Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Sworn to Raise, by Terah Edun

This book and a handful of others are a result of my overly-enthusiastic ARC spree on Netgalley, which I admit I am very guilty of doing a lot. I end up with books I don’t like, and books I have to force myself to read. Lesson of the day? Stop going on Netgalley, no matter how tempting it is.

Sworn to Raise (Courtlight #1) 

Title: Sworn to Raise
Author: Terah Edun
Genre: Fantasy
Pub. Date: April 10, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the empire. But beneath her empire’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.

But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder. -Goodreads
My Rating: 1 star

Every once in a while we all come across a very mediocre book.

You don't hate them, you don't love them, and they don't really affect your life in any way. You're kind of indifferent to everything that occurs and could care less about any of the characters. You notice the countless flaws, but couldn't be bothered enough to actually list all of them.

Usually, this "meh" feeling is a sigh of amateur writing and under-developed characters. Needless to say, when readers feel this way towards a book, that is a BAAAAAD sign.

From the moment I began reading this, the writing clearly needed work. There were run-on sentences, sentences that made little sense, and sentences that completely ignored the rules of grammar. It was painful to read, to say the least.


Trudging through this book, I noticed that it lacked the given fundamentals that a reader expects. The plot went all over the place, there was no cohesiveness, and plenty of times I found myself scratching my head out of confusion. The conversations flowed unnaturally. To be put bluntly, it was all quite awkward.

I could go on and on about the numerous problems with this book, (ex: why did she willingly travel with an unknown stranger? Where was the world-building?) but, I don’t believe this series has much hope. It needs a lot more improvement, and by a lot, I mean A LOT. Just read this sentence and you be the judge.

"Inch by inch, it withdrew from the core of his magic like a parasitic water worm being withdrawn from a swollen sore."


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Promo Post + Giveaway: The Guardians Crown, by Wendy Owens

Title: The Guardians Crown (#5)
Author: Wendy Owens
Genre: YA Paranormal
Pub. Date: September 27, 2013

Gabe is finally forced to answer the ultimate question, will he give his life to save the world? What about just to save the one he loves the most? The Guardians struggle to find another way--ideas that don't involve Gabe's death--to defeat Baal. Time is running out. What will Gabe choose? What price will he pay for that choice?


Releasing one last big breath, pushing all the air from his lungs, Michael emerged into the room. He opened his eyes, wide, and prepared to greet his brethren. The room shrank inward, all around him, as his eyes took in a sight he had not expected. He had accepted the idea this was a trick, that perhaps he had offended the council one too many times with his unorthodox methods. He had accepted they might, in fact, be luring him there to imprison him for his insubordination. What he saw now though, was not what he had expected.

A half circle of handmade bamboo tables was sprawled out before him. At each table, a small stool perched behind it with an elder seated in it. None of them looked up at him, their heads lying on the table tops, the blood from their slit throats draining, and spilling onto the dirt floor. All of them, they were all dead.

Michael’s head began to spin. He fell to his knees, purging himself of all of his stomach contents. A tear ran down his cheek, as he wiped away a string of vomit with the back of his hand, from the corner of his mouth. “No,” he gasped, shaking his head, as if trying to make the reality before him disappear.

“I knew you’d come!” a voice called out behind him.

Michael staggered to his feet and turned to face his worst nightmare. Baal stood before him, a smirk on his face. He wore his signature grey, pinstripe, three-piece suit, and casually twisted his pinky ring on his long and slender well-manicured finger. As it rotated Michael caught a glimpse of the rubies in the skull’s eye sockets. His black hair was slicked back, the sight of his false appearance made Michael sick to his stomach.

A slight panic rushed over him as he thought, you need to get the hell out of here. But he knew transporting would be pointless. If he fled back to Iron Gate, Baal would most certainly pick up the tracer and follow him. He would bring the same fate of the council down on everyone he cared about. There was only one option. He would stand and fight, even if it meant perishing like the council.


Author Bio:

Wendy Owens was raised in the small college town of Oxford, Ohio. After attending Miami University, Wendy went on to a career in the visual arts. After several years of creating and selling her own artwork, she gave her first love, writing, a try.

Since 2011, she has published a young adult paranormal series, The Guardians, which will contain five books total, as well as a novella.

Wendy now happily spends her days writing—her loving dachshund, Piper, curled up at her feet. When she's not writing, she can be found spending time with her tech geek husband and their three amazing kids, exploring the city she loves to call home: Cincinnati, OH.

