Blog Tour: Memory’s Wake by Selina Fenech

Memory's Wake by Selina Fenech

Title: Memory’s Wake
Series: Memory’s Wake Trilogy #1
Author: Selina Fenech
Published: June 16th 2011 by Fairies and Fantasy Pty Ltd
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Reading Addiction Blog Tours

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Lost in a world full of monstrous fairies, a troubled sixteen year old has to find out who she is and why her memories were stolen before she is found by those who want her dead.

She takes the name “Memory” and knows she has just one goal – to find her way home, wherever that is. But this land is strange. No technology to be seen, and iron is banned, thanks to a pact the humans have with the magical creatures who share their pre-industrial era world. In her t-shirt and torn jeans, Memory knows she’s different, even before she performs impossible magic.

Haunted by her past, chased by a dragon, wanted by the king and stalked by the strange, handsome savage that seems to know her, everyone is after Memory, and she suspects it’s not just for her eye-catching outfit. Her forgotten past holds dangerous secrets that will challenge everything she believes and risk the lives of everyone she loves.


Memory’s Wake is really the story of four teens: Memory, who gets sucked into a strange land with no idea of who she is or what’s going on. Eloryn, the girl with the secret who has been in hiding and on the run for most of her life. Roen, the seventh son of seventh son who has to resort to thievery just to keep his family afloat. Will, the boy who followed the girl he loves and then lost himself to the wild where only the fairies kept him safe.

I had a little trouble getting started with the book, but that’s just me, I often take time to warm up to magical lands. It’s that awkward first getting-to-know-you conversation. The story picks up right from the start, and maintains a very fast pace the entire time while it takes you on a journey through town, the woods, a masked ball, murder most foul, vicious kings, even more vicious dragons, magic, and a lot of running.

I will admit, my favorite part of the book were the sketches. Selina Fenech is an amazing artist and the illustrated scenes in Memory’s Wake’s wake are nothing short of beautiful. While I love an illustration in general, there is something especially special about one drawn by the writer herself; you get to see the characters exactly as she imagines them.

If I may tease you with the pretty people from this story:

Memory's Wake by Selina Fenech Memory's Wake by Selina Fenech

(4/5)


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Born in 1981 to Australian and Maltese parents, Selina lives in Australia with her husband, daughter, and an unnamed cat. During her life Selina has found ancient Roman treasure, survived cancer, had knights joust at her wedding, been mugged for doughnuts, made a living as a visual artist, and shared her imaginary worlds in paintings and now in her novels.

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Review: LARP by Justin Calderone (DNF)

LARP by Justin Calderone

Title: LARP: The Battle For Verona
Author: Justin Calderone
Published: December 12th 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Source: Netgalley

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Sometimes even a geek can become a hero.

Dennis and his friends have been LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) since high school. Now, in his 20s, Dennis is seriously considering giving up LARPing for good. He’s tired of dealing with his overzealous friend Mark; he’s tired of his older brother Brad’s constant put-downs; and he’s tired of the fact that he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Check that. Not a girlfriend, but the girlfriend.Alyssa—the one woman he’s been pining over for years.

Dennis and his fellow LARPers have never been considered cool, in their small island community of Verona, located off the coast of Washington State.

But all of that is about to change . . .

While Dennis and his friends are attending a big LARP tournament on the mainland, a rogue terrorist group of Mongolians in medieval garb, led by an American madman, invade Verona and take its citizens hostage—including their families and friends.

When the LARPers find out what’s happening in their home-town, they do what any dedicated LARPer would do: they put on their armor, strap on their swords, and fight their way home—LARP-style!


I was immediately hooked on the premise of this story. A bunch of LARP geeks fighting for family and island-dom? Yes, please. It sounded like an awesomely fun romp.

The execution, however, was not as great as I’d have hoped. I found the story to be very draggy and difficult to get into. It could have done with another round or two of editing, I believe. The exposition is handled pretty heavy handed, and some of the facts about the characters are repeated more times than necessary.

It begins with a false start where the mighty warrior gazes out over his enemies, only to get knocked back to reality, in which he is a twenty something guy realizing that he may not get everything he wanted out of life. Dennis has achieved a certain measure of success in life: he has a degree to his name, a good job, a car, nice place to live, etc. But that’s not enough, because he lacks the two things that will make live worth living: a girl, and his brother’s respect.

Dennis is a member of the local LARP team, along with his two best friends, Fred who is constantly stuck in the middle, and Mark who drives everyone insane because he is just such an annoying power gamer. They have been friends since high school when Dennis stopped hiding behind his older brother’s big man on campus reputation and saved Mark and Fred from a couple of bullies. They then introduced him to the wonders of LARPing. Now, all fully grown, they are still LARPing regularly, but Dennis has not been feeling the love for the last couple of years. The reason for that? Mark being kind of a tool.

As you may expect, during the LARP battle, Mark behaves like we’ve been told he will (i.e. a tool) and gets himself and Dennis’ character killed. Cue Dennis jumping in his car and flouncing out in a fit of temper, vowing to never LARP again. At which point I lost a lot of respect for Dennis as a character. He is a grown man, for goodness’ sake. Did it not occur to him at any point to confront Mark and point out what a bonehead he is? Sure, Mark is the Game Master, but did none of the other players ever decide to step up and take the reigns from him? In what universe do you continue to game with a guy who embarrasses you and himself and makes life unbearable for everyone around? Was there absolutely no one willing to stand up for themselves? And you want me to believe these are the kind of people who will defeat a Mongolian horde? Eish, no.

I’ll admit, I stopped reading at this point. Perhaps the story gets better, perhaps the latter half would have knocked my socks off, but truthfully, these characters were just not people I wanted to spend any more time with.


Did Not Finish

Cover Reveal: Hope’s Reign by Selina Fenech

YA Fantasy
Book Two in Memory’s Wake Trilogy
Date Published: May 10, 2013
 

Everything is slipping away from Memory. The bond of friendship between her, Eloryn, Roen, and Will, that was formed while running for their lives is tearing. In a world that doesn’t feel like home, with a mind filled with nothing but questions, Memory struggles to be true to herself… whoever that is. When her past self starts haunting her, she knows her sanity could be the next thing she will lose.


More About the Author

Born in 1981 to Australian and Maltese parents, Selina lives in Australia with her husband, daughter, and an unnamed cat. During her life Selina has found ancient Roman treasure, survived cancer, had knights joust at her wedding, been mugged for doughnuts, made a living as a visual artist, and shared her imaginary worlds in paintings and now in her novels.

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Review: Astrology for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Astrology for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Title: Astrology for Writers
Author: Corrine Kenner
Published: May 8th 2013 by Llewellyn Publications
Genre: Non Fiction – Writing Craft
Source: Netgalley

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Enhance your storytelling with the cosmic drama of the stars

The nighttime sky has inspired writers and astrologers alike to spin stories on the strands of starlight. Discover that inspiration for your own creative writing in Astrology for Writers, the essential guide to understanding the core concepts of astrology–the planets, signs, and houses–and discovering how they correspond to the elements of fiction.

Unleash your creativity with a wide range of ideas that help you add astrology to your writing practice. Learn how to use the planets for characters, the signs of the zodiac for plot and themes, and the houses of the horoscope for settings. Develop unique characters based on mythic archetypes, use astrological imagery and symbolism for your descriptions and dialogue, and put theory into practice with writing prompts and examples. Invite the gods and goddesses of astrology to enter your writing and share their stories through you.


Astrology and writing, two things I enjoy immensely. Astrology for Writers is a great guide for someone looking to create a new character, or wanting to flesh out an existing one. It offers excellent insight into planetary archetypes, zodiac signs and elements.

I was half way through the first entry (The Sun) when I stopped and went “Hey now, I have this character!” and grabbed a notebook and started matching the cast of my WIP to the archetypes, and I must say, I found most of them. That was pretty cool, and gave me some ideas I hadn’t considered before.

Astrology for Writers also stimulates creativity with the “creative guidance” sections which offers questions and writing prompts. Each archetype also has a nifty guide on examples of where a character based on that archetype would fit into a story.

