Month: January 2015
Promo: Hook-K.R. Thompson
Archie Jameson sat in the dark corners of the print shop, dreaming of adventure. Today, it found him. Caught in a chilly October storm, he ducked into a tavern, hoping to escape the rain. What he found, was a room teeming with pirates. Shanghaied by the most elderly of the lot, Archie found himself serving on a ship captained by the fiercest pirate ever to sail the seven seas–the man known as Blackbeard. Through a series of thrilling twists, Archie finds himself captain of another of Blackbeard’s ships, the Jolig Roger. In an attempt to flee danger, his ship becomes lost under stars never before seen. Determined to save both his crew and the woman he loves, Archie will make decisions that will forever seal his fate. Discover the untold story of the man who became Captain Hook.
K.R. Thompson was raised in the Appalachian Mountains. She resides in Bland County with her husband, son, three cats, and an undeterminable amount of chickens.
An avid reader and firm believer in magic, she spends her nights either reading an adventure or writing one.
She still watches for evidence of Bigfoot in the mud of Wolf Creek.
ARC Review: Tear You Apart-Sarah Cross
An edgy fairy tale retelling of “Snow White” set in the world of Kill Me Softly for fans of Once Upon a Time and Grimm.
Faced with a possible loophole to her “Snow White” curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who’s fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrificing the love that might kill her?
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & EgmontUSA
Please Note: I have not read Killing Me Softly, the first installment in this Beau Rivage world so all of my perceptions are based on the idea that this is the first and/or a stand alone.
Tear You Apart is a dark and gritty journey into authentic fairy tales. The kind that aren’t made of rainbows and butterflies but revenge, envy, murder, and twisted curses. In the style of The Brothers Grimm, Tear You Apart is gritty, sinister and full of danger. The tension is high and the future is bleak. Happily ever after is far from the horizon for these ill-fated teens.
- Beau Rivage is quirky and creative. The idea is that in this world, people are cursed with fairytale fates and not the Disney kind. From a prominent birthmark, citizens know their future and have to take matters in their own hands to achieve a happy ending. Full of giant slayers, fae, mischievous witches, and dark Princes, Tear You Apart is a magical wonderland of invention that plays on urban fantasy. The characters may look like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty but their personalities are their own and sometimes, it’s startling just how much they contrast with expectations.
- Characters are multidimensional, they’re both good and bad. There aren’t true villains because each person is governed by choice within the confines of their fairy tale. Secondary characters are packed with personality and charm. I adored the spoiled princess who survived the Goldilocks curse. She’s a constantly complaining nuisance. I appreciated that Sarah Cross included lots of diversity, from different races and cultures to LGBTQIA.
- The Underworld is wickedly cool. It’s made for illicit activities, partying, and like a giant costume party full of chic clothes and themes. The boats to the castle, the ferrymen, the 12 Princesses curse and the Underworld Princes, it’s enthralling, the sort of cleverly crafted scenery that sucks you in and makes you want more. The details are all there and vibrant.
- The King of the Underworld is vile, evil, and sadistic. When his sins come out it’s sickening how seriously he took his curse and the damage he’s done. The lack of care for human life is dreadful. The secrets hidden in the Underworld castle are a consistent addition to the plot and fuel for Viv’s hunger to escape her alternate fate.
- Henley is a chivalrous, lovable, loyal friend and love interest. He’s there for Viv even when she verbally attacks him and does everything in her power to make him think she doesn’t want him. He comes to her rescue consistently and gets her out of trouble at his own peril. Despite everything, he never gives up. His heart is pure and even if he wasn’t attractive, his personality is golden.
- The wedding scene. OMG. Rivals the “Red Wedding”. Horrifying.
- Bouts of genuine horror and helplessness resonate through the story. The tone is dark and made of anticipation of when the next ax will drop of their miniscule moments of happiness.
- Viv is antagonistic. She pushes people away and is kind of self-absorbed. She cares more about her own feelings than others until reality harshly slaps her in the face. Viv is so rude to Henley, her so-called best friend and Huntsman. She insults him, instigates fights, and then gets mad when he doesn’t fall at her feet and beg for forgiveness. Viv doesn’t know what she wants and is guided by crippling fear of her own mortality. She didn’t have many redeeming qualities but I did sympathize with her situation. She grew up dreaming of a happily ever after and was brutally hit with fate when her love interest became the hand that may or may not kill her. All Viv wants is to be loved and because of the curse, she had a sickly mother, an absent father, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing of a step-mother.
- There wasn’t enough of many characters. There are brief tidbits that have lots of promise to enhance the story but then disappear. Jasper, Minuet, the sisters, their emotions and personalities, how the feel towards their fates and father would have made it easier to get why they behaved the way they did.
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Release Blast: Dark Shadows-T.G. Ayer
And then there is the blood on my hands and my sheets when I wake up. I’m afraid of myself and what I’ve done. And I’m beginning to be more afraid of Kyla. And what she will do.
I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognize that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practice given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves – it works wonderfully…
My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.
ARC Review: Bridges Burned-Chris Cannon
- Bryn is magnetic. She’s saucy, bold, courageous, has a solid moral compass and believes in fighting her hardest for rights for those who refuse to fight for themselves. Bryn is antagonistic, playful, and has the wittiest comments. At the same time, Bryn, despite her unique circumstances as an outsider and dragon, has the same issues as a normal teenage girl. Her troubles with boys, confusion over where she stands in a relationship and if she’s worth the effort of tackling the system for places her on a playing field that’s relatable and extremely likeable.
- Valmont is a sweetheart, he’s loyal, masculine, and the warm arms Bryn needs to comfort her when no one else seems to understand. Bryn is searching for someone that will stay, to love her for her faults as much as her assets and Valmont is super attentive to her needs. Valmont is soft and compassionate one moment and hard, threatening lines the next. He’s a definite contender for Bryn’s heart.
- The relationship between Jaxon and Bryn has come a long way. It’s almost amicable and there might be some sexual tension brewing beneath the surface, no matter how hard they try to resist. Jaxon is a jerk. He’s blunt, doesn’t spare Bryn her feelings and let’s her have it when she’s being too cocky. Jaxon is surprisingly nice when he wants to be. He has quite the heart hidden deep within him and a giant soft spot for the women in his life.
- The sheer extent of the Directorate’s reign and corruption is revealed and it’s horrifying just how far they go to maintain an image of perfection and order. The difference between humans and dragons is outlined, those with imperfections are disregarded and hidden from sight like an ugly piece of furniture. Women are subservient and told not to speak up but their voices are there and it’s wonderful to finally hear their side.
- A substantial portion of the plot was overwhelmed by the relationship drama between Zavien and Bryn. Her constant sulking and the run around detracted from the serious threats made to the school.
- The battle scenes were viewed from the outside. Secondhand word of the carnage was not nearly as suspenseful and it was hard to really gage the extent of the damages and threat.
- Zavien. I can’t remember the last time I was so disappointed in a character.
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Release Day Blast & Giveaway: A Cold Legacy-Megan Shepherd
Cover Reveal: Okay-Danielle Pearl
Expected Publication Date: Feb 24, 2015
After the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for Rory and Sam, love means letting go.
Can two people hopelessly in love with one another ever revert back into just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam know for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have.
As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.
OKAY is the follow-up to NORMAL and Book 2 of the Something More series. It is NOT meant to be read as a standalone novel.
Normal, the first book in this series, was one of my top reads of 2014 and one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2015.
