Book Review: The Seers (Book 2) by Julianna Scott

17457717Synopsis:

After nearly being drained of her ability and betrayed by a man her father trusted, Becca Ingle was left with one clue — Ciaran Shea. He holds the key to the downfall of the power-mad Holder, Darragh, and can ensure the safety of both Holder and Human kind alike… but is he willing to help?

Becca, Alex, Jocelyn, and Cormac set out for Adare Manor to meet with the Bhunaidh, an aristocratic group of pure blooded Holders of whom Ciaran is a rumored member. However, when Becca discovers that they might not be the only ones after the information Ciaran has, everyone begins to wonder if Bhunaidh might not be as uninvolved with Darragh as they claim.

A race to uncover Ciaran’s secrets begins, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. Becca will have to call on every ability at her disposal to uncover the truth, all the while knowing that sometimes the answer is more dangerous than the question.

About the Author: Julianna-Scott-Nov-2012-250

Julianna was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent the majority of her educational career convinced she would be a musician. However, after receiving her music degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, she realized that she’d been born in the wrong era for her dreams of singing jazz to adoring fans clad in zoot-suits and flapper dresses to come true, and began to wonder if her true calling might be elsewhere.

While Julianna had always excelled in writing throughout school, she’d never considered it a career possibility until about three years ago, when she’d gotten her first story idea and decided to go for it. She grabbed her laptop, started typing away, and has never looked back.

Website    Goodreads   Twitter

My Review:

I really feel that this series would make a fantastic movie. It’s kind of a paranormal sci-fi that uses all the familiar aspects of YA that we’re used to, but in a shinier wrapper.

Becca is a great character. She’s not one of those soppy teen angst types that you just want to slap; she’s funny and courageous without being too unrealistic – which is hard in a book with some very strong fantasy and supernatural themes. She did let the side down though a few times and dipped out of character by blabbing to others who could have been against her, but hey – we all do that in real life, so actually, although annoying for a hero to do, was actually very believable.

From a writer’s perspective, there were a few clichés in there, in terms of characters and events, but the whole thing is written beautifully and flows well. I did feel the plot slowed down in places, and personally I like more action and less talking (but that’s just me) I did read the first book before this one, and you really do have to read them in order to truly understand the character motivations and events that take place. There was a bit of swearing in this, which is dancing a fine line for a YA book. As an author myself I understand the debate; there’s a need to make dialogue believable and if something bad happens your character isn’t going to yell, “Fiddle Sticks’ but, in saying that, parents still want their kids reading something cleanly appropriate. Sh*t, I don’t think I even have the answer to this one myself!

The front covers are very classy, but don’t really say much about the story. I’d have preferred a few characters on the front as a visual and also to clearly define it as YA fiction to the less researched reader.

Overall I’d give The Seers 4 out of 5 stars, if you enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series – you’ll love these books.

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Interview with Laura Lam

5806077Tell us about your publishing journey…

I sent off my first barely-finished manuscript and, to my surprise and bemusement, I had a revision request and, once I revised, I had a publishing deal and an agent. But before that, I studied creative writing at university, focusing mostly on short fiction and poetry.

What do you love about being an author?

That first buzz of getting a new idea, when you have that tingle in your fingers that means it’s an idea that will possibly turn into a novel, rather than a passing fancy. Getting a really nice review or a piece of reader mail. Finishing a book and holding the final, final copy in your hands for the first time.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

The stress, the difficulty in making a living wage, the uncertainty, and negative reviews.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Just write.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

Tyrion Lannister. It would be an amusing meal. We’d eat a meat pie and swig beer. Pantomime-144dpi

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

Mapping the mind by Rita Carter – a nonfiction book about neuroscience. Absolutely fascinating and accessible to a layperson like me.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

I’d like to visit the time that’s almost my present, like the early 80s or late 70s. Think it would be interesting.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?

 Micah –  Saoirse Rionan or Sterling Knight

Drystan – Alex Pettyfer (in looks, at least. Not seen him act in anything)

Cyan – Ziyi Zhang

Maske – Ralph Fiennes

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

For pure escapism and unwinding – Masterchef. It’s the perfect thing to watch after a long day of work, writing, and the gym.

What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

My childhood cat, when I was 7.

cover38296-mediumWhat’s the best part of Xmas for you?

Time off work!

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

I’d say I’ve been fairly nice this year.

