ARC Review & Giveaway: Rise of the Sea Witch by Stacey Rourke


 
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Details of the sea witch’s banishment have been exaggerated. The body count that preempted it was not. Once an illustrious princess, her hands and tentacles were stained with the blood of thousands. No one could comprehend how the hooks of madness dragged her down from her life of privilege. 
 
Born Princess Vanessa of Atlantica, the ambitious young royal was one of two children born to the great King Poseidon. She and her brother, Triton, were groomed from birth to rule. Yet only one would ascend that coveted throne. While carefree Triton flits through his training with a cavalier demeanor and beguiling charm, Vanessa’s hunger for her father’s acceptance drives her to push herself to the limits of magic, and combat to become a leader worthy of her people. 
 
When war against the humans ravages their once regal kingdom, political sides are chosen. Factions from the seven seas challenge the existing leadership, pitting Vanessa against her brother in a vicious battle for the crown. Traitors are exposed, dark family secrets revealed, and a once strong sibling bond is strained to its breaking point.
 
Only when the ink black waters from the ultimate betrayal rescind, will the truth be known of how the villainous sea witch rose with one name on her vengeful lips–Triton.
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review
I’ve always been a fan of Stacey Rourke’s retellings. They’re usually far more dark and sinister, closer to Grimm than Disney and I adore that kind of twisted carnage. This is a YA retelling of how Ursula, like from The Little Mermaid, came into existence. It explores what it takes to make an innocent and caring person turn dark, how much betrayal and anguish a person (mermaid) can take before they crack, and whether love can truly heal all wounds.
Here’s what I loved: 
  • Princess Vanessa is a victim and it is so not her fault. All she has ever done is try to be a perfect daughter to the point of stifling who she is. She’s young, idealistic, and so hopeful. She has a pure and beautiful heart, she truly cares, she’s funny, her sarcasm is on point. She’s pretty awesome. And then she gets better. She is forced to make choices that transform her from the inside out. She must embrace her magic and she does not always make the best decisions, in fact, sometimes they’re downright cruel and propelled by anger. BUT that’s what makes her more real; she’s flawed and hurt and sometimes broken but never, ever defeated and there’s power in that.
  • The world building is amazing. Each ruler of the Seven Seas is unique and they all have tons of personality. There are whole cultures and ideals in tiny details that fit so well together. You can totally picture little under water countries. 
  • Vanessa’s relationship with Triton. She adores him. Even though he’s like a little free-spirited hippie who would rather frolic around than be responsible, how could you not love those golden curls? Their relationship is a complex one. But it’s adorable. And then crash and burn. You’ll think about how the children you met in the very beginning of the book transformed into these two strangers. It’s heartbreaking.
  • Plot twists. There are a ton and they’re truly shocking. You don’t expect them. But when they’re revealed you’ll definitely think, ahhhh, it all makes sense now. 
  • I love love love Vanessa and Alastor. Epitome of slow burn. The way he cares for her. It’s so sweet, omg. 
Here’s what I disliked: 
  • The structure. I don’t know if it’s because of my ARC or if this is in the finalized version, but the blending of past with present, the sort of omnipotent voice that runs through in Italics and then the time jumps. There are big gaps in time that range from 2 months to several years. Which is fine, but when coupled with the italics it’s a little confusing and took me time to readjust. Initially the whole prologue was iffy. You assume who it’s about and what’s going on from prior knowledge but it reads as a stream of consciousness merging of random thoughts that kind of feel out of place sometimes. The organization-style choice- wasn’t my favorite. 
  • Some plot points ended abruptly. There’s this whole build up on animosity between Vanessa and another character and then boom, over. I guess, I just wished there was more…hands on retribution. 
giveaway
Enter for your chance to win a signed poster and keychain!
author
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Reel Romance Series. She currently hard at work on the Unfortunate Soul Chronicles, and additional literary projects. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.

 

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Pleasant reading, 
Jordan

Cover Reveal: Dreamwalker by Bridgette O’Hare

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To realize who you are, you must forget who they taught you to be.
 

For eighteen years, Halle Michaels has been the ideal daughter, the perfect friend, and the good girl she was expected to be. She never knew she was living a lie and that those closest to her have been the most deceitful of all.

 

Now, she’s hunted by Hell’s elite and armed only with what she can learn from the cryptic journal her father left behind and a protector she’s not so sure she can trust.

 

All she wants is to find the truth, but the longer the truth lives in the shadows the harder it is to recognize in the light.

