on Nov 28, 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Genre(s): Young Adult / Contemporary / Fiction

Series: Stand Alone Novel

Publisher: Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group

Release Date: January 1st 2009



Review: Willow is a touching and unique tale of a young womans struggle with self-injury. 

From the very first page the reader is drawn into the world of Willow, it is a world filled with shame, suffering, guilt, and pain. Willow lives with an unfathomable weight on her shoulders, and her extreme answer to her heartache is to cut herself. My heart bleed for this incredibly authentic character. Her journey felt real, and served as a reminder that there are many who face this problem in reality. 

The book is written in third person limited, a point of view I don't usually care for, but which greatly compliments the story and offers a moving look at Willows everyday pains. This choice of POV prevents the reader from feeling bored and gives a more objective look at Willow's life. 

Guy is a stand out young adult male lead. He is quiet, thoughtful, far from seeming perfect or popular. His quickly becomes a steady confidant and friend for Willow. He is there with her as she reveals the reasons behind her actions, and as she overcomes the lure of the razor blade and pulls herself up from the bottom. I greatly admired the progression of Guy and Willow's relationship. It was interesting to see them start as friends and slowly fall in love. As Willow falls in love with Guy she opens up to the many emotions that she has been blocking since her parents death, her difficulty is evident as she comes to grips with her changed reality, finally admitting that her parents are gone and her world will never be the same.  

Throughout the book Willow has a difficult relationship with her brother, David. This wasn't always the case, and only changed when their parents died. Ever since then they have been stuck in silence or on occasion stilted, awkward short conversations. The resolution between them was truly beautiful and revealed the pain that they both were feeling, other truths that went previously unspoken and how much they both really loved each other. 

Not since Thirteen Reasons Why have I read a book in which a teens emotional distress was so profoundly written. While I feel I could write more on this story, I'll save the spoilers for future readers to discover for themselves. 


About the Author: Julia Hoban is a woman of many talents; She writes, designs her own clothes and handbags, and attended graduate school for physics and philosophy. She lives with her husband in New York City, and is working on her next novel (and outfit). 



Interested in this book? Find it online! 


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A Message from the Reviewer: 
Hello, everyone. I greatly enjoyed Willow and I hope my review was enjoyed as well.
However, there are friends, family, coworkers, even strangers on the bus who are living every day with a reality far too similar to Willow's. If you are struggling with self-injury or know someone who is, I encourage you to check out TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS - this non-profit movement is dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
You were created to love and be loved! <3

on Nov 16, 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Genre(s): Young Adult / Paranormal / Romance

Series: The White Rabbit Chronicles #1 

Blurb: She won't rest until she's sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone. 

Her father was right. The monsters are real. 

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies. 


Review: First off, Gena Showalter gets major points for the sheer awesomeness of that title. Just had to put that out there. 

Alice is the type of MC you will love instantly. She is humble, truthful, resilient, and rises to overcome whatever obstacles are in her path. The author gives us wonderful insight into the emotions and mindset of Alice. The reader feels every occurance as Alice does, and will be rooting for her throughout the entire novel. Go, Alice, Go,

On a personal note I found it very refreshing to read a teen/young adult who respects their parents, grandparents, etc. I have no problem with teens being independent but the contempt for parents and elders that permeates Young Adult fiction is something very disappointing in my eyes. It's good to see Alice exhibiting behavior that is based on lessons her parents taught her. Even though she believes they are gone, she loves her parents and hopes to one day reunite with them. 

There is only one way to describe Alices best friend Kat, and that is - unforgettable. I was unsure about her at first, fearful that she would be nothing more than one of the "Alice Cullen" clones that have run rampant in Young Adult fiction since the rise of Twilight. But I soon found myself enjoying her confident I-just-don't-care attitude. She acts cool and collected, but never with malice. Her brash attitude greatly compliments Alices quiet, introspective personality. In many way she felt like the Mad Hatter. *wink* Add to all this the fact that she was hilarious! Also, I now ship Kat+Frosty. Forever.

