Crossing the Barrier (The Gray Eyes #1) by Martine Lewis
Synopsis High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.
Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.
Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?
My Review Lily Morgan is an empath. She feels what everyone else feels, but she has the ability to block those feelings. That is until Malakai slams into her in the hallway on his way to football practice. Lily hits her head and loses that ability. In high school, she’s overwhelmed with teenage emotions. Not to mention that Lily’s own mother hates her, which she can no longer shield herself from. Lily’s best friend, Sandra, and her brother, David, are the only two outside her family who know about Lily’s gift and they’re supportive in a way friends should be. Sandra helps her navigate the school hallways as she’s bombarded with everyone’s angst, drama, anger, fear, and every other emotion teens feel in the span of three minutes between classes.
Malakai and Lily have strong feelings for each other from the get go, but forces outside their control threaten to keep them apart. Other than Lily’s inability to block emotions, the paranormal aspect doesn’t really come into play much in the story. Until the very end in a surprise twist I didn’t see coming and absolutely loved!
The plot is a young adult romance. Will Lily and Malakai be together? There is a fair amount of angst threaded through this plot as one thing after another forces them to wonder if they are really meant to be. The subplotting of Lily’s relationship with her mother is interesting and a little over the top at first, until more is revealed about their relationship in yet another twist. The pacing was a little slow throughout, but not to the point that it dragged, but for a paranormal, I guess I was expecting more action.
The third-person point of view made it difficult for me to really connect with either character the way I normally do in young adult. At least at first, but once I got into the story, I almost forgot it wasn’t first person.Lily, despite her ability, is a little naive and a bit of a doormat at times. It made it hard to identify with her. I would have liked to see more backbone in her. She does grow through the story, though, and she’s tougher toward the end. Malakai has his own issues. His mother left him and his father as a child without explanation. Abandonment by your mother is tough on any kid. Add to that a usually absent military father, and Malakai is basically raising himself. I thought Malakai had a lot more depth than Lily and I was glad we got to see Lily through his eyes. I think that made her more sympathetic.
Ending The ending was my favorite part of the book and left me breathless for the next in the series.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed about Crossing the Barrier: 1. Transparency. Because Lily could feel everyone’s emotions, nothing was hidden. That was a cool angle for young adult.
2. Sandra and David. Loyal best friends are my favorite young adult trope.
3. Drama. The conflict between Lily and her mom was some of the best in the book and as the reasons became apparent, it only got better.
4. The ending. I won’t spoil anything, but it was one of the best twists I’ve read lately.
5. Football. This is my favorite sport. I thought I was going to be reading a paranormal, so the sports angle was a pleasant surprise.
Bottom Line Crossing the Barrier is essentially a contemporary young adult romance with a paranormal twist.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book – FREE from Sept. 1 through Sept. 5!!! Title: Crossing the Barrier Series: The Gray Eyes #1 Author: Martine Lewis Publisher: BMJ Chanapi Press Release Date: March 22, 2016 Pages: 380 Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Author Martine Lewis
About the Author Martine Lewis is a forty something who was born and raised in the French speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived.
Her first written endeavor was a 200-page handwritten Duran Duran bandfiction which she wrote when she was eleven years old. Of all her written work, this is the only one she no longer has.
All throughout high school, Martine wrote more bandfictions and some original work, then she went to write fanfictions in the Star Wars, Buffy and Harry Potter universes. Her fanficiton in the Potterverse are mostly centered on characters of her own creation and can be found on fanfiction.net.
Following her viewing of Roswell on Netflix in 2012, Martine wrote book two and three of the Gray Eyes Series, then went on to create the Gray Eyes Series universe in which she has been playing ever since. She writes contemporary coming-of-age romance fiction (young adult/new adult) with a twist.
Martine is an avid reader and rollerskater. She loves sushi, hot chocolate on a cold day, and the beach. But what she loves above all else is to curl on her chair with her computer and write more stories for her readers.
Martine currently lives in Houston TX with her two cats..
Romance book blogger Vivian Galdi is a girl with a plan: the Replacement Crush mission. After her longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of safe targets, determined to protect her heart and avoid anyone who pings her zing meter. But nerd-hot Dallas, the new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian’s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission, analyzing his target and taking advantage of the tactical errors in her strategy.
Does Dallas just like a good game of Replacement Crush Battlefield, or is he on his own mission to prove to Vivian that true love isn’t a matter of strategy? And how much collateral damage can they both sustain during the heat of battle?
My Review I’m a huge, huge fan of Lisa Brown Roberts and I might have gotten a little swoony when I met her at the RWA conference here in San Diego last month. Obviously I jumped at the chance to read and review The Replacement Crush and I was not disappointed. Vivian Galdi is broken hearted after a hot couple of weeks at the end of summer making out with her long-term crush, Jake, on the beach. But when school starts, popular Jake has already moved on to new surfer girl, Claire leaving Vivian not only devastated, but vowing to never allow that to happen again. How? By only dating boys that she could never have strong feelings for. Along comes hot, yet nerdy, Dallas, a recent transplant to Southern California from Wisconsin. When Viv’s mom hires Dallas to help them take their sleepy seaside bookstore into the 21st century, Vivian and Dallas are forced to work together and the zing cannot be ignored. Which means Dalls is completely undateable.
I love the book blogging angle so much, it inspired me to use gifs for the first time in a book review. I might be hooked, although it takes longer to find just the right ones.
The plot centers around the romance between Vivian and Dallas and Vivian’s refusal to even give Dallas a chance because she knows they have serious zing. Something she’s not willing to indulge in again. It’s clear from the beginning the Dallas feels it, too, and he’s determined to get Vivian to change her mind, although his methods are subtle. These two fight a lot, about ridiculous things. Dallas tries to rile her up and Viv fights to keep Dallas at arms’ length, but that only increases the electricity between them.
There are some cute subplots involving Vivian’s relationship with the son of her mother’s boyfriend, a guy she’s known since kindergarten, a crush by one of her closest friends, and a mysterious visitor in town who may or may not be a famous rock star hiding out from the paparazzi.
Setting I loved the sleepy seaside community north of Los Angeles. At times, it felt very much like Encinitas, a town only ten miles north of me. Particularly with the the crunchy, granola, hippy liberal vibe I got while reading about surfing competitions, yoga, smoothies, and more. The author created a town that was as much a character in the story as any of her human characters.
Speaking of characters, they’re all wonderful. Even Jake the snake, as the bad guy. He never comes off as stereotypical, although the author could have easily gone there without ruining the story. Dallas has depth that I haven’t seen in a love interest in awhile, even though the story is told completely from Viv’s point of view. There are times I wanted to shake some sense into Vivian for being “that girl” but the author even acknowledges that, taking away my ability to roll my eyes are her antics.
Ending The ending is perfect. I love Viv and Dallas and the big romantic gesture was the perfect way to wind up this tale.
Top Five Things I Loved about The Replacement Crush: 1. Hot nerds. What’s not to love about a gorgeous, smart guy that loves all the geeky things you do?
2. Toff. Viv’s surfing, sorta brother, is loyal, adorable, and a full of himself, and yet I can’t help loving him. I hope we get a book from his point of view soon.
3. First kisses. Viv and Dallas’s first kiss is one of the hottest teen kisses I’ve ever read, without crossing a line.
4. Bookstores. Viv’s mom owns a bookstore and many scenes take place there, making me feel as if I’m in my home away from home.
5. The ending. Well done, sweet, funny, and hot. A hard trifecta to achieve.
Bottom Line The Replacement Crush is full of fun, quirky characters, witty banter, and obvious teen sexual tension that is a delight to read.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year.
This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.
Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several fourlegged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.
Welcome to the book blitz for Midnight Sky, the second book in the young adult dystopian romance series, Dark Sky, by Amy Braun. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive guest post by the author, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis There are secrets, there are betrayals, and there are sacrifices…
The Behemoth has been destroyed, and the bloodthirsty Hellions seem to have left Westraven. But Claire Abernathy’s mind is not at ease. A terrible disease plagues her sister, appearing to have been brought on the Vesper, the leader of the Hellions beyond the tear between worlds– the Breach.
To save Abby and stop the Hellions for good, Claire must find the machine her parents built before the attacks, and fix it before the monsters return. To do so, she needs the help of her crew, and must ignore the secrets and rivalries between her captain and the man she saved.
Because the Hellions are not the only dangers following Claire. Twisted humans and old enemies surface to stop her and destroy all she loves. While she is determined to endure the trials, a single betrayal could shatter the hope of a better world, and force Claire to make a choice that will cost her dearly…..
Guest Post MIDNIGHT SKY was probably the most challenging novel in the series to write. Sequels need to carry the events of the first story and act as the gateway to the grand finale. I wanted this story to have a dramatic end, but I needed events to carry the story and close certain questions. I was excited to delve back into the world of Westraven and add new history to the story. I decided to focus on the backstories of Claire’s parents, since their actions are crucial to the series and the story as a whole.
The map I sketched of Westraven became more detailed, and I think my favorite setting to write in this story was the Barren, a haunting, once militarized portion of Westraven that holds history for more than one member of the Dauntless crew. World-building is one of my favorite things to write about, and I was excited to jump back into Westraven and expand its setting.
Another exciting element was the love triangle between Claire, Sawyer, and Riley. I’d always planned for a rocky relationship between Claire and Sawyer, given their strong wills and butting-heads, but I’ve never written a love triangle. Riley was a late addition to the DARK SKYuniverse, and I was so glad to include him. His story is a complex, terrifying one, and since he seeks Claire’s affection, it forces Sawyer to consider his attitude when the risk of losing Claire’s heart becomes evident. He doesn’t trust Riley and fears for Claire’s safety, but to win her over he’ll have to change. By the time the story was over, I could tell that all of the characters had grown, though Sawyer’s arc was perhaps the most apparent.
Starting the story took a little longer than I intended, but I was flying through it by the end. The final scenes were written at 2:00AM because I couldn’t sleep without the idea jotted down. I was very happy it ended the way it did, considering what will be coming in the final novel. Since MIDNIGHT SKY grew so close to my heart, I decided to put more effort into its promotion, seeking the help of XPresso Tours and En Pointe Author Services to help with blog tours, release blitzes, and review opportunities. I’m so pleased to have taken that risk, since it has definitely paid off.
There was a fair amount of editing recommended by both my Beta reader and my editor, but I was grateful for their insight. I constantly strive to improve my writing, and correcting my bad writing habits helps produce a stronger story.
One of the best moments in this journey was seeing the cover for MIDNIGHT SKY, created by Deranged Doctor Design. They blew me away with the CRIMSON SKY cover (and every other cover they’ve made for me), and I decided to put a little more insight into what I wanted from the sequel’s cover. The result was stellar. I couldn’t be happier with the look of the cover, and am dying to see what they’ll create for the final novel and two novellas of the DARK SKY series.
Writing sequels is always daunting. You want to carry on with what readers love, but you also want to introduce new elements to make the series stronger as a whole. I’ve never written an ending like this before, so I hope my efforts paid off. I know that I’m happy and proud and passionate about MIDNIGHT SKY, and I think new readers and fans of the previous novel will find it to their liking.
Ten years ago, the sky shattered and the Hellions emerged. No one was able to keep them from destroying the city of Westraven. Now that the bloodthirsty monsters rule the skies and have forced the few remaining humans underground, Claire Abernathy lives in a nightmare. She survives by using her skills as an engineer for a ruthless tyrant connected to her mother and father’s past failure.
Then Claire’s world is torn apart when her sister Abby is kidnapped by the Hellions, and Claire herself is taken by dangerous sky pirates known as marauders. But Claire will not be intimidated by them while her sister’s life hangs by a thread, and so she strikes a deal with them: If they help rescue Abby, she will fix their ship and give them the chance to take the revenge they desperately seek.
As Claire fights for her sister’s life, she begins to realize that the Hellions are not the only dangers she’ll face. Burdensome secrets and devastating betrayals threaten her at every turn, and if she loses herself to them, it won’t just be her life that is destroyed…..
Author Amy Braun
About the Author Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.
Synopsis What if someone tried to fake the rapture?
When hundreds of thousands of people disappear in the middle of the night, including sixteen-year-old Gwen’s best friend Lana, no one knows why. Some believe they were taken in the rapture, while others are convinced that it can’t be true. Doomsday prophecies abound that involve horrifying tales of plague, famine, earthquakes, and more.
At first, Gwen doesn’t know what to think. While she is busy mourning Lana, many people around her are getting taken in by the cultish True Believers Temple, including Gwen’s dad and her friend Mindy. It is clear that more and more people are going to be pressured to join this church, as it starts taking over the media and the government, gaining zealous followers all over the world.
Then Gwen starts receiving emails from Lana. She claims to have been forced into hiding with thousands of others in an underground compound. Gwen is convinced the emails are real and the only other person who also believes her is Isaiah, her moody crush. Together they resolve to find out where everyone is hiding and help set Lana free..
My Review I love the whole concept behind The Departed. When 300 thousand people disappear overnight without a trace, the world’s Christians believe the Rapture has occurred and they missed the bus. Panic drives people to search for answers, including both religious and scientific. High school sophomore, Gwen, lost her best friend, Lana, in the disappearance. She’s caught between the boy she likes, who’s an atheist, and her other close friend Mindy, who’s trying to convert her to become a True Believer. At home, she’s caught in the middle of a similar battle between her parents.
The plot is intriguing. The idea of a faked Rapture has so much potential for conflict and author, Kristy Cooper, delivers. The pacing is good and I never found myself skimming. There were a couple of interesting twists to keep the reader hooked.
The Writing The writing disappointed me. There are paragraphs of exposition that are difficult to get through and far too much telling rather than showing. It’s a good story but could have benefited from the services of a decent editor.
I love Gwen. She’s a sweet main character with a healthy dose of skepticism, probably as a result of being raised by a scientist. Isaiah is the potential love interest and self-professed atheist. He comes across as very authentic. And Gwen’s other friend, Mindy, is believable as the teen who turns to religion to find meaning in what’s happened.
So the ending didn’t really work for me. It just sort of stopped, nothing really resolved. It’s not exactly a cliffhanger either. In fact, the author includes the first page or two from the next book in the series, and I think it would have been better to end the first book either a few pages earlier, or included the first part of the next book in this story as a cliffhanger ending. I realize that can upset readers, but I think I’d rather be upset than left feeling “meh” after the ending.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About The Departed 1.The story. It’s a great premise and a good plot.
2. Gwen. I love her perseverance when it comes to finding out the truth.
3. Isaiah. He’s one of the truly good guys in young adult fiction.
4. The cultish religion. The author does a great job of creating a plausible reality with power-hungry crazy religious types as well as logical, honorable believers, who truly believe they’ve been chosen by God for their adventure.
5. The plotting. It was really well done and the main plot points were wrapped up by the end.
Bottom Line The Departed is a great premise with decent plotting and likeable characters.
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: The Departed Author: Kristy Cooper Publisher: Oliver Release Date: July 6, 2016 Pages: 137 Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Author Kristy Cooper
About the Author Kristy Cooper found herself often contemplating unusual what-if scenarios and knew it was time to start writing them down. She worked as a librarian for years and is now busy raising small children and writing YA novels. Stay up to date with her books at kristycooper.com. .
Ignite the Shadows (Ignite the Shadows #1) by Ingrid Seymour
Synopsis Sixteen-year-old Marci Guerrero is one of the best teen hackers in Seattle. However, she’d give up all her talents to know she isn’t crazy.
Marci feels possessed by what she perceives as shadowy spectres that take control of her body and make her do crazy things. While spying on the clandestine group known as IgNiTe, she’s confronted by the leader, James McCray. His presence stirs the spectres inside her brain into a maddening frenzy. Her symptoms and ability to control them don’t go unnoticed by James, who soon recruits her and shows her the awful truth.
Half of the world’s population is infected by sentient parasites. They bind themselves to the human brain and replace the pathways for all thoughts and actions. The creatures then morph their hosts into grotesque monsters with extraordinary strengths. Winged, clawed, fanged half-humans become living nightmares. Now Marci wishes she was crazy, because the truth is worse.
My Review Ignite the Shadows is a dark story of brain parasites, survival, friendship, and loyalty. Marci has spent her entire life chasing the shadows inside her. They only seem to be getting worse as she gets older until she’s convinced she’s crazy.. Until she meets an unlikely group of people who show her the truth, which is far more terrifying than anything she could have imagined. She and her best friend, a non-infected, Xave, join forces with IgNiTe to do something before it’s too late. Add a long-lost twin brother and this book is rife with conflict, danger, and excitement.
Author, Ingrid Seymour’s, pacing is nearly perfect. From the opening pages we’re plunged into a world of danger that seems out of place for a sixteen-year-old girl. At least until we discover the horrifying details of her life, and soon we realize we’re not in Kansas anymore. Well, at least not present day Seattle anyway. This dystopian future is scary and nearly hopeless, yet the story isn’t one of hopelessness, but rather one of promise, if only we can just hang on.
The Writing The writing is unique, adding to the themes of darkness and fear. I love the way she shows us what’s inside Marci’s head instead of telling.
The characters are fantastic, deep, rounded, seriously wounded. Marci is amazing as the haunted heroine with the twin brother separated at birth. With demons running around in her head, a dead father she was close to, a mother who pines for the child she lost, there’s not much right going in Marci’s life and she’s sufficiently jaded. Xave, the best friend and potential love interest is also great, although not nearly as wounded. He has unrequited feelings for Marci. Or are they?
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Ignite the Shadows 1.The pacing. It starts off with a bang and never stops.
2. Marci. She’s tough, vulnerable, sharp-tongued, terrified, and brave all rolled into one.
3. Xave. I love him. His feelings for Marci are evident from the beginning. He’s a loyal friend, even if he’s setting himself up for heartbreak.
4. The science. The author does a great job of making her terrifying future plausible.
5. Elliott. Ingrid Seymour has created the perfect villain, the kind we love to hate.
Bottom Line Ignite the Shadows is a terrifying thrill ride with a well-crafted plot and characters you can root for.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Ingrid Seymour is the author of IGNITE THE SHADOWS (Harper Voyager). When she’s not writing books, she spends her time working as a software engineer, cooking exotic recipes, hanging out with her family and working out. She writes young adult and new adult fiction in a variety of genres, including Sci-Fi, urban fantasy, romance, paranormal and horror.
Her favorite outings involve a trip to the library or bookstore where she immediately gravitates toward the YA section. She’s an avid reader and fangirl of many amazing books. She is a dreamer and a fighter who believes perseverance and hard work can make dreams come true.
She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, two kids and a cat named Mimi. .