Search Results for: Behind the Mirror

Behind the Mirror by Fay E Simon

Behind the Mirror by Fay E Simon
Behind the Mirror by Fay E Simon
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (153 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Orchid

What would you do if your favorite novel suddenly became a reality? What would you do if the handsome main character of that novel fell in love with you? During a trip to Paris with her friends, nineteen-year-old Emma King walks through an antique mirror and into the embrace of Ehrich de Natois, the mysterious main character of her favorite novel. Unfortunately, whether in books or real life, living happily ever after just doesn’t happen. Emma realizes this when she is pulled into the “in between;” a place between dimensions, a place much darker and more surreal than she could ever imagine.

Emma travels through the mirror to Paris in the past where she meets her soulmate, the Master of Arts in the Théâtre Ranier. Her memory has gone and she wonders if she can stay with the man she loves who will kill without the slightest hesitation. As her memory returns she quickly pushes aside these concerns as she longs to take Ehrich back to the future with her.

A little reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera but with a teenage twist. I couldn’t quite believe Emma’s reaction to Ehrich’s wild ways. I felt they should have frightened her, but she accepted his violence and killing with barely a flinch. In fact she seems to take on some violent trends herself.

The romantic moments are tender and sweet, and the strong emotion between the two of them is wonderful. I like the way Emma showed herself to be an independent woman, not the subservient female Ehrich was used to.

Despite the fact I would have preferred a little more lead in to Emma’s acceptance of Ehrich’s violence I did enjoy reading this good book.

Mirror Me by Tara St. Pierre

Mirror Me by Tara St. Pierre
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense/Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (188 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Hannah McCauley doesn’t look at herself in the mirror anymore.

After a rebellious past, she now attends a strict private school in a new town, where her recently divorced mother has put her on social lockdown. No driving. No bad grades. No skipping classes. No unapproved friends. No makeup. No boys. And the subject of her best friend from her old school is definitely forbidden.

Hannah is being punished for something that happened a year earlier, something that she would like to put behind her. But strange occurrences frighten her, and she’s accused of breaking rules and doing other terrible things without any recollection of them. No one believes her, so she starts distrusting everything, even her own reflection.

Is she being haunted by her past? Stalked by someone with a grudge? Or is it all in her head? If she doesn’t figure out what’s happening fast, her existence could end up irreparably shattered.

Forgetfulness is one thing. Losing track of huge chunks of time is quite another.

Hannah was a smart girl. I enjoyed seeing how much effort she put into solving all of the problems that came her way. She was persistent even when nothing was going her way, and that made me admire her. Her insistence on figuring out solutions was also a nice contrast to her faults. I wouldn’t have expected someone who was occasionally flighty to also have this side to her personality. It was interesting to see how those parts of her fit together, especially since they ended up working together so nicely.

There were pacing issues. Hannah spent so much time dancing around the mystery of her past that it slowed down the descriptions of what was currently going on in her life. While I fascinated by what she might have done to make her mother so angry and mistrusting of her, I was also frustrated by how much time it took for the plot to move forward or to reveal even small hints about her big mistake.

The dialogue was well done. Hannah and her friends spent a lot of time bantering back and forth. Their conversations often made me grin, especially in the beginning when they talked about light-hearted stuff like what their plans were for after school. They seemed to get along with each other nicely, and that made their dialogue even better than it already was.

I’d recommend Mirror Me to anyone who likes mysteries that take their time to share their secrets.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles 3.5-Levana’s Story

Publisher: Square Fish
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (220 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Poinsettia

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death.

Who is Queen Levana?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Levana as the woman who terrorizes Cinder and her band of heroes in her pursuit of world domination, but who is the woman behind the veil? What is her story? Was she always so cruel? The first three books in the series provide very little insight into Levana’s character, but Ms. Meyer drops tantalizing clues throughout the series concerning Levana and her history. My curiosity was piqued and I jumped at the opportunity to read more about this enigmatic character.

I knew before I began reading that Levana’s tale would not be a happy one, but I had no idea just how tragic it would be. Her parents neglected her and her monstrous older sister, Channery, abused her. Even after I learned this, I still have little sympathy for Levana, but I have a better understanding of her motives and the dynamics of her relationships with other characters in the series. Reading this book made Levana more than just a typical evil queen. It made her very realistic.

It is rare to come across a villain as complex and developed as Levana. She is a truly twisted individual who uses her exceptional talent with glamor to manipulate and control those around her, even those she professes to love. There are many times in Levana’s life when she was at a crossroads, and she consistently made bad decisions. Levana deludes herself into believing she is better than Channery. However, I think Levana is actually worse in some ways. At least Channery didn’t try to disguise her actions under the guise of being for the greater good.

It was interesting to finally learn more about Lunar culture, and I have to say it is pretty disturbing. I understand how villains like Levana and Channery could emerge from a world like that. I still would like to know more about the origins of the Lunars’ power and why some are born without it as well as how Lunar society developed.

I highly recommend fans of the Lunar Chronicles read Fairest. Levana’s story is intriguing and adds depth to this captivating series.

Which Characters are Based on Val Muller? – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Val Muller will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC and a download code for The Girl Who Flew Away, a download code for The Scarred Letter, a print copy (US only) of The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and an ebook of Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Pieces of Me: Character Creation
Val Muller

A question that frequently comes up in interviews is: which (if any) characters are based on you?

The short answer? All of them. In each character, there is a little tiny piece of me, even a piece that happened only in passing. Maybe it was that angsty moment in middle school when a teacher yelled at me for standing on the tape instead of behind it. I came home and wrote a journal about how she made me want to be a horrible student. I had all these plans to sabotage my grade just to make her feel terrible. She was a science teacher, and I vowed to hate science for the rest of my life. I outlined what it would be like to be a bad student, how I would end up with a disappointing career that I could pinpoint on her. Rage practically jumped off the page. Later that week, I forgot about it and continued my status quo of getting mostly As and enjoying science class. But for a moment, I was filled with the motivation to teach her a lesson by sabotaging my grade just to make her fail as a teacher. Several minor characters in my works are based on that experience. A tiny seed motivated them to stop caring about their work as students—and in many cases, they actively didn’t care, working hard to tend to their image as a rebel.

In The Man with the Crystal Ankh, one of the friendships becomes embroiled in anger. While I never had that serious of a falling out, I certainly had little fights with my friends, and the emotions were real. So in that sense, both sides of the fight are little pieces of me.

While some characters are based on little bits of me, others are inspired by a sense of wonder. In Faulkner’s Apprentice, protagonist Lorelei goes down a dark path. I have never gone down one, but like most teens I’d been exposed to the potential to do so, and I can’t say my mind didn’t wonder what it would like to simply scrap the rules of wholesome living and be bad. Lorelei was based on that sense of wonder, and the fact that she is torn about it mirrors how I might feel as I headed down that path.

When it comes to character creation, this is one way to go about it. I think of each character as a tangent to me (uh oh, I used a math analogy. That’s not like me at all—must be one of the characters speaking!). I tap into that minor experience or thought, and build a character around it. I find that the creation is authentic, and the character thus feels real.

The other way I create characters is to base them off of people I know—friends, family, enemies, coworkers. But there’s a big catch there. Of course I don’t want them to know they’re muses or models. I don’t know who originally suggested this term, but a piece of writing advice I’ve been given is to create characters the way Frankenstein created his monster: take pieces of other people, and mix them up to such an extent that it’s no longer clear who inspired what.

For instance, for every story I write, my mother asks me if “such and such” trait displayed by the mother figure in the book is based on her. She’s intentionally reading into the work, looking for pieces of herself. She’ll sometimes say things like, “I wasn’t that crazy, was I?” I’ve had to recently tell her that that isn’t the case: perhaps the obsessive nature of the character in question came from a teacher or guidance counsellor I had in high school. Perhaps the way the character squints when she reads came from a middle school math teacher. But maybe one quality, perhaps the way the mother in the book is concerned about her daughter, perhaps that comes from my mother. There’s always a sense of relief when she realizes that she isn’t all of the character.

So the “Frankenstein” method is another way to create characters: brainstorm a list of traits from people you’ve encountered over the years. Think about how the “connotation” of those people or traits might fit into one of your characters. For instance, I’ve always hated going to the doctor, so I used some of my angst about my pediatrician and combined that with a less-than-effective administrator I once encountered and a power-hungry teacher. They all combined into the character of a high school principal. Someone asked me, “Who in the world did you have as a principal who was that slimy?” The answer: no one. He was a compilation of many people, and there’s no way those who inspired his character could pick out one trait from the next.

