Friday, January 31, 2014

Review - The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns

Title: The Page Turners: Blood
Author: Kevin T. Johns
Release Date: November 27, 2013
Pages: 281
Goodreads Rating: 4.2 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-16 (Violence)

Summary from Goodreads: Violent Bullies. Broken Homes. Black Magic. KILLER fiction.

From author Kevin T. Johns comes the novel critics are describing as "a crimson-stained love letter to genre fiction" and the first book in a "must read" series.

Nate Bourdain and his friends are thrilled to discover an ancient book of magic spells hidden in their school library--they now have the means to stand up to the villains who make high-school life such a battle. But, when the book's dark magic releases a fictional killer into the real world, the teens must prove they have what it takes to be heroes, or fall as bloody victims in their own horror story turned real.

The Page Turners: Blood is the first book in the Page Turners trilogy: a genre-spanning series sure to please young adult fans of paranormal horror, science-fiction, and fantasy.

The Page Turners is a YA paranormal/horror novel in which fantasy and reality meet in unexpected ways.

Nate, Danny and Spenser don't fit in at school.  In fact, the only time Nate has ever felt at home is when his nose is buried in a book.  That's why he and his friends start The Page Turners - a club where they can discuss fantasy and superheroes to their hearts' content.  But when they find a book of magic and release a fictional villain into the real world, they have to become the heroes they've always only talked about.

The negatives:
  • Overly-flowery language.  The language in this book is extremely poetic and can sometimes be a bit overblown.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes Johns' prose was beautiful, but it sometimes just felt like a little much, and it didn't seem to fit well with the paranormal/horror genre that this book fit into.  Also, both Danny and Nate narrate in this flowery style, which seemed odd to me (the other narrators were a little less verbose) - I could almost forgive it in Nate because he was such a student of books, but two characters who thought this way just didn't seem realistic. 
What I loved:
  • Diana.  My favorite character in this book is actually not one of the three main characters, it's Danny's younger sister Diana.  Like her brother, Diana suffers an episode of public humiliation, but she doesn't let it affect her much.  Instead, she focuses on what's important to her - her archery.  I don't want to spoil what ends up happening with her, but I loved Diana's character arc.
  • Love of books.  As a book blogger, I can definitely appreciate Nate, Danny and Spenser's intense love of books!!  I love how Nate describes the books in the library as if they each have a life of their own and he gives each of them incredible importance.  
  • An interesting ending.  The best part of this book was definitely the final conflict.  Again, I don't want to give anything away, so I can't talk specifically about what happens, but suffice it to say that the conflict is action-packed, interesting and (in some ways) unexpected!
The Page Turners is an engaging, quick read.  Overall, I give it  3.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

About the Author:
Kevin T. Johns grew up in a small Ontario town, reading comic books, watching horror movies, and playing guitar in punk rock bands. After studying film and English literature in university, he co-founded an arts and culture magazine, where he was a contributing writer and senior editor for several years. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two daughters. The Page Turners is his debut novel. Look for books two and three of The Page Turners Trilogy.

Connect with the Author:
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Release Day Blitz - Never Let You Go by Michele G. Miller

I'm excited to let everyone know about the release of Never Let You Go!!  Watch for my review, coming in the next week or so.  In the meantime, feel free to check out my review of book #1, Never Let You Fall, HERE.

Title: Never Let You Go 
Series: Prophecy of Tyalbrook #2
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Author: Michele G Miller
Publisher: Enchanted Ink Press (Self Published)
Release Date: Janury 30, 2014
Available on: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Summary from Goodreads: Two souls desperate to discover the truth about the past and determined to save their future…

The usual warmth I felt deep in my soul when Xander was near me was beginning to dull. Yet I still remembered the warning: “Be careful, my Princess…you will lose all you love before you can win what you want.”

I could feel it; she hadn’t been here. Two days of hell, riding as fast as we could and only taking small breaks, and yet she had outrun us. How?

A PRINCESS set on regaining her Kingdom and protecting those she loves…
A GUARDIAN who will stop at nothing to find the woman who stole his heart…
An EVIL FORCE who will destroy everything they know in order to have power over all…

The journey continues in Never Let You Go, book two in The Prophecy of Tyalbrook Series.

