Wednesday, October 16, 2013

~ YA Author Amanda Gray & ENDLESS ~

The moment I read the premise of this next YA novel, I knew I wanted to read it. I was also thrilled when I read the authors' bio. You'll find it at the end and quite interesting. ;)

I'm thrilled to be a part of the ENDLESS tour.
How could you not be intrigued by the beauty of this cover?!!!

Author: Amanda Gray
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Released: September 10, 2013
Pages: 384
I'd like to thank the publisher for supplying me with an eCopy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. 

Favorite Line/Passage: He opened his eyes, his gaze locking onto hers in the moment before his arms slid around her waist. When he pulled her to him, he held her so tight she felt every inch of his body, every peak settling into every fall of her own. She wanted to  inhale his breath and make it her own. (69% on Kindle)


Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them. When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumbles on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought.

Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren’t alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has traveled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back. While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock -- and the Order -- the trio discovers a link that joins them in life -- and beyond death.

(...for any paranormal or romance enthusiast.)

My Splats: Living the ups and downs of life numerous times could never erase love eternal...

Intriguing mature young adult voices and plot sprinkle clue crumbs in just the right places. The story is told from multiple point-of-views--two from the current time and the others from the past. (You'll get a glimpse of that in the excerpt below, provided by the publisher.) 

Initially, I wasn't sure about the alternating POVs mingling with their past point-of-views. But honestly, it worked. It really did. The more I read the more intrigued and connected I became to Jenny, Nikolai, and Ben, and to how their lives intertwined. Jenny and Ben were well-developed characters in and of themselves; couldn't help but start longing for them to find common ground and build a friendship--maybe more. Then, entered Nikolai, more soft and gentle than he should have been for a guy his young age. But after he explains who he is and who he is to Jenny, my heart became mixed.

This triangle of past lives and love interests mingle into the present, giving me reason to ask whether Jenny and Ben are who the think they are. Just the right amount of tension was added to move the story forward, pulling the past into the present--pains and angst included. And when these three strangers' pasts turn familiar, I couldn't help but read on. But I did pause and let the action and mystery make me consider the possibility of past lives. 

As the story builds a crescendo of past, present, and probable futures for the three, emotions crumble any outer defenses they might have had. More truth is revealed to Jenny about her current existence and her past--which includes some interesting history about the Romanov First Family--until the ultimate choice stares her in the face, piercing the soul of her heart. It seemed Nikolai and Ben knew it, too, finding understanding between each other. For me, the reader, it was bittersweet, frightening and touching.


She was in a large room, the ceilings extending far above her head, the room lavishly decorated. She stood in front of an easel, the paintbrush well used and familiar in her hand. Her sister was next to her in front of an identical easel, though the little shvibzik was allowed to sit due to her painful foot condition.

A gentle hand touched her wrist and Maria looked up into the rheumy brown eyes of Gospodin Vitsin, the teacher who came twice a week to instruct her and Anastasia in the finer points of art.

“You must stop daydreaming,” he said, waving at a bowl of fruit on a table in front of them. “Focus on your subject and paint what you see.”

“But, Gospodin,” Anastasia began, using the word for “teacher” without the appropriate surname, as her mother had forbidden time and time again. That Anastasia was of royal blood was no matter. Mother would be furious at her show of disrespect. “Shall Maria paint it ugly then, if that is how she sees it?”

“Nastya!” Maria used one of the many nicknames for her sister. “Behave.”

Gospodin Vitsin glared at Anastasia without reply. She smirked at her sister, her eyes twinkling with mischief under pale brows.

Maria turned back to the fruit, forcing her attention away from the clock on the mantel.

He wasn’t coming.

She told herself it was for the best. They had only seen each other in passing, daring glances when it seemed Gospodin Vitsin wasn’t looking during her lessons. She had likely imagined the whole thing anyway.

She continued her work on the apple, trying to get the shine on its skin. She almost had it when she heard footsteps enter the room.

She knew it was the young man without turning, and she followed his movements out of the corner of her eye. It would not do for Gospodin Vitsin to think her inappropriate and report back to Mother.

“Please excuse me,” the young man said, crossing the room to the great mantel against the far wall. His voice held a hint of defiance, though there was nothing disrespectful in his words. “I’ll work quietly.”

“Again?” Gospodin asked. “Is the clock still not fixed? This is the third time in as many weeks you have been here to attend to it.”

He nodded. “My grandfather says it is an important family heirloom. The Tsar wants it fixed no matter the time or cost, and it is a complicated piece of machinery.”

The figure held the familiar metal box in his hand, the one with all the tools and devices with which he repaired the clocks. Maria moved her brush aimlessly over the apple, undoing her earlier, painstaking efforts, gazing at the man from around the easel.

He was near her age, though perhaps slightly older than her seventeen years. The fabric of his shirt pulled at his broad shoulders, and his hands were large and strong as they pulled a tool from the metal box. His hair shone like ebony under the light of the great chandelier that dominated the center of the room.

She could not deny his appeal, despite his position as the clockmaker’s grandson. In fact, she had thought of little else since he had first appeared at her lessons three weeks before.

“What on earth are you doing?” Gospodin’s voice broke into her thoughts, his presence creating a shadow over her canvas. “You were doing just fine, and now … ” He waved at the painting, shaking his head in exasperation.

Maria refocused on the painting. She had removed whatever shine she’d managed to put on the apple only moments before, brushing over it with so much red paint that it looked flat and two-dimensional. A child’s rendering of an apple.

“I’m … I’m sorry, Gospodin,” she said, picking up another brush to try and repair the damage.

“I think my sister has become distracted,” Anastasia said slyly.

“Shush, Nastya!” Maria hissed, keeping her eyes trained on the canvas, not daring a glance at the young man still tinkering with the clock across the room.

“You must concentrate,” Gospodin said. “Think of the—”

“Gospodin Vitsin?” A voice from the door interrupted his instruction.

The teacher turned to a jacketed manservant. “Yes, yes! What is it?”

“The Duchess’s governess would like to see you.”

“Now?” he asked. “We are in the middle of a lesson.”

“I understand, comrade. I was instructed by one of the staff that your presence was requested.”

Gospodin Vitsin sighed heavily. He hesitated, glancing at the boy near the fireplace, still working on the clock. Maria held her breath, wondered if he would dare leave them alone with a male in the room.
Then, looking from Maria to Anastasia, he seemed to make a decision.

“Continue. I’ll be right back.”

Maria nodded, her eyes trained on the painting, not wanting to show her excitement at the thought of being alone——well, nearly alone——in the room with the young man.

Gospodin’s shoes clicked against the marble as he made his way from the room, the manservant on his heels.

Maria felt flushed, her gown suddenly too constricting, too heavy. She could feel the boy’s eyes on her, and she wanted to take advantage of the moment. To say something witty and charming. But he was so far away. It would be foolish to shout out a greeting, to say nothing of ill-mannered.

She needn’t have worried. Gospodin was gone only a moment when the boy spoke, his voice carrying across the cavernous room.

“What are you working on?” he asked.

“None of your business,” Anastasia said, before Maria could stop her.

Maria turned to her. “Will you please be quiet?”

“Actually, it was your sister to whom I was speaking,” the boy said.

Maria’s face became hot, and she knew she was blushing. She looked up, watching the boy wipe one of the clock parts with a cloth.

“It is … it is a bowl of fruit.” She laughed, thinking it silly now that she had said it aloud.

“A bowl of fruit?” The boy raised one dark eyebrow, smiling. He gestured toward her. “May I?”

“You want to … you want to see it?” Maria asked.

“Unless you would rather not show me.”

Maria shook her head. “No. You are welcome to look if you’d like, although it’s not very good.” She moved to set down her brush, but she was so nervous it clattered to the floor.

“Here. Let me.” The boy put down the piece he had been cleaning. He glanced nervously at the door as he came toward her. As he approached, Maria saw that he was quite tall, his eyes deeply green.

He bent, picking up the brush and holding it out to her. “Here you are.”

She took it from him, her voice suddenly caught in her throat. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He held her eyes before turning to the painting. She was momentarily bereft at the loss of his gaze. “So this is the infamous bowl of fruit.”

“Yes. And see?” She sighed. “As I said, not very good.”

“You might have more luck if you focused on the canvas,” Anastasia interjected sarcastically.
Maria narrowed her eyes at her sister, willing her to be quiet, just this once.

“Actually,” the man said, “I quite like it.”

“You do?”

He nodded. “Although I imagine it would be more fun to paint something else. Fruit can only be so interesting.”

She laughed. “Gospodin Vitsin says we must practice on the lifeless before we can bring life to something.”

“Is that so?” the boy murmured.


“How strange.”

“Is it?” she asked.

He nodded. “I don’t know much about these things, but it seems to me that one would learn how to bring life to something by painting something full of it.”

“That is precisely what I said.” She looked up at him and smiled, surprised to find that his eyes were fixed firmly on her face. She wondered how long he’d been staring.

He returned her smile, and for a moment, it was as if they’d known each other forever. As if their meeting was the final piece to a puzzle long unfinished.

But there was no time to ponder the feeling. A moment later, an urgent voice nearly shouted from the doorway.

“He’s coming back!”

She turned her attention to a little boy, bent over and trying to catch his breath, at the edge of the room. She had no idea to what he was referring, but the young man at her side seemed to understand.

He straightened, reaching into his pocket and lifting Maria’s hand. His skin was warm and dry as he placed a small, folded piece of paper in her palm. He closed her fingers around it and looked into her eyes.

“Please come,” he said, his voice pleading.

Then he turned and hurried to the mantel, picking up his tools like nothing at all had happened.

Maria opened the paper quickly, shielding it from her sister’s prying eyes. The message was simple.

I’ll be in the unused receiving room at the back of the palace tonight at midnight.

She closed the paper just as Gospodin Vitsin reentered the room, muttering about the ridiculousness of being summoned by someone who wasn’t even on the premises.

Maria picked up her paintbrush, glancing at the young man from behind her canvas.

Nikolai. His name was Nikolai.

Amanda Gray believes in magic and fantasy and possibilities. She is a team of two bestselling authors who live only miles apart but have never met in person. They talk on the phone and are the best of friends and between them have written more than a dozen novels and novellas and have had their work appear on television.

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  1. Lovely cover!

    Shared and tweeted!

    Hugs and chocolate,

  2. I'm experiencing a bit of cover envy - love that so much.
    The passage was very good too. I enjoyed it and would certainly like to read the rest.

  3. I'm not sure which I love more, the cover or the story line. Must read this!!

  4. I loved the cover and synopsis. They caught my attention.


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