Tuesday, September 01, 2015

[Blog Tour] Voyagers: Project Alpha by D.J. MacHale (Excerpt & Giveaway)


SIX BOOKS. SIX BLOCKBUSTER AUTHORS. ONE CHANCE TO SAVE EARTH.

AVAILABLE ONLINE & IN-STORES NOW 
The action is on the page, on your device, and out of this world! This multiplatform series is part sci-fi, part eco-mystery, all action-adventure. And you don't have long to wait -- 6 books are coming all in one year!

Earth is about to go dark. Without a new power source, life as we know it will be toast. A global competition is under way to determine who will join the secret mission that might just save us all. Project Alpha is a contest of physical challenges, mental puzzles, and political alliances. The battle is fierce, and only four kids will make the cut. The Voyagers will journey to the far reaches of space, collecting unique elements and facing unbelievable dangers. The future of our planet is in the hands of four kids. Sure, they’ll be the best in the world . . . but can they save the world? 

Do you have what it takes to be a Voyager? Find out at VoyagersHQ.com.

CHAPTER 3 EXCERPT


CHAPTER 3

“The first competition is about how you want to
spend your time here. You will be living in dorms. Boys in one,
girls in the other. They are functional and comfortable.”
“Kind of like camp,” Niko said.

“However,” Phillips continued, “one of you will be invited
to stay in your own private quarters with a queen bed, a private
bathroom, and your own refrigerator.”

“Who gets to stay there?” Carly asked.

Phillips held up a handkerchief-sized golden flag.

“Your first challenge,” he declared. “Scattered throughout
the arena are a few dozen golden flags like this one. Some are
in plain sight, others you’ll have to hunt for. The first person
who retrieves four flags will be staying in the superior quarters
for the duration of your stay. Question is, how badly do you
want it?”

The kids all stood staring at Phillips, not sure how to react.
Phillips pointed to a door on the far side of the hangar
and said, “The arena is through there. The competition
begins . . . now.”

Anna took off running. Niko was right behind her. The
others followed quickly.

The final phase of the Project Alpha competition was under
way.

It began as a frantic free-for- all, like a massive Easter egg
hunt with a lot more at stake than snapping up a few chocolate
eggs. Anna sprinted across the empty hangar and spotted the
first flag hanging next to the door leading to the arena. She
snatched it off the hook and held it up in triumph.

“That room is mine!” she declared, then waved to the
others and ran out the door.

Gabriel, Niko, Ravi, and Siena sprinted for the door and
blasted through right behind her.

Dash took his time. He did a quick scan of the entire space,
checking for more flags. There were none, so he ran for the
door but stopped when he saw that stacked next to it was an
odd assortment of equipment. There were several coils of red
climbing rope, a pile of fleecy pullovers of various bright colors,
and four ice axes hanging from hooks.

“Strange equipment to be in an airplane hangar,” Carly said
as she jogged up from behind him.

“Maybe there’s a flag buried in there,” Dash said, and
quickly dug through the jackets.

“Too obvious,” Piper said as she flew by them.
She spun the wheelchair around expertly and backed into
the door, pushing it open. She rolled outside but held it for the
other two.

“Coming?” she called.

Dash and Carly gave each other quick looks and ran outside.


The air temperature had plummeted to below freezing.
“This is impossible,” Carly said. “We’re in the desert.”
“Cool,” Piper said with wonder. “Literally.”

“That answers one thing,” Dash said. He ran back inside
and moments later came back with three jackets, a coil of rope,
and three ice axes. “This stuff is here for a reason,” he said as
he handed jackets and axes to Piper and Carly.
The three slipped on the jackets, then scanned the area to
see nothing but dense fog.

“What’s this about?” Piper asked in a low voice as if not
wanting to be heard by anyone other than Dash and Carly.

“Our first test,” Carly said. “I’ll bet there’s a whole lot more
going on here than a race for a couple of flags.”

The three moved forward cautiously, straining to see
through the heavy mist. None said it out loud, but they felt
safer together than going at it alone.

“I see one!” Piper exclaimed. She shot forward to where
a golden flag hung from a three-foot-high pole. She grabbed
it, spun back to the others, and held it up, saying, “The
sooner one of us gets four, the sooner we can get out of this
freezer.”

