A Trick of the Light

By Lois Metzger
Published on June 2013
Published by Balzer + Bray
Source: Purchased
Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers—young men— A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they're getting confusing at school. He's losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he's a mess. Then there's a voice in his head. A friend, who's trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that's holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.


When I picked up A Trick of the Light, I have to admit, I was really excited to see that someone was actually talking about male eating disorders. Not to diminish the problem at all, but like sexual assault, society tends to only talk about the female side of things. Anyway, I was glad to see the book existed and was definitely hoping it’d be something I could pass along to the high school english teacher in my life for their classroom library.

As it turned out, I was less enthused when it actually came to reading this book.

There are a few conventions that books generally hold to. One of those has to do with dialogue and the writing thereof. Books, whether they be works of fiction or not tend to have dialogue that looks something like this:

”No, Gertrude, we don’t need a literal truckload of carrots. What would we do with all that anyway?” Juan said as he stared, dumbfounded, at the big rig currently blocking his and the neighbor’s driveways.”


With A Trick of the Light, the presentation of things reads like not only had the author read a great deal of plays, but that someone told them that ‘said’ was the most reprehensible word in the English language and should be avoided at all costs. I’m not even close to joking. From page 6 of the 2013 paperback:

Mike still can’t move, stuck in the stinky tunnel. He thinks, Am I crazy?
Tamio: “Hey, what’s going on?”
Mike: [nothing]
Tamio: “Dude. Say something.”
Mike: “It’s nothing.”


Right from the get go, we’ve got some serious problems. If this were a script, I could adapt. It’d be great. I’d settle in and get immersed in the world and things would have the potential to be awesome. It’s not. I’m not even sure the book knows what it wanted to be when it grew up in the first place. A lifetime movie, perhaps? I don’t know. At this point, I’m really uncertain if I want to know. Wait. No. I don’t. That’s how underwhelming this book is. If it were a good read, I’d probably find myself either a) ignoring the weird formatting or b) finding someone to shove the book at so I could talk about both the content and the presentation.

The book itself is written in first person, but not the main character’s perspective, of course. At first, I thought this was going to be one of those books that’s told by some well-meaning therapist clearly not at all just using an imagined client to make a buck and tell some cautionary tale. No, instead the story is awkwardly told by the voice in the main character’s head. I wish I were making that up. Not only that, but it takes a good twenty pages for that to be made clear. There were a lot of potential ways to go about having a toxic inner voice narrate a book. This could have been done beautifully and instead it was just, frankly, boring. I wasn’t left with any feeling by the time I finished this other than that I’d wasted my time. Several hours and nearly 200 pages later and I found myself somehow even more ambivalent about the characters than I was when I’d begun this journey I had such high hopes for.

A Trick of the Light is preachy and unmemorable. It’s yet another piece of work in the already too extensive catalogue of books written by people who have done their research, yes, but couldn’t seem to form that knowledge into an actual story worth taking the time to read.


Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes ~ Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ By Jaime!


Follow the Tour!


By Stacy Stokes
Published on April 14, 2015
Published by Month9Books, LLC
Source: Publisher
After her best friend orchestrates the lie that destroys her reputation, Taylor wants more than anything to disappear from her life. But when an accident turns this unspoken wish into reality, instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase into the sky.

Instead of going up, the journey plunges her into the past. As she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal, she must face the truth about life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable -- unless the staircase breaks her first.





My Thoughts
 The cover of Where the Staircase Ends is absolutely what drew me to the book in the beginning, then I read the synopsis and there was no going back. I just knew that I had to read this one. In the end, while there were some missing steps, I am happy I did! 

  The story begins with Taylor walking into school, and everyone staring and turning around and whispering with each other, some not meeting her eyes and others glaring. She discovers what the rumor is, and it is horrible, but what makes it so much worse is that it was her best friend, Sunny, who started it. She is angry, and when she sees Sunny in the hall surrounded by their friends, she thinks about hitting her. But when Sunny comes over to her, with her eyes shining, she thinks she might get an apology, Instead, she gets her heart broken. All Taylor wants at that point is to not exist. A few days later, she gets her wish.

 Taylor ends up standing in front of a staircase that reaches into the sky, seemingly never-ending. She cannot turn back, not even her head, so she has no choice but to climb. As she climbs, higher and higher, she encounters "ghosts" from her life. Some of them, she wants to see, to hold on to. But others, she wishes would just go away and leave her alone for good. But on the staircase, what she wants only matters a little bit. So she starts a journey, through memories the ghosts bring, of the events leading up to Sunny's betrayal. What revelations will Taylor have, what secrets might she see? Will she realize her own part in what happened in her life, or will she close her heart to it, and to forgiveness? This is Taylor's journey.

 I really enjoyed the story, but there was a while there at the beginning that I struggled to relate to Taylor. One of the biggest issues for me was the feeling that the book was written for a younger YA crowd. The characters seemed very young, even though they were 16 or so years old. Being in my 30's, I struggled relating to any of them. The pacing was also a little slow. However, as the book progressed, I found myself getting more involved in the story, and the memories Taylor relived. The book took on a more serious tone, and picked up steam, and Taylor struggles became something I could relate to. By the middle, it had hit its stride and from then on it was smooth sailing. 

 Taylor was a good character, and by the end I really cared about her. She was broken, and confused, and I completely understood.The journey that she made was not an easy one, and it was handled well. It was believable, her reactions.  Sunny was a humdinger, though. Wow, she was not the best BFF. But the staircase showed things that made me understand Sunny more, and she redeemed herself in my eyes. The love interests in the story were both very different. One definitely out did the other, and I like the result of the triangle, of sorts. 

 Where the Staircase Ends is a thought-provoking, often heart-breaking, joyful and emotional roller coaster of a book. Despite the issues that I had, by the time I finished the last page, there were tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. I would absolutely recommend it to the younger YA crowd. To the older YA crowd, and the not even close to YA crowd like me, I would say to give it a chance. It might not seem like it is your kind of story in the beginning, but if you keep going with it, the payoff is definitely rewarding!

About the Author


Stacy Stokes attended the University of Texas at Austin and The Wharton School of Business.  She grew up in Dallas, TX, and currently lives in San Francisco with her husband.  WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is her first novel.


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Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep ~ Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ By JAIME!





Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)
by Jennifer Estep
Publisher: K-Teen
Release Date: April 28th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Rate: 4 1/2 Stars! LOVED it! 

Synopsis:

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power. 

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick. 

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .



  This is my first book by Jennifer Estep, but I can promise it will not be the last! With a rich, magical world and wonderfully written, and relate-able characters, Cold Burn of Magic was a genuinely great read and I look forward to jumping right into the sequel! 

   Lila lives in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, the most magical of towns, and THE tourist mecca of the world. There are monsters, and magic everywhere you turn. Tourists flock the town in droves, but they don't realize the true dangers lurking behind the scenes. They come to see the wild monsters, and visit the museums, and possibly see some magic. Normal rube behavior, as Lila would say.

   But Lila has magic, very special magic, and she knows the truth about the town she lives in. The town ruled by the magical families, the Draconi's and Sinclair's being the worst. They are ruthless, and Lila has suffered their cruelty first hand. Lila has learned how to survive on her own. She picks pockets, and does heist jobs for Mo, a pawnshop owner and her closest friend. She lives in the basement of a library, and she has learned to take care of herself. And she is good at it. One day while visiting Mo to get paid for a job, three members of a Family come in and while they are there an assassination attempt is made. Against her better judgement, Lila chooses to jump into the fight. That one action changes everything about Lila's life, and may change Lila herself.

  Lila was  A FANTASTIC character. Tough and spunky, sarcastic and snarky, she is my type of MC. She is very closed off in the beginning, and it was nice to see her learning to let others in. Devon was a really great character, kind-hearted and fierce, loyal to a fault. Each and every one of these characters, from Felix and Mo, to Oscar the Redneck Pixie and his pet Tiny the Turtle, were very well written characters. They stood out on their own, and held their own against the two main characters. 

  The world-building was fantastic. I loved learning about the Families, the different types of magic and all of the monsters that inhabit Cloudburst Falls. The structure of the families was interesting, and the dynamic between them was so strained, you could feel it through the pages. The plot was fast-paced, there is fighting and feuding, hidden magic, murder and mayhem. With a little possible, HOPEFULLY romance thrown in for good measure! 

  I thoroughly enjoyed Cold Burn of Magic. I can't wait to see where the next story goes! I would absolutely recommend this one to anyone who loves magic and monsters and characters you can't help but love!







Follow the Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.






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Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
Her Elemental Assassin series follows the life and times of Gin “the Spider” Blanco, a barbecue restaurant owner who also happens to be an assassin with magical control over the elements of Ice and Stone.
The Mythos Academy series focuses on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. She studies at Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors.
Her Bigtime paranormal romance books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love.
Estep’s new Black Blade series is about 17-year-old thief Lila Merriweather, who has a Talent for sight, along with the ability to take magic others used against her to boost her own powers. She tries not to get involved with the Families who control much of the town, but ends up in the middle of a potential turf war.






Crimson Bound

By Rosamund Hodge
Published 05 May 2015
Published by Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.


 Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night? 


Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption. 


(This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.)


I loved this book.  It had the same "style" as Cruel Beauty.  So much so that I am not surprised that they had to put a disclaimer on the synopsis that it is in a different universe.  They are easily put together without a second thought. 


I was very annoyed by Rachelle at the beginning- the beginning of the story was choppy and left out many details (much like parts of Cruel Beauty), but as the story transitioned to an adult Rachelle, the story flowed better.  This book read like a traditional high fantasy novel- and I loved it!


 I don't want to ruin any surprises but I will say, even if you didn't enjoy Cruel Beauty- you should pick this book up.  The writer has developed her style more and I found this one to be even better than her first offering.

Me on the Floor, Bleeding

By Jenny Jägerfeld
Published on July 2014
Published by Stockholm Text
Source: Purchased
High school outsider Maja would never hurt her¬self on purpose as her dad, teachers, and classmates seem to believe. Can't a person saw off the tip of her thumb without everyone starting to worry? That is, everyone except Maja's mum, who seems to have disappeared from the face of earth.

Crashing a neighbor's party, Maja meets twenty-year-old Justin Case, a super-verbal car mechanic with pink pants, who makes her forget everything about absent mothers and sawn-off thumbs, at least temporarily. But then Maja hacks into her father's e-mail account and reads an e-mail that hurts more than all the electric saws in the world.

In this funny and clever coming-of-age novel, seventeen-year-old Maja describes each moment with such bare-bones honesty that one can't help but be drawn into her world. Wise beyond her years yet still surprisingly naïve, her story is entertaining and enlightening, at turns both hilarious and bittersweet.


This book, you guys. Okay, so full disclosure: In my every day life, I spend a good deal of time working with power tools. It's an awesome thing I love doing, and I would encourage you to learn how to do such things safely if you're into that sort of thing. Building stuff is fun, but like anything with sharp pointies (or even worse, dull pointies,) you've gotta be careful. End disclosure.

From a professional standpoint, I found myself really confused as to how this girl managed to accidentally trigger the lock on her saber saw and why her instructor wasn't actually keeping an eye on someone who clearly wasn't trained on this tool very obviously unsafely using it. That really, really colored my impression of the MC for the entire book. I couldn't let it go. I'm both sorry and not.

The rest of the book? It's a thing that happens. It's not great, but it's not awful. It's one of those pieces that stays steadily down the middle road. Part of it is that the MC is so detatched from her own experiences that it's hard to get lost in what's happening. If the MC keeps professing that they don't care, then why should the reader?

The plot itself is decently done, though I think that there were some definite nuances that were lost in translation here, a kind of cultural barrier that wouldn't have been in place if one were reading it in its original Swedish. That said, it does raise some issues that both deal with certain stigmas and the difficulties inherent in having a family that's split between two homes in two different cities. I would recommend this book on the conditions that the reader remembers that they're reading a translation and so it's not going to be perfect and that they ignore the word 'hilarious' in the summary. This is a cynical, almost desperate (and yes bittersweet) look at someone's life that at no point had me even thinking about laughing. If you're in the right frame of mind to be reading something like that instead of expecting something else, then yes it's a good book. If you're not, it's going to be a slog that has you wishing at points that you hadn't already committed yourself to finishing.


Jaime's The Violet Hour by Brynn Chapman ~ Release Celebration Blitz & Giveaway (Prism Book Tours!)


Through Prism Book Tours.


We're celebrating the RELEASE of 
The Violet Hour
By Brynn Chapman

Check out the book and author info, exclusive excerpt, and enter the giveaway below...



The Violet Hour
Brynn Chapman

YA Romantic Historical Fantasy
ebook, 209 Pages




Secrets.

Allegra Teagarden, a musical prodigy, flees her father’s dominance and abuse while touring in pre-civil war Charleston, South Carolina. Plagued by depression over her mother’s suicide during their previous visit, she escapes in an effort to piece together the details behind her mother’s mysterious demise.

Secrets.

Down to her final coin, Allegra happens on Charleston’s Fancy, the first southern amusement park, which is searching for musicians for its orchestra. At first, the park seems her salvation; but she quickly realizes she has traded the dominance of her father, for the even more terrifying madness of the owner, Silas.

And more secrets.

Allegra meets the dashing Brighton LeFroy, Fancy’s engineer and pyrotechnics master. His shabby clothing cannot conceal the brilliant mind beneath. The musician’s whisper he is a witch, is obsessed with storms, and is rumored...to fly. And despite the danger, despite her own misgivings, Allegra is inexplicable drawn to him.

She ventures to his reclusive home on Fire Isle during a thunderstorm and together they seek to unravel an ancient mystery.

Exclusive Excerpt


     LeFroy stares out the window, his brow creased in thought. He remains statue-still, as he has for the past quarter hour, oblivious to the late afternoon sun that bathes his face in a beautiful golden-amber.
     I stare intently, reveling in the rare opportunity to drink in his features.
     His dark curly hair is in need of a cutting and his thin lips turn down as he absently bites the side of his nail, lost to himself. He is not a classic beauty—but the singularity of his face demand’s attention.
     Not all women would swoon for him. But something about him draws me…makes him utterly irresistible.
     The warmth on my chest again. Almost hot this time. I struggle not to look down my dress to examine what I imagined to be an inevitable rash, but all I see is the Magnolia pattern—the patch on my dress, lovingly sewn by my mother’s hand.
     I banish the thought. I shall not think on her now.
     Brighton clears his throat, driving away my mother’s ghost and I struggle for words. When he regards me, my tongue seems to shrivel in my mouth.
     It is his eyes. They…speak. Sometimes whisper, sometimes shout.
     They now squint, as whatever vexing scenario playing on his mind continues to dominate his demeanor. He doesn’t move. Doesn’t speak.


About the Author



Brynn ChapmanBorn and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.

She also writes under the pseudonym R.R. Smythe .




Release Blitz Giveaway


$10 Amazon Gift Card, ebook of The Violet Hour, and Bracelet with: "Well behaved women seldom make history." - Eleanor Roosevelt 
Open internationally (bracelet to US entrants only)
Ends April 21st

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Prism Book Tours

Jaime Reviews ~ Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

By Alex Bell
Published on January 5, 2015
Published by Stripes Publishing
Source: Netgalley

We're waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind...Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there's her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn't be there. The girl that died. 


My Thoughts

  Chills and thrills are par for the course with Frozen Charlotte! The story was a fast-paced one, with intriguing characters, and a thrilling, mysterious vibe. 

  After downlaoding a Ouija board on his phone, and asking it when he would die, Sophie's best friend accidentally drowns on his way home from hanging out with her. Sophie is grieving, and decides that her previous plans to go see her extended family might be the best way to figure out what happened to him that night. To prove something supernatural was at work, and hopefully gain clarity and closure, for herself and him. What she doesn't expect is a broken family, with problems of their own. Sophie is taken on a journey with creepy dolls, an overly friendly cousin, a mean cousin, and a young cousin who sees her dead sister, and is deathly afraid of bones. Will she make it out of here, and back home, alive?

  My only issues witht the story were the missing horror elements thatI look for, and some things were a little predictable. All in all, a solid thriller, with a little mystery and attempted murder! I would recommend Frozen Charlotte as a "starter horror"!

  Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for allowing me access to Frozen Charlotte!

3 Stars!


Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

By Meg Medina
Published March 2013
Published by Candlewick
Source: Purchased
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.


As I've mentioned before (or will mention in future depending on the order my reviews go up,) I have a High School English Teacher in my life. So, I spend a lot of time actively seeking out books that would be decent for her classroom library and aren't your standard white protagonist since kids should absolutely be exposed to literature about and by people who reflect the diverse cultures the world actually has and not just white people problems. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is a book that is absolutely going to make it into the pile of things that I send to the HSET in my life.

This book is a well told story that hooks you in and will not let go until it's finished. It deals with poverty, internalized racism, bullying in the 21st century, misogyny, and some of the many reasons why bullied kids refuse to actively seek help until things have gone too far. I wholeheartedly recommend it. If I weren't already set on shoving this book into the hands of HSET, I'd probably be trying to shove it at you through my monitor. More people need to read this book. Meg Medina needs to write more books, because Representation Matters and she does it with beautiful complexity.



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