Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











The Reflective CauseFrom Goodreads: Could you find your soul mate in thirteen worlds… would you survive long enough to claim them?

Beth Jasper, a rare female warrior Reflective, has been momentarily freed from the brutality of Sector One, only to discover her home world of Papilio has been reshaped into chaos by Reflective Ryan. A flesh trade has ruined the female Reflectives who were unprotected while their male counterparts were held on One under Slaver Dimitri.

Her soulmate has been revealed, yet another fills her mind. Beth cannot forget Slade, the prince of the bloodlings. Their tie is undeniable. Can Beth forsake The Cause and her home planet’s ruination to forge answers to the questions raised during her brief stay on One?

Will the dissenting Reflectives find a way to exterminate the one threat to their plans of absolute control over the thirteen sectors? Can Beth, along with Jeb Merrick, save their world and uphold The Cause. Or will ancient blood ties rule Beth’s destiny.

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This amazing sequel to The Reflective, by Tamara Rose Blodgett, is indeed just as spell-binding as the first novel in the series.

I love the continuing characterization throughout this novel; Beth is a strong character, as is Maddie, and I loved watching them further come into themselves as the story progressed. Though our beloved female lead, Beth, is pulled in two directions as she wars with her feelings concerning Merrick and Slade, creating an almost triangular effect, Blodgett puts her own personal spin on it, making this relationship trope fresh and exciting as she shows that not all is fair in love and war. Filled with many trials and tribulations bordering on betrayal, the extent of deception others go to procure what is deemed theirs has no bounds. I thoroughly enjoyed the tug of war on Beth’s heartstrings throughout the novel, though I already know where my true allegiance lies.

The vast world building Blodgett has created is absolutely mind-blowing, and as the characters jump from one world to the next, it never ceases to amaze me just how realistic and complete each world is in its own right. Of course, fraught with males with abusive tendencies on what seems to be every world Beth and her companions encounter, the reader is once again left on the pinnacles of a harrowing cliffhanger; The Reflective Cause will leave readers’ with their hearts in their throats at the conclusion, dying for more, as is Blodgett’s way. I cannot wait for more. Five stars.

5 starsI received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Barnes and Noble

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PC070040About Tamara Rose Blodgett:
 
Tamara Rose Blodgett is the author of over fifty titles, including her NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling novel, A Terrible Love, and the international bestselling TOKEN serial, written under the pen name Marata Eros. Tamara writes a variety of dark fiction in the genres of erotica, fantasy, romance, sci-fi and suspense. She lives in South Dakota with her family and enjoys interacting with her readers.
SUBSCRIBE: http://tinyurl.com/TamaraRoseBlodgettNewsletter
BLOG: http://tamararoseblodgett.blogspot.com/
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Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4755913.Tamara_Rose_Blodgett
Website: www.TamaraRoseBlodgett.com


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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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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UtopYA

It’s time!  Tickets for UtopYA 2015 are officially on sale!

Make sure you scoop ’em up stat–this is one event you DO NOT want to miss.  Trust me.

Event Pricing:

Here’s the current** price range you’re looking at to attend–prices go up as we get closer to the con:

==> $90 Earlybird Standard Admission

  • 4-day pass to the UtopYA convention (UtopYACon)
  • Admission to the Saturday Public Signing Event
  • Admission to the Fourth Annual UtopYA Awards

==> $115 Earlybird VIP

  • 4-day pass to the UtopYA convention (UtopYACon)
  • Preferred Admission to the Saturday Public Signing Event
  • Preferred Admission to the Fourth Annual UtopYA Awards
  • Lunch Thursday and Friday
  • Souvenir T-shirt

BUY YOUR TICKET NOW!

I highly, highly suggest you purchase the VIP package, which is what I purchased for June 2015. Having experienced the hotel and now having inside knowledge of the layout, the VIP package is the best deal—you get lunches Thursday and Friday, so you don’t have to fight to get a table at the little restaurant, and a t-shirt is included—which you’re going to want because they’re epic AND you can have all the authors and attendees sign them—EPIC, I say!

But act fast, because prices will continue to rise as we get closer to the con date.  REFUNDS ARE available until April 30, 2015, so act now—I know it’s a few months out, and your circumstances may change, but I highly, highly suggest that you book now.**prices subject to change—I will post updated prices as they rise.

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When and Where:

Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 7:00 AM – Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 10:00 AM (CDT)

Nashville, TN

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And THIS year we have THREE keynote speakers lined up: Denise Grover Swank, Lauren Miller, and Kim Holden, on top of all the other awesomeness and authors that will be in attendance!  You really DON’T want to miss this!

Need to know more about the conference before you commit?  Click the links below to learn more and read real testaments from those who attended UtopYA 2013 and 2014:

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Testaments from 2014:

UtopYA 2014: What You Need to Know and Why You Need to Go in 2015 (a comprehensive blog post including everything you need to know about the hotel, shuttle service, travel by land or air, mailing books, the awards, what to bring with you, and the list goes on)

Check Out What People are Saying on Facebook

A Love Letter to UtopYA 2014

UtopYA Con 2014 – Take Me to Your Reader – Images and Information

Like a Virgin… HEY #UtopYA2014 For the Very First Time

#UtopYA2014 was AMAZEBALLS!

UtopYA: A Fantasy Conference Grows in Nashville—From Publisher’s Weekly

UtopYA Official Website

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Testaments from 2013

UtopYA 2013: What You Need to Know and Why You Need to Go in 2014

UtopYA: A Note To People Who Don’t Get It

Lift and Pull and Tug For That Spectacular UtopYA View

UtopYA: Why It Should Already be on Your Calendar for 2014

Impromptu Cups Song—You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone

UtopYA 2013 and Special Announcements!

Quinn Loftis and Tiffany King UtopYA 2013

UtopYA 2013! How awesome was it? This is how awesome…

Why you should attend UtopYA 2014

UtopYA, UtopYA, UtopYA

Reminiscing about UtopYA 2013

UtopYA 2013: Author Sarah Ross: Inspirational Video

Author Heather Hildenbrand talks UtopYA 2013 Video

UtopYACon…My Take Aways

My Trip To UtopYA 2013

UtopYA Con 2013 + Announcement + Ramblings

UtopYA / Quirky Chick Conference Report

UtopYA

BUY YOUR TICKET NOW!

