Sunday, June 24, 2018

Academia of the Beast by KN Lee - Book Review

Academia of the Beast by K. N. Lee is a fast-paced fairytale retelling of the Beauty and the Beast with a dark twist. I couldn't put it down and finished it in two sittings!

Allyn is a witch, a breed that's being hunted down by the rulers of Elastria. Her good-for-nothing boyfriend leaves her penniless to the point where the police take her small apartment right before the winter season where their small town closes-shop for six weeks.

"Allyn didn't want to be a princess. She just wanted someone to be good to her."

Right before the winter begins, Allyn goes to a party where she meets one of the princes of Elastria, Conall, a man she has met many years prior. The two connect and their once-innocent love is rekindled. From there, the novel picks up as Conall has to leave for the winter but promises to return once the cold season ends. Shortly after that Allyn is more or less kidnapped.

"As those words fell from her lips [Allyn] began to wonder who the witch was in this scenario… because she was sure Conall had her under a spell."

Characters in Academia of the Beast are beautifully flawed. You can't help but love them all, even the dark and evil ones. Character development is strong and pleasant to see.

I loved the twin brothers, my heart ached for Lennox, whom I despised at first, but grew to love as the book progressed.

One of the things I liked was the rivalry between the brothers. From the beginning, we are told of Lennox's darker nature and we already see Conall's romantic and kind side. The comparison between the brothers is huge.

"We found her."
Conall froze. "What?"
"You heard right…. Not just any witch. We found the one that Lennox told your father about. She sounds incredible. None of the others were able to do the things she did that night in the woods. And no one escapes Lennox."
"Whatever you do, don't let Lennox find out."

Old book cover
The novella keeps you on edge full-time with lots of dark twists even till the very end. It also had several beautiful lines and dialogues.

"She saw within him a soul just as lost as she was. When he held her hand, she was at peace."

One of the cool things that popped up a couple of times in Academia of the Beast were the quotes from the original Beauty and the Beast movie/cartoon.

Overall Academia of the Beast is a must-read. After I finished it, I went over a couple of parts I had enjoyed. I would definitely read this again.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie – Book Review

Miss Marple's Final Cases is by none other than Dame Agatha Christie. It's my first read featuring sleuthing oldie Miss Marple, whom it seems even the police like to get her opinion about certain cases. However, I have seen several older episodes based on the books before.
The book comprises nine short stories, some of which are sub-divided into shorter chapters.

I must note in advance that I recommend reading the stories in order. While they are not related, I later realised that apart from Miss Marple, some of the other characters make several appearances. So, starting at the beginning with "Sanctuary" will introduce to some characters, who become important or become suspects in subsequent stories.

Two stories in the collection, "The Dressmaker's Doll" and "A Glass Darkly" do not feature Miss Marple. So, they can be read separately.

Miss Marple's Final Cases opens with "Sanctuary", an exciting five-star story Although Miss Marple makes a small appearance, she plays a big role in the mystery-solving.

"Bunch's remark might have seemed incongruous to an ignorant listener, but in certain spheres Miss Marple had a reputation for dealing with murder."

"Strange Jest" does not involve murder or theft but is quite interesting as it is a kind of treasure quest. Miss Marple digresses and talks a lot, to the point where the people who have requested her help are dying to get her to leave. The ending will definitely come as a surprise.

"Behind Miss Marple's back, Charmain made a sign to Edward. It said 'She's ga-ga'."

I always like the idea of a story within a story, which is what happens in "The Case of the Caretaker". It opens with Miss Marple being seen by a doctor who hands her a manuscript of a story he wrote. The end is very clever and will definitely put a smile on any reader's face.

In "The Case of the Perfect Maid", a friend of Miss Marple's maid is accused of stealing and thrown out at a time when finding a decent maid is nearly impossible. Soon after, people from the building where the maid, Gladys, had worked report thefts. Miss Marple takes into her own hands to apprehend, or at least divert the police to, the real thief.
The only downside to this one is that there's lots of chit-chat but there is some real sleuthing in this story. Highly recommended.  

"Miss Marple Tells a Story" is as the name suggests the only story told in first person by Miss Marple, whose intellect is evident in this piece. She also admits to digressing, which kind of makes up for her endless talk. Great ending and mystery.

"Tape-Measure Murder" is a good mystery and a recommended read.

Two stories in the collection do not feature Miss Marple. Nor are they mysteries in of themselves. Both have a touch of the paranormal, a genre I didn't know Agatha Christie ever wrote.