Now on to Cole. Oh, handsome, infuriating bad boy Cole.  Actually what I really loved about Cole was that he wasn't a bad guy. He (and his friends) fight zombies without praise or reward. Because of this they end up appearing at school and such with scraps and bruises, leading others to think they are just crazy, rebellious teens in a gang. Whether from pride or humility they don't seem to bother with what teachers and students think about their injuries or strange behavior. Cole is arrogant, a player, but ultimately you'll love him because of how much he loves Alice. I love these two together and they make an excellent team. Team Cole represent! 

If you're like me and find yourself reticent to join in the recent wave of zombie literature. I reluctantly admit to having several sleepless nights after watching World War Z. I encourage you to not let that keep you from reading this book. Showalter presents a very fresh take on zombies, her take on the creatures reveals an infected spirit longing to feed and spread its disease, and a good-vs-evil battle that is far more heroic than a cheap zombie horror flick could ever hope to be. 

Finally, those of us wondering what happened to the moral center of many Young Adult novels in recent years, can be assured that this novel remains firmly on the side of good and never wavers. Alice and her companions continually do the right thing no matter how hard that is. Readers will be wishing to hop in this story and join the fight along side them. 

I started and finished this book all in one day, which is proof enough of just how amazing it is! I tip my invisible hat to Gena Showalters immense talent. 


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The Reviewer:


Hi, Runaway readers! Thank you so much for stopping by our website and checking out my review, I hope you enjoyed it. As some of you might have noticed I (Mab) have been absent on here for much of this year. That will change, unfortunately real life brought some unexpected challenges this year, but I'm excited to be back sharing my thoughts on books and occasionally just fangirling with you
 all. This is the first of three book reviews coming this week, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  :) - M. A. Bronson
on Aug 10, 2014
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

"On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything."

I absolutely loved Clean Sweep. It was the first book I've ever read by best selling authors Ilona Andrews (a husband and wife team), suggested to me greatly by my husband, who is a big fan of her Magic Bites series. Dina is a strong female character more than capable of protecting herself. Her Inn reminds me of Heterodyne Castle from the Girl Genius webcomic, just magic fantasy and not steampunk. I’ve never been a fan of books with werewolves and vampires, but the initial interactions between Dina and the werewolf Sean were highly amusing, especially when his “welcome is withdrawn.” Clean Sweep is an intriguing blend of fantasy magic and sci-fi tech. Clean Sweep was originally posted chapter by chapter online for free reading, but I quite enjoy having a physical copy in my hands. The next book of the Innkeeper Chronicles, Sweep in Peace, can also be read for free online here: demo.ilona-andrews.com I've read the first four chapters already and look forward to also owning a printed copy of that book once it is released.

Up next on my to read list:
The Nameless Dwarf by D.P. Prior
Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
Thorn by Intisar Khanani
on Aug 5, 2014
Northeast Ohio fans, want to get your hands on signed print copies of The Chronicles of Midgard series or The Priestess Trilogy? You can enter to win these at Marc's in Medina (1041 N. Court St., Medina OH 44256)! Enter to win the the Customer Service counter between the dates of August 6th through August 16th, 2014. One win will be draw for each giveaway. Limit one entry per person. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via phone or email for in store pick-up. Questions? Call Marc's at 330-722-3399
 
Giveaway 1: Falls the Shadow and Melody of the Dark from the Chronicles of Midgard series
Giveaway 2: Defiance and Betrayal from The Priestess Trilogy

Also, Meet the Author at Marc's on Saturday, August 9th from 11 am till 1 pm! Free bookmarks and postcards will be on hand as well as copies available for purchase at the price of $8.00 each. So stop on by and say hi!


on May 30, 2014

Title: Otherborn
Series: Otherborn, #1
Author: Anna Silver

Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Release Date: April 4, 2013

Genre: YA dystopian / science fiction




Confined within Capital City’s concrete walls, London keeps an impossible secret: she dreams. And she’s not alone. Her friends are seeing themselves in “night pictures” too, as beings from another world. Together they uncover the story of their avatars, astral shamans they call Otherborn. 

