30 June 2014

Book Blitz: Hideous: Devon McCormack



Hideous by Devon McCormack 
Publication date: June 19th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult


Synopsis:
Eight years ago, Luke Retter witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and sister at the hands of his demon-possessed father. He survived but lost a hand and an eye. The demon also burned its emblem into his skin, marking him as a cursed. Those who bear this mark are at risk of becoming possessed themselves, so they are monitored and enslaved by the state-run UCIS. Working as a slave is hard, but Luke prefers it to the possibility of being controlled by a demon.

One night, Luke wakes to find his worst nightmare coming true. His father’s demon has returned. In a panic, he runs to the only person who might be able to help: Zack, a cursed who ran away from the state and created an underground community to protect other fugitive curseds. Zack helps him suppress the demon. But the city’s become a time bomb, and Luke’s demon itches to escape.

With the UCIS closing in on Zack’s underground operation and Luke’s demon crafting its own, nefarious plot, Luke realizes that he must take a stand.


Guest Post: Devon McCormack
When I was little, my aunt bought me a hardback copy of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. They aren’t the cute, clean ones we see in Disney movies. They’re dark…twisted…sometimes even a little perverse. I remember being very surprised to read the sadistic punishment that Cinderella and her new hubby had in mind for the evil stepmother. Then there were other stories that I hadn’t seen watered-down versions of in movies and TV shows. “The Little Brother and Sister” was one of my favorites. In this story, a brother and sister escape their abusive stepmother, who is also a witch. The brother ends up being turned into a faun by a magical spring, and a man hunting him turns out to be a prince. The prince meets the sister, they marry, and they all live happily ever after, right? Wrong. The sister marries the prince and has a baby, but the stepmother murders her and has her other, disfigured daughter pose as the queen.

As a kid, that blew my mind. It was insane and unlike the sorts of fairy tales I’d previously been exposed to. But another story fascinated me even more. It was called “The Handless Maiden.” In this story, a demon talks a miller into cutting off his daughter’s hands. She ends up alone and wandering through the wilderness, where she runs into her Prince Charming. Again, this is not a happily ever after moment. Rather, after she gives birth to their child, her husband goes off to war. Meanwhile, the demon intercepts letters between the husband and his mother, trying to convince the mother to kill the queen and the baby. Ah! They end up having to flee the castle, and the king has to set out into the wilderness to find them. Of all the fairy tales, this one fascinated me the most, because it was one of the few that represented a physically flawed princess.
About a year ago, I decided I wanted to do a modernized retelling of “The Handless Maiden.” I liked the idea of a physically imperfect character—one that had to survive despite their handicap. I created the character of Luke in Hideous, who only has one eye and one hand, injuries he sustained when his father was possessed by a demon. I also wanted demons to exist in this story the way they exist in fairy tales. In “The Handless Maiden,” demons aren’t discussed as some bizarre anomaly, but rather something that is a known and common threat in the world. In Hideous, demons are a rampant problem in the world. They’re almost viewed as an epidemic. Those who are possessed are even referred to as “infected.”

Hideous tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy trying to survive this sort of world. Not only does he have his physical handicap, but he also was scarred with a mark from his demon. Those who bear this mark are referred to as “cursed,” and they are more likely to be possessed than most. However, monitoring curseds discourages demons from possessing them, so the government enslaves curseds and forces them to work in low paying jobs. Luke has worked for the state since he was eight, and now he works at an all-boys high school, where he has to watch all the other kids enjoying life, going about as if there isn’t this global demonic threat. Luke just wants to blend in. He plays by the rules, because he doesn’t want to end up in jail, which is
where noncompliant curseds are likely to end up. His desperate attempt to follow the rules falls apart when the demon that possessed his father returns to possess him...

This is the story behind my new young adult novel, available through Harmony Ink Press. If you get a chance, head over to Amazon or my publisher’s site and pick up your copy today.

Thanks for having me on the blog today!

Author Bio
Devon McCormack spends most of his time hiding in his lair, adventuring in paranormal worlds with his island of misfit characters. A good ole Southern boy, McCormack grew up in the Georgian suburbs with his two younger brothers and an older sister. At a very young age, he spun tales the old fashioned way, lying to anyone and everyone he encountered. He claimed he was an orphan. He claimed to be a king from another planet. He claimed to have supernatural powers. He has since harnessed this penchant for tall tales by crafting whole worlds where he can live out whatever fantasy he chooses.

A gay man himself, McCormack focuses on gay male characters, adding to the immense body of literature that chooses to represent and advocate gay men's presence in media. His body of work ranges from erotica to young adult, so readers should check the synopses of his books before purchasing so that they know what they're getting into.

Author links:

Kyrax

29 June 2014

Review: The Earl of Brass - Kara Jorgensen

Eilian Sorrell is an archaeologist, an explorer and an enthusiast of new sensations, sights and ideas. The one thing holding him back is his family... oh, and the fact that he will one day inherit his fathers title as the Earl of Dorset. Hadley Fenice is a forthright craftswoman working secretly for her brothers' prosthetic business, but has to take over when her older brother dies. When fate deals Eilian a difficult card in damaging his arm irreparably, the pair come together to fix him. Eilian asks Hadley along to an expedition to the Nagev desert, and what they find there is a wonderful adventure, and monumental learning curve.

The themes of this book are the things that stick out the most in your mind after reading it. There is a huge feminist slant on the entire thing, centering around Hadley's wish to do what she wants and not be hindered by simply being a woman. We even see her dress as a man in the hope that she will treated as an equal. There was also a distinct appreciation for how we live now in terms of male and female equality, however, when you compare that to the example given in the book, you find that we have a lot more to learn. Since this is primarily a steampunk novel, there was also a theme centered around other peoples' perceptions and the pressure that society keeps you under to maintain a good reputation. Thank God we don't have so much pressure on us now! This book really made me appreciate the fact that I was able to vote, or to hang out with guys and not be chaperoned, or to simply have a good education and working life.

