Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley

Rites of Passage by Joy HensleyAppropriate For: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 416 Pages
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Narration: First Person: Sam
Genre: Military/Contemporary
Series: Stand-Alone
Book Trailer: Here

Order On Amazon: Hardcover
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Hardcover and Nook

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

My Review:
Boot camp full of dudes. First girls ever to enroll. Now this...this had entertaining written all over it. I was very close to squealing after I read the synopsis. It was a little out of my usual range of genres, but how exactly do you say no to a synopsis like that? Heck, I was about to grab a bag of popcorn to top it off.

So in the beginning of the story, we're introduced to a girl named Sam. Sam was raised in a military family with a dad who lived and breathed military. He was the type of guy to think that girls were weak and dependent, and because of this, Sam was determined to prove him wrong. Did she ever. I cannot even begin to explain the the utter crap that this girl had to put up with. *Insert nonsensical rambling here* There were an infinite amount of times when I just wanted to knock heads together. Especially Matthews. How I hated, how I excreted disgust from my very pores for this boy. I had to get up and kick air for a few moments, because this guy flipped my bitch switch.

Back to Sam. I had to give her props. I'm used to leading female roles who are strong and fierce because of their magic superpowers, but Sam was relentless through sheer force of will. Like I said, the absolute crap she had to deal was enough to drive any person insane. On top of that, she fought back without ever really fighting back. This is the military. You can't yell at your higher ups because things are unfair or you don't agree with what they're doing. Yet she stood up for herself in the simple fashion of not letting anything phase her. They yelled at her. She nonchalantly did what was asked. But at the same time, she wasn't some unfeeling robot who always triumphed. She had feelings. She had emotions. She endured failures. She almost caved a couple of times under the pressure, but she kept herself together.

However, despite how much I loved her, I also felt like she thought the world revolved around her. When everyone else had issues, she gave it 2 seconds of thought and got over it. These are your supposed friends. They've made mistakes, yeah, but there might be reasons or circumstances why they did. She just jumped to the conclusion that everyone was evil and out to get her. Admittedly, there were an awful amount of people out to get her, but still. Towards the middle to end, very rarely did I see her ask about other people instead of being wrapped up in her own issues. In the beginning, she looked out for her friends, but that sort of just disappeared. I know she had a lot on her plate, but it struck the wrong chord with me.

The romance between Drill and Sam was unique. Unlike many YA stories, it didn't happen straight off the bat. They saw each other a bit; there was that initial physical attraction, but it didn't go anywhere. The romance sparks around the middle of the book. This rushed it to an extent, but it was still nice to see something new. Drill was definitely drool-worthy. I think I fell in love with him myself. Throughout the book, he seems so much older than he actually is. It was nuts. They mention that he's 17 often, but you can't help thinking that he's at least 21 or something. 

When the story started, I literally had my eyes glued to every page. I think that was mostly because I was so excited to see everything go down. It was intriguing to learn about all the military rankings (Kind of got mixed up on those) and all of the traditions and various uniforms. However, the pace started to slow for me around 65%. There were still tons of things going on, but it wasn't as heart-racing as it was in the beginning.

In conclusion, this is a must read. So far, I believe it's still a stand-alone, but Rites of Passage is definitely set up for a series. There are so many things unresolved, relationships open ended, and people who still have karma coming for them. The writing was excellent, the theme unique, the protagonist diverse. Plus, who can skip out on a book with a synopsis like that? Grab the popcorn. This is going to be a good one.

Heroine- 4/5
Romance- 4.5/5
Action- 3.5/5 Tapered off in the middle
World-Building- 4.5/5
Loved learning about the military world
Writing- 4/5
Overall- 4/5

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Blitz + Giveaway: The Expatriates by Corinne O'Flynn

The Expatriates by Corinne O'Flynn

About The Book:
 Add To GoodreadsRelease Date: October 15, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: The Expatriates #1

They told him his world was destroyed.
And they were the last to escape.
They thought he was safe.
They were wrong.

Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but that’s not why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, since someone started hunting all the scholars. Jim is a scholar—someone who can manipulate energy using magic—and he has no idea.

When a message arrives from Jim’s father—who supposedly died twelve years ago—Jim’s whereabouts are discovered, their carnival is attacked, and his mother is kidnapped. On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to save his mother, and discovering the truth about who he is.

But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.

What readers are saying:

"Told in a beautiful, flowing style full of colorful images and adrenaline-pumping action."

"Pop some popcorn, sit back ... and enjoy the thrill ride, right up to the end, which leaves you begging for more."

"Captures your attention from the start and then guides you through a roller coaster of adventure, drama, mystery, magic and young love."

Find The Book: 
Amazon ! Barnes & Noble )

About The Author:

Corinne O'FlynnCorinne O'Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn't trade life in the Rockies for anything. She loves writing flash and experimenting with short fiction. Her novel, THE EXPATRIATES (Oct. 2014) is a YA fantasy adventure with magic and creatures and lots of creepy stuff. She is a scone aficionado, has an entire section of her kitchen devoted to tea, and is always on the lookout for the elusive Peanut Chews candy. 