Author Links:

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Interview: Paula Weston, Author of Shadows

Today I have Paula Weston, author of Shadows, for an interview. Welcome Paula! 
You can check out my review for Shadows here. 

1. Who are some authors you look up to for inspiration?

I’m quite an eclectic reader, but writers whose work I have long admired include Markus Zusak, Melina Marchetta, Maggie Stiefvater, Vikki Wakefield and Peter Temple. I've only discovered Laini Taylor this year, and she’s now on that list too.

2. What motivated you to write Shadows?

Rejection! I’d been writing and submitting manuscripts to publishers for many years (and being rejected), and then in 2010 I came very close to being signed for a fantasy series. When that opportunity fell through, I was devastated. Once I picked myself up and dusted myself off, I decided to write something just for fun. I’d always loved urban fantasy and paranormal stories but had never thought to write in that genre myself – until then.

It was an idea I’d had in my head for months that I’d been ignoring because I was working on the other project. But then I sat down one weekend and played around with the scene in my head, which ended up being the scene where Gaby meets Rafa in Rick’s Bar. I wrote in first person/present tense for the first time. The characters swore. They were violent and a little bit sexy. And it flowed! Better yet, I was having a ball.

Long story, short, when I had a few chapters down and realised I was loving the characters and the story, I spent time working out the bigger picture and mythology – and that it would take four books to tell the story. Then I broke the news to my agent. She loved the idea and the chapters I sent her, and I spent the next year writing what would become Shadows. Within 12 months of finishing it, I had a contract with Text Publishing in Australia, followed by deals in the US and Canada, and the United Kingdom. I still shake my head at how it all came together – and remain incredibly grateful for the strange twists and turns that life throws our way.

3. Are any of your characters similar to you (personality-wise)?

Gaby’s voice is very much me as an older teen. These days, I aspire to be like Ez. In reality, I’m probably somewhere between the two.

4. Was becoming an author always the career you've always wanted?

Absolutely. I’ve always loved reading and writing, and have been writing stories since I was a child. I started submitting manuscripts to publishers back in 1995, so it was 16 years between my first rejection letter and my contract with Text Publishing. (By the way, I also still have a day job.)

5. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I know we all say it, but it’s true: read lots, write lots and don’t give up. The world will always need great stories and great storytellers, so if you love to write, keep writing.

6. Were there any challenges you had to encounter while writing Shadows (research, etc.)

My first challenge was getting the mythology and world building sorted. And then once I knew I was writing about angels, fallen angels and demons, it was figuring out how to handle the ‘religious’ question. I decided to take a middle ground approach: acknowledge the basis for the mythology (an apocryphal text written two thousand years ago), and then move on.

7. Favorite fictional characters?

So many! As far as classics go, I’d say Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien), Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen) and Flora Poste (Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons).

8. Is Rafa based on any person in real-life?

Ha! No.

9. Is Pan Beach based on a real place?

Yes, it’s a bit of an amalgam of three places on the east coast of Australia: Port Douglas (Far North Queensland), Noosa Heads (a quite famous location on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland) and Byron Bay (another well known town, in northern New South Wales).

10. Do you know or remember what started your love of the written word?

The first book I remember getting completely lost in was an Australian novel called Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park, which I read in primary school (elementary school). It’s the story of a girl transported back to the nineteenth century. I remember walking around afterwards, wondering if I would be transported to other times and places if I could just find the portal. I was always reading books as child, and usually they were stories about magic/strangeness in the real world.

Random trivia!

1. Favorite band/singers? Foo Fighters. (My music tastes range from Jack Johnson to The Black Keys and AC/DC, but the Fooeys are definitely my fave.)

2. Hardcover, paperback, or e-book? I love the feel of a hardcover, but a paperback is easier to handle when reading. Of course I do have a kindle for travelling…

3. Fantasy or contemporary? Depends on my mood. I enjoy both.

4. Hobbies other than writing? Reading, travelling, cooking, watching TV/movies, live theatre and walking my dog (a retired greyhound).

5. Favorite ice cream flavor? (this says a lot about a person) Too many to chose from! Okay, so my top three would be: chocolate and peanut butter; Turkish delight; burnt caramel. (So, what does that say about me? – aside from the fact I’m indecisive when it comes to ice cream…)

It says that you are a very multicultural person :D

6. Have you ever met any famous authors? I've met a lot of wonderful authors in the past few years. The most well-known would be Markus Zusak and Maggie Stiefvater.

