Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











From Goodreads: There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.

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“When we go to tell our stories, people think we want it to have gone differently. People want to say things like “sore losers” and “move on already, quit playing the blame game.” But is it a game? Only those who have lost as much as we have see the particularly nasty slice of smile on someone who thinks they’re winning when they say “Get over it.” This is the thing: If you have the option to not think about or even consider history, whether you learned it right or not, or whether it even deserves consideration, that’s how you know you’re on board the ship that serves hors d’oeuvres and fluffs your pillows, while others are out at sea, swimming or drowning, or clinging to little inflatable rafts that they have to take turns keeping inflated, people short of breath, who’ve never even heard of the words hors d’oeuvres or fluff. Then someone from up on the yacht says, “It’s too bad those people down there are lazy, and not as smart and able as we are up here, we who have built these strong, large, stylish boats ourselves, we who float the seven seas like kings.” And then someone else on board says something like, “But your father gave you this yacht, and these are his servants who brought the hors d’oeuvres.” At which point that person gets tossed overboard by a group of hired thugs who’d been hired by the father who owned the yacht, hired for the express purpose of removing any and all agitators on the yacht to keep them from making unnecessary waves, or even referencing the father or the yacht itself. Meanwhile, the man thrown overboard begs for his life, and the people on the small inflatable rafts can’t get to him soon enough, or they don’t even try, and the yacht’s speed and weight cause an undertow. Then in whispers, while the agitator gets sucked under the yacht, private agreements are made, precautions are measured out, and everyone quietly agrees to keep on quietly agreeing to the implied rule of law and to not think about what just happened. Soon, the father, who put these things in place, is only spoken of in the form of lore, stories told to children at night, under the stars, at which point there are suddenly several fathers, noble, wise forefathers. And the boat sails on unfettered.

If you were fortunate enough to be born into a family whose ancestors directly benefited from genocide and/or slavery, maybe you think the more you don’t know, the more innocent you can stay, which is a good incentive to not find out, to not look too deep, to walk carefully around the sleeping tiger. Look no further than your last name. Follow it back and you might find your line paved with gold, or beset with traps.”
― Tommy Orange, There There

Y’all. This book. It packs a punch like no other, and I was captivated by it as the stories began to intertwine and come to a head, to one final moment that brings the characters all together in this gripping tale transcending multiple generations. Gripping is an understatement… when all was said and done, and the novel stopped, I felt myself continue to lurch forward with momentum. I don’t think I can express how deep and beautiful this novel is. I can’t do it justice. But let me back up.

Tommy Orange’s novel is difficult to start. When I first began listening via audiobook, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. It didn’t make sense to me. The prologue, which is part of the novel and absolutely should and needs to be read, begins with a candid retelling of history as North Americans know it–laying bare what the history books don’t teach us, shedding light on the part of history that we’d like to forget and sweep under a rug, never to be seen again. I wondered to myself, “is this novel a history lesson?”. No. But yes. Though fictitious, it has many truths, and the experiences of many of these characters are unfortunately all too real, because those affected by our nation’s bloody history in the past are still affected by it in our present, which Orange makes explicitly clear as his novel commences with the first story from our twelve narrators, Tony Loneman. Truth be told, the first story, Tony’s story, through me off. I was trying hard to connect to the character, but was struggling, and I wasn’t sure where Orange was going with the novel. Then the second narrator took over, and I didn’t see any obvious connections, so I wondered “is this novel just a grouping of short stories?”. The stories were just there, and they didn’t entice me… yet, because I hadn’t yet seen the beauty of what Orange was doing. Initially, they were just unhitched stories to me. But as I continued, I began to see the connections methodically woven between the characters, all of which is leading us, the narrators and the reader, to one final moment at the powwow; all of these twelve characters are perfectly interconnected, though they don’t know it as of yet. And as they continue their stories, adding to what we already know, and beginning to converge on Oakland’s Coliseum, the novel takes hold, creating feelings of intense foreboding through Orange’s employ of dramatic irony. The interlude, from which I quoted a particularly stunning section above, floored me, and it was then that I knew, without a doubt, that this novel is a five star read. Orange is matter-of-fact, and he’s hitting on topics that we, as a nation, have fought about for far too long, still attempting to sweep truth under the rug in order to not face the reality of our current world, or who we are, and our sordid history. And while the interlude above is just that, and the narrators barely touch upon what is explicitly stated above–it’s not a novel steeped in politics or in your face–it’s there, calling to the reader, reminding us that privilege exists, that some are luckier than others, and that if we are to survive this harrowing world, we must come together, to understand one another, and to stop the fighting. To stop the hate. This novel is fierce.

When There There ended, I was speechless. One, I couldn’t believe Orange left us the way he did, but two, it’s just so unspeakably beautiful, thought-provoking, and intense.  Five amazing stars!

I borrowed the audible of this novel from the library, but then purchased my own paperback copy from Amazon, because this powerful novel is a must for my shelves. And I just found out Tommy Orange is going to be a keynote speaker at NCTE in a few weeks! Stay tuned for a possible signed book giveaway at the end of the month!! 

Did you know that you can read this novel for FREE with a FREE TRIAL of Audiblefor 30 days? Try it today!

Kindle | Audible | Paperback | Hardcover



Look at those covers! Aren’t they beautiful? Which one if your favorite? Personally, I’m really feeling the sleek magical black Canadian cover, though the American version has a more fun, artsy air to it, and I love that, too! But because I couldn’t decide, I ended up buying both for my collection, because that’s how I roll (and the Hardcover American cover version is on sale for only $2.99 at the time of this posting)!

Have you read Sleight? If not, it’s time to put it in your que, because it’s a must read! Jennifer Sommersby (also known as Eliza Gordon) is one of my favorite authors, and her YA novel Sleight wrapped me up and held me tight the first time I ever read it. I’ve had the privilege of reading it multiple times over the years as Jenn tweaked it for publication; Originally self-published in 2011, Sleight was then picked up and published by Harper Collins and Sky Pony in spring of 2018, and I’m not lying when I say this book gives me all the feels; I’m so excited that its final version is now published for all to enjoy, and I’ve just finished reading it — PHENOMENAL!

Sleight is a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Book for Kids & Teens (Fall 2018) and an Ontario Library Association Best Bets Honorable Mention Book for Young Adults (2019), while Jenn herself is a British Columbia Arts Council Grant Award Recipient for 2019!

From Goodreads: Delia smiles at the shadow only she sees—

Something slams into her. The lyra whirls like a half-dollar spinning on its edge.

My mother is thrown backward.

And she falls.

Growing up in the Cinzio Traveling Players Company, Genevieve Flannery is accustomed to a life most teenagers could never imagine: daily workouts of extravagant acrobatics; an extended family of clowns; wild animals for pets; and her mother, Delia, whose mind has always been tortured by visions—but whose love Geni never questions. In a world of performers who astonish and amaze on a daily basis, Delia’s ghostly hallucinations never seemed all that strange . . . until the evening Geni and her mother are performing an aerial routine they’ve done hundreds of times, and Delia falls to her death.

That night, a dark curtain in Geni’s life opens. Everything has changed.

Still reeling from the tragedy, the Cinzio Traveling Players are also adjusting to the circus’s new owner: a generous, mysterious man whose connection to the circus—Geni suspects—has a dark and dangerous history. And suddenly Geni is stumbling into a new reality of her own, her life interrupted daily by the terrors only Delia used to be able to see.

As the visions around her grow stronger, Geni isn’t sure who she can trust. Even worse, she’s starting to question whether she can trust her own mind.“

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A mastermind storyteller, Sommersby’s recently released YA debut, Sleight, does not disappoint. I was hooked from page one as the mystery, deception, tension, and comic relief unfolded, and I was amazed by how vivid and real the characters were.  Through her pristine use of prose and characterization, Sommersby captures the true nature of humanity as she creates characters that come to life right off the page. It is obvious from the get go that each character in this novel is crafted with love and care, and as you read, they become extremely real. Geni’s spunk and determination, Henry’s charm and humor, and Baby’s protective fatherly nature, all help to create a tale that exudes humanity and realness, endearing them to my heart. I fell in love with them immediately, and having just finished the novel, I can say that I truly feel like I know them. All of the characters are given true attributes of human nature, even Daegen, the worst of the worst, making it hard to draw an exact line between good and evil, though it blatantly exists.  I was enamored by both the characters and the writing as I read, and I adored how Sommersby uses ghostly visions of flashbacks to help Geni, Henry, and the reader begin to fill in the gaps concerning the past in order to determine the correct course of action in the present, helping Geni solve the mystery of what, exactly, she must protect.

Sommersby has a wonderful gift with words, and she does an excellent job explaining all the intricate details of circus life and magic, all while weaving a tale from which I just couldn’t look away. I gobbled up this novel in less than 24 hours, and I’m dying for more. Everything circus in this novel is beautiful, and I could literally see the big top in my minds eye, as well as the vast Elephant enclosure housing Gertrude and Houdini; I loved the relationship that Geni has with her elephants and her extended “family” of the circus, and truth be told, the synopsis for this novel just doesn’t do it justice, and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, which comes out in April 2020 under two different titles: Scheme, which is the American title, and The Undoing, which is the Canadian title. Though it’ll be the same story, I’m feeling the cover love for the sequel, too, and I can’t wait to add them both to my collection as well.

Sommersby is an up-and-coming author to watch!! Five stars for this beautiful story!

I purchased my copy of Sleight from Amazon (US) and Chapter’s Indigo (Canada).

Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover for only $2.99

Visit Jenn:

 Website: http://www.jennsommersby.com

Twitter: @JennSommersby

Facebook: Jennifer Sommersby

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Synopsis: Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Stone House is finally ready to welcome its first guests to the big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. Laugh and cry with this unlikely group as they share their secrets and—maybe—even see some of their dreams come true. Full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor, once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.

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I’m not going to lie; I didn’t want to have anything to do with this book, but I’m so very glad I picked it up! I recently moved, and my new neighborhood has a book club, which I was eager to join to hopefully begin making friends in the area. That being said, the current novel they were reading and about to meet to discuss was A Week in Winter, published post-humanously after the death of Maeve Binchy. Having been out of the book world for so long, I’d never heard of this well-established author, and in checking her covers and synopsis, I feared this was a hallmark novel trap–that I was going to have to read something so vastly different from my tastes and walk into my first book club meeting less than pleased with the book. However, we’ve all heard not to judge a book by its cover, and I was absolutely pleasantly surprised by how much I adored this novel!

Chicky Starr is a vivid character that the reader can’t help but love. We meet her as a whimsical young woman, swept off her feet by an American and whisked off to the USA, where, of course, years pass, and things don’t go as planned. Armed with a plan, she finally returns to Ireland and takes over Stone House, slowly putting everything together in order to open to her first guests. From there, Binchy expertly weaves the tales of the rest of the people involved with, and staying at, Stone House, dedicating one long chapter to each of the 9 remaining people in the novel.

I think, by far, my favorite chapter was that of Rigger, a young boy born out of wedlock and hidden from his extended family. Although it’s the latter half of the 20th century, we quickly learn that Rigger’s mother cannot bare what she feels is shame for having a child without a father, so she hides him away. Doing her best to raise Rigger in Dublin, working many jobs just to put food on the table, Rigger soon finds himself wrapped up with the wrong type of folk, and after a stint in juvie and a robbery gone wrong, ends up at Stone House with Chicky. I loved his story of redemption, and how realistic Rigger is. And while it is true that many of the characters within the novel do find a type of redemption, or solace, making this into a definite hallmark feel-good novel, I loved it!

I thought it was especially intriguing how Binchy chose to weave all the character’s stories together, and she ordered them so perfectly that each character builds off the next in some way, without overdoing it, or rehashing too much. Each character, from the movie star John to the psychic Frida, has a role to play in this story, and how they all arrive at Stone House, and their previous plights are all nicely wrapped with a bow at the very end… all save one character, who I tend to believe couldn’t have a happy ending without making the novel too touchy-feely, and for which I give kudos to the author.

For me, this definitely classifies as a beach read, or better yet, a Christmas read, one where you can sit leisurely and read, or as in my case, listen in chapter increments. Rosalyn Landor was a phenomenal narrator, and her voices and accents really helped me visualize and dive deep into the stories; I found it quite uncanny how well she did male voices versus female, and Irish accents versus American. I definitely recommend this novel, which you can get on Kindle for just $3.99 at the time of this review release, though I recommend the Audible even more.  Five stars.

I purchased this novel from Audible.

Did you know that you can try a FREE TRIAL of Audible for 30 days? Try it today!

Kindle | Audible | Paperback | Hardcover

 

 

 



Synopsis: A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

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This is another novel that I’d heard so much about over the years, and regret putting off reading for so long! It’s an absolutely spectacular novel, which I had the opportunity to listen to through Audible, narrated by George Newbern. Between Backman’s wit and Newbern’s matter-of-fact narration style, I found myself snickering and chuckling to myself as I listened while easily falling in love with Ove and his story of love, loss, heartbreak, and redemption. This poor man wants nothing more than to die and join his wife, and while suicide is no laughing matter, Backman is able to take this story and show how the simple act of paying attention and caring for those around us can have a profound effect on those around us who need it most.

I love how Backman intertwines the present with the past, slowly revealing how Ove came to be the sour, angry old man that he is, but also chipping away at his hard shell exterior in order to show the true Ove inside, as he attempts time and again to join his wife, and is comically interrupted due to his strict rules and beliefs about how his residents’ association should be run, time and time again.  Ove has his set of rules, and he doesn’t break them for anyone, leading to a kind of comedy-of-errors as the residents around him live their lives free of strict rules and instead choose camaraderie.

The one aspect of the novel that I struggled to fully grasp was that of the “white shirts,” and what their role is in Sweden. Are they real, or fictional? In the novel, it seems that the government can come in and boss around citizens whenever they please, going as far as taking away their homes and rights to freedoms, and while I’m sure that’s not the exact right interpretation, I haven’t been able to find much corroborating who or what they represent in Sweden online, aside from a poke at government and corporations, however, I’m not sure if an entity of the white shirts is real or made up for this novel; I’d love an answer, if you happen to know.

I see a little bit of myself in Ove, as I’m sure we all do in one way or another, and Backman’s heartwarming unraveling of Ove allows him to finally find everything he didn’t realize he was missing in life. It was such a moving story; I laughed and I cried on many occasions because of the wonderful connections I made with the characters and their plights as I read, and I really can’t say enough good things about this amazing novel. I highly recommend it, especially as the Kindle version is only $5.99 at the time of this initial posting! Five stars.

I purchased this novel from Audible.

Did you know that you can try a FREE TRIAL of Audible for 30 days? Try it today!

Amazon Kindle | WATCH THE MOVIE | Barnes and Noble | BAM



 

Synopsis: “What do you want from me?” he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

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“My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted.”

— Jellicoe Road opening lines.

I wish I’d read this book sooner. I wish I’d read this way back in 2011, when I first learned about it, and everyone told me how wonderful it is. I wish I’d read it in 2014 when I finally purchased a copy based on the rave reviews, but alas, I did not, and I feel like I wasted eight years of my life having not read it until this moment–eight years in which I could have had Taylor, Jonah, Chaz, and Narnie besides me and in my heart, eight years in which I could have recommended this novel to others as a must read, just as it was recommended to me… I’ve been away from the reviewing world for about four years, and this is literally the first book I’ve read in nearly five years that’s wrapped me so tightly that I read it in one sitting; it kept me up into the wee hours of the morning turning the pages, wanting to know more, but not wanting the story to end, and I finished it in a whirlwind of feelings just five short hours after I began.

When I first began this novel, I’ll admit I was confused. But Marchetta immediately drew me in with those two opening sentences I mentioned above. How could she not? Marchetta tells two stories that intertwine throughout and paint a beautiful tale of mystery, identity, and finding oneself, but in the beginning, that isn’t as obvious, and it might tempt you to put the book down and check it off as just “not for you.” DON’T DO THAT! Trust me on this one, you need to keep reading. It will all come together in the most perfect, beautiful way, but you’ll have to wait for it, which is part of what makes this novel so good. The prologue begins in the past–and thankfully Marchetta chooses to tell the past in italics to help the reader get their bearings as the novel progresses and switches between the two narratives, one in the present, and the other 18 years in the past. The story in the present of course takes the forefront, focusing on a boarding school and a semi-violent turf war between the Cadets, Townies, and the Jellicoe School Students as they battle it out for territory for six weeks each year, and the territory wars are extremely serious. Between a coup, running dorms, hiding the “war” from teachers and adults, and trying to negotiate for territory, the main character, Taylor, is introduced and solidified as a young woman hell bent on keeping her head down and just trying to make it through unscathed. Abandoned at 11 by her mother, she doesn’t know much about her parents nor her identity, having pushed her life prior to Jellicoe from her mind soon after Hannah picks her up from the 7-11 in town and brings her to the school. Taylor’s story is heartbreaking, but at the same time, it is majestic and healing as well, and as Marchetta unveils new information about events that happened 18 years prior through her expert sprinkling of foreshadowing, savvy readers will begin to piece together who and how each person from the past and the present intertwines with one another so seamlessly.

This is a wonderful story that builds realistic characters that jump off the page and enter the reader’s soul. I cannot say enough about how perfect this story truly is, and I highly, highly recommend you pick up a copy and start reading TODAY! Five stars!

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

Did you know that you can try a FREE TRIAL of Audible for 30 days? Try it today!

