BOOK TOUR Review: “Nika: A Seychatka Novella” by D.H. Gibbs

A review by Domoni.

Nika has been kidnapped, grabbed off the streets by a man. She wakes in a lavish room fit for a princess. Though she was brought and held against her will, she stays when she finds out they can explain all the things about her that she needs to know. Nika has lived her life in hiding, constantly moving around and never making friends. The only relationship she ever had ended when her husband noticed Nika was different. She healed insanely fast and never looked older than 21. He turned her in to be experimented on, so she never trusted again until she met Demyan, the leader of her people. He tells Nika about her family that she never knew. When war between the Immortals and the Totem clan of shifters broke out, the twins were separated from their family. Sent into hiding at the age of 5, Nika has no real memories of her parents or siblings, or even her twin.  But as she quickly learns, Nika is an immortal and she and her twin are the last living heirs to the rulers of their people. Born from parents who united the Immortal and Totem clans, Nika and her twin can choose which race to be. As their 121st birthday approaches, Nika is told of how her brother has been raised by the Totems to hate the Immortals and blames them for their families deaths. Now Nika must choose her path and take up arms against the only family she has.

This is a short read that is the beginning of a series. The writing is rather perfunctory in my opinion. Though the story takes place over many months, it lacks much development or activity.  Nika goes from being angry at being captured, to acceptance at light speed. She immediately accepts her new life and role and questions little. The only portion of the story where she seems to be upset in a lasting manner is when, after a passionate kiss with Demyan, she is ignored for 6 months. Her reaction to the man she is so strongly drawn to, ignoring her, then kissing her again, then explaining why it’s so wrong, was just basic. There was no inner dialogue to explain her feelings, no time paid into why Nika just floated along with everything. What should have been a strong character, had no depth.

The story ends quite abruptly with a cliffhanger of course, as this is just the start of a series. Though I am not as enthusiastic about this story, it did contain enough to interest me in where it could go so that I was disappointed in the sudden ending and would consider continuing on with the series.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Nika by D.H. Gibbs
Nika: A Seychatka Novella by D.H. Gibbs
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 96
Release Date: March 1st 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
Taken off the streets Nika is thrown into an unknown world where she’s held captive. As an orphan, she has been on the run and must find her way out before they discover her secret. But these people held the knowledge of her family and who she is. Will she be able to find out before her secret is revealed? After hundreds
of years, Demyan has finally found the rightful ruler of his race. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know who she is and is doing everything in her power to escape him. Time is running out and Demyan has to convince Nika to take her rightful place otherwise the battle will be lost and his race extinguished.

D.H. GibbsAbout the Author

With an active imagination and a love of art, D.H. Gibbs has chosen to combine her talents by writing and illustrating books. She writes for both the children and young adult genre, where both of her debut books has been published and is available on Amazon. Her new children’s book will be coming out in 2016. D.H. Gibbs hails from the Caribbean where in her free time she reads, paint and travel when she can.

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Review: “When We Were” by Alexandra Diaz

"When We Were” by Alexandra Diaz A review by Amanda.

When We Were is a contemporary YA novel about three high school girls, who are each coming into their own. Tara, Pinkie, and Whitney Blaire have been friends since the first grade, despite their differences. Tara is an athlete training for a marathon. Her training is also her escape from the difficulties that life brings. Her perfect boyfriend, Brent, trains with her and their relationship fills others with envy. Pinkie is an anxious, type A personality, working hard for perfect grades and the attention of an older boy. Whitney Blaire, who is only ever referred to by her first and last name, is the popular party girl, the flirt. Each girl depends on the others, until a rumor about Brent changes everything. Enter new girl Riley, who threatens the friendships in a way no one sees coming…

On the surface, each character appeared to fit a stereotype. Tara was the dedicated athlete, Whitney Blaire was the popular mean girl, and Pinkie was the sweet, awkward nerdy girl. As the story developed, you began to see that things are not as they seemed. Pinkie is naive and insecure, with some prejudices that seem surprising. Tara is dealing with commitment issues, thanks to her deadbeat father. Whitney Blaire is fiercely loyal to her friends, and her superficiality covers up loneliness and intimacy issues due to her wealthy parents’ lack of attention. Even Riley, who seems to be a bad girl bent on destruction has more depth than we see at first. Above all, this is a story about friendship, growth, and love. All of the main characters are relatable in one way or another, and as the chapters switch between Whitney Blaire, Pinkie, and Tara, the story becomes clearer and the reader can see things that the characters do not. I recommend this book to teenagers and young adults everywhere. This book deals with sex and sexual feelings in a realistic and matter-of-fact way. It’s not glorified or glamorized, which is rare in books aimed at teens. The main theme of When We Were is the ups and downs of friendship, in a way that everyone can relate to. This is the first book that I’ve read by Alexandra Diaz, and I will certainly be on the lookout for more of her work.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “The Ark” by Laura Liddell Nolen

The Ark by Laura Liddell NolenA review by Maria.

I would like to thank author Laura Liddell Nolen for giving me the opportunity to read her new  young adult story, The Ark.

The Ark was a fresh new take on mixing young adult fiction with science fiction. It reminded me as a cross between The 100 and Star Trek.

Sixteen-year-old Char is a criminal. She and her fellow prisoners are left to die when the earth will be destroyed by a meteor in a few hours along with many citizens left behind. Her wealthy parents and brother are among the lucky ones with starpasses chosen for space shuttles to escape the pending disaster and survive. But on her final visit her mother risks her life to give her a starpass. Now Jess must escape from prison and risk everything to make it to one of the space shuttles before Earth is destroyed.

The characterization of Char really boosted my opinion of this novel. She was an excellent, compelling main character. She was imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit, but had committed in the past, only this time she was set-up. She gets into insanely dangerous situations and is around dangerous people all the time but still manages to keep a cool and level head. She is smart, brave, and incredibly resourceful for such a young character. She is constantly being conned, betrayed, and sabotaged, but she still has compassion for others. People close to her are dying left and right around her, even the whole world will die, but she’s ready to fight for her survival.

This book was short and very fast paced for the most part. I did encounter one chapter toward the end that probably could have been split up or shortened into several chapters. It was very long and dragged on a bit. However, even though the story went fast; sometimes the plot seemed choppy and would jump from one big event into another almost like the author was still trying to work out her writing style.
I recommend this book to adults and young adults. I do not recommend it to anyone younger because there are some very graphic moments in it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Book & Author Details:
The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen
Published by: HarperVoyager
Publication date: March 26th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Synopsis:

There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

With her criminal record, sixteen-year-old Char is never going to get a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect Earth’s survivors. The Arks are reserved for the real goody-goodies, like Char’s mom, dad, and brother, all of whom have long since turned their backs on her.

With Earth on the brink of destruction, Char must use all her tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they want to see her or not.

Once she arrives on the North American Ark, Char discovers that the remnants of humanity haven’t achieved the egalitarian utopia they’d planned for. For starters, the “Officers of the Peace” are anything but peaceful, especially since stealing a spot on an Ark is a crime punishable by death…

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Laura Liddell Nolan
AUTHOR BIO:
Laura grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent an excellent childhood playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. The Ark is the direct result of those stories and a lifelong devotion to space-themed television. It received a Work in Progress Grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Laura has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Texas with her family.
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BOOK TOUR: Review: “Hidden Deep” by Amy Patrick

 

Hidden Deep by Amy PatrickA review by Maria.

First off, a big thank you to author Amy Patrick for allowing me the opportunity to read and review her novel Hidden Deep, book one in the Hidden trilogy.

Rylann likes to spend time in the woods by her grandmother’s house even though they are the same woods she got lost in overnight as a child. After her parents’ divorce, she and her mother move in with her grandmother and she spends more time in these woods. One day she meets a  boy named Lad, who had saved her life as a child. Only now they are much older, and she finds herself very attracted to him. But Lad is evasive and mysterious about his life and the more he evades, the more Rylann wants to know him. However Lad’s story is more unworldly and magical than she could have ever imagined.

The story moved at a very fast pace and read much like a mystery, with Rylann trying to discover more about Lad. There were some great side characters in this book including Rylann’s grandmother and her friend Nox. The book was interesting and kept my attention. There were some big surprises that I had predicted, but it was still nice to discover them. Hidden Deep had a fairy-tale, enchanted forest feel to it, much like children’s stories but with older characters.

I enjoyed the personalities of both main characters Rylann and Lad. Rylann was a smart, funny, and awkward-feeling teenage girl going through some major life changes. She meets this great guy Lad who is a little odd but fascinating. She also gains the attention of bad-boy singer Nox and struggles with feelings for both. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but owns up to her faults and mistakes. It takes longer to get to know Lad’s character. But without giving too much away, he is also smart and funny. He’s a strong believer in love and is easy on the eyes.

I plan on reading more in this addicting and magical trilogy!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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Hidden Deep (Book 1 of the Hidden Trilogy) by Amy Patrick

Release Date: 03/23/15

Oxford South Press

319 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Give in to the Glamour…
Sixteen-year-old Ryann Carroll has just run into the guy who saved her life ten years ago. You might think she’d be happy to see him again. Not exactly. She’s a bit underdressed (as in skinny-dipping) and he’s not supposed to exist.

After her father’s affair, all Ryann wants is to escape the family implosion fallout and find a little peace. She also wouldn’t mind a first date that didn’t suck, but she’s determined not to end up like her mom: vulnerable, betrayed, destroyed. Ryann’s recently moved back to her childhood home in rural Mississippi, the same place where ten years earlier she became lost in the woods overnight and nearly died.

She’s still irresistibly drawn to those woods. There she encounters the boy who kept her from freezing to death that long ago winter night and was nowhere to be seen when rescuers arrived. He’s still mysterious, but now all grown-up and gorgeous, too. And the more she’s with him, the greater the threat he poses to Ryann’s strict policy– never want someone more than he wants you.

Seventeen-year-old Lad knows the law of his people all too well: Don’t get careless and Don’t get caught. It’s allowed his race to live undetected in this world for thousands of years, mentioned only in flawed and fading folklore…

Lad’s never been able to forget about Ryann since that night ten years ago. When he sees her again, his fascination re-ignites and becomes a growing desire that tempts him to break all the rules. He’s not even supposed to talk to a human, much less fall in love with one.

And the timing is atrocious. The Assemblage is coming, the rift between the Light and Dark is widening, and mysterious celebrity fan pods are becoming more and more widespread and influential. Lad may have to trade his own chance at happiness to keep the humans, especially Ryann, blissfully unaware and safe.

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About the Author

Amy Patrick

Amy is a two-time Golden Heart finalist (2013 and 2014). She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons and actually craves the heat and humidity of Mississippi, where she grew up. She’s been a professional singer and news anchor and currently narrates audio books as well as working as a station host for a Boston TV station.

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “The Witching Elm” by C.N. Crawford

The Witching Elm by C.N. Crawford A review by Maria.

I received The Witching Elm from author C.N. Crawford for a honest review. I was excited to read this book because it sounded like it fit right in my reading niche. It was well worth the read, I couldn’t put this book down!

Main character Toby is from a duplicate world with magic, shape-shifting, royalty, and evil. He’s sent to today’s Boston to escape the evil Rawhed, intent on killing sorcerers -or philosophers as Toby prefers to be called- like him. Crawford did wonderful world-building, giving readers a glimpse of this universe before bringing Toby over to Boston. It was a terrific blend of Toby’s world, Maremount, and the contemporary one. He ends up at Mather Academy where he tries to blend in, but Toby can’t help doing magic and something follows him from home.

The magic is intense with many spells, rhymes, and poems being featured. I liked that some of the magic hurt to accomplish. Changing shape from a boy to a crow wasn’t an easy or painless process. It was amusing as Toby tried to keep his magic under wraps when people were inviting him to séances and such!

The Witching Elm gives a gothic feel to Boston and the boarding school Toby and his friends attend. However, instead of the usual boarding school trappings – boredom, romances, schoolwork – this book managed to keep focused on the magic and fantasy. It was unique and refreshing.

The history was amazing and well-researched. Many historical events and figures were mentioned, such as the Puritans, Salem Witch Trials, and King Philip. Historical items like hangings, wars, and Native American culture appeared in this book. Some liberties were taken, but they only enhanced the story.

This novel features three Points of View (main characters Toby, Fiona, and Thomas) and stays in each character’s viewpoint for multiple chapters. It was disconcerting at first because each new narrator wasn’t clearly stated, but revealed in the body of the chapter.

Toby is an extremely likable character. He leaves his world behind and survives in a very different one with only his wits and spells. His backstory is astounding; he was a peasant -or Tatter- not allowed to learn or do magic. Toby’s father taught him to read, even though it could get them all killed. Watching him attempt to blend was entertaining because he claimed to be from England but he didn’t have an accent or knowledge of his supposed homeland. Eventually, his new friends begin to learn the truth about Toby, but evil beings -bone wardens, Harvesters, and Rawhed himself- come after them and they create a coven to learn magic, protect themselves, and try to get Toby home.

Fiona is an interesting, intelligent female lead. She is wicked smart, almost genius at times, remembering things she hears only once and being the first to know anything. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and easily adapts after learning Toby’s identity and that magic exists, and displays courage in times of danger.

Thomas is a college professor with a reputation for researching history and magic. Fiona seeks him out when she suspects Toby isn’t what he seems. It was great getting into Thomas’s head, watching him start to believe in the unimaginable. He turns into a wonderful resource for Toby’s group and transforms from book nerd to brave hero.

Life or death situations start early on until gruesome showdowns happen in both worlds. So even though this is a YA book, I wouldn’t recommend it to very young teens. But the fantasy and history make this book a captivating read and I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Welcome to my tour stop for The Witching Elm by C.N. Crawford. This is a YA dark fantasy and the review tour runs February 2nd-13th. Check out the tour page for more information.

About the Book:

Seventeen-year-old sorcerer Toby Corvin has one desire: to get back to Maremount, a world of talking ravens, ancient spells, and sinister bone wardens. Not only to fight a tyrannical monster, but to reunite with his girlfriend.
 There’s only one problem—he’s stuck in downtown Boston.
 After a brutal civil war forced Toby into our world, he took refuge in Mather Academy, blending in with the students in the prestigious boarding school. Sheltering in its creaky old walls, he secretly plots to save his home.
 But if anything can distract him from his mission, it’s his wild-haired and intriguing classmate Fiona. Of course, she has her own distractions with Jack: rich, mysterious, and annoyingly attractive.
 When a ghostly army from Maremount descends upon Boston, Toby and Fiona must work together, racing desperately to stop the slaughter. In the process, they face unspeakable danger while unearthing dark secrets of New England’s past—a past that holds the key to saving both worlds from destruction.

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On sale Feb. 5-11th for only .99 cents! 

 About the Authors:

CN_Crawford  C.N. Crawford is not one person but two. Christine (C) grew up in the historic town of Lexington, and has a lifelong interest in New England folklore – with a particular fondness for creepy old cemeteries. Nick (N) spent his childhood reading fantasy and science fiction further north during Vermont’s long winters.
      Together they work to incorporate real historical events and figures into contemporary urban fantasy novels.

Links: 

Author site | Twitter (@CN_Crawford) |facebook | pinterest

Giveaway:
1st Prize: Ring & Necklace handmade by the author
2nd prize (10 winners!): Piece of jewelry handmade by the author
Each item has a fragment of a love spell from the book. 
Open to US/CA/UK

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Fangirl Book Club Pick of the Month: “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle PaigeA review written/summarized by Amanda.

Every month, our club votes on the book that we want to read for that month. October’s winning book was Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die. The following review is based on a verbal discussion at October’s meeting.

