Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel - Interview & Book Review

About Tiffany McDaniel
 
 
An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.
 
Interview 

1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?

I’m an Ohio poet and novelist who wants to share a glass of Dandelion Wine with Ray Bradbury and have a good haunting with Shirley Jackson.

2) You've chosen a very hot summer for your story. What inspired you to write about that time?

The Summer that Melted Everything started out as a title first. It was one of those Ohio summers that I just felt like I was melting into a puddle of myself at my feet, and thus the title was born. I do always start writing a novel with two things. The title and the first line. These two things lead the entire story. I always say the inspiration to write the story comes from the characters themselves. My characters feel very real to me and they inspire me, demand even, that I get their story right. That I tell their truths as honestly as I can.

3) The devil is a very important part of your book, can you tell a bit more about it?

When I wrote that first line, I didn’t know how the devil would be just yet. What would unfold that summer upon his so-called arrival. What I didn’t want to write, was the stereotypical devil of red flesh and horns. We’ve had enough of that devil. It’s time we had something else. A devil that is not so obvious. An evil that we find amongst ourselves.  

4) Can you describe Sal in 6 words?

A fallen angel. A fallen boy.

5) You're a writer and an artist. What's the best thing about that combination?

I’d say being able to use words as a writer and use visuals as an artist to express the same story. Art is definitely fuel to be creative. There’s an ease with art and for me it doesn’t come with the same pressure as writing the perfect sentence, because with art perfection is thrown out the window. Art is made of crooked lines and errors even, and in these faults the beauty breathes. Art teaches me to let my writing breath as well.

6) What did your journey to become a published author look like?

I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. I honestly believed I never would be published because the despair and heart-ache on the road to publication eats at one’s soul until that is all there is to believe. Even with a publishing contract in place, publishing moves at a snail’s pace, and it’s taken two years to see the book journey through the publishing house. So with all the years counted up, I’ve been waiting thirteen long years to see one of my books on the shelf. July 26th is going to be a very special day indeed. I just might sprout wings and fly the highest mountain peaks.

7) What's your opinion about good and evil, is it black and white or is there also a lot of grey?

There’s lots of grey. True villains have the possibility for goodness. And true heroes have the possibility to be evil. We all have that good and evil inside us, and for the most part we make a path through that gray middle ground between the halos and the horns. Hoping we are always nearer to the clouds than we are to the ground.

8) There's a lot of artwork on your website. Did you make it while writing your book, before or after or is it a mix of all?


I tend to only paint the characters and scenes from my novel after I’ve completed the novel, just because I need to create them through story before I create them through image. So my writing does influence my artwork more than vice versa. Once I have that story in my head, the canvas is that which I let out the visuals in my head upon. It’s in essence, another dimension to the story. A story I can sit back and see in its own good time.

9) You have a great way with words. What does language mean to you?

I love words. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been drawn to story. Reading it. Creating it. Living with it. I can’t imagine life without words. To me, it’s everything. They are the things that make up my soul, wrapping around it until I’m complete. I’m lost without story and words. 

10) Your writing is inspired by rolling hills and woods around you. What makes them so special?

The fictional town in the novel, Breathed, Ohio, and its landscape is based on my childhood summers and school-year weekends spent in southern Ohio on the hilly acreage and in the cinderblock house my father was left by his parents. It’s a front porch type of place. A place that has shaped me as an author. I’ve said before, cut me open and there will be a release of fireflies and moon-shine. That’s what makes the rolling hills and woods special. That they are inside me. As I have been inside them.

11) What are your plans for the future?

I have eight completed novels. I’m currently working on my ninth. The Summer that Melted Everything, while it is my first published novel, it’s actually the fifth or sixth novel I’ve written thus far. The novel I’m hoping to follow it up with is my newest completed novel, When Lions Stood as Men. It’s the story of a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, flee across the Atlantic and end up in my land of Ohio. Trying to come to terms with their survivors’ guilt, the two siblings create their own camp of judgment up in the hills of Ohio. A camp in which they serve as both the guards and the prisoners. It’s a unique story on what it means to survive guilt. On what it means to survive love itself.
 
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Review by Suze
 
For Fielding Bliss the summer of 1984 had a lot of impact, it changed his life forever. His forever curious father, a man of the law, put an advertisement in the paper to invite the devil into his home. When a thirteen-year-old boy named Sal shows up in Breathed it's hard to believe he is actually evil incarnate. Sal is malnourished, he doesn't seem to be reported missing anywhere, he looks tatty and he has no roof over his head. Because he has nowhere else to go it's decided Sal can stay with Fielding's family.
 
It's scorching hot in Breathed and there's no relief from the heat. Wherever Sal and Fielding go accidents happen and soon the inhabitants of Breathed believe that Sal is indeed the devil. Sal isn't like any other teenager. He's wise beyond his years, he's educated, he knows everything about everyone and he can quote the Bible. There's a man in Breathed who doesn't want to have Sal anywhere near him at all. While he spreads the word, hatred for the boy grows while Sal has only ever been kind. For Fielding it means the world as he knew it will end and this one hot summer will be what defines who he is for the rest of his days.
 
The Summer That Melted Everything is beautifully written. It's a fantastic literary story with an interesting premise. The question what evil really looks like and in what forms it can be manifested fascinated me from the start. Tiffany McDaniel has skillfully written a story that is shocking and stunning at the same time. What is right and what is wrong? A series of actions in this story often lead to something that is usually seen as a crime, but in reality, when you look closer, can it also be an act of mercy? I loved the shifting of boundaries, the playing with morals, the universal fears and hopes and the unfounded hatred. Tiffany McDaniel isn't afraid, she doesn't limit herself, and she doesn't stay away from difficult topics. She gives everything she has and has obviously poured all of her creativity into this story, which is something I admire. The Summer That Melted Everything is unique, powerful and mesmerizing.
 
Tiffany McDaniel challenges her readers. I love that she made me think about opposites like right versus wrong, cruelty versus mercy, love versus hate and fear versus courage. There are so many great grey areas in her book and I liked that she kept making me come up with my own explanations and interpretations. She doesn't tell her readers what to feel, but she guarantees that they will feel a lot. I had tears in my eyes, I was grinding my teeth in frustration, I felt love for the main characters and wanted to yell at them at the same time and I wanted to stop the snowball effect, while I also wanted it to keep rolling, because I was both too scared and curious to see what would happen if it would finally stop. There's chaos, there's conflict and there's unfairness, which is a mix that can only lead to disaster and Tiffany McDaniel writes about it in a hypnotizing, spellbinding way.
 
The Summer That Melted Everything is a story that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The ending is inevitable, but it still surprised me. The unexpected keeps happening in this book. I love how Tiffany McDaniel plays with concepts like Heaven and Hell and the outcome of what she does is always terrible, but it's also perfectly fitting. She is in control and never gives that up. She's written a masterly story, a brilliant debut that I highly recommend. 
 
Book Trailer
 
 


Beach Reads In August Giveaway Hop

 
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Review - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

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Review by Suze
 
Harry Potter is at the end of his thirties, he has a family and works for the Ministry of Magic. He's married to Ginny and they have three children. Albert is about to start Hogwarts. While his big brother James has an easy and fun time at school Albert is struggling. He has one good friend, Scorpius, and that's it. Albus resents his father because Harry makes him feel like he's the black sheep of the family, the son who always disappoints.
 
When Albert discovers his father refuses to grant a wish he thinks Harry should have fulfilled he tries to do the right thing and make it come true himself. Together with Scorpius he comes up with a plan that has its roots in Harry's past. When new and old enemies have a chance to win the battle against Harry Potter, father and son need to reconcile to save the future.
 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a fantastic play. I loved reading about the familiar characters of the Harry Potter novels while it was fun at the same time to be introduced to a new generation of wizards. I liked the angle that was chosen. Albus has a lot of frustration festering inside him and this leads to all kinds of trouble. He isn't popular, he isn't a skilled spell caster and he feels like he isn't well loved. This is a good base for a gripping story and the execution is great. Every scene is interesting and the story feels like a natural succession of the seven Harry Potter novels.
 
Even though Harry Potter is now a man with a family and a job his character hasn't changed much. He's still fiercely loyal, he keeps making stupid mistakes from time to time and he isn't afraid to admit that he has flaws. He is an approachable man who loves his family and doesn't always know how to show this. I liked how magic and spells are being combined with everyday trouble that anyone can relate to. It's a fascinating mix.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is easy to read and I didn't have any trouble picturing what the scenes would look like on stage. I really liked this Harry Potter play, part of it is a fun trip down memory lane and the rest is a fabulous new story set in a world that will always remain brilliant.

Book Review: Enlightenment by Liz Keel


About Liz Keel
 

I live in Surrey, England, a short walk from the beautiful Windsor Park, with my husband Richard and our two gorgeous children Noah and Olivia. For me, writing is nothing short of an addiction and I often find myself sneaking out to my writing shed for just a few minutes, which can often turn into hours of pure, unadulterated bliss catching up with my characters and continuing their story. In-between writing, I teach in a primary school where there’s never a dull moment! I will also often be found Kindle in hand, reading a wide variety of genres but with YA fantasy and paranormal romance at the forefront of my reading list. Although I’m currently writing the second book in the Driel trilogy, other characters involving all things fantasy, paranormal and YA romance are jockeying for position, wanting me to write their story next, so watch this space! It is such a privilege to share my stories with you the reader. Thank you enough for taking the time to find out more about me.

Find out more at

Facebook author Page
Website
Fire Quill Publishing
Twitter

Book review
 
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Review by Anniek

All Thea has ever known is the human world. She grew up in a loving home. A tragic car accident leaves Thea as the only survivor. Eli, her best friend, and his parents take her in so she can recover from this horrible event. Thea has always been drawn to nature. She can spend hours in the forest. Eli has always been there for Thea although she is beginning to suspect that he wants to come out of the friend zone. On their way to school Thea and Eli are attacked by creatures Thea never knew existed. Being in danger Thea suddenly discovers powers she never knew she had.

Eli has no choice but to take Thea back to their own world, the world of the Faey. Eli is a member of the Thill. The Thill will protect the royal family and every other person in the Faey realm if need be. Eli and his family are very proud that he was assigned to protect Thea. Eli will do anything in his power to keep Thea safe and he also hopes that one day they will become more than friends.

Thea is the princess of the Faey realm and her return means that she will take her rightful place as Queen. After her biological father and mother, the King and Queen, were murdered Thea was sent to the human world to hide. In the Faey world time went on as well and the elves are in need of their Queen. Every elve has its own unique gift, which are based on the elements. The gifts that elves are being blessed with are fire, water, earth, air and spirit. The counsil has a representative of every element but the man who has taken the crown, in absence of a King or Queen, has his own thoughts about who is valuable and who isn't. Thea only has four months to become ready. She has a lot of training to do and Thea also has to find out with which element she was blessed. It turns out she is even more special than she could have ever imagined.

Isaac is the head of the Thill. He has protected and watched Thea from a distance her whole life. Now that she is back he knows that she is the one for him. Their souls are connecting on a deeper level. Both of them feel the instant attraction straight away. Isaac can't bear the thought of losing Thea after losing her parents all those years ago, will she be safe? When the enemy is closer than they think everyone needs to be on high alert.

Thea is a young girl of seventeen when she finds out her true origin. Some of the decisions she makes can be attributed to her age. She works hard to accomplish what is asked of her and Thea is determined to be the Queen that everybody is longing for. Thea is smart and unique in her own way. She is also kind, loving and protective towards her friends, which are character traits of a worthy Queen.

