Review: The Girl

Apologies for being so late on this review. The week has been much less than kind, but that’s no excuse. Onward to the review.

Genre: Urban Fantasy with romance elements
Rating: Yay

When we got the email request to review this book, I jumped on the chance. Not because I loved the writing itself, but because I loved the dialogue that was in the sample. And the story sounded interesting. And thankfully, I was not wrong.

Blaylock’s dialogue is realistic and used in a good way to show and strengthen (or crush) relationships. The story revolves around a cast of characters, all of whom are influenced by the Sanctum in one way or another. Wyatt and Ryker, best friends and Sanctum elite are believable as best friends who have that bond of brotherhood. I think theirs is my favorite relationship, though admittedly my favorite character might be the southern vampire Darby, who is just full of win. She’s snarky and sarcastic and Blanche Devereaux as a vampire and I love her.

*Ahem*

The worldbuilding in this is really solid, too. She does well planting this Sanctum world inside our own while adding her own spin to everything, which plants New York, just for example, in a new light. Creatures like vampires and trolls are walking around freely, shielded by glamours.

One of the few drawbacks to this book is in the writing itself. Mostly, there are overused descriptors (such as Darby’s cold hands), and everyone is unspeakably beautiful. And we’re told that frequently. Sometimes it’s not that noticeable. Sometimes it was just irritating enough to almost throw me out of the narrative. Still, the story was interesting and kept my attention despite the shortcomings in the writing department.

All in all, The Girl is a pretty entertaining story that is worth a read.

The Girl is available at:

Amazon

This Week’s Read: The Girl – Madhuri Blaylock

unnamedThe Sanctum, an all-powerful governing body founded by ten families, entrusted to maintain the peace amongst Magicals and ensure the ignorance of humans, has been corrupted by greed and savagery for generations, but is all Wyatt Clayworth has ever known.
A descendant of one of the Founding Families and Class A Warrior, Wyatt has always believed in the ways of The Sanctum, having grown up in the system and thrived under their leadership. A golden boy, renowned for his prowess and skill in battle, Wyatt has never questioned a mission or kill order until the night he crosses paths with a brutally injured and mysterious girl.

Scouring Central Park with his best friend and fellow Class A Warrior, Ryker Morrison, for the hybrid demon prophesied to bring an end to The Sanctum and destroy the world for Magicals and humans alike, Wyatt instead finds Dev and his whole life turns upside down. Told he was hunting a killing machine, hellbent on wreaking havoc and destruction upon all it encounters, Wyatt instead sees nothing more than a broken girl with haunted eyes and a bit of a death wish.

All Dev wants is for Wyatt to either kill her or leave her alone. When he refuses to do either, she finds herself being pulled into his life while being hunted by warriors everywhere she turns. Drawn to one another for reasons they cannot begin to explain to themselves, much less anyone else, Wyatt is determined to protect Dev and help her realize her mission to avenge the deaths of her family at the hands of The Sanctum.

Set against the backdrop of New York City, THE GIRL is “outstanding, original, complex, deep and intoxicating”, a “well written, unique…fast-paced read” that  begins as one girl’s simple quest for revenge and evolves into a complicated tale of trust, friendship, honor and love.

Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/Book-One-The-Girl-Sanctum-ebook/dp/B00GLGOP2G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400819024&sr=8-1&keywords=madhuri+blaylock

About the Author:

IMG_1576Madhuri is a Jersey City Heights girl via Snellville, Georgia, who writes paranormal fiction and is slightly infatuated with tattoos, four-inch heels, ice cream, Matt Damon, scotch, Doc Martens, Laini Taylor, photo booths and dancing like a fool.

She’s currently working on The Sanctum trilogy and hopes one day soon, everyone is walking around with a copy of The Girl in their pocket or on their Kindle.

She wants to get a goat and a burro, but since she lives in the city, will settle for some chickens.

To learn more about her, you can follow her blog at madhuriblaylock.wordpress.com, follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MadhuriBlaylock or like her on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thesanctumtrilogy

She’s totally chatty so drop her a line any time.

Review: Pieces of Love by PJ Sharon

Rating: No

Genre: YA Contemporary

Review:

*Warning* This book discusses and deals with marijuana addiction. While I’m aware the substance is slowly being legalized in the United States, like tobacco and other drugs it is still a drug with addictive attributes.

