Category Archives: challenge

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Sweetest Taboo by Eva Marquez

Sweetest Taboo

by Eva Marquez

Sweetest Taboo Series, Book One

Book Description

Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart.

This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.

Join Isabel as she makes her way through this dark love story, hiding from teachers, lying to her parents, and defying the authorities to make a life with the man she loves. Watch as she discovers the wonders of love and romance, and the terrible betrayal of jealous friends. And cry with her when she learns the hard truth about life and the people in her world.

Sweetest Taboo is inspired by the true and tragic stories of students who fall in love with their teachers, and live with the hard truths of forbidden romances. In a world full of after-school specials on sexual predators, this touching book seeks a different path, casting both student and teacher in a gentle light, and showing that true love may lie at the base of even the most illicit romance.

MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Sweetest Taboo by Eva Márquez

Isabel Cruz is 15 years old, beautiful, and on the school swim team. In this position, she can have her pick of any of the guys in her high school–but her swim teacher, more than twice her age, is the guy who catches her eye.

As Isabel begins a clandestine relationship with Tom, she realizes she has so much more to worry about than simply getting caught. Tom and Isabel’s relationship puts so much in jeopardy–yet they can’t stay away from each other. Is there any possible way this relationship ends on a good note?

I knew this book would probably give me mixed feelings, and I was right. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the story…but because of the content, I had a hard time reading it without being prejudiced. The fact that the intro says the events were based on a true story did not make it easier to digest.

Isabel is not my favorite. She’s narcissistic, selfish, and astonishingly naive. However, given the fact that for most of the story she is 15/16 years old, it’s hard to hold all that against her. Teenage girls are the epitome of those characteristics. But it’s not all of this that made me dislike her; it’s the fact that she continued to make increasingly bad decisions. I’m not even speaking about the relationship between her and her freaking married teacher–that’s the worst decision she made, true. Just other things…keeping copies of the letters he wrote her, calling him at home, etc. And then when it came to other guys, she was the worst. Isabel led these guys on, telling herself that she was just trying to get them out of her hair. But, when you’re getting into an engaged guy’s car to go to park in a secluded spot, WTF do you THINK is going to happen?!? I could go on and on about this girl forever, but let’s move on.

Obviously, Tom made a horrific decision when he started pursuing a 15 year old. He should have known better, and then after getting turned in to the police and being investigated, he still doesn’t stay away from Isabel. There’s no way to know if he is telling the truth about not really loving his wife, or that Isabel is the first or only teenage girl Tom has ever preyed upon. He speaks some sweet words, but the man is shady beyond a doubt.

As I said, because of the very content of this book, it’s hard to rate it; the plot and the writing are hard to separate in my mind. Ms. Marquez’s storytelling style is very matter of fact, and moved quickly. However, the book dragged for me in the middle part (Chile). I also don’t understand the need for this book to turn into a series.

I’m not sure who to recommend this book to–definitely someone who won’t be bothered by its’ content. This is not a young adult book by any means. I congratulate the author for penning a well written book about such a touchy subject, but the characters kind of made the story a letdown.

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About the Author

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.

Her latest book is the YA/Adult Fiction, Sweetest Taboo.

You can visit Eva’s website at www.SweetestTabooBook.com

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REVIEW: Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

Spark

by Brigid Kemmerer

Elementals Series, Book Two

Book Description

Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.

Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.

Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it.

More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake — this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.

Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.

The fuse is lit…

MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

Gabriel Merrick is one of a family of brothers that has an affinity for the elements. Gabriel controls fire…but pretty much, it controls him. Fire is the one element that is not available all the time, so when one does occur, it calls to Gabriel. But he doesn’t want to be known as the one that destroys things all the time. He has enough to worry about, what with his short temper and anger issues constantly driving people away.

When Gabriel starts getting help from the bookish Layne, he finds that there’s something about her that makes him forget his problems. And there are a lot of them: fighting with his brothers, grades, sports, and oh yeah…someone is starting fires all over town. Though it’s not Gabe, the fires are calling for him to come play. Can he resist the pull?

LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this book. It was much better than the first one for me, and I’m not sure if it’s because the focus was on a different Merrick brother, or what. These characters had a lot of angst and I loved everything about it.

Gabriel is the most volatile of the Merrick brothers, a fact that is directly related to his elemental affinity being fire. He’s quick to mouth off or fight, something I both love and hate about him. I love it when he is using his temper to protect the ones who need it, but sometimes he never knows when enough is enough and he needs to shut his mouth. He usually means well, but somehow always ends up getting himself in trouble.

That’s why it was so delicious when he started talking to Layne. She’s a sophomore who never broke a rule a day in her life, and is so smart she’s in a senior math class. Basically, the complete opposite of Gabriel. But of course, she has a lot of baggage of her own. Ironically enough, a fire years ago led to the driving apart of her family, and gave her scars and major self esteem issues.

Gabriel and Layne come together slowly, and at first their relationship is not even a friendship, just a mutual understanding of each other. But as Gabriel’s problems start growing, he finds solace in her, and starts feeling things for her he never imagined he would. It was a little frustrating to me that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut at first and kept ticking her off, but what’s a relationship without some drama?

This book had a great mix of everything, and I really enjoyed that the action was fast paced and pretty consistent throughout the book. I also liked that Gabriel was able to find a friend outside of his brothers to hang out with. The scenes between Gabriel and Hunter were very cool, but I wish they would have had a final talk to smooth things over towards the end. It seemed there was something there to talk about.

I can’t wait to read more about the Merrick brothers, and I’m sure I’ll end up falling in love with them all.

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REVIEW: Panic by Sharon M. Draper

Panic 

by Sharon M. Draper

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Diamond knows not to get into a car with a stranger.

But what if the stranger is well-dressed and handsome? On his way to meet his wife and daughter? And casting a movie that very night—a movie in need of a star dancer? What then?

Then Diamond might make the wrong decision.

It’s a nightmare come true: Diamond Landers has been kidnapped. She was at the mall with a friend, alone for only a few brief minutes—and now she’s being held captive, forced to endure horrors beyond what she ever could have dreamed, while her family and friends experience their own torments and wait desperately for any bit of news.

MY THOUGHTS: DID NOT FINISH

Panic by Sharon M. Draper

I gave it my best attempt, I swear, I really did.

But I had to quit reading around page 95 when a character’s name made me laugh out loud–and not in a good way. This book was not a satire, so when I came across the name Magnificent Significant Jones, I knew I couldn’t take the book seriously any more.

I should have stopped after the first chapter. The part I read was full of slang and it made reading very awkward for me. Maybe I’m not the core demographic for the book…but just because a teenager will be reading something does not mean the word “dissing” needs to be used.

For a book that’s supposed to be about a kidnapped girl, the book does not really have a lot to do with a kidnapping. In the first 100 pages, I read more about her friends’ dance and boyfriend dramas than about the girl in question.

When I got to this point, I was just done.

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I read this book courtesy of Around the World ARC Tours.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: We’re Done by Judy Irwin

We’re Done

by Judy Irwin

Middle Grade Fiction

Book Description

What if it turns out that YOU’RE the bully – and you didn’t know it?

Up until now, life has been good for 13-year-old Luke. He’s good at sports, attractive, and he’s a big wheel at Heyworth Academy, his private school. He likes to tease, and poke fun at the other kids, but that’s just because he likes having fun. But things start to fall apart, six weeks into eighth grade, when Luke commits an act of ‘goofing around’ that ends up costing him his best friend and his beloved private school.

After he’s expelled, Luke transfers to his local school, Carlyle. Now, he’s on the outside looking in. His looks, and background (not to mention his Heyworth hoodie), make him stand out, and the tough guys zero in on him right away.

The upside-down world that Luke finds himself in at Carlyle gives him a whole new way of looking at things. Can he recover from losing his school, and his best friend, and find new friends and a way to fit in at Carlyle?

