Monday, April 29, 2013

The Fragile Things Cover Reveal


Two girls on the road to self-destruction.
A village upon the brink of collapse.
A past which refuses to die.

The beginning of an epic four-part horror serial.

At seventeen-years-old, Jennifer should have the world at her feet. Instead, she’s an ex-heroin addict living in a council estate with Tony, her boyfriend and former dealer. Shunned by her family and friends, she dreams of something greater than she’s been given.

Beautiful and strange, Ebony has moved in across the street. She’s just lost the one person in her lonely existence to cancer. She’s also a centuries old vampire, struggling to cope with murderous outbursts and the desire to be something more.

When these two lost souls meet, an unusual friendship begins.

But with the news of Morris, Tony’s sadistic best friend and drug-dealing partner, being released from prison, Jennifer knows it’s only a matter of time before his path of vengeance leads to her and Ebony, too.

With a cast of memorable characters, a village full of secrets, and a gripping story, The Fragile Things is a layered tale of friendship, hope, survival and what it truly means to be human.

Part I is available on 30th April, 2013. And will be FREE from Amazon for a limited time.

V. Shaw is the author of short fiction collection, The Lady of Chains and Other Stories. Having reviewed horror films for FatallyYours.com, she now focuses on creating her own monsters.

Check out V. Shaw's blog. The Fragile Things can be found on Amazon

Sunday, April 28, 2013

So Bad, It's Terrible

Valiant One by Jay Hughes

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Summary: Ragnar, a hardened Scottish soldier, is indifferent to English rule of his homeland until he falls in love with Gylis McIvoy, a fellow Scotsman. They have a brief and passionate affair, but circumstances tear them apart permanently. Ragnar swears vengeance, and soon becomes a freedom fighter modeled on the recently captured and executed William Wallace. Ragnar manages to raise a ragtag army that rains terror down on Longshanks' occupying forces, but in the process, he has a chance meeting with the king's son, Prince Edward of Wales. Sparks fly between them despite the impossibility of an English prince taking a Scottish enemy soldier as his lover-giving new meaning to "the love that dare not speak its name." These two star-crossed lovers may cross swords on the battlefield by day, but they still manage to heat up the night. 

Review: A “romance” told with characters who love to repeat themselves, unbelievable situations, and terrible sex.

I know sometimes people say that something is so bad that it’s good. Valiant One is not one of those somethings. While the plot sounded a little unbelievable, I enjoy m-m stories, historical fiction, and Scottish romances so I decided to give this book a shot. It was bad, so bad. I am not sure how this managed to get published. I have looked at the author’s other two books and they seem just as bad. I do think this could have been an interesting story if it wasn’t told so poorly.

The first thing that irked me was how often the characters repeated themselves. I get that Edward I was tall so he was called Longshanks. I get that Prince Edward liked men. Second, I didn’t like how quickly Ragnar fell in love with another man. It was much too quick and unbelievable, especially for one who had never been involved with another man before. I know that Ragnar is set up for a relationship with a man due to the recounting of how he dealt with women, but at least let it take more time. Third, the sex was so bad and there was too much sex with absolutely no lubrication or preparation. Ouch!! Finally, there was the situation with Isabella and Edward I. This whole book was quite unpleasant.

Rating:






Recommendation: I honestly can't recommend this book. It's just that bad.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Zombies Ruin Everything, Don't They?

Dead Kitties Don't Purr by Amber Green

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: People who take their shots and do as they're told have nothing to fear. Right?

The Rabies Z epidemic began and ended in Miami this past summer, didn't it? And that guy my daddy saw at the Jacksonville airport last week was just having an epileptic fit. No cause for alarm. Epilepsy always causes an eighteen-hour hazmat shutdown at a major airport.

So while my twin tours to flog her newest album, here I am, Camie Invisible, parked at this nice, safe college—as far as I can get from the infection and still pay in-state tuition. Only now, my studies have become focused on the fascinating Risa Ruiz. And she has eyes for me.

Isn't this the perfect time for the zombies to show up?

Review: A somewhat confusing tale of the zombie apocalypse.

