Thursday, 30 May 2013

Review - Sky Song by Sharon Sant

Sky Song (Sky Song trilogy #1)

A strange-eyed boy with no memory of his true identity or real parents, Jacob could have no idea of the mortal danger he has been in every day of his fifteen years. Now that danger has found him and suddenly he doesn’t know who he can trust and what is real anymore. All he knows is that his new identity is almost as terrifying as the peril unleashing it has brought. Caught in the universal power struggle of an ancient race of beings and a destiny demanded of him that he does not want, he must fight to protect his own life and everyone he holds dear. 
But when the time comes, will he be strong enough to make the sacrifices that saving them will demand?


Sky Song is a fabulous sci-fi novel from author Sharon Sant, and I’m really glad I picked it up! Jacob’s ordinary life is shattered overnight when he’s visited by a strange being in his dreams telling him that he’s not who he thinks he is, that his real name is Ioh and that he has a destiny which is far beyond the everyday world.

I was completely sucked into the story. Sharon Sant is a fantastic author, and her storytelling drew me right into Jacob’s plight. I liked Jacob and Ellen immensely. They’re believable and engaging characters, and I though the romance with Ellen was really sweet. Jacob has to come to terms with some pretty major facts about his real family and his destiny, but his actions are realistic and he’s easy to root for as a protagonist.

The story moves along at a fast pace and the concept of the Watchers is interesting and exciting. This is an imaginative read and a must for all sci-fi fans!

Rating: ****1/2*

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review - Tethers by Jack Croxall


Tethers (The Tethers Trilogy #1)

In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.


Tethers is an exciting story set in the Victorian era, with a fabulous blend of mystery, adventure and fantasy and an engaging pair of lead characters. We follow thirteen-year-old friends Karl and Esther as they discover a cryptic journal in their neighbour’s house, which leads them into a bigger mystery surrounding a gemstone with strange powers. The plot carries the reader along at a nice pace, and there are plenty of surprises and twists along the way. Karl and Esther are sympathetic protagonists with a great spirit for adventure and a sense of humour.

The Victorian setting is well-researched and atmospheric, and the author does a great job of bringing the setting to life whilst also telling a compelling story. I was completely drawn into the book and found it to be refreshingly free of many of the clichés of YA literature. This is an imaginative and strong debut which works both on its own and as the first in a series, and is a must for any fans of Victorian-set YA – or for anyone just looking for a great adventure with a dash of magic. 

Rating: ****1/2*

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Review - Foretold by Jana Oliver


Foretold (The Demon Trappers, #4)

Goodreads description: In the fourth Demon Trappers novel, Riley faces the final battle for humanity and Beck's heart—and Hell is the least of her problems
Now that Riley’s managed to (just barely) fend off Armageddon, everything’s changed. Well . . . most things. After their passionate kiss before the big battle in the cemetery, Beck is back to treating her like a little girl, as if nothing ever happened. While she’d love to just tell him off and move on, Riley vowed to take care of Beck the way he’s taken care of her since her father’s death—but she’s about to get a whole lot more than she bargained for. When she’s commissioned to go with Beck to his hometown and help him care for his dying mother, they stumble too close to a dark and murderous secret, one that Beck fears will drive Riley away from him forever. As chaos breaks loose, Riley may be Beck's only hope for redemption . . . and survival.

Meanwhile, up in Atlanta, it’s quickly becoming clear that Heaven may have won a battle, but the war is far from over. Riley and Beck face a stormy future, as Lucifer's ex-right-hand-man, Sartael, proves himself to be more resilient than anyone thought. He has Atlanta in his grip and is about to begin a brutal war with the prince of Hell. As the seconds tick down toward a final confrontation, it's up to Riley and the man she loves to finally defeat their old enemy, or lose everything they've fought for.

Amazon
Amazon UK


I jumped right into reading this book after I finished Forgiven, and my God – the final book of the Demon Trappers series really packs a punch! Despite everything they’ve been through, Beck continues to push Riley away, but when she’s sent to accompany him on a visit to his dying mother in his hometown of Sadlersville, she begins to find out what he was desperate to hide from her: everyone in his former home suspects him of a double murder he didn’t commit. But whilst he – and the press – want to find out the truth, others want to keep it quiet – and Riley’s soon caught in the middle. Meanwhile, a fallen angel owns her soul, one who wants revenge…

I expected an emotional rollercoaster and I wasn’t disappointed. I read the whole book in one sitting – it was that good! The books keep getting better and in this fourth instalment, the stakes are higher than ever – if that’s even possible! There’s plenty of tension between Riley and Ori, the Fallen angel who owns her soul, and her desire to shield her obligation from Beck mirrors his own desire to keep his dark history from surfacing. I said this in my review of Forgiven, but the two are perfect for each other. The other characters get development and insight too, including Simon, who’s struggling to deal with the consequences of being tricked by Hell. As with the previous books, there’s plenty of intense action, and I found myself literally on the edge of my seat (well, bean bag) when reading the last few chapters. Holy. Hell! But what an ending. It ends with a conclusion that eclipses any in the series so far – and I don’t mind admitting I cried (tears of happiness or joy…I’ll not say which in order to stay spoiler-free!).