When one Otherborn is murdered and another goes missing, London realizes someone is hunting them. Escaping along the Outroads, they brave the deserted Houselands with only their Otherborn to guide them. Can they find their friend before the assassin finds them?

"Anna Silver weaves a dark new world full of taut suspense and characters that leap off the page." –Sophie Jordan, NYT bestselling author of the Firelight trilogy

"Travel to a world where dreaming is a radical act that can save the world… Anna Silver’s post-apocalyptic vision is rich with imagery and metaphysical ideas, grounded by vivid, three-dimensional characters. A truly fresh take on dystopian." –Nina Berry, author of the OTHERKIN series


Read the first five chapters here: http://www.wattpad.com/story/12024518-otherborn




About the Author



Anna Silver is an author and artist living in the greater Houston area with her family, pets, and overactive imagination. Her art has been featured in the Houston gallery Las Manos Magicas. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. She's freelanced for private clients and small publications like the Hill Country Current. OTHERBORN, her first published novel, has been featured on 2 of Amazon's "Bestsellers" lists. ASTRAL TIDE is her second published novel.


Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest






on May 4, 2014


Title: Ferran's Map (Book 4 of The Cat's Eye Chronicles)
Release Date: August 31st, 2014

Series Website: www.catseyechronicles.com

Author: T. L. Shreffler (www.tlshreffler.com)
Author Facebook: www.facebook.com/tlshreffler




The bloodmage Volcrian is dead, but a new enemy lurks in the shadows. The Shade, a fanatical cult of demonic assassins, is trying to resurrect the Dark God and unleash His power back into the world. In their wake, a deadly plague spreads across the land.

Sora and her companions are the only ones who know of the plague’s true source. As the disease spreads, Sora must journey to the City of Crowns to retrieve The Book of the Named, her only hope of stopping The Shade. She and her companions arrive just in time for the winter solstice festival, a notorious two-weeks of fine wines, grand parties and legendary debauchery. Sora must don the guise of a noblewoman and infiltrate the First Tier nobility to stop The Shade before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, the assassin Crash is confronted by ghosts of his past. As he uncovers more of the Shade’s plot, he finds himself face-to-face with his old Grandmaster, the one who trained him—and who he betrayed. Can Crash lay to rest his past, or will he succumb to his inner demon and rejoin the man who once made him a killer?


