Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

 

inkcover

Ink (The Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Publisher:  Harlequin TEEN

Pages: 377

Published:  June 25th, 2013

Links:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Goodreads

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.

Ink is in their blood.

On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must 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.

When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawingscome to life.

Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

 

Reading INK was like watching someone test the water with their toes.  The potential for a great story was within the author’s grasp, but I didn’t feel like she was willing to part from the comforts of YA cliches.  The setting and culture of Japan  was kept at arms length from the reader, since the narrator was neither a native nor wanted to become one.  There’s a huge difference between watching a foreign movie with subtitles and a foreign movie “Americanized” (try watching both versions of  THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO).  This book was the latter.

The book seems well researched enough.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the area and the authenticity of the food.  The scenes involving the ink were vividly described and were the few times I connected to the characters.  I felt the magic and with the gray-tone images within the book I almost could see them come to life on my screen.  I also enjoyed learning about the Kami, which are part of Japanese mythology (at least in this book).

Katie’s best friends, Yuki and Tanaka, lack depth and seems like they only exist for plot purposes.  Neither one has any personal progression throughout the novel.  I’m not quite sure why Myu disappears completely from the novel after the breakup.  I would think that she would get involve in Katie’s life (negatively or positively) once it becomes apparent that her ex has a new girl on his mind.  The love triangle, sigh, do I need to even go there?

It becomes apparent as the story progressed that it was moving in a very linear and predictable path.  I wasn’t surprised at any of the twists, but I was pissed off at Katie for how she treated Jun during his big reveal.  I was disappointed by Katie’s decision at the end and moreso by the fact that INK is not a standalone novel.  Not every story needs to be drawn out into a trilogy.  I think that even with the ambiguous ending that I would have been satisfied with letting my imagination fill in the future for Katie. (C+)

rating C plus rating

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

 

– Cover

 

about author

Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, a small town where she could escape into the surrounding forest to read. An archaeologist by training, her intense fear of spiders keeps her indoors where she writes novels instead. She will write your name in Egyptian Hieroglyphic if you ask, though. The Paper Gods is inspired by her time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. She currently lives in Toronto, where she keeps busy knitting companion cubes, gaming and sewing costumes for anime conventions. Ink is her first novel

Publisher’s Website  |   The Paper Gods (Author’s) Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Book Trailer

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Cover Reveal: The Last Degree by Dina Rae

I’m not huge on thrillers, but I adore conspiracy novels.  The dirtier the conspiracy, the more I relish it.  The Last Degree promises to be a good read and there’s a bonus!  For two days, it is FREE to download.  Nothing wrong with free, right?  Try out this book and if you like her or love her, check out her other works.  Let me say it again:

The Last Degree will be FREE July 14th & July 15th only!


Title: The Last Degree

Series: Book #1

Author: Dina Rae

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Paranormal, Political, Suspense, Thriller, Christian

Publisher: Dina Rae

Ebook format only

Words: 93000

Purchase for only $1.99:  Amazon

 

Summary:

The Last Degree is a fictionalized account of how Freemasons and other secret societies set up the world for takeover. Ancient writings foretell a ‘Shining One’ who emerges as the world’s prophet. A murder of a Most Worshipful mason resembles a secret oath. A cop gets too close to solving the crime. Paranoid preppers go underground, preparing for war.

Headlines such as the Norway massacre, meltdown of the European Union, unscrupulous media, animal die-offs, Middle Eastern unrest, andU.S.shrinking power make the plot relevant to present day. This book is an ode to Christians, Birthers, 2012ers, Truthers, preppers, and/or other conspiracy junkies who enjoy Dan Brown, Jesse Ventura, Brad Meltzer, Alex Jones, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

Excerpt:

Dwight took off his crown, signifying he was no longer playing King Solomon.

“Sacrifice is expected for ones that you love.  Do you love me?” Dwight shouted.  “Then bow down before me and offer praise!”

Everyone knelt and laid their head down to the floor, chanting ‘Most Worshipful,

Most Worshipful’ several times before Dwight commanded them to get up.

In a manic energetic state, Dwight vociferated, “Et vitam impendere vero!”  All repeated, with the three new pledges joining in.  Minutes later, he began to calm down.  “To sacrifice life for truth – that is what we must always do!  You must trust me as your Most Worshipful and sacrifice at my command!  Are you prepared to do this?”  All three pledges nodded.

Dwight pulled the content baby out of Arthur’s arms and threw it high into the air.  As the baby began to descend, Dwight took his sword and hacked through its neck, decapitating it before it hit the floor.  Only the three pledges shrieked in horror.  He sinisterly smiled as he picked up the head and body, revealing it was only a doll.

“Don’t believe with your eyes, but believe with your knowledge.  We are his chosen and will soon be exalted.”

The three men looked down at their hands and tried not to scream.  They were covered in blood.

“Sacrifice, my brothers, sacrifice.  I will teach you well.  You are all Chiefs of the Tabernacle!  Let us go and celebrate!” Dwight gleamed.

Check out The Last Degree Prequel as well—Be Paranoid Be Prepared!  Currently .99 cents.

 

About the Author:

Dina Rae is a new author here to stay.  As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.  Her two novels, Halo of the Damned and The Last Degree, weave research and suspense throughout the plots.  Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character.  Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.

Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside ofChicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories.  When she is not writing, she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs.

Find the Author:

Website | Blog |

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Book Review: Fire Kissed by Erin Kellison

Fire Kissed (Book #4 in The Shadow Kissed Series) by Erin Kellison

Publisher: Kensington

Available in ebook or paperback on July 3rd, 2012.

Although Fire Kissed is technically the fourth novel in the series, it is completely a stand alone book.  There are hints of previous novels for earlier fans, but Erin Kellison keeps it from feeling like an information dump.

There are three main POVs in this novel: Kaye, Jack, and Grey.  Kaye is a shadowmage, who was brought up thinking that angels will kill her.  So imagine her surprise when she finds an angel in her basement who saves her life instead of kill her.  His dying wish is for the other angels in the Order to protect her.  Jack is chosen to recruit Kaye to betray her own kind and help the angels.  He disregards his attraction to Kaye, as a side effect to her temptress nature.  He fights against his feelings for much of the novel.  Actually, most of the men are spellbound by Kaye, especially Grey.  Normally I’d consider this a turn-off, but Kaye has so many obvious personality faults that this perk fits.  Above all else, Kaye is selfish and driven.  She will manipulate anyone to achieve her goals.  Her faults, for me, made her all the more real and loveable.

I’m also a sucker for a well-developed villain and the added bonus of being able to know the world from Ferrol Grey’s side made me giddy.  Although he is evil, I couldn’t help but secretly wish through parts of the novel that things would turn out well for him.  Kaye absolutely tortures and exploits Grey.  She manipulate him for her own goals and at parts I wonder who is in fact the evil one.

I did have some issue with some of the minor POV characters.  Some parts are shown from the perspective of humans who see the effects of Kaye, Jack, and Grey’s actions.  It confused me because I had no connection with these humans and I still don’t know which humans were related to who and by the time they appeared again, I’d forgotten what happened the first time.

The pacing of the novel was spot on and with the constant switching of POVs, I wasn’t prepared for many of the plot twists.  By the last page I truly wasn’t sure what would happen.  And then the novel ended, and I wanted way more.  I hate cliffhanger novels and this book leaves quite a bit open for future novels.  A little too much in my opinion, but I suppose technically much of the main plot in the novel was resolved.  Reminding myself that this in part of series, the ending was fine…as in OMG Snape killed Dumbledore, what the hell happens in the next book…fine.  I will be reading the next book when it comes out.

Characters 4/5

Concept 5/5

Pacing 5/5

Grammar 5/5

Ending 2/5

Summary:

Fae Fire

It is Kaye Brand’s power to wield. But outcast from her kind, she’s been selling herself to the highest bidder—money for her survival in exchange for a magic glimpse into the flames of the future.

Angel Ice

One of the angelic Order, Jack Bastian has no use for a female like Kaye, as provocative and unexpected as her blazing beauty. Yet he has no choice but to hire her to uncover the secrets of his sworn enemy and her former fiancé, Ferrol Grey.

Magekind

War is inevitable between the defenders of the Order and the mage Houses who threaten to engulf the world in Shadow. For Jack, mage-born Kaye is off limits, no matter how hot the impossible attraction between them. But in the coming darkness, beset by danger and desire, everything is about to change…

Grade: A -

This book will appeal to fans of paranormal and will not disappoint earlier fans of The Shadow Kissed Series.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, you can buy it July 3rd, 2012 from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Check out more reviews at Goodreads.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Vida Nocturna by Mark Diehl

Vida Nocturna by Mark Diehl

Publisher:  Self published

Available in ebook or paperbook.

Never before have I loved, pitied, and hated a character more than Sara.  As soon as the story begins, Sara is in trouble.  She’s failing all of her college courses and tries to hide this from her father, who both pays tuition and expects only the best from his daughter.  And then we find out that she’s involved in a vampire club.  Then the books flashes back to a younger Sara and we get the first glimpse of her childhood.  The first flashback is a happy one.  Most of the ones that follow are not.  At first, the non-lineral narration is confusing, but about a quarter into the book I was thankful for it.  The present Sara is falling deeper and deeper into a fantasy world of addiction and Vampires.  Some of the scenes are so intense that I want to scream at the book and the characters.  Sara isn’t your typical heroine.  She makes very bad decisions, but worse are the people that surround her.

