Review: Lost on the Edge of Forever

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Title: Lost on the Edge of Forever
Author: Michael Haley
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: February 2014
Length: 235 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: e-book
Source: Curiousity Quills Press

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For all stops on the tour, please hop on over to the tour schedule.

*****Synopsis*****

Leila, an ambitious and brilliant student, is murdered during her final semester at college, yet discovers she’s been reborn as a spirit resigned to haunt the school of her death. Alejandro, a listless and depressed freshman, arrives on campus eager to reinvent himself after eighteen years of awkwardness, as well as a devastating family tragedy, shake his sense of worth and faith to their cores.

Lost on the Edge of ForeverThe two lonely souls meet under the auspice of moonlit rain, and soon find themselves irrevocably, passionately attracted to each other. Leila discovers her spiritual body reawakening with sensations that make her feel alive again, and Alejandro discovers a kindred spirit who understands him like no one else. Intoxicated with each other, the impossible lovers begin to dream of finding a way to hold onto their own private miracle. Forever.

Yet how can Alejandro explain to skeptical friends and family that his soul-mate is dead? Why does Leila get the nagging suspicion that within their relationship lies the secret of her continued existence? An unexpected act of evil ignites these unavoidable questions, only to reveal in its aftermath the true purpose of Leila and Alejandro’s star-crossed romance. Will their love allow them to accept a profound destiny that surpasses time and perhaps even God, or is their love destined to die loud and young?

*****Review*****

**Note: This book is recommended for 18+ as it contains very mature language and sexual content.

I shared a preview of this book in last week’s WWW Wednesdays meme. I said I had mixed feelings about the book, and would be hesitant to pick up another Haley title.

But I was still on my finished-the-book high, and a little emotional about the book for a few reasons. Having had more time to think about the book, I would probably still say I’m hesitant to pick up another of his books, but not because of his writing. Actually, yes, because of his writing. His writing touched on so many hot topics in our society and culture, and Lost on the Edge of Forever explores and explodes several of them.

I will be hesitant to pick up a Michael Haley book in the future because I am, quite honestly, going to bawl my eyes out. This is not just a contemporary romance novel, chick lit to share with the girls. It is so much more. Haley has worked some kind of magic in this book. I don’t know if I can put my finger on it and definitively tell you what “it” that magic is. I don’t know how to put it into words, or even if there are any words to express this book.

It contains such strong messages throughout that I think so many people today – especially the young – need to hear. There are also several messages for parents, particularly those with older children, and coming to terms with coming-of-age, death, religion, beliefs and values.

I say this because I have lost two relatives to suicide, which is brought up in the book, as well as a few friends, and I’ve had many friends who attempted. Some multiple times. I have seen the unbelievable ugliness that bullying has become, the way it is so easy to outcast someone who is different. I’ve gone my own rounds with religion, my beliefs and my values. Some differ greatly from my parents, and that was one hard row to hoe. Others are different in some aspects, yet have similar vestiges of my parents’ beliefs. And after swearing for over a decade I would be nothing like them, some are spot-on, exactly the same. I’ve also seen the side of grief in Alex’s family that is portrayed throughout this novel. In a lot of ways, I could identify with Alex, especially with his home life and family situation. And that scared me, a lot, and brought up resolved but still-painful memories. I wish Michael Haley had written this book sooner. It is a collection of all the things about love that our world needs to hear.

The title – Lost on the Edge of Forever – is a perfect title for this book. Leila, a victim of a college campus shooting, has been dead for about six months…but she is still walking around the campus, hanging out in the library. She knows she’s dead, perhaps a ghost, but nobody can see or hear her. She is lost and confused. Will she be in this state forever? What is she even?

“We don’t have to have sex for you to be wonderful to me.  I don’t know what I did to deserve someone as smart and beautiful as you.”

“You were you. And maybe that was enough.”

This phenomenon of a novel explores many hot-button topics. I’m saying this now, loud and clear: if you have a mid-20-somethings child, or a younger child, you need to grab this book and read it. Yes, even if your kid is 10, or 7. Why? Because in a few short years, and maybe even sooner, your child will be experiencing many of the themes and realities of life explored in this book.

These are the themes and realities I picked out in Lost on the Edge of Forever:

  • suicide
  • mental health
  • family tragedy
  • coping with grief
  • bullying
  • self-image
  • self-worth
  • sense of self
  • religion
  • beliefs/values
  • structure of relationships
    • with parents
    • with siblings
    • with friends

I’m going to talk about each of these topics, briefly, to give an all-encompassing glimpse into the world Alex and Lelia find themselves in – the world we live in today. I’ve made up a flowchart of sorts when I was thinking about the novel and how to explain it. Take a moment and absorb this.

lost_on_edge_of_forever

Alex, a small-town guy with a strong base in his family and his faith, loses his mother in a tragic accident. It leaves him questioning everything about his God and life. Blake is his friend since childhood, and saves Alex from an unchangeable mistake. Alex blames his dad for his mom’s death, and emotionally clings to his younger sister, Dani. They have a love-hate relationship, in that they are playfully mean to one another. She calls him a tool, and he calls her a loser. But their lives essentially depend on one another, and they would both give up anything for the other. It is a bond created in the aftermath of tragedy and a mechanism to cope with grief and have some sense of normalcy.

After my sister died, I felt exactly like Alex and Dani feel toward their dad, except to my mom. I was young when she died, like Alex and Dani are when their mother dies, and I blamed my mother because I tried to make it logical and have reason. I clung to my three younger brothers, unsure what the future held for us. We were so very close, and my words and actions led them and left a lasting impact on them just as Alex’s near hatred for his dad is mirrored in Dani. They are emotionally disconnected from their dad, only with a slight tether to one another after Alex leaves for college.

Blake is not a good friend – in fact, throughout most of the novel I constantly wanted Alex to just blow up on him and end their semblance of a friendship. Blake is so mean to Alex: Blake is a somebody, and Alex is a nobody. (Enter Alex’s self-confidence issues.)

Likewise, Leila herself has experienced a personal tragedy, and her spirit has not left Earth. She tries reaching out to her dad and friends, who can’t see her, and is left alone, lost and confused.

The book changes point of view between Alex and Leila throughout the novel, and it is done so flawlessly that it is beautiful. The first few times, I did not even realize what Haley had done.

One day, Alex sees her. No one else can. Leila doesn’t want to lead Alex on, per say, but leads him in a way to discover who she is. Between the two of them, they try riddling out her existence, coming from different backgrounds and different religions. Despite what’s happened to her, Leila is still a firm believer in Allah, but Alex is angry with God and doesn’t believe. They delve into more than they bargained for, and it leaves them both questioning their beliefs. It is so out-of-this-world that Alex confides in his closest lifeline: Blake. That’s when I started really hating Blake. He was such a douchebag to Alex and Leila both. But Blake isn’t the only person I came to hate (even if momentarily) throughout the book.

Alex and Leila secret themselves away all semester and their friendship and romance develop. Leila shares some serious revelations from her life about being Iranian and Muslim and embracing her heritage and her faith, and how it completely changed her self-image and self-confidence. Given that Alex is like a wallflower, he also has self-confidence issues, which is explored from many aspects up to this point about his relationship with Leila, and although Alex seems to be saying words and acting out things on both sides of the douchebag-y hook-up guy/insecure, awkward virgin coin he shows that he genuinely cares about Leila.

Around about 70% into the book, I started getting odd vibes from both Leila and Alex. Due to their relationship in all its entirety – and the things said around this point – I got the distinct feeling that both of them had lost themselves in one another and lost their individual sense of self. After all that Lelia shared, it really bugged me that she had learned who she was and what she stood for, and then almost seemed to lose herself. Too much, too fast, which is a very common thing in today’s time.

Alex’s senior sister is also exploring within her world. With a few of Alex’s mentions of Dani’s ex-boyfriend-turned-semi-friend Calvin I got the distinct impression that Calvin had a dark, brooding secret – and that he wasn’t Dani…or the reason she dumped him. Alex only brings it up a few times, but it leaves you with the creepiest feeling. This comes into play in the last quarter of the novel in a monumental way that changes everything for Alex…and for Leila.

And that’s when I started hating Alex. I wanted to reach through the screen of my Kindle and just sucker punch him and rant and rave at how stupid he was being. I could definitely understand his anger, but after all he’d been through and the incredible insight that Leila has brought into his life I would think he would have handled it better. In that moment, he was the exact douchebag – no, more than the douchebag – that Blake is.  I had to stop at this point and put my Kindle down for a moment just to breathe because I was so angry at Alex and heartbroken for Leila.

This is when Leila finds herself, truly. She seeks out the one person she needs, and when she’s left clutching at straws, she goes to her own grave and proceeds to pour out her heart to Allah. And then someone showed up who I was shocked to see enter into the book, and this person could hear and see her. (No, not Alex.) I loved everything this person said to Leila – and this is the biggest message that parents need to hear about accepting their children (and their children’s actions and beliefs) because of love. Just love. It left me with a lot of questions about this person, a niggling one that I can’t tell you about. 🙂

In dual juxtaposition, Alex is also getting a life lesson from his counterpart of Lelia’s mysterious surprise person. It gave insight into Alex’s family’s life from a perspective he’d never heard before – or even frankly cared for. It was so heartbreaking for a few reasons and at the same time a moment too late.

“Alejandro – treasure your miracles. You never know when you’ll say something stupid and ruin everything God gave you.”

At the same time, Blake redeemed himself a little in my eyes. Not much, but a little. I don’t understand him or how he works, and that is one thing that is never explained throughout the book, which did bug me. If I could get that insight into him – the reason he was the way he was – I think I could have handled him a little better.

The question of a higher being’s plan for us is the driving force for the rest of the novel. Leila at one point admits that if given the chance to actually change fate, she didn’t know if she would interfere with Allah’s plan. After being told Alex’s fate, and that she can’t do anything to change it, she makes it her mission to do so. A third mysterious character – who has revealed him/herself in many forms to both Alex and Leila, appears and closes the novel. At this point, my mind was blown! So many connections made. The ending is very existential.

I’m going to admit: I did not the ending. I knew what was coming, and like Leila, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I also really did not like the epilogue. I thought it drowned out the power of the final chapter, and diluted the message. It just didn’t seem to fit right with the novel, as it wasn’t a true epilogue in the sense we generally see used. It switched point of view throughout, which made it very disjointed.

*****About the Author*****

Michael HaleyMichael Haley was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and cultivated its neighboring vicinities. He graduated with a degree in Psychology from Iowa State University, and now lives with his wife and little-dude-to-be in Bloomington, Illinois. When not writing, he loves indulging and dissecting books, film, and pop art from all canons and genres. Lost on the Edge of Forever is his first novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There are TWO signed copies of Lost on the Edge of Forever up for grabs. Contest ends 7/15.

Click here to go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Book Review: In Time

16282463Title: In Time
Author: Christine Locke
Release Date: December 2012
Length: 161 pages
Series?: The Legacy #2
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

“Remember only this: magic must be used. Magic grows over time, and its time must not be wasted. Never forget that.” So warns Anna, the last witch of the Mallace family line.

Carin inherits Mallace Mansion only to learn her life there will not be what she expected. Magic grows, time slips, and Carin meets an enemy she never knew she had.

Carin’s isolation grows as Griffin pulls away and darkness draws near. Then, Carin learns a secret Anne Mallace never had time to tell her.

At Mallace Mansion, ghosts may haunt young Carin, but she’s learned to deal with them. To survive the Legacy, Carin finds she must make peace with her past. Trouble is, she’s not sure she can do it.

Review

This is the second installment of the Legacy Series. My review of the first book, Open Door, is available here.

I said the first book strung readers along and left us hanging. Well, Locke has done it again! Except this time, I had absolutely no idea where this mysterious  train of a book was headed.

Carin is now fully recognized as the heir to Mallace Mansion, and sees to its every need. Anne’s ghost is no longer the old, guiding light she was for Carin in the first book. Now she has reverted to a much younger image of herself, and is not quite the same as readers saw her in the first book.

This book largely follow’s Carin’s depression and reliving of her attack during the summer, which took place in the first book (Open Door). It was really hard for me to get through reading the first 30% or so of the book because it was all about Carin fearing her attack, having nightmares, thinking about her attack, being scared and sad, and using her anchor to Mallace Mansion as a crutch not to leave (even to go into town for needed items) even more.

I don’t know how I didn’t catch this in the first book, given how sinister it turned out to be with the unknowns of the Legacy and crazy Aunt Helen, but Mallace Mansion….Mallace…bad…evil…harm…Hmmmmm. Just a thought to keep in mind.

Carin’s mother Amanda has officially moved to town, taken up residence and is using her true name and identity: Amanda Mallace. She has bought a quaint little home and is no longer on the run from the Legacy.

Carin has her Protector, Griffin, as part of the fulfillment of the Legacy…until he tells her he is going to be away for a while, with little explanation or information.

Meanwhile, Carin has tutors come to the mansion to continue her education, and she finds two very unexpected house guests at Mallace Mansion. Anne recommends a certain journal to Carin to retrieve. Carin ignores Anne’s suggestion, and takes the journal of a notoriously infamous Legacy holder who was quite pessimistic and in my opinion just a downright prissy, dramatic brat. Reading Leticia’s journal starts to have funny effects on Carin’s thoughts about her relationships – and actually has a negative impact on her actions towards Griffin.

Carin’s first house guest is another Legacy holder – sent from another time, another country. This visitor has learned that Carin has fought the darkness – an evil thing that can take any form that has haunted Legacies – trying to control and destroy and create chaos. Carin has a few run-ins with the darkness. She has to find a way to save Mallace Mansion and its power from the darkness. She uses Anne and her new visitor as resources…as well as her second visitor, who has actually been a resident of Mallace Mansion since its inception. This resident, though, is not what she seems to be. Her motives are not pure, and she has a very ugly side that Carin soon sees.

I don’t feel that Carin had as much character growth in this installment as she did in the first, but readers do see more aspects of her life: her relationship with Griffin, her relationships with her mother, and new relationships with her new guests.

I enjoyed learning about the history of the Legacy in the first book, and more history was revealed in this book, but I will say that this book was a little harder to follow. I felt there was a jump somewhere in the storyline that was not a smooth transition. I felt like I was missing a chapter out of the book. 

About the Author

7da9d3fa0efb0ad8956ee0.L._V396534113_SY470_Christine Locke was born in California and grew up in various locations around the United States as a Navy brat. She was the oldest of six children and today is mother and step-mother to seven. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature in 1995.

Christine has worked as a writing instructor, a salesperson, and an award-winning retail manager and management trainer, among other things. Today, she co-ordinates makeovers for a local magazine. She and her husband, Mike, live with their children, two dogs, and two cats in Arkansas.

For years, Christine has been writing novels around her work and family life. Open Door is her first published novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Open Door

15743009Title: Open Door
Author: Christine Locke
Release Date: June 2012
Length: 147 pages
Series?: The Legacy #1
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Even the most eerie haunting is just a secret, living in a darkened room with open doors, more shunned than unknown. All around it know it well yet wish to live as if they did not. Children whisper, adults hush, and legends grow. Everyone grows up acquainted, everyone learns to hide, and nothing blasts through the hypocrisy like the entrance of an outsider—unless it is the arrival of two of them. 

Carin White, 16 and in need of a summer job, agrees to help Aunt Helen move into her inherited property, Mallace Estate. In the mansion’s sprawling attic, Carin finds a large scrapbook with a familiar photograph. The first step on a perilous journey through dark secrets, meandering passageways, hidden chambers and murderous intentions, Carin’s discovery unveils her personal destiny and its required sacrifices. Mid-way through the story, a terrifying event compels Carin to make choices about who she is and how she will allow her world to see her. 

This novel does not involve vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels; it is a story about magic. An ancient but contained force enlivens Mallace Mansion, so the gothic house is a character in the story. The mansion’s life requires food, so it does occasionally consume a visitor. But such activity is kept to a minimum when a powerful woman controls the Legacy. Is Carin strong enough? Read The Legacy Series and find out.

Review

I have never quite encountered a book like this. Locke leaves much to the imagination, and let’s face it: she strings along her readers! I had no idea where Carin was headed, or what lay ahead for her. Her book is as much a mystery as Carin’s life has been up to this point.

I couldn’t ever quite figure out how old Carin was from reading the novel, but I learned quickly that even though she was shipped off to work for her “aunt” for the summer at her aunt’s newly-inherited mansion and grounds, she strictly followed her mothers rules. Indeed, she shares a moment in her past as a young child when she was hungry and ate a candy bar in the hotel room she shared with her mom, for which she earned a stringent lashing and had to purchase the candy bar out of her pitiful piggy bank.

I immensely enjoyed Anne Mallace when she showed up, and things started falling into place. More of the picture was revealed, but Locke still kept  me on the hook. In the end, Carin is faced with a surprising foe. I was shocked; I never saw it coming.

I enjoyed reading about the history of the legacy, and all of the intricacies of it and Mallace Mansion. I also grew fond of Carin as the book progressed. She is a sweet, kind soul, but quickly shows she’s smart as a whip and doesn’t let others cow her or two-time her. She grew into a nice little character, in my opinion.

This is a rather quick read, and I recommend giving this mysterious Legacy a chance.

About the Author

7da9d3fa0efb0ad8956ee0.L._V396534113_SY470_Christine Locke was born in California and grew up in various locations around the United States as a Navy brat. She was the oldest of six children and today is mother and step-mother to seven. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature in 1995.

Christine has worked as a writing instructor, a salesperson, and an award-winning retail manager and management trainer, among other things. Today, she co-ordinates makeovers for a local magazine. She and her husband, Mike, live with their children, two dogs, and two cats in Arkansas.

For years, Christine has been writing novels around her work and family life. Open Door is her first published novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Wrayth (A Book of the Order, #3)

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Wrayth

Title: Wrayth
Author: Philippa Ballantine
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: April 2008
Length: 309 pages
Series?: A Book of the Order #3
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Thriller, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Challenge: n/a

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

In the Empire of Arkaym, the Order of Deacons protects and shelters the citizens from the attacks of the unliving. All are sworn to fight the evil forces of the geists—and to keep the world safe from the power of the Otherside… 

Although she is one of the most powerful Deacons in the Order, Sorcha Faris is still unable to move or speak after her last battle. Even her partner, Merrick Chambers, cannot reach her through their shared Bond. Yet there are those who still fear Sorcha and the mystery of her hidden past. 

Meanwhile, Merrick has been asked to investigate a new member of the Emperor’s Court. But when Sorcha is abducted by men seeking Raed Rossin, the shapeshifting rival to the throne, Merrick must choose where his loyalties lie.

Review

*I received this book through Goodreads First Reads book give-aways quite a while back. I was concerned about starting the third book in a series, so Phillipa sent me the first two! Without that, I can honestly say I would not have enjoyed this book as much, and I definitely would not have understood s0me things that happened and the importance of so many things in this story.

Warning: this post may contain spoilers or necessary information found in the first and second books. To get acquainted with this series, read my reviews: Book #1 here and Book #2 here.

Again, Ballantine has produced a story that is jam packed with dedication to intricate details. The story of Sorcha and Merrick, the remarkable and ill-favored Deacons, have weathered several storms together, experienced what most Deacons don’t see in a lifetime of dedication, and have seen the corruption of their own Order (of the Eye and Fist).

Many years ago, the old Order of the Circle of Stars tried overthrowing the Empire and taking control. They fled to the underground, although all thought they had been destroyed. Sorcha and Merrick found out otherwise in the first two novels in the series, and it shook the bedrock and foundation of their ties to the new Order, which formed to protect the Empire and its citizens from geists, geistlords and other manner of unsavory things from the Otherside.

Unfortunately in their last promenade to save the Empire things did not go quite according to plans, and Sorcha was left trapped inside her own body, paralyzed. It is a terrible thing to have your mind running, hear and overhear conversations, and not be able to say or do anything at all. Despite her strong Bond with Merrick, it is not enough to bring her out of this stupor. Merrick has stopped visiting, and now the Abbey and Council want to assign him a new partner – after Sorcha has been kidnapped!

After their last run in with a geistlord, in the ruse of a goddess, Raed the Young Pretender has been on the run from Emperor Kaleva and in search of his traitorous sister and former captain, but this time he is on his own. His crew is dispersed, and his first mate is determined to find him – with Sorcha’s help.