Another useful feature is the compatibility charts between the signs / archetypes, for writers who might need relationship or conflict assistance.

In part 3: The Houses of the Horoscope, Corrine Kenner even gives advice on settings.

Overall, I found this book enjoyable and informative. Though it did remind me that I am a sad excuse for a Capricorn.

(4/5)

Corrine Kenner is a certified tarot master and the author of several books, including Simple Fortunetelling with Tarot Cards, Tarot Journaling, Tall Dark Stranger: Tarot for Love and Romance, The Epicurean Tarot, and the forthcoming Wizards Tarot and Tarot for Writers.

Corrine has lived in Brazil and Los Angeles, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from California State University. She now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and their daughters.

Corrine organizes tarot classes and workshops on a regular basis.

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Reaction Post: Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Breathless
Series: Elemental #2.5
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: April 30th 2013 by Kensington Teen
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy / Paranormal
Source: Netgalley

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Book 1: Storm
Book 2: Spark


Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.


Ahem, this is less of a proper review than my reaction to this novella, so certain spoilers may appear.

Nick Merrick is Mr. Cool as Air. Supposed to be, anyway. In truth, he’s just as confused and messed up as every other teen in existence. He feels he can’t tell anyone about it, his brothers need him to be the voice of reason. Besides, it’s not like they would understand what he was going through anyway…

In book 1, Storm, I had this vibe about Nick, which I pretty much wrote off, because as a fangirl I tend to have that vibe a lot, and it rarely pans out. In book 2, Spark, I gave up on the idea completely, figuring it was just wishful thinking. Turns out, not so much. Pardon me while I squee and make embarrassing dolphin sounds. You guys, should I have been shipping Nick/Hunter all along? Only, you know, not, because then the Gabriel who has taken up residence in my hind-brain would be sad.

I’d wondered how in the hell Nick and Quinn got together, because that had never seemed right to me. Aww, Quinn, poor messed up thing. You can do so much better. As for Adam, I don’t know him well enough to like him yet, so I am on the fence. I will say, though, hot damn these Merrick boys sure are attracted to the scarred and damaged.

As for the battle of who is my favorite brother, sorry Nick baby, your twin brother is still coming out ahead at this point. I am, however, open to having my mind changed, and am looking forward to Nick bringing the competition in future books. I am looking forward to digging into Spirit soon!

(4/5)

Brigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)

Brigid writes anywhere she can find a place to sit down (and she’s embarrassed to say a great many pages of The Elemental Series were written while sitting on the floor in the basement of a hotel while she was attending a writers’ conference). Most writers enjoy peace and quiet while writing, but Brigid prefers pandemonium. A good thing, considering she has three boys in the house, ranging in age from an infant to a teenager.

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Showers of Books Giveaway Hop

Hosted by I am a Reader, not a Writer and Books à la Mode

 

Life has been a little crazy for me this month, and I’ve not had time to make a list of books I want to give away, so tell me what book(s) you want instead! Anything up to the value of $15.

Contest Rules:

  • Open Internationally (as long as The Book Depository ships to you)
  • You may choose ebooks from Amazon instead, if you wish
  • Must be 13 to enter
  • Everyone may enter, even if you are not a follower (though following is always appreciated)
  • Winners will be notified via email
  • A new winner will be chosen if a response is not received within 48 hours
  • Contest ends April 30th, 2013

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When you’re done entering, hop along to the other awesome blogs who also want to offer you free stuff.

Review: Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L Reid

Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L Reid

Title: Pretty Dark Nothing
Author: Heather L Reid
Published: April 23rd 2013 by Month9Books
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Netgalley

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It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.


The way this story is set up is as a nice, intriguing mystery. I really liked that part, the string along and slow reveal as we figure out what’s going on with Quinn. She’s having nightmares, seeing shadows that shouldn’t exist, and have little demon creatures whispering awful things in her ear. The demons are like that little voice in the back of your head that tells you all the ways in which things can go wrong, all the ways you fail. The voices are haunting Quinn, pushing her, manipulating her, driving her insane.

