Saturday, 29 July 2017

Isabella's Reading Corner: Omega (The Infinity Division, #2)

Omega (The Infinity Division, #2)
Author: Jus Accardo
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Entangled TEEN

In this riveting sequel to Jus Accardo's Infinity, Noah, his best friend Cade and sister from another world, Kori, continue their quest via inter-dimensional travel to find Dylan and put an end to his killing spree.

Omega kicks off with a shootout and the action never stops. In addition to searching for their nemesis Dylan, Noah is also trying to find Ashlyn Calvert. She is a constant - someone or something that's the same in multiple universes. In every world they skip to, Noah sees himself together with her. But, as far as he knows, Ash does not exist on his own Earth, so she becomes almost an obsession for him.

Omega is a thrilling continuation of the narrative started in Infinity. It's written from the POVs of Noah and Ash. I enjoyed getting to know more about them, especially Noah. He is funny, stubborn and loyal to the core. The introduction of Ash, who was only mentioned briefly in the previous book, is a welcome addition to the development of the story. 

I was fascinated by Accardo's cultural depictions of the worlds and how they differed. On one of them, cats are extinct! I can't even imagine. I wouldn't mind living on the meatless world, though. I was particularly intrigued by the characters' alternative versions of themselves on the various Earths and the contrasts or similarities between them.

If you read Infinity and are interested in parallel worlds, lots of adventure and a bit of romance, I recommend Omega. I'm very much anticipating the third book in the Infinity Division series!

Thank you to Entangled: Teen for the eBook copy to review.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on Omega here.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Review: Infinity (The Infinity Division, #1)

Infinity (The Infinity Division, #1)
Author: Jus Accardo
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Publisher: Entangled TEEN

From the moment Kori Anderson is introduced we know she has a short temper, irritating habits and is a romantic. Before her mother died two years earlier, she told her that "Real love started in your heart and went straight to infinity." Kori keeps this memory close and is an important part of who she is.

Kori is also an artist who paints murals on old walls in out of the way places and has become somewhat of a secret celebrity. 'Love from here to infinity' is what had been etched on her parents' wedding bands. Kori writes these words as the finishing touch on her latest wall art, which is inspired by her mom.

Kori has a complicated relationship with her father who is a general in the army. While they were once close, their communication has become difficult and strained since her mother died. They are living almost separate lives and she knows little of what he does. Just before her father is going away on one of his missions, a police officer catches her painting her latest wall. Her father then arranges chaperones - Noah and the enigmatic Cade Granger, to look out for her.

After Kori is inexplicably attacked by a stranger named Dylan, Cade and Noah come to her rescue. She realises she was targeted, but why? Dylan seems to know her and asks her questions that she has no answers for. Noah and Cade have opinions about her, although she's never met them prior to earlier that day when they turned up at her house. It seems her father is in charge of Infinity, a secret government project which was developed to allow access to different dimensions. Noah and Cade are from a parallel Earth!

Kori has a great personality. She's strong-willed, funny, courageous, tough and caring. The interaction between Cade and Kori highlighted their attraction for one another and made the soul mate theory believable and exciting. The intriguing storyline was fast-paced, thrilling and revealed lots of surprises. Dylan is menacing enough to be a terrifying adversary. Accardo provides enough detail to make the idea of parallel worlds understandable. I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel and finding out even more about the Infinity Division and the other Earths.

From Goodreads:
Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away… That’s taking it a step too far.

Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.

Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Koris, infinite Cades…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.

Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge… 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Goddesses

The Goddesses
Author: Swan Huntley
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Publisher: Doubleday/Random House

Nancy and her husband, Chuck relocate with their twin teenage boys to Hawaii. They move there in order to rediscover their love for one another after he cheats on her. To them Hawaii is paradise - a perfect location for their fresh start and to escape all the reminders of their previous unhappiness in San Diego. When they arrive it seems like they made the right decision. The beautiful and romantic landscape begins to have a positive effect on Nancy and Chuck's relationship which is slowly getting back on track. 

After spending the evening with some new friends, Nancy realises that they are living the same life she was unhappy with, but in a prettier setting. She decides to try something different and signs up for a yoga class. There she meets Ana, who appears to be open, honest and most importantly, has an almost instantaneous understanding of her. With the slow reveal of her family history and experiences, it is understandable why Nancy is drawn to Ana and how her attachment to her develops. 

The majority of the book revolves around the relationship between Nancy and Ana. The other characters are almost superfluous, which increases the feeling of claustrophobia between these two central figures. 

Huntley writes with a certain dreamlike quality that made me feel like I was immersed in Nancy's almost hypnotic state. I wanted to shake her and wake her up to the encroaching potential disaster I knew had to be coming. There is an undercurrent of creepiness throughout the story. The apprehension doesn't so much build as constantly simmers beneath the surface.

More domestic drama than suspense, The Goddesses is an interesting novel that questions what we choose to see in ourselves and others. It explores the boundaries of friendship and what one is willing to do to hold onto it.

Thank you to Random House for the eBook copy to review.

From the publisher:
When Nancy and her family arrive in Kona, Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy's husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out, setting off illegal fireworks. But Hawaii is paradise: they plant an orange tree in the yard; they share a bed once again and Nancy resolves to make a happy life for herself. She starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. Ana has short, black hair, a warm smile, and a hard-won wisdom that resonates deeply within Nancy. They are soon spending all their time together, sharing dinners, relaxing in Ana's hot tub, driving around Kona in the cute little car Ana helps Nancy buy. As Nancy grows closer and closer to Ana—skipping family dinners and leaving the twins to their own devices she feels a happiness and understanding unlike anything she's ever experienced, and she knows that she will do anything Ana asks of her. A mesmerizing story of friendship and manipulation set against the idyllic tropical world of the Big Island, The Goddesses is a stunning psychological novel by one of our most exciting young writers.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Goddesses here.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Cover Reveal - The Third Kiss by Kat Colmer

The Third Kiss (Love's Mortal Coil, #1)
Author: Kat Colmer
Publication Date: August 7th 2017
Publisher: Entangled TEEN

About The Third Kiss (Love's Mortal Coil, #1):

Love curses don’t exist. At least that’s what Jonas, master of the meaningless hookup, tells himself when a letter warns him he’s an Eros Guardian cursed to endure a test of true love or forever be alone. His levelheaded longtime friend Cora figures it’s a revenge prank by an ex. The way Jonas stamps each girlfriend with a week-long use-by date, it serves him right.

But when an impulsive kiss between the two friends reveals potential for more, Cora becomes the target of the Groth Maar: demons sent to wipe out the Eros Guardian line. And suddenly the curse becomes dangerously real.

Breaking the curse means Jonas’s biggest challenge yet. Failure guarantees Cora’s death. But success may cost him his own life…and the loss of his carefully guarded heart to the one girl far too sensible to fall for him.

Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of The Third Kiss (Love's Mortal Coil, #1) by Kat Colmer today!

Add to Goodreads!


About the author:

Kat Colmer is a Sydney-based author and teacher librarian. She has won several writing awards, including the Romance Writers of Australia 2014 First Kiss contest as well as the Romance Writers of America 2015 On the Far Side contest for her debut Young Adult Paranormal Romance. Her New Adult short story, For the Love of Gnomes, won the Romance Writers of Australia annual Little Gems short story competition in 2015 and is published in the anthology Peridot, along with her Young Adult short story Sweet Bombe Alaska. Her middle grade tale, Change of Heart, inspired by her son’s open heart surgery, is published in the New South Wales School Magazine, Touchdown. 

Kat is a member of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre and the Romance Writers of Australia. She has a Bachelor of Arts with a Diploma of Education as well as a Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship and loves working with teens and young adults. Having spent a significant portion of her childhood in Germany, Kat speaks fluent German and is looking forward to the day she’ll be able to read one of her novels in Deutsch. When not writing or teaching, Kat enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

What do you think of the cover for The Third Kiss? Let me know in the comments below!

This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled TEEN & YA Books Central.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Review: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal
Author: Jen Waite
Publication Date: July 11th 2017
Publisher: Plume

Jen Waite's non-fictional account about her life with a narcissistic sociopathic husband begins with how she met Marco when they were both working at a restaurant together. He is charming and attentive and she instantly falls head over heels in love with him. 

Waite's memoir is recounted in alternating chapters of 'before' and 'after'. Her retrospective insightfulness about her plight is both heartbreaking and fascinating. I sympathized with her helplessness as she suffered through one lie after another. Even after continuously confronting him, she's never really reassured by his words. Her writing style made me feel like I was reading a fictional psychological thriller, which for me was a very good thing.

Aside from being a compulsive read, the book helps to see manipulations in all relationships, which unfortunately are not that uncommon and how important it is to trust your intuition. The difference in this case was the extent of damage Marco did and would have continued to do, if Waite hadn't removed herself from the situation. A support system, like she had with her family and friends, is crucial in understanding and recovering from an experience like this. 

Waite makes no excuses in relaying what happened to her. By reliving her story, she tries to fathom when and why things went so wrong with her marriage and if there were signs early on that she chose to ignore. 

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing is enlightening in it's confirmation that we want to see the best in those we love, but sometimes this only helps in enabling their poor behaviour. It is hard to break a cycle of acceptance when there's little to no comprehension that what is being done to you isn't your fault or is actually happening, for that matter. Waite writes with painful honesty and emotion. I found this to be a captivating book which I had trouble putting down. Recommended.

From the publisher:
What do you do when you discover that the person you've built your life around never existed? When "it could never happen to me" does happen to you?

These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband—the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life—fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage.

After a disturbing email sparks Waite's suspicion that her husband is having an affair, she tries to uncover the truth and rebuild trust in her marriage. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment from the last five years that isn't part of the long-con of lies and manipulation. With a dual-timeline narrative structure, we see Waite's romance bud, bloom, and wither simultaneously, making the heartbreak and disbelief even more affecting.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Last Magician

The Last Magician
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse

The Last Magician is a fascinating YA novel about a girl named Esta who must travel back to the 1900s to steal a mysterious book, the Ars Arcana, that could save the future. 

Esta is Mageus, one who has an affinity for magic. Her ability is to warp time. In her world, Mageus are feared and misunderstood, especially by the Order of Ortus Aurea, who wish to harness and control their power. The Order uses artificial and corrupt ceremonial magic to create the Brink, an invisible boundary that keeps Mageus from leaving New York City with their magic. However, the Brink not only destroys the affinity, but the person as well, leaving nothing left of who they had once been.

Arriving in the past, Esta meets Harte Darrigan accidentally and sparks fly – even more so as he is the very magician she was sent to stop from destroying the Book! She joins Dolph Saunders’ team in a rush to prevent this from happening, but must keep the truth about herself and where she is from, a secret. 

Lisa Maxwell’s historic city is filled with intrigue and danger lurks around every corner. The story is bursting with lavish descriptions of an alternative New York. Maxwell employs lush and vivid detail and I became instantly immersed in the realm she created. The depiction of smells, lights and sounds is filmic in quality and visually appealing – from the ornate splendour of the buildings owned by members of The Order to the dark, shadowy back streets.

As sumptuous as the settings are, the characters are the heart of the story. The conflicts and attractions between these personalities are all underscored with an intensity that makes them seem all the more believable. 

Esta is plucky and strong. She is willing to risk everything she can to save those she cares for. Her relationships with so many of the characters, both in the past and her present are touching and real. Traveling back in time is made all the more dangerous because of the potentially disastrous changes she can make to history as well as to the very existence of some of the people she holds dear.

When Esta manipulates time and travels through it, the author paints interesting changes between the different time periods in the same locale. Esta was able to see the stars in the past, when she couldn’t in her own time while standing in an identical place. 

I enjoyed reading the background about Mageus and their magical attributes and strengths. Magic is their very existence, it is warm and alive. By contrast, the Brink and the alchemy utilized by The Order, is cold and desolate. Maxwell frighteningly describes the destruction it wreaks on those who come into contact with it. It is terrifying in what it can do and it shows the lengths The Order will go to remove the affinities of Mageus, in spite of the repercussions. 

The book had me questioning destiny and how much changing the past can affect the future.  
Fearing what you don’t understand and the unknown were also important themes represented.  

The Last Magician is an epic tale of time travel, adventure and a sprinkling of romance, with lots of twists along the way. It’s beautifully written with a thought-provoking story and likable characters who are not only fascinating, but inspiring. There is plenty of action and suspense, which kept me thoroughly entertained and rapidly turning the pages.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC provided.

From the publisher:
From Unhooked author Lisa Maxwell comes a captivating new world filled with magic and deception, about a girl who must travel back in time to find a mysterious book that could save her future.

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Last Magician here.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Isabella's Reading Corner: Final Girls

Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: July 11th 2017
Publisher: Dutton/Penguin Random House

Something horrible happened to Quincy Carpenter at Pine Cottage. What she experienced there was so terrifying, much of her memory of that time has been wiped out. Along with Lisa Milner and Samantha Boyd, she becomes what the media dub a 'Final Girl'. All three were the sole survivors of separate serial killer massacres. Now Lisa is dead, apparently having committed suicide. Will the Final Girls have to pay a price for being the last girl standing?

Quincy maintains an ongoing friendship of sorts with Coop, the cop who saved her life. They have an interesting relationship. He is very protective of her, but there is also a lot of mystery surrounding him. Although he continues to look out for her, he keeps his distance physically and emotionally. 

Shortly after her ordeal, Quincy suffers from anorexia. She acts destructively, but can't remember anything after the incidents occur. Now she appears to have a fairly enjoyable life with the help of prescription drugs. She runs a successful blog and lives in a lovely apartment on the Upper West Side with her public defender sensitive boyfriend, Jeff. However, there is a lot going on beneath the idyllic surface. From early on it's apparent that Quincy is still deeply troubled. She responds in unusual and somewhat disturbing ways to ordinary situations.

The story flashes back to when Quincy first approaches Pine Cottage. The scene is made all the more terrifying because it's already clear it's not going to end well for the five friends accompanying her.

After Lisa's suicide, Quincy is visited by Sam, the other Final Girl and allows her into her life and home. From there things start to get really interesting and suspenseful, with Quincy's repressed memory becoming an important theme in what happens next.

I thought Final Girls was great fun with lots of thrills. It had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't read it fast enough. There was a depth to the characters and story that made it stand out for me. I loved all the surprises the author revealed throughout the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fast-paced psycho-killer novels and slasher films. 

Thank you to Dutton & Penguin Publishing Group for the eBook copy to review.

From the publisher:
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancĂ©, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past. 

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on Final Girls here.