ARC Review: Sanctuary Bay-Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

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In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press 

Sanctuary Bay is a spine-tingling and deeply disturbing mystery. Part deadly secret and illusion, Sanctuary Bay will keep you guessing to the very end. 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re a fan of Shutter Island 
  • You have a strong stomach
  • You like being scared

Deals with important subjects like bullying, identity, the struggles of finding acceptance as a biracial person in a world of black or white, assault (briefly), mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder, PTSD, growing up in foster care and the trouble with eidetic memory. There’s a ton of diversity.

Truly one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read. Mystery propels the plot forward as stranger things start to happen and bizarre control and surveillance are placed on the students. The cult-like quality of the Wolf Pack is like a drug-induced mania full of carnal desire and blood. The ritualistic aspect is nauseating and horrifying. Some of the scenes are psychologically trippy, where you won’t know what’s real and what’s fake. Characters become unhinged and dangerous, trust is impossible. Several surprise moments. Sarah’s need to fit in and be accepted for all that she is made her more passive than I would have liked in regards to the Wolf Pack, like if you see something that messed up and disgusting, you should be a little more apprehensive.

The main characters, Sarah and Ethan were flawed and complex. At times they were both hard to like but it made them interesting. Sarah is wicked smart and loves science. She’s had a traumatic life, suffers from PTSD-induced flashbacks that coupled with her unique brain make the experience worse. She can see beyond the lies and is hyper-paranoid about things that don’t add up. An unconventional sleuth. Ethan is a cocky, popular guy who is basically a gigantic jerk. He’s sarcastic and frank, he acts like nothing matters and he’s constantly bored. Like most of the characters, behind their pretty facade is a darkness and depth that plagues them. 

The plot twist. A whole new level of terrifying and sadistic. 

There are many threads and clues that lead to the big reveal. History, science, cover-ups, you name it, they all add to the suspense. 

Many of the secondary characters disappeared into the background. Characters that were introduced like they’ve have a role, flit in and out. On a positive note, the characters were intelligent and unique for all the brevity. 

Sarah scrutinizes people and checks off little boxes as if she were conducting a survey. Race, age, social class, attractiveness, etc., are all assessed and quick assumptions are made based on these combinations of characteristics. While this sounds bad, it’s positive because it makes a point. We make assumptions about people for a variety of factors beyond their control everyday based on what’s on the surface, we put people in boxes and form opinions largely due to a greater construct, and how society perceives these things. The author made a huge point with this, however, it made Sarah seem hypocritical, judgmental, and like everything she strived not to be. Sarah had a chip on her shoulder about how others would treat her based on these eternal factors but she perpetuates the issue as well. I don’t think that it was the author’s intention, it needed to be explored and taken a step further but got lost in everything else that was going on. 

There’s a weird off-handed and inappropriate habit of referencing lewd behavior and sexual favors that’s wildly 1. Illegal and 2. One big shrug. Morals fly out the window in lieu of sensation. 

The villain was over-the-top, comic book-style, so bad it’s funny wrong. 

THAT ENDING. What a rush! Perfect setup for a sequel. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places-Rebecca Podos

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Release Date: Jan 26, 2016

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All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.

When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of her father’s books to track down a woman she’s never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

Rebecca Podos’ debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us – the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review through Goodreads

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re looking for a book about self discovery and the search for meaning
  • You’re into coming of age contemporaries mixed with a little mystery
  • You want a book that is not romance-centric

The Mystery of Hollow Places is a story of lost and found, of the secret places in ourselves that we need to uncover to feel whole, and the hard truths and disappointments that we’re afraid to feel about our parents. 

PROS:

  • The sleuthing is very Nancy Drew. The literary references to Rebecca and Sherlock Holmes were wonderful. The leaps and jumps to new leads and connecting the dots was spot on and invirgorating, kept the plot rolling forward.
  • Imogene (Immy) is introverted and philosophical; her internal dialogue is thoughtful and like a pep talk. The aching emptiness where her mother should be in her life is like a living, breathing thing supplanted by the half-stone heart (geode). For the most part, she’s level headed and quick witted, she adores her father and worships his story-weaving ability. She’s brave, she won’t let things like money or fear stop her from saving her father. 
  • Jessa is a true friend despite Imogene’s insistence that she’s more like a biological example of mutualism. They work with each other and fully accept each other’s quirks. Jessa knows who she is and embraces it, without the superficial, snobby popular and cliched attitude that is in a lot of YA. 
  • The bedtime story is brilliant. Those first few pages are captivating and whimsical, everything you could want in an opening. 
  • One of the best portrayals in the story is of parents. There are all kinds of parents and often, YA books will put them into one of two categories, the amazing, there for you parents that are more like friends or the failed parent. Imogene’s parents are not either, not fully. Parents can disappoint and hurt, they’re human and they don’t have all the answers. I liked and appreciated that Rebecca Podos showed parents as REAL people with their own issues. 

CONS:

  • Deals with bipolar disorder but doesn’t really go into it. Imogene’s dad’s behavior would have been easier to understand had there even been a brief sentence or two to summarize the symptoms and side effects of going without medication. 
  • The meeting with Sidonie was a big letdown. After all this time and desperation, the gaping hole in herself where her mother should have been, Imogene kind of just…shrugs. The entire story is a build up to this moment and when it actually happens it was like it didn’t matter one way or another. The internal dialogue sort of explains the reaction a teensy bit but not enough to balance out the story. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: Wings of Vengeance-Cameo Renae

 
Wings of Vengeance (Hidden Wings Series, Book Five)-Cameo Renae
Publisher: CHBB
syn No one knows of Lucian’s long-held secret—a recently transformed Nephilim daughter. Unfortunately for the Gray house, Lilith believes Emma is the one responsible for killing her father, and her deep-rooted hatred has turned into an envious obsession.
Powerful, with wings as dark as night, revenge consumes Lilith’s every thought, only to be fueled by Lucifer’s lies. Her newly transformed gifts have raised the danger level. Her aim is to strip Emma from everyone she loves, and has Lucifer’s Fallen warriors to aid in her task.
 
Receiving help from Midway, Emma reconnects with friends of old and new, and hopes it will be enough to keep them all alive.
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  • My family is what keeps my heart beating, and my world a happy place to be.
  • I was born in San Francisco, raised in Maui, Hawaii, and recently moved with my husband and children to Alaska.
  • I’m a daydreamer, a caffeine and peppermint addict. I love to laugh, love to read, and love to escape reality. One of my greatest joys is creating fantasy worlds filled with adventure and romance, and sharing it with others.
  • One day I hope to find my own magic wardrobe, and ride away on a magical unicorn. Until then…I’ll keep writing! 
  • Favorite quote: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” Albert Einstein

 

Facebook/Blog/Website  

ExcerptChapter 1
“Emma, wake up.” I blinked several times, trying to focus in the darkness, only to find Kade’s distraught eyes hovering close by. “Another nightmare?” he asked.
I nodded, wiping the beads of sweat from my brow and then cuddled close to him, resting my head on his chest. The beating of his heart had a way of calming my anxiety, soothing my every fear.
“Maybe you should talk to Alaine,” he whispered, pressing his lips to the top of my head.
“I’ll talk to her in the morning,” I exhaled.
“You’re shaking.” His hands rubbed down my arms. “Was it about me?”
I could sense a hint of concern in his voice.
“No,” I breathed. “It was about Alaine this time.”
I tried to erase the visions of her scorched and blistered body from my mind, but it was still there. In full color. Terrorizing me. The smell of smoke was still lingering in my nose, and the heat of the flames still felt warm on my skin.
I didn’t want to worry anyone with my troubles, but it was the third time this week I’d woken Kade with these horrifying nightmares. Every night it was a different loved one, and they were getting stronger as they progressed.
What was most unnerving was the shadowy figure with onyx wings present in every one. I could never make out the face but could sense its twisted pleasure as it watched me suffer.
I’d had enough of watching my loved ones endure horrible and painful deaths. Although they were nightmares, the pain was real and lingered for days after. It was something I couldn’t just erase. These dreams ate at my soul, keeping me tight in its cold, indifferent arms, holding on through my waking hours.
I prayed they weren’t premonitions, and I prayed Kade wouldn’t be in any future nightmares. I’d watched him suffer in real life, and it’d shattered my entire being. Now that we were bonded, watching it happen again would kill me.
I glanced over at the clock. It was four in the morning, but I didn’t want to go back to sleep.
“Where are you going?” Kade asked as I slipped from the warmth of his arms.
“To make some coffee and read the book Lia sent me.”
“You sure you don’t want to stay here with me?”
“You know I do, I just don’t want to go back to sleep.”
His hazel eyes swirled with desire. “I didn’t say we had to sleep.”
“Are you seducing me, Mr. Anders?”
A grin played on his lips as he pulled the covers down. “Maybe.”
“Well then,” I exhaled, jumping in next to him. “Coffee can wait.”

Happy reading,
Jordan







Promo: Crossroads-Mary Ting

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Protecting her from the fallen was his duty.
Falling in love was never part of his plan.
Loving her was forbidden.
Being with her was all that mattered, even if it meant he would be exiled for all eternity.

Claudia Emerson’s life is about to change when her good friend, who coincidentally shares the same first and last name, dies in a tragic accident. Distraught at the loss of her friend, Claudia’s dreams become tumultuous, and through them she mysteriously travels to another world called Crossroads. There, she unexpectedly meets Michael, a nephilim–half angel, half human. Now that she’s been there, fallen and demons are after her, suspecting she must be special, and it is up to Michael and the other nephilim to protect her. Her dream becomes a nightmare as more secrets are revealed about who she really is, and the true identities of the people she loves most.

Other Books in the Series 

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authInternational Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

Newsletter/Website/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/Instagram

Happy reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Sixth Domicile-Courtney Ruggles

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In a future ravaged by greed and war, The Domicile has emerged. A new civilization governed by clandestine Elders where citizens are united by white masks and uniform identities. To remove one’s mask, to go outside the Domicile, to show defiance, means being sent to the Meurtre, a horrifying death sentence.

Q437B doesn’t follow the rules. She craves sunlight, dares to love her childhood friend B116A, and – the most forbidden of all – has seen the true face of her beloved beneath the mask.

But when Q becomes an Adulte, The Domicile threatens to take away everything that makes her happy. She is forced to marry an abusive soldier who demands she conform. Whispers spread about the unconventional lessons she teaches her new students. And when Q openly disobeys the Elders, the people become restless, questioning the truth of the world in the wake of such defiance.    

Rumblings of discontent stir as others begin to follow the path toward their freedom. The Revolution has begun, and Q is the spark that ignited the flames.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the publisher

+++Trigger warning: abuse 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re looking for a fearless and feisty protagonist with a lot of heart
  • You like Sunset Rising, Matched and/or The Book of Ivy
  • You’re all about the swoon

PROS:

  • The Sixth Domicile is a coming of age story and though their actual ages aren’t mentioned, reads more like mature YA than New Adult. I liked that the characters were in transition, on the verge of adulthood and learning to explore their desires, it made their passion stronger.
  • Swoon central. Holy hotness. B and Q truly adore each other. While there’s not as much back story as I would have liked, their times together, laughing, relishing each other’s company, you can feel every little bit of their love and heat towards each other. B has some killer lines, heartfelt and soul-baring, he calls Q his sun, his spark. Be still my teeny tiny heart. 
  • The masks scene under the sky in the beginning. Breathless, beautiful, it was like they were stripping off everything and opening their hearts to each other, wholly and freely. That scene MADE the book for me, much more so than any frisky scenes.
  • Q is courageous and headstrong, she fights for what she believes in and fiercely follows her heart wherever it leads her. She trusts that love will be her guiding light and savior, that to have loved once is better than mindlessly serving the Domicile. Her jealousy is hilarious…mainly because it’s so believable and familiar, that creepy jealousy when you see someone you have a crush on or an ex with another girl who is gorgeous, and bubbly and makes him happy. I couldn’t help but cheer her on, though at times it was a tad excessive. 