Spoiler-free Synopsis:

Amy Gunn is a typical teenage girl, living in present-day Kansas with her mother and their pet rat Star. Like the rest of the world, she grew up with stories of Dorothy Gale and her fantastical trip to the Land of Oz. She saw the movie, read the books, heard the famous song about the rainbow over and over. Also like the rest of the world, she believed that it was all make believe, until a tornado (yes, a tornado) picked up her trailer from the park that she calls home and deposited it in – you guessed it – Oz, where Amy quickly discovers that the legendary land is not at all like it was supposed to be. It turns out that Dorothy returned to Oz and was still there, wreaking all kinds of havoc. Oz is not what it used to be. Good is wicked. Wicked is good. And it’s up to another girl from Kansas to put things right… if she can figure out what “right” really is.

Fangirls’ Analysis:

October’s hostess chose this book because she thought the premise sounded promising and that the club would enjoy it. She also liked “the unique take on Oz”. Club members voted for it out of love for fantasy stories and because an “original viewpoint of a familiar story was compelling”.

During the discussion, comparisons were drawn to a book that the club read earlier in the year, John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. That book is also a retelling of classic tales, many that were darkly twisted and very different from what we are familiar with. Particular attention was drawn to Connolly’s version of Snow White, now portrayed as a cruel and grotesque woman who uses the dwarves as her personal slaves.

What We Liked:

Amy is a headstrong young woman who doesn’t fit in at her school. She even has an archenemy. She doesn’t have any friends and her relationship with her mother has deteriorated over the last few years. Despite all of this, she is determined to graduate high school with top grades and escape Kansas for good. She isn’t without bitterness but she doesn’t let it affect her long-term goals, which is admirable. The individuals that she meets in Oz are unique creatures with serious issues of their own – Indigo, a Goth munchkin with a BIG attitude, and Ollie, a flying monkey who wishes to change his species’ fate. And then there’s Nox, the handsome, solemn boy who only seems to add to Amy’s confusion – and Pete, an eccentric boy who claims that Oz needs Amy’s help, but disappears at inopportune moments. YA skeptics shouldn’t worry—Paige doesn’t follow the usual YA romantic tropes with this story, which is much appreciated.

What We Didn’t Like:

The story ends on an extremely abrupt note. Even knowing that a sequel is in the works, the ending seemed to come from nowhere and didn’t feel like a natural stopping point. While the majority of the story moves quickly and keeps the reader engaged, there are some scenes in the middle that drag on a bit too long. Amy also has a tendency to swear but the profanity doesn’t sit right with the overall style of the story, or with Amy’s character.

As a group, we really enjoyed this story and are looking forward to reading the next book!

Fangirl rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review of “Tease” by Amanda Maciel

Tease by Amanda MacielA review by Maria.

I had wanted to read Tease by Amanda Maciel because I had met the author at a book signing and the premise sounded fascinating. Tease is about the bully’s point of view instead of the victims. In main character Sara’s point of view, she and her friend Brielle were a little bit mean to the new girl, Emma. And soon after Emma goes and commits suicide. Now Sara and her friends are up on criminal charges of bullying and harassment. However, Sara believes it is all Emma’s fault. Emma was going around hitting on all the boys in school and then sleeping with them, but then she made the mistake of going after Sara’s boyfriend. Sara believes that Emma wanted the attention and wasn’t as much of a victim as everyone made her out to be.

Tease is a quick read but I wouldn’t call it an easy read. The author goes from present to past every chapter and the only way to differentiate is the months set as chapter headings. Occasionally I would think I was in the present but was really in the past and had to keep flipping back to figure out which tense I was in. However, Maciel was very good at creating character arcs and transformations.

This novel was difficult in the sense that the main character was really unlikeable. In fact, for much of the book I hated Sara. Even when her life turned upside down and everyone hated her for bullying and called her a murderer, she would show a little slip of humanity and remorse but then she’d screw it all up again by insisting she didn’t do anything wrong. However, this novel was very interesting to get in the mentality of why people bully others or do cruel things to each other. Most of us can relate to the victim and how awful it might have been for them but very few of us want to relate to the bully. It was fascinating getting into Sara’s mind and learning how she’d justify what she did. The only frustrating thing was never finding out for sure why Emma committed suicide, if it was because of the terrible bullying or for attention like Sara believed. This book was not a happy novel but it’s worth the read if you’ve ever been bullied or were a bully.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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