Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: The Last Academy by Anne Applegate

Title: The Last Academy
Author: Anne Applegate
Genre: Young Adult, paranormal/mythology
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 320 pages

Publication: April 30, 2013 by Point (Scholastic)

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Source: Publicist

What is this prep school preparing them for?

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam—and readers—stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.

I really like the boarding school type YA, so when I heard of The Last Academy…I knew I wanted to read it immediately. I thought the synopsis was pretty vague but not in a bad way. It didn’t give readers clues/or hints to what they can expect from the book beside a student disappearing. I like the mystery factor, and couldn’t wait to find out what was going on at Lethe .

The majority of The Last Academy plays out like a typical boarding school. Our heroine Camden is fourteen-years-old and is in her first year at Lethe Academy. Everything in the book felt like it was happening on fast-forward; Camden made friends, enemies and even found a new crush/love all within the span of an hour being at school. I found that extremely weird and unrealistic, Camden and the other students acted like they known each other for years and not 5 minutes. The majority of the book read like a contemporary novel because nothing was really happening except Camden having school/boy drama. I couldn’t really connect with Camden or any of the other characters either. Everyone may be in high school but they all acted like little immature children. The story didn’t pick up until the last 80 pages…and it wasn’t till I got to page 270 (again, this book only has 320 pages) that I realize this book was a paranormal with Greek mythology elements! Everything started to come together in the end, and I was surprised that I didn’t see it coming at all. The ending totally made up for the first 2/3rd of the book.

While not the best book I’ve ever read, The Last Academy did a good job in keeping me guessing till the very end. I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the book, but overall it was still a good book. I liked reading about all the characters in the end and how they came to be at Lethe, and how the author infused the Greek mythology into the story/characters. Overall, The Last Academy was a fast and easy read, but I suggest anyone interested in reading it to check out a sample chapter/excerpt before reading/or buying.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Title: Hot Blooded
Author: Amanda Carlson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Jessica McClain #2

Trade Paperback, 336 pages

Publication: April 23, 2013 by Orbit

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It hasn't been the best week for Jessica McClain. Her mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge --- but Jessica is playing for keeps. Because she's the only female werewolf in town...it comes with its own set of rules...and powers. Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means. All in a day's work for a girl.

Jessica McClain and the crew return in the highly anticipated sequel Hot Blooded for another action packed adventure filled with magic and mayhem.  Hot Blooded takes place exactly where Full Blooded left off with Jessica on a mission to save her mate Rourke from the clutches of the evil goddess Selene.  On this journey, Jessica is accompanied by her brother Tyler, pack mate Danny, two vampire siblings borrowed for tracking from the vampire queen, and Ray, a human hell-bent on exposing Jessica on what she really is (Ray is only on this trip because if Jessica left him behind he’d die. She’s hoping that on this journey he’d change his mind and become a human liaison for the pack).  

The majority of the book takes place on the road as the group tries to pinpoint Selene lair. The group encounters various types of mythological creatures summoned/controlled by Selene, and in order to defeat them they had to work together. This was a mission in itself because vampires, werewolves, and all the other supernatural sects never interact/or help one another. With each obstacle they encounter, Readers along with the heroine Jessica discovers what she’s really capable of, that her powers are vaster than anyone can imagine. It was great seeing Jessica discover her abilities, every time she beat one of Selene’s obstacle she discover something new about what she can do…the abilities were endless! Jessica is the ultimate supernatural, and like the prophecy stated…she is to be feared among the sects.  I was sad that I didn’t get more page time with Rourke, but we got to see a lot more of Tyler, Danny and vampire Naomi.  Tyler and Danny are always a joy to read. Tyler, Jessica’s brother is the ever-loving protective brother and Danny is the goof-ball of the pack. We met Naomi briefly at the end of book one, but we get to see more of her and her brother in this book. I really like Naomi’s character because in the first book, vampires were described as passive, terrifying, and cold heart but Naomi shattered that image. The biggest surprise character (after Jessica of course) is Ray. I think everyone (characters and readers) loathed him since book one but over the course of book two he started to grow on me. Ray was still very much stubborn and a thorn in everyone’s butt but he helped the group when it counted the most.

While Hot Blooded was action-packed, the pacing felt a little slower than Full Blooded. It took me awhile to get engaged in the story, but once the action started rolling in it didn’t let up.  A lot happens in Hot Blooded with new enemies and alliances made that will not only affect Jessica but also the other supernatural sects. I am intrigued to see what Carlson has in store for all the characters in the next book, Cold Blooded. The werewolves are in turmoil with a rouge problem; Jessica still needs to fulfill her oath to the vampire queen and with the cliffhanger ending…it look like the witches are going to play a big part in the following book. Bottom line Hot Blooded was an excellent follow-up to the Jessica McClain series, an awesome UF world and characters you can’t get enough of! I’m totally looking forward to reading Cold Blooded when it comes out this October! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cover Reveal & Excerpt: The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts

JULY 6, 2013
Sophie has always felt out of step—an outsider, even amongst friends in her high school with all the hype about celebrity culture. Her life in L.A. seems to have been already written for her, but when her junior year starts, it all takes a drastic turn. When she crosses paths with the school's heartthrob, Nate Werner, they fall for each other in a way neither can understand. What they don’t know is that by giving in to their desires, they are unlocking an ancient Egyptian prophecy that threatens to return Earth to the dark ages.

To undo the curse, Nate and Sophie embark on an adventure that takes them across the country. But their quest is not only to save the world as they know it. It is also a fight for their very survival. Behind the scenes, there are those that are counting on them to fail.


Admitting I wasn’t going to fall asleep, I emerged from under the bed covers, went over to the windows, and sat on the floor. They say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Well, if the city lights were going to keep me awake, I might as well enjoy the view.
Crossing my legs in the lotus position, I admired the city skyline. The other glass tower across from us seemed to be private apartments. Most of the floors had their lights on. The energy of this city was captivating. Life continued on through the night in the city that never slept.

It was starting to snow. The frosty flakes resembled white cotton candy. They seemed to be defying the laws of gravity as they were suspended on the air and then swirled up into the sky. It was probably due to the air current caused by the tall buildings. But as things stood in my life at the moment, anything seemed possible.

The traffic was as dense as rush hour in downtown L.A. Cars jammed around Columbus Circle, and no one thought twice about leaning on the horn, even though it was past midnight.

In one of the apartments opposite, a man was sitting by the window, typing on a laptop. The room was dark, but the reflection of the computer screen lit up his face. I could see him clearly. It was as though we were sitting across from each other. I was sure he could see me, too. We were so close, but at the same time, so far. This must be the big city syndrome where you can feel so alone amongst so many people. And knowing that Nate was just across the wall only enhanced the feeling.

I had to start blocking any thoughts of Nate. I had to give myself a break or I was going to start losing my mind. Unfortunately, I was aware that ignoring a problem wasn’t likely to make it go away. I couldn’t believe Nate had planned to hide the stain on his back from me. How long did he think he could pretend everything was going to be fine?

Dad taught me to only believe what could be proved by science, but this lulled me into a state of denial. Nate was vanishing with the tick of the clock, and I had to help him. I wasn’t sure how yet, but I couldn’t fail him. I wanted to slap myself to throw myself into action. How could I be so passive when I was losing the only thing I wanted?

The man in the apartment across from me was drinking from a cup and flicking through the pages of a book that he had next to the laptop. After scanning a few more pages, he continued to type. I wondered what he was doing. I wanted to think he was writing a detective novel based in 1950s Manhattan.

The man stopped typing and stared openly at me, as if he also needed to share his secrets with a stranger. It was snowing hard, and thousands of snowflakes playfully spiraled up into the sky, proving reality had many dimensions. The simple stare from a distant stranger was appeasing that loneliness that was taking hold of me.

 I couldn’t stop staring back. Here, sitting on the floor of this grandiose room, in the epicenter of the madness of this city, I just felt so small. How was I, this tiny, fragile girl, going to make the world change its course?

The man with the computer—as if he could hear my thoughts—smiled at me and nodded. Without uttering a word, and with the power of our surroundings, this stranger confirmed that, yes, I could do whatever I gave myself to. It was probably a coincidence, but there were moments like this when the universe conspired to prove that life was full of magic moments. You just needed to learn to see past what was in front of you.

The man went back to typing on his computer, unconscious that with just one stare he’d provided me with the courage I lacked. I was beginning to fall in love, but in this case, with New York City. There was something about the anonymity of this city that brought us closer as humans.

A little about the Author...

Unlike most authors, I didn’t start writing books when I was five years old. In fact, I’d never been too interested in reading or writing. Hanging out with friends in the small Spanish town where I grew up always seemed more appealing than anything a book could offer. It took about twenty-seven years and a global financial meltdown for me to discover the magic world of writing. 

At the time, I was living in New York City, and one morning I discovered I was no longer expected at my sixty-hour-a-week investment banking job. Most of my friends had very demanding jobs, so I spent my days wandering around on my own. 

Like other unemployed people, I started living through the nights and sleeping through the days. New York is known as the city that never sleeps for a good reason! One night, tired of surfing the web and watching TV, I opened a Word document and started typing a short story, which I saved in my computer with little interest. That was the day Nate and Sophie were born.
Days later, since the financial industry seemed to be going into a downward spiral, I decided to spend three months traveling through Southeast Asia and New Zealand. I thought, na├»ve me, that by the time I returned, the financial crisis would have come to an end.

Something really strange happened to me during that trip. No matter where I went, I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. Nate and Sophie followed me everywhere. No matter how hard I tried to forget about them, they just wouldn’t go away. At the beginning, I thought I was losing my mind, but soon after, I realized I had to continue writing the story.

When I came back to New York, I went right back into it, and that’s how The Year of the Great Seventh was created. Unfortunately, halfway through the novel, I received a letter from the immigration department informing me that, with no job, I was no longer welcome in the United States. Without much of a choice, my boyfriend and I decided to pack our lives, along with my half-drafted manuscript, and begin another exciting adventure in London, where we now live. 

Teresa Orts studied economics and went on to work in the financial industry. She lives in London with her husband and son and this is her first novel. If you want to know more about her, please visit her website www.teresaorts.com

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review: Sharp by Alex Hughes

Title: Sharp
Author: Alex Hughes
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Mindspace Investigations #2

Mass Market Paperback, 339 pages

Publication: April 2, 2013 by Roc

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Source: Author


As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.

And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino's longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all...

Adam, a level eight telepath and his sometimes partner Detective Isabella Cherabino returns in Sharp the second installment in the Mindspace Investigation series where they team up  to solve another homicide case.  Besides being an interrogator for the Atlanta Police Department, Adam occasionally gets called in to help his friend Cherabino on her homicide cases. As a telepath Adam not only can read people’s mind, and has the occasional precognition ability but he can do a lot more. Adam is able to see into mindspace everything that happened and feel the lingering emotions that were left behind. It’s been a couple of weeks from the last event in Clean, Adam is in recovery mode after burning out his telepathic abilities in the Bradley case and isn’t up to his full strength when he gets called in to help with another case. A girl is found murder in her home, but not just any girl. The victim is Emily Hamilton who was a former Guild student of Adam. Adam destroyed Emily and two other students’ telepath abilities when he was under the drug influence of Satin all those years ago.  With the guilt still eating at him for what he did to her in the past, Adam vows to do everything in his power to find Emily’s killer. What turns out to look like a regular homicide case slowly turns into something bigger, linking to one of Cherabino’s unsolved case, the Guild, Illegal Tech and Adam catching unwanted attention of Guild enforcements and the FBI. 

I really enjoyed Sharp!  Readers get to learn more about Adam’s path and The Telepath Guild.  As I mentioned in my review for Clean, the world building is quite fascinating but we don’t learn more than what we already know from the previous book. I was hoping to get a more in-depth look at Mindspace, and the different type of abilities (otherwise everything is pretty straight forward, you have your telepath, teleporters, or on rare instances both abilities) but nothing new. The murder-mystery plot of Sharp was perfectly suspenseful and well paced, I love seeing all the clues come together along the way. Although, I must say I wasn’t shocked when I found out who the ‘killer’ was at the end, I had my suspicion when the character popped up early on in the book…but that didn’t mean there weren’t any other surprises! There were moments of touch and go for some of the characters, and was actually sad to see a character get killed offL. As for our two lead characters, Adam and Cherabino are still adjusting to their mind link…Cherabino isn’t handling it any better from the first book. While both characters do grow/development a bit in Sharp, things got a bit annoying here and there with Adam’s self loathing every few chapters and Cherabino who is always getting angry/yelling at Adam. Overall Sharp is a solid sequel to the Mindspace Investigation series, with its blend of science fiction and urban fantasy. I can’t wait to what becomes of Adam and Cherabino’s mind link, Cherabino’s nephew, the FBI and the Guild…there is lots in store for Adam and it will be interesting to see how everything plays out. I highly recommend this series, definitely worth checking out.