ARC Review: The Keepers-Anoosha Lalani

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“He waited. I waited. We both waited for what, I wasn’t entirely sure, but one thing I knew for certain was that he wanted this. I could tell by the look in his eyes and all I wanted was to kiss him back. I leaned in closer and he finally gave into the desire. He pressed his lips on mine, parting them tenderly. The strangely gentle strength of his kiss enveloped me. It gained momentum and suddenly I was wrapped around his body. In that second, I tasted the possibility of forever.”

cooltext1679894253 copySixteen-year-old Isra Kalb has grown up starving in the slums of Islamabad. But hunger is only the beginning. When her father is mysteriously murdered and madness corrupts her mother’s mind, she’s left alone to fend for herself and her sister. Homeless and destitute, the only thing she has to remember her loving family by is a commonplace necklace–an amulet barely worth keeping.

Or so she thinks.

Swept into a web of lies, deceit and turmoil, Isra struggles to find a place for herself and Zaffirah, wondering if the strange creatures and visions she’s seeing are indications of the madness that took her mother. But when Snatchers capture Zaffirah, Isra learns her amulet isn’t so useless after all. Transported to Zarcane–the beastly garden where Adam and Eve were born–Isra comes face to face with her destiny. She’s a Keeper, charged with protecting the borders of Zarcane and keeping the demon hordes lurking in the shadows from taking realms that are not their own. And she’s not the only one; there’s a second Keeper, a boy whose identity hasn’t been revealed.

Now, in order to save her sister and fulfill her family’s legacy as Keeper of the Amulet, she has to find the second Keeper and close the borders.

Surrounded by betrayal, trapped between warring factions of angels, and desperate to save the only family she has left, Isra must decide:

Who can she trust when nothing is what it seems?

cooltext1730555754 copy 23.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review from REUTS Publications

PROS:

  • The premise of this story is amazing. The setting in Islamabad is a culture shock and a shift that’s surprisingly different. The life in the slums is graphic, the struggle for food, the sacrifice, how families fight to survive under this hardship, and the was children are snatched off the streets and mutilated to make money is horrifying and adds a gritty layer of darkness to the plot. This is not where you’d think the war for humanity would take place, where the fate of Eden and an age-old battle between angels and demons would wage, but it does.
  • The story behind the amulets and the legacy of the Keepers is a mythological, magical journey in itself. The link between Zarcane(Eden) and the other magical creatures like minotaurs and dark fae was a delightful surprise. I loved the mix of whimsy and belief systems. The crystal creatures, the minotaur army, and the Keeper’s guardians were terrifying and beautiful. The way the fae swarm and bite like violent little leeches was crazy cool.
  • Farid is hard to like and a little too violent for my taste. Growing up in the slums has made him into a tough, battle-ready kid. He knows how to navigate the streets and stir fear in the hearts of many of children. Farid seems unstoppable, invincible, and almost like a gang leader in how he deals out punishment and steals. Just when you think you have him all figured out, you see him with Maya and you can’t help but melt a little.
  • Beneath the hard exterior is a boy who has been neglected, who lacks love, and all he wants is to share the love he never had with those who deserve it. Farid cares for Maya as if she were his own sister, buying her presents and glowing in her smiles. Although his relationship with Isra is a bit shifty, going from comfortable to awkward in seconds, he keeps her company and watches out for her. Farid has suffered emotional trauma not only from his life in the slums but his broken home. It’s really no wonder that he makes the poor choices he does, he feels suffocated and like there are no other options.
  • Isra is frustrating. She stumbles through things in a little cloud, day dreaming never really focused on her surroundings and then suddenly she’s in a life or death situation. Isra makes terrible choices but she’s young and doesn’t have all the facts. I liked that she made mistakes, that she failed and picked herself back up, that she never lost hope. Not only did this make her more human but someone to root for.
  • Ammun is that mysterious, gorgeous boy that turns Isra into mush. He’s intense, compassionate, and while he’s not exactly flirty, the chemistry is there. That being said, this isn’t a romance, in fact that’s not even secondary, it’s more like a small component that doesn’t drive the plot or have lingering effect. The Keepers is a twisted fantasy without the complications of angst.

