Book Review: Nymph by Tonya Alexandra

Nymph (The Love Oracles #1)

Title: Nymph (The Love Oracles #1)
Author: Tonya Alexandra
Genre: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Publication Date: 1st February 2014
Pages: 432
Rating: 3 stars

Please feel free to check out my interview with Tonya as a part of the Nymph blog tour hosted by Walker Books Australia!

Synopsis (from goodreads):
An idyllic Greek island. Obsessed demigods. A fallen nymph. A mortal boy. Merope, a beautiful but faded star nymph, is banished to Earth for displeasing the gods. She tries to fit in, go to school and live a normal “human” life. And then she meets Lukas … but relationships between men and goddesses are forbidden. Will their love grow? Or will Merope and Lukas feel the wrath of the gods?

My Review:

Merope has lived for thousands of years as a star nymph in the land of gods, Olympus. But life isn’t always easy for the faded star nymph. She’s been exiled to Earth and has had to leave her sisters behind. Living like a mortal is worlds apart from her other life but Merope is starting to see that there might be benefits to a human existence. One of which is the gorgeous and kind Lukas, a farm boy with exquisite imperfections. Romantic relation between a goddess and a mortal are forbidden but the way Merope feels is like nothing she’s felt before in all her immortal existence. Is a chance at forbidden romance worth the punishment the gods met out?

I’ve read quite a few modern takes on classic myths but never before have I read one about star nymphs. I was intrigued by the idea and the romance angle drew me in. Merope is ancient in comparison to mortals but rather naive about so many things. She’s lived in the shadow of her sisters her entire life and would prefer to hide in corners than take centre stage. But she has some spark to her. Rejecting a god who has been after her for centuries and then living with the consequences of her actions. For a nymph who has only ever called Olympus home, being exiled to modern-day Greece is such a shock but Merope does try to make the most of things. She enrols in a local school to learn as much as she can about humans. She makes some friends and she even goes as far as trying to embrace technology.

And then there’s Lukas. He’s hideous perfection in Merope’s eyes. The son of a local farmer with whom Merope falls for at first sight. I’m not usually one for instalove. But their initial chemistry works for me because if I can suspend belief and believe in mythological gods on Earth wearing Nike and driving sports cars, then I can believe in love at first sight within the world this book exists in. I would have liked to see rationale behind their fierce feelings been built on throughout the book (some kind of moments where despite already being in love, have causation behind falling deeper) but they do have some tender scenes and I can barrack for them as a couple.

Along for the ride on Earth – we get to see other Greek heroes experience life the mortal way. Merope’s Uncle Pro (Prometheus) is helping her adapt in the foreign place and I liked his presence in her life. Merope’s mother is an interesting character who I do hope we get to see more of in the series but the character I wanted to read about most was Hercules. Herc isn’t anything like the hero Disney made him out to be. He’s arrogant and conceited and has a proclivity for nymphs but he’s so entertaining. Gorgeous and vain, he is everything Lukas isn’t – and he knows it. A hero in the legends of old, his presence in the mortal world shakes things up a bit. I love reading his interactions with the modern world and how Merope reacts to him. He brings the a fierceness out in her and made her a little more real to read.

Nymph, the first book in the Love Oracles series, is an entertaining read. It’s surprisingly funny in parts and the romance is sweet and pure. There’s friendship and the pressures of family all coexisting in a lovely re-imagining of ancient Greek mythology. An easy read, this book is suited for younger teens and older readers who enjoy stories about true love and soul mates.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Blog Tour: Captivate by Vanessa Garden

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Happy Friday the Thirteenth! On this very auspicious day I’m very honoured to be a part of the Harlequin Teen Australia blog tour for Vanessa Garden’s debut novel. Captivate. The cover is gorgeous and the book is a great read. Hope you enjoy my review and character spotlight on Miranda! 🙂

Title: CaptivateCaptivate
Author: Vanessa Garden
Genre: Mermaids, Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date Published: January 2014
Pages: 304
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

My Review:

