Cover Reveal: Forbidden Waters-Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson

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Forbidden Waters (Mica and Lexy #2)-Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson

cooltext1889161239 copyAfter nearly being killed by drug dealers during an April hiking trip, Lexy and Mica are now on lock down. Their parents want them to stay safe and in town…but where’s the fun in that?

Bored and frustrated by these new restrictions and the fact they can’t hang out with their new boyfriends at will, the girls decide to take a sneaky boat ride across the lake, which isn’t strictly against the rules considering they aren’t actually leaving town.

But things don’t go according to plan.

Their sneaky trip across the water is fraught with disaster when they end up with an annoying tag-along, Tracey, who fills their heads with terrifying ghost stories of the murdering hermit who lives on the other side of the lake. Easy enough to brush off, until their boat capsizes and they find themselves injured and stranded in his ghostly turf. As night sets in, the girls find themselves on the run from a series of unexplained creepies that can only mean one thing…the ghost man is alive.

Will Eli and Tom, figure out where their girlfriends are and get there in time to help them? Or will these two best friends fall into the hands of the man rumored to have murdered his family?

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Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson have been best friends for well over a decade. Both mothers of two young children, both married to school teachers, and both lovers of writing, they have a lot in common. Having spent many vacations away together, they have become as close to sisters as two girls can get. It was on one of these holidays away that the Mica and Lexy Series was born.

Melissa is the author of multiple YA and NA books, written in a variety of genres. She is a fully trained elementary teacher, but is lucky enough to stay home and watch her kids grow. She is also spending every spare moment trying to turn writing into a full-time career … and loving the process.

Find out more about her books here: http://www.melissapearlauthor.com/news

Brenda was the one who encouraged Melissa to start writing in the first place. Once Melissa got started, Brenda caught the bug; she has been writing for ten years, in between motherhood and working at a local high school in the computer department. She has won two short story competitions and been runner up in another. Forbidden Territory is her first published novel.

Keep reading,

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ARC Review: Life Unaware-Cole Gibsen

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Release Date: April 28, 2015

Publisher: Entangled Teen

cooltext1712921505 copyRegan Flay has been talking about you.

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother’s “plan” for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she’s ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend’s hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan’s going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn’t really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she’s barely holding it together under her mom’s pressure. But the consequences of Regan’s fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched…

Especially Regan Flay.

cooltext1719331023 copy3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled.

Life Unaware is a hard-hitting introspective look at bullying that turns the lens on the bully and what would happen if they received what they dished out. Life Unaware reads almost like a diary, emotionally gripping, and brutally honest. Regan’s world crumbles and everything she knew is called into question. What happens when the bully is forced to confront the people they harassed? Would the harasser change with a different world view? Cole Gibsen sets out to answer these questions and many more about the nature of the human heart and what leads it to hurt, taunt, and attack peers.

PROS:

  • Regan Flay is a terrible person. She talks about people behind their backs, spread rumors, causes drama, and destroys lives. She’s a generally nasty person who has been taught by her mother that being cutthroat is the only way to get ahead in life. Take out your opponents, strike before they can counterattack, and never let them see you cry. Regan has an image to maintain and if she doesn’t her future is on the line. Regan has to be PERFECT. Anything less and she’s a failure, not only to herself but her friends, her mother, everyone. What I loved about Regan’s character is that she knows she’s a bad person, that she treats people like they’re worthless and that they don’t deserve her animosity. When all hell breaks loose, she feels that whatever hurt she suffers is justified because she knows the pain she’s inflicted better than anyone else. Regan is a mean girl but that doesn’t mean she’s not a sympathetic character. Regan suffers from acute anxiety and peer pressure. She nearly has a panic attack every time she enters the school, she’s just as scared as the rest of them of messing it up and dropping her facade of perfection. You feel every ounce of Regan’s fear. The rapid beating of her heart, the heavy breathing, the panic and foreboding that the harassment is inevitable. The urge to disappear, to end it is overwhelming and consuming. 
  • Regan goes through a drastic transformation as a human being. She’s humbled, battered and tormented by the same people she’d done the same to. Regan’s entire perspective on life shifts. When she’s able to see things from another person’s shoes, she learns to appreciate what little kindness there is in the world. Regan desperately wants to be a better person and through her trauma discovers that she was never truly living and had no idea who she was. Regan lived her life for other’s to please them, to impress them, to exceed their expectations. Regan learns to live for herself and what it means to respect, appreciate and admire others. 
  • The Life Unaware Project film was heartbreaking. The pain washes over you in a storm of emotional carnage. You can sense the impending doom and the disastrous effects. 
  • The graffiti therapy is a brilliant and poetic idea. At my university, we have a stall where people ask advice about sexual assault and strangers respond. This is not graffiti, it’s not vandalism, it’s therapy and has the potential to heal countless people that have been victimized by slander on bathroom walls and in general. 
  • Nolan is an enigma. One moment he’s charming, playful, light-hearted and the next he’s guarded and pensive. Nolan has experienced a lot and had his share of bullying and trauma. He’s talented, compassionate, and sort of delectable in his weird way.

CONS:

  • There were a few subplots that could have been beneficial to the plot to explore. They were interesting, thought-provoking and though somewhat expected, would have been interesting to see play out. Lesbians in Catholic school and the terror associated with coming out in that environment.
  • Nolan’s empathy towards Regan was unexpected and unexplained. His decision to be nice to her after years of teasing felt random and suspicious. 
  • The retaliation against Regan was shockingly tame and blew over way too quickly. High school drama moves fast but this was a little too easy. Forgiveness was very easy to obtain. There weren’t really any grudges. That felt unrealistic. 
  • Payton as the BFF faded out into the background. She didn’t have an extremely developed personality or memorable character. 

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

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Pleasant reading,

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ARC Review, Interview & Giveaway: The Legend of the Light Keeper-Kelly Hall

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Title: The Legend of the Light Keeper (Light Keeper series, #1)-Kelly Hall Publication Date: March 25, 2015 Publisher: Booktrope

cooltext1889161239 copyAfter a hurricane destroys her home, Lily Jordan is ready for life to get back to normal. That would be easy if her mother’s recent engagement hadn’t landed her in a house along Southeast Texas’ most haunted ghost road.

The secluded scenic road is steeped in rich history and legends, but when Lily is given an old diary on her birthday, will she find that those legends hold more for her future than she’s bargained for?

With the help of new friends, Hunter and Owen, and forbidden love, Talon, will she uncover dark secrets from the past and find the key to her own gifts? Is it fate or circumstance that brought her to her new home?

Normal gives way to the paranormal in book one of the Light Keeper series where mystery and suspense will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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  1. Do you believe in ghosts? 

Yes, I also believe in varying degrees and types of hauntings.

  1. What are some of your favorite ghost stories?

It’s hard to name a popular one, there are so many, but for me I really love hearing other people tell their accounts. It’s fascinating to me to listen to someone’s experience and be able to see their emotions when they tell them.

  1. Have you ever been to a haunted house?

Yes, I have. I have a friend I grew up with that lived in a house where I experienced things when I would sleep over. Sounds, seeing apparitions, windows closing on their own, and she even had her own claims of poltergeist type hauntings. Her mother always said the house was haunted by a little girl and one of our other friends believed that the little girl followed her home one night. There have been other places where I felt things but I think that most houses will take on the energy of the people who once lived there. I believe that our emotions and energies leave imprints.

  1. What inspired this story?

I really just wanted to write a book that no one else had ever written, about something that I was familiar with. I thought it would be cool to take a hometown legend, in this case the legend of the Bragg Road Ghost Light, and make up my own explanation as to what the Light is. It was always just an interesting story to me and I was skeptical about it existing as more than just debunked headlights or swamp gas. Then it was about a year after I started writing the book, that I had my own experience with the Light, while on a drive down the road with my family. It was something I can’t explain and something I’ll never forget.