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Werewolves of ShadeFrom Goodreads:

When the entire population of Shade go missing, investigative reporter Mila Watson knows this could be the big break she has been waiting for. Setting off into the mountains to the village of Shade, Mila soon learns that the village isn’t as deserted as she first believed it to be and that creatures lurk in the shades…

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WoS OneIt’s no secret that I LOVE Tim O’Rourke’s writing. Every single piece, be it novel or novella (and there are a ton–over 50 currently, I believe), has captured my attention from the very first page, and I’ve been drawn into the seamless, heart-pounding stories where the characters and landscape come alive before my very eyes.  And so is the case with O’Rourke’s latest serial, Werewolves of Shade, a 6 part story that is absolutely mind blowing.

Part 1:

Opening in the creepy, dismal town of Maze, we meet Mila, a young woman hell bent on finding out what happened to her parents when they disappeared so long ago, traveling to Shade, a town where everyone seems to have vanished.

Her uncle has been less than forthcoming, and as the first installment takes off, readers learn that a war between Werewolves and Vampires once plagued the lands, but since the ONE came, they have all disappeared.  But, have they?

The first novella, approximately 70 pages give or take, chronicles Mila’s abhorrence as the truth about her parents emerges, and I loved her characterization.  She is definitely the heroine of the story, but knowing O’Rourke, some terrible events are bound to take place for this young adventurer.  While her lover, Flint, seems to be another main character in this series, I am interested to see how their relationship pans out in the next few installments.  I like him, but I’m not sold on him yet.

And of course, there are O’Rourke’s sprinkle of creepy moments when the possibility of tragedy, horror, and death take the forefront.  I love how he keeps me on my toes, nervous for the characters, but always dying to know what happens next.

Five Stars for Part 1

5 starsGrab part 1 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS TwoPart 2:

I made the mistake of starting the second installment in the Werewolves of Shade Serial late at night. I know better, I really do; I’ve read nearly all of O’Rourke’s work, and I know that the suspense and horror he places in his books means I should never, ever, pick these up at night–I have a rather active dreamscape fraught with nightmares–but I just couldn’t help myself. The first installment ends on an enticing cliffhanger, and I just HAD TO KNOW what happens next. So I started the second portion immediately, and I was not disappointed.

Mila has made it to her destination, the town of Shade, but something lurks in the darkness, and the few people she finds in the town are… less than forthcoming. I can’t decide who I like more: the sweet and sexy Rush or the frustrating and sardonic Calix. For those who’ve read O’Rourke’s Kiera Hudson series (and if you haven’t, please do!), I’d almost liken Calix to a younger version of Potter, and I just love Potter… so I’m torn between the characters.  But neither seem to be very truthful, and their sudden appearance, almost out of thin air, has me suspecting that they aren’t all that they seem… making me wonder just who they truly are, and whether they’re for or against Mila.

And, I am about to pick up the third installment right now, because once again there is a lovely cliffhanger, and I am dying to know what happens next. Especially as some events in this novel, such as a lack of blood where there should be blood, and that penetrating glare from what seems to be distant eyes–but are they?–has me on pins and needles.

Five Stars for Part 2

5 starsGrab part 2 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS ThreePart 3:

The story just keeps getting better and better as the plot thickens.  Every time I think that I know what’s happening, or who these characters really are, O’Rourke throws another wrench into the story, and I find myself derailed yet again.  Truthfully, this is part of the allure of O’Rourke’s books for me–I love that he always keeps me guessing.

As I previously mentioned in my review of Part 2 of this series, Calix is indeed very much like Potter from the Kiera Hudson Series.  The similarities continue to abound, and I find myself falling in love with his cocky mannerisms, especially when it comes to Mila and his interactions. Do I trust him? Not as far as I can throw him, but as I get to know him, I’m really enjoying the banter and his overall self-importance.

Of course, the already eerie series is beginning to take on a more gruesome feel as there is a death of a minor character, yet it’s jarring all the same, especially when the reader gets to the cliffhanger and realizes that not everything, or every DEATH, it what it seems…  I had chills as I read the final paragraph, and I am so excited to start part four right now.  This is just too good to put down.

Five Stars for Part 3

5 starsGrab part 3 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS FourPart 4:

I’ve been reading each part of this series faster and faster through all the plot twists and turns, and I just can’t get enough.  The people of Shade are strange yet alluring, and while Mila seems to be second guessing herself and making some terrible decisions, I just can’t look away, even though I’m finding myself constantly yelling at her through the pages.  I’ve said, “don’t do that!” at least five times in this installment alone, and I can only imagine it’s going to continue and O’Rourke works up to the climax of the series.

O’Rourke always hits the ground running and completely takes me by surprise; in each of the installments so far, he’s left readers with a cliffhanger that has made me, personally, dying to read the next installment, and I love how he’s able to create suspense and terror in each one of these short novellas.  At approximately 70 pages, one would think that the story would grow stale, but such is not the case with the Werewolves of Shade series. I’ve been on pins and needles as Mila uncovers eerie truth after eerie truth, and while it doesn’t all make sense yet, I know it eventually will… though I’m seriously beginning to wonder if any of what Mila’s uncovered is real, or if she’s just imagining it all, like Calix and Rush keep asserting.

I feel I have a good handle on who, or what, the people of Shade are, but there are so many different directions this series is going that I’m just not sure anymore. On to part 5.

Five Stars for Part 4

5 starsGrab part 4 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS FivePart 5:

Things are starting to get really out of hand in the town of Shade–who to trust and what’s real versus what’s fantasy have me, and Mila, scratching our heads as this roller coaster of a story unfolds.  But I’m loving it.  What I thought I knew has been thwarted by a few intense events that have happened in this specific installment, and I have to admit that at one point I was so confused that I was afraid to continue… but I know O’Rourke will bring it together for me in the end, because he always does, and when I look back at all the crazy that happened in this installment after I finish the 6th and final portion of this amazing serial, I just know it’s going to come together like a perfect puzzle.

Who are the people of Shade?  Where did they come from?  What’s with the strange writing in the textbooks and on Calix’s body? Who was this Julia they speak of, and why is there a werewolf stalking Mila–is there a werewolf stalking Mila? Why aren’t the dead in the grave? What of Magic? These are just some of the questions that have arisen for me while I’m reading, and though I know O’Rourke will eventually answer them all for me, the wait is killing me!  But the ride makes it so much fun.

I love the characters, the bit of sassy romance, the strange, sensual dreams, and trying to decipher fact versus fiction in order to understand the strangeness of the townsfolk in Shade… it’s just amazing. Part 6 is going to floor me, I just know it.

Five Stars for Part 5

5 starsGrab part 5 now for just 99 cents: Amazon


WoS SixPart 6:

This final installment of the Werewolves of Shade completes the Beautiful Immortals Series One, but it’s not technically the end of the story. It does answer many questions, but also leave readers with a jarring cliffhanger, one that they might have figured out through context clues given in parts 1-6 (I didn’t, though), but I guarantee there are still questions. And since there’s so much more of the story to tell, O’Rourke has thankfully begun work on the next series, Beautiful Immortals Series Two, which is aptly titled Vampires of Maze, again written in serial parts just like Werewolves of Shade. Part one is slated to release on September 8, 2015.

And I can’t wait!

O’Rourke’s Werewolves of Shade has been an amazing ride, and while I did figure out a few of the plot twists, O’Rourke kept them coming, and the revelation at the end nicely tied together a ton of my questions that arose in parts 4 and 5, but as I already said, there is so much more to tell; so much more I need to know.

Overall, the characters in this series are very well written.  While some are more of a static character, like Rush, Mila has definitely flourished.  She’s been at war within herself over the duration of the serial, and she’s really matured and come into herself.  She extremely real, as is Calix, and I’m excited to note that one of the characters from Part 1, Flint, makes another appearance in this portion, which ties together a few loose ties concerning romance while also throwing some wrenches into the entire story.  Full of suspense, horror, mystery, and intrigue, this is a series that you simply must read; fall in love with Mila, Rush, Calix, and Flint.  Come on, September 8!  I need more!

Five Stars for Part 6

5 starsGrab part 6 now for just 99 cents: Amazon




SweetFrom Goodreads:

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:
Sweet.

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s that Tammara Webber’s novels are going to take my breath away, and her latest treasure, Sweet, definitely delivers in more ways than one. Boyce Wynn is the epitome of dreamy, sexy, and sensual; a bad boy with a soft spot for none aside from Pearl, his long-time crush, the one he let get away. Living life on the edge has always been his motto, and dealing with more than his fair share of bad, he’s hardened himself against the world. Rightfully so; with an abusive father, a mother who abandoned him long ago, and very few prospects in the world, he’s thrown himself into his father’s car repair shop. And now, Pearl’s back.

Boyce Wynn, for all intents and purposes, is my new book boyfriend. Extremely gritty and real, I felt a connection with him from the get-go. Webber has always been a master at fleshing out her fictional characters, and Wynn is no exception. His emotions and reactions are fluid and tangible, and watching him struggle with his inner self as he begins a relationship with Pearl made me feel like he was a real person in the next room. I love when I feel I’ve become part of the story, that the characters are real, and Webber definitely does this with Wynn.

