Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas

*Warning – may contain spoilers*


Author: Sara J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, signed
Pages: 264
Blurb:    Feyre is immortal.
After rescuing her lover Tamlin form a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people – nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.
As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand’s dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.
She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.

History of my copy: ACOMAF was one of the many books I picked up in my book haul last May. It was a bit of a gamble as I hadn’t read ACOTAR at that point and didn’t like Maas’ Throne of Glass much but as it was a signed copy, I couldn’t resist. And I’m so glad I got it!

I’ve said before that the time it takes me to read a book and how much I like it are in no way linked, and ACOMAF is a perfect example of that. It has taken me nearly 2 months to read (and now over a month to review), but is hands down one of my all-time favourite books.

Plot: ACOMAF starts pretty much where ACOTAR ends, with Feyre trying to settle to some kind of normalcy now that she is immortal. She thinks Tamlin and the Spring Court are all she needs when, in reality, it starts to suffocate her, leading her down a path she doesn’t want, right up to her wedding which Rhysand interrupts under the pretence of carrying out the contract he had made with Feyre to save her life – she was to stay with him for one week a month.
         Although not an ideal escape, it is clear that Feyre is glad that she is now in the Night Court and as the two get closer, she is let in to all the wonderful secrets that the rest of Prythian don’t know. However, as her relationship with Rhys and his closest friends grows, so does the looming danger and thus they work together to try and save Prythian and the Mortal Lands from King Hybern.
         In the end, though, there is a plot twist that turns Feyre’s life upside down and sets the perfect scene for book 3.

Setting: Although featuring many settings all over Prythian, it is the Night Court that truly takes the lead in the second book of the series, with the reader being introduced not only to Rhys’ home in the mountains, but to his secret city, Velaris, polar opposite to the Court of Nightmares hidden inside a mountain. This is a hidden paradise in what is perceived as the darkest of the courts, and Maas describes it perfectly, to the point where it is entirely understandable why Rhys did everything to keep it safe.
               We also get a chance to visit the Summer Court, a paradise in its own right, but as Feyre gets accustomed to Rhys’ home, as does the reader to the extent that nowhere but Velaris feels like home anymore. Creating a beautiful setting is definitely one of Maas strong points, and this really shines in ACOMAF with each setting being fully distinguishable from the next.

Characters: You may remember that I left my review of ACOTAR with adoration for Tamlin and a complete lack of understanding of the love of Rhys. Well, now I get it. After ACOMAF, there is no way I can adore Tamlin and with everything we learn about Rhys, it all becomes clear! Although I’m still not sure whether the twists truly suit the characters, Maas has done it well and I think I can go along with it.
                        You may also remember that I didn’t like the ending given to Feyre. However, Maas has brilliantly portrayed our heroine’s development from human to immortal, detailing how she gets used to the physical powers she now has, along with a fantastic sub story of her dealing with the emotions and PTSD she has from Under the Mountain. I really must praise Maas for furthering Feyre’s story in a beautifully believable way as it is something that really adds to ACOMAF.

To read or not to read: Read. Hands down read. Somehow even better than ACOTAR, ACOMAF has deepened the story and taken it away from the Beauty and the Beast backbone and allowed it to develop into its own fantastically unique tale. I am just dying to get my hands on the next book, recently revealed to be titled A Court of Wings and Ruin, and I need it right now!

Find my review for A Court of Thorns and Roses here!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Promo Post: Feast of Mercy by Kathryn M. Hearst




Feast of Mercy
Order of the Sinistra Dei
Book Two
Kathryn M. Hearst

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Crushing Hearts and
Black Butterfly Publishing

Date of Publication: October 4, 2016

Number of pages: approx. 300
Word Count: 75,000

Cover Artist: Marcela Bolivar,
Designer Shawn T. King

Book Description:

An ancient feud. A threat from the Vatican. Two lovers caught in the middle.

