YA/NA Books: Best of 2014

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Looking back on 2014, so many wonderful changes have been made to the blog. I’ve gained several hundred followers and views, thank you! I’ve opened more communication networks and expanded social media to include more Indie authors and have made friends with many new authors. I’ve upped my participation in tours, giveaways, and conducted great interviews. It’s been a year of growth and discovery and I hope that you’ll continue on with the blog into what promises to be another amazing year-2015. A year which may or may not include my book release…we’ll see. Fingers crossed.

That being said, in 2014 I read and reviewed 218 books. That’s 32 under what my goal was but grad school, eh and writing, YAY. I asked over on the FB page and on my personal page for categories, the following are a combination of those suggestions and my own. The books on this list consist ONLY of books I’ve read this year. Some of them are not 2014 releases, most are. 

BEST DYSTOPIA

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BEST DEBUT

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BEST FEMALE LEAD

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BEST MALE LEAD

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BEST PLOT TWIST

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BEST CLIFFHANGER

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BEST COUPLE

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BEST SERIES

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BEST MADE INTO FILM

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BEST SECONDARY FEMALE 

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BEST SECONDARY MALE

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BEST DIVERSITY

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BEST PARANORMAL

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BEST TEARJERKER

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BEST OVERALL

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BEST DIALOGUE

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BEST PROSE

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BEST WEIRD/BIZARRE/HORROR

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BEST ACTION/SUSPENSE

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BEST CONTEMPORARY

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BEST DRAMA

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BEST LGBTQIA

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BEST END OF SERIES

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BEST MYTHOLOGY

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BEST LOVE TRIANGLE

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BEST GOTHIC

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BEST REALISTIC FICTION

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BEST NEW SERIES

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This is, of course, not an all-encompassing list and I’m sure there are categories and areas that I’ve neglected. Some of these titles are repeated but I couldn’t help myself. 

Keep reading and have a lovely New Year,

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ARC Review: Both of Me-Jonathan Friesen

91tCLhkkWfLGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

“He bowed his head. ‘I’m scared. Are you ever frightened?.’ ‘No. Well, yes.’ ‘Frightened that you’ll be overcome by yourself? That a gentle monster inside of you might take over and never let go?'”

***

“‘Have you ever run from reality? Have you ever run because reality was too much, too suffocating, too…just too? And then you find fiction. And the fiction feels more real than the real ever did. Have you ever felt like that?'”

cooltext1790897456 copyElias Phinn has always been considered stupid, but that may be because no one knows his vacant exterior holds a gifted mind. A mind that has learned to focus on his created world of Warilia, through which Elias distills everything he sees in order to cope with the excruciating, actual world around him. But with each passing year, the detailed sketches and notebooks describing Warilia have not only taken over Elias’s time, they have become a world he must slip into in order to get through each day. Clara Tobias has been running from her own reality, leaving behind her fragile mother and two siblings in order to have the whirlwind life of travel and adventure she always wanted. She justifies she put in her time caring for others, and that the rest of her life is hers to use as she pleases. Even if guilt won’t leave her alone.

On a flight out of New York—Elias heading home for the summer, Clara on another trip to Somewhere—the two end up side by side. And when their carry-ons are mistakenly switched, Clara opens her bag to discover the histories of Warilia while Elias finds photographs and journals he uses to flesh out the mysterious girl who sat beside him, whom he sees as the beautiful daughter of a Warilian diplomat, making her and her mother an integral part of his entire world.

When Clara arrives at the Phinn’s boarding house for her luggage, she begs Elias to show her Warilia—and he does, taking her to locations that to him are not ordinary landscapes and buildings but epic mountains and massive skyscrapers. But as Clara finds herself further drawn to this intriguing boy, word comes her mother has died. When Elias becomes unable to deal with the death of his diplomat, he and Clara leave on a mission Elias claims will preserve Warilia forever. Though in the end it could be the one thing that allows Clara to piece her own world together.

cooltext1790896132 copy5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Blink

Sometimes you read a book and every other page all you can think is WOW. Just wow. Then you take a deep breath, take a step back and pause. Everything suddenly has a marvelous sort of calm and clarity. It’s brilliant, peaceful, the kind of elation that comes from being deeply satisfied and loved. Loved-because that’s what Both of Me is, an outpouring of love, understanding and self-discovery and definitely one of my top reads of 2014, if not ever.

