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Where Silence GathersFrom Goodreads: In this companion novel to the critically acclaimed Some Quiet Place, Alex must choose between Revenge and Forgiveness.

For as long as she can remember, Alexandra Tate has been able to see personified Emotions, and she’s found a best friend in Revenge. He’s her constant companion as she waits outside Nate Foster’s house, clutching a gun. Every night since Nate’s release from prison, Alex has tried to work up the courage to exact her own justice on him for the drunk driving accident that killed her family.

But there’s one problem: Forgiveness. When he appears, Alex is faced with a choice—moving on or getting even. It’s impossible to decide with Forgiveness whispering in one ear . . . and Revenge whispering in the other.

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This novel is a companion to Some Quiet Place; a standalone that is set in the same world, but with different characters. Whereas Some Quiet Place focuses on Elizabeth, a young woman unable to feel emotion, and her relationship with Fear, Where Silence Gathers brings us new characters and emotions in that of Alex, Revenge, and Forgiveness.

Alex is a fairly complex character and I enjoyed getting to know her. I can’t imagine how I would react should my family be decimated by a drunk driver, and I certainly don’t know how I’d react should said drunk driver be released from prison, only to come back to town as a constant reminder of what I lost. Alex struggles, and I found her struggle to be an extremely real one. While I’d like to say that I wouldn’t act like her, that I wouldn’t allow my family’s death to consume my life, I feel like that’s a lie, and I’d most likely be in the same boat as Alex.

With Revenge as a constant companion, Alex has many choices to make—and some of them are quite horrible, but as she grows throughout the novel, I liked how she began to connect with Forgiveness and begins to come back into herself—the girl she was before the death of her family.

I wasn’t expecting the final truth about Revenge and Forgiveness—I was surprised, but in retrospect, I don’t think I should have been; it only makes perfect sense. There is an added element of mystery to this novel as well as Alex learns about information she found on her father’s flash drive, and I enjoyed this aspect of the story as well, though I preferred that of the emotions and their constant companionship of Alex. I just find it so cool to think that emotions are invisible entities that constantly appear and interact with us, without our knowing.

Overall, this series is a unique, interesting read. If you’re looking for something different, I highly suggest picking it up. Four stars.

4 stars

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Scare CrowReview:

From Goodreads: 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.

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Oh. My. God. While I usually try to maintain a sense of professionalism in my reviews of novels, it is impossible for me to not fangirl a little over this amazing novel by the extremely talented Julie Hockley. I finished this second installment in the Crow’s Row series late in the evening not too long ago, and I have been unable to think of anything else since. My dreams have been permeated with scenes of Cameron, my heart’s desire, as I sleep through the night, and I’m just absolutely in love. In. Love. Not only with Cameron, but with Hockley’s writing style, her characters, the plot, the suspense, the alternating points-of-view, Meatball (at one point I literally yelled out, “Meeeeeeeeeeeeeatbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!” as I was reading). Every. Thing. I’m in love with Every. Last. Thing. About this novel.

I have been diligently waiting for this second installment since 2012, and let me just tell you, it was worth the wait. Hockley’s novel is perfection. Absolute. Perfection.

In this sequel to the amazing Crow’s Row, Hockley continues the tale of Emmy and Cameron, juxtaposing their stories as the novel unfolds. Bereft and out for blood, Emmy has no idea that her beloved still lives. Neither does Cameron realize that Emmy will stop at nothing to bring justice to those who stole her one true love in death. In a harsh reality where neither can fit into the other’s world and survive, this is a tale of love, deceit, revenge, and new beginnings.

Hockley’s story is enticing—I love the bad boy image, and although Cam is as bad as it gets, a mob king who kills mercilessly, he is also truly good at heart. And he’s impossible not to love. His heart bleeds throughout the novel; forced to separate himself from Emmy in order to keep her safe, and intent on bringing justice to the memory of his little brother Rocco, Cameron bares his soul for all to see in this beautiful novel, all the while maneuvering the underworld in a game of cat and mouse as it all comes to a head between the captains of the crime world.

And Emmy, filled with the hatred for those who killed her beau, is also extremely vivid and real. Her cross to bear is even more intricate and dangerous as she learns that even though she was set free from the underworld, she will never truly be safe, a revelation that causes her to rear back and fight with all her might.

A little dash of side romance, unrequited love, truths, lies, misunderstandings and murder all come together to create this riveting love story; you don’t want to miss it. Five amazing stars.

5 stars

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

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An Interview with Julie Hockley:

If you could devise the perfect dinner date for Cam and Emmy, what would be on the menu/what would they order?

Blood sausage. Blood pudding.

You drop a huge surprise on readers in Scare Crow—what was it like to create such a surprise?

That’s funny because to me, it wasn’t a surprise to me. That was always going to happen. Though I’m happy that readers saw it a surprise!

If you could meet anyone in the entire world, fictional included, who would it be and why?

Rocco. I miss him so much.

What/who was your inspiration for your novels Crow’s Row and Scare Crow?

Crow’s Row is Beauty and the Beast meets the Godfather.

Scare Crow is Pride and Prejudice meets Kill Bill.

Do you have a playlist for either of your novels?

When I’m writing I listen to everything and anything. It’s pretty weird. I’ll be in my car, listening to whatever comes on next and boom! A whole scene comes into play. Then I have to pull over as quickly as possible and type furiously on my phone before I forget it.

While I was writing certain Emmy scenes in Scare Crow and re-editing Crow’s Row, I listened to Skinny Love by Birdie a LOT! That song makes me want to weep every time.

What’s next for Cam and Emmy?

Scare Crow was about them changing. They needed to chance. Emmy especially.  She had a lot of growing up to do and a very short time to do it. Next Emmy and Cam will have a lot of explaining to do. Cam especially.

Are any of your characters based on real life people?

No. I’ve never had a picture in my head of who they could be. They exist only in my head. Fans have sent me pictures that are pretty close, but never have I seen Cam and Emmy and the rest of them exact. Of course, there are pieces of my character’s personalities that I have scooped up from other people. Rocco has a lot of my husband’s immature traits. Hands off ladies!

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Between the publishing of the first edition of Crow’s Row, to writing Scare Crow, to formally editing Scare Crow, to formally editing Crow’s Row, I’ve learned that the more you write, the better you become. I would tell them to read, a lot. Take a critical eye to their favorite novel.

Why do you like that novel? Is it the dialogue? Angst between characters? The way the author describes?

Then I would tell them to forget everything that I just said above and write what you want to write. A fan recently reminded me that, no matter what anyone says about you or your writing, as long as you’re proud of your work, your art, then you can hold your head up high. The rest is just noise.

What is the writing process like for you?

Sometimes difficult. Sometimes excruciating. Often it seems like I can’t find the words to describe what is happening in my head. It’s rather frustrating.

What inspired you to write/become a writer?

I love the feeling of pretending I’m someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I have a beautiful life. Nothing to complain about. So I need to get my drama fix somehow.

What does your writing cave look like?

Ha! My kitchen table. I pick the worse spot in the house. No privacy. Very little quiet. And the weird thing is that I can’t write unless there’s no one around me. My husband will get the evil eye until he is forced to leave the room. I need to pick and stick to a better spot. Unfortunately, my house is pretty small, so maybe I’ll have to go write in the garage or bathroom.

Do you ever get writers block—if so, how do you overcome it?

I get writers block all the time (hello, 3 years to write one book). When it happens, I try not to panic because panic is useless. And then I panic. And then I pretend that I don’t care. That I don’t need to ever write another word. The writer’s block will not get the best of me because I’m breaking up with writing. And then I sit back down and try again, later.

Are you working on any new series at this time?

Series? No! Never again! I’ve always got a few books floating around in my head and notes lying around my house, but I will not write another series. I will keep writing because it haunts me if I don’t, but if I ever publish anything after Crow’s Row is complete, it will be a stand-alone book. Though I need to figure out what a stand-alone book looks like because I thought Crow’s Row was a standalone book.

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Haven’t read book one, Crow’s Row?  Scoop it up now for just $2.99!  You WON’T be disappointed!!!

Crow's Row

Available Now:

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4f337-juliehockleyAbout Julie Hockley:

A former germaphobe and clean-freak turned mother of two, Julie collects enough tears and snot in a month to recreate Slimer Monster from Ghostbusters. Other than playing devoted wife and mama, Julie is the funniest person in the room (according to the 3 year-old and 2 year-old in said room) and can build the most awesome Lego rocket ship you’ve ever set your eyes on (according to her). Oh, and she has a full time career and has also written a bestselling novel. Superhero, or just downright insane?

 

 
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{February 27, 2014}   {ARC Review} Panic by Lauren Oliver

PanicFrom Goodreads: Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

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Initially, this story started like any other, and while interesting, it took a while for it to build, but build it did, and by the end I was on the edge of my seat in fear and anticipation.  Oliver knows how to pack a punch, and I was taken with this story as the characters went deeper into the game, as their secrets came out, and as the stakes went higher and higher.

While some of the situations in Panic may seem a bit far fetched, I have no doubt that, given the proper setting, they could indeed be very real.  It is said that the brain does not fully develop until around age 25, so it is no surprise that our teens in this novel make many rash decisions—some spurred on by the want of money, others by revenge, and still others in anticipation of finally breaking free of their provincial lives—paying no attention to the risk factor, or thinking through the actual consequences of their actions.  As the stakes rise, I found my stomach coiled in knots, yelling at the characters through the pages as they make ill decision after ill decision, and I just couldn’t tear my eyes away.  As an adult, it’s easy to say I’d never ever play in these games, and I feel that, as a teen, I wouldn’t have either, mainly because I just wasn’t a risk taker, and I wasn’t wild, but there is something about mass hysteria, or the mob mentality, that makes me wonder, just what would I have done had something underground like the game Panic been going on in my town when I was a teen.

I’m not sure how I feel about Heather, Dodge, and all the other characters in the book (and there are many).  Their choices at times drove me batty, but I was rooting for them the entire time, especially as we learn more about the tragedies that has befallen them both.  Overall, I found this to be a great read that I highly suggest to anyone who likes intense competitions and novels like The Hunger Games. Four stars.

4 starsIn exchange for an honest review, HarperCollins Children has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Edelweiss, prior to its release on March 4, 2014.

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Be sure to pre-order this one now–you don’t want to miss it!



Fro18043874m Goodreads: Based on the life of Alessandro di Cagliostro, the Child of Egypt follows a young boy called Acharat on a life long journey of self discovery as he takes on the guises of Joseph Balsamo and Cagliostro and sparks a bloody revolution that will tear down the Bourbon monarchy in France before setting his sights on the heart of the Christian world, the Pope in Rome.

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This novel had a great premise and I really enjoyed the beginning portion that chronicles Acharat’s mother’s woes prior to his conception.  It was highly intriguing and I loved this in-depth look into his mother’s life as a concubine, her whirlwind affair with a Frenchman, her betrayal, and ultimately her death, all of which leads up to Acharat’s birth.  Stolen out of his world-be assassin’s grasp, Archarat survives, and the novel then jumps ahead to his teen years where he learns the truth about the man who saved him, the man to whom his life is indebted.  Learning about the magic his benefactor wields, and learning it himself, the novel then jumps again to his time in France and Rome, ultimately, showing his extreme changes and what the power he wields has done to him.

Overall, this was a great concept, but it ended up being much too long for me.  Like I said, I really enjoyed the beginning, and I liked the middle, but once Acharat/Joseph marries and begins plotting the downfall of the monarchy, condemning innocents and using his wife for ill, well, I lost all respect for the man and the novel began to drag.  The novel takes place over a span of many decades, and to the author’s credit, reading the text feels like it takes place over a span of decades—there is no sugarcoating or quickness about it at all, but I think I needed a much faster pace to keep my attention.  I don’t necessarily enjoy histories all that much unless there is something intriguing happening all the time, and there was just a little too much downtime for me once Archarat/Joseph comes of age to release his evil.

He becomes almost demonic, in a sense, which made reading the novel difficult for me as I lost my respect for him.  Yes, he had a hard life and yes, he was given the gift of magic through mysticism, but I believe he used it in the wrong way.  Watching all the sacrifices that were made for him in order for Archarat/Joseph to live, only to note that he turned out to be evil in the end, left me feeling a bit sour towards him, and, in truth, I felt no sympathy when his actions caught up to him.  He is truly evil, and if I don’t like my characters, I tend to have a hard time finishing a novel, and that was the case with this one, length aside.  I think lovers of histories, historical fiction, and attention to detail will really enjoy this novel, though—after all, it is very well written and, characterization aside, the plot is intriguing.  I, however, found myself liking it less and less as it progressed based on the actions of the main character, which, in truth, is no fault of the authors, but rather a personal preference.  Two and a half stars.

2 stars

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



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