The final book in the Demon Trappers series is the best yet, and the perfect end to the series. Whilst it ends with no doubt that this is the real end – there will be no more sequels – I was glad to hear this, even though I love the characters and the story so much. Jana Oliver has the gift of ending a story in just the right place, tying all the loose ends and ensuring that all the characters get a fitting ending. And it works really well. The Demon Trappers series is fantastic as it is, and it’s definitely going on my ‘rereading’ list!

Rating: *****

Friday, 17 May 2013

Review - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)

Goodreads description: St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Amazon
Amazon UK

I admit when I first heard of this series I was kind of sceptical - I imagined a kind of Harry Potter- Twilight hybrid. But after hearing good things about Richelle Mead’s books I decided to give it a go, and I’m glad I did.

In the world of the Vampire Academy series, there are three kinds of vampires: the ruling Moroi, the half-vampire dhampir, and the savage Strogoi with whom the others are at war. The dhampir traditionally serve as guardians to the Moroi, who live in a hierarchical society based on class and royalty. Seventeen-year-old Rose is the guardian of the Moroi Princess Lissa, who is also her best friend, but after an accident, they became bonded in a way no two other vampires are: Rose is able to read Lissa’s thoughts. When the two realised Lissa was in danger, they ran away from the Academy. But at the novel’s start, they are caught, and end up under close security back at the school. But Rose knows Lissa may still be in danger, because she has abilities that no other Moroi have, and she becomes the target for a sick prankster. The mystery deepens as Rose discovers a connection between her powers and a long-dead vampire…

This book has everything I like in a YA novel – a feisty, strong-willed protagonist, great characterisation, an engaging plot and loads of action. The romance thankfully didn’t detract from the storyline and there’s no ‘insta-love’ or fluffiness. The interactions between Rose and Dimitri are believable, and all the supporting characters are well-developed enough that they didn’t feel like cardboard cut-outs put in there to support the main cast. The book is well-written and fast-paced. I found the background and the vampire mythology intriguing and different from other vampire series. I like the distinction between the mortal and magic-wielding Moroi who are nevertheless weaker than the guardians whose role is to protect them – and I can see plenty of potential for conflict there!

It looks like I’ve found an addictive new series! I’m keen to learn more about their world and I’ll definitely be recommending this.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

An update! (and I'm finally free! :D)

Lancaster Canal is beautiful in the sun!


I finished my exams today. Yes - I'm done with university. Wow. It's been tough keeping up with writing and marketing whilst revising and working on essays, but now, after all that stress, I can finally think clearly! I have a lot of things coming up in the next few weeks which are incredibly exciting, so it's nice to be able to focus on doing what I want, rather than spending hours drilling Shakespeare into my brain! Even if random Shakespeare quotes keep coming into my head when I'm trying to forget about it...

Don't get me wrong: I've loved university. Hell, I really don't want to leave (I have six weeks left of living independently before I'm unceremoniously kicked out of my lovely flat and have to go back to living with my parents in Birmingham...waaah!). But this is my chance to see how I fare in the real world, and as scary as it is, I'm kind of looking forward to it!

Which leads me onto the exciting things happening! I've secured an internship at Entangled Publishing, meaning I get to read submissions and decide whether they're good enough to publish. It's great fun, and I've been learning a lot about what makes a publishable manuscript. It's been a real eye-opener! Speaking of manuscripts, I'm hard at work on the editing of Darkness Watching, and I actually managed to finish the first draft of Darkworld Book 3 (apparently I can only procrastinate from one thing at a time, so I wrote most of it when I was trying to avoid Shakespeare revision!). If all goes according to plan I should have more news on the Darkworld series soon! 

Other than that, best of luck to anyone sitting exams! :)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Review - Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.


On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.



When I heard this was a fantasy novel set in Japan, I knew I had to read it. And it turned out to be a captivating tale which blends the contemporary with Japanese mythology in a unique story of gods, romance, and ink that has a life of its own.

Katie feels like an outsider in her new life in Japan, where she moved to live with her aunt following her mother’s death. She barely speaks the language, and a series of freakish incidents involving the standoffish bad-boy Tomohiro Yuuto don’t help her to feel settled. Around him, ink seems to come to life, and seemingly lifeless paper creations attack her. Desperate for answers, she finally learns the truth: he’s a Kami, descended from the original gods of Japan - and has a dangerous power many want to possess.

I really like Katie as a protagonist - her efforts to fit in despite having lost everything familiar to her make her easy to relate to. I did find some of her reactions to Tomo in the beginning a bit frustrating and there were echoes of other teen romance novels, but thankfully the unique mythological element and insight into Japanese culture more than made up for this. It’s clear that Amanda Sun has really researched the culture and setting and this makes for a more immersive reading experience. The plot is at first slow to unfold but the intriguing twists kept me turning the pages. All in all, this is a great debut and a must-read for anyone interested in Japanese culture, or just looking for a new contemporary fantasy book.

Rating: ****


Monday, 6 May 2013

Blitz Post - The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

Today I'm promoting The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto, a fantastic indie author of YA/NA paranormal and urban fantasy. I reviewed Don't Fear the Reaper back in February, but I'm enjoying reading this one even more!




The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto
Publication date: December 21st 2012
by Dreamscapes, Ink
Genre: NA Paranormal/Ghosts

Synopsis:
Be careful what you let in…

Siler House has stood silent beneath Savannah’s moss-draped oaks for decades. Notoriously haunted, it has remained empty until college-bound Jess Perry and three of her peers gather to take part in a month-long study on the paranormal. Jess, who talks to ghosts, quickly bonds with her fellow test subjects. One is a girl possessed. Another just wants to forget. The third is a guy who really knows how to turn up the August heat, not to mention Jess’s heart rate…when he’s not resurrecting the dead.

The study soon turns into something far more sinister when they discover that Siler House and the dark forces within are determined to keep them forever. In order to escape, Jess and the others will have to open themselves up to the true horror of Siler House and channel the very evil that has welcomed them all.



Purchase:


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AUTHOR BIO
Michelle Muto lives in northeast Georgia with her husband and two dogs. She loves changes of season, dogs, and all things geeky. Currently, she’s hard at work on her next book.
Author Links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

EXCERPT


It was only when the crickets and frogs stopped that Jess awoke. She blinked, trying to adjust her eyes to the dark. She turned back over, expecting Allison to be either still sitting up, or asleep. But her bed was empty and Allison stood in front of the dresser, hands at her sides, staring at the mirror. Alarmed, Jess sat upright.
“It’s happening again,” Allison said.
“Huh?”
“The spirits. They’re back. I can see them.”
Jess rubbed her eyes as a spark of uncertainty and a moment’s worth of fear rustled somewhere deep inside her. “They’re there, in the mirror?”
“Yes.”
Jess got out of bed and tentatively stood next to Allison. She looked at the mirror, then behind her. Nothing. Uncertainty gave way to disappointment. The mirror cast back only the shadowy figures of Allison and herself, their faces made pale by the moonlight streaming into the room. They were alone, as far as Jess could tell.
Damn it! Why couldn’t she see the ghosts? Were they here? Disappointment gave way to a pang of envy.
“You don’t seem as upset as you were before,” Jess said. “If they’re back, aren’t you afraid they’ll take over? Possess you?” She wasn’t making fun of Allison. Something horrible had happened to her, and she was probably more sensitive to the supernatural than Jess was.
“Yes, I’m afraid,” Allison replied calmly.
The way Allison spoke seemed at odds with her words. The hairs on Jess’s arms tingled, but not because of any ghosts she couldn’t see. Right now, the only thing creepy in the room was Allison. The girl had been possessed, after all.
Allison turned her head to look at Jess, her expression unreadable in the shadows, even this close up. “He collects souls.”
Jess peered harder into the mirror, trying not to show Allison she was indeed afraid. “He? Who are you talking about?”
“He’s looking at you. I can’t make out what he’s saying. But see?” she pointed to the mirror. “He wrote his name.”
Fear and a healthy dose of agitation rose inside Jess. Fear, because someone staring at them from inside a mirror was downright scary. Agitated, because she couldn’t see anything, and Allison’s continual freak-outs were wearing on her. After a long day getting here, she was exhausted and just wanted to sleep.
“Allison, I don’t see anything! He? Who are you talking about?”
Riley,” Allison whispered.
“Riley? Who’s Riley?”
Allison stood just as still as she had upon Jess’s wakening. “He lives here. With the others.”
“Others?” Jess stepped closer to the mirror, leaning against the dresser to get a better look. Her breath fogged it enough to reveal a single name, written backward: Riley.