Mini Reviews


I enjoyed this book for its uniqueness and beautiful prose. The characters were weird, quirky and interesting. The ending was too dramatic to be true, but perhaps that's the only way the characters can save their polluted home. ★ ★ ★ ★

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Fracture (Fracture, #1)
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Paperback, 261 pages 
Published January 17th 2012 by Bloomsbury

By the time Delaney Maxwell was pulled from a Maine lake's icy waters by her best friend, her heart had stopped beating. But somehow Delaney survived - despite the brain scans that show irreparable damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be fine, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney now finds herself drawn to the dying, and when she meets Troy Varga, a boy who recently emerged from a coma with the same abilities, she is relieved to share this strange new existence. Unsure if her altered brain is predicting death or causing it, Delaney must figure out if their gift is a miracle, a freak of nature - or something else much more frightening... 

My Thoughts
In some way this book is a little philosophical, as it explores the fine line between live and death. Some people live but they are dead on the inside, while some people die but are remembered. Questions about life, death and the natural scales of justice of the world were discussed in this novel.

The helplessness Delaney felt when she sensed mortal expiry was so authentic, it was a bone-crushing invisible weight that hung on her every limb, knowing that someone was about to die but not being able to do anything anyway.

I love the tension between Decker and Delaney, they love each other yet they are so afraid to admit it. It's kind of perplexing, and made me feel like slapping some sense into both of them.

The focus on the other guy who returned from a coma - Troy - I was unsure how I felt about him, he was a little creepy, and empty on the inside, a very good liar, and probably not quite right in the head after his family died, leaving him alone in the world. 

All in all, I felt a connection towards this book that was somewhat lacking in Miranda's other book, Hysteria, which I did not really enjoyed. Fracture was well-paced and it is full of emotion and meaning. To top that, Miranda's writing in this book flows flawlessly and eloquently.


Guest Post: Andrew Joyce

Molly Lee
Available on:
My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. Aik has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, MOLLY LEE. The story is a female-driven account of a young naive girl’s journey into an independent, strong woman and all the trouble she gets into along the way.

Now you may possibly be asking yourself, What is a guy doing writing in a woman’s voice? And that’s a good question. I can only say that I did not start out to write about Molly; she just came to me one day and asked that I tell her story.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

“So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months; then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status on Amazon twice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

This is the description from MOLLY LEE:

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes. It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them —a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice. We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

As I had wondered whatever became of Huck and Tom, I also wondered what Molly did when she found Huck gone. I know this has been a long-winded set up, but I felt I had to tell the backstory. Now I can move on and tell you about Molly.

As stated earlier, Molly starts out as a naive young girl. Over time she develops into a strong, independent woman. The change is gradual. Her strengths come from the adversities she encounters along the road that is her life.

With each setback, Molly follows that first rule she set against self-pity and simply moves on to make the best of whatever life throws her way. From working as a whore to owning a saloon, from going to prison to running a ranch, Molly plays to win with the cards she’s dealt. But she always keeps her  humanity. She will kill to defend herself, and she has no problem killing to protect the weak and preyed upon. However, when a band of Indians (for instance) have been run off their land and have nowhere else to go, Molly allows them to live on her ranch, and in time they become extended family.

This is from a review on Amazon:
“A young female in nineteenth-century rural America would have needed courage, fortitude, and firm resolve to thrive in the best of circumstances. Molly Lee possesses all of these, along with an iron will and an inherent ability to read people accurately and respond accordingly.” I reckon that about sums up Molly.

I would like to say that I wrote MOLLY LEE in one sitting and everything in it is my pure genius. But that would be a lie. I have three editors (two women and one guy). They kept me honest with regard to Molly. When I made her a little too hard, they would point out that she had to be softer or show more emotion in a particular scene.

I set out to write a book where every chapter ended with a cliffhanger. I wanted the reader to be forced to turn to the next chapter. And I pretty much accomplished that, but I also wrote a few chapters where Molly and my readers could catch their collective breath.

One last thing: Everything in MOLLY LEE is historically correct from the languages of the Indians to the descriptions of the way people dressed, spoke, and lived. I spend as much time on research as I do writing my stories. Sometimes more.

It looks as though I’ve used up my allotted word count (self-imposed), so I reckon I’ll ride off into the sunset and rustle up a little vodka and cranberry juice (with extra lime).

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me over.

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

Connect with the author:
Andrew's Web Site | Facebook | Andrew's Blog

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Dualed (Dualed, #1)

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life. Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Origin (Corpus, #1)
Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home―and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.
Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin―a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.


Alright, Origin was a little lengthy, but believe me, you are going to relish every page and want more!

Pia is a loveable character, with her innate kindness and ability to care for others. She is also determined and strong, willing to sacrifice herself to protect her loved ones.

