Book Showcase: NIGHT OF THE DRAGON by Julie Kagawa

Night of the Dragon, Shadow of the Fox #3, by Julie Kagawa
ISBN: 9781335146786 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488056611 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488207655 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781094028965 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B07XVM1TZ5  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07QD69RJ8   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: March 31, 2020

All is lost.

To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now. 

Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.

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One thousand years ago

In the long years of his existence, the number of times he had been summoned from Jigoku could be counted on one claw.

Other demon lords had been summoned before. Yaburama. Akumu. The oni lords were too powerful not to have some enterprising blood mage attempt a contract with them, though such rituals often ended badly for the arrogant human who thought they could enslave an oni lord. The four of them were, admittedly, a proud bunch, and did not take kindly to an insignificant mortal attempting to bend them to their will. They humored the blood mage long enough to hear what the human was offering, and if it did not interest them, or if the mage foolishly tried to assert dominance, they would rip him apart and do what they pleased in the mortal realm until they were sent back to Jigoku.

It had always amused Hakaimono when a mortal tried to summon him. Especially that moment when they gazed upon him for the first time and fully realized what they had done.

Narrowing his eyes, he gazed around, peering through smoke and ignoring the brief feeling of vertigo that always accompanied being dragged from Jigoku into the mortal realm. A growl of murderous annoyance rumbled in his throat. Already, he was not in the best of moods. Akumu had been scheming again, trying to weaken Hakaimono’s forces behind his back, and he had been on his way to deal with the devious Third General when black fire had erupted over his skin, words of blood magic echoing in his head as he abruptly found himself in the mortal realm. Now he stood in the center of a ruin, broken walls and shattered pillars surrounding him, the scent of death thick on the air, and contemplated squeezing the head of the mage responsible until it popped like an egg in his claws.

The stones under his feet were sticky and had a sweet, coppery smell he recognized instantly. Lines of blood had been painted over the ground in a familiar circle, with words and sigils of power woven in a complex pattern. A summoning circle, and a powerful one at that. Whomever the blood mage was, they had done their research. Though it wouldn’t save them in the end.


The First Oni looked down. A woman stood at the edge of the blood circle, black robes and long hair seeming to blend into the shadows. She clutched a knife in slender fingers, her pale arm covered in red to the elbow.

A chuckle escaped him. “Well, don’t I feel important,” he said, crouching down to better see the woman. She gazed coolly back. “Summoned by the immortal shadow herself. I am curious, however.” He raised a talon, watching the human over curved black claws the length of her arm. “If you rip off an immortal’s head, do you think it will die?”

“You will not kill me, First Oni.” The woman’s voice was neither amused nor afraid, though the certainty in it made him smirk. “I am not so foolish as to attempt a binding, nor will I ask much of you. I have but a single request, and after that, you are free to do what you like.”

“Oh?” Hakaimono chuckled, but admittedly, he was curious. Only the very desperate, foolish or powerful called on one of the four oni generals, and only for the most ambitious of requests. Like destroying a castle, or wiping out an entire generation. The risk was too great for anything less. “Let’s hear it then, human,” he prompted. “What is this one task you would have me undertake?”

“I need you to bring me the Dragon scroll.”

Hakaimono sighed. Of course. He had forgotten it was that time again in the mortal world. When the great scaly one himself would rise to grant a wish to an insignificant, short-lived human. “You disappoint me, mortal,” he growled. “I am not a hound that fetches upon command. You could have gotten the amanjaku to retrieve the scroll for you, or one of your own human warrior pets. I have been called on to slaughter armies and tear strongholds to dust. Fetching the Dragon’s Prayer is not worth my time.”

“This is different.” The woman’s voice was as unruffled as ever. If she knew she was in danger of being ripped apart and devoured by an annoyed First Oni, she did not show it. “I have already sent my strongest champion to retrieve the scroll, but I fear he has betrayed me. He wants the power of the Dragon scroll for himself, and I cannot let the Wish slip away now. You must find him and take back the scroll.”

“One human?” Hakaimono curled a lip. “Not much of a challenge.”

