YA Romance Reviews

EMERGE by Tobie Easton: YA Fantasy with Humor and Heart

emerge
Image from Amazon.com

Imagine being a teenager who has to deal with the challenges of not one but two societies: human and Mer.

EMERGE is a fun, unexpected read that adds some major twists to the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale: “The Little Mermaid.” For someone who grew up with Disney’s The Little Mermaid (and obsessed over the thing to the point that my entire bedroom was mermaid themed), this book has an added charm. I could tell Easton had a lot of fun defining her story against popular culture’s idea of mermaids and their history.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com:

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk.

So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.

Easton takes time to lovingly build a story world around Lia from Mer including history, language, clothing, housing, cultural traditions and so much more. While reading, I not only felt like a part of Mer society, but I enjoyed all the little details Easton wove into her vivid descriptions of setting.

Humor is a huge part of EMERGE. Easton’s Mermaid puns had me laughing out loud, and her voice kept me turning pages. It’s fun to imagine being Lia (girl gets to live in a Malibu mansion and she’s a mermaid??), and I couldn’t wait for her to kiss hottie, Clay. 🙂

I hope you enjoy this book and check out Tobie Easton’s website!

What’s your favorite mermaid tale?

Michelle Joyce Bond

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BENEATH US Is Now a Four-Time Finalist!

four time finalistRecently, I received call from a Contest Chair, Megan Randall, who was happy to share the news that I finaled in the YA category of Virginia Romance Writers’ Fool for Love Contest! They read it. They liked it. Watch me as I dance the Watusi!

So now what? Lately, I’ve been drawing inspiration from Jodi Thomas’s RWA workshop, Why Write One Book When You Could Write a Series? and putting together a detailed plan for another three books. Quirky characters, strange magic, dark worlds, and three girls who will sacrifice everything for one small town–one small world to anchor them all. Can’t wait to get started. 🙂

What projects have you been working on lately? #amwriting much?

Michelle Joyce Bond

YA Romance Reviews

THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER by Melida Salisbury –Dark YA Fantasy

sin eater
Image from Amazon.com

This YA debut left me spellbound. The cover of THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER encapsulates both character and concept. Twylla is trapped–bound by duty and myth to her country’s castle. Destined to be queen, Twylla is also poison–her skin enough to kill anyone unfortunate enough to touch her. That is, except for the prince.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com:

I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it’s price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen’s, some truths should not be told…

This novel’s high concept hooked me immediately, but it was Twylla herself that reeled me in. Conflicted by a duty assigned to her by fate and what she feels is right, Twylla is an incredibly complex character. And she isn’t the only one. The prince, the queen, and Twylla’s guard, Lief are each revealed to have incredible depth.

The play of imagery in this book and feast of the senses draws the reader deep into Twylla’s opulent and twisted world. Salisbury’s world-building reaches wide in terms of geography and deep in terms of history. She’s thought the fabric of this society through, its enemy kingdom upholding a different mythology, history, and set of values.

Twylla’s guard, Leif, is from that kingdom–a place that questions the traditions Twylla and her people have stubbornly held up for centuries. Through the course of the book, Twylla opens up to seeing both the world and herself from a completely different perspective. Salisbury achieves this transition in her character masterfully.

Check out Melinda Salisbury’s website for more on this author and her books!

Michelle Joyce Bond

Projects · Uncategorized

Projects

THE RAVINE: New Adult Paranormal Romance. This is my newest project.

Both can see ghosts after dark. Both struggle with silence. They’ll need to work together if they hope to defeat his malicious poltergeist and stop her ex-boyfriend’s blackmail by the end of the summer.

THE RAVINE finaled in the following contests (2018):

 

THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS: New Adult Paranormal Romance

A gamer geek puts all the guys she kisses to sleep. Her former high school enemy will try to break the curse.

This project has stand alone series potential and has finaled in the following contests (contest dates range from 2016-2017):

 

BENEATH US: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

A Reaper princess turned lifeguard and a skater boy, soldier of Death are our only chance to save the Netherworld’s most powerful city.

This project took first place in the YA/NA category of Virginia Romance Writers’ 2016 Fool for Love Contest! It also finaled in the Chicago-North Romance Writers’ Fire & Ice Contest, North Texas Romance Writers’ Great Expectations Contest, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers’ Golden Claddagh Contest, and New Jersey Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book Contest.

 

STARCHILD: Young Adult Time-Slip Romance

The concept behind STARCHILD is best described as THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE meets WUTHERING HEIGHTS. This project finaled in the 2015 Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers.

 

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THE GHOST CHRONICLES by Marlo Berliner – YA Love Beyond the Veil

The Ghost Chroncles
Image from Amazon.com

I just finished THE GHOST CHRONICLES by Marlo Berliner and had to give a shout out to my fellow Jerseyite for this incredible YA Paranormal! Berliner’s high-concept storytelling and sympathetic hero had me hooked on this title immediately.

Here’s the summary from Amazon.com:

Can Michael get to heaven before the devil gets him first, and if it means leaving Sarah is he sure he still wants to go?

Michael Andrews had everything – a loving family, a great girlfriend and a promising basketball career. That was before the accident that took his life. Now, he’s a ghost, wandering among the living, struggling to understand why he’s stuck. All he wants is to move on.

That is until he meets Sarah, an attractive young girl who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be.

To make matters worse, there’s also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the “joining” of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don’t know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another.

Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he’s being pursued. Demons are after him because he’s a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason.

So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn’t such a good idea.

I can’t help beginning with the setting because (holla!) a large part of it takes place in New Jersey. Michael, our ghostly hero, grew up in central Jersey. The description of this area is especially fun for local readers who can connect to the landmarks mentioned a la Evanovich.

The heart of the setting, however, is the Angel of the Sea, a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that’s rumored to harbor the ghost of a teenage girl, Sarah. Love crosses boundaries of time, space, and death as Michael falls for Sarah.

Berliner pulls out all the paranormal stops by rolling explanations of other paranormal creatures besides ghosts into her world-building. I don’t want to give these pieces away, but look forward to meeting incredible creatures as well as historical figures.

Michael himself had me hooked from the beginning–a teen character who looses his life, his girlfriend, his future in basketball, and his family. He begins the book alive, so this loss is more deeply felt, and his journey to move on from his ties to the mortal world has its own perils. Travel with Michael to several historic locations as he seeks the answers to the big questions of his afterlife and flees the demons that want his soul.

Be sure to check out Berliner’s webpage!

Michelle Joyce Bond

 

 

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Twitter Parody Accounts: YA Romance

imageHey all!

I just wanted to share a couple of Twitter parody accounts that I was dying while reading. They also made me think a bit about some of the common pitfalls in the genre. I always feel every book should be judged on its own merits, but there is something to learn from taking a peek at accounts like these:

Brooding YA Hero

Typical YA Heroine

Clueless YA Dad

Have you seen parody accounts like these?  What do you think?

Michelle Joyce Bond

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BENEATH US Is Now a Double Finalist!

imageI’m proud to announce that my YA paranormal, BENEATH US, finaled in the specialized division of the NTRWA’s Great Expectations Contest! *shamelessly dances The Charleston* The final results will be announced in March.

BENEATH US also recently took second place in the YA division of the CHRW’s Golden Claddagh Contest!  I owe so much to my critique partners and beta readers–Aryn Youngless, Arell Rivers, Noella Phillips, Kimberley Ash, Keri Elizabeth Parry, and Barbara Zjawin. I couldn’t do it without you guys. ❤

Michelle Joyce Bond

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What Are You Dying to Read in 2016?

The list is out on the BNTEENblog for the most anticipated YA fantasy reads coming up in 2016!  Most of these titles sound like they’ll knock my polka dot socks off, but here are the two I absolutely can’t wait to read:

THIEF OF LIES by Brenda Drake

thief of liesHere’s the summary from Goodreads.com:

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD by Emily Henry

LOVE THAT SPLITHere’s the summary from Goodreads.com:

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

How about you?  What’s your most anticipated read?  It doesn’t need to be YA–just share away!

Michelle Joyce Bond

Stick Figures

Woot–I’m a Finalist in the 2015 Orange Rose Contest!

imageI’m taking a break from doing the Charleston to write this.  Just a few minutes ago, I found out I finaled in the 2015 Orange Rose Contest for Unpubilished Writers!  I tied for third in the YA category for my time slip romance, STARCHILD.  This is the first time I’ve ever finaled in a writing contest–so exciting!!

YA Romance Reviews

WONDROUS STRANGE By Lesley Livingston — Dramatic YA Paranormal Romance

wondrous strange
Image from goodreads.com

I recently finished WONDROUS STRANGE by Lesley Livingston, and though fairy-focused books aren’t usually my favorite in paranormal fiction, I was won over by this Shakespearean-inspired tale.  WONDROUS STRANGE is exactly that.

Here is the summary from Amazon.com:

Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . .

Seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow always thought faeries were just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery. He’s a changeling—a mortal taken as an infant and raised among Faerie—and within short order he’s turned Kelley’s heart inside out and her life upside down.

For Kelley’s beloved Central Park isn’t just a park—it’s a gateway between her ordinary city and the Faerie’s dangerous, bewitching Otherworld. Now Kelley’s eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her, but to the heritage that awaits her . . . a destiny both wondrous and strange.

The first thing I love about this book is Kelly herself.  She’s determined to make it as an actress in New York, but the director and Kelly’s own nerves play against her.  Then, of course, her fey blood and fairy mischief make it waaaay worse.  She’s the underdog deluxe.

The play her company is producing just so happens to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the lines and themes of which are artfully woven throughout the book.  The book begins with “Up and down, up and down / I will lead them up and down..” — a set of lines given new life with Livingston’s own imagery of a carousel and the drama of the final battle.  There are also dedications of love from the play of which Livingston takes full advantage.

Which brings me to the love story itself.  Sonny is a sweet, hot guy who kicks fairy butt and is completely dedicated to Kelly.  They come from different worlds, but find common ground in Central Park.  The question as to whether they will be able to remain that way.  Their story is linked to that of Pyramus and Thisbe, and we must read to the end to find if their love will end in tragedy or triumph.

Livingston’s description of magic is detailed and distinct.  Her references to fairy lore are fun and illuminated by passages from Midsummer’s.  Overall, it was a fabulous read which I hope you’ll check out if you’re in the mood for a little fairy magic.

Be sure to check out Lesley Livingston’s webpage.

Michelle Joyce Bond