Review: Silent Symmetry (The Embodied Trilogy #1) by J.B. Dutton

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Title: Silent Symmetry
Author: J.B. Dutton
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 194
ISBN: 978-1484067468
Source: Author
Genre: YA Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Series: The Embodied Trilogy
Best Read in Order: yes
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes&Noble

About the Book:

The Embodied glide through the busy streets of New York, uttering barely a sound. Their eerie beauty comes from their perfect symmetry. Are they flawless humans, the epitome of evolution? Are they a genetically modified super-race? Are they extra-terrestrials? Once prep school student Kari Marriner becomes aware of their existence, she is driven to seek out the answer and finds herself ensnared in a web that reaches further than she could possibly have imagined.

Kari’s earliest memory is her father’s death in a car crash back in small-town Wisconsin. Now, 12 years later, her mother has been hired by a pseudo-religious organization in Manhattan called the Temple of Truth (a.k.a. the ToT). At Chelsea Prep, Kari develops a crush on classmate Cruz. But when she realizes that Noon, another attractive guy at school, is involved with the ToT, her curiosity gets the better of her.

Kari stumbles upon a secret tunnel leading from her apartment to another in the building, where an ancient book holds images she can scarcely believe, and a cavernous room contains… something inexplicable. As Kari pieces together the incredible evidence, she discovers that the ToT is run by other-worldly beings called The Embodied who influence human behavior and have established a global long-term human breeding program. But why? And what is her role in all this?

Just as she starts wondering whether the love she feels for Cruz is genuine or if her emotions are being controlled by The Embodied, her mother is kidnapped and Kari has to figure out who is human, who is Embodied, and who she can count on to help rescue her mother.

Book Review:

Kari and her mother move to New York City for a new prestigious position, after leaving her small Wisconsin town and memories of her father’s accident there behind. For a teenaged protagonist, Kari was easy to relate to and care for: her sad past and her eagerness to find the new life, opportunities and possible love interests for her mother were endearing. As with many things, nothing is ever quite what it seems, and that also relates to the wonderful opportunities: scholarship to a prestigious high school, the beautiful people and the ease with which they seem to incorporate a major metropolis into their lives without great distress.

As Kari starts to feel seeds of unease, the questions start to arrive in a fast and furious manner: although the answers are far less apparent. Just what is the ToT and just how much influence it has on this world, and on the live of the people who work for them is a slow-developing reveal, mixed in this smoothly paced story that demands you read on.

I will be the first to admit that Kari is often far more mature in her approach, speech, thinking and behavior than one would expect, or want to see in a high school teen. However, when you take into account her life experience and her only child status, it did fit her well, even as it may be problematic for some readers. Aside from that and my wishing that there was more of an explanation and solidity built to give more substance to the characters of the Embodied, I did enjoy this read. I think that many YA fans would appreciate this story, and be ready to read the second book in the trilogy when it comes available.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:

After graduating from film school in London, I emigrated to Montreal in 1987, where I still live with my two young children and their even younger goldfish. I spent over a decade as a music TV director before moving into the advertising industry as an award-winning copywriter and translator. In parallel to my corporate work, I’ve written novels, short stories, blogs, screenplays and a stage play. I also write Young Adult and Children’s fiction under the name J.B. Dutton.

Website § @johnbdutton

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Author’s are Rockstars Hop – Introducing Amanda Sun

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Have you seen it? Those of us who read get as fan-girly as every groupie you have ever seen for our favorite authors.  When I saw the opportunity to get Amanda Sun here on my blog – I lept at the chance.  Her debut novel Ink just blew me away when I read it for inclusion in my Children’s reads week.  This YA novel uses imagery and mythology from Japan, incorporates the language and culture, and presents a story that gives a slice of life for an ex-pat teenaged girl.  I loved her research and incorporation of all of the elements that gave the story a unique perspective, and her ability to imagine and then reproduce her characters, making them feel current and modern, and allow them to make their own mistakes made it one of my favorite YA reads of the year.  And you can read my review after this lovely interview with Amanda Sun.  PLUS – don’t forget to enter the giveaway here on my blog for your own eBook copy (US and Canadian readers only) of Ink, Book 1 in the Paper Gods series, sponsored by the publisher.  Enter via this Rafflecopter – drawing will end on 9 August, with a winner announced on 10 August – notified via email.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour HERE, and be sure to give love to the ladies who created this idea at Fiktshun, Two Chicks on Books,  and Magical Urban Fantasy Reads.

And now – I bring you  Amanda Sun

Thank you for being a willing participant in this process, I appreciate the time!
Let’s just get down to it:

Why a YA story? What difficulties did writing with a younger audience in mind bring?

I actually find writing for adults far more difficult. *laugh* I find adult characters can come across as tired or jaded, having dealt with too many “real life” woes. Teen characters have this energy to them; you can’t tell them they can’t do it. They know they can take on those evil fairy kings or moving drawings. You can’t stop them. There’s so much potential there, in their school life, their relationships, and their creative life—they’ll accept those paranormal powers and find a way to use them to succeed. That’s what I love about teen protags. I think YA fiction pushes the boundaries of what can be written, and it’s such an exciting genre to be in. 

The only difficulties that come up are things like getting the parents and responsibilities out of the way so that the teens can go and save the world. Curfews, homework, and other drama tend to get in the way, so it’s a tricky balance to have those aspects of their life included without taking over the story.

The cover of this book is striking and beautiful – did the same artist do the illustrations in the book as well?

Thank you so much! I really love all the detail the design team put into INK. The cover is watercolor paper, which speaks to Tomo’s work as an artist, and there are also illustrations and flip animations in the page corners. All the art relates back to the plot, and since INK is written from Katie’s POV, the art gives Tomo a chance to communicate directly to the reader through his artwork. 

The cover artist is Petra Dufkova, and the interior illustrator is Ross Siu. I think both styles really work well together to capture the style of Japanese ink wash paintings, and Tomo’s own personal sketching style. There are interviews with both artists in the back pages of INK, so you can find out more about them which is great. 

There’s also an enhanced ebook version of INK available for iOS devices, in which the illustrations and cover come to life through animation. It’s a really great touch to a book about drawings coming alive, and I think it really adds to the experience of The Paper Gods series. 

Your bio states that you speak several languages – which ones?

I love languages and I’ve studied quite a few, either on my own or by taking courses. I speak French and Japanese the most fluently. Then I understand Latin, Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic, Ojibwe/Anishinaabemowin (First Nations language), Spanish, and a bit of Welsh. I hope to learn more Welsh and Korean next!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given about writing?

Every word you write is getting you where you need to be. Don’t lose hope or be discouraged—it’s all leading somewhere. Just don’t stop writing. Keep going, and finish your stories. You’ll wander the forest forever if you don’t write your way back out. Sometimes writing is crawling a word at a time, and you’re covered in dirt and leaves and thorns, and you’re thirsty and tired. Sometimes writing hurts. It’s okay. That’s normal. Don’t be discouraged if your plot derails—sometimes it’s more exciting that way. Keep going, and your words won’t let you down.

What are your 3 must have items if you were to be stranded somewhere with only those items?
A stack of good books, my phone, and a giant pitcher of iced tea lemonade. Wait…you guys are coming back for me, right?…Right?

Slippers or socks? I actually prefer bare feet, especially in the summer. ^_^

Dogs or Cats? Birds! I have two, one with an awesome vocabulary that he uses in context. I love dogs too, but I’m allergic to cats.

Poutine or chips with vinegar? That’s a tough call. Being Canadian, I love both. ^_^ I think chips with malt vinegar wins out, but it’s a close call.

Anything else that you would like to share?

INK has an ebook novella prequel called SHADOW, which is currently free for download. It follows the events leading up to INK from both Katie and Tomo’s POVs. If you’re interested, please check my website AmandaSunBooks.com for info on how to download the novella. It can also be read on Wattpad for a limited time. Hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for taking the time to be my rockstar !

Thank you so much for having me on the blog! I think readers are rockstars too! 😀

Find and follow Amanda Sun by visiting her Website  §  @Amanda_Sun 

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Read on to see my review – and a larger copy of this gorgeous cover Continue reading

Review: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight by Daniel M. Fife

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Title: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight
Author: Daniel M. Fife
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 326
ISBN: 978-0985324704
Source: Author
Genre: Children’s Fantasy / Adventure 12 +
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon  §  Smashwords § Barnes & Noble 

About the Book:

Danny Firoth is an average thirteen-year-old who finds himself at the beginning of his eighth-grade year, struggling with some of the more common concerns that plague a boy of his age: bullies, homework, and his mother. Sabrina Drake is the new girl. She is beautiful and spellbinding, but carries a fantastic secret.

Accepted into the White Rock Academy of Illumination, a school for young Squires destined to become Knights of the Light and battle the forces of the Dark with magical weapons called Bondeds, Danny joins his five closest friends in the training of their lives. Honed in the techniques of blade work by an Elvin swordmaster and educated by a colorful assortment of knightly instructors, Danny and his friends are placed on the path to becoming knighted members of the Light. However, the Dark may have other plans as they unveil a sinister plot in this fantastic tale of dragon-riding adventure, sword-wielding action, and coming-of-age drama.

Book Review:

So often, I will see reviews that will mention another title, intimating that this is the “same”, and diminishing the book being reviewed by insinuating it is an imitation. While there are obvious correlations to the set-up for the Harry Potter series here, the similarity ends quickly.
This is a uniquely styled blend of fantasy and reality, with characters who are very current and solidly developed, who just happen to be a part of a training programme that involves magic and spells.