CONS:

  • There’s a ton of sneaking and lying to have secret trysts and while you know that if they’re caught, it could mean death, it loses the danger as time progresses. They take more risks, are careless, and KNOW that people are spying on them and NOTHING. It was unbelievable how easily they get away with it. Not enough conflict. 
  • The world building was a bit atypical as far as popular dystopian goes.
  • If the Elders had been monitoring B and Q for years, why didn’t they do anything about it? Their notorious punishments and cruelty are mentioned throughout, they’re both feared and revered and when they sense rebellion on the horizon they do…nothing? It didn’t make sense. For people who live a legacy based on violent overthrow and control, the lax treatment is almost like encouragement. 

teaserunnamedauthcourtneyCourtney’s love for writing started pretty much when she learned to read, which her mother would tell you was a feat in itself back when she was in the first grade. Once she aced those flashcards with vocabulary words, Courtney’s writing took off. And her love with it. In school, she was always writing short stories on a word processor (What?? Word processor with floppy disks?). Oh yes, she literally had a card filing case full of floppy disks.

Now getting her Doctorate in social work, she’s used this education to help her writing some of the gritty issues entwined in her stories. When Courtney isn’t writing her next book while drinking coffee, you can find her doing homework (drag) with chocolate chip flavored coffee, reading series of books (because school books are only so interesting) while drinking pumpkin flavored coffee, playing with her little boy, or daydreaming of future beach houses while drinking some other scrumptious flavor of coffee.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

 

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: In This Life-Christine Brae

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They say that life is full of choices. When you’re young and idealistic, you believe that the path you choose is the road that will lead you to your destiny.

 
But what if, along the way, fate decides to step in, and no amount of logic or rationality or even prayers can save you from your fortune? When the sacrifices you make, the love that you find, and the bright promise of the future are all snatched away from you, you’re left alone to pick up the pieces of your life.
 
This is a story about love, found in a faraway place by two very unlikely people. It is also a story about friendship and loyalty and fighting for what you have despite the illogical mystery of fate. It is a story of faith and acceptance, and learning that even the best-laid plans are powerless against the alignment of the universe.
 
From the beaches of Thailand to the streets of New York, three friends, Anna, Dante, and Jude will learn the hard way that once providence steps in, there is nothing in the world that can change what is truly meant to be.
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Christine Brae is a full time career woman who thought she could write a book about her life and then run away as far as possible from it. She never imagined that her words would touch the hearts of so many women with the same story to tell. Her second book, His Wounded Light was released in December, 2013.

Christine’s third book, Insipid, is a standalone that was released in June, 2014, and her fourth book, In This Life is scheduled for release in January 2016. 

When not listening to the voices in her head or spending late nights at the office, Christine can be seen shopping for shoes and purses, running a half marathon or spending time with her husband and three children in Chicago.

Christine is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin Literary Management.

 
Pleasant reading, 
Jordan
 

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Happily Ever Ninja-Penny Reid

HappilyEverNinja_Blitz copycoverAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads

synFrom the USA Today Best Selling Author of ‘Truth or Beard’

There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true.

Except… not.

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?

This is a full length, 100k word novel, and is the 5th book in the Knitting in the City Series. All books in the series can be read as a standalone except book #1.5

auth

SEX! It all started with sex, between my parents. Personally I don’t like thinking about it, but whatever works for you is a-ok with me. No judgment. The sex happened in California and much of my life also occurred in that state until I moved from the land of nuts (almonds), wine, silicon… boobs, and heavy traffic to the southeast US. Like most writers I like to write, but let’s get back to sex. Eventually I married and gave birth to 2 small people-children (boy-6, girl-4 as of this writing).

By day I’m a biomedical researcher with focus on rare diseases. By night I’m a knitter, sewer, lino block carver, fabric printer, soap maker, and general crafter. By the wee hours of the morning or when I’m intoxicated I love to listen to the voices in my head and let them tell me stories. I hope you enjoy their stories.

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Happy reading, 
Jordan