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 OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES 

Lullaby: FREE
 
Silent Night:

 

author

By night, Bridgette O’Hare is the bestselling author of the Upper YA Supernatural Suspense Book of Dreams series. 
 
By day, Bridgette is the owner and Senior Editor at Plot2Published Publishing Services, owner at Wit & Whimsy Cover Design and ridiculously proud Mom to two awesome male human beings.
 
You can often find her instigating shenanigans on Facebook and she loves when readers join in on the fun. Check out her books on Amazon, book three in the Book of Dreams series is scheduled for release in June.
Read on, 
Jordan

Release Blitz: The Librarian by Christy Sloat

the librarian

Goodreads/Amazon

Release Date: June 16th, 2017

Cover Design: Pretty AF Designs

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He’s from 1892 England, she’s in a small library in 2017. And that’s just the start of their troubles.

Emme never meant to stay in Maine. She’d come only to find a librarian for her Gram’s library, a custodian for the collection of mysterious books she’d promised to protect. On a dark, wintery night, alone in the library, she takes her first glance into one of the antique novels and finds herself transported to 1892 England staring into the eyes of handsome and dashing hero Jack Ridgewell. As each chapter passes she learns you can truly fall in love with a character in a book, that book boyfriends are real and Emme must choose between the real world, and his.

When the last page is read he’s gone and Emme feels the cold loneliness of lost love. Will she find Jack again, or will their love be forever lost? The answer lies within the pages…

authorresizedauthorWebsite/Facebook/Blog/Twitter/Instagram

Christy Sloat resides in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and her Chihuahua, Sophie. Christy has embraced the love of reading and writing since her youth and was inspired by her grandmother’s loving support. She loves adventurous journeys with her friends and can be known to get lost inside a bookstore. She is the bestselling author of twelve novels including, The Visitors Series, The Past Lives Series and the award-winning Slumber Duology.

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Promo: The Realmers Series by William Collins

a darker shadeGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

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The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.

Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-operas and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.

Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon creatures to fight for him and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

moonlight warGoodreads/Amazon

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After the catastrophic events of book 1, Evan and Brooke are trying to come to terms with recent revelations. However, it isn’t long before their duties as Venators throw them back into action.

Whilst Evan faces a deathly trial to advance further in his training, Brooke embarks on her very first mission, which sees her embroiled in a war between the vampires and werewolves of London. If the werewolves and shifters baying for her blood wasn’t enough, Brooke also has to face a starkly changed Arantay.

Meanwhile the Dark-Venator forces are rising, whilst Evan and his friends contend with the mysterious disappearances of several Venators. Could they have been kidnapped? Evan also faces backlash from many of his fellow trainees, who hate or fear him. Evan thinks their reactions are bad now, but it would be nothing if they discovered his secret. His peers may even try to kill him if they learned the truth.

Evan knows he has to pass his trial to gain his first mission as a Venator, but he may never make it that far if his hidden powers aren’t controlled. Across the realms, a terribly malignant force has learned of Evan and Brooke, and plans to strike.

moonlight war act 2Goodreads/Amazon

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Brooke has learned who engineered the war between werewolves and vampires in London, and if she and Arantay can’t stop it, not only will the city be destroyed, but everyone will know the Moonlight races exist.

Jed has discovered why Venators are being kidnapped from Veneseron, but now he’s trapped inside the captor’s lair himself, perhaps never to return.

Evan has set off on his own first mission, where he must travel through multiple bizarre worlds, attempting to stop a demonic cult. Unfortunately, two of Evan’s companions are two of his biggest rivals. His mission is thrown into further jeopardy when Evan learns he is being hunted by a force more powerful than anything he’s faced before.

Jed suffers a grisly injury. An enemy discovers Brooke’s biggest secret. Evan is marked by a wound magic can never heal, and not everyone survives.

Due to Moonlight War growing so long, it was split into two acts. As such, this novel continues directly from where Act I finished.

Excellent reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review & Giveaway: Breaking by Danielle Rollins

BREAKINGbreakingGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/TBD/iBooks

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Companion novel to Burning.

Prep school gets a twist of supernatural suspense in this commercial YA thriller.

Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Underhill Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school—or her demanding mother—her two best friends became the family she never had. When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Underhill Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Underhill are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…

Suspenseful and scintillating, with hints of the supernatural, this fast-paced thriller will keep readers hooked.

review

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Bloomsbury USA Children’s

***Triggers violence and suicide. Animal cruelty.

HERE’S WHAT I LOVED:

  • The dark and gritty, almost fairy tale-like quality of Ariel, Devon, and Charlotte. It almost read like magical realism with a sci-fi twist. I adored the dreamy, twisted idea of them being archetypes of fairy tale princesses whose mothers either abandoned or neglected them and all they had was a sisterhood. Yes, that. Yes. 
  • The characters are imperfect. In fact, they aren’t even really likable for the most part. The more Charlotte reminisces about Devon and Ariel, the more cruel and sadistic they seem. Some scenes are truly horrific and disturbing. Like if you love animals…one scene will give you some serious anxiety. I held my breath through that one. The anticipation and fear are too real. Charlotte is one of those characters that you sort of sympathize with, though she does have quite a bit of self-pity. She thinks she’s less attractive, less intelligent, etc., than everyone at her school. There is a total of one scene that shows where that insecurity comes from-the pretty much abusive mind games her mother forced her to play as a child. I wasn’t entirely sold on her character. She was okay. As the story progressed, she did get better. She became rebellious, angry, and a little vicious. Not everything was so black and white. 
  • Mystery definitely propels the plot forward. What at first seems like a string of suicides becomes suspect. What made two girls who were relatively happy and popular kill themselves? There are all sorts of clues and weird incidents that make you question everything. 
  • The ending. Violent, vengeance-fueled, incendiary 😉 it’s sort of evil, but also justified. It was deeply satisfied with the ending. 

HERE’S WHAT I DISLIKED: 

  • The romance. There is so much build up that makes you think it’s something it’s totally not. Something more. Maybe Charlotte is blinded. Whatever. But the reader can see. There’s chemistry sure. And lust, definitely. But anything else, I wasn’t getting any strong emotions, even before the numbness started to set in. 
  • I read Burning. There were several references to things that happened in this book that it kept throwing me off and I flipping through my memory trying to remember anything that might be relevant to the story. There is SO little about what happened in Burning and as a companion where the events that happened in the first book directly influence major plot points, I felt like there should have been more than a few measly clues. 
  • The pacing was a little slow for me. It did pick up but way, way towards the end. Then it’s just crazy action and violence and all sorts of chaos. 

authorDanielle (1)

Amazon/B&N/TBD/iBooks/Goodreads

Author of the best-selling MERCILESS series, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, BURNING, and BREAKING. I’m currently working on the last installment of the Merciless books, & starting a new series to be announced later this year.

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Enter for your chance to win a finished copy of Breaking. US ONLY.

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Read more, 

Jordan

Guest Post & Giveaway: What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

WHAT I LOSTWhat I Lost (1)Amazon/B&N/TBD/iBooks/Goodreads

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What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.

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EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENE

We had a new therapist for music therapy on Thursday. Her name was Sunny and she wore a long, drapey skirt made from a blue tapestry and smelled like incense. She didn’t look much older than me and wore at least ten silver bracelets on her right arm that clinked together whenever she moved.

We sat on the carpeted floor as classical music played. I think it was supposed to calm us.

“Okay, guys. Close your eyes and feel the music,” Sunny said, her eyes wide. “What does it bring up? What do you see? What do you remember? Write down anything that comes to you.”  

I looked over at Willa. She was drawing big huge scribbles. She grinned at me and scrawled “Suck suck suck suck suck this sucks” in big angry letters. She giggled. I drew flowers. Perfectly symmetrical flowers. If one wasn’t perfect, I scribbled it out.

 Sunny had turned and was scrolling through iTunes, her back to us. Right when I thought Willa was going to rip a hole in her paper, Madonna blasted through the speakers hanging from all four corners of the room. I jumped.

The music was old, some song from the eighties or nineties where Madonna kept singing “celebrate! It will be all right!” It was the sort of song Mom would squeal over and sing along to. The girls and I just sat there confused. Sunny couldn’t want us to dance, could she?

Sunny spun around, skirt twirling, and saw us sitting there like statues. “Well, move, guys!”

Was this a trap? A way to get us all to drink an Ensure? No one budged. We weren’t supposed to “move.” Anything beyond necessary walking was strictly prohibited.

“Come on guys! Listen to the beat! Move with the music!” She swayed in the front of the room, and every time she waved her arms we could smell patchouli.

I stared at the floor, willing someone else to go first. I did not want to have to drink an Ensure. That’s what happened if they caught you running or exercising around here.

