Review: WHITE SANDS, BLUE SEA

5180-8M3tPLWHITE SAND, BLUE SEA:  A St. Barts Love Story by Anita Hughes

Contemporary Romance / Released April 11 by St. Martin’s Griffin

I fell into Anita Hughes’ story, “White Sand, Blue Sea” from the first paragraph, living and breathing the past and present with each character as this book took me through their individual and family dilemmas. Admittedly, I am a fan of literary and women’s fiction, and Anita Hughes has written this novel in such a style. However, I encourage those who feel hesitant to read such genres to pick up “White Sand, Blue Sea,” for some element of other more common genres – romance, suspense, or historical – will certainly be woven in.

Although this story takes place over only a few days, it spans years as Anita adeptly reveals past events which formed the bases of relationships pertinent to the book’s main theme. She also uses setting as a character, masterfully putting the reader into each character’s shoes as they come to grips with the current tumult in light of what happened years ago.

“White Sand, Blue Sea” is a title that insinuates happiness, and indeed the desire to be happy is a strong theme, even without the promise that this is how the characters’ situations will end. Anita has clashed and fitted at the same time a previously abandoning husband/father back into the lives of his ex-wife and daughter who are twenty years into their new family when he appears. It wasn’t a lack of love that caused Sebastian to walk out on Hadley and their daughter, Olivia, ages ago, and it wasn’t the end of that love which kept him away all those years. Nor did his abandonment destroy their love for him, thus creating outer upheaval as well as inner turmoil for the three of them – not to mention Hadley’s current husband and Olivia’s potential fiancé – when Sebastian unexpectedly shows up for Olivia’s twenty-fifth birthday. With the passion and eye of the true artist he is, Sebastian is not only a reminder of what was lost those past twenty years, but also a naked look at what might currently be missing in all of their lives, especially in Hadley’s and Olivia’s new family and relationships.

I give this book five stars, and intend to read more of Anita Hughes’ stories.

 

Review provided by Colleen L. Donnelly, Amazon #1 Bestselling Author of MINE TO TELL.

Book Excerpt: DREAM FOREVER by Kit Alloway

Dream Forever_cover imageDREAM FOREVER
Dream Walker #3 By Kit Alloway

YA Fantasy / Released March 28, 2017 by Griffin Teen

“Sometimes people give me special access because I’m Peregrine’s granddaughter.”

That was only part of the truth. Josh had a reputation among dream walkers as a prodigy, and they were usually more than happy to bend over backward for her.

“Ironic,” Feodor said, but he smiled at her in a way that made her feel like he saw right through her. “Unfortunately, triangulating the bodies will give us, at best, a rough idea of where Peregrine might be.”

Not to discount the lives of the five men Peregrine had killed, but Josh had a larger concern. If he found a way back into the Dream, he was likely to hurt a lot more people.  “What are the chances he’ll figure out how to deactivate the symbol?”

Feodor considered. “I could do it. But then, Peregrine is not me.”

“Well, that’s reassuring,” Josh said.

“However . . . the power of obsession to propel a man to acts of which he might not otherwise be capable should not be underestimated.  I believe Peregrine will continue until he finds a way.”

That was not reassuring.

 

Kit Alloway CREDIT Fusion PhotographyKIT ALLOWAY writes primarily for young adults, having always had an affection for teenagers. In addition to writing, she plays various musical instruments, decorates cakes, mixes essential oils, and studies East European languages. She lives in Louisville, KY with her family and four very tiny dogs.

Book Excerpt: A CROWN OF WISHES by Roshani Chokshi

 

ACROWNOFWISHES_cover imageA CROWN OF WISHES By Roshani Chokshi

YA Fantasy / Released March 28, 2017 by Griffin Teen

Skanda’s knife was pressed to her throat, sharp and close enough that beads of blood welled onto her skin.

“I know what you want,” said Skanda.

I closed my eyes, shuttering the memory. I looked around the room, wondering which corner was the best position for attacking. At one end, a trellis of roses covered the wall. My chest tightened. I used to grow roses. One trellis for every victory. I had loved watching the blood red petals unfurl around thorns. Looking at them reminded me of my people’s love: red as life. A month before Skanda had me thrown over the Ujijain border, he had set them on fire in a drunken stupor. By the time I got there, it was too late. Every petal had curled and blackened.

“You think these flowers are tokens of Bharata’s love for you,” he had slurred. “I want you to see, little sister. I want you to see just how easy it is for everything you plan and love and tend to go up in flames.”

I’ll never forget what burning roses look like. All those scarlet petals turning incandescent and furious. Like the last flare of the sun before an eclipse swallows it from the sky.