I’ve gotten more into zombie stories recently. The zombies in Dead Kitties Don’t Purrwere humans who had been infected, but weren’t actually the walking dead. It was a decent medical explanation for zombies although I have a tendency to prefer my zombies as the undead (they can still be caused by a virus though). I was surprised at the lack of alarm at Camie’s college. It may be far away from Miami, but it’s still in Florida and zombies are very bad at following quarantines. I would have expected curfews, checks, and doomsday preppers.

I liked the relationship between Camie and Risa. I thought the sex was well done and not tacky or overbearing. I was confused at a number of points in the story. I wish there would have been more explanation, especially with the evil man who Risa knew and how everyone kept getting past the National Guard barriers around campus so easily. People would come and go at Risa’s and I am not sure how they were getting around nor how they managed to have enough food. I don’t know how long the quarantine lasted. The epilogue was also very sudden. I think this story would have been better if it had been expanded into a full length novel.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this to those looking for a story of not so traditional zombies that don't mind a lesbian couple. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

In the Court of the Queen

Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I (Ladies in Waiting #3) by 
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Summary: In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiance has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth’s circle. But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen’s downfall, Helena is forced to choose between an unyielding monarch and the husband she’s not sure she can trust—a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

Vividly conjuring the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots, Roses Have Thorns is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.

Review: An enjoyable tale of a foreign woman caught up in the pull of Queen Elizabeth.

I liked Elin von Snakenborg as a character. I can’t imagine coming to visit a foreign country with your princess and then deciding to stay. I know that she had her reasons, namely a marriage proposal and her fianc√© loving her sister, but there was a good chance that she would never she her family again. Today, with air travel, it is much easier to visit other countries and you can see your family much more easier. It was interesting to see Elizabeth through the lens of a foreign born person, not an Englishman.

This book really demonstrates how much of a pull Elizabeth had on people. She would get annoyed when her ladies got married and would be furious if they did it without her permission. Friendship with the queen seemed a very one sided affair. Sure, the person would get properties, titles, monies, and gifts, but they would lose a lot of their freedom. I liked that Elin actually saw Elizabeth as a human being and not as an untouchable monarch. I was glad that she was able to get her happy ending.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction about queens or fiction about the Tudors. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Out With a Whimper

Life As We Knew It (The Last Survivors #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Summary: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

Review: A quiet post apocalyptic tale of the world after the moon has been knocked into a closer orbit told from a teenager’s point of view.

One of my Goodreads friends mentions in her review that the world is going out with a whimper and not a bang in this story. That is certainly true. However, I think that is due to the fact that the main character, Miranda, lives far enough away from the coasts, fault lines, active volcanoes, and the like to miss a lot of the immediate catastrophe. The story focuses on one small town so the focus is quite small and you only get hints on what is going on the inside world.

I am not sure if the moon could be knocked into an orbit or what would happen if it was, but the book does a decent job of providing one possible explanation. Miranda writes so much in her diary that isn’t always believable and Miranda can be a very annoying and selfish character at times. Reading Life as We Knew It is rather unnerving because I keep thinking about what would happen if the world, as we knew it, would end tomorrow. I live my life thinking that I will have a future, but what if I don’t?

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult apocalyptic novels. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's a Trap!

Inside Out (Insiders #1) by Maria V. Snyder

Summary: I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

Review: An enjoyable, seemingly dystopian story with a twist.

I thought this book would be a pretty standard young adult dystopian novel with a barely believable or sometimes completely unbelievable setting and a luv story. The setting of Inside Out makes so much sense when you actually find out the big secret. Of course it doesn’t really explain the reason for why the scrubs and uppers formed the way they did. It does explain why the one millionth week was so important. I know there is one more book in this series so far. I am curious whether the author will ever write a story about what happens when they get to the one millionth week.

I liked Trella. She was competent, did not need a boyfriend to function, and was able to make decisions on her own. She could be a bit snobby and standoffish at times. I don’t understand why people started to protect her as much as she does once she inadvertently starts a revolution. I can understand hope, but how much faith could they have possibly had in her? I guess the situation must have been very bad for the scrubs. I will be interested to see how things go in the second book.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult science fiction novels.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Butterfly Tour: Character Interview

Today I will be featuring a character interview with Ellis McGowan from Butterfly by Kyra Gregory.

Today we'll be talking to Ellis McGowan, the psychiatrist who worked with the children in the much-talked about Abbey disaster.

Originally, we hoped and planned to interview Zack and Alex, the two eldest victims of the tragedy, whom have been in your care for the past few months. What is the reason you have turned up in their place?
The situations they've been in lately, the things they've been through, have made them eager to please but, from getting to know them, I realise that this isn't what they'd want for themselves; they don't want to talk about this to anyone they don't trust. I wouldn't want them to feel like they had to do something to please me, or anyone else. I gave them a choice, they took the one that felt right to them and I wouldn't have it any other way.

You seem to have gotten to know them quite well in the past few months, something you had mentioned was certainly not going to be easy. Was it truly very difficult for you?
It was difficult for everyone. I felt an unbelievable amount of pressure to make things right for everyone and to do that I needed to be wise in my approach with all the children. Zack and Alex are particularly...mature so even the way I dealt with them had to be different from the way I dealt with the younger ones. That made it difficult for me. I consulted with my wife also; that put pressure on her. It was certainly difficult for them too, of course; they went from holding everything inside themselves like a secret that needed to be protected with their lives and to take them out of that took a lot of effort on their part.

It's been known for a while that your wife, though unofficially, played quite a big part in all this because you took Zack and Alex into your home. That's unusual practice, isn't it?
It was an unusual situation; sometimes unusual situations need to be tackled in some unusual, possibly controversial, ways.

Do you worry about the responses you received due to this decision?
The decision came quickly but not easily; I did it for the benefit of the children. If I wanted to think only of myself I would have let the state put Zack and Alex in another institution before they were ready, away from all the rest, and put my mind at ease that I could go home and take myself away from it all for a few hours. I didn't; I went straight from work in the hospital where the younger children were to work at home where they were. That meant it was always on my mind and I was always trying to move things in the right direction. Even if I questioned myself at times I still knew I was doing the right thing for them; if other experts believe they could have received the same results in another way then that's great, they'll have something to work with if such a tragedy were to arise again.

You ended up taking the two boys in permanently, do you think that decision had anything to do with having taken them into your home?
My eldest, prior to Zack and Alex, was actually adopted so I've never been closed off to the thought of adopting again. One way or another this could have happened.

How is the family right now? They've gone through quite a lot of changes these past few months.
My eldest was a little apprehensive at first but my wife and I prepared her well; it didn't take her too long to see the boys as part of the family. My wife...is incredible; she was in the late stages of her pregnancy when this all happened but she really worked hard and took it all in her stride. Alex warmed up to us all quicker than Zack but I think they're finally grasping that they have family now. It's a wonderful thing that my youngest will grow up seeing them as older brothers.

And you? How do you feel about all this now, especially now that you have good results?
I...almost don't know how I feel. I struggled for a while to get the best results for everyone and, though things are far from perfect, now that things have fallen into place I feel good about everything. I think the best part is that it made me realise the strength and love within my family; as long as I have that to support me I feel like I can tackle anything. I love Zack and Alex like my own children, my family too, so I can only hope that they'll always be aware of the strength and love we have for them so they can also feel like they can tackle anything.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Whole Lot of Prejudice

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Summary: From the much-buzzed-about author of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB (already blurbed by Stephenie Meyer, Lauren Myracle, and Jen Calonita), a prom-season delight of Jane Austen proportions.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.
After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn't interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be - especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles's friend, Will Darcy, who's snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn't seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it's because her family doesn't have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk - so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Review: A cute retelling of Pride and Prejudice with pride and whole lot of prejudice.

I read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago for my English class. I remember liking it, but not being heads over heals for it. So I can’t really say why I am so seemingly interested in retellings and continuations of Jane Austen’s work besides the fact that I love retellings and continuations. With that in mind (and a mini challenge that needed to be fulfilled) I decided to read this book and I enjoyed the retelling. The author managed to make the characters and story fight quite well into a modern high school setting.

How the pride and the prejudice unfolded was so perfect. Lizzie was a scholarship student and had already suffered much at the hands of rich and snobby students. As a rich student, Darcy was rather full of himself. Darcy is quick to change his mind about Lizzie though, of course, Lizzie is very slow to change her mind about him. I know this is based off the original Pride and Prejudice, but Lizzie had way too much prejudice in this book. I’m amazed that Darcy stuck around when Lizzie had such a poor image of him. I was glad they got together in the end and had a sweet ending.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this to those that enjoy Jane Austen retellings. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey. This meme lets you show fellow readers what you have read, what you are reading, and what you will be reading.

Recently Read:

Currently Reading:



To Read:



Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Now?

THEM by Adrian Deans

Summary: Rob Lasseter is the great grandson of a legendary explorer. His prized possession is an old parchment, which is thought to be a map showing the location of the fabulous reef of gold. Unfortunately, however, there are no points of external reference on the map. The only words are ‘You are here’, next to an X, but Lasseter doesn’t know where X is – he doesn’t know where to start looking. Inspired by the strange disappearance of the White Haired girl, and the receipt of a letter addressed in his own handwriting from a place he had never been, Lasseter (with his friend Miles, who claims to be dead) embarks upon an odyssey into the centre of Australia and has some very strange adventures. Lasseter thinks he is looking for gold, but instead he finds something far more interesting. An Australian story of pan-cosmic enormity.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Review: A very confusing story that started out with a treasure hunt and turned into something I’m not sure of.

The description of the book interested me enough to want to read it. The description made it seem like the main character, Lasseter, would go searching for a treasure. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. The description mentions Lasseter finding something that would rock his world. Looking back, I would have expected Lasseter to find a gateway to another world or another dimension, find out that aliens exist, find out everyone is in the matrix, or something similar. What he did find was completely unexpected.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not Australian, perhaps it’s because I’m not familiar with the culture, or perhaps it’s how the book was told, but I was confused throughout most of the book. The concept, which became clear near the end, was an interesting concept and it made the book make a little more sense, but as a whole, I was still quite confused. Was there some sort of personal or philosophical message I was supposed to take away? I might have enjoyed this book more if it was told in a clearer manner.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those familiar with Australian culture and are looking for an unusual, speculative read.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Story of a Legend

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Summary: For a thousand years her existence has been denied. She is the legend that will not die–Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the throne of St. Peter. Now in this riveting novel, Donna Woolfolk Cross paints a sweeping portrait of an unforgettable heroine who struggles against restrictions her soul cannot accept. 

Brilliant and talented, young Joan rebels against medieval social strictures forbidding women to learn. When her brother is brutally killed during a Viking attack, Joan takes up his cloak–and his identity–and enters the monastery of Fulda. As Brother John Anglicus, Joan distinguishes herself as a great scholar and healer. Eventually, she is drawn to Rome, where she becomes enmeshed in a dangerous web of love, passion, and politics. Triumphing over appalling odds, she finally attains the highest office in Christendom–wielding a power greater than any woman before or since. But such power always comes at a price . . . 

In this international bestseller, Cross brings the Dark Ages to life in all their brutal splendor and shares the dramatic story of a woman whose strength of vision led her to defy the social restrictions of her day.

Review: An enjoyable story about a legendary female figure.

I had never heard of Pope Joan until I was given this book by my mother-in-law who said I would enjoy it. I read the book with skepticism. Cross provides an author’s note in the back of the book about Pope Joan and about the possibility of her ever existing. I must admit that I skimmed it briefly, but didn’t read it all the way through. I was interested enough to do some research on my found. From what I found, I believe that Pope Joan never existed although there seemed to be a number of women over the years who had disguised themselves as men.

I liked Joan well enough, especially her spirit and drive to strive for more than just a medieval woman’s life. She was ofttimes too good to believe and it seemed like she was trying to strive for sainthood. Joan had a number of close calls, so many that it was starting to get unbelievable. I believe that it could be possible for a woman to dress as a man in certain circumstances and not get found out, but that this could not go on forever and that someone would have eventually discovered who Joan really was.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction set during medieval times.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cinderella in Space!

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Summary: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Review: A pretty standard Cinderella tale set in a futuristic setting.

I love fairy tale retellings. It’s always fascinating to see what authors can do with the original story, how they can reshape it to their own needs. I was intrigued by Cinder due to the cover (I’m a sucker for pretty covers) and that the book was a retelling of Cinderella set in space. I can’t think of any other fairy tale retellings that I’ve read that haven’t taken place in a fantasy setting or were told through historical fiction. So Cinder was a first for me and I will certainly try to find other fairy tale retellings set in space.