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Questions, comments, concerns?  Let me know and I’ll do the best I can to answer them, or put you in touch with someone who can.  Also, make sure you check out UtopYA online as they continue updating their site for next year’s event.  See you there!!

 



SacrificeFrom Goodreads: Earth. Fire. Air. Water.

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick understands pressure. He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it in for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She’s got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s ‘bad luck’. Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.

They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. Everything is set for the final showdown.

Four elements, one family. Will they hold together, or be torn apart?

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Kemmerer’s Elemental series has been my guilty pleasure for a few years now. And with this novel, Kemmerer has technically closed the story with this final chapter of the Merrick brothers, giving readers Michael’s story as it all comes to a head. And yet… I’m not certain it’s really over.

Let me explain.  Kemmerer has always woven a tale that pulls readers in from the get go.  Sacrifice is no different.  By this point in the series, the Merrick brothers and their friends are like a part of my family.  I know them so well because Kemmerer really knows how to create realistic, beautiful characters, and Sacrifice is no different on this end.  The brothers, who I’ve come to love, are again faced with hardship–perhaps the worst yet, and it tore my heart in two as I read.  The emotions are real, and I just adored everything about it.  Everything, except the ending.  The ending, while a resolution that works, comes on quite fast, leaving readers with questions. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting the antagonist to be who it was, and I liked how Kemmerer threw me for a loop with the big reveal, but I didn’t understand all the aspects that went in to it. I reread it twice, but in all honestly, the ending was too neat; everything wrapped up much too quickly once all is said and done. And I still have questions. I have questions about the bad guy, about newcomer Irish, Hunter’s grandparents, the guides reactions to it all, and what’s going to happen next for the Merricks. Yes, a resolution is there, and I loved it, even though it happened a touch too fast for me and not everyone gets out unscathed, but even so, the potential for more chaos is there, too, and I’m waiting for more–for the other shoe to drop. This is a wonderful novel, and I truly enjoyed it… but I need a spinoff series…

Of course, Kemmerer did leave me stunned with one aspect that I knew was coming from the title, SACRIFICE, but still didn’t expect. I spent the next few pages hoping it’d be undone, but alas, it’s not. You might want some tissues. I think I was stunned enough that I didn’t even blink. No tears for me, it just… can’t be. Right? And it happens so fast that if you do blink, you’ll miss it. I really have no words. Except that you must read it. If this is really the end, then you just have to read it, but I’m still waiting. For more. I need more. The Merricks are a part of me now, and… I just need more. Four stars.

 

4 stars

I received this novel from Kensington Books, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases on September 30, 2014.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Brigid Kemmerer HeadshotBrigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)

Brigid writes anywhere she can find a place to sit down (and she’s embarrassed to say a great many pages of The Elemental Series were written while sitting on the floor in the basement of a hotel while she was attending a writers’ conference). Most writers enjoy peace and quiet while writing, but Brigid prefers pandemonium. A good thing, considering she has three boys in the house, ranging in age from an toddler to a teenager. You can learn more about Brigid and the Elemental boys at www.brigidkemmerer.com.

Follow Brigid:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Kemmerers Books____________________________________________

READ THEM ALL (I’ve given 5 stars to nearly every one)

Elemental Kindle | Nook (Book #0.5)
Storm Kindle | Paperback | Nook (Book #1)
Fearless Kindle | Nook (Book #1.5)
Spark Kindle | Paperback | Nook (Book #2)
Breathless Kindle | Nook (Book #2.5)
Spirit Kindle | Paperback | Nook (Book #3)
Secret Kindle | Paperback | Nook
(Book #4)
Sacrifice Kindle | Paperback (Book #5)

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Book Depository | iBooks | IndieBound

Pre-order your copy of Sacrifice today!

Klovers



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.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

 



The Write Stuff

TIFFANY KING

The Write Stuff

Available August 25, 2014

From Goodreads:

Twenty-two-year-old historical romance writer Nicole Blake, or N.S. Blake to her readers, hasn’t taken an official poll, mind you, but she is convinced she may be the only romance author on the planet who is still a card-carrying member of the virgin club.

Not that she hasn’t tried to end her membership. Life just keeps finding pesky ways to interfere. With no prospects on the horizon, Nicole begins to feel like the closest she will ever get to experiencing a man is within her own stories.

Opportunity presents itself in the form of hot-as-sin-on-a-lollipop-stick bartender/premed student Alec Petropoulos, who agrees to be the cover model for her upcoming book. Sparks fly instantly between them, and Nicole begins to entertain the possibility that she’s finally found the right guy to hand over her tattered V-card. Alec has all the makings for a perfect one-night-stand candidate except, much to Nicole’s surprise, he seems to be the only man in existence not interested in bagging a virgin.

Stuck between a rock and a stubborn male, what’s a virgin to do? Seduce him, of course. How hard could it be? If it works for the characters in her stories, why wouldn’t it work for her?

After all, what happens under the cover…stays under the cover.

AddtoGoodreads

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks

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Tiffany King new profile pictureAbout Tiffany King

USA Today Bestselling author Tiffany King is a lifelong reading fanatic who is now living her dream as a writer, weaving Young Adult and New Adult romance tales for others to enjoy. She has a loving husband and two wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iPhone and iPad, chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, zombies and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just ask.

For information on any of Author Tiffany’s titles, visit her blog at www.authortiffanyjking.blogspot.com

Where to connect with Author Tiffany

Twitter@AuthorTiffany

FacebookAuthorTiffanyKing

PinterestTiffany King

Blogauthortiffanyjking.blogspot.com

GoodreadsTiffany King

Email– authortiffany@yahoo.com

“Dreams do come true…Dream big.”



The ReflectiveFrom Goodreads: Those born Reflective are the only beings with the ability to jump between worlds. With The Cause firmly entrenched by years of highly stylized military-type training in combat of every kind, they use their natural born ability for inter-dimensional travel to police worlds where wrongdoing has overtaken civility.

