Thursday, 27 June 2013

Joy Givens

Ugly Stick

The cover of this book was plain (and I'm guessing purple because of the character's favourite colour), with a lack-lustre name of the author at the bottom and although I liked the title (well-known sayings are always fun to use as titles) it didn't stand out. I could understand that the author was probably trying to recapture a schoolgirl's school book, but this excellent book deserves a cover that speaks: buy me! and it didn't.

It's a YA novel, but highlights bullying at school in a unique way using a mix of paranormal, reality and humour (without the humour it could have easily descended into misery-lit). 

The sample was fluid and I finished it in moments, and had to buy immediately. For a 'simple' YA book it was very, very good. 

April is ugly, but the premise 'beauty is skin deep' was riding high through the book. April wasn't happy with her 'ugliness' and because of her looks she had no confidence, was clumsy, and definitely didn't feel any inner beauty at all. She is miserable and hates her 'beautiful' classmates who makes her life hell with their snide comments and Tweets (there are Twitter updates through the book of April finding out people are gossiping about her using cruel hashtags ie : #ugly).

But there's a family secret: an 'ugly stick' that is passed down through the generation of women, and when April discovers her mother does not only own any photographs of herself from her youth but also discovers the evidence of this magical 'stick', then the true meaning of being ugly becomes apparent for April.

When April has a chance of moving her 'ugliness' onto one of the bullies through the family curse (the ugly stick) she does at her earliest opportunity, but her mother is appalled (there are some nice mother and daughter angst moments). At first, I was siding with April and angry at the mother because I couldn't see why the revenge was so wrong, but I was cleverly shown, through April's eyes, how her actions had made things worse and not better for her. Being beautiful isn't so good when you're bad on the inside.

I FULLY recommend this book, and not just to the youngsters. It carries a message for all, and not only that, it's highly entertaining and the ending is nicely wrapped up.

Fifteen-year-old April Somerfield is a shy, self-loathing misfit who would blend in with the wallpaper, if only the wallpaper were a little less attractive. In a family line of gorgeous, successful women, April’s a fluke. At Prescott High School, she’s a walking punch line.

A school project sends April on the hunt for her mother’s mysteriously missing yearbooks, and upon finding them she uncovers a big secret. It turns out that being “hit with an ugly stick” is a surprisingly literal occurrence in April’s family tree—a curse has been passed down from mother to daughter for centuries. But when April sees a chance to finally ditch the family curse, she must decide if becoming beautiful on the outside is worth giving up the person she is meant to be.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Deborah Nam-Krane


The Smartest Girl in the Room


The cover is interesting, and certainly stands out from the rest but I can't tell the genre from the cover. YA or chicklit? Or just maybe a mix of both. The blurb is short and sweet but the ending needs revising. The opening to the blurb is a good hook and tells us a little about the character: she's vulnerable. The closing line: But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her? needs rewording and possibly delete 'everyone knows' or at least add a comma.

Still, I like it enough to take a look at the Look Inside.It opens with the main character, Emily, and we're told a little about her background but lot more about her friend's, Zainab's, character, so I'm expecting she's going to be a huge character, as well. There are a few classic errors (I say classic because I see these particular ones a lot in indie authors: 'Would you like a cup of tea?' He asked ('He' should be lower case, of course.) NB: I only saw this in the sample chapters.

There are a lot of BRC and  SGC and other initials, which is fine but does become irritating, especially as I forget what they stand for and have to scroll back for a reminder (this is YA chicklit, though, and the younger generation mightn't agree). We're also introduced to Mitch in chapter one, and I realise this book will be his story too as we have his POV.

The second scene is a LOT better than the opening one and chapter two progresses with Emily and Drew (do I detect a love interest there?), and the writing is stronger. I like Emily and want to know what makes her tick. Mitch, as a loveable rogue is an interesting character, too. 

The chapters ticked along nicely, and when Emily was swept off her feet by Mitch I could feel the dizzy love-sick feeling she was feeling, and it made me remember what it was like at that age and feeling those emotions - so I've HUGE respect for the author for pulling that off.

I really did like Emily, and wanted to wrap her up and hug her. She had awful parents, so it wasn't surprising that she felt so strongly for her relationships with her friendsThis is a clever book with some dark issues that I expect are probably prevalent with uni students. It is a slow build and the dialogue could be tighter (didn't always know who was talking), but that aside, it's a book with a powerful story to tell with fully-rounded characters.

Best of all, I liked how the book took me in a completely different direction from one that I was expecting. It definitely wasn't predictable. It'll be suitable for the higher-aged YA due to it's drug and sex references. Minimal swearing (one word).

This book will be awarded a spotlight on WWBB 20th June and will have a potential of reaching over 80,000 followers using Triberr, Goodreads, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she's going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily's ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She's going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her?

