New Release: Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly

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When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

Inspired by a true story.

After her daughter narrowly survived a man she met in an online role-playing game, Kelly wrote a breathless young adult thriller with the hopes of helping others spot and unmask internet predators.

When a Nampa, Idaho, police detective said to Margo Kelly’s daughter, “It is your job to tell others—your real everyday friends that you go to school with—tell them what happened to you, so nothing like this can happen to them.” … she agreed.

“My daughter is my hero,” Kelly said, “for being willing to share her personal choices, conversations, and feelings in order to help others, regardless of the negative judgment she might receive as a result.” Additionally, Kelly realized if she wrote a novel about her daughter’s experience, they could help more people avoid the trappings of internet predators. Who R U Really? is primarily a work of fiction, but the essence of the plot is what happened when Kelly’s daughter was nearly abducted. The fictional elements are based on what has happened to young women across the country on a too frequent basis.

“Inspired by her own daughter’s terrifying story, Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online,” said the School Library Journal. “Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps—particularly as events heat up toward the end. … A good choice for families to read together.”

According to the Fall Preview issue of Kirkus Reviews, “Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner with multiple suspects, a little bit of romance, and a strong but not overbearing message.”

Who R U Really? (ISBN: 9781440572760 – UPC: 045079572768) will be published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.

Check out the Goodreads Giveaway!

Buy online:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Merit Press

margo_kelly_photoMore about Margo Kelly

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest, and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel.

Follow her online:

Website: www.margokelly.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargoKelly.author

Twitter: @MargoWKelly

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/margokelly

Scheduled Appearances:

September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho

September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho

October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho

October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho

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A Greek Top Ten with VC Birlidis, Author of Muse Unexpected

My parents liked sci-fi and fantasy, ’70s guitar rock, scantily-clad girls with swords, and barbarians with steroid-grade muscle. (Looking at you, Conan.) They were big on symbolism, superstition, Chinese kung-fu theater, and movies that weren’t appropriate for kids but let my brother and I watch anyway. The Ancient World? As my very Italian in-laws would say, fuggedaboutit. I was going to love Greece (and Egypt, Israel, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, etc). After my mother saw Clash of the Titans with Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, I really had no choice in the matter.

And that is what makes THIS guest post so exciting. VC Birlidis, author of Muse Unexpected, is here to tells us ALL about his ten favorite Greek characters ever. (Isn’t that cruel of me? I mean, how does a bona fide Greek guy sift through the awesomesauce to pick just 10?) Let’s see what he thinks!

Take her away, V!


ZieglerMedea

Medea

You can’t start a list of favorite Greek characters without listing Medea. She was beautifully flawed, strong,…well, actually completely mad. Now that’s irresistible.

Electra, the ninja assassin. I know… It’s a guy [thing] and she’s totally cool. Her being the love interest to Daredevil, yet her violent nature causes great conflict… it’s beautiful. I even liked the movie with Jennifer Gardner.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld – The super-villian all super-villian are measured by, from the James Bond novels. He is so over-the-top and beyond ridiculous that I can’t help but love him. (Wendy here. Blofeld was the inspiration for Dr. Evil and his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth.)

Another James Bond character who is so incredibly dynamic and tragically flawed is Electra King. She spends a great deal of the time playing the victim and yet she turns out to be the master-villian. Such great fun.

Hera, the vengeful wife of Zeus. So incredibly cruel, she makes most villains seem like Suzy Sunshine. There is a certain vulnerability with Hera that makes you think there is hope for her, and then she goes and attacks Perseus. Not very nice.

Dürer - Mort d'Orphée (1494)

The Death of Orpheus

Orpheus – He loved his wife so much he travelled to the Underworld to save her. And his lack of trust is the undoing of them both. Such a tragic love story and such a strong, committed husband.

Hades – Poor Hades. He’s sent to the Underworld to rule the dead. Talk about a bleak environment. Then he sees this beautiful woman, Persephone, immediately falls in love and drags her down to the Underworld. I’m assuming he did this in hopes that she would bring to his life some much needed beauty. And the poor God let his lust get the better of him because Persephone turns out to be quite the fish wife. I’m always one for the underdog.

Medusa – A tragic character, damned by the evil Athena for something out of her control. (She was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple.) I’ve often found it interesting that Medusa and the other Gorgons didn’t seek people out to murder. They were sought out by others to kill the “monsters”. the story of the gorgons appears to be an ongoing narrative of the value placed on women during ancient Greece times, while also demonstrating the jealousy felt woman to woman. It’s a narrative that unfortunately continues today, which makes Medusa one of my favorite Greek characters. It also drove me to place the Gorgons in a better, flattering light.

Nia Vardalos’ character Toula Portokalos from my Big Fat Greek Wedding. I felt her pain, growing up Greek and the craziness associated with it. Although I wanted to kill Nia after the 100th person asked me if adults were baptized in a baby pool. Dear lord!