A few days before the first anniversary of her parents’ death – and her seventeenth birthday – Miranda, her older sister Lauren and their grandparents holiday at their beach side shack on Bob’s Bay to try and escape. But during a midnight swim with Lauren, Miranda gets taken. Waking up in a mysterious place, Miranda is determined to get back to her family and her life. But a break out is not an option because Miranda has been taken to an underwater city known as Marin and she’s a very valuable asset. King Marko needs Miranda to save the city from his enemies and isn’t likely to let her go any time soon. Miranda’s only hope of escape is to hope that Robbie, the King’s personal guard, best friend and the very person who took Miranda in the first place, will help her return to her family. But with the dangers lurking below and Marin’s version of a sun memorizing her into forgetting her past, Miranda might be captive and captivated in Marin forever…

It took me a little while to get into this book and some time to warm to Miranda but once I did I loved getting to experience the world of Marin. The world building is one of its strengths and I thoroughly enjoyed learning as Miranda did about day to day life and the origins of the incredible underwater city. Whilst the citizens are not mermaids, I still liked the mermaid elements that we got to see.

Miranda is a character that I grew to like very much. Her bold personality and brave actions made her interesting to read and I wanted things to go right for her. She didn’t give up nor did she let her capture define or defeat her. I thought that she coped with her situation incredibly well. Her relationships with King Marko, Robbie and the other people of Marin were fascinating. I didn’t feel entirely convinced by the romance that bloomed between Marko and Miranda mostly because of the pacing but I do think they are a promising couple.

Captivate is a great start to what promises to be an interesting series. There are characters with some secrets and not entirely clear motivations, handsome love interests and a world that is nothing quite like any that I’ve read before. I’m glad I got to read this novel by Vanessa Garden and after the ending in Captivate am eagerly awaiting another instalment of Miranda’s Marin adventures.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Character Spotlight!

Name: Miranda Sun

Nickname: Randy

Birth date: January 13th, 

Age: 16 (turns 17 during Captivate)

Appearance: Long chocolate brown hair, 

Family: Lauren (older sister), Nana and Pop (grandparents). Parents died on Miranda’s 16th birthday in a car accident. 

Personality: Miranda is brave, stubborn and determined. She believes she is dangerous to everyone she loves. She’s fiercely loyal and a fighter who will do what she can to protect her loved ones. 

Other Interesting Facts: 

• Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is her favourite book

• Can appreciate beauty of Marin despite her captivity there

• Feels inferior compared to her sister, Lauren, and lives in her shadow

• Is not the most graceful dancer

• Feels responsible for her parents’ death.

AUTHOR BIO

Vanessa Garden

A bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not raving about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her next novel, she enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

Vanessa is represented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Author Links:

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 2013 (first published March 2005)
Pages: 272
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My Review:

“If people were rain I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

Miles Halter seeks to find his “Great Perhaps”. Deciding that he isn’t going to find it in Florida, he makes the decision to leave his family home and go to Culver Creek Boarding School, his dad’s alma mater, in Alabama. It’s there that Miles finds a nickname, a prank master room-mate and a girl named Alaska Young. She’s wonderful and terrible, together and yet falling apart and Miles can’t help but fall in love with her. Before Culver Creek everything was boring and mundane but that was before Alaska.

This is one of those books that I’ve heard a lot about and because of that I was a little intimidated but I quickly found myself engrossed in Miles’ story. I enjoy reading John Green’s style. His characters are quirky and enjoyable. Miles, the narrator, is bland in comparison to his new friends but has some eccentricities of his own. Reading biographies of famous authors but never reading their novels himself – I loved that. I found myself able to relate to him on many levels and liked his commentary about life at Culver Creek.

Alaska Young is a great love interest – especially considering she is not the typical leading lady. She’s bold and impulsive with a boyfriend she’s in love with and wouldn’t cheat on. Her enthusiasm for pranks and getting Miles a girlfriend is contagious. Her relationships with The Colonel, Miles. Takumi and Lara contrasted with each other nicely and by the end of the book I felt like I knew her well and not at all both at the same time.

