Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway – Beneath the Scars by Melanie Moreland

Beneath the Scars
By: Melanie Moreland
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format of Book: E-Book
Steam: Lots of it.

*I received free ARCs of Beneath the Scars from Xpresso Booktours in exchange of an honest review.

Synopsis

The sound of the ocean, the crash of the waves as they kick up against the sand and rocks—these are the only sounds Megan Greene wants to hear. She wants to leave the rest of the world behind, and find some peace.

The offer of a private house on the beach, set in a small town in Maine, is perfect. Time to think—to be by herself. It’s all she wants. It’s the escape she needs.

Until she stumbles across the painting that seems to echo her own chaotic mindset.

Until she meets the unfriendly artist behind the stormy painting and discovers his secrets.

All Zachary Adams wants is to be left alone. His canvases, and the unending scope of the ocean and sand, are his life. They direct him—fill his hours. Bring him focus.

Until she enters his life.

She dredges up memories of the past—the haunting images he has hidden for years; the fears he has never shared.

A story he keeps buried below the surface.

Can she make him see what he is missing? Can he trust her enough to believe?

Together they embark on a journey where their pasts collide and threaten to tear them apart.

Will their fragile bond hold or wash away with the ebbing tide?

Welcome to my stop on the Beneath the Scars Blog Tour! Below is my review AND a pretty awesome giveaway! Click on the image at the bottom of the screen for the rafflecopter! I have also included my Facebook page for this blog – go follow me there. 🙂
*~*

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3.5/5 Stars
I appreciated Megan‘s character; she was working through things, but continued to strive for interaction. She is compassionate, understanding, and (at times) a bit too forgiving. I applaud her persistence, but if anyone ever treated me the way Zachary treats her… well, heck no! Zachary is hiding from his demons, a story that’s interesting from the get-go. I found the characters in this story to be well developed, but I’d loved to have seen more of Megan’s backstory. We get a little bit, but more would have been even better.

I also liked that each of the smaller characters played an integral role in the story – they may not be around as often, but they are each important. And the dogs… Elliot‘s breed was captured perfectly!

Dialogue – 3.5/5 Stars
I really liked the dialogue in this story. It was very in depth and true to each of the characters. Of course, a lot of it was angsty, but that drove the story quite a bit more than simple, emotionless words would have been fruitless.

Plot – 3.5/5 Stars
The idea of this story reminded me of a certain Disney movie. I’d hate to say it here for fear of giving any small plot details away, but from very early on as I was taking notes while reading I have “reminds me of [movie]”.

The plot was done well, but there were a lot if time jumps that woul have been nice with more detailed story – some of the jumps were perfectly placed, though. I also wish there wasn’t so much of an emphasis on the steamy content – I appreciated that it wasn’t sordid detailed, but wanted even more story to drive the plot.

Regardless, the plot of this story was done well and developed. I like that Boston was a part of this, as well. We don’t really make our way into many newer books anymore. 🙂

Visual Imagery – 3.5/5 Stars
I loved how vivid the paintings in this story were; I felt I could see them, especially Tempest. There are wonderful little moments of description, such as the little specks of color in someone’s eyes or the defining physical characteristics of different characters, that were a well done plot device. I always appreciate being able to read a story and see it.

Ending 3/5 Stars
Without giving anything away, the ending was done well. A great close to this stand alone novel.

Total: 17/25 Stars

Goodreads: Follow This Link
Purchase:
–Amazon: Follow This Link
*~*
AUTHOR BIO
Melanie Moreland lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her husband and fur children. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.

Known as the quiet one with the big laugh, Melanie works for the sporting teams of a local university. Her (box) office job, while demanding, is rewarding as she cheers on her team to victory.

While seriously addicted to coffee, and somewhat challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties and socialize, and also enjoys travelling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.

Melanie delights in writing a good romance story with some bumps along the way, but is a true believer in happily ever after. When her head isn’t buried in a book, it is bent over a keyboard, furiously typing away as her characters dictate their creative storylines, to her even more inspired tales, for all to enjoy.

*~*
Author links:
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Giveaway:
Tour-wide giveaway
  • 4 ebooks of Beneath the Scars (INTL)
  • 2 signed Paperbacks of Beneath the Scars (US/Canada only) with book marks
  • 1 package of Into the Storm/Beneath the Scars Paperbacks with bookmarks – both signed (US/Canada only)

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Blog Tour: Book Review – Violet Storm by Anna Soliveres

Violet Storm
By: Anna Soliveres
Publication Date: March 28, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format of Book: E-Book

*I received free ARCs of Violet Storm from Xpresso Booktours in exchange of an honest review.

Synopsis

Several hundred years into the future, The Cleansing, known to some as the End of Days, forced the government to create Arks to shelter its people. When Earth became habitable again, new territories rose up from the ashes: Agria, the City of Light, and the Outer Boundaries. For a while, they lived in peace.