Captain Birlis – An ancestor of mine, who is mostly unknown. While traveling in Greece with my Father, we visited a monastery that had an Icon of the Virgin Mary that was rumored to have cried. While there, a very small Nun was giving us a tour and she asked what our name was. My father said it was Birlidis, originally Birlis. My Pappous (Grandfather) had changed our last name when he came over on the boat. He felt Birlis wasn’t greek enough. She then told us about a Captain Birlis, who had a legend attached to him. He was a ship captain, during ancient Greece, who’s ship was sinking. (don’t know the reason why. I think it had to do with hitting hidden rocks.) the ship began to fill with water, and with impending death, they all kneeled down on the ship’s deck and began to pray. It is said the Virgin Mary appeared to them with the Baby Jesus in her arms, and told them not to fear and that she would help them. She dove off the side of the boat, yes, with the Baby Jesus, and all of a sudden the water stopped coming into the hole. It is told that a giant sea sponge had lodged itself into the hole, allowing the ship the time to make it back to land. In celebration of this, Captain Birlis commissioned a candle, the same size of the ship’s mast and donated it to the monastery in thanks of the Virgin Mary saving them. The candle remained intact, at the monastery until a major earthquake destroyed it, but apparently pieces of it are still kept at the monastery.


Muse tour

Tour Schedule

Muse UnexpectedMuse Unexpected

“We’re Muses. Not vampires, not fairies, not werewolves. We’re Muses.” Sophie was sure her mother had reached an epic level of crazy. ‘We’re Muses?’ She thought Muses were lame, not to mention she found the idea ridiculous. However, Sophie couldn’t explain away her physical transformation that made Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries look like a bad Walmart make-over, not to mention why her mood swings triggered an uncontrollable ability to shoot powerful bursts of energy out of her hands.

Sophie soon realizes modern day Muses have evolved into powerful guardians of humankind, tasked with keeping mortals on the right path and the original Olympians locked away from the world. But old hatreds don’t die easily, especially for immortal enemies that have an eternity to plot and gather their forces. Well aware of the Fates’ foretelling of another Olympian war, and a young Muse that would rise up as a warrior and defeat them, the Olympians have vowed to either possess Sophie or destroy her. Either way, they will make sure everyone associated with their imprisonment will reap an eternal damnation in the Underworld, leaving the Olympians to restore Mount Olympus and force humankind into a future of never-ending servitude and misery.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Goodreads

Praise for Muse Unexpected

“Ripe with conflict, skin-crawling creepy that is sprinkled with a wonderful sense of humor and a plot fraught with horrific danger in every step taken by Sophie, this book should be on the top of everyone’s must read list. Simply put, I loved it and can’t wait for book 2 to come out.” ~Olive (Amazon Review)

“I remember learning about mythology & Greek gods in elementary school….boring! Well, this fantastic book takes everything you thought about gods/mythology and turns it on it’s ear, sort of like “Wicked” did to the “Wizard of OZ”. At times funny at times gruesome and scary, this story definitely kept my interest. I loved the way the writer made the gods “human”. I also liked the subtle, blink and you’ll miss them hints sprinkled throughout the story. Don’t let the young adult genre scare you away. This is an engaging story that can be enjoyed by all. Can’t wait for the next one!!!!” ~Paula (Amazon Review)

Author V.C. Birlidis

V.C. Birlidis was born and raised in Miami, Florida and has always been involved in the arts. He attended the New World School of the Arts and was a member of The Miami Ballet.

Mr. Birlidis moved to Ohio to attend college where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from Capital University. He currently is the Director of Marketing at one of the top midwest advertising agencies, SBC Advertising. He has freelanced as a writer for Outlook News and Tickled Pink Magazine, where he wrote a comical advice column named Ask V.

Five years in the making and inspired by the numerous Greek myths his father would utilize as demented bed time stories, Muse, Unexpected is Mr. Birlidis’ first novel. It is the first book in his Muse series.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

Excerpt

“Mom, step away from the mirror. Let me see what has happened to me.”

“But I need to explain first. It’s like this, some people may have a few additional doors open and because of those open doors, they have some extra abilities like being able to tell the future or being able to speak with the dead. Now, beings like us have the majority of our doors opened and our soul is expanded to allow us to do the things we can do. Otherwise, our soul would be ripped to shreds.”

Sophie’s arms shook; a searing heat building inside her as crackling electricity filled the air. “What has happened to me, Mom? I need to see.” She lifted her head; her eye’s meeting her mother’s. The heat was almost unbearable, burning in her eyes and moving toward her clenched fists. Her hands tingled and burned. She was sure they were going to explode.

Callie held firm. “Honey, calm down. You don’t have control of your emotions. It’s always difficult at first, but—”

Sophie was furious and she let whatever control she had slip away. Her eyes were burning through her mother, in an attempt to reach the covered mirror.