“You think they love you now, but it doesn’t last. You’re the rose. Not them. They are the flames. And you’ll never see how quickly you’ll catch fire until you’re engulfed. One step out of the line I draw, and they will set you on fire.”

I turned my back on the roses.

I chose a corner of the room, and then sank my teeth into the insides of my cheek. It was a habit I’d picked up on the eve of my first battle.

Nerves had set my teeth chattering, so I brought out a mirror and glowered at myself. The glowering didn’t help, but I liked the way my face looked. The small movements made my cheekbones look as sharp as scimitars. And when I tightened my lips, I felt dangerous, as if I were hiding knives behind my teeth. Biting my cheeks became a battle tradition. Today I went into battle.

A door in the distance creaked. I ran through what I knew about the Prince of Ujijain. They called him the Fox Prince. And given the way some of the soldiers had jealously said his name, it didn’t seem like a name given because his face had animal features. He spent part of every year at an ashram where all the nobility sent their sons. Reputedly brilliant. Not good. Weak with weapons. Excellent. The guards were fond of retelling the story of his trial with the council. Prince Vikram had to submit to three tasks in order to be named heir of Ujijain—give the dead new life, hold a flame that never burns, and deliver the strongest weapon in the world. For the first task, he whittled a piece of bark into a knife, proving that even discarded things could be given new life in purpose. For the second task, he released a thousand jars of fireflies and held the small insects in his hand, proving that he could hold a flame that never burned. And for the last task, he said that he had poisoned the council. Desperate for the antidote, the council named him heir. The Fox Prince then revealed that he had lied and proved how belief itself was the strongest weapon in the world.

I rolled my eyes every time I heard the tale. It sounded like something that villagers with a restless imagination would spin beside a fire. I’d heard another rumor about him. Something about his parentage.  That he was an orphan who’d moved the Emperor to pity. But I doubted the vicious Emperor would be moved in such a way. The guards told me that the Emperor kept great beasts at his side thatcould tear the throat out of anyone who dared to cross him.

Footsteps shuffled down the hall. I clutched the silk bag of pearl dust. The Prince might be clever and eloquent, but you can’t talk your way out of death and I wasn’t going to give him a chance to speak. All my intelligence told me that he was no match for me. I’d have him on his knees and begging for his life in a matter of moments.

A final door opened.

The Fox Prince was here.

NewRelease:DREAMWORLD by Kit Alloway

51p4v2hbcwl-_sx341_bo1204203200_DREAMWORLD / Two books in one:  DREAMFIRE AND DREAMFEVER by Kit Alloway / Fantasy / Released Jan 10, 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Unlike most 17-year-olds, Joshlyn Weaver has a sacred duty.  She’s the celebrated daughter of the dream walkers, a secret society whose members enter the Dream universe we all share and batter nightmares.  If they fail, the emotional turmoil in the Dream would boil over and release nightmares into the world.

Despite Josh’s reputation as a dream walking prodigy, she’s haunted by her mistakes.  A lapse in judgement and the death of someone she loved have shaken her confidence.  Now she’s been assigned an apprentice, a boy whose steady gaze sees right through her, and she’s almost as afraid of getting close to him as she is of getting him killed.  But when strangers with impossible powers begin appearing in the Dream, it isn’t just Will that Josh has to protect – it’s the whole World.

Coming March 2017 – DREAM FOREVER, the final book in this trilogy.

MY MAD FAT DIARY by Rae Earl

51G4kPheI4L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_MY MAD FAT DIARY, A Memoir by Rae Earl / Released April 19, 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

It’s 1989 and Rae Earl is a fat, boy-mad seventeen-year-old girl, living in Stamford, Lincolnshire, with her mum and their deaf white cat in a council house with a mint-green bathroom and a refrigerator Rae can’t keep away from.  She’s also just been released from a psychiatric ward.  My Mad Fat Diary is the hilarious, harrowing, and touching real-life diary Rae kept during that fateful year and the basis of the hit British television series of the same name now on Hulu.

Rae’s chronicle of her world will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever been a confused, lonely teenager clashing with her parents, sometimes overeating, hating her body, always taking herself VERY seriously, never knowing how positively brilliant she is, and keeping a diary to record it all.  My Mad Fat Diary – 365 days with one of the wisest and funniest girls in England.

Book Excerpt: INVISION by Sherrilyn Kenyon

inVisionINVISION:  Chronicles of Nick (Book 7) by Sherrilyn Kenyon / YA Fantasy / Released May 3, 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin.

He’d just gotten comfortable again when the door opened to admit a new student. Something that didn’t happen often in their small private, parochial school. And it wasn’t just because St. Richard’s was hard to get into due to its high academic standing. But rather from the fact that the school had been set up as a place for preters to learn how to mingle with humans and not let the stress throw them into their animal states.

While there were a handful of baretos, or “normal” humans who had no idea that they were attending school with shapeshifters, the majority of the student body here was either shapeshifters or the children of Squire families. Squires who had been in service to Dark-Hunter like Kyrian and Acheron for generations.

As such, the Squires usually sent their kids to private school together so that they could be watched by older Squires to ensure that no one messed with them. Especially since their enemies might want to take their kids hostage, or kill them to get back at their parents or the Dark-Hunters in retaliation for the centuries of protecting humans from their supernatural predators.

It also allowed the shapeshifter families a controlled environment for their children so that they could have playtime with humans where if they had an accident and shifted into their animal bodies, the humans wouldn’t flip out and call the authorities. As Squires or their children, they all knew about Were-Hunters, and they could help cover for them with the humans here who didn’t know about them.

It gave the Were-Hunters a way to practice being in the normal world so that they could acclimate.

Nick had been one of those baretos students at St. Richard’s until two and half years ago when his best friends had turned on him, and Kyrian had saved his life. For some reason that still eluded Nick, the ancient Greek had taken a liking to him and decided to give him a hand up and bring him into this amazing world.

Now he was a Squire at an age that was unheard of since Squires were supposed to be eighteen before they could be sworn in to their oaths. But Kyrian had pulled strings and so here Nick was. The youngest Squire in Council history. And this new guy they were introducing . . . He didn’t appear to be a Squire.

Nick glanced to Caleb. What do you think?

Caleb shrugged nonchalantly.

Ms. Pantall cleared her throat as she read his card. “Everyone? This is Nathan St. Cyr. Nathan’s a new student who just moved to New Orleans from New York. I know everyone will be on your best behavior and welcome him in. Mr. St. Cyr, if you’ll take an empty seat, we’ll get started.”

An odd sensation went through Nick as Nathan neared him. Like a wire had been touched to his spine and sent a jolt through his entire central nervous system. Not that anyone had ever done that to him, but that was what he imagined such a thing would feel like.

As Nathan neared his desk, he inclined his head to him, then sat down on the other side of Kody.

Yeah, that didn’t endear him any. You better not be eye-balling my girl, punk . . .

Nick would snatch those blue eyes out of that boy’s head and use them for marbles. The Malachai in him was rising up and breathing fire down Nick’s neck. It was hard to leash the beast when he came calling like this. Every part of Nick wanted a piece of Nathan for daring to trespass on Kody’s personal space.

Especially when he leaned over a second later and, with a charming grin, brushed his hand against Kody’s arm. “Do you have a pencil I can borrow? Mine must have fallen out of my backpack.”

“Sure.” Kody handed him the one she was holding.

His grin turned even more debonnaire as he ran it under his nose and smelled the stylus as if he could still detect her light perfume on the wood. “Mmm, I’ll treasure it always. Thank you for your kindness, my noble lady.”

When Nick started to rise, Caleb caught his arm. Down, boy. Don’t make me smack your nose with a rolled up newspaper.

Nick cut a glare at his best friend to let Caleb know he could be a worthy substitution as a whipping boy if he didn’t let go.

Kody turned toward Nick. Is it me or was that gross? And that right there saved Nathan’s life. Leave it to his girl to be oblivious.

He was relieved, until Nathan turned back toward her.

Suddenly, Kody’s desk slid four inches closer to Nick’s, and farther from Nathan’s. She turned an indignant glare at him for his audacity.

At the sharp, scraping that made most people cringe, everyone in the room shot around to look for the source of the sudden sound. Nick forced himself not to cringe at the involuntary use of his Malachai powers.

Clearing his throat, he glanced to his teacher. “Sorry. My foot got caught under Kody’s desk.”

“Why was your foot under her desk?”

Nick shrugged. “I’m too tall for the desk and my feet have a mind of their own. You’ve seen me walking down the hall, Ms. Pantall. I never know where my arms or legs are located, hence all the bruises I keep.”

She rolled her eyes. “Keep your feet under your own desk, Nick. Stop disrupting class or I’ll send you to the office.”

Something stabbed him in the leg. Hard. Nick let out a sharp curse and though it wasn’t in English, Ms. Pantall had enough Cajun in her to unfortunately know exactly what the word meant.

“That’s it! Get to the office! Now!”

“But—”

“No buts! Go!”