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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Blitz: One is Come (plus get a free book)

Title: One is Come

Author: C. H. MacLean

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Book Description:

One is Come is the first installment in a YA fantasy saga full of hidden plot twists and turns. The centuries-old prophesy of the One is being fulfilled, and the ancient dragon clans are coming out of hiding to remake the world. The king of the magic users will stop at nothing to be sure the prophecy is fulfilled the right way--with his oppressive government ruling. As they struggle for power, Haylwen (14) and her brother Cadarn (16) just happen to be caught dead center.

In this first book, meet fourteen-year-old Haylwen Rightad. She doesn’t think “crazy” runs in her family, but she might be wrong. Fish seem to listen when she talks. She finds herself wearing jewelry she can’t remember putting on. And then there was the explosion at school…and her ex-principal trying to kidnap her…and her brother? Don’t even ask. All she wants is to be an ordinary teenager. Live a normal life. Go to school, make friends, and not have to move a zillion times. Oh, and getting the bullies off her back? That’d be nice, too.

What Haylwen doesn’t know is why all this crazy stuff is happening to her. But she’s about to find out. The bad news? Things aren’t going to be “normal” any time soon!

With a mysterious prophecy, magical secrets and more than a few dragons, ONE IS COME is the first book in the adventures of siblings Haylwen and Cadarn as they come to discover they have powers they never dreamt of — and a destiny only they can fulfill.

Available at Amazon
Free January 22-26

Haylwen ran. Her knees hurt, her thighs chafed, her belly and boobs jiggled out of control. Stupid bras were either hideous or didn’t do anything, she thought. She hated running, and still she ran faster. The pain in her knees and thighs distracted her from thinking about how sad she felt. Moving again! I wouldn't even get to tell Kim goodbye! So she ran, and didn’t care how she looked holding her chest.
She ran from her stupid parents telling her they were going to move again, knowing it was all her fault this time. She ran from the fear she would never have any friends. She ran away from her creepy doll, and the fact that it didn’t matter that Cadarn’s present was confiscated, it was still so much better. She couldn’t even really see where she was going, but still she ran. She left the road and took to a hiking trail.
Maybe I’d never go back. Maybe I'd get so lost that I couldn’t go back. That would teach them. Stupid brother would probably be happier without me there. She finally slowed to a walk when she realized she really had no idea where she was. She looked back, and around. Where did the hiking trail go? Surrounded by trees, she heard water trickling nearby. This must be the woods on the other side of the old train tracks. She didn’t remember crossing train tracks. She went a bit further, then stopped where the little creek came out of a small lake. Looking back, it wasn’t really a trail, just happened to be where there were fewer bushes and ferns, where the tree leaves had collected randomly. She could be the first one who had ever been here. Struck by a feeling of loneliness that overwhelmed the last of her anger, she fell to her knees and cried.
Something in the lake came up to investigate. As it got closer, it took the form of a giant catfish. It swam closer to where Haylwen’s tears were falling on the creek bank. It hesitated for a second, its long antennae slowly waving. Then it swam up to Haylwen and poked its head up out of the water.
Haylwen heard the soft sound of the big fish’s head coming out of the water and sat up, her tears suddenly stopping. “Crap!” she blurted, startled.
The fish didn’t move, just slowly waved its long antennae.
Haylwen choked out a laugh of a sort. “Or, carp?”
The fish just floated there. Somehow its wide mouth and whiskers made it look solemn.
Haylwen looked back. “Um, hello?”
Nothing. But it didn’t swim away. That’s weird, she thought. Or maybe I’ve gone crazy.
“Sorry if I am disturbing you, Mr. Fish,” she said. Oh, for sure, she was crazy, talking to a fish. Not that she cared, at this point. Apparently, she was desperate enough for a friend that even a fish would do, never mind if it wasn’t a very attentive fish. So, she started talking. Softly, starting with how she was going to have to move and that it was her fault, somehow. Soon, she was crying, telling about all the times she had lost friends… well… kids who could have been friends if she stayed anywhere long enough. About how lonely it felt to have no friends, and how maybe it would be better if she just didn’t exist. She had never really said that out loud, never really even thought it out loud before. She just sat there and sobbed, the tears pouring down her face.
Her sobs slowed, then stopped. She looked up, and was somehow not surprised to see the fish was still there, antennae waving calmly. She wiped the tears from her face, shaking them off her hands with a flick. She saw the tears hit the fish right between the eyes, heard the soft splat.
The fish blinked in surprise.
“Oh, sorry, Mr. Fish,” she said. “But it's water, right?”
The fish seemed to smile. I am crazy, Haylwen thought. Fish don’t smile. They can’t. They can’t blink, either, she thought. Well, I don’t think they can blink. I saw it blink, didn't I?
The fish turned and swam underwater, disappearing. Haylwen looked for it for a moment, and was rewarded with a rapidly growing spot coming toward her in the water. The catfish poked its head up, then spun around. With a quick flip of its big tail, so quickly Haylwen could do nothing other than gasp, the fish splashed water directly on her face. A lot of cold water.
Stunned, she felt it slide down over her chin and seem to settle at the hollow of her neck. She sat up, and tried to wipe her face off somewhat, and looked at the fish in shock. She may be crazy, but that was not her imagination.
The fish smiled, or whatever it was, again. It tucked its antennae back against its head, giving it a pleased expression.
Haylwen sat there for another moment, then laughed. “It’s only water, right?” She couldn’t help herself. She laughed again, laughed some more, laughed until she was crying again. She purposely flicked those laugh-tears at the fish, but missed every time. The whole situation was so ridiculous, her emotions were so out of control that she could do nothing but laugh.
When she finally stopped laughing, the fish started swimming in circles, slowly heading back to the center of the pond. At the point nearest Haylwen, it poked its head up.
She got up and brushed herself off. “Yeah, I guess I should get home too.”
The fish winked and slipped away under the water.
Haylwen shook her head. Even if she had friends, they would think she was crazy if she told them. She touched that spot on her neck that was still cool and promised herself she would get her mother to go bra shopping when she got home. Whenever that was. And look up if fish can wink. She got up and started walking back, not even feeling a gentle touch on her mind.
By the time she got home, she was exhausted and starving. She went to the bathroom, then into the kitchen to get a snack. Her father was there, making a cup of tea.
“Hey, Hayl.”
Haylwen attempted to ignore her father. She didn't expect him to let her get away with it, and he didn't.
As she stood there with the door to the fridge open, he stepped in front of her. “I said, Hey, Hayl. And you say...” He had a small smile on his face, but his eyes were searching hers.
Haylwen closed the door, trying to squish her father into the fridge. “Excuse me,” she said.
Abrennin stepped out of the fridge and looked at her again. “Where did you get that necklace?” he asked quietly.
“Necklace?” Haylwen said, touching her neck. The spot that had stayed cool, the spot where the water had collected now held something there. Had it always been there? She could feel a cool metal necklace around her neck, with a small round ball dangling in the hollow of her throat. Part of her would have sworn it had not been there two seconds ago. But somehow it felt like it had been there since she could remember…

About the Author:

To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm Still Alive

Hello Everyone!

Just wanted to reassure all that I am still alive and not dead :-P
I probably won't be posting much this week, as mid-terms are currently in progress and I haven't had much time to read or write reviews (though I will admit "Snow Like Ashes" was definitely worth the time I took to finish when I really ought to be studying!)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review+Giveaway: Raven

Title: Raven

Author: Pauline Creeden

Genre: YA Steampunk

Book Blurb: 
Human life has value.
The poor living in the gutter are as valuable as the rich living in a manor.
The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint.
Because of this, every life a reaper takes must be redeemed.

Raven has lived by this first tenet since she was trained by her father to become a reaper. But since his death, she’s been spending years redeeming the lives she’s taken. By her count, she’s even and it’s time for that life to end. If she settles down and becomes a wife, she might just feel human again. But on the way to the life she thinks she wants, the baron of New Haven asks her to complete a task which she cannot ignore… Just when Raven decides to give up on her life as an assassin, she’s pulled right back in.

First of all, can we please all take a moment and admire this gorgeous cover? *moment of silence* Thank you. I personally thought the cover of Raven was totally unique--I love how the different elements all somehow come together. Alright, enough cover gushing and onto the actual book review :)

It's been quite a while since I've read a steampunk book (probably why I signed up for this tour in the first place.) I was not disappointed. Raven proves to have all the "musts" in a steampunk fantasy--clockwork and zeppelins and corsets and a dash of kick-assery. Yes, I did just make up a word. I could imagine the bustle of crowds on cobblestone streets, humans mingling with mechanical mans. I think the world building and descriptive aspect of the novel was Creedon's strong point. I enjoyed how she wove details into the plot without slowing it down.

The novel is told from dual POV: Raven Steele (awesome name, no?) and Jack Grant. Raven's trained her whole life to be a reaper--whenever she takes a life, she must redeem it by saving a life. A pretty cool concept if I don't say so myself. The reapers used to work for the nobles, but due to some bad political blood, they are now considered to be at the bottom of the society. I enjoyed the fact the Raven worked in a career field traditionally dominated by males--there were some stereotyping she had to overcome, which made the story that much more interesting.

Jack Grant is a character I liked well enough. However, I think I would've liked him better had he been fleshed out more. As the captain of the Duke's guard, he has been given orders to hunt down Raven after she is accused of "kidnapping" Darius, the young son of the Duke. However, he must struggle to choose between obeying his orders and listening to his conscience as the Duke's plan for assassinating his own son begins to unravel for all to see.

The plot was fun enough, if not a little bit predictable. But hey, it was still a solid plot and got it's job done. The pace moved along at a good clip--perhaps even too fast as some places. I guess the biggest quip I had with Raven was the romance between Jack and Raven. Although it definitely wasn't an insta-love scenario (I mean, Jack was trying to kill her...not exactly the best way to win a lady's heart), I still felt like their relationship was a bit forced.  I would've liked more build up--more showing, less telling of their relationship development, if I may say so myself.

Overall, Raven was a satisfying read and is sure to satisfy steampunk lovers. Readers of fantasy and a "hero's journey" type of story should enjoy this novel as well.


About the Author
In simple language, Pauline Creeden creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long. Pauline is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy.

Armored Hearts, her joint effort with author Melissa Turner Lee, has been awarded the Crowned Heart for Excellence by InDtale Magazine. It is also the 2013 Book Junkie’s Choice Winner in Historical Fiction. Her debut novel, Sanctuary, won 1st Place Christian YA Title 2013 Dante Rosetti Award and 2014 Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best YA Horror Novel.

Author links: