Whatcha Reading Wednesday

Sowing

I am up to my eyeballs in edits and re-writes for my next book release, and that means the time I have to read an ebook is drastically reduced.

Hopefully, I will have some time this holiday weekend to get a few chapters in.

You can follow my progress through Sowing on Goodreads.

If you would like to follow my own writing journey, you can sign up for my newsletter, or check out my author blog.

The Battlemage, by Taran Matharu

Battlemage_1

Title: The Battlemage

Author: Taran Matharu

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Teen and Young Adult, Science Fiction and Fantasy

Format: ebook, Paperback, Hardback, audio

Rating: 4 Lattes

Heat Level: Light Roast

Blurb

Fletcher and his friends fight for survival in the ether, where they pursue a mortally dangerous quest to rebuild their world and broker peace.

Even as hatred threatens to turn friend into foe in The Battlemage, Fletcher must lead a small army of soldiers into battle to protect his ancestral homeland, and face his biggest challenge yet: his nemesis, the albino orc, Khan, who seeks to destroy everything Fletcher holds dear.

Review:

First impression.

(I LOVE THIS COVER! It is my favorite of the four. I can’t wait to add it to my collection.)

I jumped right into this one when I finished The Inquisition because I couldn’t stand the suspense! I had many questions and I am not sure all of them have been answered.

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

I am not usually a fan of multiple battle scenes and tend to scan them, but the author did a great job maintaining an emotional connection to the characters throughout the action. The first part of the story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once.

The way Fletcher and the people of Pelt worked together with the dwarves to begin rebuilding his family home solidified a lot of the characters and gave them time to unify before the battle. Funny thing though – because I was listening to the book via audio, I thought the old knight’s name was Sicaulda, not Sir Caulder through the entire series.

I was at about 90% when I started to realize there were not enough chapters. The thick of battle was still going on, and I had a feeling things were not going to be wrapped up in a neat bow. I was right. The battle ran all the way to nearly the last page and a brief epilogue left me wanting TONS more answers.

What happened to Ignatius and Athena? What does Fletcher’s mother remember? Why didn’t Fletcher offer to help Sylva? Why didn’t he tell her how he felt about her? What is Burdon going to do? Are they going to make a market for the ebony?

After taste.

I loved the story, and the author created a world I fell in love with, but the end of the series left a lot of open ended story lines, and left me feeling like the story is incomplete. That is why this book got 4 stars instead of 5. I was completely invested in the character lives, and have no idea how they really are at the end. The orcs are defeated, but….I don’t know. Maybe I’m being selfish, but I almost feel cheated. Not a good way to end the series.

Overall impression.

This is an excellent young adult epic fantasy series. I would recommend it to any parent who wants to introduce their kids to a fantasy world.

About the Author

Matharu, Taran

Taran Matharu is a New York Times bestselling author. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’.

Thanks to Wattpad.com and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months.

After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

Purchase links:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

 

Sowing, by Angie Grigaliunas

Sowing.jpg

I met Angie through a Facebook group about a year ago, and have followed her posts as she has written this series. We recently met at a local Christian writer’s group, and she is as engaging and creative in person as she is online.

I was able to purchase a signed copy of Sowing, but since I don’t actually READ my signed paperbacks (no touchy touchy!), I picked up the Kindle version also. I’ve been looking forward to reading this series.

As always, you can follow my progress on Goodreads!

The Inquisition, By Taran Matharu

 

 

InquisitionTitle: The Inquisition

Author: Taran Matharu

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Genre: YA, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Epic

Format: Ebook, Audio, Hardcover, Paperback

Rating: 5 Lattes

Heat Level: Light Roast

Blurb:

A year has passed since the Tournament. Fletcher and Ignatius have been locked away in Pelt’s dungeons, but now they must face trial at the hands of the Inquisition, a powerful institution controlled by those who would delight in Fletcher’s downfall.

The trial is haunted by ghosts from the past with shocking revelations about Fletcher’s origins, but he has little time to dwell on them; the graduating students of Vocans are to be sent deep into the orc jungles to complete a dangerous mission for the king and his council. If they fail, the orcish armies will rise to power beyond anything the Empire has ever seen.

With loyal friends Othello and Sylva by his side, Fletcher must battle his way to the heart of Orcdom and save Hominum from destruction . . . or die trying, in this sequel to The Novice by Taran Matharu.

Review:

First impression:

These COVERS! The artwork is amazing, and I can’t wait to add the hardbacks to my collection.

At the end of The Novice, I was eager to find out what happened after Fletcher was captured and jumped into book two right away. I was surprised that a whole year had passed, and when the trial started, I was intrigued by all the revelations about his past and what had happened while he was in prison. While I want very much to believe the young king, I was left wondering what other ways he would use Fletcher and his friends to achieve his own goals.

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

I knew the little blue gremlin would come into play later in the story, but I wasn’t prepared for the turn the orc backstory took with the appearance of Mother. I am interested to see how her revelations play out in the next books.

Fletcher’s growth as a team leader wasn’t as dramatic as I hoped. His character arc has remained fairly constant other than the revelation of who his parents really are. The intrigue around who the saboteur on the mission was kept me guessing, and I did not suspect the culprit until he was revealed. The way Fletcher kept the team moving despite the distrust among them was admirable, but I felt it was more a testament to who the other characters were than his leadership.

What I am finding I truly love about this series is the interaction the characters have with each other, and the world building is absolutely wonderful. I can envision the settings easily, and the personalities of the demons are interesting and unique. As I think about it, they might be my favorite part of the whole series.

I am quite interested to know what is going on between Fletcher and Silva. I ship it! And based on his growth spurt after the swim in the lave and the cover image for book three, I am guessing little Ignatius is about to surprise everyone.

After taste:

I am enjoying the world the author has created and I’m looking forward to finishing the series to find out what happens to our brave Summoners!

This is a fantastic series for younger YA Fantasy readers. Lots of action, a good moral undertone, and great characters.

About the Author

Matharu, Taran

Taran Matharu is a New York Times bestselling author. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’.

Thanks to Wattpad.com and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months.

After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

Purchase links:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

The Inquisition, by Taran Matharu

The Inquisition

I am loving this one just as much as the first. (Check out my review of The Novice.)

AND – I am incredibly disappointed I can’t make it to Flint, MI tomorrow to meet him during his US tour. What an incredible opportunity it would be! For a list of his tour dates in the states, check out his Facebook Page.

I did however, manage to score some Summoner swag by pre-ordering the series prequel, The Outcast. I also ordered a signed copy that I can’t wait to get. I kinda wish I would have requested a second set of the cards because I won’t be opening these. I’ll store the sealed set with the hardback set of books once I have them.

IMG_1918

Do you pre-order books when cool swag is offered?

Don’t forget to follow my progress on Goodreads!

Silent Harmony, by Michele Scott

 

 

Scott, Michele SILENT HARMONY

Title: Silent Harmony

Author: Michele Scott

Publisher: Skyscape

Release Date: May 28, 2013

Genre: Young Adult, Horses, Peer Pressure

Format: ebook, audio, paperback

Rating: 4 Lattes

Heat Rating: Light Roast

 

Blurb:

Small town seventeen-year-old Vivienne Taylor is a talented equestrian with Olympic dreams and a little something extra going on—she is also an “equine empath,” someone who has the ability to read horses’ minds and moods. When she receives a full scholarship to attend Fairmont Riding Academy, a prep school with a famous riding program, she struggles with homesickness, hazing by the school’s snooty drama queen, intense competition in the sport of three-day-eventing, and the not-altogether-unwelcome interest of a hot guy. On top of all of that the horse given to Vivienne via the scholarship is an animal that she cannot “read” or understand. When Vivienne learns that her new horse Harmony belonged to the school’s vet, who recently died in a freak accident, she senses that the horse’s aloof behavior may be the result of her witnessing this accident. But as a connection begins to unfold between Vivienne and Harmony, Vivienne begins to believe that the vet’s death was no accident at all–but rather murder–and she resolves, at considerable peril, to track down the killer.

Review

First impression:

I had to get about a quarter of the way into this book before I felt connected to Vivienne. The story felt very young YA at first, and I wasn’t sure it was going to be good read for me. BUT – I am glad I stuck with it. The last quarter of the book moved it from a three latte read to a four.

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

Initially, it was my curiosity about Riley that kept me reading, but then I was nearly put off from that when his (and Tristan’s) POV was written in third person while the rest of the book was with Vivienne in first person. It was a jarring transition. (This is the writer in me that had a hard time with this, so take that for what it is worth.) It was nice to get a smattering of the boys’ POV, so once I got used to the change, it didn’t bother me as much.

What I loved was the way Vivienne NEVER backed down from who she was. She went from being a small town girl with not much to her name, to living among the high society of the horse world. But she didn’t try to fit in with them. She was comfortable in her own skin right from the beginning, and didn’t have to make the journey of trying to be something she wasn’t. I LOVED that about the book.

I also appreciated how they boys were boys, and stayed out of the mean girl drama. Riley obviously had his own reasons for keeping away from the girls, and I was so proud of Tristan for finding a way to stand up to the pressure his girlfriend was putting on him.

And – being a horse lover and former eventer myself (in my MUCH younger days!), I truly enjoyed the interaction between Vivienne, Riley, Tristan, and their horses.

After taste.

This is a young YA who-done-it with some great lessons about being true to yourself and trusting your instincts.

Overall impression.

I have no idea if or when I will read the next book, but I would recommend it to young horse lovers and fans of super sweet romance.

About the Author:

Scott, Michele

Michele grew up thirty minutes east of San Diego in an area called Jamul. It was out there in the country that her parents bought Michele’s first horse and she learned how to ride at five. At nine years old she knew she loved to write and one day wrote a short story that she showed to her dad. She’d written it on one of his legal pads. After he read it, he looked at her and said, “You are a writer.” With those words spoken, she’s never stopped writing stories.

She graduated from The University of Southern California with a degree in communications, where she studied journalism and hoped to be a reporter. But deep down inside, she’d never given up on being a fiction author. Fate intervened and during Michele’s senior year at college she became pregnant with her first son who was born six weeks prematurely. She had to stay home with her newborn who needed constant care and it was at that time she decided to write her first book.

She contacted Writer’s Digest and ordered their correspondence course on writing a novel. For ten years Michele kept writing, submitting, attending conferences and workshops and receiving rejections but never giving up.

Finally in March 2004, Jessica Faust at Bookends signed her as a client. One month later Michele received THE CALL from Jessica telling her that she had a publisher—Berkley Prime Crime, and that they wanted to sign her for three books in The Wine Lover’s Mystery Series. “It was surreal, wonderful and a dream come true when my agent called and told me. That night my husband and I got a really nice bottle of Champagne and celebrated.” Then in December that second call came in about The Equine Mystery Series.

Michele has written eight mysteries for Berkley and is currently working on her first women’s fiction novel, which will of course involve wine and probably a horse or two.

Michele writes full time now and lives in San Diego with her very supportive husband, two sons and daughter.

Purchase links:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Currently Reading

CR Silent Harmony (1)

I picked this one up because…well…horses!

I am listening to the audio and it is wonderfully produced and the writing is tight.

However, I think it might be a little too YA for me. I am at 13% and I’m just not all that connected with Vivienne’s character. The story is well written, it just might not be for me.

We shall see.
You can follow my progress on Goodreads.

What are you reading today?

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

 

Thirteen Reasons Why

 

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Group

Release Date: June 14, 2011

Genre: Teen and Young Adult, Social and Family Issues, Suicide

Format: ebook, Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

Rating: 5 Lattes

Heat Rating: Dark to Espresso Roast

 

Blurb

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Review:

First impression.
The only real difficulty I had with the book at first were the descriptions of Clay’s actions. They were inserted at ‘random’ points, sometimes jarringly so, as he listened to the tapes. I suppose it was the only real way to remind you that the whole point was that he was listening and reacting to the story just like you were.

And the effect was impressive. You didn’t get lost in the narration as if someone were telling a story, instead, you were pulled into the emotions and thoughts of Clay as he processed what he was hearing.
What kept me reading (or didn’t).

My husband and I listened to the audio version while on a road trip. We listened to it over the course of two days, the second of which was about 5 hours straight.

I had to request – no, demand – one stop near the middle of the book so I could collect my emotions before listening to the rest.

I knew the context of the book before I started it, which I thought would have prepared me for a heart wrenching read/listen. I was wrong. Having been the victim of what was sometimes severe bullying in school, I was not at all prepared for the emotional impact this story would have on me nearly 30 years after I graduated.

The harder topics in the book (rape, drug and alcohol usage, etc.) were not candy coated, but neither were they presented gratuitously. There was no denying what was happening, how the character felt about the event, or what their reaction was after. To say the emotions in the book are raw would be an understatement.

After taste.

All that being said, I walked away from this end of this book hopeful. Which is good, because there are moments when you absolutely FEEL the hopelessness of all the characters. I was nervous as we got toward the end that the author was going to leave us feeling completely brutalized by the intensity of the story, but at the last moment, the whole story has a purpose, and THAT is what made the emotional wringer of this book worth it.

Overall impression.

I have listened to the audio version twice, and read the ebook.

About the Author:

Asher, Jay

Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.

He has published only one book to date, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was published in October 2007. He is currently working on his second Young Adult novel, and has written several picture books and screenplays. Thirteen Reasons Why has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It also has received high reviews from fellow authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Gordon Kormon.

Purchase links: 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble

#Starstruck, by Sariah Wilson

#Starstruck

 

Title: #Starstruck

Author: Sariah Wilson

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Release Date: January 16, 2018

Genre: Romance, Clean and Wholesome

Format: Ebook, Paperback, Audible

Rating: 2 Lattes

Heat Rating: Light Roast

Blurb:

“You’ve done better.”

With one uncharacteristically sassy tweet to her longtime celebrity crush, Zoe Miller’s life turns upside down. Ultrahot A-lister Chase Covington doesn’t just respond to Zoe’s tweet, he does the unthinkable: he messages Zoe directly. Now she must decide between walking away or meeting her crush in person.

Chase knows better than to trust anyone from the Internet, but Zoe’s saucy challenge has totally caught his interest—and her girl-next-door personality is keeping it. He’s been burned enough to know he needs to keep his heart close. But his feelings for Zoe might be a lot more than just an online flirtation. He just has to convince her

When the press gets wind of Zoe and Chase’s secret relationship, their romance turns into tabloid headlines. Will they be able to hold on to their Hollywood love story?

Review:

I have no idea how or when I picked up this book and the audio. I was looking for something to listen to that I hadn’t yet, and decided to give this one a try.

The audio recording (Brilliance Audio) and narrator (Bailey Carr) for this book were top notch. I would like to hear more of this narrator’s work.

First impression.

I was sure it was going to get a bit cheesy, but the writing is solid, and at first, I REALLY liked Zoe – especially after the way she stood up for her beliefs in class.* One of my favorite things is when a character clearly articulates WHY they choose to behave the way they do. Her words actually made me want to stand up and cheer! I was SO excited to read more about Zoe.

Until she met Chase…

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

What distracted me the most were the over the top descriptions of Zoe’s physical reactions to Chase. I rolled my eyes more than once, and the way she allowed Chase’s early ‘flirtations’ was sort of insulting considering the way Zoe stood up to her class. It completely changed my initial opinion of her, and instead it was Chase who kept me reading.

I wasn’t bothered so much by her lies. It made sense given the storyline. What continued to throw me out of the story was the way her internal dialog didn’t match her verbal responses. Internally she was gushing uncontrollably about being with Chase Covington, but her responses were almost nonchalant, as if being with him didn’t matter one way or the other. I get that the author was trying to let us know that while she was ‘losing it’ internally, she was still cool and collected on the outside, but it didn’t work for me. Instead it felt – disconnected. Probably because the internal dialog was SO over the top.

And all the metaphors…I know it probably isn’t 100% acurate, but it sure felt like every emotion had a metaphor attached to it. *shrug* Maybe I’m in the minority, but it was very distracting from the story itself – which I REALLY wanted to get into.

After taste.

Great premise. Great story. Honestly – great characters. But the overly descriptive writing made this a difficult read and the disconnect I felt with Zoe took the rating down to a two.

Quotes or Highlights:

*This is part of the scene early on in the book that made me want to stand up and cheer. This was the Zoe I expected through the rest of the book.

____
I was well aware of the fact that some second- and third-wave feminists advocated against celibacy, which I found to be highly hypocritical.

“I thought it was interesting that people of our generation have a lower number of sexual partners and are twice as likely to be abstinent as previous generations. Even though we’re being told the only way to be feminist is to sleep around early and often.” I probably shouldn’t have tacked on the last part. The room nearly exploded with competing voices.

“Celibacy is the patriarchy’s way of exerting control over women!”

“Haven’t you ever heard of owning your sexuality?”

“Why aren’t you sex positive?”

It wasn’t so much a discussion as a dog pile. Professor Gonzalez raised her right hand, signaling she wanted quiet. “One at a time, please.”

“I can answer those questions, if you don’t mind. No one controls me. I’ve made up my own mind.” I turned to the next girl who had spoken. “I own my sexuality more than anybody else I’ve ever met. In that it’s totally mine, and I don’t share it with anyone.”

Then to the next woman. “How is celibacy not ‘sex positive’? I’m not slut-shaming or judging anyone else. This is a personal decision that I’ve come to, and I don’t understand why you don’t want anyone telling you what to do with your junk, but for some reason you think it’s okay to tell me what I should or should not do with mine. It is the worst kind of hypocrisy because it’s coming from people who should know better.”

____

About the Author:

Wilson, Sariah

Bestselling author Sariah Wilson has never jumped out of an airplane, never climbed Mt. Everest, and is not a former CIA operative. She has, however, been madly, passionately in love with her soulmate and is a fervent believer in happily ever afters–which is why she writes romance. She has published many happily ever after stories. She grew up in southern California, graduated from Brigham Young University (go Cougars!) with a semi-useless degree in history, and is the oldest of nine (yes, nine) children. She currently lives with the aforementioned soulmate and their four children in Utah, along with three tiger barb fish, a cat named Tiger, and a recently departed hamster that is buried in the backyard (and has nothing at all to do with tigers).

Purchase links:

Amazon