Once again, there is trouble in Vermillin within the palace. Kaleva has taken a stranger, a minor noble by the name of del Rue, into close confidence to the disgruntlement of his sister. The more she inquires, the more he shuts her out. The identity of this man is no stranger to Merrick, who is left holding the bag when del Rue pulls a fast one on Kaleva and the princess and the future of Arkaym is in question.

This does not bode well for the Empire or the Order, especially after Sorcha makes a deal with a geistlord, the entire Order loses the power of the Strops and Gauntlets, the Abbey is destroyed, the Deacons are on the run and The Tormentor is again on the lose.

The Rossin, a geistlord who made a deal with his ancestors, has not left Raed. In fact, he is in leagues with Fensema, another geistlord who wheels and deals with the Rossin, and has innate ability to track and stalk the Rossin. The Rossin seems to operate more and more independently unawares of Raed the Young Pretender, giving readers a nice glimpse of the set-up of the fourth book. The Rossin even struck a deal with Raed in the search for his sister that the Rossin can now be subdued but still access Raed’s conscious. I found in this book that the Rossin is very much more tamed, and humane (an ironic twist, I know), than in the previous books, but I think perhaps this is just setting up the groundwork for what will occur in the next book.

Sorcha discovers the painful and terrifying truth of her own history and birth, explaining the many remarkable peculiarities about her and her strong Bond with Merrick. She uses this knowledge of her mother’s last few desperate hours to save Arkaym.

Nynnia, Merrick’s lost love, is still helping Merrick and Sorcha from the Otherside…and ultimately saving Arkaym, again. I suspect in the fourth book she will also make an impact, even though her character has since long departed.

You can continue reading the Book of the Order series with Ballantine’s fourth installment, Harbinger.

About the Author

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Pip Ballantine

Born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, Philippa is a writer and podcaster of fantasy fiction. Immersed in books from an early age, she moved onto to become a librarian. She’d been dreaming of being a writer since a teenager, but in the last ten years she’s devoted herself to it.

She’s the author of the Books of the Order series from Ace Books. Also, with Pyr books the Shifted World series, Hunter and Fox (2012) and Born and Made (2013).

Philippa is also the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, Phoenix Rising and the Janus Affair (2012).

Philippa currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband and co-writer Tee Morris, their daughter and a clowder of five cats who keep them all in line.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

12 Months of Reading Recommendations

The last Monday of 2013, I happened to stop into a Half Price Books store…and buy books. It’s inevitable. With my purchase, I received a free HPB calendar filled with reading recommendations. Each month is broken down into a category, and lists ten books for each category. There are additional books in the categories, which are available on various HPB webpages.

I broke out the calendar and went to the first link, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found, so I am going to share their compilations with you! The categories are in order by the corresponding month it is matched with in the calendar.

resolveBanner100 Books You Can’t Put Down

The 50 Greatest Love Stories 

21 Books to Start A Baby’s Library

40 Books That Will Make You LOL

32 Underrated Book Club Novels

100 Scifi & Fantasy Novels to Geek Out Over

55 Quick Reads: Under 200 Pages

40 Classics You Should Have Read in School

65 Banned or Challenged Books That Shaped America*

Top 40 Horror Books to Scare Your Pants Off

Great American Novels of the 21st Century

30 Books That Are Better the Second Time Around

*Currently this page is unavailable.

Resolve to Read More in 2014

Enter to win a $100 HPB gift card! Enter by January 31, 2014.

Book Review: Warrior’s Oath

18625006
Warrior’s Oath

Title: Warrior’s Oath
Author: Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: October 2013
Length:  264 pages
Series?: Sacred Promises #2
Genre: YA, supernatural, romance
Format: e-book
Source: Hines & Bigham
Challenge: n/a

Synopsis: 

With war raging between the last two ruling families, the Skye’s and the Fino’s, Abbey will be forced to step up and announce herself as the rightful queen to the world of Elementals sooner than expected. At which time, her chosen advisors will also be declared. Including the person whose oath she unknowingly accepted to stand by her side.

Beginning her journey by traveling to Iceland to meet Garik’s family, and ask their blessing to put him through the trials to be her First, brings forth an entire new world. She dives deeper into the world of a warrior and what it means to have a family.

