Friday, March 24, 2017

Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

YA Friday brings us a fun, new paranormal adventure entitled Garden of Thorns.

The Story-
Sixteen-year old Rose has been a slave in the cruel circus show called the Garden. She and a group of girls entertain spectators and if they mess up their act, their best friend is beaten. Now the traveling show has been called upon to perform at the Imperial City, and Rose's best friend is involved in a plot to free all the girls in the troop.

Things do not go well, and only Rose escapes. She finds herself rescued/kidnapped by Rayce, and outlaw Prince. He and his group of followers will do anything to take back the kingdom and free the people from the tyranny of its ruler.

Rose is valuable for her sneaking skills, and she joins the band on one condition, that they help her rescue the other girls in the Garden. But, Rose has a deep, dark secret and its truth will cause trouble for Rayce and his fighters- trouble and maybe even death.

My Thoughts-
Great book with strong characters and a fantastic plot line. Caution- there is violence and gruesome images. I loved the whole concept of this story. It is unique and though the prince and princess thing is old hat, the original concept of the Garden is chilling. At first I was confused. The girls in the circus are called flowers and the girls they bond with are their weeds. I never really understood if the weeds magically took on all the pain and punishment of the flowers or if they were physically beaten. I had to let that question go as the story progressed and I was caught up in the life or death race Rose makes for freedom.

Rose is strong and loyal. She will not abandon her "sisters" in the garden. Rayce is brave and open-hearted, a true prince.The villains are cruel and chilling. Overall, a nice set-up.

Plot wise I did have a question. There is a miracle mineral that makes Rayce and his people glow green and equips their stun guns. The use of these guns gives them advantage during attacks. My problem, if this mineral is so abundant underground in natural caves and tunnels, why is the Imperial city unable to easily find it?

Overall though, a fun book that kept me reading until the end. Despite my questions I'm bumping this one up to a 4 because it really held my interest. 4 stars!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SCBWI Summer Conference 2017

Are you a children's writer? Have you been to the BEST children's book conference in the world? Well, now's your chance. Registration for the Summer SCBWI conference opens today! It is a bit pricey, so consider going in with a room mate. This year, new month and new venue. You'll find more info HERE.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dead Air by Michelle Schusterman

Don't forget to enter for chance to win a free Kindle copy of Petals, by Laurisa White Reyes! 

Welcome to Middle-Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing  a spooky fun book entitled, Dead Air - The Kat Sinclair Files #1 by Michelle Schusterman.

The Story-
 Kat's dad is the new host for the TV show Passport to Paranormal. A show that hunts and reveals ghosts. Since Kat's mom seems to come and go in her life, Kat heads off with her father to Brussels for his first episode. Things get strange right from the beginning when a strange note prints off from the computer and later a message containing 13 X's scrolls across the video player.

Kat and the producer's grandson, Oscar, are convinced that a real-life ghost is afoot. Together they begin researching the secret tunnels underneath the streets of the city. Kat also keeps all her friends back home up-to-date about her discovery by starting a blog chronicling her expeditions.

Her blog takes off in popularity, and it soon might be what saves the show from being axed by the network. Of course, a stalker leaving death threats and a ghost that keeps possessing the producer might just seal the deal first.

My Thoughts-
This was a really fun middle grade read that is the perfect level of scary without going into horror. Kat is a girl with mommy issues. She is haunted by what she calls "the Thing", something the book doesn't really delve into, and which I found odd. When "The Thing" was revealed in the end, I understood what it was, but I'd always thought it was a corporeal entity, not just a thought. So, I was confused there. Anyway, Kat is a brave girl who wants to get to the truth of all the paranormal phenomena happening around her. Her adventures are a treat and carry the reader through the plot.

The sub plot of a stalker is a great tension-filled ride that will leave the reader guessing until everything comes to a head in a spooky prison setting. This book was great fun and I think kids will enjoy the tale. I give it 4.5 stars!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Petals by Laurisa White Reyes- Book Launch and Giveaway!

Happy Book Launch to Petals by Laurisa White Reyes! A YA multi-cultural fiction with a thriller twist. I'm giving away 1 free kindle copy to 1 lucky reader! To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form at the very end. If you don't see it, click 'read more'.

The Story-
On Christmas Eve, a horrific car accident leaves Carly Perez without a mom. After a year of surgeries and counseling, Carly’s life is nearly back to normal—except for the monsters—vague, twisted images from the accident that plague her dreams. When her father insists on spending their first Christmas alone in Guatemala with a slew of relatives Carly has never met, she is far from thrilled, but she reluctantly boards the plane anyway.

That’s where she first spots the man with the scarred face. She could swear she has seen him before. But when? Where?

In Reu, the Guatemalan town where her father grew up, Carly meets Miguel, her attractive step-cousin, and thinks maybe vacation won’t be a total waste after all. Though she is drawn to him, Carly’s past holds her back—memories that refuse to be forgotten, and a secret about the accident that remains buried in her subconscious. And everywhere she turns, the man with the scarred face is there, driving that unwelcome secret to the surface.

My Thoughts-
A beautiful young adult coming of age story with a rich cultural background and a thrilling surprise twist. Carly doesn't want to go visit her relatives in Guatemala, but on the one year anniversary of her mother's death, her father decides it's time to meet the family. The setting is bold and brilliant, a weaving of images and traditions that sing to a reader's senses. I felt like I was in Guatemala as I read Carly's tale. It was fun to read of holiday traditions from another culture and observe things from Carly's point of view. Everything from the town of Reu to the jungles and old Mayan towers is brought to life by the author.

The character of Carly herself is well voiced and developed. She is a typical teenager, but is  dealing with a horrible tragedy. She struggles to find her way in this new world where her mother doesn't exist and her memories of the event are dark and horrible. She constantly sees a strange man, "raisin face", everywhere she goes, and these meetings bring on panic attacks and black outs. Who is this man? Why is he following her? These questions will pull you through the story and keep the tension high. The unveiling at the end is both soul wrenching and cathartic.

I really enjoyed this read. I highly recommend it! 5 Stars!

In sixty seconds, Mom would be dead.
We’re driving down Telegraph Highway, the two of us, a wrapped gift box on my lap. It is rectangular, maybe fifteen inches tall, in red foil paper with a white bow on top. We were lucky to find the drug store still open on Christmas Eve.
Mom is pleased. She’s humming along with the radio, which is playing a lively fifties holiday song. Her thumbs tap out the tune on the steering wheel. Her car keys sway in the ignition, jingling like bells.
Outside, the sky is dark. Through the storm, the road ahead looks like a long tunnel.
Snow is falling.
It happens so fast there is no time to react. Bright lights hurtle toward us on our side of the road. Mom’s arms brace against the wheel. She thrusts her foot against the brake, but the road is slick with ice. The car swerves.
I hear a car horn blaring. I hear the crunch of metal, the pop of glass shattering. A powerful force shoves me against the car door as everything suddenly whirls in the wrong direction. I feel pain. I scream.
And then it’s over.
When I blink open my eyes, everything is white.
Snow is falling.

Buy it Now- 


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Luck of the Irish $250 Giveaway

Feeling Lucky? Enter the St. Patty's Day Giveaway! Just fill out the rafflecopter form below. If you don't see it, click 'read more'.

Luck of the Irish $250 Giveaway

March 17th to 31st

$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 eGift Card

Ends 3/31/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ultimate Ocean-pedia from National Geographic Kids and Christina Wilsdon

Middle-Grade Monday Alert! If you've read my blog before you might have noticed that I love National Geographic Kids books. Today I'm looking at Ultimate Ocean-pedia. Right off the bat- 5 stars!

This book has it all and any child interested in sea creatures, waves and underwater exploration will love this book. My favorite thing are the pictures. I get a thrill looking at the close-up, colored images. It's like seeing the real thing. The book goes into all types of sea life, giving detailed information, amazing facts and diagrams. If you didn't know how the tide system worked before, now you will.

The book is divided into 7 sections: Oceans, Ocean life, Ocean in Motion, Wild weather, Underwater exploration, Along the coast and When people and oceans meet. The chapter I looked at the most was Ocean life because I could not stay away from the pictures and facts. So fun! Even children not old enough to read will spend time thumbing through the pages.

This is a truly special book for kids who love the Ocean.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fanning the Flames (Going Down in Flames, #4) by Chris Cannon and $40 Giveaway

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I am reviewing Fanning the Flames (Going Down in Flames, #4) by Chris Cannon. To enter the giveaway sponsored by Entangled Teen, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. If you don't see it click, 'read more'.

The Story-
Bryn McKenna is a hybrid dragon that has a dragon knight named Valmont. She lives in a world where arranged marriages are done to keep blood lines pure. Too bad she's in love with her knight and not her intended, Jaxon Westgate, but that's okay because Jaxon is in love with someone else too.

Bryn and Valmont are the first dragon and knight pair in decades and when it is discovered that their blood can open secret rooms within the castle library, rooms that hold magic relics left over from centuries past, the dragon council decides to force the issue by bonding together other knights and dragons so that more rooms can be found.

But all is not well in Bryn's world. There are dragon rebels that want to take down the council. Shifters that  believe that dragons should be able to mix colors and breeds. Bryn and her knight find themselves looking for magic relics to stop their attacks.

One of these attacks forces the issue of marriage up front and center, and Bryn must decided to stay true to her knight or succumb to the pressures of the council.

My Thoughts-

First off, I did not read the first three books in the series so I am looking at this from a newbie perspective. The author did a great job of weaving in previous issues, so I never felt at a loss. I totally loved it even though I didn't read what had come before.

This book has it all: love, hidden rooms with magical weapons, puzzles to solve, people to hate and secrets kept deep. The hidden rooms drew me in first. I couldn't wait for them to find each new room and discover what ancient secrets it held. Each uncovered room introduced something new for the different colored dragon breeds, so you know there are even more rooms to discover!

The love life involved is a whirlwind and torture ride. Readers follow along joyfully with Bryn and Valmont. The two are so in love- what could go wrong? Yeah, boom! I just have to say that at the end of the book I actually wanted to scream at Bryn and knock her upside the head.You'll have to read it to see how she sets her future up.

There is a Hitleresque theme running through the book, purity of the species. As you read, Bryn will see things from both sides of the fence, and her decisions will influence the dragon world around her. Here comes the hate. Yep, older Westgate, Jaxon's dad, is evil. His character is well written and he turned my stomach. Thus the set up into the next book, which I can't wait to read, is cast.

I highly recommend this book. I found one of my favorite quotes from the book in the above meme. 5 stars! If I could, I'd go back and read it from book 1 though, just to get an even bigger picture of things.