth talk of sex, co ed sleepovers, swearing, bullying, violence between adult and child.

heather

Author Bio

shana norris

I was born August 19, on my parents’ first wedding anniversary, in a small town in eastern North Carolina. I’m the oldest of four children. I’m a leo, which means I’m supposed to be bossy, interfering, and intolerant. But I’m also supposed to be broad-minded, warm-hearted, and creative, so maybe it all evens out.

I’ve always loved books. My parents would read my favorite books to me so often that I’d memorize them before I had learned how to read. Some of my favorite memories as a kid are of my mom taking my siblings and me to the public library. I’d always check out a big stack of books and then have them all read within a week. The first time I can remember writing a story that wasn’t for school, but simply because I wanted to write, was when I was eight years old. I wrote and illustrated a book called The Lonely Rectangle. It was a story about a rectangle that had been thrown in the trash and felt unloved until someone found it and took it home to use as a table. No, it was not a box or anything like that, it was just a plain rectangle. I have no clue why I decided to write about a geometric shape. It wasn’t like I was particularly fond of math or anything.

I spent my junior year of high school and part of my senior year living just outside of West Palm Beach, Florida, where my family moved to the summer I turned sixteen. I had a hard time making friends, but the good thing that came out of it was that I started to spend a lot of time online since I had no one to hang out with after school. That was when I discovered online journals written by teen girls and even started my own, which I wrote under a pen name. It was that experience with online journals in 1996-1997, the predecessor of today’s blogs, that helped inspire Something to Blog About.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a writer. Well, actually I wanted to be a ballerina, an archaeologist, a teacher, AND a writer, all at the same time. But after a while I figured out that I’d never taken a ballet lesson in my life, I didn’t particularly like to get dirty, and I hated being in a classroom all day, so that really only left writer as my future job. My family advised me to get a back up plan, which meant, “study something else in school that you can earn a living at while waiting for your books to sell.” So I studied graphic design, tested out of as many classes as I possibly could to avoid sitting in so many classrooms, and got my degree.

I’m still a web designer by day and write my books during my lunch hours and at night. I currently live in North Carolina with my husband and our menagerie of pets: two dogs–Chloe and Zoey–and five cats–Elmo, Bandit, Kit, BC, and Butter.

Fin the author on Facebook * twitter * pinterest

Divider

Book Review: Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger

19 Mar, 2014 by in simon schuster, ya 1 comment

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger

Let The Storm Break

by Shannon Messenger
Series: Sky Fall #2
Published by Simon Pulse on March 4, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400 pages
Format: eARC
three-half-stars
Source: Edelweiss
Buy the BookGoodreads
Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra. By the lies he’s told to cover for her disappearance. By the treacherous winds that slip into his mind, trying to trap him in his worst nightmares. And as his enemies grow stronger, Vane doesn’t know how much longer he can last on his own.

But Audra’s still running. From her past. From the Gales. Even from Vane, who she doesn’t believe she deserves. And the farther she flees, the more danger she finds. She possesses the secret power her enemy craves, and protecting it might be more than she can handle—especially when she discovers Raiden’s newest weapon.

With the Gale Force weakened by recent attacks, and the power of four collapsing, Vane and Audra are forced to make a choice: keep trusting the failing winds, or turn to the people who’ve betrayed them before. But even if they survive the storms sent to destroy them, will they have anything left to hold on to?

The Sky Fall series by Shannon Messenger has so many things going for it…

What I loved

The covers…gorgeous!

The new and unique mythology of wind walkers or slyphs

The fun personality of the main male protagonist Vane. He is supposed to be a king, yet he’s still young and snarky. His thoughts and snide comments will keep a smile on your face

There is a ramping up of both external and internal conflict in book two. The ad guys get more bad and the good guys are struggling with their own issues.

The concept of bonding for life with a kiss between two slyphs is romantic and old fashioned.

I loved the introduction of Vane’s intended companion Solana. It wasn’t a true love triangle but I would love to see and hear more from her.

The dual point of view. We get to know both Vane and Audra better.

Fun words like haboob!

 

What I struggled with

The pacing in book two is a bit slow. By the end things really pick up speed but it felt a little too late to really hold and capture interest.

I wanted to know more about each character. I was hoping to dig deeper into the story line instead of just touching on the setting and the new side characters.

The predictability of the cliff hanger ending and some of the plot elements.