Character-wise, there was a fairly small cast, making things very easy to remember, unlike other steampunk books I have read (I'm looking at you, Glass Books of the Dream Eaters). Eilian and Hadley were both extremely likeable and had especially strong traits. To me, it seemed like they were slightly too perfect, though. The only flaws I could find were Eilians missing arm and the fact that they were worried about what society might think of them. However, since one has nothing to do with his personality and the other is more a flaw of society, I must rule them both out.

Something that really stuck me as I was reading was the amount of research it must have taken to produce a book like this. There are intricate details of mechanisms, words I had never even heard of (until I looked them up on the Kindle), issues and ideas completely relevant to the Victorian time period, especially the preoccupation with India and even information on dress.

One of the few things that let the book down was the pacing. While the book was written in three very distinct parts, the pacing went from slow, to fast and back to slow again. For an ending, I prefer a fast pace because in this book it seemed that it took a very long time winding down. Despite some drama, it was just not in the same adventurous vein as the middle part, and therefore was a come-down after something quite exhilarating. In terms of the writing style, the author has used a third-person narrative that seems to roam through the thoughts of all of the characters. In some places, that got slightly confusing as you weren't sure who the narrator was referring to.

In spite of these issues, I still enjoyed the book very much and wonder how the author can go on to create more stories around Eilian and Hadley, as this is book one of The Ingenious Mechanical Devices. I think it is a perfect book for someone who needs a push into the world of steampunk; it doesn't have that boring Victorian-style droning, but instead has a sprinkling of romance and that all-important adventure.



The Earl of Brass on Goodreads
The Earl of Brass on Amazon

Thank you to the author, who kindly gifted me this book in return for a review. This has not affected my rating.

Kyrax

28 June 2014

Review: Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

After having this book and its sequels sat on my shelf for quite a while, I finally got around to reading them. I've been wanting to read something by Maria V. Snyder for a long time because I love the sound of her books. Reminiscent of Trudi Canavan, or perhaps Kristin Cashore both of whom I have read numerous times, her books centre on fantastical lands with magic at their core.

Poison Study is the first installment of the story of Yelena. We find her cowering in a dungeon with only the rats for company. She is taken away and offered a choice - she can be executed for murder, or she can be the Commander of Ixia's new food taster. She wants to survive, but how long will it last? Yelena must study poisons and people to learn what could kill her and who to trust. She soon realises that she has magical powers, which could also lead to her death, as using magic in Ixia is forbidden.

I loved the story. It was mostly set in the 'palace', where the King once lived and the Commander now lives. In that way I'd liken it to Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. It's about a woman seeking information and survival, but it's also about slow-building love, friendship and betrayal.

Yelena herself was perfect. She has an excellent character arc and reasons for her flaws which stem from past experiences. She has a deep power underneath it all that I think most people would empathise with. Underneath her flaws and insecurities there's a strong woman.

Valek is the man who gave her the option of being a food taster. He is complex and thoughtful, yet strong and immensely skilled. As a head of security and master assassin he has had to be pretty ruthless, but he has his reasons. I always liked him even when Yelena didn't. He's a very interesting character and his loyalty to the commander knows no bounds.

Then there's the baddie. Well, one of them. Brazell is a powerful man whose son Yelena killed. He is out for revenge and won't stop until he gets what he wants. He's a nasty piece of work, and that's all I shall say on the subject. The less said about him the better.

Snyder's writing is beautiful. It flows well and had me enraptured from the first page. She has structured it very nicely with well-paced action and interesting slower parts. The only thing I would say is that the ending felt a little rushed, with a bit too much information all at once. I would have liked to see a scene play out with Brazell.

Other than that the ending went much the way I thought it would have, which left me satisfied however I would have preferred more of a twist.

In all I think it's a very well rounded first novel for Snyder and I can only see her getting better with every book she writes. I very much look forward to grabbing the next in this series from my shelf to find out what happens next in Yelena's life.


Staceyx

27 June 2014

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement - Film Mini Review

Mini Review

Princess Mia is now 21 and has just graduated from education. Now, she is going to live in Genovia and learn how to be Queen from her grandmother. But there is a notorious plot to ruin her plans when it is announced that unless she marries, another will take the throne of Genovia away from her.

Good:

  • Chris Pine. Need I say more?
  • Much better outfits than the first one, and it's much less contemporary.
  • So much less teenage strops and angst and so much more mature handling of the role.
  • Is that Stan Lee in that scene with Julie Andrews before the wedding? It totally is!
  • Lessons Learnt: Practically the opposite of last time, sometimes you have to do what's right by you instead of what other people think you should do.
  • Some cute moments at the end, as well as a really nice coronation scene.
Bad:
  • The clumsiness thing is a bit overdone.
  • Story-wise, it's very rushed at the beginning.
  • The sleepover and the singing really doesn't work with the rest of the film, it gets really cliche and a bit boring to be honest!
  • Is it me, or is it trying too hard to still be relevant to teens by adding Raven in there?
  • You feel so sorry for Andrew, the guy she's basically being forced to marry.
Overall thoughts:

Much better than the first one in terms of moaning and hissy fits, a bit more mature and works it's way well into an older audience (which is exactly what the teens who loved the original would have been). Man candy in the form of Chris Pine is always good in my book.

Kyrax

26 June 2014

Book Blitz: Guarding Angel - S.L. Saboviec + Giveaway



Guarding Angel by S. L. Saboviec 
(Fallen Redemption #1) 
Publication date: May 19th 2014 
Genres: Adult, Fantasy


Synopsis:
"Guardian angel Enael can’t seem to keep her human Wards in check. They’re the ones who choose their paths before reincarnating - she’s just there to help make sure they stay on track. But it’s not as easy as it might look.

When she meets and falls in love with charismatic Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, Enael’s feelings about Heaven, Hell, demons, and the life she’s known are turned upside down. Worse, angel-turned-demon Yasva, Kaspen’s former love, still holds him in her clutches. Even as Yasva works toward obtaining complete control of Earth, she taunts and haunts Kaspen’s and Enael’s lives.

Now Enael is forced to face her past (which is centuries long and bursting with secrets), her present (which is terribly unfulfilling and full of questions), and her future (which becomes more uncertain as time passes). Armed with a newfound love and fear of losing it all, she must figure out how to save the world - and the angel she loves. Which side will win? Who will Kaspen choose? Will Heaven and Earth continue to exist, or will everything go to Hell?"

Sounds awesome doesn't it?

Guarding Angel on Goodreads 

Purchase:

Guest Post: On Reincarnation

Have You Lived Before?
One of the central ideas in the world of Guarding Angel is reincarnation. The main character, a guardian angel named Enael, is responsible for guiding the spiritual growth of her Wards during one of their lives. One woman is only on her second life, while another man is on his sixty-fifth. Their common characteristic is having lived multiple lives and the desire to experience certain things on their return to Earth.

Many Westerners (you, perhaps?) don’t believe in reincarnation because the predominant religion here is Christianity. To believe in being born more than once is heresy because it is contrary to the purpose of this life. However, evidence suggests that past lives are not only a possibility, but they shape who we are, what we fear, and even physical traits in our current lives.

Children That Know What They Shouldn’t
My favorite type of past life stories are children who recall living before. From the little girl who can describe the moment of her previous death to the little boy who has an uncanny knowledge of details relating to his previous profession, I love hearing them.

Children’s Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child by Carol Bowman is a fascinating read if you want to delve in-depth into what two- to five-year-old children routinely remember from previous lives. If you want some quick snippets of stories, the blog article 10 Amazing Things Kids Have Said About Past Lives is sure to give you goosebumps.

So How Did You Die?
One interesting belief about reincarnation is that a violent, sudden, and unhappy death may cause birthmarks in future lives. As the Wikipedia article on birthmarks states, “the exact cause of birthmarks is not known.” Not definitive proof, of course, but speculation is interesting. Mikhail Gorbachev’s port-wine stain on the top of his head is one of the most famous birthmarks in the world. Is it just me or is it reminiscent of two hatchet marks? Ouch.

I have one birthmark. It’s a one-inch oblong mark with jagged edges on my inner thigh. I’ve contemplated how I could have died from a wound like that. Since it’s over my femoral artery, I think that perhaps a few lives ago, I died of an arrow or a bullet wound in the leg. Was I a Native American, running from an enemy? Or a Civil War veteran who took a shrapnel hit and bled out on a battle field? At this point, I’d rather not know, but it’s interesting to speculate.

Your Irrational Fear Might Not Be So Irrational After All
Another unpleasant aspect of having lived - and died - before is that our souls remember what our conscious minds don’t.

Part of why reincarnation is on my mind (besides the release of my book!) is that I recently had a past life reading. I asked the psychic a few general questions, one of which was, “I have an irrational fear of
dying a certain way. Why is that?” Don’t get me wrong - I believe in psychic phenomena and past lives, but I’m also well aware of leading questions, so I made this one as general as possible.

The answer was, paraphrased: I had lived two lives where I had drowned. The first was when I lived on an island. A tidal wave crashed over where I lived, and many people died. The second was on a boat. The boat broke apart during a storm and I drowned in the ocean.

When I asked the question, I wasn’t expecting that response. Instead, I was thinking about how I can’t handle horror movies in which people get eviscerated (even typing the word makes me shudder). That started when I was in seventh grade and read Jurassic Park. The scene where those spitting dinosaurs kill Dennis Nedry still haunts me.

But then I remembered: A few years ago, I developed an irrational fear of water deeper than my shoulders. When I told my husband about the past life reading, he said, “Yeah, I remember. We were at a hotel, and you were in the deep end, and you said, ‘I can’t stand to be in here. I have to get out.’” And when we went to Jamaica a year ago, I was ok being in the ocean because it was clear and no more than shoulder-deep. But when I’d been to Puerto Rico years before and the water was cloudy, I was terribly afraid.

I can’t tell you if I drowned in a past life. I can tell you that the fear came upon me in recent years - growing up, I loved swimming pools. You couldn’t keep me out of them. But one of the aspects of phobias caused by past lives is that they may come upon a person when they reach the age at which they died.

So Have You Lived Before?
Whatever you believe, the idea of living multiple times is a fascinating one. It’s interesting to consider that we could be leaving a legacy throughout history more than just creating offspring by living and dying multiple times.

What about you? Got any interesting birthmarks you’d like to hazard a guess about? Any irrational fears that cropped up recently? Have you talked to a child lately that knows way too much about 1800’s London?

-----

I actually have a few thoughts on that subject: I've been really interested in the whole idea of reincarnation for a while now and this guest post has really made me think, especially the part about birthmarks. I also have a birthmark on my thigh, but it is straight in the middle and kind of oval, so I'm kind of wondering whether I got killed my a bullet in a war and bled out too much. I guess only hypnotism will find that answer!


Author Bio:
Samantha grew up in a small town in Iowa but now lives in the suburbs of Toronto with her Canadian husband and expatriate cat. In her spare time, she reads, writes, and thinks about reading and writing - along with playing the occasional video game or eight.

Author links:
www.saboviec.com



This is an International giveaway for one ebook copy of Guarding Angel. To enter please fill in the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Kyrax

25 June 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #11



This week's wishlist is very much to do with death. I don't have a weird obsession with it, but for some reason strange deathly powers and zombies are a really cool thing to read about for me:

The Body Finder - Kimberley Derting
A girl who has the power to sense dead bodies and find the creature that killed them. A serial killer ravaging the town she lives in. She may be the only one who can find them. Ohhh, this sounds good!

