Book Eighty-Seven of 2014: By Starlight by Nancy A. Lindley-Gauthier

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The night my best friend Gracie disappeared, I had a nightmare.
A monster loomed from the shadows around the campfire. I ran. The thing stretched after me…
I woke gasping, afraid it might somehow be true. Gracie could always make me feel better – but she didn’t respond to my email. Not that night; not ever.
That’s what lead to my summer camp counselor job here near Gracie’s home. Hiking and canoeing fill every moment but I don’t forget why I’m here. I’m going to find Gracie.
The camp-owner, a famous Native seer, isn’t any help. Her herbal healing and Spirit Bear talisman won’t help find Gracie.
There’s the local ranger and my campers, but will they believe me? I’m alone with this. Somehow, every step toward Gracie takes me nearer to something scary. This is a mystery I must solve.

I actually found it hard to find a place for this book. It’s not completely a mystery book and it isn’t paranormal (though there are spiritual hints). I’d like to say that it’s a bit of coming of age with a huge chunk of mystery and a slight pinch of paranormal/spiritual elements. Keep that little genre recipe in mind when you read my review.

Kit is annoying, but I really like her. She isn’t the whiny teen annoying and she isn’t the fall to her knees at the sight of a hot guy annoying. She’s not that kind of annoying. She’s the kind of annoying that I was as a teen. She’s determined and passionate about her missing best friend, but she’s wary to speak up to the very people who could help her or know information. She’s also not that very observant for a person possibly looking for a dead body and the culprit.

However, this doesn’t stop the book from being interesting. I like that Kitsai (awesome name) is a normal teenager. Her best friend is from the internet, she’s unsure about herself, and she doesn’t really know how to talk without sounding bossy (kind of like me too). So many times there are books with the main character not having enough normal to them. This isn’t the case for Kitsai.

The main mystery is about Gracie, Kit’s missing best friend. Gracie seems to be very much like Kit. She seems to be passionate and had some good observation skills. You don’t really get much about her except through Kit’s memories or the little tidbits tossed into the air through eavesdropping. It is worth mentioning that even though Kit thought about her constantly and wanted to find her, the reader (or at least I) doesn’t really feel the expediency of it.

Kit shines in the climax of the book. She changes slightly from the “wary of adults” teenager to a girl asking for help. She also changes from the “ignoring what’s around you” and sees what has been there all along. I like that there is a change in her, but I wish there was a bit more time for the reader to digest this change. However, I believe there is a sequel to the book, which is cool.

By Starlight is a quick read with easy prose. It’s only a hundred pages and change. Seriously, it’s about a days read. I took a while, but that’s because this time of year (Dec.) always calls for extra attention. It isn’t hard to be pulled in and experience the book.

I like the scenes of the premonitions and when folklore was being passed down. It gave the book a spiritual feel that Kit wanted in her investigation, but like Kit we aren’t given an outside force to solve the mystery for us. We have to observe and see the world through Kit’s eyes as she finds her way. In this, the book is coming of age.

Sure, there is a mystery. However, I want to say this is the coming of age for a possible future sleuth. Kit has the passion and the skills, she’d make a great detective. It is that small growth that wants me to see Kit doing more.

Book Eighty-Six of 2014: Escape From Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

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Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.
After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.
Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.
To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.
How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

Escape From Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth is a serious fast read. I actually finished this book Sunday, but had to take a few days to process the book. I actually really loved it, until the end.

The book is a young adult paranormal that is written in three different views. There is Lady Clifford, the witch behind Witchwood Hollow. Albertine Slack, a young English immigrant who experiences the legend in 1850. And, Honoria, a girl who moves to Arnn in 2001 after the deaths of her parents.

There are so many books structured like this one that ends up confusing the reader, but Jordan Elizabeth is an epert. The reader sympathizes with all of the characters and is instantly pulled into two sets of mysteries that are more connected than anyone realizes.

The writing is simple, but direct. There isn’t a flurry of lyrical prose, only the raw emotion of the characters. I liked that. It’s been so long that I wanted to finish a book just to see what happened to Albertine and if she gets out of Witchwood Hollow. With Honoria, I wanted her to find peace and friendship. I wanted her to be happy in the end.

The ending is what forced me to take a step back for a few days. I can understand how it ended this way, but I feel a bit more would have made me happy, but it’s still a good book. Without telling you what happens, my thoughts were as followed: WTF!? I can’t believe this! Oh, now I’m beginning to understand. Sad.

Yeah, that’s the ending in a nutshell. But, don’t let that deter you. The book pulls you in and shows the idea of local legends having truth. Even the concept of Witchwood Hollow is amazing. The first thing that popped in my head was the idea of being Spirited Away. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Jordan Elizabeth makes the magic believable. It’s like a fairy tale, but more lifelike.

This is a serious MUST READ! I’m dead serious here. You will finish it in a few days, probably get upset over the ending, but the journey is worth it. I’ll definitely read from Jordan Elizabeth again.

Fifteen Book Cover Reveal

Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts

Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts

Legend has it if you die in your dreams, you die in real life. Fifteen-year-old Ashling Campbell knows that’s not true because when she closes her eyes each night, she doesn’t dream about public nudity or Prom dates. Instead, she’s catapulted to the front row of her future self’s execution – fifteen years from now – where monsters have taken control of her hometown and she, or rather, her 30-year-old counterpart, is their public enemy number one.

For three months and counting, it’s been the same dream… until an encounter with an antique dreamcatcher. Ash falls asleep to discover she’s no longer a mere spectator in these dreams – now she’s astral-projecting into the body of her future self. Each night, she goes on the run with a ragtag group of rebels – who have no idea she’s really a high school sophomore and not their noble warrior. She has to make it through each night so that she can wake up and find a way to change the future. For every action she does in the present day, she falls asleep to discover it had an equal impact fifteen years later. It’s up to her to manage her two worlds and make sure she’s still got a place in both.

Fifteen by Jen Estes is a Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult book. It is published through Curiosity Quills Press and will be released January 15, 2015.

This book looks seriously awesome. I am beginning to like science fiction that have interesting twists. The idea that you can be transported into the future through your dreams is amazing. There are so many things that this book will have to deal with. Such as, how is she able to do this? How did the monsters come into power? What does her decisions in the present time do to the future self?

All of those questions make me want to really read this book. The cover is beautiful and doesn’t really hint at what you will experience in the book. It’s pretty much just a girl who looks like she’s dreaming. Which is the main point of the book, but everything hinted in the description makes this sound like a real adventure.

I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Author: Jen Estes

Author: Jen Estes

About the Author:

Jen Estes is the author of the Cat McDaniel Mystery Series and the forthcoming FIFTEEN (The Dreamwalker Diaries).

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jen had to choose between staring at corn or reading books. Corn husks just didn’t have the appeal of the Baby-Sitters Club, and so a bookworm was born. Reading later turned into writing and in 2011, Jen published her first novel. After releasing four books in the mystery genre, Jen finally gave in to the literary demands of her inner teenager with her YA debut, FIFTEEN (The Dreamwalker Diaries) with Curiosity Quills.  Jen lives in Illinois with her husband Nathan under the tyranny of their three cats: Wrigley, Ivy and Captain Moo.

She is an active member of the National Writers Union. When she isn’t writing, Jen enjoys sci-fi in all its mediums, attempting yoga, using her passport, watching baseball, and reading a good book. You can find Jen on the web at http://www.jenestes.com, on Tumblr as AuthorJenEstes and tweeting under @jenestesdotcom

Website: http://www.jenestes.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjenestes

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenestesdotcom

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5260678.Jen_Estes

Book Eighty-Five of 2014: Demon in Steam by Lexi Ostrow

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In the London Underground the Alliance of Silver and Steam is all that protects humans from demons.
Felicia Gannon is no stranger to the demons that lurk in the night. After her parents were murdered in front of her the Alliance took her in and trained her. Vengeance became her only drive.
Greyston Westham is more than just the devilishly handsome Captain of the Guard. He’s an Incubus Demon who hunts his own kind because they have no use for lesser demons like himself.
When a murderer is running lose that only the Alliance can deal with Felicia and Greyston are thrown together in a deadly game. Can she overcome her hatred of demons and give into the relationship that will save her life? Or will Felicia’s hatred be her doom.

“Demon in Steam” by Lexi Ostrow is a steampunk romance short story. However, some may say erotic.

I like the concept and the world isn’t filled with too much detail. That seems to be the problem with most science fiction books for me. There’s too much information that’s trying to show the world, but leaves you without character connection. This short story does have a bit of the character connection. You do get to understand character motives and learn a bit about the world in this short story.

The sex scenes are steamy and didn’t feel too much out of place. Granted, one was in an area I wouldn’t go for, but given the circumstances… it made a bit of sense.

The one thing I would have liked more is the character relationship. I didn’t really feel them being together was right. There wasn’t enough conflict between the two. However, given that it’s a short story, it makes sense.

There are minor editing issues, but it’s mostly a missing word or misplaced one. Nothing to really give me an issue.

All in all, it wasn’t bad. I’m really looking forward to the first book in the series Nightmare in Steam. It will help me understand the world and perhaps see how the two characters from this story interact.

Book Eighty-Four of 2014: God’s Play by H.D. Lynn

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Sixteen-year old Toby was trained by a family of hunters to kill shape-shifters — but he has a unique weapon in his arsenal. With a touch of his hand, Toby can lift the magical protection shape-shifters use to disguise themselves as human. It’s an unusual skill for a hunter, and he prefers to kill monsters the old-fashioned way: with a blade.
Because of his special skill, Toby suspects he may be a monster himself. His suspicions deepen when William, a jackal-headed shape-shifter, saves him from an ambush where Toby’s the only survivor. And Toby doubts William helped him for purely altruistic reasons. With his list of allies running thin, Toby must reconcile his hatred of shifters and the damning truth that one saved his life. It’ll take both of them to track down the monster who ordered the ambush.
And Toby needs his unlikely alley because he has a vicious enemy — the infamous Circe, who has a vendetta to settle against the hunters. Toby has to unravel the mystery of his dual nature. And he has to do it on the run — before Circe finds him and twists him to her own ends.

There are a lot of things that I liked about H.D. Lynn’s God’s Play, but unfortunately it wasn’t a book that grabbed me completely.

H.D. Lynn developed an interesting world where the monsters of old are alive and well in our modern times. The first generation of monsters are more human now than the younger generations, who can change from their human to monster form. I liked how the history of the world is told through two different viewpoints. There is the hunter viewpoint where all monsters are evil and they made the veil to hide better and therefore make it easier to hurt humans. The monster viewpoint is more along the lines of using the veil to hide and prevent further deaths of either group. You learn the world through flashbacks and have to infer what is going on.

In this way, H.D. Lynn does make the reader sympathize with both parties respectfully, but also see the dangers of both parties. I liked that. I like that there is no clear villian, just a bunch of people with differing opinions doing what they believe is right (except Circe and possibly Fennis). Of course, there are more people that are worse than others and are probably better off dead. However, this is more like the real world in that sense.

The writing is lyrical and has that otherworldly feel. I liked that, but it felt a bit too much at times. I felt disjointed and not with the characters during that time. The flashbacks are done with the real time prose. Whereas this is for some people, I felt confused and bored depending on the flashbacks. Some of them didn’t seem all that important, but there were some that I would keep. Most of the ones I would keep are Cassie’s, a gorgon who has a bad history with hunters and witches.

The one character that I could really connect with was Cassie. She’s a woman with a dark history, one particularly terrible for her, it’s hard not to feel for her. For her, the veil is the most important thing in the world. To be honest, I agree with her. Maybe not her actions, but I understand her motivations. That’s what’s important.

The book is written in three different viewpoints: William, Toby, and Cassie. Toby is the hunter boy with a strange ability. He is strong, opinionated, and snarky. I really liked him. I felt that he was interesting to read about. Though there were times I would have preferred he balled up and just demand answers. His flashbacks made sense given the circumstances as to how he ends up with William.

William is probably the one character that I wanted to really love. He’s soft and sweet. He had gone through addictions and is now trying to just survive. However, I felt with Cassie’s flashbacks, having William flashbacks wasn’t really needed. Cassie was enough to get the reader to sympathize with the monsters. William’s only seemed to be his own issues and why he hated Fennis. I personally feel that he could have used that with exposition which would have beefed up the chemistry with Toby.

As for the story itself, there are some interesting twists. The book also starts off really strong, but it falters slightly until about halfway. I actually struggled quite a bit with the book because I was bored most of the time. I felt there needed to be more action or more arguing between Toby and William. They seemed to join forces rather quickly and though the trust isn’t made fast, I felt there could have been more opposition. Especially since one character is an angry teen with a deadly power and talent to kill. I would think he’d argue more, but he felt a bit docile at times.

All in all, this book isn’t bad. It has an interesting world, the writing is good, and there are characters you can pull together to sympathize with. It just wasn’t a book for me. It took too long for me and I lost interest in what was going on because of that.

