Category Archives: Guest Reviews

Book Reviews
March 16, 2014 posted by Nichole

Nikki from Fiction Freak Guest Reviews Transparent by Natalie Whipple

I’m SO excited to have Nikki from Fiction Freak over at the blog today. We’ve had her on here in the past. I absolutely adore this girl. I hope you all love her review of Transparent by Natalie Whipple. And I’m SURE that she will kill me when she learns that I have not read this book *bows head in shame.*

11973377Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

 

 

Nikki’s Review

Well well well, Transparent. I really didn’t expect…you.

So going straight into the review, I had a few issues with Fiona. She seemed a bit cynical and paranoid, but that’s understandable considering her background. While I do feel like her character wasn’t as developed as I’d hoped, she did grow on me throughout the book and I came to love her. She’s on the run from the only life she’s known and that made my heart hurt a little, every time she flinched away because of how she’d grown up. But she stayed strong and wouldn’t really let anything get to her.

Our side characters, though, were pretty awesome. Bea was an amazing best friend and I loved how she was always there for Fiona–she’s definitely someone you want to have behind your back! Seth and Brady were complete opposites, but I adored them in their own way. Of course Brady, with his sweet personality and his protectiveness was cute, but I’ve always been a fan of love/hate relationships, so I was almost immediately a fan of Seth! I will admit, Seth sometimes went a little overboard with his jokes/insults, but he had Fiona’s best interests at heart and he was definitely a hilarious character.

The plot was definitely amazing too! While Transparent has the feel of a light read to it, the plot is anything but. It’s a thrilling chase that had me on edge the entire read, wondering what would happen next. While a few things were predictable, there were still a number of twists I didn’t expect! Natalie Whipple cleverly uses her characters’ powers to enhance the plot and make it unique and completely surprising.

The romance was a bit iffy for me–though I did love who she ended up with, the romance between them seemed a bit rushed and sudden. Epiphany!

There was a huge crush going on, and suddenly she’s in love with another guy? It seemed weird to me, but their relationship was justFictionFreakClear2 so cute and adorable and fun and and and…well, I loved it! So of course I let it go. The way they acted around each other made me squeal so many times, and seeing how much they cared for each other just…well, it’s a pretty perfect romance.

Transparent’s world was unique to say the least! The way that all these powers evolved were new and seeing what kind of powers each of these kids had was super fun and I loved seeing how they would contribute to the story! At first, I was a bit confused, since I had no idea that the whole world had supernatural traits, but it really did make the book stand out more!

Natalie Whipple’s debut is really the perfect book for anyone looking for a light read with a splash of thrilling mixed in! It feels like a fluffy read at times, but the plot twists and on-the-chase storyline keeps you in your seat, pushing for more. (It doesn’t hurt that the cover is pretty kickass too!)

Pages: 350

Publication Date: May 21st, 2013

Publisher: Harper Teen

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Guest Reviews
January 19, 2014 posted by Nichole

LGBTQ Month Theme: Guest review from Pavarti K. Tyler Take 2

Welcome back everyone!

 

Pavarti K. Tyler is back to help promote our LGBTQ theme this month! Today she is going to review Luna by Julie Anne Peters.

 

pavartiktyler-212x300Award winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next genre bending novel. Visit her website HERE.

 

