Excerpt + Giveaway: If Only We by Jessica Sankiewicz

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I was delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Jessica Sankiewicz’s debut novel, If Only We. It’s a standalone contemporary book about love and regrets and the chance to do-over. It’s very sweet and I’m thrilled to have an excerpt on the blog today to share with you all! Don’t forget to check the rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post for your chance to win a copy of If Only We! 

 

Title: If Only WeIf-Only-We-Jessica-Sankiewicz-Medium
Author: Jessica Sankiewicz
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Coming of Age,
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 187

Synopsis (from goodreads):
They say all it takes is one wrong move and you lose the game. One false step and you’re trapped. One slip-up in your choice of words and you ruin a friendship forever. That is what they say. They say I lost.

I do not believe them.

At the end of the summer after graduation, Adrienne wonders what happened to cause her life to be in ruins. She isn’t getting along with her mom, her stepsister isn’t talking to her, and, to top it off, the boy she’s been in love with doesn’t want anything to do with her. She believes the turning point was a choice she made at graduation. When she wakes up the next day, she has been transported back three months to that moment, the one where everything started to fall apart.

Adrienne realizes she has been given a second chance—and this time she doesn’t want to mess anything up. Reliving the entire summer, though, turns out to be a lot harder than she thought. As the same days and weeks go by, she starts to see how simple decisions can make a huge impact on the world around her. Despite knowing some of what lies ahead, there are some things she didn’t anticipate. She thought she knew what mistake led her to where she ended up the first time. She was wrong.

And by the time summer is over, she discovers what was really at stake.

Excerpt:

I find myself staring into the space she occupied a second ago. Something’s not right. She isn’t angry with me for leaving anymore. It isn’t possible for her to have forgiven me overnight. Plus, Kaitlin’s room couldn’t have changed, or my mom’s hair. And since when did she become so sentimental? Big day? A stage? Little girl is not so little anymore? It almost sounds like I am getting married. My head is starting to hurt from all these things that are not right. It is kind of like when you were a kid and they said “one of these things is not like the other”except everything is not like the one thing.

I put the empty glass into the sink, “hop to it,” and get into the shower. My questions will be answered when I see what outfit she puts on my bed. When I get to my room, I don’t find a wedding dress. Thank goodness. I do find, however, a dressand a graduation cap and gown.

Graduation.

The day everything changed. The day I ran away to my dad. The day my heart broke.

A wave of nausea crashes into me, almost causing my legs to give out beneath me. I grab hold of my doorway with both hands to keep myself standing. A few deep breaths later and my stomach calms down enough for me to close the door. I lean against it and stare at my bed.

How can I be graduating…again?

I rub my eyes and open them again, hoping it was all in my imagination. No such luck. It is still there. This doesn’t make any sense. Where is my suitcase? It’s not on top of my dresser anymore. I left it there when I got back since I didn’t have enough time to unpack. Where did it go?

Opening my closet door, I spot it on the top shelf. Did my mom unpack it for me? Where are the clothes? There is nothing in the hamper and a quick rummage through my dresser finds some of those shirts clean and folded where they belong. How could…? Mom was at work all day yesterday. Not only that, but I saw the suitcase right before I turned the lights out last night.

My head is starting to pound with all the conflicting information I’m taking in. Sitting down in my desk chair, I put my head in my hands and start to rub my temples. I need to find something that isn’t out of place. My desk appears to be the same as I left it. Pens and pencils neatly placed in holder, check. Pile of loose-leaf college-ruled paper on top of a pile of used notebooks, check. Word-of-the-Day calendar off to the side, check. Calendar set to the correct date…what…? I reach out and grab it. That can’t be right.

Saturday, June second.

It feels as though I can’t blink. I worry that if I do, the date on this page will disappear. I knowfor a factthat I peeled off every page I hadn’t removed all summer before I went to bed last night. Each one was crumpled into a small ball and thrown away. I set the calendar down and drop to the floor to look through my trash. However, I can’t look through it because it’s empty.

Nothing is making any sense.

I graduated already. This has already happened. Or did it? I dismiss that thought with a laugh. The most logical reason for what is happening is that I’m dreaming. I’m reliving this day in my mind because I spent the time while I was falling asleep thinking about it. Maybe my mind is playing a psychological trick on itself to right the wrongs and help me cope. Maybe this is all in my head. Maybe I’m just imagining all of this.

On the other hand, maybe I am just losing it.

But what if…what if this is really happening? What if I am reliving my whole summer? The prospect causes goose bumps to spread over my skin.

Have I been given a second chance?

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

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AUTHOR BIO

jesssankiewicz

Jessica is the 28-year-old author of IF ONLY WE, a YA contemporary. You can often find her either reading or marathon watching TV on DVD, her favorites being Castle and Veronica Mars. She frequently mismatches her clothes and giggles uncontrollably. She knows almost every Billy Joel song by heart. She collects books and toys, and she has an intense love of cats and lemurs. Currently in the midst of her quarter-life-crisis, she is still takin’ names and getting very close to reaching an epiphany.
Author Links:

 

Giveaway!

Jessica has put together a tour-wide giveaway to celebrate the release of If Only We. There’s a $30 Amazon gift card to be won as well as e-copies of her book and other great prizes. Click the link below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Book Review: Darkness Watching by Emma L. Adams

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Title: Darkness Watching (DarkWorld #1)perf6.000x9.000.indd
Author: Emma L Adams
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published 
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 196
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she’s losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere – little knowing that it isn’t coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life – but demons still stalk Ash, and their interest in her has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she’s looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be…

My Review:

I’ve been interesting about this book since I did a cover reveal a few months ago – books set in university have been one of my guilty pleasures since the days of borrowing Sweet Valley University novels when I was a pre-teen. Darkness Watching is a great addition to the new adult world – with a delightful paranormal element to it all.

Ashlyn has her heart set on going to Oxford. But when she starts seeing dark shadows with creepy eyes and completely blows her interview, she finds a second chance in Blackstone. A smaller university – practically unheard of for many – this is Ash’s chance to embrace college life. Parties, room mates, professors and lectures aren’t the only new things in her life – she also has to deal with the new knowledge that she’s a sorceress and the things in the shadows aren’t the scariest things she has to face.

This is one of those books that is very much about the main character finding herself and embracing her new place in the world. I loved getting to see Ash embrace the university experience and starting the newest chapter of her life. And an added bonus for me was that all the new goings on in her life weren’t precipitated by some gorgeous guy who brings the creep with him. Not to say there aren’t males around in this book – and some of them rather creepy – but for the most part it’s not a romance at heart. I found myself cheering that she has so many interests that were her own and not just ones that she had because of a boy or because her friends forced them onto her. I found her to be similar to me – but better! – and I liked getting to follow her as she discovered the Darkworld.

The demons and magic in this book is something different – and not the type that I feel like I’ve read before. I liked the ‘magical’ characters and it was interesting to see where they fit into Ash’s story. There are twists and turns – not all I was expecting – and I imagine that this series is one that’s only going to get better with each instalment.

 

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble| Kobo

 

AUTHOR BIO

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Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing fantasy and paranormal for young adults. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also wrote various novels and short stories. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, she can usually be found in front of her writing desk, creating weird and wonderful alternative worlds. Her debut novel The Puppet Spell, published in 2013 by Rowanvale Books, is a fantasy tale for young adults and the young at heart, inspired by her lifelong love of the fantastical, mythology, and video games. Emma also writes supernatural fantasy novels for older teens and adults. Her next book, Darkness Watching, is the first in the upper-YA/New Adult Darkworld series, and will be published in September 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press.

Author Links:
Website Blog Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday: Scariest Covers!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Scariest Looking Book Covers 

I haven’t read most of the books on this list (okay… now I’m looking at my list I haven’t read ANY of them!) and it has a lot to do with their covers. That and I’m not really into gory, horroresque stories.

Anna Dressed in Blood & Girl of Nightmares – both by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1) Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)

Poppet by Mo Hayder

Poppet (Jack Caffery, #6)

The Vivisector by Patrick White

The Vivisector (Penguin Classics)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)

The Replacement by Breanna Yovanoff

The Replacement

Clown Girl by Monica Drake

Clown Girl

Starers by Lissa Price

Starters (Starters and Enders, #1)

The Next Thing I Knew by John Corwin

The Next Thing I Knew (Heavenly, #1)

Haven by Hope Collier

Haven (The Willows, #1)

Eek…. Creepy right?! I can’t wait to see what other people came up with for this week’s list as it was one of the hardest ones I ever had to make. Horror really isn’t my thing – nor are scary covers. I much prefer bright, shiny and pretty 😛

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Book Review: My Date from Hell by Tellulah Darling

My Date From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy, #2)

Title: My Date From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #2)
Author: Tellulah Darling
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Mythology, Young Adult, Adventure, Humour
Publisher: Te Da Media
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 288
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sophie Bloom’s junior year has been a bit of a train wreck. After the world’s greatest kiss re-awakened Sophie’s true identity as Persephone (Goddess of Spring and Savior of Humanity), she fought her dragon-lady guidance counselor to the death, navigated mean girl Bethany’s bitchy troublemaking, and dealt with the betrayal of her backstabbing ex, Kai (sexy Prince of Darkness). You’d think a girl could catch a break.

Yeah, right.

With Zeus stepping things up, it’s vital that Sophie retrieve Persephone’s memories and discover the location of the ritual to stop Zeus and Hades. So when Aphrodite strikes a deal that can unlock Sophie’s pre-mortal past, what choice does the teen goddess have but to accept?

The mission: stop media mogul Hermes from turning Bethany into a global mega-celebrity. The catch? Aphrodite partners Sophie and Kai to work together … and treat this suicide mission as a date. Which could work out for Sophie’s plan to force Kai to admit his feelings for her–if she doesn’t kill him first.

Add to that the fact that BFF Theo’s love life and other BFF Hannah’s actual life are in Sophie’s hands, and suddenly being a teenager—even a godlike one—seems a bit like … well, hell. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie?

My Review:

Sophie Bloom never expected to be held captive by her birth father. But then again – the never thought he’d be Zeus, Greek King of the Gods. But somehow Sophie finds herself breaking free from her fedora wearing, suit clad all-powerful bio-dad. Together with Kai, son of Hades and lover of Sophie’s former self, Persephone, they must somehow work out how to uncover Persephone’s memories and stop Zeus and Hades. If only that was all – they also have to stop the teenage megalomania Bethany from taking over the world thanks to a magical tattoo’s powers and somehow fall in love with each other. I suppose it’s a good thing they also have Aphrodite helping on the romance front or not…

Sophie is one of those characters I can’t help but like. She’s smart mouthed – probably too much so as it always seems to be getting her in trouble with tenancy to talk first and reap the consequences of angry gods later – but she’s also a lot of fun. Not much can get this newly reincarnated goddess down. Not even the devilishly handsome Kai. Together they’re a match to be reckoned with – that is if they can get their hormones in control. Sophie’s friends Theo and Hannah are supportive in all the right ways but I like they also have their own stuff going on. Theo’s former beau makes an appearance (who knew there would be hipster gods?!) and Hannah finds her feet beautifully after being thrust into a world where the gods are real.

This is a great second instalment in this series. Now all the preliminary stuff is taking care of we really get into the adventure and blossoming (or should that be blooming?) relationship between the characters. Sophie is starting to get the hang of being a goddess and only has to occasionally come to terms with jealousy of her former self’s relationship with Kai – someone Sophie isn’t even sure she wants to love… but doesn’t want him not to love her. She’s delightfully confusing and I think she manages to confound herself more than she does anyone else.

I love books with an adventure/quest side and this one doesn’t disappoint. We get to see more gods and goddesses along with their powers during this book. I thought it was a great to witness Sophie’s reactions to places and people she’s met as Persephone and doesn’t recall. Getting to know Kai as she travelled was another highlight. I loved finding out that he is every bit a match for Sophie and her sarcasm.

Tellulah Darling’s writing is just as sassy and witty as in her previous books, littered with pop culture references and feisty characters. I love how many references she manages to slip in. Having a Dance Dance Revolution game having memory retrieving capabilities? Who thinks of that?! I found myself amused from cover to cover with the antics and cheeky dialogue. There is no doubt that I’ll be reading the third and final book in the Blooming Goddess trilogy. I just have to find out what happens next to Sophie and Kai!

 

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: The Elites by Natasha Ngan

The Elites

Title: The Elites
Author: Natasha Ngan
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 368
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
‘There is a rumour that the Elites don’t bleed.’

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures – and racial tension.

Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She’d never dream of leaving – but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel’s president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.

My Review:

In the city of Neo-Babel there are citizens with superior DNA who guard the people. They are called the Elite. Silver has been in training with the Elite for a few years and is dying for a chance to prove herself to others. To those who thought her Red blood is inferior and those – like her student mentor, Ember- who think Silver is incapable of being one of the Elite. On her very first assignment to help protect the president during a rally, Silver is the one whose lack of punctuality among other things get the president assassinated.

Things start getting weirder with people going missing and an uprising on the horizon. Silver, along with her best friend Butterfly, are on a quest to try to save her family and unravel the secrets that the Elite seem to thrive on.