UnHappenings Cover Reveal

 

Cover Artist: Andy Garcia

Cover Artist: Andy Garcia

 

When Nigel Walden is fourteen, the UNHAPPENINGS begin. His first girlfriend disappears the day after their first kiss with no indication she ever existed. This retroactive change is the first of many only he seems to notice.

Several years later, when Nigel is visited by two people from his future, he hopes they can explain why the past keeps rewriting itself around him. But the enigmatic young guide shares very little, and the haggard, incoherent, elderly version of himself is even less reliable. His search for answers takes him fifty-two years forward in time, where he finds himself stranded and alone.

 And then he meets Helen.

 Brilliant, hilarious and beautiful, she captivates him. But Nigel’s relationships always unhappen, and if they get close it could be fatal for her. Worse, according to the young guide, just by entering Helen’s life, Nigel has already set into motion events that will have catastrophic consequences. In his efforts to reverse this, and to find a way to remain with Helen, he discovers the disturbing truth about the unhappenings, and the role he and his future self have played all along.

 Equal parts time-travel adventure and tragic love story, Unhappenings is a tale of gravely bad choices, and Nigel’s struggle not to become what he sees in the preview of his worst self.

First off, let me just say that the cover is AMAZING. I am really pulled by it. It’s minimalist enough to grab you and doesn’t have images on it that make you think you already know what the book is about.

UnHappenings by Edward Aubry is a book with many genres: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Romance. It is published thorugh Curiosity Quills Press and will be released in January 8, 2015.

From the description of the book, I have a feeling I’m going to like it if I get my hands on it. The concept is different and I like that. I have to say, science fiction isn’t usually my favorite, but joined with romance and having a twist like this, I’m pretty excited about this.

Edward Aubry

Edward Aubry is a graduate of Wesleyan University, with a degree in music composition. Improbably, this preceded a career as a teacher of high school mathematics and creative writing.

Over the last few years, he has gradually transitioned from being a teacher who writes novels on the side to a novelist who teaches to support his family. He is also a poet, his sole published work in that form being the sixteen stanza “The History of Mathematics.”

He now lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife and three spectacular daughters, where he fills his non-teaching hours spinning tales of time-travel, wise-cracking pixies, and an assortment of other impossible things.

You can find Edward Aubry at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdwardAubry

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4385051.Edward_Aubry

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Edward-Aubry/373173783220?ref=hl

Writing…

There isn’t much that is really pressing to write about, but for some reason my brain is frizzing out. You know that white noise that used to be on the tv when you can’t get a signal for a local channel or the white noise in between radio stations? Yeah, that’s how I can describe it. I’m tired, and my brain feels like an empty room wanting to fill up, but is unable to. Really, this happens every November.

Or at least every November since I started NaNoWriMo. I would be all gung ho in the first week and am usually steady in week two. Come week three, I am frizzed out. Week four is when I give up. The most I’ve ever written is just under 37k. This year… I’m nowhere near 25k. Yeah, I’m seriously behind.

I’m hoping to get some writing done tonight, but it’s difficult when my brain doesn’t want to work. I’m not one of those free writers when I am writing fiction. At least not completely. There is some free writing involved, but mostly my heart and mind have to be in sync when I am writing fiction. I have to be and know my characters. Which is hard when you are writing, but there’s only a flatline in brain waves.

However, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t accomplished something. My plan of attack was a smart one. I finished a short story, am only five chapters away from finishing that novella, and I have the first two chapters of the Succubus story. Honestly, I’m proud of myself. I have another short story going on too. That one is close to halfway finished. So, if I finish my novella by tomorrow night (which I can feasibly do), I will have only have two more projects to work on.

The short story will take a little less than a day. And Lace, the Succubus story, has been planned for six more chapters. I also have two more prompts for short stories that are due next year. Yeah, I’m pretty positive I’ll at least be more productive this time around than before.

Shoot, from the first short stories that I’ve worked on for this, I’ve actually found characters that I would want to revisit in the future. One is from a previous NaNoWriMo. The other is completely different. I wasn’t even thinking of making it a possible future story, but hey, cool beans. It probably won’t get published for the literary journal I wrote it for, but it gave me characters and a world I want to keep around.

All in all, even though I’m not going to make the 50k (at least I’m not confident in it), I have done more than I would have if I didn’t do this. Now, I should get back to writing… I’m hoping to get chapter 8 of the novella done tonight at the least.