Nickoli’s arms were laden with weapons when he came back into view. He stepped in, uninvited, and opened his arms; allowing each deadly piece to drop to the ground with an ear-splitting clang. I jumped back as the items ricocheted across the floor, and a club rolled to a stop by my feet.
Nickoli bent over and picked up a sword. He approached me, a menacing look on his face, and a flash of terror tore through me. The temptation to scream was strong, however I knew it wouldn’t do me any good. If his intention was to kill me, the deed would be long done before my cries for help would be answered. If they were ever answered. I kept my focus on the sharp tip of the sword as he advanced on me.
“If you choose not to trust me, you will have to protect yourself.”
He raised the sword, gripped the hilt in his fist, and hurled it into the floor at my feet. The tip embedded into the wood with a thud. I yelped in surprise and jumped back. With an angry glare, he turned to storm out of the room; leaving the pile of weapons scattered about the floor.
“I don’t know how to fight with a sword,” I called out, my voice void of the angry bluster it carried earlier.
He didn’t stop, but instead replied over his shoulder as his long strides carried him out the door. “Then Princess, you best learn how.”

The slam of his door signaled the end to our conversation.

Never Let You Fall, book #1
Only $0.99 available on 
Amazon (E-book & paperback)

About the Author:

Michele is the author of the Coming of Age Fantasy Series The Prophecy of Tyalbrook - Never Let You Fall, book one (May 2013) and Never Let You Go, book two (Jan 2014) as well as the New Adult Romantic Suspense, Last Call (Oct 2013). She is currently working on the third book in The Prophecy of Tyalbrook Series, a Last Call novel and a YA Realistic Fiction that has her super excited!

Having grown up in both the cold, quiet town of Topsham, Maine and the steamy, southern
hospitality of Mobile, Alabama, Michele is something of a enigma.  She is an avid Yankees fan, loves New England, being outdoors and misses snow.  However she thinks southern boys are hotter, Alabama football is the only REAL football out there and sweet tea is the best thing this side of heaven and her children’s laughter! 

Her family, an amazing husband and three awesome kids, have planted their roots in the middle of Michele’s two childhood homes in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Contact her:
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review - Insanity by Cameron Jace

InsanitycoverTitle: Insanity
Author: Cameron Jace
Release Date: December 20, 2013
Pages: 256
Goodreads Rating: 4.13 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-13? (Violence and some mature subject matters)

Summary from Goodreads: After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll's paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland's real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamonds, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.

Insanity is a quirky, somewhat bizarre modern take on Alice in Wonderland. (Of course, the oddities fit in quite well with Carroll's original tale).  After reading this book, I'm still not quite sure if Alice is mad or not, and I have a feeling that that's just what Jace wanted!

The story follows Alice Wonder, who has been locked in an insane asylum for the past two years because she killed  everyone in her class.  However, her already insane life gets a little crazier when an infamous murderer named Pillar (who is referred to as Professor Caterpillar in the synopsis - he was once a professor, but he now lives in the insane asylum along with Alice) blackmails the man who runs the asylum into allowing her to go out into the "real" world and try to catch a murderer before he kills again.  The murderer just happens to be the Chesire Cat.  Even more insanity ensues.

The negatives:
  • It's crazy!  Well, this is kind of a negative, but really mostly a positive.  I'm warning you now, though, that you won't necessarily be able to keep track of what's "real" in this book and what's not.  Just when you think you have it all figured out, you'll get thrown for a loop again!  Like I said, at the end of the book, I still wasn't sure if Wonderland is real or if Alice is just plain crazy!!
What I loved:
  • It's crazy!  Pillar and Alice's antics are just insane fun!  I spent the entire book trying to figure out if Alice is really the Alice - sometimes you think she is, and then you're just not sure.  Is it maddening?  Yep.  Is it interesting?  Definitely.
  • Alice references.  Not only does this book have TONS of references to the original tale, it also talks a lot about Carroll himself (or, I guess I should say, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson himself).  Because the idea is that Wonderland is real, Carroll's actions in the real world are just as important as the Alice story (and they play into the murder plotline).  I loved meeting the Wonderland characters throughout the book and finding out who their modern-day alter egos were.  You never knew who was going to show up next or what they were going to do!
  • Alice.  I really loved Alice and felt very sorry for her.  I mean, she's finally starting to convince herself that everything she believed about Wonderland was just madness (and she actually doesn't even remember any of it because of electroshock therapy) and then she gets plunged right back into it all!  Alice struggles to convince herself that she's not mad. And once she gets out into the real world, she begins to think it's madder even than Wonderland - but her top priority is always rescuing Constance (the girl who the Cheshire Cat has abducted).
  • Pillar.  Pillar is just plain crazy.  No ifs ands or buts about it.  On the one hand, he's a murderer and you should probably hate him, but on the other hand, he's kind of likable in a crazy sort of way.  Sometimes you have no idea if he's helping Alice or if he's just leading her on a wild goose chase (and occasionally you wonder if he's even real).  I love it when characters straddle the line between good and bad, and Pillar definitely does that!
If you're looking for a quirky new take on Alice in Wonderland (not really a re-telling, because this book is not trying to re-tell the original story), then this is the book for you!  Overall, I give it  4/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***



