Thursday, 28 July 2016

Acca by Christina Bauer = Cover Reveal

Christina Bauer
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication Date: December 13th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

In just one week, supernatural warrior Myla Lewis must discover enough evidence to send the evil House of Acca to prison… or she’ll end up in jail herself, along with her fiancĂ©, Prince Lincoln. No pressure.

To gather proof, Myla and Lincoln go undercover at an all-girl’s high school on Earth. Lincoln acts as the new gym teacher; Myla becomes the school’s least popular transfer student ever. To stop them from getting the goods, Acca releases Hell on Earth. Literally. Good thing Myla and Lincoln aren’t afraid of a tough fight. This one promises to be the hardest yet. After all, who ever said high school wasn’t hell?

Author Bio:
Christina graduated from Syracuse University's Newhouse School with BA's in English as well as Television, Radio, and Film Production. Her day job is in marketing for companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Zerto. Back in the go-go 90′s, she founded her own software start-up, Mindful Technologies. Christina believes that, upon close examination of Tolkien's text, it's entirely possible that the Balrog was wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Flame and the Arrow by Emigh Cannaday

The Flame and the Arrow
The Annika Brisby Series, #1
By:  Emigh Cannaday
Publish Date:  November 22, 2010
Genre:  YA/NA, Dark Fantasy Paranormal
Pages:  417 Kindle
Source:  PermaFree at Amazon

"Don't do it, Annika," he taunted. His eyes were no longer bright and charming but dark and intense, yet they still twinkled. He was tempting, but was he harmful?

Aspiring rock star Annika Brisby thinks she knows where her life is going until she steps through a broken portal that leaves her stranded in a realm of fairies, vampires, and other mythical beings. Unable to return until it's repaired, she's rescued by wood nymphs who believe her sudden arrival is no accident.

After being taken in by a prominent family of elves, Annika finds herself struggling to resist the seductive spell of their youngest son, Talvi. Equal parts arrogant and alluring, the notorious heartbreaker seems like the perfect distraction for her homesickness. Her new friends warn her that she'll probably regret ever laying eyes on him and what begins as a casual fling quickly burns too hot to handle. By the time Annika learns the consequences of their forbidden trysts, Talvi's already under her skin and dangerously close to her heart.

But on the journey home she discovers that there's a mountain of secrets that he's not telling her, and Annika can't help wondering who's really in danger.
The Flame and the Arrow interested me because of the scenario where female MC falls through a portal into a magical kingdom. I will say right off that the story actually reads a lot younger than I expected. At the same time, it has adult content so this is a strange mix I haven’t run into before.

After falling through the magical portal while she is visiting family in Bulgaria, Annika is taken to the home of the samodivi she meets. They are a warm and welcoming family. Talvi, youngest son, is drawn to Annika and it doesn’t take too long for them to get involved despite being different types of beings. Then Annika unexpectedly discovers she is related to Talvi’s clan. The task at hand though is to figure out how to repair the fairy/elf world-to-earth portals.

Author, Emigh Cannaday, uses Bulgarian legends of the samodivi, wood nymphs, as the basis of her magical characters. Her incorporation of old European cultural and magical lore is charming. The novel is also interlaced with references to many other earth-world cultural elements. A wonderful example of lore is milkweed fluff woven with angora rabbit hair for clothing. Some of the scenes paint lovely fantasy images. On page 120, the ballroom is described as painted with fairies, bumblebees, butterflies, and dragonflies.

For the characters, I felt Talvi’s behaviour mostly immature until he finally comes around. Annika makes an effort to make this work but I still didn’t feel for them as a couple even though Talvi is very demonstrative and the fact that there is a prophecy. She’s a nice, sensible person though she also tended to go along with the situation around her rather than trying to take matters into her own hands. The supporting samodivi and fairy characters are nicely drawn.

I felt that some of the plot elements just added more fantasy creatures (i.e. the troll family) that ultimately don’t really enable the story. This is long at 417 pages and to me felt like the author was trying to include too many things. There was also a lot of routine kitchen and household duty stuff I found repetitive (well, I could use a few housework fairies around my place!).

Finally, for me the writing style and narrative felt more like middle grade fantasy adventures suitable for readers 12-16 though at the same time there is an open casual approach to sex that I didn’t think fit in with the overall feel of the book. If this is intended for an older reader, then the pace of writing and the urgency of sorting out the broken portals needs to step up with less time spent in the kitchen or at the pub or dancing at fairy balls. Love the cover!

3.8 stars for an overall nicely written and charming tale though I’m uncertain who to recommend to. You will find Emigh Cannaday at these links on the internet:

Monday, 18 July 2016

Fated for Sanchez

Excited to have a Q&A today at AllRomance AreCafe today on Fated for Sanchez so I hope you will join me!

In thinking about ARe's questions, it made me realize how many elements come together to make a novel happen. I combine a fascination for Spanish cultural and romance themes with observations from a past trip to Barcelona, Spain into a contemporary romance.

The overriding theme however is about fate and how fate, or an unseen force, seems to meddle in our lives, sometimes for the good, though often the not so good. In Fated for Sanchez, I look at how Sanchez Varellano, a Malaga businessman, decides to take a chance on managing circumstances that come his way. He seizes the chance to bring Lilli Eden back into his life for some very unfinished personal business.

Please visit my Q&A !  ARe Cafe with Kristin Ravelle

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Heir Untamed by Danielle Bourdon

Heir Untamed
Latvala Royals #1
By:  Danielle Bourdon
Publish Date:  December 9, 2012 by Wildbloom Press
Genre:  Romance, Fantasy, Suspense
Pages:  318 Kindle
Source:  Author Free Day on Amazon

Desperate for work to avoid eviction from her Seattle apartment, photographer Chey Sinclair accepts a rare opportunity to travel abroad and photograph Latvala Royalty. Encountering the Royals for the first time, Chey experiences an instant attraction to Mattias, second in line to the throne. He's charming, confident—and taken.

During a horseback ride to clear her head, Chey finds herself in a scuffle with Sander Fisk, head of security. Rugged, determined and sharp tongued, Sander is infuriating as well as intriguing.

Faced with conflicting emotions and a mystery unfolding in the castle, Chey must decide between men: a Prince of Latvala, or an arrogant rogue.

She discovers the hard way that this particular fairy tale was more than she ever bargained for.
I loved the zany fantasy premise of Heir Untamed when I came across Danielle Bourdon’s first book in the Latvala Royals series so I couldn’t pass on the free day at Amazon from a USA Today best-selling author.

So, right off, the premise of Chey being approached by a foreign royal family to take family photos for several months at their castle for an outrageous amount of money is… crazy – and fun! The fantasy solution to encroaching money problems as Chey has lost her job. Wouldn’t we all love that? She’s quick and jumps on the chance grabbing an early bird bonus of $5,000 (LOL).

The story moves quickly with Chey flying to Latvala and getting to work immediately snapping photos of the royal family. Just because they’re royal doesn’t mean they don’t have unpleasant secrets and Chey starts to see these early on. I found it interesting to see royals portrayed this way.

Prince Mattias is apparently drawn to Chey for her quite different take on things and considering the fish bowl he lives in, this seems a real possibility. I like that he isn’t afraid to expose her to what the royal family is actually like, making him very real and likeable.

Chey also meets Sander Fisk, sexy security, who protects her from the mysterious assailant that tries to shoot her. It is a bit far-fetched that anyone would want to do in an unimportant photographer but I’m going with the whole fantasy thing here.

However, I feel that some of Chey’s actions make her appear frankly silly. She’s a professional modern day photographer and should have more sense. Some of the tough spots she gets into could have been written in using other methods that don’t make her out to sometimes seem witless (don’t go alone to a haunted castle in a strange country in terrible weather). Strangely, at other times she seems quite perceptive.

I love the unexpected twist I didn’t see coming though I also felt tricked. The murderous subplot actually rounded out the story nicely.

This is a fast, fun read if you want romantic escapism without anything too heavy to think about. Squeeking in at 3.8 stars for being entertaining though this would be higher if Chey’s character was written in a more mature manner.

You'll find Danielle Bourdon at these links:

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Anomaly by Caitlin Lynagh - Book Review

The Soul Prophecies
By:  Caitlin Lynagh
Publish Date:  January 27, 2016
by Troubador
Genre:  Paranormal Fantasy, Romance, Mystical, Science Fiction
Pages:  264 PDF
Source:  Bostick Communications/Author Publicist

After Kyle loses his childhood sweetheart, Alice Lynam, he spends two years trying to bury his past and move on with his life.

On his twenty-first birthday, he receives Alice's notebook and discovers that two pages are missing. Kyle is forced to revisit his past and realises that perhaps his life isn’t as coincidental as it seems.
I was drawn to Anomaly because of the everything-is-connected theme portrayed through Kyle’s attachment to his sweetheart, Alice, even after her death, and the hint that there is something bigger at play here. Out of the box ideas always get my mind churning.

Right away we meet Kyle, Alice, Sophia, Ahrl of the Thirteen, and Kyle’s sister, Hailey, the main characters, some of whom are from different dimensions but are interconnected so the reader needs to pay attention. Sophia acts as a sort of living connector between alien watcher, Ahrl of the Thirteen, the deceased Alice, and living Kyle. Much of the time we are with Kyle as he very slowly works his way through his deeply heartfelt loss of Alice.

The time/space themes presented are intriguing. One such is that even after death, we are all still connected in some way that the living don’t comprehend. I liked reading Alice’s POV as she hovered around Kyle from the afterlife. It seemed too bad that he wasn’t aware of her at the beginning. The novel also suggests that there are non-earth beings involved in these processes.

Another interesting concept (pg 163) is that something which is not possible to a person at this present moment (because of current conditions) may become possible at a future time. Also, the concept is presented that there are physical possibilities available right now (one could leave their house and go to the grocery store), but there are also imaginary possibilities (teleport to Paris). All these possibilities are interconnected and affected by decisions made by us every moment of every day. It made me wonder if we could somehow access all of these possibilities from the now.

While the novel presents many interesting ideas, I found elements of the story too slow to unfold. I was frustrated that Kyle took so long to get into Alice’s journal, and to start getting to know Sophia. As well, the story is very evenly paced with too much ‘telling’ and daily routine stuff that makes it somewhat banal reading. Bringing in more of both Arhl and Sophia would have helped perk things along, as well as more varied sentence length, etc.

Fav quote pg 25:
“Hailey shrugged. She wanted to be a writer and the best way she could learn to write was by reading other authors’ books and to practise. Tank smiled and massaged his right shin.”

4.0 stars for interesting space/time concepts and overall well put together story for a debut effort. I feel the writing just needs tweaking to keep the reader avidly engaged throughout.

My thanks to author, Caitlin, for a reading copy via Bostick Communications for the purpose of an unbiased review. You will find her at these internet links: