Book Blog Tour: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (Review)

Monstrous Beauty

Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date of Publication: September 4, 2012

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

My Review

I’m gonna drop the bomb now: I loved this book. I gave it five stars and a whole lot of hearts. I know it got mixed reviews and even some of my favorite bloggers did not like it but this time, I won’t be affected. I always question myself when I like a book when bloggers who like the same books as me don’t. Yes, I know, signs of a low self-esteem but they’re just more established and I feel like I don’t get the book because I loved it. But now, nope, I don’t care, I should be able to unapologetically like a book. Heehee.

I love mermaid books. I really do. The paranormal creatures I tolerate or love are the mermaids, angels and werewolves. But mermaids seem to really do it for me. What can I say, I love the great deep. So it might be my bias for mermaids which made me love this book as much as I do but it is certainly good.

Mermaids and ghosts. Sounds weird? I can’t believe it myself when I saw the back of the book (I read an ARC) because how can you mash two genres together? But Elizabeth Fama is supercalifreakinawesome as she has woven an intricate and wonderful story with a world so convincing I stopped listening to my lectures in school and just read this book. (Granted, the lectures were boring and it was a rehash. Bad, bad student.) I read it everywhere because I can’t stop. This book has adventure, mystery, romance, danger, myths and everything you’d possibly want. The secrets just kept on coming and I was not ready for any of them. One moment you’d think you got it all figured out but the next thing, boom, Elizabeth has dropped another bombshell and you’d have to form your theory again. Until the very end of the book, you don’t know (well at least I don’t know) what’s the actual deal. This makes for a great reading experience because I was always on edge. So it goes to say that the pacing was extremely well thought out and was gripping.

The book alternates every chapter or every few chapters from the present day (Hester) and 1872/1873 (Syrenka). This totally works because I am so invested in both timelines. Elizabeth Fama writes both time frames convincingly that it was not jarring to read. Even Pastor McKee’s scottish accent was just awesome! Admittedly, I was suffering from Pitying-the-Other-Guy syndrome as I was feeling so bad for Peter yet falling in love with Ezra. Another fictional man. What is happening to my life? Ezra is a naturalist and of course, being a scientist made me relate to him and his unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Syrenka’s life was so poignant, especially at the prologue with Pukanokick. It was heartbreaking and at the same time that you’re feeling pity for her, you know that she’s the one to blame. Actually, everyone’s life was bittersweet or, as Syrenka pointed out, sweet-bitter. Hester was relatable to me, even if I question her actions at times. Just not a fan of her sorta insta-love with Ezra though if you’ve read the book, it makes sense. Peter took a backseat and wasn’t fleshed out but I do understand as he’s not too integral to the story than say the other characters. Linnie seriously creeped the hell out of me. There’s a particular scene, or for me, two scenes (or maybe three or four, depending on your iffy meter), that might be icky or a dealbreaker with others. This is not some fluffy, light stuff guys. It dabbles with death, soul, life, power, revenge and everything in between.

Anyway, I don’t think I can write a review that will give this book justice as I was actually at a loss for words when I finished it. Just see for yourself how Elizabeth Fama went from I-don’t-know-her to will-definitely-read-all-of-her-books for me and how I just gained another mermaid novel I love. Or how YOU will gain a mermaid novel that you’ll love. Or how YOU will get lost in this world and with these characters. Read for yourself. :)

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for giving Precious of Pinoy Book Tours an ARC which on the long run, came to me, that I was able to read this. Thank you, most of all, to Elizabeth Fama for writing a tale so exquisite. I love you all! <3

(Sorry if my thoughts are all over the place. That’s good, right? When you read a book and your mind can’t catch up with all that it’s thinking. Heehee.)


Book Blog Tour: Lost in the Light by Mary Castillo (Review)

Lost in the Light

Title: Lost in the Light (The Dori Orihuela Series)
Author: Mary Castillo

No one remembers…

One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again .

Now, Detective Dori Orihuela helplessly witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.

Settling into a 120 year-old Edwardian mansion, Dori restores her dream home while recovering from a bullet wound and waiting to go back on duty.

But then one afternoon, Vicente materializes out of her butler’s pantry and asks her to find a woman named Anna. Dori wonders if she’s not only about to lose her badge, but also her sanity.

Dori and Vicente’s unlikely friendship takes us back to the waning days of Prohibition in San Diego and the dusty barrio of National City. Mary Castillo’s new novel, featuring the wild Orihuela family that first delighted readers in Names I Call My Sister, weaves romance, history and a mystery into a humorous, touching and unforgettable story.

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Idly wondering what to pick from the meals Grammy had prepared for her, Dori plugged her key into the lock. Her heart gave a painful jolt when she looked up into the face of a man. He stared at her from the other side of the wavy glass window of the Dutch door.

His dark eyes narrowed. In one motion, Dori dropped her bag, stepped back and reached for her weapon. But she only felt the bandage under her shirt where her Smith and Wesson should’ve been. She swayed in momentary confusion and then remembered she’d locked it away. When she looked back up into the window, he was gone.

Dori stood there with her pulse kicking against her neck. He couldn’t duck faster than the blink of an eye, nor was the window shade moving in the wake of a sudden movement. It hadn’t been that long since she’d been with a man that she’d start making one up as Grammy had repeatedly warned. Warning pricked at her nerves. She pulled up alongside the edge of the door and peeked into her dark kitchen. She strained her ears, listening for movement in the house. Against her better judgment, she reached over and turned the key.

