First Five Friday (1)

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Lately on all the blogs I follow I’ve seen meme after meme of blogish/bookish goodness but I haven’t found any that are quite me and that I feel like I can stick to weekly. So I’ve decided to tweak some of the premises I’ve seen in Friday posts to fit my own personal preferences and style.

What is First Five Friday?

First Five Friday is where I give you the first 5 lines of books I plan on reading and reviewing from the time of this posting until the following Friday. This is not only to share with you what’s coming up on the blog but also to piqué your interest in new books by the power of a few lines. When I start reading a book, the first lines are crucial to whether or not I stick with reading. As you read in my DNF piece, I generally read about 20% of a book before putting it aside and going back later. If I’m not sold at 20% it could be that I’m not in the right frame of mind or mood for the book and so I’ll give it another go later or if, after the second attempt, it will take residence on my DNF indefinitely. I strongly feel that some books are meant for certain points in your life and you may not be there yet but at the same time, the beauty of such a vast variety of books is that there’s something for everyone not that each book is for every individual. It’s hard to find universal appeal and that is why it’s important to read a few reviews to really get a rounded opinion of a book.

TBH: I read reviews after I’ve already read and reviewed. I find that afterwards, I can read less than stellar reviews and mull over whether or not I agree but I don’t want anything to destroy my initial reactions and also I don’t want to risk spoilers.

That being said, welcome to First Five Friday. I hope you enjoy and learn about new books. But really, what I want is to explore the majestic nature of the first few lines, how they make you feel and how they influence your scope or overall opinion of what the book will be. Next Friday, I will reflect on my first line feels and see if they were accurate. This is an experiment and adventure and I hope that you will join me, have fun, and rethink how you see first lines.

Had anyone told me that my entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, I would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat.

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Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Already you can see the personality of the main character in this strong voice. The introduction of a life-altering event is always a key part to keeping the attention of the reader. Plus, the hint at something terrible brewing as horrible as it is, captures attention and makes you want to know more.

***

Risking my life to steal an orange was a stupid thing to do, but today of all days, I didn’t care about the consequences. If I were lucky, the Shields would throw me to the ground and put a bullet in my brain. Dead at seventeen. It would be a relief. As I hurried through the crowded market, I touched the back of my neck and tried not to wince.

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Pawn by Aimée Carter

Dystopian? Why is she/he so depressed? What happened that day? What’s on his/her neck? 

***

The human cell is something to be admired. It adapts to survive in the most unusual circumstances. Splicing occurs when you mix animal cells with human cells, which results in what some scientists call a parahuman, a type of cryptid. A cryptid can be described as a paranormal being with some animal-like traits. This is the story of one of those creatures.

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Reveal by Brina Courtney

Whaaa??? What is this magical creature/cell technology? What animal is the character mixed with? This is a short sample of the premise and really showcases what the theme is. 

***

Captivating-that’s what he was. For nine years I’d been über fascinated with Adam Westcott; and this shit wasn’t going away anytime soon. Not because he had some bizarre talent I envied, or anything even remotely close. I was merely intrigued with him because he held a secret-my secret, to be exact. Adam wielded the power to bring me down, by divulging hidden parts of me only he’d seen, and yet he hadn’t.

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Wicked Fate by Tabatha Vargo

Nine years is a long time to hold on to a crush. The internal dialogue is real, it has great personality and I want to get to know this character.

***

Marie Toussaint moved as fast as her plump body would go down the street running between Iberville Projects and an expensive cemetery located outside the French Quarter of New Orleans. The early autumn night was chilly enough to make her shiver despite the gown she wore. Street lamps rendered the sidewalk well-lit while the graveyard and the side streets were shrouded in darkness. As a member of a culture that revered death and celebrated the transition of a person from flesh into a spirit, Marie normally felt comfortable-honored even-to be anywhere near the tombs of the deceased. Except when she came to the city.

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Cursed by Lizzy Ford*

New Orleans. That’s almost enough for me. Combine that with the darkness, the dead, and notion of a lifestyle that glorifies death. Count me in. Now is she a witch, a necromancer, a priestess? 

***

I had never kissed someone before. Yes, I had been kissed, but to make that last move-the final step before lips pressed against lips and warmth and wet blended together in an orchestra of emotions, need and magic-I had never done that before. I had never wanted it so much that I would fight against my own insecurities to do it. I had never been brave enough. **

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Soul of Flame by Rebecca Ethington

Ah. The magic of a joint first kiss and wonderful self discovery. This scene is magnetic. Who is worth the risk and why does she finally give in?

***

There was a demon in McDonald’s. And it had a powerful hunger for Big Macs. Most days, I loved my after-school job. Tagging the soulless and the damned usually gave me a mad case of the warm fuzzies. I’d even given myself a quota out of boredom, but tonight was different. 

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White Hot Kiss by Jennifer Lynn Armentrout

This is fun. It’s quirky. It pulls you in with its weirdness and a demon liking Big Macs. Tell me more.

***

I smack into him as if shoved from behind. He doesn’t budge, not an inch. Just holds my shoulders and waits. Maybe he’s waiting for me to find my balance. Maybe he’s waiting for me to gather my pride.

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Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

I don’t know what to make of this one. Seems like it could be a future love interest. What I do want to know is why he’s till holding on to her. The unknown is always a good way to draw a reader in. We need to KNOW.

This is a tentative schedule. But my goal is that by participating in this weekly meme that I’ll stick to my plans.

*Cursed is an ARC so it’s possible that the first 5 lines have been altered. Since the book releases next week, I thought I’d share to get you in mood for the release.

**I refrained from including line 5 in the Soul of Flame book because it’s spoiler-ish if you have not yet read the first 3 books in the series.

Please let me know what you like or dislike about this post and ways it could be improved. I love ideas. Be creative! Share your thoughts on the lines, speculate and mostly, get excited!

Happy reading,

-BB

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Book Blitz & Review: Branded-Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

4/5 Stars

Branded (Sinners, #1)-Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki 

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Plot:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

—via Goodreads

Branded is like a black hole, it sucks you in, slowly drawing you into its darkness until you’re unable to escape. As sinister as that sounds, it’s really fitting for this book. From the first page I was drawn in, unable to the put the book down. I needed to know the truth, what happened to Lexi to create so much inhibiting fear and trauma. I couldn’t stop and if it wasn’t for grad school, I probably wouldn’t have. Branded is that gritty, horrifying dose of corruption, power, and devastation that have been missing from the literary world for a while. It’s unbelievably wicked, cruel, and full of shadowed maliciousness that will haunt and touch your heart. Lexi is beautifully damaged and yet so tragically powerful. Her life story made me so angry and sickened, but her spirit, her will to fight, and to find some sort of happiness in a world of such epic destruction and injustice is uplifting and fused with hope against near certain death. I don’t consider this YA because of the themes and graphic violence but it’s not quite NA either. 

PROS:

  • The story is compelling. The details, the sheer plotting of the Hole, the magnitude of the corruption and the nauseating way that people are treated like garbage and branded like cattle is described in such precise and colorful language that you can’t help but become wrapped up in the disgusting and disquieting world of the Hole.
  • Fear is a strong part of Branded and resonates throughout. There is an aura of expectation, a sense of foreboding that something terrible and deadly can and will happen any second. The slimy way the guard’s eyes rake the bodies of the women, that there’s no lock on their power, the careless way they beat, torture, and take lives without conscience is heart-stopping and frightening beyond words. The treatment of women as objects to be used and abused with no consequences, I’ve never been more scared for a character than I was for Lexi. It’s the sort of bated-breath, edge of your seat, biting your nails, and unsettled stomach genuine fear. If you have anxiety, I’m warning you right now, some scenes in this book are hard to read through and even harder to process. These are the type of scenes that stick with you. Branded does deal with rape, sexual assault, and abuse.
  • Lexi’s letter. My heart broke for her. Her abuse is a black cloud over the story that is always present but until you get to the truth, it’s all guess-work and while there is some eluding to the incidents, nothing can prepare you for the real details. That letter. It was poignant, emotional and so insanely devastating. Lexi poured her soul into that letter, opened her trauma up to the light and hoped that Cole wouldn’t be disgusted with her or view her as broken or soiled. That took some serious guts and Lexi’s transition from the battered, terrified girl who starts the story to the courageous, determined, caring girl who ends the story is a lesson is character growth. Her transformation is therapeutic and inspiring, you’ll feel so proud of how far she comes. Lexi is a character that you can’t help but become invested in.
  • Alyssa. This girl. As a secondary character, she is compelling. Her story is beyond interesting, it’s magnetic and heartbreaking. I would love her story as a novella. This really showcases the lack of medical attention or supplies in the hospital. When there are too many people and not enough that care. Her life is bittersweet and her spirit is pure, innocent incarnate and the light that comes from her is just so touching. Her story is a small one but reaches beyond the sphere of the book.
  • The secondary characters are well-developed and each has a story that is unique and adds another layer to the humanity that is so lacking in the Hole. This book is a beautiful portrait of the struggle of man to overcome, to fight destiny, and to triumph in the face of evil.
  • Cole is a middle ground character. As the love interest, he’s hot, he’s compassionate but the chemistry between Lexi and Cole was stifled, partly because he’s a soldier, it’s forbidden and to give in would mean death and torture, but also because the story is told from Lexi’s perspective, her doubts are oppressive and she can’t see Cole’s attraction clearly.
  • Zeus the dog. Most of the comedy in Branded revolves around Zeus and his slobbering laziness. Zeus is adorable, fiercely protective, and brings out the happiness in the main characters when it seems as if the darkness is about to take over.

CONS:

  • The first 75% of the book is addictive, it’s full of sadness, grime, and absolute chaos. It’s action packed and incredibly descriptive. The blood and gore, the bullets, the sickness, the terror is all there in all its truthful hideousness. After this point in the book, things start to go downhill. While it’s still infused will all of those elements of immorality and gloom, the story starts to slump. The emotion in the first section of the book is not as profound or searching and it becomes more telling than showing.
  • Cole. Near the dreaded 75% mark, Cole and Lexi’s relationship becomes bland. It’s composed of bold statements and declarations of love that seem like just words without the sentiment or truth to back them up. It’s as if suddenly, their love is this grand, all-consuming thing and it just didn’t add up. Cole’s dialogue really became possessive and too love-infused, if that makes sense. It took away some of the authenticity.

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Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

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Is a registered nurse with a passion for novels, the beaches of St. John, and her Philadelphia Phillies. A talented singer, Abi loves to go running and spend lots of time with her family. She currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, triplet daughters and two very spoiled dogs.

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Missy Kalicicki

Received her bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in 2003. She married, had two boys and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Aside from reading and writing, her interests include running and mixed martial arts. She also remains an avid Cleveland sports fan.

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My reactions.

If you enjoyed any of the following, check this out. Keep in mind these are loose suggestions, I haven’t read anything like this: 

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Pleasant, happy reading,

-BB

Book Blast & Giveaway: Flawed-J.L. Spelbring

In a world where Hitler won the The War, and perfection is constantly sought, Ellyssa has broken free from her austere life and has found another meaning for her existence.

Family, friendship, and love.

But her happiness is short lived. Ellyssa finds herself on the run, again. Her father’s work didn’t die with him, but lives on in her siblings, Aalexis and Xaver, and they are determined to complete his unfinished dream.

FLAWED BY J.L. Spelbring
Book Two in the PERFECTION series.
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: August 12th 2014 by Spencer Hill Press
Pre-order FLAWED TODAY
AMAZON † B&N 
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CHECK OUT BOOK ONE IN THE SERIES
Praise for PERFECTION…
“This book is seriously so unique and amazing it’s mind-blowing!” ~ Lauran Hammond
“Wow! That was my initial reaction after finishing Perfection. This is without a doubt one of the most well thought out, cleverly-written and unique books I have ever read.” ~ K-Books
“4 stars – Chilling and provocative, these characters will get to you.” ~ Stuck In Books
The personification of Aryan purity, Ellyssa’s spent her whole life under her creator’s strict training and guidance; her purpose is to eradicate inferior beings. She was genetically engineered to be the perfect soldier: strong, intelligent, unemotional, and telepathic.
Only Ellyssa isn’t perfect.
Ellyssa feels emotions–a fact she’s spent her life concealing. Until she encounters the epitome of inferiority: a dark-haired boy raised among renegades hiding since the Nazis won the war a century ago. He speaks to her telepathically, pushing thoughts into her mind, despite the impossibility of such a substandard person having psychic abilities.
But he does.
His unspoken words and visions of a place she’s never visited make Ellyssa question her creator. Confused and afraid her secret will be discovered, Ellyssa runs away, embarking on a journey where she discovers there is more to her than perfection
Available on
AmazonB&N 
__________________________________________________________
You can request an ARC copy of FLAWED
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Please read the TERMS & CONDITIONS at the bottom of the rafflecopter before entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

J.L. Spelbring – lives in Texas, where she wanders out in the middle of the night to look at the big and bright stars. Besides knocking imaginary bad guys in the head with a keyboard, she enjoys being swept away between the pages of a book, running amuck inside in her own head, pretending she is into running, and hanging out with her kids, who are way too cool for her.

Did you see the synopsis? I haven’t been so excited about a book in a while. The premise is amazing. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR. Historians have speculated, students have wondered at the possibilities and her is a version of that answer. Absolutely astounding concept. As a scholar, maybe historian one day in Russian, this really piques my interest and I can’t wait to start reading.
Happy reading all,
-BB

Cover Reveal: Very Wicked Things-Ilsa Madden-Mills

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Very Wicked Things
Book 2 of the Briarcrest Academy Series
A new adult romance from bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills

Synopsis:
Born on the poor side of town…

Ballerina Dovey Beckham is a scholarship student at Briarcrest Academy, determined to prove she’s more than just a girl with the wrong pedigree. She does whatever it takes to succeed in her endgame, even if it means surrendering her body…but never her heart.

Until the day she meets him, and he rips apart all her well-laid plans. Suddenly, the girl everyone thought unbreakable might just shatter.

Born into wealth and privilege…

Cuba “Hollywood” Hudson is rich, spoiled, and a star football player. With his fast cars and superficial girlfriends, he lives the high-life, hiding his secrets from the world.

Until the day he meets her, and she offers him something he’s never tasted…love.

But once in a lifetime kind of love doesn’t come easy. When trust crumbles and doubts creep in, both will have to decide to either love or let go…forever.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy, where sometimes, only the wicked survive.

Excerpt:
Cuba’s POV
Not exactly a meet-cute…
The room closed in, making me sweat. I hadn’t talked to her in over a year, and now here we were, face-to-face. Two ex-lovers who hated each other.
I had to get away from her.
Dovey tilted her head as I stood, giving me a scathing glare. “Leaving so soon? Yeah, go ahead, cut and run. Coward.”
I ignored her and tried to get Weinstein’s attention, to let her know she could flunk me for all I cared.
“Before you go, tell me one thing, and I’ll make sure we aren’t partners in this class. You’ll be free of me,” she said.
“What?” I asked, my voice going all raspy, blocking all the words I wanted to say. They weren’t things she ever needed to hear.
“Why so cruel to me? You aren’t to the other girls you date and dump. Why single me out?”
I seethed. “And it didn’t take you long to find someone else, now did it? How is Spider? Does he get you hot like I did?”
She smirked. “He’s fine. He thinks I hung the moon. He thinks you’re an ass. I agree.”
I tightened my fists and pressed them against my thighs, swearing to myself I wasn’t responding to her bait. I swore. She was a dangerous game I didn’t need to play.
Suddenly, her face fell. Was she recalling the last time we were together? Was she remembering how I used to…
“I trusted you,” she whispered, all her anger seeming to be gone. The unsteadiness of her voice undid me, sent me right over the edge of that precarious cliff I’d been hanging on to by the skin of my teeth.
Yeah, she hadn’t been the only one who’d trusted me. I’d ruined them all. Every last one. Dark thoughts assaulted me, of the blood I had on my hands.
Snap! My pencil broke and small pieces flew across my desk and into the empty space between us.
I wanted to pummel my desk until my fists bled. I wanted to punch a hole through the wall, the floor, my face.
Everything was my fault. Just mine.
She’d been collateral damage, the kind that breaks everyone involved. And I was sorry for it, but sometimes you do what hurts because it’s for the best.
But she was my kryptonite, leaving me no option but to hurt her. Again.
I didn’t think about my cruel words, I just said them. “You were a curiosity, Dovey. You weren’t the usual BA girl, and I wanted a taste. That’s all. I moved on when it got boring. Get over it.”

Author Bio:

Ilsa Madden-Mills is a loving wife and mother, a loyal friend, and a teacher. When all that is done, she writes. Obsessively.

She spent several years teaching high school English, but now hangs out at home with two small kids, a neurotic cat, and her Viking husband. She collects magnets and rarely cooks except to bake her own pretzels.

