Thursday 12 September 2013

Review and excerpt: Render, by Stephanie Fleshman

Before I start on the review, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who entered my birthday giveaway. I'll definitely hold more! A winner has been chosen: Mary B. If this is you, I've emailed you!

Render, by Stephanie Fleshman

A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving…
Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan – until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives.
I was given this book free by Novel Publicity in order to take part in their Render blog tour. I am very grateful for this, but in the spirit of honesty, must confess that I didn’t really know what to make of the plot.

The story is written from the point of view of two characters: Koldan and his girlfriend, Raya, whom Koldan intends to propose to. While this isn’t usually a problem, I found that the ‘voices’ of the characters were fairly similar, so I didn’t think the technique added as much as it could have. Both seemed older than their years in their knowledge (at 17, Koldan has already been to pre-med training at Harvard) and speech; it’s only certain aspects of their behaviour that reveals them to be teenagers.

Then there’s something that is probably only my bugbear. As a couple, Koldan and Raya are very touchy-feely, and at times this overwhelmed the other feelings they were supposed to be having at different points in the book. For example, just before Koldan’s grandfather’s funeral, I didn’t get any real sense of sadness, just lust, where he wanted to keep kissing Raya. There are also hints of teenage angst in their love for each other, even when there’s no reason for there to be.

Despite what it sounds like, there were parts of this book I enjoyed. When the action got going, the pace was good and there were some parts of the plot and setting that were really original and that I wasn’t expecting. The banter between the characters (and in this I’m including Koldan’s brother, Lukas, and best friend, Ethan) was quite funny at times, too.

The moment I ‘got into’ this book was at 70%, which generally I wouldn’t count as brilliant, but I have a feeling it’s intended to set the scene for the next book/s. The background is a little complicated, and I think Stephanie Fleshman wanted to establish the background between Koldan, Raya and the others, as well as the family history, before branching into the ‘real’ action. The book gets 2.5-3 stars from me for the last third of the book that was good, although I’m not sure if I would read the second book. That’s just me though – I think those with an interest in mystery/action books who don’t mind a bit of in-yer-face romance and are always looking for something original would love it.

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  As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment - easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest at the bottom of the page
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
Render Tour BadgeStephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Render: an excerpt

I spin around and pull her to me, sighing as her arms lock around my neck. I lower my face to her hair, turning it into the curve of her neck to breathe her in.

 Her body molds to mine, lithe and boneless, and my arms swallow her as I tighten my hold. It softens all the hard points, the tension I’d been holding onto, smoothing the muscles in my shoulders and back.

 “You have great problem-solving skills, by the way,” I tell her softly in her ear.

 Keeping her arms around me, she leans back against the wall to look at me, a baffled expression on her face, whether in relation to the compliment or the unexpected direction in conversation, I don’t know.

 “Do I?” Her voice lifts in a flirtatious pitch.

 “Mmm. It’s why I asked you out,” I tease. “You solved most of my problems just by agreeing.” Looking back, I realize just how true this is, though I doubt she’ll take me seriously.

Her lips curl in an obliging smile, and her eyes say it all, disbelieving in their beauty, corroborating what I already knew. But she’s still smiling, and I alone am responsible for that.

 She curls her hand around the side of my neck, and I feel her thumb glide over the scar behind my earlobe, one I incurred at fourteen, when Lukas slammed my head into the bathroom mirror. Then I broke his collarbone. Both of us ended up in the emergency room that morning, an incident that resulted in our father leaving for work a half hour later. It’s always quieter when our father is home.

 “How are you doing?” she asks, looking up to search my eyes.

I slide my hands from the small of her back to her waist, as my gaze sweeps from shoulder to shoulder. I can already feel the ground of normalcy beneath me, her presence holding the pieces of my life together, when it seems everything can come apart at any moment. “Good now that you’re here.”

 This seems to make her both happy and sad. A look of gloom passes over her face even as a small smile touches her lips. Then her eyes trail down the front of my body, taking in my suit jacket and pants. “You look like a lawyer,” she comments. “Straight from the courtroom.”

 I can’t remember a time when she’s ever seen me in a suit. The closest is the tux I wore to her senior prom two months ago, which is not much different than what I wear now.

“It suits you.”

I raise my eyebrows in doubt. “What? Looking like a lawyer?”

“Not just a lawyer. You look…professional.” Then, with a full smile, she adds, “I like it.”

“Ah,” I say, mirroring her smile as I grasp her meaning. “I like that you’re my biggest fan.”

Her teeth shine bright against her tan skin. She drops her arms to her sides, and I lace my fingers through hers. She smells of honeysuckle, vanilla, and lavender all at once, with soft underlying notes I can’t name, a scent that swirls inside me, tantalizing every cell in my body.

I lean forward, canting my head slightly to fit my lips to hers. I have to fight to keep the rhythm slow, to savor every second. But when her mouth opens, urgency builds within me, and I press farther. Too soon, though, she’s pulling away, leaving my blood pumping in a hot stream and my heart pounding against my chest.

I place a hand on the wall behind her and lean forward, closing the narrow space she’s put between us.

“I wasn’t finished,” I say.

I’m already tilting my head to kiss her again when she stops me with one word. “Wait.”

“Wait?” I mutter against her lips. I feel her palms on my chest, easing me back. It’s hard to concentrate on anything but touching her, but I slowly resign myself to the conversation that is apparently inevitable, when my only instinct is to kiss her. I straighten and meet her eyes, which does nothing to tame my thoughts.

“I got your note,” she says.

When I started mowing Mrs. Whitney’s lawn, Elizabeth gave me a key, so I could let myself in when they weren’t home. In the beginning, I would leave Raya notes on her dresser, not knowing at the time that she’d actually keep them. When she showed me every note I’d ever written her, my first instinct was to laugh, because it seemed senseless. But then I saw how impressed she was and felt empowered that I could make her so happy. She probably has a shoebox full of notes by now.

 I back her against the wall until we’re touching from hips to shoulders. Her eyes, as warm and green as summer leaves, meet mine. She’s looking at me as if I did something amazing, but just in case, I ask, “Is that all? Or is there something else you want to add, because I’d really like to kiss you right now?” Her eyes dip momentarily to my mouth.

“I was going to thank you for the note, but you distracted me.” 

“You don’t need words for that.”  

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  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Render, Kayleigh, and I'm glad you mostly liked it! Thank you also for participating in this tour and for taking a moment to cross-post your review to Amazon and GoodReads when you have the time. Also, don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter and random commenter contests!


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