  1. What are some of your favorite spooky books?

Well, while my book doesn’t have any vampires, I usually tend to lean toward books about or that include them and funny enough, they aren’t that scary. I love The Mortal Instruments, The Morganville Vampires, and The Vampire Academy series just to name a few. The scariest book I’ve ever read was Pet Sematary by Stephen King. That really creeped me out.

  1. Did you do any research for this story?

Since my story is written about a real local ghost road legend, I did do research on the road and the theories. I then took a lot of those and molded them into my own story, weaving little threads of them throughout, but taking creative liberties with them as well. All of the legends and historical events spoken of are real, but not all took place directly where I wrote them to. When world building I had to simplify things a bit. There are little nods to my hometown throughout, such as places that inspired me, but only someone from my hometown would probably understand them. That was fun to do.

  1. What are some of your favorite paranormal films/tv shows?

I love paranormal TV. I love anything that tells me about history and legends and I also love TV series like The Originals, Vampire Diaries, and Bates Motel. As far as movies, I love all kinds but I have a deep love for classics and old Hitchcock and horror films. Arsenic and Old Lace is one of my favorites because it deals with the macabre serial killing aunts, but does so with humor and I love Cary Grant. I also love psychological thrillers.

  1. Will this be a series? If so how many parts?

Yes, this will be a series of five books. I’m very excited about it!

  1. How do you feel about love triangles?

I love them! I love seeing one done in a fresh way with fresh dynamics. There is a rather strange one in mine and there will be more of that in the books to come.

  1. Tell me a little about your book, something that is NOT in the general synopsis?

Lily’s new friends Owen and Hunter are brothers. They live with their Granny and are the only other people living out on the road with Lily and Talon and their parents. Owen has feelings for Lily that no one can understand. They learn something really interesting about each other and it makes things much more confusing for poor Owen.

  1. If you could describe The Legend of the Light Keeper in 3 sentences what would they be?

Lily is a not-so-normal girl seeking normalcy who learns that her new home holds deep secrets of her powers and lineage. She’s thrust into a new living arrangement and quickly falls for her soon-to-be step-brother. Strange things start to happen and all comes together when she’s given an old diary for her birthday that leads her to her purpose and her new power.

  1. What do you want the reader to take away from this story?

This story is an introduction to my series. I really want the reader to get a good feel for the characters, understand their situations, and relate to them. This is a series about learning to embrace your inner gifts. Like Lily, we all have some special gift inside of us whether it’s that one is really good at a hobby, loves to read, or is empathetic to others. I want my readers to realize that it is okay to be themselves and let their inner gifts shine. Once we learn to embrace our talents and gifts and what makes us unique, that is when we really begin to shine and that’s when great things happen. The Light exists and it’s in us all.

Thank you so much for this opportunity. ~Kelly cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and in participation with this tour.

The Legend of the Light Keeper is a chilly tale of mystery, murder, and heartbreak but it is also one of self-discovery, faith, and hope. Combining the spooky aura of legend and real life tragedy, The Legend of the Light Keeper will have you hanging on to every clue, hoping to solve the dizzying puzzle of the Light and its connection to Lily.

PROS:

  • The Legend of the Light Keeper centers on the ghost stories and speculation about the Light on Ghost Road in Bragg, Texas. Based on a series of eye-witness encounters with this paranormal phenomenon and the history of Conquistadors, oil, and railroad greed, the story is all the more haunting because it is based in fact and you can read more about the legends with a quick internet search.
  • The history of the Light and Bragg, Texas is rich and intoxicating. There are so many secrets and uncertainties that it consumes you and it’s easy to get lost in the strength of the atmosphere. Lily’s heritage is as shadowed as her abilities but as the truth outs, everything is connected in a seamless, wonderfully clever way. The diary, the forbidden romance and intrigue of the past add a bit of daring and drama that ups the adrenaline propelling the story forward.
  • Lily lost everything in the hurricane but she is resilient, thoughtful and strong. Lily thinks of others before herself, is constantly concerned about their welfare and takes serious risks. Unafraid to get dirty and hang with the boys, Lily is adventurous and willing to try anything whether it be mudding or camping out in the woods with poisonous snakes and creepy neighbors. Lily is conflicted about her past. She’s terrified. She doesn’t know what’s going on with the Shadows and the Light but one thing she does have is faith. Lily recognizes the Light as truth, answers to riddles of the past, and hope. Lily can see what others do not and her beliefs are unshakable. Lily gets scared, she crumbles, she cries but that makes her all the more real and compelling in her vulnerability.
  • Talon is charming, helpful, warm, and the rock Lily needs to get through the mess the Light has brought into her life. His past is full of regrets and secrets that permeate the plot, lurking beneath the surface. Talon is playful, constantly teasing Lily one moment and chasing away her fears in the next. He accepts her wholeheartedly and becomes a friend that Lily can count on.
  • Together, Lily and Talon have an easy, magnetic connection. They flow together. The romance is more casual than longing looks and heated touches. It’s natural, almost like fate. It feels inevitable, potent and tethered to the Light.
  • Secondary characters are memorable, lively and have unique qualities that each compliment and build the story. Owen and Hunter are double trouble. Hilarious, full of boyish pranks and inexhaustible energy, they bring a light cheerfulness to the gloom and doom of the Light and Lily’s Shadow attacks.

CONS:

  • There are two main story arcs, that of the mystery shrouding the Light and the blossoming love between Talon and Lily. So much focus was put on building and maintaining the chemistry between these characters that the Light felt like it took a backseat to their romance. As the story progressed, concentration on the Light and the ghostly aspects increased but Lily’s preoccupation with Talon’s feelings towards her was a distraction.
  • Lily’s ability to see Shadows was introduced with little explanation other than she’s always seen them. Counterbalanced with her power to see loved ones’ spirits on the brink of death, while there were poignant, beautiful scenes of loss and love, there were hardly any background stories of Lily’s battle with the Shadows. A clearer picture of Lily’s history with the Shadows, how they interacted with her, how they altered and shaped her life might have laid the foundation for Lily’s crippling fear of the dark. Instead, Lily’s panic attacks feel like overreaction for a good part of the story.
  • It was farfetched that everyone simply believed Lily’s stories. The woman in the Light, the Shadows, her insistence that her nightmares were horrifying depictions of the past were all accepted with wide eyes and a promise to hunt for the truth. Lily had just met all of these people, Talon, Owen, Hunter, Granny; they had no basis to trust her especially on something so subjective as ghosts and dangers in the dark.

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Kelly Pic Kelly Hall was born and raised in Southeast Texas, and lives in a small town just a stone’s throw from the ghost road where her Light Keeper series is based. When she’s not busy writing, or spending time with her husband and two sons, this self-proclaimed creative junkie dabbles in many different forms of art, including cake decorating and mixed media.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

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

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Release Day Blitz: Undeniably Chosen-Shelly Crane

cooltext1889161239 copyAva has watched her parents, Caleb and Maggie, live the perfect fairy tale, the perfect love story, played out in front of her eyes her entie life. Her family is love, life, and happiness. The Jacobsons are everything a family should be and Ava is loved and well taken care of. But the one thing that’s missing from her life is the one thing she’s waited for every day, the one thing her kind knows will make them complete, the one thing they thought was gone and lost forever.

Her significant.

Seth has lived with the Watsons his entire life. They’re the only family he knows, but there are things they keep from him. He knows that they lie and they do unspeakable evil, things from when he was a child that he can barely remember that cling to the edges of his memory. He barely remembers his real mother and all he knows is what he’s told. He doesn’t know what to trust. He wants to believe that the Watsons love and care for him, have his best interest at heart, but isn’t so sure of that anymore when he finally-after a lifetime of waiting for her-meets his soulmate, and the Watson’s first act is to try and take her away from him.   

The Virtuoso worlds collide, hearts are exposed, humans are endangered, and the lives of Seth and Ava are changed forever. They’ll have to love without judgment or reservation, they’ll have to be wise and accepting beyond their years, they’ll have to forgive for things before they’ve even happened, they’ll have to trust without seeing, have faith without knowing, and they’ll have to light their own way in the dark when everyone else is blind to show them the way. And more than anything else…

…they’ll fight like hell to keep each other.

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cooltext1921345213 copy          When I entered the kitchen where the breakfast nook was, everyone stopped eating and talking, which made me feel so uncomfortable until Seth stood up so fast that his chair almost tipped over behind him.
He let his out in a slow, low noise before… “Wow.”
Mom chuckled and leaned back with a smile, clapping twice. “And that, ladies and gentleman, is how it’s done.”
My neck was so pink I could feel it, and Seth—realizing he’d just practically fallen at my feet in front of everyone—smiled that smile that tore through me like tissue paper and then turned it on my mother. She sat up straighter and looked at me with wide eyes.
‘I know’, I mouthed as I moved toward him.
“Eat, Ave,” Dad said, knowing what I was doing.
“I’m going to be late. And it’s the last day of school before winter break.”
“Gee, I wonder why you’re late—” Rodney began. I punched his arm.
“I’ll just take this.” I grabbed a biscuit, stuck a piece of sausage in it, and wrapped it in a napkin. “I’ll eat it,” I promised.
“I’ll make sure she eats,” Seth told them. Mom came and hugged him, telling him something in his ear and he nodded. “Thanks, Mrs. Jacobson. I will. I promise.”
Dad patted his shoulder and told him to make sure to stop by anytime, no invitation needed. Dad went to the counter and started making me a coffee in a to-go cup. I knew he was doing it, because I saw him pull the Hazelnut creamer from the fridge. But I saw him pull out a second to-go cup…and he made it black. How did he already know that Seth took his coffee black?!
“What is going on here?” I muttered under my breath.
Seth took both of the cups from my dad and guided me with an arm around my back. “Thanks for the coffee and breakfast. Bye, guys.”
“Bye, Seth!” Mom called cheerily.
I looked at the snow and the porch as we came outside to make sure that everything was the same, that I hadn’t entered an episode of a TV show of some alternate reality or something.
I looked at Seth. “If you tell me your name is The Doctor, I’m outta here.”
He laughed loudly. “And now you’re a “Doctor Who” fan? Freaking adorable,” he mumbled under his breath. “Your parents are awesome, Ava.” He was so sincere.
“I was worried I was going to have to save you.”
“No need.” He used his elbow to swipe the snow off of a spot and then set the coffees on his hood. The truck was already cranked so he must have the kind where you do it from the key fob because there were no footprints in the snow. He opened the door, helped me in, and then got the coffees, handing mine to me. “They were awesome about not making me feel weird. Even Rodney wasn’t too bad.”
He laughed before shutting my door.
My dress wasn’t too short, but I did notice how it rose up mid-thigh when I sat down. But the leggings kept the ensemble decent. And warm.
The truck was so warm, but I still slid over as soon as he shut my door. When he got in and saw how close I was, his grin was adorable. He got in and turned the heat on even more, looking at my legs and shutting his eyes for a few seconds too long. “You’re not too cold with those on?”
“Leggings?” I laughed.
“Is that what they’re called?” he half-growled as he backed out and got on the road. “They should be called evil.”
“They’re just like pants, just thinner. Jeans, just not made of quite the same thing. Jeggings.”
He laughed and shook his head. “As long as you’re warm, sweetheart, call ‘em whatever you want.” He looked at my legs again and then away with a little groan. “I’ll just call them evil because I can see every inch of your legs in those things.”
My heart practically did the Tennessee Waltz behind my ribs. “And that’s evil?” I squeaked.
“Evil,” he reiterated and smiled.

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Shelly is a NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay-at-home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. She hoards paperbacks, devours sweet tea, searches year-round for candy corn, and loves to spend time with her family and friends, go out to eat at new restaurants, site-see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music, and, of course, loves to read, but doesn’t have much time to these days with all the characters filling her head begging to come out. She is author to over twenty books and counting!

Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn’t go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born.

Twitter /Facebook/Website/Instagram/WeHeartIt/Tumblr/TSU /Amazon Page/B&N Page/Kobo Page/iBookstore Page/Smashwords Page/Goodreads Page/Shelfari Page

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Protecting Shaylee-Elle Christensen

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Protecting Shaylee Cover

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Protecting Shaylee (Fae Guard, #1)-Elle Christensen
Publication Date: April 24, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

cooltext1790897456 copySHAYLEE

As a child, I believed in the fairytales my father told me.
Until he was gone and with him, that belief.
As a girl, I believed in the friendship and protection of Aden.
He made me begin to believe again.
As a woman, I believed in the possibility of love and passion between myself and Aden.
Until he was gone and with him, my belief in magic and happy endings.

ADEN

When she was a child, I was tasked with her protection.
As a girl, I became her friend.
As a woman, I could no longer see the child I knew and was forced to fight a growing attraction.
Unable to lie and unable to tell the truth, I left.
Now I’ve returned to give the knowledge I couldn’t before, that she is half Fae.
The darkness is stalking her and I am desperate to teach her what she needs to know to protect herself. And determined to make her mine.

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portrait of a beautiful girl outdoor with eyes closed

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Elle ChristensenI’m a lover of all things books, I’ve been an obsessive reader since I learned how to spell! I’ve been writing novels and short stories since I was twelve, but they say to write the genre you love the most, so as an adult, I fell easily into writing romance. My husband is my biggest supporter and he’s a great sport when it comes to fighting the people in my imagination for my attention. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them!

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Cover Reveal: Shatter-Courtney Houston

Shatter (Defying Death, #1)-Courtney Houston
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Tentative Release Date: May 1st 2015
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 I am going to do something that has never been done before.
 
My name is Telor Conway, and I am going to destroy Death. Bring her to her knees in front of me.
 
I don’t know how and I don’t know when.
 
The only thing I know for certain, is that nothing will come between me and my soul mate ever again.
 
I’ve been given a second chance at life, a life with Catalina. I’ve been given something worth fighting for.
 
I will fight for it, for her… for us. Even if it is the last thing I do.
 
I have thrown the gauntlet.
 
On your marks.
 
Get set.
 
Go.
 
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Courtney lives in Kentucky with her husband (Mr. Houston), her two boys (Emmett and Ellis), her two cats (Polly and Jed) and her 3 chickens. Legal Assistant by day and writer by night, Courtney enjoys pancakes, coffee, wine and the number 26. She’s a Leo, at least that’s what the tattoo on her back says.
Happy reading,
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ARC Review: Down from the Mountain-Elizabeth Fixmer

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cooltext1889161239 copyEva just wants to be a good disciple of the Righteous Path. She grew up knowing that she and her mother are among the chosen few to be saved from Armageddon. Lately, though, being saved feels awfully treacherous. Ever since they moved to the compound in Colorado, their food supplies have dwindled even while their leader, Ezekial, has stockpiled weapons. The only money comes from the jewelry Eva makes and sells down in Boulder–a purpose she’ll serve until she becomes one of Ezekial’s wives. 

But a college student named Trevor and the other “heathens” she meets on her trips beyond the compound are different from what she’s been led to believe. Now Eva doesn’t know which is more dangerous–the outside world or Brother Ezekial’s plans.

cooltext1889171582 copy4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Albert Whitman Teen.

+++Slight trigger warning: abuse

Down from the Mountain is a gripping, terrifying story because of just how real it is. 

PROS:

