Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Rush by Eve Silver

So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.
My Rating
My Review
Rush combines everything I love about contemporary with everything I love about science fiction. It is fast-paced, action-packed, and has believable conflicts that range from best friend and boy problems to needing to survive against a deadly alien race. If that doesn't make readers want to snatch up the novel alone, I don't know what will.
The concept of Rush is a rush in itself. There aren't many slow moments at all, as the pages just keep turning and before you know it, it's 3am, you're on the final page, and you have school the next day. Although the idea in itself doesn't seem too revolutionary (I know, I've read Ender's Game), Silver crafted a story that still felt thoroughly unique. Maybe it's the addictive writing, maybe it's the fact that it has a normal life aspect while the characters are not in the game...whatever it is, I wasn't able to get enough of it. There are enough twists in the plot to keep readers guessing, and they aren't obvious. Even when I was so smugly sure I knew what was going on...I didn't. And it was so fabulous to be wrong.

I love the characters of Rush. Miki is strong, funny and has a very authentic teenage voice. It's incredibly easy to root for her character in the story. The relationship between her and Jackson felt very natural. The bickering and biting style of flirting isn't exactly unheard of, but it's something I will never tire of. Ever. The aggravation the two caused each other was so much more delicious than a strictly romantic scenario would have been. Not to mention, Jackson as a character was highly intriguing. He isn't the one-dimensional pretty-boy love interest that can occasional plague works. He has a lot going for him, and his flaws only made me love him more. Plus, is it just me, or could we use some more long-haired dreamboats in YA?

What I really loved about Rush was how believable it felt, despite the fact that it's science fiction. With the way that the game was set up, intertwined with reality, it felt like something entirely real. At least for the time reading. Not to mention, the game itself was highly interesting. The action and intense imagery might it so I was almost there. (Maybe it's the actor in me speaking, but this would make a fantastic film, even just for cinematic reasons.) All in all, the novel is exciting and addictive, and I can't wait to get my hands on the second book.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review & Author Interview: Venice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna (Tour Stop)

A Story of Vengeance, Forgiveness, and Love 

After her husband's untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family's villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin-a father she hasn't spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father's last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead-and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.

My Rating


My Review

Although Venice in the Moonlight is a short read, it is also a beautiful one. The language is polished and stunning, and the pacing will keep readers turning pages until the reach the satisfying end. However, what I loved most about the novel was the world it was able to transport me into.

The only thing better than a fiction novel set in Venice is a historical fiction novel set in Venice. The very mention of the city brings to mind an air of mystery and intrigue, both of which set the tone of the novel. Taking place at the beginning of Carnevale with an alleged murder and possible cult? If that does not capture the beautifully mysterious feeling of a Venetian night, I don't know what does. Venice in the Moonlight will transport readers back in time to this wonderful city, and doesn't let you go.

The characters of Venice in the Moonlight are brilliantly developed. Marietta easily grabbed my admiration. She was a strong female protagonist who made decisions of her own, which isn't always found in historical novels. Although she had to deal with a lot, she kept pressing forward, keeping her best interests in mind. Nico was a brilliant counterpart for her. Although he had a disability, it wasn't the focus of him as a character, and he never let it stop him. That being said, his blindness wasn't made light of either. Not to mention, he's a very swoon-worthy character, which is always a bonus.

Speaking of which, what would the setting of Venice be without at least a little romance? And I loved the romance in the novel. Despite the quick pacing of the novel, it didn't develop too quickly, but felt natural and absolutely delicious. But as much as I loved the romance, it made it all the better that the relationship was not the sole focus of the plot.

The mystery of Marietta's father's death is not only intriguing, but offers suspense into the novel. Marietta actively tried to gain the truth of what happened, which added to both the movement of the novel and her character. Although the conclusion seemed to come a bit abruptly, the arc of the story worked well overall.

For all of the reasons above, as well as others, Venice in the Moonlight is a lovely read. A great escape for an afternoon or evening, it's hard to put down and highly enjoyable.

Q&A With Elizabeth McKenna

How did you do research for your book?EM: Years ago, I had traveled to Italy and fell in love with it. When I decided to use Venice as a setting, I hauled out my photo album to refresh my memory. I also read the book, A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant, which is a true love story set in the 18th century. It helped me with historical details. I also, of course, relied on the internet. I found a copy of Casanova's memoirs online, which was extremely interesting.

Do you write every day?
EM: I write every day, but I don't write fiction every day. I am a technical writer for a software company, so my fun writing has to wait until I have my "real" work done.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
EM: I wouldn't go back too far. I like the Hollywood glamor of the late 1940s/50s. I love to watch the black and white movies where the woman has semi-curled hair and a beautiful evening gown.

Favorite dessert?
It used to be anything with chocolate, but my doctor took that away from me. I love my grandmother's recipe for apple crisp.

What is your next project?
I am working on a contemporary romance titled, First Crush. Here is the description I have been using:

Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it's happening all over again at her high school reunion. Lee Archer is The One Who Got Away. Despite Jessie's best efforts, he only wanted to be friends. Fifteen years later, things are different. Lee wants more, but first Jessie has to unload some baggage—the biggest one being a psycho ex-husband. Will Jessie learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna's latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel Cera's Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.
Connect with her: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

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Cover Reveal: City of Shame (Fields of Elysium #3) by A.B Whelan

Since discovering the wormhole that connects Earth to Arkana, Molly Bennett faced joy and pain, love and death, excitement and danger unlike anybody else she knew. But her biggest challenge is about to begin. She is inside the force field, lost in Terraka City with people she doesn’t know. Life is more dangerous under Taronno’s tyranny than she and her Arkanian friends anticipated. Time is running out and she must figure out whom to trust, how to stay safe, and how to get back to her beloved Victor.

Victor Sorren’s life changed the moment Molly showed up on Arkana. His love for her came easy, but admitting it to her took every bit of courage he had. Obstacles always threatened to tear them apart, but together they overcame all of them. Now, Molly is gone and Victor doesn’t know how to deal with his worry and loneliness. Going after her would mean certain death, but this is the price he is willing to pay to see her again. The race against time has begun. Will Molly be able to find her way back to Victor before it’s too late?   
A.B. Whelan's third book of the romantic fantasy Fields of Elysium series is an other highly imaginative tale, a fast paced story about the power of love and human nature. 
City of Shame Part 1 eBook Release 
December 6, 2014

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City of Shame (Fields of Elysium, #3)
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