Dead Radiance by T. G. Ayer

Published by Evolved Publishing  ISBN: 1469998165

Bryn Halbrook had always seen the glow. But it is only when her best friend dies that she discovers the meaning of those beautiful golden auras—Death. Alone, lost in the foster system, she struggles to understand who she is and why she was cursed with the ability to see the soon-to-be-dead.

The new foster kid, Aidan, isn’t helping any. Mr. Perfect seems to fit in no matter what, making her feel even more pathetic. But when his affections turn to her, Bryn finds him hard to resist. Impossible, actually. A mystery himself, Aidan disappears, leaving behind a broken heart and a mysterious book that suggests Bryn might not be entirely human.

Bryn stands at the threshold of a journey of discovery. Will destiny help her find herself, find her purpose and her place in a world in which she’d never belonged?

Move over Twilight, there is another supernatural being in town, and this one kicks butt!  Having never heard of Valkyries before I was thoroughly taken in by the story and the way that Bryn handles the situation is truly readable.

Bryn is a teenager who is a foster kid.  Being shipped around a lot, she is used to her own company and has managed to cope quite well on her own.  When she becomes part of Odin’s family, life in heaven imitates life on earth for Bryn, and her survival strategies kick in.

The love hate relationship that she has with Aidan is true teenage angst, much better and believable than Bella and Edward (sorry, but it is true!)

I read this in eBook form, but will have to get a physical copy to donate to the local library because there is a whole new audience that is over Twilight but looking for something else fantastical to read.

Dead Radiance – available now!

Sick of vampires and angels? Why not try Dead Radiance with VALKYRIES, and Norse mythology – a nice change from your standard YA paranormal fare.

Meet Bryn, the kick ass leading lady in this debut novel from NZ/South African writer T.G Ayer. Bryn has been in the foster system for years and struggles to trust others, so fearful about appearing crazy that she has to hide the things she sees from everyone else. Until she meets Aidan, that is, and finds it impossible to stop him from getting under her skin.

Conflicted about her budding romance, and freaked out by the reality that those who appear to glow seem destined for death, Bryn struggles to find the answers she needs. It seems like Aidan might be the key to cracking the mystery, until he disappears, leaving her heart broken and confused by the clues he has left behind.

Bryn’s journey takes her to places she had never imagined existed, where she discovers that myths are real and she is marked for a task that seems more impossible than her newly grown wings.

This is a strong first release, and a great start to a series exploring new territory. If you are looking for something new, definitely check this novel out. Available now in both print and digital formats.

Fractured Light Blog Tour

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Fractured Light, by Rachel McClellan, which is being released by Cedar Fort Publishing in February 2012. I picked up my copy through NetGalley because I thought the cover was really eye catching, and I hadn’t read any books about Auras:

Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. But she never felt ready to face them, until now. Defying the Auran Council and everything she’s been taught, Llona must learn to use her power over light as a weapon if she wants to survive. 

There are a lot of things to like about this book: the writing is solid, the premise is interesting (Aura’s, and a new, different kind of vampire type creature!) and the characters are pretty great.

I really liked Llona. I appreciated that she had some valid struggles – her parents are dead and her legal guardian is an uncle who is barely ten years older than her and still wallowing in grief over the loss of his brother. She has these abilities that no-one has really told her about, and as far as she knows, the only way to keep herself from being killed, like her mum, is to maintain a low profile and move around a lot. It’s that, or allow herself to be sent to a private school for girls like her – an idea that she is as resistant to as she is the thought of being killed by a Vyken.

One of the things I loved about this book is that while Llona is cool – she does have these unique powers – she has very little idea about how to use them. She is an untapped talent, and unlike in a million other YA novels, she is not fabulous at what she does. She is untrained, unskilled and blundering through the world. She hides information from people that she should trust, and misinterprets some of the strange things that go on in her life. Llona is by no means perfect, but she doesn’t wallow in that fact – she gets on with things and is doing her best to make the most of the situation.

I think if I had one not so great thing to say about this book is that I had the ‘bad guy’ picked from quite early on. There were moments when I wondered if maybe I had it wrong, but I was pretty firm on who I thought it was – it would have been nice if Llona had figured it out earlier, but she did have a lot going on!

There was plenty of personal growth in all the important characters, and I think there was a nice balance between big issues, and smaller issues in the book, it helped to keep it real. This is a really easy read, and I think anyone who is into the genre will enjoy it. I know that I’ll definitely be checking out the second one. I’m eager to know what happens next and how Llona works on developing her skills. It should be good!

If you want to check out the other stops in this tour, head over here. And for the official website of the book, here.

Golden Blood – Melissa Pearl

This book is better than Twilight. I can say that honestly because I read both books in the same week and I found this one both better written, and more engaging – not to mention the fact that the characters are easier to like.

Gemma Hart never knows when her father is going to whisk her back in time. Her toes start tingling and she has a few minutes to find a secret haven where she can disintegrate and appear in another time and place. While “across the line,” her training and skills are put to the test as she completes a mission that will change history for the lucky few her father has selected. 

Gemma’s parents are adamant that secrecy is paramount to her family’s safety. If people knew what they were capable of, they could be “used and abused”, as her mother always says. Afraid she might accidentally utter the truth and break the ancient oath of her people, Gemma spends her school days as a loner. Only one thing can throw her sheltered life askew… Harrison Granger.

Harrison never expected to talk to the strange Hart girl, but after a brief encounter he can’t stop thinking about her. He begins a campaign to chisel away her icy veneer and is met with unexpected consequences. As he slowly wins this girl over, he enters a surreal world that has him fighting to keep his newfound love and his life.

This is one of those instances where I am forever grateful for my wonderful writer friends, because if it wasn’t for Leigh, I may never have known about this book. It’s a very easy read, and I quickly got captured by the characters and their story.

Gemma is an awkward teenager, very aware of her weaknesses. It is only at the prompting of her family, and an encounter with Harrison, that gets her to come out of her shell a little bit – she sees that her older brother and sister are living and enjoying life, so why shouldn’t she? The problem is that she can’t help but be honest, and finds balancing her secret life with her regular life very difficult – it’s not long before Harrison has literally fallen in too deep, and Gemma finds the foundations of her world shaken.

I really enjoyed the relationships in this book – it was great to see a main character whose family unit is in tact and fairly functional as well. They are a regular family, apart from the whole disappearing in a shower of gold and going back in time bizzo. I also liked that Gemma has more skills when it comes to the fighting side of life than Harrison, who is a little in awe of her – but not so much that he feels unworthy of her attentions. There is a nice balance between them.

This is a very easy read. If you like fast paced YA urban fantasy with a strong set of characters and want to explore a new writer, then I thoroughly recommend that you check this one out – it’s the perfect time, because Book Two in the series is out in just a few days now, and I hear that Book Three will be released early next year. I know I’ll be checking them out.

The Night Circus

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

When I started reading this book, I was in a somewhat critical frame of mind. I knew people who raved about it, and had read reviews which hammered it. It seemed like there was an awful lot of telling going on, and not a lot of showing. However, I was intrigued, and I found myself reading on, being captured by the book until it consumed me.

I think the blurb for the book is a little misleading. So it’s lucky that I didn’t read it before hand. The game between Celia and Marco is hardly fierce. It is a duel, but they know so little about it, that there is no sense of impending doom about it, until much later in the novel when it’s revealed to the characters that only the winner will survive – and even then, if you’ve read the blurb, you know this already, which takes some of the tension out of the situation.

The Night Circus is a subtle novel that weaves together three story lines, spread over three different time periods. It took me a little bit of back and forth to figure it out, but once you get into the rhythm, find your connections with the characters in each time, it’s very easy to keep things straight. One of the most interesting things about this book is that one of the characters is YOU. Yes, that’s right, one thread is told in second person. It’s done so well that I felt like I could have been there, seeing it all – not only does it make you see the circus as a character itself, but the tents which you find yourself drawn to are used to highlight things that are occurring in the other story lines.

I thought the characters were beautifully drawn. I loved them all, even the secondary ones, and really appreciated the subtle touch that Morgenstern writes with. Celia and Marco have two completely different approaches to magic, and yet they find this connection to each other and build on that throughout the novel. This is a beautiful, luscious love story, which I would happily immerse myself into again. This isn’t romance, but love, painted in images and actions, rather than thoughts and words spoken by characters.

I love the Night Circus. I want to go. You would find me dressed in black and white, a red rose in my hair, or perhaps red gloves and scarf, if the night were cold. I would be one of the Reveurs in a heartbeat. Read it. Push past the initial telling, and let Morgenstern draw you into the world of the circus. You won’t regret it.

An interview with Joseph Evans

A few weeks ago I reviewed City of the Falling Sky, for Adopt an Indie month. The author, Joseph Evans, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his series.

I can tell from your book that you’re a big fan of the Harry Potter universe. I think you did a good job of creating your own, while still paying your respects to the world JK Rowling created – how did you go about that?

Yes, I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and they are the most enjoyable books I have ever read. I don’t know of any other books for that age group that have the same level of worldbuilding, and I think that is one of the key aspects to its success. When I began writing, I consciously wanted to make a world that was just as complex and just as enjoyable to live in.

How many books have you got planned for the Seckry Sequence, and what kind of timeframe are they going to be written over?

There will be five books in total, and each one will cover an academic year, much like in Harry Potter. So by the end of it, Seckry will be nineteen! When I began this journey as a writer, the first thing I did was spend six months not only planning the first book, but the whole five books! I know what’s going to happen in each book and I think this will really help to keep the quality consistent without me losing my way with it.

I found it interesting that you had a lot of made up creatures and items in your world, like the animals at the school, and then on the other hand, used some regular words from our world, like carrots and milkshakes – how did you decide on the balance between regular words and invented items?

One of my favourite authors, Chris Wooding, wrote a blog on this once, and It was very helpful. Here’s the link.
I took a lot of advice from this post, as it is very important to balance the completely alien with the familiar. My personal rationale is that if something if onomatopoeic enough, it doesn’t matter that the reader doesn’t know exactly what it is, since the word itself gives you a very good idea. I have no idea what a gloopy mullsquash dip is myself, but I can picture and taste it just the same! Some of my favourite things to invent were the names for my characters. Again, some of these sound very familiar and some very strange. The name Loca Thumbsuckle was my favourite to invent, because it makes her sound very delicate and innocent when she’s not like that at all!

While the book deals with some serious material, it also has some really fun aspects as well. Do you think it’s important to work in some light-hearted moments in a series like this?

Definitely. Another thing JK Rowling does excellently is humour, and that was one of my favourite things about the first three Harry Potters before they got darker. Another one of my favourite authors is Terry Pratchett, who is renowned for his humour, and I’ve taken a lot of influence from him. I enjoy  the darker parts more in books if they are counterbalanced by humour, as I think the light hearted scenes are where we really get to know the characters as if they are our own friends.

Finally, when do you think the second book will be available?

I’m hoping to have it ready next spring if I can really work on it non stop. I don’t want to keep my new fans waiting for too long as I can’t wait to hear what they think of book 2. The title is going to be The Trinity Awakening, and it’s going to be even more epic than the first!

Thanks so much, Joseph!

It was great to get some insight into the decisions and process that went into the creation of this book, and the series to come. All the best with City of the Falling Sky, and I hope the writing goes well for The Trinity Awakening!

Debris – Jo Anderton

In a far future where technology is all but indistinguishable from magic, Tanyana is one of the elite. 

She can control pions, the building blocks of matter, shaping them into new forms using ritual gestures and techniques. The rewards are great, and she is one of most highly regarded people in the city. But that was before the “accident”. 

Stripped of her powers, bound inside a bizarre powersuit, she finds herself cast down to the very lowest level of society. Powerless, penniless and scarred, Tanyana must adjust to a new life collecting “debris”, the stuff left behind by pions. But as she tries to find who has done all of this to her, she also starts to realize that debris is more important than anyone could guess. 

The novel begins by showing Tanyana at her greatest; co-ordinating her team and manipulating pions in the construction of a gigantic structure. It’s an intricate beginning to a novel, the scene in which her entire life is changed in just one moment, by mysterious pions that, apparently, no-one else can see. From the heights of her success, she falls and is stripped of her ability to see these tiny particles which have shaped her existence so far. In some respects, she finds herself blind and forced into a new role – that of debris collector.

While initially the reader isn’t given a lot of extra information, it doesn’t take too long to start orienting yourself in the world that Anderton has created. Nor does it take much to see just how much Tanyana has lost. While I felt for her, there was a chunk of me that was pleased the author made her pay for her arrogance, made her suffer for her mistakes – it was only once she had fully realized that she couldn’t have anything of her old life, once she’d accepted that she was a different person, that she become more likable.

I thought the setting was really well developed, as were the people – you have two distinct groups in those who can see pions, and those who cannot. While several characters try to cross the lines, the cultures deeply grounded beliefs about the way of the world prevent it from really working. These beliefs come into question nearer the end when the debris is acting strangely and Tanyana finally comes to realize what is going on around her.

The pacing is a little slower than I might have liked, but the setting and story were engaging enough to keep me reading. Tanyana searches for answers, but many of these attempts are thwarted. Closer to the end some of the mysteries in the story are revealed, though by the climax there is still a lot left hanging for the next book. I’ll definitely be checking it out.