Nick never wanted to live forever, and he certainly didn’t want to join the Order of the Sinistra Dei. Unfortunately, before he’s able to get used to the idea of immortality, the High Judge from the Vatican arrives in New Orleans to investigate the strange events of Fat Tuesday. If Nick doesn’t play his cards right, his forever could be a whole lot shorter.

Marin, a relatively new immortal, is forced to serve as assistant to the High Judge while he investigates the alleged crimes of those she holds most dear. She’ll do what she has to do to protect her clutch. However, her efforts bring her closer to facing the executioner’s blade.

As their world spins out of control, Marin and Nick struggle to reconcile past hurts and hold onto their budding relationship. New enemies, new abilities, and new desires threaten to tear them apart. It isn’t long before they realize love can’t heal all.

Loving someone means you want the best for them...but what happens when what’s best isn’t you?

Feast of Mercy is the second book of the Order of the Sinistra Dei series, an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance like no other. If you like mysterious supernatural creatures, conflict-ridden romance and a lot of heat, then you’ll love this series.

Short Excerpt:

Nick expected sounds from her—moans, maybe a scream or two. What he didn’t expect was for her to bolt upright and let out a blood curdling scream. Déjà-fucking-vu.
“Get out,” Marin shouted.
For a brief terrifying second, Nick thought she spoke to him, then a male voice spoke from the door.
“Marin, I require your services,” a man said from behind him.
Nick covered her body with his unsure of what else to do. He didn’t recognize the voice, though he detected a European accent. Anyone who called her by name would have recognized him, even with his face buried between her legs. It had to be Lysander.
When the door clicked shut, he hopped off. “Who was that?”
“The High Judge. He’s practically a priest. A freaking priest saw my boobs.” Marin scrambled off the couch in search of her clothes.
“He’s not a priest. Worse.” Nick laughed deep in his gut. If looks could kill, he’d be stone cold dead, for keeps this time. “I’m sorry. Do you think he recognized me?”
“Where is my bra, dammit?” She pulled her jeans on commando style.
Nick handed her the scrap of lace she called panties. “Where are we going?”
“You aren’t going anywhere. You’re going to hide here until he’s gone, then go back to Gia’s. I need to find out what the hell he wants.” She snatched her bra from the edge of the desk and rushed it on.
Nick ran his hand through his hair. “Shit. This is bad.”
“Call Gia.”
“I will.”
“Now.” Marin slipped out the door.
Gia’s phone rang until he thought it would go to voicemail. “Hey, Nick.”
“Gia, the High Judge came looking for Marin.”
“Where? Did he see you?”
“The bar.” Nick’s stomach clenched. “I don’t know if he saw me.”
“Did he say why he wanted Marin?”
“No, but you need to be careful. Nicholai and Serena are still in town. If he comes to the townhouse, Nicholai doesn’t need to be the one to answer the door.”
“Shit, hang on.” She spoke with someone. “Okay, where are you now?”
“I’m still upstairs in the office, he barged in and caught us…um…making up. I didn’t get a look at him.”






About the Author:
Kathryn M. Hearst is a southern girl with a love of the dark and strange. She has been a storyteller her entire life, as a child, she took people watching to new heights by creating back stories of complete strangers. Besides writing, she has a passion for shoes, vintage clothing, antique British cars, music, musicians and all things musical (including theater). Kate lives in central Florida with her chocolate lab, Jolene; and two rescue pups, Jagger and Roxanne. She is a self-proclaimed nerd, raising a nerdling.

The Order of the Sinistra Dei is her first series and includes titles, Feast of the Epiphany and Feast of Mercy. Kate's novel, The Spirit Tree, won a publishing contract with Kindle Press through the Kindle Scout contest. Her short stories have been published in various anthologies.







Tour giveaway:

1 $50 Amazon Gift Card
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Monday, 14 November 2016

Promo Post: Opaque by Calix Leigh-Reign


Opaque
by Calix Leigh-Reign
Genre: YA Scifi/Fantasy
Release Date: October 22nd 2016

Summary from Goodreads:


Highly controversial debut novel by Cālix Leigh-Reign is taking the nation by storm! For those who've been craving an untapped damsel-in-distress-less Sci-Fi niche - Opaque delivers in this gripping page-turner involving mutated Limbal rings, biokenretic anomalies, mental dysfunction, perplexing Russian ancestry & romance. Cālix takes us on an adventure that begins when 16 year old misanthropic Adam Caspian unknowingly reaches biokenretic puberty, and his supernatural abilities awaken to save him from his murderous intentions. His every thought revolves around the extinction of the human race until mysterious Afro-Russian Carly Wit stumbles into his English class one morning. Adam notices something otherworldly about her immediately but denies the bio-synch taking place inside of him. As he resists their blossoming love, he battles with unnatural thoughts of his mother. Discovering his origin isn't what he'd thought, he becomes determined to peel back the layers of his lineage and unmasks a multitude of mind-bending secrets along the way.


Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 

Excerpt from Chapter 14 [Afrax]


“Mom, what is this place?” I can’t resist asking the question any longer.
“This is Afrax. A safe house and headquarters in International Falls for other descendants.”
“I never knew this many descendants were still living.”
“They not all exhibit the trait but do possess.”
“Then how can they pass through the corridor?”
“They are cocooned by another descendant.”
“So, it isn’t fail safe?”
“Not completely. But the Iksha, as we know, only possess medically-induced artificial traits. Those will not pass through. Our threat lies with the captured descendants who have joined the Iksha.”
“I haven’t told Adam that part.”
“Don’t worry, I will.”
         She reveals her idea and I listen intently.
“We would never lure them here where they could determine this location and capture all. No. Instead we lure them to remote location, retrace their steps and destroy them.”
It is time that these monsters be stopped. Permanently.
“If we cannot retrace their steps to locate Dad?”
“They still die!”
Her voice lowers, and growls in a way that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. My mother is truthfully the only human being on the planet that I fear. I’ve seen what she’s capable of.
“Then let’s kill them Mom.”
“That’s my girl. But first, we must discuss your boyfriend.”
Gulp. I’d rather discuss the Iksha.



About the Author:
Cālix is the published author of the Russian-mutant, psychological Sci-Fi fantasy novel, Opaque. She's a certified paralegal and has studied creative writing under English teacher, script writer and published author Larry Strauss. Her earliest literary inspirations include Alice Walker, Larry Strauss, VC Andrews and Stephen King. She spent a majority of her childhood in libraries and developed an intense relationship with words. She's a member of YARWA and RWA and is currently serving as a judge for YARWA's 2016 Rosemary Contest. She enjoys prayer, discovering the minds of those who rebel against social programming, listening to music, a great cup of coffee, exquisite ethnic cuisine, spending time with family & friends, attending movie premieres, traveling and the arts. She spends her free time in the gym, fantasizing about story plots and different ways of changing the world.

Author Links:

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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Promo Post: Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag


Girl on the Brink
by Christina Hoag
Genre: YA Romance/Thriller
Release date: August 30th 2016
Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books

Summary:


Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.

The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.


Buy Links:

Advance Praise:
“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” -- Kirkus Reviews 

Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian 


ABOUT TEEN DATING VIOLENCE 
Abusive relationships are widespread, cutting across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, religious and gender preference lines. One in three high school girls experience dating violence, while more than half of college-aged women reported experiencing controlling behavior in a relationship. Eighty-nine percent of female college students said they were unable to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, and a third of teens involved in intimate partner violence ever told anyone about it. 



Writing Tips:
By Christina Hoag

Here are several writing tips I’ve discovered through many years of writing. You may find them helpful. They’re in no particular order.

1. I don’t write myself out every day. I leave something – the very next scene, usually - so when I come back the next day I know what to do. I just pick up and keep going. If you write yourself out, then you end up wasting a lot of time wondering what comes next and trying to get back into the rhythm of the story.

2. If someone says something in your piece doesn’t work, it’s only one person’s opinion. But if two people make the same observation, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. More often than not, it’s something that needs fixing.

