Friday, July 31, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #7: Which ARC would you choose?

Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday!!

This weekly hop is hosted by  
Rachel @ Parajunkee's View, and 
Alison @ Alison Can Read!!

You can find the rules at the links above.
Join in the fun and make new blogging friends!

Every week, 1 or 2 new blogs 
are featured!

This week, a blog was not chosen.

Here is this week's question:

If you could get an ARC of any book,
already published, or not yet,
which would it be?

Contributed by
Words I Write Crazy

Now this is one those questions that I find very hard to answer, because there are quite a few ARCs I'd love to snag!  However, if I definitely must choose, I still have more than one, and here they are!

Click on each cover to go to
 the Fantastic Fiction page for
each book!

 This one has a rebellious heroine
(my type of protagonist),
and deals with class prejudice.
And the hero sounds so swoooony......
This is a novel about young Sherlock Holmes.
I am a huge, in fact, humongous,
Sherlock Holmes fan!!
End of story.

I feel like everybody has read this
but me..... I want this book, and 
I'll take an ARC now, if
someone will give me one!!

I've been seeing this book everywhere!
I love the cover, and the plot.....
oh, it's just awesome!
Different kinds of witches, each with
a different talent.....I'm in! 

This is one of the most beautiful covers
I've ever seen, and the plot
lives up to this beautiful blue image!
(Check this one out on Goodreads.)

Next Week's Question

If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be?

Contributed by

Life Is Reading

These are my follow preferences.
The links are in my sidebar.

 Be sure to visit the rest of the
participating blogs!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review: Spellbinding, by Maya Gold

Maya Gold
Trade Paperback, 263 pages
Point (An imprint of Scholastic, Inc.)
April 1, 2013
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, YA
Source: Barnes & Noble

Book Synopsis:  
There's more than one way to be powerful . . .

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth.

The cover of this novel is undeniably beautiful, and it drew me in right away when I first saw it on a shelf at B&N. I think it was all the blue tones that attracted me, as well as the title, which was created with a gorgeous, silver-toned calligraphy.  I was also totally intrigued by the plot, so I bought the book, prepared for a great read.

I'm disappointed to say that, indeed, this novel left a lot to be desired. 

At first, I became immediately immersed in the story. Then I began to encounter some 'bumps' along the way. Among those bumps was the cliche -- much too common in YA novels -- of the main character being bullied in school.  To be fair, though, perhaps this type of thing appears so frequently in these novels because it's such a common experience for a lot of teens. I can relate to this myself. Still, too many authors have used this trope.

Now that I've mentioned these bullies, I have to say that they reminded me of the ones in Evermore, the YA novel I read and reviewed before this one. The bullies in Spellbinding also congregate in a group of three. In both books, there's the main bully, a mean girl (of course), and her two nauseatingly devoted followers, who copy her every move, including being just as mean as their leader. Needless to say, all three are boring cardboard stereotypes, in both books. They're also interchangeable, for the most part.
The main character herself, Abby, was not someone I could really relate to. In fact, there were times when I actually disliked her. She, too, is a stereotype -- the teen girl who is somewhat misunderstood and shunted aside by her father and brother, who also resents her father's girlfriend because of the possibility that the woman might be taking her mother's place.

Abby is, potentially, an interesting character. I liked her when she was doing some research on the Salem witch trials, for instance, for a school project. But then I disliked her when she couldn't decide between two guys, and was actually playing with both, although she did not completely acknowledge this to herself. Travis is her longtime crush, but then she meets Rem. Yet, once she discovers she's a witch, she decides to use magic to win her old crush's adoration, because she wants to exact revenge on the mean girl who has been making her life miserable, and happens to be Travis's girlfriend. This is not the type of thing a protagonist should do, if an author wants her readers to identify with this character. 

Everyone familiar with the paranormal -- whether in fiction or real life -- knows that spells cast for the purpose of winning someone's love are actually black magic, plain and simple. They are totally unethical. Abby acts as if she simply doesn't care about this. She wants her revenge on Megan -- period. Besides, she still feels attracted to Travis, even though she feels an even stronger attraction to Rem. 

One of the things in the book I found really interesting was Abby's connection to the Salem witch trials. She discovered that she was actually a descendant of one of the women wrongfully accused of witchcraft, who was executed in 1692. 

I also loved the magical battle that took place toward the end of the book. It turned out that Abby's witchy talents lay in a certain direction -- one that was necessary to "complete the circle" -- and she was being forced to join up with other elemental witches in order to create a very powerful paranormal association of these magical beings. The purpose of this association was a very sinister one, and a lot of lives were at stake. To her credit, Abby does fight against joining them, every step of the way. So, again I found myself liking her. Okay, I get that she's not perfect. Still, I would expect a little more consistency in the personality of a book's main character.

While the plot does have some great action in it, especially toward the end, other parts of the book were rather boring. 

One character I really liked, though, was Dyami, the owner of "Spiral Visions", which is the metaphysical bookstore where Abby gets a part-time job. Although she herself is a psychic, Dyami is also very much down to earth, and treats Abby as she would another adult. She's there for Abby if she feels her advice is needed, but she doesn't talk down to her, or interfere in her life unless asked. 

As for the romance between Abby and Rem, it had its sweet moments, but I wish their obvious connection, and strong attraction to each other, had been made much more vivid, more compelling. I had to cringe every time this romance was interrupted by the silliness of Travis following Abby around because of that ridiculous love spell. Things got better toward the end, but it still wasn't enough for me to get 'fangirly' over Abby and Rem as a couple.

As if all of the above weren't enough, I found the ending to be a huge letdown. I was all set for this to become an exciting witchy series, but that ending definitely let me know that this was a standalone. More disappointment.....

In short, while this book did have its moments, overall it just didn't really impress me that much. It was somewhat interesting, but the characters were weak, and the plot line was, as well. Maybe it just needed to be longer, with more character development, more depth to the story. Also, all of the YA cliches should have been removed. Perhaps then this would have been on my list of totally awesome YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy novels. Instead, it was just a blip on the literary radar for me.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #134: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between, by Jennifer E. Smith

This is a weekly event hosted by
It showcases future releases which
we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!!

Here's my choice for this week!

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between 
Hardcover, 256 pages
September 1, 2015
Contemporary Romance, 
Young Adult Fiction

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.

Why I'm waiting on this one!

This is such a cute, romantic story, just
perfect for a late summer read!
(Well, in Florida it's pretty much
summer all the
I own the author's previous bestseller,
The Statistical Probability of Love
at First Sight, which got a lot
of raves (and yes, I know I have to get
to it.....), so I'm adding this one
to my Goodreads TBR, too.
Who knows, maybe I'll fit them both in
when this one releases in September!

What do you think of my choice?
What fascinating book(s) are 
you longing for this week?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shelf Candy Saturday #157: Fire In Frost, by Alicia Rades

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, if available,
on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

Fire In Frost
(Crystal Frost, Book 1)
Alicia Rades 
Trade Paperback, 242 pages
PaperPlane Publishing
January 5, 2012
Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction, 
Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is an amazingly stunning cover! Honestly, there are so many adjectives I could use to describe it! It's just.....electrifying. Glowing. Intense. That pulsating blue, that glorious, glorious blue..... Of course, I've always been partial to this most beautiful of all colors, but here I think it's displayed with such incandescent brilliance, I have to say I'm even mesmerized.....

That globe of electric blue encases some slowly undulating, twisting, transparent strands of pure energy. I'm wondering if it's the energy of thought, as the young woman, whose eyes are that same hypnotic shade of blue, stares intently at the viewer. I'm wondering whether these strands of energy could also represent the birth of the universe. After all, there are hints of stars in the background (and they are blue, as well). The fire mentioned in the title is very much in evidence in all that energy, as well as in the blue eyes. It's a cold fire, but fire just the same.

This is a very bold composition, one that simply grabs the viewer's attention, and won't let go. The main elements -- the girl's eyes and the globe full of energy -- seem to be larger than life, as they fill up the entire area of the cover.

It's very interesting that this cover is actually split in two, which normally would not make for a very dynamic composition. It works here, though, and that's because the title ties the two images together very effectively. Besides, the viewer's eyes move irresistibly from the globe and its pulsating energy, to those intensely staring blue eyes. Back and forth, back and forth..... I think this is part of what gives the strands of energy the illusion of movement.

In short, this is a brilliant cover, in more ways than one! The highly talented artist is Clarissa Yeo, who is based in Singapore, and, according to the bio on her website, is only around 20! Well, I'm just blown away by her talent! She's a digital artist, well-versed in PhotoShop techniques, as is evident in the cover of this book. As she herself says in her bio, "Practice makes perfect." And she's been practicing since she was a kid!

Of course, this book will soon find its way into my collection!

Online Links: Clarissa Yeo

What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Would you buy this book?
Why or why not?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beyond Heights and Depths, by Christian Brown: Mini-Review/Excerpt/Giveaway!!

Welcome to this stop in the blog tour for
Beyond Heights and Depths,
sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!

I am presenting a mini-review with book excerpt,
and there's a tour giveaway, too!

Beyond Heights and Depths
(Beyond Heights and Depths Trilogy, Book 1)
Christian Brown
Kindle Edition, 171 pages
C. Brown Publisher
January 22, 2013
Cover Artist: Charli Infante
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy,
Young Adult Fiction

 "As I awaken in the dark warmth of this terrifying place, laid out on the strangely uneven ground, I open my eyes to see the true horrors this place was built upon…She is supposed to be near where I landed. If I don’t reach her soon, we will be doomed to remain in eternal fire and pain forever."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Are soul mates real, or just a fairy tale? What if you found your soul mate, but you had to fight your way through heaven and hell to stay together? Could you sacrifice everything, even your own soul, for the one you love?

Emmett Goode moves to a more affluent neighborhood with the hope of leaving his troubled past behind, starting fresh at a new school, and more importantly, reconnecting with his lost love, Ash, who is dealing with some personal demons of her own. A tragic accident brings them together; unfortunately, before they can enjoy their new relationship they find themselves at the center of a battle between good and evil that has existed since the beginning of humanity, and forced on a harrowing journey through this world and beyond to stay together. Their bond, and the supernatural power it creates, could mean the difference between saving the world, or its destruction.

Is love enough to overcome seemingly impossible odds?

This has to be the most horribly vivid, harrowing text I have ever read..... the images are so disturbing, so clearly described..... This place can only be the one feared by many, whose existence is also denied by many: Hell. And yet.....amidst all the terror, pain, and horrible scenes, there's a little ray of Hope. That ray comes from love -- pure, unconditional Love. Two soul mates are determined to be together, at all costs. So, in the midst of all the horror, they strive to find each other, because it's Love that gives life meaning, in spite of all the terrible things that can happen. 
 I would like to commend the author for bringing this scene so vividly to the page, for making me feel, if even vicariously, the narrator's pain and longing. I don't normally read books like these, but, in this case, it's that little ray of hope, that strong force of Love, that has intrigued and interested me in reading this book. Kudos to Brown for capturing my interest so quickly and thoroughly!

As I awaken in the dark warmth of this terrifying place, laid out on the strangely uneven ground, I open my eyes to see the true horrors this place was built upon. The hills and valleys are not made of dirt at all but rather the bodies and remains of various humans and unidentifiable creatures. The uncomfortable warmth quickly turns to searing heat; with each second that passes my skin slowly burns away from my body, literally turning to ash and dispersing into the fiery air. The pain is excruciating. I want to scream in pain, but I quickly realize that all I can hear are the tortured screams and moans that seem to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I try to move and the skin on my legs tears away in large grotesque chunks. What am I doing here? I think to myself, and I remember that I am here for a very specific reason. Where is she? She is supposed to be near where I landed. If I don’t reach her soon, we will be doomed to remain in eternal fire and pain forever.

I turn frantically, looking everywhere, all the while hoping the pain that feels like burning needles in my eyes doesn’t mean that my eyes are about to fall out of my head. I feel a sharp jolt in my chest as I peer into the noxious haze that seems to be growing right before my burning eyes. There, there she is, she can’t be more than fifty feet away. I can make it to her, just as I thought. This plan has to work; I only have a minute or two to make this work. Just then, I realize just how difficult this is going to be. To my left are the shadows I had seen before, on my right I see the disfigured faces of what I can only imagine were once human beings descending upon me, and right in front of Ash is the menacing figure of a twenty foot tall man-beast. Suddenly the screams and moans stop, only to be replaced by something more sinister. All I can hear is the malevolent laughter of the creatures that have come to make sure that we never leave this unholy place. Wake up, Ash, please; I can’t do this without you.

Christian Brown is a Pastor at Reunion Hawaii. He has been working with youth and young adults for most of the last 10 years. His passion is in helping others. He is the author of the Beyond Heights and Depths Trilogy and has other projects in the works. He currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with his wife and two young sons.

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