I wanted to see Vane’s training. Let’s get him able to fight back ( even though it is against his very Westerly nature!)

 

Overall, I will definitely read book three in the series.

Content (highlight to reveal): sleepovers between boy and girl, comments about girls body parts, some sensual thoughts, kissing, mild violence

 

About the Authorshannon messenger

Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned–among other things–that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She also regularly eats cupcakes for breakfast, sleeps with a bright blue stuffed elephant named Ella, and occasionally gets caught talking to imaginary people. So it was only natural for her to write stories for children. She’s the author of the middle grade series, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, and LET THE SKY FALL, a trilogy for young adults. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at shannonmessenger.com.

Divider

ARC Breview: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

06 Mar, 2014 by in ARC, henry holt, mary e pearson, ya, young adult fiction 1 comment

I received this book for free from Henry Holt in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Breview: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception

by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Published by Henry Holt on July 15th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 492
Format: ARC
five-stars
Source: Henry Holt
Buy the BookGoodreads
In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love

When I received The Kiss of Deception in the mail from Mac Teen I had never read any of Mary Pearson’s previous works nor had I  heard of her latest, so there were zero expectations. However, about five minutes into this book, I knew it was going to be epic!

“Holy good book batman” was my reaction after turning the last page.

Completely engrossing, excellent high fantasy with lush world building, suspense and the stuff classic fairy tales are made of. The story is told from multiple perspectives which I generally do not like, but Pearson executed it flawlessly and I didn’t feel confused or put off, just intrigued and curious how this mystery would all unfold. Between a betrothed, a prince, an assassin and a ladies maid there is plenty of plot spinning.

Because we are so far off from the book release and I do not want to spoil in any way I will just say this…incredible!

I cried
I soaked in the seaside villa with bright colors and common tavern folk
I relished the scenes with travelers who roam and wander, living in tents as gypsies
I second guessed myself all the time trying to tease out who is who
I enjoyed the rich, old mythical taste of kingdom, myth and legend
I finished and entered a reading slump
I grew to feel compassion for good guy and bad guy alike
I stalked the author’s website and Pinterest looking at all the pretties
I want book two!

Similar to:  Brightly Woven by Alex Bracken, Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Pre-order now!

Highlight for parental content: moderate violence, some swearing (mostly toward the end of the book), threat of assault

About the AuthorMary E Pearson

Mary E. Pearson is the award-winning author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Miles Between, A Room on Lorelei, and Scribbler of Dreams.  She writes full-time from her home office in California where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest

Divider

ARC Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend

05 Feb, 2014 by in book review, Uncategorized, YA contemporary, YA fiction 2 comments

I received this book for free from Feiwel and Friends in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend

by Katie Finn
on May 13, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
four-half-stars
Source: Feiwel and Friends
Buy the BookGoodreads
Summer, boys, and friendships gone sour. This new series has everything that perfect beach reads are made of!

Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long?

When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.

Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is?

Katie Finn hits all the right notes in this perfect beginning to a new summer series: A Broken Hearts & Revenge novel.

Summer time, the Hamptons, a cute boy and a case of a mistaken identity…check. Unexpected twist ending which leaves reader in a  cliffhanger…check! Fun, YA contemp that you can breeze through while on vacation…yes.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend kept a smile on my face almost the entire time I was reading. Gemma is sent to stay with her father for the summer while her mom and step dad are off to Scotland. But she dreads the Hamptons! Scene of a huge life changing summer that snowballed into a lot of hurt, she’s trying to avoid the place of her crime. But when she meets a cute boy on the bus and his sister comes to pick him up the cat is out of the bag…or not.

Gemma is desperately hoping her nemesis Hallie won’t remember who she is,  and that the name printed on her coffee cup can be her alter identity for the time being while she explores things with Josh.

But things just keep getting weirder and weirder! A babysitting job turned nightmare, food poisoning, stolen shoes and a malfunctioning swimsuit are among the crazy happenings that keep Gemma on her toes. She keeps falling into such embarassing situations that publicly humiliate her, yet Josh seems to truly care. And Gemma finds herself drawn to him even though sister Hallie has warned her not to hurt him. Josh is a keeper!

I loved the writing, the characters and the ultimate lesson that honesty always is the best policy. While it is somewhat predictable there is enough of a plot twist that I predict readers will be pulled in for the entire series, not just book one. I would like to feel, smell and hear more about the setting in the next books as the Hamptons are perfect for summer.