Enlightenment takes the reader to a beautiful magical world. The way Thea describes the Faey world when she enters it for the first time made me want to go there as well. I loved the detail that every elve is given a unique gift, so that they would be united in their goal to achieve harmony, love and respect. Everyone has to work together to use their gift for the greater good. Liz Keel makes the characters come to life really well and she kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading about Thea and her journey to become Queen. Enlightenment is a brilliant start of a new series with plenty of characters that are waiting to evolve. I wouldn't be surprised if this series would be made into a movie.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book Review - Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

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Review by Suze
 
Nine women wear the same black Max Hammer dress that will change their lives forever. The dress has been made by a ninety-year-old pattern maker who wants to end his career with something spectacular. The dress is the hit of the season and it's so popular that it's sold out almost everywhere. Nine different women have the chance to wear this stunning piece and for all of them it does something that will bring them exactly what they should have in life.
 
 Nine Women, One Dress is a heartwarming story about a very special dress. I loved reading about the journey of this beautiful black piece. It helps where it should and it brings the wearers what they deserve in life. I loved that aspect and fell in love with this unique dress immediately. It starts with a man who had an extraordinary career as a pattern maker, then it changes everything for the model who has the chance to wear it, it travels to Bloomingdales, it enables a man who's lost his wife to fall in love again, it has its debut on Broadway, it's the star of a popular Instagram account, it ends up in an airport mix-up etcetera. Every woman who wears it has a captivating story to tell.
 
I loved Jane L. Rosen's approach. She writes about a lot of different people, but it never becomes confusing, because the dress is actually the main character of the story. I read this book with such a big smile on my face. It's wonderfully romantic and which woman wouldn't want to wear a stunning and enchanting black dress? It's such a magical piece of clothing and I kept wishing I had a dress like that myself. Nine Women, One Dress is a lovely contemporary fairytale. It had me under its spell from the first sentence and it's a story that will stay with me for a long time.
 
Jane L. Rosen has a writing style that flows easily and she doesn't need many words to say what she wants to say. I loved that about this story. It isn't long and it's a quick read, but it is complete and exactly the way it should be. It leaves room for the reader to dream about the infinite possibilities of the black Max Hammer dress, which is something I really enjoyed. The women who wear that dress are totally different and they each have interesting character traits. For me they were equally fascinating. I love the idea behind this story and think the creative execution is flawless. Nine Women, One Dress is a fantastic sweet, uplifting and heartwarming must-read.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Gilt Series by Geneva Lee - Book Reviews


About Geneva Lee
 


Geneva Lee is the New York Times, USA Today, and Internationally bestselling author of the Royals Saga. She likes writing steamy scenes almost as much as imagining crazy ways to torture her characters. Geneva travels frequently, never says no to champagne, and spends more time with fictional people than living, breathing ones. She lives her husband and two children.

Links

Website: http://www.genevalee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/genevaleebooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GenevaLeeAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/genevaleeauthor/
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/LVO81
 
Book reviews
 
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Review by Suze
 
Emma goes to the same high school as the rich Belle Mère kids, but she isn't one of them. Her father owns a pawnshop she practically runs by herself, because he isn't able to do it any longer. Her stepfather is rich, but Emma and her mother aren't close and she doesn't spend much time with them. The West family is one of the most prestigious in the area and there's a lot of animosity between Emma's family and the Wests. When Emma's best friends takes her to an invitation only party thrown by Monroe West she's curious enough to enter the building. When it's made clear she isn't welcome she decides to take a detour before going home, it might be the only chance she gets to see more of the home of her father's archenemy.
 
Emma meets Jameson, a guy she's never seen before. He's nice to talk to and to look at, so she decides to stay at the West property just a little bit longer. When she wakes up the next morning she's on her own. Emma quickly leaves the West resort, but finds out her night with the perfect stranger has a lot more impact than she initially thought. Someone has been murdered and Jameson is the prime suspect. Could he really have killed someone or is he being blamed for something he hasn't done? What will happen when the police start asking questions?
 
Gilt: By Invitation Only is a gripping story about a seventeen-year-old girl who has a hard life. Emma lost her sister, her father is an alcoholic and her mother rather spends her time somewhere else. Emma has to run a business while going to school and she has to look after her dad. She's independent, she can take care of herself and she isn't afraid to speak her mind. I love the bold way she talks. Jameson is handsome and he's really sweet to Emma. Their night together is amazing, but it ends in a dramatic way which intrigued from the start.
 
Geneva Lee leaves clues and she slowly uncovers secrets. She is completely in control of the information she gives to her readers and it's clear she knows how to build tension. The Gilt series keeps me on the edge of my seat and I love it. Gilt: By Invitation Only ends with a spectacular cliffhanger and I couldn't wait to read more. I highly recommend this amazing first part of the series.
 
 
Gilt: By Invitation Only is free for a limited time.
 
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 Review by Suze
 
Emma is in Palm Springs where she's recovering from her accident. Emma hasn't spent much time with her mother in the years since she left for a reason and even though her mother wants her to stay Emma feels like she has to go back to Las Vegas. Her best friend shows her an Instagram profile with pictures of the Belle Mère crowd. What does this person want and are there any clues to be found in the photographs?
 
Jameson is out of prison and visits Emma in Palm Springs as soon as he has the chance. They want to keep seeing each other, but things have just become even more complicated because they're now both police suspects. Emma wants to know why they would think she could have committed the crime and if she needs a lawyer. She and Jameson have to stick together, they are each other's alibis and the murderer is still out there. They also might be falling in love with one another. Who can Emma trust and where can she go?
 
Gilt: Sin Never Sleeps is just as captivating as Gilt: By Invitation Only. I love Geneva Lee's vivid writing. It's obvious she knows her locations through and through. She writes about the rich and famous with much confidence, but she also isn't afraid to show her readers the other side of Las Vegas, the rotten, hidden counterpart of all the luxury and glitter and glamour. She writes about a fascinating world and a thought-provoking case. I couldn't wait to get more pieces of the puzzle and to receive some much desired clues. Geneva Lee knows how to get her readers hooked and her finales are fantastic.
 
In Gilt: Sin Never Sleeps the reader gets the chance to know Emma and Jameson a lot better. I loved seeing their relationship develop. Emma has even more difficulties to deal with, but she's as strong and resilient as ever. She isn't afraid to confront people and does some digging of her own. I loved every new direction Geneva Lee lets her main characters take. There are plenty of surprising twists and turns and they're all equally compelling. I was sad when the story ended, because I wasn't ready to stop reading yet. I desperately want to know who committed the murder and why and already can't wait to get my hands on the next Gilt book.

 
 


Cinema Lumière by Hattie Holden Edmonds - Book Review & Giveaway

 
About Hattie Holden Edmonds
 

Hattie Holden Edmonds was the in-house writer at Comic Relief for three years, working on projects with amongst others, Richard Curtis, Sacha Baron Cohen and Armando Iannucci. Before that she was a music journalist for the German music magazine Bravo. Cinema Lumière is her debut novel. She also writes a weekly blog for the Huffington Post on all things bookish. Check her website at http://www.hattieholdenedmonds.com/   
 
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Review by Suze
 
Hannah works for a magazine she isn't interested in. The only thing she likes about her job is her shy new colleague Ian. They get along well and they love going out for lunch together. After a bad relationship Hannah finally might be ready to date again and Joe could be the man for her, but Hannah has a past that's bothering her and it's hard for her to open up to someone. She finds solace with her friend Victor in Cinema Lumière, a small cinema that shows unique films. Hannah is being shown the movie of her own life. It scares Hannah, but Victor is determined, she has to come back for more. Will she eventually get her life under control again and will Victor's movies help her to make sense of her situation and to take some much needed steps in the right direction?
 
Cinema Lumière is a beautiful story about old movies, love, friendship, traumatic experiences, happiness and loneliness. Victor is an enigmatic and charismatic man and I immediately loved his personality. He's the kindest man there is and I loved the descriptions of his movies. The idea of a personal cinema is wonderful and I enjoyed reading about his magical theater. Hannah has some problems she doesn't deal with and by trying to push them away she allows them to get bigger. She's been hurt and therefore she also hurts others, mostly unintentionally and always with great regret. I could almost feel her pain and I was sad about her wasted talents and her lost sparkle. She's a wonderful woman and she deserves to have a life. I liked how Hattie Holden Edmonds combines the story about love and friendship in Hannah's life with gorgeous movie descriptions and a cinema with allure.
 
Hattie Holden Edmonds writes beautifully and I love her creative ideas. Victor is a Frenchman, which gives him something extra mysterious. I liked that Hannah forms bonds with people in all kinds of age categories. There are three important men in her life, Victor, Ian and Joe and they each play a very different part in the story. I found them equally interesting and enjoyed reading about the connection they have with Hannah. Hattie Holden Edmonds's vivid descriptions of their personalities make them come to life really well.
 
Cinema Lumière has a fantastic surprising ending. I read it with tears in my eyes and it feels like getting a huge gift when a great story has such a stunning and fitting conclusion. It made me fall in love with this book even more. The idea of an old-fashioned cinema is romantic and I loved the atmosphere of the story. Hattie Holden Edmonds describes all of Hannah's senses, she uses the way she feels, sees, tastes and touches to tell her story, which is a fascinating angle. She also pays special attention to details that matter, like the behavior of Hannah's adorable dog. Cinema Lumière is an amazing book, it's a story that gripped me from the start and I enjoyed every single sentence.
 
Giveaway
 
One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a copy of Cinema Lumière.
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

 

Book Review & Giveaway - New England Dreams by Pia Fenton


About Pia Fenton


Pia Fenton (who also writes as Christina Courtenay) is a chocoholic and confirmed couch potato, allergic to exercise of any kind (except maybe swimming). Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden so she was a bit of a mixed up kid. When she was a teenager, she moved with her family to Japan. From there she had the opportunity to travel in the Far East and other parts of the world, which was great fun. She also got to go to an American high school in Tokyo, together with kids of 138 other nationalities, and had the best time of her life!

Pia loves: reading and writing (YA obviously, but also anything historical, time slip and paranormal), dogs, genealogy, listening to rock music and doing various craft projects very badly. (It’s the trying that counts, right?)

Pia’s first YA novel New England Rocks (published by Choc Lit, Aug 2013) was short listed for The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Award for Best Romantic Young Adult novel 2014. She’s also won some awards for her adult historical books.
 
 Review by Anniek

Sienna is a seventeen-year-old girl with beautiful pink dreads and multiple piercings. After the divorce of her parents, which was taken very badly by her mother, Sienna is on her way to America to spend some time with her family. Sienna will be staying with her uncle and aunt and will be attending Northbrooke High school.

On the same plane and seated, almost, right next to Sienna is Kyle. Kyle is the complete opposite of Sienna. He is very handsome and fully clothed in designer clothes. Kyle is a player and never dates a girl for more than a couple of weeks, if he even makes it that far. Kyle is intrigued by Sienna and begins a conversation. They end up kissing, but their make out session is interrupted by the steward. Kyle and Sienna are separated and both get a verbal warning about their behavior. Never expecting to see each other again Kyle and Sienna go their separate ways.

