Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dearest by Alethea Kontis ~ Review



Title: Dearest (Books of Arriland #4)
Author: Alethea Kontis
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale
Length: 320 Pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Source: Library
Rating: 3
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?


Welcome to Friday's story. This is another one that takes place during Saturday's flood, but this time we get a look at Arriland itself and the refugees that quickly crowd the palace looking for shelter. Friday finds herself caught in duties of watching the children and stitching together new clothes for thousands of people.

But, she also finds herself among a group a magical siblings - cursed by an evil sorceress. This is where I really loved the plot line. Kontis brought two fairy tale swan stories together and I really loved how she made it all work out.

My only big complaint was that there seemed to be three separate endings. Several times I thought she was wrapping everything up, in fact she did wrap most of it up..;..but then....everything fell apart again. It was just a tad too up and down at those points.


Books of Arriland

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hatred Day by T.S. Pettibone ~ Giveaway and Excerpt


Hatred Day by T.S. Pettibone
(Hatred Day, #1)
Publication date: January 29th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult


In the year 2052, it’s not love but hate that unites the world. Humanity is unified against the Inborns, an extraterrestrial species with godlike intelligence and abilities whose arrival on earth caused an environmental and biological crisis.
Enslaved and despised even by her own Inbornkind, 18-year-old Snofrid reawakens to the world after having her memories stolen and is certain of only one thing: she will do anything to ensure her freedom. But her resolution is soon tested when the son of a high-ranking human official is murdered and her home city becomes the center of the interspecies war, one that might see the Inborns purged. Desperate to find a way out of the city for herself and her family, Snofrid risks making a deal with the manipulative Inborn Commander, Hadrian, and his brutal cadre of soldiers. Her task is simple: take part in a historic hunt that will bring wealth and fame to all who survive. Unfortunately, Snofrid’s role is one in which survival is rarely seen—the bait.


Excerpt:
In the beginning of Hatred Day, our protagonist, Snofrid, discovers that she has lost her memories. The below excerpt is the first memory she gets back.
A Girl and Her Ghost
Age 4
The Empyrean City

I lived alone in a room without windows. It had one door that only opened on the last day of the month. There were giant chests of toys in the room. I kept my dolls in a wooden trunk with flower carvings, and my thirty books, I stacked in neat rows along the walls. All of my dresses were stored in a wardrobe beside my bed; if I left one on the floor, it was hung by the morning. Each time I woke, a tray of meat, fruits and vegetables, and a pitcher of water was on the table. Someone took care of me; I didn’t know who, but I think the person liked when I was neat. I named the person Ghost. I wanted to make Ghost happy, so I always made sure my toys, books and clothes were put away before I went to sleep. I used to stay awake, hiding my face with my covers, waiting to see Ghost when it came in, but nothing ever happened. Once I stayed awake for hours, and by the twenty-ninth hour, the food still hadn’t come. I stopped trying to see Ghost after that.
But I talked to Ghost every day.
I told it about the things I read; I sang for it; I told it stories; I told it when I was sad, or afraid, or when I felt lonely; and I asked it questions, even though it never answered back. Almost every time I did these things, the floor creaked on the other side of the wall, so I knew Ghost was listening. This usually made me happy, but sometimes it made me sad. I wanted Ghost to let me see it and play with me in the room.
I didn’t know where the room was. I’d stopped wondering a long time ago. I hadn’t seen sunlight, or beasts, or plants, or the stars; I only knew about these things from pictures in my books. My favorite pictures were ones of the sky, and of giant towers with windows, and of beasts with bright feathers and furry tails.
I had no idea what I looked like. I’d never seen my own face, only a blurry reflection in my food tray. I knew my eyes were large and that I was very small. I hoped I was pretty like the highborn women I read about.
The two tall, masked men who walked me to the library each month to choose thirty new books were the only people I’d seen. One of them was skinny and so white he looked sick. He wore a black robe and always tugged on the sleeves until strings fell on the floor. The other one was as big as a warrior. I’d learned by heart the House insignia on his breastplate—a cold blue wyvern head with seven silver horns above five golden keys. Around it were silver cypress leaves and golden anemone flowers; if I looked closely, I could see the soft outline of a solar eclipse behind the wyvern’s head. I liked the swishes his blue robe made as he moved; the clicking sounds his spurs made when he walked; the way the light made his silver pauldron shine; and even the slow way he breathed.
When the man in the black robe would lift me up to reach the books, he’d say in his raspy voice, “Don’t only choose science books. Some of the history books might have sweets behind them.” The man in the blue robe never let me stand close to him. I didn’t think he liked me. His silver eyes looked sad, sometimes mad, through his mask eyepieces. Every time I stared at him, he squeezed something in his pocket. It must’ve been sharp, because afterward his pocket would have blood on it.
Then one day I left the room forever.
I’d been drawing a picture of a beast for Ghost when the door opened. I was so afraid, I dropped my pencil. The man with the silver eyes picked me up and carried me down a passage for a long time. He didn’t talk to me or look at me, only held me in one arm, and kept the other one behind his back. I tried tickling his chin, but he didn’t smile. He had a big black Mohawk on his head and I touched it to see if it was sharp. It was poky and soft. When he didn’t talk to me, I told him about my friend Ghost. He stayed quiet. I fell asleep on his shoulder.
When I woke up, he was setting me down before a metal transport. I’d seen a picture of one in a book and knew the guns on the side were dangerous. The door in the transport opened and I moved back when a young man with short black hair came out, smiling at me. He was handsome like the highborns in the books I read, but his brown eyes were slanted funny, and he didn’t wear armor. He crouched in front of me, and said, “I’ve waited to meet you a long time, Snofrid. My name is Ryuki Yagami and I’m going to take you to a new home.”
I was afraid and hid behind the silver-eyed man’s leg. No one had ever spoken to me before—except for the raspy-voiced man behind the wall, who taught me about Inborn etiquette, and how to read and speak English. I didn’t want to go to a new home. I liked my room. I liked my books and my flower chest, and I didn’t want to leave Ghost. The silver-eyed man picked me up and put me inside the transport. Then, for the very first time, he talked to me, and said, “Daringly dared, half of it won, Snofrid.”
I didn’t know what these words meant. I wanted to ask him, but he’d already put his back to me was talking to Ryuki in a language I didn’t understand.
There was a little boy with golden brown eyes sitting in the back seat eating dried leaves. It was the first time I’d seen a person as small as me before. I wanted him to like me, but I was too afraid to sit close to him, so after I greeted him, I sat behind him. He stared over his seat with wide eyes, and said, “Stone me! You look just like my aunt Lorna.” His voice was loud, and I didn’t know how to answer, so I just nodded. The boy talked a lot more after that and I listened. He told me his name was Desya, and that we were going to live in a place called Hollowstone City, and that Ryuki was a good dad, and that we’d never have to be afraid with him, even though we were shamed. I didn’t know what he was talking about really, but after a while, I started saying things back.

We drove through the passage for a long, long time. When I first saw the sunlight, it happened so fast that I screamed. It was the brightest light I’d ever seen. It was brighter than all my candles and lamps, and it burned my eyes. Desya gave me a pair of black goggles. As soon as I put them on, I was able to see the mountains, the trees, and the flowers. I thought of Ghost right away and was sad I couldn’t tell it how happy I was.

About the Authors:
T.S. Pettibone are the authors of The Hatred Day Series. Expected publication for book two, Verdict Day, is 2017.

T.S. Pettibone is the pen name of identical twins, Brittany and Nicole Pettibone. They were born in California, grew up in Kansas, and these days, live and write in California. On the rare occasion that they break from writing, they enjoy taking their dog on night walks, reading books by long deceased authors, drinking too much coffee and tea, traveling the world, making friends out of strangers and trying new things.



One lucky commenter from the US or Canada will be selected to receive a paperback copy of Hatred Day.

Trixter by Alethea Kontis ~ Review



Title: Trixter (Books of Arriland #3)
Author: Alethia Kontis
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale
Length: 144 Pages
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: July 15, 2015
Source: Self-Purchased
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Trix Woodcutter is the long prophesied Boy Who Talks to Animals. He’s also a foundling prankster scamp who places his family under a sleeping spell so that he can run away from home. Compelled by a vision of his dead birthmother, Trix departs on the eve of a Great Catastrophe, only to find himself caught in the maelstrom. Armed with little more than his wits and the wisdom inherent in all fey-blooded youth, Trix confronts a legendary Animal King, faces off against a ghostly feline, rescues a damsel in distress, and discovers more about himself than he ever wished to know. 

And this adventure is only the beginning.




In the previous book, Hero, Saturday and Trix set off a chain of events that leads to a massive flood, but we only saw Saturday's side of the story. Trix had quite the adventure after he left his family behind. Caught up in Saturday's massive flood, he finds himself underwater and off on a grand new adventure.

Wishing on a passing star sets off a series of events that will ultimately lead Trix far from home, but bring him right where he was heading at the same time. Along the way he meets quite a few pretty fun and amazing characters - grandpa cat was a favorite - and has to pass what seems like a series of tests. Yes, good old-fashioned tests to see if his heart was pure and willing to do what was right. 

This was a fun story, but a little short. I wish the tests had been a little more subtle. The format of them was nice, but they were here and then gone again so very quickly.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cover Reveal ~ Full Share by Eliza Freed


Full Share
Eliza Freed
(Shore House, #1)
Publication date: June 21st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Nora Hargrove’s post-grad life includes a horrific entry-level job, a cave of an apartment, and a strict avoidance of all interpersonal relationships. She knows only one thing about herself—she wants to be left alone.
Avoiding her mother’s forced family time, she seeks solitude on her own terms. In a poorly ventilated, overcrowded Dewey Beach rental, she discovers there’s no place to hide. Not from yourself, not from your life, and not from love. This is the story of Nora Hargrove’s full share.
I learned the healing power of a good bloody Mary and a dip in the Atlantic. I kayaked in the dead of night and witnessed the only shooting star I’ve ever seen. I fell in love on a bed made of pallets. I lived.
Life is deep. Dive in.

SNEAK PEEK:
“I’m looking forward to the summer being over,” he said, but his statement confused me. I was disoriented by his placement and my hands in his, and wondering why he’d ever want this summer to end. Jack had it better than the rest of us.
“Why?” finally came out of my mouth when I was able to draw my gaze away from our hands and look him in the eye.
“Because I’m going to take you out on a proper date.”
I didn’t say a word, but my heart raced near the surface of my chest.
“I want to take you out to dinner and then take you to bed.”
My breath caught. I lingered on the possibility of both those things. “What if I’m not tired?”
Jack’s smile was devious. “And it’ll be so good, you’ll beg me to be with you for the rest of our lives.”
I loved him even more for not giving up on me weeks ago when anyone else would have. “Why do you keep trying?”
“Because you’re worth it. I can feel it. We’re going to be great together. You just have to let me in.”
I started to pull my hands away, but Jack tightened his grip.
“Why does that scare you?”
“It doesn’t.” I was honest. His words didn’t scare me. “It’s just what I do.”
He released my hands. “Pull away?”
“Pretty much.” I kept my sight steady on him. The breeze blew around us, swirling our towels against our sides. “It’s rarely necessary, though. No one usually gets as close as you have.” I swallowed down the realization of how close he was.
“I’m special.”
“You are.” The words croaked out as if saying them was choking me. I was done lying to him.


Author Bio:
Eliza Freed graduated from Rutgers University and returned to her hometown in rural South Jersey. Her mother encouraged her to take some time and find herself. After three months of searching, she began to bounce checks and her neighbors began to talk; her mother told her to find a job.
She settled into Corporate America, learning systems and practices and the bureaucracy that slows them. Eliza quickly discovered her creativity and gift for story telling as a corporate trainer and spent years perfecting her presentation skills and studying diversity. It’s during this time she became an avid observer of the characters we meet and the heartaches we endure. Her years of study have taught her laughter is the key to survival, even when it’s completely inappropriate.
She currently lives in New Jersey with her family and a misbehaving beagle named Odin. An avid swimmer, if Eliza is not with her family and friends, she’d rather be underwater. While she enjoys many genres, she has always been a sucker for a love story…the more screwed up the better.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Inked by Chris Ledbetter ~ Cover Reveal