  • Eva’s voice is poignant and powerful, she questions things and looks at the world differently than most of the other people on the Righteous Path. Eva is suspicious and insanely courageous. She calculates just how much to push and when to censor herself. Sometimes she makes mistakes and the punishment is cruel. Eva is riddled with doubt. As much as she wants to believe in the ideology of the Righteous Path and the purity of Ezekial’s connection with God, her intuition leads her astray. She’s perceptive and understands people on a deep, emotional level. Eva’s internal dialogue is honest and raw, fused with deep-seeded doubt and emotional turmoil. Eva prays to God to save her from her pride, her vanity, and to help her be more submissive while second guessing what she really wants. Torn between what she believes she deserves as a human being and her position as a contributing member of the Righteous Path, Eva knows she must obey but wishes she didn’t have to. The fear and anxiety of checking her every word, of what Ezekial will do and the punishment she’ll receive for even the smallest mistake is crippling. It’s astounding how strong and resilient Eva is in the face of imminent abuse and harassment. 
  • The cult mentality is reinforced by the threat of abuse and retribution, paying for sins and dealing with the disappointment of the whole community. Throughout, you’ll see that faith in Ezekial is almost like idolatry, to these characters, he is God. The beliefs are ingrained into their mind so much so that they don’t dare to question. It’s like reading someone who has been feed only certain information and cannot think for themselves. There’s no questioning, no compromise only sheer, unadulterated belief that Ezekial’s word is God. Elizabeth Fixmer did an amazing job capturing the indoctrination. I almost never had to ask myself why or how they couldn’t see beyond their faith because it was truth, it was absolute, there was no other way for most of these characters. From the outside, it’s hard to imagine how someone can become so invested in things like the Righteous Path that they turn a blind eye to other methods of faith, reading Down from the Mountain gave me a mental framework to build on and I was finally able to understand how cults become so large and have so many followers. 
  • The rules are laid out with precision. Everything from social interaction, to clothing, to confession are clear cut expectations and cater to Ezekial’s whim. Anyone who strays from the path is a threat that needs to be taught a lesson in faith, typically in the form of physical abuse via paddle. The compound is a fully functioning, simple community. It’s easy to imagine their lifestyle and fall into their routines. 
  • Ezekial is a passionate zealot who sees himself as a mouthpiece for God. He revels in the power he holds over the community because to them, he is king and savior, he’s their ticket to heaven. Underneath his devotion to the cause, he’s selfish, abusive, a generally despicable person. Ezekial is lecherous, he preys on these religious women and uses them to supposedly aid the Righteous Path, teaching them that they are sinful, less, and must remain pure unless they become like the harlot, Eve. Ezekial puts everyone down and gets a gleeful rush out of throwing around his power. Sometimes his madness is clear, others, it’s hard to tell if he truly believes or likes his position as Prophet. 
  • Eva’s punishment is borderline traumatic and painful to read. Her terror is explosive, she trembles and cries, you feel her agony radiating off the page. Ezekial tries to break her and gloats over it. It’s truly one of the most impassioned, heartbreaking moments I’ve read in a long time. For the first time, you see Eva as the little girl she is, that she’s scared and just wants to be protected and she’s a victim of those in power. 
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe plays a pivotal role in Eva’s road to strength and understanding God. Anyone who has read and loved C.S. Lewis will adore how Eva views Aslan, how she comes to find truth in the beauty of God and His capacity for love. Moments when Eva imagines Aslan as shorn are especially bittersweet. Aslan mirrors Eva’s pain and helps her come to grips with what she must do to save herself and accept that God is made of love and doesn’t expect constant sacrifice, fear and punishment for sins. 

CONS:

  • Some sections were slow. Due to their reclusive lifestyle and prevention from indulging in  technology, not much happens on the compound apart from prayer/sin/confession meetings and chores. About halfway through the book, the pace picks up dramatically and small incidents cut the story into bursts of adrenaline and fear. 
  • For anyone who knows even a tiny bit about religious cults, Down from the Mountain may seem predictable. There weren’t any especially shocking parts because the cult mentality was so strong. 
  • Throughout the story, Eva has doubts about Ezekial’s role as leader and prophet but clings to the idea that those who aren’t on the Righteous Path are devilish heathens. When Eva gets out into the real world, everyone is extremely nice and super helpful. Eva had little reason to doubt the heathens. I think, had some of the outsiders been I guess, more realistic, Eva would have had a greater challenge to her beliefs. It was odd that everyone went out of their way to help, literally sacrificing time and money to aid her and that no one insulted her clothes, instead just calling her retro. Every single person Eva came into contact with was genuine and sweet? I couldn’t believe it and it robbed some credibility from the story.

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