Review: Lumberjanes Vol. I

21876672Title: Lumberjanes (Volume I)
Author: Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 32 pages
Series?: Lumberjanes
Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp…defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons…what’s not to love?!

Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

LUMBERJANES is one of those punk rock, love-everything-about-it stories that appeals to fans of basically all excellent things. It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls and features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake.

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

The Roanoke Cabin, led by Jen, is known for their exploits. Friends Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley stick together like PB&J and have some exciting – and dangerous – adventures at this Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. There’s a mix of backwoods country, rockabilly and urban teen all mixed into the characters. The girls stumble upon some really strange things around camp, and as the summer goes on and strange things continue happening, they are set on solving the mysteries. They encounter all manner of craziness and creatures along the way, so they stick to their core camp concepts: stranger danger and friendship to the max.

The Players

Jo – a tall Davy Crocket type who seems to like Mal

April – the fierce yet kind redhead of the group, she is an odd mix of Disney princess and warrior

Mal – a punkrock hipster kind of girl who seems to kind of like Jo

Molly – a tall Lumberjack type who knows all things Lumberjanes, she is also very sarcastic and smart alecky

Ripley – cares strongly about things like kittens and cake, easily distracted, appears to be the youngest of the group

Jen – the camp counselor for the girls, she is very good at loosing the girls and gets very flustered

Rosie – the director of the Camp for Hardcore Lady Types

The Quote

So we were in our bunks just like we were supposed to be, right? And we heard a rumble and a whoosh, and then we saw – well, Jo and I saw – the super weird old lady outside the cabin.

So I went down into April’s bunk because of , y’know, stranger danger.

– SHE WAS LIKE SUPER WEIRD, LIKE THIS –

And THEN the woman said a lot of swears I’d never heard before and then WOOOOSH and AHH BRIGHT LIGHTS and then there was a BEAR!

So Jo and I woke up all of our friends because “FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX,” obviously, and we went after it and then there were foxes and here we are.

The Highs and Lows

  • / Plot. The plot had its good and bad points. There wasn’t much of a real plot there, just a jumble of various adventures. The chapters center around an adventure to get a particular Lumberjane badge, but the events themselves are kind of all over the place. Even the dialogue between characters was a bit off at times, like the characters were on in some inside joke and readers were left with no clue. There was the whole Kitten Holy thing in the first chapter, which also came back full circle in the end and they found out what it meant, but otherwise there was no significant plot development.
  • + Ripley. If I could have been anyone in this crazy adventure of the Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, I would want to be Ripley. She goes with the flow and doesn’t get caught up in the details. Kittens and cake and unicorns and puppies all the way!
  • + The Art. The artwork and illustration are terrific! I wish my life could be designed and illustrated like this.
  • + Jen. She is the classic worrywart, and it is clear she loves her group of girls – crazy adventures and elevated blood pressure and all.
  • – Rosie. There were a few moments that Rosie seemed…odd. I can’t quite put my finger on how to describe it, but I don’t trust her.  But she definitely and clearly is meant to be a reincarnation of Rosie the Riveter…with a sophisticated Daphne look.
  •  / Humor. The authors and illustrator clearly spent time developing the Lumberjanes and the humor of the dialogue and the drawings had me giggling while I flipped the glossy pages. Sometimes I got the impression the authors were trying to hard to push a lot of references. I have a movie and music buff in the friend circle, and even I was lost on some of the references. Like make up tutorials, less is more. Sometimes it was a little overdone. However, when the humor was on, it was on.

The Take-Away

I liked the focus on certain characters throughout the entire volume. Each character had a little spotlight and readers had the opportunity to get insight into them as individuals, but also in pairs.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

Borrow. If I continue reading the series, I doubt I’ll continue to buy the physical books. I will try to borrow from libraries or friends to keep reading the series. This is in large part due to the sporadic plot.

Review: Brain Camp

8044106Title: Brain Camp
Author: Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: August 2010
Length: 151 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Sci-Fi, Mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Neither artistic, dreamy Jenna nor surly, delinquent Lucas expected to find themselves at an invitation-only summer camp that turns problem children into prodigies. And yet, here they both are at Camp Fielding, settling in with all the other losers and misfits who’ve been shipped off by their parents in a last-ditch effort to produce a child worth bragging about.

But strange disappearances, spooky lights in the woods, and a chilling alteration that turns the dimmest, rowdiest campers into docile zombie Einsteins have Jenna and Lucas feeling more than a little suspicious…and a lot afraid.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Jenna and Lucas get scouted and roped into attending this stellar amazing genius brainiac camp, which their parents are heartily supporting. Jenna’s parents think this will be the thing that makes their child reach the Asian standard, while Lucas’s single-mother just wants him out of her hair and off her back. It’s a win-win.

Except…Camp Fielding isn’t quite what it is made out to be. Strange things start happening to campers, and Jenna and Lucas – being the new kids on the block – hook up with helpful but timid Wayne and start investigating, leading them down a trail to discover why campers are turning into zombie geniuses.

How do they keep from becoming one?

The Players

Jenna – an uninspiring Asian girl who is a disappointment and embarrassment to her family

Lucas – a delinquent teen who lives with his angry mother

Wayne – a nerdy rule-follower whose objective is to keep his life

The Quote

 So maybe our parents will finally stop hating us so much.

The Highs and Lows

  • Lucas. He’s a pretty cool dude and not quite what you would expect of a “delinquent.”
  • Jenna. She is almost anti-everything in violation of her Asian parents’ high standards. She’s 14 and they already expect her to be at Yale. She knows she is an embarrassment and a disappointment, but she wants to be her own person.
  • Wayne. I thought Wayne was cute in that nerdy, geeky kind of way, and he was so nice and helpful to both Lucas and Jenna when they arrived at Camp Fielding. He shows them the ropes of the camp and is in on the investigation to a point.
  • Plot. The plot was very streamlined throughout the book. Implausible, but it worked. I did find it interesting that those who were the smartest in the boys and girls cabins were “sent home,” while the camp counselors (who also appeared to be teens) were seemingly zombies themselves but also in on the entire thing. That part I wasn’t sure about.
  • The zombies. They look so much like a zombie, and do weird things. Yes, they are becoming geniuses through this scary process and they don’t even know.

The Take-Away

This was a good thing for me since I was looking for something different. I liked the setting and the friendships that formed between Lucas, Jenna, and Wayne. AND I liked that there was no love triangle business going on! What I really liked was how the longer the plot unraveled and the mystery deepened, Lucas and Jenna continued working side by side together as a team to figure things out.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

BUY! It is a story worth reading, and I found that I started getting very invested in the investigation and goings-on at Camp Fielding.