For my review of Normal –>Normal Review
ARC Review & Giveaway: Paris Hemsworth’s Road to Wonderland-Francesca Marlow
- Paris is quite the spitfire. She’s saucy, playful, headstrong, and has quite the temper. She blows up and takes everything so personally, she second guesses everything and has no idea of just how amazing she is. What’s so compelling about this book, and the Road to Wonderland series in general is the transformation and growth each character goes through that goes well beyond a simple coming of age story. Paris’ story goes from her teen years into her 30s. So much happens in 15 or so years that is astounding to reflect back on how far she’s come. From a sheltered, boy crazy girl with ambition and passion, to a young woman who as a coping mechanism fell into reckless behavior and self-destruction, to a woman in an abusive relationship polluting her body and soul with drugs and finally to a woman who has found the strength to try living again. Paris’ grief is a toxic cloud that suffocates her soul. She’s lost without her father and instead of dealing with her emotions pushes the loved ones she has left away. Her self-induced isolation and lies further fracture the girl she used to be and destroy what she had the most faith in, her ability to thrive, to keep the promise she made to her father-to have a back bone, to cling to her best friend forever. Her disappointment in herself is gut-wrenching, the way she loses her self-worth inflicts heartache, pain, and pity on the reader. Her deterioration is beyond sad, it’s shattering. I fluctuated between moments of wanting to smack some sense into her, to shake her and say get over it, to forgive and run to Izzy, and to hug her. Paris is stronger than she knows and the sheer fact that she didn’t totally implode is evidence of that will within to live, despite her dire situation.
- Each scene is captured with precision. The rave life, the haze of drugs, to come down after the high, it’s all there is glaring detail. The paranoia and exaltation, the out-of-body euphoria and the crash, the sort of shady activities, grime, and delusions are all there and nothing is black and white. Some scenes read as a dreamscape of pleasant feelings and lust only to come slamming down into a nightmare of bad decisions and regret.
- Psychological and physical abuse are rough to read. It’s bloody, violence, and the possessive way Daggs rules her body and what happens to it is downright terrifying. Never once is it sexy. It’s disillusioned and twisted. Paris is passive and makes stupid choices but she is shaking, scared into agreeing. You can hardly blame her and what it really illustrates is how one choice can alter our entire lives.
- Friendship, more than anything else, is the theme of this story. The simple act of having someone to understand, to get you on a deep level like no one else can be a saving grace. When Izzy pulls away and Paris does nothing to stop her, her life falls to pieces. Izzy had been her rock for so long that without her, she doesn’t know who she is or how to function. Izzy doesn’t ask questions, she knows when to push, sometimes she’s crazy irritating with her pestering but she’s always there when Paris needs her. Paris Hemsworth’s Road to Wonderland is about hope and the staying power of true friends. No matter how long they went without seeing each other, the horrible fights, harsh words, and punches thrown, they always go back to each other and that’s what really counts.
- Paris has seriously risky sexual encounters with guys. She’s ballsy and when intoxicated, goes after what she wants and won’t take no for an answer. Sex scenes are steamy, especially with the very gorgeous Rob.
- Some of the terminology and colloquialisms as a non-British reader were a little hard to follow. I had to look up several references and be forewarned some of them are seriously blush-worthy.
- There wasn’t enough Izzy to truly get the extent of their friendship. Half the time it felt antagonistic and I didn’t get what they saw in each other. If I hadn’t read Izzy (Book 1) I don’t know that I would have felt their sisterly bond.
Other Books in the Series
Izzy Moffit’s Road to Wonderland by Victoria L James (book 1)
Reviews: The Fool & The Magician-Karen Amanda Hooper
NOTE: This is a serial. All parts are around 60 pages.
Currently FREE on most platforms (check first).
In a faraway future, Kelsey Zellar is starting her senior year at yet another school thanks to her twin sister’s troublesome obsession with outlawed virtual reality games.
Every school they’ve ever attended is pretty much the same: lunchroom drama, rich kids binging on enhancement candies, and classmates rallying for or against the government’s strict control over everything from entertainment privileges to caffeine consumption.
Unlike her sister, Kelsey follows the rules and keeps her nose out of trouble and politics while sniffing out her next flavored latte and favorite novel. But when Kelsey meets a charming book connoisseur, and accepts his offering of a tarot card, she takes the first step toward two new addictions: the guy of her dreams, and his illegal dealing of virtual escapes into her beloved storybooks.
Kelsey straddles the worlds of fiction and reality, but is she a fool for believing in her own happy ending?
- The world building is intense without being overwhelming. The setting is futuristic with things like hover crafts and virtual reality school lessons. The creativity is astounding, it’s like The Neverending Story meets The Jetsons. Between the quirky little inventions, the tyrannical governmental expectations and regulations, and the ease in which each aspect is introduced, the entire story feels like truth despite its magical and sci-fi undertones.
- Any book nerd will swoon, seriously melt into a puddle of envy at the library, the love interest, and the power of the Arcana cards. The ability to use a card to transport into a story as a main character is one of the coolest things I’ve ever read. I was instantly enchanted and envious of the sheer possibilities. To experience classics like The Chronicles of Narnia, literally first hand as Lucy, while remaining yourself is a dream come true.
- The mystery is high, there are plenty of clues, and things that seem like puzzle pieces that are so much more than they seem.
- Xander. OMG. He’s like a fantasy. Instant perfection. Hot, a librarian, intelligent, obsessed with books, loves coffee, he’s playful and witty. A dream come to life. Honestly, I’m pretty impressed by Kelsey’s self-control.
- Kelsey is a soul sister. She likes to keep on the straight and narrow, is completely protective of her twin sister, and doesn’t trust easily. She prefers books over people and lives for coffee. Sometimes, her complete mistrust is hard to understand and her opinions fluctuate.
- It’s so short. If you have a free hour to read pick this up but expect a killer hangover. Because the word count is so low, it goes by quicker than ever and it’s painful when it ends. Luckily, the release dates are relatively close together.
- Not the biggest fan of the cover.
NOTE: This is a serial. All parts are around 60 pages.
The second book in the VIRTUAL ARCANA series.
The series starts with book 0: The Fool.
Mysterious cards keep appearing in Kelsey’s life, stirring up questions and forcing her to keep secrets from her sister, Keekee.
Triggered by Kelsey’s fear and Keekee’s worry, the twins become bright blips on their tyrannical government’s radar.
Xander’s magic seems to be their only chance at escaping a dangerous confrontation, but is Kelsey willing to break multiple laws and finally step into Xander’s illegal world of virtual reality?
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Starry Sky Publishing.
- The role of the Arcana and the cards is even more prominent in this episode than The Fool. The mix of mysticism and magic with advanced technology is captivating. The story sucks you in much like the virtual reality cards in Xander’s library.
- The evils of the government and just how much control they have over each citizen is huge in this segment. The way they manipulate, threaten, and coerce creates an air of hopelessness for Keekee and Kelsey’s future plans to escape.
- Attraction between Xander and Kelsey mounts as the danger rises. The fact that he gives Kelsey a choice and is willing to help her despite the risks is sweet. Despite her misgivings, the magic Xander radiates with the tarot cards and his mind-blowing virtual reality library is a tantalizing temptation that she can no longer resist.
- Kelsey scrambles to understand how Xander’s magic is possible and deal with her blossoming feelings. Kelsey puts her heart and loyalty to her family above her own safety. She’s a heroine in the making.
- Keekee is headstrong, radical and pushes down Kelsey’s feelings, insisting that hers are the right ones and that Kelsey’s sacrifice should mirror her own because they’re twins. Keekee has secrets, she hides things from Kelsey even though she does a lot to try to keep Keekee safe. Keekee is so explosive in her personality sometimes that it’s a little unlikable.
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ARC Review: The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant-Joanna Wiebe
“I shrug. “‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’-isn’t that written on the gates of Hell?’ ‘In the Inferno.’ He smiles, and his bright eyes meet mine. ‘Do you have any idea how much it turns me on when you quote Dante and Nietzsche within seconds of each other?'”
“How this happened, how we’ve crossed the chasm that seemed greater than the distance between Hell and Heaven, is a testament to either our humanity or our divinity here. We’re either completely weak and foolish or part of something bigger. This kiss is part of something bigger.”
“‘Remember: many adored you once. Love doesn’t die. Nothing dies. It just shape-shifts.'”
Life and death, light and dark, spirit and flesh-on Wormwood Island, the lines are always blurred. For Anne Merchant, who has been thrust back into this eerily secretive world, crossing the line seems inevitable, inescapable, destined.
Now, as Ben finds himself battling for the Big V and Teddy reveals the celestial plan in which Anne is entwined, Anne must choose: embrace her darkly powerful connection to a woman known as Lilith and, in doing so, save the boy she loves…or follow a safer path that is sure to lead to Ben’s destruction at the hands of dark leaders. Hoping the ends will justify the means, Anne starts down the slippery slope into the underworld, intent on exploring the dark to find the light. But as the lure of Lilith proves powerfully strong, will Anne save others-only to lose herself?
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and BenBella Books.
The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant is a stunning sequel, completely brilliant. When I first read The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sold but if there’s something Joanna Wiebe excels at it’s cliffhangers. I needed to know what happened to Anne and the fates of the rest of the students on Wormwood Island. The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant is a maze of twists and turns with a surprise around every corner. If you’re looking for a unique, puzzling read where you learn to expect the unexpected and trust no one, add this to your TBR. Stat.
- The story is meticulously plotted. There are layers upon layers of mysteries and secrets. The lies build and slither like snakes into new, intricate reveals. Secrets evolve as the story progresses and everything feels like an optic illusion that the majority of students are imprisoned in, where they fail to see the truth for all the pretty lies.
- Anne has grown a little. Her maturity level is still iffy but she’s wickedly smart and able to decipher clues faster than anyone else. Anne sees what others do not, she takes things apart and rebuilds them, picking out the bad pieces and analyzing their intentions. Anne is awkward and kind of spastic when it comes to love and sexuality. She’s constantly doubting herself and blurts of the obvious laced with sarcasm. Despite her flaws (there are many and as a reader, I truly appreciated the parts of Anne that were not clean or heroic) Anne has a pure heart. She’ll risk herself for what she believes it. That being said, sometimes she’s incredibly selfish and sees things in a one-sided way. She’s made of contradictions and second guessing. Her character traits fluctuate and as a teenage girl, it’s pretty believable.
- Dia is a sadistic hipster. As weird as it sounds, it works. A tortured artist, who sees the beauty in the beastly, who quotes poetry and knows art, has tattoos and is devastatingly sexy, he oozes charm and sex appeal while being surprisingly nonchalant. He brushes things off and yet, takes a shining to Anne that put everything into question. Dia is one of those characters that you’ll regard wearily, unsure of his intentions and the madness hidden beneath the surface.
- The violence was especially graphic and gory this time around. The torture scenes were brutal and bloody, filled with coercion and real threats.
- Characters had many sides. The person living the PT and the one who came before the dire circumstances are often two very different people. Characters can’t be viewed in black and white, they grey and multidimensional. Just when you think you have them pegged, a new element will leave you reeling. Harper was a pleasant surprise.
- The literary and art references were tantalizing and persuasive, do yourself a favor and look them up when mentioned, it adds a layer of color and deeper understanding to the story.
- Ben and Anne’s romance was soft and sweet at times and others it was downright embarrassingly awkward. I loved it. Romance is not something where you know all the answers, where every move is perfect or calculated, you can’t expect to get everything right. Ben and Anne have serious issues and it’s they’re not small. They give into their attraction and build their love but they have outside forces dragging them down and inhibiting the true exploration of their feelings. Their love is real and honest, and made of misinterpretations and assumptions that leave them pushing each other away more often than not.
- The Sin Sisters. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Their gorgeous, vicious, sinister. Delicious female villains.
- There’s a lewd, vulgar undertone to some scenes that is blunt and abrupt, the sort of in your face awareness that is both startling and shocking. While the story does deal with demons, many of these observations and comments are made by those who are not and it was a little off-putting.
- Characters flit in and out of the story, some stick while others fall away into oblivion until they’re suddenly important again. It was difficult to connect with many apart from Anne, Ben, Molly, Dia and to an extent, Pilot because of his lasting impression from book 1.
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