Still, my toes bumped to the beat. Madonna was sort of contagious.

Celebra-ate! It will be all right!

Finally, Jean, who everyone called a “lifer” because she’d already been at the hospital for nine months, stood up and started to wiggle her butt, just a little. Willa jumped up next, and I followed. Soon all eight of us were on our feet, laughing, moving, wiggling, jumping, dancing like—what is that cheesy quote that is always showing up on cards and magnets? —oh yeah, like nobody was watching.  Ally, a girl from Manhattan whose parents visited every week, started to moonwalk. We hooted and cheered. I laughed and felt something inside me crack open. For the first time in a long time, I felt normal, like I could be in my basement dancing with my friends Katrina, Priya, and Shay, like the last few months had never happened.  

And then, without warning, the music disappeared, like a needle ripped from a record. We froze. A disapproving Nurse Jill stood next to Sunny, who looked ashamed, like a kid caught playing in her mother’s closet. We stood there, panting, Ally’s face red from her crazy moves.

“Lunch time,” Nurse Jill said. The frown lines in her already wrinkled cheeks deepened.

giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of WHAT I LOST, US Only.

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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Alexandra Ballard has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master’s from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of California. Today she writes full time and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. What I Lost is Alexandra’s first novel.

OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR 

Week Two:

6/5/2017- Lisa Loves Literature- Review

6/6/2017- YA Book Madness- Guest Post

6/7/2017- The Cover Contessa- Interview

6/8/2017- Book Briefs- Review

6/9/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

Keep reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

aftercareGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: June 27, 2017

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“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.

review

3/5 Stars 

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

+++Triggers for abortion, suicide, death

This is the first YA book I’ve read that has dealt with the sensitive and extremely relevant topics of teenage pregnancy and choosing abortion. We definitely need more of these heavy-hitting subjects because despite the tendency for society to pretend sex doesn’t happen in high school, it does and a lot. Kids make mistakes, especially when it comes to mixing alcohol and unprotected sex (which is not even the case in this story, the condom actually breaks). This is 100% a story that needed to be written, explored, and experienced. Okay, let me get off of my soapbox about this and talk about the book.

The story centers around a girl who is very much in love with her boyfriend, they have sex, and unfortunately the condom breaks and she ends up pregnant. He comes from a very traditional, upper class, church-going family, and has been raised to believe abortion is the highest form of sin, much worse than the pre-martial sex he indulged in. Gen comes from a broken family. Her father OD’d, her mother is dangerously depressed, and she is left to pick up the pieces after their tragic loss. Their home situations are vastly different and yet, he adores her quirkiness and her big heart. He is compassionate and understands her home life is less than ideal and he’s there for her when some truly devastating and horrific stuff happens. So what’s the problem?

This dynamic is not explored. I loved that they came from families that are basically opposites. That despite everything working against them socially, they inherently understood each other. And yet, the story structure…doesn’t work well with the plot. It’s a series of flashbacks to how they fell in love and the current heartbroken times post-abortion. It’s nostalgic and dreamy and rose-tinted, despite the hospital visits and everything else. The very problematic issue of Peter’s personal, religious beliefs are pretty much glossed over and the catty former friend who wants to sink her claws into Peter is front and center. Why? I don’t understand. Maybe the author wanted to take another route or didn’t want to get too political or preachy or something? I’m not sure. But these extremely important details were not talked about except in minor passing and at the end. I feel like the drama was displaced. I would have liked a little more exploration of these conflicts and it’s just lots of reflection.

The abortion scene itself. There are no words. The emotions, the confusion, the heartbreak, there’s also a weird need to “punish” herself and so that she feels the loss. It’s powerful and hits hard. And what’s worse, what really, truly broke my heart was the betrayal. You need someone to hold your hand. To be there. And for someone to desert you during such a critical time. How can you ever forgive that? 

The plot is all over the place. It’s sporadic and random and then add in the flashback scenes and it felt like the story didn’t know what it wanted to be. I totally understand being confusion, reckless, and the emotional chaos that can cause someone to make bizarre choices but I guess the pieces didn’t fit well together. This book deals with so many heavy themes and it felt…lighter than expected? I mean abortion, drug overdosing, suicide…it’s as hard as it gets. 

However, the story was enjoyable. I liked the weird romance that sprung up out of Gen’s heartbreak. It was uplifting and adorable, and he definitely brightens her life. 

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan