Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

The Ugly Stepsister

Aya Ling

YA Fairy Tale Retelling
June 12, 2015

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When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

Review: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

There were so many things I really liked about this retelling. It's different with well-developed characters and an interesting story line. But about 1/3 of the way through I realized I wouldn't like the ending no matter what happened-- the author put herself between a rock and a hard place. What did I want to happen? Honestly, I'm not sure. The author ended the book in a way I didn't expect, but I think it was the right way. That doesn't mean I liked the ending...

I loved the characters in this novel. So many interesting people, with diverse personalities. It really made for interesting reading. The plot was different from other retellings which was a nice change. The twist toward the end was well-executed, as well as intriguing. Ms. Ling does a fine job immersing the reader in her fantasy world.

For the most part, the story is fast-paced, though there were lulls from time to time. Truth be told, I almost didn't finish reading once I realized where the author was taking the story. But I couldn't put it down and am glad I finished the story. I know a lot of readers will like the realistic ending, but I guess I just have enough realism in my life.

Overall: great characters, wonderful immersive descriptions, intriguing story line with a fun twist.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Meet the Characters from Lies by Christina Benjamin + Giveaway

I am so excited to welcome author Christina Benjamin today! We met at the Author & Reader Con in NOLA last month. Lies, book 3 in The Geneva Project was just released this week.
Ready to meet the characters of The Geneva project?

I’d love to introduce you to three of the main characters in my YA fantasy series, The Geneva Project. Geneva, Nova and Remi are the first characters I developed when creating the series. They came naturally and I’m so attached to them. I try not to play favorites, but they’re definitely my character babies. The Geneva Project is an epic fantasy that takes place on a mythical island. There’s dozens of characters and animals. Below you’ll find a little info about 3 of my favorites, but to see more, check out my characters boards on my Pinterest page.

Geneva Sommers (aka Jane#65) - She’s the main character, heroine and driving force behind the series. Geneva is proof that great things come in small packages. One of my favorite Shakespeare quotes always comes to mind when talking about Geneva. “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” Geneva has grown up a deprived orphan on a flood ravaged island, yet somehow an entire childhood of being unloved and enslaved can’t break her spirit. This spunky blonde underdog has always had a thirst for knowledge and an encounter with a strange crush-worthy boy, Nova, reveals that her true identity may be part of a secret legend. When she pursues her friendship with Nova she starts to develop magic powers and her boring existence spirals out of control. Along the way, we’ll watch Geneva evolve from an gangly pre-teen with white-blonde curls and ice-blue eyes to someone readers can look up to and a strong role model in this coming-of-age tale.

Nova (aka John#18) - He’s the guy all the girls want to be with and all the guys wish they could be. Nova is crush-worthy boy that all the girls swoon over, sure, but this tall golden boy with emerald-green eyes has more than just looks. He’s got a brooding sensitive side from dealing with the fall out the Flood caused his family and he seems to know a great deal about the secret legend of Lux. Plus he has some pretty cool/scary magic powers of his own. He’s a natural born leader and everyone looks to him when things get hectic on their wild adventure. Geneva is drawn to Nova and he develops an immediate soft spot for her, but both of them are strong-willed and stubborn and can’t seem to get on the same page. Will their short tempers spark flames of a lasting relationship or will it burn out quickly?

Remi (aka John#26) - He’s Geneva’s go-to-guy, best friend, secret keeper and one who knows her best. Before Geneva’s secret got out and she caught the eye of a strange magic toting crowd, Remi was the only friend Geneva had. Both were outcasts at the orphanage and found shelter in an unlikely friendship. Remi is quiet, but that’s because his mind is sharp and he’s busy taking it all in. He’s extremely loyal and protective of Geneva. Remi’s not on board with Geneva’s new friends and that causes a rift that threatens their friendship. Can Remi make room for Geneva’s new destiny or will his inability to change cost him more than friendship?