The writing on the wall says it's January 14th. I am not sure what year. I haven't been sure of many things lately, but I’m wondering if it’s my handwriting I’m looking at.
There is an strange key drawn underneath the date. It's carved with a sharp object, probably a broken mirror. I couldn’t have written this. I'm terrified of mirrors. They love to call it Catoptrophobia around here.
Unlike regular patients in the asylum, my room is windowless, stripped down to a single mattress in the middle, a sink, and bucket for peeing--or puking--when necessary. The tiles on the floor are black-and-white squares, like a chessboard. I never step on black. Always white. Again, I'm not sure why.
The walls are smeared with a greasy pale green everywhere. I wonder if it's the previous patient's brains spattered all over from shock therapy. In the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum, politely known as the Warneford hospital, the doctors have a sweet spot for shock therapy. They love watching patients with bulging eyes and shivering limbs begging for relief from the electricity. It makes me question who is really mad in here.
It's been a while since I was sent to shock therapy myself. Dr. Tom Truckle, my supervising physician, said I don't need it anymore, particularly after I stopped mentioning Wonderland. He told me that I used to talk about it all the time; a dangerous place I claim I have been whisked away to when my elder sister lost me at the age of seven.
Truth is, I don't remember this Wonderland they are talking about. I don't even know why I am here. My oldest vivid memory is from a week ago. Before that, it's all a purple haze.
I have only one friend in this asylum. It's not a doctor or a nurse. And it's not a human. It doesn't hate, envy, or point a finger at you. My friend is an orange flower I keep in a pot; a Tiger Lily I can't live without. I keep it safe next to a small crack in the wall where a single sun ray sneaks through for only ten minutes a day. It might not be enough light to grow a flower, but my Tiger Lily is a tough girl.
Each day, I save half of the water they give me for my flower. As for me, better thirsty than mad.
My orange flower is also my personal rain check for my sanity. If I talk to her and she doesn't reply, I know I am not hallucinating. If it talks back to me, all kinds of nonsense starts to happen. Insanity prevails. There must be a reason why I am here. It doesn’t mean I will easily give in to such a fate.
"Alice Pleasance Wonder. Are you ready?" the nurse knocks with her electric prod on my steel door. Her name is Waltraud Wagner. She is German. Everything she says sounds like a threat and smells like smoke. My fellow mad people say she is a Nazi; that she used to kill her own patients back in Germany. "Get avay vrom za dor. I an coming in," she demands.
Listening to the rattling of her large keychain, my heart pounds in my chest. The turn of the key makes me want to swallow. When the door opens, all I can think of is choking her before she begins to hurt me. Sadly, her neck is too thick for my nimble hands. I stare at her almost-square figure for a moment. Everything about her is four sizes too big, all except her feet, which are as small as mine. My sympathies, little feet.
"Time for your daily ten-minute break," she approaches me with a straitjacket, a devilish grin on her face. I never get out. My ward is underground, and I take my break in another empty ward upstairs, where patients love to play soccer with a hedgehog’s head.
A big muscled warden stands behind Watlraud. Thomas Ogier. He is bald, has an angry-red face and a silver tooth he likes to flash whenever he sees me. His biceps are the size of my head. I have a hard time believing he has ever been a 4-pound baby.
"Slide your arms into the jacket," Waltraud demands in her German accent, a cigarette puckered between her lips. "Slow and easy, Alice," she nods at warden Ogier, in case I misbehave.
I comply obediently and stretch out my arms for her to do whatever she wants. Waltraud twists my right arm slightly and checks the tattoo on my arm. It’s the only tattoo I have. It’s a handwritten sentence that looks like a thin arm band from afar. Waltraud feels the need to read it allowed, “’I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.’” I was told I have written it myself while still believing in Wonderland. “That Alice in Wonderland has really messed with your head.” She puffs smoke into my face as she mocks me.

