on Apr 25, 2012
Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.: 

Genre: Young Adult / Mystery / Romance

3 out of 5 Stars

Review: This review may be a little confusing as I have mixed feelings about this book, I hope you'll bear with me:) Let us begin. I was a little over halfway through this book when Theresa first contacted me to do book reviews(Thank you Theresa!) I thought 'this is great, I can do a review of Elixir'. Especially because of the number of one star reviews this book had. At the time I was in love with this book, thought it deserved 5 big stars. Then I finished it. And it went from 5 to 3 stars.

I still think this was a good book and there are a lot of things I liked. I really enjoyed that although the main character Clea was 17 she was homeschooled, which changed things up from the stereotypical highschool setting of most YA novels. Her parents career ( her father is a surgeon and her mother is a politician) and Clea's own career (a photojournalist) made things more versatile. For instance when she suddenly wanted to travel to Rio it was much more believable than in most books. I also just loved the concept that she kept seeing this guy in the photos she took though I felt the way it played out was kind of odd.

Now for some things I wasn't crazy about: *THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD!*

As I said I loved this book until I got to the end. As I read the last page I flipped through the pages and checked the binding of the books for rips... Know why? Cause this book had no ending! I don't mean to be harsh there really was no ending. The main characters finally confess their love, they find this place they were looking for then suddenly the hero is kidnapped and the book ends abruptly with the main character on a plane back home (away from the hero). That's not an ending, I need more! LoL. But really, I understand this is the first in a series but you have to have some sort of resolution. The ending reads like Miss Duff forgot to write the last chapter. Another thing I couldn't believe, the mystery in this book was the characters looking for Clea's missing father and guess what? They never found him. 330 pages and nothing. They didn't even get any closer to finding him though I suppose(or hope) that the mystery is resolved in the sequel. One other thing I didn't like was that only Miss Duff's name appears on the cover when the novel was written by her and Elise Allen but I assume this was a decision of the publishing company not Hilary Duff's. Still I think all authors names should appear on the cover of the book they wrote.  

Some things I didn't mind but you might:
  • The first 80 pages or so are mostly back story, while I don't mind that, I even prefer it sometimes. I know some people might not.
  • Though the synopsis makes a big deal of the love triangle, it's really in Clea's past lives that the love triangle takes place not so much in the present.

Lastly I encourage you not to dismiss this book immediately just because it was written by a celebrity. Aside from the way it ended, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the sequel.

About the Reviewer:
Mallory Farnham is a bookworm, book reviewer, and aspiring author. Since early 2012 she has been reviewing indie and traditionally published books at runawaypen.com. She spends her time reading, gaming, drinking tea, writing, and daydreaming of made-up worlds. Connect with her on twitter and instagram @

on Apr 24, 2012

The Runaway Pen is expanding! We now have two wonderful, talented book reviewers working for our little website. Please give a hand to Mallory Farnham (formerly N. M. Bronson) and Melanie G.!

They will be accepting all sorts of genres of books, ranging from YA Fantasy to Historical Fiction, Urban, Paranormal and beyond! We also support Indie authors!

Would you like to get your book reviewed? Check out our policies and make contact....

Keep an eye out. Book reviews are on the way....
on Apr 21, 2012
I was recently asked a question in an interview, "How do you respond to negative reviews?'

My reply? "I kiss the reviewer on the mouth!"

I think there's a problem with a lot of artists and writers out there. I call this problem "heartonsleeveophrenia." It's a very serious mental condition. As writers, we like to think of our work as an extension of ourselves, and when we get a negative review, our first knee-jerk response is to be hurt about it. We take it, perhaps, a little too personally. And then we sit and fret and wonder about whether or not our writing is any good, if we'll ever be successful, if we'll ever become famous, etc. etc. etc. Never mind the 20 positive reviews we've had, the encouragement from friends and family, or our supportive high school teachers. We focus on that 1 reviewer -- that snide, skanky, insensitive person -- who didn't like our story!

After 4 years in a Creative Writing program, I feel that I have the right to share a secret with you. A secret that you really, really, really need to know:

Most readers (and other writers) have horrible taste.

And most people just like to hear themselves talk.

And if you're a little insecure as a writer, you can get caught up in a head trip of self doubt and obsession over one little negative review.

My pep talk? Grow some balls and keep writing! And stop wearing your heart on your sleeve. Writing is 25% passion and 75% hard-won, nose-to-the-grindstone SKILL. Writing is a skill. A craft. Like building a house or learning to paint. Try not to see your writing as an extension of yourself. Instead, see each story as its own, independent project, removed from the writer, like a rock that stands alone in a garden. Your love of writing and its therapeutic benefits should take a backseat to the craft you are trying to perfect. If you write a bad short story that nobody likes, just think of it as practice and move along. It ultimately means nothing.

And if it makes you feel better, you can kiss that bad reviewer on the mouth, just to let them know that you don't care.
on Apr 17, 2012
Cat's Eye is being released as a trilogy!

So... anyone to "like" my facebook page will get a free Kindle edition of the first book. Just push "like," go to the Cat's Eye tab (top right of page) and download!

Sora planned on running away from her confined life, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world full of thieves, mercenaries, and magic, she soon finds herself in the company of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. With the help of her magical Cat's Eye necklace, it falls into her hands to save his life. (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)

"BANG! You got me so hooked on the story! I think what intrigues me about your works is that it has a little bit of everything laid out in perfect balance. Unlike most romance novels I've read, you keep it at a regular pace that the characters have time to fully acquaint themselves before developing on each other and you really have spent time and effort to fully delve into the descriptive action and plot." ~Heiraste via CrystalMaiden.com
on Apr 3, 2012
As writers, we have to set deadlines for ourselves. This can be especially challenging for the average writer, because we're usually a little ADD, enjoy procrastinating, get caught up in forums and chat rooms and always have our nose in a good book. In my case, I spend hours playing videogames when I should be working on that next scene -- so finishing a manuscript can take a lot longer than we'd like to think! Technically, if you can write 5 pages a day, that means in 2 months you'll have a 300 page novel. Sadly, it just doesn't work that way.

Then some of us have also developed a very bad writing habit: editing before the first draft is finished! If you go back and start editing before even finishing the story, you'll get caught in an endless vortex of tweaking, obsessing, writing and rewriting... and it'll take months to finish what otherwise might have only taken weeks.

I would like to introduce to you a simple remedy: the Slash and Burn writing technique!

I recommend that you "slash and burn" your way through the first draft just to get it finished. Skimp on character and scene. Throw in some random plot devices to plow through writer's block. Pull a resolution out of your sleeve and go, go, go! Give yourself permission to be a bad writer and just finish the damned book. Then, when you're finished slashing and burning through that first draft, you go back and edit.

And when you edit, you make a diamond out of the coal.

It's a lot easier to see what you're doing with a book after you've finished it. You can see the themes a lot more clearly, the motifs, the nuances of characterization. And you don't have the pressure of finishing the manuscript, so you can get more involved with each individual scene, each unique moment of your story.

So what is the true key to writing a great book? Well, finishing, for starters. But mostly editing. Plow through your first draft and save your talent for the second draft. Streamline your writing process. Getter done!