Eio bears a striking resemblance to his father, who was a good and brave man in his own right. Khoury's description of Eio is somewhere along the lines of hot jungle boy with sharp nose and blue eyes due to his mixed parentage.

I greatly enjoyed the myth and legend of the immortals, as told by the Kapukiri or wise man of the Ai'oa tribe, somehow I feel fascinated by folklore that is often painted in romantic colours and sometimes hard to be rationalized.

At the core of the story, I think Khoury wanted to highlight that sometimes humans can do unspeakable acts of evil in the name of science and humanity. The idea and realization of it hit at the very core of the reader's being.

Khoury did a fantastic job in creating a superb Amazonian setting with the sounds, smells and feel of the jungle. I also loved how her words flow like a never-ending river, smooth and inviting. The plot and pacing were notably good, and I loved how Khoury peppered the story with so many twists and turns.

Lastly, I just wanna say, this book's a keeper, and you will savour every page of it.

Rating   5

Monster by C. J. Skuse

At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.

Set in a boarding school called Bathory which emanates old-school charm, this book is a pleasant surprise with a tinge of romance and mostly suspense/horror towards the ending. The setting and plot were quite realistic and I had no trouble imagining the scenes in my head. 

I loved how Nash was still so responsible and level-headed even when her brother had been missing for days on a trip and probably dead someone halfway around the globe. However, I loved that she had fire inside her too, which she only let go when she couldn't contain it anymore. 

The first 100 pages or so went to world-building, not much action except the occasional fights and mini-Wiki of the Beast. I think it should be slightly trimmed, cos it does get boring if nothing happens after the first 50 pages. The real action starts when Nash discovers that the Beast of Bathory was hunting them when the girls were trapped alone inside the building with limited food supplies and they had to prepare themselves for what is to come. 

The Beast was rumored to have killed several villagers and livestock throughout its reign in Bathory, but the true identity of the killer caught me by surprise. My mouth tasted acrid as I feared for my favourite characters' survival. My only complaint for this book is that the introduction of the Beast during Nash's very first sighting of it seemed a little comical - I had hoped that it would be scary or somewhat bone-chilling. 

Overall, it did give me some chills, especially towards the end of the book. I devoured this book in one sitting, and it was indeed tremendously enjoyable. Add this book to your shelf if you enjoy YA, suspense and horror! 



Enders (Starters, #2)

Enders (Starters #2)
While Hyden (The Old Man's son) was hiding a big secret, I kind of guessed it at the beginning of the novel already. Blame it on reader's instinct that develops after you've read hundreds of books. Haha.

I somehow finished the story, but Enders definitely lacked the oomph that got me hooked on Starters. It's still quite alright, but I can't decide if I actually like it or hate it.

Rating: 3

Savage Drift

Book 1: Monument 14
Book 2: Sky on Fire

Savage Drift (Monument 14, #3)
Savage Drift
The survivors of the Monument 14 have finally made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Dean and Alex are cautiously starting to hope that a happy ending might be possible.
But for Josie, separated from the group and trapped in a brutal prison camp for exposed Type Os, things have gone from bad to worse. Traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue or safety. Meanwhile, scared by the government's unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid (with her two protectors, Dean and Jake in tow) joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with his lost love Josie.

Niko, at first devastated over Josie's possible death, now embarks on a mission to save Josie after seeing her photo in the newspaper. Meanwhile, Astrid is getting suspicious that the government intends to experiment on pregnant women when she discovers that a fellow pregnant lady went missing from the refugee camp.

In this book, I enjoyed reading Josie's side of the story more, because it was portrayed as a hell on Earth. I love how Josie had become so strong, yet she keeps her power and rage in check at most times, exploding only when she is pushed to her limits (when someone messes with her new family in the prison).

The ending, though action-packed as usual, is lacking of its usual persuasiveness. Josie ended up in the USAMRIID testing laboratories, and after a deal with the Dr which allows her to see Niko, she signs the consent form allowing them to extract her spinal fluid for further testing (to which the nurse had warned her against). However, in the end, she was not tested on and was released, along with Astrid who was rushed into the same center for a C-section to deliver her huge baby. The baby was not experimented upon as well.

It is not logical that the government, with all the kidnapping of pregnant ladies for experiment earlier, would actually release these two mighty valuable lab rats without much hesitation, even though the Dr learned that they were actually all related to his now dead son Brayden in Monument 14.

Perhaps the author just wants them to unite with one another no matter what?

Happy as I was on their reunion, I had hoped that Laybourne would explore the possibilities of MORS following a testing done on Josie and Astrid's baby. But all in all, this is a real good series, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys Dystopian novels and appreciate a good, quick read!

Rating: 4.000

Sky on Fire

Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope. Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once. . . . Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected. . . .

This is by far the best book in the series. It is raw, action-packed, and full of tears, heartbreak and kinship. 

Niko is someone you can count on, but below the tough-man appearance he has a loving heart. He cares for his young ones, and never complains. I feel that he's just the right guy for Josie and vouched for him from the beginning. However, he is able to put aside his love for Josie temporarily to lead the kids to safety. 

Josie is a type O without herself realizing it, but she is different from the other mindless killers as she can control herself from harming the ones she love. Love for a family without blood ties can go beyond value for one's life, as demonstrated by Josie who voluntarily ripped off her gas mask and turned O to save the lives of the ones she love. Now Josie is lost, but Niko swears to bring the rest of the family to safety. 
Back in the warehouse, where Dean, Astrid, Chloe (the 3 other O's who were left behind for fear of turning into killers) and the twins were situated, things were not that good with Alex (technical wizard) gone, Jake abandoning them for good, and Astrid pregnant with Jake's child. Dean still loves Astrid, but Astrid seems to have reservations of her feelings towards Dean.

Now the government plans to drop bombs in Monument in order to wipe out MORS-contaminated areas. Will Niko arrive at DIA in time to save the others left behind in Greenway supermarket? 

Sky on Fire is just brilliant. I finished it in one sitting. 

Rating: 5

Monument 14


Monument 14 (Monument 14, #1)

Monument 14

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne's action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world-as they know it-apart.
Woah. This book just blew my hats off. The plot is so eventful and packed with suspense and fear of what lies ahead. While there are 14 different people trapped in Greenway (the superstore in Monument, Colarado), they all have different personalities which I grew to love and appreciate, even though some of the characters are douche-bags or spoiled/angsty brats. 

The main focus in this book is how the kids strategize to stay alive for as long as possible under the leadership of Niko, who used to be a Boy Scout and had the survival instinct and knowledge drilled in him. He made a good leader, but he was terrible at socializing and expressing his thoughts. 

Meanwhile, Dean has been in love with Astrid, the swim team goddess for quite some time, but Astrid seems to be attached to Jake, who is sometimes a good person, sometimes a bully. 

I find the most lovable part of the story was the presence of the 7 kids who each has a different personality. I love Max with his wild stories, Ulysses with his limited English and pot belly, Henry and Caroline the sweet-natured and docile twins and Batiste with his ultra-religious behaviour. They are quirky but simply adorable. Sahalia desperately wants to be an adult despite being 13 years old, and Chloe who is 10 is just a rotten brat, but I appreciate their presence throughout the book anyway.

And we found out about the MORS biological weapon which was leaked during the earthquake, sending people into a frenzy amidst a cacophony of disasters. MORS attack people based on blood groups, type A blisters up and die from tissue failure, type AB undergoes hallucination and paranoia, type O turns into raging monsters and type B becomes sterile. 

The author gives you a raw chunk of what is happening without any sugar-coating, which gives a real touch to the story, highlighting how bad it is outside. The way the children actually made a temporary safe haven out of the supermarket is actually quite impressive, despite the horrors ongoing in the outside world. 

Go ahead and read it, you'll like it!

Rating: 4.000



Phoebe is drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new girl at school. Soon the two become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory’s magnetic older brother, Ryland, arrives. Ryland has an immediate hold on Phoebe — but it turns into something dangerous, as she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself. Soon Phoebe discovers the shocking, fantastical truth about Ryland and Mallory, and about an age-old debt she’s meant to pay. Will she be strong enough to save herself from the curse?

The story and the whole concept was too old-fashioned, or should I say weird. The pace was much too draggy, when the plot was only based on a story/fairy tale that could have been 3 pages at most. The conversations of the fey children with the fairy queen were monotonous and slightly robotic, written in an amateurish style. I find that these conversations were rather annoying and unnecessary as it breaks the reader's focus on the story line. I did not enjoy this book very much, and I skipped several pages at once while reading, but it wasn't all bad. The good parts are the story from which the Rothschild ancestor came in touch with the fey and the bargain, and the fact that although Mallory was a changeling, she had real concerns and cares for her human mother. On a side note, the book cover is gorgeous! 


Guest Post: Michelle Moran


Michelle Moran

With every book I write, I discover something about the culture I’m researching which completely blows me away, often because it’s so unusual and something I’ve never encountered before. In the case of my book, REBEL QUEEN, set in India during the British invasion, the concept of Janam Kundlis struck a chord with me, particularly since Janam Kundlis very nearly played a role in my own life and my marriage to my husband, who is Indian.

Also known as an astrological chart, a Janam Kundli is made by a priest for each child in India. No one is sure when the concept of a Janam Kundli came to be, but as Vedic astrology is several thousand years old, it’s not surprising that my protagonist’s Janam Kundli would have looked similar to my husband’s, even though they were born more than a hundred years apart. A person’s Janam Kundli includes the details of their birth–time, date, planetary alignments. It also includes other things which aren’t so common in the West, such as that person’s probable future career and who they were in their most recent past life (in my husband’s case, a yogi!).

Reading a person’s natal chart is serious business. Once a person’s Janam Kundli is created, they will keep that document with them for life, producing it when it’s time for marriage. Even today, Janam Kundlis are used to make prospective matches between brides and grooms throughout India, where the majority of marriages are arranged. And woe betide anyone whose Janam Kundli declares them to be a manglik, or a bad-luck person. If that’s the case, as it was for the famous Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, one of two options are available. You can either marry another manglik, thus canceling out your bad-luck status, or you can hire a priest to conduct a variety of ceremonies that will make it possible to marry someone who isn’t a manglik like yourself. This last option, however, is only available if the non-manglik person’s family finds the risk acceptable. In Aishwarya Rai’s case, her in-laws obviously felt the “risk” was worth it, and in 2007 she married a tree before she married her husband, thereby canceling out her bad-luck in this way.

Why a tree? Well, this was something I very nearly discovered myself when my own Janam Kundli was made. Apparently, like Aishwarya Rai, I too am probably a manglik, meaning marriage for me would most likely end in the divorce or death of my spouse. I say probably because my Janam Kundli was done online. The effect, however, was very nearly the same. Major discussions took place as to whether I would need to marry a tree before the wedding could proceed, or whether my Janam Kundli should be discounted since I am not, after all, Indian, and my Janam Kundli hadn’t “officially” been made by a priest. 

In the end, it was decided that my husband should take the risk and go for it. I never had to marry a tree or even choose among a variety of clay urns for my groom. Either option, apparently, is acceptable, as it’s believed that a person’s manglik dosh can be canceled out if the manglik person’s bad luck is spent on the first marriage. Thus, the bride first marries a clay urn or a tree, then either breaks the clay urn or chops down her tree-husband in order to become a “widow” (in some places, the tree is allowed to survive). After this, the second marriage is ready to proceed without a hitch.

There are varying interpretations of this ceremony, and even though it didn’t end up affecting me, a person’s Janam Kundli can alter their destiny, just as I describe in the beginning of REBEL QUEEN. It’s cultural gems like these which make researching historical fiction such a pleasure, and it’s these type of details which I try to include in each of my books. As a writer, my hope is that they pique the reader’s interest along the way, and as a reader, they are the sort of facts which help ground me in another place and time.

Pearl of China

Pearl of China


It is the end of the nineteenth century and China is riding on the crest of great change, but for nine-year-old Willow, the only child of a destitute family in the small southern town of Chin-kiang, nothing ever seems to change. Until the day she meets Pearl, the eldest daughter of a zealous American missionary.

Pearl is head-strong, independent and fiercely intelligent, and will grow up to be Pearl S Buck, the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning writer and humanitarian activist, but for now all Willow knows is that she has never met anyone like her in all her life. From the start the two are thick as thieves, but when the Boxer Rebellion rocks the nation, Pearl's family is forced to leave China to flee religious persecution. As the twentieth century unfolds in all its turmoil, through right-wing military coups and Mao's Red Revolution, through bad marriages and broken dreams, the two girls cling to their lifelong friendship across the sea. 

Anchee Min's Pearl of China is a heartwarming tale about the friendship of two girls —— a country bumpkin (Willow) and a white-skinned, blue-eyed Chinese (Pearl). The fates of these two have been entwined since young, when Pearl's father (Absalom) came on a mission to spread gospel in a small town called Chin-kiang. Willow's father was poor and though he first embraced Christianity and became Absalom's sidekick for physical sustainability, he gradually became a staunch believer and promoter of his faith, attracting the masses and converting many people in his life.

Willow and Pearl's friendship spanned throughout their whole lifetime, creating a wonderful memoir of timeless friendship against the backdrop of Mao Tse Tung's reign and fall in China. It was interesting that Min inserted a love story between Pearl and Tsu Chih Mo, a legendary contemporary poet who was known for his constant pursue of love and romance, and had Willow playing the stuck-in-the-middle person. Willow had her eyes on Tsu, but Tsu's eyes reflect only Pearl's image. Willow, albeit initially wallowed in jealousy, finally decided to give her blessing to her favourite man Tsu and best friend Pearl. She became the lovers' middle-woman, giving the pair a chance to rendezvous.  

From the beginning till the end, Pearl was by heart a Chinese, she loved Willow as a sister she never had, and Willow loved Pearl dearly against all odds. Fine as this story was, I think Pearl of China lacked a certain oomph factor that makes a good book a great book.