This is a debut novel with a lot going on. There are plots and sub-plots with a lot of different characters and organizations each with their own agendas. I adored the concept of this book. I can’t get enough of kick-arse heroines who have their own vulnerabilities but ultimately see the bigger picture. Silver is one of these. She’s a little naive but trying to be the best warrior she can be. I thought it was interesting how the topic of racism is addressed right throughout the novel. Silver is a Red, a person of Chinese descent, and as such viewed as a lesser person than others even within the Elite structure.

I enjoyed the other students at the Elite academy – in particular, Butterfly. His name may be pretty and delicate but he’s strong in his own right and a force to be reckoned with. His relationship with Silver is one of strong friendship with their romance being more subtle and whilst enjoyable, it lacked the sparks and pizzazz that I like between fictional characters. Ember, Cobe, Allum and Taiyo are great supporting character who all add something a little different to the story. I thought the names were especially clever. People like Butterfly and the organization, the Pigeons, are so seemingly weak and childish and yet they hold a lot of power within them.

Brilliant world building and some great characters, The Elite is an interesting urban fantasy novel. The plot is a little slow to warm up but once things get going there’s a lot of surprises and action going on. I was surprised to see that it’s a standalone because there’s so much more about this universe which this book exists to be explored.

 

Thanks to Hot Key Books for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: The Vanishing Moment by Margaret Wild

The Vanishing Moment

Title: The Vanishing Moment
Author: Margaret Wild
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 182
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
A moment. That’s all it takes.
A moment when everything changes…

Arrow is still haunted by a childhood tragedy that shattered her safe, happy world.

Marika is caught up in a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Two girls, dislocated, looking for answers. When they encounter a mysterious ‘magician’, they are tempted by the possibility of a way out…

My Review:

Arrow, Bob and Marika – three very different people whose paths crossed in the small town of Shelly Beach. Each of them have their own personal misfortune which has shaped who they are.

Arrow has finished high school but now has no idea what she wants from life. Her mind keeps taking her back to her childhood and the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy. Marika is grieving and can’t find a way to fix something she lost and Bob… well he’s a bit of a mystery. I don’t want to go into too many details and ruin the story.

It’s a short read but a highly enjoyable one. The writing is beautiful and I loved the way Wild managed to capture Arrow and Marika’s emotions as well as the gorgeous way she described Marika’s sculptures. The ending is not one that I was expecting but it was perfectly fitting and beautifully bitter-sweet.

The Vanishing Moment is a lovely novel about the choices we make in life and whether, given the opportunity, we would choose a different path. Interesting character and great writing, I thought this book was thought-provoking and interesting.

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia Book Depository | BookWorld

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Names I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Character Names I Love OR Unusual Character Names

When I was thinking about this topic and jotting down names  I realized it could also be called “Things I could call my cats if I was a crazy cat lady with 37 kittens“.

So I’m super cheating – there are more than ten names on this week’s list. Too many names and not enough space in a list of ten to list all of them. So here are my names 🙂 Enjoy!

Shakespearean

Character Name(s)

Play Title

Iago

Othello

Ophelia

Hamlet

Banquo

Macbeth

Benvolio

Romeo and Juliet

Lucentio

The Taming of the Shrew

Classic Hero

Character Name(s)

Book Title

Sherlock Homes, Mycroft, Moriarty

The Sherlock Homes books by Arthur Conan Doyle

Jean Valjean

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Fitzwilliam Darcy

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Captain Wentworth

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Mr Rochester

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Heathcliff

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Don Diego de la Vega

Zorro by Isabel Allende

Athos, Aramis, Porthos and d’Artagnan

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Fantasy

 

Character Name(s)

Book Title

Bellatrix Lestrange, Arabella Figg, Draco and Narcissa Malfoy, Voldemort

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Karou

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Butterfly

The Elites by Natasha Ngan

Zaphod Beeblebrox (I think this is my all time favourite character name)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Gandalf the Gray and Aragorn

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Four

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Adrian Ivashkov and Dimitri Bellikov

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Finnick

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Chaol

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

 

crazy

Character Name(s)

Book Title

Cricket Bell

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Westley (Dread Pirate Roberts)

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Veruca Salt

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Hazel

Watership Down by Richard Adams

So those are my favourite names. I didn’t include Sancho Panza from Don Quixote which is another favourite of mine because that actually is what my cat is named 😛

I’d love to know what literary people or characters you’d name your imaginary (or real!) cats! So please feel free to leave me a comment 🙂

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