Pieces of Love left me… with a ton of pieces. I’m really having a difficult time coming up with how I felt about this book. I’ll say it’s definitely a coming of age story and fits into the YA genre. The challenge with this book is that the main character, Alexis, doesn’t have a lot of conflict. The antagonist of the story is really her grief and loss, which can be difficult to pull off.

Alexis deals with her grief by smoking pot and avoiding responsibility. I’m familiar with this type of attitude because I experienced something similar in high school. The problem is that Alexis was the one stopping Alexis, and this kind of empty conflict with the main character lashing out at her stepfather, grandmother, and anyone else offering a ‘wise word’ got old. I wanted to see growth or see her truly hit a black moment and I kept searching for it.

When the seemingly ‘black moment’ came, I didn’t really feel like the situation was the worst thing that could happen to her. Yet, it was enough to give me a good case of happy thoughts and wrap up the story. Now character wise, Sharon provides a good cast of different folks to liven up Alexis’s world, but I had a hard time seeing them through Alexis’ eyes. This whole book is in first person POV and we never leave Alexis’ head. Her snark, negative, grief filled mind drowns out the happiness, and there were points I wanted to pull my hair out because I could not sympathize with her attitude.

If you enjoy learning about far off places the author provides a great picture of the Mediterranean and life on a cruise ship. There are also several brief history lessons, but for me these slowed the pacing of the story and I found myself skimming them.  I enjoyed the author’s knowledge, but it sacrificed chances to give the story more angst.

Overall, I found myself going through the motions with this book instead of getting lost in the Alexis’s life and the adventure she was on. The budding love story, her personal bad habits, and the long winding road of her grief spiral didn’t grab me like I hoped, but other’s may find a kindred soul in Alexis, a girl trying to find her way.

If you want to read it for yourself, snag a copy of Pieces of love at:

Amazon 

iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

This Week’s Read: Pieces of Love by PJ Sharon

PJSharon_PiecesOfLove_800pxSixteen year-old Alexis Hartman wants nothing more than to play her guitar and get high, hoping to escape the pain of losing her sister. But when her second arrest for pot possession causes her already fragile mother to break down, Lexi is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer. While embarking on a Mediterranean cruise hardly sounds like punishment, being forced to face her demons and falling for a guy she may never see again gives Lexi a chance to discover what it means to love someone—even when you have to let them go.

Purchase your copy of Pieces of Love at:

Amazon 

iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Author Bio:

PJ Sharon is the award winning author of contemporary young adult novels, including PIECES of LOVE, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, winner of the 2013 HOLT Medallion Award and the 2013 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She is excitedly working on The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a YA Dystopian trilogy. WANING MOON, Book One in the trilogy, was a finalist in both the 2013 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, and a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit recipient. Book Two, Western Desert released in June of 2013 and was a finalist in the Winter Rose contest. Watch for Book Three in the fall of 2014.

Writing young adult fiction since 2007 and following her destiny to write romantic and hopeful stories for teens, PJ is a member of Romance Writers of America, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.

Tell Me the Secret – Donna Cummings

IDoD_med When I first started writing, many years ago, I tried to discover THE SECRET to writing. I was sure there was one thing I didn’t know that everyone else knew, and once I found that out, I could write the way I wanted to. Naturally, I was convinced this one secret thing was contained in a book.

So I spent most of my time finding/buying/devouring books about writing. They were both liberating and frustrating. I would get inspired by all the ideas, but perturbed that it wasn’t getting me to sit down and write. (Yes, I know — that last phrase contains the actual secret. But it took me a while to embrace the obvious.)

Nowadays when I’m looking for inspiration, I can usually find it in blogs, or tweets, or what-have-you in the vast repository of ideas known as the internet. But recently I stumbled across something that made me say, “Huh, I didn’t know I had that.”

It’s called The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration, by Monica Wood, and it contains a variety of writing prompts, and intriguing pictures designed to inspire the muse, as well as some advice and personal writing experiences from the author.

There was one essay titled “Memo From the Department of Just Showing Up”, which is really a variation of THE SECRET (sit down and write). However, it included a phrase that really resonated with me:  “If you keep your hat in the ring, sooner or later somebody’s going to need a hat.”

And I realized that’s the essence of what I love about the indie publishing life. Not only is somebody going to need a hat. It’s very likely they’re going to need the kind of hat that *I* produce.