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

We’re Done by Judy Irwin

Luke is a 13 year old who attends a prestigious private school. He’s a great athlete, loved by the girls, and hangs out with his best friend Jon. The problem is, he’s kind of a jerk. He says mean things to other kids all the time, but one day he goes too far and gets kicked out of school.

Luke then transfers to a public school, and he quickly learns that while he may think the things he says are funny, other people rarely do. He must learn to think before he speaks, and think about how his words hurt others.

Right from the very beginning of this book I didn’t like Luke very much. He was very cocky and rude. I knew he would have a lot to learn if he wanted to change himself. He was outraged at the fact that he had to change schools, but that’s exactly what he needed. By making him a fish out of water, he was forced to confront others and really take a look at what he was doing.

The only problem I had was that I felt that Luke’s family could have done better by him. I believe the author was trying to make it so that Luke’s problems were a result of him acting out because of the absence of parental guidance in his life. But after him getting kicked out of school, he isn’t even punished!! Ultimately Luke worked out his problems on his own, so I guess that worked out OK.

I think this makes a great read for middle graders who need to take a look at how they treat others.

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An Excerpt from We’re Done

Luke looked at his mother. “So it’s not — ” He turned to look at Mr. Kennedy. “OK, now I get it.” He pushed his hair behind his ears. “I was just trying to be funny,” he said. “How can that be wrong? I mean, I’m sorry that Jill was upset. If you want, I’ll apologize — “

“Luke, please let me continue,” said Mr. Kennedy. “As you know, we introduced a new anti-bullying policy two years ago. We decided that, because we wanted Heyworth to be a safe, nurturing place for all students, that we’d have a zero-tolerance approach when it came to bullying.”

“I know,” said Luke. “You’d have to be a moron NOT to know about it. We hear about it all the time — zero tolerance, three strikes and you’re out, yada yada, yada. I know all that. But having fun isn’t the same thing as bullying — at least, not the last time I looked. I mean, we’re kids. We’re going to goof around. So I’m not sure what you’re saying.”

“Luke, this is what I’m saying,” said Mr. Kennedy. “This is your third strike. I’m very sorry to do this, but I am asking you to leave Heyworth.”

Luke’s mom raised her handkerchief to her mouth, and she let out a muffled sob. “Luke, you see this is serious,” she said.

“This is nuts,” said Luke. “I’m not going to leave Heyworth. This is my school. Mr. Kennedy, you can’t do this. I’m on the swim team. I’m captain of the soccer team. And you know my parents are really involved in this school. Mom, don’t you agree? This is not possible.”

About the Author

Judy Irwin writes books about kids dealing with everyday stuff, like parents and divorce, friendships and bullies, and figuring out how to handle different situations and circumstances. So far, she’s written two books: We’re Done, and What Did You Say? We’re Done is about 13-year-old Luke and how he figures out what went wrong when he’s kicked out of school for a bullying incident. In What Did You Say?, 12-year-old Tash tries to figure out what life will be like following her parents’ divorce. In this book, which takes place at a trailer park up north, Tash first meets Luke, Jon and Polly.

Judy lives in Toronto, Canada, with a dog, a cat, and two hamsters, plus her husband and two children, ages 10 and 13. She studied English Literature at the University of Toronto. She always wanted to be a writer. She wrote her first book in fourth grade – it was about a boy called Japan, who lived in Japan. In addition to writing books, Judy is a freelance business writer.

www.judyirwin.com

www.amazon.com/author/judyirwin

Judy will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

Sad Desk Salad

by Jessica Grose

Contemporary Chick Lit

Book Description

As a writer for Chick Habit, an increasingly popular women’s website, Alex Lyons gets paid to be a bitch. She’s churning out several posts a day, and she saves her juiciest ones for blog prime time, when working women eat their sad desk salads in their offices. Alex tells herself she’s fulfilling her dream of being a professional writer; so what if it means being glued to her couch and her laptop from six a.m. to six p.m., scouring the web in search of the next big celebrity scandal? Since Chick Habit’s parent company keeps close tabs on page views, Alex knows her job is always at risk.

So when an anonymous tipster sends her the year’s most salacious story—a politico’s squeaky-clean Ivy League daughter caught in a very R-rated activity—it’s a no-brainer. But is Alex really willing to ruin the girl’s life by igniting the next Internet feeding frenzy? And what she doesn’t yet realize is how this big scoop is about to send her own life spiraling out of control.

MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 STARS

Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

Alex Lyons is a 25 year old living in New York City with her financier boyfriend, Peter. If you think that sounds glamorous, well, it’s not. Alex is a writer for a infotainment blog called Chick Habit, and she is literally on the computer looking for her next post, every waking moment. She is pretty snarky, but never thought she’d done anything bad enough for someone to target her on a hate blog!

And things go from bad to worse when Alex posts a video of a celebrity daughter in a compromising position. In a very short period of time, Alex finds her life spiraling out of control–her virtual life has come to affect her real one. Can she find a balance between the two?

I thought this was a pretty good, non-standard piece of chick lit. The book is interspersed with texts, emails, IM’s, and Facebook statuses, so it was pretty easy reading for a tech savvy 20-something like myself.

I was able to easily relate to Alex from the beginning. Like her, I am a blogger and spend tons of time in front of my laptop. I skip around from Facebook to reddit to various culture blogs I read, and soon enough I find that hours have passed without me really doing anything productive at all! I think it is a sign of our generation, I can’t recall the last time I turned on the TV to look for news updates.

Alex came off as a bit cocky and immature though. It bothered me that when things got tough, she ran away. She either drank, or stayed away from the one person who she should be able to confide in, Peter, completely. This was a pretty lame way for her to deal with things, and I’m not sure if by the end she had changed this about herself at all.

The story doesn’t really get rolling until about halfway though, but I had no trouble getting into the book. Alex does go into a lot of background info about herself that seems not entirely relevant to the story–her entire relationship with Caleb, her parents’ history, etc. I mean, some parts of it were embedded in the main plot, but the amount of backstory she gave could have been trimmed a little.

The end moved pretty quickly, and I was really excited to find out who the hate blogger was. But once I found out her motives, it left me a little “eh…”. The ending was also wrapped up a little too sweetly. I wish we could have seen the dynamics of Alex and Peter’s relationship much more.

I believe the reason that I enjoyed this book so much is because it’s so relevant to my life right now–this book actually made me sit back and take stock of the time I spend online every day. I had to ask myself, “Am I really accomplishing anything by being on the internet right now?”

Any book that makes me ask questions to re-evaluate myself is great for me. Not something I would have expected from this genre of book, but I’ll take help where I can get it :)

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About the Author

Jessica Grose is a writer and editor. She was previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesGlamourMarie ClaireSpin, and several other publications, and on Salon.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Virgins by Caryl Rivers

Virgins

by Caryl Rivers

Book Description

For the seniors at Immaculate Heart High, hormones jousted with the quest for the State of Grace, and the hormones usually won.  The Map of Forbidden Sexual Delights extended its boundaries nightly in the back seats of tail-finned cars. But the girls of Virgins also wanted more. Who could they grow up to be in a world where women were supposed to be seen, but not heard?  They were rebels with a cause, before their time.

But growing up anytime is hard—finding, and losing first loves, discovering who you will be as a grownup. It’s a universal experience, one that readers of all ages can relate to.

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Virgins by Caryl Rivers

Peggy is a senior at an all girls Catholic high school. Her boyfriend Sean is also her next door neighbor, and goes to the boys Catholic high school. Although both are virgins (and Sean’s on the road to priesthood), it’s getting more and more difficult to stay that way.

As the year passes, Peggy and her friends realize that they are actually growing up, and must come to terms with that.

This book was set in the late 1950’s (I think, no specific year was mentioned so I gathered the context clues) but I think for the most part it’s aged nicely, and its’ messages are still relevant today.

Peggy is a pretty cool girl, a bit radical for her time. She’s against McCarthyism, and wants to go to New York and become a journalist. She’s prone to daydreaming, and her imagination is pretty hilarious. She and her friends are determined to make their mark on the school before they leave it.

I watched Peggy grow a great deal through the course of the book, which was pretty nice. At the beginning she is somewhat immature, but by the end she is determined.

The kids do some stunts that are pretty hilarious, and I found myself laughing out loud several times. Peggy also has a quick, sharp wit, and she often steps up with sarcastic one-liners.

The title is misleading to me. This novel is not at all about kids losing their virginity, but about the process of becoming an adult. Yes, sex ties into that, but watching your friends make stupid decisions and having to leave them is one of the things growing up is all about.

The ending of this book was heartbreakingly bittersweet, but also full of promise. I just know in my soul that Peggy went on to do great things. :)

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About the Author

Caryl Rivers has been called “one of the brightest voices in contemporary fiction.” Her novel Virgins was an international critical success, published in the US, UK, Sweden, Germany and Japan. It was on many best seller lists and in paperback (Pocket Books) sold more than a million copies. Her novels deal with American women trying to find a foothold in a rapidly changing world. She was included in the book Feminists Who Changed America from the University of Illinois Press.

She is a nationally known author, journalist, media critic and professor of Journalism at Boston University. In 2007 she was awarded the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for distinguished journalism. She is the author of four novels and nine works of non-fiction, all critically acclaimed. Her books have been selections of the Book of the Month Club, Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Troll Book club. The Chicago Tribune says of her,  “Few other writers are as funny as she, and none funnier. Yet she is capable of wrenching your heart and soul.”  There are film offers in place for the new edition of Virgins.

Her articles have appeared in the New York Times magazine, Daily Beast, Huffington post, Salon, The NationSaturday ReviewMs.Mother JonesDissentMcCallsGlamour,RedbookRolling StoneLadies Home Journal and many others. She writes frequent commentary for the Washington PostLos Angeles TimesBoston GlobeChicago Tribuneand Womensenews. Of her book Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women, Gloria Steinem says it “will save the sanity of media watchers enraged or bewildered by the distance between image and reality.”

She has co-authored four books with Dr. Rosalind Barnett, senior scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis—the latest (2011) being The Truth About Girls and Boys: Confronting Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children. Articles based on the book won a Casey medal for distinguished journalism about children and families and a special citation from the National Education Writers association.

Website

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REVIEW: Undeadly by Michelle Vail

Undeadly

by Michelle Vail

The Reaper Diaries, Book One

Expected publication: November 20, 2012

Book Description

The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird…

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.

MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Undeadly by Michele Vail

Molly Bartolucci is in the family business. Her father owns Big Al’s Zomporium, where you can have your recently deceased loved one zombified to have around for a while longer. Molly is able to remove souls from bodies, and she’s still in training, but pretty good at it.

Until Molly’s sixteenth birthday party, that is. Her crush gives her her first kiss, then has an accident. Molly tries to save him, but something goes awry. As if that weren’t traumatic enough, her heretofore missing maternal grandparents suddenly show up and tell Molly she is to be shipped off to necromancy boarding school! Being sixteen shouldn’t be so complicated.

A YA book filled with Ancient Egyptian mythology?!?!?! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. This book had a whole heck of a lot going on, and I loved every bit of it.

Molly is a really fun girl. Smart, sarcastic, and funny. I laughed out loud at so much of her inner dialogue. She is just barely 16, and I love that she ACTS LIKE IT. In so many YA books, the characters sound like they’re 20-somethings. Molly’s speech is full of teenage slang.

Unlike most YA books, there wasn’t just one supernatural entity in Undeadly. Zombies, ghouls, ghosts, reapers…all ran rampant. This could have gone convoluted, but the author found a way to seamlessly bind them all together.