When she isn’t writing or hanging with her family, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. You can find her online at her website, Facebook, or Twitter @CorinneOFlynn.

Find The Author:

Author Interview:

Tell us about your book.

THE EXPATRIATES is the first book in a new YA fantasy series about a teenage boy, Jim Wales, who discovers his family’s been hiding him in a traveling carnival because he’s being hunted for his powers. 

How would you describe your writing?

I’ve been told my writing is quite visual, and I like to think that’s true. I’m a very visual person and that comes through while I’m at my desk writing because as I build the worlds of my story, I tend to start with visuals in an attempt to bring you into my world, fully in that moment, in that scene. I think all writers want readers to have that immersive experience while reading. And for me, that begins with visuals.

Do you have to plan to write 
or are you constantly jotting ideas and lines down?

A little of both. The only way for me to get work done is to schedule the time on my calendar. My biggest challenge in my daily life is time-competition. We’ve got a lot of balls in the air at our house, and even though I work from home, it’s difficult to stay on task and on schedule with things that can be pushed back. So, while I am always jotting things down and making voice memos for myself as ideas and lines come to me, I won’t get anything done unless I make a plan to write. 

Why do you write?

I write because I love to read. I love reading a story that makes my world disappear, or makes my heart race, or makes my soul ache. I love reading the kind of stories that stick with me, that make me think, and even the ones that are just plain thrilling. I write in an attempt to do that. I have stories inside my own head that transport me in that way, and I think it’s awesome to be able to share that with readers.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Dust by Sarah Daltry

Dust by Sarah Daltry

About The Book:
 Add To GoodreadsRelease Date: November 7, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: The Frost Chronicles #1

Who makes YOUR choices?

Dust by Sarah Daltry“I was once the type of person who was impressed by starlight; the type of person who would dance beneath glass ceilings and let the world swim in its loveliness. The sky reminds me of the parties we used to throw – parties like the one last night. The memories bring back the trill of harps and endless ripples of satisfied laughter. Now, though, when I try to recall what I felt, all I hear is screaming.”

In a world ravaged by war and oppressive forces of evil, a princess must fight to claim her bloodright and save her people.

When the princess, Alondra, falls for the beautiful, blue eyes of a hooded stranger, it awakens in her a taste for freedom and an escape from her duty.

But her parents have other plans; they have a kingdom to protect and Alondra must marry to ensure the peace between nations. Only what happens when your parents choose a cold-hearted assassin as your betrothed?

As lies, illusions, and long hidden vendettas surface, the princess has to confront a very secret history. One that makes her realize that she not only risks losing her liberty, but also everything she has known and loved.

Find The Book: 
Amazon )

About The Author:

Sarah Daltry is a varied author, known best for the contemporary New Adult series, 'Flowering', a six-title series that explores the complexities of relationships, including how we survive the damage from our pasts with the support of those who love us. Although the books are no longer in print, they are being rewritten and redeveloped for future publication. Please visit Sarah's website for more details.

As a former English teacher and YA library coordinator, Sarah has always loved Young Adult literature and 'Dust', an epic fantasy novel where romance blends with the blood and grit of war, is her second official foray into YA, following the gamer geek romantic comedy, 'Backward Compatible'. Most of Sarah's work is about teens and college students, as it's what she knows well.

Sarah's passion in life is writing - weaving tales of magic and beauty. The modern and vast social networking world is an alternative universe that she makes infrequent trips to, but when she does, readers will find her attentive, friendly and happy to discuss the magic of stories and reading. Please stop by and say hello anywhere Sarah is online! You can find these places at

Sarah has moved back and forth between independent and traditional publishing. Her first novel, 'Bitter Fruits', is with Escape, an imprint of Harlequin Australia, and she signed with Little Bird Publishing in the spring of 2014.

Sarah has also written 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' a reimagining of one of her favorite poems in a contemporary setting.

She is an obsessive Anglophile who spends more time watching BBC TV than any human being should, as well as a hardcore gamer and sarcastic nerd.

Find The Author:


Curiosity echoes through the room. No one goes to Challar. We live in a world that does not need history books; stories that we need to know are preserved through the bards and everything else... Well, some things are better left in the past. I know there is much of Anara that has been kept from me, but I always believed my parents and elders when they said the past was buried to save us. Now, though, I feel like a marionette, and I want to know who’s holding the strings.  

“Something’s bothering me,” I tell Seamus. “I can’t explain it, and please don’t ask. But I want to go to see if I can get some questions answered. I planned on going without telling anyone and being back for dinner. Still,” I pause, “I would be happy to have your company.”  

“Sure,” he says. The truce is unspoken, but it’s there. As he said yesterday, I cannot fight my destiny; now at least I have someone to go alongside me.
“Thank you. I’m sorry I can’t say more, but I hope you take comfort in knowing that my asking is…”

He nods. “I understand. Actually, there was something I wanted to say to you before you left, and I suppose now is as good a time as any. You see, Alondra, I… Well, I know that this is challenging for you. I know that our parents strive to think for the future, to establish an alliance that will better both of our kingdoms and Anara as a whole. However, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Seamus,” I start, but he brushes his fingers across my lips and continues.

