Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jillian Cade, 'Fake' Paranormal Investigator by Jen Klein

Published: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Soho Teen
Pages: 288
Copy: Edelweiss
Summary: Goodreads

Jillian Cade doesn’t believe in the paranormal. But her famous professor father does, and now that he’s gone, she decides to milk his reputation—and all the suckers who believe in the stuff—to open a private investigation firm. After all, a high school junior has to take care of herself, especially if she’s on her own.

Ironically, it’s when she takes on a case that might involve a totally non-paranormal missing person that things get strange. Particularly when Sky Ramsey—a new boy at school and an avid fan of her father’s—forces his way into becoming her partner and won’t shut up about succubi, of all things.

Before Jillian knows it, she finds herself navigating both her growing feelings for Sky and a sneaking suspicion that the poor saps she’s been scamming know something she doesn’t. Yet!

On the surface, this book seems pretty light-hearted and not too serious, but underneath there are some issues that may surprise you.  I was quite taken with Jillian.  She's basically on her own because of an absentee father, who by the sounds of it is a con man.  He's taught Jillian well and she is able to keep herself afloat by solving 'fake' paranormal problems.  She's tough and fairly street smart, but inevitably gets in over her head.

Another character I enjoyed was Sky.  He was very determined and didn't back away from Jillian and all her negativity towards him.  Also Norbert - the younger cousin and computer geek - loved him.  The pace of the tale was a little slow to start, but when things picked up it was fun and engrossing.  With a couple of twists I didn't see coming and one or two intense moments, I ended up thoroughly enjoying this one.  While it ended fairly satisfactorily, there is obviously more to come, and I'll be happy to read them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - late edition

Stacking the Shelves allows us to share the books we have added to our collections - physical, virtual, borrowed, bought or received

This week I got: 

So sorry to make this post a day late but I've been really busy...reading....ummm....sorry, got to get back to my series....
- Christinabean

Guest post - On Track for Murder by Stephen Childs

Displaying on track for murder04.jpegWith her father stabbed to death, her brother caught with the bloody murder weapon, and her stepmother suspiciously missing, 18-year-old Abigail Sergeant is forced into a dangerous cross country adventure to uncover the truth and bring the real killer to justice. Traveling from England to Australia in the late nineteenth-century, Abigail and her naive younger brother hope that reuniting with their father — and his new wife — will offer them security. What awaits them on the shores of the Swan River dashes any prospects of a blissful life. Discovering her father murdered and her brother seemingly caught red handed, Abigail’s life is thrown into turmoil. The police are convinced of Bertrand’s guilt, but Abigail is determined to prove his innocence, no matter whatever it takes. The only thing that the now insensible Bertrand will say about the murder is that their stepmother, Frances, knows what really happened. Frances, however, has fled south to Albany, a port from which she plans to board a ship bound for New Zealand. With time running out, Abigail persuades the police to let her follow Frances, but only if she is chaperoned by the reluctant Constable Ridley Dunning. Embarking on a heroic train journey across Western Australia, Abigail faces deception, kidnap, sabotage and arson, forcing her to draw on a resolve she didn’t know she possessed. But will that be enough to save her brother from injustice?

Building Emotion Through the Eyes of a Teenage Girl by Stephen Childs

Writing about murder and the subsequent challenge of finding the perpetrator presumes many intriguing plot twists. With On Track for Murder, I wanted the characters to experience more than just a series of perplexing puzzles. The drama comes from fear and confusion, deception and dilemma. 

From the outset, I sought a character who offered the greatest possibility for change. I looked for the most innocuous of protagonists to challenge the ever present Victorian ideals of the nineteenth century. Abigail Sergeant became that lead character. Discovering a bloody murder traumatises her as would be expected. The determination to find the killer, though, immediately reveals a hidden strength. 

My challenge was to put her through terrors that would incapacitate many of the time, but that she would overcome and use to grow. She is chased by a knife wielding attacker and only manages to escape by stealing a railway locomotive. A kidnapping that would see most Victorian women merely sobbing, allows Abigail the opportunity to use her knowledge to blow up a boat and effect her escape. An ever increasing array of terrifying scenarios builds the drama. Even faced with, what seems like, the ultimate betrayal, Abigail manages to prevail.Her final witnessing of the killer’s hanging truly reveals how much she has grown through the traumatic experiences. 

Edge of the seat encounters are a great tool for progressing a character. In this story Abigail’s tenacity strengthens, while she continues to prove that you don't need to be perceived as strong to overcome adversity.  

Many thanks Stephen for joining us today.

About the author: Born in Ealing, West London, Stephen Childs immigrated with his family to New Zealand in the 1970s. He has enjoyed a long career in the film and television industry. After a serious health scare in 2005, Childs’ view of life changed. He briefly went into politics as a parliamentary candidate in the national elections, standing against the now New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key. The drive to pursue new challenges prompted Childs to relocate to Western Australia, where he now lives in Joondalup, north of Perth, with his family and two cats. In his spare time, Childs enjoys exploring the great Australian outdoors and studying genealogy. On Track for Murder by Stephen Childs (published by Clink Street, available September 1st, RRP $12.00 paperback, RRP $7.50 ebook) is available online from retailers including and can be ordered from all good bookstores.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Guest Post - Toby Downton, author of Solarversia

Drawn into an epic year-long virtual reality game, eighteen-yearold Nova finds her life fractured and her strength tested as she fights to become the last player standing in this action-packed novel inspired by the revolutionary Oculus Rif - and written by a groundbreaking digital innovator who is already turning fiction into reality. In the year 2020, London-based gaming company Spiralwerks will launch their ambitious year-long virtual reality game, Solaversia. Over 100 million players from around the world, each given a unique number in The Player’s Grid that corresponds to their individual profile, will compete against each other across the solar system to be the last person standing and win the £10 million grand prize. Nova Negrahnu and her friends Burner and Sushi cannot wait to start playing. But when an international terrorist organization sets its sights on the game and it’s creator, Nova finds her life turned upside down, as the line between simulation and reality blurs. Can she navigate between playing the game, coping with all the issues an eighteen-year-old girl faces and avoid the very real and present danger mounting outside Solaversia?

Getting Into the Mind of my Teenage Protagonist by Toby Downton

I never consciously chose to write Solarversia from the perspective of Nova Negrahnu, an eighteen year-old girl; I always felt that she chose me. 

Nova was there from the very beginning, asking - demanding - to be the star of the show. It was slightly daunting at first, writing from such a foreign perspective, so I tried a couple of things to get into her mindset.

First, I spent a lot of time reminiscing about school and university. I jotted down memories: the things that made me laugh and cry, the names of fellow pupils and teachers, and the way things worked back then (the prefect system, detentions, attending lessons and lectures). I wanted to know her fears and desires, to know her heart as well as her mind. Most stuff didn’t make it into the book, but I’ve learned that’s usually the way with writing. You search far and wide, hunting for gold in them thar hills. Most of what you find is dirt … but if you’re lucky, hidden among it, you might discover a couple of nuggets shining bright.

The second thing I did was to pay more attention to strong female leads, both in fiction and in the real world. Nova was always a force of nature: strong-willed, stubborn and determined. I wanted these traits to come across naturally, and worked hard to make her appear authentic. Fortunately, I had a (brilliant) female editor to help achieve this. I remember one scene in particular: Nova and her best (male) friend, Burner, were running from a horde of crazed circus animals when I had Burner help her through a smashed window. My editor amended the scene, leaving a comment that said, “Nova don’t need no help getting through no window.” She was correct of course. If anything, Nova would be the one helping Burner through the window. 

Looks like I still have lots to learn.

Thank you so much for joining us today Toby.

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About the author: Toby Downton lives in North London and is head of business development at Matter, a digital innovation consultancy he co-founded. He has previously worked at the London Stock Exchange and has also lived in Australia. Solarversia by Toby Downton (published by CreateSpace, RRP $14.00 paperback, RRP $4.50 ebook) will be released August 31st and will be available to purchase at online retailers including and can be ordered from all good bookstores. For more information please visit

From the Press Release:

The world of virtual reality is about to fundamentally reshape the way in which we live, work and play. The Oculus Rift — the much-lauded and potentially transformational VR headset, which broke crowdfunding records in 2012, and was recently acquired by Facebook for $2 billion — is scheduled to launch in early 2016. While its most obvious impact will hit the world’s 700 million plus gamers, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes the potential VR impact to be far more profound: “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face - just by putting on goggles in your home.” 

The relatively new genre of virtual reality inspired science fiction, centered around the gaming industry is booming, with Ernest Cline’s bestseller Ready Player One already in production for a major movie adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. Downton is emerging as a driving force in the VR revolution. Solaversia is just the first step in his thrillingly ambitious multi-platform story-telling experience that will explore the relationships between artificial intelligence, technology and the human spirit. Downton will be incorporating his tech-company - Spiralwerks - in the real world, developing Solarversia as a commercially available game, ready to storm the games market in 2020. Accompanying the publication of the Solarversia book, A Golden Ticket promotion will be launched this year, enabling games enthusiasts to win 100 specially reserved places within the Player’s Grid”, through competitions, charity auctions and book sales. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Published: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 384
Copy: Publisher/Netgalley

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

I have loved Mercedes Lackey for many years.  While I may not go out and buy her books the instant they hit the shelves, I am always aware of new books and I try and read as many as I possibly can.  Her Obsidian trilogy and 500 Kingdoms series are amongst my very favourites.  What I love is her variety.  Her books range from SciFi, to fantasy and every possible shade in between.  She has fairytales, dragons, mages, elves, owls and spaceships, and just about anything else you can think of.  She writes by herself and she writes with other authors.  A very versatile author indeed.

Hunter is the newest YA novel and captivated me from page one.  Joy is a down to earth, pleasant, well adjusted protagonist who is comfortable in her own skin.  She thinks problems through, isn't impulsive and allows herself time to break down and recharge once she has the job done.  I just loved her non -confrontational way of dealing with bullies and the very special relationship she has with her hounds.  I also loved that she acknowledges that she still has a lot to learn.

Josh, Karly and Mark were all great characters too. We get to know them a little, but are aware that there is still more to learn.  There's friendship and fun,  work and stress, fighting and dying - yup, she's not afraid to kill off characters, much to my distress. There is also a little romance, although only a very little and it is by no means a focus of the story, which makes this book fairly suitable for younger teens.  Expect to see all those nasty creatures from old fairytales - goblins, tommyknockers, wyverns, vampires, 'folk' and any number of unusual nasties and they are all up to no good.  

I'm thinking that, given the ending, there are going to be one or two more books, although this one ends fairly satisfactorily there are definitely some non-resolved issues.  I will be keeping my eye open for sequels. With lots of mystery and tension, lovable characters and some intense action, Hunter was pure delight to read.  I'll definitely be recommending this one.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road

 Published: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Copy: Edelweiss
Summary: Goodreads

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

What to tell you about Vengeance Road?  This was an interesting historical novel set in the old west that is loosely based on an old western legend about a lost gold mine.  Ms Bowman has obviously studied the history of the period and knows the location well, but where the book fell short for me was the characters, or the main character in particular.
For some reason I didn't really connect with Kate.  She was fairly well written and her naivete about some things did ring true, but .....   I did enjoy Will and Jesse however.  In fact I adored Will's dip spitting, somewhat tarnished view of life.  The romance?  Slow.  Very slow, which was actually quite nice and entirely believable given the characters and the circumstances.  The way things play out may surprise you.  There was a big reveal towards the end that I don't think many will see coming, I certainly didn't.  I didn't find the book very suspenseful though.  For me it just sort of ambled along at a steady pace and the outcome was never really in doubt, and other than my strange almost dislike of Kate, I really quite enjoyed the story itself.

In the end it was fun but not outstanding and I'll be really interested to hear what you all think of it.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Guest Post by Patricia Vanasse, author of Awakened.

We originally showcased Patricia in one of our Shout Out to Indies posts when she released her first novel Resilient.  Now she's here to tell us a little about the characters in the sequel, Awakened

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Under the control of The Agency, a secret, governmental organization that created genetically engineered teens who posses a combination of extraordinary abilities, Adam is serving the purpose for which he was created while his girlfriend, Livia fights to save him. Manipulated to forget his love for Livia and his past, he lives a life crafted by fake memories that enslave him to a life of following the orders of an organization, whose intentions are unclear. Now Adam battles with vivid “dreams” of a life he does not remember and the strong connection he feels to the girl with familiar blue eyes. 

Livia’s desire for vengeance lead her and Daniel on a dangerous race to disrupt the destructive string of events that The Agency initiated seventeen years earlier. As they travel across parts of North America in search of other teens who are just like them, Livia will face an ethical battle over genetics, loyalty, and love. The race is on, and it is up to Livia to destroy The Agency and rescue Adam, but even if she succeeds at saving him, there are no guarantees she’ll be able to save the deep connection they once shared.

In Resilient, you got to meet Livia, Adam and Daniel. In Awakened, you’ll meet new characters that will bring this story to whole different level. Each has their own stories to tell and abilities to explore. Please, allow me to introduce you to these amazing people.

Brooklyn Mathews
Looks Like: AnnaSophia Robb
Special Ability: Memory Manipulation, including projecting lost memories, creating new ones, or deleting all memories from one’s mind.
Favorite Song: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.
Desire: To redefine her life.
Profile: Raised in The Agency, Brooklyn never desired to live a normal, mundane life, until she met Adam. As she slowly allows her humanity and emotions to surface, Brooklyn decides that the world has more to offer her than she’d ever imagined.  
Quote: “Love has never been a part of my life. Not that it didn’t live somewhere within my heart, it just has always been suppressed. Affection was never an option, and I have never expected it or even really wanted it until now.”

Mason Wailer
Looks Like: Alfred Enoch
Special Ability: Accelerated probability, which allows him to sense all the variables of any situation. With that, he can foresee the outcomes of the choices he can make to reach the conclusion he wants.
Favorite Song: Felling Good by Muse.
Desire: To understand his abilities.
Profile: Mason entered college at the age of 16 and is perceived as genius by his Yale peers. Determined to find answers for his special abilities, he hacked into the FBI classified files revealing dirty business within the bureau to the world , but found nothing on super humans. Now chased by government officials, Mason has to escape his life if he wants to find out who and what he is.
Quote: “What the hell, Adam?” he yells. “Next time get one of the pretty girls to whisper in my ear if you want to wake me up, man.”

Jordan Sanchez
Looks like: Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Special Ability: Clairvoyance. Jordan can see visions of people by thinking about them. She can also see glimpses of what that person is doing
Favorite Song: Rebellion by Linkin Park
Desire: To belong.
Profile: Abandoned by her adoptive father, Jordan blames her ability for the destruction of her family. After her mother is taken to a rehab facility, Jordan is forced to use her ability for money and gets involved with a gang who threatens her life if she refuses to help them.
Quote:When I was thirteen, I started cutting. It was a way to relieve all the emotions boiling inside of me. After a while, I started healing instantly after the cuts, and that’s when I knew for sure that I wasn’t normal.”

Alexis Monte
Looks like: Maia Mitchell
Special Ability: Persuasion, the ability to force others to obey one's spoken imperatives.
Favorite Song: Beggin For Thread by Banks
Desire: To make a difference in the world by working with The Agency.    
Profile: Alexis left her adoptive parents to join The Agency and its causes.
Quote: “Adam, you just don’t get it.  I grew up out there among humans, they’re prejudice, racist, judgmental creatures. They reject their own kind because they have different skin color, or different lifestyles. Do you really think you can be yourself and be part of their world?”

Ethan J├Ąger
Looks like: Austin Butler
Special Ability: Telekinesis, the ability to move objects with the mind.
Favorite Song: Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.
Desire: To be accepted for who he is.   
Profile: Forced by his adoptive father to fight at illegal fight clubs, Ethan pretends to be this cold-hearted guy, when in truth, he is a caring young man.
Quote: “When my adoptive father found out about my ability, he used me to make money. He set up all those fights. He told me over and over that if I didn’t fight, he would make more money by turning me in to government officials near Area 51.”

Now tell me, who do you want to hang out with?

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