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Monday, June 24, 2013

{REVIEW + EXCERPT} Tethers by Jack Croxall [Indie & Self-Published Author Event]

Heya, lovelies! I know I haven't been active in blogging lately, sorry! I'm still trying to juggle my time between school, reading and stuffs, so not much time for blogging these days. But I'll still find time to post reviews at least once a week, I promise. ^__^

Anyways, this post is not about me but about an indie author that I'll be featuring today. This is part of the INDIE & SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR EVENT this month of June hosted by the lovely ladies at Say It With Books. Yep, you guess it right. This event features Indie and Self-published authors, and there are a lot of them out there! So be sure to head on to Say It With Books and check the others blogs participating in this event. There are author interviews, book reviews, excerpt, and giveaways all month long from different authors so you'll surely find something you'll like.

Now, may I present to you author Jack Croxall and his book Tethers. ^__^

Tethers

Author: Jack Croxall
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: February 5th 2013 by Amazon
Source: Author
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Rating:




In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.


Prologue: Locus Two


MARRIOTT SET HIS oil lamp on the table beside him. ‘Who goes there?’ he said, reaching for the pistol tucked into the back of his belt.

The room’s iron door swung open and at once a bright light flooded into the gloom.

Marriott squinted. ‘Who goes there?’ he said again, louder this time.

‘Calm down, Marriott,’ answered a strident and familiar voice, ‘it’s only me, lad. I’m coming in now ...’

As his eyes began to adjust, Marriott saw it was indeed the grey-haired Mr Lawford stepping in through the open door, and that he was holding a large lantern at arm’s length in front of him. Unexpectedly, Mr Lawford was followed into the room by a second man Marriott didn’t recognise. The second man wore a long winter cloak which licked across the floor as he walked, the glaring lantern in his hand throwing a lank shadow in his wake.

Marriott shuddered as he realised the second man was staring straight at him.

‘That won’t work in here, boy,’ the stranger snarled, apparently disgusted.

Marriott had forgotten to withdraw his pistol, he slipped it away immediately.

‘Ah, sorry, my fault,’ said Mr Lawford, walking over the soot-stained floor and towards Marriott’s table, ‘should have told you about that already, lad. This building isn’t like the others you see, it’s a tad – how should I put it – funny.’ His grey moustache parted as he smiled.

Marriott said nothing; he knew better than to ask his employer to explain himself.

‘Anyway,’ said Mr Lawford, ‘were there any problems whilst I was gone?’ He placed his lantern on top of the table as he spoke.

‘No, sir,’ Marriott reported. ‘All quiet since you left, sir.’

‘Excellent, good work, Marriott,’ said Mr Lawford routinely. ‘Now where on earth did I put that ...’ He began fumbling around his jacket pockets for something.

Marriott took the opportunity to look back at the stranger. He was still standing near the open door, but now his lean and clean-shaven face was staring distantly into the darkness concealing the far end of the room, his right hand gently massaging the hilt of the sheathed sword protruding menacingly from within his cloak.

‘Right then, lad,’ said Mr Lawford, raising a handkerchief to his brow. ‘Be a good chap and hang my lantern up over there, would you?’ He pointed to a lantern fastening above a large coal scuttle not far from the table.

‘Yes, sir,’ answered Marriott, picking up the lantern.

‘Oh, and Marriott,’ said Mr Lawford, before Marriott could walk away with it, ‘this gentleman is Mr Dufor. You won’t have met him yet, will you? Mr Dufor is our principal investor – very important you know who Mr Dufor is, lad.’

Marriott turned politely to face Mr Dufor. ‘Sir,’ he said, nodding respectfully.

Mr Dufor ran an uncomfortably long and calculating gaze over him but said nothing.

Determined not to show any unease, Marriott turned calmly before walking over to the coal scuttle and attaching Mr Lawford’s lantern to the rusty fastening above it.

Once it was properly mounted and casting its light across the ceiling, Marriott could finally see the entirety of the room he had been dutifully guarding since nightfall. He instantly realised two things. Firstly, the room was huge. It was much larger than he had previously thought, and was perhaps even larger than the stone storehouse above ground he had been tasked with guarding the night before. And secondly, what he had supposed in the darkness to be the room’s central supporting pillar was, in fact, not a pillar at all. It instead appeared to be some kind of mechanical bronze column. 

The column’s reflective surface was segmented into elongated panels, with the topmost row connected by thick black cables to several metallic struts arranged in formation throughout the room. Marriott couldn’t tell what the struts were in turn connected to because the lower portion of his view was obscured by stacks of splintered crates and by piles of seared metallic equipment.

Wide-eyed, Marriott turned back to look at Mr Lawford and Mr Dufor. Mr Lawford had taken the second lantern from Mr Dufor, and was now guiding him along a crate-lined passageway leading towards the reflective column. Marriott strained hard to listen in on their conversation.

‘... can see we’ve managed to repair the damage caused by the last test,’ said Mr Lawford assuringly. ‘All that’s left to do now is to remove the crates and redundant equipment and we’ll be ready for the next phase. I’m pleased to report that the situation is the same at Locus One as well as at Locus Three.’

‘And you’re certain you’ve corrected the malfunction?’ asked Mr Dufor.

‘Oh yes, Julian is quite sure his modifications will prevent –’

‘And what of the girl?’

‘Ah, yes ... our young Scot,’ replied Mr Lawford solemnly. ‘She did briefly regain consciousness this morning, but she wouldn’t stop spouting the same hysterical nonsense so in the end we had to sedate –’

‘What exactly did she say?’ asked Mr Dufor.

‘Oh, nothing really, it was just a result of the head trauma I should –’

‘What did she say?’

‘Really, I’m quite sure it was just a delusional –’

Mr Dufor raised his voice. ‘When I ask you a question Mr Lawford, I expect an immediate and appropriate response.’ His aggravated words carried the faintest tinge of a French accent.

‘Of course,’ replied Mr Lawford at once, ‘my apologies.’

‘Now tell me,’ said Mr Dufor, relaxing his tone, ‘what did the girl say?’

‘It’s preposterous of course,’ said Mr Lawford nervously, ‘but the silly girl was quite adamant that tonight you’re going to –’ He paused momentarily. ‘– that tonight you’re going to murder her.’

They disappeared behind a particularly high stack of crates and Marriott could hear no more.


Chapter One: Karl and Esther


‘AND STAY AWAY from Mr Stratham’s house!’ yelled Karl’s mother down the stairs.

Karl pulled a flat cap over his messy brown hair and slipped eagerly out of the front door. He had spent much of the day wandering about the town with nowhere in particular to go, but now, as the afternoon drew to a close, his mother’s stark words had finally enthused him. Gaining pace, he passed through his front gate and began recalling the moments just before he’d been caught trespassing in Mr Stratham’s back garden a fortnight ago.

Seconds ahead of being spotted from a third floor window, he remembered stealing a brief but clear view into one of the rooms on Mr Stratham’s ground floor. Everything had seemed normal at first; papers strewn lazily about the top of old tables, gnarled furniture facing a well-used fireplace. Normal at least, until he had spied a single peculiar object. Atop a bulky drinking cabinet and beside a near-emptied crystal decanter, a small and ornately engraved silver box had sat staring proudly at him as it basked in the morning sunlight. With one of its sides covered in a mosaic of intricate components, the box, as Karl was now assuring himself, had no business in sitting atop a fusty old man’s drinking cabinet and definitely deserved further investigation.

“…you can’t save someone from their own decisions.”

A very interesting tale of bravery and friendship. I really enjoyed reading TETHERS and following Karl and Esther’s journey. The two friends are different in so many ways yet they get along well with each other. Also, this difference gave the characters their uniqueness and it was enjoyable reading about them, their thoughts and reactions to different situations. I liked Karl’s cleverness and kindness and Esther’s wit and feistiness. Their companions Mr. Cauldwell and Harland stood as their guardians throughout the journey. While Mr. Cauldwell is stern, Harland is the friendlier one, but they are both good guardians and mentors to Karl and Esther. 

The flow of the words and the pace of the story are also good. It was smooth and consistent and the build-up of suspense is steady. I did not have a hard time connecting with the characters and the plot even though the story is set in the 1800s. The words are also simple and easy to understand without compromising the depth of the story. 

The turn of events towards the end is remarkable, too. TETHERS ends with a bang. Literally. The epilogue bit is also an effective way of giving the readers something to look forward to in the next book. It is not a cliffhanger but there’s enough mystery to keep the reader’s interest. Definitely a good read!


Author’s Introduction 
The first thing I wrote of Tethers was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first paragraph of Chapter One (the prologue came later). I had a picture in my head of a Victorian boy excited by something he had seen in an old man’s house, and I started writing with nothing but that in mind because I wanted to know what that something was, and why it excited my protagonist so much. In a very real sense, the entire novel is an answer to those two questions.


Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at www.jackcroxall.co.uk

Friday, June 21, 2013

{REVIEW} Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher
Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Published: July 2009 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Clay Jenkins returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

This is a desperate, heartbreaking, yet ultimately hopeful novel.







Rating

My thoughts

Compelling, gut-wrenching and heartbreakingly real. This is the kind of book I won’t get tired of reading again and again.

I absolutely loved Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s honest, beautiful, sad and hopeful all at the same time. It gave a different kind of light to the issue of teenage suicide. Most of the time, we never truly know the story behind each suicide because the only one who can tell is gone. But with this book, we catch a glimpse of some of the reasons that push an individual to kill themselves. Hannah Baker is dead but that doesn’t mean she can’t tell her story.

Monday, June 17, 2013

{REVIEW} Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy

Author: Tammara Webber
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Published: November 6th 2012 by Berkley Trade
Purchase from: Amazon | The Book Depository
Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl's struggle to regain the trust she's lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

Rating

Love is not the absence of logic
but logic examined and recalculated
heated and curved to fit
inside the contours of the heart.