As an elite Reflective, Jeb Merrick finds himself partnered with a rare female Reflective. Merrick is convinced that she can do nothing but slow him down. Beth Jasper is small, in both stature and mindset. When they are thrust together as partners, Merrick vows that she will receive the same neutral treatment as a male. Merrick cannot allow the unlikely union of Beth Jasper to get in the way of finding his prophesied soulmate. .

Beth discovers she is partnered with the cockiest of all pureblood Reflectives and struggles to maintain her composure with a hostile partner whose loyalty she doesn’t possess.

Can the Reflectives uphold The Cause, reach a point of compromise and find their chosen soulmates?

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This is another beautiful story by the ever talented Tamara Rose Blodgett, a new series that combines the world of Blodgett’s Death, Blood, and Savage series, but with a completely new cast of characters.

The Reflective are part of The Cause, policing the many world by jumping through reflective sources, such as mirrors, water, knives, and the like. The novel instantly pulls the reader in as we meet Beth, a young girl intent on becoming a warrior. Her story is intriguing, and we automatically want to know more about it. Blodgett then jumps ahead a number of years, and as Beth is finally completing her training, we learn of her ill treatment and status in a world where she is the sole female reflective warrior in a world of males. Thrust together with Jeb Merrick, an intense, extremely male warrior, her story unfolds as she and Jeb jump from world to world unintentionally wreaking havoc and upending their world as they know it.

The characterization is absoltuely superb; Blodgett has created extremely vivid, realistic characters in not only actions, but also the way they speak. Her world-building is amazing as well, and I was whisked away into this intriguing story immediatley, especially with the imagery Blodgett creates through her words. I can’t wait for more!

Complete with vampires, reflectives, savages, and earthlings, readers do meet up with some old characters from Blodgett’s other series, as well as meeting a completely new set of evildoers that will leave your blood chillled.

This is an intense read that is tons of fun, though reader beware, there is a cliffhanger that will leave you dying for more. Five stars.

5 stars

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

Amazon (99 cents) | Barnes and Noble



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.

 

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble



NEW RELEASE!

Rout Banner

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Rout of the Dem-Shyr

Rout of the Dem-Shyr by Raine Thomas (Ascendant #2)

Genre: New Adult Sci-Fi Romance

Audience: Ages 17+

 Cover Design by MaeiDesign

Review:

From Goodreads: Touted as the future ruler and savior of worlds, Ascendant KyrVawn is ready to put her growing power to good use. She intends to begin with her home planet of Alametria, where hints of corruption have infiltrated the highest levels of the palace. It’s a monumental task, but one she won’t undertake alone.

By her side is her personal bodyguard and secret lover, Dem-Shyr TaeDane. Together, they’re determined to uncover the truth behind the changes that occurred while they were off-planet…changes that violate long-standing Alametrian laws.

But it’s hard for them to champion the rules when they don’t live by them. Their love is forbidden by official decree, and with every illicit touch, they edge closer and closer to discovery and disaster. Despite their good intentions, they’ll find out that sometimes love doesn’t conquer all.

In fact, it might just be the very thing that destroys them.

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If you’re looking for an intense, sexy, powerful series that will leave you breathless, look no further. Raine Thomas’ Ascendant series is the perfect blend of action, romance, thriller, and mystery as readers are taken on a ride throughout the galaxy.

Fraught with tension, Rout of the Dem-Shyr definitely made my heart hurt as I read—especially with the opening of the story, a jaw-dropping revelation that put me on pins and needles through to the conclusion! Thomas is indeed a master storyteller, building up each scene in a way that grips readers and holds us on betted breath, and I found myself 100% invested in the storyl and its characters as it unfolded. Though my heart broke on numerous occasions, rest assured that Thomas has a rhyme and a reason behind every seemingly closed door, and in order to become stronger and ultimately win against evil, both Ty and Kyr must endure unspeakable evil and heartache.

At one point, I threw my kindle down, frustrated that the world was crashing down on my two most favorite characters in the world—evil is triumphing in this novel, and it’s a hard pill to swallow, especially because everything that Ty and Kry stand for is beautiful. Of course, I picked my Kindle back up immediately because this novel is so drawing that I just HAD TO KNOW what would happen next for Ty and Kry.  They are perfect together in every single way, and their society’s prejudices and backlashes drove me insane with hatred, and yet, it had to happen. While I wanted nothing more than for everything to work out perfectly for my hero and heroine, it just isn’t feasible, and the story would not have been as realistic should only good triumph. I had to repeat this mantra as I read, knowing that ultimately Thomas would fix it all, but the wait almost killed me.

The last few pages of this novel did, indeed, having me rejoicing, pumping my fist in the air, and squealing because… though Ty and Kry aren’t out of the woods yet, the sun is rising in the distance, and I am so excited to see them come back in book three, Rise of the Faire-Amanti, and kick evils butt once and for all. Five glorious, amazing, gut-wrenching, perfect stars.

5 stars

If you haven’t yet read book one in the series, Return of the Ascendant, be sure to scoop it up and read it first. It’s a must!

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

Buy the Book:

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

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And be sure to check out my 5 star review of book 1, The Return of the Ascendant!

The Ascendant SeriesBook 3, Rise of the Faire-Amanti is coming FALL 2014

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Watch the Ascendant Series Trailer:

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Excerpt:

“Welcome back, Ma’jah Kyr,” Zasha greeted her as she and Ty entered her chambers.

Kyr smiled. Per her request, the Wrym who worked with her every day had recently started speaking to her, though they only did so if Shaya wasn’t around. Zasha seemed the most comfortable with this change.

“Thanks, Zasha. I’m ready to get refreshed after that training session.”

“Would you like some tea, Ma’jah?”

“No, thanks.” Kyr headed straight to the bathing chamber. “I really just want to have a bath.”

Zasha hurried ahead, signaling to Heshi and J’li, the Wrym waiting to draw the bathwater. They added scented foam that filled the air with musky hints of wild tilly blossoms as the central cascade of water filled the pond-sized tub. Kyr stood compliantly so the Wrym could help her remove her lightweight armor. She noted that Ty was the only Mynder keeping watch over her bath and barely contained her smile.

“Thank you for preparing my bath, ladies,” she said once she had been completely disrobed. “But now I would like for you to give me some privacy.”

The three Wrym in the room looked at her with wide, unblinking eyes. They obviously didn’t know how to respond.

“As I’ve mentioned,” Kyr explained as she entered the scented water, “I still retain my memories from my time on Earth. I’ve found that I miss taking care of certain personal tasks on my own, including bathing. Since it’s my Day of Life celebration today, I would like to ask that you please give me the gift of privacy. I’ll call you back in here the moment I’m ready to be prepared for today’s event.”

The silence stretched for so long, she didn’t think they’d do it. Zasha was the first to recover.

“Of course, Ma’jah,” she said with a bow. “As you wish.”

She took the arms of her still-befuddled companions and hurried out of the room, closing the door behind them. Ty watched them go before turning back to her.

What was that all about?

Rather than answer him, she walked back out of the water. She had only gone in far enough to reach her waist, so it didn’t take more than a few steps to leave the water and cross the room to him. He showed no reaction as she stood naked before him, but she sensed his uncontrollable surge of desire.

It’s your Day of Life celebration, too, Dem-Shyr, she thought, reaching for the fastenings of his tunic. Others may wish to ignore that, but I refuse to. We were born on the same day, at the same time, under the same star. We’re fated to be together. That deserves celebrating.

He held her gaze as she bared his chest. This is a risk, he warned.

We live every day with risk. If we were still on Earth, we’d be celebrating with my college friends, enjoying some drinks and having a good time. I don’t see why we can’t enjoy ourselves at least a little just because we’re on our home planet.

She didn’t have to convince him any further. He took over for her, disrobing in swift, efficient movements that made her lips turn up at the corners. There was no denying he was just as excited about this daring tryst as she was. Even if his body didn’t betray him, she could read his thoughts loud and clear.

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About the Author:

Raine ThomasRaine 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.

Follow Raine

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Pinterest ~ Linkedin ~ Website ~ Blog

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 And now for the giveaway:

You could win:

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE!

 



Have you met River and Raynn yet? 

It’s time to get lost in a new world.

They found me when I was five; a little girl sitting on a bench in Grand Central Station, soaking wet, asking about the rain.

I remembered nothing about how I got there, or who my parents were. I couldn’t even remember my name. I was tagged, labeled and doomed to cycle through state care for the next twelve years; moving from one family to another. They all rejected me as the dreams began to come, the memories began to return, and things around me began to explode.

Now my mind is full of a world of shadows, things that my heart pleads with me to be true, that I hope are only fantasy. That the disturbing past I see is not mine.

When I sleep I hear whispers of magic, and of evil queens, and a world that exists alongside our own. Things that could never be. But, there is one thing I know to be true. That there was a boy who was torn from me. A boy that I know means more to me than a brother, or than a lover. But what he is to me, I am not sure. I hear him cry for me in my dreams, I hear people call him The Catalyst.

I know I need to find him.

I wouldn’t have tried, if I would have known that finding River, would have made all my dreams turn into a haunting reality.

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Check out Rebecca Ethington’s YouTube page for some live interactive videos of River & Raynn

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwKr4zggGMlbSzTqQGaYVCA
Check out the Of River & Raynn official website

http://riverandraynn.com/

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Check out this amazing giveaway Rebecca Ethington has running now!

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Rebecca Ethington is a story teller and author from Salt Lake City, Utah. She has been telling stories since she was small. First, with writing crude scripts, and then in stage with years of theatrical performances. Rebecca’s first stint into the world of literary writing, The Imdalind Series, was released in October 2012 and since its release each book has been found in several top 100 lists on Amazon. Rebecca is a mother to two, and wife to her best friend of 14 years. Her days are spent writing, running, and enjoying life with her crazy family.

Website † Facebook † Twitter † GoodReads

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Rebecca Ethington is also a featured author at Chapter by Chapter BookRave in NY on September 20th! YA BOWLING, ADULT/NEW ADULT Mingling party! Get your tickets today! Book Signing FREE and open to the public.
For the full author list visit: www.cbcevent.com


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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River in the SeaFrom Goodreads: 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 events experienced by the author’s mother, River in the Sea is a powerfully moving account of one girl reaching adulthood when everything she believes about family, friendship, and loyalty is questioned by war.

Readers who want to immerse themselves in a story with both a plot and characters that keep the pages turning will love River in the Sea.  For fans of The Book Thief, Those Who Save Us, and Sarah’s Key.
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This is an absolutely stunning, captivating read that held me in its grip from the very beginning. I started it late at night, yet stayed up well into the wee hours of the morning to finish this gem–and it absolutely blew me away.

We hear much about the Holocaust and WWII, but I feel that we don’t hear as much about the other countries and people groups who were affected by Hitler’s regime outside of Germany and Poland, and this novel, River in the Sea, focuses on the German occupation of one small town and its people in the Netherlands in late 1944.

Leen De Graaf is just a young teen, but she knows the taste of fear and death; she knows to keep her head down and not draw attention to herself, but in one sweep of panic, upsets all the rules and barely escapes with her innocence intact.  And with this simple misstep comes a series of events that create a domino effect, leaving none untouched.

As the underground resistance works to thwart the German army and save the innocent, intense fear, a lack of food, disunity among families, and immense feelings of sorrow and guilt splash across the pages and evolve in such a way that it makes for a truly superb, poignant, and beautiful read. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby as the novel definitely tugs at the heartstrings.  Five amazing stars.

5 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review and I highly recommend it (especially at just 99 cents on Kindle!!)

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Wendy Higgins, the author of the amazing Sweet Evil Trilogy, just released her latest novel, See Me, in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day!  See Me is a YA Urban Fantasy, Romance, Magical Realism, Irish Folklore, and it’s on sale today for just $1.99!!

See MeWhile most seventeen-year-old American girls would refuse to let their parents marry them off to a stranger, Robyn Mason dreams of the mysterious McKale in Ireland, wondering how he’ll look and imagining his cute Irish accent. Prearranged bindings are common for magical families like her own, however when she travels to the whimsical Emerald Isle she discovers there’s more to her betrothal and McKale’s clan than she was led to believe.

What starts as an obligatory pairing between Robyn and McKale morphs over time into something they both need. But one giant obstacle stands in the way of their budding romance: a seductive and deadly Fae princess accustomed to getting what she wants—and what she wants is McKale as her plaything. Love, desire, and jealousies collide as Robyn’s family and McKale’s clan must work together to outsmart the powerful Faeries and preserve the only hope left for their people.

Scoop it up today for just $1.99!!

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Best Kind of BrokenFrom Goodreads: Pixie and Levi haven’t spoken in nearly a year when they find themselves working―and living―at the same inn in the middle of nowhere. Once upon a time, they were childhood friends. But that was before everything went to hell. And now things are… awkward.

All they want to do is avoid each other, and their past, for as long as possible. But now that they’re forced to share a bathroom, and therefore a shower, keeping their distance from one another becomes less difficult than keeping their hands off each other. Welcome to the hallway of awkward tension and sexual frustration, folks. Get comfy. It’s going to be a long summer.

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Chelsea Fine has written many amazing YA novels, and I’ve read and loved Every. Single. One. Now, Fine is stepping into the world of New Adult with her debut novel and upcoming release, Best Kind of Broken, that’s about to his shelves, and of course, it is just as amazing as her YA work, if not better.  Having read this amazing novel in one sitting, I can’t help but state that it is a masterpiece full of raw emotion, snarky retorts, and steamy tension that will leave readers in love with both Pixie and Levi, and wanting much more.

Readers instantly fall in love with Pixie’s spunk from the get go; her fiery attitude and indignation at having to live and work at the inn with dreamy Levi instantly brought a smile to my face, and the tension between the two is definitely palpable. Levi and Pixie are two amazing characters, full of gumption, yet bogged down with feelings of guilt.  Each is struggling to come back from a heartbreaking experience that has sent them on a downward spiral, unable to find peace or joy in the simple things of life and leaving them incapable of civilly interacting with one another. For much of the first half of the novel, the reader is kept in the dark concerning the rift that now plagues Levi and Pixie as they attempt to live and skirt around one another, though it becomes apparent early on that they used to be the best of friends.  As the novel unfolds, though, readers slowly begin to piece together the circumstances of their relations, both past and present, and it is indeed one of heartbreak, yet it’s so beautifully crafted.  I absolutely adored the first person narration that altered between both Levi and Pixie, giving me a window to their souls as the truth comes out.

This is ultimately a story of healing–from the ashes of their past comes a new dawn, and as Pixie and Levi continuously fight, if only to push the sadness from their minds, Chelsea brings this intense, sassy, and emotional novel to the perfect, albeit emotional, end. Reader beware, however, that Best Kind of Broken does leave readers emotionally raw, and a box of tissues is definitely a recommendation, especially as the conclusion comes in sight.

I highly recommend this beautiful novel for mature 18+ readers due to two graphic sexual scenes.  Five stars.

5 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Forever (Grand Central Publishing) has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on March 4, 2014.

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Pre-order this gem NOW for less than $5!!!

BEST KIND OF BROKEN GRAPHIC

AND you can PRE-ORDER books two and three now, too!!

Perfect Kind of Trouble: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Right Kind of Wrong: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Finding FatesLevi Red



White Hot KissFrom Goodreads: 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.

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This was an absolutely brilliant novel by the ever talented Jennifer Armentrout.  I was wrapped up tightly in the story from the very beginning, and I just love the world that Armentrout has created.  Imagine finding out that Wardens, gargoyle like creates, really walk the earth.  They say that they are here to protect mankind, but their aloofness, hard exterior (no pun intended), and their ability to take human form, make them an entity to be feared among the human race.  But what humans don’t know is that the Wardens are really here to fight the demons—and their secret weapon?  Layla, a half-demon, half gargoyle, whose touch creates a beacon on any demon she comes in contact with, allows the Wardens to easily remove the threat of demons without the humans evening knowing it exists…

Welcome to Layla’s life.  She’s a kick-butt heroine who lives with the Wardens, having embraced her Warden side and despising all things demon (including her own self)—partially because it’s been drilled into her for so long—ever since she was brought to the Warden complex as a child—and partially because she knows it means she’ll never know love.  Layla has a decent life, though she’s never been kissed, and the love of her life, Zayne, a full-blooded Warden, can never be hers—mainly because Layla’s kiss can suck the life right out of whoever, or whatever, it is she’s kissing.  Unless it’s a demon… but that would be going against every mantra engrained in her head since she can remember.  But is it truly wrong?  Are all demons evil, like Layla’s been led to believe?

Armentrout takes readers on a whirlwind, fast paced adventure in her latest novel, White Hot Kiss, and I loved every minute of it, from the heart pounding action and soft budding romance to the betrayals and final revelation, this novel is perfect in every sense of the word… and I can’t wait for more.  I loved Zayne, but Roth is my true love.  A demon, a bad boy, and ever so right for Layla, he proves himself time and time again, and thus readers can’t help but wonder, who is telling the truth?  The Wardens or the demons?  You’ll have to read this enticing story to find out.  Five amazing stars.

5 stars

 Harlequin Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 25, 2014.

 Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

You need to pre-order this one–Amazon has it for less than 6 bucks!!

AND–the PREQUEL, Bitter Sweet Love, is currently FREE on Amazon (at time of this post)!  SCOOP IT UP STAT!



The Tyrant's DaughterFrom Amazon: 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?

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Throughout history, there have been many dictators and tyrants leading their countries into war, be it with other countries, or within the boundaries of their own. Civil wars and bloodshed have been on the rise throughout the world, especially within recent years, and J.C. Carleson’s novel, The Tyrant’s Daughter comes at such a time when the world’s eyes are glued to the events currently unfolding in Syria, while also reminding us of the civil unrest that is still occurring in countries such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the list goes on.

While I have read many novels about genocides, civil war, and the memoirs of those affected by civil unrest, Carelson’s novel is the first I’ve come across focusing on the life of a dictator’s wife and children.  And though fictional, Carleson gives readers a glimpse into the family life that we rarely hear about, but have always questioned.  I remember a few years back, I was flipping through the TV Guide channel and saw that a station, perhaps the history channel, was going to run a special about Hitler’s children, a “where are they now” kind of documentary, but didn’t watch it because it was scheduled to run in the dead of night.  I’d forgotten about it until now.  I wish I had watched it.

The Tyrant’s Daughter focuses on the life of Laila as she acclimates to her new life in the U.S.  A place of immense freedom, where she doesn’t have to cover herself and she can interact with the opposite sex without being shunned or beaten.  It’s a brand new world for her, and as she soon finds out, a safe-haven from the worn-torn country she left when her father, a tyrant by every definition, was murdered. Having been subjected to limited access to the internet within her country, Laila now sees the truths about her father and her family as the news reports flood in concerning the uprisings, death toll, and the new tyrant (her uncle) running her country.

Carelson’s novel is extremely powerful and I was glued to the pages as I read.  Laila’s story is poignant and believable, and as she attempts to understand the new knowledge she gains about her father’s actions, everything in her life is upended.  Believed by some to have inner knowledge of her father’s actions, she is shunned by refugees from her country, while her mother refuses to back down from her queen status and moves invisible pawns in order to grant her 7 year old son, Bastien, Laila’s brother, the right be rule his country.  It’s an intense read, and really made me stop and think; just how much do the children of dictators know?  And while society has a tendency to lump a family in with the sins of the father, wondering how they couldn’t know the reality, is there more truth in the fact that children, and sometimes even wives, have limited or no knowledge of the extent of the atrocities their fathers/husbands/parents commit?

This is a fictional tale, as I’ve said, but derives itself from the many true events that surround dictators, both past and present, and it’s a must read.  Although slated as a YA book, this novel is riveting and one I highly recommend for adults as well.  Five stars.

5 stars

Random House Children’s and Alfred A. Knopf BFYR have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 11, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

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Pre-order your copy today!



The LureFrom Goodreads: From the bestselling author of the Daughters of the Moon series comes a gritty, sexy novel about a teen who is forced to become a “lure”-a beautiful girl who is used to lure victims of gang violence.

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Montgomery lives in the gritty outskirts of Washington, DC, where a stray bullet can steal a life on the way to school. Drugs and violence are the only ways to survive, so Blaise and her friends turn to gangs for safety, money, and love. When Blaise is invited to join Core 9, one of the most infamous crews, she jumps at the chance. Though her best guy friends, Rico and Satch, warn her about the danger, she agrees to be beaten for a minute straight as part of the gang’s initiation ritual.

Now Blaise is finally part of a crew. A family.

But things get only more dangerous when she becomes a member of Core 9 and tensions with a rival gang heat up. Trek, the head of Core 9, asks Blaise to be his “lure,” the sexy bait he’ll use to track down enemy gang members and exact revenge. Rico and Satch tell her it’s a death sentence, but Blaise can’t resist the money and unparalleled power. As Trek puts Blaise in increasingly dangerous situations, she begins to see that there’s more to lose than she ever realized-including Satch, the one person who has the power to get under her skin. With death lurking around every corner, should Blaise continue to follow the only path she’s ever known, or cut and run?

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I have been extremely fortunate in life having grown up in a safe neighborhood with two loving parents that supported me in everything.  I never had to worry for my safety when walking out the door, didn’t need to look over my shoulder at school, never had to know alternate routes to get home, worry about gunshots at all hours of the day, or whether there would be enough money coming in for my parents to pay the bills.  I knew where my next meal was coming from, what colleges I wanted to go to, how I would pay for my education after high school, and that I could obtain my goals in life without much standing in my way.

Blaise Montgomery doesn’t live in a safe neighborhood.  Her mother is a drug addict, her father is dead, and her grandmother works late hours and brings home little money.  Leaving her house is a risky choice, day in and day out.  In order to stay alive, Blaise has to know multiple ways around her community in case the ever present dangers of gang violence close off a route, or two.  She has to know what hallways she can walk down and what stairwells to avoid in school if she wants to get home in one piece, with her virginity still intact.  She worries about her grandmother who works too hard and doesn’t have enough money to feed Blaise, let alone herself.  Blaise would love to go to college, but can barely scrape by in school because survival is on her mind 24/7.  The present is all that matters, and she knows, just like everyone else in her neighborhood, that life ends all too soon.  She’s seen people try to better themselves, try to get out, but most of them end up in body bags.  So what’s the point?

While I have never experienced any of what Blaise experiences, the cold hard truth is that many, many children grow up in this exact environment, and as a high school teacher working on the cusp of the city, I’ve taught many of students in a similar situation.  I didn’t used to know these places really existed, not until I became a teacher.  If you don’t experience it, or you don’t know someone who has, it’s very easy to live in a bubble that just understand that there are many struggling to survive. And it’s a heartbreaking experience to realize that yes, this is real.  Just because I haven’t lived it doesn’t mean it’s not.  And while it’s easy to look down on people in these situations, saying they need to get an education, that they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, that’s not a reality.  What’s more important?  Education or food? Education or life? Education or belonging?

If you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll note that physiological needs come first, and then that of safety.  People need to have their basic needs met—food, water, excretion, sleep— before they can move up the scale.  If these needs are met, then safety takes over. Those who don’t feel safe on a regular basis are, therefore, unable to move up the scale.  They’re unable to have true friendships, or focus on family, because the very real fear for their safety controls everything they do and think.  This explains exactly what Blaise is dealing with on a very real level.  She barely has any food—she’s hungry a lot of the time, and she’s scared for her safety.  Her need level has plateaued between Physiological and Safety.  But once she’s part of a gang, once she’s found her “family,” she’s able to move up to the Love and Belonging stage—a stage she’s been yearning to grasp for some time.  So it’s no surprise that she joins a gang in her neighborhood—a gang that literally beats her into it as their hazing ritual to see if she’s tough enough to stand within their ranks.  And it makes me sick, but I’ve found that this hazing experience is another truth in terms of gang life—one I first heard about when discussing life with my students over the past few years.

Within Core 9, Blaise fits in, and now she can begin to work towards self-esteem, confidence, achievement… except being in the gang doesn’t guarantee extreme safety, and as Blaise realizes fairly quickly, there is just as much to fear inside a gang than there is outside of it.  So, she finds herself hovering between the Safety and Love/Belonging stage in the Hierarchy of Needs.  Is it any wonder, then, that Blaise can’t focus on school?  That she can’t foresee herself ever getting out of her ghetto alive, let alone bettering herself and going to college?  While we may want to judge her, especially as the media likes to focus on the few amazing stories of those who “got out,” who “pulled themselves up by their boot straps,” this isn’t that story.  This is the story of the many who are left behind.  This is the story of those who can’t get out.

Of course, Blaise makes decisions that I hat—and so do her friends.  Of course, I wanted to knock “some sense” into them as I read, to scream at them to call the cops, to run away, to do something… but in all truth, why call the cops when you know they can’t help you?  Why run when it will only show your weakness and land you a bullet in your back?  Blaise has more sense than I ever would have in her shoes, and though the going is tough and she’s finds herself in a very precarious situation, she continues on as best as she can.  And that is pure courage.

Originally I didn’t want to pick up this novel.  I was afraid it would focus on servitude sex and the downtrodden woman.  But it doesn’t—Blaise isn’t raped and any mention of sex is more so glossed over.  Instead, what this novel does do is show the very real truth about gang violence and the people who grow up surrounded by it.  It shows the many dangers in life that a lot of us don’t even realize exist.  And it breaks my heart, but this is one intense, powerful read if you really understand the truths behind it.  Five amazing stars.

5 starsHarperCollins Publishers and Balzer + Bray have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this powerful novel, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review prior to its release on February 11, 2014.

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AlienatedFrom Goodreads: 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

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I picked up this novel late at night, around 1am, because I couldn’t sleep and I planned to read until I was tired enough to go to bed. What ended up happening is a sleepless night for me as I tore through this novel, unable to put it down. The story of Cara and Aelyx was extremely intriguing, and I just adored it. It was awesome to see this alien planet and its people attempt to make an alliance with the Earth, and to see just how both the residents on L’eihr and Earth responded–especially because their thought process was similar: no.

From the get go readers know that neither the people of Earth nor Aelyx and his team want this alliance–the Earth is scared for its safety and the L’eihr’s are highly advanced beyond humans–so neither humans nor Aelyx and his team understand the purpose of an alliance. That being said, animosity and tension fills the story as Aelyx and his team come to earth in a good will gesture–staying for an exchange program that will end with Cara going to L’eihr with Aelyx for her own exchange program… should the alliance actually work.

The novel really takes a look at what would happen should aliens ever make contact—if they exist. And, it shows that even though we believe ourselves to be extremely advanced, should fear strike our hearts, we very well could have another civil rights movement on our hands. Aelyx is not welcome, and as tensions rise, so does the risk. It reminded me a lot of the Little Rock Nine as I read, with Aelyx going to school amid the picketers and violence, with the shunnings and threats against any who supported him.  In truth, it shows just how bigoted a fearful nation can become when met with change.

Now, to be fair, Aelyx and his team are not innocent bystanders in this. With the truth hidden inside the government, a truth Aelyx doesn’t even know, he and his team are indeed trying to sabotage the alliance, but it’s not made clear how until the middle of the book, when other truths are made know.  And when they are?  Well, everything is put into perspective fairly quickly and we learn that nothing is as it seems… and, should the alliance fail, it means dire circumstances for not only earth, but also L’eihr as well.

Shrouded in mystery, this novel kept my attention from start to finish, and finish I did, right in time for my work alarm to begin blaring. It’s mysterious with a slow budding romance, and I really liked that all my questions were answered, especially when it came to the romance between Aelyx and Cara.  As Aelyx points out many times, love is not really a part of his culture, but the way Landers weaves together the story and the hidden answers is perfect.

I adored this novel and can’t wait for the next installment, though I have some reservations about the newest character we meet at the very end, Jaxen–who I foresee becoming a problem for both Cara and Aelyx.  Five amazing stars.

5 stars

 Disney-Hyperion has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 4, 2014.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble



SecretFrom Goodreads: Nowhere is safe. Not even home…

Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.

Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown.
Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.
Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—-or he’ll lose his family.

Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.

Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.

There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.

Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

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This fourth full installment in the five part Elemental series is finally here, and it’s just what we’ve come to expect from the talented Brigid Kemmerer!  Intense, sensual, fast-paced, and heart-wrenching, it’s an unputdownable read, keeping readers up late into the night until the very last sentence leaps off the page.

It’s a beautiful story following the life of Nick—the only Merrick brother who, as of yet, has not been the full center of his own book.  Whereas Michael has Elemental, Chris has Storm, Gabriel has Spark, and even Hunter, an outsider to the family, has Spirit, Nick has, until this moment, been more so on the sidelines.  In other words, Kemmerer was saving the best for last. Granted Michael has not had a full novel all to himself yet either, but he has appeared more so as a central character within all the books.  And though we get a small taste of Nick in his novella Breathless, this is the first time we really, really see him front and center in a full length novel.

Nick has always been a quiet, level headed soul.  He’s the brother everyone can count on, and in so being, he has internalized much of his emotions.  Convinced his family wouldn’t understand his wants and needs, he keeps his desires to himself, bottled up from the whole world, refusing to face his inner being.  Yearning to run away from it all and attend college out of state, he also struggles with admitting his newfound attraction to Adam, a beautiful soul that really helps make this story.

The threat of the Guides, the lack of income, and the pressure of school steadily overcomes Nick as he attempts to keep his life together. But as tensions rise, his outlets begin to diminish while his ever present fear for those around him continues to mount, causing Nick to begin to fall in more ways than one.

This is a beautiful story of acceptance, focusing not only the choices at hand, but also on the past.  It is a story of forgiveness, of finding one’s way in the world and picking up the pieces when it all falls apart.  And ultimately, it is a story of love—through friendship, family, and romance.

This novel is by far the best of the series, though I’ve loved every single book, and I cannot wait for the final installment, that of Michael Merrick, to bring the series full circle.  It begins with Michael, and so it will end with Michael, and I just know Kemmerer has some amazing things in store for her readers.  Five amazing stars.

5 starsKensington Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this beautiful novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on January 28, 2014.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

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Elemental Kindle | Nook
Storm Kindle | Paperback | Nook
Fearless Kindle | Nook
Spark Kindle | Paperback | Nook
Breathless Kindle | Nook
Spirit Kindle | Paperback | Nook
Secret Kindle | Paperback | Nook

Sacrifice Kindle | Paperback

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Book Depository | iBooks | IndieBound

Read the full series!

Elemental (#0.5)

Storm (#1)

Fearless (#1.5)

Spark (#2)

Breathless (#2.5)

Spirit (#3)

Secret (#4)



Vampire ShiftFrom Goodreads: When twenty-year-old police recruit Kiera Hudson is posted to the remote town of The Ragged Cove, her life is changed forever. Investigating a series of horrific murders, grave desecrations and missing persons, with her unique ability of ‘seeing’, Kiera soon realizes her life is in danger.

But when Kiera falls in love with Police officer Luke Bishop, not only is her mind and her heart opened to a terrifying new world, she comes to suspect that Luke might be involved in the killings. In a race against time to unearth the truth, Kiera must discover the identity of who or what is behind the gruesome deaths on the ‘Vampire Shift’.

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This holiday season, I am re-reading two of my favorite series by author Tim O’Rourke: Kiera Hudson Series One and Two.  As the second series is nearly at its end, and the third series is about to begin, I thought to myself that it was high time I re-read, especially since the Kiera Hudson series was originally only going to be a one series, three book deal.  Sixteen books later, O’Rourke still has my attention, and the world he’s built is so intricate and captivating that Kiera Hudson and her friends have become to me what Harry Potter and his friends are to many the world over: a special part of my life.

A completely original masterpiece, unlike any other vampire novel I’ve ever read, O’Rourke combines his knowledge of the police force alongside vampire lore to create a riveting new series starring Kiera Hudson, an intelligent, alert, strong, aspiring young policewoman fresh out of the academy. And while you may know all about vampires, they’ve got nothing on O’Rourke’s creation, the Vampyrus.   Complete with suspense, mystery, intrigue, and horror, Vampire Shift takes readers on a journey into the depths of The Ragged Cove, a place where many have ventured, but few have survived.  And it’s an amazing rollercoaster of a ride, even the second time around.  Knowing what I do now about the characters, the winged Vampyrus, and the world in which it all takes place, re-reading this series is actually even more fun than the first as I’m able to piece it all together and see how all the books and different series that O’Rourke has written are actually all intertwined. Noting the small but important missteps of the characters, knowing who is ultimately good and who is bad, and falling in love all over again is just a bonus as I go through my re-reading.  I’m seeing it all in a new light, but that really doesn’t change my perspective at all–this novel is still a 5 star in my book.

I love that Kiera is a strong female lead, possessing the gift of sight when so many others miss vital clues.  She sees what others miss, like a stain on a tie or a slight favoring of a leg, and she’s able to assess the person, quite quickly might I add, based on her multiple observations that seem to happen in the blink of an eye.  Of course, though an asset to any police force, Kiera comes on the scene in The Ragged Cove only to be met with disdain by the current police force. There are many sinister plots at work here, and nothing is indeed what it seems.  But, the fact that Kiera does not crumple and stays true to herself, trusting her instincts, makes her an outstanding, strong character that readers will quickly come to love.  If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then you’ll love Kiera, though she thankfully lacks the haughty and sometimes infuriating attitude of Mr. Holmes.

In truth, O’Rourke weaves together a seamless story of horror and romance in this first book of the series, and it will captivate both new and old readers alike. I highly recommend this new adult novel to all readers, both young and old alike. Five stars to this magnificent novel.

Vampire Shift is FREE on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo at the time of this post, so do make sure you scoop it up and join the world of Kiera Hudson.

5 stars

I own multiple copies of this novel in both paperback and ebook format.

Check out the book trailer to further whet your appetite for this amazing novel:

Check out O’Rourke’s other novels (they are indeed all amazing):

Kiera Hudson Series 1

Vampire Shift (#1)

Vampire Wake (#2)

Vampire Hunt (#3)

Vampire Breed (#4)

Wolf House (#4.5)

Vampire Hollows (#5)

Kiera Hudson Series 2

Dead Flesh (#1)

Dead Night: Potter’s Secrets (#1.5)

Dead Angels (#2)

Dead Statues (#3)

Dead Seth (#4)

Dead Wolf (#5)

Dead Water (#6)

Dead Push  (#7)

Dead Lost (#8)

Dead End (#9)–Coming Soon

Kiera Hudson Series 3

Lethal Infected (1)–Coming Soon

Jack Seth Novellas

Hollow Pit (#1)

Vampire Shift Graphic Novels

Vampire Shift Volume 1

Black Hill Farm Series

Black Hill Farm (#1)

Black Hill Farm Andy’s Diary (#2)

Return to Black Hill Farm (#3)–Coming Soon

Doorways Series

Doorways (#1)

The League of Doorways (#2)

The Queen of the Doorways (#3)–Coming Soon

Samantha Carter Series

Vampire Seeker (#1)

(Formerly known as Cowgirls and Vampires)

The Moon Trilogy

Moonlight (#1)

Moonbeam (#2)

Moonshine (3)–Coming Soon

Sidney Hart Series

Witch (#1)

Yellow (#2)

Raven (#3)–Coming Soon

Unscathed Series(?)

Unscathed

Stilts Series

Stilts (#1)

Eat Me Series

Eat Me (#1)–Coming Soon

Pick Series

Pick (#1)–Coming Soon

Flashes Series

Flashes (#1)–Coming 2013

Tim O'Rourke Covers



et cetera
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