“You do not know Kage Hirotaka,” the woman said quietly. “He is the greatest warrior the Empire of Iwagoto has seen in a thousand years. He is kami-touched, but also trained in the way of the samurai. His talents with both blade and magic are so great, the emperor himself praised his achievements. He has killed men, yokai and demons in waves, and will be perhaps the single greatest opponent you have ever faced, Hakaimono.” “I very seriously doubt that.” The First Oni felt a smirk cross his face as he breathed in the blood-scented air. “But now, I’m intrigued. Let’s see if this champion of shadow is as good as you say. Where can I find this demonslaying human?” “Hirotaka’s estate lies outside a village called Koyama, ten miles from the eastern border of Kage territory,” the woman re-plied. “It’s not hard to find, but it is rather isolated. Aside from Hirotaka’s men and servants, you won’t be opposed. Find Hirotaka, kill him and bring the scroll to me. Oh, and one more thing.” She raised the knife, observing the bloody, glittering edge. “I cannot have anyone suspecting me of blood magic. Not now, when the night of the Wish is so close.” Her black eyes rose to his, narrowing sharply. “There can be no witnesses, Hakaimono. No survivors. Kill everyone there.”

“I can do that.” A slow grin spread across the oni’s face, and his eyes gleamed red with bloodlust. “This will be fun.”

He would come to regret those words more than any other in his existence.

Excerpt from Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa. 
Copyright © 2020 by Julie Kagawa. Published by Inkyard Press. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission by Inkyard Press.

Meet The Author

Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.

Julie now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and a pair of Australian Shepherds that have more Instagram followers than she does.

Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, or Twitter.

This excerpt and tour brought to you by Inkyard Press

2012 Book 243: ALL THE BROKEN PIECES Review

All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen
ISBN: 9781620611302 (paperback)
ASIN: B00AJOW1SQ (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

What if your life wasn’t your own?

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.

Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

Olivia “Liv” Stein wakes up and is told that she is recuperating from a terrible car accident. She accepts that but she has no memory of her parents or her past life and that is confusing. What is even more confusing is the fact that her parents pack up the family and relocate to Arizona from Minnesota, especially since her parents had dream jobs at the Mayo Clinic. Now her father is a small town cardiac surgeon and her mother has gone from being a premiere neurosurgeon to a stay-at-home mother. 

Her mother is extremely overprotective, supposedly as a result of the accident, and doesn’t want to allow Liv to attend the local high school. Fortunately Liv’s father overrules this decision and Liv is allowed out of the house to go to school. Liv knows that making the transition from home-schooling to regular school is going to be difficult and the difficulty factor is increased because she is the new kid. Liv isn’t sure she’ll fit in at the school but she gives it her best effort. On the first day of school she meets Keira, one of the popular girls and is quickly pulled into the popular clique. Liv likes being part of this group but she doesn’t like the notion that she can’t dress differently from the other girls, have a dissenting opinion or befriend people outside the clique. Her run-ins with Spencer Hale put her at odds with the popular group, but she finds that her friendship with Spencer is just what she needs. Since she doesn’t remember much from before the accident, Spencer takes it upon himself to provide her with the experiences he thinks she needs to have: eating at McDonald’s, bowling, catching a lizard, learning how to ride a bike, etc.

The more Liv experiences with Spencer, the more she wants to know about her past. Liv doesn’t exactly remember Minnesota, but the things she does remember clearly don’t jive with what her parents have told her. She remembers being popular and a cheerleader but poor and an only child. She also remembers being sheltered, in poor health and having a younger sister. She knows these memories can’t be real but she knows that her parents have been hiding something from her. Liv also knows that Spencer is hiding parts of himself from her as well. She forces Spencer to reveal his past and to help in uncovering her own, but can she handle the truth about herself?

Ms. Madsen has provided a somewhat unique coming of age story with All the Broken Pieces. Both Liv and Spencer have had to deal with traumas that resulted in major changes in both their lives. Spencer is gradually overcoming his past with Liv’s help but the secrets of Liv’s past can shatter not only individual lives but those of families. It was rather interesting in seeing how both Liv and Spencer deal with the issues of popular versus unpopular in their school and peer pressure in general. Teenagers may feel the need to conform a bit more than other age groups. The pressures of conformity are found everywhere, and it doesn’t seem to matter if teens are residing in a large city or a small town. Liv and Spencer are typical teenagers just trying to get good grades, make friends, fit in and survive. I found All the Broken Pieces to be a quick read that held my attention from the first page to the very last. If you enjoy contemporary fiction, a touch of romance and a coming-of-age bent, then All the Broken Pieces may just be the read for you.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from Entangled Publishing. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2012 Book 204: CREWEL Review