Sometimes, to make sure my characters are authentic—and to make sure I know them—I will throw them into a scene together that has nothing to do with the novel I’m writing. They might all go on a shopping trip to Wal-mart or meet for coffee. Throwing them in that scene together allows me to see how they might interact, who might gravitate together. More importantly, the quiet character sitting in the corner tells me that he needs more development because I don’t really understand his personality. In such a practice scene, when all the characters insist on their next lines and actions, I know my characters are ready for the page.

Everyone’s heard the legend of the hollow oak—the four-hundred year curse of Sarah Willoughby and Preston Grymes. Few realize how true it is.

Sarah Durante awakens to find herself haunted by the spirit of her high school’s late custodian. After the death of his granddaughter, Custodian Carlton Gray is not at peace. He suspects a sanguisuga is involved—an ancient force that prolongs its own life by consuming the spirits of others. Now, the sanguisuga needs another life to feed its rotten existence, and Carlton wants to spare others from the suffering his granddaughter endured. That’s where Sarah comes in. Carlton helps her understand that she comes from a lineage of ancestors with the ability to communicate with the dead. As Sarah hones her skill through music, she discovers that the bloodlines of Hollow Oak run deep. The sanguisuga is someone close, and only she has the power to stop it.

No good deed goes unpunished when freshman Steffie Brenner offers to give her awkward new neighbor a ride home after her first day at school. When her older sister Ali stops at a local park to apply for a job, Steffie and Madison slip out of the car to explore the park—and Madison vanishes.

Already in trouble for a speeding ticket, Ali insists that Steffie say nothing about Madison’s disappearance. Even when Madison’s mother comes looking for her. Even when the police question them.

Some secrets are hard to hide, though—especially with Madison’s life on the line. As she struggles between coming clean or going along with her manipulative sister’s plan, Steffie begins to question if she or anyone else is really who she thought they were. After all, the Steffie she used to know would never lie about being the last person to see Madison alive—nor would she abandon a friend in the woods: alone, cold, injured, or even worse.

But when Steffie learns an even deeper secret about her own past, a missing person seems like the least of her worries…

Enjoy an excerpt from The Man with the Crystal Ankh

She picked up the instrument and set it onto her shoulder. A calmness passed into her, as if the violin exuded energy—as if it had a soul. The varnish had faded and dulled. Its life force did not come from its appearance. She brought the bow to the strings, which was still rosined and ready to play. Dragging the bow across the four strings, she found the instrument perfectly in tune.

Sarah took a deep breath and imagined the song, the way the notes melted into each other in nostalgic slides, the way her spirit seemed to pour from her soul that day.

And then it was happening again.

She had started playing without realizing it. Warm, resonant notes poured from the instrument and spilled into the room. They were stronger, and much more powerful, than those she was used to. This instrument was different than the factory-made one her parents had bought for her. Rosemary’s violin was singing to the world from its very soul. And it was happening just as before. Sarah’s energy flowed from her body, causing her to lose consciousness and gain perspective all at once. She rode the air on a lofty run of eighth notes. She echoed off the ceiling with a rich and resonant vibrato. She flew past the guests, who had all quieted to listen to her music; flew past the table of cold cuts and appetizers and up the darkened staircase, where she resonated against the walls and found her way into the guest room. There, she crept along a whole note and slid into the closet.

As the song repeated, she twirled around in the closet, spinning in a torrent of passionate notes. She searched through the notebooks and books on the floor and on the shelves, searched for an open notebook, for something she could read, something that might make her feel tied to the place. Otherwise, she might spin out of control and evaporate out the window and into the sky. She found her anchor on the floor in the darkest corner of the closet, a large parchment—maybe a poster. The notes spun around her in a dizzying way as she tried to stay still enough to read what was on the paper. It was a difficult task; now, with every beat her body downstairs tried to reclaim its energy.

About the

Val’s young adult works include The Scarred Letter, The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and The Girl Who Flew Away and feature her observations as a high school teacher as well as her own haunted New England past.

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Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa DeLaCruz

Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa DeLaCruz
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Length: 320 pages
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Honeysuckle

The sequel to the #1 New York Times best seller The Isle of the Lost

Mal’s an expert at intimidating her enemies, but she’s broken the habit since leaving her villainous roots behind. So when she and her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay all receive threatening messages demanding they return home, Mal can’t believe it. Sure, she’s King Ben’s girlfriend now, and she’s usually nice to her classmates, but she still didn’t think anyone would be silly enough to try to push her around.

