Inception: A Dark Paranormal Romance (The Marked Book 1)
by Bianca Scardoni
Published in September of 2015 it has 4.5 Stars on 727 Amazon reviews.
I chose this book because I wanted one that was doing really well on the top 100 Young Adult book index. This was number 11, behind a bunch of Harry Potters and Hunger Game titles, on the day I bought it. It's now at 31 on that list, though #1 on three indices and #205 on the paid kindle store.
Book 2 was published in June of 2016 and Book 3 in April of this year, 2017. I don't know from looking at them if they will end with the third book, or if the series will continue. But, if you like it, there are at least two more in the series.
The Amazon blurb tells us....
My name is Jemma Blackburn and I have a secret. I know vampires are real. I watched one murder my father eight months ago, and even though they tried to convince me it didn’t happen—that I’d lost touch with reality due to the trauma, I know what I saw was real.
Hollow Hills is now the place I call home. It was supposed to be my chance at a normal life. My chance to bury my secret and start over. But everyone around me is keeping their own secrets, whispering lies into my ears like promises, and one of them is about to turn my entire world upside down.
I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I had the answers. I thought I knew who I was. The truth is, I didn’t even know the half of it. There's a reason these vampires are still after me. There's a reason they will always hunt me. Because I'm not human.
I'm the devil they fear and the angel they crave.
Only problem is, I don't know it yet.
INCEPTION is the enthralling first installment in The Marked Saga. A coming of age YA paranormal romance full of atmosphere, supernatural adventure, and jaw-dropping twists that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Perfect for fans of Twilight, Vampire Diaries and Fallen Angel Romances.
The Amazon preview has the Preface and the first five chapters. I'm going to read you the preface, which is really short...just the way I like a preface...and then the first two chapters.
Here we go....
What do I like about these chapters. The author is very descriptive and creates the mysterious mood of the area that Jemma has been moved to. She shows in the interactions with her uncle and her sister that something is going on that no one wants to talk about.
I think this book is as popular as it is because it hits all the points of a paranormal YA. I haven't read that many novels, but the characteristics of this story sound very familiar to others in the genre...which is the right thing to do if you want to sell books. Give people what they want. What has Bianca given us in these first two chapters?
A teenage girl torn from her family and placed far away with a relative.
Moved to a mysterious place. Something on the porch at night which the uncle won't admit he knows about. People killed by wild animals. And a high class prep school. The mysterious bad boy in her first class is almost as cliché as the mean girl who doesn't want Jemma looking at him. Sure. There has to be a love interest and a romantic conflict, but these two come across as a little too predictable. The preview promises us jaw dropping twists. If these two break the mold they appear to have come from, I would drop my jaw for that.
I'm impressed by the protagonists ability to observe eye color so quickly. After I meet someone for the first time, I can usually tell you how many eyes they had. Not much more. Especially from across the room. I've taken chemistry in college, so I should be able to tell you how cobalt blue differs from other blues, but I can't.
I'm giving this a four star recommendation, because I think it will be perfect for anyone looking for something to read that will be very much like, what books did the blurb name? Oh yeah. Twilight, Vampire Diaries and Fallen Angel Romances. Whether it crosses enough new territory, with jaw dropping twists, will remain to be seen. If it meets that expectation it set, then I would rate it five stars. If you read this and find it's more than just a well written, more of the same novel. Let me know.
Episode 22 Jan 2016 The Fountain 4.4 Stars on 43 reviews on Amazon
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A Man of Cloud Nine by Adam Dreese
The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen
Careful what you wish for. It just might come true.
Ava Marshall, driven by a desire to learn more about her mother's past, moved across the country to attend St. Augustus. But her mom’s secrets will have to wait, because she finds herself instantly hated for her family’s connection to her new school and is forced to fight alone against a classmate who is setting Ava up to be expelled.
Fleeing campus, she takes a shortcut to her Gran’s house through the forbidden West Woods and discovers a mysterious fountain that has the power to grant a wish and change it all. But can she live with the consequences? Or will she end up breaking every school rule and risking the love of her life to make it right…
The West Woods on Sep 22nd
The West Woods
Courtney Wallis wants nothing more than to escape St. Augustus boarding school. After uncovering a well-kept secret about the school’s founder, Isaac Young, Courtney turns to the school’s magic to convince her dad to let her leave. Things take a turn when she meets Cole, who lives in the nearby town of Evergreen. He gives her hope that things might not be so bad. However, the school's fountain has other ideas, and binds Courtney to her ambition, no matter the cost.
As Courtney struggles to keep the magic from taking over, she and her friends get drawn into the mystery woven into the school’s fabric. Everything seems to lead back to the forbidden West Woods. Together, she and her friends seek out the spirits of the past to ask for help, and find themselves in much deeper than they’d bargained for. If they succeed, Courtney could be free of the magic. If they fail, she may never be the same.
Hannah has a pretty amazing story -- she started writing her book when she was just 12 years-old. Fast forward, 8 years later (today), Hannah not only had her book published, but it recently won a gold award in the prestigious 2017 Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Franklin Awards™. She is still pinching herself! The first-time author won in the Children’s/YA-New Voices category.
Kirkus Reviews called Ascension: “an exciting and fast-paced YA paranormal romance with an intriguing plot, well-drawn settings, and solid character development.” Ascension also won first place in 2016 for Young Adult Fiction in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.
Now a 20 year-old college student in Tennessee, Hannah is already in the editing stages of the next book in the trilogy (Due out Jan 18).
When she’s not thinking about hybrid human-vampires and the witches they love, or writing a "Geisha-inspired" Bardugo cocktail list, Hannah leads a creative writing group at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, volunteers for various nonprofits, and transcribes “snake handler sermons” for the college’s special collections department.
Here is a recent interview with Hannah from BEA:
Life is supposed to be perfect after Cheyenne Lane's Ascension ceremony, but it turns out awakening her vampire half only complicates things more. Burdened with a patronizing family and constant surveillance by the Vampire Council, Cheyenne welcomes a summer vacation to the magical city of New Orleans. But Cheyenne quickly realizes that she can't escape her problems, no matter where she goes. After seventeen years of fearing exposing her secret to humans, Cheyenne's world is rocked when she starts to fall for a witch named Eli. When he shows Cheyenne how complex the world really is, she must accept that everything she thought she knew about being a Deuxsang is a lie. As if all this isn't problem enough, Cheyenne finds herself the pawn of a conspiracy hatched by those who should be protecting her. Her whole life Cheyenne is told what to believe and who to trust. Now, she's forced to choose for herself who and what is right. No matter which choice she makes, it will cost her everything.
A special thanks goes out to James T. Wood for being my first patreon supporter. I'm sorry about the delay of your recognition. I'm still learning how to use the patreon page. Again, my deepest thanks for helping me to buy books. I bought my share of them this week. I have a book to review, but it took reading the first few chapters of three other books before I got to this one.
Maybe I should make that my secret Patreon subscriber reward...I'll tell you the names of the books I didn't like. I've said before that I'm trying to make this a positive podcast where I tell you about why I like the book I'm reviewing this week, rather than telling you what I didn't like about the books I gave up on. I mean really, you don't want to listen to a half hour of a book that you won't want to read after I'm done giving it a negative review.
So. the three books I passed on, one I didn't like because the first fifteen pages was just telling the reader about the cute reasons why each of the characters had their given nickname. No plot. No conflict in fifteen pages, just story background. That doesn't work for me.
The second book was just boring and the third had constant unexpected point of view switches. You might call it omniscient view point, I call it confusing and frustrating.
Anyway, enough about what I don't like.
This week I'm going to talk about Dark Creations: Gabriel Rising by Jennifer and Christopher Martucci. They have a ton of books out, and this book is the first of six in a paranormal romance. It was first published in December of 2013. It has 4 out of 5 stars on 263 reviews. It only has 140 pages in the first book, but I just picked up a set of the first 3 on Kindle for free.
Here is the cover copy:
When Gabriel James mysteriously appears in seventeen-year-old Melissa Martin’s English class, she is not prepared for what she experiences, how she feels the first time they speak. With otherworldly attractiveness, gallantry, charm and intelligence, he is everything boys her age are not.
But Gabriel has a secret, a dark secret.
His secret threatens to rip them apart and unleash an evil on the world so horrific, humanity will be forever changed.
In this deeply romantic and captivating young adult paranormal romance novel, Gabriel and Melissa will risk everything – their very lives – to guard their love. Together, they will be forced to confront mankind’s darkest creation.
The Amazon preview has the prolog and most of the first chapter. I'm going to read you everything they gave:
(Read the chapters)
So, this is where the Amazon preview ends. The chapter goes for another few pages, so I know what happens next.
What do you think it will be?
Will this Gabriel mentioned in the cover copy be there to intervene?
What was the yellow eyed beast in the prolog? Was that Gabriel, or something else?
Is that monster waiting at Melissa's home to great her?
There were allusions to the prolog in the first chapter, the unusual darkness, the strange wind. What did it mean?
I like the way the authors set up the conflicts.
I always say that good thrillers take smart characters making dumb choices. I like Melissa's character. She's obviously a smart young woman, and I know we've been told that her friend talked he into going out with Kevin. She should have bailed on him as soon as he insisted on going to the Rec center. But then we wouldn't have had any of the fun conflict about shutting him down in the car. Plus, I give Kevin better than even odds that he will turn up dead some time very soon. (I haven't read that far. This is just my speculation.)
You haven't met the father yet, but I have, and I think he's a little over the top when it comes to protectiveness. But then again, there isn't a lot of conflict if he's understanding and settles with "lesson learned" about Kevin.
One thing about the authors' writing style that I find distracting is the avoidance of contractions. I know there are regions of the US, like in New York and around there where they don't use contractions. Maybe this is a regional characteristic of the authors. I have a friend from New York who writes like that and we've had to learn to agree to disagree when critiquing each others writing. To me it make everything sound too emphatic.
Anyway, I give Dark Creations a strong recommendation to read further. It looks like a thrilling ride.
In this episode I talk with first time author, Caitlin Lynagh from the UK.
We talk about studying biology and physics in England, her book, "Anomaly: The Soul Prophecies", The science of Anomaly, and more...
In this episode I talk with E.B. Wheeler about historical landscaping and restoration in national parks and historic sites. We talk about her book she has out, others she is preparing, and working with Cedar Fort Press.
E.B. Wheeler grew up in Georgia and California. She has graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture, and wrote about history and historic preservation before focusing on fiction. She is the author of THE HAUNTING OF SPRINGETT HALL and BORN TO TREASON (forthcoming May 2016). She lives in the mountains of Utah with her husband, daughters, various pets, and as many antique roses as she can cram into her yard. You can find more about her at ebwheeler.com