Another NA contemporary that tackles a sensitive yet important issue, EASY grabbed me from the beginning and refused to let me go even after I finished reading it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

{BLOG TOUR: Review + Excerpt} Eleusis by Genevieve Fairbrother


Hello, lovelies! Today, Genevieve Fairbrother's tour for her book Eleusis stops by here at Books and Insomnia. This is the second to the last stop as the blog tour is ending on June 17th. But you can still visit the tour page for the schedule and check out the other tour stops. There is also a giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card so make sure to drop by the tour page for the details. 

Featured here today is my review on Eleusis and a short excerpt from the book. See what I think about Eleusis and feel free to leave YOUR thoughts afterwards. ^__^

Eleusis

Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology
Published: February 12th 2013 by Createspace
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository

Her parents are dead and now a moody trespasser has set up camp on the property Macy has inherited. When the stranger confesses himself to be an ageless sea-god and tells her she has been guarding a secret she never knew existed, her once simple life takes a drastic turn. Just when she thinks it can’t get any stranger, a back door to the Underworld opens up and it’s time to run like hell.

Mythology and contemporary life collide as this fast-paced novel explodes and dark forces tracking Macy surface to capture her. In the transatlantic chase that follows, she learns of her forgotten past and a centuries-old connection to the sea-god who helps her escape. A tragic miscalculation derails Macy and in a moment of self-sacrifice she ends up where it all began, trapped in the Underworld.

Has she learned enough about her past to forge a meaningful future? Utterly alone, she realizes that to gain real freedom, she must reject her assigned place in history and in doing so risk everything.

Events challenge her whilst she comes to grips with her legacy and decides what she wants in life. Family betrayal, sinister plot twists, and unlikely friends fill this exhilarating story of one woman’s journey to shape her future as she learns her true identity and strives to become a force in her own right.

Eleusis by Genevieve Fairbrother is one-of-a-kind contemporary paranormal adventure novel that narrates a unique perspective on women and relationships using the life of one immortal woman moving through time.


A ground mist blanketed the field outside the barn all the way down to the surrounding tree line. It was ethereal. She grabbed her mug and stepped outside. This time she chose the path that led from the upper field and wove through the trees to the lower pasture that bordered Little Choestoea Creek above the waterfall. The mist stretched out across the field, undulating over the dips in the terrain. It felt like walking through a cloud. The birds’ morning chatter and the gurgling and chortling of the stream at the far border of the field broke the quiet. Gentle winds whispered among the dry autumn leaves. She crossed the field and joined the path that edged the stream and followed it to the waterfall. The mist overflowed the field and slipped down the bank, hovering over the stream.

Friday, June 7, 2013

{BLOG TOUR: Promo + Giveaway} Keeper of the Dragon Sword by Linze Brandon


Keeper of the Dragon Sword - The Dragon Masters

Author: Linze Brandon
Genre: Fantasy Romance (adult)
Release Date: April 1st, 2013
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It was definitely not her week. Her uncle had been murdered, her life had been threatened, an old school friend had re-appeared, she had two body guards and a new home. Elizabeth L'Emery was not having a good time as the new owner and chief executive of the largest fabric manufacturer on Xa'an.

Randall Storm had missed his best friend from school, but he had so many secrets that staying away from her had seemed to be the only solution to keep her safe from the uncontrollable lust for blood of his dragon half. But when he was assigned to her protection detail, he didn’t want to be anywhere else.

As they search for ways to control his magic that didn't enslave him - and didn't kill her - more threats came to try and pull them apart. When the opportunity arises to put a weapon of incredible power into her hands, Elizabeth has to decide if the violence of the blood ritual would be worth the sacrifice of becoming the Keeper of the Dragon Sword.



Linzé Brandon is the pen name of a South African engineer and project manager who taught herself to read before she went to school. She started writing in a time period of her life when she was self-employed as an export consultant, and had much better time management skills. Focusing on writing what she loves to read, fantasy and paranormal romance, she does dabble in SF, erotica and erotic romance when writing short stories. It is her dream to write novels full time, but until then she divides her time between work, writing, marketing her books, cross-stitch, archery and painting mixed media abstracts.



Saturday, June 1, 2013

{ARC Review} Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible by Suzanne Kamata

Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible

Author: Suzanne Kamata
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: May 17th 2013 by GemmaMedia
Source: eARC from Giselle @ Xpresso Book Tours
Buy from: Amazon | Book Depository
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS meets STONER AND SPAZ

Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother's muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity.

When Aiko's mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She'd much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life.

Gadget Girl began as a novella published in Cicada. The story won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction and was included in an anthology of the best stories published in Cicada over the past ten years.


I had high hopes for this book because I thought the blurb was interesting - a striving  mixed-race female manga artist with cerebral palsy, an equally artistically-talented mother and a non-existent father that she wants to meet. I have a thing for characters who draw. But sadly, Gadget Girl did not meet my expectations.

Mugs, T-shirts, Iphone cases, Tote bags, Throw Pillows, etc. available at REDBUBBLE!

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