The thing is, it kind of worked. Especially since she and her friends have a sneaking suspicion that their villainous parents are behind the messages. And when Evie looks into her Magic Mirror, what she sees only confirms their fears. Maleficent’s just a tiny lizard after her run-in with Mal at Ben’s Coronation, but she’s the worst villain in the land for a reason. Could she have found a way to escape? Whatever’s going on, Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay know they have to sneak back to the Isle and get to the bottom of it.

Without its infamous leader, the island’s even worse than when they left it, but the comforts of home-even a home as gloomy as the Isle of the Lost-can be hard to resist for recently reformed villains. Will the kids be able to beat the evil bubbling at the Isle’s wicked core, or will the plot to destroy Auradon succeed?

The Villains are back and they’ll play just as dirty as they have to to force their offspring back to the Isle of the Lost.

Mal and her friends have made a life, a good life, in Auradon, away from their parents and away from the world they were born into where they were expected to grow up to be just as awful as their parents. I thought the author did a good job of making a point in the story about how changing on the outside doesn’t mean anything if there isn’t a change on the inside.

That was my take away from the book. My daughter simply enjoyed the continued story of the four friends and the familiar Disney references. She saw the blurb for the new book coming out later this month and, as someone who wanted to meet more of the villains on our recent trip to Disney than princesses, she was super excited to see who all would likely make appearances for the third adventure for Mal, Jay, Evie and Carlos. My fingers are crossed that Gaston will sing his song!

Return to the Isle of the Lost picks up seamlessly from the first book. Mal and King Ben are still an item and the mean girls in town are still pretty mean, just not “Lost Isle” mean. The plot isn’t terribly complicated and it wasn’t difficult to figure out the direction the author would take to resolve the conflict. I did like that the gang, especially Mal and Evie, show personal growth in this book.

This is a good book for young readers who enjoy an adventure story that isn’t real heavy. Disney purist might have a problem with some of the license the author takes with the beloved characters but it isn’t anything I felt was unforgivable. Parents who like to read what their kids are reading will find it engaging as well. The dialogue is good, funny at times, and the story moves along smoothly to a satisfying end that should lead well into the next book. An easy recommend.

Amid Wind and Stone by Nicole Luiken – Guest Post and Giveaway

amid wind and stone nicole luiken

This post is part of a virtual book tour. A randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter will receive a Red Jasper Pendant inspired by Jasper from Amid Wind & Stone (US & Canada Only)

Plotter/Pantser, Drafter/Reviser

What kind of writer am I? Hmmm.

Whenever writers talk about their methods, the first cut always seems to be: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Someone who outlines the plot ahead of time or who writes by ‘the seat of their pants’ charging off into the wilderness with only a vague idea of where they are going? Or, to put it more kindly, is a discovery writer, who invents and discovers their story as they go?

I am a plotter. (NOTE: I do not advocate this as the best or only method; it is merely the method that works for me.) Discovery writers are bored if they know what’s going to happen next. To me this is baffling. I am most excited to write the scenes that I have imagined over and over in my imagination. If I don’t know where my novel is going, I will play solitaire instead of working.Thus, my crucial need for an outline.

Not that I sit down, right off the bat, and write an outline, cold. I do brainstorming first. Before I begin a novel, I have pages and pages of notes. Plot points. Scraps of dialogue. Mini-scenes. World-building and character notes. The outline is mostly just arranging my notes in order. My outline is seldom more than a page long and is far from perfect. It usually has a bunch of holes in it, where I got swept away by enthusiasm and thought ‘I’ll figure that part out when I get there’. I aspire some day to write an outline so detailed that it can take the place of my first draft and save me time revising down the road. For possessing an outline does NOT save me from making mistakes. I almost always have to heavily revise the plot after the first draft.

Writers also come in two other types: drafters or revisers. Some writers, like me, adore writing first drafts and find revision a tedious yawn-fest. Other writers find the first draft a miserable slog through a snake-infested swamp and are happiest when polishing up sentences. Curiously, this division is less talked about.

Actually, it’s the third draft I dread. My second drafts are all about improving the plot and adding character arcs–scene level revision. Although not as fun as the first draft, I usually get to write a number of new scenes. My third drafts are about polishing–sentence level editing. As part of my process, I edit each scene three times. Why three? It’s warning system. If I find that I would rather poke out my eyeballs or y’know do housework rather than read a scene a third time, there’s a good chance the scene sucks and needs to be fixed.