Review: Night of the Purple Moon

15772644Title: Night of the Purple Moon
Author: Scott Cramer
Publisher: Train Renoir Publishing
Release Date: May 2012
Length: 186 pages
Series?: Toucan Trilogy #1
Genre: YA

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Abby, 13, is looking forward to watching the moon turn purple, unaware that bacteria from a passing comet will soon kill off older teens and adults. She must help her brother and baby sister survive in this new world, but all the while she has a ticking time bomb inside of her–adolescence.

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Abby and her siblings are outsiders on Castine Island, despite their grandparents residing there most of their lives and their father growing up on the island. Recently moved from Cambridge and living in split households, Abby wants to go back home.

The world is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the purple moon – caused by a purple comet entering the Earth’s atmosphere. This has been an expected and seemingly safe thing. Even a special purple beer was made by a national beer distributor, and pizza places are delivering purple pizzas. It’s a pretty big deal. However, the following morning Abby and her brother Jordan make a chilling discovery: their father is dead. They see a delivery truck crashed into the lawn across the street, driver slumped over. The new kids next door have come over with the same news of their parents. Something in the bacteria of the comet – released into the Earth’s atmosphere forever – killed off all adults who breathed it. Quickly, the kids of Castine Island come together to make decisions about what they will do…how they will survive, and how they will teach the younger kids the necessary things so they may continue when the big kids have succumbed to the comet bacteria.

The Players

  • Abby Leigh – a 13 year old red-head 7th grader on the island, Jordan and Touk’s older sister
  • Jordan Leigh – Abby’s younger 6th grade brother; has a lot of friends on the island
  • Toucan Leigh – Abby and Jordan’s toddler sister
  • Emily Patel – a sweet Hindu girl; sister to Kevin
  • Kevin Patel – a kid genius, brother to Emily
  • Toby – the school bully; rude and crude
  • Chad and Glen – Toby’s croonies; they follow in Toby’s shadow
  • Mel – Abby’s friend back home in Cambridge
  • Timmy – a youngster of six or seven found by Abby on the mainland
  • Mandy – a hardcore, aggressive pre-teen part of a motorcycle gang on the mainland

The Quotes

Stars burned fiercely in the coal-black sky. The outlines of the moon’s craters were crisp. A bright dot moved slowly across the sky.

Before stepping outside, she looked at her sister and brother as if it might be for the last time. She swallowed hard and tried to drive this sad, frightening thought from her mind.

A quarter mile off shore, they had a good vie of the mansion. Laundry hung on the lines, and hundreds of rain buckets sat empty on the lawn. Cars filled the driveway and lined the road. Smoke leeched out of the mackerel smoke house. The American flag fluttered in the breeze. It looked like the circus had come to town.

Eddie crumpled to his knees and sobbed. Abby did not think it was possible for her heart to break further, but Eddie proved her wrong when he pulled back the covers and climbed beside the girl he loved.

A wave of grief washed over Abby and she felt her heart explode. The shattered pieces settled into the darkest part of her soul like snowflakes. She sank to her knees, inwardly tossed and tumbled by turbulence. She heard mournful sobbing in the distance and realized she was hearing herself.

The thought took root in her mind. She, alone, was responsible for her feelings. She had no control over the surroundings. Why should she allow the surroundings to control her feelings?

The Highs and Lows

  • + Plot. The plot is something entirely different and original. How can  the children of the world survive this new apocalypse? Anyone past puberty is dead* and those who are hitting puberty break out  – clear signs that they will not last long.
*Except, not. Only the adults who breathe the murderous purple comet bacteria.
  • – Puberty. I teach sixth grade (age 10-11), and I can definitely speak to the fact that almost all the students I have taught hit puberty by seventh grade (age 11-12). There are several characters grouped together who are right at puberty age (or past it), and that was used as a ticking time factor, but I found it somewhat illogical and unrealistic.
  • + Toucan. Is adorable. I want one.
  • + Heartfelt. As the Castine Island kids band together and work out a plan to survive, there was a budding romance between the Leighs and the Patels: Emily and Jordan, and Abby and Kevin. The way that Jordan cares for Emily throughout everything and the reverence he has for her is phenomenal in a kid so young. Emily is a lasting impression for Jordan, and Abby comes to realize just how much Kevin means to her.
  • + Kevin Patel. The kid is a genius. He helps the kids of Castine Island in so many ways. He sets them up to be successful and survive these dark, uncertain times. He even teaches the younger kids at the public library!
  • – The Bacteria. The bacteria is like the boogie man. You can’t really see it or smell it. It can’t be identified but it is present in the atmosphere and things still have a purple haze. They do listen to the radio broadcasts from the CDC and learn about the bacteria: it affects those with elevated hormonal levels of estrogen and testosterone. The unknown feeling of a ticking time bomb leaves everything up in the air for the big kids. I was constantly wondering if (or when) one of them would hit puberty full-on. Of course, this only propelled the plot and built more suspense – and anxiety for the characters.
  • + Descriptive Writing. There were wonderful descriptions sprinkled throughout the the novel. It was so sensory I felt like I was there. I had this little movie reel playing in my head as I read.
  • + The Mansion. There are 26 Castine Island survivors plus two babies who decide to band together and take up residence at a mansion on the island. There is plenty of space, and this small band of (primarily) locals iron out specific jobs and duties. They take care of the island and themselves and no one is left behind or alone. They do everything they can to survive and make the island livable. I loved the different snippets of various characters at the mansion and seeing what jobs and tasks they were responsible for. These kids, from babies to pre-teens, grow up at the mansion. It is a symbol of hope and their future.
  • + Abby. She is like the mother of all on the island. She has a lot of influence even though she’s not the oldest. During such a stressful time she maintained her calm and cool and took care of business for Castine Island and its survivors.
  • – Toby. He starts off as an asshole, as described by another kid, and decides to be a rebel. He and his band of croonies (Chad and Glen) do not live at the mansion and instead “live it up” scavenging the island and people’s homes. They also sneak to the mansion and take items and food, infuriating several of the mansion residents. Toby is the kind of character who makes it easy to hate him.
  • The Journey. Abby and Jordan journey to the mainland to save the survivors of Castine Island. Along the way they inhert two more members: little Timmy and hardcore Mandy.

The Take-Away

There were genuine emotions – from multiple characters – that made the purple comet and all the aftereffects seem so real. This development of the characters and the plot could have been easily overlooked and kind of wiped on by as the novel progresses, but they are present and they are real. It gave the book heart.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

Buy it. Even if you don’t want to continue reading the trilogy, I highly recommend buying this one. I typically do not like to buy physical books, but this is one I do want to purchase and have on my shelf to re-read. This is just one you want to have around.