Excerpt: 
Prologue


Grandmaster Natrix stood at the top of a sandy ridge, the iron-gray ocean to her back. Heavy clouds covered the sky, sending down flurries of snow. Below her, dozens of Named assassins littered the training ground, practicing hand-to-hand combat. The assassins worked tirelessly despite the weather, bracing themselves against gusts of wind, using the ice to their advantage. At this distance, they looked like black crickets darting amongst the gray slush of the dunes.
As she watched the Named assassins, a second figure appeared on the ridge beside her, materializing through the storm.
Her lip curled. Her eyes remained focused on the training ground. “Again, you’ve returned.” She spoke idly, as though musing about the weather. “I wonder where you’ve been—he, who once dedicated his life to this village.”
Grandmaster Cerastes raised a thin eyebrow. He looked weary, his pale skin sallow. Gaunt cheekbones protruded from an intelligent, angular face, matured in age. His deep-set eyes gleamed with a poisonous light.
Are you reprimanding me?” he said, a touch amused, but mostly hostile.
Grandmaster Natrix gazed at him. She noted the ragged wear of his black robes, the discouraging tilt of his lips. His hair was sleek and perfectly black, falling to his waist, dusted in snow. A strange scent tainted his clothes—the gritty musk of a city, the vague stench of humans and horses.
Then she nodded to the dunes below them, to one assassin in particular.
Your Viper has become quite good,” she said, shifting her weight to her hip, crossing her arms. She wore a close-fitting black shirt, clasped with a vest. The Sixth Race were born of Fire and Darkness, and resistant to cold weather. Her tall black boots were made of toughened hide, no soles, allowing the foot to move freely. A series of chakrams hung from her waist, steel rings with edges as sharp as blades, varying in size. They could be thrown with deadly accuracy, slicing off heads and limbs with the force of her throw. Tight, braided rows of black hair covered her head. Her eyes were the bright green hue of aloe.
Cerastes followed her gaze without comment.
A smirk touched her thin lips. “In your absence, he has trained with Lachesis. Another few years, and he might just become a Grandmaster himself.”
Cerastes appeared impassive, but Natrix knew the statement rankled him. Grandmasters did not like sharing students—especially talented ones. “He has unlocked the fifth gate?” he asked quietly.
No,” Natrix said, her eyes following the figure of the Viper. “But he is close.”
It had been eight years since the Naming of the Viper. In that time, she had watched Cerastes’ student progress rapidly and tirelessly. He was far better than her own savants—even the Named Adder, her best student, who wielded his saber with dexterous speed.
Assassins, especially Grandmasters, kept their emotions under tight control. Yet bitterness had crept in over the years. Perhaps even jealousy. She wished she could work with such a motivated student, one who took his training into his own hands, compelled by his own inner drive. Even without a Grandmaster, even if the Hive did not exist, even if Viper were the very first of the assassin race—she had little doubt he would be able to unlock the seven gates. He harbored a talent that founded tradition. He proved to her the assassin ways were not just fabrication, but a true part of their nature.
And because of that realization, she eventually lost her envy of Cerastes. The Viper's skill was not one of superior instruction. Some assassins were simply born to the task, gifted by the Dark God with clever hands and a sharp mind. He moved like water, using his opponent's energy to his advantage, pulling his assailant forward and off-balance, then striking with his entire body—foot, knee, hip, forearm, open palm. The Adder twisted, and the Viper turned with him, able to anticipate his opponent’s next move. He knocked the Adder to his knees. As she watched, her own student was forced to the ground, prostrated in surrender.
You owe him an explanation,” Natrix said casually, noticing Cerastes turn away. He walked across the top of the ridge, moments away from vanishing again.
The Grandmaster paused. He spoke over his shoulder. “I owe him nothing. He has made his way.”
You broke your oath.” Natrix watched his back carefully, his long hair listing in the wind. “You swore to mentor him until he reached the fifth gate. The boy relied on your instruction. For the last four years, you’ve rarely set foot in our hive. You’ve forsaken your duty to the Viper...he was your best. He still is.”
Grandmaster Cerastes turned fully and glared at her. “What I do with my time is not the Hive's concern. I’ve turned my attention to greater matters.”
I don't care,” Natrix murmured. “Leave the Hive for good if you wish. But you broke the oath of a mentor. In the eyes of the Viper, you are truly a snake. It is well-known that our best students shall some day become our greatest rivals—are you willing to let this seed grow wild? Did you not kill your own Grandmaster, so many years ago?”
Cerastes remained silent. They watched the Viper sheathe his dagger and turn away from his defeated opponent. The young assassin quickly walked back across the training ground to a fringe of trees on its opposite side, toward the direction of the colony.
Natrix grinned cunningly. “You should keep good relations with him. Some day he will be a Grandmaster, and you will be old, and then you'll be that fool bleeding out in the snow.” She indicated the training field again, where the Adder now sat holding his rib cage, blood staining the ground.
The hint of a frown passed over Cerastes' brow as he considered her words. He cast her one last look, then turned and strode away, vanishing into the ever-thickening flurries of snow.

Continue the story… Read first two chapters of Ferran’s Map!

T. L. SHREFFLER is a noblewoman living in the sunny acres of San Fernando Valley, California, a mere block from Warner Bros. Studios. She enjoys frolicking through meadows, sipping iced tea, exploring the unknown reaches of her homeland and unearthing rare artifacts in thrift stores. She holds a Bachelors in Eloquence (English) and writes Epic Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and poetry. She has previously been published in Eclipse: A Literary Anthology and The Northridge Review.

Feel free to connect online! She loves hearing from readers, reviewers, orcs, elves, assassins, villains, figments of her imagination and extraterrestrials looking to make contact. Her online accounts are as follows:


Email: therunawaypen@gmail.com
Twitter: @catseyeauthor


Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an advance copy of Ferran's Map closer to the release date! 

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