She pushed the door open and the smell of cologne stopped her short of walking inside. Dori instinctively rocked her weight onto the balls of her feet, her muscles tensing for a fight. Night crept across the yard behind her.

As a cop, she’d been in much scarier situations than this. But back then, Dori had a gun at her hip and a radio for back-up. Unlike real bad guys, figments of her imagination couldn’t send her to the hospital. Dori told herself to go out to her car and call the cavalry.

Instead, Dori propped the door open with an old brick. This was her house damn it and it might feel good to kick some ass.

Dori made her way through the gloomy kitchen and flipped on the light switch. The fluorescents flickered to life and their hum filled the silence. She crossed the kitchen and then poked her head through the door leading into the butler’s pantry. The air held still, as if the house held its breath.

She crept across the floor, scanned the dining room and then reached in to turn on the dining room chandelier, which thankfully had survived the architectural rape and pillage of the 1970s. His shadow moved across the wall in the hallway. Fear shot up her spine.

“I’m armed,” she called out, backing into the kitchen for a knife. Her Mossberg was upstairs in the safe. Then she remembered the knives were still packed in a box. She had a spork from her and Grammy’s KFC lunch earlier today.

“Walk out the front door and you won’t get hurt,” she ordered, clutching the spork in her hand as she tiptoed back to the dining room. Her voice echoed.

She pressed the light button and the hall lights switched on. “Go out the front door.”

The hall was clear. With her back pressed to the wall, Dori held her breath as she waited for an answer or a creak of a floorboard that would give away his position. She should go for the Mossberg. But she peeked into the front parlor, the room that had suffered the most damage in the house. Something slammed against the front door and the lights snapped off.

My Review

I will try to be coherent while I write this review. I love mysteries. I love ghosts connecting to people to try to find their killer, to get peace, to fulfill a wish, etc. I even love dead-girl-or-boy-and-very-alive-girl-or-boy-falls-in-love stories. And most of all, I love old mansions that can carry so many secrets (even a ghost!). So a detective buying an old mansion, meets a ghost and helps him, forms a friendship with him is a definite check in my book. Tons of checks, I might add. And checks it delivered.

Mary Castillo has written such a rich and compelling novel that I doubt that I won’t like it if I’m not a fan of the plot. I was pretty much glued to this book and I am so happy to have joined the blog tour for this for the chance to read and review this book. Nancy Drew is my personal hero when I was a kid so I pretty much look up to girl detectives. To say I was behind Dori the whole way is an understatement. I love her!

We’re given scenes from both the present and the past and the narrative reveals to us Vicente’s story bits by bits, which is both good for the pace and to get me going. Both timelines were wonderful and I wasn’t grumbling when I was reading about the other. That says something because a lot of books just makes me want to read everything about the past or everything about the future. The novel wasn’t draggy and it was just plain great the whole time.

Anyway, thumbs up for this novel! Now I wanna buy my own old mansion too! Minus the ghost please!

About Mary Castillo

Mary Castillo can remember the exact moment when her destiny to write smart, sexy stories for women began. (And no, it was not the day this photo was taken!) Her Grandma Margie gave her a copy of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (banned in 14 states and then when it was made into a movie starring Linda Darnell, condemned by the Hays Office, which controlled decency in movies) and said, “If you have any questions about what they’re doing in that book, just ask me!”

While Forever Amber is hardly a book for a high school freshman (frankly the heroine makes Scarlett a model of propriety and modesty in comparison), Mary was fascinated by a character that seized life with no apologies … and looked doing it.

After a few minor distractions (poor dating choices and pre-med studies), Mary committed herself to writing on February 10, 1994 and then sold her debut to Harper Collins Avon A in 2004. Hot Tamara was selected by Cosmopolitan magazine as the Red Hot Read of April 2005. The book wasn’t banned but Grandma was proud!

A lifelong professional writer, including a stint as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times Community News (second best job in the world), Mary is the proud author of three novels (SwitchcraftIn Between Men and Hot Tamara) and three novellas featured in the anthologies, Orange County NoirNames I Call My Sister andFriday Night Chicas. Her latest book, a paranormal that goes back and forth between modern day and Prohibition, Lost in the Light is now available.

Latina magazine called Mary “an author to look out for” and selected In Between Men and Names I Call My Sister for the Top 10 Summers Reads in July 2009. OC Metro magazine named Mary one of the hottest 25 people in the O.C. (the first but certainly not the last time her hotness has been publicly confirmed). She has also been profiled in Orange County Register, Coast, The Arizona Republic and San Diego Union Tribune.

Mary grew up in a haunted house in National City, CA. She cries every time she sees the movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Casablanca, and feels that Joan Collins is by far the preeminent TV villain (which is why Joan plays such an pivotal role in the novel, In Between Men).

A graduate of USC, Mary lives in The O.C. with her family.

Also, she may have a mild addiction to Pinterest.

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Book Blog Tour: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr (Review + Giveaway)

Carnival of Souls

Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date of Publication: September 4, 2012

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures–if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father–and every other witch there–fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and “Graveminder,” comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one’s own destiny.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Book Trailer

My Review

First and foremost, thank you to Pinoy Book Tours for the chance to read this and to participate in the book tour. Receiving the book, reading it and passing it to the next tour participant made me feel a certain excitement I can’t quite described. By the way, this is my first PBT tour and I think I’ll be participating in more tours in the future. Anyway, on to the review!

Admittedly, this is my first Melissa Marr book and I’m happy to say that after reading Carnival of Souls, I am sure I’ll be coming back for more! The world she crafted was nothing short of wondrous. I can see the Carnival of Souls, the Night Market, the black and red masks, everything. Her descriptions and storytelling was amazing, she really sold this alternate world so well. So on the settings front, awesome! Though admittedly, I had a hard time at first adjusting to the daimons, witches and all the rules. But I love how she incorporated and told us about the rules and myths of the worlds she created without blatantly telling us. Sometimes you have to assume that this is the meaning of this and to know that you’re right because she guided you all along. Kudos to Melissa! Once you get the hang of everything, it’s such an easy read. Once I got the hang of everything, I can’t put this book down!

As for the characters, gah, I love the characters. I do admit myleast favorite would be Mallory and that might seem problematic given she’s the protagonist. I just found her sort of lacking in personality but maybe that’s what she really is, for now. Her witch father pretty much spelled her her entire life, suppressing what she really is and making her obedient to everything he tells her, to the point that she just accepts everything and hasn’t questioned anything her entire life. [SPOILERS] But now that she knows what she is, I am looking forward to the sequel if she gains some semblance of a personality. [END OF SPOILERS] I don’t know who’s my favorite character but I think it might be a tie between Aya and Kaleb. They are such drawn out characters and you can feel their depth oozing from their dialogue. Well, their status in life and their upbringing certainly made them a certain way but I just love them. Kaleb and his everything and Aya and her everything. I love everything about them, really. Melissa has made Zevi really interesting to look forward to and I am certainly curious what bigger role he’ll play in the future. And Belias! <3

The plot. So obviously it was great because I won’t be able to stand it if it wasn’t. The pace was alright though there wasn’t a rushing-to-the-ending/climax feeling. The conflict was real and I felt it right to the core. However, that was such a tease of an ending! I am not that on edge to read the next book because it wasn’t such a cliffhanger but still, I wanna read the next book badly! I mean, how can you do this to me, Melissa? Gaaaahhh.

I do however do not buy Kaleb and Mallory’s love story yet. [Sort of spoilers ahead] Yes, it was insta-love but there’s the concept of a pack so is it really love or just the strong want to protect and to care? I think there will be an Aya-Kaleb loveline but there’s none right now and I’m happy with that because I love how Aya loves Belias. I do think it’s possible in the future. [End of sort of spoilers] And I do hope Mallory gets a personality so I’d jump more on the Kaleb-Mallory line. I was just feeling giddy with their love story just because of Kaleb. Kaleb <3

Lastly, the cover. I admit I wasn’t too keen on the cover when I saw it but now I get it so I like it. Heehee. See, I’m so easy to please! I certainly was affected with their plights, woes, even love and happiness when I read this. I related to the characters, rooted for them and just went along for the story they’ll tell me, and it was a great story. Good job Melissa and please don’t take too long to write the sequel! Pretty please!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Book Blog Tour: Memories by Deanna Lynn Sletten (Review + Giveaway)


Michael DeCara came home from the Vietnam War a wounded man, both physically and emotionally. He tried putting his life back together, but found civilian life difficult after all he’d experienced in Nam. Raising his young daughter, Vanessa, by himself after his wife left, he found it difficult to commit to one job or one woman for any length of time. Then he met a young woman who made him feel good about himself again and who fell in love with Vanessa as well. But one day his life changed drastically and he left without a word to the girl, believing he was doing what was best for her. Now, years later, she has walked back into his life and he believes they may have a second chance at love–except she hates him and he doesn’t understand why.

Danielle Westerly fell in love when she was only eighteen and her heart was broken when he left her without a word. Her heartache was increased when she made a fateful decision that would alter her future, and she blamed him for her loss. Years later, she is single and has built up a successful career when she accidently runs into the man who was responsible for her past pain. Yet, their chemistry is undeniable. Can Dani give up her anger and let go of the pain of the past and fall in love again with the man she has hated all these years?

Dani and Michael share a journey of heartache, loss and painful memories that threaten to keep them apart. Can they get past these and finally find love again?

*Memories has been chosen as a Semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book of 2012 Contest!*

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review

Wooo, my first Chick Lit Plus blog tour! Thank you for the opportunity and to rekindle my chick lit-loving self. Haha! On to the review!

After a very stressful week, this is the perfect read to curl around to in your bed, unwind with and just relax. Second chances in love are one of my favorite premises in chick lit and most romance books so that’s a plus. I just think love is sweeter the second time around for characters. But I don’t really believe in that in real life so I guess I’m projecting that on my reading choices. Haha! Okay, I’ll stop getting psychological and analytical here so yeap, review, yeap!

The characters here are flawed and they have some issues and baggage so they’re much more relatable and you just wanna root for them. I was rooting for them all the way. This story has so many feelings and emotions in it that maybe you’d get your heart wrung out but in the best way possible. What better way to exercise those floodgates or those heart muscles than feeling for characters? Well, I can think of better ways but you know what I mean!

Deanna (what a pretty name!) writes smoothly and has this feel of a romantic movie. I dunno how to explain it but you know you’re just in for a heart-melting, maybe-cheesy-and-sappy-but-oh-so-good story in your hands. The premise or plot is nothing new but that is the familiarity which makes us reach for that chick lit novel and just gobble it up. Whether you’re fresh from a break-up, from an academic hellweek or an emotionally and mentally stressing read, it’s the perfect way to unwind those tense neurons from overthinking. Because you’ll most likely read with your heart. Cheesy I know but it’s true!

Hope my review helped and go grab yourselves a copy of Memories! :D

About Deanna Lynn Sletten

Deanna Lynn Sletten is a novelist who writes women’s fiction and has also written one middle-grade fiction action/adventure novel. Her novels include Memories, Widow, Virgin, Whore and Outlaw Heroes. She started her writing career as a freelance writer for parenting publications in the early 1990s and transitioned to writing for blogs and websites until she made the jump to novelist. Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, Deanna enjoys walking the trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd.

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Book Blog Tour: Final Life by Rose Garcia (Review + Interview)

I was so interested in the plot that I immediately signed up for the tour even if I am fully booked! Sorry if it’s late, gah, my Internet is still a little wobbly, if that’s even the correct term. A review and an interview, go!

Final Life (The Transhuman Chronicles, #1)

Title: Final Life (The Transhuman Chronicles #1)
Author: Rose Garcia

Eight lives. You’d think Dominique would get it right, but she’s failed every time. Now on her final life, Dominique must discover the secrets of her past before confronting the Transhuman hunter who wants to kill her for the last time. Farrell, a mysterious Transhuman protector, and Trent, a hot guy from school, want to help. But it’s up to her to get it right this time—or she’ll be dead. For real.


Where did you get the idea for the novel?
I know it sounds cliché, but my idea for Final Life came from a dream I had back when I was in college. In my dream, I was standing in a red desert and someone in a black cloak was behind me with a knife at my throat. It was actually a super scary dream that stuck with me for years! When I started to write, this dream popped into my mind. What if I wrote about that girl in that dream? Who was the person with the knife? Why did the person want to kill her? Why were they in the red desert? My book sprang forth from these questions, and that’s how Final Life was born!

Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
I came up with the title and it was so perfect with the theme of the book that I never changed it. My protagonist has had multiple lives. She is killed in each, and is now on her final life. The title pretty much sums up her predicament.

Which came first, the title or the novel?
The idea for the novel came first, but the title came soon after. I like having a working idea of a title in my head because the title really sets the stage for the book. It’s a glimpse into the main conflict of the book. Almost like a quick hook.

Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
I love this question! I’m not sure how you define exciting, but it’s definitely a perk that I’ve met and become friends with some awesome writers. It’s also cool when my kids have friends who come over and they want to talk about Final Life and other books I’m working on. They definitely inspire me to put forth my best work. I can’t let them down!

What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
At the recommendation of my son, I just finished the Maze Runner. I loved it! I definitely plan on reading the next two in the trilogy, but I have to read Beautiful Creatures first. My daughter raves about this book and the entire series. My plan is to switch back and forth between these trilogies. After that, I have no idea what’s next!

What was your first book that you ever wrote (very first one you wrote, not published)?
The first book I ever wrote was a very different version of Final Life. It was my first stab at writing and needed a lot of work! Eventually I scrapped that first version all together and wrote something completely new.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
I read a ton, and across genres. That being said, it’s hard to pick my faves, but here are some authors I really love. As you’ll see, some are Adult Fiction, others are YA and MG. Here goes! Stephen King, David Anthony Durham, Terry Goodkind, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, JK Rowling. I could go on and on, but these are the ones that first came to mind.

At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
I am just now setting up school visits, complete with book signings, so I haven’t had the opportunity to sign a book yet. However, my plan is to come up with a one-liner that embodies the essence of who I am and what my book is all about. Right now, I’m not sure what that is yet! I’ll have to consult my creative team, aka my husband and kids. They’re great at brainstorming!

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Hmmm…. Well, most people are surprised when I tell them I’m a lawyer. They’re almost taken aback, and I’m not sure why! Do I not look smart enough? Is it because I wear flip-flops every day? lol Someday I’ll have to ask someone!

My Review

Okay so I said that the review will be up soon but I totes forgot until someone commented and asked for the review. My bad, sorry. Aside from the fluctuating Internet connection, it’s my academic hellweek so I am currently drowning in everything. But okay, excuses aside, here’s the review!

Final Life is fantastic! It’s the first book in the Transhuman Chronicles series and I am so looking forward to the next installments. If the first book is this awesome, I just hope the sequels will be just as great or better. Gah, love this!

Final Life’s protagonist is Dominique, who gets her world turned upside down when she finds out that she’s the Marked One of the prophecy. Yeap, you guessed it, her world is in a whirlwind with this news. What’s the Marked One you might ask? She is just the one who will determine the fate of the Earth and of all humans and transhumans, which are humans with extra more abilities. *wink*

If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy junkie like me, I’m sure you’ll love this. The characters were relatable and believable and the characterizations by Rose were with depth. A novel with a great plot can still suck if it has meh characters, just like a show. Here, Dominique is just a normal teenager at first and she is so relatable because even with the Marked One problems, which is the bigger story arc, she still struggles with moving to a new school, making new friends, having crushes and all that teen stuff. I think that’s why sci-fi/fantasy YA gets me hooked because somewhere in my brain, I daydream that even I’m just this average girl now, I might be the one who’ll save the world or save this person or this or that. It just feels good to imagine and to feel that you’re more than what you think you are.

Rose Garcia is certainly an author I’m looking forward to reading more of her works as I am awed by Final Life. She has weaved a world so cool and awesome yet so believable. The pacing was great, she executed the premise well and over all, just plain great! Final Life is that novel you won’t stop reading. YA rocks!

And so, thank you to SupaGurl for the chance to read and review this book! I promise that my review is an honest one even if I received the book for free. :)

About Rose Garcia

Rose Garcia is a lawyer turned writer who’s always been fascinated by science fiction and fantasy. From a very young age, she often had her nose buried in books about otherworlds, fantastical creatures, and life and death situations. More recently, she’s been intrigued by a blend of science fiction and reality, and the idea that some supernatural events are, indeed, very real. Fueled by her imagination, she created The Transhuman Chronicles—a series of books about people who have overcome human limitations. The first in this series is Final Life. Between juggling family life with her husband and two kids, Rose is working on the companion to Final Life. So stay tuned!

