Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review: Lockwood & Co. --The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom. 

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found. 

The author of the blockbuster Bartimaeus series delivers another amusing, chilling, and ingeniously plotted entry in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.

           A snappy sequel to The Screaming Staircase, featuring our favorite crew of tough, yet refined, psychic agents who continue with enough zest to balance out the darker aspects of the story. Lucy, determined and utterly loyal to her ghost-hunting agency, is blissfully free of the pitt-falls action-inclined females typically trip over. And she works so smoothly with George and Lockwood it's an equal pleasure to see them fighting a ghost or drinking cocoa in their kitchen. We see their metals tested, literally, and watch their dynamic trio evolve. No stale characters here, just heroes with enough flair to survive a world like theirs.
Characters: 5 Stars

          After the climax of The Screaming Staircase, I was interested to see what the Whispering Skull had in mind: it's hard to top what happened there. After all, I thought, there's only so much you can do with ghosts before they lose their chill. I was wrong. This is a ghostish story set not to paralyze the reader but to send a pleasant shiver up the spine. And it certainly does, with the haunting of a vicious new specter set against the backdrop of an abandoned sanitarium. Don't read this book in the dark, and the grisly ghosts we meet ensure it's a bad choice while eating too. Mr. Stroud has excellently plotted an entirely new adventure with plenty of ghosts, enough sword-play and perfectly human villains to run your nails raw, and just enough glimpse of the great underlying mystery that ties the series together to set your teeth on edge.
Plot: 5 Stars

          Set in an alternate history, Stroud's world rings disturbingly true to our own. The Problem (ghosts only started appearing 50 years ago) and its affects on society are so masterfully incorporated into the story the fact that restless spirits do appear feels completely natural. Looking for a series with depth to snag your interest? Well this is it! In short, this book was no less enjoyable than the first, and I can safely say Lockwood & Co. has earned it's place next to Stroud's also wonderful series, The Bartimeaus Trilogy.
Style: 5 Stars

Rating: 5 Stars
Length: 424 Pages
Source: Library
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
YA Fiction

          Check out my review of Lockwood & Co. -- The Screaming Staircase  and be sure to catch the sample on Amazon!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Martha Reynolds #BestsellerTour

          Martha Reynolds ended an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and began writing full time in 2011. She is the author of five novels, including the award-winning Chocolate for Breakfast (her debut novel), Chocolate Fondue, Bittersweet Chocolate, and the Amazon #1 bestseller Bits of Broken Glass. Best Seller is her latest release. Her essays have appeared in Magnificat magazine.
          She and her husband live in Rhode Island, never far from the ocean.
 Favorite reads?
          Favorite books? Or authors? Anything by Anna Quindlen, Wally Lamb. Books? The Color PurpleThe Great GatsbyTo Kill a Mockingbird. Almost anything - no paranormal, horror, or erotica for me.
Inspirations for the book? 

          My first novel and what I learned about self-publishing and promotion. It's really every aspiring author's dream to be discovered, or to have one special well-known writer decide that your work is good enough to promote.
Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little? 

          No. I didn't know it until I was a teenager. I wanted to be a teacher when I was little, because girls could be either teachers or nurses. Or wives and mommies.
Any Pet Peeves? 

          Oh yes! I'm appalled at the lack of manners and civility today. 
Chocolate or Peanut Butter? 

          Chocolate, without a doubt (hey, I wrote a Chocolate Trilogy!) The darker the better.
The weirdest thing you've ever done? 

          Oh, I have no idea! My friends could probably make a long list, though. And there's nothing wrong with weird - we should all embrace our weirdness :-)
Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?  
          There is a soundtrack! I compiled a playlist on Spotify. You want to know what it is? Okay, here's the soundtrack:
  • Fame by David Bowie
  • Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band
  • Don't Go Breakin' My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee
  • Kiss and Say Goodbye by The Manhattans
  • Love Hurts by Nazareth
  • Do You Know Where You're Going To by Diana Ross
  • Let Your Love Flow by The Bellamy Brothers
  • Evil Woman by ELO
  • Get Closer by Seals and Crofts
  • Love is Alive by Gary Wright
  • Fly Robin Fly by Silver Convention
Do you need anything to write?

         I need peace. It's hard for me to write on my laptop in a Starbucks (I've tried, and sometimes it's my only option). I'd rather be upstairs in my little alcove, typing away on my regular old keyboard at my desktop computer.
How long do you write on any average day? 

          On a good day, I'll get three hours in. On a bad day, lucky to write for an hour.
Give us the number one reason to read your book. 
          Because we've all been where Robin Fortune is.

Author Info:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads | Pinterest

Set in New England at the time of the American Bicentennial, BEST SELLER is the poignant story of a displaced young woman struggling to figure out who she is within the context of her hometown and the carefully masked dysfunction of her family.

"Everything can be fixed by writing a check." Words to live by for Robin Fortune's wealthy father, until he can't buy her way back into college after she's expelled for dealing pot. Now he chooses not to speak to her anymore, but that's just one of the out-of-whack situations Robin's facing. At nineteen, she feels rudderless, working in a diner by day and sleeping with a buddy from high school by night - all so strange for her because she was always the one with the plan. While her college friends plotted how to ensnare husbands, she plotted a novel, which she scratched out into a series of spiral-bound notebooks she hides in the closet. But now, there's nothing. No vision, no future, no point. In fact, the only thing she feels she has to look forward to is that her favorite author, Maryana Capture, is paying a visit to the local Thousand Words bookstore. Robin surmises that if she can convince Maryana to help her get her novel published, she'll finally get herself back on track. Except that life never takes a straight path in this intensely satisfying coming-of-age novel.
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Dive into a world of enchantment and romance in this lush fantasy, which Stephanie Perkins, international bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, called "an absolute delight—a magical, sparkling, dangerous world with witty repartee and a romance that will light your heart on fire." Fans of Libba Bray and Cassandra Clare will fall in love with this captivating stand-alone novel from Kiersten White,New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy.
Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion's nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn't—power, money, status . . . and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

          Illusions of Fate is as delicious and delicately woven as its cover.

          Like all of Kiersten White's books, it features a strong female lead: Jessamine, a young islander now living on the continent that 'civilized' her homeland. (Think the British empire and colonization.) In a land where she is a second class citizen, Jessamine has to fight for every advantage she can get. I love how confident she is: proud and tall in the darkest circumstances. And boy does she go through some doozies! From being tortured to losing those close to her, she puts up a stiff lip and presses forward. She has a particularly snappy take on life. And Finn! Where do I even begin? Jessamine is so well-rounded there are points he seems underdeveloped by contrast. But still he epitomizes the dashing, mysterious, perfect gentleman magician with card tricks, charm spells, and a deep dark back story. I enjoy his flair immensely, but I approve of his utter adoration of Jessamine even more. He gives her his shadow, guys. HIS SHADOW. And it's all so sweet and desperately romantic I haven't been able to stop smiling all day.
Characters: 4 Stars

          Along with the heart-pounding romance comes all manner of political intrigue. Jessamine is suddenly thrown into life on the upper crust and finds it far more disturbing than she imagined. From one intricate thread to the next, the reader is led along a path that delves into the darker motives for expansion and the darker uses for magic, exploring exactly what it means to have a fate. With mystery upon mystery, we get to see Finn's metal tested and Jessamine's courage tried. The story moves fluidly through revelations faster and faster until culminating with a beautiful, shattering finale. I just wish there were more chapters after the climax! It's probably for the best it ended so quickly, or I might have passed out from not breathing.
Plot: 4.5 Stars

          I have always appreciated Kiersten White's respect for the reader. There are no shortcuts and no dumbing down. She doesn't write just to have more words to her name. Each story piece is tastefully crafted for its own place: no bigger or smaller than it merits. Illusions of Fate is exhilarating, swoon-worthy, and elegant.
Style: 5 Stars

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: 275 Pages
YA Fiction

Read the sampler on Amazon! You'll be hooked!

Interview & Giveaway: Daniel Costa

          I am 24 years old, I have lived in Rhode island for my entire life. I hope to visit some other continents in my life. I have a corgi dog. I have worked at Cumberland Farms for over two years now. I enjoy working out and playing video games like RPG's and MMO's

Favorite reads? 
          My favorite reads would be The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings, and Words of Radiance. The Mistborn Trilogy. The Broken Empire: Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, and Emperor of Thorns.

Inspirations for the book? 
          Inspirations would be the work of Brandon Sanderson. If not for reading his books, I probably would have never begun writing.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little? 
          I had no idea what I sought to be when I was little. I only recently desired to write last year.

Any Pet Peeves?
          I am currently working as an assistant at a Cumberland Farms, So a few pet peeves have originated from there. I hate it when people don't use Please and Thank you, and it annoys me to no end when someone ignores your hand and put the money on the counter instead. Other than that, nothing else.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
          Why not both? Reeses are my favorite treat! If eating them were actually healthy I would relocate to a Reeses factory and live on them. 

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
          Uhm, I couldn't accurately tell you the weirdest thing I have done before, since a lot of it was when I was young, and my memory tries to block out those things. But one time I did get my head stuck in a fence.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
         There is no soundtrack for the book. I'm not well versed enough in music pairing with scenes. My favorite music would have to be Rock though, Anywhere from 70's to 00's. 

Do you need anything to write? 
         I listen to epic and battle music on Youtube while I write. It lets me submerge myself into the fight scenes as I write them. 

How long do you write on any average day?
          Somedays I am unable to even get to writing due to work and taking care of my dog and her endless amount of energy. On average when I do write, I could get around a little over 2k words down. 

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
         Because you fall into a new world filled with lots of action, and magic, and a few funny parts which I hope are enjoyable for the reader.

Author Info: 

Nine Eons ago, the World of Atmotis was forged by The Originators. Following the Great Betrayal the World has been guarded by the Mystical Phoenix. Atmotis now has an unknown evil stirring. 

