ARC Review: Going Down in Flames-Chris Cannon

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Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon

REVIEW BLITZ

cooltext1712921505 copyIf her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.

Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.

Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.

Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.

At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can’t have.

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After hearing a particularly gruesome news story about a young girl found dead in a dumpster, Bryn is on guard. Dodging through the streets on her way home from school, she locks eyes with a handsome, dark-haired stranger who greets her with a smirk. Bryn picks of speed, eager to get to her parents’ karate shop only to look back and find the stranger has picked up speed and is definitely stalking her like prey. Cornered and desperate, Bryn escapes into a coffee shop and calls her parents to come get her. Bryn though public space equaled safety, but she was wrong. The stalker followed her inside and greeted her by name. Terrified, Bryn knows she’s in danger but when she tries to leave, she finds she no longer has control of her body and is compelled to follow the stranger’s every whim.

When the guy holding her captive starts babbling about dragons and dictators, about making choices and breaking the rules, Bryn thinks the guy is more than deranged, he’s certifiably insane. Little did Bryn know that the stalker’s, Zavien’s, ravings were to become her new reality. Turns out, dragons are very real and she happens to be one of them.

Feeling betrayed and a little crazy herself, Bryn learns of her parents’ exile, their flee from the Directorate (the ruling body of dragons), and her “tainted” genes. Bryn is an abomination to their people, a mixed-blood impossibility that shouldn’t be allowed to exist.

cooltext1719331023 copy4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley, Entangled Teen, and in participation with this tour

PROS:

  • The school is like Hogwarts for dragons. It’s a magical, mysterious, and inherently catty place. The social hierarchy is acutely developed into a blue blooded society life. Those who do not fit in are the subject of mockery and harassment. There’s a distinct, almost clique-like quality that makes it like any other high school. Each color of dragon sticks together and knows their place, those who don’t live up to those expectations are shunned and ridiculed. The internal battle between conformity and choice is waged daily, through each choice and interaction. Chris Cannon does a fabulous job capturing this duality of nature. Being held as prisoners to this lifestyle, some are unhappy and others are brainwashed into believing that there is no other option. Being forced to marry early and deal with infidelity is another subject that these students feel is inevitable. This whole world is insanely complex but doesn’t feel forced or like to much, it flows seamlessly. 
  • Bryn is a rebel with a cause. She loudly and clearly objects to this lifestyle thrust upon her just because she happens to be an anomaly. She dyes her hair and wears feisty clothes that make her as intriguing as she is unique. Her presence is huge and powerful, she wants to be heard and has a strong voice to make that happen. Bryn is not one to back down from a fight and loves a good challenge but she is almost courageous to a fault. She gets herself into sticky situations-granted, it’s not always her fault-and her life is constant chaos. As the story develops, Bryn evolves into something more than a sassy girl, she becomes an advocate for social change. Bryn takes the poor treatment by her peers in stride as she works to build a case for a new lifestyle, one that accepts difference as beautiful.
  • Bullying is instrumental to Bryn’s evolution but it’s also heartbreaking. Not only is Bryn thrown into this whole crazy world of paranormal creatures, she is viewed as an abomination, a being that should have been aborted or killed. The emotional trauma is staggering, it weasles its way into her heart and the anger builds. Her parents have lied to her, she has no one, and at school she’s a laughingstock subject to random attacks and viscious slurs. The bullying is sharp, harsh, and slams into Bryn, almost silencing her opinions, her voice but Bryn takes her pain and pushes, moulding it into an armor and a challenge.
  • Elemental magic. I LOVED that Chris Cannon added elemental magic to the dragons. It’s the perfect combination. The idea that dragons, color-coded, possess specific elemental powers seems natural and flows seamlessly. The lessons taught at the school are made of whimsy and awe-inspiring power. Everything is meticulously plotted, from the strengths and weaknesses of each color dragon to their general personality type and social stance. 
  • The dragon racing scene was exhilarating. The sheer power and grace of the dragon form is captured in an intoxicating flurry of description. You can picture and experience every moment as Bryn’s joy bursts from the pages and her thirst to prove herself forces her to take on substantial risks.
  • Zavien is an enigma. One moment he’s playful, bantering with and teasing Bryn, the next he’s deadly serious, especially about injustice. Zavien has a subtle depth that radiates throughout and grows into compassion. Zavien has many secrets, he’s very mysterious, and this only adds to his attractiveness.
  • Zavien and Bryn have chemistry galore. The heat is sweltering and only increases as the danger grows.

CONS:

  • The climactic scenes were broken into parts, detracting from the overall suspense.
  • Some of the secondary characters were fleeting and ominous. You never get the full of picture and questions were left unanswered.

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Chris Twitter/Facebook Author/Facebook/Website/Goodreads/Tumblr 

Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shitzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures. Going Down In Flames is the first book in Chris Cannon’s shape-shifting dragon series.

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Pleasant reading,

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Review & Excerpt: Bad Blood-Nicky Peacock

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cooltext1602390596 copy“I am Britannia. I am your protector. I will fend off the hungry hordes of undead hands that reach toward you. I am your steadfast defender. I will stand between you and the zombie masses as they try to taste your flesh. I am strong, unyielding, and dedicated to your survival. All I ask from you… is your blood.”

A 500 year bloody game of vengeance will need to be put on hold if vampires are to survive the zombie uprising. Bitter enemies, Britannia and Nicholas must work together to save un-infected humans, delivering them to a stronghold in Scotland.

Unable to drink the zombie blood, vampires need humans to stay alive. But will they tell the survivors who they are, and what they want from them? Will Britannia be able to hold back her vengeance? Is survivor Josh the reincarnation of Britannia’s murdered true love? And can she bring herself to deliver him to the safe hold?

Survival instincts run deep, but bad blood can run deeper.

cooltext1607795130 copy3.5/5 Stars

Nicky Peacock’s Bad Blood is the PERFECT Halloween read. Full of gore, a badass heroine, and tons of snark, this vampires vs. zombies dystopia is made for horror lovers and adrenaline junkies alike.

PROS:

•For a topic so dark and dismal, the zombie/vampire apocalypse, Bad Blood is surprisingly light-hearted and a delightfully quick read. The playful banter between Nicholas and Britannia speeds the plot along and keeps the reader constantly entertained. They’re charming together, witty, and the simmering tension is enough to make anyone eager to see what happens next.

•Britannia is one fiercely independent lady with a grudge the size of a boulder resting on her shoulders. She has no filter, is prone to bouts of unmatched violence and carnage, and laughs hard at full on murder. While this may seem like a calculated and heartless killer, Britannia has lots of love to give and it is her love that preserves her humanity. Britannia is haunted by a romance from her past, a soul mate, that she can’t get over and it is his memory that dictates her life and fuels her vengeance. It’s this side of Britannia that wins you over and makes you hurt for her, the part of her that was robbed of her human life and never got a chance to live out her love. On a lighter note, Britannia is a Doctor Who junkie, loves rock bands, and has dazzling blue hair. She’s quite the eclectic, eccentric character.

•Britannia’s battle rage is epic. She becomes this demonic, bloodthirsty creature of doom. Quick on her feet and overly confident in her abilities, she rushes headfirst into hordes of zombies, jumping, kicking and severing limbs.

•The plot is clearly defined and doesn’t waver or leave any unanswered questions.

•The final showdown is like a rebirth for Britannia and it’s almost poetic, well as poetic as slaying zombies and defeating the bad guys while barely escaping by skin off her fangs.

•Scenes with Danny and the children are warm and compassionate. The way that children look at monsters with intrigue and clarity is unique and highlighted. While the parents are busy freaking out and complicating things, the children go with it and think it’s pretty cool.

CONS:

•Some of the British references went over my head a little. The Doctor Who ones were priceless but some celebrities and terms took guesswork and a quick Google search.

•The action scenes blurred together. There was so much battle that it became almost monotonous and lacked detailed description. Cleaving off heads with a scythe is good and well, I want to envision it down to the blood spray and pulsing arteries. (That may be a personal preference, however, as the story went on there was a shift to more telling than showing during battle scenes).

•Love was a barely there thread of an idea. The relationship between Britannia and Josh was weak, sudden, and didn’t have time to evolve. Slight instalove.

cooltext1602387936 copyWe ran to the hospital. On the way, we encountered hardly anyone, alive or dead. Where were they all? When we arrived at the hospital car park, I understood. Zombies were pack animals. A massive crowd of them were crammed in and around the main building like they were waiting for a concert to start, all barely paying attention to their surroundings and seemingly swaying against the force of gravity. The other thing was the smell. When watching horror films filled with shuffling zombies, the horror came from their ghastly looks—the reminder that death has a tight grip on us all, well, most of us.

But what the filmmakers should focus on—if they could—was the acidic rank odor zombies gave off. They had been dead barely twenty-four hours. It took a normal human body at least thirty-six hours to really start to smell, and that was with a vampire’s heightened senses. These guys smelled like they’d been out in the sun for three weeks covered in rubbish and besieged by wily maggots. They were mostly intact, though. Maybe this hospital had been Zombie Ground Zero. Most had turned so quickly their comrades hadn’t had time to feed.

“Maybe we should try a less populated target.” Nicholas twitched his nose and turned away from me to dry retch.

“Maybe you should grow a pair.”

“Maybe you should act like a lady.” He now had his hands on his hips, squaring up for yet another argument.

“Acting like a lady isn’t going to help now, is it? What do you want me to do? Drop my handkerchief in front of the zombies and watch them fight one another to scoop it up for me? Moron!”

“Always to the ‘nth degree with you, isn’t it?”

“Shut up. Look, the doors are holding, and they’re outside, not inside, which means there must be some people left in there alive to have barricaded this place so tight.”

“Or maybe there are just more zombies in there.”

“Well, there’s definitely a blood bank in there, and that’ll help matters no end!”

Nicholas looked thoughtful then nodded. He of course didn’t want to actually say aloud that I’d had a good idea. “So, how do we get past them?”

I assumed it was a rhetorical question, so I started down to the car park entrance, where most of the zombies were mobbing. I opened the outer door as quietly as possible.

“Ladies first,” Nicholas whispered in my ear.

“I thought we’d agreed I wasn’t a lady.” And with that, I shoved him as hard as I could into the throbbing throng of zombies.

Published by Evernight Teen http://www.evernightteen.com/

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I guess I’ve always been a storyteller, not in a ‘liar liar pants on fire’ kind of way, although I do work in advertising! When I was little, kids would crowd around me in the playground and I’d tell them tales of blood soaked horror filled with vampires, werewolves, ghosts and more. Yes, most would consider me a disturbed child, but my playmates couldn’t help themselves, they’d huddle around me every break time like an ancient tribe feeding off the fear; and that’s how I learned that horror stories hold a certain power, no matter what some might say, everyone is addicted to a good scare, especially if it is somewhat rooted safely in unrealistic beings… or are they unrealistic?

Writing was really a natural progression. Right now I’m obsessed with writing: a YA Urban Fantasy novel, a Paranormal Romance novella series, and several short horror stories! So I’m currently living in a functional fiction coma – and loving it!

I’ve so far been published in 5 countries: USA, UK, Australia, Ireland and Canada and had short stories included in 40 anthologies with over 17 publishers.

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Happy reading, 

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Release Day Blitz: Fairly Twisted Tales for a Horribly Ever After-Various

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cooltext1602390596 copyWhen it comes to fairy tales, there are plenty of things that go bump in the night. Things so morbid and grotesque, so sinister and diabolical, they haunt your imagination; warnings from generations past that still manage to terrify.

In 2013, authors came together for the annual Project REUTSway writing competition, penning their own interpretive twists on stories we’re all familiar with. Seventeen were chosen, bringing twenty-five new versions to life. From The Brother’s Grimm, to Hans Christian Andersen and beyond, these tales are not the ones you grew up with. They are, however, Fairly Twisted Tales for a Horribly Ever After. Dare to find out what happens when “once upon a time” ends in the stuff of nightmares?

An exclusive hardcover will be available from REUTS Publications in the coming weeks, but you can devour these stories now for Kindle and Nook!

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This NaNoWriMo season, REUTS Publication is inviting you join us in creating the next talented collection. So brush up on your histories, legends, and cultural lore, because we’ll be looking for the most original, fantastic versions of tales that have braved the centuries. The globe-trotting of world mythology will make weekly theme stops to visit Egyptian, Celtic, and even more rich lore from other areas of the world. This all starts November 1st, so make sure to grab your pens and ready those typing muscles for the twists that will be revealed on the Project REUTSway on twitter, or on their website.

Spooky reading and Happy Halloween,

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