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Book Blog Tour: Return to Arethane by Kelly Riad (Review)

Oh my, if this isn’t the end of me. I think I got sick just thinking of not posting this review on time. Gah, I feel so bad. My sprained ankle is a punishment, I guess. Anyway, this post was supposed to be up Sunday but see my previous posts for why I wasn’t able to do just that. So an excerpt and a review. Enjoy!

Return to Arèthane (The Elves of Arèthane)

Title: Return to Arèthane (The Elves of Arèthane #1)
Author: Kelly Riad
Date of Publication: May 30, 2012

16-year old Emily has accepted her fate with each weakening beat of her heart, but after her best friend’s brother and sister arrive in town and turn out to be more than what they appear, Emily’s life is turned upside-down. When their friendship includes confronting wizards who harbor dark secrets and dancing with an elf prince, Emily discovers there are some things still worth living for.

Purchase from Amazon


“Can you grant wishes?”

“Depends on what you wish for.” He grinned.

Emily’s eyebrows lifted, but she didn’t take the bait. “Can you cast spells?”

“We don’t cast spells,” he said. “Spells require incantations and potions and we need none of that. But we have something we do. Your ancestors called them elf spells, but they’re actually enchantments.”


“A sort of…hypnosis. We can bend humans to our will. Make them forget, or remember what never was.”

“What?” Emily turned to Dafne. “Is that what you did to me in the green house?”

Dafne’s shoulders came up, a pained look of guilt on her face. “Yes, I’m sorry,” she said. “But it obviously didn’t stick. My enchantments aren’t that powerful.”

Emily frowned, despite being impressed.

“Jarrad’s really good at it,” Dafne added, nodding toward her brother.

“How do you do it?” Emily asked him.

“Well…it’s hard to explain,” he said.

“Show me then,” she shrugged.

“No,” he answered, shaking his head.

“No?” she squeaked. “Why not?”

“I’m not going to manipulate you.”

“Oh, come on!” she complained, standing up from the railing. “Your sister had no problem with it. And it’s not manipulation if I want you to.”

“It is. It’s placing you in a vulnerable state.”

“I trust you.” Which was weird, because she hadn’t trusted anyone in awhile.

“It doesn’t matter.” He shrugged and his expression looked determined.

Dafne watched with a wide smile on her face, thoroughly enjoying their back and forth banter, seeming to hope for her brother’s defeat. Emily decided on a different approach.

“Please?” she begged.

“Emily, don’t,” he said, looking down, seeming suddenly troubled as he gripped the railing he still leaned against.

“Please?” she repeated, sweetly.

“Emily,” he sighed, breaking down under her pleas.

“Please, Jarrad?”

Did she actually just bat her eyes? Why was she so anxious to be placed under an elf spell? Curiosity…what did it do to that cat?

He huffed and stood up. “Very well.” He tossed his ice cream cone into the trash can, brushed his hands off, and looked around. “But you can’t get upset if you don’t like how it feels.”

“I won’t,” Emily promised. She had a feeling she would love how it feels. Pleased with her victory, she squared off in front of him. “What do I do?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Whatever I say,” he said, playful mischief twinkling in his eyes and her cheeks grew warm again.

Taking hold of her arms, he moved closer, slowly, until she could feel heat pulsing between them. He lowered his head, his eyes focused on hers.

And she was stuck. Instantly transfixed.

She couldn’t blink. She couldn’t move.

She didn’t want to do either, waiting for him to speak again.

Everything disappeared into the two heavenly skies that were his eyes and she was lost in their cloudy details, swimming lucidly in some other world. He blinked—slowly, deliberately—lowering his eyelids like the deep undulation of a wave and she felt a wash of swirling rainbow ecstasy flood her body, running down her neck and arms, moving like thick syrup through her lungs, filling up her rib cage, surrounding her heart, before crawling down her legs.

Then she no longer felt her legs. Emily no longer knew if her hand still held the ice cream. Her eyelids grew heavy, so heavy, as though a drug eased and slipped its way through her veins. And then she watched with breathless anticipation as his lips moved.

“Emily?” His voice caressed her ears and traveled like a hand tracing down her neck, pulling her, willingly, unquestioningly wherever he led.

“Yes?” she breathed, lips parted and barely moving.

“Do you wish to please me? Will you obey my every command?”

“Yes.” And she did. She would. Obey him and no other. The option to disagree or disappoint him was inconceivable to her. Just to see him smile; she waited for him to command her so she might serve him. It was a feeling unlike any other. She had no control. And she didn’t care.

“If I asked you to go on a date with me, would you?”

“Yes.” It was the only word she knew. The only word she could push across her lips, the rest of her body arrested by his eyes.

“If I asked you anything…”

“Anything,” she sighed.

“I want you to lo—…” He stopped. Frowning, he pressed his lips together, and the need to know what he wanted from her nearly broke her.

With his head tilted slightly, Jarrad thought a moment then asked, “What is your greatest fear?”

Without hesitation, she answered, “My heart.”

She couldn’t read the thoughts playing across his face and she wanted to so much. She wanted him to speak again. She wanted the moment to never end. Then he sighed and the scent threw her into a whirlpool of strawberries and cream delight.

Though he stood so close, his voice echoed from far away.

“Emily?” he said from the other side of the world. “Emily, are you with me?”

The words hurled toward her, growing louder and louder until she blinked, face tilted up to him, her head cocked.

“Emily?” he repeated, his brow furrowed. “It’s done.”

Done? What was done?

Oh. The spell.

That was it? But she felt fine. No enchantment, no hypnosis.

She couldn’t really remember what she had just been doing, but she was fully confident she had not fallen under his spell.

Emily grinned up at him. Jarrad looked confused.

“Guess your magic doesn’t work on me, Casanova,” she said, pushing him aside.

But her words were slurred, her voice came from somewhere outside of her body, moving slow and tar-like. He lifted his eyebrows, taking a step back.

What control Emily had over her legs was lost; it was as though they had disappeared completely. Then she collapsed. Jarrad grabbed her, catching her before she hit the ground and eased her down.

With confusion, she studied her surroundings, sitting on the cold concrete with legs spread out and Jarrad kneeling between them, one arm still around her and the other holding her by the elbow. His face was knitted with concern. She still held that stupid ice cream cone.
“Did I just fall?” Emily looked up at him with bewilderment.

Laughter exploded from Dafne somewhere behind Jarrad and his concern vanished, replaced with amusement. He bit his lips together, the corners tugging up, trying to suppress his own laughter.

“Dropped would be more accurate,” he said with a grin.

Emily realized then he’d had complete control over her. He could have done more with her and to her than Abe ever could have dreamed and yet Jarrad did nothing with that power. And somehow Emily knew he never would. He would never take advantage of her. She also now recognized the strange rush she had continually felt when looking into his eyes, he’d been enchanting her the whole time whether he realized it or not.

Jarrad helped Emily up to her feet. She looked around, rocking unsteadily back and forth. Dafne sat on the ground, cross-legged, with her face buried in her hands. Her body shook with silent laughter.

“Thanks, Daf,” Emily said to her dryly. Dafne lifted one hand, palm out, and shook her head, still shaking.

“Are you okay? You aren’t mad, are you?” Jarrad asked, still holding her by the elbow.

“No, I’m not mad,” she said, shaking her head. “That was…crazy, but really, really amazing. You’re kinda dangerous, you know?”

“Not really,” he said. “We never use our powers for evil.”

“Good to know.” She smiled at him. “You can stop laughing now,” she said to Dafne, her voice loud and annoyed.

“May I try something else?” Jarrad asked, ignoring his sister’s laughs.

“Another elf spell?” Emily asked.

“Enchantment,” he corrected her. “I’d like to show you something.”

Dafne’s laughter stopped; she looked up at her brother. Emily turned to her for help, but she only shrugged.

“I won’t fall again, will I?”

“I won’t let you fall,” he said.

When she nodded her consent, he threw away her melting ice cream cone and took her in his hands again, his touch soft and warm but he soon let go and placed them on her face at her temples. Digging his fingers into her hair, he cupped her face and commanded her attention once again. But as she stared into his eyes, this time she did not feel the euphoric fall through space. Instead, the gazebo started to twinkle and dissolve into a million little points of light that fell to the ground, showering around them like falling fireworks, revealing another world in their trail.

They stood beneath a different gazebo, this one made of thick, gray stone, cracked along one column and dressed in vines. Trees appeared around them, glittery moss snaking up the trunks, the night filling the spaces in between with dark shadows. Curling clusters of pale purple and yellow flowers hung from feathery, leafy vines clinging to the arches of the gazebo.

The hard wooden floor beneath their feet was replaced by broken stone through which soft, thick grass grew in patches and the sounds of cars passing by on the street faded, the soft chirping of crickets and the songs of night birds taking their place. From some distance, Emily could hear a brook lapping against a pebble shore.

With Jarrad still holding her face, Emily looked up at a mural painted in Fresco above, depicting ancient elves in faded colors. Jarrad let his hands slide down her neck, then shoulders and arms until he held her hands, never letting go.

“You asked if I could ever go back home,” he said, his voice heavy with emotion. He stood completely still, as though focusing all of his control. “For now, this is the only way.”

“This is your home?” Emily twisted her body around to see everything while still clutching Jarrad’s hands tightly. It looked like something out of a fairy tale; the trees massive with smooth trunks along which sparkling moss snaked, and a low mist that cloaked grassy pathways and rocky hills. Little lights danced across the leaves of the trees.

She leaned toward one of the flowers; she could smell its soft perfume. Jarrad let go of one hand and laced his fingers through hers with the other, keeping a tight connection.
“You can touch it.” He inclined his head toward the flower.

She looked at him questioningly and he nodded. With hesitation, she reached out until the velvet petals were against her fingertips. “It’s real,” she whispered.

“Only because we’ve made it real,” Jarrad said. He watched her with a slight smile as she tickled the flower.

“How are we here?”

“Through my memory. I’ve just made it your memory, too; your reality, actually.”

“This is your home,” Emily said with wonder as she looked all around. Just the day before, she never knew elves existed and now she stood in the middle of another world. Even though it was a created memory, no more than manipulated imagination, it felt so real. And Jarrad had shared it with her. She squeezed his hand and smiled.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. As he did, everything began to dissolve, fluttering in pieces like falling leaves until they stood once again beneath the little wooden gazebo at the park.

Even though she didn’t want to, Emily let go of Jarrad’s hand.

“You’re amazing,” she said.

He smiled with pride then glanced over at his sister, leaning against the railing with her arms and legs crossed.

Shaking her head, Dafne fought back a smirk and said, “Show off.”

My Review

If I was forced to marry a book cover, this would be it, I’d marry this cover. If I were to approve of incest between book covers, I’d gladly have copies of this book procreate and create babies like them. Gah, just everything about it is amazing, I cannot not look at it. So much prettiness. Anyway, onto the review!

To borrow a term from Of Poseidon, this novel is fanflippintastic! I’ve never read a novel about elves ever, I think, so this is such a welcome change in what I read! Now, I think angels and werewolves and mermaids have a competitor in the elves. I mean, if all elven reads are like this, I would gladly read them forever! <3

Emily is so awesome and her bestfriend, Dafne, too. Dafne surely makes up for the sucky parental units Emily has. I love them both and I love them together and with Jarrad and all the elven stuff happening, gah, I love them all! I’m not too in like with Kara and I don’t really like reading her POV but it’s needed so I stuck with it. Have you read the excerpt? GAH, I LOVE IT. Okay, I am sounding like a spazz and totally not a reliable reviewer because I base it on my emotions. But really, I just like it so much. I am so happy this is the first book because I’d get to read more about these characters and this rich world Kelly has created. She is a whiz!

This novel is full of adventures and actions and descriptions that will make your imagination swirl and delight in everything presented to you. I can see everything Kelly has written and I really wanna see a movie of this. Heehee. With Divergent and Shadow and Bone getting movie rights recently, I just want great YA books to be adapted into a movie. And this is a fantasy novel so more yay!

This is an epic and it is also epic, with battles, adventures and GIDDINESS-INDUCING ROMANCE. Gah, really like it. Go read it now!

Thank you to SupaGurl tours and to Kelly for the chance to read this. <3

About Kelly Riad

Kelly Riad is from Texas where she lived with her husband and a house overrun by pets. She now lives in the San Francisco Bay area and is determined to bring the y’all to the West Coast. While she published her first book – a handmade pop-up titled “The Lost Puppy” – in the fifth grade to much acclaim by the first graders, she only recently picked the craft back up. “Return to Arèthane” is her second published novel.

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Book Blog Tour: Dreamwalker by Andrea Heltsley (Review)

This post was supposed to go up last Saturday but with everything that has happened, I just hope Leisha and Julie will still allow me to join future AToMR tours. Stupid Internet connection. Anyway, the giveaway is pretty much done by now so I am really sorry but I’m still here to give a review. I might be late but if I promise to post about it, I will. So I hope you still enjoy even if the tour’s already finished. :)

Dreamwalker (Persephone's League of Immortals)

Title: Dreamwalker (Persephone’s League of Immortals)
Author: Andrea Heltsley
Date of Publication: May 23, 2012

Noel Kennedy lost her boyfriend, her job and her dignity all in one week. Then something happened and she began to dream of this stranger she had never met. She couldn’t resist the man of her dreams named Jared especially when she met him in real life. Entranced, she slowly unraveled a world she was meant to stay out of. Her life was not what she thought it was once a sexy Boone stepped into the mix and shook things up. Can she escape a life of servitude or immortality for a chance at love?

My Review

First off, I freakin’ love this cover. As in. It gives off a misty feeling and the girl is so pretty and I think all the elements of the cover just shines. So props for the cover designer and to Andrea. I think I should probably ask her who did it. :P

So with my cover love out, let’s get to the review. When I read the blurb for the book, I immediately signed up for the tour. It was downright interesting for me and so, I wanna read it for free. Heehee. Everything is going swimmingly and all of a sudden, it’s not. And then you’re exposed and forced to take part in a world where everything you’ve ever believed in is not actually everything there is. Woah, back up, that would be mind-blowing for me. But I can only imagine and Noel has to live with it. Thus, with that concept, the story presented before us became full of romance, mystery and adventure. However, even with an engaging plot, it felt slow at times. I find that the gripes I have with Dreamwalker are almost the same with that of Dissolve, another of Andrea’s books that I have reviewed. The dialogue is once again a bit stilted and the characters were not as developed as I would like them to be. But Andrea’s strength is in creating a wonderful world and an engaging plot. I do hope she improves on her characterization. Dreamwalker is the first book of a series and while I enjoyed reading it, I wouldn’t be as mad to read the sequel like I felt with Catching Fire. I do hope that the second book is far greater than Dreamwalker because I do know some series that got better with each sequel.

Thank you to AToMR tours for the chance to read and review this book!

About Andrea Heltsley

“I am a biology nerd who loves reading just about anything paranormal and some chick lit. I am a caffeine junky who loves Starbucks. Dissolve is my first novel. I have been writing ever since I was in grade school and have finally decided to make a career out of it. More books to come late 2012 and 2013.”

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Book Blog Tour: Revolution by Shelly Crane (Review + Playlist)

My first Shelly book was Significance and that was a long time ago. When I heard that her Collide series is coming to an end, I immediately marathoned her Collide series in time for Revolution. I can’t miss this! And now, here it is! A review from me, an excerpt and the soundtrack to the novel. Enjoy! (I apologize for the late posting. The storms had taken away my Internet connection. I can’t seem to catch a break!)

About Revolution (Collide #4)

Revolution (Collide, #4)

In the fourth and final installment, everything is on the line. Merrick’s life is in the balance and Lily is their only hope. Ellie and her new powers are miraculous, but also problematic; if she’s with the bunker family, they won’t be able to sense when the Lighters are there. There are many new members to the bunker and sparks will fly, and with the food shortage, they will all have plenty to deal with. Miguel is intrigued with Rylee, her past and her spunk. Ryan and Elli are barely scratching the surface of their relationship. Cain and Lillian will have to deal with Daniel, who has no qualms about showing his true feelings for her. And Sherry and Merrick…what will happen to this happenstance family who have worked so hard to come together? Can they all survive? Can they all withstand the new enemy that is right outside their door? Can they beat the Lighters, once and for all…


He smiled. He had dimples. I’m sure he thought they were charming, but this jerkface was totally barking up the wrong tree. “Now why would I want to do a thing like that?”

“Because it’s the right thing to do.”

“You’ve got a point,” he said and stood, groaning. He stretched his back.
“Can you believe I used to be a linebacker? The good old days.” He held his hand out to me as I continued to look at him as if he were a mental patient. “I won’t bite.” He grinned.

“Aren’t linebackers the fat ones?” I asked as I let him help me stand.

“Nah. That’s the lineman. Linebackers are lean and mean.”

I sneered at him, “I can see that.”

“Hey, you didn’t have to run,” he argued with a smirk.

“Hey, you didn’t have to tackle me!” I shouted and checked to make sure I still had my necklace. “Why didn’t you just shoot me anyway?”

“I’m not in the habit of shooting beautiful women.”

Soundtrack Playlist

Here’s the soundtrack to the novel, prepared by the lovely Shelly. And The Cab! Walk the Moon! I just linked those that I’ve featured in my previous #nowplaying posts. Heehee. Enjoy!

(Theme) Collide : Howie Day
(Merrick’s flashback) Open Your Eyes : Snow Patrol
(Sherry’s dream) Touch This Light : House of Heroes
(Plotting) Angel With A Shotgun : The Cab
(Fight) Skin Graph : Silversun Pickups
(The hard truth) Anna Sun : Walk The Moon
Remember The Empire : House Of Heroes
(Ryan & Ellie) Love Somebody : Maroon 5
You Know Where I’m At : Gavin Degraw
Wide Awake : Katy Perry
Iscariot : Walk The Moon
Keep Your Eyes Open : Needtobreathe
Y Control : Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Stay : House Of Heroes
(Cain in the Sand) Be Still : The Fray
Alibi : 30 Seconds To Mars
Where I Belong : Switchfoot
(Daniel’s Goodbye) Broken Angel : Boyce Avenue
We Were Giants : House Of Heroes
Home : Phillip Phillips
(On the road to the station) Roads Untraveled : Linkin Park
Gunnin’ : Hedley
This Is Why We Fight : The Decemberist
On The Run : Kaiser Chiefs
(The war) The War Inside : Switchfoot
Daylight : Boyce Avenue
(The End) Vegas Skies : The Cab

My Review

This is the last. Sigh, I hate to part with this but all things come to an end, even the good ones. So sigh, let’s just finish this now before the floodgates open. (Dramatic much? Haha!)

Revolution is such a fantastic end to a series that even I am sad to see it go, at least it ended with Revolution. It starts in the middle of everything, putting us in the forefront of the action, which if you know me, I absolutely love. It’s the last book, why waste time on rehashing the past books? We land smack dab on the middle of action and we stay that way for the whole novel. The action never slips up and I love how high the stakes are. I mean, compared to getting suspended, this is just way bigger, right? Haha!

Revolution is told from several perspectives like the previous books and I love that we get different views and we get to see what’s in someone’s head. And so, I started missing these characters who’ve grown so much in a span of four books. I hate to part with characters I’ve known for so long (technically) and that I adored. Gah, this is such an emotionally taxing feeling.

I promise to review the previous books soon once my schedule clears up but I have to get out that this is an amazing series and you should start reading it! :D Do it for me, please. Do it for yourself. <3

About Shelly Crane

Shelly is a YA author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay at home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. They currently reside in everywhere USA as they happily travel all over with her husband’s job. She loves to spend time with her family, binge on candy corn, go out to eat at new restaurants, buy paperbacks at little bookstores, site see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music everywhere and also LOVES to read.

Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn’t go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born.

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Book Blog Tour: A Hero Rising by Aubrie Dionne (Review + Giveaway)

I have for you a review and a giveaway (yay!) of A Hero Rising, the third novel in Aubrie Dionne’s A New Dawn series. Sit tight and enjoy!

About A Hero Rising (A New Dawn #3)

A Hero Rising (A New Dawn,  #3)

After watching his love leave on a colony ship, James Wilfred must save those left behind from a planetary apocalypse. Their salvation lies in an unfinished ship tucked away in a secret government base, and only James can break in and pilot him and his people to freedom on a nearby space station.

Skye O’Connor’s boyfriend never returns after his gang attempts an assassination of the Governor, and the State Building is destroyed. Worse, crazed moonshiners addicted to the chemical Morpheus have stormed the city, and she must find a safe place for her and her boyfriend’s daughter. When a heroic man saves her, Skye asks to accompany him on his quest to find the last colony ship left on Earth.

As the city falls around them, James and Skye must work together to build a new future, all the while rediscovering their ability to love, before the apocalypse claims them both.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N


To read the first chapter, click HERE!

My Review

I promise to come back and review this. Ugh, school. Ugh, losing my charger and my Internet connection.

About Aubrie Dionne

Aubre Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her writings have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Hazard Cat, Moon Drenched Fables, A Fly in Amber, and Aurora Wolf. Her books are published by Entangled Publishing, Lyrical Press, and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. She recently signed her YA sci fi novel with Inkspell Publishing titled: Colonization: Paradise Reclaimed, which will release in October 2012. When she’s not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras. She’s a big Star Trek TNG fan, as well as Star Wars and Serenity



Click HERE to win one of three ebooks of A Hero Rising. Good luck!

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