CONS:

  • Several of the plot points were loose and fell apart or were completely forgotten. Isra’s fear of the snake, the random hissing and lurking in the shadows was brushed off and while it seemed as though it would have major significance nothing happened with it. The drama between Farid and Isra’s families was rushed and convoluted. The explanation was not as clear as it could have been to get the full weight of the story and the effect it had on both of their lives, more significantly Farid’s later alliances and decisions.
  • The battle was short-lived and off to the side. For something that was so epic, that decided the fate of Zarcane and ultimately humanity, as the reader, all we got was the results of the bloodshed but no real details or descriptions of the carnage. The fight between Abaddon and her rival was glossed over and I felt like I was jilted an amazing scene.
  • The minor characters were unique and lively but fleeting. When they were present, they left a big impact on the storyline, bringing some diversity and magic to the plot but not enough to get a firm grip on the blossoming relationship between the protagonists and each minor. Moreover, due to this disconnect, some scenes that should have been extremely emotional and upsetting were not at all.
  • Warring factions in Zarcane, the role of the magical creatures, how Abaddon came into power were missing substantial explanation that might have solidified the sense of importance in being a Keeper and the dire consequences of what would happen should Isra fail. This sense of urgency and uncertainty were missing.

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author photo.png copyWebsite/Twitter

Anoosha Lalani has always had an insatiable desire to escape reality. It was a childhood trait that never seemed to fade out. If Anoosha were to make one wish, it would be to have wings to journey off the face of this planet and into the worlds of her stories.

When she’s not writing, you may find Anoosha attending high school in Singapore. Having moved around so much, she has had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a vibrant range of cultures, which often seem to find their way into her stories. Anoosha was born in Pakistan, the setting of her most recent novel, The Keepers.

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Promo: For Everly-Raine Thomas

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cooltext1679894253 copy**This is a New Adult novel recommended for ages 16+.

Determined to overcome a dark and tragic past, college student Everly Wallace is only months away from earning her degree in physical therapy. She’s consumed with school, caring for her ailing grandfather, and figuring out how to pay the next bill. The last thing she wants is a relationship, but it just might be the one thing she needs.

Major League pitcher Cole Parker hasn’t fought for anything in his life. He went from a privileged upbringing to a multimillion dollar All-Star career. But when his pitching shoulder starts to give him trouble at only twenty-four years old, he faces the possibility of his injury becoming public knowledge and costing him everything.

In a desperate bid to save his career, Cole decides to hire someone to treat his injury, someone who will keep things off the record and out of the media. He finds the perfect solution in Everly. As mysterious as she is beautiful, she provides an enticing distraction from his pain. Soon, physical therapy is the last thing on his mind.

When an act of betrayal brings the truths they both fear to light, Cole will have to fight for the first time in his life…not just for his career, but for Everly’s love.

cooltext1729822091 copy“I know you’re not seeking any romantic connections right now, Everly,” Wyatt interrupted, giving Cole a quelling look. “We’re here in a strictly professional capacity.”

Now she looked more at ease. “I see. Are you seeking a consultation over Cole’s rotator cuff injury?”

Cole stiffened. He glared at Wyatt.

“I haven’t told her a thing,” Wyatt said with raised palms.

“You didn’t have to say anything,” she said with a shrug, leaning back against Rowan’s desk. Her keen gaze met Cole’s. “I noticed that you favored your left hand throughout your meal, using it to drink, eat, and bring your napkin to your mouth, but you’re a right-handed pitcher. And just now, when you moved to clear space on the couch, you stopped breathing and swallowed hard when you moved your right arm, telling me you’re hiding pain and have a reduced range of motion.”

His mouth opened over her observations. He looked again at Wyatt. His brother gave him a look that said, See?

“But how do you know it’s a rotator cuff injury?” Cole asked. Could other people see what she did? If so, he was so screwed.

“That, I’ll admit, was an educated guess based on your age and profession,” she answered. “I’ve only observed your symptoms and haven’t done any scans or tests to confirm. You’ll want to rule out bursitis, tendonitis, adhesive capsulitis, and other possible causes of your shoulder pain, of course.”

Despite what he’d seen this evening and his brother’s assurances, Cole was surprised by Everly’s quick assessment. She looked like she should be out club-hopping, not spouting medical jargon with such an intent expression on her face.

He also realized, since she knew his profession, that she had known who he was the moment she saw him. So why hadn’t she mentioned that before now? Maybe she wasn’t a fan.

“We’ve had scans done,” Wyatt said. “X-rays, an MRI—the whole load.”

He moved over to the desk. Everly stepped to the side as Wyatt reached over to retrieve the large manila envelope resting there. She hit Cole’s leg and nearly toppled onto his lap. Out of instinct, he reached out to help her maintain her balance. His hands ended up on her nicely shaped rear end.

She sprang away like a gazelle fleeing a lion. When she turned to look at him, he realized her cheeks were nearly as red as her hair. Her reaction went a long way toward putting him back on an even keel.

“I don’t bite,” he said with a grin. “Come and have a seat.”

He patted the cushion beside him. She looked at it warily, then moved her gaze to him. He patted the cushion again. Her lips moved on a whispered comment of some kind as she stepped around his legs and sat down. It was a small victory, but he felt better.

When he turned to look at her, he caught her scent, a unique fragrance that reminded him of whipped vanilla cream and frosted wildberries. She met his gaze. The combination of her nearness, her scent, and the cautious look in her lovely eyes had his whole body reacting.

Oh, this was such a bad idea.

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Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.
Pleasant reading, 
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Dirty Blood Box Set Sale, New Cover Reveal & Giveaway-Heather Hildenbrand

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“Heather Hildenbrand is one of my favorite YA paranormal authors. Her Dirty Blood series is a must-read!” -Ella James, author of the Stained series

DIRTY BLOOD BOX SET & NEW COVER REVEAL

!!!ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME!!!

PLUS GET AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM BOOK 5, RELEASING IN MARCH 2015!!!

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INCLUDED IN THIS BOX SET:

BOOK 1 – DIRTY BLOOD

I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up.

Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And two, I was born to kill them.

BOOK 2 – COLD BLOOD

Wood Point Academy is not at all what I expected.

For one thing, it looks like a cross between military school and Buckingham Palace. Everyone stares, the floors shine so bright you can see your reflection in them from a mile away, and no one smiles. Unless they’re kicking your butt in the process.

At least I’ve got plenty to take my mind off the fact that my psycho cousin, Miles De’Luca, keeps calling and declaring his love and promising to come for me just as soon as he’s destroyed anyone standing in our way. Wes isn’t going to like that idea. So between Miles, Wood Point’s evil welcoming committee, and the drill sergeant hottie trainer from hell, I just keep asking myself, how did I end up here?

BOOK 3 – BLOOD BOND

Hybrids.

If I had to choose one word to sum up all of my problems, this would be it.

Without hybrids, I wouldn’t have to watch my best friend slowly becoming a monster. Without hybrids, I could let go of the mentality “hunt or be hunted.” CHAS wouldn’t be scouring the Earth, intent on slaughtering and using Alex to do it. Without hybrids, I wouldn’t have to be on guard that losing my temper meant losing my shape. There would be no monster inside me, struggling to get out.

Then again, without hybrids, I wouldn’t have Wesley St. John.

BOOK 4 – BLOOD RULE

Forty-six.

That’s how many hybrids survived the Hunter attack in the woods after I revived them with an injection of my blood. That’s how many followed me home to Frederick Falls. And that’s how many were now mentally linked to me through a blood bond.

Two days. Three valium. Fourteen hours of sleep.

That’s what it took to realize I wasn’t losing my mind as a result of the noise in my own head.

Sixteen.

That’s how many days have passed since I almost killed Alex. That’s how many days I’ve sat by his bedside, waiting for him to wake up. To ease the guilt, to understand his betrayal, to remember the exact shade of brown in his eyes.

Zero.

That’s my chances of skating by with Gordon Steppe and the Hunter Council. They want me for questioning. I’m afraid what’ll happen if I give them answers.

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Enter for your chance to win all FOUR paperback books in the Dirty Blood series SIGNED or a Live Q&A phone call with Heather Hildenbrand.

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HeatherAuthor of Across the Galaxy, Whisper, and the Dirty Blood series. I write, read, and fuss at my kids. Oh, and I do laundry, lots of laundry. I’m pretty good at it, too. Sometimes I even read WHILE doing laundry – and fussing at my kids. I’m a multi-tasker.

For more information on my books, release dates, or just general stalker material, um, I mean FAN material, visit my website. http://www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com. I love hearing from readers!

Likes and dislikes? I love vintage tees, hate socks with sandals, and if my house was on fire the one thing I’d grab is my Amazon Fire TV! (oh yeah, I’m a fan of puns.)

For my reviews on the Dirty Blood series: Dirty Blood (Book 1)Blood Bond (Book 3)Blood Rule (Book 4)

Happy reading,

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ARC Review & Giveaway: The Lost One- Liz Lovelock

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Title:The Lost One
Series: Lost #1
Author: Liz Lovelock
 Release Date: September 10, 2014
cooltext1602390596 copyMy name is Melodi White, I had a dream once like every other girl does. Then one day, my dream was torn to shreds, by my sister’s evil boyfriend, Jacob. It’s been three years since she was ripped from my life. She wasn’t just any sister; no, she was my twin, my best friend.
 
Deciding to follow our childhood dream of moving to New York, I head for a life of adventure and fun. A night on the town and I find myself wrapped in the arms of one gorgeous, drop-dead-sexy man, Corban. He has literally swept me off my feet, taken my breath away with a single kiss and left me wanting more, a feeling completely alien to me.
 
Corban Andrews, CEO of Case Construction, rich, sexy and ravishing is set to make my world come undone. I allow myself to put my trust in him, but will his rules and my trust issues let us explore what we could have together? It’s either that or am I at risk of staying lost and alone.
 
When a blast from my past reappears, I know I may be pushed so far down the rabbit hole, Corban and I just may not survive. It all comes down to survival and choices. I have no idea which I will choose.
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 3/5 Stars
***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review and particapation in this blog tour
PROS:
  • The shocking twist at the end of the story is so unexpected and startling that it makes you reevaluate the initial plot.
  • Melodi is a head strong, emotionally confused girl. She is suspicious of men and doesn’t know how to trust after her sister. Because of what happened, she doesn’t put on fronts, she tells it like it is and doesn’t have time for drama. It was refreshing to see a young women who sticks to her guns despite her past trauma. Melodi is such a klutz, it’s hilarious how often she’s falling down stairs or collapsing into Corban.
  • Corban is moody on occasion, he makes stupid comments but he easily makes up for his momentary lapses with the consistent, beautiful way he worships Melodi. Every smile, every laugh, every time he can make her day a little brighter makes his heart swell and Melodi becomes the center of his universe. Corban cares for Melodi as a protector, wrapping her in his arms and gifting her the warmth of his love, he’s compassionate, constantly thinking about her, and his confessional style letters will make you swoon. 
  • Jacob is a creepy, skeevy, terrifying menace. Between the cryptic messages and the black roses, it’s enough to make skin crawl and paranoia to set in. Melodi’s fears are recognized and each interaction is a haunting, dangerous event. The scene on the way to the car is disquieting and too real. His stalker tendencies and the memory of her sister amplify Melodi’s emotions to the point of hyperventilation. 
  • Rachel and Flick are the best friends a girl can ask for. They bring energy, raunchiness, and fun to the story. Rachel is perverse, she speaks her mind and is a little pushy but she brings out Melodi’s wild side and gets her to let loose. Flick is a huge part of Melodi’s healing process, she helps her deal and let her feelings out. 
  • Melodi and Corban have several meet cutes. It’s adorable how they get lost in each other’s eyes and can’t seem to keep their hands off of each other.
CONS:
  • That Melodi, after her sister’s murder, would not report Jacob’s harassment to the authorities or her loved ones immediately is unbelievable and contradicts her character. Yes, she doesn’t want to worry people but her fear and paranoia about Jacob in general should have had her dialing 911 within seconds. It was infuriating how many times she put it off and weakened her image overall. 
  • Melodi’s spiral into sadness and memories of her sister were heartbreaking. She dealt with it every day of her life to the point that it steered all of her decision making. However, there wasn’t a strong presence of Abby to get their connection. The story would have benefited from a little more flashback to truly comprehend their sisterly bond and up the emotional connection to Melodi.
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 Teaser 3-2Teaser 2
 
cooltext1602387936 copyA huge playful smile swipes across his face, which sets my chest racing.
   “I’m sure you will be fine. Anyway, Melodi, I would love to stay and get to know you a little better, but unfortunately, I have a meeting in about twenty minutes, which I probably shouldn’t be late for.” He reaches his hand out like he is about to shake my hand. You’re not seriously just going to shake my hand!
   Surprising me for the second time, he takes my hand, placing a gentle kiss across my knuckles, and then pulls me close, pressing his lips to mine. I taste him; boy, he tastes good. It’s nothing like our kiss the other night. This is more…more sensual.
   Savouring the moment, until his cologne drifting around me drives me crazy, igniting a raging fire within me. My arms wrap around his neck, pulling him closer to me. Our kiss becomes more heated.
   I remember we are standing in the middle of the footpath when a car goes past blasting its horn. I’m not sure if it’s at us or something else. I slowly pull away, placing one more gentle kiss to his warm lips. Mine already ache from the loss. We stay where we are, holding each other, neither of us wanting to move.
   His eyes blaze brighter; I can even see a sparkle. Leaning into me, he whispers, “Until next time, my sweet Melodi.” Feeling his breath on my cheek sends goose bumps over my entire body.
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   Liz is from bright sunny Queensland, Australia. She has always been a reader. When she was little she would be up late reading Garfield and Asterix comic books and also Footrot Flats. When she hit high school she read Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden and from there her love of books continued to grow. She always has a book to read beside her bed along with a notebook for when inspiration hits at those crazy hours.
   She is a stationary addict and a one-click addict. She loves everything books, authors, and of course loves chocolate and lollies to keep her going.
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Happy reading, 
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