All of the familiar elements were there. While I thought Cinder was a decent character, I liked Iko the best. She was so sassy and funny. She had a spark. The science fiction element added a little to the story, but it was still a pretty standard Cinderella story. I figured out the big secret around page 100. Could you make it any more obvious? The prince didn’t have any appeal to me and if this wasn’t a fairy tale retelling, I would wonder why Cinder fell so hard for him. I am interested in reading the other books in this series to see how the author deals with more familiar fairy tales.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Butterfly Tour: Guest Post

Today I will be featuring a guest post about the best and worst parts of writing a novel by Kyra Gregory, author of Butterfly.

Guest Post: Writing a Novel: The Best and the Worst of It

After years of writing novels, going from one story to another absent a break in between, one would imagine that I find the entire process a piece of cake. I wouldn't say that though.

Whether writers like to admit it or not, when they're writing something that they have some intention to publish, or show any single person, they have this inkling feeling of needing to self-censor. However freeing we may find writing, and however much we may feel that something needs to be done to convey the story, sometimes a writer hears a quiet, frustrating whisper of 'you can't write that!' or 'you can't release it with that there!'. It's a feeling most good writers learn to overlook, refusing to sacrifice a story for the sake of closed-minded society or blush upon cheek when those they know well read it. Even if a writer does manage to ignore that little whisper, the worst part of writing a novel is ever having to hear it at all.

Novels may be filled with plenty of emotional, feisty, action-packed, romantic scenes, amongst many others, but plenty up until that point needs extensive amounts of research. For a person who has a constant thirst for knowledge and perhaps a brain capable of absorbing such information it may not be a problem but when a writer begins to collect all the research required they end up becoming teachers, psychiatrists, doctors, mechanics and more, all to create events that are plausible or to ascertain that characters behave as they should. Of course, this is something that is hardly considered the worst aspect of writing. Truthfully, it's one of those things that will serve a writer plenty if they're capable of doing it right.

Naturally, the best parts of writing a novel outweigh the bad by a long shot but I suppose they all come down to the same thing.

Passing on a much-needed message.

One cannot deny how therapeutic and freeing writing can be, even when faced with the most stressful part of a book. Those stressful moments often aren't without reason; there is great pressure to perceive something that is difficult or controversial in a manner that is understandable. I can only truly speak for myself but I'm sure that most writers make attempts at tackling subjects that need to be brought to attention somehow and so, when they succeed in doing it in a manner that is relatable, that's something to be thrilled about.

I suppose this makes everything I'd consider the 'worst' part of writing a novel the other side of the coin. If a writer can look passed that little voice and can research well for accuracy, and embrace that research, the result is a novel that one can be truly proud of because it becomes the powerful result of overcome challenges. Challenges that, frankly, we would be willing to endure in order to pass on a message that is dear to our hearts.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Arabelle's Shadows: Book Spotlight


Arabelle's Shadows by Fleur Gaskin

Summary
Everything in Arabelle's life is coming together. She has confidence, great friends, she's even dating Naak, a wealthy Thai socialite. But there are too many models in Bangkok. Arabelle’s broke, she can’t find an agent in New York, and Naak isn’t as wonderful as he first appears.

Slowly the Shadows creep back into Arabelle’s mind, bringing with them thoughts of hopelessness and despair. The vile Shadows know something Arabelle’s refusing to remember and, if she’s not careful, they’ll use it to destroy her.

Based on a true story, Arabelle’s Shadows takes us on a journey through the struggles of growing up, not quite making it as an international model, and attempting to overcome a crushing depression.

Buy Links
Barnes and Noble

Excerpt  
My day started off okay. I had a casting at Emporium, a shopping centre near Rompo. I’ve always loved being in Emporium. Outside it’s all hot, dirty and crowded but as soon as you walk through the entrance everything’s cool, spacious and sparkly. And it’s welcoming, even though it’s full of lavish designer stores. It’s not like other stuffy malls for the wealthy, which always make me feel uncomfortable like, since I don’t have a platinum credit card, I shouldn’t be there.

After the casting I saw my friend Ying Thompson walking towards the escalator. She broke off from the group she was with and came over to give me a hug. “Hey Arabelle, what are you doing? Come sit with me while I get my makeup done."

“Are you doing a fashion show?” I asked her thinking of all the models that’d been with her. “Nope. The others are, I’m hosting the event. Come on!” Without waiting for me to reply she linked her arm through mine and led me downstairs towards a backstage area in the basement. Ying’s a very popular singer in Thailand. As we walked through the mall you could hear people saying her name and giggling. Ying paid no attention to all the turning heads. She was on the phone, in the middle of a fierce monetary negotiation with a client. They want her to become the face of their rice crackers.

The concrete room we entered was full of people bustling around getting ready for the fashion show. We found an empty space and sat down amongst everyone else’s handbags, shawls and bottles of water.

“So what’s been happening?” She asked in a strong Kiwi accent (her Dad's from New Zealand, her Mum’s Thai-Chinese). “I think I…” I was bursting to tell her about Naak but Ying’s assistant interrupted and started asking a lotof questions in Thai. “Sorry,” Ying said focusing her attention back to me, “what were you going to say?”

“I was out at Bed the other week and… well… I think I’m dating Naak!”

Ying pursed her lips together in a frown, not the look of excitement I’d been expecting. “No you’re not.” Ying said flatly, “Naak has a girlfriend. She left to study in the States a couple of weeks ago.”

Looking away from Ying I caught sight of my reflection in the makeup mirror opposite me. My face was stuck in the smile I’d worn when I was telling her I had a boyfriend. Except now the lines around my mouth were strained. With bulging eyes my smile looked more like a grimace.

“I think they’re dating because her family owns a lot of the property on Sukumvit Road,” Ying continued. “You know, she’s only eighteen!” Naak’s thirty.

“Okay,” I murmured. I searched desperately for something else to say in response. Luckily the brand new mobile on Ying’s lap began to vibrate. With her perfectly manicured fingers, a tiny crystal heart in the centre of each nail, Ying set about replying to the text message. Ying hates all unpleasantness and it appeared that, as far as she was concerned, the issue was settled.

I’ve had plenty of experience detaching myself from my wretched weeping soul and by the time Ying put her phone down I'd rearranged my face into neutral. My robot body looked at my mobile and told Ying, “Sorry, I've got to go see the agency now,” it hugged her goodbye. It smiled and acted like Arabelle didn’t care that Naak had a girlfriend.

My insides died and disintegrated the whole journey home. I paused the tears right up until I exited the elevator. When I found no one in my shared room I blinked, allowing them trickle down the sides of my face and jump to the floor.

About the Author
Fleur Gaskin is from New Zealand. She was an international model for six years, working in over ten countries, mainly in Asia and Europe. She has been in TV commercials, walked on runways and done many print jobs including Elle, Marie Claire and Vogue magazines. 
She presently lives in Shanghai, China with her fianc√©.


My website - http://www.fightingtheshadows.com

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Someone Please Destroy the Cookie Cutter!

Die for Me (Revenants #1) by Amy Plum

Summary: In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Review: Another ya supernatural story with a gorgeous beyond belief boy who falls for the supposedly plain girl with true wuv following soon after.

I was bored reading this book. Bored I tell you!! In my head I kept hearing Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock, the awesome BBC version, saying “Bored!” in my head. As much as I love Sherlock, I don’t like being bored when reading a book. I must admit to feeling dread at the thought of reading this book. Perhaps I am finally overdosing on ya novels where there is either a love triangle or a gorgeous guy falling for the plain, oftimes boring girl. In ya supernatural novels, there’s a chance that the girl is super special.

Kate is boring. She doesn’t do much, doesn’t have much of a personality either, and only says that she is mildly pretty. Of course she can’t believe when the gorgeous guy falls for her. I’d love to read a book where a beautiful woman falls for a mildly attractive man. Looks are great, but personality is so much more important. Kate is also super special too. It’s the same old ya supernatural story again and again. At least there wasn’t a love triangle. I did like the mythology behind the revenants.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those are fans of young adult supernatural fiction and are looking different takes on traditional monsters.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Very Un-Anne Boleyn Anne Bolyen

In the Shadow of Lions: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Chronicles of the Scribe #1) by Ginger Garrett

Summary: "I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here, and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book . a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible—Scriptures the common people could read for themselves. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the same book, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew.


Review: An extremely unrealistic and unbelievable portrayal of Anne Boleyn.

I snagged this as a free Kindle read and since I had previously added this book to my tbr shelf on Goodreads, I was excited to read this. I know the book is shelved as Christian fiction on Goodreads, which didn’t bother me since I was expecting a truly religious Anne Boleyn as I’ve read in at least one book before. What I got was an Anne Boleyn that didn’t want to marry Henry VIII (which I could believe to certain extent) and a family who were saying how she was trashing their good name.

Everything I’ve learned about the Boleyn’s has shown them to be a family that eagerly grabs for power in any way that they can. Anne could have easily been another lover of Henry’s like her sister was, but they pushed for marriage for years and years. They would have not been saying that Anne was trashing their good name. Also, the time period in this book is squashed down to a year, maybe more, which distorts the actual story of Anne holding off the king for years and the marriage that lasted a few years. You miss out on a lot. The aspect of the Scribe and Rose’s tale added very little to the story and could have been removed.  

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in reading a very different portrayal of Anne Boleyn.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Much More Than a One Sided Cutout

The Unfaithful Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Fifth Wife by Carolly Erickson

Summary: A much more realistic portrayal of Catherine Howard.

I liked this much better than The Confession of Katherine Howard, which told from another’s viewpoint, Katherine’s supposed friend. The view we got of Katherine was that she was colorless, dull, empty headed, and only cared about her own pleasure. I felt little sympathy for her. It was misleading to call the book The Confession of Katherine Howard since we only got one side of Katherine’s story. Fortunately, The Unfaithful Queen is told from Catherine’s point of view. It was a much more balanced portrayal of the unfortunate girl that caught Henry VIII’s eye.

The choice of Catherine Howard as his fifth wife shows how blinded Henry VIII was to her actual person and was in love with an ideal. I know he was trying to reclaim his youth and thought that Catherine would be able to help him achieve that, but she was so young, still a child. I will admit that she shouldn’t have had a lover while married to the king, but it is hard to blame her since Henry was double her age and physically repulsive. Catherine was still a teenager and was just following her heart, just like Henry was doing when he married her. 

Review: A much more realistic portrayal of Catherine Howard.

I liked this much better than The Confession of Katherine Howard, which told from another’s viewpoint, Katherine’s supposed friend. The view we got of Katherine was that she was colorless, dull, empty headed, and only cared about her own pleasure. I felt little sympathy for her. It was misleading to call the book The Confession of Katherine Howard since we only got one side of Katherine’s story. Fortunately, The Unfaithful Queen is told from Catherine’s point of view. It was a much more balanced portrayal of the unfortunate girl that caught Henry VIII’s eye.

The choice of Catherine Howard as his fifth wife shows how blinded Henry VIII was to her actual person and was in love with an ideal. I know he was trying to reclaim his youth and thought that Catherine would be able to help him achieve that, but she was so young, still a child. I will admit that she shouldn’t have had a lover while married to the king, but it is hard to blame her since Henry was double her age and physically repulsive. Catherine was still a teenager and was just following her heart, just like Henry was doing when he married her.

Rating: 






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction or non fiction about the Tudors.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Power of Six

Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe by Martin J. Rees

Summary: The genesis of the universe elegantly explained in a simple theory based on just six numbers by one of the world's most renowned astrophysicists.

Review: A thorough overview of the six numbers that shape our universe.

I’ve wanted to read this book for a while. I love physics, especially astrophysics and quantum physics. I have recently started to accept the idea of multiple universes. This came about due to my readings about quantum physics and about how the six numbers are perfectly tuned to create life in our universe. If the numbers were any different, we wouldn’t have existed. As an atheist and someone who doesn’t believe in the strong anthropic principle, the idea of multiple universes is compelling to me.