The Smartest Girl In The Room is Book One in The New Pioneers series.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Ricky LaVaughn


When Roses Cry

I thought the title of this book was excellent. It was romantic and kind of poetic, I felt. But then I realised it wasn't a romance at all (it's a thriller) but that only piqued my interest more. 

I couldn't quite make out the strange image above the rose on the cover. I thought it was a lock--but then my eyesight isn't what it used to be, it turns out it's a pair of eyes. Anyway, the cover is basic, and with hindsight a good choice for a thriller.The blurb excited me I must admit. I love multi personalty stories, and I can still remember reading Sybil by Flora Schreiber for the first time so this has a lot to live up to (yes, before anyone writes in, I do know the Sybil story was found out to be fake).

The blurb is powerful. It's no-nonsense (like the cover) and I like that. It's not dressed up with 'You'll love this book if you loved Blah-de-Blah. So far so good. The look inside... OMG!  I tried I really did. I SO wanted to enjoy this book. The opening sentence was a good hook, but that's where my interest ended. There was description after description. Nothing was left out. From hair, to eyes, to the colour and type of clothes the characters wore. I didn't think the author understood that the quote 'paint a picture with words' wasn't meant to be taken so literally. And it wasn't just the opening chapter, it was the entire sample.

Grammar and spelling wise the book was fine (I only spotted one error), but with so much over-writing this book has failed, I'm afraid. It's such a shame because I really wanted to like this one.

The book also had the POV all over the place, and by the end of the sample the character, June, wasn't the only one who thought she was hearing voices!

After years of abuse, Juniper Hawthorne's mind dealt with the pain the best way it knew how--by becoming a hive of different personalities. She has overcome the trials of living on the streets, fighting in underground battles, and escaping from a demented cult. Now she handles the trials of an abusive ex-boyfriend, a psychotic past enemy, an overpowering boss, and even the divisions within herself. June must face her past and make the most powerful decision of her life. Will she execute her father, the man she believed she killed once already or give in to the new love of her life who is on a mission to stop her no matter the cost. 

When Roses Cry is a psychological thriller that explores Juniper's chaotic life and unearth the overwhelming truth of just who is the mysterious and vengeful Raven Dalk.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Carter Vance

The Return

This book came to me comparing it to the Da Vinci Code, so I'm expecting NOT to like it. The cover is Christian and in keeping with the theme of the book, but the title and author name is lack lustre. It doesn't stand out among the rest in its genre. The blurb was full of 'If you like a great story you will like The Return', which irked a bit. Basically, the story is good verses evil.

The 'look inside' opens to an investment banker called Geoff having a holiday in France with his friend Jacques, but on his last day he finds a secret room (bookcase swings round to reveal another room! Gosh, now that hasn't been done before!) and he finds a room full of books, and coincidently discovers a lost book called the Templar out of the many that's there and he's only been in there a few minutes!

Finding the Templer leads Geoff to places such as Jerusalem searching through old libraries, but unbeknown to him he is being followed. 'Friend' Jacques isn't a friend after all and there is a good build up to that as Geoff thinks he's being paranoid. Personally, I think the author favoured the research to the emotion of the characters, and even though the research of this book seemed thorough, the characters (with the exception to Geoff) weren't fleshed out enough.

Anyway, Sarah and Peter were supposed to fall in love, marry and have a baby (which they did) but their characters were cardboard. So much so that I was surprised that they were the real main characters when Geoff sadly died (it was at this point where I stopped reading).

There were a few errors that could and should have been spotted before it was published, with a huge blooper in chapter four where the author failed to name the chapter and use question marks instead.

All in all I found that the chapters were just waffle and I barely reached half way through the book. There was just too much scene building and back story for my liking. If you don't mind a slow build, then this book is for you. I've not read the De Vinci Code so can't compare. Some nice character building of Geoff, though, and detailed scene setting if you like that sort of thing.

Just not for me. De VInci Code readers might not agree though.

"Great story about the Knights Templar in action."
"A compelling story" 
"Thrills, suspense, action, intrigue This book has it all."

The Return is a story of the modern day fulfillment of the Grail prophecy.
The time has come for the prophesied return of Christ. Long thought extinct, the secret Order of Knights Templar battle the Dark Forces that fear His return.

At the center of this battle of good and evil is Sarah Davidson, an expectant mother, who has a unique heritage, and Peter Christos, her shipping magnate husband. The couple, who were married in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, is confronted with a series of surreptitious schemes and attacks causing them to flee and seek a secure birthplace for their son.

They are aided in this endeavor by the Knights Templar, a clandestine organization that has, over the centuries, amassed enormous wealth and power and the organization to deliver it in anticipation of this day.

Ultimately, they engage in a grand battle for the prophesied birth

"A flavorful blend of history and prophecy"

"Exciting. A real page turner"

If you loved The Da Vinci Code, this is the book for you.

If you think we are living in the "end times", you'll love this book.

If you just like an exciting adventure, read this book!