The Body Finder on Goodreads


Shatter Me/ Unravel Me/ Ignite Me - Tahereh Mafi
Dystopian world? Check. Strange power? Check. Love? Check. Action? Check. Sounds good to me! But it's not just all that, it's the power I love the idea of; the idea of being able to kill someone with just one touch puts me in mind of Rogue from X-Men, but hopefully that's where the resemblance to that franchise stops. We shall have to wait and see!

Shatter Me on Goodreads


My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers Series) - Rachel Vincent
A girl who knows when people are about to die, who can't help but scream when they do. Banshees are an amazing idea to write about, and there aren't many books out there that deal with this creepy paranormal creature. I love the premise, so I really hope this series is good! There are tons of these books, so it should keep me busy for a while.

My Soul to Take on Goodreads


Revived - Cat Patrick
A story about a girl who has died and been revived several times by means of a Government Drug Testing Programme. I'd love to see how the author handles the idea of death and rebirth in this one. Sounds like a good almost-dystopia with a real focus on identity and death.

Revived on Goodreads

Kyrax

24 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #11 - Topics I Love Reading About

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where I will be picking from their top tens and attempting to reveal what my thinking is behind these choices.


Topics I Love Reading About:

1. Time Travel
Time Travel has so much potential. You can add to events that have already happened or invent a futuristic world, you can change events and affect timelines, you can give accounts of prehistory and you can make it completely silly if you want to. Characters have so many fascinating moral questions to ask themselves when it comes to this topic, and there can be so many loyalties and ties. A huge topic that never gets old.

2. Hidden Worlds
There are so many books out there with hidden worlds in, and yes, mostly they're supernatural or paranormal in origin, and I love that. Neverwhere, The City's Son, Mortal Instruments, Rivers of London, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Ingo.. the list never ends. There are so many ideas and so much inspiration, I don't think I'll run out of reading for this topic, either.

3. Supernatural Powers
Throw me a book with someone who has weird powers, or with someone who discovers a paranormal creature and I will guzzle it down. Every Other Day, Runemarks, The Body Finder, Impostor, Some Quiet Place, Between the Lives; these are all examples of this idea being worked to very different effects. Some of these I haven't read yet. and I really can't wait!

4. A Spin on a Classic
Recently I've fallen out of love with Fairytale spins and now I want something a bit different; I want classic tale spins. I've seen a few about Peter Pan, such as Alias Hook and Tiger Lily, and a couple of Oliver Twist; Dodger, The Artful and Olivia Twisted being a couple of examples. Broom with a View caught me by surprise, being a witchy retelling of Room With a View. I can't wait to get started on Splintered by A.G Howard for her take on Alice in Wonderland. I wonder how many more takes on a classic I can find!

5. Strong Female Characters
Simply the idea of a kick-ass heroine is my cup of tea. Think Lyra from His Dark Materials, Celaena from Throne of Glass, Vin from the Mistborn series or Arya from Game of Thrones; these are the kind of girls I like to see.

6. Assassins and Murders
Speaking of Throne of Glass, and Game of Thrones, I love a bit of action and violence. I even like a bit of blood, as long as it doesn't make me gag while I'm reading it. I find it really easy to write as well, but enough of that. Assassins and Murder make for a really interesting book, full of important moral questions and difficult decisions for characters. It's tough for me not to like a book that runs deeper through the human nature. Another good series to read would be His Fair Assassin as well, that also has a bit of religion thrown in for good measure.

7. Steampunk
Every steampunk-style book I've read so far has been great! I love the Victorian era and the addition of creepy cogs and steam power. But I love it even more when someone takes the genre and twists it further to combine with another one. Take The Infernal Devices, for example. This is primarily a sort of supernatural style book, but add in a few creepy machines and a Victorian setting, and you get something quite different to Cassandra Clare's other series, The Mortal Instruments. Or The Silver Sickle, where the steampunk leanings really add something special to the sci-fi setting.

8. Dystopian Settings
I'm a sucker for dystopia. I love the classics like 1984 and Brave New World, but some of the YA dystopian fiction is pure genius. Among my favourites are The Hunger Games, The Selection, Maze Runner, Wither and The Handmaid's Tale. I find it so interesting that so many people have ideas about who the world could be. So many thought What If..? and came up with answers that many people couldn't dream of. I love the fact that the dystopian genre is a way of getting concerns out in the open. Take Breathe, for example, the question asked is: What if we got rid of all the trees? Lo and behold, the world left behind is imperfect and imbalanced, with a minuscule population forced to live in huge bubbles because without them they would die in the earth's atmosphere. It really makes you stop and think about the big issues.

9. Fantasy Creatures
So Vampires and Zombies are off the cards for now, but I'm not bored of witches yet, or trolls, or goblins, or banshees, or fairies (yet, my limit is coming up soon), or even ghosts. I'd just like to see something original and a bit strange, which is why I find The Soul Screamers series, the Trylle Series and  Stolen Songbird so intriguing. There's something great about the lesser known paranormal entities coming to the fore.

10. Fairytale Elements
I may have lied slightly about being sick of fairy tales. I am not completely, but now I find myself being pickier. I prefer having elements rather than a whole retelling, I prefer mixed genres like in The Lunar Chronicles, sometimes I like it to be firmly grounded in reality like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and I prefer something stupendously unexpected happening.

Bonus!
11. Hyped to Must-Read Status
If a book has been hyped at me so much every single person seems to have read it but me, the chances are, I will give it a go out of pure curiosity. I love to try out new things, so even if it's not within my usual boundaries, I decide it might be worth the risk. Recommendations made to me nearly always get a chance. For example; I had no intention to read Anna and the French Kiss, but since a Goodreads friend recommended it to me, I've decided to give it a go.

Which kind of books do you love to read about?
Kyrax

23 June 2014

Tour Stop (Review): The Silver Sickle - Ellie Ann + Giveaway




The Silver Sickle by Ellie Ann 
Published by: Stonehouse Ink
Publication date: July 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
For fans of steampunk, cyberpunk, Veronica Roth, Scott Westerfield, and Allie Condie.

My Review:

Farissa is consecrated, and that means that one day quite soon, she will be taken to the Silver Sickle to be harvested. This is what the Amar, the alien Godesses, have a sacrifice to ensure that they the steam power going and the armies away.

Zel loves Farissa, and is determined that she can be saved from her fate, because those that go to the Silver Sickle never return. The Amar say that they will be reincarnated as Amar, but deep down, Zel does not believe that. Zel has discovered a secret that the Amar do not want people to know about; they can be killed, and he has invented a weapon capable of doing just that.

But there is a larger secret that out protagonists do not know about, and a message from a fleeing Cogsman reveals; 'The end of humanity will come through the Silver Sickle.'

At first I read this book thinking that the plot seemed a little bit obvious; the plan had already been laid out, everything was already happening, and then, quite suddenly, all that got turned on its head. The fact that the plans went wrong was brilliant, as it put the characters into some very difficult positions. When I got to the middle, I really couldn't stop reading. The plot became quite complex, and at one point I wondered if the characters were even going to make it out alive. Everything kept going wrong for them and it built up to a great climax.

The book is full of action and interesting scenes. I loved the inclusion of Gira's perspective (the leader of the aliens) as well as the perspectives of Farissa and Zel. You really got a nice rounded story without too much being given away. As for the scenes, there are some chapters at the Harem and with the King from Farissa that are funny and scary; the range of emotion is quite staggering. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think that this would make a great movie; there was lots of action, suspense, emotion and a balance of viewpoint that would lend its-self well to a film.

The characters were very good. I personally really liked the Cogsmen, who added a whole steampunk quality to this book, and the way that they were limited but still managed to help despite that. Farissa was a strong and fairly amusing heroine,  by far the biggest personality in the book. I loved the scene when she gives a girl from the harem exactly what she deserves (but you better read this to find out what she did... spoilers, you know).

In any Sci-fi/ dystopia setting, the world-building is key, and Ellie Ann nails it. The situation is described fluidly within the text, without any info-dumps and it builds a fairly complex world, complete with a small history.

This is a really good read, especially for people who like Sci-fi. dystopia and saving-the-world-type novels. Even though it's a YA novel, it didn't really feel like it, so adults will definitely get a kick out of reading it.


Author Bio:
Ellie Ann is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of science fiction, comics, and thrillers.

I was born in the jungles of Thailand, was raised in a small farming village in Iowa, lived in the middle of a Texan desert, and now abide in the Ozarks.
I like writing fairy tales, tall tales, thrillers, science fiction, and am seriously interested in transmedia storytelling.

I’m a creative editor for Stonehouse Ink. I’m a producer of interactive books at Noble Beast.

Come say hi! I don’t bite. Unless I’ve been turned into a zombie.

Author Links:


This is the Tour-wide giveaway, courtesy of the author, for a 25$ Amazon Gift Card. To enter, please fill in the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kyrax

22 June 2014

Review: The One - Kiera Kass


I finally bought it! Yaaay!

The first chapter allows you to dive straight into this book; it is simply as if you have never been away. It was like I didn't even have to try to remember The Elite, because the main twists were covered pretty nicely with 'looking back' type sentences. I hate it when a book tries to recap too much, it gets boring, so I'm really glad this didn't happen.

OK, so to recap for those of you who didn't get quite so caught up in the story as me, or for those of you who read it back in the dark ages and can't remember what just happened. America is chosen to be in the final four of The Selection, nearly screws up her chances entirely (several times) and then finally, finally, decides to stay and fight for Maxon. We found out that Maxon's dad, King Clarkson, is a complete and utter a-hole (please excuse the language, but I couldn't find a better word to describe him).

So talking about the actual story-line, the competition seems to be getting to all the girls, but now that it's just them, they all have to try extra hard to win Maxon over. America is trying, and yet somehow she goes back a step in her character arc. Yet again we see her arguing with Maxon, going over the same things she's been worried about in the first and second books, and now we have an extra issue; she wont admit to herself she actually loves the guy. I could have face-palmed, but I didn't. Strangely, these parts didn't annoy me quite as much as they did in The Elite. Maybe it is because America has matured a bit more, and maybe it's because she isn't toying around with the two boys so much. 

I loved the fact that there was a lot more dystopian type events going on here; a few attacks, a bit more subversion on America's part, sneakily doing things against the King's wishes... I thought it was all great. I noticed that it was a lot more serious though, less laugh out loud moments and more crying, or more horrible things happening.

Now for the big part: this book is the last in the series, so I really have to say something about the conclusion. You can all breathe out a sigh of relief! There are a few things you can really see coming, mostly things that have to happen to get the world back to rights. You guess what happens with Aspen eventually, but that doesn't matter because it was all so satisfying. There were a few shocking deaths thrown in there that you really don't see coming, but that just added to the whole feeling of the final chapters. I actually teared up at a death of a character who I totally detested in The Selection.. that says something for the story, doesn't it?

It was a really absorbing read, and I couldn't put it down. I couldn't stop thinking about it, actually; I just had to see what was going to happen!

The One on Goodreads

Kyrax

21 June 2014

The Princess Diaries - Film Mini Review

Mini Review

Mia is a nerd and an outcast, trying to get through high school. She feels invisible, that is, until she receives a visit from her grandmother and she discovers that she is the heir to the Genovian throne. A cute comedy with some tough lessons.

The Good:

  • Lessons learnt: don't try to be someone you're not, don't ditch your friends for new-found popularity. You have the ability to change the world, but change the world for others, not just for yourself.
  • Julie Andrews as Queen Clarisse was a great casting choice
  • The Princess lessons are pricelessly funny
  • A perfect teen story, involving something every little girl dreams about; being a princess
  • Also perfect for teens due to themes of love, bullies and parent/family issues
  • Anne Hathaway's teen attitude is absolutely spot on

The Bad:

  • Extremely contemporary to that time period, so everything looks dated, especially the scooters that the girls ride to school.
  • Mia's best friend, Lilly, is really annoying.
  • This is one of the times I'd rather not see Mandy Moore acting.. also, she was definitely used for her voice in this to appeal to teens.
  • Riddled with teen angst, melodrama and buzz words.
Overall impression: Watch when you want something cutesy and teen-like.

20 June 2014

Book Blitz: Sticks and Stones - Shawn McGuire + Giveaways



Sticks and Stones by Shawn McGuire 
(The Wish Makers #1) 
Publication date: June 15th 2014 
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Everyone has a dark side. Mandy’s just moved in with her.
The last time sixteen-year-old Mandy Matteo broke a rule, her sister died. Since that day she has done only what is expected of her, but life as a goody-goody has made Mandy so boring her friends have all but abandoned her. And she’s given up on ever getting Ethan, the boy she’s liked forever, to notice her. Desperate, Mandy makes a wish to simply be happy.
Her wish is granted and happiness arrives in the form of Lexi, her childhood imaginary friend come to life. Magical wishes have conditions though: Once started, the wish cannot be altered or stopped. And once Mandy is truly content with her life again, Lexi must go back to where she came from. But Lexi loves being alive and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay that way.

Purchase


Author Bio

Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid: she couldn’t wait for the next one so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. She grew up in the beautiful Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota, the small town that inspired the setting for Sticks and Stones and the upcoming Break My Bones. After graduating college she moved to the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) where she lived for many years. She and her family now call Colorado home and when not writing or reading, Shawn enjoys cooking and baking, crafts, interior decorating, and spending time hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

Author Links:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3231214.Shawn_McGuire



I am hosting my own giveaway for an ebook copy of Sticks and Stones. It is open internationally, so if you do want a copy, please fill out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is the Blitz-wide Giveaway for a handmade bracelet, also open internationally. Again, just fill in the rafflecopter below to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kyrax

19 June 2014

Review: The Casquette Girls - Alys Arden

Welcome to a storm-torn New Orleans, where the water level rose so high that people died trapped in their own attics, where crime is rife and people have been found murdered in the street. Now the water and the storm have subsided, Adele and her father come back to the city to salvage what is left of their lives. For Adele this journey is much tougher than she ever expected as she struggles juggling strange occurrences, murders, a new school and family issues. Soon, all that comes to the fore and Adele find herself fighting for the truth, only to find herself plagued by a very old curse that she has everything to do with.

This book was very unexpected for me. I had only read the blurb when I picked it up, so the prescence of something supernatural was kind of expected, but what those entities were really wasn't! Spoiler alert guys, this is, in fact, a vampire book... and a witchy book. Now, I don't usually go in for vampires any more, not with the travesty of sparkles haunting the once-terrifying version of them that I had in my head, but you know what? This book has changed my mind yet again. I really enjoyed the way that the creatures were portrayed in both a sympathetic light and as cunning monsters by using several characters to display their strengths and weaknesses, and their underlying humanity. There was one part in a diary entry, on a boat, where the story began to played out rather too much like Dracula for my liking, but it was a really lovely nod to the classic tale that made vampires what they are today.

The narrative was beautifully written. It flowed really well and although it had a fairly slow start, the build up and the confusion at first makes the rest of the story even more interesting for the reader. I was quite caught off guard at one point, when about a third into the book, we suddenly had a diary entry instead of the usual prose, written by Adele's ancestor, Adeline. This threw me off slightly, as I had just started getting really into Adele's story. However, once Adeline's story geared up, I enjoyed these diary entries enormously too.

The way that the story fit together was seamlessly done. I loved the way that every character had a reason for being there, and the way that things said earlier in the book make total sense eventually. You can never quite see the relevance of someone like Emile, for example, until they come into the story yet again in a quite unexpected way. At the end there are a few glaring omission ready for the next book, the chief among them being; what exactly was the freak storm? It was not natural, for sure.

As for characters, I found Adele a great character with a strong, charismatic voice. You can really sympathise with her, and she isn't your usually whiny teenager type either. Although her cluelessness at the beginning goes on for too long, she quickly becomes the perfect heroine for me; slightly flawed with plenty of courage, attitude and brains. The other characters were so well drawn you could imagine them standing in the room, but it was Desiree and Isaac who really took centre-stage as they both slowly grow on you, just as they do with Adele.

Nothing is as it seems to begin with, and this book certainly packs a punch at the end. There is a fair bit of suspense and a lot of action, as well as a couple of surprises. A truly well-written book with only minor issues.

Kyrax

18 June 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #10




Today's wishlist is all about compilations. I'm not a huge reader of short stories, so it takes me a while to get through books with lots in, but these few are books that I'm more than willing to read;

A Cat, a Hat, and a Piece of String - Joanne Harris
Another book to add to my ever-growing Joanne Harris collection. I have half a shelf of her works now, and I think I'm only missing this and Runelight in terms of fiction. I still have yet to read all of Jigs and Reels, but from what I've read so far, it's pretty good stuff!

A Cat, a Hat, and a Piece of String on Goodreads


Shards and Ashes - Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong et al
A series of dystopian stories, told by the likes of Veronica Roth, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia. This is something I am dying to have a read of due to the amazing ideas that people can come up with for dystopias. Also, the cover is brilliant.