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

I’m hoping it’ll be a trilogy, but at the moment the third book has not been commissioned.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

Be kinder to myself.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be?

“What’s Christmas?”

Where can fans find you online?

 Website: http://www.lauralam.co.uk

Twitter: @LR_Lam

Facebook: http://facebook.com/lauralamauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/micahgrey

Tumblr: http://lauraroselam.tumblr.com/

Bio and photo can be found here: http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/about/

Interview with Cassandra Clare

Cassandra ClareTell us about your publishing journey…

I’ve always loved to write stories, but I didn’t start taking it seriously as a career option until after I finished graduate school. At that point I began writing short stories and sending them off to publications, and I also started work on a novel—The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. It was a couple of years before I was ready to take the plunge and send it out to agents. It didn’t catch anyone’s eye agent-wise, but I did send it to Angry Robot’s first Open Door month. They picked it up, and my thus my career began!

What do you love about being an author?

Well, it’s basically my dream job! I love that I’m paid to make up stories and be creative, and I love that I get to set my own hours and work from home. It really is everything I could want in a career.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

I feel like I’m not very good at the marketing side of things—I’m very shy, and I sometimes get anxious posting things on the Internet. But getting published has helped me over some of that, actually.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

This was framed as writing advice, but honestly I think it’s good life advice in general: learn to distinguish between goals and dreams. A goal is something that you can do completely on your own, without depending on luck or other people (for example, write a thousand words a day). A dream is something that’s ultimately out of your control to achieve (for example, get published). By acheiving your goals, you’re able to work toward your dream.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

For some reason, my initial response to this question was Hannibal Lecter, which is a horrific answer. But I think the reason I thought of him is because dinner with Lecter would be a grand, gourmet affair, assuming you insisted on going full vegetarian. But after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized I could get the grandness without the horror by eating a meal at Hogwarts. I think of all the Harry Potter characters I’d most liked to eat with Remus Lupin, so if Dumbledore could arrange for the two of us to chow down in the Great Hall, eating roast chicken and butterbeers and sticky toffee pudding, that would be excellent.

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

I recently finished Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics and I loved it! I read Night Film, her most recent book, about a month ago and it completely sucked me in, so I was excited to read Special Topics, which is her first book. I just adored the characters, the language, and the way the plot compels you forward.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

Probably the late 1950s/early 1960s, because I love the clothes, art, architecture, and music of that time period, particularly that of the counterculture. Plus I have reeeeeeally bad vision, so I’d definitely want to go back to a time when I could at least get glasses.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?cover22471-medium

For young Cat, I’d like to see Kara Hayward cast—she played Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom. For old Cat, I’d love someone like Kate Winslet, who always does a wonderful job with complex, layered characters. Finn was always the hardest for me to cast. I wrote a blog post about this very question when Mad Scientist’s Daughter first came out, and I named Danny Pudi as my choice for Finn. I still think he’d be great, but I’m also curious to hear what others who have read the book would think!

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

This is a very difficult question for me because I love television (movies too, but in recent years TV has really been trouncing movies in terms of originality and watchablity and really general quality). There are several TV shows that I’ll always return to, like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Mad Men, but there are also several more recent shows that I’ve gotten obsessed with. I think my favorite of those would be American Horror Story: Coven. On one hand it’s full of random campy horror tropes, but on the other hand the story focuses on several fairly complex female characters and tends to deal with women’s issues. Also, Jessica Lange is a flawless queen.

What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

I grew up in South Texas, which has extremely mild winters. As a kid, I used to ask Santa for a white Christmas every year, but of course it didn’t happen, the typical late-December meteorological conditions of Texas being what they are. However, when I was in college, a freak snowstorm blew across south Texas on Christmas Eve. I was living in Houston at the time but was in my hometown of Victoria for Christmas; Victoria received eleven inches of snow overnight, one of the few places in Texas to receive that much snowfall. So when I woke up on Christmas day my neighborhood looked exactly like the end of a Christmas movie. It was perfect.

What’s the best part of Xmas for you?

I love so much about Christmas—putting up lights and decorations, shopping for and wrapping gifts, even Christmas music (I know, I know). But I think my very favorite thing is experiencing the traditions that have built up over the years. What food you eat, where you go and on what day, how the presents are opened, all of it. And it’s interesting to see how things vary from family to family. For example, in my dad’s family, gifts are opened in a frenzy of flying ribbons and paper, with people shouting thank you across the room, just on the off-chance the giver hears it. In my mom’s family, gifts are opened in a neat, orderly fashion, one person at a time while everyone snaps photos. I love the contrast.