“I never anticipated that you would love me, but I don’t want to be hated. Not by my wife. I see the way you look at me. I see what you see, and I know what I am. I am prepared to offer you a choice, Alondra. After you depart Demoria, I will not contact you until we return to your kingdom for the engagement ball. When I return to Kooram, I ask that you tell me how you feel then. If you still feel that our marriage would never be more than a punishment, I will publicly ask for a dissolution of the agreement.”

“Your kingdom will blame me,” I argue.

“Although I am an assassin, Alondra, I am also a prince. I know how to affect change with words as well as with a blade.”

I want to reply, to say something, even though I don’t know what words would bubble to the surface. Choices swim in my mind and I try to pull the threads of them apart to see the future lying at the end of each. As I contemplate, Seamus leans over. He gets closer and I realize he is going to kiss me. I don’t have time to decide if that’s okay before a scream rings out from the party below. 

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Honey Queen by Christina Mercer

Honey Queen by Christina MercerAppropriate For: Ages 13 and up
Kindle: 270 Pages
Release Date: May 31, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Narration: First Person: Melaina
Genre: Mythology/
Contemporary Setting
Series: Stand-Alone

Order On Amazon: Paperback
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Paperback and Nook

Goodreads  Website  Twitter

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Love is honey sweet, but it comes with a fatal sting . . .

Melaina Maris needs wings to fly the gap between loving Sam and her family’s ancient curse that forces carnal love and then kills the male lovers. She won’t let the same fate that killed her father befall another. She refuses to allow her goddess-created bloodline to continue. But there’s no easy way out, especially after the curse turns her into the Honey Queen—savior to honey bees—intensifying her charms.

To help her fulfill the curse’s demands in the least harmful way, her grandmother takes her to mate with terminally ill Boyd. But Boyd’s gay. And an expert in mythology. Instead of having sex, Melaina learns how she might summon the goddess who created the first ancestor bee-charmer and cursed her bloodline. Melaina's magic—tears to save honey bees from endangerment—could be enough to persuade the goddess to end the curse. But an unexpected discovery soon changes that hope, spinning Melaina into a swarm of love, friendship and death. 

My Review:
When I first read the synopsis, I was skeptical. Honey bees? Honey Queen? Authors really have to dig deep now to find any YA ideas that haven't already been bled dry. To be honest, I found the idea laughable at first, kind of like the theme of Hungry by Swain, though admittedly not to that extent. Who's ready to get hungry?  However, there was also a part of me that was intrigued, so I decided to give it a try.

Melaina's power over bees stems in Greek Mythology, from a goddess named Aera whose domain lies over honey bees and virginity. In order to shirk her duties as a goddess, Aera created a line of female descendants whose main purpose in life was to tend her honey bees and live out a life of chastity. However, things go awry when the first of her line falls in love with a demigod. They have a daughter, but not without consequences. Angered by the act of love, Aera curses the family. From that day on, the mothers are cursed to have carnal urges for men until they get pregnant and continue the long line of daughters. To make matters worse, the men fall ill soon after and die as soon as the baby is born.

Aera always needs someone to care for her honeybees. For Melaina, that isn't a problem, since it's her passion in life, as it was for her mother, grandmother, and so on. However, another downside of the curse is that if she leaves the honey bees for a long period of time, she eventually withers and dies. Uplifting, isn't it? 

As for Melaina's character, I could never connect with her. She showed compassion and thought of others, but it was all on the surface. I never felt it. Throughout the entire book, her thought processes consisted of, "I hate this goddess," "I really, really like Sam, but I can't be with him, because it'll kill him," "I must seclude myself in misery," "What am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I going to do?" It was irritating to hear the same thoughts over and over again. 

One time, she sees a really hot guy and tries to restrain herself. But then, she thinks, You know what? I can prove to this goddess bitch that I'm above this curse. I'll just kiss him..just a little bit. Then I'll back off, I promise. *Insert eye roll* Like that's gonna happen. You already know that you're raging hormonal, yet you decide to tempt fate anyways? 

The romance wasn't much of a romance. There were some flashbacks of when Melaina and Sam were kids, but that wasn't enough for me to want them to be together. If there were more, perhaps I would've understood their friendship better. The lust curse hit Melaina pretty early into the story, so the conversations between Melaina and Sam consisted of more making out than anything. When they weren't making out, Sam was knocking on the door or basically stalking her, trying to get her to talk to him, which eventually led to more of the aforementioned making out. The depth in their relationship was nonexistent.

Overall, Honey Queen was a superficial story. Things were happening on the surface, but they all felt fake and unreal. I can't even explain it. I give props to the author for the honey bee theme though. It's definitely a breath of fresh air, and Greek mythology is always a good thing. The writing wasn't bad, but the explanations were confusing at times. Perhaps this just wasn't my cup of tea.

Heroine- 2/5
Romance- 2/5
Action- 3/5
World-Building- 3.5/5
Writing- 3/5
Overall- 2.5/5