I think that Sara’s parents are the most developed and intriguing set in any YA novel.  Any child of divorced parents can vouch for the constant back and forth hatred and jealousy.  Sara’s father is jealous of her seemingly happy relationship with her mother and vice versa.  Her parents have a huge impact on the decisions she makes and had either one of them acted like an adult, Sara might not have chosen the path she did.

Overall, this is a story about addiction.  The powerlessness of addiction.  This is a psychological horror in the fact that Sara loses control over herself and her life chapter by chapter.  There are sections where the only relief to the darkness is the flashbacks.

The only escape for hardcore druggies is rehab, jail, or death.  At different parts of the novel, I was hoping for a different one of these things.  I hoped that she’d get better.  I hoped that she’d get caught.  I hoped that she’d find peace in death.

As for the ending, I firmly believe that she deserved it.  And it scared me that I felt that way.

Characters 5/5

Concept 5/5

Pacing 5/5

Grammar 5/5

Ending 5/5

Summary:

Only the need will last forever.

Sara has always escaped her real-world fears by reading fantasy and horror stories. Now, as a social-phobic college freshman, she enters a dark world where horror is not supernatural and fantasy is a trap.

Evil is contagious.

Victims become predators, and every predator was once just like Sara. Imagining she’d be different was her first step toward them. Now, draped in the decadent 80s subculture, she’s rendered helpless by powers she never imagined.

Grade: A+

Fans of Horror and Addiction novels will love this book.

If you’re interested in buying this book, check it out at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews and information available at Goodreads.

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Book Review: The Soul’s Mark: Found by Ashley Stoyanoff

The Soul’s Mark: Found by Ashley Stoyanoff

Publisher: Self published

Available in ebook or paperback.

Although this book left me frustrated while reading, after I finished I thought how great of a story it was.  Not much happened in the first half of the book and it isn’t until the  halfway point that the book catches up with the blurb description.  And the other downfall was that despite having 19 and 20 year old characters, the book is written like a MG.  No sex scenes.  PG kissing and violence.  That said, if Amelia and her vampire soulmate were twelve or thirteen years old, I would rate this book a solid FIVE stars.  I love MG books like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.  But with older characters, most of the reading audience is late teens or adult.  It’s too sugarcoated to be a YA novel.  I would strongly suggest the author try a MG novel as her second, because that seems to be a better fit for her writing style.

The relationship between Amelia and her Vampire soulmate was a breath of fresh air.  They had a very dynamite love/hate relationship and as a reader I was constantly going back and forth on whether or not I wanted them together in the end.  Not until the last chapter did I know if they ended up together.

I loved the concept of the novel.  The fact that Amelia was tied to a vampire without any say or possibility of escape.  It was like an arranged marriage but with a paranormal twist.

I also thought that the minor characters were unique and well developed.  The only one that felt cliche was Fiona – the bad girl.  All the others kept surprising me with how they behaved towards the main couple and evolved with the main characters by the end.  Speaking of the end.  There was one part with Madam Crystal that I thought was completely out of the blue.  I wish there was some foreshadowing towards that twist in the plot.

Characters 5/5

Concept 5/5

Pacing 1/5

Grammar 4/5

Ending 4/5

Summary:

Anxious to leave her destructive past behind, Amelia Caldwell moves to Willowberg, excited for a fresh start. Once there, she discovers that her birthmark is more than it seems. She has been marked by a vampire’s soul. Not only does she hold his soul, but Amelia is also his soulmate.

After almost a century of searching for his soulmate, Mitchell Lang fears the worst—he is going to lose Amelia to another man. His heart takes over, and his impulsive decision to take away her free will and to intensify their bond quickly turns her growing love into hate.

When they become trapped in the emotional rollercoaster of their souls’ bond, open conflict erupts. Amelia has no intentions of belonging to anyone, not even her soulmate, and Mitchell refuses to let her go.

While she frantically searches for a way to escape his grasp, Amelia unlocks the painful memories of her past and uncovers a powerful secret. But before she has a chance to explore her newfound edge, she finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly game of revenge and is forced to realize that YOU CANNOT RUN FROM DESTINY.

Grade:  B

Fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and the Paranormal genre will enjoy this book and its twist on vampires.

If you’re interested in buying this book, check it out at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews and information available at Goodreads.

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