Many universes could have been formed, with different variations of the six numbers, and ours just happened to have the right set of numbers so life was formed. So our universe came about by chance. It would be fascinating if we were able to travel to other universes and see what it is like there. Rees does a good of explaining what the six numbers are and how different our universe could have been if the numbers weren’t right. While I enjoyed this book, Rees doesn’t take much time to explain some of the physics behind the six numbers. It might be confusing to people who have very little knowledge about physics and the universe.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are interested in physics, especially astrophysics, and have some knowledge of physics.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Monster Behind the Mask

Kiss Kill by Jeni Mawter

Summary: Transmedia story for Teens to Twentysomethings

How do you man up when you’re down? 

When 16 year old Mat meets Elle she seems perfect. But over time Elle becomes more controlling and aggressive. Feeling like no one will believe him Mat isolates himself more and more. Their relationship fragments then explodes. 

The Kiss Kill story is told in fragments using multiple texts and transmedia. Prose is combined with scripts, songs, notes, poems, comics, essays, texting and photos. Transmedia is used through blogs, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook and Twitter. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Review: A tragic tale of a boy caught in an abusive relationship told through snippets of his life.

I liked how Kiss Kill was set up. It really felt like a slice of a teenager’s life. I liked Mat’s story was told through text messages, plays, lists, videos, asides, and more standard narration. It was interesting to read a story told in this manner. While I did enjoy the book, the way it is set up does cause some of the story to get lost. It skipped rather quickly from Mat lusting after Elle and then suddenly they were dating. I would have liked more about that transition.

Elle is a very good example of how appearances can be deceptive. Mat thinks she is the perfect girl, but quickly finds out that she is far from perfect. It is a good message for people, especially teenagers, to learn that your boyfriend or girlfriend is never going to be perfect and they will have faults, make mistakes, and have not so desirable personality traits. Mat’s experiences with Elle were disturbing and show that men can be the victims of domestic violence. I was very glad when Mat was finally able to break up with Elle.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy fiction told from a teenager's point of view or fiction dealing with real world issues. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Butterfly Tour: Author Interview with Kyra Gregory

Today I will be interviewing Kyra Gregory, author of Butterfly.


What are your favorite book(s)?
From childhood I've adored Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore, both by Murakami Haruki. More recently I've been in love with The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and plenty of manga (Japanese comic books), particularly anything by Yuki Kaori.

Who is your favorite author?
Probably Khaled Hosseini. I've read both of his published works, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, and I really admire how he can tackle difficult subjects but give so much attention to feelings, developing characters that you feel for and get attached to. The way he writes gives people insight into the lives of people that can be different but also very much the same because we can relate to what they feel.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes mostly from people and their feelings. I think feelings are the most complex and diverse things we have as human beings and feelings truly add depth to a story. I often look at a single situation and then think about the feelings such a situation evokes from different types of people. Since most of my stories are so very character-driven feelings really are what move a story along.

Where is your favorite place to do your writing?
I'll usually choose my setting depending on what I'm writing. Since I often write late into the night after a long day I typically do my writing at a desk in my bedroom which I set up to fit the mood of the scene or story I'm writing. This includes the right music, the correct lighting, any items that fit my story and any research that I need on hand. This is the ideal place for me to write because I can always tailor it to my needs and pace around if I need to without fear of bothering people.

What made you decide to become a writer?
I was looking for something that I was good at and was searching for a place of my own, somewhere I could fit in and be myself. When I found what I loved and what made me feel comfortable, the only thing I truly believe I'm good at, I didn't ever want to let it go.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
It's certainly the difficulty of the topics I write about; I often write about such heavy subjects and spend countless hours dwelling on them, whether through research or through the story.

Tell us about your newest book.
My latest book is Butterfly, the first in a series called Forgotten Children. After the collapse of an Abbey many young children are displaced. Ellis McGowan, a child psychiatrist, is assigned to understand and get through these traumatised children who have basically appeared out of nowhere. In an effort to learn everything he needs to know to help everyone he takes the two eldest orphans into his home to live with himself, his pregnant wife and young adopted daughter. It follows everyone's struggles as the family tries to adapt and get to know the newcomers, while the two orphans deal with the shock and unfamiliarity of being in such a warm and loving environment.




About the Author
Kyra Gregory is a young author from the tiny island of Malta. In those rare moments when she isn't writing, or even thinking about writing, she's furthering her education. Writing novels from a very young age she began self-publishing in June 2011, releasing four books in six months.