Inked
Chris Ledbetter
(Terra Sempre Saga, #2)
Published by: Evernight Teen
Publication date: July 1st 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
You’re Not Truly Alive Until You Know What You Would Die For…
Cameron Shade and Farrah Spangled survived a near-death experience together. Now, their us-against-the-world relationship thrives despite pressure from their families, as well as cultural and social obstacles. That is, until Farrah’s father ships her off to private boarding school in Virginia.
Driven by unbearable aches of absence and longing, Cameron and Farrah are lured back inside the cursed sketchbook and the perilous Terra Sempre that siphoned their souls and almost cost them their lives.
Undeterred by a gathering storm of threats and complications, Cameron and Farrah find unlikely allies in both realms, but what Cameron discovers in Terra Sempre might make him want to stay there forever.
Sequel to:
23842764


Author Bio:
Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly "walked-on" to the best drum line in the CIAA. And, without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.
After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He's worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. While teaching high school for six years in Culpeper, Virginia, I taught business management, business law, marketing, and sports marketing. I also coached football.
As a self-described, young reluctant reader, he writes young adult stories specifically to reach other reluctant readers. As a participant in the prestigious Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program, he was blessed to be mentored by Suzanne Morgan Williams, 2012 SCBWI member of the year.
He now lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Daughter of the Sun by Zoe Kalo ~ Review Tour and Giveaway


Title: Daughter of the Sun (Cult of the Cat #1)

Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Mythology
Length: 330 Page
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: May 1, 2016
Source: Review Request (tour)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew. 

But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities. 


Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.
 



This was an amazing story! I really loved Trinity. Coming from a very sequestered background as an orphan at a nunnery, to a private island where she can do just about anything she wants. It's quite a journey she goes on - and the place and freedom are just the beginning.

I want to go to this island - desparately!!!! Cats are everywhere, and the island takes care of them so well - to the point that dogs are illegal. Can you imagine how many purrs and head butts you could get there? But these aren't just random cats - they are a very important part of the story as we learn the mythology of the cat goddesses of ancient Egypt.

The mythology was beautifully done. Revealed piece by piece as Trinity finds out more about her history and her destiny. Who she really is. Part of the mythology is revealed with one heck of a crazy lady, too. I loved the bad guy, incredibly developed and very scary at the end.

I'm going to have a hard time waiting for book two. While there wasn't a cliffhanger, there is definitely more to come in Trinity's story.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*



About the Author:
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…

A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Out of Play by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry


Title: Out of Play
Author: Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 Pages
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Rock star drummer Bishop Riley just needs a few months to relax and detox before his band's next tour. But the last place he expected to do it is in Seldon, Alaska. And the last person he wants to do it with is Penny Jones.
Fiery, headstrong Penny has zero in common with the cocky, too-hot-for-his-own-good Bishop, and she'd like to keep it that way. But the more Bishop gets under her skin, the more she wants to let him in. And the more Penny lets him see, the more Bishop wants to know this stubborn girl with the killer body and soulful eyes.
The simmering heat between them won't go away, no matter how hard either of them tries. Their time together in Alaska may be running out—but so is their resolve for not taking a chance on love.
Penny is amazing. She is a high school hockey player - on the boy's team. While that is suitably impressive, she doesn't loose her femininity. She's still a teenage girl looking to her future and wondering what it may hold - school, sports, family......and of course boys. But being on the hockey team has made just another teammate to most of the ones she knows. She's pretty down to eartch and watching her help take care of Gramps really showed how much home and family meant to her.

Enter Bishop - rockstar drummer with a drug problem. Here to detox and get his crap together. I think the author handled his drug problem in a really great way. We got to see the denial, the partial recovery, the relapse and the affect it had on him both mentally and physically. Most people would have never guessed he had a problem. But he is a strong person with a great network of support, that now includes a hot hockey player named Penny.

But - yes the big but - she doesn't know who he is or why he's really there. It bothers the heck out of me when people hide behind lies and deciet, but I sort of got it this time - him being famous an all. There were some times that things seemed to ramble on a bit and I wondered when the story was going to get moving again. The side characters really helped make this story pop - especiall Gramps - he was just amazing.

This was a great twist on the more traditional sports romance, and I love the more new adultish themes that weave their way through the young adult romance (college, family, career). Great book!

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*