"The Glass Maker's Doll" is a repetitive, waste-of-time story. I barely made it till the end without skimming and skipping. Whereas "In a Glass Darkly", the shortest piece in the collection, is romantic, fast-paced, and told from the first person perspective of a young man. 

"Greenshaw's Folly" is the final story in the collection. A little long and over-the-top elaborate. Took a while for me to wrap my mind around it but it is a great thought-provoking story nonetheless.

Overall, Miss Marple's Final Cases are a fun and light dose of mysteries, from what is most likely the first woman sleuth. There's some light humour and the stories will definitely get your brain working.

I had forgotten what it was like to read something set in older times, especially since my reading tastes involve fantasy and the paranormal. Or the closest would be contemporary mystery.

You will find a lot of repetition in terms of adjectives and of course the abhorred adverbs are ever-present in this type of book. It was a time, I believe, when they were not frowned upon.  

I did enjoy going back to the genre where cozy mysteries are derived from. It is also interesting to know – or in my case discover – that fingerprints had just started being used. I thought they came at a later time.

Overall rating for Miss Marple's Final Cases: 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fairies And Frosting by Christina Bauer - Cover Reveal

Book: Fairies And Frosting
Author: Christina Bauer
(Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #2.5)
Publisher: Monster House Books
Publication date: 28 May 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Elle (never call her Cinderella) is trying to throw a surprise birthday party for her bestie, Bryar Rose. Trouble is, some unfriendly fae are working hard to ruin everything. Good thing she has a certain handsome Le Charme wizard on speed dial...

***An interim novella between SHIFTERS AND GLYPHS and SLIPPERS AND THIEVES***

About the Series
The Fairy Tales of the Magicorum series includes WOLVES AND ROSES (Book 1), MOONLIGHT AND MIDTOWN (Novella 1.5) and SHIFTERS AND GLYPHS (Book 2, Fall 2018). Eight full novels are planned in total.

Add the book via Goodreads.

Author Christina Bauer has a GIVEAWAY for YOU to celebrate the Cover Reveal!

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Pre-order Fairies And Frosting via Amazon, Kobo, or Google Play.

About the Author:

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult bestseller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Stalk Christina On Social Media – She Loves It!
Find her via her Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Website.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Destined for Love Resorts Collection - Blast & Giveaway

Destined for Love Resorts Collection - Thrilling Sweet Destination Romances

KEEP ME AT CHRISTMAS by Lucinda Whitney

Can the magic of the season keep them together beyond Christmas?
When Luciana Romano arrives in Hudson Springs, New York, her plan is to complete her restoration job at the museum so she can return home to her family in time for Christmas. But a blizzard grounds all flights, and she finds herself stranded. The DiLorenzo family offers her a place to stay, and she accepts their hospitality. But the unexpected attraction between her and the quiet, good-looking son makes it hard to want to leave.
Jack DiLorenzo is stuck. Managing the family’s Italian café is not what he’d planned to do with his life, but his sense of duty won’t let him quit. When his grandmother invites a Portuguese woman to stay with them, Jack feels something he hasn’t felt for a long time: hope. He knows he shouldn’t get close to Luciana since she’s leaving as soon as the airport opens, but he can’t help himself.
Yet as the magic of the season begins to work on them, he wonders how he can let go of the woman who’s awakened his heart.


IF THE SUIT FITS by Sally Johnson

Finding love at the amusement park can be quite a ride.

Becky Perkins has lost her job, her lease, and her car. As a result, she moves back in with her parents and takes the only job she can find: a seasonal position at the local amusement park as a sign spinner. Unfortunately, it includes wearing a foam hot-dog suit.
When she crashes into fellow park employee Hudson Lowell, on her first day, suddenly the job doesn’t seem so bad.
Actuary Hudson Lowell feels the weight of the world on his shoulders with this assignment. The Gainesville Amusement Park has been struggling for years. It’s his responsibility to advise the park owners as to the viability of the park. Going into the deal, the solution seems pretty simple—until he meets Becky.
The more time Becky and Hudson spend together, the more their feelings grow, making it harder and harder for Hudson to be objective about his decision. If the park closes, it will impact the whole town and directly hurt Becky. And how can he hurt the woman he has fallen for?


