Saturday, May 3, 2014

Book Review: Fire & Flood

Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1)
by Victoria Scott
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Scholastic Press
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:
Time is slipping away....

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Victoria Scott's breathtaking novel grabs readers by the throat and doesn't let go.

Review:

Fire & Flood didn't really work out well for me unlike what I expected. I fell in love with this book the moment I saw the cover and more so when I read the summary. Hunger Games and Battle Royale, anyone? Some of you might already be shaking your heads at the sound of people battling each other out until the last man is left standing and I can't blame you. THG has set the trend and people are following it and I'm one of them. Ever since THG I only got even more addicted to the theme. It's just so bad that my love for Fire & Flood faded as quickly as it started.

In Fire & Flood, the readers are introduced to the Brimstone Bleed; a race wherein selected individuals compete to win a prize, the Cure, which is capable of healing any kinds of disease. The race is divided into four legs: jungle, desert, ocean and mountain but apart from that, the readers are kept hidden behind the secrets of the race like where it originated, what its connection with the Pandoras, how the participants are selected or what its purpose is, at least until the last chapter of the book. Before reading Fire & Flood, I was told that it was a standalone. It was only until the last chapter that I realized that it's supposed to have a sequel. Before that, I was so bummed because the plot was too slow and it didn't make so much sense to me at all, but when the realization set in, I only felt disappointment. That said, you can say that my expectations were domed to be unfulfilled from the start.

As for the characters, I didn't really feel much for them. I liked Tella at first. Her humor was something I thought I could get used to... until she stopped being funny. Guy, too, gave a remarkable first impression. He was this cool badass hottie with a gaze that can turn you into a pile of fangirl goo. And oh, he has the heart of gold too! But like Tella, his constant show of badassness got me tired of him pretty quickly. Both were off to a great start, but the story developed and their characters didn't. The secondary characters fell flat as well. I had this feeling as if they were 'purposely' made to be distinct, and they were distinct, too distinct that it felt forced. I always look for spontaneity and I'm sad to report that Fire & Flood didn't give me that. The romance is a huge disappointment too. I didn't feel the development at all and I just couldn't understand why Guy fell in love with Tella. Even Titus was so into her but I see nothing special about Tella except her Pandora. So is it only her Pandora's uniqueness that's bringing all the boys to yard? There might be a better explanation for this but I didn't see it.

However, in spite all that, I think Fire & Flood still has some good points. Fire & Flood has a unique concept for a promising story and it offers a different flavor of a favorite genre. Victoria played well with the idea and she brought us some impressive twists too. Normally, I like protagonists with animal companions but the kind of 'animals' Fire & Flood has is an alien concept to me. I know some of you will like it but this is just not the book for me. I still might check out the sequel though, Salt & Stone, which is coming out on 2015.

Rating: 2/5 stars
Thursday, April 24, 2014

[Blog Tour] EXCERPT: Justice Buried by Hilary Thompson + Giveaway

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Justice Buried (Starlight #1)
by Hilary Thompson
Published January 15th 2014
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:
The people need Justice, but she's not listening. One hundred years before, the Great Sickness reduced the world to three cities. Now the community of Asphodel is trapped underground, waiting for the prophesied maiden of Justice to return and save them from their Fates.

Sixteen-year-old Astrea is supposed to be this savior - too bad for them she isn't a believer. Trea fights against her false destiny: she rebels against her family and friends, then refuses her arranged marriage to the charming but deceitful Lexan. Learning her life is in danger, Trea is forced to trust Lexan - until she discovers a power she never knew she had, and one he already knew he did.

As betrayal closes every door, Trea decides she must submit to her stars and accept her fate. Then a handsome stranger offers her an unexpected escape and the chance to create her own destiny.

Excerpt

I wake too early, before night has really ended. I’m restless. I stand before the mirror, fingers touching my temple, imagining the strange electric feeling of Stian’s fingers resting there. I know there are some things I can’t change about my life, like Keirna and Lexan, but as I study my reflection, I imagine that I can see a new strength emerging. I no longer seem like a na├»ve young girl, sulking through the inevitable constraints of life.

I quickly get ready for school, leaving Mother a note that I left early to meditate. She knows what I do, but not where. Again I leave my hair to curl and flow around my shoulders instead of restraining it in a braid, its color a constant peripheral reminder that I have the spirit of fire living in me – and I can start a revolution.

When I step into the secret room, Stian has just woken. He smiles at me, rubbing sleep from his eyes. I’m struck again by how natural he seems to feel around me.

“I brought you breakfast, but I can’t stay.”