Both of Me is an unconventional story that is part self-discovery, romance, mystery, and revelation. It’s at its heart, an adventure that unites two unlikely allies on a quest made of imagination and dark secrets.

From the first page, I was fascinated by Clara. Her role as a traveller following a map around the world through an elaborate system of blogging and funding from an internet scam simultaneously disgusted and intrigued me. Beneath her bravado was a scared little girl running from a past that she thought could be forgotten through redemption, through following her father’s path around the world. Clara is confused, bold, brilliant, she tackles things head on and has a nice British accent. At the same time, the need to know her sinister truth pulls the story forward as Clara’s unraveling comes to a head. Everything she’s been hiding threatens to bubble over and burst out into the open. Clara’s terrified and shamed. Her emotions are complex and raw as she questions her faith and what it means to love. Her guilt is sometimes overwhelming but complimented by a dramatic thirst for life.

Both of Me is breathtaking and beautifully written in its simplicity. Some of the most profound, moving sentences are casually strung together so that they linger. They don’t immediately hit you that simmer, a slow burn of longing and epiphany.

This book is special in that it deals with a subject that is difficult to capture let alone talk about-Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and autism. Jonathan Friesen doesn’t talk about DID as something crippling or wrong but as a puzzle with a bit of whimsy. Elias is the most unique, heartbreaking character I’ve ever read. He’s two parts of a whole. One side is a talented artist that breathes life into a fantasy world of his own creation, where a Lightkeeper must be found to combat the darkness in the world. The other half is a genius machinist with a bemused expression and big heart. These two pieces of Elias are easy to fall in love with. His switch happens in an instant and at first it’s intriguing. The determined Other One has a quest that rivals great epics and a giddy hope builds as Clara follows him on his journey for answers. When he slips into the main Elias, he has no memory and that happiness quickly turns to bleak sadness. He’s losing part of himself and can never get that back. It’s brutal, gut-wrenching, and almost paralyzes so that you don’t want to move forward out of fear.

My heart fractured and broke, only to be rebuilt as Clara and Elias’ relationship blossomed. 

Every character is quirky and has a fully developed personality. There’s not a small character that is not memorable. 

Elias and Clara, when they are together is sweet, charming, and uncertain but they fit. She wants to help him and he’s healing her wounds. 

The subplots are hilarious. Izzy’s insertion into the story and the underground railroad. It takes you to unexpected places that you’ll never see coming.

The ending. There are no words. 

If this is not made into a movie and/or best-seller I will be astounded. If you like John Green, I’ll Give You the Sun, or Belzhar get this, it’s your next favorite. 

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

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Review: The Adventures of Jillian Spectre-Nic Tatano

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cooltext1790897456 copyWelcome to the Mystic Quarter…

Jillian Spectre knows what happens after you die because the seventeen-year-old mystic seer can see the future of her clients even after they’ve passed on. And that’s not even her coolest power… she can be in two places at once. Problem is, her heart can only be in one.

Supernatural abilities aside, she’s a typical high school senior torn between two guys. But that gets put on the back burner when she discovers the father she had long assumed was dead is actually alive, with unique powers of his own. He’s a technopath, with the ability to interface his mind with technology. And he’s got a plan to take down society.

Unless Jillian can stop him.

The Adventures of Jillian Spectre is the story of a very special girl who learns that the power of love is more important than supernatural powers.

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***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and HarperImpulse.

There’s something special about The Adventures of Jillian Spectre in that it sucks you in and basks you in warmth. It’s carefree and magical and has the sort of lighthearted, magnetic characters that you want to see more of. 

PROS:

