Survivor is Book 1 in the Survivor Series by author, Samantha Duke. This book offers a little bit of everything – romance, darkness, and humor embedded within a great supernatural adventure.
Friendship is one of the first key themes that the reader is drawn into. All Max Wilson wants is to do is fit in with everybody else. Set in a typical high school, Max attempts to befriend a girl called Amy. They hit it off and everything seems to be going swimmingly, until the sudden disappearance of students from their school. From here, the book takes a dramatic twist which is where creepy paranormal elements start to permeate the story. When the students are reported dead, and Max is accused of abducting them, the novel continues by unwinding the plot and working out what happened to the students, and what this has to do with Max.
Although the plotline is well-thought out, I think that the author could have divulged more about paranormal activities. I like to feel a sense of escapism, but I also like to feel a sense of realism. I think this book is great at promoting escapism, but lacks in realism. This is a thoughtful book full of emotion, but I was unable to connect with the characters because I didn’t understand their emotions in certain moments and some of the language used to convey those emotions was inconsistent.
One of the great things that Duke does articulate in her writing is her originality. The author of Survivor creates a story line that is endearing, especially the ending. I really enjoyed how the novel ended on an optimistic tone. Many YA novels recently forget that we want to feel good after reading a book, and Samantha Duke knows how to deliver a suspenseful yet endearing story. With this ending, I think there is a great chance to continue the series. A few editing errors aside, Duke proves to have a great writing ability.
Having read this book, I believe this book adds something unique and interesting to the paranormal genre. Although I struggled to comprehend some of the narration, I can appreciate the author’s attempt to create an enthralling and exciting novel.
This novel could be listed under the young adult genre, but I think anyone would very much be interested from beginning to end. Survivor is a noble attempt at creating a novel in the young adult paranormal genre that would be enjoyable read for the right reader with an interest in friendship, survival, and innocence.
Pages: 276 | ASIN: B01N7GNVRW
Posted in Three Stars
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We all face various trials and tribulations through life, learning lessons along the way. We face a good majority of these during adolescence, especially in that gray transitionary age between teen and young adult. Sam – A Girl Undercover is a story of just that, the decisions, insecurities, and questions we face when learning our place in the world. We follow Sam as she struggles to accept herself and her flaws while trying to figure out her emerging feelings for boys. It circles around the various hurdles of social responsibility and the comfort we take in our friends and family, even when they cause us some exasperation.
This story is one that many will find them selves relating to, though is definitely more female oriented. Eva Beaty gives words to a lot of the issues so many of us face growing up, representing such through Samantha, or Sam as she prefers. She carries a birthmark that fields a lot of insecurity and self doubt, something that is very common among young women. We all have that flaw we constantly try to hide. That quirk we spend so much energy trying to not show. Through the various relationships Sam navigates, it’s easy to place ourselves in her shoes – changing our image for fear of judgement of others and yet seeking acceptance and love for who we are naturally.
Yes, Beaty does a good job of sharing a story that is easy to relate to; it could easily be a relative, a friend, or even ourselves in not just the part of Sam, but other characters as well.
The story is as I said relatable, but hard to read. The writing style is short, clipped, and jumpy, making it hard to really immerse yourself. I felt that the characters lacked depth which makes this book relatable but it’s also a draw back – the characters could be anybody, and I wanted something to make these characters stand out as unique in my mind. The story was also fairly predictable, I kept expecting some dramatic twist, but it was all fairly straight forward. It almost reads like a script versus a book, focusing on a lot of action and reaction, spending a lot of time in Sams perspective but with little supporting material. It has the potential to be a solid coming of age tale, geared toward female youth.
This is a story that shows just how complicated interpersonal relationships can become when we jump to conclusions without all of the facts, or omit the truth due to timing or fear of the reactions it could receive.
Pages: 395 | ASIN: B071GV3T92
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Deception was never part of her plan. Neither was falling in love. Changing her tomboy appearance & makeup is just another disguise to conceal the birthmark on her face, and her view of stranger’s stares. SAM. Now sixteen and still hiding under baseball caps and sunglasses. Dressing like a tomboy started years ago. She was perfectly happy with her looks until one day she meets a young man named Jock at a baseball field. She excepts a fill-in spot on the team letting him presume she was a boy. Unsure of her attraction toward him; her hormones take part in her desire to conceal her birthmark and dress like a girl with the aspiration of revealing her true identity. However, this turns out to be harder than she had imagined. Her deceitful-pretension, causing her chaos and sends her on a roller coaster ride of lies and confessions. Unaware that this would be the origin of a triangle of gentleman callers that she will have to sort out the difference between love-friendship or just infatuation. Will Samantha retreat to her disguises afraid of falling in love, or will she marry the man of her dreams?
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Do you believe in ghosts? Kyle Black had never really considered the issue, although he had already been confronted with death. As a child, he was the sole survivor of a tragic car accident that claimed his mother, and the drunk driver and passenger who hit them. Now in high school, Kyle has put the past behind him, winning popularity, gaining confidence and attention from girls. When beautiful new student Rebecca shows up, he is transfixed. But as he gets to know his mysterious new girlfriend, he starts to wonder if she’s keeping secrets. When a classmate of Kyle’s suddenly dies in mysterious circumstances, Kyle starts to wonder if his past will haunt his future.
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Breaking Magic takes place in a world where people are genetically engineered for jobs and no one is able to question their function in society. What was your goal when you started and how did it change as you were writing?
This question is interesting, because I’m not really a plotter. The details of each story tend to evolve as I’m writing, and in the case of Breaking Magic, things changed a lot. What the villain did to recreate the world of Imbera according to his own evil design was more complicated than I originally expected. It allowed me to be quite creative in terms of my protagonist’s journey. My goal was to show that everyone has unlimited potential – no matter what society tells them, or the obstacles they face. That did not change, but the story behind it certainly did!
The story follows Callax, one of the workers, as he struggles to overcome his predetermined life and learns more about the world. What was your inspiration for his character?
Callax is the storyteller, and he shares what he learns and the emotions he is feeling without much of a filter! He gets scared sometimes and he says the wrong thing as often as he says the right thing, but he’s brave and determined too. I wanted Cal to be someone the reader could relate to and care about.
In Breaking Magic the Opta are the ruling class and the Exta are the workers. What themes did you use to develop these two contrasting groups?
The overriding theme is the importance of hope, even in the face of the impossible odds that the Exta are facing. The Opta needed to appear invincible, so their leader, the Breaker, is an intelligent antagonist. The Exta are not allowed to grow up, they are engineered to be only fragments of their potential selves, and his magic uses a sinister combination of joy and pain to disorient them. Yet they never quite stop hoping, and this gives them the strength to fight.
How does this book fit into your Legacy of Androva series and what is next for Callax?
Breaking Magic was a great opportunity for me to take a minor character and bring him into the limelight in a standalone book. I expect that Cal will turn up again at some point, but for the sixth book I am writing Galen’s story. Galen is a seventeen-year-old Androvan magician from Seeking Magic, the third book in the series, who abandoned his world two thousand years ago for love of a Terran girl. I plan to return to the core series in the seventh book!
Callax is fifteen, and he already knows he won’t ever grow old. Twelve years after leaving the childstation he will be summoned to the Gathering, where life essences are taken by a deadly, irresistible spell. On his world, this is one of the many ways in which the Exta serve the Opta. His best hope is to avoid an early binding by staying out of trouble.
But in protecting his younger brother Benedar, he was noticed by the Breaker, the evil magician in charge of the Gathering. The closer Callax gets to the ruling house and the girl who lives there, the more he learns, and the greater the danger. A danger he might not understand until it is too late. Callax thinks the Breaker’s defeat will save him, but he is wrong.
Additional information: Although Breaking Magic is part of the Legacy of Androva series, it can also be read independently. If you have read Controlling Magic and want to know more about Imbera, Breaking Magic is Cal’s story. The book retells part of Controlling Magic from Cal’s point of view. Recommended for lower young adult.
Posted in Interviews
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Protector of Thristas takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War and Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before. What were some important themes for you to capture in this novel?
I’ve taken on several archetypes in these books with an eye towards shifting what originated as masculine-oriented myths into their feminine equivalent. Lisen is the hero of a story in which she must overcome many obstacles, including her own self-doubt, to rise at the end of the original trilogy to the destiny she cannot escape. I looked at heroes, such as Luke Skywalker and King Arthur, and asked myself how this would look not simply with a “girl” as the hero but with a gentler and more sympathetic way of presenting the momentous events that occur in the story. The battle at the end of Blooded is a case in point. Lisen found a way to break through the fighting and turn the combatants towards a negotiated resolution rather than one in which many people died or were left physically or emotionally injured.
So, when I decided to explore Lisen and the others as adults, to look at the relationships and their children fifteen years on, I made another decision–to raise the bar and tackle an archetype I refer to as “the king must die and live again.” This myth can be found in many nature-focused cultures. The leader of the people sacrifices his life (or acts the sacrifice out in ritual) and goes to the underworld, then rises again, all of which is symbolic of the “burying” of seeds in the fall and their rising as plants in the spring. It is a form of fertility ritual. It is also, in some ways, the Christ story, but this time it’s a young woman.
I think this book did a fantastic job displaying how emotional a mother-daughter relationship can be, and family relationships as well. How did you develop these complex relationships? Anything pulled from real life?
My mother was not the nurturing type which left my father with that role in my life. In fact, Korin’s nickname of “Fa” is the way my father, in his later years, signed birthday cards and such. But there was more to it than that. As I foraged deeper into the story and the wounded relationship between Lisen and Rinli, I realized one very important thing. I had to be very careful about how I framed the discord between the two of them. The critique group I belonged to at the time loved the portrayal of the mother-daughter conflict, but I began to recognize that I had created a very “earth-centric/potentially sexist” struggle. In my experience, women in our culture learn at a very early age that they must challenge one another over the attention of a man. Men are taught a similar lesson, but it manifests differently. Men thump their chests and growl at one another (figuratively) or go out and kick a football around, whereas women get mean. And it often begins in the relationship between a mother and daughter and their desire for the male in their lives–the husband/father. It’s fairly subtle in most cases, but it’s there, and once girls become teenagers with all those hormones raging, they may not “desire” their father, but they want what their mothers have and the fight is on.
I couldn’t let this be the basis for Lisen and Rinli’s conflict, so I struck out on my own to find something that didn’t smack of the sexism in the “typical” tension that can tear a mother and daughter apart. And although I may have no control over the enculturated eyes the reader brings to the story and her interpretation of what she sees in that relationship, I had to be true to my commitment to present Lisen and Rinli sparring not over the mean-girl stuff that can mess with a mother and a daughter but over the betrayal Rinli feels at her mother’s use of her as a bargaining tool to bring a war to an end. Add to that the fact that Lisen is not the nurturing parent in the family, and it becomes clear, in my eyes, at least, that their relationship was likely doomed no matter what Lisen did.
Rinli is resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities. How did you handle magic in this novel that was similar and/or different from the previous novels?
In some way, I think the magic became more central to the story than it had been previously. I have always played the push as something unacceptable but sometimes necessary, even to Garlans who are pretty accepting of most hermit magic. As a Thristan, Korin distrusts hermits and what they can do, and Lisen has a powerful gift. This presented its own set of problems in the first trilogy and ultimately tore them apart. Now, with Rinli growing up and it becoming obvious to both of her parents that she has inherited her mother’s gift, Lisen and Korin have to make their peace over the magic thing and then band together to convince Rinli that the only way to stay safe amongst magic-fearing Thristans is to master her gift in order to control it. This is where that conflict I mentioned above manifests with Lisen trying her damnedest to reach out to Rinli and Rinli turning away. (I had one reviewer say, “So many times I just wanted to scream ‘Say I LOVE YOU!'” which would, of course, have simplified things a great deal. But it was about the magic in Lisen’s mind, and “I love you” wasn’t in her lexicon.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I began a followup to Protector of Thristas with the idea that it would be the final book in the series. I had to find a way to put down the characters and the world I’d created in order to move on to something new. Five books. The series would be five books. I was adamant with myself. Then as I wrote and wrote and wrote, I began to realize that this was going to be one hell of a long book. I set a word limit at which point I would break it up into two books. I’m still on first draft, and I am within 2500 words of that limit I set. It’s definitely going to be 2 books. Because I’ve been making changes that affect earlier scenes as I go along, I must finish the entire tome before officially splitting them up. (And even then, I’m probably going to produce draft 2 of both books together, incorporating all the necessary tweaking at one time, before I turn to book 5 of the series and complete it.) All of this is to say, that this has taken far longer than I wanted it to take, but I continue to move forward.
As regards where we go from here, having sent a young person as flawed as Rinli through the experience of dying and rising from the dead, I discovered (upon working on the final two books) a character who is not doing well emotionally at all. It’s been an interesting trip. Rinli was originally intended to be the character to whom Lisen would pass the baton, but she turned out to be a character very different from what I had expected when I began. Her last words at the end of the book blew me away, coming as they did as I was writing that last scene, and they set the tone for the remaining story. I had to ask myself “what does a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like?” It took a while to answer that question. Now first draft is finally winding down for books 5 and 6, and all I can say is “whew, what a ride!” “When will it be available?” I’m hoping for some time early in the new year for book 5 and spring for book 6.
Fifteen years after the One-Day War, Lisen, now Empir Ariannas, has developed into a just and capable leader. Together she and Korin have created a union of two souls based on respect, commitment and love, and their family has grown. In addition to Rinli, their daughter who made her first appearance in Blooded, two more children have joined the family, completing their complement of three complicated adolescents.
Now the sixteen-year-out Rinli prepares to take on the mantle of Protector of Thristas, a title destined for her in the treaty that ended the war. The Empirs of Garla have carried this title for hundreds of years, and Lisen anticipates changes once she hands this single title on to Rinli at the girl’s investiture. But the prophesy of Mantar’s Child, upon which Lisen and Korin depended in the treaty negotiations fifteen years earlier, refuses to remain but a convenient myth, and with the advent of the fulfillment of the prophecy, an epic begins.
Although Protector of Thristas includes the familiar faces and settings of the young adult Lisen of Solsta trilogy, it begins a new adventure for an older and often wiser Lisen and her allies. Looking at their world through their matured eyes, the book takes on the heroic tragedy that the trilogy could only hint at. Return to Garla. Enter its mystical environs for a new encounter with Lisen and her world’s gender-free culture. The adventure awaits.
Posted in Interviews
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Another Summer tells the story of Evie and Joe, a married couple who hit a rocky patch after uncovering secrets within their marriage. What was the inspiration for the setup to this passionate novel?
I always start with a scene or a snippet of dialogue. Another Summer was inspired by a holiday in Cornwall soon after severe storms and floods. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge destroyed by the river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris. I was intrigued and started thinking what if…?
I felt that Evie and Joe’s relationship built slowly into something that was complex and deep. How did you set about creating their relationship?
I want my characters to have realistic human dilemmas and to get themselves into scrapes by making mistakes. In Another Summer I wanted to write about someone trying to change and discover along the way if he means it. And then I wondered who would love him enough to put up with that behaviour and still believe in him?
Was there anything pulled from your own life and used in the novel?
I’ve long had a fascination for secrets, how people go to great lengths to hide things and what happens when the truth comes out.
I felt that Another Summer questioned whether someone would return to a partner after deceit. What moral goals did you use to guide the stories development?
I’m always interested in why people do things. I love a misunderstood rebel character, the bad boy with a soft centre. I’m also a great admirer of forgiveness and I like my characters to be better at it than I am.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I have a second novel – High Hopes available now. It has been described as “A book filled with suspense, love, heartbreak and pain. Compulsive page-turner with a sizzling hint of spice.”
The heat of passion and the bitter sting of betrayal from an exciting new voice in Women’s Fiction, Another Summer is the sizzling second-chances page-turner you won’t want to miss.
Scared of being alone, lost in the arms of a handsome stranger, Evie believes her marriage to Joe is over. But Joe is on a mission to win her back. Will he reach her before she falls under the spell of hot rock singer Jake?
Joe is the only man she’s ever loved, since that long hot summer when she was sixteen. But how many lies is too many? Devastated by his latest betrayal, Evie flees to her grandmother’s remote cottage in the stormy wilds of picturesque Cornwall, staring into an empty future without the bad-boy she believed was her soulmate. Heartbroken and vulnerable, she falls under the spell of charismatic Jake who sweeps her head first into an irresistible and steamy affair.
Expecting Evie to come to her senses, Joe storms after her and finds himself stuck on the road trip from hell. When an ancient bridge is smashed to matchwood, it seems all hope of a happy future will be swept away. The old hurts are deep and forgiveness seems out of the question. Has Joe left it too late to persuade Evie he can change? Does he deserve another chance to convince Evie he loves her? Or will Evie be tempted to dump him and grasp her own happy ending with sexy rocker Jake?
Set in the windswept wilds of Poldark country, the perfect steamy romance for lazing on the beach or curling up on a rainy-day sofa. Don’t miss out – get your copy now. Scroll up and click buy to start reading. Another Summer is sure to be one of the Bestselling Romance Novels of 2017.
Posted in Interviews
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See Me Forever is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, mystery, and paranormal as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I love early Gothic so I wanted to create a story where those themes are used in a modern setting and with a full Gothic ending. So the story begins as a conventional romance but gradually becomes darker. It could be described as a modern-day bodice ripper. The book also has a strong mystery element which I’ve written in a traditional mystery style.
Arianna is innately beautiful but isn’t sleazy and has a level of class and integrity that is to be admired. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
The heroine is small town born and bred – she’s quite traditional in her thinking so I used a somewhat old fashioned writing style to reflect that in her thoughts and speech. There’s also Victorian-style speech to show the different time periods that the spirit and Arianna exist in (they converse in the older style speech). The hero is plagued by guilt over a past event and is also terrified of losing Arianna to the evil in her haunted house.
Detective Gauge has some skeletons in his closet but still falls for Arianna. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Arianna and Logan?
To Logan Gauge, Arianna is completely different to anyone he’s ever known – a set of contradictions – fiercely passionate but with a cool, calm demeanor, upfront and honest but someone who seems to have a secret side when she’s in touch with her spirit world. She straight out falls for Logan. Naturally, she’s attracted by his looks but she loves him for his goodness. She describes him as strong and good and sure.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As I love mystery and my books always have a twist (as any good mystery should), the next book is about a very sophisticated serial thief (woman) who lives in one of the most exclusive apartment buildings in New York. To say more would give away too much as this story will be a whodunnit until the last page. It is, of course, a romance.
As a spirit sensitive, Arianna Harte is used to encountering the dead. So when the mysterious spirit in her crumbling Victorian mansion finally reveals his presence, Arianna is confident she can control him. But Edmond Wilde is unlike other spirits. He possesses a deadly power and is prepared to use that terrifying ability to claim her. As Arianna gradually learns of the house’s dark past and the source of Edmond’s power, she finds herself increasingly under his depraved control. Only one man can fight for her—a fearless, mortal man, stronger than Edmond. But he is a man with his own ghosts from the past.
Placing early Gothic themes and styles in a contemporary setting, See Me Forever is a story of strange happenings, blended time periods, obsession, betrayal and death. With multiple characters and plot twists, mysteries both past and present are revealed, testing Arianna’s gift in ways she never thought possible. Can she and her courageous lover defeat the powerful spirit who threatens their very existence?
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H.A.L.F by Natalie Wright tells the story of H.A.L.F 9, a Human-Alien Life Form that escapes from the military facility where he was created. During the course of his escape, H.A.L.F 9 meets teenagers, Erika, Jack and Ian, with whom he strikes up a friendship. Among other abilities, H.A.L.F 9 has extreme telekinetic and telepathic powers which make him a valuable asset to the government and one that they are not willing to lose. The government, claiming ownership of H.A.L.F 9’s life, sets out to retrieve him. Having no human technology that can match H.A.L.F 9’s power, they have to enlist a force stronger and more cunning than even H.A.L.F 9 is prepared to face.
Right from the start of the book the characters are likable and relatable. Even though the first couple of chapters were a bit confusing, each one was intriguing enough to make me want to keep reading. It isn’t immediately obvious how the characters in the first chapters are related to one another, but once you do discover the connection the direction of the story makes perfect sense. The writing is actually done very well for a Young Adult novel; which the book appears to be, as all the main characters are teenagers. I was very surprised at how each chapter really kept me on the edge of my seat; my interest in finishing the book never waned. Most books have at least a few chapters that are somewhat slow but I didn’t find this to be the case with H.A.L.F., it kept a great pace and remained interesting throughout. I think the struggle within H.A.L.F 9 between his alien and human personalities were done incredibly well. Having spent hardly any time at all actually interacting with humans on a personal level, he isn’t quite sure what to make of the new feelings that he experiences outside of the facility. For instance, there is a moment at which he finds himself wanting Jack to feel pain, even though he can acknowledge that Jack has never done anything to deserve his ill will. H.A.L.F 9 isn’t able to recognize that he feels this way toward Jack because of Jack’s romantic involvement with Erika, whom H.A.L.F 9 is also developing romantic feelings towards. I also appreciated how this aspect of the characters relationships is subtle and not the focus of any particular chapter in the story. Sometimes Young Adult fiction does not have a good balance of romance to substance but this book does not have that problem.
Natalie Wright does an excellent job with the element of surprise. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I will just say that in several places throughout the book the outcome that I was imagining is not at all what came to pass. I eagerly await the next installment of this series.
Pages: 293 | ASIN: B00R6U32CA
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Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live inside your favorite video game? Karen Glista’s novel, Embellished, the first novel in The Chronicles of Orian trilogy, takes us on a wild ride with a story about teens who find themselves inside the world of the M.M.O.R.P.G. game, The Battle of Orian. While playing the game during a lightning storm, Bekka, Travis, and Matt are suddenly transported into the antiquated world of Orian. Bekka, a teen suffering from a rare genetic disease, finds herself fully healed from her earthly ailments and rises up the royal rankings. Meanwhile, her brother, Travis, and his friend Matt continually search for an escape back to Earth. Their only hope for escaping this world is finding the only other human from Earth, also trapped in the game, before they’re all killed by dangerous creatures.
Embellished is so much more than a fantasy/paranormal romance with a fair amount of compelling, steamy scenes. Embellished transcends genre boundaries through incorporating elements of adventure, suspense, and gruesome battle scenes. What makes it even more exciting to read is the development of its deeply complex characters and intricately woven plot with twists that’ll leave you gasping.
The novel opens with a group of teens playing The Battle of Orian on a stormy night in Texas, when lightning strikes their home and catapults the teens into the world of the game. Little do they know that their real-life bodies on Earth are rapidly deteriorating. Luckily, they know how to defeat evil spiders, bears, and violent Vadarcs, a sub-human species.
While the novel begins by focusing on Travis, who becomes the leader of the group, the perspective shifts to his sister, Bekka. She starts as a somewhat timid, soft-spoken individual, as her body on Earth was ravaged by the rare Marfan’s disease, but once she begins to find her voice, Bekka truly blossoms into a bold, outspoken, and open-minded heroine. I thought that it made the story so much more compelling to give Bekka these strong character traits, since it added suspense to the decisions she had to make.
Glista does a great job of capturing the inner feelings that any person would have when faced with a love triangle. Bekka befriends Atharia and even becomes betrothed to Atharia’s brother, the devastatingly handsome Vallas. But during a harrowing attack, she and Atharia are taken captive by a belligerent Vadarc tribe. After she meets Zandar, a half-Human Vadarc who exudes masculinity and passionate sensuality, Bekka wonders if she can ever go back to her life with Vallas again. She has the chance to choose between Vallas and Zandar – attracted to the different qualities within both men, she is torn between her desire for passionate, romantic love, or for safety and security.
Glista also masterfully incorporates multiple themes that add multiple layers to the novel. For example, Bekka discovers that there are deeply entrenched discriminatory practices between the Humans and Vadarcs, and after learning the history of the Vadarcs, Bekka begins to preach open-mindedness to her Human friends. I thought this was an extremely vital and current theme to have as it relates pretty directly to racial issues within today’s world.
As the first novel in the Chronicles of Orian trilogy, Embellished provides a bit of closure at the end, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens to Bekka, Travis, and Matt in the next installment.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B01M5BZVQ1
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