The tattoo and Waltraud’s mocking is the least of my concerns right now. I let her tie me, and while she does, I close my eyes. I imagine I am a sixteenth century princess, some kind of a lucky Cinderella, being squeezed into a corset by my chain smoking servant in a fairy tale castle above ground, just about to go meet my Prince Charming. Such imagery always helps me breathe. I once heard that it was hope that saves the day, not sanity. I need to cool down before I begin my grand escape.

Wonderlander, Neverlander, Unicorn-chaser, enchanter, musician, survived a coma, & totally awesome. Sometimes I tell stories. Always luv the little monsters I write young adult paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and science fiction mostly. The Grimm Diaries series is a seven book saga that deals with retellings of fairy tales from a young adult POV - it connects most of the fairy tales together and claims to be the truth about fairy tales. I live in San Fransisco and seriously think circles are way cooler than triangles.

Connect with the author:
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review - You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Title: You Look Different in Real Life
Author: Jennifer Castle
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Pages: 355
Goodreads Rating: 3.63 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-13 (Somewhat mature situations, homosexuality portrayed-but not in any way explicitly)

Summary from Goodreads: For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear.

You Look Different in Real Life caught my eye because of the unique subject matter.  Our world is so full of reality TV, and the idea of what happens to these people once the cameras go away was an intriguing one to me - especially in the case of a child star.  I think that Castle did a great job of portraying the reality behind the reality TV!

The negatives:
  • Some mixed messages.  At times Justine acts like she hates the idea of having a camera follow her around.  But then, later, when she's the one behind the camera, it's okay.  This was especially confusing when there were certain tragic or emotionally intense moments that were being filmed.  Justine criticizes the filmmakers for exploiting one of her friends, but then she kind of does the same thing herself later.  She does justify this by saying that she won't use the footage unless she's given permission, but it still felt like a bit of a mixed message.
  • Slightly slow in the middle.  There was a portion in the middle of the book where I felt like the story was moving too slowly and I was waiting for something to really happen. Luckily, the pace picked back up relatively quickly.
  • The concept.  Like I said, I was incredibly intrigued by this concept.  It really made me think about those child stars on reality shows like that Toddlers and Tiaras show or Jon & Kate Plus Eight.  What is it like to grow up in the public eye, with people watching your most personal moments?  How do these kids respond once the cameras are taken away?  How can they ever go back to being "normal" kids and how do they live their childhood antics down?  This book raised lots of questions, and I loved that about it!
  • Justine.  I really felt for Justine.  She felt this incredible pressure to live up to a persona that she created when she was just 11 years old - a persona that she doesn't think she even can live up to.  It was so incredibly intimidating - being a 16-year-old girl who doesn't feel like she's got anything particularly interesting to offer and yet has to be "on" for the cameras.  Justine was justifiably miserable in this situation.  Yet, she had to go back to that place and to those people in order to move on.  I thought that her journey was incredibly interesting.
  • Friends and enemies.  Justine's character arc was just one part of the story.  Each of the kids who'd been in the original documentary with Justine also had a story - and we got to see all of these stories unfold throughout the book. These characters' relationships were incredibly complex. At the time that the last documentary had been made, Rory and Justine had been best friends, and so had Felix and Nate.  By the time they turn sixteen, though, these relationships have all dissolved completely (and now Felix and Justine are best friends).  As the book progresses we learn more and more about how these relationships fell apart (or came together).  Each of the characters has a definite arc throughout the book and I loved this about it!!
You Look Different in Real Life was a really intriguing contemporary YA read.  With excellent character development and some real plot twists, this book had me hooked!  I give it  4/5 stars.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Review & Giveaway - Echoes by Therin Knite

Title: Echoes
Series: Echoes #1
Author: Therin Knite
Release Date: January 22, 2014
Pages: 220
Goodreads Rating: 4.00 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: Mature YA/Adult (Language, violence, some sexual situations)

District of Columbia
United Republic of Earth

Twenty-three-year-old Adem Adamend has it rough. His name is ludicrous. His friends are few. And the only thing his "kid genius" status has gotten him at the Interdistrict Bureau of Intelligence is a boatload of extra work with no credit in sight.