Shards and Ashes on Goodreads


The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter
I had this one recommended to me after I told a friend about my love for all things fairytale. Apparently these are fairytale retellings with dark, sinister twists. It sounds exactly like my sort of thing! It has some amazing comments of Goodreads, so I'm really looking forward to reading it.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories on Goodreads

17 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #10 - Places to Read



Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where I will be picking from their top tens and attempting to reveal what my thinking is behind these choices.

I actually found this Top Ten really difficult! There are only so many places you can go to read a book! Luckily, I managed it... just. This is an attempt for you to get to know the real me; the lazy me who likes nothing better than to sit around reading instead of typing away at a computer screen. I hope you like it!



Places to Read:

1.Lying outside, on the grass, in the sun.

Isn't that just the best way to read? On a beautiful day there's nothing better than getting a tan whilst immersing yourself in a good book.

2.On holiday.
You have absolutely nothing better to do. You have no worries about work and no qualms about spending too much time reading when you should be doing something productive. Bliss.

3.On a park bench in the sun.
Nothing feels better than surrounding yourself with beautiful things and wonderful smells, so sitting on a park bench near some roses really brings me a sense of relaxation.

4.Snuggled up in bed next to my boyfriend.
I love the companionship that goes with this one. We are spending time with each-other whilst doing something that we both love. Yes, in effect we are ignoring each-other, but it really doesn't feel like that.

5.In a onesie (or under my snuggie, depends how I'm feeling), a cup of tea in one hand and my Kindle in the other.
Sometimes I don't care where I'm reading as long as I'm warm and settled. The Kindle is helpful because it frees up your hands to do other things, so I love reading it with a nice cuppa.

6.Under a bright light, cushioned into the corner of the sofa with the fire burning.
This is my all-time favourite position for cold evenings, and is sometimes accompanied by the prescence of the aforementioned onesie or snuggie.

7.In a warm conservatory
I love going outside and reading, it's true, but I get hot and cold too easily. A conservatory fixes all my problems, as if it's too windy outside for me to be warm enough, I simply sit in the corner on a chair and read there. The best part is, you get loads of light to read by and are still nearly surrounded by nature and quiet.

8.Whilst travelling on long journeys
Any journey will do, really. I don't get travel-sick, so long journeys are a perfect excuse to get stuck into a book. These can range from an hour or two to the gruelling hours it takes to traverse european countries so I can go on holiday somewhere slightly warmer. The great thing is, it's very comfy in a car, and sometimes I'll bring  blanket or something to wrap myself in so it's pretty snuggly too.

9.On the way to work, on the bus
I will read anywhere, but the short minutes I get to myself on the bus to work are best spent reading. That way, I forget I'm even going there and am transported to somewhere else entirely.

10. On a beach
Sandy beaches are great, as long as you don't mind ruining your book with sand a bit, of course. I try to read light fiction that I'm unlikely to pick up again here, and so the day passes quite nicely. Stony beaches are a bit more difficult; I have to bring a chair for them!


Kyrax

16 June 2014

Author Love #3



Today is a day of appreciation for no reason other then love. Therefore I am sharing with you one of my absolute favourite authors. His work is amazing and has been translated from Spanish to many different languages. You will find him at the very end of every fiction shelf, always with a recommendation or two. In fact, that was where I first found him.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón (yay! I worked out how to make the 'o' accented!).

I love find new and interesting things to read, but I hardly ever get any recommendations. However, one day I was browsing the Waterstones shelves looking for something interesting when my eye caught a recommendation card sitting in front of the book. I will never know what possessed me to kneel down and read it, but I am glad I did, or I'd have never found this incredible writer.

The first book I read was The Shadow of the Wind, because the one thing that came from that recommendation card was the idea of a book about books. Naturally, as a self-confessed bibliophile the idea never left me. In fact it stagnated until one day I went back into Waterstones a few months later simply to buy the book that I had read about only once. I could not put it down.

Zafón is a truly imaginative writer who writes very thought-provoking books. He has beautifully descriptive prose, a great sense of suspense and very complex stories. Perhaps his best work, though, is in his YA books, which are ghost stories. The Prince of Mist, for example, is incredibly chilling and has never left my mind. It is definitely on the re-read pile.

Please go read one of his books!

I cannot wait to read Marina, his most recent children's book (see it on Goodreads here).

Carlos Ruiz Zafón on Goodreads

Kyrax

15 June 2014

New Rating System - Yay!

So I have officially done away with the 'out of 10' rating system I have been using. I decided this morning that it was too difficult to find the rating  in all that text, and let's face it, icons are way cuter.

So without further ado here is the slightly-less-grand-than-it-ought-to-be reveal of my new rating system:

Love Hearts!


They're so cute, quite simple, and really easy to see on my black and white background. I hope you like them and I hope it makes it easier for you to read my blog.

Kyrax

Review: The Shadow Rising - Robert Jordan (4 of 14)

Just a quick warning before I start. This review will contain spoilers from the previous books! So if you do not want to know until you have read it I suggest you put off reading this for a little bit.

Rand al'Thor has taken the Stone of Tear and with it Callandar, fulfilling the biggest and most recognized portents of the Prophecy of the Dragon. Now the world knows and dreads what it to come, but who will follow willingly and who will have to be forced into line? Now with the Forsaken Sammael in Illian is striking at him the next move or does the passage of the Prophecy that suggests it have another meaning altogether. With all this to worry about still his greatest concern in Saidin, and with no one alive who can teach him how to control it, will it destroy him before he can learn? With rumours of trouble in the Two Rivers Perrin Aybara makes his way back, ready to sacrifice himself, but will he find the situation more complicated than his plans allowed for, and with Faile trailing in his wake what will he not do to protect her? Nynaeve al'Meara and Elayne Trakand continue their hunt for the Black Ajah into the troubled city of Tanchico. With a threat to Rand hidden somewhere in the city can they find it before it can be used against him and is another of the Forsaken about to take a hand? In the north Min Farshaw arrives in Tar Valon, but is even the White Tower free of the worlds struggles? Will secrets long hidden be revealed and what will it lead to? Discontent? Rebellion? Treason?! The world is falling apart but does Rand al'Thor have what he needs to unite it, or is there one more thing he must attain before he makes his move?

The Shadow Rising is the fourth book written by Robert Jordan in The Wheel of Time series. This is the longest book in the series and is the first book not to contain a prologue. With the characters once again splitting up at the start of the book we follow four main plot-lines, although we do begin to see little snippets in some chapters that give us information on what is developing in the rest of the world. The book also is the first to develop and build on the romantic entanglements that have thus far only been suggested in earlier books. With Perrin and Faile coming together at the end of The Dragon Reborn we see their relationship develop as they head towards the dangers in the Two Rivers. Also we see Rand in his first romantic relationship with Elayne Trakand, although they go their separate ways early in the book. The translation twist in the passage of the Prophecy of the Dragon, quoted my Moiraine, is very cleverly done and could easily mean what she thinks it does on face value. At the end of the book however you can see clearly how it was not but not having the relevant information to see this before allows you to go through the whole book unsure of what the next move has to be. The pace of the book slows down slightly now; it is not a chase but there in no standing still with all characters constantly moving towards their differing goals.

Once again this book is a brilliant read and with Rand al'Thor thoroughly back in the picture we can begin to move forward again. Where in the last book you knew where you were heading almost from the start, this book allows no such knowledge. Everything that happens is a surprise with the characters themselves not often sure where they are headed and those that think they are keeping it close to their chest. It all combines to add an air of excitement and anticipation for the reader throughout!

10 out of 10!

Ashley

14 June 2014

Review: Glamour in Glass - Mary Robinette Kowal

The second book in the Glamourist Histories is every bit as good as Shades of Milk and Honey, and in some ways even better as Jane is integrated into a lifestyle much more suited to her tastes and talents. The regency words and manners are still there, but we have hopped from England over the channel, and into a very war-torn Belgium (then known as the part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands). Napoleon has abdicated and gone into exile, but there is still tension brewing and if you know your history, there would soon be an outbreak of fighting. The issue is that our newly-wed couple, Jane and Vincent, have gone to Belgium to stay with an old glamourist friend of Vincent's, and suddenly they find themselves in a very serious situation.

Historical fiction is made even better when it directly affects historical events. In this particular story, I love that the events during the Napoleonic Wars directly affect our protagonists, and I love how they, in turn, get involved with the events nearing the end of the wars. This all lends an air of time and place that was never fully realised in the first book.

Marriage and trust are huge ideas in the book, as is the pushing of boundaries for women. I love the way that the manners displayed in Belgium directly juxtapose those displayed in England, and I love the way that Jane's character grows as a result of this; in being shown that she does not have to act in a certain way, and that a woman's opinion does matter. The fact that Jane even becomes the hero of the tale, despite many obstructions is very admirable. She fights for her husband no matter what others may think of her, and her determination, cleverness and ideas make her a slightly more contemporary heroine than her Austen-styled rivals.

The ending is superb; a lot more life-threatening than in the first book and with far more action and tension. What begins as a seemingly everyday regency-style novel with threads of magic woven in becomes a tense and fairly thrilling read. Admittedly, there was a part of the end I could see coming a long way off, and it did feel slightly rushed, but really most of the end was quite unexpected.

Glamour, spies and Napoleon all come together to a surprisingly good effect, therefore it gets a 9 out of 10.

Kyrax

13 June 2014

Cover Reveal: Time Shifters - Laura N. Anile






Time Shifters by Laura N. Anile 
(Beyond Time #1) 
Publication date: June 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

Synopsis:
‘My blood runs cold, and I see the horror etched in the boy’s reflection. Anxiety seeps into my chest, making my heart hammer. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how I got here. But what worries me most is: I don't know who the hell is looking back at me in the mirror."
When you wake up in the wrong body within a futuristic world, being yourself can get you killed.
17-year-old Ryder is on his way to school when he experiences a pain like he has never felt before. He awakes in a mysterious lab to discover that, as a victim of an unauthorized transfer, he has been pulled into the year 2127.
Now Ryder’s life depends on him succeeding in making everyone believe that he is Ziron, the boy that swapped places with him in 2015. If he fails, he will be captured, imprisoned, or worse. Ryder only has to survive two weeks in this futuristic world he doesn't understand. But two weeks is a long time when you don’t know who to trust, and when you have to keep away from a girl you have sworn to protect.
Kira refuses to stay away, so how can he prevent her from discovering his secret? And how can he be with her when she thinks he’s someone else?
Time is running out for Ryder to unravel the conspiracy and uncover the answer to the biggest question of all: Just why did Ziron risk everything to change places with him? And what exactly has Ryder been pulled into?
In a desperate quest to find his way home, Ryder will stop at nothing to protect the girl of his dreams, and the secret that could destroy everything.
The expected release date is June 16 (Amazon), with iTunes, Kobo and B&N to follow. For further information, please go to www.LauraAnile.com
View the book trailer: www.LauraAnile.com/trailer.html
Read the first chapter: www.LauraAnile.com/sneakpeek.html

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22238675-time-shifters



Author Bio:
Laura has had a lifelong love of writing, which she explored in a successful marketing career before penning her first novel. She is fascinated by the ideas of fate and interconnectedness, central themes in her story. She loves all things humorous, laughs too loudly and finds her own jokes amusing. She has a passion for traveling and exploring the world but has a phobia of suspect hotel rooms with questionable hygiene. And, oh yeah, she isn't clairvoyant and doesn't own any crystal balls.
In addition to 'Visions', she has also written a collection of short stories, entitled 'Unmasked Secrets'.
For more information, please go to www.lauraanile.com.
Author Links:
Facebook: Laura N. Anile, Author