 

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

Scott Cramer has written feature articles for national magazines, optioned a screenplay, and worked in high-tech communications. The Toucan Trilogy –Night of the Purple Moon, Colony East, and Generation M– are his first novels. Scott and his wife have two daughters and reside outside Lowell, Massachusetts.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: The Sound of the Stones

Stones Banner Large 2

Title: The Sound of the Stones
Author: Beth Hammond
Publisher: eLectio Publishing
Release Date: September 2015
Length: 286 pages
Series?: no
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

The ancient book about the past holds the future. Frankie is the key.

She doesn’t remember stopping at the used bookstore, but there she stands as if drawn by an unseen force. Anticipation wraps around her like a cocoon. When she opens the door, the wind nudges her through, and expectancy turns to purpose. The man inside, and the book he offers, changes everything. Unusual things happen when she begins to read:

In a time long forgotten, people are held captive by half human creatures. Ashra holds a secret close to her heart, and must discover the purpose of her gift before the oppressed human race is destroyed. An unlikely ally comes to her aid. Strangers bring her a message from a far off land. Ashra and her band of misfits set off in search of answers. Together, they find love, uncover mysteries from the past, face ever present danger, and hone powers they never knew they had.

Frankie and Ashra are separated by millennia, by fiction and reality, but in the end the barrier shatters.

***Honorable Mention at The Great Midwest Book Festival***

 

***** Review *****

Stones 3DThe Skinny

Frankie is a little lost in her living situation, and when the opportunity to help in her favorite book store pops up, she is all hands to help. Little does she know that one very old book will capture her attention like no other…

 

In a world long ago, a group of half-humans rule. It is a poor life for most. Ashra knows she has a special gift, but must keep it secret…while trying to uncover how to use it before the human race is extinct. The most unlikely of allies attaches to Ashra; strange people bring an important message; and Ashra soon finds herself surrounded by a band of misfits searching for the answer to the well-known story they all know so well.

 

The Players

There are a lot of characters. A lot. These are the most important ones to the plot, and I have a feeling some of the lesser characters will appear in a sequel if there is to be one.

  • Frankie Sheba – a quiet, shy girl who enjoys books
  • Ashra – a human girl with a special gift of listening to the land; she also knows how to erase memories from humans’ modicums
  • Haker – the oldest member of Ashra’s team
  • Krank – a Giant with a bad reputation who has a liking for Ashra; part of the Krad race
  • Bazine – a Nonsomni plagued by dreams of a girl in danger
  • Ratha – Bazine’s human mother who was taken in by the Nonsomni
  • Abrack – the Nonsomni who fills in as Bazine’s father
  • Shemma – the Krad ruler, worried about his future
  • Perditus – a Krad who is Fleuric’s chosen son; he is different than most Krad and seems conflicted
  • Fleuric – creator and father of Krad who has an interest in Perditus
  • Smirah – a servant woman selected by Perditus to be his personal assistant; she also is responsible for Ashra under Perditus’s care
  • Blithe – once had a secret forbidden love for a human that is linked to Perditus
  • Rucain – in charge of a mission to Krad City, has white-blond hair
  • Akira – recently turned 13, also has white-blond hair; wants the approval of her older brother and must go with him on the mission to Krad City

The Quote

The smell of old books and stale coffee brought images to mind of another time in her life, a simpler time when books could carry her away to worlds where she felt a sense of belonging. Life seemed more complicated now.

No, you’re weird and you make me flap my arms too much didn’t sound like something he could say and still remain cordial.

The Highs and Lows

  • + Frankie. She is one cool kid, living in the system. Her family is okay…at least her dad is. Her mother can stick it. I’d want to spend all my time at the bookstore too, with a mother like that.
  • + Dystopian theme. This reminded me quite a bit of the dystopian set-up in the Uglies series. At birth, each human has a modicum placed in their brains. There are also Death Bowls, like the the Roman tradition of gladiators. However, the Death Bowls are very Hunger Games-ish because they are mandatory to attend.

More humans were born every day, and every day those modicums were placed into the hippocampus of fresh, tiny human minds. Brain waves were recorded, and Krad Sensitives intercepted the waves embedded in the crystal. The Krad monitored thoughts, fears and desires. This was how the human race was suppressed, controlled and held captive.

  • + Variety of creatures. There are the Glasne, the Krad Sensitives, the Krad Gravity Benders, Giants, the Nonsomni and humans.
    • The Nonsomni haven’t seen humans in centuries (except for one). They are a peaceful people who live in the height of the mountains and are protected from danger. They also do not dream, and cannot be invaded by the Glasne.
    • Krad live on the oppression of the humans. They share both the blood of humans and Glasne. All Krad are male.
    • Glasne live in the second universe and can reach the first universe through dreams and other mind manipulation. Krad are large by human standards, but Glasne are close to eight feet. They are superior to humans and Krad.
  • – Dream manipulation. This is how the Glasne reproduce. They invade the minds of human women in the first universe and “force them to bear children.” The women die after childbirth. NOT COOL. 
  • + The Prophecy. It turns out that across all the races that exist in these world, there are various stories of creationism that exist. They all have common cores, and the most important element is that they all indicate a prophecy to come. The fulfillment of this prophecy will set the humans free and cast the Glasne into a worser fate.
  • + Ashra. She is a phenomenal character who is kind even when she could easily not be. She attracts others to her like a beacon of light. This of course is a good and a bad thing for her, and it is the driving force behind the plot…along with a couple other things. 🙂
  • + Akira. She has her own special story among her people, that began the day of her birth. The crystals tell all in their worlds.
  • + The plot. The plot is extremely convoluted, between worlds and multiple stories of creation and various types of creatures, and the sheer number of characters.
  • – Character growth. This is something I always like to see in a character, and due to the number of characters and the highly plot-driven aspect of the book, there was not time for breathers or glimmers of growth and dynamics of the characters.

The Take-Away

I liked how all of these seemingly separate pieces end up coming together in the end of the book. As the plot and pacing progressed, I could see these pieces fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. I felt I had a better understanding of the book since I could envision this, and it lead up to a fantastic ending that I should have seen coming because the little clues here and there were all there for me to see, I just overlooked them.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

I’m not sure if this is the beginning of a new series or not. If it is, I suggest buying. If it’s not, I suggest borrowing. Either way, it is an interesting story!

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

Beth Hammond, is an author/illustrator who writes anything from YA fantasy to children’s picture books. She is a wife, mother, and lover of life. Her early years were spent serving in the military. Her middle years spent raising babies and figuring out her place in the world. She created stories for her book loving children and recently released “Do Your Toes Stink Good?”, “The Blond Korean and the Blue-Eyed frog”, and “Puppy Waits”. Her YA fantasy novel “The Sound Of The Stones” is newly released and available now. Her later years are yet to come, and filled with hopes and endless dreams. She spends her days creating worlds through words and illustration.

 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

Ten (10) $5 Amazon Giftcards. Ends 1/22.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review: The Secret Keeper

Title: The Secret Keeper
Author: Angela Carling
Publisher: AZ Publishing
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 191 pages
Series?: The Secret Keeper #1
Genre: YA

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

When seventeen year old Winter Merrill was compelled to make a bargain with the mysterious Secret Keeper, she knew there were rules. The most important one, the next time you have a secret, you will not be able to tell it….even if you try.

What she didn’t know is that her next secret if not told, would destroy her life and the life of Liam, the only boy she ever loved. Can Winter find a way out of the dark bargain that binds her tongue or will her deal with the Secret Keeper bring devastating consequences unimaginable even to her?

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Winter has the best friend you could ask for. Ally is always there for her. Winter makes a terrible mistake and is pressured to admit it and hurt those she loves. She desperately seeks out the Secret Keeper for help. But there are rules, caveats. Winter walks away knowing her next secret she will never be able to tell.

Little did she know the next secret would be so life altering that it would destroy her world. And she can’t even say one word. Winter spirals and then is confronted over and over again with the magnitude of the secret she’s incapable of telling…a secret that could cost her her own life, and the lives of everyone she loves.

The Players

Winter – a seventeen year old; only child; best friends with Ally; dating Liam

Liam – Winter’s boyfriend; has liked her forever

Ally – Winter’s best friend

The Secret Keeper – a mysterious and creepy woman; lives in an bad area of town

First Impressions

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It was something totally new from Carling, but also had some common ground with her other books. I just didn’t know what I would be getting from the cover and synopsis, but I knew it would be sinister.

Second Thoughts

Herber is a small town where not much happens. That also means it can be a hotbed for the rumor mill, no matter how much or little truth there is to the gossip.

And that is exactly what Winter is trying to avoid after realizing the ramifications of her great big giant mistake. In honesty, I think if she had actually fessed up to those she needed to, as she was being pressured to do by someone else, it wouldn’t have been as bad as what she thought it would be…because, well, it wasn’t that bad.

Either way, truth or lies, someone would get hurt. That’s the way it was with secrets. They were hidden for a reason.

Winter is convinced she only has two options: be forced to reveal her secret, or have the Secret Keeper erase it like it never happened. She thinks she can handle the terms of the agreement with the Secret Keeper, who lives in a dilapidated house on the worst street in town. The Secret Keeper has distinguishable qualities that are definitely hair-raising.

During Winter’s dealings with the Secret Keeper, I kept thinking about Ariel’s dealings with Ursula in The Little Mermaid. We all know you don’t make a deal with the devil, but when you think you have no other choice…

The plot moves on from there, and spirals out of control. If Winter thought her first secret was bad, her second one – the one she can’t tell anyone – is earth-shattering. Something that could definitely drive a person to insanity, especially not being able to tell anyone. Winter does her best to give all the signs she can to help others figure out her secret.

I was impressed with Winter’s attempts to point everyone she can in the direction of the one person central to her secret, given all the things happening. I don’t think I could have done as well if I were in her position. The entire premise of the book is based on secrets, and unfortunately Winter learns someone else’s secrets. Terrible secrets that can cost lives.

The ending is a slight cliffhanger, leaving readers open to ask many questions about what will come next as Winter moves forward in life. It was not quite what I was expecting, and definitely a turn upside down for Winter. Overall, this was a quick very quick read that’s a nice change. It opens the door for readers to question their own secrets.

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

I was born and raised in Palm Springs, California and after living in several different states ended up back in yet another desert in Arizona, where I reside with my husband, three kids and five cats.  We’ve now lived here for ten years and haven’t melted yet, although we have fried eggs on the sidewalk. We love to escape to our cabin in the mountains or to my favorite place, the beach. I have several obsessions, including my passion for all kinds of music and my inability to stop buying cheap jewelry. I am often caught singing in public bathrooms, just for the acoustics, or rollerblading through my neighborhood while singing loudly to whatever is playing on my iPod. I love to have lots of flowers in my garden and shiny things in my house.  My favorite holiday of all (going along with the shiny things theme) is Christmas. All in all, I consider myself the luckiest, most blessed person alive and am so happy to have this opportunity to write and also to share my writing with other people!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: Ella, The Slayer

Ella_Banner

Welcome to my stop for Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley. Ella, the Slayer is an Edwardian retelling of Cinderella with an undead problem. It is an upper young adult novel. The tour runs August 10-21 with reviews only, so check out the tour schedule and all the reviews about Ella.

ELLA-ebook-200x300Title: Ella, the Slayer
Author: A.W. Exley
Publisher: R
Release Date: June 2015
Length: 200 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Retelling, YA

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

The flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks.
Except it wasn’t flu and death gave them back.

Seventeen-year-old Ella copes the best she can; caring for her war-injured father, scrubbing the floors, and slaying the undead that attack the locals. ‘Vermin’ they’re called, like rats they spread pestilence with their bite. Ella’s world collides with another when she nearly decapitates a handsome stranger, who is very much alive.

Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfield, has returned to his ancestral home with a mission from the War Office — to control the plague of vermin in rural Somerset. He needs help; he just didn’t expect to find it in a katana-wielding scullery maid.

Working alongside Seth blurs the line between their positions, and Ella glimpses a future she never dreamed was possible. But in overstepping society’s boundaries, Ella could lose everything – home, head and her heart…

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Ella is still a teenager, but charged with running her father’s estate and slaying the undead with her katana. She ensures no more living become infected while trying to maintain the identities of the slain. All while enduring the pointed barbs of her stepmother and stepsister about her intelligence and station in life. Ella copes with it all by leaning on her fellow friends, who are also servants in the household, and detailing the day’s events each night with her father. Seth, the new Duke of Leithfield, has returned home to Somerset and from the war. He is charged from the War Office to investigate and control the vermin in the area. He doesn’t even know where to start, until he discovers what Ella can do and has been doing to protect the people of Somerset.

The Players

Ella – daughter of Sir Jeffrey and the housekeeper; scullery maid

Alice – the upstairs maid; Frank’s girl; Ella’s friend

Henry – Ella’s childhood friend

Father – Sir Jeffrey, Ella’s father

Elizabeth – Lady Jeffrey; Ella’s stepmother; values social status

Louise & Charlotte – Elizabeth’s daughters

Seth – Duke of Leithfield returned from war

Frank – Seth’s valet and friend; dating Alice

First Impressions

I again suffered from cover love. THAT DRESS! I will not deny that I want the dress. There was just something about that staircase and the way she was standing on it. I suppose it reminded me nostalgically of Titanic, which sparked an interest in me. After reading the synopsis I was pretty sure we were talking zombies, which I do not like at all, but I was willing to give it a try.

Second Thoughts

The book is set in England directly following the World War I. Exley does a fabulous job setting the scene in terms of historical relevance for several of the characters.

Back then death only had one meaning: your life snuffed out, never to rekindle. Then came the Great War, and we learned of a new type of death. The ‘walking dead,’ we call them. Men who returned with shattered minds, unable to grasp the horrors they saw of the deprivations they had suffered. 

This is the case with Henry and Sir Jeffrey. It is a state which Ella describes vividly in the first chapter. This also sets the scene later for Ella’s explanation of the vermin, which we would reference as zombies. Alice and Ella both work hard to bring Henry back into the land of the living. Ella also does the same with her father, who sits and stares out a window each day.

The first thing I really noticed about the writing style was Ella’s voice. Although this is a piece set in 1919 Britain, Ella’s internal language does not reflect that. She speaks as a modern contemporary would, and she’s funny.

He stepped forward and took my hand, placing it in his larger one for a firm handshake. 

“Yes, your grace,” I muttered, staring at where our flesh touched. So warm, it spread up my arm like an escaped fire. 

When I looked up, he was still smiling as his gaze searched my face. “And you are?”

Mortified. 

At first I didn’t realize this was a Cinderella retelling even though all the signs were there. They just aren’t over-the-top. Ella’s stepmother, Elizabeth, is a woman from hell. I wouldn’t be able to control myself if I had been Ella, but she keeps her cool and calm.

When the undead returned from their graves, Ella was the first to take action. Given the highly religious focus in the community, Ella has set herself aside from the others. Her soul is damned, and that is how she becomes the slayer. It is not a job she enjoys, but it must be done.

Seth was an interesting character in that he is titled, returning home from the war with great responsibilities in this whole vermin business, but has no desire to find a wife. He struggles with his own demons and finds a kindred spirit in Ella. He is the only person who can see the pain it causes Ella to be the slayer, and those battle experiences give them a common ground.

This idea and reality that is shared between Seth and Ella speaks about the humanity of the time. Ella was very conscientious about trying to treat the undead as people. She wasn’t ruthless, as some described her. She was doing the best she could in the situation, and her thought to maintain records of the vermin ends up being extremely useful for Seth’s work.

Alice and Frank have a relationship that helps Ella and Seth as individuals and to bring them together. They are quite the cunning pair. Henry relies heavily on the support of Ella and Alice after returning from the war. The girls do their best to bring Henry back into the land of the living. Elizabeth, the stepmother, has no other purpose than to elevate herself at her daughters’ expense. It was not a surprise some of the things she stooped to doing, except the very last one. That one completely threw me.

The undead were not as bad as I thought it would be, for someone who does not like zombies. It was pretty mild up until the end. It wasn’t over-exaggerated or underplayed. The plague and vermin are a significant focus in the book and the thing that ties the entire plot together.

One of my favorite scenes was how Ella and Seth met. I also loved the scene when Seth is setting up his work and Ella sees the big picture and they start realizing the impacts of the plague and the vermin. It was a turning point in trying to move forward with solving this issue.

I did cry at one point in the book, where it seems all is lost for Ella. It was truly a heart-wrenching scene and each moment I thought Seth would show up and whisk her away, but that was not to be. I just could not fathom the depth of crazy that Ella suffered.

This isn’t your typical fairytale retelling. There is no glass slipper or fairy godmother. I don’t think this is being made into a series, although it could be done fairly easily – and I wish it would be! Ella is such a strong, intuitive and yet vulnerable character. I would recommend anyone to read her story.

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

AWE-200x300Books and writing have always been an enormous part of A.W. Exley’s life.

She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

$50 Amazon Gift Card
Signed paperback of Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley
Open Worldwide
Ends August 26th

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

THIS EVENT WAS ORGANIZED BY CBB BOOK PROMOTIONS.

Review + Giveaway: Scream

LAKEVIEW-SERIES

This is my stop for the third book the Lakeview series by Stacey R. Campbell. This is a young adult mystery series. The tour runs August 3-14 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check earlier posts this week for my reviews of the previous books in the series, and the tour schedule for all the other good stuff going on.

Scream-high-res-2-188x300Title: Scream
Author: Stacey R. Campbell
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: July 2015
Length: 260 pages
Series?: The Lakeview Series #3
Genre: YA, mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

It’s Halle Henry’s final year at Lakeview Academy, and she is determined to make it her best year yet. But when drugs are discovered in her boyfriend Alex’s backpack and he is expelled, Halle’s life spins out of control.

Refusing to believe the accusations against him, Halle vows to get to the bottom of what really happened and bring Alex back to campus so they can graduate together.

Now, all Halle has to do is save her boyfriend, solve a murder, graduate from high school, and keep from getting killed in the process.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

This is the final book (so far?) and wraps up Halle’s senior year at Lakeview. Halle and Alex have been dating for a couple years now, and she and Izzy have stayed roommates through all their time at Lakeview. The winter term has ended and the new terms starts off on an odd note before the three even make it back to the campus. Alex swears he witnesses a strange interaction between two men on the ferry that no one else saw. Then back at school drugs are found in Alex’s belongings and he is expelled from Lakeview. Halle starts losing it. She is convinced his very weird roommate was behind it, but quickly discovers there’s a bigger plot at hand at Lakeview Academy after she relentlessly starts digging. She is determined to bring Alex back to campus. Along the way she enlists the help of the one person she knows she can trust who has the exact same goal that she does.

The Players

Halle – a senior at Lakeview; lives in Campbell house; dates Alex; is roommate’s with his twin sister, Izzy; is relentless and stubborn

Alex – a senior at Lakeview; dates Halle; Izzy’s twin brother; Wyatt’s roommate; fiercely protective of Wyatt

Izzy – a senior at Lakeview; lives in Campbell house; rooms with Halle; gossips a lot

Wyatt – a senior at Lakeview; Alex’s roommate; strange kid rumored to have been expelled from previous school for drug use

Missy – a senior at Lakeview; Wyatt’s on/off girlfriend; Halle’s nemesis since grade 8

Ramon & Lola – Lakeview’s school cooks; at the center of Halle’s investigations

First Impressions

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this last book. I was sad that it was the last installment in the series (although I hope there are more) and had no idea where the storyline was coming from but I expected it to be good.

Second Thoughts

This is the most exciting of all the books! Campbell’s writing and craft has definitely improved from the first book. Even though this is a series, the books can be read as standalones and I highly recommend this third book to any and everyone.

The relationships in this book make up an interesting dynamic. They are different than they were in the second book, and the main focus is on Halle, Alex and their roommates Izzy and Wyatt. I was kind of sad to see the rest of the gang not pop up in the book, but they had already graduated.

Halle and Alex have such an incredibly sweet and playful romance. They support one another, but are also very wrapped up in one another. Halle struggles an incredible deal after Alex is expelled, but it also speaks to the depth of her loyalty and her refusal stubborness dedication to set things right.

Izzy and Halle have an interesting relationship being roommates and best friends, but also for the fact that Halle is dating Izzy’s twin. Izzy is very much part of the gossip mill at Lakeview, but she is Halle’s friend and refuses to believe the rumors flying around about her. Halle and Alex have to not cross a certain line that would impair Halle’s friendship with Izzy or cause issue between the siblings.

“Now she’s going to tell me how mean we were all night. I’ll never get to bed. You know how much she likes him.” 

“So what, she interrupted us,” Alex protested. 

“She’s your sister.”

“I know. That’s why it’s so fun to tease her when she gets like this.”

Halle tried to suppress her grin. “You’re such a jerk.”

Alex’s brows rose. “Really? You want to come over here and say that to my face?”

“Yeah, maybe I do.” 

Alex cupped Halle’s chin, pulling her lips to his.

There is no love lost between Halle and Alex’s roommate, Wyatt. Until Halle thinks he’s the only one that can help her figure out who is framing Alex and why. They have to be careful that wind does not get back to Alex, or he’ll have both of their heads. After realizing the implications of the danger they are indeed in, he demands Halle stop her investigations.

Speaking of Wyatt, he starts hanging around with Halle’s Lakeview nemesis. You know, growing up we all had one. That person that we can’t stand and just rubs the entirely wrong way. Well, that’s Missy. They have had evil eyes for each other since grade 8, and now Missy thinks she is ruling supreme with her taunts and rumors after Alex is kicked out. She is definitely an annoying character, but there’s the thing: the entire time I was reading, no matter where she’d pop up, anytime she had dialogue I automatically heard it in one particular accent. She annoyed even me, and I thought she was quite stupid to just be popping off at the mouth like that, so anytime she spoke I heard it in my mind as a Jersey Shores dialect, which I then thought was kind of funny because I could picture it so easily.

My favorite scenes were the ones where Halle and Wyatt make riddle out the issues surrounding Alex’s expulsion and make their plans, especially when they sneak off campus through the woods the first time.

Wyatt and Halle bloom into fast friends after coming to a truce and consensus regarding their one mutual goal: getting Alex back on campus. Alex is the one person whom Wyatt can confide in, and this reason alone is what starts the basis of Wyatt and Halle’s friendship.

I’m not sure if there will be any more books in the series, given that both Henry girls have graduated Lakeview Academy and Halle’s plan is to attend St. Andrews in Europe, but the ending was enlightening for me about the potential for spin-off series and an entirely new relationship. 😉

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

View More: http://suzannerothmeyer.pass.us/stacycampbellStacey R. Campbell lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband and three daughters. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and a dyslexic writer that believes there is no such thing as a bad reader.  She is the author of the young adult novels Hush, Whisper, Silence & Scream and the highly acclaimed middle grade swashbuckling Pirate book ARRGH!

When not at her desk writing she can be found hiking, sailing, or skiing. She enjoys chocolate in any shape or size, too many cups of coffee and laughing (often too loudly as her daughters say) with her friends and family.

Stacey is available for classroom visits via Skype and loves working with writers and readers of any age; especially those with learning disabilities like her own.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

$20 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

set of ebooks of the Lakeview series (INT)

set of paperbacks of the Lakeview series (US)

Ends Aug. 18th

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

THIS EVENT WAS ORGANIZED BY CBB BOOK PROMOTIONS.

Review + Giveaway: Silence

LAKEVIEW-SERIES

This is my stop for the novella in the Lakeview series by Stacey R. Campbell. This is a young adult mystery series. The tour runs August 3-14 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check back each day this week for my review of the next book in the series, and the tour schedule for all the other good stuff going on.

Silence-high-res-copy-187x300Title: Silence
Author: Stacey R. Campbell
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 65 pages
Series?: The Lakeview Series #2.5
Genre: YA, mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Searching for the answers about the father she never knew, Blakely Henry, now Queen of Tamura, takes her family on a cross-country adventure through the hill towns of Southern France.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

This is a short novella between books 2 and 3 in the series. Blakely, the older Henry sister, is the main character. The location is back in Tamura as the Queen Blakeley discovers information about her biological father that was exiled from Tamura by her grandfather, the King, nearly 20 years before.

The Players

Blakely Henry – the long-lost Cosimo heir; now Queen of Tamura, attending St. Andrews; wants to track down her biological father

Halle Henry – Blakely’s younger sister; just finished her first year at the Canadian Lakeview Academy (which Blakely also attended) and arrived in Tamura

Lili and Graham Henry – the girls’ parents; they reside in Tamura and take care of Blakely’s duties while she is away at school

Lord Duncan Girard – private secretary for the Blakely’s grandfather, King Edward of Tamura; now serves in the same capacity for Blakely; he is like an uncle to the family

This installment in the series again shows the close bonds of the Henry family and the love they have for one another. This was evident in the first book as well, but I feel like this short novella gave a more intimate look into the family now that some time has passed.

First Impressions

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this novella because it was so short, but I liked the idea of Blakely continuing to look for her biological father. I just wasn’t sure what she’d find…and if I’d cry.

Second Thoughts

What I liked about this novella is it gave a little more insight into the country of Tamura. There have already been two full-length books, but not a whole lot about the country before.

The narrow country of Tamura lay cradled between France, Italy and Monaco and stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Alps, sharing its northern border with Switzerland. It tool less than forty minutes by car to cross the western border into France from the capital city of San Lucio.

This gives me a better picture of the fictional country of Tamura. It seems that King Edward handled the disappearance of her father on his own and did a pretty good job of it. The title is aptly named.

The Henry family is hot on the trail of the latest information that Duncan has provided for them, and it leads them to a postal box in South France. From there, the Henrys are on their own.

I was relieved that I didn’t cry. Although the outcome was not what I as a reader wanted, it was still an authentic and realistic outcome. Blakely learns what she so desperately needs in order to move forward.

Since this was a novella, the plot pacing was incredibly fast and perhaps slightly contrived in the beginning, but there was still plenty of background information outlined in the first few chapters for those reading this as a standalone.

I believe that Blakely is trying to make things right within in Tamura – for the country, for the royal family’s lineage, and for herself. I love that kind of character, and her family is incredibly down to earth. This is a great short and quick read.

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

View More: http://suzannerothmeyer.pass.us/stacycampbellStacey R. Campbell lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband and three daughters. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and a dyslexic writer that believes there is no such thing as a bad reader.  She is the author of the young adult novels Hush, Whisper, Silence & Scream and the highly acclaimed middle grade swashbuckling Pirate book ARRGH!

When not at her desk writing she can be found hiking, sailing, or skiing. She enjoys chocolate in any shape or size, too many cups of coffee and laughing (often too loudly as her daughters say) with her friends and family.

Stacey is available for classroom visits via Skype and loves working with writers and readers of any age; especially those with learning disabilities like her own.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

$20 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

set of ebooks of the Lakeview series (INT)

set of paperbacks of the Lakeview series (US)

Ends Aug. 18th

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

THIS EVENT WAS ORGANIZED BY CBB BOOK PROMOTIONS.

Review + Giveaway: Family Magic

FamilyMagicBanner1-1024x690Welcome to my stop for Family Magic by Patti Larsen! This is a young adult paranormal that won 1st place in World’s Best Story contest and is published by Premiere. The tour runs August 3-31 with mostly reviews as well as author interviews and guest posts. Check out all of the other stops on the tour schedule.

Family-Magic-200x300Title: Family Magic
Author: Patti Larsen
Publisher: Premiere
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 466 pages
Series?: Hayle Coven #1
Genre: YA, Paranormal

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Her mom’s a witch. Her dad’s a demon. And she just wants to be ordinary.

Sydlynn Hayle’s life couldn’t be more complicated. Trying to please her coven, starting over in a new town, and fending off a bully cheerleader who hates her are just the beginning of her troubles. What to do when delicious football hero Brad Peters–boyfriend of her cheer nemesis–shows interest? If only the darkly yummy witch, Quaid Moromond, didn’t make it so difficult for her to focus on fitting in with the normal kids. Add to that her crazy grandmother’s constant escapes driving her family to the brink and Syd’s between a rock and a coven site. Forced to take on power she doesn’t want to protect a coven who blames her for everything, only she can save her family’s magic. If her family’s distrust doesn’t destroy her first.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Sydlynn Hayle definitely lives a complicated life. She lives with her coven leader mother, younger demon sister Meira, a demon trapped in a cat’s body (best cat ever), and crazy grandmother. Her demon father lives in another plane. Oh, and her vampire uncle and cousin live in the basement cupboards. She wants no part of being a witch, part of the coven, or anything to do with her magic or demon. She fights hard against her mother, resisting as much as she can, but at school she is still an outcast and not the “normal” that she strives to be. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly having to start over. And then things just start getting all around strange, at home and at school.

At school, Syd has caught the eye of the bully cheerleader Alison, but also the eye of Alison’s boyfriend Brad, too. Alison is pure evil, but Brad tries being a kind friend. One day Syd turns the tables and befriends Alison. Meanwhile, a childhood friend of her mother’s returns to town with her family (the Moromonds) to join the coven and very strange things start happening. Syd starts noticing a black dog around town every time something bad happens. Her mother’s friend seems just like the mean girls she deals with at school. Quaid smirks at her at every opportunity, and gets her thinking about hard she’s trying to fit in.

The longer the Moromonds are around, the weirder and weirder it gets. Her grandmother suddenly begins escaping, which could level the entire town if given enough time. She butts heads with her mother at every opportunity, until she has to get over herself for the greater good of the coven that she’s wanted for so long to turn her back on.

The Players

I, Sydlynn Hayle, sixteen-year-old All-American girl, was a witch. Every single person in my life, much to my disappointment fell into that category. Lucky me. Except I spent my entire life wanting nothing more than to be normal, average, ordinary and just like everyone else.

Sydlynn Hayle – Syd wants no part in her magic or the coven, she wants to be released when she’s 18, and wants nothing more than a normal life, but she loves her mother and sister deeply that it is sometimes conflicting

In the ‘real world,’ Meira had to disguise her unusual coloring, her overlarge eyes and cute little horns peeking out of her silky black curls.

Meira Hayle – Meira is the 8-year-old sister of Syd, she clearly sports the visage of her demon heritage, she loves Syd very much and is generally a happy kid

She swept back the hood of her cloak, her long, thick and perfect black hair a flawless halo around her gorgeous face. Her eyes glowed with joy, cheeks flushed from the rush of energy from the coven.

Miriam Hayle – Miriam is the leader of a 100+ coven of witches, she is very strong and powerful and the head of the household in the normal world, struggles with her relationship with Syd

Ethpeal Hayle had once been an influential witch. An evil coven challenged our family. She stood against them alone, cutting herself off to protect the rest of us, but the fight scrambled her sanity.

“Gram” Ethpeal Hayle  – mischevious grandma, famous within the Purity coven, single-handedly defeated an evil coven, now thrives on chocolate and tequila

His chiseled face creased in a soft smile, gentle, even welcoming. My dad was a nice demon.

Haralthazar – goes by “Harry,” is Miriam’s husband and Syd and Meira’s father, he is Demon Lord of the Seventh Plane of Demonicon

His plush, silky fur stood on end, pushed-in nose glistened between eyes snapping anger, plume of tail thrashing against the patchwork quilt as he growled at me.

Sassafrass – a horrible demon teenager the elders punished by placing in a silver Persian cat’s body, called Sass for short

There are several other characters, members of the coven and the friends and enemies Syd makes at school that we meet along the way.

First Impressions

At first I was not too keen to pick up this book and read. It seemed to “out there” for me, considering I have a fine line when it comes to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, so I was actually slightly dreading picking up the book.

Second Thoughts

And once I picked it up I literally could not put it down. I read it entirely in one setting.

Being part of a demon raising is way less exciting than it sounds.

That is the line that got me. I was hooked. Larsen did it all through her character’s voice. Syd’s voice – dripping teenager – is captivating and pulled me along with the story, which was very fast-paced. There wasn’t a moment of pause in the plot, but it wasn’t rushed either. It was paced perfectly and everything that happens happens for a reason.

As much as I suppressed my magic from day to day and refused to use it all, the draw of the coven and my attachment to it made it impossible to deny. 

Syd has always tried to deny and ignore her magic despite having to partake in bi-annual coven ceremonies. The trouble is she is also a powerful witch like her mother, and not training herself in how to use her magic properly proves to be catastrophic.

I found it very interesting the world that Larsen built. The witches can feel out one another and know when they are present in the normal world, and they can also have connections to one another or other life forms (such as Syd’s demon father) in other planes.

Syd’s relationship with her mother is an interesting explosion waiting to happen, and it often implodes in on Syd. She hates her mother for forcing her into the coven life, leaving her no real choices, and always blaming and accusing her.

Her sister, Meira, is always there to comfort Syd after these disastrous blow ups. I loved seeing the softer side of Syd with Meira, and later at school with Alison.

My favorite scenes were the ones when Syd was showing great strength of character. She has some precious moments with her mother, shows Alison a different way, has a few moments with Brad, and takes the time to think for herself in some sticky situations with greedy power-hungry traitors.

The book ends with an entire new world of possibilities opening up, and I already started making my own predictions. I am very interested to know what will happen in the future for the Hayle coven, and what other mischief Gram cooks up. I definitely recommend this to paranormal readers, and anyone in a reading slump.