Luna is a rare treat, insightful and provocative, it takes a circumspect look at a topic most books barrel into head on.  Instead of focusing completely on the transexual character Liam/Luna, this novel is told from the point of view of Regan, Luna’s younger sister.
The reader isn’t spared the pain Luna feels having to “pass” as a boy, only able to let her real persona out in secret late at night.  But what is truly amazing about this novel is how the author presents the effect of transsexualism on the entire family.
Regan is a pretty normal girl, however, her social life, her development of a self has been stunted because she has spent her life keeping her brother’s secret.  Amidst a sexist culture, a dysfunctional family and a challenging school year, she’s trying to keep her head afloat, all why bearing the load of keeping her brother alive and Luna happy.  It’s more than one person can really handle, especially a teenage girl, and her failed attempts at having a social life of her own show the toll this is taking on her.
Written with some flashbacks of Regan’s memories of Luna’s appearances throughout her young life and a tight modern narrative, Luna wastes 316445no time getting the reader invested.  If you can read the first chapter and put this book down you may be clinically dead inside.  It’s beautiful and painful from the first word, the first letter.
The novel ends somewhat open ended, but with an air of hope for the future for both Luna and Regan.  The siblings relationship is bound by fear and cemented with love.  There are numerous lovely moments where these two characters understand each other’s pain and hope in ways no other person could.
I highly recommend this book for everyone.  In fact, it should be required reading.  For parents and teens whose lives will undoubtedly be touched by someone different, the insight this book gives is profound.  While the topic dealt with her is transgenderism, the sensitivity and empathy it requests from the reader could be applied to any situation in which you find yourself in contact with someone who lives as “other”.  Luna will make you question the times you’ve stared or laughed at another person and for a moment consider their experience.
Rating: : ★★★★★

 

Review Provided by Pavarti K Tyler, author of White Chalk which focuses on the brutal effects of abuse, neglect, and self-esteem. Follow her atwww.PavartiKTyler.com.
Book Reviews
January 4, 2014 posted by Nichole

LGBTQ Month Theme: Guest review from Pavarti K. Tyler

Hi everyone!

 

This month is our LGBTQ theme. LGBTQ books (and the concept in general) is very knew to me. I actually came up with this idea when I was watching Tea Time with Epic Reads. I don’t think that LGBTQ in YA Lit (and in general) gets the attention that it deserves. So, this month is going to be an extra special month. You will see book reviews and guest posts from myself, other bloggers, and authors who have written LGBTQ themed books. I hope to see several comments from several of you throughout the month. Jump in and embrace the LGBTQ theme this January!

 

pavartiktylerOur first book review is from author, Pavarti K. Tyler.

Award winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next genre bending novel. Visit her website HERE.

 

 

 

 

If You Could Be Mine left me gasping.  The strength, the injustice, the love!
Sahar and Nasrin are in love.  They live in Iran, and are girls.  In Iran, lesbianism is illegal.  Sahar remembers seeing men hung in IYCBMTehran as a child.  Being gay isn’t just frowned upon or judged, it’s something you could die for.  The options available aren’t very appealing.  Run from the country, become an exhile, and hope to get to Turkey where many LGBTQ individuals are granted asylum.  Live with the constant fear of being discovered.  Or take the drastic route of undergoing a sex change operation, despite not being transsexual.
When Nasrin announces her engagement to Reza, the older, smart, handsome medical student her parents choose for her, Sahar falls deep into depression and the fantasy that she can change her fate.  Will she undergo a drastic surgery to keep the woman she loves from marrying another?  Many have made this choice, as gender re-assignment surgery is not only legal, but state funded in Iran.  This is an old, but good article about the trend: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/film/2009/06/24/gay-get-sex-change
The characters in this books will infuriate you, entertain you, shock you and ultimately break your heart.  In a world with no good solution, what’s a girl in love to do?
Personally, I’m not only a huge advocate of LGBTQ rights, I’m also extremely interested in the Middle East, Islam and Religious Politics.  This books has everything you could ask for.  Political without being impersonal, activist without being preachy, entertaining without being dismissive.  The author knows her Iranian history and culture (not surprising as her parents are from Iran) and displays deep sensitivity toward the turmoil inside Sahar’s heart.
I was impressed by the authors ability to display some of the hypocracy of the religious police, the deep fear of discovery by the members of the LGBTQ community, and the gender issues women in the Middle East face every day.
The girls are deeply in love.  Usually, I find the whole romance theme predictable and boring, here that wasn’t the case.  Their furtive kisses, heated exchanges and frustrated arguments all read extremely true to life.  They are not yet 18, still children in some ways, trying to navigate a situation many adults can’t manage, let alone with the added stress of being gay in a hostile climate.  They make bad choices, act insensitively and for Sahar’s part, she deludes herself into thinking a sex change surgery could fix things, if you read between the lines, it’s clear she knows better, but she’s desperate.
The secondary characters and subplots are fabulous.  I loved the father and Parveen (a male to female transsexual who takes Sahar under her wing).  The gay cousin, Ali, could have been a stereotypical nightmare, but instead, his boisterous behavior and underground dealings come across as sincere by products of his personality and situation.
I highly recommend this book.  My only complaint is that it is at times too slow and some points are over simplified, however, considering the target audience of the book the choices the author makes are appropriate.  An excellent read for teenagers, geared to make them think without too much explicit anything, and full of intriguing characters.  This books is definitely intended for a Western audience and written in an American voice.  The content is extremely harram despite the tame descriptions.