A brilliant surgeon known for his invention of Modi’s—the only cure for the deadly disease, vaincre—has gone rogue with his experiments, and the Monarchy is desperate to shut him down. That’s where Aeva Storm comes in, a champion athlete with an ego to match. Aeva is the surgeon’s secret weapon against the Monarchy. And they’ll never know what hit them. After reconstructing her body to become a Modi unlike any he’s ever created, Aeva is forced into a fight against all odds. She’ll have to break loyalties, hurt family, and turn her back on newly awakened love. Thousands of lives hang in the balance in a battle that will set forth a new era.

Join Aeva on her quest to see whether she’s got what it takes to go up against the most powerful humans ever created.

Welcome to my stop on the Violet Storm Blog Tour! Below is my review AND a giveaway! Click on the image at the bottom of the screen for the rafflecopter! I have also included my Facebook page for this blog – go follow me there. 🙂
 *~*

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 4/5 Stars
I absolutely love to read a book with a strong female character. I’ve never been one for those wimpy characters who let the world walk all over them.  Aeva Storm is amazing. She is everything I would hope to be in her situation and she lives up to every expectation I had of her. In this dystopian world, she doesn’t have much going for her after her last Fila game, but she picks herself up and pushes along. She’s curious and questions things. When faced with some very difficult decisions, I can understand each path she could tread. She meets some rather intriguing characters along the way; I wouldn’t mind meeting Karth, or Ruven, or even…. I’ll stop here. Just get to know these wonderfully intricate characters for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 Stars
The best thing about the dialogue was its realism. Despite taking place in some dystopian future, there were no silly enhancements in language. Everything made sense, I didn’t have to make out some strange dialect, these factors kept me in the story. I like Aeva’s banter with the male characters that she comes across. She fits in with one of the guys, probably in part due to her role in Fila.

Plot  –  4/5 Stars
I love the dystopian genre and this had all the best parts – who, why, what, and crazies. Struggles for power. The norm. What this one had that others I’ve read haven’t? A really great idea. I love Soliveres’ ideas and how wonderfully strung together they are. She did a great job planning this plot from beginning to end (at least the end, for now.)

Visual Imagery  –  3/5 Stars
Color is a wonderful theme in Violet Storm. Just the title alone gives you a pretty great visual. I loved the emphasis on eye color. Some of my favorite visuals took place on the Fila fields. I would have loved to have even more description, though it didn’t detract from the story at all!

Ending  3.5/5 Stars
Well, I will say it definitely sets you up for the next book. I wish that it was out already so I didn’t have to wait. Slight cliffhanger, but not enough to make you really angry that you have to wait for the next story. I appreciate a teasing ending, of course. 🙂

Total: 18/25 Stars

Final Thoughts

Science Fiction has never been one of those genres that I gravitate toward, but this one pulled me in from the start. I loved trying to figure it out, find motive, and try to figure out who could be trusted in this story. I really can’t wait until the next one comes out. It’ll be fantastic, I’m sure.

So… when does the next one come out? 😉

Goodreads: Follow This Link
Purchase:
–Amazon: Follow This Link
 *~*
AUTHOR BIO
Anna Soliveres has always been a storyteller but it wasn’t until her early twenties when she began writing novel length works. The result was an enthusiasm to get better at the craft until her work could be shared with the world. Releasing in March 2014, VIOLET STORM is her debut novel. Anna is currently working on another young adult sci-fi series, titled SNOW DOLLS, set to release in late 2014. To learn more, please visit her at www.annasoliveres.com.
 *~*
Author links:

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Blog Tour – Review and Giveaway: Coral & Bone by Tiffany Daune

Coral & Bone
By: Tiffany Daune
Publication Date: July 7, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Format of Book: E-Books

*I received free ARCs of Coral & Bone from Xpresso Booktours in exchange of an honest review.

Synopsis

Halen knows the sparks igniting under her fingertips are dangerous. She has spent her entire life trying to quell the tingly feelings that make her destroy things, but now that she is back in Rockaway Beach, where she watched her father drown, the flames have become impossible to tame.
Halen is trying to hold on, but when she is thrust into a mysterious new world, the underwater realm of Elosia, she unravels the secrets of her past and can’t help but ignite. As she explores Elosia, she realizes her life has been a lie. And when those who have deceived her come to her for help, Halen must choose—walk away or unleash the magick that could destroy them all.
CB Teaser 4
Welcome to my stop on the Coral & Bone Blog Tour! Below is my review AND a giveaway! Click on the image at the bottom of the screen for the rafflecopter! I have also included my Facebook page for this blog – go follow me there – I may or may not give away a copy of this book in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3.5/5 Stars
I really enjoyed meeting each of the characters in this story. Halen, the main character, was well-constructed and really an interesting read. She’s got some issues (don’t we all), but that’s what drives her. Tage is a really entertaining personality. She is a hard-edged, rough girl who has obviously been through a lot. And Dax… he’s pretty great. And Pepper and Catch… adorable.

Overall, Daune does a great job piecing together the personalities and little intricacies of each of her characters. Much like the world she has created, a lot of detail has gone in to add to this great story.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 Stars
There were many times while reading this story that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the dialogue going on between characters. There were some wonderful comical moments, but the heavier ones were dealt with with realism. Each character’s personality shone through their words.

Plot  –  3.5/5 Stars
I think the thing I enjoyed most about this story is that this was a fairly new concept. Besides the whole “character realizes she’s been living a lie..” bit, which proves to be the plot driver, the rest is creative and fun. This plot hasn’t been done before, which gave Daune the freedom to just roam and let it happen. And she did.

Visual Imagery  –  4/5 Stars
So many great visuals – the world of Elosia has to be my favorite – bubble sphere rooms, beautiful colors, fun clothes. I enjoyed being able to live in this story for a little while because Daune creates wonderful setting(s) for the characters to be a part of.

Ending  3.5/5 Stars
The ending of this book was fantastic. I can’t give much of anything away, but I’ll be looking for the next book when that comes out.

Total: 18/25 Stars

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed how different this story is from others I have read. It was fun and exciting, and it really got my imaginative thought-strings running. I look forward to reading future installments in this series!

So… when does the next one come out?

Goodreads: Follow This Link
Purchase:
–Amazon: Follow This Link
AUTHOR BIO
“I write stories about magick, love and dark creatures lurking in the shadows. When I’m not lost in Edit Land you can find me reading a book from my towering TBR pile or at the movie theater nibbling licorice. I don’t have a lucky number, but my favorite time is 11:11. I completely believe that the fortunes found inside cookies will come true and that you must be careful when wishing on stars. I live on an island, so if you want to visit you’ll need a boat, and if you want to survive the passage, be sure to bring candy for the mermaids.”
Author links:

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Blog Review Tour: “Captivate Me” and “IRIS” by S.J. Pierce

 

 

IrisCaptivate Me       AND       IRIS
By: S.J. Pierce
Copyright: 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance
Format of Book: E-Books

*I received free ARCs of Captivate Me and IRIS from Xpresso Booktours in exchange of an honest review.

 

Synopsis of Captivate Me

“My mom had always told me – when you meet “the one”, you’ll know; they’ll captivate your heart the moment you lay eyes on them. I had always wondered, though, if my mom’s words of wisdom were finite – if they applied to everyone. Maybe those who had found their one great love were the lucky few, and maybe the rest of us would have to settle for less than earth-shattering.”Seventeen-year-old Kat Walsh is a Gifted – a human with paranormal abilities. With her mom a former Angel and her dad a dream prophet, it’s always been in her genetic make-up to be extraordinary. But, unfortunately for her, the world can’t handle the strange or unusual. So when she slips up and uses her powers at her high school in Ireland, the entire student body treats her like a freak – even the ones she thought were her closest friends.

Broken, but hopeful for a fresh start, she allows her parents to enroll her in a boarding school buried deep within the forests of a small Colorado town. At Midland Pines, School for the Gifted, she feels as though she can finally be herself; she makes new friends and even has the attention of the most popular guy in school – Levi. Everything feels normal again… or does it?

Not long after her arrival, weird dreams of an alluring boy whom she’s never met surface during the night, and the eerie, shadowy trees encircling their school seem to call to her. As these disturbing, yet enticing developments intensify, other bizarre occurrences happen – students and staff turn up missing, and mystery visitors leave gifts while she sleeps. With all of these other things fighting for her attention, a desperate Levi has to fight even harder to keep her interest. But with the dreams of the attractive boy slowly captivating her heart, Kat has to make a choice – will she settle for ‘great’ Levi, or will she search for her elusive dream visitor, possibly stumbling across ‘amazing’?

From the author of the Alyx Rayer Chronicles, comes a refreshingly different Young Adult series with plenty of love, suspense, and a new take on the Paranormal.

Recommended for readers 16 and up due to mature content.

Synopsis of IRIS (#1.5)
by S.J. Pierce
Publication date: September 1st 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:

***This book is meant to be read after Captivate Me***Set before the events in Book One of the Captivated Series, “Iris” explores the depths of family bonds, new bonds, and the lengths a person would go to save the life of a dying sibling. In this novella, get to know Iris and her two sisters more intimately, as well as Gabriel, the first angel-human hybrid who agrees to live under her protection.

Recommended for readers 16 and up due to mature content.

Welcome to my stop on the Captivate Me/IRIS Blog Tour! Below is my review of the first book with a teaser about the next AND a giveaway! Click on the image at the bottom of the screen for the rafflecopter!

