Friday, July 18, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Phantom's Dance





Phantom’s Dance

by Lesa Howard 


Displaying PDCover.jpg
Blurb: Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.

Purchase:
--B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/phantoms-dance-lesa-howard/1118892915?ean=9780978818340

Genres: Retellings, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Thriller

 Publication date: March 1st 2014
 

My Rating: 4 stars

Phantom's Dance is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, one of my favorite plays.(Sadly, I have yet to read the book, but I hope to find a copy this summer.) It also includes ballet, something else I greatly love. This book and I were practically a match made in Heaven from the beginning. 

The story is a bit different from the play, but they're pretty similar. One major difference I found was that, in my opinion anyways, The Phantom in this book is a even more sinister than in the original story; I always felt a little bad for the original Phantom, but this Phantom is a horrible psychopath, and while his character was intriguing, he was never even slightly likeable.

Christine was pretty interesting. I think the author did a good job of making her character modern. Christine was given a few problems that would be more prevalent today. Raoul, however, I never really liked too much. To be fair, I didn't like him very much in the play either. I don't know, I thought he was kind of the stereotypical love interest, and I didn't find anything very special about him.

The plot, however, is the book's strong point. It's thrilling, filled with twists and turns, and I love the extra flair that the ballet aspect gave it. This book was impossible to  put down once the story started to move, because of the creepy/thrilling feel I got from reading it. Even at the very end, that feeling doesn't go away from the story.

Like I said before, the fact that this had to do with ballet made me insanely happy. I actually knew all the terms that the author used for once; I can't say the same for when I read books based on ice skating or hockey or something like that. 

This book was a really great read.  I got sucked into it and loved it! I would definitely recommend it.
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AUTHOR BIO

I'm not the typical author. I didn't always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I'd just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I'd written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.

Author links: 

Giveaway:
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: The White Swan by Cindy C. Bennett

The White Swan

By Cindy C. Bennett

Blurb: Benno von Rothbart, a powereful sorcerer, has transformed Odette, his childhood friend, into a swan, jealous of her love for Victor.

Odette and Victor have loved one another their whole lives.

Victor and Odette are unaware of Benno's powers and manipulations to come between them and win Odette for himself. When Benno uses his powers to transform Odette, she finds herself in a fight for her freedom and for Victor.

The White Swan is a retelling of the classic Swan Lake fairytale.


Genres: Young Adult, Retellings, Romance, Fantasy 

Publication Date: March 5, 2013

Pages: 81

Series: Enchanted Fairytales (book 5)

My Rating: 3 stars


So, I finally say goodbye to the enchanted fairytales series. This one was pretty good, and I hadn't read a retelling of the Swan Princess before (or seen the ballet...or actually remember that Barbie movie that they made a couple years ago..y'know, basically this was a new story for me.) so I can't really compare this to any other book I've read before.

It was an interesting story, for sure. I was a bit confused as to when this was taking place though, because while pretty much all the Enchanted Fairytales series takes place in modern times, this one seemed a little more...old. Like the names for example, and the fact that Victor was a 'sorceror. So maybe like a fairy tale world?

I felt bad for Odile, because the guy she loved was in love with her sister. I liked her because even so, she still loved her sister and tried to help her escape from Victor.

I also really liked (as always) Cindy Bennett's little note at the end of the story. It explained why she chose this story to tell, some of the development of the story, etc. I kind of wish more authors would do this, because it's really interesting to read about.

Another nice story from the Enchanted Fairy tales series. I would recommend it to people who like retellings.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Beneath the Night Tree by Nicole Baart

Beneath the Night Tree

By Nicole Baart

Blurb: Do I have a child? Julia DeSmit knew she would face the question eventually, but she didn’t expect it now. At twenty-four, she is finally content with the way her life has unfolded. A single mother to her son and young brother, she works at the local grocery store while chipping away at a two-year degree. All her free time is spent with her unorthodox family—her boys, her grandmother, and her boyfriend of five years. It’s not perfect, but Julia is happier than ever.

So when she receives the cryptic e-mail from her son’s father, Julia’s world is turned upside down. She hasn’t heard from Parker since he left her in a college parking lot nearly six years ago. But one look at her son—the spitting image of his father—is enough to convince her that, for better or worse, Parker is a part of their story. Faced with this new reality and an unexpected tragedy, Julia begins a tightrope walk between what was and what is, what she hopes for and what will be.


Genres: Adult, Christian, Realistic Fiction 

Publication Date: January 24, 2011

Pages: 400

Series: Threads of Change (book 3)

My Rating: 4 stars


Beneath the Night Tree is the last book in the Threads of Change trilogy, and I was sad to see it end. I have grown to love these characters, and it's one of the best series I've read in the Christian genre. I have almost no complaints about this book. (Yes, I do have one complaint, but it's a teensy one.)

I liked that this novel took place five years after the end of Summer Snow, because it was fun to see how the characters had changed. Julia has become a pretty great single mom, Daniel went from cute baby to cute kindergartner, and Simon went from bubbly to more reserved and moody. Simon was my favorite character in here, because he went through a lot of changes in this story. I felt bad for him; he had went through a lot for someone so young.

I was a bit afraid that Parker's reappearance in this story would be harmful for Julia, but he had really changed since After the Leaves Fall. I had really liked him until he became a jerk about Julia's pregnancy, so it was nice to have him in here.

The teensy complaint mentioned above is that at the end of Summer Snow, Simon is following Michael around, and he looks up to Michael, but Julia states in this book that Michael and Simon never had the best relationship, or something along those lines. It really threw me off, and bothered me a bit.

Other than that, I thought this was a great ending to the series. I would definitely not mind there being another one after this, because it would be great to see what happens to the DeSmit family, but I felt that all the loose ends were tied up pretty nicely in this story. I'll have to find some new books by Nicole Baart now!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

A Single Shard

By Linda Sue Park

Blurb: Tree-ear, an orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated–until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself–even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.

Genres: Juvenile, Historical Fiction 

Publication Date: February 11, 2003

Pages: 192

Series: N/A 

My Rating: 3 stars


I understand why this got a Newberry medal, because it's the kind of book that teachers love. The thing is, I think it's the kind of book that teachers love more than kids.

The book was incredibly slow paced for the beginning of the book, to the point where I considered abandoning A Single Shard all together. I felt like it was incredibly informative, but more like reading a history book than a story. I don't get bored very easily, so this was a bit extreme.

Thankfully, the plot picked up after about fifty pages, and I started to enjoy this book. It was still a bit slow, but not unbearably slow. I was interested in the making of the pottery, because I didn't know much about that. After reading this, I wouldn't mind learning more about the 'Thousand Cranes' pot that Ms. Park mentions in her epilogue.

That was pretty much what I liked about this. The rest I was all rather apathetic about, and didn't care one way or another. I hate to say this, but if Tree-Ear had died at the end, I probably wouldn't have cared too much.

So this was an okay book. But I've read other books by Linda Sue Park, such as Project Mulberry, that I enjoyed more, and so I was kind of disappointed with this one.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: Marina in a Dress by Alan Davidson

Marina in a Green Dress

By Alan Davidson

Blurb: New to London, Jessica Tye is alarmingly obsessed with MARINA, a lush West End stage musical. With its storyline, its music -- and its sensational boy lead singer, Kennedy Orr, who won a TV talent show to land the role. She's often composed letters to him, in her head. When she finally puts pen to paper, it's for an emotional outpouring only, not for posting......until, surprisingly, her dull boy friend decides to teach her a lesson and mails it.
He's not to know that Jessica's letter will spark off amazing and unsettling events.....because Kennedy Orr has some obsessions of his own.


Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller 

Publication Date: March 20, 2012

Pages: 137

Series: N/A

My Rating: 3 stars


I was not as impressed with this book as I was with other Alan Davidson stories. It was slow, though the ending was better. Still, I'm a tad disappointed.

In the Bewitching of Alison Allbright, I was immediately taken because even though the book seems normal at first, you know something creepy is going on. And that's kind of what happened with Marina, too, at first. But then you realize...the book isn't creepy at all. It's just a misunderstanding.

Also, the plot was so much slower than the two other Alan Davidson books I've read, with it dragging in a couple different parts.

And lastly, I didn't like Jessica all that much. She didn't really have too much of a personality in comparison to Bonnie from Queen Rider, or Alison from The Bewitching of Alison Allbright. Yes, both of those characters were a bit unlikeable, but they were interesting characters. Jessica was not.

I did like the ending and how the mystery about what exactly was going on with the green dress and everything was resolved, because it was not exactly what I was expecting.

