Starter Day Party Terra Book Tour

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We’re hosting the starter day party for the Terra Book Tour today. Terra is a YA dystopian novel that will be touring various blogs from March 18th to April 1st.

Tour Schedule

March 18th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

March 19th: Book Excerpt and Character Interview @ Arianne Cruz’ Blog

March 21st: Book Review and Author Interview @ Leeanne.me

March 22nd: Book Excerpt @ Hollow Readers

March 23rd: Book Review @ Moosubi Reviews

March 24th: Book Review, Character Interview @ In this world of books

March 25th: Book Review @ Rachel’s Book Reviews

March 26th: Book Excerpt @ Enchanting Reads

March 27th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading

March 28th: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog

March 29th: Book Review @ SIK Book Reviews

March 31st: Book Review @ Unshelved Reviews

April 1st: Book Excerpt @ The Book Daily

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About Terra

terra-final-ebookTitle: Terra

Author: Gretchen Powell

Genre: YA Dystopian

A broken and desolate Earth. A young girl struggling to survive. A lost boy with a powerful secret.

A discovery that will change everything.
In the distant wake of a plague that has decimated the Earth’s population, humanity is split in two: The rich and powerful live in skycities that float overhead, while those who remain on the ground have gathered in settlements strewn across a dying planet. Eighteen-year-old Terra Rhodon is a terrestrial–a denizen of the barren groundworld–who makes her living as a scav. Long abandoned by her father, her caregivers gone, Terra supports herself and her younger brother, Mica, by scouring the earth for discarded scraps and metals to recycle for profit. One day, while on a routine scavenging run, she discovers something that shocks her home settlement of Genesis X-16. When the value of her discovery is revealed, Terra’s world is turned upside down.
Terra suddenly finds herself asking questions no one will answer. Her search for the truth leads her to Adam–a beguiling skydweller unlike any she has ever met. But Adam has secrets and a quest of his own, and with him by her side, the world Terra thought she knew begins to unravel. Soon her discoveries unearth a terrifying conspiracy that has the potential to shatter everything–a revelation that will test the bonds of loyalty, family, and love.
The first book in debut author Gretchen Powell’s anticipated Terrestrials series, Terra catapults you through a story filled with blood-pumping action, intrigue, and surprising twists that will both wrench and warm your heart. As the hidden truths of this world unfold, new dangers that loom on the horizon are sure to leave you waiting breathlessly for the sequel.

Author Bio

Author Pic EbookHalf-Chinese and the daughter of a US diplomat, Gretchen Powell spent her childhood growing up in far-off places. She made it all the way to her mid-twenties whilst maintaining her deep-seated love for young adult novels, so she decided to write one of her own.

Her creative process involves copious amounts of Sour Patch Kids and sleeping fitfully.
When she isn’t writing young adult dystopian science fiction, Gretchen also writes a successful healthy living blog, entitled Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
She lives in Northern Virginia with her two adorable miniature schnauzers. They wear many sweaters.
Visit her website and writing blog at http://www.gretchenpowell.com.

Links

My website: http://www.gretchenpowell.com

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/gretchenpowell

My Facebook: http://facebook.com/gretchenpowellauthor

My Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6609859.Gretchen_Powell

Terra on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AM714Y2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00AM714Y2&linkCode=as2&tag=hoishthgr-20

Terra on B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/terra-gretchen-powell/1113940012?ean=2940015746945&isbn=2940015746945

Terra on Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Terra/book-bzDB0YgKbUaplqLC0UHwzw/page1.html?s=2KXYtblZu0-PN1UMw1VLaQ&r=1

Terra on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/terra-terrestrials-1/id595631740?mt=11

Terra on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16720478-terra

Release Day Party Afterlife Academy

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We’re celebrating the release day for YA Paranormal novel ‘Afterlife Academy’ today. Come join us to read an excerpt from this hilarious YA novel by author Jaimie Admans. Purchase your copy of ‘Afterlife Academy’ here: Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Jaimie is also organizing a launch party on Facebook! You can join in the fun here: http://www.facebook.com/events/498255523543345/

About Afterlife Academy

afterlifeacademy-500Even being dead isn’t enough to get you out of maths class.

Dying wasn’t on sixteen-year-old Riley Richardson’s to-do list. And now, not only is she dead, but she’s stuck in a perpetual high school nightmare. Worse still, she’s stuck there with the geekiest, most annoying boy in the history of the world, ever.

In a school where the geeks are popular and just about everything is wrong, Riley has become an outcast. She begins a desperate quest to get back home, but her once-perfect life starts to unravel into something not nearly as great as she thought it was. And maybe death isn’t really that bad after all…

Welcome to Afterlife Academy, where horns are the norm, the microwave is more intelligent than the teachers, and the pumpkins have a taste for blood.

Author Bio

jaimieadmans2Jaimie is a 28-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, drinking tea and watching horror movies. She hates spiders and cheese & onion crisps.

She has been writing for years but has never before plucked up the courage to tell people.

Afterlife Academy is her third novel and she hopes you enjoy it. There are plenty more on the way!

Links

Website: http://www.jaimieadmans.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/be_the_spark
Facebook: http://facebook.com/jaimieadmansbooks

Purchase your copy!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I have always been a good girl. I’ve always been a girl who never gets into trouble. In fact, the one and only time that I do something even vaguely wrong, do you know what happens?

I die.

At least, that seems like the most logical explanation, given the circumstances.

I remember impact.

And then nothing.

I open my eyes and look around. I am standing in front of the school gate.

Of all places.

It’s freezing. Something feels wrong. I’m just pulling my jacket further around myself when I hear a voice to my left.

“You,” it says angrily.

It startles me and I spin around to see Anthony.

Of all people.

Somehow I have gone from being in the car with Wade to standing in front of the school gate with the geekiest, most boring, weirdest nerd boy from my form.

“You,” I snarl back at him.

He sighs.

I huff out a breath, which appears in front of my face because it’s so cold. It’s the middle of April. It shouldn’t be this cold.

I look around and realise something is really wrong with this place.

We’re standing on the road outside our school gate.

Except we’re not.

On the road, that is.

I mean, we’re outside the school. Our school. And we’re standing on a road. But this isn’t the road. There are no cars. No houses. No sandwich shop opposite. There’s nothing but an endless country lane. There is nothing in either direction. Just a plain tarmac road. And trees. Lots of trees.

I glance back at Anthony to see if he’s seeing this too. Obviously he is because he’s looking around, clearly just as bewildered as I am.

“What happened?” I say, more to myself than to him.

I don’t usually talk to him. Sophie, my best friend, would laugh at me for even looking at our school’s biggest geek.

“Oh, so I’m allowed to speak to you now?” he snaps.

“Are you even seeing this?” I snap back. “What the hell happened?”

“How am I supposed to know?”

“You’re the one so enthralled by chemistry classes.”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve your mind. I happen to find science interesting. Probably in the same way that you find painting your fingernails interesting.”

“Oh, shut up. Don’t you think we have more important things to worry about at the moment? Like where the hell we are, for instance?”

“We’re at school, genius.” He scowls.

“Yes, but look…” I indicate wildly with my hands. “Do you think there’s been some kind of nuclear war or something?”

“I find that highly unlikely,” he says, but he does look a bit freaked out.

I look up at the school that looms in front of us. And then I notice something else wrong.

The school is grey. Everything is grey. The building itself, which is usually a shade of ancient red brick, is grey. Even the grassy hill outside is an unhealthy-looking shade of grey.

This is wrong.

I look at Anthony. He’s staring at the school too. Even he looks a bit dull. Not that he isn’t dull anyway, but even he doesn’t usually look this washed out.

There’s a low cloud hanging everywhere. It’s shrouding the school. It’s covering the tops of the trees that line the road. It looks like an ordinary foggy morning. But really, really foggy and grey.

And again, that doesn’t follow because it’s late afternoon. I know it is because Wade and I just cut last class.

“Do you have the time, please?” I ask Anthony.

“Check your own watch,” he mutters.

“Like a watch goes with this outfit.”

“Fine.” He makes a big show of pulling his sleeve up and looking at his wrist. “Oh,” he says, sounding surprised. “It’s stopped. This watch never stops. It’s radio controlled.”

What a loser. Who cares if their watch stops occasionally?

I’m about to say something to that effect when he talks instead.

“What’s with all the mist?”

“Like I’m gonna know.” I shrug.

“Maybe there’s been some kind of holocaust. What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I don’t…” I trail off as I think. “You,” I say suddenly. “You… In the car… Wade… He…”

Memories flood my mind and make me shudder. “What do you remember?” I ask as I try to shake the cold feeling that has crept down my spine.

He shrugs. “I was on my way home. You and that idiot boyfriend of yours were speeding around in some car that obviously didn’t belong to either of you. I yelled at him to slow down, there’s a nursery school just down the road, he could have killed someone…”

The cold feeling intensifies.

I think he did.

“We hit you,” I say suddenly. “I know we did.”

It was his brother’s car. Wade had grabbed me at lunchtime and persuaded me to meet him outside just before last lesson. And really, who needs to learn French? So I had cut class, hiding behind the exam wing until the coast was clear of roaming teachers, then snuck out through the fence and met Wade down a side street. We are experts at cutting class now. At the end of the day, as long as you’re not failing, I don’t see the need to attend every single class. Unlike some geeks.

I cast a sideways glance at Anthony. His hair is too long and now a shade of charcoal instead of the usual dull brown, and he has a faraway look in his grey eyes. I know he’s thinking about what happened.