A hulking shadow moved through the mist behind Piper.
Only Dash and Carly saw it. It was a fleeting glimpse but it was
real. And it was big.

“What was that?” Dash exclaimed.

Piper spun around but saw nothing. “What was what?” she
asked.

“I saw it too,” Carly answered. “It looked like a big guy,
moving fast.”

“Anna?” Dash called out.

“I got another one!” Anna called from somewhere in the
distance.

“I don’t like this contest,” Carly said nervously.
“Maybe that’s the point,” Dash said. “They’re testing our
nerves.”

“I’m freezing,” Piper said, her teeth chattering.
“Then let’s move,” Dash said, and they continued on.
They walked cautiously but after taking only a few steps,
Carly slipped and had to fight to keep her balance.
“Whoa! Ice!” she cried as her feet slid out, and she hit the
ground hard. “Ow. That is just rude.”

Dash helped her to her feet. “It’s an ice rink,” he said.
“Don’t walk; slide.”

“Look!” Piper exclaimed, pointing.

Another big shadow shot through the distant mist.

“That’s not Anna,” Piper said, her voice cracking. “It looks
like a Sasquatch. Or a Wookiee.”

“There’s something over there,” Dash said, moving ahead.
The three cautiously slid forward until a massive white
mound appeared out of the mist.

“It’s a pile of snow,” Carly said. “Or a monster igloo.”

“There’s a cave,” Dash said.

A jagged opening was cut in the face of the huge frozen
mound.

“Did the shadow thing go in there?” Piper asked nervously.
“We should go see,” Dash said. “I guarantee it’s part of the
game.”

“I can’t,” Piper said. “I won’t be able to turn the chair
around in there.”


“I’ll go,” Carly said.

“We’ll go together,” Dash said, and the two of them slipped
through the opening.

“Cool,” Piper said. “Be careful.”

It was dark inside, but the ice gave off a faint glow that was
enough for them to see by.

“It’s an ice tunnel,” Carly said. “There’s gotta be a flag in
here somewhere.”

The tunnel twisted sharply, creating blind turns with no
way of knowing what might be lurking around the next corner.
Dash and Carly walked shoulder to shoulder until . . .

CRACK.

The sound came from beyond the next sharp turn.

They froze.

“Something’s in there,” Carly whispered.

Dash fought the urge to turn and run. Instead, he steeled
himself and yelled a warning. “There are two of us!”
He lifted the ice ax and held it out threateningly, though his
hands were shaking.

CRACK!

Whatever was making the sound was moving closer.
It was too late to turn and run. Carly and Dash pushed
closer to one another and tensed up.

CRACK!

A footstep crunched the ice just beyond the turn.
Dash raised the ice ax . . .. . . as a hand appeared from around the corner, waving a
golden flag.

“I’m afraid you are too late,” said a girl as she stepped
around the corner.


“Siena,” Dash said with a relieved gasp.
Carly could breathe again.

“There is a cavern at the end of the tunnel but there was
only one flag,” Siena said. “Check for yourself but it would be
a waste of time because if there was more than one, I would
have taken it.”

“Did you see a big guy lurking around?” Carly asked.

“No, but nothing would surprise me. This is quite the elaborate
challenge. My guess is they erected a climate-controlled
enclosure to house this frigid environment. Now if you will
excuse me”—
she pushed past the others, headed for the mouth
of the cave—“ I have two more flags to find.”
“You already found two?” Carly asked.

Siena held up two flags as she disappeared around the icy
bend.

“Is it me or does she sound like a computer?” Carly whispered.
Dash laughed and said, “Let’s get out of here.”
They walked quickly back the way they had come and
made it to the mouth of the cave with minimal slippage.

Piper was waiting for them with a big smile. “Look,” she
said, pointing higher up on the icy mound.

Dash and Carly turned to see three golden flags on a ledge,
thirty feet up.

“I didn’t tell Siena,” Piper said with an innocent smile.

“So close,” Dash said. “But there’s no way to get them.”
Carly held up her ice ax. “No?”

The shaft was metallic silver with a black rubber hand grip
on one end and a nasty-looking point on the other.

“They’re climbing tools,” he said.

“You need two to climb, which means we both can’t do it,”
Carly said.

Dash looked up to the flags. He’d never used ice axes
before.

“I’ll try,” Dash said. “If I get ’em, we’ll each take a flag.”
“You’d do that?” Piper asked.

“Sure. You found ’em, Carly’s giving up her ax, and I’m
climbing. That’s fair.”

Carly handed over her ax and said, “Be careful.”

Dash grasped both axes, wrapped the safety straps around
his wrists, and faced the icy surface.

“How hard could it be, right?” he asked, not sounding very
confident.

He raised the ax in his right hand and hammered it against
the ice. It caught and stuck firmly. He did the same with his left
hand, a little bit higher. With his foot on the surface, he pulled
himself off the ground. The surface sloped away from him at
enough of an angle that it wasn’t a difficult climb.

“It’s easy,” Dash said. “If it were any steeper I’d be in trouble.”
At that exact moment, his sneaker slipped off and his stomach
smashed against the ice.

“Ouch.”

“You sure about that?” Carly asked.

His answer was to find a better toe hold and then yank the
right ax out of the ice. He reached up as high as he could and
hammered it home again.

“I got this,” Dash said.


Looking up, he saw that the ledge was right below the top
of the frozen mound. It only took another minute and three
more whacks at the ice to reach it. He hoisted himself up,
stood on the ledge so that his head cleared the top of the
mound . . . . . and came face to face with a gorilla-like
white beast that was climbing up the other side. Its fiery red eyes glowed
from deep sockets in a massive, furry head.

“Ahhh!” Dash screamed, and pushed away from the beast.
He fell backward on the ledge but had the presence of
mind to reach out with one of the axes to grab at the ice.
It stopped him from sliding all the way to the ground but he
hung there by one hand. With a surge of adrenaline, Dash
slammed the other ax into the ice. He shifted his weight and
repeated the process until he finished a controlled slide back to
the ground.

“What happened?” Piper asked anxiously.

“I saw what was making the shadow,” Dash said, breathing
hard. “It was a . . . a . . . monster. A big white ape-looking
thing. I fell back and . . . I didn’t get the flags. Sorry.”
“This is getting too crazy,” Carly said. “Maybe we should
just hang together and—”

“Help!” came someone’s scream from somewhere off in the fog.

“Oh man, now what?” Piper said.

“Help me!” the desperate voice called out again.

“C’mon!” Dash said, and moved quickly into the fog,
headed in the direction of the sound. Between zero visibility
and the icy surface, it was slow going.

“I’ve got traction,” Piper said, and zoomed ahead.
They soon heard the sound of splashing, thrashing water.
“I can’t breathe,” the voice yelled.

“Be careful,” Carly said to Piper. “You’re headed toward—”
Dash leapt forward and grabbed the back of Piper’s wheelchair,
stopping her from rolling off the edge of the ice and into
a frothing pool.

“—water.”

“Oops,” Piper said, breathless. “Thanks.”

“Who’s out there?” Carly called.

“It’s Niko!” came the desperate shout. “The ice broke
and . . . and . . . it’s so cold I can’t catch my breath!”
“Here,” Carly said, grabbing the rope and uncoiling it.

“We’re throwing you a lifeline,” Dash yelled.

“Hurry!” Niko pleaded.

“Tie the end to your chair,” Dash said to Piper.
While Piper looped the end around the arm of her wheelchair,
Dash took the rest of the rope and slid closer to the edge.

“Where are you?” he called out.

“Here!” Niko responded.

The fog was so dense, Dash couldn’t see him.

“Ready!” Piper called out.

“Here it comes!” Dash hurled the rope in the direction of
Niko's voice. There was a splash and then . . .

“I got it!” Niko cried with relief.

“Hang on, we’ll pull you out!” Dash yelled.

He immediately started pulling but the surface was too slippery
and his feet went out from under him. He sat down and tried yanking the rope again but only ended 
up pulling himself closer to the edge.

“I can’t get traction,” he called to the others with growing
panic.

“I can,” Piper said. “Let it go.”

Dash released the rope and Piper pulled it all the way in.

“I can’t hold on!” Niko called.

“Help me,” Piper shouted to Carly. “Stand on the back and
hang on to the rope.”

Carly grabbed the rope with one hand and stood on the
back of the chair. Piper took hold of the controls. She jammed
the vehicle into reverse and eased open the throttle. Slowly, the
chair moved backward.