Pearl is also a loveable character, sweet and caring, ready to take on the world, if her mother lets her. Her assertion over her life had me rallying behind her, and as she struggled to come to terms with her feelings for Boyce, I cheered. This novel is told is dual perspectives, a narrative style I just adore, and as Pearl reveals her thoughts both past and present, as does Boyce, the reader is given full access to their thoughts and feelings, connecting the dots of their childhood and love for one another before either of the characters. At times, I was bursting with joy and anticipation, knowing the two loved one another, waiting, just waiting for them to realize their relationship was written in the stars.

Perhaps my favorite part of the novel actually comes near the end when a person from Pearl’s past comes to wreak havoc in her life, and I was definitely shocked by the twist the novel took as I had chalked it up to a beautiful contemporary NA romance. It’s more than that, though, with a bit of mystery and some heart-pounding action that had me on pins and needles as the novel began its climax.

Although this novel is the third in the Contours of the Heart series, it is indeed a stand-alone, as are all the others. Boyce Wynn and Pearl Frank are characters from the same world as those in the other books, but this is the first novel where they are the main focus, and I loved getting to know them as much as I loved getting to know Lucas and Jacqueline in the first two books. Sweet is undeniably a novel you need to read, though it’s definitely for a more mature audience as it gets a bit hot and heavy at times. Five stars.

5 stars

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Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo |Amazon UK

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About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of EASY and BREAKABLE (Contours of the Heart series – NA), as well BETWEEN THE LINES, WHERE YOU ARE, GOOD FOR YOU and HERE WITHOUT YOU (Between the Lines series – YA/NA).

I’m a hopeful romantic who adores novels with happy endings, because there are enough sad endings in real life. Before writing full-time, I was an undergraduate academic advisor, economics tutor, planetarium office manager, radiology call center rep, and the palest person to ever work at a tanning salon.

I married my high school sweetheart, and I’m Mom to three adult kids and four very immature cats.

tammarawebber.com

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It’s HERE!  Turtle Bay by Tiffany King releases today, and let me tell you, you don’t want to miss this new YA novel by the ever talented King!  Check it out:

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Synopsis:

If you’re a teenager in a small, rural area, how do you exist when your eccentric, free-spirited parents are the town freaks everyone laughs at?

For sixteen-year-old Rainbow Honeywell—or Rain, as she insists on being called—the answer was to become the queen of all pranks. She never wanted to be a troublemaker, but the label quickly stuck when everyone in Huntsville, Kansas, became a target. All she wanted was to deflect the negative attention off her parents, but Rain’s plan backfired to the max, landing her in a heap of trouble with the local authorities and expelled from high school.

An unexpected inheritance offers Rain an opportunity for a new beginning when she and her family move across the country to the quaint beach community of Turtle Bay, Florida.

Determined to make the best of her second chance, Rain vows to walk the straight and narrow, hoping her parents will fly under the radar while she soaks up some fun in the sun, sandy beaches, and hot, tanned guys. Unfortunately, she picks the wrong new friends, and a late night party lands her back in the kind of trouble she had been hoping to avoid. As the newbie in town with a record, Rain takes the brunt of the punishment when an unforgiving judge chooses to make an example out of her and slaps her with enough community service hours to keep her busy until she is old and gray.

Facing the harsh reality of paying for the actions of others while atoning for her own past sins, Rain is paired up with Josh Shaw, a judgmental local lifeguard whose love for the beach and the environment is eclipsed only by his distaste for those who trash it. As far as Josh is concerned, Rain is guilty and got what she deserved, regardless of her side of the story. To make matters worse, a tropical storm sits in the Atlantic, threatening to wreak havoc on the small beach community.

Things slowly change as Rain begins to appreciate her surroundings through Josh’s eyes, proving she is not the person he thinks she is. Their feelings for one another blossom as the tropical storm grows into a hurricane and bears down on Turtle Bay. With impending danger looming, the small beach community must come together in order to ride out the storm.

Stay tuned for my 5 star review, coming this weekend!  Grab it now for just $2.99!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads



Contradictions

A Woodfalls Girls Novel

unnamedby Tiffany King

“Without a doubt, the chemistry between the party-girl heroine and the geeky-but-adorable hero is off the charts explosive.”—RT Book Reviews

 “Fun, fandom, romance and the perfectly sweet kind of opposites attracting.”—NY Times Bestselling author, Jay Crownover 

 Release Day

January 6, 2015

 Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo

When everything starts spinning out of control . . .

Three years into college, Tressa Oliver’s life is a nonstop party. She’s skating by in her classes, and there’s no shortage of drinking, dancing, and general hell-raising. The only aspect that hasn’t been much fun: She can’t shake the toxic jerks that always seem to gravitate toward her.

It will take someone totally wrong . . .

Trent James is the classic anti–bad boy: smart, boring, and way too serious. To a wild girl like Tressa, there’s no way in hell they’re compatible—especially since Trent seems to see straight through her defenses.

To set her right.

When a college prank goes terribly wrong, Tressa starts to suspect that her partying ways are leading nowhere fast. Now she has to turn to the last person she ever thought she’d ask for help—and quickly discovers that there’s more to Trent than meets the eye . . .



It’s launch day for Rise of the Faire-Amanti (Ascendant Series #3), and Raine Thomas is celebrating with a big giveaway! Read on for more details…

Rise of the Faire-Amanti

Book Blurb:

Stranded in the desolate Dark Lands, Kyr and Ty share a bittersweet reunion. Alametria lies on the brink of darkness. Their people are still reeling, believing she’s dead at Ty’s hands. With no other choice, many have turned to the Guardians and Advisor Vycor for guidance, never suspecting they’re being led to slaughter.

Kyr and Ty encounter overwhelming challenges in their fight to save their people: a deadly environment, murderous Marauders, and powerful protections preventing them from reaching the palace. When the journey itself could mean their deaths, the one thing that keeps them going is the thought of bringing VycorDane to justice.

Facing a battle on multiple fronts, lacking resources, and significantly outnumbered, Kyr and Ty must rely on each other in the race to save their planet. Will they beat the odds and restore peace to Alametria…or will Vycor’s evil destroy them all?

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Excerpt:

Turning so he faced Kyr, he lifted a gloved hand to her shoulder. Are you sure you want to do this?

She nodded, but he saw the rapid pulse in her neck belying her fear. They were both struggling to ignore the flight reflex pounding in their minds.

He considered walking to the storage bay and pulling out the sleeping pallets Gren had packed for their use, but he worried that taking even that much time would have them both abandoning this plan and giving in to the protections. Instead, he bent down and kissed her.

The feel and taste of Kyr shoved every other thought to the far corners of his mind. Although it had only been a few days since he last touched her like this, he felt like a starving man being offered a sumptuous buffet. Her soft lips eased open beneath his, begging him to deepen the kiss. He obliged, rubbing his tongue against hers as she tasted him just as thoroughly.

He ached to touch her. He broke away from her long enough to yank off his goggles and gloves. She hastily did the same. As if of one mind, they didn’t stop there, stripping out of their flight gear with quick, purposeful movements. When Ty was done, he helped Kyr remove the rest of her clothing. Then they came together in a mad rush, their mouths once again finding each other in a searing kiss.

Open your mind to me, Kyr thought. Only to me.

Yes. Only you.

He barely processed her demand over the raging need coursing through his body, but understood what she wanted. Since their first time joining here in the Dark Lands, he had learned that he had to keep a barrier between them when they made love. If he didn’t, they ran the risk of their joined power spiraling out of control like it had that time. On the more practical side, there was also the fact that if he allowed himself to feel everything she felt, their lovemaking would be over practically before it started.

Trust in us, she encouraged him as her hands ran along the muscles of his arms and chest.

Heedless of the consequences, he did as she asked, fully opening his mind to hers.

 

Buy Rise of the Faire-Amanti:

Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ B&N ~ iBooks ~ Kobo

 

Haven’t read the first two books in the series? Start with Return of the Ascendant today!

 

Buy Return of the Ascendant:

Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ B&N ~ iBooks ~ Kobo

 

WATCH THE SERIES TRAILER

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About the Author:

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Connect with Raine:

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~Linkedin ~ Website ~ Blog

Amazon Author Page

 

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the launch of Rise of the Faire-Amanti, Raine is offering a Kindle Paperwhite to one lucky winner! This giveaway will only run for TWO DAYS (12/14 & 12/15).

To enter, please visit Raine’s author page on Facebook and Like, Comment (on the giveaway post), and Share. You could win a Kindle just in time for the holidays!



So. I was tagged by Mafs Crazy Book Life, along with the rest of the No Blog Left Behind Crew, to complete The Taylor Swift Book Tag—a series of questions about books based on Swift’s song titles.

Truthfully, I don’t really listen to music unless it happens to be on the radio as I drive to and from work, so I can’t say that I’m a huge Swift fan, or a fan of any music artists, really, but I am a fan of all things books, and this is a book tag… so I’m all in!

I’m also tagging Val and Jess of Stuck In Books to do it, too–and all my readers are more than welcome to scoop up the questions and create your own blog/vlog post.  Make sure you tag me back so I can read/watch your posts, too!

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QUESTIONS:

Ghosting1. Red: Pick a book with a RED cover.

This was hard because I feel like there aren’t a ton of red covered books—at least, not ones I’ve read. However, I did recently read Ghosting by Edith Pattou, and as you can see, that’s definitely a RED cover. Truthfully, I think the cover itself is actually kind of bland—there isn’t much to look at aside from the glaring red and the origami bird… but the story inside makes up for the cover tenfold. If you like poetic-like stories, then this free-verse novel is for you. It’s jarring because it’s so vastly different in style, but it’s a great read if you stick with it.

Synopsis:

On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.

 Read my review 4.5 star HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Looking for Alaska2. The Best Day: Pick a book that makes you feel nostalgic.

Looking for Alaska by John Green is definitely my nostalgic read. This story is a mashup of my highschool/college years. Many of the situations, thoughts, and feelings of the characters are spot on with events that happened in my life between ninth grade and my sophomore year of college, and every time I read this novel, it rips me apart, but also reminds me of everything good that happened in-between the struggles of love and loss.

Synopsis:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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White Hot Kiss3. Love Story: Pick a book with forbidden love.

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This novel actually has two forbidden loves—one due to Layla’s deadly kiss—she can never be with Zayne, the gargoyle boy she grew up loving, and one due to intense evil—she cannot fall in love with Roth, the prince of the demons, the very enemy she’s sworn to fight against. (Stay tuned to the blog—November 1 I’ll have a giveaway for a signed copy and lots of swag.)

Synopsis:

One kiss could be the last

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne …it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

 Read my 5 star review HERE.

 

 Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Wuthering Heights4. I Knew You Were Trouble: Pick a book with a bad character you couldn’t help but love.

My character, Heathcliff, comes from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I read this story long ago as a high school student, and I fell in love with Heathcliff almost instantaneously. He’s the underdog, treated like crap by his adopted relatives, but he betters himself and, using deceit and stealth, comes out on top. His adopted family hurt him irreparably emotionally, and while he’s technically a psychopath, I suppose, I understand where he’s coming from and I just adore him.

Synopsis:

Emily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights remains one of literature’s most disturbing explorations into the dark side of romantic passion. Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.

Set amid the wild and stormy Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights, an unpolished and devastating epic of childhood playmates who grow into soul mates, is widely regarded as the most original tale of thwarted desire and heartbreak in the English language.

 Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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MockingJay5. Innocent: Pick a book that someone ruined the ending for.

Well, that would have to be Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins. But the ending wasn’t ruined for me. Who ruined the ending, then? Well, I did. I ruined it for all my students last month when we were having a psychological discussion about characters and their motivations in novels. One of my students was saying that Gale was a stand up character morally, while Katniss and Peeta had ulterior motives and were less than honest… I called Gale a baby killer for what he ultimately does to Primrose, and the whole class gasped and freaked out. My bad. I thought they knew the ending—they started it. #notmyfault

Synopsis:

My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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The Tyrant's Daughter6. Everything Has Changed: Pick a character from a book who goes through extensive character development.

Laila, the main character in The Tyrants Daughter, by J.C. Carleson, goes from complete ignorance about her father’s dictatorship and her country’s wars to seeing it from the perspective of the rest of the world. It’s just amazing; it made me really stop and think about how we see our own surrounding world and how others see something completely different.

Synopsis:

THERE: In an unnamed Middle Eastern country, fifteen-year-old Laila has always lived like royalty. Her father is a dictator of sorts, though she knows him as King—just as his father was, and just as her little brother Bastien will be one day. Then everything changes: Laila’s father is killed in a coup.

HERE: As war surges, Laila flees to a life of exile in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Overnight she becomes a nobody. Even as she adjusts to a new school and new friends, she is haunted by the past. Was her father really a dictator like the American newspapers say? What was the cost of her family’s privilege?

Far from feeling guilty, her mother is determined to regain their position of power. So she’s engineering a power play—conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to gain a foothold to the throne. Laila can’t bear to stand still as yet another international crisis takes shape around her. But how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Scare Crow7. You Belong With Me: Pick your most anticipated book release.

Scare Crow by Julie Hockley. It took years for this sequel to Crow’s Row to release, but I was so in love with Cam and Emily’s story that I never forgot them, and reading the sequel felt like I’d never had down time in between the two stories. For many sequels, I have a hard time remembering all the details and I have to go back and re-read the first installment in order to remember everyone, but Hockley’s novels were seamless for me. It was just so beautiful when it finally did release. Now I’m waiting on book three.

Synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old Emily Sheppard is losing her sanity.

Ever since her mob king boyfriend, Cameron Hillard, abandoned her for her own good, Emmy has been attempting to move on with her charmed college student life as if nothing happened.

Now rejected from the underworld and left grieving over Cameron’s alleged death, Emmy realizes she belongs nowhere.

Worse yet, she is now keeping a dangerous secret.

After just a short time with Emily, Cameron has lost control over his world.

As he miserably attempts to return to what is left of his life and unravel the mess he has made of the underworld, Emily’s hate turns to desperation. She needs to kill the kingpins responsible for Cameron’s death before they come looking for her.

As Cameron secretly observes Emily, he has no idea of the danger he has placed her in—or that it may already be too late for him to save her.

Scare Crow is a tale of revenge, terror, and love as Emmy and Cameron embark on separate journeys to face enemies, correct past mistakes, and…………..

find their way to their destinies.

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Return of the Ascendant8. Forever and Always: Pick your favorite book couple.

That would have to be Kyra and TaeDane from Return of the Ascendant by Raine Thomas. Kyra and Tae are absolutely AMAZING and swoonworthy and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!! The third book is going to release soon enough, and I just can’t wait! This has been an extremely amazing series and I just adore Kyra and Tae. Mmm.

Synopsis:

Expecting to enjoy another typical college night at a frat party with friends, Kyra Vaughn’s plans derail when she’s almost killed…twice. Her savior, a tall, sexy stranger who calls himself TaeDane, claims that he’s the personal bodyguard for the Ascendant of Alametria. She’s convinced he’s crazy.

Especially when he insists that she’s the Ascendant.

With dark enemies hunting her down, Kyra has no choice but to trust her supposed bodyguard. Ty vows to help her remember her past and return her safely to Alametria, but someone seems intent on interfering, challenging his abilities at every turn.

As Kyra’s memories emerge, she remembers that Ty is more to her than he’s let on…much more than he’s allowed to be. She’ll also discover that there are many things about her planet and herself that she’d rather forget. In the end, she’ll have to make a choice: cling to the life she knows, or risk it all to become the person she’s destined to be. 

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Alienated9. Come Back, Be Here: Pick the book you would least like to lend out, for fear of missing it too much.

Alienated by Melissa Landers. This “out of this world” novel swept me away from the very beginning. It is so so so very good, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. February is too far away. I gushed about it was weeks to my students after I read it, and now I’m the proud owner of a personalized, signed copy that my friends picked up for me during RT this past year.

Synopsis:

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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River in the Sea10. Teardrops On My Guitar: Pick a book that made you cry a lot.

River in the Sea by Tine Boscha. I mean, wow. This novel is intense and absolutely amazing. I don’t think words can do it justice. You just have to read it, and make sure tissues are on hand.

Synopsis:

At fifteen, Leen De Graaf likes everything she shouldn’t: smoking cigarettes, wearing red lipstick, driving illegally, and working in the fields. It seems the only thing she shares with her fellow Dutchmen is a fear of the German soldiers stationed nearby and a frantic wish for the war to end.

When a soldier’s dog runs in front of Leen’s truck, her split-second reaction sets off a storm of events that pitches her family against the German forces when they are most desperate – and fierce. Leen tries to hold her family together, but despite her efforts, bit by bit everything falls apart, and just when Leen experiences a horrific loss, she must make a decision that could forever brand her a traitor, yet finally allows her to live as her heart desires.

Inspired by the life of the author’s mother, River in the Sea is a powerful and moving account of one girl reaching adulthood when everything she believes about family, friendship, and loyalty is questioned by war.

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Twilight11. Shake It Off: Pick a book that you love so much, you just shake off the haters

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers. This is the series that got me back into reading way back when… I also feel like it really was the turning point for YA literature—they’re the books that got my students interested in reading again. Since then, so many amazing novels have released, and I love it!

Synopsis:

About three things I was absolutely positive:

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

When Bella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

What Bella doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Under Different Stars12. Out Of The Woods: Pick a book couple that is so frustrating because you just need them to be together already!

Definitely Kricket and Trey from Under Different Stars by Amy Bartol.  I was frustrated with theie “relationship” in the beginning.  Though Trey was kind of a jerk in the beginning, I just knew that they needed to be together–to throw off their pretentious dislike of one another, so I was beyond happy when they finally did. Dying for book two!

Synopsis:

All she wants is a home, but can she find one…UNDER DIFFERENT STARS

Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket’s gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?

Read my 5 star review HERE.

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Review:Neurotica

From Goodreads: If you find yourself talking to Jayne Dandy, keep the conversation on Star Wars and rubber ducks—best not to mention men, dating, or S-E-X. Because Jayne is fine with the way things are: writer of obituaries and garage sale ads by day, secret scribe of adventures in distant galaxies by night. But her crippling fear of intimacy has made her the butt of jokes since forever, and hiding behind her laptop isn’t going to get her lightsaber lit.

After her therapist recommends that she write erotica as a form of exposure therapy, Jayne joins forces with pen and paper to combat the demons that won’t let her kiss and tell. Unexpectedly downsized at work, she adopts a pseudonym and secretly self-publishes one of her naughty books to make ends meet. When her adorable, long-time friend Luke, co-owner of the popular Portland food truck Luke Piewalker’s, hears she’s been demoted, he insists on hiring her to sling éclairs and turnovers at his side. Her secret must be kept, but sparks ignite between them, sending Jayne and her X-Wing into a tailspin that will either make her face down her neuroses or trigger a meltdown of Death Star proportions.

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This novel is absolutely amazing, giving readers an in-depth look at the indie publishing world through the eyes of Jayne, a young woman who struggles with intimacy.  Jayne, better known to her readers as Jaina Jacen, is an intriguing character who innocently enough begins a maelstrom when her erotica books take off in the ebook world–a feat Jayne never imagined, nor wanted.  Published under a pseudonym and only in hopes of making ends meet, Jayne’s world is turned upside down when the demand for more, including public appearances and signings, become a reality she cannot ignore.  But these books were never supposed to hit it big, and no one is supposed to know her true identity, especially not her family nor Luke, the friend who is really interested in so much more.  This conundrum adds much humor to the novel as it takes off, and Gordon’s writing style kept me captivated from the very beginning.  Jayne is such a sweet, shy character, and watching her try to dodge all romance, while in the throes of writing and publishing erotica behind closed doors, makes for a great read, perhaps more so because it’s 100% clean.

Though I am indeed a prude and dislike heavy sex in my novels, I have to admit that Gordon MADE me WANT to read Jayne’s fictional books just to know what all the hubbub was about throughout this enticing story.  Gordon really does an amazing job keeping readers on edge, snickering, and in love with all the characters as this humorous story unfolds, making it a must read. Especially as Luke is such a great guy.  And perhaps my favorite part is that it’s completely clean. While Jayne does write erotica, Gorgon keeps this NA novel PG, which is exactly where it needs to be to get the point across.

If you’re looking for a hilarious, clean, introspective read, then look no further that Neurotica.  Five stars.

5 stars
I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Top Ten Movie Scores for Jayne (aka. Jaina Jacen) While Writing:

One way Jayne Dandy deals with the complexities of Life and Related Topics is through her love of writing. (What a *novel* idea!) Though she starts out penning stories in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, her therapist encourages her to try a little erotica to help her work through her intimacy issues. Think of it as exposure therapy, as in, write us a story about naked bits and the people attached to them! But when circumstances of the unemployed type dictate that Jayne find a new way to pay the rent, she decides that sending her naughty stories out into the Big Bad World to earn their keep just might work.

Like many writers, Jayne relies on auditory inspiration—music! What would her playlist look like? Well, if Jayne is anything like me (and I dare say she might be, at least atiny bit), she listens to movie scores. Because lyrics, while awesome, make a writer stop and sing and possibly dance. (I’ve been known to dance while writing. Which means no writing gets done. Just a lot of embarrassment, especially if the windows are open and the neighbors can see in.Although last time I put an open guitar case on the lawn and made $4.85. Groove on, baby!)

The following is a list of five fantastic movie scores with romantic overtones that Jayne—or, I mean, Jaina Jacen—might have listened to while breathing life into her erotic novels:

Pride and Prejudice, Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Leap Year, Randy Edelman

Winter’s Tale, Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams

Romeo and Juliet, Abel Korzeniowski

Twilight Saga: New Moon, Alexandre Desplat

And what about when she’s writing her sci-fi stuff? This list could go on and on. Here are Jayne’s ten favorites:

Man of Steel, Hans Zimmer

Guardians of the Galaxy, Tyler Bates

Godzilla, Alexandre Desplat

Inception, Hans Zimmer

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe(Never underestimate the awesomeness of video game scores!)

Divergent, Junkie XL

Captain America: Winter Soldier, Henry Jackman

Thor: The Dark World, Brian Tyler

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Howard Shore

The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, James Newton Howard

I LOVE movie scores because they are already a story all their own. Often I purchase movie scores without seeing the films they belong to as then the music molds to whatever I have going on in my own head, in my own fantasy worlds—I dare say Miss Jayne thinks along those same lines. There’s nothing like a heart-slamming chase scene or face-melting love scene done in music to really get those creative juices flowing. And when writing her erotica, Jayne Dandy needs all the creative juices she can get.

Happy reading!

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Eliza Gordon

About the Author:

A purveyor of fictions, Eliza Gordon has excellent taste in books, shoes, movies, and friends, and questionable sanity in the realm of love. Best leave that one alone. www.elizagordon.com

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Illusions of FateFrom Goodreads: Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

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This novel pulled me in from the get go with its alluring magic and snarky, realistic characters. I absolutely adored it, and I am really hoping that there will be more novels set in this world. While a stand-alone, I’d love some companion novels or, better yet, a sequel. But, as it is, perfection abounds. If you’re a lover of Downton Abbey and all things paranormal, then this is definitely the novel for you. Similar to the hidden world of Harry Potter, White’s archaic world gives an old-world, realistic feeling to readers, and it exists exactly how I expect the early 1900s to have existed in Europe, but with a catch. Unbeknownst to the populace, the upper class possess magical traits, passed down through their lineage, adding an air of mystery and intrigue to this novel as the plot unfolds. And I loved every moment of it!

Jessamin is a wonderful, snarky, quick-witted character, and I just loved her interactions with my dear swoonworthy Finn. While utterly infuriating, Finn is indeed the epitome of the perfect man, and I really enjoyed getting to know him, as well as watching his and Jessamin’s love grow. Jessamin is a strong character, set in her ways, full of pride, and it was amazing to watch her carry on, especially once she was pulled into the magical war between Finn and Lord Downpike—a despicable man we just love to hate.

I have to admit that White had me on pins and needles as the novel progressed, especially near the end then the other show seemed to drop and I feared the worst. Thankfully, White does tie the end up with a nice bow, leaving readers exhaling in relief—and in my opinion, White also leaves the ending open enough that there could be more to come, should she choose to write it. And as I said, I hope she does. Five amazing stars!

5 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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JOrdyn TFBFrom Goodreads: By USA Today Bestselling Author Tiffany King comes the final installment in the Daemon Hunter Series.

I have finally come to grips with the purpose of my existence. I am a weapon in the battle against evil. Accepting that doesn’t mean I can’t still wish to have a normal life sometimes.
Well…Normal in my world.

My friends and family members are angelic beings, my boyfriend is an ex soul trader, and most of my time is spent training and hunting daemons.

After rescuing my friends from an eternity of torture in the Caverns of Gloom, I may have accidentally opened a gateway to hell, unleashing an army of daemons to run wild throughout the city.

Once again, I will do what I was created to do.

I am the only hope. I am Jordyn.

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This novella is the perfect end to the amazing Deamon Hunter series, and I just adore it. Tiffany King is a master storyteller, able to transcend genres from the paranormal to contemporary, YA to NA; King had indeed written some amazing novels, and the paranormal YA Daemon Hunter series is definitely one of my favorite series out there. A spinoff to Kings first ever series, The Savings Angels, the Daemon Hunter series is its own story; no need to read The Savings Angels series to understand what’s happening in any of the three Deamon Hunger books, but since The Saving Angels series is so amazing, you’re going to want to. Trust me.

This final installment is, like the title denotes, a final battle between heaven and hell. Jordyn, a daemon killer created by heaven, is a kick butt character who is strong yet fragile, smart yet wild, capable yet unsure of herself, and King blends these traits all together to create a realistic young woman set on doing what’s right, what she’s been created to do, even if that means giving the ultimate sacrifice. Jordyn is far from perfect, though, and her inner monologue, questioning of herself, show her vulnerability, a side she attempts to hide from all those around her.

This novella is indeed sad, but triumphant as well—King delivers punch after punch in this amazing conclusion, and readers will find themselves on pins and needles as the final battle looms ever closer. Five stars.

5 stars

I received this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review.

ONLY $1.87

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And make sure you pick up book one in the series, Jordyn, on sale right now for FREE!

Jordyn

And pick up book two, Jordyn and the Cavern of Gloom, for just $3.99, too!

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WhisperReview:

From Goodreads: The Cherokee believe when a person dies, their soul is reborn. Life is repeated. An endless cycle of lessons to be learned, love to be found, destiny to be fulfilled. For the past six months, in every flower, every bird, I’ve imagined my parents, relieved of their human forms.
Now, after five months at the Skye View Wellness Center, it was summer. A time for parties and friends, but that’s the last thing I want to do. So when my best friend Erin convinces me to attend a bonfire at Eagle Point, I can’t handle the crowd full of sympathetic stares or drunken class clowns who would use my tragedy as a way into my heart – or my pants. The solitude of the woods offers an escape, until I stumble upon a boy, unconscious and bleeding, his pockets stuffed not with identification but with poetry illustrating the beauty of dying. I’ve seen enough death. I will not leave this boy’s side.

Even after he wakes, when the only thing he can remember are visions of events that haven’t happened yet…

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When I heard that Heather Hildenbrand was updating and re-releasing her wonderful novel, Whisper, I was beyond excited. I first read this novel back in 2012, and I thoroughly enjoyed it then. And knowing that scenes were going to change, new events would be occurring, and that the relationship between Hildenbrand’s characters would be turned up a notch had me eagerly awaiting this novel for a re-read, and let me just say, it’s perfection.

Whisper is not like any of Hildenbrand’s other novels; it’s completely unique to her writing style yet still innately hers through and through. It’s a captivating read, tackling the very real issue of grief, while putting a supernatural spin on it.  While Hildenbrand has written many supernatural novels before, this novel has a more contemporary feel, and it’s attention to the tough topics of death and redemption are hard hitting, but extremely beautiful.  Truth be told, not all readers are going to understand Whisper’s feelings or struggle to move on with her life if they haven’t experienced such debilitating grief in their own lives, so it may seem a bit slow to some readers; it’s not an action novel (not until near the end, that is).  Yet, while it does start out slow, that’s the nature of this story; it’s not meant to be a fast-paced gripping novel, but rather one of love and grief.  Those feelings wouldn’t be portrayed correctly if it moved any faster than it does, and I, personally, enjoyed this slower paced novel, allowing me to connect with the characters in a more real, vivid way than action packed novels tend to do.

Dylan is a most amazing character. He completes Whisper in a way that automatically brings a smile to my face, and I just adore him. Hildenbrand did a phenomenal job fleshing out her characters so well, especially Whisper, making the reader really feel for her, and all the characters, for that matter. Whisper’s grief is palpable and her character drudged up some long buried feelings I had concerning my own grief.  Likewise, Taregan caused me to feel immense hatred, and yet, Hildenbrand was able to make me still feel sorry for him in the end; the fact that she actually made me feel for the one character I couldn’t stand is a testament to Hildenbrand’s sheer writing capabilities, and I really enjoyed this story, especially the Cherokee folklore, magic, and overall presence of the novel. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

I loved the changes in the novel as well. Hildenbrand has smoothed over some areas, added some steam, and she’s indeed changed the entire ending to create a more fluid conclusion. And I loved every minute of it. While I didn’t realize it the first time I read the novel a few years back, these updates bring about a real sense of connectivity, and they have strengthened the novel tenfold. If you haven’t read this novel yet, or even if you have, this updated re-release is a must read. Five stars.

5 stars

I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Whisperteaser

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Excerpt:

I still couldn’t believe Dad’s good news. Months and months of research. Unceasing energy and determination. I hadn’t allowed myself the belief that it wouldn’t work. There was too much at stake for the animals. Especially Dolly. And now she was coming home to live with me instead of that nasty excuse for a trainer. I’d won!

I ate standing up. The microwave never cooked evenly so the outside edges were hotter than the middle. I didn’t care. I was starved. I didn’t even bother to chew until the fifth bite.

Footsteps in the hall behind me signaled Tinker must be off the phone. I waited for him to pick up our previous conversation, or tell me about some part of his day that I’d missed while stuck inside the walls of learning. But there was only silence. I turned and found him standing in the kitchen doorway, his hands limp at his sides and the most confused expression I’d ever seen on his face.

“Tinker?”

No answer.

He stared at a spot on the wood-planked wall that bordered the breakfast nook. My eyes followed his and I found a tiny cross-stitched plaque that read “Home Is Where the Heart Is” in blue thread. Grandma had sewn it years before I’d been born.

“Tinker?” I repeated. “Who was on the phone?”

“A friend of mine, lives down by Port Creek.” His voice was distant, hollow.

I hadn’t been worried until the moment our eyes locked. When they did, it felt like a tidal wave rushing up to meet me. Suddenly, I knew that whatever he was about to say would be very, very bad.

“Whisper …”

The doorbell rang, its chime echoing through the otherwise still house. I stared back at Tinker. Something final rested in his eyes. The only time I’d ever seen him look like that …

“I’ll get it,” I said around the lump in my throat.

I tossed the spaghetti aside and went to the door, sliding carefully by Tinker on my way. I didn’t want to touch him. It was something about the energy he gave off, and I knew if I touched him it would infect me. He didn’t move to follow.

I pulled open the door and found a man in a dark uniform staring back at me. The shiny silver buttons on his shirt matched a gleaming badge on his belt loop. His hat was big enough that, had it been yellow, this could’ve been a scene from Curious George Goes to Colorado.

“Ms. Whisper Grant?” he asked. His thin lips arched into a frown when he spoke.

“Yes?” I said. Tinker came up behind me. I felt his hand come down heavily onto my shoulder.

“I’m State Trooper Nelson. This is Hefley.” He gestured to another man off to the side, who I hadn’t even noticed, on the porch but away from the light of the door. His expression matched the first man’s. If they were going for gentle or caring, the twist in their lip ruined it.

Nelson consulted a single sheet of paper attached to the clipboard he held. “Says here your birthday was three weeks ago. You’re eighteen now. Is that correct?” he asked without looking up.

“Correct,” I confirmed. “Can I help you?” I asked. I felt the spray of another approaching wave and braced myself.

“Guess that makes you the official emergency contact.” He sighed like he’d hoped for a different answer. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. There was an accident. On the bridge near Port Creek. A pickup truck went over the embankment. The vehicle was registered to a Shawn and Anna Grant. They are your parents, I believe? A man at the scene said he knew you, gave us your address.”

Tinker’s hand squeezed into my shoulder.

That’s the last thing I remember of that night.

In fact, much of the next few weeks and months that followed is still a blur. Including the night I downed a pill bottle full of Xanax and went to sleep. Even after five months at Skye View, I still can’t remember it all. Over time, it’s become easier to cope with the missing pockets of time. To cope with the numbing sadness, the raging anger, the quiet desperation that came out of that moment of loss. But I’m still not me.

Tinker said I lost myself. He said it’s what animals do when the pain of loss is too much to bear. He said one day, I’ll find myself again. A new me, a version who is able to live despite the loss I’ve suffered. I told him that sounds like something Grandma would say. He said he learned it from her, and he’s learning to find himself again, too.

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About the Author:

Author of Across the Galaxy, Whisper, and the Dirty Blood series. I write, read, and fuss at my kids. Oh, and I do laundry, lots of laundry. I’m pretty good at it, too. Sometimes I even read WHILE doing laundry – and fussing at my kids. I’m a multi-tasker.

For more information on my books, release dates, or just general stalker material, um, I mean FAN material, visit my website. www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com. I love hearing from readers!

Likes and dislikes? I love vintage tees, hate socks with sandals, and if my house was on fire the one thing I’d grab is my Amazon Fire TV! (oh yeah, I’m a fan of puns.)

Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

 



The Girl From the WellFrom Goodreads: You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

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This novel is intense—from the very beginning—and scary to boot! If you’ve seen The Ring, then you’re familiar with the insanely creepy girl that crawls out of the well, out of the TV, and into the life of strangers—to kill them. Well, that very frightening girl is indeed our narrator! Talk about scary! Now, while the narrator, Okiku, is the same ghost-like figure from the movie, this is not that story. Instead, Chupeco focused heavily on the Japanese folklore surrounding Okiku’s murder and her ghostly decision to murder child killers and protect the pure of heart.

Opening with Okiku standing on the ceiling observing a vile man who has murdered a young child, the introduction quickly escalates as Okuku removes all the lights and taunts the man as she appears in his mirror, crawls out of his bathtub, and ultimately sends him screaming to his watery death. INTENSE. I began this novel on a sunny afternoon, and I had chills as I descended into this amazing story. And it only gets better from there.

As the story progresses, we see other characters through Okiku’s eye and also learn more about her and why she is haunting the world—including the circumstances surrounding her death. As the living main character, Tark comes on the scene, the ghost’s interest is piqued, and we learn much about ancient Japanese beliefs, the spirit world, and exorcisms. Of course, I saved the novel for the nighttime because I do enjoy a good scare, and that’s exactly what I got…

The writing is unique, and our ghost, Okiku, is fascinated with numbers, hence, her constant counting throughout the novel. While generally a silent entity throughout, observing those around her but rarely speaking with them, we still learn so much about her and, as Tark’s darkness becomes ever more present, the things that go bump in the night will leave narrators completely and utterly petrified. I loved the characterization, and while not all the events seemed plausible to me in terms of how Tark’s father treated him, etc., the eerie nature of the novel has be almost believing in ghosts myself…

This novel is great–from the scare factor to the characterization, I was in love from the very beginning. Read it. You don’t want to miss this fantastic story. Five stars.

5 starsI received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review prior to its release tomorrow, August 5, 2014.

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Under Different StarsFrom Goodreads: All she wants is a home, but can she find one…UNDER DIFFERENT STARS

Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket’s gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?

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There really are no word to convey just how much this amazing novel means to me. I am in awe of Bartol’s sheet writing capabilities; her story is so intricately woven and beautiful, drawing me in from the very first page, wrapping me up tight, and transporting me into Bartol’s amazing world of Etharians. So much love.

The characterization in Under Different Stars is amazing. Kricket is a spunky, no-nonsense, strong, capable young woman, and I loved her from the get go. Her response to her situations were amazing and plausible, and I hold her in esteem… where I would have fallen to pieces and given up, she holds fast and does everything in her power to make her own choices and follow her heart. I want to be her when I grow up.

And let’s not forget about Trey. My dear, dear Trey, who is my newest book boyfriend. Swoon. I actually hated him in the beginning; he, Jax, and Wayra were obnoxious and I was angry at them for abducting Kricket, but their humor and true, caring nature came forth as the novel unfolded, and as I got to really see their hearts and understand their purpose, as infuriating as it was, I fell hard for Trey, and his sidekicks are just the best.

This novel gave me ALL the feels. Crying, screaming, swooning, hating, loving. The entire gamut, and I connected with the characters on such a deep, beautiful level. Yes, I hate Kyon and the Etharian ruler, but even so, Bartol did such an amazing job making them real scum—and I just loved to hate them.

And I’m so glad this novel is clean. It’s actually HOTTER because it is clean, and Kricket’s virtue stays intact throughout it all, which made me such a happy girl, because I was ready to ugly cry again a few times when I thought terrible things were going to happen to her…

Speaking of which, I nearly died at 80% in the novel when Bartol wrote in a scene that had me screaming aloud (seriously, my cat was startled and ran out of the room after scratching me); my heart was in my throat and I was so very upset. Thankfully, Bartol isn’t as mean as I thought in that brief by never ending scene that scarred me.

Where is book two? It needs to be in my fat little hands right now. Right. Now.  Thankfully, it’s coming out SOON.

This is definitely a must read novel—scoop it up now, you won’t be disappointed. Five amazing stars.

5 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

 

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Two Little LiesFrom Goodreads: Lies can be very dangerous and deadly little things.

Almost four years after Laney Matthews survived a brush with death at the hands of Robbie Jameson, she has finally picked up the pieces of her life and started over. She’s made new friends, began dating again, attended countless therapy sessions, and is about to graduate in the spring from Blackburn University. Ever since that fateful night, Laney has tried to surround herself with positivity, and so far it’s been successful … but that’s all about to come crashing down.

When Laney receives news of Robbie’s release from prison, her bubble of security bursts and she begins to withdraw from everyday life. Her friends come to the rescue with a fun winter break getaway in order to clear their heads and shake off the end of semester finals. It’s here that Laney comes face to face again with Brent Lyles, the one true love that got away, and she begins to realize maybe he’s the exact thing that’s been missing in her crazy life.

Something’s amiss at the sprawling rental property though, and when things take a deadly turn, Laney and her friends are forced to fight for their lives. Has Robbie returned to finish what he started years ago? And is Laney prepared to stand up to her past demons once and for all?

The key to her survival this time though will be trust—a feeling she hasn’t embraced in quite some time.

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Two Little Lies is a heartpounding psychological thriller by the ever talented T.A. Kunz; one you seriously don’t want to miss. This novel pulled me in from the very first page and left me breathless at the end. Juxtaposing lighthearted banter with deadly intent, this mystery novel will leave you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the shoe to drop as Laney and her friends seclude themselves on a rental property in the dead of winter. Not all are going to survive the weekend…

I really enjoyed this novel! Kunz’s characterization was spot on, and I found myself seeing a bit of myself in Laney. Although I’ve never experienced anything to the extent that she has, the connection was there as I read of her insecurities and fear that the past might come back to haunt her. A survivor by nature, Laney is a strong-willed character that is forced to face her demons head on in a game of cat and mouse as the weekend unfolds, and as she learns through the many harrowing trials and tribulations, not everyone is who they profess to be.

I loved the characters, and the climax of the story really did have me on the edge of my seat, fretting about the characters and what would happen next. Kunz has created an extremely realistic and, therefore, scary world where evil pursues good, and I loved not knowing who to trust and waiting on pins and needles for the climax and the revelation that I never saw coming. This is a must read for sure. Five stars.

5 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

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Close Your Eyes Hold HandsFrom Goodreads: A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a meltdown, and both of Emily’s parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault—was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to leave their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer’s house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily can’t outrun her past, can’t escape her grief, can’t hide forever-and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.

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This is an amazing, poignant story that delves deep into the world of teen homelessness. Emily Shepherd promises to tell the whole truth; she doesn’t sugarcoat it for readers, and she sometimes strays from the topic of hand, but the novel flows beautifully and I was enamored from the very beginning.

Life hasn’t been easy for Emily, and as the final remnants of her world fall apart with the meltdown of the nuclear power plant her parents run, disappearing becomes her only option. Scared of those around her and their reception of her family name, Emily takes on a different persona and hits the streets. This gritty depiction of her life as she recalls it isn’t overly graphic, but gets the point across just the same as it comes to drugs, stealing, shelter survival, lies, and meaningless sex.

I love Emily’s voice, and I’m in awe of Bohjalian’s ability to capture the essence of a teenaged girl as she hits rock bottom, attempts to care for a young runaway she meets on the street, and ultimately giving up. Where do you go when you have absolutely no one? As Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands unfolds, readers become one with Emily as she spirals down, reminiscing about her parents and her experiences along the way.

The title has a rather profound meaning that is explained near the very end—to close your eyes to the bad all around you and walk away from the bad, holding hands with another who will help keep you grounded, but in Emily’s case, there is no one to hold hands with, and as she stumbles blindly through life, ready for death, she becomes a resilient, strong young woman who beats the odds. Five stars.

5 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This title releases today (and you really MUST read it!).

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Just-Couldn't-Put-It-Down-July - Copy

For my stop on the Just Couldn’t Put it Down Giveaway Hop, I’m giving away a signed paperback of The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay as well as lots of signed swag and goodies.  Why?  Because I just couldn’t put this book down, and swag is awesome, right?

Synopsis of The Sea of Tranquility by Kayja Millay:

Sea of TranquilityI live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

This book is AMAZING, and I was lucky enough to meet Katja Millay at Book Bash a few weeks ago, where I picked up two copies of The Sea of Tranquility, one for me, and one for giveaway, because I am always looking to give back to my faithful readers, and what better to do so than with a signed giveaway of one of my favorite books?

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Check out everything you can win:

  • UntitledSigned Paperback of The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
  • Sticker of Jordyn by Tiffany King
  • FREE Ebook Code for Soul Survivor by Michelle N. Files
  • Zipper Charm of Rout of the Dem-Shyr by Raine Thomas
  • Guitar Pick for “Post Modern Love” from the Fighting Fate Series by Paulina Ulrich

Signed Bookmarks from:

  • Bella Roccaforte—The Ink Series
  • Michelle N. Files—Soul Survivor
  • Katja Millay—The Sea of Tranquility
  • Dani Hart—A Firefighter’s Flame
  • Kristie Cook—Power
  • Tiffany King—The Saving Angels Series
  • Hollie Westring—Whispers and Wishes

Bookmarks from:

  • Angie Stanton
  • M.R. Merrick

Magnets from:

  • Elizabeth Kirke—Semester Aboard
  • Michelle N. Files
  • Shana—A Book Vacation Reviews

Cards from:

  • Tamara Rose Blodgett—The Reflective
  • Cambria Herbert—Before
  • Kelly Lynne—Celestina Silvenfare
  • Tiffany King—The Ascendant

Temporary Tattoos:

  • Angelfall
  • Alien

Buttons:

  • “SPQR—HeroesofOlympus”
  • “Flying Horse—HeroesofOlympus”

 

Excited?

To enter you must:

-Be 18 years or older (or have parent/guardian permission)

-Fill in the mandatory questions on rafflecopter (extra entries optional)

Click here to go to the Rafflecopter Entry Form!

This contest is open internationally and will end at 12:01am EST on August 17th. The winner will receive email notification! Please read my giveaway policy and leave me a comment!

To enter even more giveaway hops, jump on over to Stuck in Books to see them all, or click this linky to view all the blogs that are part of this hop.

PLEASE NOTE–This hop stop is NOT ending on July 20th like all the others.  It is going until August 17th.

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And don’t forget to enter my other epic giveaways:

 

Win a signed hardcover of Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater, an exclusive book wrapper of Sinner, and tons of signed swag–ENDS August 10

What You Win

 Win a Signed Paperback of The Mechanic by Tim O’Rourke–ENDS August 20

The Mechanic

 



et cetera
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