Crewel (Crewel World #1) by Gennifer Albin
ISBN: 9780374316419 (Hardcover)
 9780374316440 (Ebook)
ASIN: B0080K3D10 (Kindle)
Publication date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Adelice, and her parents, know that she is special, but they don’t want her to become a Spinster. Her parents know that if she is taken by the Guild she’ll never return home or see her family again. They have tried to teach her to hide her gifts and expect her to fail her testing. Unfortunately Adelice excels during her testing and knows that she’ll be taken. What she doesn’t know are the great lengths her parents will go to while trying to save her. Their efforts result in her father’s death, her mother is missing, her sister is in custody, and she is considered a runaway. This is not a great way to start with the Spinsters.

After initially being thrown into a cell and treated as a prisoner, Adelice is soon given preferences no other Eligible is shown. She is wined and dined by the Coventry Ambassador, Cormac Patton and hated by her training supervisor, Maela and another Eligible, Priyana. She befriends a guard, Erik, and falls in love with a valet, Jost Bell. Her mentor, Enora, tries to guide her in proper protocol, as well as in curbing her resistance to the rules and regulations. She is also cautioned by Erik and Ambassador Cormac, but Adelice knows that all is not what it appears. She is all too aware that the Guild and the Spinsters control the lives and well-being of all residents of Arras. She quickly learns that the reality of Arras may be defined by the Spinsters but it is the Guild that has total control. 

Adelice quickly becomes the new Crewel trainee under the guidance of the current Crewel, Loricel. The Crewel has weaving skills that no other Spinster has and is given a certain amount of latitude with regards to rules and regulations, or at least Loricel is partially due to her age as well as her skills. But the more Adelice learns about being a Spinster and the Crewel the more she questions. The more Adelice questions the more she realizes she must escape . . . escape not only from the Guild but from Arras. Will her actions cause more ripples in the unrest throughout Arras? Will she be able to successfully escape and leave her sister behind?

Ms. Albin has created a wonderful dystopian tale with Crewel (Crewel World #1). Adelice, Loricel, Jost, and even Erik are all likeable characters and the interaction between them all adds a sense of realism to the story. Maela, and Priyana to a lesser extent, are vindictive and jealous and play the roles of “mean girls” quite well. Cormac Patton symbolizes the power and the corruption of the Guild in their need to control everything, even how people think. Crewel provides a few twists and turns when learning about the responsibilities of the Spinsters and the Guild and just how controlling they are over the reality of Arras. The plot twists at the end (no I won’t reveal what it is) provide a glimpse into what may happen with the next book. I eagerly await the next installment in the life and reality of Adelice.

Learn more about Crewel World here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of this book free via ShelfAwareness Pro. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2012 Book 195: EVE AND ADAM Review

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
ISBN: 9780312583514
Publication date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

In the beginning, there was an apple.

 And then there was a car crash, a horrible, debilitating injury, and the hospital. But before Evening Spiker could even lift her head out of the fog of unconsciousness, there was a strange boy checking her out of the hospital and rushing her to Spiker Biopharmaceuticals — her mother’s research facility. Just when Eve thinks she will die — not from her injuries, but from boredom — her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy. 

Using an amazingly detailed simulation that her mother claims is designed to teach human genetics, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up: eyes, hair, muscles, even a brain, and potential personality traits. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect…won’t he?

Evening, E.V. or Eve, Spiker’s life was fairly uneventful until the day she was walking, texting and obsessing about an apple seen at a local grocer’s and then gets hit by a streetcar. One of her legs is severed, a hand is crushed and she suffers severe internal injuries: losing her spleen and a rib has to be removed. She awakens after her lifesaving surgery only to find her mother, Terra Spiker, arguing with the doctor and a strange boy in her room. Soon she is removed from the hospital and transported to her mother’s research facility. The one time she looks in a mirror she is appalled to see the bruising and stitches on her face, and her leg and hand wrapped up like a mummy. She is very well cared for at Spiker Bio but an assortment of physicians, nurses and physical therapists, but she is bored out of her mind and thinking about all of the things she’s missing at school: exams, assignments, and even the prom.