3. Develop a thick skin. It takes courage to write and show your work to the world for judgment, but remember that not everyone is going to like your work, and that’s okay. You have to learn to let criticism roll off you. The nastiest rejection I ever got was from the editor of a literary journal who scornfully said of my experimental fiction submission, “Why would anyone even read this?” I kept submitting it and got the piece and another like it published in other journals.
4. If there’s someone in your life who does not support you creatively, either get rid of them out or distance yourself from them as much as possible. Be ruthless because your art is worth it. I’ve broken up with boyfriends because they were not supportive or had no interest in my writing. In my mind, you can’t be with a writer if you’re not interested in what they write because their writing is part of their self-expression.
5. Don’t give up! It can be hard to keep going amid the onslaught of rejection –agents, editors, reviewers. If you get a particularly bad rejection or setback, allow yourself to wallow in self-pity for a set period of time, say three days. When that’s over, get back to your PC.

6. When critiquing other people’s work, remember to be constructive and how it feels to be on the receiving end. Always state some positive points first then say ‘I thought you could improve this by…” 

7. Have a general sense of where your story is going and how it will end. I’ve tried “pantsing,” ie. writing by the seat of my pants, and ended up lost in the plot labyrinth and wasting a lot of time. So now I have a loose outline and I periodically map out the next couple scenes as I go, that keeps me on track and thinking ahead. It makes the process much smoother.

8. Read a wide range of genres and authors. Read poetry to develop lyricism and an ear for language. Read plays to develop dialogue. Read mysteries/thriller classics to improve plot development. Read literary works to enhance character development.

9. When confronting the dreaded writer’s block, do something else for a while, don’t fret and don’t force. I’ve found that getting up and going to the kitchen clears my head enough for the next step to pop in it. You can also use the time to do something else writing-related: work on your website, submissions, an essay, or on another section of your book. The secret is changing your focus so you can clear your blocked channel.

10. This may be the most important tip of all: Believe in yourself. Believe that you have something worthwhile to say. Believe in your talent. Believe that you will succeed and that the rocky road is part of any artist’s journey.





About the Author:
Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles. For more information, see www.christinahoag.com

Author Links:

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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Promo Post: Brainwalker by Robyn Mundell and Stephan Lacast


Brainwalker
by Robyn Mundell & Stephan Lacast
Genre: YA Scifi/Fantasy
Release Date: October 1st 2016
Dualmind Publishing

Summary from Goodreads:

Fourteen year-old Bernard is full of out of the box ideas—ideas that nobody appreciates. Not his ultra-rational father, not his classmates, and definitely not his teacher, who’s fed up waiting for Bernard’s overdue science project. You’d think with a hotshot quantum physicist for a dad, the assignment would be easy as “pi”, but with his relationship with his father on rocky ground, Bernard is under more pressure than a helium atom.

And Bernard’s impulse control flies out the window when he’s stressed. So instead of turning in his project, he moons the class and gets suspended. Now his dad’s got no choice but to bring him to his work. At the Atom Smasher. It’s the chance of a lifetime for Bernard, who knows smashing atoms at the speed of light can—theoretically—make wormholes. How about that for the most mind-bending science project ever? But when he sneaks into the particle accelerator and someone hits the power button, Bernard ends up in the last place he’d ever want to be.

Inside his father’s brain.

And it’s nothing like the spongy grey mass Bernard studied at school. It’s a galaxy, infinite and alive. Like, people live there. A mysterious civilization on the brink of extinction, as unaware of their host as he is of them. But there’s zero time to process this. Bernard’s about to be caught up in an epic war between the two sides of his dad’s brain over their most precious resource:

Mental Energy.

With his father’s life at stake, Bernard must go up against the tyrannical left side of his father’s brain to save the dying, creative right side. But how the heck is he supposed to do that when he’s just a hopelessly right-brained kid himself?






Check out a Q&A with the authors, HERE!

Advance Praise:

"Excellent story with well developed characters and an awesome setting. My students are currently participating in a Growth Mindsets. Can't wait for publication. It would totally coincide with our brainology studies... I couldn't put it down." — Pam B, librarian, Wyola SD, MT

"In the novel Brainwalker, Mundell and Lacast have devised an ingenious plot using the tesseract concept found in 'A Wrinkle in Time' with the setting being the brain of the protagonist's father." — Douglas B. Educator

“This story is full of high-stakes adventure, and it often excels in its imaginative and allegorical exploration of real-world issues” — Kirkus Reviews

“The descriptions of the various locations, creatures, and residents of the Brainiverse are both fun and intelligent. Bernard is an engaging protagonist.” — Kirkus Reviews

“An imaginative adventure, ... one that clearly benefits from the great amount of thought that its authors put into it.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A fun way for kids/preteens to learn about science and the brain. The pictures are also really great and add a lot to the story” — Olivia Farr, Reviewer at Harvard Medical School

"The characters and the setting of this book are truly unique and very diverse, the plot is filled with fiction mixed with real brain concepts and puts everything into perspective from both fiction and reality" — Gabrielle Messier

"Definitely an approach to teenage urban fantasy that I’ve never seen before. I found myself quite enamored with Bernard and all his geeky questions and theories ... Underneath all the neurology, it’s really a story about connection and love and fighting for what’s important." — Kristen Canady

"'Brainwalker' is a great scientific fiction and that offers the readers a fantastic experience of the scientific adventure with the beautifully written words, the well laid out plots, and lifelike characters in the story." — Yichen Tu

"Not unlike experiencing Avatar in a 3D IMAX theater, this exciting and provocative novel includes characters and images of such dimension, the reader cannot help but feel fully invited into this fantastical storyline." — Lolly Howe

"Story starts and ends with the MOON! All will have to take a read to find out what I am talking about. This is a great Teen read revolving around young minds faced with the challenges of life." — Linda Babbs

"The world-building was pretty sublime: it was so cool to contextualize the brain in this way, and learn about it at the same time... The illustrations were all so refreshing to see - it's been too long since I've read a book that isn't afraid to support the plot line with pictures! I'm looking forward to what Mundell and Lacast have to offer in the future!" — TT turner

5 stars - "The authors have found a creative way to introduce the functions of the brain in a creative way that's full of action, adventure, and suspense. This will be a popular book in middle grades and middle school boys will enjoy this one!" — Susan Grigsby, ALA Librarian

“Teachers are always looking for ways to enhance scientific literacy and Brainwalker is the perfect vehicle to bridge the gap between exciting adventure and scientific inquiry.” — Jennifer C., Educator

"This brilliant new novel grapples with the most exciting topic possible, and invites middle school, young adults and also adult readers into the inexhaustible mystery of the universe. Take the walk." — Maureen G., Educator

 
About the Authors
Robyn Mundell is an award winning playwright. A graduate of New York University, she performed in dozens of plays in New York and was part of David Mamet’s Atlantic Theater Company. She studied with such theater legends as Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg, and Stella Adler.

Robyn wrote and performed in several of her own plays including Pieces of O and Traveling Bowls of Soup, produced by Pulitzer-prize winner Beth Henley. Traveling Bowls of Soup opened at the Met theater to rave reviews and received several Drama-Logue awards. Robyn has since been selling original screenplays and TV pilots to major film companies and networks. She is the daughter of Canadian Nobel laureate Robert A. Mundell, and is married to actor-playwright Raymond J. Barry. Together, they have four children.


French-Born Stephan Lacast likes to think of himself as a geek, which depending on your dictionary means either “knowledgeable about computers”, or “boring social misfit.” At the age of twelve his idea of fun was building computers and programming, and by fifteen he was a contributor to a computer magazine. A graduate of Paris-Dauphine University, he holds a Bachelor in Economics, a Master in Business Administration, and a Master of Advanced Studies in Information Systems.

After teaching at Dauphine University, Stephan went on to work as a consultant and engineer for one of the top ten Information Technology services companies in Europe, before deciding to leave Paris and move to the United States.

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