A first love that deserves a second chance.
Doctoral student Holland Reeves may have aced every class she’s ever taken, but when it comes to life outside her lab, she finds she has more meaningful relationships with test tubes and pipettes than she does with people. That all changes when a surprise wedding invitation arrives, forcing her to return to the small coastal town of Paradise and the Clairborne Resort, where she left her first dream of being Mrs. Clairborne to begin the dream of becoming Dr. Reeves. There she must face her past and, to her surprise, the only man she ever loved, Porter Clairborne, the prodigal son who has unexpectedly returned.
Together, Holland and Porter must decide if their love deserves a second chance, and if Paradise will finally live up to its name or forever remain a town of broken dreams.


Will their online magic survive when they meet in real life?

Ethan Walters has no time for distractions like romance. Not if he's going to have the brilliant medical career he's always dreamed of. But when he's given a trip to a theme park resort as a college graduation present, he can't exactly say no. Even if Samantha--the one girl with the power to dismantle his goals--is tagging along.
Samantha Diederik has managed to avoid her high society mother’s manipulations since the woman moved to Europe. Now she’s back and pressuring Sam to move to New York with her. With that battle on the horizon, Sam proceeds with a vacation with her brother and his roommate. She’s crushed on Ethan for years. They've only met online, but their hours-long conversations are the highlight of her week. Now she has a chance to find out if the cyber magic she's felt with him will translate to real life.
And wow, does it ever--with sparks flying! Now all she has to do is find a way to fight off her mother's machinations while convincing Ethan she won’t destroy his dreams.

Anna Short’s life has been in a slump ever since her boss and boyfriend—who happened to be the same person—dumped her. Now forced to work at a coffee shop, she's pretty sure her life can't go any lower. Enter Michael: her best friend McKenna’s older brother and life-long crush.
Michael Jones is the life of the party. As a Defenseman for the New York Rangers, he's always had his pick of women and friends. When he mistakenly proposes to the Mayor's daughter at a party one night, he hightails it out of New York before the media storm hits. He drives to McKenna’s house where he finds her in emotional shambles. Grateful for the distraction her problems give him, he jumps head first into finding a solution.


When McKenna begs them to fake a marriage so they can go with her to a counseling resort designed to help fix her failing one, Anna and Michael agree. After all, the drunken kiss they shared two years ago was definitely in the past. But when they decide to make it their mission to bring McKenna and her husband together, they begin to realize just how good of a team they really are.

Felicity should have suspected something when she got hired to take pictures at a resort in Belize, all expenses paid. When she arrives and bumps into her ex-fiancé, Aiden, she realizes she’s been set up. His grandmother is playing matchmaker and every time she turns around Grams is forcing Aiden and her together. But she can’t fall for him again, it was a disaster last time, and she doesn’t want to repeat the past.
Aiden can’t believe Felicity is at his resort. She broke his heart five years ago, and he’s determined not to allow it to happen again. But one disaster after another keeps forcing them together and he’s sure Grams is behind all of it. He’s just not sure how long he can hold out without pulling Felicity into his arms and confessing that he never really got over her.
Her Big Fat Dreamy Billionaire Ex is a sweet romance, and it is a stand-alone novel.

THE TRUST OF A BILLIONAIRE - Michelle Pennington

Can their love survive her secret?

Hannah Rhodes is determined to keep her beachfront property, even though she can’t afford to. But it’s her childhood home and she can’t bear to see it plowed down by the billionaire investor who keeps raising his offer to buy it. When the same man hires her to be his daughter’s nanny—providing her the income she needs to reject his offer—the irony is not lost on her. However, seeing him as a loving, worried father makes it difficult to enjoy her secret revenge.

For Carter Ellis, building his own resort was a massive risk, but worth it to build a new life for his daughter away from his controlling mother. Everything is going to plan except that the owner of the tumbled-down home blocking his resort view and threatening its success refuses to sell. If only his new nanny would stop distracting him, he just might be able to figure out how to solve this problem. Not only is she beautiful and vibrant, she’s helping his daughter bloom. Just when he begins to give in to his feelings, he discovers who she really is.
When their trust is shaken, will Carter and Hannah sacrifice what they wanted most for a chance at something more?

MATCHED BY DESIGN by Lindzee Armstrong

Jasmine has finally landed her dream job with a world-famous couture wedding dress designer. All she wants is to make a name for herself in the fashion world, and working on a celebrity’s wedding is a great start. But when the groom gets caught leering at the staff, the bride demands any single designers be taken off the project. No problem—Jasmine quickly invents a fake fiancé. Too bad the bride insists he come to the wedding.

Dr. Isaac Sloan couldn’t save his best friend, so he’s left the army and cut all ties with his past. Now he’s spending his newly inherited fortune to improve the transplant surgery that killed his friend. Following through on the silly marriage pact he made with his childhood crush certainly isn’t in the plans.

When Jasmine runs into Isaac at a coffee shop, he reluctantly agrees to be her pretend fiancé—but only after learning the bride’s dad is the prestigious transplant doctor who’s help he desperately needs. As sparks fly between Jasmine and Isaac, the line between fact and fiction grows very thin. Can they keep the engagement secret, or will the lies unravel their careers?

As part of the blast, there is a $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway. Ends 22 June 2018.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer – Book Review

Book: The Sea Was a Fair Master
Author: Calvin Demmer
(Short story collection)
Publication Date: 5 June 2018
Publisher: Unnerving

The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer is a collection of 23 short stories spanning realism to paranormal, from sad-and-heartbreaking family and romance to stories that will have you hiding under your bed.

Most of the pieces in the collection have either unexpected endings or unthought of events from start to finish. Demmer will keep you guessing about the motives of the characters till you read the last word and say "WOW" or "Yikes!" or "Wicked!"

“On these dark-blue waves, it is the sea who is judge, jury, and executioner.”

The Sea Was a Fair Master begins with “On the Seventh Day”, a strong and deep opening story with the silent sea as the main theme. It is followed by “Restroom Finds”, a thrilling story. I loved it – even though it was a little gory. Don’t want to give it away but it’s creative and new!

“Underneath” is the third piece in the collection. It’s creepy. Unexpected. Totally five stars!

“Revenge of the Myth” is a 10-star story, which means I was blown away by it.

“Fear the Clowns” had me saying “Yikes!” and “Lol” at the same time. Imagine that.
“West” is an interesting albeit slightly black-comedy kind-of-story. Demmer is lauded for his ability to keep both reader and characters alike on edge until the end.

“They were a little nosy like you officer,” a voice said. “I can’t have people coming and disturbing the dead.”

“Letting the Dead Grow” is another fresh piece of creativity with an unexpected turnout. Five stars to this one.

When I picked up the collection, I planned to keep “The Snakes or the Humans” till the end because of my fear of snakes. But I’m glad I didn’t. A sad tale, the story is a 10-star emotional piece.

Meanwhile, “The Guests” is a very short piece. The ending? You won’t see it coming! Five stars.

Easily finished in a sitting or two, The Sea Was a Fair Master collection is simply un-put-down-able.

“Like a Spanish Guitar” mixes the dreaminess of romance with the paranormal. A 10-star, highly enjoyable story, which I might add is quite terrifying. I could visualise it from start to finish. And I loved it.

Then there is “Hangman”, a horrifying – need I say ‘unexpected’ –story that nearly had me biting my nails. I loved how Demmer took a simple children’s game and turned it into a creepy story. After reading it, I also felt that Demmer should consider writing moving scripts; they’d definitely be innovative compared to what we see often. 10 stars to this one.

“Graves” is a sad, beautiful, and emotional story that nearly brought me to tears. Another 10-star piece.

Last but certainly NOT least is “Sea Ate Nine”, which is gripping from start to finish with lots of puns. A wicked read. Pun intended!

One of the things I liked about The Sea Was a Fair Master was that many of the stories had unexpected endings. Demmer’s word choice, imagery, and overall sentences are well-thought out, easy to read, and he’s done a great job with the pacing of his stories. There isn’t a boring one in the group.

Other recommended reads (five-star stories) in the collection include “Yara”, “Voodoo Child”, “The Sea Was a Fair Master”, “Not Suicide”, “Evolution = Crime”, and “Noisy Neighbours”.

Overall rating for The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer: 5 stars. There were only two stories that didn't appeal to me, but the collection still deserves five stars. It would be unfair on my part to give it anything less.

Note: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of The Sea Was a Fair Master from its author Calvin Demmer in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Takhayyal Writing Prompt 86: Raging Sea

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's monthly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal/Imagine.

I was a bit stumped with what to post for June, the first month of summer for a lot of schools here, although I must note that sweltering heat has already started here (Egypt). We had a couple of 40-Celsius weeks already and they call it spring!

Anyways, this is an image I took last year of the Mediterranean Sea towards the end of the season. The sea had gnawed at the rocks and it was impossible to swim at this point.

I hope you find inspiration in this sea as it has inspired me year after year.

North Coast, Egypt, KM 87. Photography by Nada Adel Sobhi/Nadaness In Motion

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!