Do you think you'll ever come to the US for a book signing? 

Love to. J I’ll be in North America in October for a quick two-week holiday to visit friends in the US and to meet my lovely publishing team at Tundra Books in Toronto. It’s not an ‘official’ visit, but I’m hoping to pop into a few bookstores while I’m in that part of the world.

A million thanks to Paula and Tundra books for adding me to this tour. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (5)

I feel like I've gotten some pretty great books this week. (Don't I always feel like that?) So, here's what I got:

From the library:

1. Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas
2. Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey
3. Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta


1. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman (review)
2. The Lord of the Rings, Parts 1,2, and 3, by J.R.R. Tolkien (I have only read The Hobbit, don't judge)

From Netgalley:

The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #2) WitchstruckIndelible (The Twixt, #1)Berlin Wolf

1. The Iron Traitor, by Julie Kagawa
2. Witchstruck, by Victoria Lamb
3. Indelible, by Dawn Metcalf
4. Berlin Wolf, by Mark Florida-James

What's on your STS? Make sure to link in the comments below!

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Design!

Notice the new blog design? Thanks to the brilliant Emma at The Graphicness, who designed the banner and button and supplied me with a background, my blog is beautiful! I was going for an enchanted/magical theme, and she got it just right. Emma is super friendly and I recommend her to all of you that would like to re-design your blog, or want any type of blog-related material. So go check out her designs!

*stares at blog for the next 3 hours*

Monday, September 2, 2013

Review: If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay #1)

Title: If I Stay (If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Contemporary
Pub. Date: April 6, 2010

On a day that started like any other,

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.  -Goodreads

Fact: I’m probably the biggest crier on the face of this planet. I’m too sensitive for my own good, and emotional doesn't even begin to describe how I am. To this day, I still cry during The Lion King, regardless of how many times I've watched it. I cry over anything, which is pretty ridiculous, actually. 

So I was quite shocked to find that this book did not even make me shed one tear. Weird, huh?

Unless you count tears of boredom.


Me: Wait where was the part where I was supposed to cry?

Despite what you’re probably thinking, I did not base this review on whether or not I would cry. I gave it two stars because it did not affect me in any way. Rather, it bored me. Other than the fact that I was bored to tears, I had several major issues with If I Stay.

For one, I failed to empathize with a vast majority of the characters. The connection just wasn't there, slightly contributing to my disliking of this book. Identifying with characters is extremely important for me as a reader, especially with these types of books. I did not appreciate Mia’s emotionless voice -which I know was deliberate on the author’s part- because it did not fit this sort of story.

The characters in this book were much too perfect. It was palpable from that first scene from the beginning of the book, when the family was all together. It was like those perfect, unrealistic American families you see on T.V. It was pretty painful to read about. If you want to know anything about me, I loathe perfect things.

Quite often, I found the story to be a bit… messy. It constantly jumped from one thing to another, much to my irritation. To sum the book up, If I Stay was just a jumbled mess of memories, lacking one necessary ingredient: cohesiveness.

I like to compare the plot of this novel to a lost dog. It wanders aimlessly, endlessly, not really going anywhere. More times than I would like to admit, I contemplated giving up the book altogether. I kept questioning why I wanted to continue with this endeavor.

One might argue that that was the author’s intent; to show this feeling of aimlessness to symbolize how Mia was feeling. While this is a good idea in theory, all it really does is bore the reader and make them question why they are reading this book.

But probably what bothered me the most was the very unsatisfying ending. Whilst reading this, I had inferred that maybe, just maybe, all this suck will cease because the author would write such a brilliant, beautiful, life-changing conclusion that would make me give this book 5 stars without a second thought. That I would be blown off my feet by the brilliance of the ending.

Needless to say, my inferring was smashed by how incorrect it was.

The one redeeming factor of this book that stopped me from giving it one star was Mia’s passion for music. You’d be hard-pressed to find a main character as passionate as her, which is one quality of her’s I admired greatly.

Maybe I expected the wrong things from this book. Maybe I’m reading into this all wrong, and missing the message by a mile. I’m sorry, I just didn't like the book. Besides failing to move me in any way, it failed to keep my attention, and for that, I simply cannot give this book any higher than 2 stars.

For the record, I don't exactly hate this book, but I think it was very undeserving of the hype and that it was merely descent. Not anything special.

Others can have If I Stay. I’ll be flaunting my copy of Before I Fall.

2 stars