In the following days both of them can't seem to stop thinking about the other and Kyle and Sienna are shocked when they find out that they are both attending Northbrooke High. Instead of acknowledging each other Kyle and Sienna pretend that their meeting on the plane never happened. When you look on the outside they are totally different but isn't it the inside that counts?

Sienna has a different style than most people. That's what makes her also very interesting. The piercings she has come with a story and this showed me that you should never judge a book by its cover. Sienna is taking the divorce of her parents very hard. Her mother couldn't cope with being abandoned by her father and Sienna feels a lot of resentment towards him. Being in a different country gives Sienna the space she needs to have to get back on her feet. Sienna is doing well in school and has a special talent for languages, plus she's very skilled in skiing. She's a lovely person and is easy to get along with.

Kyle comes from a rich family, but his father wasn't rich enough for his mother. After his mother initiated the divorce she is now in a relationship with someone else. Kyle doesn't want to fulfill all the expectations his mother has. She wants him to date the right girl and to attend all kinds of posh social gatherings. Kyle just wants to be himself. Kyle has a good relationship with his father and it hurts him to see his father struggle since Kyle's mother left him. Kyle has a good head on his shoulders, he is smart, but he isn't doing anything with that. At school Kyle is doing well, but he doesn't stand out when it comes to grades. When the principal is giving him the final push to do better Kyle ups his game. Kyle is popular and he isn't mean to others. He is funny and resourceful even adorable at times, which makes him a wonderful character to read about.

New England Dreams is an enjoyable quick read. This story is very suitable for those who love romantic YA stories. It has a natural flow and I loved the settings. Pia Fenton has clearly made an effort to keep her story believable. All of the characters could easily walk around in an actual high school. New England Dreams shows you that it is ok to be yourself and I believe that this is a strong message for every single reader, both young and old. New England Dreams is the fourth book in the Northbrooke High series, but can easily be read as a standalone.
 
 Giveaway

One very lucky reader will win a signed paperback copy of New England Dreams and an Amazon gift card. This giveaway is open internationally.

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Book Review - Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan

 
Review by Suze
 
Julia can vanish, she has the ability to become unnoticeable if the situation requires it. This is why she's good at stealing and spying. It's a handy ability, but one she needs to hide. Julia knows from experience what happens to those who have magic. Money is important though, so Julia uses her skills to make as much of it as possible. She's prepared to go far and when an opportunity arises to earn handsomely she says yes to what she's being asked to do immediately.
 
Julia thinks she has to spy and maybe steal an object at Mrs. Och's home. She finds a job as a maid and reports all the information she can get. Mrs. Och runs a peculiar household and she's kinder than Julia thought, which makes her work a lot more difficult. Julia's in over her head and doesn't know whose side is the right one. She's being asked to steal something extremely precious, which makes her doubt everything she stands for. Will Julia manage to remain safe when she has to deal with several powerful parties and will she succeed in her mission?
 
Julia Vanishes is a gripping story set in an interesting world filled with dangerous creatures, magic and secrets. Julia is a tough girl, but she also has a big heart. She learns some valuable lessons and finds out more about her own character. I loved reading her adventures. Her opponents are powerful and intriguing and I enjoyed reading about their history and abilities. I loved the unusual main characters of this book and the creative descriptions of their magic.
 
Catherine Egan has built a fantastic world. Her vivid descriptions make the story easy to follow and her sentences are beautiful. The story is quite complex, which makes it both fascinating and challenging, aspects I really liked. Catherine Egan begins small and slowly the story expands. There are multiple threads that are being skillfully weaved and eventually come together in a magnificent way.
 
Julia Vanishes is a compelling story. I read this book in one sitting and couldn't put it down. I love a good story about witchcraft and enjoyed Catherine Egan's original approach of the spell casting techniques. Julia Vanishes is a great fantasy story set in an enchanting old-fashioned world. I highly recommend this spellbinding book.
 
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Giveaway

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review - Everything Love Is by Claire King

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Review by Suze
 
Baptiste lives on a houseboat near Toulouse. He's a therapist and helps people to find themselves again. Only he might be lost himself as well. He doesn't know exactly where he came from. He was born in a train and was adopted afterwards. He has loving parents, but the past keeps intriguing him. He usually eats at a café where he becomes friends with Sophie, who works there. There's a strong connection between them and she might lead him to the path he should follow.
 
While she could have been his daughter people believe there's something between Sophie and Baptiste. There is a connection, but not the one they think there is. Baptiste is in love with Amandine, a woman who stepped into his practice one day. She confuses Baptiste and he doesn't know how to handle his feelings, but maybe there will be a future for them. Will Baptiste be able to find his way while he's destined to be lost forever?
 
Everything Love Is is a beautiful story. I read this book with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, it's bittersweet, it's gorgeous, it's sad and it's hopeful. It's a book filled with contrasts and enigmas and that's one of the things I immediately loved about it. Baptiste is a kind man. He's lonely sometimes, but he enjoys simple pleasures like living on his houseboat and having a good meal. Sophie tries to show him that there's more to life. She's young, but she's wise and she's a passionate and vibrant person. Amandine is mysterious and she's a presence, a woman who should be noticed. I loved her patience and her caring nature. She's stylish, educated and very much dow- to-earth. The main characters of Everything Love Is are interesting, they're characters that should be cherished and they instantly stole my heart.
 
Claire King's stunning writing makes her stories special. I love the way she describes France, it makes me feel at home. The scenery is as much part of the story as the characters and that's a fantastic skill. Everything Love Is is an absolute must-read. It's one of the most amazing books I've read in a very long time. Baptiste's story is extraordinary, he's a main character to remember and his story is something I would love to read again and again.
 
 The fantastic drawings in Everything Love Is are adding to the character of the book and are making this book even more unique. I love the elegance of the design, which perfectly suits the story. The whole package enchanted me straight away. The drawings make the story even more colorful and they add to the numerous moving emotional layers. Claire King has written a brilliant graceful novel filled with love and tenderness, it's a real treasure.

Book Review - Breakfast Under A Cornish Sun by Samantha Tonge

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Review by Suze
 
Kate loved Johnny with all her heart and misses him dearly. She has trouble moving on and is still coming to terms with the fact that he's no longer in her life. Her best friend and boss Izzy is offering her exactly what she needs, a holiday at the Cornish Coast. Kate can get some rest and time to think while spending quality time with her best friend. She loves singing and waitressing, but there's more than just work and Kate could use a break. Plus it gives her the opportunity to find that handsome boyfriend she pretended to have when an old classmate invited Kate to her wedding.
 
The holiday park Kate and Izzy are staying at needs to be rebranded and they're there in a transition phase, which sparks Kate's creativity. The owner, Tremain, is broody and closed off, but there's something intriguing about him. He needs help rescuing the vacation park he runs with his mother and Kate and Izzy are the perfect people for the job. His cook Lucas fits the fake boyfriend description and would be an ideal candidate to take to the wedding. Will Kate be lucky enough to actually find her handsome Cornish man and will the holiday bring her some much needed comfort?

Breakfast Under A Cornish Sun is a wonderful summer story. Kate is really sweet and she loves helping others. She's also sad because she misses the love of her life. Samantha Tonge describes her problems in a caring and sensitive way and I loved reading about her journey towards happiness. Breakfast Under A Cornish Sun is an amazing moving story. The main characters have baggage and they will always carry their pasts with them, but they also have hope for the future, which is something I liked very much.

I love Samantha Tonge's sense of humor and she shows that she can skillfully combine it with a deeper story that has more emotional layers. I liked that combination and despite the grief of the main characters the story never becomes too heavy. The mix of light and dark together with a nice dosage of romance is absolutely wonderful. There are plenty of interesting twists and turns and Samantha Tonge has added a mystery aspect that I liked as well. The ending of the story is lovely and it put a big smile on my face.

Breakfast Under A Cornish Sun is the ideal summer read. It has gorgeous men, a fun holiday atmosphere and plenty of fascinating characters. The food and cocktail descriptions are mouthwatering and creative. The writing has a good flow and the story is fast-paced. I loved the descriptions of the beautiful surroundings and could easily picture the park and the stunning Cornish coast. Breakfast Under A Cornish Sun is a great story and I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review - Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner

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Review by Suze
 
A young woman is missing, her name is Edith. Manon Bradshaw is a DS who's working on the case. She knows she has the best shot at finding Edith in the first 72 hours, but there are hardly any leads. She has no idea if Edith is dead or alive. Edith's parents have friends in high places, which means the case will be big. Edith's love life was complicated and the team is looking for clues in that direction, but is it really the reason behind Edith's disappearance? When a body is found by a river the case changes direction. Will Manon and her colleagues be able to solve their mysterious case and find out what happened to Edith?
 
Manon is single, but desperately wants a relationship. Her personal life is a mess, but at work she's thorough and dedicated. She's committed to what she does, so much even that the case will drastically change the direction of her life. I liked that about her. Susie Steiner has written this book from the points of view of several different characters and they're all great, but Manon is my definite favorite. I'm glad there will be more books about her. She's wonderfully weird, tough and sensitive, which is a combination that works.
 
Missing Presumed is a gripping read. Susie Steiner's writing flows easily and I was immediately fascinated by the story. There are plenty of interesting twists and turns. What I liked very much is that the case is just as important as the personal lives of the main characters. That enables the reader to see the same story from many different angles. The ending is surprising and fitting at the same time. The circumstances are messy and I liked that chaos a lot. Susie Steiner is always in control, but her characters aren't good at managing their lives. It's an interesting angle that suits the story.
 
Missing Presumed is a psychological story with many intriguing aspects and complex situations. The writing is literary and while it's beautiful it's still easy to read and understand. The ending made me think and Susie Steiner leaves room for her readers to form her own opinion about the characters, which is a strong aspect of the novel. I absolutely loved this amazing book and highly recommend it. 

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What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

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Review by Suze
 
Sixteen-year-old Gretchen had no idea she has a great-aunt. She hears from her for the first time when she's being asked to stay with Esther at the house that will soon be hers. Esther is a photographer just like Gretchen and her mother. Gretchen hopes she will learn more about her mother who one day disappeared and was never found. That is why she immediately accepts Esther's invitation. The family mansion is haunted and Gretchen doesn't have much time to get used to the house and to her great-aunt.
 
When something tragic happens Gretchen has to dig into the past to uncover her family's secrets. By reading letters, looking at photographs and visiting neighbors she slowly uncovers the truth. The house isn't safe and terrible accidents keep happening. Gretchen has to find out what's going on before it's too late. She's the only one who can do it and her task isn't an easy one, because of the dangerous location and the angry spirits. Will she have a chance to succeed?
 
What the Dead Want is a book that gripped me from the start and I read it in one sitting. It's a fast-paced story about an extremely creepy house, a dark past and horrible deaths. I had tears in my eyes while I was reading the final chapters. Norah Olson has chosen a perfect setting for her impressive story. The house is absolutely hideous on the inside. There's a lot going on and besides spirits there are many gross animals that are keeping them company. The story itself is quite deep and there are plenty of horrors, especially near the end. Nightmares from the past have been combined with disgusting things that crawl and with upset ghosts, which is a combination that works very well. 
 
Gretchen has to grow up quickly if she wants to complete her task. Her inheritance isn't a joy, it's a dangerous burden. She has to right a lot of wrongs and doesn't come out unscathed. Norah Olson doesn't spare her main characters and the eeriness comes in many different forms and sizes. What the Dead Want might not be a bloody type of horror story, but it's definitely scary. I devoured this book and think it's truly amazing.