As a kid every year my Christmases were the exact same. Now that I’m adult those childhood traditions don’t fit anymore, and every year I find myself creating new ones. It’s exciting!

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

Hmmn, good question.

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a stand-alone novel, but I am working on a couple of new novels that are similar in style and theme.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do have a set of writing goals for the year: revise and complete two YA novels and at least one adult novel.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be?

Cat: Happy holidays! Hope you get all the presents you want.

Finn: May this time of year be full of happiness for you.

Where can fans find you online?

I’m on Twitter at @mitchondrial (https://twitter.com/mitochondrial), on Facebook as Cassandra Rose Clarke (https://www.facebook.com/authorcassandraroseclarke) , and of course I have a website at cassandraroseclarke.com.

12 Books for Xmas

xmas

As we are fast approaching the festive period I ask you to stop, and take a second to think about giving yourself a wee gift, or 12. And what could be better than the gift of books! Ah, there is nothing quite like curling up with a great author and letting them weave you a tale of magic and mayhem that transports you ‘Narnia Style’ out of your own reality.

So, I decided to do the legwork for you and feature 12 books that you could indulge in – or, if you’re feeling overly generous, buy for a loved one.

Each book has a different publication date, some will have to be pre-ordered – which is even better! The gift that keeps on giving! Order them for Xmas and, when they’re out, they will cleverly find their way to your door or eReader. I personally love turning on my Kindle and seeing a book appear fresh off the press, even better when the postman rings your doorbell and hands you a package (hmmm, that kind of sounds rude!)

So, ho, ho, ho, here they are with handy summaries and buy links. Happy reading, and to all a good read!

cover37722-medium#1 Teardrop by Lauren Kate

Never, ever cry . . .Seventeen-year-old Eureka won’t let anyone close enough to feel her pain. After her mother was killed in a freak accident, the things she used to love hold no meaning. She wants to escape, but one thing holds her back: Ander, the boy who is everywhere she goes, whose turquoise eyes are like the ocean. And then Eureka uncovers an ancient tale of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea. Suddenly her mother’s death and Ander’s appearance seem connected, and her life takes on dark undercurrents that don’t make sense. Can everything you love be washed away?

Buy Teardrop

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#2 Cracked by Eliza Crewe

Meet Meda. She eats people.Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

 Buy Cracked 

cover32669-medium#3 Bound by Night by Larrisa Ione

Nicole Martin was only eight years old when she narrowly survived a massacre: her family’s vampire slaves rebelled and killed everyone in her household. Twenty years later, Nicole now dedicates herself to finding a vaccine against vampirism . . . and eradicating the gruesome memories that give her nightmares.

Riker, a member of the wild vampire Moon Clan, is haunted by his own demons – his wife Lorraine had been captured and enslaved by the Martin family. It was during a botched escape attempt that she was killed, along with their unborn child. Still wracked with grief and anger, Riker is now fuelled solely by the desire to rescue vampire slaves . . . and slaughter their owners.

When Riker stumbles upon Nicole in a chance meeting, he immediately recognizes her as a member of the Martin family that once enslaved his wife -and she recognizes him as the wild vampire she saw kissing a pregnant slave in the moments before her violent death – an image that has haunted her dreams for years.

When Riker kidnaps Nicole and they spend a night together in a cave on the way back to his clan, suddenly they begin to realize that they aren’t as different from one another as they may have thought – and they’re finding themselves drawn to one another . . .

Buy Bound by Night

#4 Trancehack by Sonya Clark cover36157-medium

It’s 2065. Those born with magic abilities live in government-run zones, without rights or freedoms. Fear of magic created this segregated world and fear keeps it intact.

A high-profile murder brings Detective Nathan Perez to Magic Born Zone 13. He’s had little experience with the Magic Born and isn’t sure what to expect during his first encounter with a witch, but he never thought he’d be so drawn to her.

Trancehacker Calla Vesper uses magic to break into computers and aid the Magic Born underground. She has no interest in helping a cop, even if he is smoking-hot, but money’s tight and Nate offers a tidy amount for help navigating the Zone. Calla’s determined to keep it all business, but sparks start flying before the investigation even gets started.