After a vision of destruction Abbey must make a decision to save a school or let it fall to Fino’s army. Saving it will mark her identity, but letting it fall would mean the loss of many innocents. Either way, her life will never be the same after her decision.

Review

A rift had been forming between the last two ruling families, the Skye’ s and the Fino’s. Their desires for power were now strong enough that there was only room for one. 

Nathan has gone and done it now. He’s used the powers of his Chosen Mate bond and cornered Abbey into admitting some very serious feelings. Little did Abbey know that Kaleb had followed in her wake and overheard this whole conversation.

Kaleb has been missing for two months. Not one single word from him. Abbey cannot shimmer to him any more. Nevara is not being very helpful either. The bond with Nathan is wearing on her every day. It’s getting harder and harder to resist him, and Kaleb is showing no signs of manning up and standing by her side.

I was not a bystander. I would not stand there and do nothing while watching innocence fall. 

While Abbey’s personal life is falling apart, so is their world. Fino has disbanded the Knights of Noir Council, and is enlisting and drafting Warriors as his own soldiers. He’s even gone so far as to draft Warriors from one of the other sister schools of Maramec.

I knew I could not take the world by myself. 

Just as in Sacred Promises, Abbey must make some very tough decisions, but this time she must make them almost instantaneously. There is no time to wait, and no time to lose. She must gather her chosen warriors and advisors, and fully mark them as her own.

What had this day become? Was this what my future held, a life full of fighting and death where even the lines between family loyalties became blurred? 

Kaleb finally comes around after a very blunt conversation that Abbey has with Nevara, which leads to her extending the oath to him. Unfortunately for them both, it’s a drunken night filled with Elemental punch, and neither can remember what happened…but Nathan has a pretty good idea. He no longer shares the bond with Abbey, and it isn’t hard to deduce why.

Abbey rallies her Divine Order around her, and those who will stand by her, to protect the sister school at Machu Piccu against Fino and his red soldiers. But then he comes to attack her very own school – and there’s nowhere for them to be protectively hidden from his wrath. Indeed, there are some traitors in the midsts.

This book eventually lands Abbey, Kaleb and Nevara back in her tribe and a lot of her history and marriage are explained. Will the animosity of years gone by, bad blood, and scorned love prevail in order to save Kaleb?

Sometimes no matter how much you think you know someone, you honestly have no iota of a clue. 

Traitors do run rampant in this novel, and I totally didn’t see the ending coming. Garik’s sister, Rowan, has been taken by a traitor who was once near and dear to Abbey. I’m sure this is where the next book, The Divine Order, will open. It will be available sometime in the spring.

Despite the wonderful spin put on this book, I do feel like this book was more rushed than the first in the series, that some of the finesse from Sacred Promises was lost along the way just to get the storyline across, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

Find my review of Sacred Promises here.

About the Authors

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Jennifer Hines

Jennifer Hines is a wife, mother, and indie author. She loves reading, writing, and taking long road trips.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Scanguards Vampires by Tina Folsom, and the Crossfire Novels by Sylvia Day.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

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Mindy Bigham

Mindy Bigham is a wife, a mother, and an indie author. She loves reading, writing, and vacationing anywhere there’s a beach.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include: The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Bloodlines Series by Michelle Mead, and The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

Find the authors: Website| Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads – Hines | | Goodreads – Bigham

Book Review: Sacred Promises

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Sacred Promises

Title: Sacred Promises
Author: Jennifer Hines & Mindy Bigham
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: April 2013
Length:  292 pages
Series?: Sacred Promises #1
Genre: YA, supernatural, romance
Format: e-book
Source: Hines & Bigham
Challenge: n/a

Synopsis: 

Most children grow up in loving homes, with parents who tell them bedtime stories. Not Abbey. She spent her childhood training for a battle that always seemed too far away to ever become real. 

In a world of Elementals, now corrupted and misguided by the ruling families, a queen must rise up and make right the wrongs her people have had to suffer through in absence of a true leader. After spending her entire life secretly training with her guardian, eighteen-year-old Abbey must now join the Maramec Conservatory as a student, entering into a world where she will meet other Elementals, Mystics, Watchers, and Warriors. Being surrounded by the people she will someday rule over, she must keep her identity as future queen from being discovered, while managing to create friendships and deciding whom she can trust to stand by her side both now and as queen.

Review

Teenage Abbey has grown up in secrecy with her guardian, Nevara, who has taught her everything she could possibly need to become the queen. Nevara has prepped and trained Abbey for this moment: entering the Maramec Conservatory in the guise of a student, where she will study with other Elementals, Mystics, Watchers and Warriors. Nevara has versed Abbey on the school as much as possible, but the rest is up to Abbey.

Watchers and Warriors are housed together and known as the Knights of Noir, protectors of the people, and kept separate from Elemental, who have a range of abilities with one of the four elements and the very rare Mystics, gifted with sight and healing.

Abbey has to keep her identity a secret and her cards close. She must navigate the troubled waters of the Conservatory where so many students of different backgrounds converge – and avoid detection from students of the ruling families. Every 50 years a new queen is born with specific marking on her back, and in the last 200 years there hasn’t been a queen that’s surfaced – meaning only one thing: someone is finding the queens…and getting rid of them.

Seeing and living were two completely different things.

Abbey can’t afford to make enemies, but she can’t allow anyone in either. As her roommate soon spills all the gossip, Abbey finds she is the center of attention. Quickly she finds herself locked in stalemate with her mentor – fellow student Kaleb Storm, who has some unsavory rumors circulating about his past and his heritage. Kaleb takes his duties in the highest regard, yet there’s also something about Abbey…and someone else notices.

Soon Abbey is found in the middle of a love triangle, and things get ugly. One night could have ruined everything – her, her role, and the future of her citizens. Abbey’s new barrage of defenders are taking her safety seriously: she must have someone from her group with her at all times. This complicates things as Kaleb, and Abbey’s rescuer Garik, are also on the hunt. Kaleb and Garrik are both Knights of Noir, warriors meant to protect the people.

Abbey has to face some hard decisions. Does she tell Kaleb the truth? Does she tell her friends? Then comes a third guy into the picture, vying for Abbey’s heart – and he instinctively knows who she is, and that they are destined to be together. Nathan’s not making it easy on Abbey, as she struggles to stay true to Kaleb and out of the grips of the stalking wolf-changeling Darrian, who always seems to be one step ahead of Abbey’s posse of protectors. Meanwhile, Abbey learns the true identity of her guardian, who is connected to Kaleb.

This novel was so much more than I expected, and I was amazed at the range of change and growth in the main characters. Abbey struggles with many decisions throughout the novel, and the more problems that develop, the harder it is for her. Through the narration, readers are privy to the change in Abbey that reflect that she will be a kind, just, but strong queen. Abbey’s character is one who must come to terms with the fact that she’s not normal: she’s the queen in hiding, and while reading all I could think when I read narration from Abbey’s thoughts was how graceful she was in her attitude and mentality.

The novel was also unique in that a few chapters are denoted to be told from Kaleb’s point of view in first-person, so readers get insight into his thoughts and can understand his emotions. There is a chapter where this differentiation from the narration is crucial, so I applaud the authors’ use of this technique.

It is a wonderful, thrilling read and I could not put it down. I fell asleep with my Kindle several nights. The novel ends in somewhat of a lurch, but in a nice way, which I expect is going to open the conflict in the sequel, Warrior’s Oath. I’m looking forward to great things in Warrior’s Oath. I expect Hines and Bigham to deliver, and I am betting I won’t be disappointed.

About the Authors

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Jennifer Hines

Jennifer Hines is a wife, mother, and indie author. She loves reading, writing, and taking long road trips.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Scanguards Vampires by Tina Folsom, and the Crossfire Novels by Sylvia Day.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

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Mindy Bigham

Mindy Bigham is a wife, a mother, and an indie author. She loves reading, writing, and vacationing anywhere there’s a beach.

She enjoys reading and writing mostly fantasy, paranormal romance, romance, and basically anything with vampires (the sparkly and/or sexy kind and not so much the freaky and scary kind), shifters, or magic – YA through erotica. Her favorite books/series include: The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Bloodlines Series by Michelle Mead, and The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks.

Friend her on Goodreads to follow all of her reviews both requested and personal, and to see what she’s currently reading.

Find the authors: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads