Echoes in Time by Cherie Mitchell

Summary

When Zoe and her best friend Jamie find themselves hurtling through time on an adventure she could never have dreamed possible, Zoe quickly learns that perhaps modern-day teenagers don’t have it so bad after all.

From Ancient Greece to the last voyage of the Hindenburg, from Victorian England to the Wild West, from Viking-era Scandinavia to convict-era Botany Bay and old Egypt, and many, many more recognizable periods in history, Zoe discovers that in times gone by teenagers lived a very different life to the one which she and Jamie enjoy in 2017.

But how can the girls find their way back home to their own place in time? The aperture appears to instantly open and move them on whenever the girls are in any kind of danger, but they don’t seem to have a choice as to which part of history they will end up in next. Or do they?

Can Zoe discover the answer to the riddle given to her by their new friend Baozhai’s Chinese grandmother – and will the answer help them find their way home? And will Jamie’s attitude help or hinder the girls’ chances of safely returning to where they belong?

Characters

I just couldn’t connect with either Zoe or Jamie. Jamie was over the top may times and very one dimensional. When I actually saw hope that she might change about halfway through, I was sorely disappointed it did not take. Zoe was equally as disappointing but she at least grew some with the novel and developed into more of a two dimensional character. Recognizing her adventure for what it was. Unfortunately most of the characters were very flat. Baozhai presented as an interesting character but is gone before I could even connect with her.

Plot

I couldn’t discern any logic in their zigzag through time but it was very interesting. A lesson and reminder that we are fortunate to live in our present time. A lesson that we as a species have grown but only by looking back can we move forward and grow. I can tell the author went to great lengths to stay historically accurate and I was very impressed by the span of history. However, I did not see the point of moving into the future…that was very random!

Overall

If you like history this is an interesting and quick read. This is not a character driven novel, really more about the bouncing from one historical event to another, all highlighting the life of teenagers throughout the world during different iconic times. It also touches on important aspects of being a woman in all of those times as well. It was very informative and it was nice to see that the characters didn’t just visit fun places. The holocaust being among the locations in addition to Pompeii. You are in for one wild ride!

Rating

3 stars

If you like history and would like to learn about different times this is a fun read, just don’t pay too close attention to the characters.

This is a voluntary review.

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Mosaic by Chris Keaton and Rick Taubold

Summary

Twin girls discover a mystical world contained within a crumbling mosaic, and they must restore it before an evil witch seizes its power, even if doing so could tear their family apart.

Secrets. It all started while looking for secret passages. Chloe Tozier’s impulsive twin, Zoe, insisted that all old mansions had them. Grandma denied the existence of any here. Except for the boarded-up service elevator that she conveniently forgot to mention before the girls discovered it, the elevator that didn’t seem to go anywhere. They had been living in this private museum with their grandparents since the death of their parents during an archaeology trip to Egypt.

Mysteries. Why have a museum in a tiny town in the middle of Kansas when what’s on display is nothing unusual? Sometimes packages arrived wrapped in plain brown paper that the girls never saw again. Grandpa disappeared overnight and they haven’t heard from him since. And before going to Egypt their parents had mentioned something about a mysterious mosaic. Maybe Zoe was right about family secrets. Maybe it was time to dig further.

Characters

Chloe and Zoe are super cute but very much cookie cutter characters. I never felt like they really broke out of their shell and were very two dimensional characters for most of the book. I also struggled with the story being primarily from Chloe’s perspective and almost not at all from her sister’s. That being said as the book progressed they grew on me. There are a plethora of supporting characters but most of them are amazing! Favorite character by far was Severin. He saved this book in the character department for me! I would read an entire book with just his story! The villain was a little flat, but decently evil.

Plot

This is for sure a YA plot. I loved the back story and was totally engaged in those chapters. Totally swept up in them and transported to a land before magic was taken. The plot was wrapped around a big baddie escaping and two twin teens being the only ones who can set everything right. After a wonderful opening chapter the rest started off a little slow but that was because it felt like the origin story to a series. Once you get past that introductory piece the plot focuses on the Mosaic and that is when the real fun begins. I consumed the last 40% of this book in one sitting because I JUST HAD TO KNOW!

Overall

The world building and originality of the plot behind the mosaic was this book’s strength. It is a whirl wind adventure for the second half of the book and you won’t want to put this book down once you reach that part. The writing was easy to follow and written for a YA crowd but adults who enjoy YA would enjoy as well. Vivid fantasy characters/creatures were woven throughout the book that were awesome! There were scenes that I could see playing as a movie in my head.

I was totally sucked in for the second half of the book! I’d get excited every flash back or Severin chapter showed up. They were by far the highlights of the book. The history of the Mosaic and their guardians is well with the rest of the book. If you’d like a fun adventure with a YA feel, but sure to pick this up!

My personal opinion was this would have made for an epic adult book and was actually limited by its YA characters. Although cute and fun it could have easily competed with other wonderful books had it shed its YA skin. Its YA main characters and YA friendly villain drained some of the excitement and originality of the story.

Rating

4.5 Stars

This is a solid 4 star book and well worth the time, particularly if you love YA books and characters that are tried and true. Overall a fantastically original plot/idea, but not very original heroines so I just couldn’t give it 5 stars.

This is a voluntary review.

#giveaway – #Amazon Gift Card & #free #eBook

*Update* Giveaway closed – both prizes have been awarded and sent. Thanks to those who participated! I hope Hollie and Nora enjoy their prizes!

Good morning everyone! Today I’ll be doing two giveaways as part of Siren’s Lounge. If you don’t know what that is, go to Facebook and look them up! A special thanks to Nikki (the wonderful admin) for letting me host today!

For a chance to win this $5 Gift Card to Amazon all you have to do is subscribe to one of my mailing lists!

Fantasy/Sci-fi Readers: http://eepurl.com/cyBVUz
Romance Readers: http://eepurl.com/cyB1mv

I’ll pick a winner at the end of the day. Make sure you post (I entered in the comments below!)

The second giveaway is for a free eBook copy of one of my books (winner’s choice between 4). Make sure you go and check it out!

All you have to do is post in the comments what your dream vacation is and why! I’ll be choosing a winner at the end of the day!

Painted by Kirsten McKenzie

Summary

When art appraiser Anita Cassatt is sent to catalogue the extensive collection of reclusive artist Leo Kubin, it isn’t only the chilly atmosphere of the secluded house making her shiver.

Upon entering the house, Anita stands before a silent audience of portraits clustered on every wall. Every painted eye is watching her, including those of the unfinished portrait on the artist’s easel. A portrait with an eerie familiarity.

Kubin’s lawyer didn’t share the detailed instructions regarding the handling of the art, and Anita and her team start work in ignorance of the very instructions designed to keep them safe.

Disturbed, a man eases himself out of his portrait and stretches. Free at last from the confines of his canvas, he has no intention of ever returning. He has a painting to finish…

Characters

This was probably the biggest drawback to this book. When I started reading this Anita was a pretty well formed but blah character. After the rest of the group shows up I just couldn’t stand her! She kept making the same stupid choices but then so did all of them. I felt like they were all the typical horror movie characters. I was almost rooting for the villain! (The ghost not the other evil one). Almost none of them have any sense of self-preservation. Downside the author does a ridiculous amount of head hoping instead of going full narration. Also the lawyer is so over the top that it was a little painful to read at times—pretty sure he didn’t have a single good trait.

Plot

This is a horror based ghost story. It does an excellent job building the tension and is without a doubt super creepy. The ancient house, the moving portraits, and the hapless heroine. It had all the elements of a horror story and was super gripping. Downside it was such a cliche! I struggled through the idiotic characters and almost repetitive decision making.

I did appreciate two major points of this book. There was a plot within a plot and the author didn’t play it safe with the ending. Those were what took me from despising this book to sort of blinking in surprise at the last page. I don’t want to give anything away but it was refreshing!

Overall

I have a love hate relationship with this book. There were aspects of it I just loved and there were aspects I just hated! I liked the start of the book with Anita but after others arrive starting with the lawyer, all of the characters take a nose dive and never really recover. Mostly because of their completely illogical decision making that seemed only to exist to shock or drive the plot in a very specific direction. While the nail biting plot had me hooked and I just had to know the ending. Although I did see aspects of it coming, I was utterly surprised at the way the author ended it. That aspect is what really hit home as being a good book.

Rating

3.5 stars (one up and one down)

It doesn’t deserve 3 stars because it was better than that, but it wasn’t a solid 4 star book in my mind. A tense book that has all of the hallmarks of a good horror just not good characters!

This is a voluntary review.

The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

Summary

It’s more than just her imagination—she’s fading away…

Painfully shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia Moss is no stranger to living life in the shadows, pushed aside and unnoticed by both her large family of nine and her fellow classmates. As her “symptoms” of invisibility increase, she uncovers an old family mystery leading to her Great-Aunt Angelica, who vanished curiously at Zylia’s age. If she’s going to save herself from being erased from the canvas of this world, she’ll have to travel far outside her comfort zone—maybe even to another dimension.

Characters

Zylia Moss is so vividly painted, it is as though the author conjured her from a real person and not imagination. Very rarely do I read first person and think ‘this was done right!’ This painfully shy girl is in many ways a reluctant heroine but for sure the heroine of her own story. The subtle interactions and internal thoughts built Zylia into a very real character. Supporting characters like her family and Terra. Everything was painted from Zylia’s point of view and it was expertly done, bringing alive a world not so different from other disjointed but loving families.

Plot

This book makes you question what is real and what is not. Is Zylia really fading or is there something else happening? I won’t ruin it for you, but I absolutely loved the way the author went with the story. Between the mystery and the coming of age aspects, I really enjoyed the development of this story. The plot was enjoyable but the real powerhouse of this story was the characters.

Overall

Fantastic writing, interesting plot, and stellar character that practically leaps out of the page! The way Zylia slowly blossomed and came into her own was amazing to see. I loved her friendship with Terra, it was perfect in every way and felt so real! I have very few negatives at all about this book, it was wonderfully executed. Biggest issue was how slow it was. Although I can’t pinpoint anything that could be left out, this is not action packed, it was a biopic approach to story telling.

The second really isn’t a negative but I felt like this wasn’t for my age group. I’m in my late twenties and at times I had a really hard time remembering how awkward it was in middle/high school. This is 100% perfect for young teens and high schoolers and I highly recommend it to those age groups. I think even those in college who are socially awkward will just love this, but as an extrovert who doesn’t mind being the center of attention, some of the nuances of the story that would normally have struck a cord…simply struck out.

Rating

5 stars

If you are between 10-25 and like coming of age stories with a nice twist this is a MUST READ! Zylia will feel like a real person by the end of the book, that is how well she is written.

This is a voluntary review of an advanced readers copy.

Cupid’s Chance by Tina Creek

Summary

Carter Lockhart has everything going for her; a job she excels at, a wonderful home, a dog she adores, and a cat she tolerates. Everything except for someone to share it with her. She’s given up on love after a painful break-up, but love hasn’t given up on her.

Carter Lockhart. Just another name on the list of a Cupid, Archer Valentine. His job is to find Carter true love. He promises to find her perfect match. A Cupid can’t always keep his promise, but he can sure as hell try.

Characters

Although Carter started off really dull and stubborn, she did grow on me by the end of the book. I was a little disappointed in her decision making a few times but overall she really grew with the book. Archer was like a child in many ways, but he does some growing of his own. Evony felt a little silly and over the top more than once, but she did create some good definition for Archer. The rest of the supporting character were a little flat at times, but grew with the book which was nice.

Plot

It was a romance with other things happened, circling around the central theme. Absolutely unique idea wrapped around a familiar plot. I appreciated that most of the cupid lore was brought up and hinted on. I did appreciate that Carter had friends (Troy) and there was more going on in her life than falling in love. It brought another dimension to the book that is sometimes missing in romances.

It didn’t take long for Archer and Carter to just become so cute! That being said I did struggled with a few of the scenes being necessary. I remember thinking ‘I wonder when this is going to come up later’ and then it never did. (Side note I thought the epilogue was unnecessary – I would have preferred an entire book dedicated to that last little quip.)

Overall

If I had picked this up off the shelf for fun reading, I probably would have quit about 15% in because it was VERY slow and uninteresting. The author took too long to get to the starting point. That being said after that point the book really picked up steam and got better and better. By the end I was a little sad to see it end and a little frustrated that more wasn’t revealed—showing how much the book sucked me in!

Fair warning that although there is chemistry between the main characters, the sex scenes aren’t detailed. I can usually take it or leave it on these, but with how much the author built up to it, not having it was both surprising and somewhat disappointing. Also I don’t normally like to mention this in the review, but this book needs a thorough editing job—badly.

Rating

4 stars

I like it! Between the shaky start, massive amount of editing errors, and questionable filler, I just couldn’t give this book a resounding 5 stars. It was a little silly, but absolutely adorable!

I received this book for a free and voluntarily review

Living Dead Girl by Chris Keaton

Sumamry:

Amanda Bock can see ghosts. She can communicate with the dead and has grown used to helping them move on. Amanda’s finally ready to take a shot at having a normal life like a regular sixteen-year-old. But when a mysterious stranger rips his way into her life and threatens Amanda’s loved ones, she’s propelled on a journey to discover the true strength of her own will and the power she has inherited.

Characters

Amanda is what I’d consider an average high school girl (angst and all) with extraordinary abilities. Her mother and aunt don’t seem like much of parents to her, but there are reasons for that (albeit shaky ones). Where the aunt and mother didn’t grow on me, or Adam (the shaky love interest), Amanda did. She grew a bit, but she was still true to her character – foolish and impulsive.

The villain by contrast was the shakiness character. Although vicious and going after revenge (that I get) his bigger game plan was completely lost on me. We do get to go into his head and see what he is doing, so getting some insight would have strengthened the character and their motives. The loose “world domination” is thrown around but undermined the characters villainy rather than building it up.

Plot

This is a Young Adult without question. It starts off painfully familiar without anything interesting: Girl with ability to see the dead is an outcast at school and at home. It isn’t until Amanda has a life and death situation that the book really started to shine. After that I was gripped, the author brought new aspects and revealed some clever twists that they had lulled you into with a familiar start to a paranormal novel. This was the turning point.

Overall

The writing was easy to follow and enjoyable. It was brief and to the point without any embellishments, which meant a fast tempo. It is a shorter story (novella) so you could theoretically read it in one sitting. For sure a young adult, so beware of teenage angst and impulsive decisions. I’d hope to see Amanda grow, but that’s for future novellas. In the end it was the subtle strings of unsolved pieces that really got its hooks in me. Like what’s up with Cass? If you pay attention you’ll know right away. There are more but I don’t want to give them away!

Rating

3.5 Stars (one up and one down)

‘I liked it’ accurately reflects how I feel about this book. Get past the all to familiar start, ignore the weak characterization of the villain, and this novella really rocks! If you like Young Adult Paranormal books, this novella is a good one!

I received this book for a free and voluntarily review.