Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Romance

Pigments of My Imagination by Angela Kulig: Frodo’s Review

Pigments of My Imagination

Summary From Goodreads

From the moment Lucia steps into Bayside Art Academy, she is fed a steady stream of lies, but it’s not until she meets William that she begins to question the people she trusts. Unraveling fact from fabrication seems impossible until Lucia finds her first painting, and discovers the dead do not lie–at least not to her.

A dozen lifetimes ago, Lucia started a war. Not a war with armies or guns, but a bloody war nonetheless. The path leading Lucia to the truth is hidden within lovely art that spans the ages. In this life, however, Lucia doesn’t know where to look. Lost, she turns to the one thing she knows with certainty–she is in love with Leo, and has been before.

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I received an eBook copy of Pigments of My Imagination from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Pigments of My Imagination (from now on abbreviated as PoMI) is a book that I needed time to fully process, which, if you know my normal reviewing style, is pretty strange. You see, PoMI is unlike any book you’ve ever read. No really, if you can find me a book that is legitimately similar I’ll give you a cookie or something, but mostly I’ll just be very surprised. It’s original, so much so that I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, until now.

PoMI is a seamless blend of artistic expression, beautiful writing, and a bittersweet romance. It has elements that I’m still not sure if I would categorize as science-fiction or fantasy, maybe it is a bit of both melded together. The book is mystery and suspense, friendship and the deepest of true love, and maybe above all, discovery of one’s self.

PoMI asks what a lifetime is really worth and what is the best way to spend it. It examines bonds and which are the strongest. Is it familial, friendship, love? Can they all be one and the same? Who is your real family and what would you do for them no matter the cost?

Pigments of My Imagination is such a fitting title because as I read it I felt like I was in an artist’s dream, a fantasy of what the world might be like if all of the art forms in your head could become reality. The imagery is vivid and described in such a way that I couldn’t help but be drawn in. The academy is only the beginning, though it is lovely, and from alleyways to tunnels, from the city in the present to forests of the past, all of it is wondrous and depicted beautifully and in such detail.

I’m fully aware that this review isn’t my normal style, where I break down my main elements and summarize at the end, but that’s because PoMI isn’t a typical read. The word to describe it, if there is one, is more. It’s more than a book. The story is more than just a tale of lovers reunited. The characters are more than teenagers, deeper somehow, richer, and more vibrant. The area around them is magical both in the literal and figurative sense, filled with wonderment, and yet its darkest corners and crevices might be filled with just as much evil as our own world.

While PoMI had some minor flaws, nothing stood out enough to overcome how amazing and original the piece is. I encourage you to read it, you’ll never see anything else like it anywhere, trust me. This is art. This is magic. This is Angela Kulig at her finest. Thanks as always for reading.

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #138/200

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YA Wednesday: Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

YAWednesday

Indelible

Summary From GoodreadsIndelible by Dawn Metcalf

Some things are permanent.
Indelible.
And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future…and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…

THE TWIXT

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Hey, you! Ya, you! The tiny handful of people that have looked at my rating system! Umm, scrap it. Just for this book I swear but seriously, like, it doesn’t exist for this review. Good with that? Awesomesauce.

So the always amazing Nikki over at Fiction Freak, and I, decided to read Indelible together because we are fun like that. ^.^ At the beginning we were, to put it nicely, a tad worried about how the book was going to go. However! Once we hit chapter four it was like an explosion of pure awesomeness occurred and BAM the book took off!

The characters were wonderful! With the exception of the best friend, Monica, which Nikki and I would like to erase from Indelible, the entire cast was well developed, a bunch of fun and pretty complex too. My personal favorite was Inq, the sister of the MC’s love interest, who is bad-ass, freaking hilarious and has just enough naughtiness thrown in. Ink, the love interest, was really intriguing. He had this innocence about him in the beginning and we get to watch him figure out who he is, who he wants to be, and see his personality and feelings really grow by the end. I suppose it is a metaphor for how humans grow up, regardless it certainly worked. Also he’ll kindle the fire for ya if you let him. ^.^

As far as the MC, Joy, while she was a bit stereotypical I still liked her. She wasn’t as fun as some of the other characters and her familial issues, as Nikki pointed out, were cliched. Despite that I found her to be surprisingly tough, holding to her convictions and refusing to give up her friends at any cost, while at the same time struggling to come to grips with this new world she has been thrust into. She didn’t magically accept everything she was told which was really refreshing and it took her time to trust the people she met along the way, something that I’ve seen taken for granted in a lot of YA books in particular. She was solid.

The chemistry between Joy and Ink though? Loved it! There were some elements of “insta-love” but it was done in such a sweet and tender way (not crazy physical all at once nonsense) that it felt the most believable out of the books that have used it. Their relationship had such a nice build up to it and the growing affection was incredibly sweet. They meshed really well and I just loved the pairing. All the sappyness.

However, despite all of that previously mentioned goodness, I haven’t even made it to the best part! Allow me to go full squee-mode over the world that Metcalf created! It’s super complex, there is time travel, other dimensions, a vast array of paranormal creatures and it’s all done perfectly. Seriously, the world was one of the best I’ve ever read about! I was captivated and mesmerized and just all of the happy feels toward it. I liked the balance system of power they use, the cool way each type of creature fit into our current world and this mysterious one all at once and the way they incorporated Inq and Ink into it was incredible. Plus, think of all of the fantastic symbols! Well, you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean by that. ^.^

So, this book, I loved it. That much is clear. There were some minor things that keep it from being a perfect five but it was soooo close and I have every hope that book two, Invisible, will make it there! It doesn’t come out until APRIL though so it will be a long wait until we know for sure. I definitely recommend Indelible to anyone, YA readers, romance lovers, paranormal junkies, it’s just a great book. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #134/200

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Cover Reveal: Nemesis by S. A. Huchton

Cover Reveal: Nemesis (The Endure Series – Book 2)

Nemesis

TitleNemesis (The Endure series, book 2)
Author: S. A. Huchton
Genre: Science Fiction Romance (New Adult)
Release date: August 26th, 2013
Summary

Tech genius Daniel Brewer isn’t the only one with a romantic history. Already weighed down with the impossible problem of the Maven Initiative’s plans for world domination and disaster, Dr. Lydia Ashley is finding it more and more difficult to keep things in balance. With an old flame reappearing and the schemes of a vindictive new rival thrown into the mix, her hopes for a life with Daniel may be on the brink of annihilation.  

When Lydia’s past is brought to light, one big secret could destroy everything.
Starla Huchton
Website               Facebook               Twitter

Author Bio:

Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. Since her debut, Starla’s voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor’s Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart (earning her a third Parsec nomination), and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards. Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven was her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four, being released under the name S. A. Huchton. Nemesis is the second in the Endure series.

After completing her degree in Graphic Arts, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors and publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.


Focus by Alyssa Rose Ivy: Frodo’s Review

Focus

Summary From Goodreads

Freshman year of college is hard even when you’re not tied to the future king of a supernatural society.

Allie dives into college head first with Hailey as her roommate and the city of New Orleans as her backyard. As things within The Society heat up, Allie realizes that whether she’s with Levi or not, she’s in far too deep to turn back.

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I never expected to read this book after reading Flight, book one in the series, but here we are. I opened up my Kindle app on my computer and for whatever reason it was near the top. If you read my review of Flight you’d know I was not a fan of many of the elements in book 1 but I figured I’d give the series a second chance because, again as noted in the review, I did enjoy Alyssa Rose Ivy’s writing. Was it worth that second glance? Kinda.

I really need to check out more of Ivy’s work because I’m enjoying her writing quite a bit and I’m curious how her character dynamics are in other series. The major difference when I went to read Focus was mindset. Going into Flight I was thinking paranormal romance but more of a 50/50 split, now that I knew better I was prepared for a romance with elements of paranormal, something like an 80/20 split. Ivy’s writing style is wonderful and gripping, her pacing fantastic and I didn’t stop reading for even a minute (not even to check Twitter!) which surprised me a little. There is plenty of action, romantic tension and even some really interesting political discussions within the paranormal community. Some of the characters were given some much desired added depth, especially Jared, and I really connected with them.

The intertwining paranormal types (species?) and the politics that were discussed in Focus were fascinating. They also added a much needed respite from the constant romance-driven parts of the plot. There are family histories, hierarchies and enough paranormal creatures to make your head spin and I loved that. I really hope that Found, book three in the series, expands on these aspects because it seems like there is so much Ivy could do with the world she has created if she’d just step away from the romance (a bit at least) but we shall see.

The controlling part of Levi’s personality haven’t magically evaporated which I guess is good since it would betray who his character is at this point. The change that does happen is Allie standing up for herself more. She decides to take things at her pace in her relationship, commits to her schooling and even makes a few surprising decisions to keep herself safe which I was thrilled to see. Allie doesn’t just forgive Levi and let him right back in, she wars with herself over whether she even wants a relationship with him at all and ultimately it is up to her to decide if she can trust him or not. Levi still tries (and to some degree succeeds in) controlling parts of Allie’s life but while he won’t ever stop trying to get back with her he does respect her boundaries. There is progress there and it does feel like he is doing his best to understand her feelings while doing his best to protect her and show how much he loves her all the time. Definite steps in the right direction though I’m still not the biggest fan of him.

I like where Ivy is going with the series. The romance and the tension she is able to create are really well done and I’m growing on the characters as they seem to have a better understanding of where each of them is at. The paranormal aspects that were brought up were fascinating and my hope is for a heavier dose in Found. Considering I went from a one-Frodo rating on Flight to the solid 3 I’m giving Focus I’d say this is quite a turnaround. I’ll likely read Found at some point in the future and possibly will check out more of Ivy’s writing since, again, I do really like her style, it is just some choice she has made in this series here and there that have bothered me. For anyone curious about the series, it is labeled as PNR but be warned it is heavy on the R part of that and while I don’t know if I would yet recommend it, they are growing on me. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #113/200

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15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 13

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 13

15-Day-Challenge

The awesome people over at Good Books and Good Wine came up with the fabulous 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge!

Today’s Challenge is: Describe one underappreciated book EVERYONE should read.

There are SO many books to choose from for this challenge (as I’m sure all the bloggers participating in this one are saying) so it is very difficult to just pick one, but I’ll go with the first one that came to mind. The book is Thief by Sarah-Jane Lehoux which you can pick up from Amazon for only 99 cents!

Thief is primarily a fantasy book. You see elves featured a decent amount, though the dark elves are arguably cooler than their light counterparts if you ask me. There are also goddesses and pixies as well as a variety of other lesser used creatures which you’ll have to find out more about by reading the book.

Thief is headlined by Sevy, a kick-ass heroine who is easily one of my favorite characters in any book I’ve ever read. She’s that classic bad-ass on the outside and softie/sweetheart on the inside, but don’t let her know I told you that. She started from nothing, literally growing up on the streets and was stealing to get by until she runs into the other main character, Jarro. Picture your typical nice guy in your head, that’s Jarro, only he’s a gang leader. How does a guy like that end up in a gang? You’ll have to read the book to find out! I’m such a tease. ^.^

The book is action packed with displays of the fantastic, battles, rescues and grand adventures, the book has it all. There are also elements of romance that fuel a lot of the book’s plot but it melds perfectly with the rest of the story. Pain and loss are acutely felt by the reader, or at least by me, and the desire to see Sevy reach a “happily ever after” becomes just as big of a drive for us as it is for Sevy and the other characters in Thief.

I can’t say much more without spoiling major bits of the book so I’ll just say that I loved it and you should definitely read it. Fantasy fans this is a must read for you. Action junkies you too. Oh and sweet romance lovers make sure to check it out as well. Really just anyone who loves a good book needs to read Thief. What underappreciated book should I check out that you love? Why is it so amazing? Thanks as always for reading! ^.^


Review: Water and Chaos by Larry Kollar

Water and Chaos

Summary From Goodreads

Infiltrating a nest of rogue sorcerers can be hazardous… to your heart.

Mik and Sura are growing ever stronger as apprentice sorcerers, but neither knew what living in Mik’s hometown would do to their relationship. Torn apart by misunderstanding, Mik volunteers for a hazardous mission in a distant land. Now Sura must learn to trust, and Mik must learn the true meaning of home.

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I received an eBook copy of Water and Chaos from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Water and Chaos was released today! If you’d like to pick up a copy you can do so here.

Water and Chaos picks up right where Accidental Sorcerers left off. Mik and Sura are training to hone their powers while blossoming as a young couple. Then we are plunged in a series of adventures each of which seem more perilous than the last. Sounds cool right?

Here’s what I realized after finishing Water and Chaos, this series is, at least to me, romance with fantasy elements. I don’t think that is what I expected when I was introduced to the series, but the transition from Accidental Sorcerers (mostly fantasy but with romance intertwined) to Water and Chaos (romance abound with magical happenings around it) seems to lend itself to that type of series going forward. Also in my review of Accidental Sorcerers I mentioned that I thought AS was more Middle Grade than YA. Well Water and Chaos moves more into the younger YA range so it appears that as the MC ages (13 in Book 1, 14 in Book 2) the audience and corresponding writing styles go with it. Nothing is wrong with any of these adjustments in perspective, just some guidelines to go by.

Mik continues to be a very strong MC. He’s likable, he’s got a good sense of humor and he’s an all around good guy, easy to root for. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t perfect as we find out in this book, but he’s a solid model of goodness in most cases. Possibly my favorite change from AS to W&C is the edge Mik develops. I can’t say why without spoilers but it breathes some life into his character to keep him from being a cliche.

Sura, on the other hand, becomes a whiner prone to fits of jealousy. She can’t handle even the hint of competition for Mik regardless of what he says to reassure her and even goes over the top at one point despite everyone around her assuring her she is seeing things that aren’t there. She pouts, she’s moody, she just bugged me. Worst of all the reader is stuck watching Mik deal with all of her crap, none of which he deserves. Not a fan.

I highly doubt it had anything to do with what I said in my review of AS, but Kollar incorporated the previously mentioned relationship issues just like I hoped for. It did work in the sense of providing some needed conflict between the lovebirds, though not all of the side affects of that were desirable as I pointed out. What I didn’t expect was that the conflict in their relationship would push the rest of the plot and mightily influence it to boot. It shows in the initial adventure to Mik’s hometown and in the one to “distant lands” even more so. What the book lacked though was action. I made a comment on Twitter while reading that 25% of the way through the book “the main action point has been chasing cows…admittedly with magic but still” and it didn’t get much crazier. Oh sure there was some minor skirmishes and displays of magic, enough to keep the book a “fantasy” and not bordering on some type of contemporary. However, there weren’t any “shock and awe” type of moments or large displays of magic to really excite the reader. That didn’t hinder the story, but it definitely changed the feel.

The world building is the shining success of the Accidental Sorcerers series. Kollar gives depth to his characters and the areas of the world they came from. There are different languages, ancestries, cultures, and everything else you could ask for. The landscapes come to life, spiny mountains, winding rivers and a certain narrow isle are described in beautiful detail. Between the diverse societies each with their own unique culture, the amazing lands and seas to discover and the in depth character development Kollar makes you want to read on and learn more, this is where the drive is to read the next book in the series each time.

Overall Water and Chaos is a good book with a character flaw, it’s human and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. It isn’t an action filled book and Sura could have done with an attitude adjustment in a major way. However, the romance is typical of young teenagers, the ups and downs are to be expected. The world Kollar creates is remarkably well done and I know in the next book I will enjoy exploring it along with a very solid MC in Mik, one with an edge to him that I really appreciate being added. I look forward to the next book and maybe a bit more magic and awe than romance, but we shall see! Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #103/200

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Review: Maven (Endure #1) for the Maven Blog Tour

Maven Blog Tour

Maven Banner

Summary From GoodreadsMaven Cover

How far would you go for love?

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

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Maven was one the quickest and easiest reads I’ve had in quite some time. The characters were engaging, especially the main character Lydia. She has a sharp sense of humor, she’s absolutely brilliant and refuses to take anyone’s crap. Who doesn’t love a kick butt heroine? She does it with her brain power not her feminine wiles or having to resort to physicality, a refreshing change of pace. Her relative innocence when it came to certain things, most notably relationships, was done very well by Huchton and where others might fail at this and end up with either an irritating character or worse one that lacks believability, with Lydia it was both believable and endearing. She was just a great MC overall.

I did like Daniel as well, and if it weren’t for a huge change of character right in the beginning of the book I think I would have enjoyed him just as much as I did with Lydia. While I understand the reasoning behind his massive personality switch, it was still frustrating as a reader to be introduced to a character and have him do a 180 after just a couple chapters. Regardless, the resulting character (post switch) is a strong one. He’s very sweet and devoted to Lydia (though not overly so) and his sense of humor is nearly as sharp as hers. He’s a bit of a goofball which is great as a counterbalance to Lydia’s more serious attitude. You can have fun with Daniel, I just wish that bit in the beginning wasn’t necessary, oh well.

The romance is a bit of a tough one for me. I enjoyed their journey as they slowly worked their way toward loving each other and the romance itself was great. They had great chemistry, the two POVs helped to give depth to both their individual ends of the relationship as well as giving a stronger foundation for it as a whole. Brilliant characters, cute romance, not insta-love, so what’s the problem you ask? There was sex everywhere. This book is labeled New Adult, so I’m not saying don’t include some steamy goodness, but there were quite a few scenes, ok, a lot. Don’t get me wrong, Huchton does a fantastic job with them, the writing is great and I enjoyed them, however I’m not entirely sure the amount was necessary. Sure, make it obvious they are doing that here and there, but doing the entire descriptive scene that many times just felt like overkill. This is a Science Fiction Romance, yes, and maybe I just prefer my sci-fi, even the romantic ones, to be a bit lighter on the naughty goodness, but just a warning. Moving on.

The plot. Oh hai there science, let me give you a big flying-tackle-hug! Seriously though, the detail Huchton uses to describe the work being done and the awesomeness that is marine biochemistry (major nerd moment here I know) was thrilling. The science involved with all the different experiments as well as the great descriptions of the lab gave me major nerd chills. Oh and dolphins! There are dolphins! I think I’m rambling a bit here, ok…back on track now. The scientific elements as well as the mix of technological ones (from Daniel’s side of things) were just fabulous and created a very rich storyline and helped to counter the…romantic entanglements  I mentioned earlier. There is just the right amount of action thrown in to keep the reader entertained and I couldn’t get enough.

Unfortunately, there is a “but” to the positive vibes I’ve unleashed upon you. All of this, the romance, the results of the investigations that go on, and even who the bad guy turns out to be was very predictable. The classic “I can’t stand him, well he’s alright and he is really attractive even if he bothers me sometimes, alright I like him but can I trust him, I love him” progression was pretty clear from the onset. There was an obvious hint dropped about one of the characters that, especially for sci-fi readers who love the details and pay attention to the slightest suggestions, tips the reader off that this guy is shady. Is that guy a bad guy? You bet! Even the discoveries made and the investigations that followed were easy to guess. HOWEVER. That didn’t stop me from enjoying every last bit. I DID like Maven, I AM excited for the next book, I’m just hoping for something to shock me, surprise me, give me a twist I don’t expect! You can have a fantastic story, but if in the next one there aren’t a few twists involved (and I don’t mean intertwining bodies) it will be a tad disappointing. Huchton is a fantastic writer, I hope her imaginations run wild in the next piece.

So! Final thoughts. Did I enjoy the book? Yes. Was the blending of science and technology fascinating? Absolutely. Were there a few too many intimate scenes and dropped hints regarding the plot? Yes on both accounts. Do I recommend it? Heck ya! Sci-fi readers this book has plenty you’ll enjoy. Romance lovers will adore the coupling of Lydia and Daniel. Those with a passion for passion (I couldn’t help myself) will get a thrill out of some very well executed and steamy scenes. Get this book, it’s a fast read and there is something in it for everyone. Thanks for reading!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #100/200

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