When she’s not typing away at a story, you can find her drinking too much Diet Coke, jamming out to Pink, or checking on her carefully maintained chocolate stash.

She loves to hear from fans and fellow authors.

Very Wicked Things is Book 2 of the BA Series.
Very Bad Things is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

Author Goodreads Link to Very Wicked Things:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18709986-very-wicked-things

Author Website:

http://www.ilsamaddenmills.com/

Author Ilsa Madden-Mills FB link:

https://www.facebook.com/authorilsamaddenmills

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ilsamaddenmills

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Want to read the number one new adult romance Very Bad Things first?

Go here:

Universal Amazon Link: http:// myBook.to/verybadthings

Book Blitz, Author Interview & Giveaway: Of Sea and Stone-Kate Avery Ellison

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Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison
Publication date: February 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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All her life, clever Aemi has been a slave in the Village of the Rocks, a place where the sea and sky meet. She’s heard the stories about the fabled People of the Sea, a people who possess unimaginable technology who live below the waves in the dark, secret places of the ocean. But she never dreamed those stories were true.

When a ship emerges from the ocean and men burn her village, Aemi is captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. To make matters worse, her village nemesis, the stuck-up mayor’s son Nol, was captured with her, and they are made servants in the same household beneath the sea.

Desperate to be free, Aemi plots her escape, even going so far as to work with Nol. But the sea holds more secrets than she realizes, and escape might not be as simple as leaving…

Add Of Sea and Stone to Goodreads

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The broad stone ground of the Training Rock was warm and smooth beneath my bare feet. A salt-scented wind teased the tendrils of hair escaping from beneath my hood. I straightened my spine and lifted my chin as if I belonged as I approached the group of boys and young men, who stood in a haphazard line before the target of wood.

I took my place at the end of the line.

The smell of salt filled the air. Gulls screamed overhead as the first boy drew back his arm and threw his spear. It glanced off the target and clattered on the rock. His face creased with disgust, and he turned away. The second boy threw, and the tip of his spear embedded itself in the corner of the target.

I was better at throwing than any of these boys. I’d always been good at it, better than anyone else my age when I was small enough to swim in the shallows with the free children and sleep in my mother’s arms at night. My mother had beamed with pride to see me throw, and so I continued to hone my skill even after she was gone. Sometimes I went out to the edge of the rocks that formed a ring around the sea like a circle of stone arms, and I caught fish to put on the fire so Nealla and I could eat more than the meager food we were provided for our meals. I was better than all of them, but being a girl banned me from participating in the competition.

At the front of the line stood Nol, the oldest in the competition and the favorite of the crowd. He cast a glance my way, but didn’t look long. I exhaled as he turned his head away.

One by one, the boys threw their spears. They were still learning, and few were good yet. The aim of a fisherman was impeccable, once he’d mastered the art, but these were just boys.

I swallowed as the boy beside me took his turn, and then it was mine. I stepped forward and hefted my spear. The weight was familiar in my hand. I inhaled, squinted at the target, and threw.

The spear buried itself at the edge of the middle circle. A few of the boys cried out in appreciation. Sweat broke out across my back.

I hadn’t meant to throw quite so well.

Nol turned his head again to look at me. He wasn’t stupid, even if he was infuriating. He’d seen Kit throw before.

I held my breath, and he looked away.

Those who had struck the target gathered their spears and tried again. There were only a few of us, and the number rapidly dwindled. I threw poorly, but my spear seemed to swerve to meet the target against my will, and the rest of the boys threw with the skill of drunken monkeys. Finally, only Nol and I were left.

My heart drummed in my chest. I didn’t dare look at Nol or the crowd.

“You’ve improved, Kit,” Nol said as he passed me to retrieve his spear.

It was clear by the way he strode toward the target that he thought victory was assured for him. He barely spared me a glance as he drew back his arm to throw.

The crowd waited, breathless.

Nol threw first. His spear struck the inner circle of the target, and he straightened, pleased. I could tell by his posture that he thought he’d won. The necklace of shell he always wore tinkled faintly as he turned to me. He yanked off his mask, and his expression was triumphant.

“Your turn.”

I drew my arm back and took aim. I heard the rush of the sea behind me, the cry of gulls above me, and the hiss of my breath over my teeth as I threw. Sea and gulls and breath combined to make music. I shut my eyes and threw.

My spear hit the mark and quivered.

It had struck closer to the center.

The boys roared in approval and swarmed around me. Nol’s jaw tightened, and he shot a glance toward the crowd. I saw his father, the mayor, frowning.

I stepped forward to receive my prize. As I passed Nol, suspicion crossed his face. He snatched off my mask, dislodging my hood in the process.

My long hair tumbled down around my shoulders. Wind fanned my face.

I was exposed.

The crowd gasped. Nol let go of me as if he’d been burned.

“It’s Tagatha’s thrall!” someone shouted.

“You deceptive little brat,” the spear master snarled. “Where’s Kitran?”

I ran.

The spear master grabbed for me. His fingers slipped through my hair, giving one painful tug, then the strands ripped from my scalp and I ran faster. I reached the edge of the cliff, dropped Kit’s spear, and jumped.

The rock was hard beneath my feet as I leaped, and then salty air rushed around me, the gulls’ screams filled my ears, and I was falling, falling, falling through air and wind and sunlight. I brought my arms forward right before I entered the water in a perfect dive.

Bubbles exploded across my vision as I hit the water. Blue closed around me, cold and shocking, shutting out the shouts above. My chest skimmed the sandy bottom of the lagoon. Fish shot away, and seaweed snagged my ankles. The rocks of the bay were dark against the orange light of the dying sun.

I swam a ways from the cliff, holding my breath, kicking my legs to propel myself forward.

When my head broke the surface, I heard the spear master shouting after me. I swam away, my arms making sure, even strokes as his threats echoed across the water after me. I had no fear that he would jump in after me. I was one of the strongest swimmers in the village. He couldn’t catch me, and he wouldn’t try.

But I couldn’t swim forever.

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Describe Of Sea and Stone in six words.

Atlantis, steampunk, sunlight, seawater, secrets, romance.

What books have you read and loved lately?

I am almost finished with Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, and it’s an absolute delight. Witty, immersive, and utterly compelling fantasy that reminds me very much of my beloved Megan Whalen Turner books.

Ice cream or cake?

Ice cream cake, of course! It’s the best of both worlds.

What authors have influenced your writing style the most?

I grew up on a pretty steady diet of mystery, actually, so I feel like classic mystery authors like Agatha Christie had a strong influence on me. When I was a teenager, I started reading fantasy by authors like Robin McKinley, Gail Carson Levine, and Sherwood Smith. The Blue Sword, Ella Enchanted, Crown Duel…I loved those books. I also had a huge love of historical fiction, so Ann Rinaldi, Elizabeth George Speare, and Eloise Jarvis McGraw influenced me a lot as well. As far as more recently-written books that I didn’t grow up reading, I continue to be an awe of fantasy authors Megan Whalen Turner (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, etc.) and Melina Marchetta (Finnikin of the Rock), dystopian author Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), and contemporary young adult authors Lucy Christopher (Stolen) and John Green (A Fault in Our Stars).

If you had to pick a shoe that represented your writing style, what would it be?

Have you seen those canvas shoes where an artist has drawn original artwork on the front and sides and is selling them online? I think my books are like that—in some ways they feel familiar, but they have their own surprises and twists that make them unique.

Who has been the most supportive person in your writing career?

My husband. About two years into trying to get published, I was ready to give up on my stories and get a job doing something tremendously ill-suited for me, like being a secretary (I am a very bad secretary. Very disorganized). He convinced me to give it more time, and he is probably the sole reason I am published today. He is my first reader, my strongest encourager, and my most reliable critic.

Are you working on anything else currently?

Yes! I’m currently hard at work on the second book in the Secrets of Itlantis series, and I’m also working on a few secret projects on the side—one is a more traditional fantasy, another is a post-apocalyptic novel. I hope to have more details about them for my readers very soon.

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Kate

I live in Georgia with my wonderful husband and two spoiled cats. When I’m not writing, I’m usually catching up on my extensive Netflix queue, reading a book, giggling at something funny online, or trying to convince my husband to give me just ONE bite of whatever he’s eating.

Learn more about my writing and books at my blog (http://thesouthernscrawl.blogspot.com/), find teasers for upcoming works on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kateaveryellison), and subscribe to my new releases newsletter to be notified of new novels as soon as they hit stores (https://tinyletter.com/kateaveryellison)!

