Friday, April 18, 2014

Darkest Fear by Cate Tiernan [Review]

Darkest Fear (Birthright, #1)3.5 out of 5 Robots!

Darkest Fear by Cate Tiernan
Series: Birthright #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release: January 7, 2014
Hardcover: 368 Pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
My Copy: Publisher (Netgalley)
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
Vivi’s animal instincts are her legacy—and maybe her downfall—in this start to a romantic fantasy series that will appeal to fans of The Nine Lives of Chloe King.

Vivi has known the truth about her family—and herself—since she was thirteen. But that doesn’t mean she’s accepted it. Being Haguari isn’t something she feels she’ll ever accept. How can she feel like anything but a freak knowing that it’s in her genes to turn into a jaguar?

Now eighteen, Vivi’s ready to break away from the traditions of her heritage. But all of that changes with the shocking, devastating deaths of her parents and the mysteries left behind. Vivi discovers family she never even knew she had, and a life open with possibility. New friends, new loyalties, and even romance all lay ahead—but so do dangers unlike anything Vivi ever could have imagined.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
I really liked Cate Tiernan's Immortal Beloved series, so I was excited to delve into her new paranormal series shape shifters!  Sounds great, right?  Well, at first I was on board.  Vivi lives with her parents in South Florida, but eschews their Haguari ways.  She is horrified that she can change in a jaguar and wants no part in it.  She just wants to escape to college in Seattle and live far, far away from her parents.  But tragedy strikes when her parents are murdered.  Unsure of what to do, Vivi uncovers long lost cousins in New Orleans.  She leaves Florida to meet them and ends up staying on in New Orleans.  She is now surrounded by Haguari and begins to accept who she is.  Sort of.   

But, here is where the book stalls.  What started as promising delves into incredibly mundane and seemingly pointless activities.  We spend a lot of time as Vivi gets a job in a coffee house, and bakes, and ponders her feelings.  It all felt...unnecessary, really.  I wish the focus remained more on the Haguari lifestyle and less on Vivi's baking prowess.  It doesn't help that Vivi has the same five thoughts over and over.  The last 5% of the book does ratchet up the action, but I couldn't help but feel that it was too little, too late.

I'm on the fence about whether I would continue this series. On one hand, I felt like I could easily set it aside.  But then there are parts that are hugely intriguing such as the mystery surrounding Vivi's parents' deaths and the Haguari lifestyle.  (I love the narrative style change when Vivi turns into a jaguar.) Also I want to find out what the deal with Vivi's best friend is after she randomly shows up on Vivi's doorstep at the end of the book.  I want to believe that Tiernan can turn this series around.  We'll see.

Disclosure:  I reviewed a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

{Nerd Blast} Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum


Book Trailer:

Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby's role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she's only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.

BFD CoverBorder



In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is an experienced English teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading. She is currently a Library Science student at Sam Houston State University.
Beth is the author of Big Fat Disaster (Merit Press/F+W Media, March 2014); Courage in Patience (Kunati Books, 2008); and Hope in Patience(WestSide Books, 2010). Hope in Patience was named a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Truth in Patience, which rounds outThe Patience Trilogy, is as yet unpublished. The Patience Trilogy has been revised and is available for acquisition!
Beth has a following in the young adult literature world and also among survivors of sexual abuse because of her work with victims’ advocacy groups. She has been the keynote speaker at the National Crime Victims’ Week Commemoration Ceremony at the Hall of State in Dallas, Texas and a presenter for Greater Texas Community Partners, where she addressed a group of social workers and foster children on the subject of “Hope”.
Beth is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, like Ashley in The Patience Trilogy, and the day-to-day manager of an eating disorder much like Colby’s in Big Fat Disaster. These life experiences give her a unique perspective, and she writes her characters’ stories in a way meant to inspire hope.
Beth lives with her family in the woods of East Texas.
You can find Beth online at
on Facebook, and on

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Wizard's Promise Blog Tour!


Welcome to The Wizard's Promise Blog Tour stop on Rex Robot Reviews! 

I was so excited when I heard that Cassandra Rose Clarke was writing another YA series.  I loved The Assassin's Curse and it's sequel, The Pirate's Wish.  This book is set in the same world as The Assassin's Curse, but with a whole new set of characters.  One thing I love about Cassandra's books is her imagination and world building.  She creates a fascinating magical world with memorable characters.  I was very honored and excited to be able to interview Cassandra as apart of her blog tour.  

The Wizard's Curse is available May 6th!

Published by Strange Chemistry
US Release: May 6, 2014 | UK Release: May 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-908844-74-3
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-908844-75-0

All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.
As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

1. Your books have great world building and structure. Where do you get your inspiration from?
All over! One of my absolute favorite sources of inspiration is National Geographic magazine—yes, the actual magazine! I have a paper subscription and I always save all my old copies. I love flipping through the pictures looking for images that strike up my imagination, and then reading the accompaning article. There are landscapes on Earth that look completely alien, and cultures that many people never even think about. I also like to watch documentaries for similar reasons—Netflix actually has a great selection. And honestly, another big influence for me is just pop culture in general. As I mention in another response, the movie Alien was an influence for a particular section in The Wizard’s Promise, and magic-infused adventure movies like Pirates of the Caribbean have been an influence for the series as a whole.

2. What is your writing process like?
It really varies from book to book, and it’s also evolved over the years. The very first book I wrote both out of order and without an outline! I’ve actually never written a book out of order since—it’s much easier to hold on to the narrative flow if yo write chronologically. I’ve also started outlining out of necessity. I get so many ideas for novels that I’ve taken to drawing up loose outlines and then setting the books aside while I finish up the fifty billion other projects I have to complete (note: that may be a slight exaggeration). 
Generally speaking, though, I draft the novel fairly quickly (I aim for a thousand words a day or more), then read through it on my Kindle. After reading, I sit down and take notes over anything I want to change. I also look at any beta reader notes I have. Then I work through the book in order, making the necessary large scale changes and polishing up the prose.

3. What was your favorite part of The Wizard's Promise to write?
I loved writing a sequence toward the end. [Slight spoilers ahead!] Hanna and the fishing crew she’s joined up with have to fight off an attack of monsters from the Mists. I’d been in the mood to write a horror story, something along the lines of Alien, and I loved having the chance to weave it into The Wizard’s Promise. I’m not sure it’s as scary as Alien, but I had a tremendous amount of fun building the tension and atmosphere.

4. Which character is most like you?
Probably Hanna. I really drew on my own experiences as a teenager when I was writing her. I grew up in a small town that I HATED and couldn’t wait to move away. It drove me crazy when people would even suggest that I stick around. Plus, I had a lot of fairly lofty career goals: I wanted to be a writer, or an artist, or a college professor. The fact that I’ve managed to accomplish that is actually pretty amazing to me. Hanna is that way, too, though: her parents expect her to become a fisherman, but she’d rather be a witch. She wants out of her small village, but then adventuring proves to be not exactly what she expected—which is pretty much how I would react when getting thrown out on an adventure.

5. What can your readers expect from The Hanna duology?
Magic, magic, magic! Lots of magic. There’s also a slow-burn romance, and an evil lord with monsters under his command, and, eventually, a trip into the Mists itself.

6. For fans of your previous books, how does the Wizard's Promise differ?  What themes are similar?
It does take place in a different part of the world (the ice-islands), so there’s a different feel to the culture. Hanna isn’t exactly like Ananna, either, although she wants to be—Ananna is actually her namesake, and throughout the course of the duology, Hanna will learn that it’s completely possible for her to live up to that name.  Still, many of the themes are similar: Hanna learns about bravery and trust and love. Like Ananna, she has to find her place in the world when she gets thrust out on her own, and she also meets a boy who will, eventually, turn out to be perfect for her.

Cassandra Rose Clarke grew up in south Texas and currently lives in a suburb of Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a local college. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in English, and two years later she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle, where she was a recipient of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.
Cassandra’s first adult novel, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, was a finalist for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award, and her YA novel, The Assassin’s Curse, was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons and Daily Science Fiction.

Follow Cassandra's blog here!


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