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3.5/5 Stars
I really enjoyed reading the various characters in Captivate Me and then learning more about some of them in IRIS. Kat is a well-created character who has quite a bit of learning and growing up to do. This obviously sets the stage for some pretty interesting things to happen. Kat is just learning to be herself after hiding her Gift for so long. She’s quickly sought after by a very nice and popular guy named Levi. I also like Kat’s roommate Anna; she and Kat are a perfect pair. There is also a mess of other characters who I deeply enjoy, GabrielIris, and a few others.. but you’ll have to read to learn more. Pierce does a good job creating her characters and giving them enough backstory to move the story along, but leaving enough up in the air for the reader to want to learn more.

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
The dialogue in Captivate Me is realistic and fitting for the Young Adult reader. There is nothing overly stand-out, but it does help move the story along. I like the internal monologue, as well.

I found the dialogue in IRIS to be a lot more fun. Perhaps this is because of the characters and personalities of those involved in this particular novella.

Plot  –  3.5/5 Stars
This was a fresh take on the typical paranormal young adult books that are floating around. I haven’t seen this story before, which is part of the reason I found it so much more enjoyable. All of the characters have their own sub-story, which enables a novella like IRIS to work so well.

Visual Imagery  –  3/5 Stars
There are some really great visual moments, such as those in the woods, but I felt this story could have used more in the visuals. This would have helped drive the story farther. I wanted to “see” more colors and patterns. This is not a complaint, just a suggestion, however.

Ending  4/5 Stars
I definitely enjoyed the ending of this book. There was a lot to be said, but it was done in a wonderful way. Captivate Me ended wonderfully, opening the door to Book 2, and IRIS introduced what will be happening in 2, but should be read AFTER Captivate Me.

Total: 17/25 Stars

Why read this book?

I am a big fan of YA Paranormal books and this one was done very well. Definitely worth a shot.

Goodreads: Follow This Link
Purchase Captivate Me:
–Amazon: Follow This Link
Purchase IRIS:
–Amazon: Follow This Link
AUTHOR BIO
Susan James Pierce has a degree in Marketing Management, works for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, Georgia, and devotes her precious, spare  time to writing Fantasy, Paranormal and Sci-fi novels.Author Links:
http://sjpiercebooks.blogspot.ca/

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Review: The Lilith Scroll by B.L. Marsh

 The Lilith Scroll
By: B.L. Marsh
Copyright: 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy/New Adult
Format of Book: E-Book

*I received a free ARC of The Lilith Scroll from N K Author Services in exchange of an honest review.

Please see this post for the book spotlight and more information on where you can find it!

Synopsis
What if you discovered there was time before time began? What if everything you thought was true, was not? What if there was a beginning before, “In the beginning”? What if another story was unfolding within our time? A story steeped in loss, love, betrayal, and secrets?

On her twenty-third celebrated birthday, Lilith arrived in Scotland, following clues she had secretly collected about her past. Little did she know that her arrival at the Rosslyn Chapel would reignite one of the oldest wars of all time- The Fall. Sides will be chosen, lives will be lost, and the secret kept all this time by the Illuminati will be exposed.

Welcome to Eden. The place where magic was born, trees are gateways to other realms, and Angels aren’t what you think they are. Meet Lilith. A young woman with an incredible story; one she isn’t supposed to know, much less tell. Meet Sam. A man with an unknown past and powers that rival Lilith’s.

Go back in time. Back to the garden. Experience the magic of creation, the wonder of nature, and the betrayal that destroyed it all.

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 4.5/5 Stars
I found the characters in The Lilith Scroll to be incredibly complex and well-developed. Marsh does an incredible job weaving character webs and she hooked me very quickly. Lilith St. Claire is our main focus and I found myself wanting to join her in her adventure to find out about her past. Oh, and Sam… I’ll just leave it at that. Part of what drew me in to each of the characters is that there was a reason they became how they did and Marsh placed motivation into each of their actions, regardless of how small.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 Stars
There were moments in The Lilith Scroll where I fell completely in love with a character because of their various monologues and speech patterns. Marsh creates a beautiful dialogue, especially between Sam and Lilith. There’s a moment toward the end where I had to re-read just so I could live the moment again. The dialogue is realistic and appropriate for the time at which it takes place. The dialogue and the plot work hand-in-hand to create a wonderful story.

Plot  –  4.5/5 Stars
I was unsure, at first, how I would feel about this story. As a personal preference, I don’t usually gravitate to stories that appear to be about religion, but this was such a wonderfully different story than what I expected. It was a bit slow to start and slightly confusing as I adjusted to Marsh’s style, but once I did, I fell right in line and enjoyed the adventure. I loved that I understood the shorter Hebrew phrases. Marsh did a fantastic job weaving her educational studies into this impressive novel.

Visual Imagery  –  4/5 Stars
There were many times during The Lilith Scroll where I felt like I was right there, experiencing the sights, smells, and feelings. Moments in the Garden had me reliving my own studies when I was younger. Marsh describes everything as I pictured them, but so much better.

Ending  3/5 Stars
I wanted a little bit more, but considering the rest of the novel was at such great length with such hefty detail, the ending was a bit of a relief as it closed the loop. I look forward to seeing where Marsh takes this story and what is to come.

Total: 19.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

There’s something different about this story from anything else I’ve read. If you enjoy reading Tolkien, this is a great option for you.

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Blog Tour and Review: Crystal Magic by Madeline Freeman


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Crystal Magic CoverCrystal Magic (Clearwater Witches #1)
By: Madeline Freeman
Copyright: 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance
Format of Book: E-Book

*I received a free ARC of Crystal Magic from Xpresso Booktours in exchange of an honest review.

Synopsis
Nothing is safe around Kristyl Barnette. Windows break. Books rocket across the room. Lights flicker. Strange occurrences follow the sixteen-year-old everywhere.

When tragedy forces her to move to the small town of Clearwater, Michigan, with her estranged aunt Jodi, Kristyl tries to leave her past behind. But Clearwater has secrets of its own—a mystical history that intersects with Kristyl’s life and might shed light on the inexplicable events that plague her.

When a mysterious illness threatens her aunt’s life, Kristyl will do anything to cure her. Enlisting the help of witches could save Jodi, but is dealing in magic worth the consequences?

Welcome to my stop on the Crystal Magic Blog Tour! Below is my review of the book and a tour-wide giveaway (follow the link) for a signed copy of Crystal Magic. (This giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers.)

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3.5/5 Stars
The characters in Crystal Magic are very lovable. Kristyl (Krissa) is really genuine and I found myself wanting to reach through the pages to hug her at times and others I wanted to high-five her for just being awesome. She’s genuinely curious and resilient. She’s had a lot to adjust to, as we find out at the beginning of the book, but that’s only the beginning for her. I enjoyed following her through her journey and finding out how she adapted to each curveball thrown at her. Krissa’s aunt, Jodi, is endearing and caring; it’s apparent early on that there’s something about her we don’t know.

Another wonderful character is Owen – ugh, love him. I did find myself wanting to know more about him. Luckily, this is a series, so I may get my wish.

One character I couldn’t stand is Crystal. (Imagine having to share your name with someone who is just an all-around bully.) She is developed well and has a nice bite to her.

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
The dialogue in Crystal Magic is realistic and fits the Young Adult genre well. I enjoyed the back and forth between Owen and Krissa. There was something refreshing about finding dialogue that can read aloud and on the page easily. The arguments aren’t forced and the monologues aren’t heavy.

Plot  –  3.5/5 Stars
This is a fun story with some nice twists. Between finding out the backstory of our main character and sifting through the crazy in the town of Clearwater, I was pulled right into the story. I look forward to seeing where this all goes in future books.

Visual Imagery  –  3/5 Stars
There are some really good moments throughout the book. As this wasn’t a visual-heavy story, I found myself drawn to Jodi’s store, Hannah’s Herbs. I could see the stones and jewelry. Having been in places like this before, I could practically smell the incense burning. I also enjoyed “seeing” the town of Clearwater and adventuring through Krissa’s new home.

Ending  4/5 Stars
Well, as far as endings go, this one was pretty great. I sort of saw it coming (just a teeny bit, and only by a hunch) but not to the extent that it did. I have to say it was VERY well done. (Yay for cryptic reviews, huh?)

Total: 17/25 Stars

Why read this book?

If you enjoy Young Adult Paranormal books, Crystal Magic is a pretty great choice for you. This may be my powers of seeing the future kicking in, but I have a feeling that this is a series to keep an eye on. I look forward to finding out what happens next.

Goodreads: Follow This Link
 
Purchase:
–Amazon: Follow This Link 
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MadelineAUTHOR BIO
Madeline Freeman lives in the metro-Detroit area with her husband, her daughter, and her cats. In the time she should spend doing housework, she rewatches Fringe. She also loves anything to do with astronomy, outer space, plate tectonics, and dinosaurs, and secretly hopes her daughter will become an astronomer or a paleontologist.
 
Author links:

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Book Review: The Unicorn Girl by M.L. Legette

The Unicorn Girl CoverThe Unicorn Girl
By: M.L. Legette
Copyright: 2008
Format of Book: E-Book

Synopsis from Amazon
Leah Vindral is suffocating–trapped in her own skin.
In a land where magic is feared, magic saved her from death … but it came with a terrible price. Marked forever, she is shunned and isolated by those she loves most.a
Brimming with bitter rage at those who abandoned her, Leah flees from her childhood home only to be swept into an impending war: Mora, a wicked witch, has been imprisoned for years, waiting like a spider in the folds of her web for the chance to regain the powers once stripped from her. It is there, while she waits, that she learns of a strange young girl … a girl who can speak to unicorns.
Now Leah must save the country that shuns her, for if Mora returns to power, all will be lost. But can Leah, who is so frightened and confused herself, find the strength to save them all?”

I purchased this book from Amazon while it was free at the end of July and I was immediately struck at how beautiful the cover is. There is a simplicity in the pencil drawing, but it draws you in. I was highly impressed by the amazing descriptions from the get-go; I felt a sensory connection as I was reading, which isn’t always easy to accomplish! And now… for the breakdown:

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3.5/5 Stars
Character building in this story was effective. I got the creepy, desperate impression of the witch from the very beginning; the insecure-in-her-own-skin, innocent persona from Leah; and the protective, noble vibe from her father – to name a few.

Each character has an obvious role from the start, though Leah’s is a bit more foggy until a little later. Leah is an only child who is born into a wealthy family. She is pale, small, and has straight, black hair and large green eyes. She’s also a bit of a klutz. I enjoyed watching Leah grow a little more as a character, though I would have liked to see more of an internal monologue during the bigger plot-points.

Without giving anything away, my favorite character in this story is Ian. He’s adorable, loving, and a bit mysterious.

Another character I love doesn’t speak, but she’s quite important – Iris, Leah’s older white horse.  Might be because I love horses, or because she is a well-developed character – you know, for an animal.

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
This book has a LOT of visual imagery (see below) with less dialogue. This isn’t an issue, but there also wasn’t as much to base my rating on. The dialogue helps the story move along, though it isn’t a stand-out. I do love the use of dialect in Ian’s lines; he’s endearing and fun, which is obvious throughout his dialogue with the characters he comes across.

Plot  –  3.5/5 Stars
I found the plot to be clever, but not overly in-your-face. There were points where I felt there wasn’t a lot going on, but others felt well-placed. The only qualm I have is that the heavier plot points felt rushed. I wanted more detail about what was happening, why, and what would be next; all of this felt brushed over during the more important portions.

Visual Imagery  –  5/5 Stars!
Please notice the 5 stars. This is not something I typically do, but I was hooked from the very first few paragraphs. Legette captivates her readers through her brilliant imagery. This is more than definitely her wheelhouse and I love the description of the witch right in the beginning. Legette leaves no stone unturned and I had no difficulty seeing the amazing halls of Willow’s Manor or the rolling countryside or the ominous mountains.

Ending  3/5 Stars
As mentioned previously, there were points in this novel that I wish had been more developed and less rushed. The ending tied everything up quite nicely and there was no cliffhanger, thank goodness. But I found myself wanting far more. The story opened with an introduction/prologue of sorts, so it may have helped the balance to have a closer/epilogue. Regardless, this did not hinder the story. I enjoyed the ending.

Total: 18/25 Stars

Why read this book?
If you enjoy Young Adult Fantasy, this is the book for you. There are intriguing characters and creatures, along with imagery to die for. I would definitely read another by M.L. Legette.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Book Review: Markings by S.B. Roozenboom

Markings by S.B. RoozenboomMarkings
By: S.B. Roozenboom
Copyright: 2013
Format of Book: E-Book

Celina Bayberry is your run-of-the-mill teenager – angsty, stubborn, insecure, and awkward. She’s uncomfortable in her own skin, works part-time at the wildlife reserve near her home, and meets Aaron, an attractive and strange guy who seems to turn up around every corner. Overnight, things start happening to her that she can’t explain. She quickly learns that there’s something bigger going on.

“The air still carried that aroma of earth, wood, blood. Mostly blood now…” (Sentence from Preface.)

Overall, I found this Young Adult book to be a fun read. It is fast-paced and age-appropriate. Something that really pulled me in was the amazing cover design! Kudos to Steven Novak!

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3/5 Stars
Celina (Lina, for short) is decently written, though I found her character lacked substance. Her stubborn, man-bashing ways became repetitive, though I did like her growth from the beginning of the novel to the end. I would have liked to see her a little more developed, though I anticipate that when a sequel does come out, there will be more elaboration on her.

I found Aaron, Lina’s coworker in the shelter, to be amusing, confident, imperfect, and loyal. He adds a nice opposition to Lina, giving a bit of variety to her surface personality.

The “bad guys” are really well created. They have the right bit of ooze and ick, balanced with a hint of slickness.

I also love Celina’s cats – Chubby, Harry, Snowella and Albert.

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
The dialogue in Markings is realistic, but it doesn’t really stand out. It helps drive the story and move the reader from Point A to Point B and beyond, but I’d have liked a bit more substance. While the story wasn’t heavy on impressive dialogue, I did enjoy the banter between Aaron and Lina, as well as the creepy quality of the “bad guys.”

Plot  –  4/5 Stars
I’m a sucker for anything paranormal that relates to vampires, shifters or witches. In this case, there’s the shifter element. I think that Roozenboom built this story off a great idea and there’s quite a bit of intrigue around the unknown. If I could choose any animal to shift into, I’d probably find myself turning into a cat of some sort.

Visual Imagery  –  4/5 Stars
Description is definitely Roozenboom’s strong suit. Set in Oregon’s Wildcat Country, there were high expectations  for imagery and they were lived up to. Between the images of animals at the shelter, clothing choices of the characters (who doesn’t love a little sparkle?) and other descriptions that help drive the plot along – Markings paints a really great picture of the world Celina Bayberry is living in. It definitely helps that the cover is so striking!

Ending  2.5/5 Stars
I wanted more from the ending. There was a great build-up to the final scene, but I felt there could have been more. It felt abrupt and rushed.  Despite this, I can’t wait until the next book in this series comes out. This is a story I latched onto and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Total: 16.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?
If you like YA paranormal romance, this is your book. Between the great imagery and the fun plot, this is a quick read. There’s a character in this story for everyone, so give it a chance!

**Fun Fact: I’ve also read S.B. Roozenboom’s other two novels and I enjoyed those, as well! Take a look. 🙂

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Book Review: From The Wreckage by Michele G. Miller

From The Wreckage Cover

From The Wreckage
By: Michele G. Miller
Copyright: 2014
Format of Book: E-Book, One day I will own her paperbacks, too. She’s just that good.

I will start by saying I read this book in one day.. I really couldn’t put it down. From The Wreckage is a beautifully written novel that will draw you in from the very first chapter. When you start reading, you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into and then suddenly you are thrown onto a rollercoaster ride. From The Wreckage is a haunting story about Jules Blacklin, a high school senior, who has survived a devastating storm in her town. She is forced to keep moving forward and find a way to continue surviving, despite the horror that she has experienced firsthand.

“In a matter of minutes on a Friday night, I lost my school, my identity, the security of my first love, the personality of my sweet fearless brother, my best friend, my town, everything as I knew it. Everything changed.  Minutes – that’s all it takes to change your entire life. How do you deal with that?”

Have you ever read one of those books where you feel like you are right in the middle of all the action? I was terrified, anxious, attached, frantic, desperate, hesitant, and filled with hope at multiple points while reading this novel, many at the same time. If you are like me and have never lived through a natural disaster to this magnitude, it’s hard to know what it’d be like. Sure, you can imagine it to some degree, but you really don’t know. From the moment the tornado lands, I was right there with/as Jules. My heart was racing and I felt her desperation.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  5/5 Stars
Miller does a great job delving into the psyche of a victim, finding the different facets of what makes her characters tick and then taking them through various stages of disarray. Each character experiences the same horrific and traumatizing event, but they all come out with a different scar. The sad beauty is that not all of these scars are physical. I immediately felt drawn to Jules. She’s that girl who has it all and then… doesn’t. Her decisions are many of the same ones I’d make. She’s one of the most real characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time.

One heartbreaking character within this story is Jules’ younger brother, Jase. Children see the world with open, excited eyes; they are ready to explore and learn. What happens to children when their world gets turned upside down, literally and figuratively?

West Rutledge.. don’t even get me started. A hero with something else seeding inside. I found his mystery to be magnetic and wanted to know more about him. (Ah, the beauty of series novels.) 🙂

Perhaps the biggest character of all is the storm itself. It becomes more than an event, it becomes personified – a villain that came to town and changed everything, leaving dust, damage and loss in its wake.

Overall, Miller’s cast of characters is seamlessly produced. I’d love to see what would happen if this had the chance to go to the big screen. (I call dibs on being cast as Jules, though…)

Dialogue  –  4/5 Stars
The execution of dialogue throughout this novel is done very well. Like everything else in this book, the dialogue is refreshing and honest. My favorite bits are the conversations that take place in the basement while Jules and West are trapped; these are the ones that pull at your heartstrings and make you breathe a little faster out of well-placed anxiety. One of the lines that West says to Jules while trapped struck a chord with me – “We’re not gonna die tonight, Buffy. I’ll be damned if I finally get the nerve to speak to you again, only to die in this place.”

Plot  –  5/5 Stars
There’s perfection in this plot. The best part? It’s not overdone. Miller has found something unique, but instead of banking on just the simple idea of a storm changing everything and how it resolves for a single character, she has created a web of cause and effect for multiple characters. To quote the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical Once More With Feeling (which I feel is very fitting, seeing as FTW has multiple references to the cult classic) “Where do we go from here?”

Visual Imagery  –  5/5 Stars
Storms like the one in FTW happen all the time around the world. You watch the news, see photos and videos, feel sad and slightly scared, but it’s still not typically on your doorstep. Unless you’ve lived through it firsthand, there’s no way to actually get it. Reading From The Wreckage made me feel like I was inside the storm instead of just seeing archived footage. Recovering from those early scenes was like finishing a race… you need time to let everything settle and go back to normal.

When I’m reading a really good book, I find myself seeing through the eyes of a character I am drawn toward. For this one – it was Jules. The tornado touched down right behind her and my world went hazy as I ran for my life. When you find yourself right there, in the midst of it all, that’s when you know the author did something right.

Ending  4.5/5 Stars
Without giving anything away, the ending was satisfying enough, but I wanted even more. Not in a bad way, but in the when’s-the-next-in-the-series-coming-out kind of way. But that’s how it goes with books I am drawn into.  Looking forward to the next one!!

Total: 23.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

Beauty and tragedy don’t tend to go hand-in-hand… but here they do. So much loss, love, growth, and coming of age in this complex YA novel. It’s a great start to what is sure to be an amazing series. I am an avid Michele G. Miller fan, but this is by far her best yet.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Wicked Book Cover

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
By: Gregory Maguire
Copyright: 1995
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is a clever take on L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. The reader gets to see the story from the Wicked Witch’s point of view. From start to finish, we learn more about the Witch, her roots, her life story, her struggles and joys. Is it possible to love a villain? Hey, is she even really a villain? That’s what this beautifully written novel does.

I absolutely love Wicked. This was my third time reading this book; each time I read it, I find at least one detail I missed from before. I enjoy reading books that give me a different perspective each time I read them. This is no different. Separated into five parts, this novel is incredible from start to finish. There are two sides to every story and Maguire gives us a compelling and rather artistically-worded version. Dare I say, I enjoy the story within this novel far more than I enjoy that of the musical of the same name that was based off of this book. I love the darkness and the beauty of each character.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  4.5/5 Stars
The character development of Elphaba, our main character, is laid out to the very last detail from start to finish. Maguire takes us through the various stages of Elphaba’s life- from a little baby with terrifyingly sharp teeth, through teenage years and adulthood, until she meets Dorothy Gale. The thing that makes this book most enjoyable is how Maguire makes Elphaba into a character that the reader can relate to. I find it most interesting that it makes sense. This could be how the Wicked Witch was before that fateful meeting with the girl in the blue checkered dress and annoying little dog.

Throughout Elphaba’s story, we meet quite a few intriguing and mysterious characters; the beautiful Galinda with her upper-class life, Boq with his endearing persistance, Fiyero with his otherworldy ways, the Wizard with his agenda, and so many others. I fear giving too many names, as I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 StarsWicked quote 2
The dialogue in Wicked matches the wide array of characters that Maguire has introduced the reader to. The philosophical banter, moral questioning, heated arguments, and quirky jokes help drive the plot and characters along nicely. There are many times in Wicked that I found myself thinking, “Huh, I never thought about it that way” for various points characters would bring up. The argument of “What is evil?” comes up very often, each character sharing their perspectives.

Plot  –  4.5/5 Stars
This book has it all – mystery, intrigue, tension, love and hate, life and death, darkness and light. There’s a lot going on, but Maguire shares this with the reader in such a way as to not become overwhelming. I enjoyed finding out where Elphaba came from, who her parents were, what it was like to grow up in her world, follow her through her time in school and see what was to become of her. Maguire raises questions of morality and religion and what the consequences of our actions are.

The best part of Wicked‘s plot is that there are no stereotypical plot devices used. This is a freshly told story that keeps the reader on their toes wondering what will happen next.

Visual Imagery  –  3.5/5 Stars
The imagery in this story is well done. Maguire gives the reader enough detail to have a foundation but not so much that there is no need for imagination on the reader’s part. It’s amazing how Maguire can take a story like The Wizard of Oz that is so iconic and have his own take on what the land of Oz is like. He has an almost Tim Burton-esque view of this world he has adopted and made his own.

Ending  4.5/5 Stars
After 406 pages, I still didn’t want it to end. Luckily, it doesn’t have to just yet. Gregory Maguire has created a lovely little series of books to follow Wicked. While you know the ending of The Wizard of Oz, the ending of Wicked is like a whole new story. That’s all I will say about it. Other than, I love it.

Total: 20.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

There’s a reason that I keep coming back to this book. It’s cumbersome in a wonderful way. I enjoy this version far more than The Wizard of Oz, but then again I’ve never been one for campy stories. There’s a little something in this story that I believe everyone can relate to, though the darkness interwoven throughout may not be for everyone. I love a book that can make you think. Give it a shot and keep an open mind.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?