The Geneva Project, book 3

Christina Benjamin

YA Urban Sci-Fi/Fantasy
September 1, 2015

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New release. Third book in the award-wining YA fantasy fiction series, The Geneva Project

Can you live a life of LIES? That’s exactly what Geneva finds herself doing to protect everyone she loves. While Geneva and her friends embark on a dangerous mission to fulfill her destiny, the dark forces that seek her powers are closing in, putting everyone she cares about at risk. Geneva must lie about who she is, what she knows and her true feelings. Are all these lies worth it or will she go too far and lose everything she’s been fighting for?

About the Author
Christina Benjamin is the Award-Winning Author of the Young Adult series The Geneva Project.
Her debut novel, Truth, has won multiple awards, including the 2014 FAPA Gold Medal for YA fiction.
Benjamin’s writing hooks fans of mega-hit YA fiction like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and offers them a new series to obsess over.  She paints a vivid world, where magic and imagination run wild in her epic tale of adventure, courage and friendship.
Benjamin studied English at the University of Central Florida. She’s dedicated to giving back to the community and speaking at schools to inspire creativity in young writers.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer

The Last Necromancer
The Ministry of Curiosities #1

C.J. Archer

YA Historical Fantasy
August 11, 2015

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Victorian London: For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn’t raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.

People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.

Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly “made” creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world – Charlotte – but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he’s been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn’t trust?

Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they’re hunting.

Review: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

The Last Necromancer was an interesting historical paranormal with a great plot and lots of intriguing characters. I loved where the author started the story-- had me rallying behind Charlie and feeling for her plight immediately.

My favorite thing about this novel was the interaction between the characters. The dialogue was amazing and fun to read. Ms. Archer really brought her characters to life to the point that they practically leaped off the page. I loved Charlie. She was witty, intelligent, strong, everything I like in a kickass female lead. I also loved Seth and Gus-- fantastic secondary characters.

Lincoln Fitzroy was odd. His relationship with Charlie/Charlotte was also confusing at times. This is going to be a slow burn relationship, if there is one at all. So if you're looking for romance, look elsewhere. I loved who the author chose as the villain but was disappointed since I figured it out the first time his evil antics were described. So fitting, it just had to be...

Colorful descriptions bring the story and setting to life. My only complaint was a few slow times where I was skimming to get to the next part (or some more dialogue-- definitely one of Ms. Archer's strong points). Overall, this is an enjoyable read and a great introduction to a new series. In closing... I really want that lantern on the cover :)

About the Author

C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two with her writing. Under her other name of Carolyn Scott, she has published contemporary short stories in women’s magazines, and she also writes romantic mystery novels under this name.

She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. She has won and placed in romance writing contests including winning RWAustralia’s Emerald Award in 2008 for the manuscript that went on to be released under the title HONOR BOUND. C.J. spent her early childhood in the dramatic beauty of outback Queensland, Australia, but now lives in suburban Melbourne with her husband and two children.

To be notified when C.J. releases a new book, subscribe to her newsletter from her website. She only sends out the newsletter when she releases a new book, and never spams.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Release Alert: The Body Institute by Carol Riggs + Giveaway

Check back on September 10th for my review :)

Welcome & congrats to author Carol Riggs on her new release, The Body Institute! Here's a little more about the novel.

The Science Fiction of THE BODY INSTITUTE
This novel is set in the near future, roughly the year 2033. Here’s some technological changes you can expect to find: 

1. EVERYONE HAS AN IDENTIFICATION CHIP. For security purposes and to prevent identity theft, everyone has an ID chip inserted into the back of his or her hand. This chip is scanned before classes, at airports, when riding buses or trains, and while entering stores or restaurants. Thus, the government knows exactly who you are and where you are at almost any time.

2. CASHLESS SOCIETY. The ID chip also serves to pay for things. No more carrying around cash, no more stolen or misplaced debit/credit cards! Your hand is simply scanned, often with a handprint added for greater security. This chip-and-handprint combination is called a “bio-ID,” which is also useful for signing contracts like Morgan (main character) does when she accepts her job as a Reducer.

3. ROBOTS ARE COMMON. In this society, bell-shaped hostbots guide you through buildings. Servbots take your food and drink orders. Vacubots clean your carpets, and airbots drift overhead in office buildings or homes to purify the air. 

4. PUBLIC SECURITY CAMERAS. These monitor public places like Metro-Transit (train) shelters, streets, public parks, stores, etc. It’s similar to how Britain’s security is set up today, only in the novel it’s widespread and the norm everywhere in the world. These cameras are installed to make the city a safer place.

5. ELECTROMAGNETIC RESONANCE TRANSFER, or ERT. This ingenious procedure downloads one person’s brainmap (cluster of brainwaves) into another person’s body. The Body Institute uses this process to transfer the minds of their Reducers into the bodies of their Loaner clients to help those clients lose weight. ERT is also used to remove Loaner clients’ brainmaps from their bodies, which are then stored as datafiles while the Reducer accomplishes the weight loss. 
Connect with Carol here! Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads
Purchase Links: Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Powell’s Books  |  Indiebound

The Body Institute
Release Date: 09/01/15
Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

About the Author
I'm a YA writer represented by Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary. My sci-fi novel THE BODY INSTITUTE explores the themes of society, identity, and body image. I live in the beautiful, green state of Oregon and have a Studio Arts degree; I'm an SCBWI member. 

You'll usually find me in my writing cave, surrounded by my dragon collection and the characters in my head. I also enjoy reading--mostly young adult novels--as well as drawing, painting, and quilting. I also attend writing conferences, walk with my husband, and enjoy music and dance of all kinds. 

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Gamma Rift by Kalli Lanford + Giveaway

Gamma Rift

Kalli Lanford

New Adult Sci-Fi Romance
Entangled Embrace
August 18, 2015

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His secret (alien) crush...

I may be a Prince, but there are things that trouble me about my father's royal rule-the forced abduction, experimentation, and torture of alien creatures. The king has a new prisoner who's a carefully kept secret...

There's a young female who belongs to a little-known civilization I have been studying extensively. They are human, belonging to a small, undeveloped planet called Earth. She is pretty in a way I find unusual and compelling. Sometimes I sneak into the adjoining cell and we talk about everything and nothing, even as I find myself yearning to touch her strange, soft skin.

Skin that is being subjected to invasive tests and experiments. A body that's scheduled for a live dissection in fifteen days. And a life that will be terminated unless I risk my future and life to help her escape...

Review: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Every once in a while I read a book that leaves me on the fence. Parts I really liked but others... not so much. Gamma Rift is one of those books. Intriguing plot, great visuals, hea even in this impossible situation. Seriously, I wasn't sure how the author would manage to pull off a hea ending with her characters against such odds.

America, the abducted main character, well it was impossible to not feel extreme pity for her. I cannot imagine what she must have endured. Such awful experiments-- which the author didn't shy away from describing (I admit, I felt a little queasy, though mainly from the overall hopelessness of her situation). It's no wonder she fell for the sweet, male voice whispering to her from beyond her confinement.

Garran was an interesting character. I loved the description that went into developing his character. He didn't approve of his father's rule, especially experimentation on intelligent beings. Garran was obsessed with Earth, especially American television, and learned to speak English. It's a good thing his father abducted someone from an English speaking country, or the story might not have worked out so well.

I understood Garran's obsession with America, but man these two fell in love fast. I'm all for instalove in lots of cases, but Garran seemed too intelligent for it. It wasn't just falling in love for this prince, it was falling in love with an alien, who he could only be with by abandoning everything he'd ever known. That's a huge step, one I'd expect an intelligent being not to take lightly. America had nothing to lose. In her situation, I'd fall in love with someone who made the nightmare better... wouldn't you?

Overall, I loved the abduction plot, the intergalactic romance- even though I thought it happened way too fast. I also thought Ms. Lanford did an admirable job with descriptions-- sci-fi can be inundated with too much-- I thought she found a great balance to make it enjoyable but not boring. I guess I just didn't connect with the characters and the romance. Without that connection, I was never drawn into the story completely.

About the Author

Kalli Lanford, a native of San Diego, California, grew up hanging out at the beach and playing sports.  When she’s not nerding out at San Diego Comic-Con, she can be seen doing normal-people stuff like teaching high-school English, cooking delicious meals for her family, and attending her son’s football games.  In her spare time, she writes new adult fiction and loves listening to hard rock.  She hopes to live long and prosper, and that you will, too.

Author Twitter: @kallilanford
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