ARC Review: Amazon Burning-Victoria Griffith

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***I received this ARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Astor&Blue Publishing.

cooltext1712921505 copyWhen 22-year-old aspiring journalist, Emma Cohen, is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro.  There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story–and a life-threatening situation–when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered.

Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate; both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon, and appalled by its reckless destruction.  Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case.  Stretched to the brink, it’s up to Emma, her father and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale.

Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith is a spectacular debut Young Adult novel.  Griffith’s powerful rendering of the Amazon rainforest forms the perfect, wildly exotic backdrop for this extraordinary tale of a young urban woman coming of age in the midst of intense conflict.

cooltext1719331023 copy3.5/5 Stars

+++I would not classify this as YA but more of a New Adult murder mystery or contemporary.

PROS:

  • This cover is beautiful. It captivates, the colors explode off the book capturing the wild and untamed majesty of the Amazon. (Though I’m not too sure about that black purse).
  • The descriptions of the Amazon are bold, dark, and embrace the dangerous whimsy of the deepest recesses of the jungle. Between the landslides, the vicious animals, the uncertainty of life or death, it’s a precarious world that reeks of danger and corruption. The suspense mounts as each scene is laced with the unexpected and the anticipation of something sinister. 
  • Mystery, Nancy Drew style, weaves throughout the plot. There are clues that shout out, clues that are subtle, and those that are so seemingly random you don’t know what to make of them. The puzzle is tantalizing. You’re consumed with the desire to solve the riddle of the murder and everyone looks suspicious. It’s hard to know which characters to trust. 
  • I learned so much from this book. It was like being transported to a magical and slightly nightmarish dream world. Insight into the crime rings, the risks journalists take, the prevalence of guns and attacks on the streets were terrifying and enlightening. It really opened my eyes to issues in the Amazon in terms of environment and domestic crime. The Amazonian Indians, the Yanomami, I had no clue that they existed or any idea about how their culture words and interacts with the rest of Brazil. These tidbits of information were fascinating and show that Victoria did her research. 
  • Emma was an uncoventional protagonist. She’s headstrong and courageous but scared. She throws herself into stories, fighting for her career and refuses to give up on her dreams because something scandalous marred her image. Her fears are very real, of intimacy and trust but also her fear of what humanity is becoming and how we treat our fellow man. The scenes in the hospital were brutal, bleak, and disturbing but hopeful. There’s so much to be said about advocacy and the power a great journalist has in spreading the word and getting funding.
  • Jimmy is a bubbly, sexy, and funny male lead. He’s playful at some points and extremely serious in others. He’s devoted to his photography and very passionate about using the photos to make a statement. Paired with Emma, this duo is dynamic. They accentuate each other’s strengths and calm their nerves by getting lost in their chemistry. 

CONS:

  • The subplots were left undeveloped and although they played a significant part in character growth and overall personality, there was not enough discussion. For example, Emma’s father, Mike, as a journalist was kidnapped by the Taliban and tortured, leaving him with severe nerve damage. This was mentioned briefly but it says a lot about how Mike deals with Emma’s aspirations and the events that happen later in the book. There’s a huge disconnect between this story, the near-rape sexual offense and battery lawsuit, and emotions. 
  • Environmental activism is a prominent aspect of this story but merely discussed, there wasn’t any in depth exploration into the politics. It seemed like, at first, because of the way the story was set up, that this would be the foundational motivation and guideline for the entire investigation but it gets lost as smuggling exotic animals, kidnapping, and the illegal gold trade get thrown into the plot.
  • The sex scenes alternated between flowery and blunt.

cooltext1718229341 copyAuthor Website

Victoria Griffith is the author of the award winning non-fiction picture book The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont (Abrams, 2011), which won numerous awards, including the prestigious Parents’ Choice. The book was recently translated into Portuguese for the Brazilian market and was also released in audio book version.

Before becoming a full-time author, Victoria spent twenty years as an international journalist, fifteen of those years as foreign correspondent for the UK’s Financial Times. During that time, she had fun writing on a wide range of topics, including Brazil’s Yanomami Indians, architecture, space exploration, the human genome, and the growth of the Internet. She even managed to fit in some children’s book reviews. Her most terrifying assignment was preparing lunch for Julia Child, who praised the Brazilian fish stew but refused to touch the blackberry dessert. Victoria lives in Boston with her husband and three daughters.

Keep reading,

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Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Izzy Moffit’s Road to Wonderland-Victoria L. James

 

Book: Izzy Moffit’s Road to Wonderland

Author: Victoria L. James

Genre: New Adult

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 Making it to seventeen in one piece isn’t usually a concern for your average teenager, but if there’s one thing Isabella Moffit has never been, it’s average. Dragged through life by parents who couldn’t care less and surrounded by violence on a daily basis, Izzy reaches that epic birthday milestone in her life with only one person to thank for getting her there: her best friend and soul sister, Paris Hemsworth.
 
Vowing to stand side by side through thick and thin since they were four years old, the two of them have made it this far and are confident that now is their time to tackle the world head on, one shaky, naive little footstep at a time.
 
Except they have no idea what awaits them both on the other side of adulthood, and before either one of them can strap on their hard hat, they’re taking so many knocks and bruises that Izzy’s childhood suddenly seems like a stroll in the park.
 
Dodging as many bullets as they can along the way, Izzy tries to hold on to Paris’ hand for as long as possible without either one of them slipping away. But no-one ever told them how rough their journey would be. No-one told them that friends and family would change or leave along the way. And no-one told them that for every good intention they have, there’s a thousand people out there with bad ones, waiting to rip them apart.
 
Follow Izzy’s journey in part one of the Road to Wonderland series – a coming of age novel with a difference, where you’ll face tears, tantrums, laughter and heartbreak, but above all else, hope. Hope that no matter what life throws your way, it’s all part of setting you on the right path to your very own Wonderland and that, more often than not, everything happens for a reason.
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Victoria L James is a teenage girl stuck in a thirty-something year-olds body. Living somewhere ‘oop north’ in England, she has had a strong passion for words and stories going as far back as she can remember, which she credits to her grandmother and her love of reading anything that was on sale and cheap from the local market stall. Never once did she think she would release a novel, though. At best, she thought her love of language and her ability to create stories in her mind would provide her with a ‘get out of jail free’ card whenever she messed up and her parents were mad at her during her teenage years… and when even that didn’t work out, she thought she was pretty much done for.
 
When an opportunity presented itself for her to take a back seat from paid working life for a few years, she knew straight away that she had to try and write about a few of these worlds she’d come up with along the way, and quieten all the voices in her head without racking up a heavy psychiatry bill for the pleasure.
 
Wearing her heart on her sleeve and trying to lighten her friends’ and family’s lives with naff, and more often than not, badly timed, nineties jokes, she has yet to learn the art of knowing when to shut up. Which is another reason writing became a passion of hers. With pen and paper, there are no limits.
 
A firm believer in never quitting, with a ridiculous obsession for all things Rocky, she hopes that one day she writes a story that will inspire at least one person out there to keep on going if they’re struggling. Other than that, she’s just a regular old converse wearing, corona sipping, English version of Chandler Bing, who loves and adores her family more than life itself. Oh, and she also has two cats. Every writer has to mention their cats, right?

 Facebook/Wonderland Facebook/Twitter

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Enter for your chance to win a $20 Amazon giftcard, Awakening to You by Fifi Flowers, an ecopy of Meet Me in the Middle by Kelly Collins, Ebook of Rose of Thorne by Mia Michelle and swag, Ebook of Climax by Sexxa Kohl and swag, ebook of Break you in Two by MJ Summers, or winner’s choice of one of Jacquelyn Ayres ebooks. 
Happy reading, 
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Cover Re-Reveal: A Special Connection-Theresa Troutman

A SPECIAL CONNECTION by Theresa Troutman
Genre(s): New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Published: February 5th 2014
Life has been a constant challenge for Jake Lewis. Left paralyzed emotionally and physically by a car accident, which killed his parents when he was just twelve years old, Jake struggles to be happy. His best friends, Rick Welsh and Samantha Andrews, are a couple who fight as passionately as they make up.
This puts Jake in an awkward position.
 
Three friends who are as close as can be.
 
Rick Welsh, the hotshot basketball player, who hopes to leave college and go pro. Samantha Andrews, the brainiac, blessed with common sense and beauty.
 
Jake Lewis, the crippled virgin, who believes no girl could love a damaged guy with a disability.
 
In despair, these friends share a moment that will forever change their lives.
 
Life is messy.
 
Love is complicated.
 
True love doesn’t always come wrapped in a pretty package with a bow on top.
 
Is it possible that the friend you never had sexual feelings for is the person who will touch your soul like no other?!
AMAZON | US | UK | CA | AU
There was a light rap on the door. “Jake, are you in there?” a feminine voice asked from the other side.
 
I stood, with the help of my crutch, and walked over to the closed door. I opened it to find Jenna on the other side. “Sorry, I just needed some quiet time.”
 
Jenna smiled. “I don’t think there is such a thing as quite time in the Welsh household.”
 
“Come on in,” I offered, moving aside to make room for her to enter.
 
Jenna stepped into the bathroom, her heels clicking on the tile floor. She shut the door behind her, leaned against it and closed her eyes. She was dressed in a red velvet  sleeveless dress and black stockings, her long blonde hair gently falling over her  shoulders. Jenna was pretty and always had an available posse of boys who followed her around. She frequently dated, but was never serious with any one guy. That     probably had something to do with the fact that she had three big brothers who would beat the crap out of anyone who tried to take advantage of her.
 
“You’re right. It is quiet. That’s a nice change of pace,” she sighed, opening her eyes to meet my gaze. Jenna took a few more steps towards me. Soon we were inches apart. Her gaze never left mine. Her hazel eyes held promise. Then she wet her lips with her tongue and leaned in to kiss me.
 
I was taken aback by the action—my lips unmoving, my eyes wide open, watching her kiss me. It was unbelievable to comprehend any girl would want to kiss ‘Jake the cripple,’ but Jenna was kissing me. I felt the tip of her tongue dart into my mouth and I moaned. I dropped my crutch, the aluminum clanging as it hit the floor, and wrapped my arms around her waist. Closing my eyes, I let go and kissed her back. Her mouth was sweet and supple, warm and wet.
 
When we finally pulled apart, we were gasping for air, Jenna’s hands on my     shoulders, her forehead resting on my chin. “I always wondered what it be like to kiss you, Jake. Damn, that was amazing.” She looked up at me through her thick black eyelashes and smiled. “Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
 
I shrugged, feeling my cheeks grow red. “I don’t know. You’re the first girl I ever kissed.”
 
“I think we should try that again,” she said, leaning in for another kiss.
 
We kissed with more feeling. Jenna’s hands caressed my neck, then her fingers tangled in my hair. I tried to pull back, afraid she would feel my growing arousal. This was all brand new to me. I’d never imagined any girl would be interested in me and   assumed I’d live my life alone, without physical connection. Yet, here was pretty Jenna—gorgeous Jenna—making the moves on me!
 
When we came up for air, I gently brushed a stray strand of her hair behind her ear, touched her swollen lips with the pad of my thumb. “Why me?”
 
“Why not? You’ve been a permanent fixture in the household for six years. I’ve had a crush on you forever, Jake.”
 
“I had no idea,” I stuttered. I had no clue why Jenna was attracted to me, but I seized the moment and asked, “Will you go out with me, on a real date?”
 
“Compared to a fake date?” she asked with confusion.
 
“No, I mean, you won’t be embarrassed be to seen with me in public?”
 
“Why would I be embarrassed?”
 
I motioned to my bum leg, but didn’t say a thing.
 
“Jake, I don’t care about your leg. I care about you. I would be honored to go on a real date with you.”
 
I smiled, so happy in the moment that I forgot one major detail. “Oh, shit. Your  brothers are going to kill me when they find out.”
 
Jenna simply laughed. “Seriously, you’re a part of this family. They love you like a brother.”
 
“That makes you my sister and that just sounds perverted.”
 
“John and Jason will be heading back to college and Rick doesn’t need to know.”
 
I thought about it for a second. That was all I needed to make up my mind. “Pick you up at seven tomorrow?”
 
“Perfect,” she replied, leaning in for one last kiss. “I’ll go out first. Meet you downstairs.” Jenna opened the door and peeked outside into the hall to make sure the coast was clear. She looked over her shoulder and said, “Merry Christmas, Jake.”
 
It turned out to be a merry Christmas indeed.
Theresa Troutman lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their crazy dog, Niko. She loves reading, theatre and traveling.
Her books include: My Secret Summer, A Special Connection and the Love’s Great Adventure Series: Life’s What You Make ItLove This Life and London Loves. She is currently working on a contemporary romance called, By My Side, which will be released in early 2015.
Feel free to contact her on Facebook and like her page.
Happy reading,
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