“Hang on, Niko!” Dash yelled.

The wheels dug into the ice and kept moving as they gradually
pulled Niko closer.

“There he is!” Dash called out.

The four other candidates skidded up out of the fog, watching
in wonder as Niko was towed to the edge of the ice. Dash
grabbed him and pulled him up onto the slick surface. Niko
was breathing hard and shivering.

Piper pulled off her jacket and threw it to Dash.
“Wrap him up,” she commanded. “If we don’t get his body
temperature up, it could hurt his heart.”
Dash pulled off his own jacket as well and put both jackets
on Niko.

“Rub his back to get his blood moving faster,” Piper added.
Dash followed orders and rubbed Niko’s back.

“I’m okay,” Niko said through chattering teeth. “Thanks.”

Piper and Carly exchanged high fives.
“I saw a flag and went for it,” Niko said. “But the ice
gave way.”

“Did you get the flag?” Anna asked.

Niko shook his head.

“Well, I got three,” Anna announced. “The game’s still on.”

“No, it isn’t,” Piper announced, and handed her flag to
Anna.

“Seriously?” Anna said with surprise.

“Congratulations.”

A loud horn sounded as bright lights kicked on, bathing the
group in warm white light. The whirring sound of giant fans
filled the arena as the fog was blown away. Within seconds, the
entire area was revealed.

“Exactly as I suspected,” Siena said with a smug smile.
They were in a giant white tent that was large enough to
house a twelve-ring circus. Ice covered the entire floor like a
giant hockey rink. Five different ice mounds like the one Dash
had climbed were scattered about. The water that Niko had
fallen into was a moat that surrounded an island with the largest
mound.

A metal catwalk ringed the tent high above them. Hanging
below it were multiple high-intensity
lights. The air temperature rose quickly to a more desertlike norm.

“Well done!” Commander Phillips exclaimed as he strode
toward them. “We have a winner of the Tundra Event.”
Anna held up the four flags triumphantly.
“What is this place?” Gabriel asked. “It’s like some fun-house
arctic weirdness.”

“This is the arena where many of your challenges will take
place,” Phillips replied. “In here, we can create any kind of
environment and situation. Niko, you were never in danger.”
He pointed to the moat where several frogmen had surfaced
and gave a thumbs-up.

“I just hope I don’t die of pneumonia,” Niko replied.
“What about the gorilla?” Dash asked. “What was that
about?”

“Just another element of surprise,” Phillips explained. “We
need to see how each of you will react under different forms of
stress.”

“How did we do?” Carly asked.

Phillips smiled and said, “That’s for me to discuss with the
rest of the Project Alpha team. Now, everyone back into the
hangar where you’ll be taken to your quarters. It’s been a long
day. Anna, you’ll be shown to your private room.”

“Yes!” Anna exclaimed, and hurried off.

Phillips stepped up to Niko and helped him to his feet.
“How do you feel?” Phillips asked.

“Cold and wet,” Niko replied. “But ready for the next contest.”
“That’s what I like to hear. Go get dried off.”
Niko headed for the hangar, followed by Siena, Ravi, and
Gabriel.

Dash stood up and went to Carly and Piper. The three exchanged
high fives.

“Not bad,” Dash said.

“Tell me,” Phillips said to Piper, “why did you give up your
flag?”


“I wanted the contest to be over,” she said. “Besides, I
didn’t want the prize.”

“You didn’t want a private room?” Phillips asked, surprised.

“Nope,” Piper said. “I didn’t come here to be alone.”

“I see,” Phillips said with no emotion. “Go join the others.”
The three headed off, leaving Phillips in the middle of the
arena. He surveyed the scene with satisfaction as the ice melted
around him.

He then looked up to the catwalk.

Looking down was a single observer wearing a blue jumpsuit
similar to the one Phillips wore. It was a teenager with
short blond hair who stood leaning on the guardrail. At his feet
sat a golden retriever.

“Thoughts?” Phillips called up.

“Eight solid candidates,” the young man called back. “Let’s
hope they can handle it when things really get rough.”




