Reviews: X-Files Origins-The Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry & Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia

Let me preface these reviews by saying that there was no way, no way at all that I was skipping these books. No matter how apprehensive I was, no matter whether or not I was already a fan of the authors, or if I raised my eyebrow real high at Garcia writing Mulder and Maberry writing Scully, because THIS IS THE X-FILES. I’ll admit, these books were hard to review because the nostalgia and fandom is so strong…this is probably my strongest fandom connection because MULDER + SCULLY for LIFE. I mean, the characters…I digress. That being said, I tried to look at these more for the story and less from what I expected Scully and Mulder to be like as teens. There has been a ton of negative commentary-parts that fans say the authors are reaching and make zero sense. As an avid X-Files fan, I can see that, but these interpretations are not entirely off base…especially when it comes to Scully. It’s difficult when the character presence is so strong as adults, you come to expect very specific details about their lives as teens, what you assume they were like and why they became who they did. It’s hard to shake those preconceived ideas off, and those who are totally stuck in that place might be disappointed by what they find. If you’re a fan, you absolutely should read these and put them on your shelf next to your Mulder and Scully Funko Pops. I know I will. 

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How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers in this young adult origin story.

The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate will explore the teen years of Dana Scully, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. Her story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news.

The book will follow Scully as she experiences life-changing events that set her on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

review

3/5 Stars 

Scully, Scully, Scully. I was so disappointed in her character, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. A lot of the criticism this book has faced from readers is because of Scully’s sixth sense. Which, if you’re looking at the Scully in the future, you’re probably thinking that Scully worships at the altar of science and this is ridiculous. But if you’ve experienced all of the lovely X-Files series, you’ll recall that Scully had more than one incident where she sees ghosts and has premonition-style visions, so it’s not that far off base and one of her biggest character conflicts has always been her faith and the paranormal. Mulder directly calls her out on the fact that she can so willingly believe in God, but something like aliens is too out there. It’s in her story arc.

Mini rant aside, Scully here is super young. She has no experience with boys, crushes, any responsiblity really. While she’s smart and reclusive, her forays into mysticism are more meditative than anything. Scully here looks up to her older sister. She’s a tag along that just goes wherever her sister takes her. THAT is what bothered me. That headstrong, take charge girl, the one who thinks, who studies, who calculates before coming to conclusions-that girl was absent (or barely visible). So many times Scully just hops right into danger and makes BOLD leaps, piecing things together without second guessing. That is NOT the Scully we know. It’s hard to talk about Scully in her youth without comparing her to who she is in the future. Here Scully isn’t really likable, she’s more wishy-washy and doesn’t have the strongest voice. This would have been okay, because she’s so young and naive, but she doesn’t really learn. Sure she feels remorse for her actions, but I didn’t see much growth. 

The plot is definitely an X-File, not your typical murder-mystery. There’s a sinister, supernatural element that is perplexing, confusing, and all sorts of crazy. It will keep you on your toes and uncertain of what will happen. It’s a chaotic mess, but the kind that pushes you to seek answers and wonder what the endgame is. Plus the idea itself-the whole premise for the villain is insanely clever and wickedly evil. There’s so much more than meets the eye. 

Pacing was so-so, but picks up a lot towards the end.

Scully’s love interest. I liked him. He seemed like a good fit. Smart, resourceful, protective, but also stubborn. Their interactions were awkward and bashful. So cute. There’s no intense attraction like is common in a lot of YA right now. It’s more uncertainty, confusion, and sudden feelings. Curiosity. I appreciated the change of pace. 

The killer and the government agents.YES. They are done so well. You see the corruption, the fear, the manipulation. They were some of my favorite people in the book. They were complex and vicious and the darkness!!! ❤

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The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos explores the teen years of Fox Mulder, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. His story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news.

The book will follow Mulder as he experiences life-changing events that set him on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

review

4/5 Stars 

I feel bizarre saying this but Mulder is pretty freaking hot. He’s awkward and nerdy and has no idea what he’s doing with his life. He’s kind of just going with it until he’s hit with this murder that he feels is connected to his sister’s disappearance and the obsession is born. There’s this blend of angst and intelligence. Of yearning after his pretty, Star Wars obsessed best friend, trying to connect with his father, the disappointment that comes with that neglect, and learning what he’s passionate about. This is truly the birth of his interest in catching killers and paranormal. It felt right. It made sense. I LOVE him. 

Secondary characters. You guys, every character is so alive. They’re developed, intriguing, totally compelling. You want to know them. I adored Phoebe. She’s witty, intelligent, gorgeous, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her, calls people out on their fears, and is just an all around awesome character. And she’s totally nerdy. She reads textbooks, knows complex mathematics, physics, etc. She’s one fierce girl who somehow feels relatable. Gimble. Yes. Just yes. He’s interesting, a total dork, and a basic ode to the time period. I loved his lines and enthusiasm. He’s the perfect sidekick. Gimble’s father!!! It’s weird, but I became so invested in Gimble’s father’s conspiracy theories and the way his mind worked. Fascinating. You can see where Mulder got his methods from. I got a nostalgic, this feels so familiar vibe. The government agents. Some of their scenes were full of acerbic wit and heavy sarcasm. 

The scenes of the crimes were intricate, graphic without going too dark, and left enough mystery to keep me guessing and trying to fill in the blanks. Towards the end, the suspense was high. I was on edge and sickened. 

My biggest issue with the book was not Garcia’s portrayal of Mulder, but the way the mystery fit together. There were too many pieces that slid into place in a sort of what are the odds way. It was too simple. Too coincidental and we all know there are no  coincidences. 

While I wasn’t a fan of the romantic elements, they were more of a shrug to me, I was glad that Mulder had someone to nurture and encourage him. Phoebe being there for him is what mattered, the romance was secondary, despite Mulder’s frisky teenaged hormones. 

Enjoy your trip down memory lane, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: Forever Frenzy by Casey L. Bond

Cover Design by Cover Me Darling

Cover Photography by Pink Ink Designs

Cover Models: Daniel Wells and Becca Bryant

syn
Everything in Porschia Grant’s world was finally normal; the daily routine peppered with moments of happiness, sadness, and monotony. She longs for those moments now, because her entire world has been wrecked, and she didn’t even see it coming.

An evil escaped the underworld, killing someone she loves. It has to die, and she wants to be the one to end it.

But can Porschia live with herself if she takes on the curse she once hated? Will the consequences of her choice crush her?
How will she feel when someone from her past, someone she loved so deeply, enters her life again?

Tage has been guiding his son from the afterlife. He’s always been a part of Seth’s life, even if Porschia didn’t know the extent of his involvement. He’s watched over both of them from afar. Close, but never close enough.

Now they need him, and he’s about to risk everything to show her how much she still means to him.

For some, love never ends and frenzy is forever.

Excerpt

Keep reading for a sneak snippet of one very angry Porschia Grant …

Surprise lifted her brows.

“I didn’t expect—”

I was in front of her in an instant, backhanding her to the side. She stumbled, grabbing her bleeding lip and staring at me with contempt.

“You didn’t expect me to do what? Protect my family? That was your first mistake.”

She scoffed.

“The second was underestimating me.”

– Copyright Casey L. Bond

author
Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.

Interesting reading, 
Jordan


Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Imperfect Harmony by Raine Thomas

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A rock band. A reality show. The opportunity of a lifetime.
 
As the front man for The Void, lead singer Dane Archer has yet to achieve the success he craves. He hopes that will change when he’s approached about filming a reality show called House of Archer. All he and the band have to do is get some juicy footage while on their upcoming tour.
 
The problem? Archer’s life is a snoozefest. His parents are happily married, he’s never done drugs or gotten arrested, and he doesn’t get into fights with his band mates. He knows the show will fizzle and die before it ever hits the air, taking his dreams of worldwide fame along with it.
 
Unless…
 
If Archer can convince his best friend Lily to be on the show, he’s sure they’ll get all the compelling footage they need. Her life is filled with drama. Hell, she’s practically a reality show in her own right.
 
Archer’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Lily on board, even if it means charming her into being more than just friends. But when he finds himself falling for her, his seemingly simple plan gets complicated. Soon the line between reality and Reality TV begins to blur, leaving him wondering if achieving his dreams is worth all it might cost him.
author 
Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream.
 
Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and young adults with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. 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.
giveaway
Want to win a Kindle Fire, $25 Amazon GC, and Swag Pack?  Click the rafflecopter link below for your chance at these awesome prizes.
Presented by:
Read on, 
Jordan

Excerpt Blitz: Stay by A.L. Jackson

iBooks/GooglePlay/B&N/Kobo/Signed Paperback/Amazon Release Notification

Release Date: Jan 23, 2017

synFrom NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson comes the next sexy, gripping Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel…

I’m Ash Evans.
The life of the party.
Hot. Rich. Charismatic.
A tattooed rock star with the world at my feet.
I burn through women faster than the strike of a match.

I’ve embraced my lifestyle and live it to the fullest.
Until the day my lifestyle caught up to me.

Willow Langston found me at my lowest.
Literally.
Facedown in a puddle of my own blood.

I owe her my life and I have three months to repay that debt.
What I never should have done was touch her. Kiss her. Take her to my bed.

Love wasn’t supposed to be a part of the equation.
I gave up that nasty complication a long damned time ago.
Now I want her more than my next breath.
But she doesn’t know what I know.

Do I leave to protect her? Or can I face my demons and ask her to Stay?

Excerpt

She stared back at me with big chocolate eyes.

Molten.

Her gaze washed over me like lava.

Burning up everything in its path.

“You are so beautiful,” she said, voice hoarse.

“Peaches,” I whispered as a warning. Wasn’t sure I trusted myself with her right then.

“You are. Did you know…did you know the first time I saw you…when you were lying covered in blood and you opened your eyes and looked at me, that I saw it? Something so beautiful and raw and powerful. Even when you’d been broken. The way you looked at me shook me straight to my bones. And then tonight…what you did for me…I don’t…”

I roughed a hand through my thrashing hair, a perfect mirror to my thrashing heart. “Peaches.”

Another warning.

I didn’t deserve the way she was looking at me. Like I was good and right when I was no better than the bastard we’d left lying back there on the floor.

So slowly, she reached out, shaking fingers gentle as she traced them along the scar that marked that night beneath my eye.

A tremble took me whole.

Energy pulsed and shivered and shook.

Shit.

I gripped her by the wrist and pressed the underside to my nose. “You’re killing me, darlin’.”

“And you’re saving me.”

A hard frown hit me. “It was you who did all the saving.”

Sitting back a fraction, she shook her head. “If it weren’t for you, I’d be home tonight, hiding in the dark.” Her tongue darted out to sweep across her lips. “I never would have been brave enough to go there or to stand up to him. To say those things.”

“But that’s where I think you’re wrong, darlin’.” This time it was my turn to reach out and touch her. I cupped the side of her face, glancing between her and the road. “I think you’re so much braver than you’ve been giving yourself credit for. I see it there. Feel it every time I look at you. You’re incredible, Willow. Every time you walk through my door, I know it. So good that I know I shouldn’t be doing whatever the fuck it is I think I’m doin’ with you.”

She was still panting those breathy pants, and she leaned into my touch.

“I…” she attempted before she looked down, averted her gaze. Even with her head downturned, there was no missing the blush creeping to her cheeks. She hesitated before she spoke. “When you kiss me…it doesn’t feel like pretending. It feels like the best thing I’ve ever felt.”

I swallowed hard, crossing a line. Pushing into the boundaries that should have been firmly set in place. “That’s because when I kiss you? It’s not pretend. When I tell you you’re gorgeous—the best thing I’ve ever seen? I mean it. And when I look at you…”

I touched the center of my chest, feeling ripped open wide. Exposed. Maybe telling her the truth when it wouldn’t do either of us any good was wrong. But there was no hiding when this girl was looking at me that way. “I feel it right here. We might be pretending, but you can’t fake this.”

Like she didn’t trust herself, she pressed farther against the door. “You make me want things…things I know I shouldn’t want.”

“And what is it you want, Peaches?” I prodded low, knowing full well I was pointing us in the direction of no return. “Told you when I came into your store that I’d give you anything.”

“I want…” She tucked her bottom lip between her teeth, nervous or unsure whether to give me the truth.

Blood pounded mercilessly through my veins. Thickened with lust. All of it clouded my judgment, knocking loose my center of gravity.

Because I knew the look on her face. Desire was written across her like a musical score.

The way her body rocked and trembled and silently pled.

Desperate to be played.

I knew I should close my mouth. Shut this down. Drop her at home. Instead, I let the words slide free. “Tell me, Peaches.”

The needy rasp fell from between her lips. “I want you to touch me.”

authorFacebook/Reader Group/A.L. Jackson Author App/Amazon/Bookbub 

Romantic reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and  Del Rey

The Bear and the Nightingale is a love letter to old Rus’. 

The other day I found myself missing the Motherland. Once you’ve been to Russia, the spirit of the country latches on to you and you’ll never be able to forget it, even if it forgets you. The Bear and the Nightingale was the perfect answer to my melancholic nostalgia. That being said, rating this book was tricky for me because I love Russian culture so much, so deeply, that it hypnotized and transported me back to those dark and beautiful nights in Moscow and Suzdal and Vladimir and Tolstoy’s estate. I digress, but the point is if you have even the tiniest interest in Russian folklore, the old culture, and adore fairy tales, you’ll be swept up into this rustic and romantic tale of a girl kissed by magic and determined to save her people. 

Side note: Throughout the story I yelled at the book in Russian. Like full on what is this??? yelling. The transliteration irked me to no end and then I got to the end of the book and I laughed so hard. That author’s note made my day. She explained her choices and described how she though Russian speakers/students would react to the transliteration-with disdain and hands pretty much clenched in fists. Somehow, the fact that she knew it made it okay. 

The Bear and the Nightingale is whimsical, haunting, and twisted like any good fairytale. A blend of many stories known, loved, and feared in Russia still today, The Bear and the Nightingale is one epic journey that spans years. From the house-spirits, to the gods of the elements, to the celebrated figures of Baba Yaga and the Firebird, everything that is inherently Russian is present and accounted for. I loved that the focus was not on these known figures, but on the everyday ones that live in the household and receive offerings, that protect the hearth and livelihood of the family. 

This is a love story. Not in the traditional sense, but one of love for the land, for heritage, for culture, and in beings that others believe are myth. There’s not romance in the usual fashion, but there is a hint. 

The atmosphere and world building is strong. You’ll become fully immersed in the countryside, the power of the forest and all the magical beings that inhabit it. 

I loved Vasya. She’s known for being unattractive, frog-like, and weird, but her spirit makes her beautiful. She’s fierce, determined, sure of herself. She believes when others are filled with doubts. She throws herself into danger, she risks her life, she loves hard and barters for her people. She’s small, but she’s crafty and wild and bold. She does what everyone else in the story wouldn’t dare and that’s what makes her compelling. 

On a more somber note, there is some conversion that goes on in the story. Religious crusade of a sort that makes the reader question what happens when people story believing in their folklore, in their old gods, and all the stories that come with them. There’s something heartbreaking and sobering about this war within the people. 

The pacing may be slow for some, but it builds as it goes and Vasya becomes more adventurous. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: Loving You with Teeth and Claws by Martina McAtee

syn Twenty-two-year-old alpha wolf, Isa McGowan, is busy. While most people her age are finishing college and starting their careers, Isa’s raising four pre-teens and running a restaurant. She doesn’t have time for dating, and she especially doesn’t have time for the lunatic standing on her porch, claiming to be her fiancé . . . no matter how pretty he is.
 
Wren Davies has a dangerous problem, and Isa is his solution. When he arrives in Belle Haven to explain his plight, the last thing he expects is a punch to the face. Instead of finding a politically savvy alpha with a large wolf pack, he meets a barely five-foot spitfire with a mess of kids, a mean right hook, and a million excuses why she’ll never honor their betrothal.
 
Now Wren has two problems…
author
Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack chihuahua’s and two shady looking cats. When she isn’t writing young adult books about worlds with reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures she’s reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things released in August of 2015. Her second book in the Dead Things series, Dark Dreams and Dead Things, released July 15, 2016.

#Free with KindleUnlimited
Keep reading, 
Jordan

Review: Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

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syn

From the backyards of suburban Florida to the parched desert of New Mexico, Because of the Sun explores the complexity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the healing that can begin when the truth is brought to light.

Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.

Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

review

3/5 Stars

+++Potential triggers for abuse, violence, death

This book is weird. 

This is probably one of the most bizarre and strange interpretations of loss I’ve ever encountered. It’s weird in a way that makes you uncomfortable and raise your eyebrows straight into your hairline. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more awkward character. Dani is perplexing, puzzling, and you kind of can’t look away from the mess. 

The story is unexpected and surreal. It’s something that could happen, sure, but the odds…slim. This reads like an out of body experience. Dani is disconnected, so lost in her thoughts that it’s borderline hallucinogenic. Add her aloof nature, disconnect with her emotions, and the fact that she believes a bear is stalking her. The whole thing is all sorts of trippy. 

For most of the book, Dani mirrors the main character from Albert Camus’ The Stranger. P.S., if you haven’t read The Stranger and you plan on it, this book totally destroys the ending. I wish the main character would have said spoiler alert or something because once you see it, you can’t forget. She’s trying to process her mother’s death but is so far removed that she wanders around, out of touch with reality. What’s so important and different about this book is that it deals with a kind of loss that isn’t really talked about-how to deal with the death of someone you strongly disliked or even hated.

Dani’s relationship with her mother is complex. She harbors a ton of resentment, doubt, self loathing, and hatred towards her mother. Dani’s mother was verbally abusive, she made her feel small, like she was useless, a burden, and even her existence annoyed her mother. How do you feel when the person who made you feel that way dies in a horrific way? And if that person is your mother? No matter how much negativity Dani felt, she was still her mother. Dani struggles to sort through her feelings. The guilt of feeling a kind of relief that she’s gone, the loss, the anger, the things she never got to say. All of these chaotic thoughts and emotions plague her to the point that functioning like a normal person is almost impossible. This was eye-opening. So many times we see positive relationships between the protagonist and the person they lost, this was something else. 

Not much happens in the story. Dani is just trying to flail through life. No purpose, just time passing. Disconnected. Then there’s a random switch in POV that is enlightening and jarring. We get to see how Dani’s mom became the vile, but misunderstood woman she was. Nothing is ever what it seems. There’s so much we don’t know about our parents. 

There’s a subtle layer of commentary on perception of Mexican Americans, of people who live near the border, and the kind of prejudice they face. That was poignant, but subtle. 

The romance was…I mean…it wasn’t sexy, there wasn’t a bunch of tension or even chemistry. It was a choice and I liked that a lot. It’s way different and more refreshing than the constant instalove-even if that element is there to an extent. They listen to each other, the become friends, they help each other cope, and the make the decision to be something more. 

Pacing is slow. Dani isn’t exactly likable and she knows it. She makes herself that way. For much of the book, it’s hard to like her, but she’ll grow on you. If you’re looking for something odd and like contemporary, I’d try this one on for size.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Interesting reading, 

Jordan