I love books set in boarding schools and I did like the antics of the Weekday Warriors and other boarders at Culver Creek. Pranks, sports and contraband are all a part of day-to-day life at the school and they were all highlighted in a way that made me feel at home with them and made Miles’ experience at Culver Creek feel authentic.  The pacing was great with each section being preceded with days preceding and after. Taking place over Miles’ junior year of high school, it was spaced out and managed to include all those important American high school things – like midterms and Thanksgiving.

Looking for Alaska is a great read however it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Amazing characters – this is definitely a book that I liked for characters first, plot second and I had a great time living in Miles’ world with him whilst he searched for his “Great Perhaps”.

My Favourite Quotes:

“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.” 

“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war” 

“I just did some calculations and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.” 

“We were kissing.
I thought: This is good.
I thought: I am not bad at this kissing. Not bad at all.
I thought: I am clearly the greatest kisser in the history of the universe.
Suddenly she laughed and pulled away from me. She wiggled a hand out of her sleeping bag and wiped her face. “You slobbered on my nose,” she said, and laughed” 

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Sia by Josh Grayson

SIA banner

Title: Siasia cover
Author: Josh Grayson
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Social Change, Coming of Age, New Adult
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 193
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

My Review:

Sia has no idea who she is. She doesn’t know her name, her address or anything about herself. The only thing she has to her name is a fairly skimpy jogging outfit and an ipod. With nowhere to go and no idea about who she can turn to, Sia spends the next week on the streets living as a homeless person. Kindness comes from the most surprising sources when and older woman befriends Sia and teaches her how to survive. But then Sia’s parents find her. They take her off the streets and back to their mansion. But Sia still doesn’t have a clue who she is. She doesn’t recognize her parents. her friends, her boyfriend or her life. What she finds is that she doesn’t like the sound of the person she was. And maybe she doesn’t need to be the Old Sia.

I liked how this story let us find out about Sia and Sia’s World as she discovered things for herself. The contrasts from her time on the streets and her rich and flashy life worked nicely against each other. It was a little hard for me to get into the story initially – Sia’s confusion was shared by me for a while – but it didn’t take long for me to get into things.

Sia is a little simplistic at times. Instead of finding out who she was, she decides to completely embrace the life of a street kid. After finishing the novel I don’t feel like that would be something Old Sia or the New and Improved version would do. She’s not really a go with the flow kind of person. But I understand that as a plot device, Sia needed to see what life on the other side would be like. The romance was nicely done but I felt like the end wrapped things up in a way that felt unnatural, over the top and a tad unnecessary.

This was an interesting journey to read. From the gutter to the Academy Awards – there’s a lot going on and Sia managed to traverse it all.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

 

AUTHOR BIO

Josh Author Pic

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

Author Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway where you could win one of five print copies of Sia (US only) or one of five ecopies (open internationally). Click the rafflecopter link before to enter.

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Interview + Giveaway: Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale

Destiny Banner 1.2

I’m delighted today to be interviewing the author of Destiny, Cindy Ray Hale, today on the blog. She took the time out of the busy life to answer a few of my questions about Destiny. musicals and writing.

Title: Destiny (The Destiny Trilogy #1)Destiny
Author: Cindy Ray Hale
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Christian Fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: 5th November 2013
Pages: 316
Rating: 3  stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster’s son at her Baptist high school. When they’re cast together in the school’s production of Les Misérables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage.

As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend.

But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?

Weaving around Destiny and Isaac’s alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les Misérables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love

Interview!

  • What inspired you to write Destiny?

My own life. I was a young Mormon girl who went to a Baptist school. My parents both converted to the Mormon Church before I was born, so that is a bit different, but still similar since Destiny’s family converts when she’s eight. When I went to the Baptist school, just like Destiny, I faced a lot of persecution. I had girls tell me they weren’t allowed to be more than casual friends with me because I was a Mormon.

  • All the characters in your book are very spiritual people. Is religion and faith very important to you? 

Absolutely. Religion is a huge part of my life. I was born and raised Mormon. I never missed a Sunday or Wednesday night meeting unless I was sick and contagious. On top of that I went to four years of seminary (church classes) before I started my day at the high school.