I liked Quinn. I liked that she’s neurotic and pretty much falling apart. She’s broken up about being dumped, on academic probation, benched from cheerleading and suffering from so much sleep deficiency that she passes out at school. She’s a mess. Had the entire story just been about Quinn’s struggle to reclaim herself, or her spiral into darkness, it would have been an easy 5 star for me.

Sadly, that is not the case. Pushing the mystery of Quinn’s circumstances to the back was more relationship drama than you can shake a stick at. Quinn and her mother don’t understand each other. Her father left to start a new family. Her boyfriend broke up with her without saying why, and then started dating someone Quinn hates. Her friends aren’t that supportive, and quickly turn on her.

And then there is Aaron, the love interest. Saying I didn’t like him is an understatement. He sucks. He’s a weeny. Suffering from amnesia due to an accident, he is supposedly this brooding, sensitive musician. Who can read minds/emotions. I’m sorry, what? He reads her emotions, can see how out of her depth she is, and instead of giving her space, or being supportive, he whines. A lot. At no point does he actually fight for the girl, he just skulks off to attend pity parties for one.

This is one of those stories where most of the conflict could be avoided if people just talked to each other, but no, everyone is secretive and cryptic and unwilling to explain, or allow anyone else an explanation.

I was riveted for the first 150 pages, but the story seemed to nosedive from there. Up side, I love the title, and the cover is beautiful and haunting, very appropriate.

(3/5)

Heather L. Reid has always had a sense of wanderlust and a belief in the paranormal. She eats mayonnaise on her fries, loves video games, and getting lost in a good story. This native Texan now lives with her Scottish hubby in South Ayrshire, Scotland, where she spends her weekends wandering the moors in search of the ghost of William Wallace and exploring haunted castles.

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Blog Tour: Girls Love Travis Walker by Anne Pfeffer

Girls Love Travis Walker by Anne Pfeffer

Title: Girls Love Travis Walker
Author: Anne Pfeffer
Published: March 15th 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Source: Reading Addiction Blog Tours

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To nineteen-year-old high school dropout Travis Walker, women are like snowflakes–each one different, but beautiful in her own way.

He can charm any girl he meets, and yet down deep he fears he’ll always be a loser like his jailbird father. As the landlady threatens to evict him and his sick mother, Travis takes a job he hates and spends his evenings picking up girls at a nearby night spot.

When he enlists in a teen program at the local fire station, he finds out he’s amazing at it. Then he meets the smoking hot Kat Summers, enlists Kat’s friend Zoey to help him woo her, and falls in love for the first time ever.

But he keeps the details of his life secret. His girl will never love him back if she knows the truth about him…


Girls do indeed love Travis Walker, though for the first part of the book I had trouble figuring out why. He comes across as kind of a jerk, and at first it’s difficult to root for him the way he treats girls.

Then something amazing happens. Or awful, if you think about it. Travis’ world falls apart. He has to drop out of high school to try and keep a roof over his and his mother’s heads. Money is tight, and no matter how hard he tries, Travis can’t keep things from slipping away. His father is in prison, giving Travis just enough doubt to make him worry that he will end up the same way. His mother’s health is rapidly declining, and the local free clinic can’t even spare a doctor to look at her, the best they can offer is a grumpy nurse who keeps insisting it’s just depression. The power gets cut off. The phone was already cut off. Their land lady threatens to kick them out every time she sees Travis. He’s so far behind on the rent that there is no way he can even hope to catch up.

Travis has only two things that keep him going: the Fire Department’s Discovery Program, which is the first thing he’s ever been really good at, and the girl he meets at the community centre.

As his life continues to disintegrate, those two things seem more and more out of his reach. The Discovery Program is only for high school students, and sooner or later they are going to realize that he’s no longer attending school. The girl may spend every day trying to save the homeless and downtrodden, but she might not be so interested in dating one of them.

I’m not sure when, but somewhere in the course of the story Travis grew on me. And then he broke my heart. Have some tissues handy, because this story gets downright emotional towards the end.

(4/5)

Anne Pfeffer lives in Los Angeles, CA near a large rotating neon chicken head with her daughter and her dachshund, Taco.

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Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Series: Unearthly #1
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published: January 4th 2011 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

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Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?


I picked this up as one of those impulse buys. I knew the series had gotten quite good reviews and was popular, but had no idea what it was actually about. So I started listening and almost immediately wanted to headdesk myself. Angels? Man, I hate stories about angels. Fallen angels. Half angels. Do not want.

I would have stopped listening, but this story had been the only new thing loaded on my Ipod, and it was a long, boring day at work. So I gave it a shot. I am glad I did, this story surprised me into kind of liking it. I’m not sure why, it has all the tropes I don’t normally enjoy: love triangle, destined to be together, prophetic dreams, etc. And yet, I did like it. Which just goes to show you, good writing can make converts of us all. Or maybe it was Tucker Avery who won me over.

I appreciated that the big magic reveal came before the book started, so the main character, Clara, already knew she was quarter angel. She’d already dealt with the news and accepted her place in life. It was a nice change of pace from the disbelief/freaking-out that normally occurs in this genre.

Not much else to say about it, it was a solid read, and I will probably continue on with the series. I’m intrigued about what’s going on with Jeffrey, the little brother.

(4/5)

Cynthia Hand grew up in southeast Idaho (very near the Wyoming border). Currently she lives in southern California with her husband and two small children. She teaches courses in creative writing at Pepperdine University. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly series with HarperTeen: UNEARTHLY, published in 2011, HALLOWED published January 17, 2012, and BOUNDLESS, due out in January 2013.

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Audiobook Review: Sprout by Dale Peck

Sprout by Dale Peck

Title: Sprout
Author: Dale Peck
Published: May 26th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: YA Contemporary LGBTQI
Read By: Ted Coluca

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How many secrets can you hide in plain sight?

Sprout Bradford has a secret. It’s not what you think—he’ll tell you he’s gay. He’ll tell you about his dad’s drinking and his mother’s death. The green fingerprints everywhere tell you when he last dyed his hair. But neither the reader nor Sprout are prepared for what happens when Sprout suddenly finds he’s had a more profound effect on the lives around him than he ever thought possible. Sprout is both hilarious and gripping; a story of one boy at odds with the expected.


I am really conflicted about this book. I LOVED the first part. That all-consuming-must-have-more-please-don’t-let-it-ever-stop kind of love. I made three pages of notes. I was charmed by this green haired boy who, while smart as hell, wasn’t as annoying and stuck up as most of the really smart YA characters. Then I kept listening, and the second half of the story hit and the magic slowly started to bleed away. When the end came, I had been making frowny expressions long enough that my face hurt.

In fact, I am so disheartened by the last half of this story, I can’t even be arsed to type up those three pages of notes.

Daniel Bradford is not your average teen. Uprooted after his mom’s death and relocated from Long Island to Kansas, he now lives in a trailer with his alcoholic father. A trailer covered with vines and other vegetation, with uprooted tree stumps decorating the front yard. His first day in his new school, resident asshat bully with a secret, Ian Abernathy, takes one look at 12 year old Daniel and declares him gay. Which, granted, not inaccurate. That’s okay, though, Daniel makes a friend in Ruthie Wilcox, the girl determined to be a star. Daniel decides to start dyeing his hair green. His father explains it as the need to create an outward sign of how different Daniel feels inside. The green hair leads to him being nicknamed Sprout.

Up to this point the story is very engaging, if written in a sprawling, kind of disjointed fashion. It works. Then we meet Ty. It is suddenly all about Ty. Most everything else drops away as Sprout just stops caring. The really interesting secondary characters go for chapters without being mentioned, and when they are, everyone has turned into a upside down twisted version of themselves, acting completely unlike I expected them to.

I am frowning again. The magic that was the first part is the only thing that stops this story from being a 1 star to me.

(3/5)

Dale Peck (born 1967 on Long Island, New York) is an American novelist, critic, and columnist. His 2009 novel, Sprout, won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult literature, and was a finalist for the Stonewall Book Award in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category.

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