Then hotshot lawyer Victor Manson is burned to death in his own back yard, and Adem finds himself using his unique skills to piece together the strangest crime he's ever seen. Strange because the only possible suspect Adem can pin the murder a mythical beast. A dragon.

Before Adem can unravel the mystery of Manson's death, the Bureau loses jurisdiction to the secretive EDPA, an organization that investigates weird and deadly events. But Adem isn't one for giving up, so he takes it upon himself to delve deeper into EDPA's machinations, into the series of unfortunate events that led to Manson's demise.

And what he finds may change the way he views the world -- and himself -- forever.

What do you do when a killer can hide behind his dreams?

What do you do when a murder weapon ceases to exist?

And how do you stop a villain who can conjure up nightmares and burn you from the Earth in the blink of an eye?

Adem Adamend is about to find out.

Echoes is an action-packed sci-fi mystery, full of twists and turns! 

The negatives:
  • Not quite enough futuristic elements.  While there were definitely some interesting futuristic sci-fi elements in this book, I could have used even more!  Besides a few interesting gadgets and people who change their appearance using mods, life in 2712 didn't seem that much more advanced.  
  • Adem.  Adem was an incredibly interesting character because of his ability to read people.  He was like Sean on Psych, only even more so.  Adem is brilliant (the seventh most intelligent person in the world, we're told), but somewhat emotionally stunted due to the murder of his mother when he was only six years old.  Because of her murder, he has dedicated his life to using his skills to help solve crimes - and is hoping to eventually solve the mystery of his mother's death.  Even though Adem doesn't have a ton of emotional depth, he makes up with it because of his sense of humor - which brings me to my next point...
  • Dry wit.  Adem's narration is filled with a sort of dry wit.  In some ways, it reminded me of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or maybe his Dirk Gently series), but a lot less wacky. Adem is constantly parenthetically commenting on the circumstances around him in ways that made me laugh - a big plus in my book!
  • Echoes (dreams).  I'm not always a big fan of straight-up mysteries or crime novels, but the slightly paranormal/sci-fi element of this book is what made it for me.  You see, you find out relatively early on in this book that the murder is not just any murder (you may have gathered that from the fact that it says in the synopsis that the murder was committed by a dragon).  Adem discovers that the real culprit behind the murder is able to manipulate his dreams - and make them come to life.  The result is a true nightmare!  There were quite a few twists and turns in this book as Adem tries to solve the murder (coming very close to death several times).  One of the major twists, I did see coming, but another one was a big surprise to me and I thought it was brilliant!
I would highly recommend this book to fans of sci-fi or crime novels/mystery (who don't mind a sci-fi element). I give it  4.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

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About the Author:
Therin Knite is a 22-year-old college senior who occasionally writes speculative fiction and has the odd delusion of literary stardom. Knite lives in a humble little place known as the Middle of Nowhere, Virginia and spends every possible second of free time reading books and writing what may possibly qualify as books.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Post & Giveaways Galore - 1/26/14

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on my blog and share news about what's coming up in the week ahead. 


Last week on FYFA:
I had an absolutely crazy week this week and my blog suffered for it.  :-(  Hopefully things will be getting back to normal soon, though!  Here's what you might have missed this past week:
Coming this week on FYFA:
  • You Look Different In Real Life by Jennifer Castle (review)
  • Echoes by Therin Knite (review & giveaway)
  • The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns (review)
  • Never Let You Go by Michelle G. Miller (blitz & giveaway)

Here's what I got this week!

Paperbacks Won:
Signed! Thank you Read It In Houston and Michelle Pickett!

eBooks For Review:

Other Current Giveaways on FYFA:
(Besides the ones that are listed above.)

Lots of good stuff!  Have any giveaways running on your site right now?  
Feel free to share them in the comments!