  • Jillian is a saucy little minx. She’s a fiery redhead with loads of sarcasm and serious confidence. She says what’s on her mind and throws caution to the wind. She makes reckless, life and death decisions that will leave you smacking your head against your e-reader while applauding her courage. Jillian is relatable. Besides having the coolest power, being able to predict and view the fate of romance for 5 years into the future, she still struggles with her own love life and is as confused about the opposite sex as the next girl. Jillian is calculated and conflicted about her father but sacrifices everything for the fate of the world. She’s truly a take charge, admirable protagonist.
  • The supernatural, the different shades of psychic and mental prowess was dazzling. From astral projection, to telekinesis, to being a muse, everything was bold, charming, and fascinating to read. 
  • The underlying message about technology and losing faith was intriguing. The idea that we’re so latched on to our devices we’re losing what makes us human, what makes us belive is a compelling and disquieting argument. As the technology interfaced with subconscious, people became more like zombies and forgot who they were in favor of what technology dictated. It’s an alarming portrait of humanity at risk.
  • Roxanne is a force. She’s a sizzling, ball of energy and wit. Sultry, sensual, and made of innuendo, Roxanne is an enigma. A good Catholic girl with a naughty sense of humor and big Italian personality. Rox insights laughter and head shaking. She’s addictive and more like a siren than a muse. ❤ Roxanne doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone, she’s above all the drama and puts people in their place. 
  • Roxanne and Jillian’s friendship is golden. It’s what best friends are made of. Understanding and perfect symmetry.
  • Ryan and Jake each have a heart-throb persona. They’re gorgeous, alluring and while Jake is a bad boy with a tendency to play with emotions, Ryan is clueless, adorably so when it comes to feminine charms. 

CONS:

  • The danger and urgency was subtle. All of the pieces were there but they we’re in the forefront and for that reason, the anxiety was muted. 
  • The general set up of the borough of psychics (the Mystic Quarter) wasn’t fleshed out. A little more insight into the various powers and the weight of each psychic’s role would have been helpful in positioning Jillian in this larger scope. Also, the Summit. There’s not much detail in what they do or what it looks like from the inside. While this does add to the mystery and sort of untouchable, clandestine mystique of the higher-ups, it left a lot of questions. 

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

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ARC Review & Giveaway: Pieces of Revenge-Valia Lind

Title: Pieces of Revenge (Titanium, #1)

Author: Valia Lind

Genre: YA, Thriller

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A weapon. A broken life. A humanity lost.

That is all Anastasia knows, that is all that she is. As an eleven-year-old, she witnessed her family’s brutal murder and she’s been on the run ever since. She’s spent her life training and planning for the day when she can take her revenge.

Kallos Enterprises is a well respected corporation, set on improving the genetic structure of an individual. Or so they say. Anastasia knows, first hand, what kind of monsters lurk behind the pretty walls of those skyscrapers. Armed with combat skills and a beyond perfect memory, she heads to Chicago to uncover the answers to questions that plagued her for years.

After arriving in the city, she meets Logan, a boy from her past who changes all the rules. She doesn’t remember him, but he remembers her. His position at Kallos Enterprises is useful, his presence is unnerving, and he makes her question everything she knows about herself to be true. If her perfect memory can’t remember Logan, what else about her past is wrong?

Time is running out. Anastasia has nowhere to turn, but to trust the one person who’s a memory she should have, but doesn’t. With a madman threatening their every step, Anastasia and Logan must uncover the truths behind Kallos experiments and hope that the answers they find won’t destroy the world forever.