There were definitely a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming, and as always I appreciate that.

There were just minor things that bothered me: besides Molly, who narrates, there isn’t very much development of the other characters. I do know that this is the first in a planned series though, so I’m hoping that will be remedied in future books. Also, as far as the big twist in the middle, I thought Molly would have reacted a bit more. I almost felt like it shocked me more than her!

As far as the end, holy CLIFFHANGER Batman! I was waiting for Molly to open her mouth and defend herself, but the book ended quite abruptly. I had so much fun reading this book, and you better believe I’m waiting on pins and needles for the next one :)

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*I was able to review this book thanks to Around the World ARC Tours.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Ironskin

by Tina Connolly

Ironskin Series, Book One

YA Steampunk/Fantasy

Book Description

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask over half her face to both conceal the fey curse that scarred her, and to keep its’ effects within. Jane was cursed with uncontrollable rage when she tried to save her brother during the fey wars. In the years since, Jane has survived but is not really living.

Jane finds a position working with a child with “special needs” in the home of the enigmatic widower Edward Rochart. While caring for young Dorie, whose problems are very unique indeed, Jane notices that women cycle in and out of the Rochart home quite frequently…each leaving more beautiful than when they came. Jane is determined to find out what’s going on, but the truth is far more macabre than she could have imagined.

Apparently this story is a retelling of Jane Eyre. I might get my book lover card revoked for this confession, but…I’ve never read Jane Eyre. So I’m not really sure how this book stacks up against it. As a story on its’ own merits, well…

Jane is 21 years old, and the only family she has left is her younger sister, Helen. Because of her curse, Jane is extremely self conscious, a trait that does not couple well with her fey-induced rage. When Jane gets angry (which sometimes doesn’t take much), her anger is like a red hot fire that she can feel inside. It’s sometimes hard to keep it contained. Not only is Jane self conscious, she’s also a bit paranoid.

Edward is a young widower who lost his wife in childbirth. He loves his daughter Dorie, but is somewhat removed from her because of the things she can do. Still, I must ask, is bringing in a nanny who ADMITS that she is cursed with fury the best thing to do for your five year old daughter? This is just something that occurred to me while reading. I found it very interesting that Edward chose to surround himself with an all female house staff.

Even though he barely talks to her and is rarely there for his daughter, Jane falls for Edward. This was probably the most annoying thing to me in the entire book. They spent so little time together, to me it was like Jane’s feelings for him came up absolutely out of nowhere. Despite the way he speaks to her, and all the women she saw coming in and out…Jane still fell in love with him. I didn’t get it, at all.

I did very much enjoy the evil fey elements of the book. In fact, the supernatural parts were the most intriguing to me, and are what kept me reading. The book takes place in what sounds like an alternate post-Industrial Revolution dystopian period. Fey magic used to power the world, but after the war nothing was left and everyone is quite poor. I have very rarely seen fey as the evil entity in a book, so that was unique and appreciated.

As I got to the end of the book, I could see what was coming but the details surrounding everything were a little horrifying. I definitely applaud the author for creating such a cool background story for Edward. The events at the end moved pretty fast, but I was satisfied with the way the book closed.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants a different twist on a fey story–but don’t read it for the romance.

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About the Author

TINA CONNOLLY lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and baby boy. Her stories have appeared in Strange HorizonsFantasyBeneath Ceaseless SkiesHighlights Magazine, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Her young adult dystopia play, Witebox, will premier in Portland in 2013. Connolly is a frequent reader for Escape Pod and Podcastle, and works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Ironskin is her first novel.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2731809.Tina_Connolly

http://www.tinaconnolly.com/

http://tinaconnolly.livejournal.com/

https://twitter.com/tinaconnolly

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Shallow by Georgia Cates

Shallow

by Georgia Cates

Going Under Series, Book Two

Book Description

Payton Archer’s best friend, Claire, strives to be perfect in every way. Payton doesn’t and this is her story.