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

Patti is an award-winning author with a passion for the paranormal. Now with multiple series in happy publication, she lives in Canada with her patient husband and six demanding cats.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

5 paperback copies of Family Magic (US/CA) and a $25 Amazon gift card (INT)

Ends 9/6

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

THIS EVENT WAS ORGANIZED BY CBB BOOK PROMOTIONS.

Review + Giveaway: Whisper

LAKEVIEW-SERIES

This is my stop for the second book in the Lakeview series by Stacey R. Campbell. This is a young adult mystery series. The tour runs August 3-14 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check back each day this week for my review of the next book in the series, and the tour schedule for all the other good stuff going on.

WC-w-award-188x300Title: Whisper
Author: Stacey R. Campbell
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: March2014
Length: 242 pages
Series?: The Lakeview Series #2
Genre: YA, mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

It’s Halle Henry’s first year at Lakeview Academy . . .

On a snowy January night, just days after a fire that nearly destroyed the school’s library, Elsie Stewart, daughter of the headmaster and founder of Lakeview Academy, dies slipping beneath the ice of frozen Clearwater Lake. Unable to right the wrongs she committed before her tragic death, Elsie’s spirit walks the halls of her father’s school, waiting for someone who can.
One hundred years later, while joining her sister’s friend Leigh to help clean out the school’s administration building before the big remodel, Halle stumbles upon Elsie’s hidden journal.

Obsessed with what she finds, Halle searches the school for clues that may lead to solving a century-old mystery. The only problem is that Halle also talks Calum Stewart, Leigh’s worst nightmare, into helping them.

Once Leigh and Calum are forced work together, sparks fly and no one around them, alive or dead, is left unaffected.

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

This is the second installment in the Lakeview series. The first book followed Blakely Henry during her senior year at Lakeview, and now the series continues as her younger sister Halle starts her 8th grade year at Lakeview. Halle has a few older friends from Blakely’s Lakeview days, and she joins up with them to make it through her first year…and enlists their help to discover the treasure that Elsie Stewart’s ghost has written about in her journal that continues to haunt Halle’s every moment. Even though Leigh is Halle’s “big,” Halle enlists Leigh’s ex into the Elsie mix, creating havoc among them.

The Players

Halle – new grade 8 student; taken under Leigh’s wing; lives in Campbell House; obsessed with the ghosts of Lakeview; finds Elsie’s journal

Leigh – a fair-skinned redhead who is very clumsy; senior in Campbell House; soccer goalie; dated Calum in grade 8; Halle’s “big sister” on campus

Calum – the best-looking boy at Lakeview; senior in Burns House; taunts Leigh at every opportunity; notorious for his one-night stands; dealing with family baggage; descendant of Elsie Stewart

Griffin – Leigh’s childhood friend, “God’s gift to straight women”; only Leigh knows that Griffin is gay; wants to go to NYU

Christi & David – Leigh and Calum’s friends, respectively, who are dating and gripe at them to be nice to each other

Duncan & Abby – dating; also friends of Leigh’s and the group

Kyle and Missy – Leigh and Halle’s respective nemesis on campus

It’s hard to pick a favorite character because as a collective, Halle and Leigh’s friends make up a great group of characters. Leigh was my absolute favorite character, but I also loved Halle’s enthusiasm and wondrous childlike qualities.

First Impressions

I was a little sad when I read the synopsis and the second book in the series did not follow Blakely. I had to remind myself it was the Lakeview series, so it had to be set at Lakeview Academy. I saw glimpses of Halle in the first book in the context of Blakely’s little sister, so I was not sure what to expect out of her as a character standing on her own.

Second Thoughts

First, there is some language used in this book. It’s not overly much and I’d say it is there more to enhance the writing and authenticate the character’s conversations and interactions with one another. It helps give a true depiction of the high disregard Leigh and Calum have for one another. Here is one example:

“Yeah, man, no way I’m getting stuck decorating some stupid wedding chapel. I don’t even believe in going out with the same girl twice.” 

Leigh sneered. “Alert the media, tell us something we don’t know.”

“Jealous?”

“Of what, your STD-covered ass? No, thank you. I date men, not boys who don’t know what they’re looking for.” 

“Oh, trust me, sweetheart, I’m a man. And I know exactly what to look for. I’m just more man than you can handle.”

Halle’s first year on campus and she already has a network of friends, thanks to her older sister Blakely also attending Lakeview. Halle has done nothing but study a book about local ghosts, with the school founder’s daughter, Elsie, being the #1 ghost around. Each year the older Lakeview students take the newbies on a haunted tour of the campus, promoting the handful of ghosts that supposedly haunt Lakeview.

The school is in the process of being updated and renovated, and a group of students are selected to help clean out the old admin building. In the process, Halle discovers an old journal. It seems like something she’d hand over to the teachers until she discovers it belongs to Elsie Stewart. Halle lets the group in on her secret, but it is kept solely a secret.

As Halle reads Elsie’s journal throughout the semester, she becomes haunted by it, and even Elsie herself. Leigh takes the journal for a while, and experiences a glimmer of Elsie. Calum takes the journal but doesn’t get the ghostly connection. It is not until the group goes exploring across campus, searching for an item from Elsie’s journal, that Calum feels Elsie. They must set right what Elsie could not before her tragic death.

Throughout the novel, Leigh and Calum butt heads like nobody’s business. The viewpoint changes from character to character, mainly focusing on Leigh and Calum, and Calum’s inner thoughts reveal he very much about why his views on relationships are the way that they are. True, this doesn’t excuse his jerky behavior, but it gives insight and depth to his character.

Leigh and Griffin’s relationship is also a big part of the book. Their relationship is one that is beautiful and I want one like it. 🙂

Leigh is also Halle’s go-to. Whenever the journal and Elsie become too much, Leigh is her safe haven. Their relationship shows Leigh in another light away from Calum (even though he is often involved in the Elsie stuff).

What I found most interesting about this installment is that the secondary characters. At least, the boys. David, Griffin and Duncan all are great guys. They push Calum to be a better version of himself, and usually that is hard to do with teenage boys. Usually it is the exact opposite, so I feel their characters are rounded out a little bit more so than in the secondary characters in the first book.

If you enjoy mysteries, ghosts, or just a good read, I recommend this book. You don’t have to read the first in the series; this one can be read as a standalone.

 

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

View More: http://suzannerothmeyer.pass.us/stacycampbellStacey R. Campbell lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband and three daughters. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and a dyslexic writer that believes there is no such thing as a bad reader.  She is the author of the young adult novels Hush, Whisper, Silence & Scream and the highly acclaimed middle grade swashbuckling Pirate book ARRGH!

When not at her desk writing she can be found hiking, sailing, or skiing. She enjoys chocolate in any shape or size, too many cups of coffee and laughing (often too loudly as her daughters say) with her friends and family.

Stacey is available for classroom visits via Skype and loves working with writers and readers of any age; especially those with learning disabilities like her own.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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