In the past, writers expended a lot of time and energy trying to discover which hat styles were all the rage, in the hopes they could fill the needs of a powerful consortium of buyers who had rather vague manufacturing specs.

But what we ended up doing was trying to convince people who love fedoras to fall in love with a frilly fascinator. When they didn’t, it was too easy to assume there was something wrong with the hats we’d made. So we’d remove the netting and feathers and squoosh it into a more practical form of headgear, all in an attempt to woo the fedora-loving crowd.

Talk about completely wrong-headed thinking.

The beauty of the indie publishing world is that there is room — as well as avid consumers — for all kinds of hats. Ball caps, knit hats, berets. Even crocheted beer can ones. Heck, we can go mad-hatter-crazy and fashion a never-seen-before chapeau if we want.

All because of another wonderful secret:

People out there will believe you made that particular hat just for them.

And they’re going to love you for it.

 

 

Author Bio:

I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.

I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

I can usually be found on Twitter, talking about writing and coffee, and on Facebook, talking about coffee and writing.
Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.AllAboutTheWriting.com

Blog: http://www.allaboutthewriting.com/donna_j_cummings/blog_index.html

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Donna.Cummings.Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BookEmDonna

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349107.Donna_Cummings

 

Buy links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Amazon AU | Amazon CA

 

 

 

Review: Star Winds At Dusk by Robert DeFrank

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Rating: Yay, with some caveats

First, let me say that DeFrank has descriptive writing chops. He weaves prose that can amaze and even mesmerize. I was impressed with the level of writing, and at how easily I could slip into this Lovecraftian universe he’s created.

Second, this is a book of short stories. The themes within and the underlying current lead the stories to have some effect on one another, but you can’t skip one in favor of another. In order to grasp the entire story I had to read everything. Characters pop up multiple times throughout, including an ever elusive and feisty feline.

Some parts of the tale were very reminiscent of Poe and King. A horror that seeped into my bones, and made it a bit difficult to continuing reading when the children went to bed and the majority of the lights were shut off. Though I didn’t stumble across graphic violence or horrific scenes, DeFrank offers a subtle horror, which permeates throughout the novel.

If you enjoy tales that spark the mind, dive into mythos off the beaten path, and contain Lovecraftian elements like the famed Cthulhu and other bits/pieces from Lovecrafts stories. In ways this is a decent homage to Lovecraft’s cosmos and tales and overall it’s a play on established mythos with new bits of horror and suspense that kept me engaged.

The big attention grabber is how the stories are connected. Descriptions of certain characters, names not quite revealed, had me guessing if the person was who I thought it was or a new piece of the puzzle. I can honestly say the ending surprised a bit and the horror element kept me from giving up before all the pieces fell into place.

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy or if you enjoy Lovecraft this may be up your alley. If you’re a fan of linear story-telling with a chronological order or books that play the rules I would invite you to check out the posts for other books we’ve reviewed this month.

Get a copy of Star Winds at Dusk at:

Amazon

This Week’s Read: Star Winds At Dusk by Robert DeFrank

StarWindsatDusk_LRGA father searches through the woods for his missing daughter, and confronts demons of the past in an abandoned cottage. 

A vampire recalls his sanguine birth into the society of the undead, an immortal life that has seen the rise and fall of empires, and an attempt to bring forth the Old Ones. 

A brilliant but disgraced professor and hunter of the supernatural experiences déjà vu in an accursed town where death stalks victims in their dreams. He must decipher the meaning of his premonition to have a hope of survival. All the while his foes have set deadly snares for him. 

A young man is trapped in a witch’s enchanted garden that becomes carnivorous with the rising of the moon. 

A young woman interviews a man who tells a story of his boyhood during the Depression, when he is hired to help bore a well and instead brings eldritch horrors to the surface. 

And a man scarred from war and loss enters a haunted pharos that broods over all realities, to bargain for the power to save his world. 

Each plays a role in a greater story than they can imagine in this mosaic novel of dark fantasy adventures set in a Lovecraftian cosmos. 

These are stories that take place at the edge of things, at dusk, at the changing of the seasons, in places where the walls have thinned and the immutable laws of reality have become mere suggestions. These are stories of people who find themselves at the borders and discover heroism – or horror. 

There is no peace at the gate.

Get Your Copy at:

Amazon

Check out more on Robert DeFrank at:

Facebook

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