Daniel Fife has managed to create a book that even reluctant readers can enjoy: there is enough of the fantastical to break up the mundanity of every eighth grade life, and the ultimate quest of good versus evil, as you are just learning what powers and skills you have makes for a gripping tale. Yes there are friends, and the friendships are tested, and the importance of trust and being there all create small lessons on the way. But mostly: this is a highly enjoyable read that holds your interest from page to page as you learn and discover this new world with Danny.

As the start of a new series – this one shows great promise: the pacing and world-building were well done and maintained after some early repetitive moments. I was fortunate to have received the newly-edited version: and what I had was a very clean, well-written story that managed to keep interest and flow after a bit of a slow start early on. As a debut novel, in a high-fantasy style written to appeal to (but never pander to) younger readers, it was an impressive work. And I am looking forward to book 2 in the Light & Dark Series.

I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review and inclusion in Children Read week. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Daniel M. Fife was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 27, 1978. He began writing Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight during his years as a graduate student at Ball State University under the major of Counseling Psychology. What began as a simple hobby quickly turned into something more as he found a passion for writing. While carrying the schedule of a full-time student as well as working a part-time job, he devoted himself to write at least one page a day. After graduating in 2007, he received the opportunity to begin practicing psychology as a counselor at a local private practice the very same year. His devotion to writing did not waiver. Working a full time schedule and maintaining a full complement of clients, he maintained his dedication. A year or so later, he completed the rough draft of Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight and began the editing process, before finally publishing the final draft in 2012.

 

Review: Lunula by Alyssa Auch

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Title: Lunula
Author: Alyssa Auch
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Malachite Quills Publishing
Pages: 286
ISBN: 978-1623750329
Source: Author
Genre: Fantasy
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon  §  Barnes & Noble § Smashwords

About the Book:

The witch knows he will hunt her. If history repeats itself, as it always does, Wynn will have no choice but to cross paths with her feared counterpart, the warlock. If given the chance, he would kill Wynn, absorbing her aura and obtaining ultimate power. In a desperate attempt to outrun destiny, Wynn moves from place to place, hoping to stray from the map laid out by the Fates. But by chance, on an urgent errand for Queen Alexandria herself, Wynn finds she has fallen into the hands of the one man she so hopelessly fled from. Now his captive, Wynn must guard her secret and that of her kingdom, or risk bringing forth a dark age not seen in hundreds of years.

Book Review:

Starting off slowly, the first quarter of the book is really giving some background and establishing worlds and lore: to the author’s credit these are done skilfully and provide a few interesting twists and unique elements. Once the story picked up steam and pacing and plotting became more immediate, the story became quite a fun read, with several pieces to appreciate and an ending that leaves room for more to come.

While perfectly capable of being placed into the YA genre, the character of Wynn is a strong, caring and self-confident young woman: all rather surprising considering the history. Her interactions with Gethin and their continual push and pull over his demands and her desires are cleverly written, and bring Wynn even closer to a fully realized being than she was before. She isn’t overly angsty, but her lack of ‘self-preservation’ and improving her skills was confusing for me – although she seemed to manage quite well with her limited abilities.

Her counterpart and the dark to her light, is the Warlock Gethin, dark in powers, in appearance and even in conversational style – he arrives solidly formed and we aren’t overly barraged with conversations or descriptions of his ‘sexiness’. That the story was, in many respects, foreshadowed and easy to know what would come next, there wasn’t a use of cliché’s and the writing kept it from being boring or dragging.

The elves were an interesting addition, rather judgmental, brash and arrogant with very large chips on their shoulders: while all other elf lore that is familiar was similar, this little change and the interaction changes because of it made a refreshing change. Not to mention the characters were able to see the duplicity and sort it all out: not common in most stories where clever characters are addled and unseeing.

I enjoyed this book, and found it an interesting debut with plenty of good points and very few issues that needed sorting. Consistency in characters and descriptions, clarity of detail and a bit more ‘realistic’ concern from Wynn considering her predicament would have made this good story a great one.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Alyssa Auch was born and raised in Pennsylvania with loving parents and three hilarious younger siblings. Her imagination was sparked by the lush, green forests and bright colors of her home that often spoke of other worlds only found in the magic of writing. She brought that inspiration into the fantasy novels she so loves to create.

Currently, Alyssa is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho studying Marriage and Family Relations with a minor in English. She is married to her High School sweetheart, and they have three beautiful children who keep them both very occupied. Although her novels are often written in the late hours of the night and during cherished naptime blocks, she devotes a very special part of herself to the power of words and love of storytelling.

Blog  §  Facebook  §  @danally  §  Goodreads