Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Series: N/A 
Author: Cyn Balog
Page Count: 288
Published: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  5 Stars ★★★★★

I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Victoria has anxiety, is a bit of a loner and attends St. Ann's school. As a new student, she doesn't have many friends, but she's happy to have her sweet, agoraphobic boyfriend Andrew in her life. She's fairly satisfied with her seemingly uneventful life when Zachary, called 'Z', arrives at St. Ann's and find himself in the spotlight. Everybody likes Z, and to Victoria's surprise, they become friends.

Friendship quickly turns into obsession and infatuation, eventually going sour. Manipulation and mind games accompany rumors and rising tensions, until the unthinkable happens.

This is a story about murder and obsession, which is right up my alley. When I saw this on Netgalley I requested a copy and I was thrilled to find that I had been selected to read and review this book! I'm so grateful that I was given this opportunity because this has become yet another book on my ever-growing "favourites" list.

First, there is the writing style and tone. While the first part of the book isn't exactly filled with death and darkness and all that good stuff, there is definitely a grim undertone behind every word. I could tell that things were going to get incredibly ugly later on in the book and this kept me reading because I just had to know what would happen. I haven't read many books with this kind of writing style but this one had me on the edge of my seat from the very start. Mixed within Victoria's narration are news reports, cell phone records and other clues about the murder which added to the mysterious feel of the book overall.

Then there are the characters. Victoria with her anxiety and love for her boyfriend, and later her obsession with Z, was the main character and narrator. I have mixed feelings about her, as I connected with her over her anxiety and her love for those close to her, but she did things that made me so angry! Her careless betrayals and reckless actions cost her a lot within her own relationships and negatively affected others. While I was often disappointed with her, I feel that her flaws and indiscretions were important characterization and made her more interesting as a character.

Then there was Z. He's mysterious and secretive, yet friendly, and because of this people are drawn to him. At first I didn't really understand his appeal but as I read on it was as if I felt his presence in the same way that the characters did, and that I better understood the way he was perceived by others. Along with the rumors surrounding him, it makes sense that he'd be popular and even sought after by other students at St. Ann's. He was nearly the opposite of Victoria in this way. As with Victoria, he definitely had his flaws and he often made me disappointed or even angry. However, I appreciated his flaws because, along with his secrets, it made him seem more real or believable.

Andrew, Victoria's boyfriend, was my favourite character. I liked him because he was sweet, forgiving, and because I connected with a lot of his experiences. Unfortunately he was a bit too meek and let others hurt him, which added to the emotional aspect of the novel. His relationship with Victoria was put under a lot of strain, and she treated him less than nicely a few times, but he seemed to keep it together which I found admirable. Between Victoria and Andrew, I was happy to see some representation of anxiety disorders in YA fiction.

Considering the ending, I can say that I was absolutely shocked. With other books I can often guess what's going to happen and be at least partly right, but besides knowing that there was going to be a murder, I was completely wrong with my guesses. The ending was simultaneously emotional and terrifying, and was one of the best conclusions to a YA novel I have read in a long time. I had to go back and re-read a few pages to really grasp what was going on. I feel like twist endings can sometimes be predictable themselves, but not this one.

This is a very dark book with memorable characters and an ending that tore me to pieces! I absolutely recommend it! If you prefer light-hearted books then I'd say to steer clear of this one, but if you're looking for dark YA books with emotional and shocking endings then this is a must read.

Find Unnatural Deeds on Goodreads

Monday, 20 June 2016

Unique & Intriguing Titles

Hey everyone! I'm trying out a new feature showcasing some of the most unique and/or intriguing book titles I have come across. I hope you all enjoy.

"Utsukushii Kuro" by David Gerald King

The title of this book translates to "Beautiful Black". I was intrigued to find an English book with a Japanese title. I also have to mention that I love the font used for the title on the cover!

The blurb:

"My name is Jessika Kendell, but please, call me Jess. There are only a few things you need to know. I'm an American. I'm a student of Japanese. And I'm very much in love with an amazing woman I met on my year studying abroad. These are the memories of our relationship, how it began at least, and a lot of the madness that followed. I'm trusting you with my journal, here, so no jokes about how dated my references are.

Our first year together was...hectic, to say the least. We all know how bad relationship drama can be, not to mention an international relationship, not to mention a lesbian international relationship, not to mention a lesbian international relationship with a vampire.

Had I not mentioned that?

Yes, this is a story about loving a vampire. About seeing things humans usually aren't allowed to see. About learning what's true and what's not. What changes and what's always the same. And you're being trusted with it."

Find Utsukushii Kuro on Amazon and Goodreads

What book titles do you find unique and intriguing?

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Discounts & Deals

Today I wanted to discuss discounts and deals on books and where to find them!

One site I subscribe to is BookBub. I'd say its basically the same as eBookStage, another site I subscribe to. Both are free for readers to use.

I get daily emails from both alerting me of deals in my favourite genres, and while both usually show me the same deals, sometimes one will have a listing which the other does not. This makes subscribing to both worthwhile.

Deals generally cover all eBook options from Kindle to Kobo to Apple iBooks. One difference is that for the author 'follow' option, there is a larger selection on BookBub than eBookStage.

A newer site similar to these has been brought to my attention. Book Swag is also free for readers to subscribe to, and lists discounts and deals on various books. It's rather new and there does not appear to be many listed deals as of yet, but as time goes on, I'm sure it'll grow and prove to be just as useful for the reader as BookBub and eBookStage. A bonus, for myself personally, is that I love the aesthetics of the site itself. I can't speak to the quality of the actual service, but I'm going to give it a try!

What sites or services do you use to keep track of the latest book deals and discounts? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Where No One Knows by Jo Ramsey


Series: N/A
Author: Jo Ramsey
Page Count: 180
Published: June 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
  4 Stars ★★★★

 I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Kellan is forced to flee his home after he accidentally sets fire to his stepfather's friend. Running from vengeful members of a church who disapproves of his transgender status, Kellan struggles to control his pyro-kinetic and psychic abilities. 

While he is on the run he is assisted by Shad, who also has psychic abilities and who hopes to send him to a home, for people with these abilities, safely. But with blood-thirsty men on his trail, there is danger at every turn.

I love reading books about psychic powers of all kinds, but I find pyro-kinesis an especially intriguing idea. I feel like this book executed Kellan's struggle with pyro-kinesis, along with his other powers, incredibly well and without any sort of cliches. I liked the way that the author described what it felt like for Kellan when he was close to unleashing his powers, as it made me feel like I was experiencing the build-up and struggles just as Kellan was. 

Kellan was a very, very likeable character. He exhibited many positive qualities throughout the book, particularly bravery and determination, during each part of his journey to safety. I'd say that he is a positive role model as well, doing what was right despite the consequences and refusing to return hate with hate.

It was nice to read a book featuring a transgender character without the plot being completely based on this fact. While books primarily discussing identity are important, it is nice to see representation of these characters in other situations as well, and this book did just that.

There was a lot of suspense present throughout this novel. Whenever Kellan feared being caught by his stepfather's friends, I was worrying along with him! Being sucked into the story like this made everything all the more enjoyable and believable.

It's important to note that this book didn't really contain any romance, except for a few crushes and some attraction between characters. There is also some tension between two of the characters but it doesn't affect the plot in any major way. I was surprised because most YA books I've come across use romance as a primary theme, but this one did just fine without it.

My only major issue with this book is Kellan appearing not to hate the members of the church who hurt him and his family so much, who literally tracked him down with intent to kill him. Like I mentioned, I think it's awesome that he refused to return hate with hate, but on the other hand, its a bit unrealistic considering the magnitude of what he was going through, thanks to these people. There were other little things throughout the book that irked me a little bit, but they're not significant to the overall quality of the writing or story.

I recommend this book to fans of twist endings, stories about being on the run and YA. If you're looking for a good book featuring a transgender character and psychic abilities, or something without romance as the main focus, you should check this one out!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Harmony Ink Press Anthology 2016

Hey everybody! I have an announcement to make.

In October 2016, Harmony Ink Press is going to be releasing an anthology featuring one of my short stories!

My story "I Am Logan" under the pseudonym Caleb Andrews has been chosen for inclusion in this year's Harmonious Hearts anthology. This means that my lifelong dream of becoming a published author is finally coming true!

Link to previous Harmony Ink Anthologies
Link to Harmony Ink Press's post on the Young Author Challenge

I wanted to share this with all of you because this is a really big step in my life and my dream literally coming true! I'm so excited.

Have you ever had a story published? Let me know in the comments!