She eventually sees the strange boy from the hospital, Solo, at Spiker but doesn’t really get the opportunity to interact with him for prolonged periods of time. She realizes it is strange that a teenage boy is at Spiker but thinks he’s maybe some kind of child prodigy and works there. After complaining to her mother about her boredom, she is given a computer project . . . create the perfect human using a virtual genetics program. Eve thinks this is a little strange, but she thinks hard about the attributes her human will have and eventually decides to create a male. Her best friend Aislin even provides a name for her creation, Adam.

Eve doesn’t know a lot about what her mother and the company does, but she does know that Spiker does a lot of good with orphan diseases. She knows that many of the employees are terrified by her mother, thus the nickname Terror Spiker, and she feels that everything may not be legitimate but she doesn’t really have any proof, except for the knowledge of what has been done to her personally. That is until Solo, her mother’s ward and son of Terra’s deceased business partners, shows Eve what’s really going on at Spiker and reveals what’s been done to her. Will Eve be able to turn her mother in to the authorities? What will happen to Eve and Spiker as a result? What will happen to Solo? How far does the genetic modification on humans go?

Mr. Grant and Ms. Applegate have provided an amazing YA thriller with Eve and Adam. Some of the science may seem to be more science fiction, but it rings true on some levels. Eve is a rather naive teenager in some respects, but this is partially due to her somewhat sheltered and neglected upbringing. Her best friend, Aislin, is trouble with a capital “T”, but their friendship works even with all of the drama Aislin brings. Solo seems to be quiet and shy, but turns out to be anything but shy. All of the characters are well developed and very realistic primarily due to their quirks. The story has a few twists and unexpected turns that keep the reader guessing as to what will happen next. Just when you think you know where the story is going, surprise! Another tool that the author’s use in presenting the story is to switch perspectives between Eve, Solo and even Adam (yes, he’s real but read the book to find out more). Eve and Adam is a quick read that kept my attention from beginning to end. I was a little disappointed with the ending until I saw that there is another book coming, Adam and Eve . . . can’t wait to read it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher through ShelfAwareness Pro. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 290: CINDER Review

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
ISBN: 9780312641894
Publication date: January 3, 2012 
Publisher: Fiewel and Friends (an imprint of MacMillan)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.  

Linh Cinder works as a mechanic in the local open market. A chance encounter brings her in contact with the prince. Prince Kaito, the crown prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, wants Cinder to fix his tutor android that is malfunctioning. Cinder needs upgraded cyborg parts but knows that her stepmother Adri will never allow her to use funds for such frivolities. Prince Kai is dealing with his own set of issues. His commonwealth is one of the most respected on earth and his father is dying of the dreaded plague. Kai must deal with an upcoming festival where he’ll be named the ruler and he must also choose a bride. To make matters worse, the lunar “queen” is pushing for him to marry her and offers a cure for the plague contingent upon that marriage.

Kai is attracted to Cinder and wants to get to know her better. Cinder is attracted to Kai but knows the friendship can’t really go anywhere or can it? As a cyborg, Cinder realizes that she is different from other humans essentially simply because of her cyborg parts. But Cinder doesn’t know where she came from or who her parents were and now that is a mystery that she wants to solve. Dealing with a budding yet secretive friendship with the crown prince is hard, but Cinder must also deal with the fact that her youngest stepsister has contracted the plague and taken to a plague center where she’ll eventually die.

Cinder is dealing with her own set of issues as a result of being a cyborg and adopted, especially once she learns that her stepmother has “donated” her as a test subject for research purposes. Cinder knows that no “cyborg” survives the research that is done and she doesn’t want to be imprisoned, tested or die. It is during this period that Cinder learns the extent of her cyborg nature and also begins to realize that she is more different than she initially believed. 

Kai must deal with a possibly hostile takeover by the lunar colony leadership especially since the Queen appears to have the ability to control the thoughts of others. Can Kai overcome the control of the Queen to do what is right for his nation? Will Kai turn his back on a cure even if it means the death of his beloved father? Can Kai and Cinder uncover the true reason behind his android’s sudden breakdown? Will Cinder be allowed to escape the commonwealth and where exactly will she go?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cinder. As with many YA books, this is one that can truly be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Although this is set in a dystopian future, it is believable. The characters are fully developed and the action and dialogue realistic. There are plenty of twists and turns in the storyline to keep the reader engaged from the beginning to the end, and I personally can’t wait for volume two to see what will happen next. Thankfully, there’s a prequel being published on January 18, 2012, so if you want to learn more about Cinder and her background check out this preview of the prequel Glitches:

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader’s edition of this book free for review purposes from the publisher through ShelfAwareness. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


It often isn’t fair that the feelings of children aren’t taken into consideration when massive family changes are about to take place. Isobel knows that her mother is making a big mistake when she marries a guy she’s only known for a few months. If that isn’t bad enough, they have to leave the city and move to a small island. Isobel is sure her life will never be the same in Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook.

There’s nothing quite worse than having to move to a new town, leaving behind all that is familiar. At least Isobel thinks there is nothing worse than having to move, except having to move to a small island town with her new stepfather and stepbrother. If that wasn’t bad enough, she also has to contend with town gossip about the deaths of her stepfather’s first wife and daughter. Isobel feels her life is coming unhinged and then she starts seeing things, or rather people that shouldn’t be there. 

Isobel doesn’t like Richard, or “Dick,” her new stepfather. The antagonism between Isobel and Dick continues to grow, as do the so-called hauntings. As a result of her behavior, Dick forces Isobel to see a local psychologist. In a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, this isn’t helpful to Isobel fitting in. To make matters worse, the psychologist is the father of the school’s resident mean girl and Miss Popularity, Nicole Percy. As hostilities continue to build between Isobel and Dick, her attraction to and subsequent “romance” with Nate, as well as her friendship with a local librarian are the only things keeping her sane. Is Isobel losing her mind like her biological father? Will her affinity for art be her way out or a continuing wedge between her and her mom? Is it possible that Dick or Nate had anything to do with the earlier deaths? Is Isobel being haunted or is there something more sinister at play? The more Isobel learns, the more she fears for her sanity and safety.

Unraveling Isobel isn’t a typical ghost story. There are moments of moaning, groaning and complaining, but these are the normal “will I fit in and do I really care” issues that many teenagers (and some adults) deal with on a regular basis. Isobel faces issues and situations that are daunting for anyone, teen or adult. Isobel isn’t happy with the situations she faces, but she tries to deal with them with very little support from her mother. Isobel isn’t a super-hero, super-athletic or a genius, she’s simply a teenage girl trying to make the “lemonade” out of the lemons life has handed her while maintaining her sanity. Unraveling Isobel is classified as a YA story, but like so many YA books, there’s something that may appeal to readers of all ages. 

Look for Unraveling Isobel to be released on 01/03/2012 by Simon Pulse.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 219: VIRTUOSITY Review

Carmen Bianchi is not a typical teenager. She is a virtuoso violinist and her entire life revolves around the violin. She is preparing to compete in the most prestigious violin competition in the world. But at age seventeen, Carmen has always been a “good girl” and done exactly as told, until now. At the top there is nowhere to go but down. Will Carmen crash and burn? Will she find herself and uncover love in the most unlikely person? These questions are asked and answered in Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez.

Carmen’s mother used to sing opera before a botched surgery scarred her vocal cords. She now functions as Carmen’s manager. Carmen has never known her father other than an occasional phone call or birthday/holiday card and gift. Her father’s parents are also mysteriously absent from her life until she becomes a violin virtuoso. Her grandparents then invest in her future by purchasing a Stradivarius violin for her to use. Carmen feels pulled and torn. She loves music and the violin but she has also become anxious about performing, especially after her disastrous performance in Japan. Of course her mother has the solution and promptly takes Carmen to a doctor for a prescription for pills to help with performance anxiety. The pills work, but Carmen finds herself taking more than one to ease her anxiety. The doctor says they aren’t addictive but she thinks he may be wrong. 

Enter Carmen’s only true competition, a teenage male violin virtuoso. Jeremy King appears to be everything that Carmen isn’t, self-assured and totally independent. Jeremy and Carmen begin as enemies and become friends. Can they ever be more than friends? Needless to say Carmen’s mother feels that Jeremy is out to sabotage Carmen’s chances in the competition. It is a cruel thing for her to say but is it possible she’s right? And what is going on with the secretive phone calls in the middle of the night? Carmen knows that there is more going on than meets the eye with her mother. When she uncovers the truth, will she be able to take a stance for what is right? Is it possible that Jeremy only wants to throw her off-guard so he can win the competition? 

Carmen goes through a lot of self-discovery in a very short period of time. This isn’t a story of typical teenage rebellion, nor is a typical coming-of-age story, although these are components to Virtuosity. Ms. Martinez has provided a heartfelt story about doing what is right no matter what and standing up for yourself despite the consequences. Carmen doesn’t want to disappoint her mother, her stepfather, her grandparents or her violin teacher, but she ultimately must not disappoint herself and stay true to her sense of integrity. Although Virtuosity is classified as a YA book, I feel it can be read and appreciated by readers of all ages. 

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 215: SEERS Review

Kate Bennet has been having a terrible year. A traumatic car accident resulted in both of her parents dying and the injuries she suffered causes her to see auras. She isn’t quite sure what is going on but she knows it probably isn’t good. Heather Frost explores Kate’s new abilities in Seers.

If being a teenager isn’t bad enough, now Kate must deal with the notion that she truly isn’t like everyone else. She also knows that the changes to her are making her relationship with her boyfriend Aaron worse. Aaron doesn’t understand why she’s so distant and she can’t really explain it to him. Enter a new kid at school, Patrick. Kate knows he’s different because his aura isn’t like anyone else. She’s also strangely attracted to him. Patrick just seems to understand her on so many levels. When he reveals that he’s a “Guardian,” basically a guardian angel, and that he’s been sent to protect and guide her things start to make a little more sense. Patrick even warns her of the demons that want to use her abilities for nefarious means. 

Kate is torn between being loyal to Aaron and being true to herself. Kate is still coming to grips with the loss of her parents but Aaron seems to feel she has had months so her grief should be over. Kate knows that she no longer has romantic feelings for Aaron but isn’t quite sure how to break things off. In addition, she and Patrick must also deal with the onslaught of demons in the area. Can Kate and Patrick save Kate’s family and the town from the ongoing evil? Can they ever be more than friends? Why are the demons so interested in her abilities?

Seers is fast-paced YA paranormal romance. Patrick and his friends aren’t typical guardian angels, and it is perhaps this that makes for such an interesting read. Kate’s family isn’t perfect but they do appear to be rather normal in their abnormality. Kate’s grandparents have moved in to raise Kate and her sisters. This scenario seems to follow along with modern society as family is no longer just parents raising children but might be grandparents raising grandchildren or aunts/uncles raising nieces and nephews, etc. Seers appears to be the first in a series so look for more from Kate and Patrick in the future.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


“In 2083, chocolate and caffeine are illegal, water is carefully rationed, books are scarce, and New York City is rife with poverty and crime.” That little blurb was found on the back of the ARC of All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin and that was what initially drew me to this story. 

Anya Balanchine is not a typical sixteen year old. She has to see to the care of her aging and dying grandmother, as well as her twelve-year-old sister Nattie and nineteen-year-old brain-damaged brother Leo. If that wasn’t difficult enough she must do this while attending school and dealing with the reputation forged by her family . . . her criminal, mafia-like family. It also doesn’t help that her family has legitimate and illegitimate ties to the chocolate industry, especially when her ex-boyfriend becomes poisoned by her family’s chocolate. Anya is, of course, the prime suspect. She is promptly arrested and thrown into juvenile detention. Fortunately for Anya, she had recently befriended Goodwin “Win” Delacroix, son of the new attorney in the District Attorney’s office. Win’s father is able to have her charges dismissed and she is sent home. But she returns to the same chaos she left behind, and now she must deal with family politics and scheming in order to protect her brother.

As I said earlier, Anya is not a typical sixteen year old. She was forced to grow up and assume adult controls at a very early age. It helps that she is a very smart young lady and likeable. She comes across as prickly but she is forced to weigh the pros and cons of any given situation before jumping in. She tries to be the protector for everyone . . . her sister, her brother, her best friend Scarlet, and her boyfriend Win. When tragedy strikes (expected in some form but startling nonetheless), Anya must also protect her immediate family and friends from her extended family. 

Anya’s story was captivating from beginning to end. Although this is classified as a YA book, I feel that it could easily be read and appreciated by many. All These Things I’ve Done provides great family and personal drama, romance, and intrigue set in not-too distant future in an all too believable dystopian society. I was a little saddened to leave Anya, Nattie, and Win until I learned that this was just the first in the Birthright series by Ms. Zevin. I eagerly await the next installment . . .  

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Shelf Awareness Pro. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”