When Calla’s trancehacking and Nathan’s investigation uncover a conspiracy, Calla becomes a target. Nate can protect her by keeping her role a secret—but then who will protect Nate?

Buy Trancehack 

#5 Doll Bones by Holly Blackcover27289-medium

Twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys. Or at least, that’s what his father thinks.

But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it’s no good. There’s one toy that still wants to play with him. A doll that’s made from the bones of a dead girl.

The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It’s time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery. It’s time to grow up.

A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.

Buy Doll Bones

#6 Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L Reid cover28835-medium

When demons invade her dreams and tease of her death, Quinn, and Aaron, a boy with amnesia, must find a way to banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.

Book Summary: It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and teasing of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.

Buy Pretty Dark Nothing

cover24855-medium#7 Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

New York jeweller Garet James has her fair share of problems: money, an elderly father, a struggling business. One day she comes across an antiques shop she’d never noticed before. The owner possesses an old silver box that’s been sealed shut. Would she help an old man and open it, perhaps? She does…and that night strange things begin to happen. It’s as if her world – our world – has shifted slightly, revealing another, parallel place that co-exists without our knowledge: the world of the Fey…

Garet learns that one of her ancestors was ‘the Watchtower’: an immortal chosen to stand guard over the human and the fey worlds – a role that she has, it seems, inherited from her mother. But the equilibrium between these two existences is under threat. The 16th-century magician and necromancer Dr John Dee has returned, the box has been opened and the demons of Despair and Discord released. In a race against time and impending apocalypse, it is Garet who must find Dee…and close the box.

Buy Black Swan Rising:

#8 Acid by Emma Pass cover31201-medium

2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.

By Acid

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#9 Scorched by Mari Mancusi

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Brown is used to her grandfather’s crazy stories, so she never believed the latest treasure he brought home was a real dragon’s egg. Not until their home is invaded by soldiers trying to steal it and a strange boy who tells her the world as she knows it will be wiped out in a fiery dragon war—unless they work together to stop it. Meantime, there’s a different voice whispering to Trinity, calling to her, telling her what to do…the dragon inside her egg is not ready to give up without a fight.

By Scorched

#10 Shadow Play by Laura Lam 

The sequel to Pantomime

The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.cover38296-medium

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…

A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.

Buy Shadow Play

cover38277-medium#11 The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

The Almost Girl is a richly imagined story of defiance, courage, and heart. It is the tale of a girl who finds her own way on her own terms, a girl who won’t let what she is define her, and a girl who will sacrifice everything she is for the ones she loves. It is a story of someone who eclipses her predestined fate to become something more … something extraordinary.

Buy The Almost Girl

#12 The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke cover22471-medium

“Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task now is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion… and more.

But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

Buy The Mad Scientist’s Daughter

Book review: The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pierce

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Synopsis:

16 year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her… She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.

And then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret-society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… And where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death. Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him? And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book. It is such an interesting concept and really sets the start of an amazing YA series. The character of Taylor was written well, it was just like I remember school being and how I felt when when I was a teen  – although I didn’t have to deal with ghosts and murderers (that I’ll admit to anyway!)

From a writer’s perspective, it was a little jumpy in places, although I’m assuming that was because I was reading an Advanced Reader Copy. It had an interesting murder mystery running alongside the supernatural plot, however for me it was easy to work out what happened – maybe because I’m an adult? I could have done with a few more red herrings and twists in that department.

The paranormal story arc is based on Egyptian legend, however with the main character being of Chinese heritage, I did feel that the author missed an opportunity. China’s legends are strong and rich and I was surprised that the story wasn’t rooted there rather than a separate, and much more over-used, culture as Egypt. In my opinion, the story would have better if it has been more culturally linear.

The front cover is stunning and really captures the essence, dare I say soul, of the book and I think the artist really portrayed Taylor’s character.

Overall, I’d give The Weight of Souls 4 out of 5 starts. I great read that felt like it finished too soon – so lets hope there’s another in the pipeline – it was certainly set up well in the end to carry on.

Also, don’t forget, the publishers Strange Chemistry (YA imprint of UK publishers Angry Robot) currently have their door wide open for un-agented submissions. If you want to pop along and feel the draft: Strange Chemistry Open Door 2013  I know that I’m currently beavering away on something for to send in.

Now, if you want to enjoy The Weight of Souls yourself, you’ll have hang on till August 2013 – but you can pre-order here on Amazon.co.uk