With a steady voice, Sophie said, “Let me see.” She shook her hands, in an attempt to shake off the heat pooling in them. Instead of feeling relief, the energy surged from her.

Callie threw herself out of the way, falling forward onto the floor as the energy burst hit the mirror, ripping the heavy curtains and massive iron rods off the wall and cracking the mirror from top to bottom. Sharp pieces of mirror rained down, as both women crashed to the floor.

“Ow!” The slivers of mirror glass sliced her palms. She grew silent watching the mirror-shards pushing themselves out of her skin. The cuts bled a little then stopped bleeding and healed before her eyes. She stood, afraid to move, trying to get her mind around what she was seeing.

“What the heck is wrong with me?” Sophie said, as she burst into tears.

Although a good portion of the mirror was destroyed, Sophie could still make out most of her reflection. She lifted her right hand and touched her face, realizing she was staring back at the girl from her nightmare. It was the girl who had pushed her into the grave.

This is more than just a little liposuction or a hair straightening. Am I a victim of an alien attack? Was this the work of body snatchers?

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/21/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Cover Reveal: Shattered Secrets, by Krystal Wade

Shattered Secrets Cover

Also by Krystal Wade

Krystal WadeKrystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers – who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas – sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read.How else can she cope with a fifty mile commute?Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.

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Book Blast! Muse Unexpected, by VC Birlidis

Muse Unexpected“We’re Muses. Not vampires, not fairies, not werewolves. We’re Muses.” Sophie was sure her mother had reached an epic level of crazy. ‘We’re Muses?’ She thought Muses were lame, not to mention she found the idea ridiculous. However, Sophie couldn’t explain away her physical transformation that made Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries look like a bad Walmart make-over, not to mention why her mood swings triggered an uncontrollable ability to shoot powerful bursts of energy out of her hands.

Sophie soon realizes modern day Muses have evolved into powerful guardians of humankind, tasked with keeping mortals on the right path and the original Olympians locked away from the world. But old hatreds don’t die easily, especially for immortal enemies that have an eternity to plot and gather their forces. Well aware of the Fates’ foretelling of another Olympian war, and a young Muse that would rise up as a warrior and defeat them, the Olympians have vowed to either possess Sophie or destroy her. Either way, they will make sure everyone associated with their imprisonment will reap an eternal damnation in the Underworld, leaving the Olympians to restore Mount Olympus and force humankind into a future of never-ending servitude and misery.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Goodreads

Praise for Muse Unexpected

“Ripe with conflict, skin-crawling creepy that is sprinkled with a wonderful sense of humor and a plot fraught with horrific danger in every step taken by Sophie, this book should be on the top of everyone’s must read list. Simply put, I loved it and can’t wait for book 2 to come out.” ~Olive (Amazon Review)

“I remember learning about mythology & Greek gods in elementary school….boring! Well, this fantastic book takes everything you thought about gods/mythology and turns it on it’s ear, sort of like “Wicked” did to the “Wizard of OZ”. At times funny at times gruesome and scary, this story definitely kept my interest. I loved the way the writer made the gods “human”. I also liked the subtle, blink and you’ll miss them hints sprinkled throughout the story. Don’t let the young adult genre scare you away. This is an engaging story that can be enjoyed by all. Can’t wait for the next one!!!!” ~Paula (Amazon Review)

Muse tour

Tour Schedule

Author V.C. Birlidis

V.C. Birlidis was born and raised in Miami, Florida and has always been involved in the arts. He attended the New World School of the Arts and was a member of The Miami Ballet.

Mr. Birlidis moved to Ohio to attend college where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from Capital University. He currently is the Director of Marketing at one of the top midwest advertising agencies, SBC Advertising. He has freelanced as a writer for Outlook News and Tickled Pink Magazine, where he wrote a comical advice column named Ask V.

Five years in the making and inspired by the numerous Greek myths his father would utilize as demented bed time stories, Muse, Unexpected is Mr. Birlidis’ first novel. It is the first book in his Muse series.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/7/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Click here to Enter!

Book Review: Reaping Me Softly, by Kate Evangelista

Reaping Me Softly 450X679Omnific Publishing
Release Date: October 2012
YA Paranormal

Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper.

At last they have something in common, but that doesn’t mean life is getting any easier. All while facing merciless bullying from the most powerful girl in school, Arianne’s world is turned upside down after Niko accidentally reaps the soul of someone she loves. This sends them both into a spiral that threatens to end Arianne’s life. But will Niko break his own Reaper’s code to save her? And what would the consequences be if he did?


Reaping Me Softly opens with an introspective solo scene. Death has a migraine. It’s not really surprising with the paperwork he has to keep up with. A hundred people die every minute on earth and he has to sign every single one. And it’s not just him. Nikolas Clark, the Reaper of Georgia, has been going through the motions for several lifetimes now. He’s so bored, so depressed, so fed up, that he forgets to take in residual energy from the souls he reaps. He’d have faded away to nothing if not for Arianne Wilson, a girl in his chemistry class, who just happens to be in the right place at the right time.

Arianne is a troubled girl. (What teenager isn’t to some extent?) At school, she’s in the crosshairs of the school bully, cheer captain Darla, and so is everyone who talks to her. At home, her family is divided. Both of her parents work. Her mother also spends nights at the hospital with Carrie, Arianne’s sister, whose first kidney transplant is failing while she’s on a waiting list for another. Arianne donated that kidney. She’d donate her other one if her parents would let her. Even if it were possible, she died on the operating table the first time around. Since then, Arianne’s been able to see ghosts, naked people who show up just about everywhere. She can’t talk to them. They don’t bother her. She’s gotten used to them.

At the opening of the story, there is news of a car accident on I-75. She doesn’t think much about it, until two classmates from her chemistry class, including her lab partner, are called to the principal’s office. This leaves Nico Clark without a lab partner, too, so their teacher puts them together. While Arianne is drooling over Nico, she drops hydrochloric acid on her skin, and Nico saves the day by knowing exactly what to do.

I wouldn’t exactly call Nico and Arianne’s relationship “instalove.” Arianne’s had a crush on the guy for years. Nico, however, does fall flat on his face in love rather quickly. Despite having multiple classes with her over the year, and having a locker right next to hers the year before, he has no recollection of having seen her before. Granted, he’s been depressed by his Reaper occupation and his being in school is mainly about fitting in. His best friend teases him, often, for being incredibly dense. But Nico goes from oblivious to lovesick in five seconds flat, and after she saves his life, he really is done for, to the amusement of his Reaper mentor, Tomas, and even Death himself. However, the author remedies this with a punishing ending that promises to make the boy work to keep Arianne.

Reaping Me Softly, is a cute book with serious themes underlying the sweetness. Darla, the bully, is a monster that keeps the entire school, including teachers, on a tight leash. Carrie’s declining health and the literal accumulation of death surrounding Niko and Arianne keep mortality close at hand. The prose is at times a bit too flowery, and in one scene, I remember reading through it three times before I understood what the author meant. These problems aside, I enjoyed reading it. So much, I moved the sequel, Unreap My Heart to the top of my reading list.

Reaping Me Softly is a clean YA read. There’s a scene depicting battle between two Reapers and the aftermath torture. There is no drinking, little swearing, and no inappropriate touchy-feely scenes. I would recommend it to fans of Evangelista’s other paranormal novels, Taste and Savor, and of YA paranormal romance in general.

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Phantom Touch, by Jessica Hawke

phantomTouchCrescent Moon Press
Release Date: November 2013
YA Paranormal

Bridget White just wants to be an average girl, but the car accident that killed her sister took away everything normal in Bridget’s life. Now she spends her days talking to unhappy ghosts and helping them move on to the afterlife. But dealing with death on a daily basis is too much for one girl to handle, so when she finds a way to get rid of her supernatural sight, she jumps at the chance.

There’s just one more job standing between her and normal. When a missing local girl turns up as a freshly murdered ghost, Bridget realizes she’s the only one who can find the killer. Worse still, he’s not done killing. Now Bridget may have to sacrifice her only chance at being normal to stop him from taking another innocent life.


Bridget helps the wrongfully dead pass on to the hereafter. It’s not something she wants to do, but if it earns her a shot at a normal life, she’s up for it. In the opening chapter, while she prepares to send off the ghost of a middle aged woman, her sister Val sits irreverently on a headstone and keeps her company. Bridget has researched the woman, and after she’s shown pictures of her children and grandchildren, and the ghost moves along. Bridget has one week left until she can perform a ceremony that will shut off this strange ability. She’s anxious to get rid of it, but she’s also dreading it a little. First she has to let go of Val, who died two years earlier in a car accident.

On the way home, Bridget sees a missing person’s poster for Natalie Fullmer. She gets a very strange feeling when she sees it. The girl’s mother believes she’s run away again and has washed her hands of the mess. Natalie’s totally hot little brother, Michael, is holding out hope, and that brings him and Bridget together. Of course, things get complicated when Natalie attacks Bridget from beyond her shallow grave. Because Natalie doesn’t want Michael to know she’s dead, Bridget has to pretend to be looking for her when she’s actually looking for the killer.

Also in Bridget’s life is an annoying little brother who plays video games at jet engine volume; a divorced mother who works as hard to forget she had an older daughter as she does to put food on the table; and a best friend who is in dire need of a spanking.

