Friday, December 2, 2016

Cursing Fate by Brenda Drake Review

Cursing Fate 
by Brenda Drake

Published November 21st by Entangled Teen Crave
220 pages

There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad.

Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most?


Cursing Fate is the second book in The Fated series, but it also works as a stand-alone novel (If you’re planning on reading the whole series, start with the first book because Cursing Fate contains some spoilers for Touching Fate.)

Having read Touching Fate, all the characters were familiar to me and so Cursing Fate drew me in from page one. I felt it started off with an even quicker pace that the first book and things quickly got complicated and the relationships tense. The events of the first book had dire consequences for Iris’s and Wade’s relationship and they left them both brokenhearted. Iris’s heartache at being unable to explain to Wade what happened and all the while knowing it was not her fault that they’ve broken up was so authentically teenage it was a delight to read all that angst.

I love that Drake tells the story from alternating points-of-view because this way we got to see Wade as a very genuine, kind person who’s utterly smitten with Iris but unable to trust her. It drives him nuts that he can’t stop loving her but also can’t let himself be vulnerable to her again for fear of her breaking his heart for a second time.

The plot is intense and quick-paced because of a lot of dialogue. The backstory is kept to a minimum, but it’s still presented vividly enough so by the end, I felt sympathy for Crina despite everything.

I wonder about the stories Drake will come up with for the remaining two sisters. So far, I’ve enjoyed this series and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed with the next instalment.


Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

$25 Amazon Gift Card + a Cursing Fate Prize Pack (US)
(International winners will only receive the $25 Amazon Gift Card.) (INT)

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Guardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake cover reveal


Let us know what you think of the cover for Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2) by Brenda Drake which releases February 7, 2017!

This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled TEEN & YA Interrobang!

Brenda Drake's thoughts on the cover:

I had an idea of what I wanted the cover of Guardian of Secrets to look like the entire time I was writing the story. I was delighted (I might have screamed) when the cover showed up in my email and it was EXACTLY what I’d imagined. I love that it’s blue since part of the setting of the book takes place in a cold climate. I’m thrilled the couple is on it, too. They resemble the characters I’ve created in my mind perfectly. The cover is so beautiful, and I’m beyond excited to share it with everyone!

About Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2):

Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens. Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it. And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia. Maybe. If she survives.

Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2) by Brenda Drake today!

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Kirrin island and secret societies

While doing research for my newest story, I started thinking about settings. I've always known they were important and necessary in fiction. I rarely focused on them when writing, though, until my professor reminded me I should use the setting to say more about the characters.

I knew that even before she mentioned it, but it was an instinctive knowledge, rather than something I was consciously aware of. But like I said, research reminded me of this again and I tried to think of the most memorable locations/settings in books I've read. Surprisingly, most come from novels I read as a child. Either my memory was better back then (obviously!) or settings in children's literature are more vividly described.

The first one that comes to mind is Hogwarts, of course.
Source: Wiki

Then, there's the Kirrin Island from The Famous Five adventures. How I wanted to visit it and spend a day in the castle ruins! It sounded so quaint but a bit mysterious.

The dark vibes of Gotham City make it a memorable location too. Ripe with crime and smog so thick Batman could probably shine his sign onto it - and yet the city has a certain mystique that makes it an appealing setting. Or think of how the Millennium trilogy (+ one) has revealed Stockholm in a new light.

Cosy, charming, mysterious - each location has a quality that makes the readers want to at least visit it if not live there. It has something that makes it more appealing than the world we live in. But in the 21st century when we practically can't get lost because technology has scanned, mapped, and photographed every inch of the planet and so de-mystified it, creating a fictional location that is more inviting than our overly familiar backyard is not so difficult.

There are, however, still actual places we know little about, and I'm not talking about Siberia or the centre of the Sahara Desert. I'm talking about Paris. I'm also talking about a secret society, called les UX. And I'm not even making this up, it's all true.

Les UX, or Urban eXperiments, are a group of people - divided into several teams - who work at renovating and taking care of neglected spots around Paris. They've fixed the Pantheon clock, and set up an underground theatre among other things. To achieve this, they take advantage of the catacombs that crisscross most of the Left Bank. Entering these tunnels is forbidden, of course, but when have secret societies ever asked for permission to do something?

I love the idea that there are spots around a city so big and so populated as Paris that we know nothing about. This mysteriousness gives places back some of the magic they've lost as the world got swamped with technology. Because, as Nicolas Bourriaud says in his book, The radicant, "how can one become the explorer of a world now covered by satellites, a world whose every millimeter is now registered and surveyed?"1

I like a little bit of magic and charm in places, be it a fictional setting or an actual place, so coming across something so unexpected and surreal as a secret society in the middle of Paris is like discovering the chocolate at the back of the cupboard that you thought you'd eaten ages ago (or does this happen just to me?).

1 Bourriaud, Nicolas. The radicant. Lukas & Sternberg, New York, 2010.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ride by Lisa Glass

Another great summer read that you should take with you on vacation is Ride by Lisa Glass. This is the last book in the surfing trilogy which started with Blue and continued with Air.

Ride by Lisa Glass
Published June 16th, 2016, by Quercus children's Books
419 pages

In the last book of the trilogy, the action moves from gnarly waves to restless hearts. After the action-packed first two books that were real roller-coasters of emotions, Ride does't disappoint either. The way Iris struggles with her decision to leave Zeke sounds real and heartbreaking. Her search of her true self and the road to realizing what she wants to do with her life were gripping from the beginning to the end.

I thought the characterization of Iris was beautifully executed. When she went through so much pain and guilt that I thought she wouldn't be able to take it any more, she picked herself up and went on to becoming an even stronger person. Something similar could be said about Zeke. Both of them learned that recognizing their frailty was what made them stronger, happier and more successful.

I liked the unexpected events at the end as they kept the story suspenseful to the very last sentence. There were so many great characters we had to say goodbye to with this book and I wish the series continued on. Alas, I'll just have to re-read it again and again for another dose of the authentic surfing slang and to 'meet up' with old friends from Newquay again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale

The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale
Published May 30th, 2016, by Random House Australia
336 pages

Book Depository

Growing up is not easy to begin with. Grieving for a dead brother and the loss of a mother makes it ten times harder. To make it harder still, Summer’s dad decides to move his family to the other side of the world. Summer Jackman is brimming with sadness that slowly transforms into anger and resentment, but even when the emotions are at their ugliest, Emily Gale’s writing makes them beautiful.

I was charmed by this story with its broken but loveable characters, with Summer who is stronger and more beautiful than she ever imagined, the ghost of her brother who is more full of life than some living characters are, with the annoying Sophie who is written in a way that one can’t but like her, and the mysterious Gabe who manages to pull Summer out of her black hole and back into the world full of promise, Aussie slang and sunny Christmases.

I was surprised and delighted to find a bit of magical realism in this coming-of-age story. It made the real life aspects of the novel more poignant and the reading even more enjoyable. The language is refreshing, full of surprising yet spot-on metaphors. As with all Emily Gale’s novels, family dynamics are presented with remarkable subtlety and authenticity.

After two young adult novels, The Other Side of Summer is intended for younger readers but Summer’s genuine teenage voice transported me into her world with ease despite my age. The novel is brimming with important issues, such as grief, loss, the importance of family and friendships, growing up, finding oneself. Emily Gale manages to write unforgettable prose in a way that reads effortlessly and stays with the reader long after.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reminiscing about Stockholm

I've been reminiscing about my trip to Stockholm last year ... Beautiful images and memories come to mind.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

On focus

As an amateur photographer I am aware of the importance of focus. Photographers usually focus on the most interesting item, person or action in a scene. Writers focus on the more obscure, controversial or inspiring issues, or they take the mundane events and make them extraordinary by bringing them into focus.

Out of focus
Focus is the centre of interest or activity. It is also the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition. Focus is the part of the picture we see most clearly. In arts, at least. In life, however, we often focus on the wrong issues or see the matter in question wrongly despite it being in focus. Focus is a tricky thing, then.

Recently, my eldest son had to have an operation. His doctor swore it was a routine procedure, the most common operation in the world. It only lasted for about twenty minutes and the recovery was supposed to be quick and unproblematic (all true so far). Even so, when your child is being heavily sedated and subsequently operated on, any cuts performed by the surgeons seem monumental and the routine with which they handle your child insulting.

Of course the hospital staff are kinder and friendlier because the patient is a child, still, everything is done with a sort of indifference that cuts to the quick. "Don't you get it, Doc, it's my child you're going to operate on? What if he doesn't wake up from the anaesthesia? What if something goes wrong? What if ...?"

But the what ifs in this case are the privilege of the mother to ponder on. The doctors cannot afford them. For if they focus on anything other than a positive outcome, the stress of even the smallest, most routine operation would drain them. Asking them to care, to see the situation from our perspective, to look at it through our lens, is asking them too much. It's my son, but it's their job. Just another day at the office, stressful enough, I'm sure, without me adding to it.

By focusing on the positive, we get a clear visual definition of it. It is why we should always point out the good examples, the best written letters, the well performed tasks to our children when teaching them, because by pointing out and drawing their focus to the mistakes, we only get them to memorize the wrong answers, not the right one.

Focus is a funny thing, because it's hard not to focus on the bad stuff, and thus bad stuff leads to more bad stuff and the negative becomes self-perpetuating. The centre of our activity should be on our dreams, not our fears. So, focus, people.