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http://www.amazon.com/Of-Sea-Stone-Secrets-Itlantis-ebook/dp/B00I7LZV12/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392928501&sr=8-1&keywords=Of+Sea+and+Stone+by+Kate+Avery+Ellison

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I’m so excited to read this book. I love steampunk and underwater steampunk is exactly something new and exciting that I’ve been craving. I hope you are intrigued too!

Happy reading everyone,

-BB

Novellas Weekend Four: Crossing the Line-Katie McGarry

4/5 Stars

Crossing the Line (Pushing the Limits, #1.5)-Katie McGarry

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“I like you, Lila. As more than a friend. I wake up in the morning and I think of you. I go to bed at night and you’re the last thought in my mind. I dream of you. The best days of the week are the ones when I get your letters.”

***

This is one of my favorite moments: the seconds before the kiss. It’s like dangling on a ledge with gravity pulling me forward and the wind daring me to let go and fly.

After reading Crossing the Line, I can finally say that I’ve read everything that Katie McGarry has published so far and I’m beyond psyched for Take Me On (May 20th) and Red at Night (April 1). In all the reviews I’ve written for the Pushing the Limits series and out of all the emotional reactions that those stories inspired, I’ve never left one feeling so light-hearted. In a word-Crossing the Line was adorable. Usually Katie McGarry’s books deal with really tough subjects and while this novella does delve into loss and the falling apart of a family after the death of a loved one in military action, it doesn’t have the darkness of the other books. There’s an aura of expectation and unfulfilled promises that leaves a wonderful sense of hope for the future of this couple. At only 60 or so pages, it’s a really fast read and just the sort of pick me up love story that will have you beaming on a rainy day or during your lunch break. 

Plot: Lila and Lincoln met 2 years ago at Echo’s brother’s funeral. Lincoln’s brother Josh died on duty with Aires. Lila was heartbroken, Aires was like a brother to her and Lincoln’s family thought it would be better to meet Aires family. What Lincoln didn’t expect was a beautiful girl, mourning and eager to listen as he broke down into tears. Since the funeral, Lila and Lincoln have been penpals, only having met once in person. They share their most intimate secrets and dreams with each other in weekly letters. Lila thought she had everything planned, she was starting University of Florida, far away from home and the high school drama she is desperate to leave behind and Lincoln, her best friend and keeper of her hopes was coming with her. Lincoln make promises to Lila, ones that he planned on keeping, far from eager to disappoint the girl who captured his heart. After his brother’s death, his family collapse into a dysfunctional mess that never really recovered and Josh’s death weighed heavily on his mind, some days he was so overwhelmed with sadness he needed to escape, he’d cut class and rock climb until he bled. When Lila discovers that Lincoln lied to her, that he won’t be attending UF in the fall, that he didn’t even graduate high school, Lila feels completely betrayed. She thought Lincoln was different, that he would be with her to supply her with strength and a shoulder to lean on if her fear tried to take over. Now Lila feels lost and more confused about her future and who she wants to be than ever. Lincoln knows he screwed up. Lila means more to him than he ever thought was possible. He doesn’t know how but he’s going to fix what he broke, claim Lila’s heart, and hope he’s not to late to save their relationship before it even truly began.

PROS:

  • The letters are perfect little tidbits into their shared memories and their deepest thoughts. They’re warm, have a smooth, easy flow that suggests a strong friendship and keen understanding of the addressee. I love these letters. They really put you in the story and show how Lila and Lincoln’s relationship has evolved and grown to a true, pure love.
  • Lila is not exactly what I expected after meeting her in Pushing the Limits. She’s still the fierce, protective friend with an OCD-like tendency towards organization but her fear is unexpected and a dimension of her personality that she must overcome. Lila’s insecurity is in change. She’s terrified to take the leap, to start out on her own in a new city as an adult and despite her headstrong nature, she’s well aware that it would be easier to continue on with her friends to school in state. Lila is on the cusp, torn between who she is, who she wants to be, and the girl she presents to Lincoln in the letters. 
  • Lincoln is a rock climber who has always been forced to be stable, to carry the weight of his family on his shoulders, especially after Josh’s death when all sense of normal crumbled. Sometimes the pressure gets too much but he learns to put his energy into climbing. Lila grounds him when the chaos seems too much. She’s the light in his darkness and he offers Lila his protection, his advice and understanding. Lincoln is sexy, his memorization of everything in Lila’s letters, the little things he notices and the way he’s careful to give her the lead and respect her space is so considerate, charming, and shows just how much he loves her. It’s all in the details. Lincoln’s jealousy is so cute.
  • Their interactions are not made of scorching hot touches, flirtations, or smoldering looks but are natural, they talk and touch like they’ve known each other for years and have an ease that only comes when two people are totally comfortable and at ease with each other. It’s almost an innocence that draws you in and just feels right.

CONS:

  • Lila and Lincoln only had a day together. While their feelings were really strong and present, there wasn’t time for a build up.

If you liked any of the following, you’d enjoy this:

16248148DistanceBetweenUs_Update426815720130812-142255.jpgCrash by Nicole Williams

Happy reading all,

-BB

Novellas Weekend Three: Die for Her-Amy Plum

4.5/5 Stars

Die for Her (Revenants, #2.5)-Amy Plum

Die For Her by Amy Plum

“Must you insist on walking around the house naked, Jules? It makes me feel like I’m living in some kind of sorid fraternity house.” “I’m not naked,” I say, pointing to the towel around my waist.”A towel does not count as clothing,” Gaspard chides. “Whatever you say,” I respond, and, yanking off the towel, drape it over my shoulders like a scarf.

***

It’s the bargain I’ve made with myself. If I can’t caress her body with my hands, I paint it with my brushes. Use my fingers to trace her lines. I shuck off my coat and go directly to the canvas on my easel. Squeeze out the paints onto my palette. And carefully…tenderly…taking my time with every brushstroke, I sketch the curve of her neck, apply the crimson of her lips, form her face into a two-dimensional tribute to her beauty. Mix my oils to the exact shade of her skin, and spread it on the canvas with my trowel. She is my inspiration. My muse. My obsession.

I haven’t read the conclusion to this trilogy yet. If I Die is on my TBR and I look forward to reading it and reviewing it soon. It’s been a while since I’ve ventured into the revenant world but as soon as I started this novella, I was swept up into the story again. I forgot how much I loved the characters, especially Jules and because this retells the first two in the series (summary form) from his perspective, the story is so much richer for it. 

+++This is not a stand alone and definitely read to save from confusion and destroying killer plot twists.

Plot: Die for Her retells the events that occurred in Die for Me and Until I Die from Jules’ POV. From the first moment Jules set eyes on Kate he knew she’d be trouble, especially after he saw Vincent bat his soulful, sappy eyes at her. What Jules didn’t expect was his mounting feelings for Kate. Jules feels conflicted, Vincent is his best friend, in some ways closer than a true brother could ever be and loving Kate is the ultimate betrayal. Die For Her is the evolution of Jules’ love for Kate. Jules battles between his desire to confess his love, to give in to the temptation, and his loyalty to Vincent. Will Jules be willing to put everything on the line to make Kate his?

PROS: 

  • The Jules in Die For Her is so different from who he is in the other books. Jules is compassionate, he’s wickedly flirtatious, full of crude humor and little bursts of wisdom but mostly his heart is so full of passion that you will start to wonder if he player attitude is really an act.
  • Jules’ past is a colorful one. As a glimpse into his forays in the art world, the stories range from lurid to emotionally poignant moments of loss and revelation. How Jules became a Revenant is said with such simplicity but is one of the most interesting tales out of all the characters. You really get to know Jules, how he became the funny, teasing flirt he is in the books and what lies underneath. Jules has a beautiful heart but is incredibly human. He makes mistakes, he pushes away his emotions rather than dealing with them and loses himself to bad decisions as a form of escape.
  • Every time Jules looks at Kate, thinks about her, catches Vincent’s small smile of happiness and knows he’s thinking about Kate, it is a lesson in poetry that is so raw there’s no doubting Jules’ feelings. The boy’s thoughts are dirty but as his heart opens and warms to Kate become increasingly romantic.
  • The events in books 1 + 2 are summarized really well and Jules’ reactions give great insight into the story and enable the reader to see scenes from a different angle.

CONS:

  • Jules’ sexual relationships with women, the way he uses them to forget and has strings of “friends” with benefits puts a damper on his pining for Kate. This is adverse to his feelings and though they’re pawns of distraction, his treatment of women is not a shining example of his character.

If you enjoyed any of the following, you’d like this:

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Have a lovely day full of reading and relaxation,

-BB