I would recommend Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend. Add it to your reading list!

Content (highlight to reveal): one swear word, bullying.

heather

About The Author

katie_finn
Katie Finn grew up in Connecticut, in a town that looks an awful lot like Putnam. During high school, she was a total theater devotee (like Madison) and never dreamed she’d be a writer. But lots of Katie’s high school misadventures have made it into her books…which just goes to show that you never know!

She currently lives in Los Angeles, California, in a house she wishes was a lot closer to the beach.

Divider

Paris Cravings Cover Reveal, Review and Giveaway

01 Feb, 2014 by in Cover Reveal-, paris, YA contemporary 1 comment

I received this book for free from Elana Johnson in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Paris Cravings Cover Reveal, Review and Giveaway

Paris Cravings

by Kimberley Montpetit
Published by Spellbound Books on February 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 205
Format: eARC
four-stars
Source: Elana Johnson
Buy the BookGoodreads
Can life really turn on a dime,
a missed bus—
or a stuck pastry shop door?

Chloe Dillard’s life has always been complicated. Her mother is a neurotic romance novelist and her boyfriend, Mathew, has been pressuring her to go “all the way”—even as one of her own best friends offers to accommodate him.

But after The Worst Night of Her Life, Chloe escapes on her Senior Class trip to the swoon-worthy city of Paris which takes her mind off her troubles—temporarily. On the final leg of her dream trip, Chloe squeezes in one final run for a last-minute box of decadent pastries. Add a stuck door, subtract a broken four-inch heel from her cute strappy sandals, and Chloe ends up one stuck girl on the bakery shop floor with a sprained ankle.

Rescued by the shop owner’s dreamy son with chocolate-syrup eyes, the beautiful city of Paris suddenly becomes Chloe’s personal secret adventure. And even though Jean-Paul, the oh-so-kind La Patisserie shop boy is the gentlemanly guy Chloe has always dreamed of, even he has a girlfriend.

The police are tracking her down as a run-away, Mom’s having a nervous breakdown over her daughter’s “disappearance”, and Chloe’s just trying to have a Happily-Ever-After even as her dreams with Matt are swirling down the drain.

Could being lost in the city of Paris be just what the doctor ordered? What’s a girl to do in the most romantic city in the world?

Who can resist a book set in Paris amidst a Patisserie shop full of eclairs and pastries?! I’m excited this is a series, because anything with a bakery involved and I am in! Paris Carvings started out with a girl, a big box, some high heels and a mishap with a door. Insert cute worker with Hershey brown eyes, a French accent and a missing passport and you have the beginnings of romance.

Chloe is about to leave her summer student exchange program in Paris when a mishap leaves her stranded and covered in whipped cream. But once she discovers just how nice the locals can be she doesn’t ever want to leave! The trick is evading her tour group’s hired henchman and her nervous mother while touring the dreamy Paris sites with her new- found “friend.”

This is a feel good contemporary with a fun setting. There is a secondary story line of how Chloe deals with her boyfriend back home, written in flashback chapters of their relationship past to present. These were my least favorite parts of the novel as her BF is such a jerk! Red flags flying everywhere! But, overall this is a fun diversion. You can smell, taste and fell the warmth of a Paris bakery. Take me away to France please!

Content: (highlight to reveal)  Definitely a read for older teens as there is much discussion of sex, innuendo and avoiding peer pressure. There is a hinting at coercion and sensuality. I was a bit distracted also by the taking of the Lord’s name in vain which I don’t like to read.

 

heather

 

About The AuthorKimberley_Montpetit

Kimberley Montpetit once spent all her souvenir money at the La Patisserie shops when she was in Paris—on the arm of her adorable husband. The author grew up in San Francisco, another swoon-worthy city, loves all things Parisian and chocolate and lives in a small town along the Rio Grande with her family.

Kimberley has won many awards for her work, including the Southwest Book Award, the Whitney Award, the Arizona/New Mexico Book Award, is a Crystal Kite Finalist (SCBWI) and included in the Bank Street College Best Books of the Year.

She once stayed in a haunted castle tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland, sailed on the Seine in Paris, walked the beaches of Normandy, eaten in numerous French cafes, ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan, sunbathed on Waikiki, shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

She adores all baked goodies; brownies, éclairs, donuts, tarts, and pie, and makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies while revising. Kimberley is, of course, hard at work on her next novel(s).

Learn More

Website * FacebookTwitter * Goodreads

Purchase

Amazon * B&N * Kobo Smashwords

The Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Divider

ARC Breview: All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

30 Jan, 2014 by in book review, fairies, harper teen, london, ryan graudin, Uncategorized, young adult fiction 1 comment

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Breview: All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

All That Glows

by Ryan Graudin
Published by Harper Teen on February 11, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
four-stars
Source: Edelweiss
Buy the BookGoodreads
Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

I have to admit that I am drawn like a moth to the flame by all things faerie– so of course, when I saw this one on Eidelweiss I had to grab it! In the vein of Lesley Livingston, Jenna Black, Julie Kagawa and Maggie Stiefvater comes a book about royalty, London and the fairy guard that protect them.

What I liked

The flow of the writing and the premise of a bit of a rogue prince who likes to make trouble being guarded by his very own fiery guard who is as old as time.

There are new mythological creatures not seen much–green ladies, banshees and dark dogs that hunt in the underground clubs and graveyards of London.

The clash between nature and modern civilization, the faeries become sick when surrounded by metal, technology and not enough thick forest

It’s a clean read. There is one swear word and a kissing scene, but otherwise it’s rated PG

Meeting Herne the Hunter and the personification of a very powerful fairy who rides through his own forest on the hunt

I wish

I connected more with the characters, they didn’t feel fleshed out enough and their romance was instant without much build up

The world where the fairies came was more and integral part of the setting the author built

The bottom line

I would buy a physical copy of this one when it comes out. I really enjoyed it and was happy to see a fairy book, as it’s been a while since we’ve seen one in the YA line up. I read All That Glows quickly and genuinely enjoyed the premise, the idea of magical a hidden world living in London and the final battle at the end. Thanks so much to Harper Teen for the sneak peek. I will be buying this one!

heather

 

ryan_graudinAuthor Bio

I write books. Some are about rowdy-partying princes and their faery guardians (ALL THAT GLOWS, HarperTeen, 2/11/14). Others are about teenagers fighting for their lives in the slums of the Hak Nam Walled City (THE WALLED CITY, Little, Brown, Fall 2014). I love writing, traveling to new lands, drinking chai lattes and hanging christmas lights. I also love Jesus. I’m repped by Adams Literary.

Learn More on her website*goodreads*twitter

Divider

ARC Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

20 Jan, 2014 by in alyssa b sheinmel, ARC, Farrar Straus Giroux, macmillan, peter pan, reimagining, summer 2 comments

I received this book for free from Farrar Straus Giroux in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star

by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on May 13th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
five-stars
Source: Farrar Straus Giroux
Buy the BookGoodreads
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

Wow. Where to even begin with this book?!! I sat down to read it, and never got up. Read straight past my bed time, into the night, until turning the very last page. For me, the writing was absolutely enchanting and dreamlike–a fairy tale shimmering to life in a modern day retelling by the beach. By far, the most magical book I’ve read in a very long time.

Wendy Darling’s world is shattered when her twin brothers go missing after going surfing and then never come back. Her parents are shells of themselves, merely passing through the motions of life. Wendy, in the mean time, is convinced her brothers are still out there somewhere.

She’s a straight A student– Stanford bound in fact,  but Wendy feels the tug of the ocean, the whispers of her brothers.

A chance meeting with a beautiful boy named Pete leads her to Kensington. Once the home of millionaires, now an abandoned neighborhood clinging dangerously close to the edge of a cliff backed up to the ocean. Wendy is sure her brothers could have known this very spot where the perfect waves crash in and the tide washes away the path that leads back home. She is inexplicably drawn to the salty air and fire-lit nights.

Second Star brought me back to my senior year in California and the summers in between. Taking weekends at lazy beach towns, finding warm sand between my toes and then shaking it all out again to head back to school, the sunny days and carefree atmosphere.

Pete is perfect. He’s exactly what you would imagine a modern day Peter Pan to be. Belle, his moody, angry girlfriend has secrets of her own. The other lost boys,  Hughie and Matt come together to form their own makeshift family. But, there is a very real threat living on the other side of the beach.

Jas.

He can hook you with his lies, his dust and his enigmatic pull. The love triangle all happens so fast you won’t know what hit.

Wendy finds herself doing things she would never normally do, and second guessing her mind as she chases the second star in search of the truth. Lines between reality and dream becomes blurred (as often happens with trauma, love and loss),  so much so that even the reader is not sure what is fact and what is imagining.

I’m guessing this is a standalone, because of the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything for readers. But suffice it to say, Second Star is a twisty, turvy ride that will suck you in, pull you under and spit you back out wanting another wave. It takes everything you think you know and shakes it up– but for me it was perfect.

Highly recommend Second Star. If you are looking for it to stick to your pre-conceived notions about the well known childhood story of Peter Pan, you may be disappointed– but if you want  amazing writing, here you’ll find fast paced story spinning at its best. Thanks so much to Ksenia at MacMillan Teen Books for sending me this treasure!

My advice… head over to NetGalley and request it. Preorder and add Second Star to your wishlist NOW.

Content: Due to this being such an early review I  won’t list specifics yet. There are several elements of mature content but not in so much detail that it was bothersome to me, will release the parental warnings after the book is published.

heather

Excerpt

Sitting as far from Jas as possible, my body pressed against the passenger- side door, I close my eyes and let a memory wash over me–a memory, I’m certain this time, not a dream: Pete’s chin resting on the small of my back as we paddle out to take a wave. The board sticky with wax beneath me as I pull myself to stand. The ocean dropping out below us as the board slides into place beneath the crest of the wave. And  the sensation that I’m flying, weightless and carefree,with no one on the planet except Pete and me, no one else know exactly what this feels like.

Author Bioalyssa_b_sheinmel

I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.

When I was little, I pretended that I didn’t like to read, because my sister loved to read, and I wanted to be different. (I also pretended that I didn’t like pizza, because it was her favorite food, I still get sad when I think of all the delicious pizza dinners I missed out on.) By the time I was eight, it was too hard to pretend I didn’t like to read, because the truth was that reading was my favorite thing in the world. I loved it so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored.

When I was eleven years old, I began going to a school in Manhattan called Spence. The teachers there were very supportive of my reading and writing. One teacher there encouraged me to read F. Scott Fitzgerald, and another introduced me to magical realism, and another tried to convince me that there was more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing. (She was right, of course.) And still another let me write a sequel to one of my favorite novels and call it a school project, even though I would have done in my spare time just for the fun of it.

After Spence, I went across town to Barnard College. Once again, I had some of the best teachers in the world encouraging me to write, and introducing me to new authors. One of my very favorite teachers told me to read Joan Didion (and I didn’t thank him enough for that), and my other favorite insisted that there was nothing more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing (and I argued with her a lot about that).

After college, I got a job working in an office where I wore high heels and blazers and even the occasional stiff-collared blouse. I thought I would write on the side, but after a while,I stopped writing altogether – for over a year, I didn’t write a word except in my journal, a very strange thing for a girl who wrote stories from pretty much the time that she learned how to hold a pen.

But then, when I was 24, I began working at a new job, and the people there introduced me to great new writers, just like the teachers I’d had in school. I began to miss writing. It was boring when I wasn’t making up stories to keep myself entertained. And so – slowly, just for the fun of it – I began writing again, and in a couple years I had written the story that would become The Beautiful Between.

I still don’t write every day; sometimes I get caught up in other things, and sometimes I’d just rather park myself in front of the TV and watch reruns of The West Wing. But I always find my way back to my computer; I always remember just how much fun writing really is. And the great thing about writing – at least in my experience – is that it comes out best when you’re doing it for the very, very fun of it.

Find Alyssa on her website*twitter*

Divider

Witch Fall Blog Tour

17 Jan, 2014 by in amber argyle, blog tour, book review, giveaway, Uncategorized 8 comments

I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Witch Fall Blog Tour

Witch Fall

by Amber Argyle
Published by Starling on October 24th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 332
Format: eBook
three-half-stars
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Buy the BookGoodreads
All things fall.

Even Witches.

Supreme in their dominion over seasons, storms, and sea, the Witches have forgotten the unmatched destructiveness of mankind. And among the weapons men seek are the magical songs of the Witches.

Lilette is one of the few who see the decadence and decay weakening the Witches. As an outsider amid her own kind, can she help them survive the coming war?

WitchFallTourBanner

Fire and Ice is happy to be a part of the official blog tour for Amber Argyle’s Witch Fall. Follow the full Xpresso Book tour here

Review

This is my first taste of Amber Argyle’s writing. When I heard Witch Song was free right now, I downloaded the first book in the series then jumped ahead to the third, Witch Fall for the tour. This one is meant as a prequel, or standalone, so the order can be reverse the way I approached the series.

Amber is a master at world building! Witch Song, set in an Asian empire, which I am assuming would be much like Japan or China, is the tale of Lilette. A girl who has lost everything she loves,  including her family,  and somehow survives a shipwreck. She finds home on a remote island and is about to be married to the father of her best friend, the chief of the tribe. Women in this book don’t have much say in the matters of marriage, bethrothal, and  concubines.  Their plight is one I struggled with as well as some of the darker elements. But Lilette is a persistent fighter and she is bound to find a way out when she’s kidnapped by the enemy, an elite, a royal prince with a brutal edge.

A tale of espionage, fantasy and magic, Witch Fall has eloquent writing with detail and lots of action. Can Lilette learn to trust those who she knows from her childhood? Can she remember her song of the Creator and save the destruction of her people? All balance has been lost by rulers seeking power and Lilette is the key to saving them.

Content: Witch Fall packs a punch… literally. If you have a weak stomach for violence (as I do), you may want to bow out. Recommended for mature teens or adults. To see other content highlight here: threat of sexual abuse, violence against women, lots of death by sword, sensuality.

heatherAbout the Authoramber_argyle

Amber Argyle is the author of Witch Song and Fairy Queen trilogies. She grew up with three brothers on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains. She spent hours riding horses, roaming the mountains, and playing in her family’s creepy barn. This environment fueled her imagination for writing high fantasy. She has worked as a short order cook, janitor, and staff member in a mental institution. All of which has given her great insight into the human condition and has made for some unique characters. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Physical Education from Utah State University. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three small children.

Author Links

Purchase the Series- all under $3.99

Fire and Ice Giveaway

One ebook copy of Witch Fall. Open internationally.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Tour Giveaway

Signed copies of Witch Song, Witch Born, and Witch Fall (US only) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Divider

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Guardian 2 by Gerald N. Lund

10 Jan, 2014 by in deseret book, gerald n lund, ya, YA fiction Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Deseret Book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Guardian 2 by Gerald N. Lund

The Guardian, Book 2: To Run With The Swift

by Gerald N. Lund
Series: The Guardian
Published by Deseret Book on November 7, 2013
Genres: Fiction, LDS, Young Adult
Pages: 587
Format: Hardcover
four-stars
Source: Deseret Book
Buy the BookGoodreads
After Danni McAllister and her family escaped from El Cobra and his kidnapping ring, they thought life would basically return to normal. Little did they know that their peril had just begun.

As secrets from the past begin to unfold, it becomes evident that the motives driving the attacks on the McAllister family go much deeper than money—and they're not going to stop anytime soon. Now, as Danni faces evils even more sinister than before, she has to wonder if even the Guardian will be equal to the dangers ahead.

The whole family will love this page-turning conclusion to the story of Le Gardien, the enchanted pouch that guides, protects, and teaches those who have it in their keeping.

Amazon Book Summary

From the bombed-out ruins of Munich, Germany, in the last days of World War II to a lavish present-day castle in Switzerland, this sequel to The Guardian (published in Fall 2013), weaves a vivid, heart-stopping tale of resilience, resolve, and revenge as Danni McAllister and her family discover the real reason they have been targeted by international terrorists. The astonishing secrets and unexpected powers of the pouch, dating back nearly two hundred years, take center stage in a plot filled with surprising twists and turns as Danni finds herself locked in an extraordinary battle of courage and fortitude that will determine the fate of her family and her role as the Keeper of the Pouch—or risk losing both forever.

From master storyteller Gerald N. Lund, this action-packed novel for the entire family originated as a series of bedtime stories told to his children when they were growing up. In the spirit of The Alliance, Freedom Factor, and Leverage Point, the author blends gripping, fast-paced adventure and suspense with a timeless message for readers of all ages.

Review

This is the first book I have ever read by Gerald N. Lund…I know, right?!! I jumped into book two of the series after a Deseret Book Blog Tour invitation, without reading book one, which I would not recommend. I think readers will miss a lot of the back story if they try to read out this series of order. But once I started to piece together names and the plot, and the circumstance surrounding the heirloom pouch called Le Guardian,  I loved the writing. There is a ton of suspense, plenty of action and good family principles. The villains are villainous indeed, and the mysterious plot twists make it unpredictable. The main character’s first name is Carruthers which is one of my husband’s family names, so the story is that much more personal for us! The setting vacillates between small town Utah and Lake Powell, which makes it fun . If you like books with espionage, history and a bit of magic then pick up The Guardian series.

heather

Excerpt

We stopped a few feet inside the mine to let our eyes adjust to the darkened tunnel.Cody started to push his way past Dad, but Dad’s arm shot out and held him back. 

“Jean-Henri,” he cried. “Look!” He was pointing forward, directing his light at the floor. 

I moved up to see better. Suddenly the chills were back, only this time they were hitting every cell in my body. The dirt floor was covered with footprints. No, not footprints. Boot prints. And none of us had worn that kind of boots when we were in here before.

About the AuthorGerald_Lund

Gerald N. Lund received his B.A. and M.S. degrees in sociology from BYU. He also did extensive graduate work in New Testament studies at Pepperdine University, and studied Hebrew at the University of Judaism. He is a prolific author and speaker. His novels include The Work and the Glory SeriesThe Kingdom and the Crown Trilogy, Fire of the CovenantThe Undauntedand his newest series,The Guardian. He has also written several books on gospel topics, including a doctrinal trilogy exploring our relationship with Heavenly Father and how He expresses His love to His children.

During his thirty-five years in the Church Educational System, Gerald N. Lund served as seminary teacher, institute teacher and director, curriculum writer, director of college curriculum, and zone administrator. His church callings have included servings as stake president and bishop. He also served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy from 2002 to 2008. He and his wife, Lynn, are the parents of seven children.

 

“I write because I love to teach.”
– Gerald N. Lund

Divider

Book Breview: Endless by Amanda Gray

09 Jan, 2014 by in amanda gray, month9books, netgalley, review, young adult fiction 2 comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Breview: Endless by Amanda Gray

Endless

by Amanda Gray
Published by Month9Books on September 10, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Time Travel, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
three-half-stars
Source: Netgalley
Buy the BookGoodreads
Jenny Kramer knows she isn't normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.

The first thing that drew me to Endless was the cover. Heaven! The beginning chapter was a little rocky for me as the character’s lines and choppy writing style didn’t connect well, but delving into the rest of the story was smooth and easy. This is a book rich with detail. If you were a fan of Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble, it’s another YA title to add to your shelves featuring the Romanov family of Russia.

Story in a Nutshell

Jenny is an artist who can feel and see people’s past by touching them so she remains recluse and immerses herself in her art. But suddenly a man she doesn’t know shows up in all of her paintings and begins to appear in her dreams. She has one true friend at the bookstore where they both work, but is suspicious of people. During her”spare time” works alongside her father as he renovates old homes. They meet Ben and his mother on one such job and Ben is just as standoffish.What Jessie and Ben find one day in the attic pulls both teens into a time travel mystery and a dangerous race for time in the present.

What I liked

I always like books with multi- layered elements of history. Abandoned homes that come to life, antiques with meaning in the present day, family history with links to the past

I loved that both the main characters parents were involved even in a  minute way in the story line. These teens have angst, they have independence– but they also have parents who check in and care.

Jenny is navigating what it means to trust and open up to people. She finds true friendship and others that stand by her as she lets down walls.

The flashbacks and  imagery of the Romanov family living in their own home as an exile and sewing their jewels into their clothing was so vivid and makes the bits of history real.

The pace clipped along without stalling which makes Endless interesting and easy to read.

What I Struggled With

I didn’t fall in love with main characters Jenny and Nikolai as they found each other in time. It seemed to be a pre destined romance but not as convincing or emotionally moving to the reader.

Ben, the other main teen character seemed to drop out of the story when Nikolai appears. I wanted to know more about his role in the past visions and what he is seeing and feeling.   Would  love to see a second novel or novella form his point of view in the future.

The mystical elements of ouija boards and mesmirization were weaved in to connect past and present, but along with the men in green robes that looked like monks, they just didn’t mesh with my vision of time travel and Russian history.

Content: mild swearing, moderate violence and one heavy kissing scene.

 

heather

Trailer

About the author

Amanda Gray believes in magic and fantasy and possibilities. She is a team of two bestselling authors who live only miles apart but have never met in person. They talk on the phone and are the best of friends and between them have written more than a dozen novels and novellas and have had their work appear on television.

Divider