GIVEAWAY

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a Rafflecopter giveaway


Don't miss a single voyage! 
Coming Soon!

http://www.amazon.com/Voyagers-Game-Flames-Book-2/dp/0385386613/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=1YXVGJR9T4C64JWTKHAG&dpSrc=sims&dpST=_AC_UL160_SR106%2C160_





Monday, August 31, 2015

Forbidden by Cathy Clamp

Title: Forbidden
Author: Cathy Clamp
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Luna Lake #1

Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Publication: August 18, 2015 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


Ten years have passed since the war that destroyed the Sazi Council and inflicted a horrible "cure" on thousands of Sazi, robbing them of their ability to shapeshift.

Luna Lake, isolated in Washington State, started as a refugee camp for Sazi orphans. Now it's a small town and those refugees are young adults, chafing at the limits set by their still-fearful guardians.
There's reason to fear: Sazi children are being kidnapped. Claire, a red wolf shifter, is sent to investigate. Held prisoner by the Snakes during childhood, Claire is distrusted by those who call Luna Lake home.

Before the war, Alek was part of a wolf pack in Chicago. In Luna Lake he was adopted by a parliament of Owls, defying Sazi tradition. The kidnappings are a painful reminder that his little sister disappeared a decade ago.

When Claire and Alek meet, sparks fly—but the desperate race to find the missing children forces them to set aside their mutual attraction and focus on the future of their people.

I haven’t read the original Sazi series by Clamp, and while Forbidden is somewhat a continuation of the series, it focuses on new characters, location, and overall plot making it easy for new readers to join and follow along. Clamp did a great job explaining the history of how the Wolven agents formed and how the hierarchy of the Sazi Council works. Sazi is a term used to describe shifters, and Luna Lake, is full of all sorts of Sazi living together from owls, wolves, cats, bear etc. And that’s exactly what makes Luna Lake different from all other Sazi communities. Most Communities comprise of one type of Sazi, since most Sazi are known not to get along with another species. But it isn’t the only reason why Luna Lake is different. The town’s Major enforces strict and harsh rules that make it difficult for newcomers to adjust to. Our heroine, Claire (a.k.a Clarissa) is sent there to investigate a string of missing children and is in for a rude awakening when she is made the town’s omega.

I’ve read some of Clamp’s other work but in my opinion they weren’t as good as Forbidden. I really like the Sazi World, and the foundation, world building and characters seemed more well-rounded and better developed. I also like the two leads. Claire and Alex are strong, independent, compassionate and kind characters, which made them both likeable. I’ve seen some people write, why is it so importable to have likeable character? Well, for me it’s a must. If I don’t like them, then I wouldn’t care for them. And if a reader didn’t like or care about the characters, then why read it in the first place…right? But back to the point, Claire and Alex make a good team. They never got carried away from the most important task at hand, which is to find the missing kids. The supporting cast was just as great from Dani to the former omegas Rachel and Scott. I wouldn’t mind getting a Rachel or Scot story, I would definitely be interested in them.

Overall, Forbidden was a great, solid reintroduction (or introduction for newbies) to the Sazis. I highly recommend this new urban fantasy series to those looking for great characters and an engaging plot/story. I look forward to reading more of the Sazi/Luna Lake world…it’s certainly something worth checking out!



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Clear Your Shelf Hop

Welcome to my stop on "Clear your Shelf"  Hop! 

This giveaway hop runs from August 20-27th
US only (sorry international folks, shipping is expensive)

 For my giveaway, I'll be giving away a box of books. Books will include Arcs (Advance reading copies) and finished books. All my books are in excellent condition. Books will include Adult and YA titles ranging from Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Urban Fantasy.

To enter please fill out the Rafflecopter below




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out the other awesome blogs participating.

Monday, August 17, 2015

[Blog Tour] Madison's Song by Christine Amsden Review + Excerpt


Title: Madison's Song
Author: Christine Amsden
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Standalone, companion novel to the Cassie Scot series

Trade Paperback, 272 pages
Publication: Out now in eBook, September 15, 2015 (paperback)

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review. 

Buy eBook|Amazon


Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black…

Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison’s nightmares are not.
Despite her fears, when Madison’s brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.

Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton’s home only to discover that he’s vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she’s not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott’s are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.  
I was sad when the Cassie Scot series was over. There were only four books in the series but I thought there was still so much to explore and stories to be told. However, last year the author revealed that she too, wasn’t ready to leave Cassie’s world and thus was writing two companion novels in the same world focusing on Cassie’s best friends Madison and Kaitlin. And I’m happy to say Madison’s Song did not disappoint!

Madison’s Song focuses mostly on Madison, Scot, and werewolf hierarchy and dynamics. Madison’s brother Clinton gets bitten by a werewolf and imprisoned and the first person Madison seeks help from is Evan’s best friend, Scot, a powerful sorcerer and alpha. What they thought was just a newbie lone wolf attack turns out to be a sinister government black operations gone wrong…and only Madison can save them all.

Amsden did a wonderful job expanding on Madison and Scot’s character as well as delving deeper into the werewolf society; since Madison and Scot played minor/secondary characters before and we only knew the minimum about Scot and his pack. Werewolves are one of my favorite paranormal creatures, so I had no problem getting sucked into the story. Readers will not only meet Scot’s pack but other territories alphas and see how things are run differently than the sorcerer’s covens/families. I really liked Madison’s character, she’s relatable in the sense that she’s shy, quiet and like any girl has some insecurities but by the end of the book she learns to love herself and embrace her powers and see that she can use magic not only to help others but also as self-defense without hurting anyone. Scot was the perfect alpha, he’s a fair and understanding leader and doesn’t shy away from getting his hands dirty if it means protecting everyone for the greater good. I also liked that Scot and the other werewolves weren’t shown as timid swoon worthy boys/girls next-door. These werewolves are dangerous and vicious and at the end of the day they’re killers ….not some cute little pup; which is usually depicted as-so in other books.

All in all, Madison’s song is another great read by Amsden. If you loved and read Cassie Scot, then you’ll definitely love this book too! Madison is a great heroine who can no doubt carry her own story and keep the readers engaged and entertained. This can’t be said for all spin­-off/companion novels. They either work or they don’t and in Amsden’s case…we have another winner! I can’t wait to read Kaitlin’s book next! I highly recommend this to all UF readers, you won’t be disappointed!








“Silence,” David commanded.
           
Her throat continued to work, but no sound emerged. She felt like a fish being gutted, choking and spluttering as David returned to the work of cutting into the soft, sensitive flesh of her belly. Yet even as tears refilled her eyes and fear devoured her heart, some part of her recognized that her guts remained intact. Whatever David was doing to her with the dagger involved tracing shallow patterns across the surface of her skin.
           
Fight the pain. Take deep breaths. Ground and center. She was not in the empty living room of a house she had not quite moved into yet, she was at church, singing in the choir. Above her, Jesus hung from a cross, a crown of thorns atop his head, a soft glow surrounding him. She usually found the magic within that glow. She reached for it...
           
“Stop that!” David slapped her hard across the face.
           
Once again her eyes flew open. She saw the dagger dripping with blood – her blood. Had her feeble grab for magic actually made a difference? David seemed to have noticed something, but what?
           
“You're just making this harder on yourself,” David said.
           
“What do you want?” Madison tried to ask. Her mouth moved, her lips forming the question, but no sound emerged.
           
She didn't think he would answer; he couldn't even have heard the question, but to her surprise he only hesitated a moment before saying, “Your soul.”




ABOUT THE AUTHOR  

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre

Title: Public Enemies
Author: Ann Aguirre
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, YA
Series: Immortal Games #2

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication: August 4, 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review. 

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Learn the rules of the game…and then play better than anyone else.

Through a Faustian bargain, Edie Kramer has been pulled into the dangerous world of the Immortal Game, where belief makes your nightmares real. Hungry for sport, fears-made-flesh are always raising the stakes. To them, human lives are less than nothing, just pieces on a board.

Because of her boyfriend Kian’s sacrifice, she’s operating under the mysterious Harbinger’s aegis, but his patronage could prove as fatal as the opposition. Raw from deepest loss, she’s terrified over the deal Kian made for her. Though her very public enemies keep sending foot soldiers—mercenary monsters committed to her destruction—she’s not the one playing under a doom clock. Kian has six months…unless Edie can save him. And this is a game she can’t bear to lose.

I read Immortal Danger last year and loved it. Actually, I’ve read most of Aguirre’s work and I haven’t been disappointed…till now. Comparing Public Enemies to the first book in the trilogy, it definitely did not live up to my expectations. And like the curse of many middle books in a series, Public Enemies suffered the sophomore slump.

Many reviewers stated the author didn’t do a good job at rehashing the details of the previous book. Which was quite evident in the opening chapters. I couldn’t remember what happened in the last book. The only thing I did remembered was that I loved the book, but all the events totally escaped my mind. Which is to say; it obviously didn’t make a lasting impression on me like I thought it did. In Immortal Danger, Edie’s now boyfriend Kian did everything in his power to save Edie, not only from herself but also the immortal gods. Now the tables have turned and Edie is the one trying to save Kian, who only has a few months to live.

I vaguely remember liking Edie in Immortal Danger and while she’s gotten more confident and bad-ass in this sequel…I don’t feel the same anymore...I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but she just came off as unlikable. Edie’s mom just died, her boyfriend only has a few months to live, school is out the window, and life at home with her dad is in shambles…and yet, I found myself not caring about her or her problems. Then there’s her relationship with Kian. I still find it creepy how fast they got together and fell in love. Does anyone recall he was stalking her for god knows how long? The relationship is still unrealistic and like Edie…I didn’t find myself caring about them as a couple either.

I thought the plot was okay. In my opinion there were just too many things going on. Too many monsters, bad guys…that I didn’t know what was happening half the time. The gods and monsters didn’t have much distinction or personality and I had trouble remembering who was who. I’d say 99% of the characters were one-dimensional; they lacked complexity and character growth. The only one that was interesting and stood out from all the characters was The Harbinger. Now, that’s a character I wouldn’t mind reading more about.

It is such a shame that I didn’t enjoy Public Enemies as much as Immortal Danger or Aguirre’s other novels. While the ending was super unexpected, I’m not sure if I will be continuing this series. I honestly wouldn’t recommend this book; there are other great books that feature gods/monsters. However, if you’re still curious about this series or sequel, I’d suggest borrowing from a library or friend.



Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Alice by Christina Henry

Title: Alice
Author: Christina Henry
Genre: Dystopian-Fantasy 
Series: N/A

Trade Paperback, 304 pages
Publication: August 4, 2015 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back.

She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.
I love Alice in Wonderland, who doesn’t right? I’ve read my share of Alice in Wonderland retelling, re-imagined and for the most part they’re all pretty good. But they all were Young Adults. I think any Alice in Wonderland fan at one point or another has wondered if there was ever going to be an adult book based on Alice. Well that time is now and it’s Alice by Christina Henry! If you ever wanted an adult version of Alice in Wonderland this is it. Henry’s take on the classic story by Lewis Carroll is wonderfully imaginative and unique; it’s bloody, gritty, dark and delicious. This is a book I’ve been waiting for!

If I had to categorize Alice, I’d say it’s a Dystopian through and through. The world of ‘Wonderland’ is comprised of two cities, Old City and New City and as the city names suggests one area is rich and one is poor. However, this book focuses solely on Old City as we follow our heroine Alice and her protector, Hatcher in search of their pasts and the sword to slay the Jabberwocky. I love, love Henry’s world building. It had all the elements and characters of the originals but Henry puts her own spin on them to create a fresh and one-of-a-kind read. The Old City is divided into different territories and each turf is controlled by a gangster. There’s Rabbit, Caterpillar, Cheshire, Walrus and Carpenter. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the fun but the gangsters and their territories fit their personalities perfectly! The gangsters are fascinating and terrifying all at the same time…I loved it!

I also really liked Alice and Hatcher. Being institutionalized for 10 years will no doubt have long lasting effects on a person. The two are plagued by their unknown pasts and Hatcher has his spurt of ‘nonsensical madness’ but they’re both fighters; and they fought hard all the way till the end. Everyone from Alice’s past expected Alice to be the same frighten 16-year-old but now at 26, Alice is a powerful bad-ass who doesn’t back down from anyone and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. I totally dig this version of Alice! And then there’s Hatcher who is a protector, warrior, and companion to Alice. I loved how protective he was to her and the way he showed he cared. To say it’s unusual, is putting it mildly (once you read it, you’ll know what I mean). Their relationship is different than any couple I’ve ever read. For 10 years they have kept each other sane, communicating with one another through a small hole in the wall that separated their rooms. Though they never saw each other (maybe an eye here, a nose there), they understood and accepted each other for all the good along with the bad…which is all anyone can hope for.

I loved this book! Alice had everything I look for in a novel; incredible world building, realistic characters, original story and a fast paced plot. Fans of retelling, re-imagined classics will be captivated by Alice. I highly recommend Alice to already Alice in Wonderland fans and Dystopain-Fantasy readers. This is a book you don’t want to miss, entertainment reading at its best! I hope Henry writes more Alice novels…I want more of Alice and Hatcher!



Monday, July 27, 2015

Trace of Magic by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Title: Trace of Magic
Author: Diana Pharaoh Francis
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Diamond City Magic #1

Trade paperback, 303 pages
Publication: September 30, 2014 by Bell Bridge Books

Source: Personal Library

Buy|Amazon|


Even the most powerful tracers can’t track you if the magical trace you leave behind is too old. But I can track almost anything, even dead trace. That makes me a unicorn, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Lock Ness Monster all rolled into one. In a word, I am unique. A very special snowflake. And if anyone ever finds out, I’ll be dead or a slave to one of the Tyet criminal factions.

Riley Hollis has quietly traced kidnapped children and quietly tipped the cops to their whereabouts one too many times. Now she’s on the radar of Detective Clay Price, a cop in the pocket of a powerful magic Tyet faction. When he blackmails her into doing a dangerous trace for him, Riley will have to break every rule that keeps her safe. Or become a Tyet pawn in a deadly, magical war.
I’ve been looking forward to reading Trace of Magic ever since it was published last year but haven’t gotten around to it till now. I’ve read Francis’s Horngate Witches series and loved it. The last book in the Horngate Witches series wasn’t as good compared to the first 3 books but overall it’s still one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series I’ve ever read. When I heard Francis was going to start a new series I was ecstatic! The cover and synopsis looked and sounded really promising.

It pains me to say this but Trace of Magic was disappointing. It didn’t live up to my expectations and I had high expectations coming from her previous novels. Trace of Magic is labeled as an Urban Fantasy but it’s really a Paranormal Romance. The plot, world building and characterization took a backseat and the romance aspect was full on blast. I’ll talk about the characters and romance in a second. The world building was a bit confusing, there are 5 gangster-type guys ruling Diamond City and there are certain people with special abilities but readers don’t really learn much of either. The information and details of the world is almost nonexistent. Our main heroine Riley is a tracer. She has the ability to locate anyone, anywhere and see whether or not they’re dead or alive because every individual leaves a distinct color track/thread in their wake. Riley’s ability is very interesting, and the first book seems to only scratch the surface of it. But instead of actually learning about Riley herself, readers are thrust into an investigation looking for Riley’s sister’s ex-fiancĂ©e and a mysterious rich woman connected to Tourey, a Tyet gangster.

I did not like Riley. Riley rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning. She’s snarky but not in the funny way. She’s cocky and annoying as hell. But it got worst once she teamed up with Detective Clay Price. For the entire book she was getting all hot and bothered by Price and would internally reprimand herself for lusting after him because he’s supposed to be the enemy. Yet, the moment they weren’t being chased and shot at…they had time to have sex (right after waking up from being shot at). Riley also had a problem assuming things left and right and she would talk about hypothetical situations where Price would betray her...but he never does. It drove me nuts! I wished I could reach inside the book and shake her for her idiocy! And the biggest annoyance of all…Riley and Price thought they were in ‘LOVE’ with each other after only 48 hours! Are you kidding me?! That’s worst than reading insta-love in YA. I also never warmed up to Price. Price was described as an asshole from the beginning, which wouldn’t be a problem if he had any redeeming qualities. I seriously can't think of any. But now that I think about, yeah, he was an ass for most of the book. Riley and Price are probably the least likable couple/leads I’ve read to date. I really despise them.

I’m still in disbelief that this is by the same author as my beloved Horngate Witches series. I mean, The Horngate Witches series feels like a seasoned author wrote it, while Trace of Magic felt like it was written by a newbie. The plot is weak, the world building lackluster and the characters flat and unlikable. If you haven’t read Francis’s books yet, I’d suggest skipping this book and checking out her Horngate Witches series…it’s much better.