A plotter and a pantser trying to co-write a novel sounds like a justifiable reason for homicide. A pairing of a drafter and a reviser on the other hand seems like a match made in heaven.

What type of writer are you?

TFaS_500Through Fire & Sea (Otherselves, #1) by Nicole Luiken:There is one True World, and then there are the four mirror worlds: fire, water, air, and stone. And each has a magic of its own…

In the Fire World, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm’s most powerful lords. She’s hot-blooded—able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods. But she has another gift…the ability to Call her twin “Otherselves” on other worlds.

Holly resides in the Water World—our world. When she’s called by Leah from the Fire World, she nearly drowns. Suddenly the world Holly thought she knew is filled with secrets, magic…and deadly peril.

For a malevolent force seeks to destroy the mirror worlds. And as Leah and Holly are swept up in the tides of chaos and danger, they have only one choice to save the mirror worlds—to shatter every rule they’ve ever known…

Check out the book on Goodreads:

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AMID WIND AND STONE 1600x2400 (1)Amid Wind & Stone (Otherselves, #2)
Author: Nicole Luiken
Release Date: Mar. 7, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy

There is one True World, and then there are the four Mirror Worlds: Fire, Water, Air, and Stone.

Audrey and Dorotea are “otherselves”—twin copies of each other who live on different Mirror Worlds.

On Air, Audrey has the ability to communicate with wind spirits. As war looms, she’s torn between loyalty to her country and her feelings for a roguish phantom who may be a dangerous spy.

Blackouts and earthquakes threaten the few remaining humans on Stone, who have been forced to live underground. To save her injured sister, Dorotea breaks taboo and releases an imprisoned gargoyle. Brooding, sensitive Jasper makes her wonder if gargoyles aretruly traitors, as she’s always been told.

Unbeknownst to them, they both face the same enemy—an evil sorceress bent on shattering all the Mirror Worlds.

Check out the book on Goodreads.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, or Entangled Publishing.

Enjoy an excerpt from Amid Wind & Stone:

Stone World

The lights went out, plunging the cave into absolute darkness.

Dorotea froze on her hands and knees in the tunnel. Behind her, Marta wailed. Dorotea reached back and found her little sister’s hand. “It’s all right. The lights will come back in a moment.” Despite her reassuring words, worry wormed its way into her stomach. It wasn’t unusual for one or two of the light squares embedded in the walls to burn out and stay black for a few weeks before being replaced, but every light in the whole tunnel had winked out at the same instant as if it were False Night instead of an hour short of noon.

Instinct prodded at her. Something’s wrong.

Marta squeezed her hand with six-year-old strength. “I’m scared! Make the lights come back.”

As if being eleven years older conferred magic powers. “The Elect will fix it. All we have to do is wait.”

“I’m so scared,” Marta whined.

“Crawl up closer to me,” Dorotea said. “The tunnel’s wide enough here.”

Marta squirmed up. Dorotea lay on her side and cuddled her sister’s small body. The contact comforted Dorotea, too. Marta’s presence meant Dorotea couldn’t panic.

Her eyes remained open, uselessly straining to see in the utter darkness. She’d never experienced anything like it. During False Night, each cavern had a few lights that remained on so people could find their way to the privy. This darkness was blacker than the inside of a coal seam.

Maybe only the tunnel’s lights had gone out. Maybe there was still light in the main caverns.

“I’m scared of the dark,” Marta whimpered again. “What if the gargoyles get us?”

Dorotea’s heart jumped into her throat at the thought of hands reaching up through solid stone, but she made her voice calm. “Don’t be silly. All the gargoyles are safely locked up in the Cavern of Traitors.”

“But what if they tunneled through the floor?”

“They can’t,” Dorotea said shortly. “They’re frozen in place. Why are you scared of gargoyles? You’ve never even seen one. They were imprisoned before you were born.” They didn’t kill your father, like they did mine. Marta’s father, Martin, was annoyingly alive.

Dorotea had been younger than Marta when the gargoyles rebelled. She barely remembered them except for fuzzy images of her father’s gargoyle: a very tall, silent man made of gray stone with a craggy, rough-hewn face.

The gargoyles couldn’t have caused the blackout. Could they? Surely not, but anxiety still twisted inside her, keying her nerves to a higher pitch. She shivered in the clammy embrace of the stone tunnels. The rough trousers and tunic she’d donned for weeding were better suited for crawling than her usual robes, but the material was also thinner.

Something’s wrong. Something more than a Tech malfunction.

About the Author:nicole-luikenNicole Luiken wrote her first book at age 13 and never stopped.

She is the author of nine published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequels Silver Eyes and Angels Eyes, Frost, Unlocking the Doors, The Catalyst, Escape to the Overworld, Dreamfire and the sequel Dreamline. Through Fire & Sea, book one of Otherselves, and Amid Wind & Stone, book two of Otherselves, are her most recent releases. She also has an adult thriller, Running on Instinct, under the name N.M. Luiken and a fantasy romance series, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith.

Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing.

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The Silent End by Samuel Sattin

The Silent End by Samuel Sattin
The Silent End by Samuel Sattin
Publisher: Ragnarok Publications
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (391 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Sorrel

In a mist-soaked town in the Pacific Northwest three teenagers find themselves pitted against an unearthly menace that dwells beneath the foundations of their high school…

Eberstark is an outcast and he’s tired of pretending everything is fine. His mother disappeared almost a year ago after a long battle with depression. His father is conducting experiments and running around town in the middle of night with a mysterious man known only as The Hat, ranting to Eberstark about beasts no one else can see.

Then on Halloween night, Eberstark, alongside his only friends Lexi and Gus, discovers something in the woods to challenge his father’s apparent insanity: a wounded monster. Rather than stir the town into a frenzy, the three friends hide the creature and are pulled into a web of conspiracy, dream-logic, and death. Faced down by living trucks, mirror-dwelling psychopaths, and hellish entities who lurk behind friendly faces, Eberstark, Lexi, and Gus find themselves battling to save not just themselves, but the soul of their quiet little town.

Typical school life offset by strange occurrences that mystifies these friends.

I don’t read as much YA as I used to since it has been difficult for me to find a book that I like. However, this was definitely one I liked!

This book is about friendship and how strong it can become. This book showed me that it doesn’t matter how different you are from each other, you can still become friends. The book starts out with two best friends (Eberstark and Gus) and a ‘maybe’ friend (Lexi ).

When Lexi finds a monster its near death, there starts a mystery that had me scratching my head trying to decide where it is going to go from there. What outrageous thing was going to happen next? The parts that seemed outrageous made sense in the end.

This is first and foremost a young adult horror. Truly, the fright factor is pretty intense. But it’s more than that. It’s realistic for today’s youth. Nothing is glossed over. It kept my interest and I wanted to read more and more of the book.

One thing I loved about this book was that the characters are very different from each other. For example, Gus was the brains while Lexi becomes the muscle within the group. The dialogue is well written and easy to follow.

The end was surprising. I truly couldn’t have guessed that it would end the way, but it did. And it was good. Easy recommend for YA readers looking for something fresh and scary.

What Scares Nikki Jackson the Most? – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nikki Jackson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

As an author, what scares me the most is….

Scary movies. I have sworn off them numerous times over the years only to get sucked into watching something that will give me nightmares for weeks. It all started with those flying monkeys (The Wizard of Oz) and seemed to have spiraled from there.

I find scary movies both frightful and intriguing – frightful for obvious reasons, yet intriguing because someone wrote it, the book or the screen play, it all started as an idea in the head of a writer who then wrote it down. What fascinates me so is that a tore up scary movie formed itself first in the mind of the writer – all the horror and terror, the blood and gore, the bare-knuckled fear was all birthed in someone’s imagination.

I remember being in the audience when Alien debuted. The special effects were nothing any of us had ever seen before, cutting edge for its time. When that guy started choking everybody though a piece of cornbread or something had gone down the wrong way, but when that alien came out of his stomach, you wouldn’t believe the screaming going on in the theater. Grown men drowning out the shrieks of women and children, I kid you not.

Now that’s powerful. Pulling people out of the security and safety they know they’re in and transporting them to the scariest block in the neighborhood, some lone cabin in the backwoods, a space ship a bazillion miles away from everyone and everything. It’s the greatest tease the brain will ever experience – the knowing that you’re sitting in a chair – safe and sound, watching or reading something, with the other part of your brain fully entrenched in having the crap scared out of you – now that’s crazy powerful.

The scariest movie I’ve ever seen in life was The Ring. I got caught up in the premise: watch the video, get the phone call, dead in seven days. The curious side of my brain just knew there was a way out of this and I wanted to see how the latest victim would beat the curse. I still don’t know how the movie ended. When that blond-headed kid came out of that well I started screaming. I was screaming at the guy watching this play out on the TV to turn it off and get out of there. He didn’t hear me. He just sat there spellbound while that kid came out of that well and was moving, like some weird stop action closer and closer, and then shocks of shocks….when that kid climbed through the TV set….I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t call the police, I was a screaming mess. It was like she’d climbed through my TV set and into my living room. That’s the last thing I remember.

I turned on every light in the house (why did I watch it at night, alone?), made sure all the doors and windows were locked (twice) and I spent the night on the sofa with a blanket over my head and a Bible on my chest. It was either that or get up and drive over to my kid sister’s for the night.

That hot mess of a movie was first a writer’s creation. Somebody sat down and imagined it and then wrote it down. As traumatizing as that movie was to me, the thought that a writer wrote it is fantastic. Don’t you see? I was scared and traumatized and ready to throw-up and pee all at the same time – I was physically and emotionally and yes, psychologically effected and caught up and spent and I didn’t even last the whole movie!

Look, as a writer I don’t want to scare the bejeezus out of anyone, but I want to take the reader on an exhilarating, crazy wild rollercoaster ride. I want the reader to be giddy, shocked, angry, moved, excited, teased, floored, bowled over – and happily spent when they finish reading a book of mine. I want to pull the reader out of their present setting and take them on the journey of a story with me and my characters. I want to give the reader a break from life as they know it and I want them to eagerly join me on an imagined adventure. I want to have the same effect on the reader that reading books have always had on me – joy, bliss, satisfaction.

Me and the scary book writer both have this one thing in common – regardless of your emotional state after reading something we’ve written we want you to feel your money and time were both well spent.

It’s summer vacation, and all seventeen-year-old Tori Logan wants to do is hang out with her two best friends, practice her mixed martial arts and go to FBI spy camp. Summer means freedom (mostly from adults) and Tori plans to fill every spare moment of her last summer before graduating from High School with all the fun things she and her best pals can come up with.

Tori, whose mom died of breast cancer when she was young, has always relied on her own strength to get by – especially because her Archeologist father tends to leave her behind with his live-in girlfriend while he gallivants around the world on digs. Thankfully, Tori can take care of herself. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her Lakota Sioux grandfather, a former Navy SEAL, trained Tori in self-defense from a young age. Now, as a teenager, Tori excels at mixed martial arts and the use of various weapons. During the summer she will be attending an FBI sponsored Summer Camp which she hopes will lead to her dream job – becoming an FBI serial killer profiler.

With her two best friends at her side, Tori believes she can handle anything. And with summer vacation stretching before them, the trio plans to find plenty of adventure.

But while Tori is determined to be independent, life has other plans for this fierce young woman, and they include coming to grips with some hard – and surprising – truths about both her past and her future.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I could really use a belt. Fin thought as he jumped from the porch, bounding over the five steps. Running down the graveled drive at break-neck speed he cursed the fact he was wearing tennis shoes – that along with the baggy, beltless pants was hemming up his stride.

The sound of shrieks and a male voice yelling at him in a foreign language didn’t help the matter. Fin tripped over his own size 12 feet, rolled and got up running. After gathering his wits about him he heard a muffled roar zoom past him followed by a streak of green. He was unsure of what it was but he was too scared to try to figure it out – he was running now – minus the jeans and a tennis shoe.

Fin all but dove into his Camaro thankful he’d left the keys in the ignition and not in his pants pocket. He turned the key and sped down the drive, kicking dirt and gravel in his wake. In his rear-view mirror he could see the crazy man chasing him with the longest, sharpest sword he’d ever seen.

Making it to the end of the drive, Fin did a complete donut, spun the vehicle around in the right direction and then tore off down the street. Tori had grabbed his errant shoe and AJ leaned down to scoop up the jeans, then the two of them tore down the drive after Fin.

About the Author:

Ever since she was young, Nikki Jackson has loved reading and the way that books allow you to journey on wonderful adventures without ever leaving the comfort of home. She decided at a young age that she wanted to become a writer to enable others to experience the magic of books—and The Heart’s Journey Home is the result.

In addition to writing, Nikki Jackson is a contract worker for General Motors. She and her husband currently live in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Check out Nikki’s blog or catch up with her on Twitter.

Buy the book at Amazon.

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Reluctant Prince by Dani-Lyn Alexander – Spotlight and Giveaway

MBB_TourBanner_ReluctantPrince copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dani-Lyn Alexander will award a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter plus you can buy the book right now for only $0.99! Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_ReluctantPrinceSeventeen year old Ryleigh Donnovan is certain her life is cursed. Nothing ever goes smoothly, and her first job interview is no exception. An earthquake rocks the building, sending Ryleigh on a frantic search for her younger sister, a search which lands her in the hospital. Terrified they’ll push her for answers she can’t afford to give, Ryleigh flees with a mysterious stranger.

Jackson Maynard is about to be ordained as a Death Dealer, a warrior for the Kingdom of Cymmera, but first he must pass one more test. When he fails to acquire the human girl the prophet has chosen, he’s forced to stand trial for treason. Banished from his realm, he seeks out the girl from the vision, Ryleigh Donnovan, and together they embark on a journey to save his dying kingdom.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Ryleigh stood. This couldn’t be happening. With only a few months left until graduation, she didn’t want to be forced to drop out, but what else could she do? “Look, Mr. Jacobs, can’t you just—” Vertigo assailed her. The room rocked, and she grabbed the desk.

Mr. Jacobs grabbed the back of his chair. His eyes mirrored her panic. Books flew from the shelves. Glass shattered.

She had to get to Mia.

She turned to run. The building bucked, and she toppled, slamming her knee into the hard wood floor. Pain shot up her leg. She grabbed the chair to pull herself up, but the next wave threw her back down. She tried to regain her footing, but someone yanked her to the ground.

“Stay down.” Mr. Jacobs shoved her forward. He crawled beside her, half pushing, half dragging her toward the door.

Debris pelted her back, shoulders, and head. How could she have left Mia? Tears blurred her vision.

“If it’s an earthquake, it should stop any minute. Just keep crawling toward the door.”

Desperately wishing she could cover her ears to block the screaming, she clawed forward. Her knee dragged behind her, pain pulsing with each movement. Falling apart wouldn’t help matters. She had to get to Mia.

Ryleigh crawled through the doorway, into utter chaos. People trying to push through the mess, others huddled in corners shielding their heads. An injured woman cried as she rocked back and forth clutching her arm. A man crouched over her.

Fear and disorientation held Ryleigh immobile.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ReluctantPrinceDani-Lyn Alexander lives on Long Island with her husband, three kids and three dogs. She loves spending time with her family, at the beach, the playground, or just about anywhere. In her spare time, which is rare, she enjoys reading and shopping—especially in book stores. Some of her favorite things include; Bernese Mountain Dogs, musicals, bubble baths and soft blankets. She’s an incurable insomniac and has an addiction to chocolate.

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Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kensington, or Kobo.

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The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks

The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks
Publisher: Mirror Publishing
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (28 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Bella had it all. The hair, the dress, and the smile. One day, her most important asset was missing…her tooth! Will Bella find the perfect tooth in time for the contest? Will Zelda, the meanest of the fairies, destroy Bella’s chances of winning the crown? Take a journey onto Cloud Nine as Bella searches for a new tooth only to discover the tooth…I mean truth…behind her true beauty.

What does it mean to be pretty? Bella thought she knew the answer to this question, but now that she doesn’t have the same smile she isn’t quite so sure.

What I liked the most about Bella is how she’s described early on in her adventures. Yes, her physical features are mentioned, but so is her kindness. It’s easy to overlook such a small detail, especially while reading something so entertaining. This reader appreciated it, though, and knowing that the main character is a good role model made me want to share Bella’s adventures with my niece!

The age recommendation for this story was a little tricky. Most kids don’t begin to lose their teeth until early elementary school, but the illustrations do seem to be geared toward readers a few years younger than that. I suspect that the subject matter will be more appealing to older children, although there is nothing here that is inappropriate for preschoolers or sensitive readers.

With that being said, the illustrations are beautiful. They complement the storyline quite well. I was especially amused by the picture of Bella after she lost her tooth. It was very cute. There were actually a few times when I stopped reading to get a better look at the other faeries as well. Every one of them was beautiful, and I loved the fact that so many different ethnic groups were represented in this tale.

I’d recommend The Toothless Tooth Fairy to anyone in the market for something new and fun to read at bedtime.