Saturday, January 26, 2013

Four Days Of Garr: Day One!

Day One!
Today is the review and excerpts of Promises, Book One of the Syrenka Series by Amber Garr!
Aaaaand the beginning of a Giveaway! Can you say SIGNED paperbacks of the ENTIRE series PLUS a SIGNED paperback of TOUCHING EVIL? I can! *happy dance*
Oh, and did I mention its OPEN INTERNATIONALLY???? woot woot!

 So lets get this started!

Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the
ones you love.
When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with
the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan
leadership, she is forced to choose between the life
required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply
infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé
would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in
love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they
were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and
her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond
anything she could have imagined.
A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana
unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a
twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she
has no choice but to involve those who she once
considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless
tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is
more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected.
Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her
friends, but also on her acceptance of a life that she had so
adamantly tried to escape.

(contains SOME spoilers)
Well break my heart why don't ya Amber? Jesus H you just had to put me through the ringer!
Okay, so when I first started reading Promises, I really wasn't swept up into the story. Yes, the storyline was interesting, but I would of loved to of had more details. Without the details, it made the beginning part fast, but lacking in a clenching way.
BUT, then we got to the good stuff ;)
I will never look at mermaids the same way again. Seriously, I've read about the lore of merfolk, some of the more common horror stories, and while Promises doesn't do all the blood and death and morphing that legend will have you to believe, it does have a rather fascinating yet horrifying twist. Mind control. (cue creepy music)
Nothing says 'I will command all races and destroy freedom' more than the ability to forcefully make people your minions. *evil laugh*
I loved the love in Promises. Karma seems to play a BIG role in Eviana's love life, and while the political standings on interracial mating is basically a taboo, she overcomes it... for awhile. Then Karma takes a HUGE bite out of her a*s, and everything that she ran from comes back to b*tch slap her in the face.  (yes, I realize I am relating her story as if she were real... but damn it she began to feel real)
For the first time, I didn't know whom I wanted to root for when it comes to the boys.  I'm still torn over who should win her, because I don't think she's entirely good enough at this point to have either one of them.  Yes, she has some awesome characteristics, but while Kain and Brendan have high values of loyalty, honor and duty, Eviana is sadly lacking in it and is rather petulant and childish.  Yes, she does show a growth in character throughout the book, and it is rather easy to put yourself in her shoes and understand why she would rather hide from the horrors of her new found role in life, but sometimes you just have to put your big girl panties on and deal with it.  It sucks giant hairy planet of the apes monkey b*lls, truly it does, but when you have so much riding on you and you are basically the key to the survival of the species, you just have to suck it up buttercup!
So in conclusion, since I know everyone just wants to skip right to the giveaway (you lil brats you): The beginning lagged, middle picked up, ending was flipping awesome, loved the characters, want to perform psychological therapy on Eviana to make her more capable of handling her role, aaaaaand I laughed, cried, groaned, beat my head against the table, threatened my kindle, but overall fell in love with the story!
NOW, here are some excerpts from Promises!

Excerpt 1
I barely heard her parting words as the screen door slammed shut.  My head was spinning
in desperation as the anger coursed through my bones.  “Get back in here Eviana!” she continued
to scream at me.  “We are not finished with this conversation!” 
I was already racing down the deck stairs towards the sandy beach, kicking off my shoes
and unbuttoning my blouse.   We are for now, I thought as my blood boiled with rage and
resentment.  I was going to be trapped!  How dare they?  This was not the eighteenth century
anymore!  I had rights!
I stumbled onto the sand, taking just a brief moment to savor the warmth and the feeling of
the grains massaging my toes.  My shirt came off and I started to unzip my jeans.  No one was
around.  But I wouldn’t care anyway.  The water was calling me and it was the only voice that I
could hear now.  With one pant leg off, I hopped along in my forward progression until the other
one was free.  My oasis was so close now that I could taste the salt in the air.  The sun broke free
of a cloud, stopping me for a moment.  It was late afternoon and the sunset was still a few hours
away, but the sky was already turning multiple shades of pink and orange; the coloration
reminding me of the inside of a brilliant conch shell.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.  I knew that there was going to be hell to pay
when I returned to the house.  Marguerite, my mother, had tolerated my rebellious behavior
when I was younger, giving me more freedom and second chances than anyone in our clan.  But
apparently now, at seventeen, I was an adult.  Adult enough to bear children.  Adult enough to
participate in clan gatherings.  Adult enough to navigate our youth through their transition
period.  But not adult enough to choose who to love. 
A slight breeze wafted off the ocean, bringing with it scents that filled my gut with
longing.  The freedom of the ocean.  Why couldn’t I just stay there forever?  A gull called
overhead, beckoning me to join him.  The splashing waves calmed my inner rage as they ebbed
and flowed in a hypnotic pattern.  A distant moan of a shipping vessel reminded me of our
history.  I opened my eyes to see that I was standing alone along miles of sandy beach interlaced
with large rocks and cliffs emblematic of the northern California coast.  So beautiful.  I stripped
off the rest of my clothes and ran into the ocean.
As soon as I was under the water, I could feel the transition begin.  My lower body ached
as the bones adjusted from a life on land to one at sea.  Both legs began to fuse together and
work as one.  My foot bones elongated while I prepared for the agony.  I was accustomed to the
changes now, but it was still a struggle of mind over matter.  Breaking through the surface of the
water, I grabbed one last breath before the final jolt of pain ravaged through my body.  I bit my
bottom lip and squeezed my eyes shut willing the moment to be over.  At last I felt an electric
tingle move from my hips to my toes as the hardened iridescent, scales appeared on the bottom
half of my body.  I opened my eyes to find that the internal transformation was complete as well. 
My vision cleared.  My lungs expanded.  I could hear for miles.  I was free.
So I swam.  I swam away from the shore and the house that I lived in.  I swam away from
my fears and obligations as though they could disappear with the distance.  I would temporarily
forget my responsibilities, my duties, and the argument with my mother.  In here, I wasn’t
trapped.  The sea was my true home.  I was a mermaid and this was my world.

Excerpt 2
My swim home was too quick.  I was lost in the elation of Brendan’s promise and thinking
about what I could take with me when I left my home.  Maybe one suitcase and my iPod; we
could always replace what we couldn’t carry.  Would we fly or drive?  Where would we go?
Brendan had promised to make all of the necessary arrangements soon, but I didn’t know if I
could wait to hear his plan.
Night was nearly here and the silhouette of my house looked bleak and menacing.  When I
reached our backyard stretch of beach, someone was waiting for me.  I sighed and picked up my
scattered clothing without acknowledging my guest.
“You are in so much trouble this time,” a whiney, nasally voice taunted.
“Shut up, Marisol and mind your own business.”  I began walking briskly back to the
stairs, trying to ignore my sister, but she followed closely at my heels.
“I don’t understand what’s wrong with you.  This is what we were born to do and Kain is
super rich and totally gorgeous.”  She tripped on one of the steps and stumbled into me.  I turned
with a glare so evil that she stepped away.  “He doesn’t deserve you.”
The words were sharp but I knew that they rang true.  Kain didn’t deserve someone who
couldn’t love him.  He was too good and too nice.  My sister was right, but that didn’t mean I
had to let her know it.
“You don’t even know what you’re talking about  Mars,” I snapped at her, using the
childhood nickname she loathed.  “Just mind your own business for once and leave me alone!”
Stomping up the stairs was probably a mistake.   Although I managed to lose one nagging
voice, two more were waiting for me at the top.  I looked into my parents eyes and could see
their growing disappointment.  The dark wood deck wrapped entirely around the raised first floor
of our house, and was large enough to hold a hundred people.  But there were only two of them
standing there now.  They were leaning against the railing on the far side with my father holding
my mother in front of him in a show of support and unity.  I rolled my eyes.
“Told you,” chirped Marisol as she dodged out of the way of my swinging hand.
“Eviana Anne Dumahl.  Do not strike your sister.”  My father’s harsh command sent chills
through my body.  I really hated it when he was this mad at me.  “And put some clothes on.”
I was standing before them completely naked and soaking wet.  Succumbing to the
grueling glares, I reluctantly pulled on my blouse using my arms to secure it to my body rather
than button it up.
“Where did you go?” my father asked in a lighter tone.
Before I could answer, my mother cut in, “You were with him weren’t you?”  She pulled
away from father’s arms and walked towards me with determination.  Her long dark hair flowed
around her perfectly smooth face.  The grace and confidence with which she moved still
astounded me.  Without looking into her eyes, I threw back my shoulders and stood my ground. 
Anything to defy her.
She literally sniffed me.  Her nose moved around my neck, my hair, and even my hands. 
There was no way that I could deny who I’d spent the last few hours with, and I wouldn’t try to
“I want to be with him.  Not Kain.”
My mother tsked at me in disgust and grabbed my face with her hands.  She was slightly
shorter than me, but her domineering personality was still intimidating.  Plus she was squeezing
my cheeks pretty hard. 
“You will not see that boy again, do you understand?  The Matthews have finally agreed to
conduct this marriage and you will respect your duties and your family.  This is very important to
our survival.  Can you even begin to comprehend what type of message your behavior is sending
I could see the frustration building in her eyes, and before I even realized what was
happening, my tears were spilling over.  I pushed her hands away and turned to my father.
“Please, dad.  Please!  Don’t make me do this!”  I waved my arm back towards the house. 
“Marisol would kill to have the chance to marry Kain and provide him children.  Why can’t she
just do it?”  I was hysterical now.
“Oh Eviana, please don’t upset yourself like this.”  He glided over to me and wrapped me
in an embrace.  His warm body and soothing voice kept offering me false hope.
“Stop babying her, Charles,” my mother snapped.  “She is almost eighteen now.  It’s about
time she started acting like it.” 
Marguerite, my mother and the Dumahl Clan leader, didn’t stop there.  “You and I had to
endure our arranged marriage when we were much younger than this.”  Turning towards me, she
continued, “I became a leader when I was your age.  I survived.  Charles and I survived.  And so
will you.  Stop acting like a spoiled brat and accept your responsibility!”
My mother walked away towards the deck’s edge to regain her composure and my father
sighed.  I knew what was coming next. 
“Eviana, you must do as you are told.  Kain is a nice young man with a good family.  And
from what I can see, he is already quite taken with you.”
The sobs were out of control at this point.  I really did hate to disappoint my father and
even my mother sometimes.  But this is not the life I wanted.  I suddenly realized that I wasn’t
crying because I’d have to marry Kain, I was crying because I knew that I had to run away. 
There was no other choice at this point.  Feigning total defeat, I pulled away and looked up at
him.  His middle-aged face could pass for someone ten years younger, but the wrinkles around
his eyes did little to hide his distress.  I’d probably been the cause of most of those lines.
“When is it?” I asked.
Both of my parents looked at me in shock.  They shared a glance between them, no doubt
trying to figure out if this was a trick.  My mother replied hesitantly, “The first of the month.”

AND NOW..... GIVEAWAY TIME!!! *happy dance*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

To purchase Promises on:
Amazon click HERE
Smashwords click HERE
Barnes and Noble click HERE