I realize that this review makes me sound like I couldn't stand the book, but I did like it. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: Red Rock Ranch: Lucy's Choice by Brittney Joy

Red Rock Ranch: Lucy's Chance

By Brittney Joy

Blurb: Sixteen year old Lucy Rose is spending her first summer away from home and she has two things on her mind: an abandoned, violent horse and a blue-eyed cowboy. Only neither is hers. Lucy has never attracted much attention from boys, but she can't seem to ignore her blue-eyed co-worker, Casey Parker. A true cowboy, Lucy is fascinated by his gentle way with the horses at Red Rock Ranch. However, she is very aware that Taylor Johnson, rodeo queen extraordinaire, already has her spurs in him. And, there's no crossing Taylor. . . . Not until a mysterious horse appears on the ranch and pushes Lucy and Casey together. The two are willing to do anything to save the black gelding that doesn't want a thing to do with them or the human race. But, every step forward with the broken animal makes Lucy fall harder - for him and for Casey.

Genres:  Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance

Publication Date: April 13, 2013

Pages: 186

Series: Lucy's Chance (book 1) 

My Rating: 3.5 stars


I received this book via Goodread First Reads. This in no way affects my opinion.

This book was a fun 'summer' kind of read. It's happy, a bit predictable, with cute romance and horses.

I liked Lucy a lot. She was a relatable character; even thought I couldn't relate to some of her life experiences, her emotions were spot on. For example, her boy troubles with Chase. I'm sure a lot of girls will be able to relate to that.

Chance was a very interesting horse. I liked him, but at the same time, his storyline was a bit stereotypical. I knew what the outcome of the book would be before it came. It wasn't anything too new, though it was still enjoyable.

Taylor and Chase were okay secondary characters. I did like reading about them, but I felt that they were a bit stereotypical. Taylor was the mean girl we see so much of in YA stories; I thought that later, she got more of a personality beyond that, but it did start off that way. Chase was less of a cliche, but at times I felt he was a bit of the hot country boy character. The author fleshed them out enough that it wasn't a big annoyance as it normally would have been for me, though.

In spite of the predictablity, I still was turning page after page, and I think that says something. Even though I knew everything would turn out all right, I was still a little bit worried. The author managed to make everything very fun and exciting, despite the fact that the plot was a bit recycled.

I would recommend this; Red Rock Ranch: Lucy's Choice is a very fun story, and even though I had some problems with it, I still liked it a lot. Tween girls would probably like this book the most.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Review: Count on Me by Melissa Winchester

Count on Me

By Melissa Winchester

Blurb: There are people that tell you high school is the best time of your life.

They lied.

High school is horrible when you’re like me and you’re autistic.

They think that because I don’t talk and I seem to always be lost in my own world, I’m stupid or deaf. Some even think I’m retarded. I’m none of those things and I don’t like that word.

Just because I've got these issues, doesn't mean it’s all I am. There’s a lot more to me, but no one really takes the time to get to know it. At least that’s how it was until Kayden.

Kayden Walker is bad news. He spends his time making people that are different, like me, feel even worse about themselves and he does it with a smile. He’s everything I don’t need in my life, yet he’s the one person I can’t seem to live without.

Underneath, there’s more to him that he’s afraid to let the rest of the world see. I've seen it and as I’m finding out, we’re not so different after all…


Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance

Publication Date: April 19, 2014

Pages: 385

Series: N/A 

My Rating: 1 star


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Count On Me had an intriguing premise, and I was in the mood for a more serious sort of contemporary, so I immediately picked up this book once I had it downloaded on my kindle. As I progressed, I began to realize that this book would not be something I enjoyed. There were multiple problems that I had with the book, and it just was not a good matchup for me at all.

First off, I didn't think the love story came off as believable, and when realistic fiction isn't realistic to me, it's a problem. Kayden may have been nice to Isabelle later, but he still had been pretty awful to her before, and I never was really able to get over that. The way he treated her, I would find friendship rather hard.

The real problem I had with this book were the run-on sentences. I hate when a book constantly has them, because it really takes away from the quality of the story. Hate. it. This book had quite a few comma splices.

I was never able to connect with either of the characters. This probably was in part do to my problems with the "realisticness" of the story. It's a big problem when I'm not able to connect to characters, especially with romance, because characters are kind of crucial in this genre. I really, really tried, but I just never could.

Though others liked Count on Me, I never found myself getting into the story. While it isn't the worst book I've read, it was not something I enjoyed, sadly.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Carnelian by Kristin B. McMichael

Carnelian

By Kristin B. McMichael

Blurb: Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t as long ago as Seth Sangre. His past is literally thousands of years ago. Seth’s life led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now and just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams that college will be a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself and not fall for the handsome Seth. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses, Mari learns that Seth might just have a life of his own that’s actually from the past. Suddenly Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be and maybe the player isn’t who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime and reveal family secrets she never knew existed


Genres: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy 

Publication Date: February 1, 2014

Series: Cha