Chasing Truth by Julie Cross

Chasing truth is a teenage murder mystery and I didn’t guess who the killer was before it was revealed! Now that, to me, is an ingredient for a great murder mystery. No spoilers here but when the killer is revealed, my inner voice screamed ‘no way! I’d never of guessed it was….’

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book; the first line is brilliant, it’s the kind of line that makes me think ‘wow what type of book am I reading now?’

‘It’s not like I haven’t seen a topless girl before.’  

I knew I was reading YA so I was aware it wasn’t going to get kinky but going straight into partial nudity amused me. A great start.

The story is written in first person, the view point of Ellie, the protagonist. I have to admit that in the first chapter she irritated me; I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, give her a shake and tell her to drop the bloody attitude. But a few chapters in and I’m warming to her more as she develops into a smart-sassy girl maneuvering herself around a new high school, dealing with grief and investigating her peers. By no means did her attitude put me off the story, in fact it added to it for me (I secretly wished I’d had that attitude and savviness at 17) by half way through I loved her!

Ellie has a rather dodgy, con-artist, background. She lives with sister Harper and Harpers boyfriend, Aiden, who is a secret service agent which made me think this is going to have a conspiracy theme to it and I wasn’t disappointed. Ellies friend, Simon, apparently committed suicide. Ellie isn’t convinced it was suicide and struggles to believe the official story, she has questions she wants answers to. A clever, hot, ‘new’ boy is brought in almost instantly creating the setting for some interesting relationships to play out; which I have to say, were well written and portrayed, I felt 17 again in many parts of the story or at least I had a few flash backs of being 17.

Ellie uses her ‘dodgy’ experience to hunt for answers and the truth about Simons death; she has an on and off investigative partnership with the hot new boy, Miles, that is encased with layers of lies and truths that are peeled away throughout the story along with a shirt or two. One minute they’re working together, the next they’re not but as the truths about each other are uncovered, so too are the lies and mysteries surrounding Simons death and the pair find themselves uncovering more than they bargained for.

I was slightly cocky throughout the book thinking I’d figured out who the killer was; the author makes a great ploy to get you believing you are right in your choice of killer, only to shake things up at the end, and who doesn’t love it when things become shaky?

A great murder mystery entwined with teenage angst and first romantic encounters.

4 out of 5 stars from me, looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Tour Date:

September 26-Oct 14, 2016

 

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28220973-chasing-truth

Purchase Links:

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Link to Tour Schedule:

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Giveaway Information:

 

  • $50 Amazon Gift Card + a paperback copy of Whatever Life Throws at You (INT) 

 

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Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1)

by Julie Cross

Publication Date:  September 27, 2016

Publisher:  Entangled TEEN

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

 

Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press).

She’s also the author of the Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

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Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing cred, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

 

Unfair by Steven Harper

 

Unfair is a middle grade novel about Ryan November. Ryan is autistic and has problems understanding the emotional and social world he lives in. He lives with his mother, two aunts and father. While Ryan has problems understanding emotions and social cues he does, however, understand numbers and patterns.

Ryan and his best, and only, friend Alison share a birthday. Ryan wakes up on the morning of his birthday knowing that he can see into the future. He finds a strange silver piece of string on his bedroom floor, when he picks it up it embeds itself under his skin forming a circle. Alison joins them for breakfast and over breakfast Ryan has his first vision. Alison is about to spill her milk over; he stops it from happening because he doesn’t like mess but his actions confuse and annoy Alison who believes she wasn’t going to spill the milk.

After breakfast they go to the lake where they first met each other, this is where the adventure begins. Ryan confides in his best friend and explains why he pinned her hand down at the breakfast table. Curious, Alison asks how far into the future he can see but Ryan has an emotional melt down, the vision he sees terrifying him. Alison tries to get him back to the cottage but can’t lift him up the stairs. Then out of the lake appears a lady, made of water, who claims she can help. Her appearance causes Ryans screaming to stop as he stares at her in disbelief. This is the first fairy encounter the two friends come across in the story.

After defeating an evil undine, of the faiy folk, the pair discovers secrets are being kept by Ryans parents and aunts. Then after coming face to face with an angry rock (you have to read it to find out what I mean) the cottage, Ryan lives in with his family, is burnt down. Ryans parents and aunts are then kidnapped by the faiy folk and the two friends journey into the fairy realm to rescue them. It’s in the fairy realm where Ryan comes into his own, what are his restrictions in the ‘real world’ are his super powers in the fairy realm. Here Alison learns how Ryan must feel in the ‘real’ world. A great way of showing the importance of putting ourselves in others shoes to see how they must be feeling. Ryan has to pass some tests that are set for him as he fights sylphs, brownies and salamanders and mentally battles with a voice in his head. The longer he stays in the fairy realm the bigger the pull it has on him and he has to decide whether he wants to stay there or go home to his family.

I was lucky enough to have a whole rainy Saturday day to myself and I spent it reading this story. I couldn’t put it down and finished it within the day.  It’s very well written. I think the author is a genius. His use of flow charts to show mental processes is brilliant. He brings in mathematics in a fun and interesting way. And the way he has managed to describe awkward emotions can help children understand what may be going on in their own heads in some situations. It may help to give children an understanding of what autistic children, in their class or school or environment, may be going through and also may help to give autistic children some visual aids in interpreting emotions. The author clearly has an in-depth understanding of autism. And the whole story has a fun tone. It certainly is a book you want your children reading.

A fun story full of lessons, morals, adventure and good over evil, I absolutely loved it!

Definitely five out of five stars from me! I’ll be checking out his books written for adults.

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un/Fair by Steven Harper

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Publisher: Month9Books

It’s difficult enough to live in the neighborhood “freakazoid” house. It’s even more difficult when you’re autistic and neither your family nor best friend really understands you. So when Ryan November wakes up on his eleventh birthday with the unexpected ability to see the future, he braces himself for trouble. But even his newfound power doesn’t anticipate that the fair folk–undines, salamanders, gnomes, and sylphs–want him dead, dead, dead. Ryan races to defend himself and his family against unrelenting danger from the fairy realm so he can uncover the truth about his family history–and himself. Except as Ryan’s power grows, the more enticing the fairy realm becomes, forcing him to choose between order and chaos, power and family. And for an autistic boy, such choices are never cut and dry.

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Steven Harper/Piziks is the author of multiple fantasy and science fiction novels written for adults, notably the Clockwork Empire and Silent Empire series for Roc as Steven Harper and movie novelizations and tie ins for Pocket Books as Steven Piziks (IDENTITY, THE EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, GHOST WHISPERER: THE PLAUGE ROOM). He’s also the father of an autistic son.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Link to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29633540-un-fair

Purchase Links:

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Link to Tour Schedule: http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/blog-tour-schedule-unfair-by-steven-harper/

Giveaway Information: Contest ends September 23, 2016

* One (1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm (US ONLY)

* Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of un/FAIR by Steven Harper (INT)

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Witches Protection Program – by Micheal Phillip Cash

Witches Protection Program

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Micheal Philip Cash

I received this book to review for Bewitching Book Tours.

This book is brilliant, I loved the story from start to finish and read it in two evenings. I was itching to put my child to bed early to read it and even managed to sneak a few pages whilst she played with her Barbie dolls! Naughty I know but I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

Wes is a police officer in a special unit. At the very beginning of the story he is being given the telling off of all telling offs by his superior, who also happens to be his dad; for letting an old, seemingly harmless, lady out of their custody. What did he do? He looked her in the eyes. You may think…What?!! But with the title ‘Witches Protection Program’ you get the hint that she clearly isn’t a harmless old lady.

The story is set in modern day New York City. Wes has been reassigned to another unit, to prove his worth; another screw up and he’s out. He meets his new partner, Alastair, and is introduced to his new assignment at his new department – The Witches Protection Program. Like most young-hunky blond 25 year old males, Wes does not believe in witches and finds the new assignment a joke, to begin with anyway.

We then meet Morgan, a young college student and heiress to a multi-billion dollar cosmetics company, Pendragon, started by her deceased mother and ruthless aunt. Her aunt is still alive and very much kicking, building up her empire with the help of some seriously hardcore, high powered witches. By the way, Morgan is a witch too!! Eeeeeek I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you….! In all honestly I haven’t.

The story between Morgan and her aunt has a ‘The Devil Wares Prada’ feel to it, a film and book I LOVED! I was constantly picturing Meryl Streep playing Aunt Bea. There are two types of witches in this story, the Davinas who are good witches that use their magic to help and heal people. Then there are the Willas, powerful badass witches not using their gifts for the greater good but for their own selfish desires. The Witches Protection Program, an off the radar unit, help protect the good witches.

With Morgans aunt wanting to take control of the world, Wes has to quickly believe in witches and also his ability to do the job to the standard his father wants him to. Morgan has to fight between her loyalty to her aunt, who took her in when her mother died, and her natural instinct of doing the right thing for the greater good.

We meet some interesting and comical characters in the book; the story has a tongue in cheek feel to it but it very well written. A very easy to read and follow story that had me sniggering well into the evening. I kept thinking how much I’d love to see the film; the graphics I pictured in my head were amazing! Towards the end there is a couple of chapters that had a superman / transforms kind of feel but its really well portrayed, these were the scenes I’d sneaked off to read, there was a cartoon playing in the other room and the music in the background really suited what was happening in the book! It made the whole experience of the story become even more alive! The ending has a Walt Disney feel to it and I closed the last page hoping the author is going to make this a series.

Definitely giving this book 5 out of 5. I’ll be checking out other books this author has written.

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/fMn2EgYQr8s

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Book Description:

Wes Rockville, a disgraced law enforcement agent, is given one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he’s reassigned to a 232 year old secret government organization. The Witches Protection Program.

His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar Cosmetics company’s diabolical plan of using witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in both witches and himself.

Filled with adventure, suspense and a rousing good time, Michael Phillip Cash creates a tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern day New York City.

Excerpt:

“Follow me, kid.” She led him down a gray hallway with mulberry-colored carpet, more plush than anything he’d ever seen in a governmental office. The place had to be a city block wide, with corridors branching off to other conduits. Here and there, a doorway opened. Wes saw that many were filled with groups of people sitting at polished conference tables. Some rooms were dark, with shades drawn, the light of a presentation on screens peeking through the slats of the blinds. Staff walked through the hallways, nodding to each other. Some were in pairs. All had a badge hanging on a chain or attached to a pocket. He squinted, but he couldn’t make out the impression on the shield. Forget about attempting to read it. He shrugged; while it looked official, it was unfamiliar. For a person who grew up with an entire family in law enforcement, he found it odd that he’d never seen it before.

“What is this place?” he asked.

“This is where the magic happens,” she told him cryptically.

She opened the door, whispering, “Prepare to be amazed.” Then, with a giant pop of her gum, she disappeared.

“Where…” Wes turned, looking for the woman, but couldn’t see her anywhere. “Where is…”

“Oh, she’s gone. Come in already,” a male voice ordered impatiently.

Wes spun to the speaker, his eyes settling on a small man seated at a glass desk. He was in a neat gray suit but wore a black turtleneck, which made him look like some odd, eccentric leftover from the beatnik generation. He was older than Wes’s father, Wes guessed somewhere north of sixty, with the thickening middle of a sedentary life, a tanned complexion, and silver hair. His chubby face sported a neatly trimmed goatee. Wes wondered where his beret might be. The man studied Wes with interested black eyes that glowed with merriment.

“What kind of department is this?”

“Mr. Wesley Paul Rockville. Son of Harris and Melinda, brother to Lauren and Andrew. Tough act to follow. Runt of the litter?”

Wes bristled, wondering where this pint-size dude got off calling him a runt. At six foot three, he was hardly considered small. “I fail to see what this has got to do with my reassignment,” he said icily.

The older man ignored him. “The young gun who had his free will sucked right out of him.”

“No one took my free will!” Wes shouted, his face hot.

“I think Miss Genevieve Fox did a pretty nice number on you.”

“What are you talking about?”

Alastair cocked his head, a smile playing on his lips.

“I don’t think this is funny, um…Alastair. I’m getting out of here.” Wes had had enough. He was pissed and hungry.

“Sit down, Agent Rockville. It’s time you learned about your new assignment.”

About the Author:

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Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning and best-selling novelist of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels. He’s written ten books including the best-selling “Brood X”, “Stillwell”, “The Flip”, “The After House”, “The Hanging Tree”, “Witches Protection Program”, “Pokergeist”, “Monsterland”, “The History Major”, and “Battle for Darracia” series. Michael’s books are on the Amazon best-seller list and have also won numerous awards. Additionally, he is a screenwriter with 14 specs under his belt. Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island.

Website: http://www.michaelphillipcash.com/

Blog: http://www.michaelphillipcash-officialblog.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelpcash

Tour giveaway

5 copies Witches Protection Program

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Joshua and the Arrow Realm

Joshua and the Arrow Realm – by Donna Galanti

I received this book free to read for a review for chapter by chapter book tours.

After only a couple of pages in, I realised that this book is a sequel. Even though I hadn’t read the first book I was happily surprised to find that it isn’t needed. This book drops enough snippets of Joshua’s previous adventure that you get the gist of what happened. However, after finishing the story I now want to read the first one and I’m looking forward to the third one, which I can only assume is being manifested as I type.

It’s a middle grade story, perfectly written for ages 8-12.

Joshua and Charlie are from Earth; the story begins with them sledging down ice-covered slopes and hills racing each other in the middle of a snow storm. They come across an older girl who’s staggering around; her attire catches their attention. It turns out Ash is a tree girl from another world, a world that Joshua visited in the first book. She has come for Joshua’s help to save King Apollo from Queen Artimis. Wearing the belt of a friend of Joshua’s, Leandro, who he helped in the first adventure; Ash quickly gains Joshua’s trust and she blasts both Joshua and Charlie to another world down the lightening rod.

Not wanting to spoil anything for you, Joshua and Charlie have to go and save King Apollo who was kidnapped. Apollo had freed the kid slaves that were stolen from Earth by the child collectors and angered Zeus, who seems to be the main ruler who rules over smaller kingdoms. Queen Artimis, King Apollo and Poseidon were trying to form a revolution to stop the slavery and the children from being taken from earth but Queen Artimis changes and puts King Apollo in prison. Why does she have a change of heart? Is she still working with Poseidon?

It is a fast-paced action-packed story from start to finish. Reading large chunks in one go left me feeling exhausted for Joshua and Charlie as their adventure takes them from calling wild large Korax’s (a rather scary sounding creature) on a flute that only works in this realm, to being imprisoned with King Apollo. Underwater swimming whilst following a talking dog, to fighting wild creatures that feed on humans in the wild lands; the pair encounters many dangers on their quest and the four examples given are on a few of the dangerous beings they come across. Whilst battle-ling beasts from a strange land they also encounter many people, some they can trust and some they can’t and with a few betrayals throughout the story the reader wonders will there be a happy ending  or not?

Some people in the land believe Joshua is a foretold prophesy, the oracle, they believe he has come to save the slaves and the people of the land from the evil put upon them by Zeus. Joshua’s powers are wanted by the rulers but Joshua doesn’t believe he is the oracle or that he has any powers. Throughout the story strange things happen to Joshua, yes stranger than fighting human eating beasts. Does this mean he is the oracle? Is it him making these things happen? Joshua has to believe in himself to be able to overcome the challenges he is facing.

Every chapter has an adventure within the main adventure. A story of friendship, trust, betrayal and believing in oneself are the ingredients to a well-loved adventure story that helps to inspire young people.

I give the story 4 out of 5 stars, I think it will be very popular amongst middle grade readers.

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Joshua and the Arrow Realm (Lightning Road #2)

by Donna Galanti

Publication Date: August 30, 2016

Publisher: Tantrum Books

Joshua never thought he’d return to the world of Nostos so soon. But, when King Apollo needs his help in the Arrow Realm, Joshua’s will and powers will be tested in order to save him.

With his loyalties divided between our world and theirs, Joshua wonders whether he alone can restore magic to the twelve powerless Olympian heirs, or whether he is being tricked into making the one mistake that might cost them all.

JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM is the exciting follow up to JOSHUA THE LIGHTNING ROAD which the Midwest Book Review called, “a heart-pounding thrill ride.”

 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

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Stay away from the window, don’t go outside when it’s storming and whatever you do, do not touch the orb.

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings as anything more than the ravings of an old man with a vast imagination. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever.