I went to seven years of school in a Baptist school where I listened to prayer before each class, memorized a Bible verse every week for Bible class and attended chapel twice a week. That was just the Baptist side of things.

That’s all the religious side of things. To me religion is the outward expression of an inner faith. If I didn’t believe deeply in God and Jesus, that the Book of Mormon is scripture, that Joseph Smith truly was called of God, I wouldn’t do any of that stuff. All of it would be purely social. I know people who go to church because they’re expected to or because all their friends are there or just because they were raised going. That’s not me. I go even when I’m on vacation or if I don’t know anyone and I’m scared to go. I go because I need to be spiritually fed.

That doesn’t mean I think I’m perfect or better than other people. No way. I’m still as guilty as the next person. I gossip. I’m prideful. I judge others. I disrespect my husband. I yell at my kids. But every day is a battle between good and evil, and I’m struggling with everyone else to make it a day where good wins over evil.

  • Are there any similarities between you and Destiny?

Yes. Destiny is described to look like me when I was 15. Brown hair with natural curl that frizzes up when it gets humid. Bright blue eyes. Small chest.

Beyond her appearance, she acts like I did, too. Shy, obsessing over Mr. Popular, strong in her faith.

  • I loved all the Les Misérables references in Destiny. Are you a musical person yourself? Which musicals are your favourites? 

Yes. I was in an elite choir in high school called the Madrigal Singers. Our choir director was just like Mr. Byrd. I’m sure I didn’t do him justice as a choir director. Mr. L was the most amazing choir director in the world. I’m not kidding. He was awesome. Just like Destiny I was an alto and my audition pretty much went exactly like hers except my mom was there and it was in the summer before the year started. But other than that the scene was written straight from my memory. Everything she thought and felt was how I thought and felt that day.

I still enjoy singing now. I’m in the church choir, and I’m always singing around the house.

I have a piano, and I used to teach piano lessons before I was a writer.

You can read more about it at http://cindyhaleauthor.wordpress.com/about/

  • What books do you think have influenced your life the most?

The Help by Kathryn Sockett That book taught me to find the humor in even the most serious situations.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I know it gets a lot of bashing online and that it’s not perfect, but it really did teach me to love reading again. Like me, Stephanie Meyer was a Mormon stay-at-home mom with little kids. I figured if she could get famous, why couldn’t I? Anything can happen, right? Why not be inspired to reach for the stars?

  • What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m listening to Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike on my phone for when I’m doing the dishes or taking the little one to the park. I have Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen playing on CD in my car for road trips down to my family in Chattanooga and running errands. Also, I have a paper copy of Scarlet by Marisa Meyer that I’m almost finished with. I’ve been reading it for an hour before bed each night this week.

  • Are you working on anything now?

Yes! I just started a clean romance for  NaNoWriMo. I’m shooting for traditional publication this time around.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Thanks so much for reading my book! I hope you like Destiny. Regardless of how you feel about it, please take the time to fill out an honest review on Amazon. If I did something wrong, I’d like to know what it was so I can make it better next time.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I think I have a new found respect of your characters after having read your responses and have a bit more insight now into why they may behave like that do! 

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

AUTHOR BIO

Official Author pic

Wife. Mother. Writer. Cindy Ray Hale lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband and four children. In addition to being a writer, she’s an avid reader and a social media junkie. She starts her morning by writing with a freshly-blended berry spinach smoothie next to her. She’s obsessed with Les Misérables, playing the piano, and stalking up-and-coming musicians on YouTube. Destiny is her first book and will be available for purchase November 2013.

Author Links:

GIVEAWAY!

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Destiny. Here is what you can win:

Camp Boyfriend swag pack

– A Destiny Swag Pack:including a signed copy of Destiny, a Destiny keychain, a t-shirt that says “I heart Destiny,” a Destiny bookmark.

– a $25 Amazon Gift Card

– Camp Boyfriend Swag pack.

Click the rafflecopter link below to enter.