Resisting the Rebel by Lisa Brown Roberts - Guest Post, Book Review & Excerpt

 
 
About  Lisa Brown Roberts
 

Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn't recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year. This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life's painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.

Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several four-legged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.
 
 

Often, my characters arrive in my mind fully formed, demanding their stories be told. In this case, it was different. I’m a hardcore Sky High fan and have shipped Warren and Layla ever since I saw the movie (and at this point I don’t even know how many times I’ve watched it). That scene in the restaurant when he lights the candle with his finger? Slays me every time.

So when it was time to write another Crush book for Entangled Teen, who should show up in my mind demanding their happy ending but Warren and Layla? Of course I re-watched the movie for inspiration, and certain scenes on YouTube over and over and over…(rough author research).

This book isn’t an exact retelling, of course, because I’d be in big trouble with Disney if so, but I used Warren and Layla as my launching point for creating Caleb and Mandy, and I added a few winks and nods to the movie for my fellow diehard Sky High fans.

If you like bad boys with big hearts, and like to see the girl get the right guy for her happily ever after (not the wrong guy she thinks she wants), I hope you’ll check out Resisting the Rebel!
 
Book review
 
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Review by Suze
 
Mandy has been in love with Gus for years. When he finally invites her to a party on her birthday she ends up on her own while he has hooked up with someone else. She still thinks he's a friendly dorky guy and she wants to make him notice her. When bad boy Caleb helps her out they form a plan. Caleb needs Mandy to make his ex-girlfriend realize it's really over between them and Mandy wants to make Gus jealous. They pretend they are a couple and it isn't too hard for everyone around them to believe it. Secretly they like each other a lot and their relationship might not be entirely fake. What will happen if their plan succeeds, will Mandy still go out with Gus or does Caleb has a chance with her?
 
Resisting the Rebel is a wonderful, sweet story that put a big smile on my face. The main characters are amazing. Caleb is dark and moody, but he also has a kind heart. Mandy is strong and fun. I loved that she has such a distinct personality and that she's entirely herself. She has her own style and as she cares about others she's always involved in after school projects. She's completely into disco music and she has an enchanting bubbly personality. She has ADHD and dysgraphia and I liked the empathic and realistic way Lisa Brown Roberts describes her conditions. It's something Mandy has to live with, but they don't define her personality, which is a message I loved.
 
Lisa Brown Roberts has a writing style that flows easily. Her books are cute and her main characters are adorable. Resisting the Rebel is uplifting and I loved the chemistry between Caleb and Mandy. Even though the story is light and often fun it also has a serious side. Mandy and Caleb don't have a usual home situation. Lisa Brown Roberts describes them with sensitivity and care. It's clear that her main characters mean a lot to her, which is what I enjoyed most about this story. She makes them come to life very well through her vibrant and loving descriptions.
 
Resisting the Rebel is a story about two people with completely different personalities who are a surprisingly good match. I liked that Mandy and Caleb are both readers and the book descriptions and analyses are a great detail. The ending is original and it has some fascinating surprising elements. Every aspect of this YA story is exactly right and I absolutely enjoyed reading this charming, dreamy book.

Excerpt


“I’ve got a stalker ex I need to get off my case,” Caleb said, his dark gaze locked on hers. “You’ve got a dork you’re trying to seduce. It’s a win-win.”

“Gus isn’t a dork,” she whispered, but for a second she couldn’t see Gus’s sweet face in her mind’s eye. Instead all she saw was the stony-faced badass drumming his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. She swallowed. “Gus is a sweetheart.”

“Dork. Sweetheart. Semantics.” His lips curved in a mocking smile that did something to her stomach.

“N-no one would ever believe it,” she stammered. “That you and I would…” She blushed, unable to finish the sentence.

“That we’d what, Disco?” He unbuckled his seatbelt and moved toward her. Her breath caught in her throat as he reached out and touched her hair, twirling a long strand around his finger. He leaned in so close she could see a faint shadow of stubble on his jaw. “Go to a dance together?” He shifted even closer, moving in so that his lips barely brushed her cheek as he whispered in her ear. “Or just hook up?”

This wasn’t…he wasn’t…but she didn’t…not with him…she …Gus…Her thoughts spun out of control, just like her hormones. God, what was he—

He dropped her lock of hair and leaned back against his seat, smirking. “I think everyone would believe that. You did, didn’t you? Just for a second?”

Her hand flew up to slap him but he grabbed it like he’d been expecting it. “Two weeks. It won’t even take that long. Lover boy Gus only needs to see you and me do that once, and he’s yours. All yours.”

“Y-you’re such a—” He was still holding her hand, though he’d loosened his grip.

“Jackass. I know. But let me pretend to be your jackass boyfriend and we’ll both get what we want.”

Everything in her screamed no, but when she finally opened her mouth, the word that fell out was, “Okay.”
 

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers

 
About Me
by Claire Fayers
 
 
I live in South Wales, birthplace of the famous pirate, Henry Morgan. I used to work at Cardiff University, first in health and safety (you will notice that my pirates fight VERY safely) and then in the university science library. Now I write full-time at home with my husband and my two cats, usually stopped every chapter or two to let them in or out of the door. (My cats, not my husband: he can already open doors.)

In my free time, I like skiing, flying kites, and music – I can play the cello a bit and I’m learning the piano. I enjoy gardening and grow a lot of fruit and veg so if I come to visit you don’t be surprised if I bring a jar of jam.
 
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Review by Suze
 
Brine was found at sea and she doesn't have any memories of what happened before that. The only possession she had was a piece of starshell, which is being used for spell casting, and that was taken from her. She's living with a magician and works for him as a housemaid. Brine is twelve years old and she's used to being treated badly, but her situation has an advantage too, she can read the books from his library. The magician has one apprentice, a boy Brine's age named Peter. He's arrogant and constantly blames Brine for his faults, but when things get tough they decide to escape together.
 
Brine and Peter are being taken in by Pirates on a boat called the Onion. The captain of the ship, a fierce woman called Cassie, is legendary. Together with Cassie, her scary prisoner and her loyal crew they begin their journey. It doesn't matter if Brine and Peter want to go there or not, but Cassie will take them to the Magical North, which is a mythical place filled with magic. They encounter all kinds of danger on their way. Will Brine and Peter survive this terrifying voyage?
 
The Voyage to Magical North is a beautiful story. Brine is a strong girl. She loves to read and she's ingenious, plus she can keep her head cool in a crisis. I immediately enjoyed reading about her. Peter has a lot to learn, he's a bit naïve, but he quickly discovers how to do things and he has a good heart. The crew of the Onion is fantastic. They are pirates, but while they're treacherous, they're not unkind. I loved reading about their adventures and the spectacular myths that are surrounding them. Together with a rogue magician they are the perfect main characters for an adventurous and entertaining story.
 
Claire Fayers has a brilliant vivid imagination. Her world building is fantastic. I was immediately enchanted by the secret surrounding Brine's heritage, the impressive ship, the use of magic and the mysterious North. I couldn't wait to find out what was really there and was pleasantly surprised by Claire Fayer's colorful descriptions. The ending is great and I hope there will be another story as it left me terribly curious as well. I loved this fantastic, original story and highly recommend it to anyone who likes to read about magic.

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Defying Gravity by Kendra C. Highley - Guest Post & Book Review

About Kendra C. Highley
 
 
Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica. 
 
Guest Post

Winter in July: My Favorite “Snowy” Books
By Kendra C. Highley

Defying Gravity is set in Aspen in winter. I actually wrote it in fall/winter, so it was pretty easy to feel the vibe, but I’m happy the book released in the summer. For those of you like me, who live in places like Dallas, a little winter in July sounds pretty good, right? In fact, I clearly remember a radio station playing “Sleigh Ride” on July 1st when I was a kid—and they received over a hundred thank-you calls.

So, that got me thinking—what are some good “wintery” books for those 100+ degree days and you need a dose of cold? Here are a few I enjoy:

1) To go for the sentimental, The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder is about as chilly as you can get. All those blizzards and nothing but a stove to stay warm? Brr!


2) Another good one, Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson is set as autumn turns to winter, and the first snow comes. The main character is from a southern land, held captive in the north. She’s enthralled by snow, but not when she’s soaked through and nearly freezes. (Book 2 in The Remnant Chronicles)


3) The Bitter Kingdom, the third book in The Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson (one of my top five favorite series) has our heroine and her intrepid friends trying to save the love of her life. Again, the people are from the south (desert, in fact) and have to journey far north as winter descends. On horses. Yep, no central heating in this one.


4) Not exactly set in winter, Winter is the final book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marrisa Meyer. Winter, the titular character, is a SciFi version of Snow White, living on the moon under the reign of her sadistic stepmother. Even though the set pieces are very different, the main fairy tale themes follow pretty closely.


5) The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman finds Lyra heading north, where she meets and teams up with a polar bear (a warrior outcast, who can not only talk, but forge weapons) to save her kidnapped friend.


6) Finally, bonus answer—Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. While a lot of the book centers around other seasons, the winter/holiday scenes are often the most memorable. I adored this book when I was younger, and I still do. It’s a cozy read no matter what time of year.

 How about you? What “wintery” books do you enjoy? Help us beat the heart. and let us know!
 
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Review by Suze
 
Zoey loves Aspen. It's the only place where she can be herself. At school she's the perfect popular girl who hides behind a mask, but when she goes on holiday she can be who she really is for a while. When she's in Aspen she spends most of her time with the Madison brothers. Parker is her best friend and he loves to take her snowboarding. Luke is a year older and he's already in college. He has a lot of female fans and Zoey is one of them, she has a huge crush on him. When it's time to go to Aspen again she decides to find out if he feels the same about her.
 
Luke is a player and he breaks a lot of hearts. He doesn't mind ditching one girl for another and just lives for the moment. Zoey is a pretty girl, so he likes to flirt with her and thinks that maybe she can be his for a while. Parker has been in love with Zoey for a long time and he wants her to be his long-term girlfriend. The girl of his dreams is having a crush on his brother, but he's determined to change that. He's going to convince her that he's the one for her. Will Zoey choose the right Madison brother?
 
Defying Gravity is a wonderful winter story. I immediately loved the beautiful setting. Kendra C. Highley's descriptions of Aspen are magical and she makes the place come to life very well. I could easily picture the mountains and the beautiful snow. The snowboard descriptions are amazing, Kendra C. Highley writes about what it feels like to descend the mountains in an enthusiastic and lively manner. It's a fabulous topic for a story and I think it has been thoroughly researched and executed.
 
Zoey is pretty and popular, but most of the time she's acting. She doesn't have as much confidence as she likes people to believe and she actually would rather be a person who doesn't wear makeup and carefully selected outfits, which is one of the reasons she treasures her holidays. She loves snowboarding, reading, baking cookies and watching a lot of movies. Parker is the only one who gets to see who she is on the inside and their friendship is special. Luke is a player and he's extremely competitive towards Parker. He wants to beat his younger brother in everything, even in getting the girl Parker has always been in love with. As Parker is such a sweet guy that was quite tough to see, but he's giving everything he has and I loved that about him. There's plenty of great chemistry and I liked the heartwarming romance a lot.
 
Kendra C. Highley has written a great story about love, future dreams, friendship and snowboarding. Aspen is the perfect setting for a romantic story. I loved the main characters and the wonderful atmosphere. If you enjoy fun, flirty winter wonderland books you should definitely read Defying Gravity, it's a delightful story.