If you are interested in the situation for LGBTQ individuals in the Middle East, I highly recommend you check out “A Jihad for Love”.  Trailer below.

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Review Provided by Pavarti K Tyler, author of the award winning novel Shadow on the Wall which focuses on women in the Middle East through the guise of a Superhero Novel! Follow her at www.PavartiKTyler.com.

 

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Amber Garr’s Guest Review of Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand
Guest Reviews
March 29, 2013 posted by Nichole

Amber Garr’s Guest Review of Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand

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Review of Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand

 

Summary from Goodreads:

 

I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up.

Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And Two, I was born to kill them.

 

The Review:

Dirty Blood was an enjoyable read for me. Heather captured my interest from the beginning and I found that I looked forward to my “reading time” each day. The reader is pulled into the supernatural world rather quickly and I liked that. Tara learns more than she bargained for when she has a run-in with an angry wolf and her whole world quickly changes. She meets Wes, learns the truth about her heritage, and is forced into a hidden world all in the matter of a couple of weeks. Tara is a strong character that readily accepts her new fate and I’m looking forward to see what will happen with her. Let’s talk about Wes…I liked him. I think Heather did a   nice job expressing his internal struggles to obey his  orders  or help Tara understand. That being said, I didn’t fully believe the connection between Tara and Wes. It started out exciting and good, but then very quickly turned to “I love you” and “I love you  too” that  I just didn’t believe. And then there were the talking wolves. I am a huge fan of fantasy (of all kinds) and enjoy reading books that challenge me to ignore the rules of reality…but I got stuck on the wolf-speaking-like-a-human thing. As creative and fun as the rest of the book was, I  guess I’d hoped for more. However, the overarching plotline was well developed and set the stage for the series. Despite my hang-ups, Dirty Blood was a fun read and I’m excited to see how the series progresses.

 

The Good:

I really liked the title. Oh, and the werewolves. I love them and it was nice to read a book revolving around that species.

 

The Issue:

Three major things for me: 1) the wolves  spoke like a human when  in wolf form;  2)  insta-love  that I didn’t feel fully invested in; and 3) a little Twilight-ish with the mind reading and the “protecting the virtue”  type story lines.

 

The Rating:

4 stars. Looking past the talking wolves, it was a story that kept me reading and had me purchasing the second book right away.

 

Amber_034.319120732_stdAmber Garr spends her days conducting scientific experiments and wondering if her next door neighbor is secretly a vampire. Born in Pennsylvania, she lives in Florida with her husband and their furry kids. Her childhood imaginary friend was a witch, Halloween is sacred, and she is certain that she has a supernatural sense of smell. She writes both adult and young adult urban fantasies and when not obsessing over the unknown, she can be found dancing, reading, or enjoying a good movie.

 

 

Guest Reviewer: Amber Garr
Book of the Month
December 23, 2012 posted by Nichole

Guest Reviewer: Amber Garr

Amber Garr is the author of our Indie Book of the Month, Promises. Promises is about a young Syrenka, Eviana, who has been cast out of her clan and has run off with the love of her life. Unfortunately for Eviana, things do not go as smoothly as she might have hoped, and she has to face many challenges, and many old faces along the way. Make sure you visit Amber Garr’s website and take a look at the rest of her books!

 

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

Reviewed by Amber Garr

 

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong delivers the novel her fans have been clamoring for:Thirteen, the epic finale of the Otherworld series.
It’s been more than ten years, a dozen installments, and hundreds of thousands of copies since Kelley Armstrong introduced readers to the all-too-real denizens of the Otherworld: witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons, among others. And it’s all been leading to Thirteen, the final installment, the novel that brings all of these stories to a stunning conclusion.

A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing.

Savannah has called upon her inner energy to summon spells with frightening strength, a strength she never knew she had, as she fights to keep her world from shattering. But it’s more than a matter of supernaturals against one another—both heaven and hell have entered the war; hellhounds, genetically modified werewolves, and all forces of good and evil have joined the fray.

Uniting Savannah with Adam, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and other lost-but-notforgotten characters in one epic battle, Thirteen is a grand, crowd-pleasing closer for Armstrong’s legions of fans. 

 

I am a HUGE fan of Kelley Armstrong and wish I could be more like her (but not in a stalkery kind of way – well, not totally. Ha!) I have read everything she’s released and will continue to do so. What I wouldn’t give to have a few minutes to pick her brain…

 

Anyway…the Otherworld series has been an inspiration for my writing and I’ve loved the characters throughout the books. Thirteen is told in mostly in Savanah’s POV, and although I was hoping for more from Elena (I think I read Bitten like five times), I felt satisfied with this story. Thirteen is packed full of action, sexual tension, and tearful reunions. The Savanah/Adam storyline finally developed, although a little too YA for me, especially in comparison with the Elena/Clay relationship. Eve is great and gets a chance to do something I would have thought impossible. But it fit nicely with the plot and allowed the mother and daughter to spend some much needed time together. The group is faced with a lot of challenges in this installment and my heart almost stopped when it looked bleak for one of my favorites. That just goes to show how capable Kelley Armstrong is in creating relatable, loveable, and endearing characters.

 

And speaking of…it was nice seeing most of the main characters return. However, I will say that the series doesn’t feel totally complete to me. Good or bad, there are loose ends that give way for follow up short stories (which I understand is the plan). Jeremy and Jaime have more to tell, as does Cassandra. I would really love to see a Cassandra book! But in short, this is another great read by Kelley Armstrong. I am sad to see this series end, and thought there was enough closure to keep me satisfied (for now). I will be looking forward to the anthologies in 2014!!

 

Note from Nichole: I’ve never made a comment on someone’s guest post before, but I want to thank Amber Garr so much for reviewing Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong. This is my favorite series of all time…which means a lot coming from me. I was so sad to see the story end, and I did NOT know that there were anthologies coming in 2014?! You can bet I’m excited and about to go do a TON of research on that! Thank you so much for reviewing Thirteen!

 

Pages: 444

Publisher: Penguin Group USA/ Dutton

Publication Date: July 24th, 2012

Rating: : ★★★★★

 

Guest Reviewer: C.J. Redwine
Fantasy
December 11, 2012 posted by Nichole

Guest Reviewer: C.J. Redwine

C.J. Redwine is the author of Defiance, which published in August, 2012. C.J. took the time out of her own schedule to do a guest review of Chime by Franny Billingsley. You can find out more information about C.J. Redwine on her website.

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Reviewed by C.J. Redwine

Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.

 

I’m not sure I can do this book justice in this review, but I’m going to try. This story is absolutely stunning. From the first word, I was totally captivated. It was like being swallowed whole by a lush, dark gothic fairy tale.
 First and foremost, I loved Briony’s voice. It’s both compelling and authentic. She felt very real to me, and I was invested in the outcome of her story. I loved the little nuances that painted a complete picture of how damaged she was by all that had happened within her family, how responsible she felt for her sister, and how love and hate twined themselves inside of her until she didn’t know the difference sometimes.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the plot. It’s full of delicous twists and turns. We start with Briony confessing to a crime and declaring that she deserves to be hanged, and then we back up to the beginning of her “crime” so we can see just how it happened. I was hooked! Some of the twists took me by surprise. Some I could see coming, but somehow that just made it worse because I wanted to reach through the pages and save the characters I loved!
The setting is a character in its own right in CHIME. Both the village and the swamp are gorgeously atmospheric and very gothic. I almost felt like I’d been pulled underwater where reality was muffled and magic was slowly unfolding all around me while I just let myself sink into this new realm.
What pulls all of this together brilliantly is the beautiful prose that made reading every word an incredible pleasure. Ms. Billingsley is a master of her craft. I plan to reread the book with a highlighter and just study how she did it. I strongly recommend this book to readers who love gothic stories, fairy tales that are dark and a little gritty, and lush prose.
Pages: 361
Publication Date: March 17th, 2011
Publisher: Dial
Rating: : ★★★★★
Teaser Quote: “If you say a word, it leaps out and becomes the truth. I love you. I believe it. I believe I am loveable. How can something as fragile as a word build a whole world?” 
Guest Blogger: Blue Moon – Alyson Noel
Fantasy
November 17, 2012 posted by Nichole

Guest Blogger: Blue Moon – Alyson Noel

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Reviewed by Hayley Hoyle

 

Alyson Noël’s bestselling Immortals series has been hailed as “addictive,” “beautiful,” “haunting,” and “mesmerizing.” In Blue Moon, Ever has a chance to bring her family back from the dead – but only if she’s willing to sacrifice the guy she loves more than life itself.

Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him. As Ever’s powers are increasing, Damen’s begin to fade after he is stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, where she uncovers not only the secrets of Damen’s past – the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden – but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them – or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day….

 

In the second book of Noel’s Immortal series, we begin where we left off with Ever and Damen. Ever has accepted her fate as an immortal and training with Damen is getting more intense, even though being together is a distraction. When a new threat moves in, all Ever has is herself.

 

After reading Evermore, I really wanted to see more about this world that Damen has brought Ever into, and Blue Moon didn’t disappoint. Throughout the book, we get more insight into the world of Summerland. It really does sound like an amazing place and Noel’s descriptions just bring it to life. It’s a lot more complex than originally thought of in Evermore.

 

I love Ever and Damen together. They are a couple that doesn’t have too many mushy scenes where I just want to vomit. And when the new enemy makes his way between them, I was cheering them on to work things out. The other minor characters like Myles and Haven get a little more time in this book and develop along with the story. We also get to meet some new characters that help the story move along and I’m sure will pop up in future books of the series.

 

One thing I judge a book on is if it made me feel anything, whether good or bad, and this definitely did. I found myself mad at some parts and wanting to kill certain characters (don’t want to spoil it). Other parts I was just along for the ride. I like when a book has me so invested in a story that I am feeling alongside the characters. I just couldn’t help it because I found Ever so believable, although naïve at times.

 

Although I’m a fan of this series, there is one thing about Blue Moon that I wasn’t very keen on. The book is almost 300 pages and the action all begins within the first 100. I’m all for a book getting to business but I felt it was a little rushed. Here I was reading about Ever and Damen training then everything was turned upside down and I was on a roller coaster for most of the rest of the book. I would have liked to see it pan out a little more before it all went to chaos.

 

Overall, Blue Moon was a great read. If you liked the first book, than this one will be even better. It’s really easy to read and seems to fly by once you get into all the action The ending will catch a lot of people by surprise. I didn’t expect for things to turn out like they did and I’m hoping for some resolve in the next book, Shadowland. Like I said, if you liked Evermore, then Blue Moon is a definite must-read. If you want an easy, entertaining book, then I would suggest picking up a copy.

 

Rating: : ★★★★☆