Phantom Touch is a young adult paranormal story, told in a very believable teen voice, which focuses more on the complications of Bridget’s personal life than the boy who’s walked into it. That’s right. Even though Bridget has a crush, and it would appear that Michael likes her, too, both kids are too preoccupied with the sisters that are lost to them to start much of a relationship with each other. The two (living) girls in the story have conversations about parents, and concerts, and classmates, making Phantom Touch one of the most realistic teen stories I’ve read in the YA paranormal genre. At the same time, the serial killer arc brings attention to the dangers and the seeming innocent things that can make someone vulnerable to the evil that lurks below the surface of society.

I very much enjoyed seeing how Bridget’s story unfolded. It appears to be a standalone novel, but like the pilot of a television show, the ending left open the possibility of a long-running series. The novel includes some violence and a serial killer that target problem teen girls. I don’t recall coarse language and there are no touchy/feely scenes. She did, however, make me cry, so that has been taken into account in my 5-star rating.

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Speak of the Devil, by Shawna Romkey

SpeakOfTheDevilCrescent Moon Press
Release Date: March 2013
YA Paranormal

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?


Teenagers are complicated, sensitive creatures, and on the surface, Lily is normal for her age. She loves her friends. She loves going out with her friends, Mike and Julie, who are not afraid to take a bit of a risk for a good time. One night, the three go out in a rainstorm and their car ends up going over a bridge.

It’s hard to be grateful to be alive when your friends are dead, and it’s your fault. Seconds before the crash, Lily did something innocuous, but it distracts Mike, causing the slide that resulted in the car going over the edge. Going to school is torture. The other kids treat Lily carefully, but she projects her guilt onto them, and receives their sympathy as blame. To start over, she moves to Kansas City to live with her dad, and finish high school with kids that don’t know about the her, the accident, or her dead friends.

There, she meets a group of kids who are beautiful in a punkish sort-of-way, and entirely too talented for their age. The apparent leader among them is Luc, to whom Lily is immediately drawn, but he steps aside because his friend Mo thinks she’s “the one” for him. But, it doesn’t last, because Luc feels the same connect to Lily as she feels to him.

Luc, the hottie with wings on the cover of the book, was born to human parents but he grew into an angelic calling to save one human soul. At the same time, he and his friends are suffering a crisis of their own. Dwelling on Earth takes its toll on angels, but this group, there are extraordinary circumstances with dire consequences. Luc needs Lily as much as she needs him.

Speak of the Devil is a YA Paranormal Romance that explores survivor’s guilt, the grieving/coping mechanisms of teenagers, and how finding/having a purpose can make all the difference in a young adult’s life. My one problem with the book is this. It is told primarily in Lily’s first-person POV, and because of her circumstances, this results in forty pages of a 16-year-old telling me she’s depressed. After a while, I really wanted to slap her and say, Stop feeling sorry for yourself. She does do something about it, leaves to go to a new school, but her attitude doesn’t really improve until her curiosity about Luc and his friends surpasses her self-pity. At that point, the story improves by leaps and bounds, but getting past the beginning was a little rough for me, thus my 4-star rating.

Speak of the Devil includes angels, demons, scenes of teen alcohol abuse, sexual attraction, and an attempted rape of the main character. Religious subject matter is interpreted in a generic “angels=good/demons=evil” way that doesn’t counter Sunday School, but God is missing, which may offend. I would recommend it for readers as young as 13, depending on the reader’s maturity.

I finished this book on April 2, 2013. I rated it on Goodreads with intention of returning to leave a review, and then…stuff happened. It was nine months ago, I don’t even remember what the stuff was. Pathetic. Truly pathetic. Anyhow, I received this book from Crescent Moon Press in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Ascendant, by Rebecca Taylor

ascendantCrescent Moon Press
Release Date: June 2013
YA Paranormal

When I was twelve, my mother disappeared. I was the first person to never find her.
I’m sixteen now and she has never been found, alive or dead.
I’m not the girl I should have been.

When Charlotte Stevens, bright but failing, is sent to stay at her mother’s childhood home in Somerset England her life is changed forever. While exploring the lavish family manor, Gaersum Aern, Charlotte discovers a stone puzzle box that contains a pentagram necklace and a note from her mother—clues to her family’s strange past and her mother’s disappearance. Charlotte must try to solve the puzzle box, decipher her mother’s old journals, and figure out who is working to derail her efforts—and why. The family manor contains many secrets and hidden histories, keys to the elegant mystery Charlotte called mom and hopefully, a trail to finding her.


Charlotte Stephens is an orphan. Sort of. Her mother’s been missing since she was twelve, and because her father, Simon Stevens, is a best-selling author 17 times over, Elizabeth’s disappearance was a tabloid-worthy mystery. Four years later, Charlotte plagiarizes a final paper on Richard II, a play she’s read four times, because she just doesn’t care. This sets into motion a chain of events a teenager wouldn’t anticipate. Her principal notifies Charlotte’s emergency contact, her father’s literary agent, that Simon has shown up to a disciplinary meeting sloppy drunk. Twenty-four hours later, Charlotte is on plane for England to stay with an uncle she’s never met while her father dries out at a detox facility.

There, Charlotte is met at the airport by Gaersum Aern’s caretaker’s children. Caleb is seventeen, and she vaguely recalls him as the boy she kissed behind the dining room curtains when she was seven. Along for the ride is fifteen-year-old, Sophie, a “material girl” who’s recently gotten the pair’s Internet privileges revoked.

Caleb is still in love with Charlotte nine years later, an infatuation that she reciprocates easily once they reconnect in Gaersum Aern’s library. Unfortunately for him, another boy has his sights set on Charlotte. Hayden Wriothesley is sixteen and a second cousin of the king of England. He’s filthy rich, absurdly gorgeous, and very accustomed to getting everything he wants from everyone. He’s arrogant and chauvinistic, and Charlotte despises him. Here she is torn in three directions. Her heart wants Caleb. Her mind wants to figure out her mother’s mysteries. And, her body responds to Hayden’s advances, making it very hard to say no when she should.

I suppose now is a good time to mention that’s she’s stumbled ass-over-teakettle into a conflict between orders of Freemasons. By the time she realizes the role she plays, it’s far too late to turn tail and run.

Ascendant is a wonderful YA paranormal tale set in the tapestry of rural England, among old wealth estates, and includes ancient symbols, secret societies. It is driven by naiveté and teen angst on the surface, ancient tradition beneath, and between the two, the consequences of one family’s choice to save face at the expense of an illegitimate child ripple across decades, leaving tragedy in their wake.

Ascendant would fit at home on a shelf with Rebecca Hamilton’s The Forever Girl series, Rebecca Trogner’s The Last Keeper’s Daughter. There are some sexual situations, including kissing and partial nudity. I would recommend it readers over the age of 13 who are fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, and/or the YA Paranormal Romance.

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★★
About My Book Reviews

Excerpt: The Puppet Spell, by E.L. Adams

puppet spell coverWe’d only been at our new house five minutes and, predictably, Lucinda had already run off.

Throughout the journey, she had complained nonstop about how unfair it was that we were moving again, that she preferred our old house and that she’d be going back there today whether anyone else was living there or not. I’d heard it a million times before, and even Uncle Devon turned up the car radio to muffle her complaints.

‘For heaven’s sake, Lucinda,’ he said. ‘You’re fifteen, not five. Stop being so dramatic.’

Lucinda ignored him, as usual, and continued to mutter to herself, casting dark looks at the rows of houses we passed. They looked like cardboard cut-outs, all identically tall and narrow, like lines of blunt pencils. Everything around us was grey, as if someone had forgotten to add colour to the picture. It matched Lucinda’s mood perfectly.

We drove round in circles for at least an hour before Uncle Devon finally spotted the sign that read ‘Ivory Crescent’. I felt like making a sarcastic comment as he parked the car, but Lucinda got there first.

‘Well, isn’t this wonderful,’ she said, looking around disdainfully, like a queen who’d just been relocated to the slums. ‘I thought the last place was bad enough.’

For the last couple of months, we’d lived in what you might call a ‘rough area’. It was pretty bad, even by our standards. On one occasion, someone had even lobbed a brick through our window. However much Lucinda might complain now, I knew she was as relieved as I was that Uncle Devon had announced the move. Even if it was barely a ten-minute drive away from the estate.

‘Let me guess, you’ve forgotten which one it is,’ she said, as Uncle Devon studied the row of dilapidated terraced houses in front of us. Weeds were the only plants in the run-down gardens, and rubbish bags were scattered everywhere, spilling their contents onto the pavements. The smell of rotting food pervaded the air, making us wrinkle our noses in disgust. Even the lamp-posts looked like they were wilting on the spot, drooping like old men over the cracked paving stones.

Uncle Devon fitted right in here. Even when dressed in his best he always seemed dishevelled. He had the appearance of a bedraggled mop, with his curly greying hair and narrow face, and always wore the same grubby faded jeans and a t-shirt the same colour as the pavement.

‘It’s definitely one of these,’ he said, frowning.

Lucinda gave one of her famous melodramatic sighs as I spotted our cat, Spider, sitting on a doorstep. At his feet was a chipped plate bearing the number ‘27’; it had clearly fallen off the wall.

Looking relieved, Uncle Devon pushed open the gate. Spider yawned, in a way that said It’s about time. I’ve been waiting ages for you.

‘That cat,’ I said, ‘is psychic. How many times is this now that he’s found our new house before we have?’

‘I brought him here in the removal van,’ said Uncle Devon, by way of an explanation.

I wasn’t convinced. Spider seemed to have a better memory than Uncle Devon, let alone other cats. I knew that cats could have an amazing sense of direction, but Spider’s nose was like a tracker dog’s.

At that moment a water balloon flew out of an upstairs window. It hit Uncle Devon right on the head, drenching him from head to toe, and splattering me and Lucinda. Laughter echoed from above.

Lucinda let out a shriek. ‘There’s someone already in there!’

‘It’s just the students,’ said Uncle Devon, shaking water from his hair like a dog. ‘You know, the ones who live in the upstairs flat. They’re nice enough, they just enjoy a joke.’ All the same, he cast a disgruntled glance at the window above, from which laughter was still issuing. ‘I’ll have a word with them,’ he said.

‘We’re living with them?’ said Lucinda, with an expression of horror. ‘You’ve got to be joking. I don’t see why we have to share a house with other people anyway.’

‘Luce, we’ve talked about this,’ said Uncle Devon. ‘I told you, this is a one-off. As soon as I start earning more we’ll find somewhere else.’

‘You always say that,’ said Lucinda. ‘It’s a lie, as usual. I’m not living here.’

She stalked off, heels clacking on the uneven pavement

‘How’s she supposed to find her way back? The place is a maze,’ I said to Uncle Devon. I too wasn’t entirely thrilled with the idea of being hit by projectiles every time I stepped out the front door.

He grimaced. ‘How far will she get in those ridiculous platform shoes? I tell her, but she does insist on wearing them. Come on, we need to start unpacking. She’ll find her way back – or she’ll call me to come and get her.’

He was right, of course; Lucinda always made a scene like this. We got on with unloading the car.

The hallway was carpeted in threadbare green rugs. A wooden door at the far end led into a small, dingy living room that smelt of old furniture. Like those in the hallway, the walls were off-white and unembellished, the paint flaking away in places like dead skin. There were three armchairs grouped around a fireplace, and another door at the back opened onto the kitchen.

‘Our rooms are up here,’ said Uncle Devon, opening another door. He heaved the suitcases he was carrying up a staircase that curved around a corner.

My new bedroom wasn’t the shabbiest I’d seen. True enough, it wasn’t much bigger than a cupboard, but as long as it was habitable I was happy. Lucinda would doubtless find fault with everything from the curtains to the wallpaper, but I was fairly certain that she’d find something lacking even if there were gold taps and marble floors.

I threw down my bags on the bed by the window and went to help Uncle Devon unload the rest from the car.

I’d long since mastered the art of unpacking swiftly and ruthlessly – anyone standing nearby risked being hit in the face by a book or DVD. In ten minutes half the shelves and one chest of drawers were filled. Uncle Devon set up the computer in the corner, a job only he could do since I was clueless about technology.

I made sure to put my scrapbook right at the back of a drawer, hidden under a pile of magazines, first checking to make sure nothing was out of place. The last time Lucinda had decided to ‘have a look’, all my postcards had ended up completely jumbled. I hadn’t spoken to her for a week afterwards, more out of principle than anything. It was hardly an artistic achievement, just a collection of pictures of places I’d never been to. Marlon and I had always planned to travel the world. There wasn’t any hope of getting as much as a short holiday at the moment; what little money Uncle Devon made went on rent.

On cue, my phone vibrated. A message from Marlon:

‘Hey Lexa :) Have you moved in yet?’

‘Just finished unpacking,’ I typed.

‘Cool. You still OK for me to come over tomorrow?’

‘Sure.’

‘What’s your new address again?’

’27 Ivory Crescent. I wouldn’t memorise it, we’ll probably move again in a month. See you tomorrow. :)’

All in all, I thought, our new house wasn’t too bad, even if it did feel like the hundredth time we’d moved. At least we were no longer living out of suitcases, as we had for a while. When Lucinda and I had lost our parents in a sailing accident when we were seven, our Uncle Devon – our only surviving relative – had turned up at the orphanage to take us in. Before then he’d been a traveller, an elusive figure who came to visit at Christmas every year, bringing with him strange gifts and an oddball sense of humour. Now he was our guardian.

Unlike Lucinda, I thought the whole nomadic-lifestyle-with-an-enigmatic-uncle-guardian thing was pretty cool. Even if he told us absolutely nothing about himself. He never quite fitted in with regular life, and didn’t seem to have any friends. Lucinda forever bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t simply find a normal job and instead worked freelance doing ‘odd jobs’ for people, generally involving computers. He also called himself a researcher, which might have been an excuse for the old books he occasionally brought home.

But I trusted Uncle Devon, in spite of his peculiarities. When I was younger, I’d come up with theories as to his real occupation. Marlon had suggested that he was actually a secret agent, which was amusing to picture seeing as Uncle Devon was the least likely candidate for heroics.


Click here to view E.L. Adams’ Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Excerpt: Earth-Sim, by Jade Kerrion

Author’s note: The world’s a crazy place, isn’t it? Massive floods, deadly plagues, world wars…it makes you wonder, who’s in charge of this place anyway? Let me introduce you to Jem Moran, Kir Davos, and SimOne—the two students and android assigned to manage Earth.

Earth-Sim seamlessly blends popular culture with history, science, and religion. This whimsical and irreverent romp through the history of Earth will charm and entertain as you attempt to decipher just how much is fact and what else is fiction. Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.

This particular scene, which includes Kir’s younger brother, Kav, showcases the source of the kamikaze, the “divine wind” that saved Japan from two Mongol invasions, and the origin of the Black Death.

~*~

Earth-Sim-big

“Did we ever hear back from the Shixar or the Atlante teams?” Jem asked as they walked into the simulation laboratory together.

“No, it’s been quiet. It helps to be a little backwater planet. The Shixar and Atlante are so busy fighting each other on the other side of the universe that we’ve been able to escape their notice. It also helps that we’re technologically primitive. No one wants the hassle of raising toddlers if they can help it. All right, Kav. Remember, hands behind your back. Don’t touch anything.”

“Got it.” Kav laced his fingers behind his back. His eyes were wide, and his head swiveled from side to side as he tried to take in everything.

“It looks like lots of teams are back,” Jem murmured, nodding to another student who passed by them on his way to his own planet.

“I think many teams didn’t even take the week off,” Kir said.

Jem snorted. “Now I feel like a slacker.”

“On the other hand, I feel like I’m giving up two weeks of my vacation, and I’m moderately resentful about it.” Their planet came into view. “Good morning, SimOne.”

“Good morning, Kir. Good morning, Jem. Good morning, Kav.”

“How are things going?” Kir asked.

“Well,” was the android’s succinct reply.

“Let me see. Let me see.” Kav stood over the planet, his fingers interlocked behind his back, and stared down at the blue-white world spinning serenely in space. “Is that the moon?” he asked, as something brushed by his head.

Kir nodded. “Yes, and step back. You’re in its orbital path.”

“What’s that stuff down there?” Kav asked.

Jem leaned in over his shoulder. Her eyes narrowed. “It looks like a fleet of ships.”

Kir leaned in too. “That you can see from up here? That’s got to be a lot of ships.” He whistled low. “I’ve never seen these many ships. It will probably go down in history as the largest naval assault to date.”

“It isn’t going to bode well for that island,” Jem said.

“You’re not intervening?” Kir asked, sounding surprised.

“No. Both countries are somewhat peripheral to my plans. Contrary to what you may think about me, I don’t make every single decision for them. I step in only where it matters.”

Kav suddenly sneezed.

The fleet of ships vanished beneath the violent exhalation of air that tore up the waves. “Oh, no…” Jem choked back a giggle.

“Kav!” Kir shouted.

“What?”

“Cover your nose!”

Fascinated, Jem watched in silence as more ships sailed forth from the mainland; the armada reformed. They were going at it again.

Kav wailed. “I can’t cover my nose. See! My hands are behind my back. I can’t cover my nose with my hands behind my back.”

“Use your hands, damn it,” Kir said.

“You told me not to use my hands in here. I’m gonna sneeze again…I’m gonna…AH CHOO!”

The fleet dissipated. It never reformed.

Jem covered her mouth, the muffled sound trapped between a chortle and a sob. “Oh, God, I can’t watch.”

“Stand all the way back here.” Kir physically picked up his brother and moved him out beyond the asteroid field. “Jem, are you okay?”

She swallowed the chuckle. “It’s so bad. I thought that we’d figured out the art of planetary management, but no, we’re still careening from crisis to crisis.”

“You don’t sound or look mad,” Kir said carefully.

“I’m not. I’m resigned.” She giggled again. “Just imagine how the events must have seemed to that country. A massive armada shows up on your shores, and suddenly, bad weather takes it down. A few years later, another armada shows up, but once again, it’s consumed by bad weather. If that’s not a divine wind, nothing else is.”

“You’re taking this better than I thought you would.”

“Practice,” Jem said with a straight face.

SimOne cut into their easy banter. “Alert. An alien vector was inserted at 35°N, 103°E”

“What?” Jem turned sharply back to SimOne.

“Where did it come from? Who inserted it?” Kir asked.

SimOne stood very straight; she stared at something apparently only she could see. “It came from Kav Davos.”

“Get it out,” Kir ordered.

“Negative. The alien vector cannot be removed.”

“Track it, then. I want to know where it goes. What is it? A humanoid?” Kir asked.

“Negative. It is an enterobacteriaceae.”

“Damn it.” Jem paled. “Give me a population map, SimOne.”

The world map unfurled across the astral screen. The disease spread, flowing out of the heart of Jem’s empire, toward the west and south. Dark patches faded, thinning out, sometimes disappearing completely.

“Oh, my God…” Jem whispered. “They’re dying. They’re dying all over.”


Check out Jade Kerrion’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page for more information.