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cooltext1804472332 copy4/5 Stars
***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author and for this tour
I’m always impressed and a little apprehensive when one of my tried and true authors decide to take the leap into a new genre. I adore Valia’s heartwarming love stories, they’re made of flirt and the kind of romance that makes you feel like flying. When I read the synopsis for Pieces of Revenge, I won’t lie, I got scared but if there’s one thing Valia excels at, it’s crafting powerful protagonists that are as believable as they are relatable. Pieces of Revenge is a stretch from Valia’s norm but I’m starting to think there’s nothing this girl cannot do. It’s fierce, bloody, full action and lies. If you’re looking for sweet revenge, a mission made of carnage and bloodshed, and yes, tons of sexual tension Pieces of Revenge is your next favorite. 
PROS:
  • Anastasia (Tasia) is a warrior. She packs a mean punch, has the sassiest lines, and the way her eyes light up at the prospect of murder is bewitching. Her thirst for vengeance is what drives and compels her to take monumental risks. Tasia is so much more than meets the eye. The layers of her personality are revealed as she suffers one loss after the other and discovers the girl lurking beneath her façade. On one hand, Tasia is a beast. Seriously, her skills are made of badassery. She’s in an elaborate game of cat and mouse where she alternates between the hunter and the hunted and like her enemies, she likes to play with her food. Tasia is vulnerable. There’s a side of her that’s lonely and terrified, a side that is determined to save the day at all costs no matter how much blood and injury she receives in the meantime. She doesn’t trust and had wickedly fast reflexes, memory, and general intelligence. She’s always one step ahead in this crazy chess game of manipulation, corruption, and vile genetics. When Tasia falls to pieces it’s hard to swallow and extremely raw. Her grief is a stab to the heart. To see someone so strong and confident crumble is devastating. 
  • The suspense fills the story with enough thrills and bumps to keep anyone on their toes and second guessing everything. The sheer mystery of the Kallos company, and the tiny pieces of a gigantic puzzle, lead to a revelation that will disquiet and astound. It’s breathtaking, bold and comes together in shocking twist.
  • The truth buried deep in memory and violation is nauseating. The disregard for human life, the way Tasia and others are taken advantage of for the so-called “greater good” is disgusting. Everything Tasia has gone through is a major violation, she doesn’t know what’s real and what’s fake and as the reader, the confusion pulls you closer to Tasia as she breaks a little inside.
  • Logan is a shameless, gorgeous flirt. He’s an absolute sweetheart but infuriating. He loves to push Tasia’s buttons and makes her feel things she never has before. Tasia blossoms, she unravels in his able hands and awakens to the prospect of love. Logan is funny, insanely protective, and the way he looks at Tasia, like she’s precious, remarkable, that the stars shine from her eyes…swoon. He gets her, more than she gets herself. He looks out for her and teases and tries everything in his power to make her smile. There’s tons of chemistry and tension between them but not an overwhelmingly sexual bout of lust. It’s a yearning on a deep, soul level, to be there for each other. 
  • The gore and violence might be too much for some. It’s graphic and brutal, every kick, scratch, stab, and bullet is described in brilliant detail.
CONS:
  • Secondary characters faded away and were hardly present. They didn’t leave a big impression and so when it was time to actually care about their fates, it didn’t hit the emotions like it should have. 
  • It took a substantial amount of time for the whole story behind Tasia’a quest for murder to be revealed. Yes, she suffered a horrible loss and becoming a killing machine is a viable route but it feels disjointed, like something is missing for a lot of the story, especially in connection to the Kallos company. 
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Author. Photographer. Artist. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Valia Lind always had a love for the written word. She wrote her first full book on the bathroom floor of her dormitory, while procrastinating to study for her college classes. Upon graduation, she has moved her writing to more respectable places, and have found her voice in Young Adult fiction. Falling by Design is her debut young adult novel. You can visit her online at http://www.valialind.blogspot.com or follow her on twitter, where she spends way too much time, @ValiaLind.

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ARC Review: Storm Fall-Tracy Banghart

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Storm Fall (Rebel Wing, #2) by Tracy Banghart

Release Date: December 16, 2014

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In the action-packed sequel to Rebel Wing, Aris battles for life and love . . . and not everyone will survive.

Aris Haan gave up everything to join the Atalantan Military: her family, her boyfriend, even her identity. In the end, though, it didn’t matter that she was a war hero. When the all-male Military discovered that she was actually a woman, she was sent home and erased from history.

Now she has a chance to go back to the battlefield—as herself. But as hard as it was to be a soldier in disguise, it’s even more difficult now. The men in her unit undermine her at every turn. The Safaran army has spies everywhere, perhaps even on Aris’s stationpoint. And she’s falling for her mysterious superior officer, Milek. But their relationship is forbidden, just stolen moments between training sessions and missions. There’s no room for love in war.

Then Aris discovers that Safara’s leaders have set their sights on her, Atalanta’s hero. And she must find them before they find her . . .

cooltext1843013304 copy5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Alloy Entertainment

I’ve been a huge fan of Tracy Banghart’s Rebel Wing series since before it was called that. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Shattered Veil (now Rebel Wing) when it was first released. I fell in love with this elaborate world made of fierce women, worn torn cities ravaged by manipulation and sadistic leaders, and heady romance. Sometimes a sequel can fall flat, especially after such a brilliant start but Storm Fall brought elements to the story that were only blossoming in Rebel Wing and laid the foundation for even more action, devastation and sacrifice to come. I finished reading about 30 minutes ago and I’m already yearning for the next book.

PROS:

  • Aris is a powerful, courageous character. She stands up for herself and her fellow female officers against adversity and harassment. She has an unwavering moral compass but perhaps what is most compelling and inspiring is her regard for human life. Everyone is precious and deserves a chance to breathe the beauty of the world, to laugh and love even when everything is crashing down in a flurry of gunfire, smoke, and torture. Each time  Aris hits the sky, dancing through the air in her wingjet it’s an exhilarating, freeing experience. Her passion, her thirst to save the injured, to save the world from the darkness of corrupt political leaders is a battle much bigger than her but she doesn’t question her path. Aris risks everything for a brighter, peaceful tomorrow and understands that bloodshed in a necessary, traumatic part of that process. The way she remains in control as enemy fire is raining down on her is remarkable. Aris has come so far from who she was in Rebel Wing, her convictions and protectiveness reign supreme and though she’s conflicted when it comes to her heart, Aris always puts Atalanta’s cause above her own.
  • The suspense is killer. There’s a constant foreboding and sickening danger on each mission. There’s no guarantees of life or saving, everything is precarious and even the main characters may fall prey to a wayward gun or precise target. Tracy Banghart doesn’t sugarcoat war. She presents it as bleak, debilitating and made of decisions that are so heart wrenching and hard you’ll question your humanity. Death can come in the blink of an eye or at the hands of vile torturers. Civilian casualties, POWs, and refugees are all depicted with a stark reality. Banghart gives a face and side to both warring nations, highlighting the grey area between good and evil and the fallacy with charging an entire country for the fault of a small group/dictator.
  • The ending. So many feels erupted in an explosion of terror and elation. The ecstatic tension between characters, the terrifying news of what’s to come, and the staggering loss is overwhelming but in a stunning, deeply satisfying way.
  • Recon and battle scenes are vibrant, action-packed and detailed. It’s almost like playing Call of Duty as the scenes unfold.
  • Milek. I thought I loved him before but now, I realize that was respect and a teensy bit of infatuation. This Milek is worthy of the top spot on my book boyfriend list. His hard exterior, the sharp tones, the way he hold himself with such power and strength. So sexy. His confidence and authority are staggering. He’s in control and gives orders like nobody’s business. Yet, he has a playful side. The disciplinary action was hilarious. He wavers between gruff formality and this endearing charm when he lowers his guard. The way he is with Aris…sigh. He worships her. He sees her for exactly who she is, a take charge, incredibly powerful woman who fights through her fears and throws punches. He doesn’t tell her to be anything she’s not, he simply looks on and falls, hanging on her every word, movement, action. It’s a hot, urgent love that will leave you breathless and eager for more of them.
  • Dysis is back and as lively as ever. The girl is reckless, violent, and acts first but she is definitely a force to be reckoned with and the best friend Aris could ever ask for. Her sections were moving. Seeing her internal conflicts, her pain, and the agony, the bittersweet agony is heartbreaking.
  • Calix is a surprise. He’s had moments of epiphany and understanding that have effectively helped him become an amazing man. The boy who got lost in rules and expectations is gone and in his place is someone willing to put everything on the line for a chance at an apology. He steps up and miraculously doesn’t crumble but excels. 

CONS:

  • A broader look at the militaristic events and agreements between the other countries would have been invaluable. The discussion of aid is brief and the reader can’t form a full picture of the state of the world. It looks as though the war is between two forces and the effects of this carnage are small when in reality, everything is in a delicate balance of give and take, safety and sacrifice for each nation.
  • Galena’s sections were too short for my liking. The huge reunion at the end left so much unsaid and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I was out for blood after the nauseating and twisted events in book one.

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

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Happy reading,

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Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Inspire-Cora Carmack

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INSPIRE would be just $2.99 for an introductory price through December 20th when the price will go up

cooltext1790897456 copyKalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

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cooltext1790890114 copyI can feel Wilder’s breath against my lips. More than that, I can see it. The sun has set and the temperature has dropped, and air fogs between us. There’s something about actually seeing it, like our lips are touching, we are touching, despite the distance between. And as we sway from side to side, my heart gradually begins to pick up speed.

The strains of guitar music flowing out from the restaurant are nearly indecipherable over the heavy heartbeat in my ears. But Wilder must hear it. His hands are strong on my body, guiding my movements, and I’m practically clay in his palms.

We dance, eyes on eyes, lips nearly on lips, and there is lightning beneath my skin each time his body brushes against mine in a new way. His touch is firm, but gentle, never pushing or pressuring, though I can tell from the dark look in his eyes that he’s just as affected as I am. The music shifts, building to a crescendo, and he spins us. My chest pushes tight against his, and I bite back a gasp. I don’t know if it’s the cold or him or some combination of both, but the tips of my breasts are painfully tight. Just the pressure of my bra is enough to rub them raw.