Nick Hawke likes his car fast and his girls even faster. He blows through females quicker than his muscle car races down the “The Strip” in Collinsville and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Determined to avoid the devastation he has watched his father endure in the aftermath of his mother leaving, he believes there is no room in his life or his heart for a relationship lasting more than one night. He seeks happiness in things that won’t let him down…fast cars, adrenaline and one night stands. To his absolute dismay, all of that changes when he unexpectedly runs into an old friend and is introduced to Payton Archer, the first girl he ever wanted for more than one night. There’s only one catch…she is completely immune to him and his smooth talking ways.

Payton Archer is looking for what Claire has with Jessie, but she has given up on finding it…at least until she leaves for college in the Fall because she is certain that is where she will find the perfect guy to fit into her perfect world. She plans on Summer being nothing but three uneventful months of fun, but it turns out to be anything but ordinary when Payton is introduced to Nick Hawke, one of Jessie’s old Collinsville friends. She is shocked by her immediate and intense attraction for “Hawke” because nothing about him is what Payton is looking for. Sure, he’s hot and sexy but he comes from Collinsville and that is definitely not on her list of prerequisites. Everything about him makes Payton’s heart speed because he is exciting and dangerous, but his fast car and the dangerous chances he takes aren’t what scares Payton the most…it’s the way Nick Hawke makes her feel every time he looks at her. Can Payton find that moment of total fearlessness and make the decision to leave the safe, shallow end of love to risk going under completely?

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Shallow by Georgia Cates

Payton Archer is a take no prisoners, lay it all out there kind of girl. Nick Hawke is a player and has had more than his fair share of female attention. Yet when the two meet, sparks fly and from then on, neither can get the other out of their mind.

Nick is an adrenalin junkie, and Payton is by no means backing down from the challenges he presents to her. But she also doesn’t want to be just another notch on his bedpost. Add to that the pressure from her parents to stay away from him, and his mother issues, and it’s a volatile combination. Payton and Nick must decide if they want to stay away, or explode with each other.

This book wasn’t exactly a sequel to Going Under, it was more of a spin-off. The Payton in question is Claire’s best friend from Going Under, whom I loved for her wit and quick, sarcastic insults. She definitely comes back with more in Shallow.

When they first meet, Nick is taken aback by Payton’s attitude and simply her difference from every other conquest he’s ever had. He makes a bet with her, and if she loses, she must go on a date with him. From there, the relationship moves pretty quickly, though I never felt that insta-love vibe.

I adore Payton so much. She is NEVER afraid to speak her mind, no matter to whom. There were several quotes from her that had me literally laughing out loud. But she’s also quick tempered, and it doesn’t take much for Nick’s past to anger her.

The sexual energy between Nick and Payton was HOT, HOT, HOT! They are sexual opposites–Payton is a virgin, while Nick is the farthest thing from one. Despite that, I was really touched with how Nick went against his own personality to take his time with her.

I didn’t feel like the drama in this book was on the same level as Going Under. Also, I thought the end moved pretty fast. I was a little annoyed by how little it took for Payton to believe and forgive Nick in the end.

This book drew me in right from the beginning and never let go. This is the fourth book I’ve read from Georgia Cates, and I am definitely a huge fan!!

View all my reviews

About the Author

I am a wife, mother of two daughters and a labor and delivery nurse. I have recently added Paranormal Romance Writer to my list of things to keep be busy, but I am ecstatic to release my debut novel, Blood of Anteros, the first book in The Vampire Agápe Series.  I am also the author of Going Under and Shallow.

Like others that enjoy a great story of paranormal romance, I am easily bored by the tale of an obtainable, ordinary romance and was inspired to create The Vampire Agápe Series. When I am not tied up with my family or delivering babies, I am working feverishly on the third book in The Vampire Agápe Series.

Twitter: @GeorgiaCates

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Three Lost Kids & the Death of the Sugar Fairy by Kimberly Kinrade

The Three Lost Kids and the Death of the Sugar Fairy

by Kimberly Kinrade

The Three Lost Kids Series, Book Four

Book Description

Halloween is here and Lexie, Bella and Maddie couldn’t be happier. But why does everything feel so different? Fewer houses are decorated and fewer kids are out trick-or-treating. Still, that’s not going to stop the three girls from eating as much candy as they can before their parents can stop them, even if that means fighting each other for it.

When they finally discover a haunted house worthy of their favorite holiday, they forget their parents’ warnings and go in alone, only to discover that the house really is haunted, and not only that, but they’ve been transported to a whole different world!

A dying Sugar Fairy in one of the abandoned rooms send them on a quest to find her Sugar Baby and the magic Sugar Flower in order to save her and Halloween. If they fail, Halloween will be gone forever, and they’ll never return to their family.

But with Sugar Bug attacks, the Cavity Caves where they must face their deepest fears, and giant gummy bears armed with candy cane swords, the girls aren’t sure they’ll make it.

Their only chance is to work together, using each of their strengths to help each other. Can they stop fighting over candy long enough? Or will they be trapped in the dying Sugar Land forever?

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

The Three Lost Kids and The Death of the Sugar by Kimberly Kinrade

This was a very cute tale of 3 sisters named Maddie, Bella, and Lexie. They are out trick or treating and discover that no one is really participating in Halloween this year. When the sisters come upon a creepy house and go inside, they find out why. Can the sisters save the Sugar Fairy and Halloween?

I thought this was a great little tale to get young readers into the spirit of Halloween. Not only is it entertaining and full of adventure, it also teaches the lesson that too much candy is not good for your tummy! I also loved that it came with a built-in legend of the Sugar Fairy that I may just use with my own son someday!

The only slight thing that bothered me was that I thought the girls speech and thoughts were more advanced than I would think them to be for girls of their ages. The story was very enjoyable and I’ll be sharing it with my son as well!

View all my reviews

About the Author

Kimberly Kinrade was born with ink in her veins and magic in her heart. She writes fantasy and paranormal stories for children, YA and adults and still believes in magic worlds. Check out her YA paranormal novels Forbidden Mind and Forbidden Fire and her illustrated children’s fantasy chapter books Lexie World, and Bella World, all on Amazon.

She lives with her three little girls who think they’re ninja princesses with super powers, her two dogs who think they’re humans and her husband, also known as the sexy Russian Prince, who is the love of her life and writing partner.

 http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4687115.Kimberly_Kinrade

http://KimberlyKinrade.com

@KimberlyKinrade
@IPIAcademy

PURCHASE THE BOOKS HERE!

Please keep your eyes open for the next tour in November for  The Three Lost Kids & The Christmas Curse. 
When Nov. 26th
What Review Blitz
 
Blurb:  Christmas everyday sounds like the best thing ever to Bella and her sisters. But when a special Wishing Stone grants her heart’s desire, The Three Lost Kids discover the curse hidden in the wish.

Now they have to stop Christmas no matter what–even if that means ending up on Santa’s Naughty List.

Will the girls learn the true meaning of Christmas and find a way to break the curse? Or will they be stuck in their self-created Jingle Bells Nightmare forever?

***

Look for the original Three Lost Kids Trilogy–Lexie World, Bella World and Maddie World–if you like enchanted Dragons, Fairies, and more adventures through magical worlds with great life lessons for kids!

www.ThreeLostKids.com

launching November 26th through Evolved Publishing
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16061077-the-three-lost-kids-the-christmas-curse

There is a huge tour wide giveaway with these awesome prizes:

  • $25 Amazon GC plus signed copy of all four books (Lexie’s World, Belle’s World, Maddie’s World, Sugar Fairy} bookmarks and surprise swag include one of the posters and bookmark {USA/Canada Only}
  • 2 signed copies of Sugar Fairy with swag {USA/Canada Only}
  • 3 Poster of The Sugar Fairy cover and bookmarks

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

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