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Book Review + Giveaway: Unchosen by Michele Vail

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Title: Unchosen (The Reaper Diaries #2)unchosencover
Author: Michele Vail
Genre: Egyptian Mythology, Young Adult, Paranormal, 
Publisher: A Freeman Publication
Publication Date: 29th October 2013
Pages: 194
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I thought the worst of my reaper training was behind me… turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Molly Bartolucci has done a lot of growing up but after being accused of using illegal magic at her school for necromancers, reaper-in-training Molly is treading lightly. As the destined leader of Anubis’s Chosen, she needs to study hard, train harder, and stay out of trouble.

Uh, right.

It doesn’t help that she’s feeling more than academic about her melt-your-bones hot reaping instructor, Rath. And if her relationship drama isn’t enough to drive her over the edge, she has to deal with mother issues, nosy little sisters, suspicious friends, and an unnamed force stalking her at school.

Then her family is attacked, and her bio-dad ends up comatose in the hospital. Now, Molly has to uncover who’s trying to hurt her loved ones—and all without the help of Anubis.

My Review:

Keep Calm and carry your scythe…

Molly has been though a lot lately. Her first kiss – and subsequent first enthralling. Finding out her bio-dad is actually an ancient Egyptian God. Add to that her maternal ancestors all had Reaper powers and she was a legacy at a prestigious boarding school for necromancers. But things are just getting started for Molly.

She has to train to be the ‘Chosen’ Daughter of Anubis – despite the fact that she is in fact Anubis’ only living flesh girl child. She needs to somehow stay under the radar at school before whoever is trying to frame her gets her expelled. Oh and she needs to keep her wits about her even when sleeping because she keeps getting some possibly prophetic dreams spelling out death and destruction.

Wow she’s a busy girl.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series, Undeadly. It felt a little too reminiscent of other books I’d read around that time. But I thought Unchosen was a great addition to this series. Molly is finding her feet among those who are gifted with magical powers – and she’s also doing okay coming to terms with the whole half-god thing. She’s growing on me as I can see that she’s growing up and she’s not the same girl in this book as she was in the last. I liked that she’s beginning to see the bigger picture and take responsibility for her role in the upcoming battle.

This book was so quick to read! I’d sad down to read a few chapters and next thing I know it’s a few hours later and I’m finished it! I loved how I was drawn into the story and didn’t want to stop. The ending has me anxiously anticipating the third and final book in this trilogy, Unbroken. 

Rath was my favourite character in the first book and I wasn’t as fond of him in this instalment. His relationship with Molly felt a little odd to me – I love the developments but the timing/pacing of it all just felt a little off. I felt a similar way towards all of the secondary characters. Because this book is fairly short and plot wise there’s quite a bit happening, we don’t get all that much character development. I wondered why some characters and some of their info were mentioned but I’m sure that it’ll all make sense in the next book.

Overall – I enjoyed the story. It’s quick, with quite a bit of action and a great take on Egyptian mythology – one that I’m not very familiar with. There’s romance and zombies (how cool are zombie?) and somehow it all comes together to deliver an entertaining story.

Thanks to Itching for Books Blog Tours for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

AUTHOR BIO

michelevail

Michele Vail is the author of The Reaper Diaries, a young adult paranormal series set in the modern world with a zombie twist. The stories center on 16-year-old Molly Bartolucci, a reaper-in-training who’s learning to deal with love, destiny, and death.
Michele Vail is the pen name of national bestselling paranormal romance author Michele Bardsley (who also writes thriller mysteries under Michele Freeman). The Reaper Diaries consist of three books: Undeadly, Unchosen, and Unbroken.
Author Links:

Giveaway!

There’s a tourwide giveaway for Unchosen when someone has the chance to win a copy of Undeadly & Unchosen (US only) and a $15 Amazon giftcard (open Internationally). Click on the rafflecopter link below for the chance to win!

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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: Play With Me by Piper Shelly

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Title: Play With Me (Grover Beach Team #1) PlayWithMe
Author: Piper Shelly 
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance, Young Adult, Fun 
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: December 2012
Pages: 190
Rating: 3  stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Ryan Hunter’s parties are legend. And tonight she’s going to be there.

Liza Matthews anticipates the return of her best friend and only love since kindergarten from soccer camp. But when Tony finally shows up, his mind is more focused on another girl. And worse, she’s a soccer player. Fighting for the attention Liza craves, she’s just a hairbreadth away from making a very stupid decision. But when extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, she’s prepared to play ball to get her man.

The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school. Ryan Hunter

My Review:

Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed – but Liza knows who she wants her first to be. Tony Mitchell – the boy she’s been best friends with since forever. But when he comes back from soccer camp there’s something different about him… and not just his sudden liking for Red Bull. Determined to get his attention, Liza tries out for the soccer team and finds herself way out of her depth. Lucky for her, the gorgeous team captain, Ryan Hunter,  is willing to take Liza under his wing. Are his intentions honourable or does he want something more than just to teach Liza about the game he loves?

Play With Me is short and sweet. It’s a novella and just under 200 pages, this story was a fun one to read although fairly predictable. The characters are a little simplistic but enjoyable to follow. Liza is the slightly naive girl who has a long time crush on her BFF, Tony – who seems to have no idea about Liza’s true feelings. Ryan is a bit of a spoilt rich kid who has money, good looks and girls following him around at all times – except for the one he wants. These people may be slightly stereotypical but I liked reading about them. They’re cute and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

I have to admit  wasn’t the hugest fan of Liza – she’s clueless and slightly irritating in her complete obliviousness to Ryan’s advances however that has just made me even more eager to read the companion novel, Ryan Hunterwhich is the story of Play With Me from Ryan’s perspective. I didn’t quite believe Liza’s complete turn around from painfully naive to make out queen but that’s just a minor quibble.

This story was fun and sweet. I enjoyed reading it and recommend it for fans of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundread Oak’s series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

(check it out now! It’s free as an ebook from Amazon and B&N for the month of October 2013)

AUTHOR BIO

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The quick-and-dirty:
I’m a cool girl with a passion for writing.
The genres you’ll find me hanging out at are contemporary and paranormal YA, but I’m also snooping into some adult paranormal right now. All of them romances…of course.
The nitty-gritty:
I’m an Austrian lass—totally uncomplicated and up to anything fun.
I grew up in Vienna, not by free will but because my parents decided to move there when I was only 4 years old. I. Hated. The. City. Everything about it. So right after graduation I moved back to Upper Austria, where I settled down with a nice husband and an awesome laptop.
I’ve been a storyteller all my life. Already in kindergarten, I came up with the most exotic fantasies and tales. My teacher would call me a liar. I call it the cornerstone of my writing career.
People always told me you can’t make a living with being an author. So when my first novella PLAY WITH ME came out and shot straight to the stars within the first week, I was totally dumbstruck. Took me a while to realize what was happening, LOL.
And the personal stuff:
At the (awesome) age of seventeen, I met the love of my life. But he was a playboy, and I was so not going to be his next trophy. It took him another four years of fighting for me until I finally decided to give that “couple-thing” with him a shot. I’m now married to this man. 😉

We have an eleven-year-old son, and together we travel a lot…although I sometimes wish the trips were shorter because I can’t wait to get back to my laptop and my many stories. Unless we’re in Disneyland. No stress to go home then…

If you still want to know more about me, my FAQ page is the right address for you. 😉

http://pipershelly.com/faq/

Author Links:

 

Book Review: Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden

Today my review is a part of a blog tour hosted by Itching For Books. You can find the rest of the blog tour schedule here.

SANCTUARYTOUR

Title: Sanctuarysanctuarycover
Author: Pauline Creeden
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Realistic, Fun
Publisher: AltWit Press
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 280
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):

In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meets The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be.
Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going?

My Review:

When spaceships start popping up all around the world – Jennie isn’t fascinated like her friends. Rather she’s petrified. And with good reason too. By injecting alien chemicals into the human’s water supply, over a third of the Earth’s population die. And that’s just the beginning. Six weeks after the spaceships arrive, the world is inundated by hideous hybrid monsters attacking people left and right. What was once safe and comfortable is now plagued with terror.

I liked reading Sanctuary. It’s full of fear and zombies and the rather disturbing truth about human nature when things get tough. Jennie is a great character – I found her fear about the new reality she’s been thrust into to be quite realistic. Her mother’s been attacked, and Jennie is scared but manages to keep it together for the sake of the rest of her family. The other characters which share the point of view in this novel – biology teacher Hugh and womanising Brad – also do a great job of showing the terror of this alien invasion from different perspectives.

This is a Christian book with many of the chapters being preceded with Bible verses and many characters like Jennie and Paster Crawford having a strong belief in their faith however it’s handled in a way in which I think that even non-Christian would find the story entertaining and the religious factor not too overwhelming.

I did want to know more about the aliens and why they came to Earth in the first place but this book was a great zombie novel with interesting characters. There’s a bit of a cliff-hanger and I’m interested to find out whether this book is going to be a standalone or the first in a series.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

paulinecreeden

In simple language, Pauline Creeden breaks down Biblical stories and applies them to real life in new ways. Her methods of teaching have brought new light to old scriptures. Pauline is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy.In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.
Author Links: 
Book Trailer:
There’s also a tour wide giveaway for Sanctuary!  Click the link for the rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win this great prize!
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Blog Tour (with review): A Beautiful Fate by Cat Mann

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Title: A Beautiful FateA Beautiful Fate Cover

Author: Cat Mann

Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Pages: 312

Rating: 3 stars

Book Description (goodreads):

Obsessive and driven by nightmares, Ava Baio is uprooted from her Chicago home after the untimely and tragic death of her loving mother. Taken across country by her antagonistic grandmother and placed as a boarding student at a school in Dana Point, California, Ava struggles with isolation and the loss of her mother and her grandfather. Faced with having left her beloved brownstone behind and attending a new school, surrounded by new faces and unfamiliar scenery, she finds herself sorting through unfamiliar and uncharted feelings with a strange and beautiful boy, Ari – a modern day Adonis. After an unconventional start to their relationship, Ava becomes intensely absorbed by her love for Ari, and with his help and the help of his family, she discovers who she really is – a Fate descended from Atropos. She learns that the Greek mythology she grew up reading is not comprised of myth after all.

Ava faces constant challenges both in her relationship with Ari and with the fact that she is being hunted by six threatening and ruthless men who want nothing more than for her to die so that they can live forever. She has no choice but to stand up for those she has come to love. In doing so, she becomes something she hates, a killer.

A true page-turner, A Beautiful Fate is Part one of The Beautiful Fate Series. The novel is full of suspense, romance and the allure of ancient Greece. Ava and Ari will leave the reader hoping the story will never end.

 

Review:

Ava Baio feels all alone. Her mother dies and as a result she’s transplanted from Chicago to a boarding school in California. Her only living relative is a grandmother who seems to want nothing to do with her and her best friend is half way across the country. Plagued with nightmares about creepy hallways and ominous scissors, Ava has no relief against the torment. Until she meets Ari – an Adonis who seems like he stepped out of a Greek Myth – and it’s only though him and his family that Ava learns about the father she never knew, her place in the universe and the mythological threat that wants nothing more than to see her dead…

There’s a lot I liked about this book. The setting in the picturesque Dana Point, California, as well as whole idea of Greek fates controlling destiny. The cover of this book is rather appropriate and I found myself liking the cover more the more I read Ava’s story.

I found the character of Ava to be inconsistent in her behaviour. Her relationship with Ari was frustrating with the way she would run hot and cold. She would be furious with him for ignoring her then let him in her to comfort her in the dark of night. And then she would be proud that he was making strides in his attempt to publicly acknowledge their relationship and then because he didn’t smile at her, she’s storm off in a huff only to let him in to her dorm room at 2am again that same night. I also didn’t like how she treated her grandmother. Yes – we find out that Mrs Baio isn’t the lovely warm fuzzies grandmother that Ava wants but I thought that Ava used and abused the older woman. She takes the free clothes, brand new car and all the trimmings that go along with being related to a fashion designer but then Ava would turn around and be incredibly rude to her.

Ari’s one of those characters who are just a little too good to be true – as is his family. Practically perfect in everywhere from their house to the way they’d interact with each other and how accepting they were of Ava. That said – they did add a lot to the whole feeling of the novel. I liked the way that Ava was when she was with them.

Plot wise – this book is full of suspense and action. At times it felt a little too quick but I enjoyed how it played out. Cat Mann sure is cruel to Ava with all that she puts her heroine through! That said, there is a lot more romance than action in this book and as I wasn’t too fond of the main character, I think I would have preferred more plot and less about Ava and Ari’s blossoming relationship.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for book 2 because the cliffhanger has me on edge wondering just what is going to happen next.

 

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

 

 

Teaser

Ari and I lay interwoven together in bed. I felt his hand run down the length of my back. I blinked my eyes open. It was only two in the morning.

“When is doing something you know is wrong the right thing to do?” he asked.

Snuggling deeper into his chest, I thought about his question. I knew what was worrying Ari. Could I do it, could I kill?

Everyone comes from somewhere. Some of us come from good and others from bad. The best part about life is that we have the ability to rise above the situation we find ourselves in; we are dealt certain cards, yes, but we don’t have to cheat to win. My father made the wrong choice; Andy made the right one. I hoped I would make the right ones, too. We were at war, a silent war that would not be reported on the news or told in any history books. The first battle was with ourselves as we decided how to deal with our internal conflicts on a day-to-day basis. Should I choose what’s right or should I choose what’s wrong?

Unfortunately, the line between right and wrong isn’t always cut and dried. The Kakos came from bad, the lowest of the low, and decided to try to go lower. They are direct descendants of Hades. Their blood is not watered down or tainted. They are literal spawns of Satan. They possess no soul and therefore feel no grief or regret for their actions. The Kakos’ ultimate goal is to live forever on earth. They escaped from hell eons ago, tracked down and tricked a descendant of a Fate, who agreed to allot them more time.

They followed this pattern for centuries until finally, the idea came to them that if there were no Fates, there would be no more cutting of their threads, and they would be free to live on earth forever. They then set out to kill every descendant from Clotho, Atropos and Lachesis they could find until they got to my father, the last known Fate on earth. He had made a covenant with the Kakos and then had broken his promise. As a result, the Kakos had declared war on every last Greek descendant. The Greeks could side with the Kakos or they could die.

I was the only weapon the Greeks had, but what do I know about war? I’m a seventeen-year-old girl. I have not yet discerned the path my life will take…and I am supposed to go up against the devil’s brood? If I fail, I die. Eventually the Kakos will come for Andy, Aggie and Ari and everyone I love. Andy will have to choose whether to side with the enemy and spare his family’s life, or accept death. In my heart, I knew Andy would never back down and that his family would die a horrible death because of his decision.

If I hunted the Kakos down, then I would have blood on my hands. I would be a murderer, a sinner, and a criminal. I decided to refuse to murder anyone in cold blood. I saw myself as good and I did not want to tarnish my soul.

Ari had asked me how a person knows when the wrong thing to do is right. And I answered: “If I must do wrong to save someone I love, it is right. I will not murder anyone, Ari…but I will kill to save you.” I will protect my people, but I will not go out in search of blood.

Quotes

Ava: “I hate death — it’s so permanent and so unfair.” “Je t’aime aussi.”

Ari : ““I love the girl that’s in my bed.” “Your skin is soft and I can’t seem to keep my hands off it.”

About The Author

Catmann

Cat Mann has lived her entire life in central Illinois, but her interests and passions span the planet. She loves skiing, French music and working with the written language.
A self-proclaimed hermit, she is happiest at home reading, writing and scouring the far corners of the internet for new musical artists — artists she skillfully weaves into her tales of the offspring of ancient Greece. She is happily married to her amazing and awe-inspiring best friend, Derek Mann, and together they have created two beautiful daughters.
A Beautiful Fate is Cat’s first novel in The Beautiful Fate Series. The second installment of The Beautiful Fate Series, A Broken Fate, will be available August 26, 2013. Visit Cat on Facebook and keep up with Cat on her blog.

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