“Good news and bad news,” he smiles. He stands and stretches, his shirt pulling up to expose a bit of taut stomach. I blink my eyes away.

“I have a proposition for you.”

“Will I like it?” he says, his fingers brushing mine a little too closely as they take the offered food.

“Teach me about the outside world,” I continue, trying to ignore how close he stands. He carries such a wild smell, like fresh air and growing things.

“How about I just show it to you?” He rumples his hair.

I shake my head. “Maybe one day. For now, I just need to know what I can expect if I ever go outside.”

He chews thoughtfully, his eyes sliding down my arm, following the curl of my hair. “Okay.” He holds out a hand, like we’re really making a deal. I smile, placing mine in his. He grasps it, covering it with his other hand, his eyes laughing at me. “I have to go to school now.

”I tug my hand free and back away. He watches me go, an indecipherable look on his face. How I act and react are my choice alone, nothing to do with the day I was born. This strategy is mine to devise, and I’m making my own plans for battle.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Hilary Thompson is an independently-published author who released her debut Young Adult novel, Justice Buried, in January, 2014. Justice Buried is the first in a dystopian fantasy series incorporating mythology and astrology, with the second full-length title due later in 2014.

She also teaches high school English, which gives her some insight into her target audience, and helps her maintain a thick skin.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Release Day Blitz: V-Card by Alicia Michaels + Excerpt

V-Card (Sharing Spaces #1)
by Alicia Michaels
Paperback
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Comedy
Expected publication: April 20th 2014 by Anchor Group

Synopsis:
Jennifer Nolan has been unlucky when it comes to love; even more unfortunate when it comes to sex. In fact, the twenty year-old college junior is about to enter her senior year still carrying her v-card. All she wants is to be with that special someone without it resulting in a trip to the emergency room, runaway office supplies, or being scarred for life by someone's weird fetishes. With several botched attempts under her belt, she begins to fear she'll end up a lonely spinster or a crazy cat lady.

With only 60 days until her 21st birthday, Jennifer is determined to lose her virginity once and for all. Little does she know that her mission will lead her down a path toward love. She never expects that her mission will lead her to a discovery of what true womanhood is, and where true and lasting love begins.

Excerpt

My mission? To lose my stupid virginity by my twenty-first birthday. Which is in two months. I mean, twenty-one is the age of adulthood and responsibility. Sure, they say you’re an adult at eighteen, but twenty-one is it. It’s when people expect growth and intelligence—more work and ambition and fewer tequila shots. I can’t very well go into the next phase of adulthood with my v-card. How can I honestly call myself a ‘woman’ if I fidget, wheeze and just about have a heart attack at even the thought of intimacy? Any guy I date is going to wonder what the hell is wrong with me. So, it’s happening. I’m not sure when, or with who—since I’m not dating anybody—but I’m determined not to see twenty-one without shedding the one last thing keeping me at girl-status.

Drastic, much? I don’t think so. Maybe if you knew some of history, you wouldn’t either. First, there was Jeremy …

My first attempt was at seventeen years old, senior year. It was like something out of a cheesy movie, making out in the back of a car after Homecoming at Lookout Point. Okay, so the place isn’t called Lookout Point, but The Ridge is a cliff overlooking my small Texas town and people do go there to make out. Me and Jeremy had been dating for six months—a lifetime in TDT. That’s Teenage Dating Time, by the way.

Anyway, things were getting pretty hot and heavy. The windows were steamed up and we had collapsed onto the backseat in a tangle of writhing arms and legs. Jeremy had me topless and was pretty much in teenage-dude heaven. I mean, I don’t want to brag or anything but I’ve got some pretty nice boobs. Not too big or anything; average size but almost the perfect shape and symmetry. Though, with the lack of finesse Jeremy showed in handling them I doubt he would have cared if one was three sizes bigger than the other, or if my nipples were two different colors.

That familiar tingle of horny teenage hormones was tearing me up inside, turning me into a panting, thoughtless animal. I guess that natural high was what made me bold enough to attempt my first B.J. I mean, how hard could it be? It’s not exactly rocket science.

At least, I didn’t think it was. Apparently there is a science to it, especially when you wear braces. In my enthusiasm, I might have gone in a little too hard. I slipped, my face landed in his lap and I almost unmanned him. To be fair, the wound was superficial, but there was so much blood you’d have thought someone was stabbed to death in the back of that car.

After dropping Jeremy off at the emergency room, I pretty much ended our relationship by ignoring him until graduation. He didn’t seem to mind. After I mutilated his man-parts, I doubt he would have felt safe getting in the sack with me without some major life insurance.

Let’s see, my next attempt came during my first semester of college, just a few months after my eighteenth birthday. Somehow, I managed to catch the eye of a teacher’s aide. Slutty, I know, but the guy was hot. Slender with long legs and broad shoulders, ginger-colored hair and green eyes peeking out from behind sleek rectangular glasses. Alistair. Even his name was sexy.

We traded a lot of smoldering looks across the classroom. A graduate student, he was only a few years older than me so it wasn’t too weird. Those looks turned into short conversations in passing. Some flirtations where our hands touched as we exchanged papers. One of those hand-touching exchanges led to me being propelled into an empty classroom.

It was like something out of a movie. Alistair grabbed my ass and pulled me up against him, his lips crashing down over mine in a seductive move that left me swooning like an idiot. We tore at each other’s clothes and as soon as he had my pants off, he lifted me and threw me onto a desk. And right onto a stapler.

You’re probably thinking the two staples I took to the ass would have been enough to end it, but apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. “I’m okay, really,” I told him, pulling him in for a kiss.

“Yeah?” he asked, his smile crooked and sexy as he swept the contents of the desk aside to avoid any more injuries. “I’ve wanted this forever,” he said, his mouth tracing a path from my neck and down to places that made my toes curl. My only response was a whimper, as I allowed him to lay me back, struck dumb by his sex appeal as he rested his weight over mine on the desk.

This resulted in another trip to the E.R.

Who’d have thought those classroom desks were so flimsy? It splintered as if it were made of matchsticks, dropping me to the floor, where I cracked the back of my head open on the tiles. A concussion and a few staples were enough to dampen that encounter. Luckily, Alistair did a good job covering up what we’d been about to do and no one was the wiser. I probably could have had a chance with Alistair after that if I’d wanted it. Especially if the longing looks he threw my way were any indication. But by then I was so freaked out about sex, I just couldn’t bring myself to allow him to get me alone. At the end of the semester, he graduated and I never saw him again.

After that, I decided my first time was going to have to be more vanilla to avoid injury. Good ole missionary position, laying on a bed sex … that was the way to do it. My braces were long gone and office supplies couldn’t impale me.

The chance came my sophomore year when I met Geoff Long, a moody, brooding art student. He was sexy in a less obvious way. Thin long and tall, with an ethereal face framed by inky black hair. He drew pictures of me and called me his muse. He was a total weirdo, but in an artsy sort of way. At least, I thought it was only in the artsy sort of way. That was before he got me half naked in his room and proceeded to try to tie me to the bed with a set of very scary looking leather straps. I don’t think I even bothered to get dressed before I ran, screaming for the hills.

After that I pretty much gave up. There have been a few guys I was interested in, and even a couple of great first dates and kisses. Just a month ago, I went on a date with a guy from my Sociology class. He was cute, funny, and, most importantly, normal. Just the kind of guy I wouldn’t mind giving my virginity to. But when our kisses started to turn in to something more, the twitching and wheezing started and I panicked. If I’m not careful I’m going to develop a reputation for this crap.

No, actually, I’m not. I’m not, because I’m determined to just power through and do it.

About the Author

I began my writing career as an author of Fantasy and Science Fiction. My first books include The Lost Kingdom of Fallada Series and The Boinics Series.

An army wife and a mother of three, my days are never dull and I never lack for anything to do. I love to cook, sew, and of course, read.

I'm a believer in the written word and I love transporting people to different settings and allowing them to make friends with my characters.

Friday, April 18, 2014

[Book Blast] Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum + Trailer & Giveaway


Big Fat Disaster
by Beth Fehlbaum
Hardcover, 286 pages
Expected publication: April 18th 2014 by Merit Press
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:
Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby's role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she's only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.

Trailer

Giveaway

- Open to US Residents Only.
- Must be 13+ to Enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author


In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is an experienced English teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading.

Beth is the author of the forthcoming Big Fat Disaster (Merit Press/F+W Media, March 2014); Courage in Patience (Kunati Books, 2008); and Hope in Patience (WestSide Books, 2010). Hope in Patience was named a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Truth in Patience, which rounds out The Patience Trilogy, is as yet unpublished.

Beth has a following in the young adult literature world and also among survivors of sexual abuse because of her work with victims' advocacy groups. She has been the keynote speaker at the National Crime Victims' Week Commemoration Ceremony at the Hall of State in Dallas, Texas and a presenter for Greater Texas Community Partners, where she addressed a group of social workers and foster children on the subject of "Hope".

Beth is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, like Ashley in The Patience Trilogy, and the day-to-day manager of an eating disorder much like Colby's in Big Fat Disaster. These life experiences give her a unique perspective, and she writes her characters' stories in a way meant to inspire hope.

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