Book Review: Waterfell by Amalie Howard

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Waterfell by Amalie Howard

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 360

Published: October 29th, 2013

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  Goodreads  |  Website  |  Twitter

THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father’s betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa’s upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa’s mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

As soon as I met the main character, Nerissa, WATERFELL had no chance of becoming a favorite book.  She’s as unlikeable as humanly possible.  She’s downright nasty to her ex-friend Cara and doesn’t bother to tell us why until the end of the book.  In my opinion, it’s not a worthy enough excuse to treat someone as poorly as Nerissa does.

Nerissa is apparently a mermaid princess and her ‘family’ members are actually her servants.  Problem is that she actually treats them like servants and it’s unnerving to witness.  They’re compelled by the laws of their land to obey her every command.  Because Nerissa only thinks about herself, she doesn’t concern herself with the fact that Spelio physically aches with love for her because he’s not yet bond to a female.  I was hoping for a moment of redemption and when it came it was anti-climatic.

The villains started out as promising, but the twist at the end made the situation almost comical.

When I started reading WATERFELL, I was hoping to experience an underwater kingdom.  Most of the book takes place on land and what little is in the water is bland.  Overall, I think that the best part of this book is listed on the blurb.

D rating   

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)

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Book Review: Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

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Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Genre: MG Fantasy

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 272

Published: October 8th, 2013

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  Goodreads  |  Website  |  Twitter

This reimagining of the Robin Hood legend tells the story of the young boy behind the bandit hero’s rise to fame.

Will Shackley is the son of a lord, and though just thirteen, he’s led a charmed, protected life and is the heir to Shackley House, while his father is away on the Third Crusade with King Richard the Lionheart.

But with King Richard’s absence, the winds of treason are blowing across England, and soon Shackley House becomes caught up in a dangerous power struggle that drives Will out of the only home he’s ever known. Alone, he flees into the dangerous Sherwood Forest, where he joins an elusive gang of bandits readers will immediately recognize.

How Will helps a drunkard named Rob become one of the most feared and revered criminals in history is a swashbuckling ride perfect for anyone who loves heroes, villains, and adventure.

WILL IN SCARLET swings from the lows of life into the highlights with this retelling of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.  Its young cast and spontaneous silliness might make adults feel a little foolish for reading it, yet the gritty scenes involving death and less than ideal choices will keep tweens and teens entranced.

There’s a surprising amount of depth to story, characters, and setting considering that the pacing never lags.  I’m amazed at how much is crammed into these 272 pages.  Every word truly counts.

The characters are always doing something – whether fighting, drinking, or traveling  — while they chat.  Despite a large cast of characters, which does grow smaller by the end of the book, every character important enough to have a name also has a backstory and a personality.  If the character has a name, then they feel like they have a backstory and a personality.  I appreciated the fact that most of the characters also developed over the course of the story, whether for better or worse.  Unlike many fantasy books for this age, the villains are fleshed out and have goals beyond simply being evil.

Scarlet was an easy character to root for.  I wanted him to have a happy life.  After living a privileged life, he learns that the most important things in life are the ones you have to fight to keep.  He has his faults, yet his story is inspirational.

Much is an orphan girl pretending to be a boy.  Considering all the close calls and length of time, it was hard to believe that not a single person in the Merry Men saw through Much’s disguise as a boy.  Even when an outsider called her a girl, the boys were clueless.  Regardless, I enjoyed her character.  She was physically weaker and less skilled than the boys (in general), yet managed to make herself no less of an asset to them.

WILL IN SCARLET is simply a great MG version of a well-loved myth.  I highly recommend it to anyone until the age of 18.

B rating plus rating

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)

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Family by Choice from author Caroline Frechette #guestpost

When I come across a book like Blood Relations that promises an enticing mix between paranormal, horror, and the male perspective; it is quite difficult to refrain from reviewing (though it’s the only way to clear that otherwise endlessly expanding review list).  But, after being teased by the Amazon preview, I have a feeling either book or author may make another appearance on here in 2014.

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Family by choice

Fiction and our private lives

by Caroline Frechette

The other day, someone asked me if I was an orphan. I was a little taken aback. I lost my father a little over ten years ago, but I’m not an orphan, I replied. The person proceeded to ask me whether I’d run away from home, or if my family was horrible.

Those are odd questions to ask of someone, point-blank, like that, and yet, I have to admit I know where they come from. In my stories, not just Blood Relations, the first volume of the Family by Choice series, my latest release, but in all my stories, the protagonists almost never have a relationship with their parents. Their parents are either gone, or dead, or abusive, or neglectful, and more often than not, when there is a parent in the picture, the characters end up cutting off that relationship for good.

I didn’t run away from home. And my parents were not abusive or neglectful or bad parents in any way. They were loving, tender people who were always there for us, whether it was to give us a ride out of a bad situation, or lend us a non-judgemental ear when we were in trouble. They supported us, drove us to accomplish everything we wanted. We were loved, and we knew it. In short, they were the best parents anyone could ever have.

So why write consistently about absent relationships with parents, if I didn’t go through that? The answer is both simple and complicated. The short version is, when you write fiction, you try to tackle your inner pain, your unresolved conflicts; it’s what gives true emotional depth to your stories. I don’t really have unresolved conflicts and emotional pain when it comes to my parents, so I don’t feel the need to explore the parent/child relationship from the child’s point of view.

Why then do some of my characters have painful memories when it comes to their parents? For the same reason as above, actually. The exploration of pain and all that. My parents really did their best, and I have no issues with them, but I do have pain and unresolved issues from my childhood. I think everyone does. So I give my characters baggage. It’s not the same as mine; it doesn’t have to be. And, like I said in a previous post, sometimes putting another angle on your issues can act like a safe distance, a protective glass beyond which you can safely observe, and give yourself the opportunity to heal without re-living the trauma.

Because the point to giving your characters your pain is to help yourself heal from it. And, in doing so, you’re helping your readers heal from their own pain. Pain is a universal human experience. It doesn’t need to be the exact same experience for us to relate and heal.


Blood_Relations

Blood Relations by Caroline Frechette

Publisher:  Renaissance

Genre:  Paranormal

Published:  October 12th, 2013

Pages:  250

Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads

Life has not been easy for Alex Winters since he used his pyrokinetic powers to take control of the Russian district. Violence and betrayal have become a way of life, but he’s somehow managed to keep the gangsters in line. At barely sixteen, he thinks he’s seen it all. He hasn’t. Things spiral out of control when the latest double cross takes a turn for the supernatural. The new group muscling in on his territory turns out to be a brutal gang of vampires. Can Alex defeat an enemy even more powerful than himself? Can he keep his people safe and his boss happy? Can Alex survive in a world that just keeps getting more dangerous?

about author

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Caroline Fréchette is originally from Montreal, but has been living in the Ottawa/Gatineau region for the past 9 years. She is a sequential artist and author. She has published several short stories, both sequential and traditional, as well as two graphic novels, all on the French Canadian and European markets. She was the editor and director for the French Canadian literary magazine Histoires à boire debout, and works at the Ottawa Public Library. She has been teaching creative writing since 2005, and manages the popular writing page and blog Ice Cream for Zombies.

 

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

 

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Cover Reveal: The Wolf of Descarta by Daniel Pike

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A new author, a new tour organizer, yet I am hooked by the cover of the latest book by Daniel Pike.  Check out the full image below!

The Wolf of Descarta by Daniel Pike

Release Date: November 21, 2013

Series: The Dream Box

Genre: Sci-Fi /Fantasy

Publisher: The Zharmae Publishing Press (Zharmae.com)

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Cover Reveal organized by Coffee and Characters

 

book description

 

Jaren Reese is just another red collar trapped at the bottom of Descarta’s genetic caste system. But in the Dream Box, he has forged a new digital identity for himself: Balmus, the Wolf Knight.

Balmus has long since carried a torch for the Linker Petra, but he doesn’t know her, not really. Outside of the Dream Box she is just another one of his fantasies. But Brea Morgen is the real thing– a living, breathing person who desires Jaren for who he truly is, not merely what he pretends to be.

When the Dream Box that Jaren depends on crashes due to the evolution of a hostile A.I. life form, a secret military branch commissions a team of gamers and hackers to go back into the corrupted Dream Box to eliminate the threat and Jaren is given the chance of a lifetime—though it comes at a price—and Jaren now needs to decide just how much he’s willing to lose because the war about to be waged will be one on two fronts – the corporeal and the virtual.

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My thoughts:

Finally a book cover with a male character that doesn’t have a bare torso and random tattoos.  It’s so refreshing to have the lead character decked out in full battle gear.  That’s exactly how I want to envision Balmus while I read the story — rather than him looking like he just rolled out of bed after a sex marathon.  The Schwarzenegger-Fabio hybrid cover males from 80s sci-fi/fantasy novels were really cheesy, but at least the cover’s focus was more on creating mood and story than sex (like the covers models of many books in the last couple years).

I kind of wished that Balmus wore a helmet as the perfect hair and face seems out of place on the cover.  His expression looks better suited on an aristocrat rather than a warrior.

I’m fond of the blue/black colors for the background and body suit.  I wonder if that bright gold collar is story significant?  The silver of the axe looks spectacular against the oversized moon.  It’s the first thing I see when I look at the cover and it draws me into the rest of the forlorn scene like a noose.

Though simplistic, the font works great with the rest of the cover.

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about author

Daniel Pike is a high school English teacher, author, blogger, and father of two energetic daughters, Aurie and Kiera. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from ASU as well as his Masters in Education. His first novel, Repressed Memories, was written when he was 17 years old and high on anime. He openly admits that most of the writing took place in his Algebra class. We may forgive him for that.

His most recent offerings include The Wolf of Descarta, book one in his Dream Box Trilogy

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook

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Review/Giveaway: Susy Asylum by Michael Pierce (5 stars)

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As a huge fan of Provex City from Micheal Pierce, I was ecstatic to sign up for this tour of the sequel, Susy Asylum.  Check out my review of 5 star review of the prequel to Susy Asylum, Provex City!  Feel free to read my review even if you have not read Provex City.  It contains only minor spoilers (no more than the blurb) of the first book.  Thank you to Candace’s Book Blog for organizing this tour.  You can check out the full schedule HERE.

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Susy Asylum (Lorne Family Vault#2) by Michael Pierce

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Publisher: ParousiaSix Publishing

Pages: 424

Published: April 25th, 2013

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

In SUSY Asylum, there is no release. There is no escape. No hope.

Oliver and Desiree are introduced to the writings of a mysterious blogger, Commodore Chaos, when they return to Provex City to indulge in what the sublime city has to offer. The blogger claims the Lornes are collecting people venturing between the higher planes of awareness and locking them away in a mythical asylum. But are these legitimate concerns for inter-plane travelers or just the ramblings of an anonymous conspiracy blogger?

Oliver looks to Provex City as his only connection to his father while Desiree looks to the city as an escape from the torment of losing her best friend—again. Provex City is a wonder of beautiful treasures, entrancing them to continue returning. But behind the beauty, wolves have continued hunting Oliver, a boy who is still unaware of his importance in the rebellion.

Oliver’s belief is waning. Desiree will not always be by his side. Mr. Gordon will not always come to his aid. Oliver finds himself alone, forced to confront his biggest fears, fight his inner demons, and face the very cold reality that no one is coming to save him.

Welcome to SUSY Asylum.

Like a bullet to the head, the story of Oliver Grain will bleed into your consciousness long after the last page is read.  SUSY ASYLUM is an story honest to characters and plot, no matter how gritty the tale.  Micheal Pierce has a talent for creating characters that the reader can’t help but invest into and then taunts you with a Russian roulette premonition.  Early in the book, the reader learns that one character close to Oliver won’t make it.  Even with that seed planted in the mind, there is still a feeling of disbelief when the deed happens.

As if turning back the pages would revive this character, I couldn’t help but reread the section and yearn for an alternate end for this character.  My need to discover what happens with Oliver and his quest is what eventually recovered me and allowed me to finish.  Although the first part of the book is focused on expanding the characters and world-building, the second half  is a rampage.  After developing attachments to all the characters, the reader has to witness each one makes stupid decisions that put Oliver and his friends in a suicidal situation.  Oliver is not the only one to blame as the other characters often act independently of his decisions and it is clear that each one of them has their own agenda throughout the story.

It’s difficult to decide which character is my favorite, but I believe I will have to say Oliver.  I can’t help but chuckle when he tries unsuccessfully to understand teenage girls.  His ignorance of them compared to the author’s expert writing of the female sex makes for some much needed comic relief in an otherwise very gritty story.

Due to several culturally taboo situations, Suzy Asylum is recommended only to teens and up.

rating Aplus rating

(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

excerpt

(Oliver learns about TJ and Desiree’s relationship through journal entries and several interrogations. The reader is given glimpses into their past with mini-chapters sprinkled throughout the book. This is a piece of one such mini-chapter showing TJ’s downward spiral, eventually leading to his suicide. What TJ writes on the bathroom stall walls—and himself—gives meaning to what was written on Oliver’s wall in the first book.)

TJ looked around the [bathroom] stall—his new room—the only one he still deserved. It was covered in writing and etchings, everything from gang affiliations to phone numbers to apocalyptic prophecy. He had already flushed so many things away. He could sit there forever and just continue flushing until there was nothing left—until he was completely empty.TJ took a pocketknife from his backpack and began adding to the art on the walls. My room. He looked at what he had etched into the metal and it felt so appropriate. So he etched it again into the other wall. My room. It felt good to destroy something. He cut into the walls over and over, in blank spaces and over other writing, until it lost its appeal: the cutting into metal. The rush had faded and TJ fought to get it back.

He skimmed the blade of the knife with his thumb, scratching lightly across his skin. Then he looked down at his bare arm resting atop his backpack.

The first cut into his arm was the worst. It wasn’t deep so it took a moment for the blood to pool. The second was a little deeper and afterward the rush began to return. It felt good to destroy something, especially something so personal. He had carved four letters into his forearm, the “o” looking more like a diamond, when the bathroom door opened. Blood was pouring all around his arm and dripping onto his backpack and clothes. He didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Nothing did.

There were several guys talking.

“Get out!” TJ yelled.

The bathroom became silent.

Then one of the guys shot back. “Who’s gonna make me?”

TJ’s self-induced rush was peaking. He stood up, simply let his backpack fall to the floor, and opened the door. My room. He stepped out of his stall and stood before three upperclassmen. His left arm was covered in bloody letters, dripping down to his hand, and he still held the open pocket knife in his other hand.

The three guys stumbled over each other on their way out the door.

TJ locked himself back in his stall, determined to finish what he’d started.

 

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Check out book one, Provex City!

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: “When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls.” And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.

Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

 

 

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about author

Michael Pierce

 

I believe in a future where I will be able to write full-time, a picture I already hold vividly in my mind. It all starts with my debut young adult novel, Provex City. I love Harry Potter & The Marbury Lens, Tool & Elliott Smith, Dexter & Donnie Darko, bold coffee & amber ale. I also love dabbling with writing music and recording, with no illusions of ever making it a career. I am ecstatically married and the lucky father to a beautiful baby girl.

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