I remember the night at his apartment, the way he’d taken his time learning my body. I think of the heat of his mouth on my skin, and the memory alone is enough to make me shiver and clench.

He’s back to being business, grown-up Wilder tonight in his button down and glasses. Only now that I know him, it doesn’t seem like such a stark difference. He is neither the straight-laced man nor the tattooed bad boy. Or perhaps he’s both. Regardless of what he’s wearing, Wilder is caring and loyal and strong and so sexy that I’m having trouble remembering why I shouldn’t push him into the backseat of his SUV and crawl on top of him.

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Headshot

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

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Steamy reading,

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Review: The Empath-Erica Crouch

The-EmpathGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

cooltext1843013784 copyIn a Victorian society fascinated by spiritualists, something wicked sinks its claws in from the other side.

Odessa is a psychic; her mother, the Great Madame Elena, is a fraud. After a séance goes terribly wrong and a woman ends up dead, an evil force slips into the land of the living.

Though Odessa and her mother try to outpace the rumors spreading, they can’t escape the danger that has taken residence within Odessa herself. When Odessa is shouldered with the responsibility of the Great Madame Elena’s business, she starts to lose control of the spirit world, and she can’t afford to make another mistake.

Asked to open the door to the other side again, Odessa witnesses a brutal murder that hints at black magic and is faced with a choice: risk her life for freedom from her mother, or go on living a life of servitude. If she goes into a trance again, will she be able to maintain control?

-via Goodreads

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4.5/5 Stars

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Patchwork Press

Sometimes you read a book and are so completely blown away by it that you can’t help but think, why have I not heard this title shouted from the rooftops or at least seen it in my Facebook feed? Then you go on Goodreads and it has so few ratings you’re floored. As a blogger, this pains me and hopefully, this review will piqué your interest enough to give it a try. 

The Empath is an unsupecting and virtually hidden gem that deserves to be loved and cherished by fans of tarot, seances, magic, and things that are so spooky they make your skin crawl. 

PROS:

  • Character descriptions are flawlessly executed. Erica Crouch analyses her characters with a psychological precision that is captured with concise, poetic nuances. I found myself nodding my head, easily imagining each character from clothing to internal dialogue. 
  • The séance scenes are terrifying. There’s an air of uncertainty and foreboding that resonates throughout the story. You can feel the veil between worlds slipping into something much more sinister and frightening. Odessa’s fear is a rabid, raw thing that consumes and overwhelms better than a creepy horror film. 
  • Erica Crouch creates a magical setting that like a time machine, transports to an older time, one with caravans, wealth, and village atmosphere. The hysteria and excitement that comes with the rise of mediums and the parties of the upper class elite is realized in bouts of fainting, shrieks, and murder. 
  • THIS: “My neck, my shoulder, he skims his fingers over my collarbone and moves in closer. I forget everything around us because now he doesn’t smell like winter, but like fiction, ink and parchment, and he’s so close I can measure the pulse in his neck.” SWOON. OMG. Up until this moment, book boyfriends were measured in sarcasm and muscle but this has got to be the sexiest description of a love interest I’ve ever read. It’s probably the book nerd in me but he smells like fiction and ink? Melts.
  • Odessa is calculated, smart, and talented but cowers and caters to her mother. Odessa diminishes herself because of her mother’s psychological taunts and harsh words. It’s heartbreaking how poorly she’s treated by her mother because she has a gift that her mother envies. Odessa is in awe of her spiritual connection and she respects it, always tentatively easing in and taking precautions. I appreciated that Odessa treated her craft with such reverence. As the story progresses, Odessa comes in to her powers and with that fights for the strength to stand up to her mother. Odessa’s blend of insecurity in relationships but confidence in her spiritual abilities is a believable mix.
  • Ghosts, demons, wraiths, and others that come through from the other side are presented in a way that is not hokey or too paranormal and that makes the encounters seem all the more real.

CONS:

  • This book is so short. Practically a novella.
  • Because of the length, the romance felt too fast to build an emotional connection and the demonic incident was resolved in a way that felt like a summary.

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

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Happy reading,

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