To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy, as Joshua must face the terrifying Child Collector and fend off ferocious and unnatural beasts intent on destroying him.

In this world, Joshua possesses powers he never knew he had, and soon, Joshua’s mission becomes more than a search for his friend. He means to send all the stolen children home—and doing so becomes the battle of his life.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20983429-joshua-and-the-lightning-road

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | IndieBound | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

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Donna Galanti

Donna is the author of the Joshua and the Lightning Road series and the Element Trilogy. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs at http://www.project-middle-grade-mayhem.blogs…, a cooperative of published middle grade authors. Visit her at http://www.donnagalanti.com and http://www.ElementTrilogy.com. Donna wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote a murder mystery screenplay at seven and acted it out with the neighborhood kids. She attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship (and has been writing fantasy ever since). She’s lived in other exotic locations, including her family-owned campground in New Hampshire and in Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse and dreams of returning one day to a castle.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube

 

 

Seven Seeds of Summer

Review also posted on Goodreads.com

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Seven Seeds of Summer is a young adult fiction about an American art college student, Summer. Summer is an awkward introvert who doesn’t really have any friends and seems to prefer it that way. Summer’s passion is painting; I love the author’s descriptions of Summer painting, I love the way Summer feels the colours; I feel the author must love to paint too.

The story follows Summer from the start of her summer break from college. Her mother, who she is clearly not close to, collects her from college to bring her home. All Summer wants to do is paint and living by the coast she has beautiful scenery to inspire her. Summers parents work in archeology, specialising in ancient Greece and mythology; right from the beginning of the story we are introduced to ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses. Her mother loves them all except Hades, the God of the underworld, but it Hades who Summer loves and paints her version of him all the time. It begs the question ‘does Summer love this God to annoy her mother?’ but then the story unfolds to show us the reason she paints him all the time.

The reader is brought to an interesting turn in the tale when Hades, the God of the underworld, shows up and wants to take Summer to his kingdom. The story then becomes quite eventful with Summer having to move to Greece, a tragic event occurs (I wont spoil) and Summer finds herself fighting with a past life.

I find the viewpoint of Summer’s past life interesting, it is described in the story as two different people within one person. I have not read of past lives from this point before and the author puts across an interesting perspective.

Summer is fearful of Hades to start with, I mean he’s the God of the underworld you would be right? She tries to fight him and escape a couple of times but she becomes consumed with past life memories surfacing, initiating feelings for the God of death.

I love a story that spikes my interest in a subject I have not looked into before and this book made me want to know more about Greek mythology. I have a bit of a love / hate view of Summer; her teenage angst and inexperience was well described in the authors words without the author actually telling but she often felt like a damsel in distress even when she was trying to escape. It had a ‘Rapunzel trapped in the tower’ kind of feel to it. Hades comes across as an abusive, controlling boyfriend but as a God of death would he be a nice man? I don’t know anything of Greek mythology so don’t know how the God is portrayed but I didn’t like him very much in this story.

There were chapters that I loved and thought the descriptions of memories merging, paintings being painted in the mind, the inexperience of a young girl were beautiful and capturing but there were other chapters where I felt the story didn’t flow as well as other parts. I was a little bored when she was first with Hades in Greece and the leaving Hades chapter had a Beauty and the Beast feel to it ‘if you love her then let her go’ kind of thing, but who doesn’t love a fairy tale right? Also there were quite a few typos throughout the book.

I enjoyed the ending, Summer finally turns into a bad ass and you’ve got to love a strong female ending.

Overall I rate the story 3 out of 5

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Author – Chantal Gadoury

Can you love me like this?” he whispered into her golden hair and her laugh echoed throughout the dark hollows of the cave like bells. My stomach churned as her laugh echoed throughout my body. I hated her. The way she held him, the way she wasn’t afraid of the dark, the way she was perfect.

“Drink this…” the voice appeared again, and the dark caves were gone. A women stood silently, extending a cup in her hand with an evil grin. The golden goddess took the sup and began to drink the deep red liquid. I could feel it falling past my lips. It was sweet and familiar. Pomegranante. It was gone as soon as it had appeared. The women was gone, the taste was gone and I was left with nothing but the night. I felt hands on my shoulders, shaking me back and forth. It was almost like I was under water, and I couldn’t catch my breath.’

Follow the author here
http://chantalgadoury.blogspot.com/

A Hero’s Curse by P.S. Broaddus

A Hero’s Curse by P.S. Broaddus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A hero’s curse
Posted on Goodreads.com – copied onto my blog
Download free from Kindle Amazon.

This story is a middle grade novel aimed at children 8-12 years plus, it’s not a book I would usually pick for myself, however, I received an email on one of the good read groups I am in looking for readers to review a few books. Being a lover of books, I thought why not. I am so pleased I did otherwise I would have never found this little gem of a story.

The story starts off in a fictitious land, the Kingdom of Mar; from the very first page the story tells us of Essies hardship as she loses her mum and dad to a labour camp. They don’t sound pleasant and I can only imagine that they must be like the old Victorian work houses buzzing with the poor, in the cities of Britain way back when. We find out in the first chapter Essie is blind; she has been blind from a young age ever since her father, who was the kings champion, came back from a quest; instantly giving the hint there is more to her blindness.

Essie has a cat Tig or Tigrabum (don’t you just love that name? It rolls off the tongue and is really fun to say), though I suspect Tig would not enjoy being called hers. Tig can speak to Essie in a common language called lingua comma; Essie is the only one who knows Tig can speak and the two of them are the best of friends and have been since Essie found him as a kitten. Tig’s personality made me giggle a few times, he is rather a critical cat but I think the author has used his experience with cats and got it right. Every time I see a cat watching me I always think he / she is sat criticizing what I am doing. Tig has been Essies eyes while the pair grow up together, he has taught Essie how to hunt and use all of her other senses extremely well and while critical he clearly loves Essie.

The real adventure starts when the two are being chased by bandits who have come to kill Essie and her Uncle Cagney; it is here we find out the real reason why her parents have gone to the labour camps (not going to tell you, no spoilers here). Uncle Cagney tells Essie to run and hide and he’ll come find her when it’s safe. Essie and Tig find themselves running into The Valley of Fire to hide, a landscape made by a volcano that houses all sorts of scary creatures including rock basilisks; I can only imagine these to be huge snake like creatures with terrifying large pointy teeth.
The pair navigate themselves around the dangerous terrine trying to find a safe passage home. After a few encounters with other creatures in different Kingdoms, their end destination and purpose changes (again no spoilers). Essie has no faith in herself at the beginning of the story but she starts to realise she has a bigger purpose that just getting home. Going on in the back ground of their journey, a dark army is being built by a dark creature who plans to take over the kingdoms that surround and include the Kingdom of Mar.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the author used this as a metaphor for materialism and the darkness that hides within us all, especially the part where the darkness can cast illusions.
The pair end up, after an eventful journey, a few twists and a change in purpose, having to choose a door to go through to get to a kingdom called The Kingdom Above the Sun. They have five to choose from and while Tig is distracted by his ability to see, being tempted by all the things our lower selves desire; Essie’s lack of sight is actually her strength in the next part of the adventure. She has the ability to use her other senses and guide Tig down the right path into the Kingdom Above the Sun.

I love the description of this kingdom where cloud weavers use air to make things and then use music to strengthen the bonds that hold things together. I feel it describes the universe perfectly, everything is energy moving & flowing in a rhythm, music we can’t hear, though in this kingdom Essie can hear the music.

Illiana in the story says “…because music is more powerful that almost any magic.” Yes! This is how I feel about music.

I really want to tell you what happens but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. It is a beautiful and inspirational story of overcoming challenges, helping others, friendship and good overcoming evil. Friends are found in the most unexpected of places and Essie discovers her inner strength. The story portrays many important lessons young people need to learn today, I think this would make a great pixar animation. A must read for all children, especially those suffering with conditions that make them feel they can’t do the things that others can.

There is no other rating to give this story than 5 out of 5.

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“I think it is, Tig.” The ember deep inside glows as if something is blowing on it. This is a hero’s door. Heros don’t seek wealth or honor or even insist on healing or family. Those are the things they sacrifice. Uncle Cagney’s voice echos through my head: “That’s what makes a hero.”

“In fact, I know this is the door Tig.” I speak with such confidence even I’m surprised. “This is what we’re supposed to do. This is why I’m here.”

View all my reviews

Trial by Fire – by Josephine Angelini

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The reason I bought this book in the first place is because of the cover; I know, I know, I can hear you all gasp; we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but lets face it, if it’s not appealing how many of us pick up the book to read the back blurb to see if we want to read the story or not?

As I mooched down the book isle in my local Asdas the cover of this book caught my eye

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‘I am a witch and witches burn’

“ooooooooo,” instantly I’m hooked and pulled to the shelves by, what felt like, some magnetic force; my inner witch screaming ‘you have to read this book!’ I pick the book up and read the back blurb…

‘Two versions of the same world.

Two versions of the same girl.

 A love that pulls them together.

 A war that tears them apart.’

The front cover made me want this book, the back blurb ignited my excitement, ‘eeeeeeek! I can’t wait till it’s Tinks bedtime so I can start reading this book!’

Being a lover of all things weird & wonderful, of course I had to buy the book, and do you know what?

My inner witch wasn’t wrong.

I LOVED it.

It is well written; it covers some witch history, explores the theory of parallel universes, travels the tangled borders of magic and science and pulls the reader into a new realm along with the main character, Lily.  I instantly love Lily, she’s awkward and very self-conscious at first, but the reader watches her grow and develop into herself and her strength throughout the story.

“She was still in Salem….She just wasn’t in her Salem anymore.”

Lily is a teenage girl at high school in Salem USA; unfortunately for Lily she suffers with life threatening allergies and seems to be allergic to almost everything. Her life-long best friend, Tristan, is high schools’ Mr Popular. Tristan is a typical Mr Popular, a guy’s guy, a heart throb, a Mr Cool. Lily obviously loves him but he’s her bestie and vice versa, he understands her and her crazy family so she’s confused, can they take their relationship to another level? At an eventful party, one that changes Lilys perspective on a few things, she hears a voice whilst having a seizure. Taken straight home in the midst of her seizure; her sister Juliet, with Tristan’s help, get her symptoms under control. Lily wakes the next morning next to Tristan, whom she now dislikes greatly (I won’t tell you why, no spoilers here, but I’d feel the same as Lily does if it were me).

Straight after an argument with Tristan, Lily is left alone; it is in this solitude that she hears the voice from the night before calling to her, asking her if she wants to leave. Of course, after what she has experienced, Lily certainly wants to go and agrees to the following ritual.

Lily now finds herself in a parallel universe; in another Salem where another version of herself, in this universe she is called Lillian, and other versions of some of her friends live. This is where the story comes into its own. The imagination and creativity of Josephine, the author, is brilliant; she nails the paranormal aspect as she navigates Lily around a strange and terrifying new world controlled by powerful witches called the crucibles. Lily scrambles through the challenges of her situation; she starts being trained as a witch by a man who she is falling for and harnessing her strength of witch power she innately has; what made her weak in the other world makes her strong in this world. While Lily is struggling to deal with all this a war is brewing in the back ground and Lily has to decide what side she is on.

The ending is a great cliff hanger and abruptly ends leaving the reader with more questions and an urgent sense of…. I need to know what happens next! Luckily I have the second book right here, watch this space for the review on what happens to Lily.

I’m giving this story 5 out of 5!

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Josephine Angelini

‘The fire was high, the cauldron bubbled and steamed, and the sun blazed through all of the windows and skylights in Rowan’s apartment. The great room was already sweltering when Lily joined Tristan and Rowan on the black square of silk in front of the hearth.

“It’s a sauna in here,” Lily complained. She flapped her hands, trying to wave a breeze into the robe Rowan had told her to wear to this afternoon’s ritual instead of the silk slip. “What are we making today? Deep-fried witch?”

Rowan and Tristan smiled at her joke, but neither of them laughed. Their eyes were hazy and breathing slow. Their will-stones heaved with sluggish light, indicating that they were in a half trance. Lily had seen Rowan and Tristan in a trance-like state before. Every day at dawn, they did a series of exercises that Lily insisted was a form of yoga, even though they’d never heard the word. At the end of their exercises, they both sat cross-legged and meditated deeply. But this was different. They’d never put themselves in a trance for a ritual before.’

See www.josephineangelini.com for more books by Josephine.

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