I suddenly realise that the blood is gone. The last time I saw Anthony, he was covered in blood.

Because of Wade.

Because of me.

Wade had borrowed his brother’s car. I use the term borrowed loosely because I doubt his brother knew he had borrowed it. We’d cut the class and gone for a drive. Not very far and nowhere that would attract attention, because neither of us has a driving license. We were on the way back to school so I could jump on the bus with Sophie and arrive home as usual, that way my parents would never know anything about it. It’s not like they approved of Wade anyway. They certainly wouldn’t approve of skipping school and riding in cars without a licensed driver.

I remember that Wade sped up as we approached the school. He had to show off. We flew past the nursery school, gaining a few angry glances from mothers picking up their kids. I had the window down, my head leaning out of it, hair flapping around in the wind and feeling like a rock star. Wade had the music cranked up as high as it could go and was thumping his hands on the steering wheel to the beat.

And then we saw Anthony. Head down, trudging along the pavement. His usual stance.

“What a prick,” Wade had yelled to me over the music.

I nodded.

“Hey!” Wade rolled his window down and yelled at Anthony. “Been to after-school maths club, dude? Off home to see Mama?”

“Get lost,” Anthony muttered.

“Oh, it speaks, it speaks,” Wade mocked him.

Anthony turned to face us. “You shouldn’t be driving like that. There are kids around here.”

“Why don’t you go and tattle on me to a teacher, little baby?” Wade yelled. “You’re good at that. But see how many teeth you have left when I get my hands on you.”

“Sod off,” Anthony said and carried on walking.

“Stupid little twit,” Wade said to me. “We’ll show him.”

He put his foot on the accelerator. We shot off down the road, almost reaching the school before Wade braked so sharply that I was sure I’d have a seatbelt-shaped indentation across my chest. He spun the car in a perfect circle, complete with screeching brakes and the smell of burning rubber.

“What the hell are you doing?” I screamed.

“I’ll teach that geek to tell me to slow down.” Wade grinned.

We flew back up the road, approaching Anthony again within seconds.

“Wade, don’t,” I said, but he didn’t hear me over the music. “Slow down!” I yelled at him.

“Don’t be such a baby,” he said dismissively.

I groaned. We were going too fast. We sped past Anthony again before Wade slammed on the brakes and did another screeching turn.

“Stop it!” I yelled at him.

He ignored me.

“Hey, you!” he’d shouted as we passed Anthony again. He slowed down this time to taunt him some more. “Where’ve you been? Extra-credit science class, because A-plus grades just aren’t enough?”

“You’re only jealous,” Anthony shouted to him.

“Oh yeah. Jealous of you. The stupid little bastard whose granny makes him sandwiches every morning in case he gets his lunch money stolen.”

“Screw you.”

“Wade, stop,” I said again.

“Why?” He snapped his head in my direction. “Tell me you don’t feel sorry for this geek?”

“We should go home,” I said, avoiding the question. “I’ve already missed the bus. You’re going to have to drive me.”

“Then there’s no rush.” He smirked.

“Hey, freak,” he yelled at Anthony who was hurriedly walking away. “Going home to see Mama and Daddy? Oh wait, that’s right. You can’t, can you? They’re both dead! Probably killed themselves because you’re such a prat!”

“Wade, don’t,” I said as he accelerated again and we sped off.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s cruel.”

“Cruel, my ass. Making me sit next to that moron in form room is cruel.”

“They only make you sit by him because you cause too much ruckus with your own friends.”

“If you like him so much, why don’t you sit by him?” Wade slammed his foot on the brake so the car spun around again. We came dangerously close to the side barrier and I screamed.

“Stop being such a girl,” Wade told me.

“Hey, Anthony,” he yelled as we came up to him again. “Going home to see your… Oh, shit!”

This time we didn’t slow down as we approached Anthony. This time there was a noise under the car and we swerved. We more than swerved. We careened across the road, and Anthony stood there frozen as we went right into him.

I remember the sound of his head as it cracked against the windscreen. Blood spilled everywhere. It splattered through the passenger window that was still open. I screamed. I couldn’t see where we were going. The lifeless body blocked the view and bright red blood poured over the glass.

Wade screamed beside me.

“Do something!” I shrieked at him.

Then there was impact. Anthony’s body was crushed right in front of my eyes as we hit something else head-on.

There was the loudest bang I’ve ever heard in my life.

Then there was blackness coming towards me.

Then I was here.

Book Review: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

10194514Title: Pushing The Limits

Author: Katie McGarry

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Echo. Echo is an A-grade student from an upper class family who’s main problem is that her parents divorced, and now her Dad will marry her supposed “Stepmom” who’s a real witch. She sees the school’s councelor because she’s been having some trouble after her parents got divorced. Noah on the other hand, is something else all together. Coming from a not-so-perfect family, he’s the school’s number one bad boy, hopping from girl to girl like a grashopper, scoring bad grades and making one stupid mistake after another. What neither of them expected is how well they fit together, and how their mutual secrets make for an almost unbreakable bond.

The story is told from the perspectives of both Echo and Noah, making for a nice experience. I haven’t read much mixed-POV books before, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The plot itself worked great as well, in my opinion. It was a lot more supsenseful and thrilling than I thought it would be.

The best part for me however was the kissing and the romance. Katie McGarry sure knows how to write her romances! The chemistry between Noah and Echo was dazzling, and their relationship evolved slowly, which was a great bonus. I hate instant-romance stories. For me, the longer it takes, the better.

But the best part about this book wasn’t the romance, even though that was awesome. It was EVERYTHING. The emotional connection Noah and Echo have, the way they compliment each other, their underlying echoes, the past that Echo can’t remember, Noah struggling to get his brothers back, all that combined makes for an emotional roller coaster that left me breathless.

Then why a four star and not a five star rating? Because sometimes the angst gets to be too much. I can stand a fair share of teenage angst, but to have it roll off the pages every time I turn a page, that’s getting on my nerves. Less angst, more romance.

I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel, and hope to read more about Noah and Echo!

Book Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

15755965Title: Dance of Shadows
Author: Yelena Black
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 2 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you’re close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner’s heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister’s shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed…

I rated this book a 2-star total, and I think that’s being mild. I have no idea why anyone even decided to publish this crap. There are tons and tons of potential manuscripts out there that are ten times as well-written as this book, that have characters with actual depth and a storyline that makes sense. Dance of Shadows has neither of those, and yet it was picked up. The book doesn’t even look edited. It has major flaws screaming from the pages. The writing is mediocre, but unfortunately that’s only one of the many things wrong with this book. I can’t get over the fact someone chose to publish this, in its current form, riddled with awkward, run-on sentences and flat characters who make Bella Swan look three-dimensional. Needless to say I’m not impressed. At all.

Let’s start with the premise, and probably the only thing remotely good about this book. Vanessa, the MC, is an excellent ballet dancer but she’s not passionate about dancing, not like her sister Margaret was. Margaret went to a prestigious ballet academy in New York city and vanished soon after, while she was working on a dance named The Firebird. Vanessa is determined to find her sister and traces in Margaret’s footsteps. She joins the academy, meets some new friends and is blissfully unaware of the danger lurking behind every corner of the academy. Which actually shows a lot of ignorance on her part, but whatever. The first chapter basically gives away the entire plot, and that’s a shame, because when all else fails, the plot is the only thing that can keep a reader go on reading. Well, in the first chapter we see how Chloé, a ballerina, dances herself to ashes, lured in by some dark power. That grabbed my attention, but I was hoping there would, of course, be more meat to the plot. What is the use of having a plot, and a rather intriguing premise, if you’re going to give it all away in the first chapter? Right, no purpose, like most of the stuff in this book.
Vanessa, our main character, is the worst main character I’ve ever read about. She has no personality. No really, even a cardboard figure has somewhat of a personality compared to her. Vanessa is dumb, ignorant and annoying, but there’s no consistency there. Her personality, if any, is so small and insignificant I couldn’t grasp it. There was no way to predict what she’s do because all her emotions were random. Her romantic feelings for a guy named Zeppelin Gray were plain ridiculous. I had to wonder if the author has the slightest idea of how teenagers think. Because I’ve seen some ridiculous love affairs in YA, but this tops everything. Vanessa thinks Zep is good-looking, and she keeps on eyeing him like a creepy spy. No harm done there though, it’s not forbidden to look at someone. However, he looks back at her, they make a connection and poof. Let’s not forget that while all this happens, Zep is actually together with a ballerina named Anna. But he sees Vanessa and she sees him, and well, he breaks off with Anna for no good reason and leaves cryptic notes for Vanessa. They meet up on a date, I’m not even sure if they kiss because it was all that bland and boring, and poof, they’re together. Not to mention that afterwards he keeps on disappearing, acts totally guilty and borderline insane, and has even less personality than Vanessa. I’m serious, if you asked me to name one personality trait of Zep, I couldn’t do it. Because he has no personality. He’s as undeveloped as it can get, and I can’t believe the main relationship of this book would be between two personality-less characters, have no depth whatsoever and make absolutely no sense. How the heck can Zep love her or even care for her? They went on one date and as far as I know they did absolutely nothing that insists on romantic feelings. Why the heck would she trust Zep? He broke off with his last girlfriend on a whim and then he keeps on disappearing. And is Vanessa really so stupid, ignorant and naive not to think for one second he may have something to do with what’s going on in the academy? My main question when reading this book was WTF. Seriously, every page was another WTF-ery. I’m proud I made it to the end of this horror, but it was a waste of time and this book a waste of paper.
Let’s talk about the supportive cast next. Vanessa meets a ton of uninteresting, boring side characters that have names but no faces or personalities the moment she walks through the doors of the ballet school. One of them, Elly, vanishes by the end of the first week. It was so obvious to me what happened to Elly that I wanted to slap Vanessa and her so-called friends for not figuring out sooner. Maybe if the author hadn’t given away the entire plot in the first chapter, I would’ve had a bit more trouble figuring it out as well. Anyway, Vanessa and the doofus squad never find out what happened to Elly, and it’s never properly explained as well, and after a while everyone starts acting like it never happened. The side characters are so uninspired and bland I forgot nearly all their names, and I’m glad I did. They don’t make much of an impression.
Then there’s Justin, the only one who seems to have a clue of what’s going on, which instantly makes him the most interesting person in the entire book. But alas, instead of turning him into a possible good friend / mentor / maybe even love interest, he falls flat again and takes on the role of creepy stalker turning up uninvited anywhere. Yuck. And whereas Vanessa hates him at first, she falls for him the moment Zep is out of the picture. Talk about shallow. There’s no indication whether Justin likes her though, and I’m kind of hoping he doesn’t and she’s the laughing stock of the century. However, Justin would be about fifty times as interesting and reliable as Zep, so I’d get why she’d choose him instead, except not while she’s still proclaiming her undying love for aforementioned Zep.
Let’s get back to Margaret, because after all, she’s the main reason why Vanessa came to the academy since she cares nothing about ballet. Now I get some people are talented, but ballet takes a lot of effort and discipline, no matter how talented you are, two qualities Vanessa lacks but obviously doesn’t need because she’s oh so freaking talented. Mary Sue syndrome, anyone? Even the most talented ballet dancers need tons and tons of practice. I can imagine that for ballet dancers this book must be quite insulting, because it’s practically a parody of what ballet is truly like. Anyway, the Margaret mystery remains unsolved even by the end of this book. We have a faint clue, but no definite answers. Make room for the sequel, that means. However, it was the only interesting thing about this entire book and that it’s not solved annoyed me endlessly. What a boring, dull way to drag out a plot and turn what should’ve been one book into a series.
Next up is the paranormal element. So Vanessa’s teachers dabble into the occult, and they need dancers with extreme skills to fulfill some kind of ritual. If it fails, the dancers turn into ashes. Well, I’m willing to buy that plot. But why has no one, EVER, noticed the disappearance of dozens of dancers from the academy? I doubt all ballet academies have such high disappearance rates that it’s common. People don’t just vanish. Of course, one or two disappearances over the course of a few years I could’ve lived with. But dozens? Maybe even hundreds? Ugh. Someone is about to look into that and see a connection, and I doubt the only one interested in solving this mystery would be a bunch of high school kids.
The book is repetitive as well. I felt like we were in the same rehearsal over and over again. There was no story progression, no plot moving forward, and nothing happened for large periods of time. The pacing was off as well. Sometimes the author rushed through scenes that needed more time to be fleshed out, like the beginning romance between Zep and Vanessa, and then she dragged on scenes that were uselesss or unnecessary. She also focused way too much on details that didn’t help us picture the scene, and left out possible descriptions that could’ve helped. For example, instead of describing Vanessa’s new room, she starts talking about Steffie (roommate) and her earrings, which is totally unnecessary. The descriptions that were there were flat and showed no real picture. It felt like the book had been written in a rush, without any real care for the characters or setting. But this isn’t just the writer’s fault. Editors should’ve caught the hollow, empty descriptions and the inconsistencies thrown all across this book. It had potential, but fell flat in every single way.
Lastly I’ll mention the writing. It wasn’t redeeming. The dialogue was immature, sometimes even downright ridiculous. Teenagers don’t talk that way. Secondly, the writing itself used generic words. It was flat and uninspired, like most of this book. I understand this is a debut novel, but I would’ve expected a greater quality writing. Regardless, if all else would’ve been great, I would’ve been able to look past the sloppy writing job, but as it stands now, with everything else being a disaster, I can’t ignore the bad writing on top of that.
I don’t recommend this book to anyone. The only other time I felt so passionate about not reading something was with The Vampire Diaries books. The thing that annoys me most with Dance of Shadows however is that it had potential. The premise was intriguing. That’s the only good thing about this book though, and it’s not enough for me to even remotely like it. I gave the book two stars for the premise and effort, but that was me being generous. Don’t waste your money on this book. And if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Starter Day Party Blood and Thunder Book Tour

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I’m happy to host the Starter Day Party for the Blood and Thunder book tour today. Blood and Thunder is a YA fantasy novel written by writers-duo Isabella Fontaine and Ken Brosky.

Tour Schedule

January 3rd: Starter Day Party @
I Heart Reading

January 4th: Book Excerpt @
Bianca2B

January 5th: Author Interview and Giveaway @
Andi’s Young Adult Blog

January 6th: Book Review @
All Sorts of Books

January 7th: Book Excerpt @
Forever Book Lover

January 8th: Book Review @
I Heart Reading

January 9th: Author Interview @
Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

January 10th: Book Review @
The Single Librarian

Blood and Thunder

Title: Blood and Thunder
Author: Isabella Fontaine and Ken Brosky
Genre: YA

Upon making a surprising discovery in a Corrupted’s lair, Alice finds herself torn between her responsibilities as the hero and her desire to live a normal life. She’s been granted a unique opportunity to leave the entire world of the hero behind. But before she can make her ultimate choice, her nightmares return …

A ship is coming. And aboard that ship is one of the most terrifying Corrupteds Alice has faced yet. In order to face her foe, Alice will have to do without the help of her scorned friend, Br’er Rabbit.

At school, a miraculous recovery by the star of the baseball team prompts more questions, all of them bringing Alice back to that fateful encounter at the orphanage of doom. To make matters worse, a school bully has taken his terrorizing too far, a friend is in trouble, and the mysterious ship in Alice’s nightmare holds a terrible secret …

This story also contains:
– “The Fisherman and His Wife,” by the Brothers Grimm
– Chapter one of “Moby-Dick,” by Herman Melville.

Author Bio

Isabella Fontaine lives a quiet life on a farm in rural Wisconsin. She enjoys reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales and writing on a typewriter, which annoys her cats. This is her first book collection.

Ken Brosky received his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He’s written a number of books and regularly publishes short stories. He also helps out at Brew City Press whenever possible. This is his first young adult collection.

Purchase Blood and Thunder from Amazon.

Book Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFevers

9565548Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, YA
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012
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Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange of honest review.

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart.

Ismae works for the Saint of Death, St. Mortain. After being rescued by a priest from an abusive man, she’s send to a monestary to train as an assassin. Ismae is marked by Death itself, a sign she’ll be a powerful assassin. She trains with the other nuns at the convent, and slowly gains their trust. Eventually she’s send on a mission. After she fulfills some missions successfully, the abess sends her to court, where she poses as the mistress of Duval. But the more time she spends with Duval, the more she falls for him. I won’t give out any more plot points, because I don’t want to spoil them for you, but let me just sum up the rest of the book by saying ‘wow’.

Seriously. By now I thought I’d seen it all. I’d seen assassin, paranormal creatures, every possible thing YA literature could bring, and then came along Grave Mercy. I saw the cover, read the blurb, and knew I had to read this one. I started it one night and finished it the same night – at four thirty in the morning. I couldn’t stop myself from reading this book, that’s how kickass awesome it was. The writing was amazing, the characters superb, the setting atmospheric and fitting. Some people mentioned in this book were famous historical figures, and I liked the author’s personal spin on their life stories.

Ismae is an intriguing character to read about. Because of her early life, she’s distant and wary when it comes to men. I liked how Duval, with his witty sarcasm and intelligent responses and insight could break through her defensive walls, and how all of that happened slowly, over the course of time. It was much more believable than if it would’ve happened in say, the first hundred pages. Ismae’s background story, and the plot of Grave Mercy were both original and touching, the events unfolding at a rapid pace. Great care and attention for detail went into creating this work, and it’s obvious.

The author’s writing style is perhaps the most amazing quality of this book. It sucks you right in, and leaves you breathless. It’s without a doubt the most breathtaking writing style I’ve come across all year, and that’s saying something. I’m officially jealous.

Grave Mercy needs a spot in your personal library. Else it simply won’t be complete.

Book Review: Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) by Kiersten White

8581936Title: Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2)
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Ya Paranormal Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 26th 2011
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Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be…kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.

Supernaturally is the sequel to Paranormalcy, one of my all-time favorite YA Paranormal Romance books. In this sequel, Evie finally has everything she ever pined for. She gets to go to high school, she has a boyfriend who loves her, a job and yet, she’s not as happy as she always thought she’d be. With Lend only home on the weekends, her roommate more interested in computer games than her and her job taking out the trash, her dream life is nothing like she imagined. Then Raquelle comes back into her life with one question: will Evie accept a position at the International Paranormal Containment Agency? Evie doesn’t know how she can tell Lend about this, so she decides to keep it from him. One desastrous mission with the agency leads to another, and after a while, Evie wonders if she made the right decision, and if she did the right thing by keeping it from her friends. Of course Reth takes that as his clue to re-appear and drop some life-altering bombs on her. A war is brewing in the world of all things paranormal, and Evie is smack in the middle of it.

I wasn’t as fond of Evie in this installment as I was in the first one. It’s clear that she’s out of her element in the normal world, although she tries desperately to blend in. She also makes some stupid, face-palming choices that do more wrong than good, and ends up in the middle of the greatest war the paranormal world has seen since forever. I could forgive some of Evie’s mistakes, since everyone makes mistakes and this is new to her, but she keeps making them and making everything worse. After a while, I felt like pulling out my hair. As usually, I liked Lend, although some of his less redeeming qualities came forward in this novel as well. I’m a huge fan of Reth, and remain a fan. He was awesome.

Sequels are hard to write. They act like ‘in between’ novels, leading up to the big finale. As far as sequels go, Supernaturally was definitely one of the better ones. I simply love Kiersten White’s fantasy world, the characters, the agencies, how everything operates, the written and unwritten rules, and the creativity behind it. I can’t wait to read the next installment.

Book Review: The Invitation by Diane Hoh

13490987Title: The Invitation
Author: Diane Hoh
Genre: MG, Horror, Thriller
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: March 27th 2012
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Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for honest review.

For the high schoolers of Greenhaven, Cass Rockham’s fall party is the social event of the year. Each October, students wait by theirmailboxes, praying for the gilt-edged invitation that grants entry into theinner circle of the most popular crowd. And now Cass has planned her finestparty yet, with a new sauna, a hot band, and no parents for miles. But to make this party really killer, Cass tops it all off with a sinister twist.
Nerdy Sarah Drew is shocked when she and her friends receive invitations to Cass’s affair. For years she’s steered clear of the popular kids, and now they want her to come to their party? Sarah is wary, but her friends talk her into coming with them. But she regrets it quickly, for at Cass Rockham’s mansion, the only party favor is death.

Sarah and her friends have been invited to the party of the year, Cass Rockham’s fall party. The only thing strange about that is that Sarah and her friends aren’t exactly popular – some consider them the greatest nerds of the entire school, and Cass doesn’t really like them either. But the girls are so happy they were invited that they don’t even consider the reasons why they were may not be as friendly as they thought at first. But as soon as they arrive at the party, they realize something’s wrong. They’re placed in seperate rooms, all by themselve. They’re used as the ‘missing objects’ in a scavanger hunt, and can only get out of their hiding spot when someone finds them. Unfortunately Cass’ party plans go terribly wrong when there’s an actual murderer in their midst.

I had trouble rating this book as YA or MG. The story is so simple and straightforward that it reads like MG, although it’s originally intended for YA audiences. If you read the Fear Street series by R.L. Stine, or the books by Christopher Pike when you were growing up, like I did, than this book will definitely bring forth some nostalgia, although it’s hardly as good as the books I just mentioned. As I said, the plot is pretty simple. Nerd girls go to a party and end up in the middle of a murder mystery. Someone is out to kill them. No hints whatsoever are given about who the killer is, but it didn’t come as a real surprise when it was revealed either, more like a Deus ex Machina though. The characters were pretty bland. Most of Sarah’s friends were two-dimensional.

What angered me is how all of them waited on their friends to burst them out, as opposed to actually doing something themselves. I understand some people may be like this, but definitely not everyone.

Also, this book is part of the Point Horror series, and while it’s advertised as horror, it certainly isn’t. The story was more like a murder mystery, and there are no real threats or people getting severely hurt anywhere. Overall, a nice read, but for a younger audience. I’d say kids crossing over from MG to YA.

Book Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

12085568Title: New Girl
Author: Paige Harbison
Genre: Young Adult, Gothic, Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
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Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange of honest review.

“Welcome to Manderley Academy”I hadn’t wanted to go, but my parents were so excited…. So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine’s not the name on everyone’s lips. Oh, no.
It’s Becca Normandy they can’t stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley–the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it’s my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by “not” perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me.
Then, there’s the name on “my” lips–Max Holloway. Becca’s ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can’t. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I’m starting to like it at Manderley, I can’t help but think she’s out there, somewhere, watching me take her place.
Waiting to take it back.

New Girl follows the life of an unnamed girl who starts her first year at Manderley after a spot has opened up last year. However, the spot belonged to a really popular girl named Becca, and people start cursing her for taking Becca’s place. She starts to regret having ever gone to Manderley in the first place. She’s met with nothing but hatred, but New Girl stands proud and somehow gets through it all, with a sharp wit and intellect and courage. The book alternates between New Girl’s first person POV and the third person POV leading up to Becca’s disappearance.

This book is loosely based on Rebecca, a classic in the genre. However, Rebecca is a lot better. That’s not to say I didn’t like this contemporary twist, but the original still holds strong, in my opinion. It doesn’t take long into the book to discover Becca wasn’t really as well-liked as she appears to be after her early demise, and that she liked to twist everyone around her little finger, crafting herself a queenly crown based on deception and lies. As New Girl’s new roommate, and Becca’s old roommate, meets her with more and more hostility as the days pass by, tension rises. It’s clear that there will be a breaking point, and something is abotu to happen. The only question is: what?

I liked New Girl. Her personality was interesting: she was nice and friendly, but toughened up when needed. I wasn’t too fond of her relationship with Max, Becca’s old boyfriend, as she seemed to give in to him too quickly, but I warmed up to them as the story progressed. Becca, on the other hand, well, let’s say I didn’t like her one bit. She was arrogant and cocky, always used to getting her way, and using people whenever she saw fit.

The suspense was dripping off the pages from this book. The only downside that really dragged this down for me? Rebecca had a ghostly element I really enjoyed. I thought that was missing from this book. There may have been some instances, but it was never as delightfully scary as in the original.

Overall, New Girl is a thrilling retelling of a classic, making it available to the YA crowd, and putting it in a contemporary setting. There are winks to the original story, such as the opening scene (“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”), never using New Girl’s name until at the end, and of course, the name Becca. I still liked the original better, but I think Paige Harbison did a great job at retelling the book.

Book Review: Lark’s End by Christina Leigh Pritchard

51hOqWMCQ5L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Lark’s End
Author: Christina Leigh Pritchard
Genre: YA/MG, Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher: Lotus Books
Pubilcation Date: September 17th, 2012
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From the author of the C I N Series, comes an epic fantasy world filled with nothing but constant action and adventure. A new world, new life forms, and another twisted and complex story from author Christina Leigh Pritchard!
SYNOPSIS:
Mary wants to kill them. But, someone stands in her way…
Tahmi has nightmares, of an old man in a sailor’s suit, dropping her off on her doorstep. When she tells her parents about him they look sick. Could her dream have some truth to it? Is that old man the reason they won’t allow her in the woods behind her house?
What are they hiding from her? Who is she?
TAHMI: She’s just an ordinary girl, right?
Lark’s End, the first of nine books in the epic fantasy series The Fall of Gadaie. For extras, (characters, illustrations, book trailers, maps) please visit the blog dedicated to the series: gadaie.com

Lark’s End is a delightful, pleasant read for upper middle grade readers and the ‘younger’ young adult readers. The story is highly imaginative, offers a varying and intriguing array of characters and creatures, has a creative and thoughtful setting and makes the reader tumble from one adventure into the other.

The main character, Tahmi, is an intelligent, creative girl. A strange man dropped her off with her adoptive parents, Donna and Charles one day, and ever since the two of them have been raising her as their daughter, even though she isn’t. Donna notices strange things about her adoptive daughter right from the get-go. Tahmia develops quicker than other kids her age. She could walk and talk faster than other kids.

But what Donna and Charles never expected was that Tahmi wasn’t even from their own world. Born in the kingdom of Gadaie, a kingdom where creatures like Loonies live, people have been magically changed into horses, there are talking cats, and an evil threatening the entire kingdom, Tahmi is more different than anyone ever imagined. As the princess of this strange world, she is welcomed home by a variety of people who know her, but of who she has no recollection.

When a pink cloud turns up and tries to take Tahmi and her best friend and neighbor Andy to the strange land, they try to run from it at first. As soon as they fall into the magical world, they’re met with obstacles and people who each have their own agendas. However, there are more connections between this foreign world and the “real” world, or Earth, than meets the eye. For instance, Donna’s long lost sister, Maya, is imprisoned in the Queen’s dungeons.

I loved the characters. Tahmi and Andy each have very distinct personalities. I liked their interactions, how they can tease each other one moment and be best friends the next. I also liked Donna and Charles. They may not be Tahmi’s real parents, but their love for her is boundless. Also, when Tahmi is first brought to Gadaie, she’s forced to face a series of people depending on her, and confused as she is, it’s near impossible for her to help them all. I liked how this affected her usually cool demeanor, it made her seem more normal, more human, more relatable.

What I thought was most impressive was the world building. The creatures mentioned in this book are so imaginative, so creative, and they’re well described, so I could picture them easily. Also, the supposed ‘big bad’, Mary of the Monsters, was not a one-sided villain, something I really liked. She is well-developed, and only evil when seen from a certain perspective. Whenever an author manages to creature a multi-dimensional villain, I call that great writing, and it’s definitely the case here.

The writing itself very much fits the age group the story is meant for. It’s not too descriptive, but whenever descriptions come up, they’re short and to the point. The dialogue is great, and at times even hilarious. I can’t give away much more about the story or characters, but I can say that I enjoyed it very much from start to end.

I recommend Lark’s End to all fantasy fans, upper middle graders and young adults alike. I can’t wait the rest of the books in this series!