Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday Book Review: BECOMING JINN by Lori Goldstein

Becoming Jinn, by Lori Goldstein
Published April 2015 by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan
About the Book:
Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!

Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.

Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters”, Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.

I met this author at a recent YA event on Cape Cod, and really liked her a lot. She was fun to chat with, easy to get along with, and I bought a hard copy of her book to give my niece who is currently performing in a stage production of Aladdin. While I enjoyed reading the story myself, I'm not going to be giving it as a gift for various reasons that can be summed up as inappropriate behavior that doesn't elicit appropriate consequences. I think the storyline as written would probably be better suited to an 18-year-old protagonist instead of 16, and a New Adult audience rather than a Young Adult one. But let me start at the beginning.

Azra is a moody sixteen-year-old full of attitude and a healthy disregard for rules, which leads her into all kinds of trouble. We meet her the morning of her sixteenth birthday, when she's just been granted her full powers as a Jinn, a magical race of genies who live in the human realm and grant wishes, like in storybooks but with a slight twist. A human only gets one wish, and they won't remember that the jinn granted it. The jinn also don't get to choose whom to grant wishes to, the almighty Afrit council does that for everyone.

Azra has felt different and left out for most of her life, or at least ever since her best friend (a human) died in an accident where magic couldn't save her. Since that day, she's resented the magic and been scornful of the powers her race possess. What good are powers if they can't save the people you love? She feels like a loner in the human world, unwilling to get close to anyone again, and a loner in her own Jinn circle, unwilling to embrace the magic. Now sixteen, she has no choice but to face the magic and its consequences.

She makes some really poor choices, which is normal in YA/NA, but each bad choice seems to lead to more, and get her deeper into trouble. Some bad choices lead to surprising discoveries, shedding light on secrets that have been shadowed all her life. I felt frustrated when some of the teen's bad choices didn't seem to have repercussions - for example, the teen Jinns use their magical powers to conjure fake IDs and get great tickets to see their favorite band. The parents don't seem to care about their daughter's underage drinking, or limit their use of powers. At one crucial point in the plot, there is more underage drinking that leads to tragedy, but nothing seems to happen to the teens who cause the problems. Yes, YA is supposed to have characters who push the rules and limits, but it doesn't hurt to show the trouble the rule breaking may cause and have the characters face their consequences.

The world and myth building is wonderful, and I loved the backstory to the Jinn and their powers. The troubled and complicated relationships between mothers and daughters all ring true, as well as the complicated relationship Azra has with her Jinn sisterhood. I enjoyed the author's writing style, storytelling and use of language, but felt as though some crucial bits might have been cut or curtailed by a well-meaning editor, leaving some of the scenes a little more hollow than I would have liked and a little loose around the timeline. And unfortunately, the story ends without a satisfying HEA or happy-for-now ending, making me NEED to read the next book to tie the loose ends that this one left dangling in the wind.

All in all an enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to grabbing the sequel next spring.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Get your copy of DESCENT today in Provincetown!

I'm signing copies of my new mermaid book DESCENT (Son of a Mermaid Book One) at the Whydah Pirate Museum in Provincetown today from 12-3 p.m.

Mermaids and Pirates go hand in hand... and hope to see you there!

Whydah Pirate Museum
 16 Macmillan Wharf
Provincetwon, MA 02657

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Book Review: FINDING MY PRINCE CHARMING by J.S. Cooper

Finding My Prince Charming, by J.S. Cooper
Published 2014

About the Book:
Can a Playboy Prince ever be tamed?

When Lola Franklin decided to study abroad she never anticipated embarking on a whirlwind weekend romance with a hot guy before classes started.

And she certainly never counted on the hot guy being her new professor. Or a Prince. Or the biggest asshole she had ever met.

Xavier Van Romerius is the playboy Prince of Europe and he loves his life. He doesn’t do relationships, and never wants to get married. But when he see’s Lola Franklin flirting with his little brother Casper, he realizes that maybe he needs to rethink his ideas about love before the wrong Prince gets the girl.


Told in alternating first person points of view between the main characters, Finding my Prince Charming is both disappointing and maddening on many levels.

This is a New Adult contemporary romance that tries to be Lolita mashed with 50 Shades, with a student/teacher relationship that borders on icky. The characters teeter on the edge of likeable, while the scenarios sit precariously close to the edge of unbelievable.

Lola is an American college student studying art history in London. She is the quintessential innocent abroad, and catches the wandering eye of a foreign prince who also just happens to be her professor, and who seems obsessed with Nabokov. It all goes downhill from there.

I kept wanting to like one or both of them but they kept doing and saying the most ridiculous things, and putting themselves in stupid and sometimes dangerous situations. I once was that American college student studying abroad, and admit I made one or two bad decisions along the way, but you don't keep repeating the same mistakes. The author gives Lola so little backbone it's utterly disappointing, and the girl doesn't learn anything except how to satiate the prince's twisted sexual fantasies.

The cover claims that Cooper is a New York Times best seller, but maybe her sales are in a different genre, or maybe there is a section of the NA audience who like their heroines submissive. Not my cup of tea, and won't be reading more from this author.

There are tons of great New Adult romances out there - this just isn't one of them. Feel free to leave your suggestions in my comment section, because I need to wipe the taste of this book out of my mind!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Release Day for CRAZY ABOUT YOU!

My latest contemporary romance officially launches into the world today! I'm very excited about this book and hope readers love it as much as I do! Here's the blurb:

Climate scientist Chase Anderson races from one project to the next, unwilling to slow down in his quest to save the world’s oceans. He has no time for family or relationships until he crashes into an impetuous blonde with a quirky sense of humor. One sizzling kiss makes him seriously reevaluate his priorities. And his sanity.

Emma Maguire left her small Cape Cod hometown years ago, seeking the fast pace and anonymity of New York City. She’s not sure what she’s searching for, but when a family crisis brings her home to Provincetown she’s caught in a crazy tangle of half-truths and mistaken identity… and falls for the handsome stranger who broke her cell phone.

Will untangling the web of lies drive them crazy, or lead to something even crazier – like love?

And here's the official excerpt, the scene at Bubeleh's Cafe (based on one of my fave restaurants in Provincetown) where Chase first realizes he's a goner for this beautiful blonde... it's a sidewalk cafe along Commercial Street, great for people watching. Chase and Emma meet so she can give him back his broken cell phone, and get into a heated argument when she misunderstands what he's doing in P-town. She decides to "start over" and runs back out onto the street to actually start over. Chase thinks she's a little crazy, but then...

A blinding smile lit her face, and she waved with enthusiasm. His heart skipped a few beats as his blood all went lower down.

She beelined to the table, calling his name. “Chase? Chase! It’s so good to see you again! Thanks so much for inviting me to lunch!” 

He found himself rising to greet her for the second time inside an hour. Instead of sitting, she came to where he stood and wrapped her arms around his neck. She planted an exaggerated kiss on his cheek, like the one he’d envied Tony for the prior day, those soft red lips wet on his skin. His arms slipped around her waist and his stomach clenched hard, inappropriate thoughts racing through his head at breakneck speed, leaving him dazed. Staring down, he saw similar confusion mirrored in Emma’s eyes, as if she felt it too, that electric current running fast and furious between them at every point where their bodies connected. And she wasn’t letting go.

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