Here a paranoid Emperor strives to protect his realm from a mad deity; a few grief stricken sages learn ancient secrets lost to the world; an assassin sworn to a dark power undertakes his most arduous mission yet; and a retired mercenary pursuing vengeance come together in ways to support and thwart a young girl named Phae who realizes that her life has a greater purpose than cataloging books. 
This is a tale of Magick, weapons and martial arts; happiness, anguish and revenge; faiths shattered, loyalties questioned, and secret schemes. Can our hero save the world or will the blight consume it?

Review: Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind—things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers—and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both. 

When she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel—a boy with the ability to teleport—he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family—and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.

          Unfortunately, I have to say this book was a disappointment. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if the bar hadn't been set so high with her previous works. But this book just didn't feel like one of Sarah Beth Durst's.
          We meet Kayla as a punk, almost goth, girl blessed with Telekinesis who uses her power to steal things (definitely a non-mainstream character, but one that adds a unique twist to the story).  She lives with her new-age hippie Mom (who she affectionately refers to as Moonbeam). And they throw themselves into their strange life, because it's all an act. And if they drop the act, Kayla's murderer of a father will find them. Kayla's frustration is very understandable, and I appreciated that instead of taking out her frustrations on Moonbeam, she sees it as her duty to protect her. Their relationship is very sweet and refreshing in a YA world wrought with parent-teen conflict. However, Kayla never thinks of her stealing as wrong. I understand this isn't the point of the story and not everything can be tied up neatly in a bow, but nobody tells her to stop. Even at the end of the book when she is stealing for both her best-friend and her boyfriend it is held up as completely normal that she should use her powers to take whatever she wants. The book justifies this by showing she steals from a rich area, but Kayla causes a lot of trouble for the employees of the locations she hits and never spends a thought on it. I also had issue with her eventual boyfriend, Daniel, who's loquacious declarations of love consist of, "You're amazing.", 'You are Amazing', 'You are an amazing girl', 'I think you're the most amazing girl I've ever met', etc. But I did like Selena (the smart, sassy, rich best-friend with parent issues). She went through a smooth evolution from beginning to end, and it was nice to see her growth.
Characters: 2.7 Stars

          On a more positive note, the teleporting (Daniel's power) providing a constantly shifting setting rife with possibility. We get to see everywhere from the rain forest to lava lakes to the pyramids of Egypt: the changing scenery added a new urgency to the plot. I felt like each plot point was followed by an exhaustive amount of exposition that somewhat deflated the excitement. But it was a straightforward story and the characters kept their focus. It was fairly melodramatic at times, but, other than the exposition, there wasn't a lot of waiting around. The plot got to the point.
Plot: 3 Stars

          I feel like a lot of Chasing Power told instead of showed. To be completely honest, at some points I considered putting down the book entirely. However, that's not to say there were no saving graces. Sarah Beth Durst is very good at cohesion. Though, for me, this book was just okay, I loved and have always loved the purpose Sarah Beth Durst puts into her writing. there was no goofing off. Each scene had it's reason for existence and stuck to it till the end. If a sequel for Chasing Power appears, I won't pick it up. But I will absolutely be picking up the rest of Sarah Beth Durst's books, and you should too.
Style: 3 Stars

Rating: 2.9 Stars
Source: ARC for Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
YA Fiction

Check out Sarah Beth Durst's other books @!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Interview: Christine Sherborne

Favorite reads? 
   I love Barbara Erskine, and Stephen King.
Inspirations for the book? 
   I wanted use my wide knowledge of paranormal and religious conflict. 
Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
   I've always enjoyed writing and still have a notebook of stories from age eleven. 
Any Pet Peeves? 
   Prejudice in all it's forms. 
Chocolate or Peanut Butter? 
The weirdest thing you've ever done? 
   Tried to get an exchange with a student in Siberia. Luckily I didn't succeed. The follies of youth! 
Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music? 
   No. Love classical pop! 
Do you need anything to write? 
How long do you write on any average day? 
   I take a bike ride to get my brain moving then write from 9.00am - 3.00pm 
Give us the number one reason to read your book. 
   It has a message the world needs, but is put over in the form of a fast-paced exciting read.
Author Info:
Amazon Book Page:
You tube:

When extreme religious fundamentalists known as the Phineas Priesthood led by Ezekiel Yates and his three cousins, target Xantara Pembroke because they believe she is a witch, they launch a major conflict between unworldly disciples of good and evil. This 60,000-word, action-packed thriller shows the twists and turns of both sides as they try to destroy or save the souls of earth.
Imogene is the daughter of Xantara, a Guardian of Avebury Circle, an ancient monument near Stonehenge. For over three thousand years, wives of eight village families have performed ceremonies to heal local people, with power handed down from first daughter to first daughter. The Pembroke family encounter extreme prejudice from the Priesthood.
Braedon the village doctor is drawn into a world he didn't know existed to protect his daughter. His wife Xantara keeps her secrets and causes conflict in the marriage. All that is forgotten when Imogene levitates in Avebury Circle. 
Will the world believe Imogene’s incredible message?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spotlight: The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt. 

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope. 

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…

"The Last Breath will leave you breathless. This edgy and emotional thriller will keep you guessing until the very end."
     ---New York Times bestselling author HEATHER GUDENKAUF

The Last Breath releases September 30th, 2014. Check out Amazon for an excerpt and to pre-order.