Spotlight: Sophia Whittemore

First off…I know, I know. It’s been about 2 1/2 months since I have posted anything here, and for that I am deeply sorry. I have two books I’ve read that are waiting to be reviewed, plus other books I need to finish. I have excuses, but they aren’t very good ones, so I’ll spare you. Expect several posts in the near future as I get caught up on my book reviews.

But that’s not why we’re here. I’m excited to spotlight author Sophia Whittemore and her newest release, Reanimate.

Release date: August 25, 2016

reanimate

SUMMARY

The gamblers at the Red Fields call Avery Faro a Monster. I call him my cousin. I know about his secret weapon though, the thing that wins him all those fights. Avery can’t feel anything, not pain, and not love. We aren’t even that close, third cousins, really. But, somewhere along the way, we became closer than that… far too close. Now I think that he’s lost it completely. He’s jealous. He’s possessive. He’s hiding something from me. He calls me his Laurel, only his. But I know there are secrets at the Red Fields. By day, Avery is just a regular schoolboy. By night, he morphs into an underground fighter. How can I save Avery from himself?

How do you defeat somebody who doesn’t even feel?

EXCERPT

Chapter One

            The fist made contact with the left side of my jaw. It should have hurt; it really should have. It should have killed me.

            But it didn’t.

 I blinked away the memories of last night’s fistfight. I had been at the Red Fields, the usual place, and my opponent had been a young man, anxious and thin.

But he had never even touched me…

            See, a few things happen when you get the living daylights beat out of you. Not a lot of people have experienced it firsthand like I have, but let me enlighten you. First, came the point of contact. It was just pressure hitting the side of your face, like pressing a finger against your cheek. Like all other things that I experienced, it never hurt me. Pain was all in your head. I had only been blinded for a little bit before I paused and stared up at the opponent in front of me. I was like a scholar and he was the experiment, ready to be dissected and disposed of. I gave him a blank, deadpan stare. I had no emotion in my eyes. Others told me that, when I got like this, it reminded them of a cadaver. It was like I didn’t have a soul. The other guy hit me, more times than I could possibly count.

            I hadn’t felt a thing.

            And just like that, I was back in the classroom, staring off into space as memories and images flashed into my mind. The words formed a senseless jumble, thoughts that could never be placed. My mind was incomprehensible, a mystery unto my own self. Well, when school got boring like this, all I could think of was the last fight I had. I needed to fight, as badly as any other person needed to breathe. Anything would be better than doing nothing and being force fed facts all day. Even bleeding was more stimulating than rote memorization.

Click…click…click…” Came the sound of the teacher’s heels against the floorboards. The dean taught this class. Where was he, again? I remembered, faintly, hearing something about Shakespeare before I was off daydreaming again…

            I somehow snapped back to reality. I couldn’t let flashbacks from the Red Fields bother me so much. Right now, I had to focus on my inane studies. I had a ninety percent in my Literature class. That was ten percent below perfect. It was ten percent too many. I blinked, rubbing my fingers against my eyes before realizing a thin dribble of blood and drool trailing from my bottom lip. I pressed my fingers against it, completely ignoring the neglected open textbook in front of me. And then I paused and examined the blood. It glittered against the palm of my hands, kind of like rubies.

And just like that, I was back at the Red Fields. My opponent’s fist made contact with my jaw. Was that the exact moment that my lip had split? All I could remember was seeing scarlet and black and blue all at once. That’s the other thing nobody really knows about fights. A person could experience the most beautiful colors when getting pummeled half to death. I stared at my opponent, a solid mass of tissue shielding a beating heart. I could hear his heart beating. And whether the other guy knew it or not, he was afraid of me.

 And if he wasn’t, then he should have been.

            After all, everyone came to fear the monster beneath their beds at some point or another.

sophia-whittmore

About the Author: SOPHIA WHITTEMORE

Sophia Whittemore is a Dartmouth student and multiracial author with an Indonesian mother and a Minnesotan father. She has had book signings at Barnes & Noble for her Impetus Rising Series, available on Amazon and other outlets, the first book published when she was only seventeen. She has been featured as a Standout in the Daily Herald and a Rad Reads author in Girls’ Life Magazine. Her love for the English language manifested itself in eighth grade when she went to the Scripps National Spelling Bee and has continued with other languages such as Spanish and Indonesian. Her prior publications include “A Clock’s Work” in a Handersen Publishing magazine, “Blind Man’s Bluff” in Parallel Ink, and winning multiple awards in the Best Midwestern Writing competition for high school writers. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois with her family and food-loving mini schnauzer called Tiger. Drawing on inspiration from her two cultural backgrounds, Sophia lives a life playing tennis, traveling, and writing about her dual life experiences through other characters in her works or on her blog.

You can connect with Sophia at any of the following links:

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

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Instagram: @authorsophiawhittemore

Blog and Author Website

Purchase Reanimate by clicking on the image above.

And as always, HAPPY READING!

Debut Author Giveaway Hop!

debut author hop

 

Hello, and welcome to your next stop in the Debut Author Giveaway Hop! (or your first stop, if this is, indeed, your first)

My name is Heather Eagar and I am the author of the YA Historical Fantasy, Devil’s Playground. But before I tell you more about that, I’d like to introduce myself a little more.

Heather-11

I move around a ton (usually about once a year) due to my husband still being in school (and possible forever.) BUT I currently reside in Logan, Utah where I attempt to balance my love of writing with raising a husband and two kids. Devil’s Playground is my debut novel, but it will not be my last. I am currently working on the sequel, as well as a YA contemporary novel.

I am not only an author, but I am also a book reviewer and you can find reviews for Middle-grade fiction through Adult novels on this website. My reviews are a bit different in that, not only do I give you a summary and tell you what I thought of the book, but I also give it a content rating for vulgar language, sex, and violence, so you know what you are getting before opening it.

Ok, now for Devil’s Playground. Can I just tell you, it was so much fun to write! It is set during the Salem Witch Trials and many of my characters are people that were involved in the actual trials. But even though there are a lot of historically accurate details, I also had a lot of fun playing with and bending history. So…don’t get too hung up on the details. It’s historical FANTASY after all.

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Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Winters may be a witch, but she doesn’t know the first thing about magic—unless you count accidental bouts of spontaneous combustion. Elizabeth’s father, a wizard himself, has forbidden the use of her powers for her own protection, but when accusations of witchcraft start flying through Salem Village, she wishes she was more prepared.

Despite her lack of magical knowledge, Elizabeth appoints herself to save innocent women from the demise the village has in store for them. Elizabeth finds, however, that she is not the hero Salem needs her to be.

She meant to save them. She cursed them instead.

Want to learn more about me or Devil’s Playground? Awesome! Check out any of the following links:

My Website (You made it here, congrats!)

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Amazon

B&N

Kobo

Smashwords

I-tunes

I have to apologize. That was a TON of links. But I love connecting with new people and would be thrilled if you sent me a tweet, facebook message, etc.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway below for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card  and make sure to check out the other debut authors in the giveaway hop.

HAPPY READING!!!

Enter giveaway HERE!

Click here to view the websites participating in the giveaway hop.

 

 

Review: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

Magruder's

Summary

Kitty Hayward and her mother are ready to experience the spectacles of Coney Island’s newest attraction, the Dreamland amusement park. But when Kitty’s mother vanishes from their hotel, she finds herself penniless, alone, and far from her native England. The last people she expects to help are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities. From con men to strongmen, from flea wranglers to lion tamers, Kitty’s new friends quickly adopt her and vow to help find the missing Mrs. Hayward. But even these unusual inhabitants may not be a match for the insidious sickness that begins to spread through Coney Island…or the panic that turns Dreamland into a nightmare.

Length: 368 Pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Release Date: June 7, 2016.

About the Author:

H.P. Wood is the granddaughter of a mad inventor and a sideshow magician. Instead of making things disappear, she makes books of all shapes and sizes. She has written or edited works on an array topics, including the history of the Internet, the future of human rights, and the total awesomeness of playing with sticks. She lives in Connecticut with a charming and patient husband, a daughter from whom she steals all her best ideas, and more cats than is strictly logical. You can find her at hpwood.net.

Review:

The cover is absolutely stunning for this novel. As soon as I saw it, I didn’t care what the book was about. I had to read it. But also, because of the cover, I had expectations that Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet would be a bit more fantastical than it was. The fact that it wasn’t certainly isn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed it very much, and was pleasantly surprised at the direction the story took. I just wasn’t expecting it.

After reading H.P. Wood’s bio, it is easy to see how she was drawn to the characters she opens the story with. These characters, of course meaning, the “unusuals”. Those who were different, didn’t fit it, and were cast aside. Sometimes they were born with these unusual attributes, and sometimes it came later. But the outcome was the same. They were all termed “freak.”

But the story isn’t one where you spend the whole book feeling sorry for the characters. I loved the diversity of it all. I loved the sense of humor that came with it. And I even loved when these ‘unusuals’ went through tribulations and needed to rely on each other’s unique strengths and gifts. I loved that the ‘normal’ ones, were the ones that didn’t quite fit in. And yet they all had something to offer.

The only thing I struggled with was the pacing at the end of the book. It was nice and steady and then all of the sudden chaos erupts and so much is happening, so fast, and it left me with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.

Even so, all in all, I really enjoyed Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet and am giving it 4 out of 5 Stars.

Content (0 being none and 5 being A LOT):

Language: 3

There isn’t a ton of language, very far and few between actually. But I rated it higher because there are a few uses of the f-word.

Violence: 3

A few fights that aren’t very graphic. One graphic funeral scene at the end caused the rating to go up a notch.

Sexual: 1

A few innuendos, but no sexual situations

Availability:

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet is available both digitally and in paperback. This is definitely one you will want to pick up. Click on the image below for more information.

Happy Reading!!!

Review: Whisper to Me

I know it’s been a little bit since my last review. I was out of town for a few days, which was fabulous, but I am glad to be back! Before I jump into my review for Whisper to Me, I’d first like to announce the winner of my DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND to PRINT GIVEAWAY!!!

The prize for this giveaway will be a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND. For any questions pertaining to this giveaway, please reference the original giveaway post. And the winner is…

Amber Jones!!!

Congratulations!

And now on to today’s book review:

Whisper to Me

SUMMARY

‘I love you. I’m sorry for what I did to you. I’m going to write it all down, explain everything that happened, why I broke your heart, and then I’m going to email it to you. I will be waiting for you at 5 p.m. Friday by the windmill hole at the crazy golf at the Pier where we played once. If you still want me then, when you’re done reading this, come and get me. OK? Consider this the most screwed up love letter ever.’


So begins Nick Lake’s tour de force romance which introduces readers to Cassie, a New Jersey Shore teen who, over the course of one summer, experiences the exhilarating highs of new love, the frightening free falls of personal demons and family tragedy, and the bumps along the way to forgiveness, acceptance, and self-discovery.

Length: 544 Pages

Publisher: Bloombury Publishing

Release Date: May 5, 2016

About the Author

Nick Lake is the much acclaimed author of In Darkness, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award; Hostage Three, which received three starred reviews and was named a Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and Boston Globe Best Book of the Year; and There Will Be Lies. He is also the Publishing Director for fiction at HarperCollins Children’s Books UK. Nick lives near Oxford, England. http://www.in-darkness.org @NicholasLake

REVIEW

I have to say, this is one book I initially chose because of its cover. I figure, anything with a ferris wheel has to be awesome, right? But is was more than that. I really do love the premise of this story. I feel that more books need to tackle the issue of mental illness, head on. And Whisper to Me certainly did that. Cassie is a young adult that has had her fair share of trauma in her life, and as a result, hears a voice on a regular basis. A voice that insults her, tells her to hurt herself, etc. I am grateful for books that are willing to tackle difficult subjects like that.

But as much as I love what the story was attempting to convey, I never felt like it accomplished what it set out to do–whatever that might have been. Some of it was because of the writing style.

The entire 544 pages is one long letter to a boy. And there are many times when she tells him something and then says, “but you already knew that.” The poor boy who was on the receiving end of a 500 page letter, and much of it was apparently stuff that he already knew. It made it obvious to the reader that those portions were only for our benefit, and I found it quite distracting.

Another distracting aspect was the continual use of the *asterisk* instead of swear words. Cassie was constantly swearing throughout the whole book, but she replaced 90% of them with asterisks instead of writing it out. But your brain is still trying to fill in those places with what was intended. Swear, or don’t swear, but don’t make me stare at 2 lines of asterisks.

SPOILER ALERT: Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read a small spoiler

The only main issue I had with the story/plot itself, was the relationship between Cassie and the boy she is writing the letter to. When they first meet she is a complete mess, both physically and emotionally. And even though she pretty much blows him off, he continues to be nice to her. I like that. But then she continues to hardly give him the time of day (by outward appearances). And then all the sudden they are dating (for a very brief time), and when she dumps him, he is crying, heartbroken, and it’s like she destroyed his world. WHAT?!

Not only that, but when a friend is in trouble and he wants to team up with Cassie to help this friend, Cassie’s freaking out because she think he is only helping because he likes her friend. Seriously? Your friend is in trouble and you take the time to worry that this boy you barely know is helping because he likes her more?

SO much of the story relies on their relationship, and I find it so unbelievable, that it was enough for me to drop the rating because of it.

Therefore, I am giving Whisper to Me 2 out of 5 Stars.

CONTENT (0 being none and 5 being A LOT):

Violence: 2

1 or 2 small domestic  situations, as well as some self-harm

Language: 4

This one was tricky because, like I said, most of the swearing was filled in with asterisks. But because the brain still fills in the missing words, I’m ranking this one as if the asterisks weren’t there.

Sexual: 2

References to sexual abuse and situations, but nothing graphic

Availability:

Whisper to Me is available digitally, as well as in paperback and hardback. For more information or to purchase it through Amazon.com, please click on the image below.

Happy Reading!!!

 

 

Review: Brighton Belle

Calling all lovers of Historical Fiction and Mystery…

brighton belle

Summary

In post-World War II England, former Secret Service operative Mirabelle Bevan becomes embroiled in a new kind of intrigue…

1951: In the popular seaside town of Brighton, it’s time for Mirabelle Bevan to move beyond her tumultuous wartime years and start anew. Accepting a job at a debt collection agency seems a step toward a more tranquil life.

But as she follows up on a routine loan to Romana Laszlo, a pregnant Hungarian refugee who’s recently come off the train from London, Mirabelle’s instincts for spotting deception are stirred when the woman is reported dead, along with her unborn child.

After encountering a social-climbing doctor with a sudden influx of wealth and Romana’s sister, who seems far from bereaved and doesn’t sound Hungarian, Mirabelle decides to dig deeper into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Aided by her feisty sidekick–a fellow office worker named Vesta Churchill (“no relation to Winston,” as she explains)–Mirabelle unravels a web of evil that stretches from the Brighton beachfront to the darkest corners of Europe. Putting her own life at risk, she must navigate a lethal labyrinth of lies and danger to expose the truth.

Length: 256 Pages

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: March 29, 2016

About the Author:

Sara Sheridan

“History is a treasure chest which contains not only facts and figures, archive material and artifacts but stories. I love the stories.”
Sara Sheridan was born in Edinburgh and studied at Trinity College, Dublin. She works in a wide range of media and genres. Tipped in Company and GQ magazines, she has been nominated for a Young Achiever Award. She has also received a Scottish Library Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire Book Prize. She sits on the committee for the Society of Authors in Scotland (where she lives) and on the board of UK-wide writers’ collective ’26’ the campaign for the importance of words. She blogs on the Guardian site about her writing life and puts her hand up to being a ‘twitter evangelist’. She also appears, occasionally on BBC Radio, most recently on Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent, talking about Estonian independence on one occasion and human rights in UAE on another. She mentors writers for the Scottish Book Trust. Sara is also a member of the Historical Writers’ Association (for Secret of the Sands and The Secret Mandarin) and the Crime Writers’ Association (for the Mirabelle Bevan Mystery series). A self-confessed ‘word nerd’ her favourite book is ‘Water Music’ by TC Boyle.

Review:

Brighton Belle was a fun and interesting read, but, for me, it didn’t reach its potential. For one, I did not feel the characters were developed enough for me to really care about them. The main character, Mirabelle, was a secret service operative during the war, but we learn very little about this during the story. It just seems to come up occasionally when it is convenient for her to do or remember something from the war days.

Another thing was the plot, which was a bit convoluted and confusing. I was especially disappointed with the ending, which seemed out of place and left me feeling like something was missing.

All in all, it was a fun mystery, especially if you like both historical fiction and mystery novels. And after you read it yourself, who knows, you may think I’m completely off base in my review. But I am giving it 3 out of 5 Stars.

Content (o being none and 5 being A LOT):

Language: 0

Violence: 2

Some violence, but nothing graphic

Sexual: 1

An occasional sexual reference, but nothing to blush at

Availability:

Brighton Belle is available both digitally and in hardback. For more information or to purchase it, click on the image below.

 

 

Happy Reading!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Safe House

safehouse

Summary

A Nigerian immigrant to Senegal explores the increasing influence of China across the region, a Kenyan student activist writes of exile in Kampala, a Liberian scientist shares her diary of the Ebola crisis, a Nigerian journalist travels to the north to meet a community at risk, a Kenyan author travels to Senegal to interview a gay rights activist, and a South African writer recounts a tale of family discord and murder in a remote seaside town.

In a collection that ranges from travel writing and memoir to reportage and meditative essays, editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey has brought together some of the most talented writers of creative nonfiction from across Africa.

Length: 272 Pages

Publisher: Dundurn

Release Date: May 7, 2016

About the Editor:

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, OBE, editor, critic, and broadcaster, is former deputy editor of Granta magazine, series editor for the Kwani? Manuscript Prize, and the deputy chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She served as a judge on the 2015 Man Booker Prize panel. She lives in London, England.

Review:

I love the concept behind this anthology…a book about what life is really like in Africa. And not just written by journalists who have been to Africa, but written by people who live there and experience it on a daily basis. The anthology includes diverse subjects– everything from surviving the Ebola virus to what it is like to be homosexual in a place where it continues to be illegal.

Unfortunately, I felt that many of the stories were convoluted, and though they could have been great, it was hard for me to get through many of them. My favorite story was the very first one, about what it is like to live through the Ebola epidemic. It left me with high hopes for the rest of the book. But many of the stories used so many unfamiliar words and phrases, that it left me feeling like I was missing something. There were others that rambled for pages, and I wondered what the author’s point was.

Overall, I think it is an anthology that is worth reading, but I am going to have to give it 3 out of 5 Stars. 

Content (0 being none and 5 being A LOT):

Language: 3

Not much vulgar language, there is an occasional F-word

Violence: 2

There is violence, but it is not graphic

Sexual: 3

Some stories do not contain any sexual situations, but the last couple stories had quite a bit

Availability:

Safe House is available digitally as well as in paperback. Click on the image below to learn more.

Happy Reading!!!