ARC Review: You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche

you-in-five-actsAmazon/B&N/iBooks/Goodreads

syn

In the high-pressure months leading up to the performance that will determine their futures, a group of friends at a performing arts school look back on when an unexpected event upended everything. The moment that changed their relationships, their friendships, and their lives forever.

At a prestigious New York City performing arts school, five friends connect over one dream of stardom. But for Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan and Dave, that dream falters under the pressure of second-semester, Senior year. Ambitions shift and change, new emotions rush to the surface, and a sense of urgency pulses between them: Their time together is running out.

Diego hopes to get out of the friend zone. Liv wants to escape, losing herself in fantasies of the new guy. Ethan conspires to turn his muse into his girlfriend. Dave pines for the drama queen. And if Joy doesn’t open her eyes, she could lose the love that’s been in front of her all along.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Penguin First to Read 

You in Five Acts is told from the 5 perspectives of friends at a performing arts school in New York City. Each act is a new person directly talking to someone they care about, addressing them as “You”. They read like both diary entries and letters. The premise and organization is engaging, inspired, and gives you the opportunity to know each character-there are no secondary characters, they’re all the main character.

The biggest problem with this style choice is making sure each section is as strong as the last, unfortunately, (at least to me) 3 of 5 POVs were just so-so. Joy and Diego were by far my favorite. There was so much substance in their stories, whereas Liv, Ethan, and Dave read like a bucketful of teen angst. I struggled to sympathize or even empathize with them. Stress, unrequited love, and failed dreams lingered just out of touch. For some reason, all of the components were there but didn’t come across as powerfully as they should have.

Joy is a vision. She’s fierce, determined, and incredibly brave. She aims to break stereotypes and prove to her parents that despite the fact that the ballet world is dominated by thin, white ballerinas, that she can make it as prima ballerina. Joy has so much to offer and her story addresses the not-so-subtle prejudice in ballet. She’s strong, she has a normal body and she refuses to let commentary about her weight as not being the ideal ballet figure break her down. She’s proud of her body image and I think we need more of that in YA. In a world where everyone is unhappy about parts of themselves, they’re constantly critiqued, judged and put down when they don’t fit whatever ridiculous standards and tossed out there, Joy is not only refreshing but a straight up heroine. There’s a scene where she fights back against the toxic body image commentary and it is simply revolutionary. At the same time, Joy has insecurities about boys that are relatable and endearing. 

Diego. Breaking away from a cycle of crime, poverty, and bad choices feels impossible. When you’re surrounded by that environment, getting caught up in that life is easy. Diego is a wonderful person. He’s funny, full of life, and completely enamoured with Joy. She’s his light and hope. She makes him smile and he does everything to see that laugh he adores. Diego’s story is complicated, but intensely real. 

That ending. Do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers. They’re everywhere and it destroys the story. The build up to tragedy is consistent and keeps you going even when the pace is mind-numbing slow. 

PROS:

  • Diversity
  • Creative style
  • Deals with tough and culturally relevant topics

CONS:

  • So much angst
  • So-so characters (apart from Diego and Joy)
  • Snail’s pace

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

girl in piecesAmazon/B&N/iBooks/Goodreads

Release Date: September 6, 2016

syn

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

review

4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Children’s Delacorte Press

+++Triggers: Self harm, violence, assault, sexual situations, graphic scenes

From the first few pages, I knew that this book would be something special. At 10% on my Goodreads update my status was: “This book. That voice.” I haven’t read such an emotionally gripping and poignant book in a long time. Charlie’s voice is rich, broken, and beautifully tragic. She bares her soul to the reader and has overcome so much that you’ll want to weep for her pain.

This book is intense and not for the faint of heart. The subjects are raw and gritty and graphic. There are times when, if you’re even remotely queasy when it comes to blood, that you might feel a little sick. Self mutilation/harm plays a major role in this story and the psychological reasoning behind it is dark, honest, and could be dangerous or cathartic to some readers. 

Sometimes contemporary books can feel contrived, this is seedy, and twisted, and full of anguish and suffering that many young people, unfortunately go through. It feels absolutely real and honest. Heartbreaking and yes, it will make you angry and maybe even open your eyes to all of the hurt around you that you overlook everyday. 

The writing style. Holy sinful writing gods. Beautiful. Potent. Full of soul. It’s imperfect. There’s some poetry thrown in here and there, but that voice. It reads like a diary. 

Girl in Pieces reads like two books. The time that Charlie spent during her recovery and the life she builds after. There are flashbacks sporadically as well. The first half of the book is like therapy. You’re introduced to everything that got Charlie into the position she’s in. You meet other girls who also self harm for whatever reasons. Each character is unique and memorable. You’ll want to know them, to get to the heart of why they feel the way they do. 

The second half was not my favorite. It slows down considerably. Charlie is building a new life for herself and everyday is a struggle not to cut. The memories of her past haunt her, but so is oh so strong. She’s a fighter, through every negative thought, every memory, she battles herself. You see the struggle and wonder how she copes, but there’s hope for a future where she’s better, where she can be and love herself. 

There’s a stunning plot twist. I was so surprised and disgusted. Just wow. You never know people. 

The romance is messed up. Toxic in some instances and good for her in others. Through love, Charlie begins to see a new side of herself, a beautiful side. She begins to truly look at herself, but the risks and decisions she makes, the way she puts herself in danger is most definitely not okay. She sees it, but doesn’t feel worthy or secure in herself enough to say no. THIS is so important. An examination of why people stay in bad situations and how to rediscover your worth. 

Side note: I strongly dislike this cover.

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Interview, Review & Giveaway: Thicker Than Water-Kelly Fiore

Thicker Than Water bannerThickerThanWaterHCGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

synCecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Thicker than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes. 

intYABM: Thicker Than Water explores the far-reaching effects of drug addiction not only on the addict but everyone around them. Was it hard writing the dark and raw truth of drug addiction? What were some elements that were particularly challenging?

Kelly: I think when it comes to the dark and raw stuff, the truth was what was hardest to tell. There’s a line in the book where CeCe thinks about the relief she’d feel if Cyrus just OD’ed and died, then realized that would cause it’s own problems with paying for the burial. I had that thought when my brother was struggling with his addiction and I find it important to admit it now. I know there are other siblings thinking the same thing and feeling wracked with guilt. I want those sisters and brothers of addicts to know they’re not alone.

YABM: What do you want the reader to take away from your CeCe and Cyrus’ story?

Kelly: That addiction has far more victims than one and that it is, like cancer, a crime against humanity that is both involving humans and not entirely the human’s fault. We crucify drug addicts, and all addicts, for their “choices.” Sometimes it isn’t a choice. Especially with opiates.

YABM: Tell me about your inspiration for Thicker Than Water.

Kelly: When my brother was struggling with his Oxy Contin addiction, I found great solace in watching episodes of the A&E series Intervention. I was able to watch other siblings deal with the same issues and problems I was dealing with. At one point, it occurred to me that teens don’t always have a voice in their family when they’re on the periphery of that addiction. I wanted to help give them that voice.

YABM: What would you say are CeCe’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Kelly: Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, CeCe’s greatest weakness is her inability to make a choice. To move forward. She lives inside her own head far more than outside of it and that is a problem when you’re being tried for murder.

Her strength, however, is her ability to transition and grow in the end. This is most evident in her prose and writing, which she starts in jail. She allows art and words to invade her life in a positive way, even though she’d never written for expression before. That’s a brave move in my mind.

YABM: What do you love most about your characters? Do you have a favorite secondary character?

Kelly: I’m a big fan of CeCe’s public defender, Jennifer, actually. Her tenacity and her youth is incredibly admirable. She also slides into a female role model space that CeCe desperately needs.

YABM: If you had to describe your book in the length of a Tweet, what would it say?

Kelly: Death isn’t the worst outcome; the worst outcome is living this life for one more day. WWYD if you had to choose between your brother, the boy, or your brother the addict?

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss & Harper Teen

Warning: Contains what may be considered triggers for drug abuse/addiction

Thicker Than Water is an emotional minefield. It’s been a while since a book has left me at a loss for words (for a positive reason). Thicker Than Water is beautiful and poignant and written in simple truths that read like profound revelations. A heartbreaking tale of the far-reaching effects of addiction and the emotional and physical wreckage it leaves behind, CeCe and Cyrus’ story brings the hidden side effects of addiction to light.

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re looking for a raw and honest glimpse into addiction from a loved one on the periphery.
  • You’re game for sarcasm, tears, and hard truths.
  • You know someone struggling with drug abuse.

PROS:

  • CeCe has one of the strongest voices I’ve read in a long, long time. Her brutal honesty, her avoidance tactics, and her guilt translate into this brilliant prose that comes off as mildly philosophical and ingenious. Feelings are put into clear, precise comparisons that make every, even those most complex and convoluted emotions make sense.
  • One of the compelling aspects of this book is how often people turn a blind eye. How loved ones can see but refuse to believe or feel so helpless that it’s like the ground is ripped from beneath their feet and all hope slowly slips away. Desperation and heartbreak, in words but much more in feeling.
  • The descriptions of addiction are eye-opening. The sighs of relief, the anxiety, the hunger in their eyes, the ease in which addiction escalates and the lies addicts tell themselves. It’s all these in stark and disquieting glory. But it’s not only the false promises addicts make to themselves, it’s the quiet ones that friends and loved ones repeat like a prayer. The yearning to believe in change, in getting better, and hoping that this will pass without intervention is all too real. You can feel the author’s heart in the story and her close connection to its contents.
  • Secondary characters had small, but life-altering influence on CeCe, especially those at the center. The moments are brief but they open CeCe up to forgiveness and understanding of herself and help alleviate her guilt. The scene with her roommate putting on makeup felt almost spiritual.
  • Romance is not central to the story. It’s there but it’s more of an awakening for CeCe than anything else. It helps her discover parts of herself that she locked away, her fears and insecurities. Tucker and CeCe are cute and fall together naturally.

CONS:

  • The mystery didn’t feel like much of one to me. From the get go, there’s enough hint dropping to guess at what happened. The opening scene is an adrenaline-inducing and totally captivating start that will make you want to read but it mark the story as more crime fiction that in truly is.
  • There were many substories worked into the plot that were left unexplored and it was kind of distracting. CeCe’s roommate’s horrible circumstances, Tucker’s emotions, Jason’s fight with addiction, and Cyrus’ story as well were left wanting. There are flashes of Cyrus’ pain and the reasoning behind his path to pills shouted in bursts of anger, however, deeper insight was left at only what CeCe could see on the surface.

authKelly fiorWebsite/Facebook/Tumblr/Goodreads

Kelly Fiore-Stultz has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. She received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2005 and 2009. Kelly’s poetry has appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Samzidada, Mid Atlantic Review, Connotation Press, and the Grolier Annual Review. Her first young adult novel, Taste Test, was released in August 2013 from Bloomsbury USA, and her second, Just Like the Movies, again from Bloomsbury, was releasted in 2014. Forthcoming novels include Thicker Than Water from HarperTeen in 2015.

giveaway3 winners will receive a finished copy of THICKER THAN WATER. US Only.

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Happy reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Thicker Than Water-Kelly Fiore

ThickerThanWaterHCGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

“Regret forces us to relive the moments we hate the most-the moments that drove us into spiraling downfalls, the moments where we stopped living and started surviving.”

***

“Denial isn’t a river, it’s a refuge. It’s where you go for answers when the truth is a) too upsetting, b) too far-fetched, or c) too ugly.”

***

“Instead, we use our free hands to hold the furniture together, and we kiss and kiss and kiss until the rain looks more like sun and the air feels endless and sweet.”

synCecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Thicker than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss & Harper Teen

Warning: Contains what may be considered triggers for drug abuse/addiction

Thicker Than Water is an emotional minefield. It’s been a while since a book has left me at a loss for words (for a positive reason). Thicker Than Water is beautiful and poignant and written in simple truths that read like profound revelations. A heartbreaking tale of the far-reaching effects of addiction and the emotional and physical wreckage it leaves behind, CeCe and Cyrus’ story brings the hidden side effects of addiction to light.

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re looking for a raw and honest glimpse into addiction from a loved one on the periphery. 
  • You’re game for sarcasm, tears, and hard truths. 
  • You know someone struggling with drug abuse.

PROS:

  • CeCe has one of the strongest voices I’ve read in a long, long time. Her brutal honesty, her avoidance tactics, and her guilt translate into this brilliant prose that comes off as mildly philosophical and ingenious. Feelings are put into clear, precise comparisons that make every, even those most complex and convoluted emotions make sense. 
  • One of the compelling aspects of this book is how often people turn a blind eye. How loved ones can see but refuse to believe or feel so helpless that it’s like the ground is ripped from beneath their feet and all hope slowly slips away. Desperation and heartbreak, in words but much more in feeling. 
  • The descriptions of addiction are eye-opening. The sighs of relief, the anxiety, the hunger in their eyes, the ease in which addiction escalates and the lies addicts tell themselves. It’s all these in stark and disquieting glory. But it’s not only the false promises addicts make to themselves, it’s the quiet ones that friends and loved ones repeat like a prayer. The yearning to believe in change, in getting better, and hoping that this will pass without intervention is all too real. You can feel the author’s heart in the story and her close connection to its contents. 
  • Secondary characters had small, but life-altering influence on CeCe, especially those at the center.  The moments are brief but they open CeCe up to forgiveness and understanding of herself and help alleviate her guilt. The scene with her roommate putting on makeup felt almost spiritual. 
  • Romance is not central to the story. It’s there but it’s more of an awakening for CeCe than anything else. It helps her discover parts of herself that she locked away, her fears and insecurities. Tucker and CeCe are cute and fall together naturally.

CONS:

  • The mystery didn’t feel like much of one to me. From the get go, there’s enough hint dropping to guess at what happened. The opening scene is an adrenaline-inducing and totally captivating start that will make you want to read but it mark the story as more crime fiction that in truly is. 
  • There were many substories worked into the plot that were left unexplored and it was kind of distracting. CeCe’s roommate’s horrible circumstances, Tucker’s emotions, Jason’s fight with addiction, and Cyrus’ story as well were left wanting. There are flashes of Cyrus’ pain and the reasoning behind his path to pills shouted in bursts of anger, however, deeper insight was left at only what CeCe could see on the surface. 

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

We'll Never Be Apart_hres18879761CEO Cover6a00e5509ea6a1883401b7c79d54f8970b

 

 

 

 

 

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Scavenger Hunt & Giveaway: Kiss Kill Love Him Still-Jamie Blair & Dawn Rae Miller


Release Date: November 10th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
synJackson Landis kept secrets. It’s how he got girls into bed, the grades he wanted, and a reputation for being the life of the party.
 
But now he’s dead, and no one knows how or why. Especially not the four girls whose secrets he protected. Secrets so scandalous they could cause each girl to lose something valuable. Secrets so dark, someone may have killed for them.
 
The four girls – a campus drug dealer, an overweight bookworm, a closeted lesbian, and a spoiled princess have one thing in common – they’re terrified the things Jackson knew may not have died with him. As Reggie, Haddie, Val, and Livie try to piece together her own role in Jackson’s death, each girl realizes Jackson had some not-so-pretty skeletons of his own.
 

Which makes a girl wonder, who really wanted Jackson Landis dead?

WELCOME TO THE SCAVENGER HUNT BLOG TOUR!
We’re trying to discover who killed Jackson Landis in Jamie Blair and Dawn Rae Miller’s book. In the 7 days that the tour will be running, you will find interviews with the suspects, their profiles and music playlists that will help you decide who you think did it.
 
Each day you will find a team that will introduce you one character. The winner team will be picked on November 11th and will have the pleasure to host an exclusive excerpt from Kiss Kill Love Him Still.
 
Please note that reviews from bloggers will be published on November 11th and November 12th, see schedule, and that might give you an extra insight to the book, too!
Height: 5’8”
 
Weight: 117 lbs
 
Hair: Long, dyed black
 
Eyes: Dark brown
 
Demeanor: Sarcastic, aloof
 
Motivation for killing Jackson Landis: He knew she was dealing drugs.
int
Officer McMichaels: Get your feet off the desk.
 
Regina: Just getting comfortable for this long, boring-ass questioning. How about a cup of coffee?
 
Officer McMichaels: Did Jackson Landis buy from you?
 
Regina: Hell yes, how do you think I got my patch?
 
Officer McMichaels: Your patch?
 
Regina: My cookie sales patch—wait, aren’t we talking about Girl Scouts?
 
Officer McMichaels: Laugh it up. You and I both know it’s only a matter of time before we bust you and throw you behind bars.
 
Regina: Whatever you say, Chief.
 
Officer McMichaels: Were you under the influence of drugs the night Jackson died?
 
Regina: High on life. As always.
 
Officer McMichaels: And Jackson?
 
Regina: Isn’t that what autopsies are for?
 
Officer McMichaels: Who do you work for?
 
Regina: Your dad.
 
Officer McMichaels: We’re done here.
 
Regina: I didn’t realize we’d even started.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO DECIDE!
This is what the authors propose:
Follow the Kiss Kill Love Him Still by Jamie Blair & Dawn Rae Miller Scavenger Hunt Blog Tour and don’t miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.
auth
Young adult author of the Kirkus-starred novel Leap Of Faith (Simon & Schuster 2013), and Lost To Me (2014), featured in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling anthology, Dirty Boys of Summer. Represented by Rebecca Friedman of RF Literary.
Dawn is a Twitter and fashion addict whose favorite things in life are her family, gorgeous dresses, tea leaf salad, and French macarons. She splits her time between San Francisco and Northern Virginia, and is always up for a trip to Paris.
During release week the book will be on sale for $.99. On top of this sale Dawn and Jamie will also be giving away 2×3 book buttons to the first 100 people who buy the book!
Do you want some Kiss Kill Love Him Still button? Just click here to submit your entry.
giveaway
Enter for your chance to win a paperback copy of KISS KILL LOVE HIM STILL and an amazon gift card
Happy hunting, 
Jordan

Series Tour, Review, and Giveaway: Seeker-Amy Reece

TheSeekerSeriesTourSeekerCoverHQ-645x1024-252x400 DreamerEbook

Amazon

The Seeker Series by Amy Reece
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

cooltext1889161239 copySeeker: Ally Moran has always just known about things—things she shouldn’t really be able to know… Suddenly when she starts having vivid visions about a former friend who is in desperate trouble, the adults in her life think she might hold the key to an ancient mystery.

Jack Ruiz has a troubled past, but is trying to make a fresh start at a new high school… He just wants to keep his head down and graduate, hopefully before he turns 20. The last thing he needs is to get involved with a feisty redhead and her psychic visions. While Jack valiantly attempts to keep Ally at arm’s length, she is equally determined to be a part of his life.

Who will win this battle of wills? More importantly… Can this unlikely couple work together to find answers to Ally’s visions before someone gets killed?

Dreamer: Meet Ally Moran, a 17 year-old who also happens to be psychic. Oh, and she’s getting more psychic with every passing day, so much so that she’s been sent to Ireland to check in with the Seer Council to see what’s up with her freaky new powers.

Jack Ruiz is her 19 year-old boyfriend, a former troublemaker who’s back on track and trying desperately to graduate. His plans did not include falling in love with a psychic trouble-magnet.

Last month they worked together to save a friend in deep trouble and ended up solving a school-wide mystery. But now there’s a new guy at school, Remy Giles, and he seems just a little bit too interested in Ally for Jack’s liking. And why does Ally keep dreaming about a kidnapping? Last month seems like a cakewalk compared to this semester…

Ally’s trying to solve a mystery, but Jack is just trying to keep her alive.
cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

Contains triggers: Sexual abuse, drugs, suicide, and graphic violence.

PROS:

  • Ally has a strong, powerful voice. She’s a sweet, honest girl who struggles with her budding psychic abilities and place in the high school social hierarchy. Ally accepts who she is, splotchy skin, ginger hair and all. Ally is innocent, almost childlike when the story starts, high off her first real crush. It’s adorable and super endearing. As Ally’s powers progress, her fear grows exponentially but Ally never gives up. She tries hard, facing backlash and insult to help her former BFF even as she’s pushing her away.
  • The Seer Council, role of powers, and lineage is rich in history and drama. The druid mythology, clan stories, and connection between all those with psychic powers is enthralling, it will suck you right it. I kind of wish there was more of it.
  • Ally’s visions are sporadic and graphic. Sometimes pleasant but for the most part terrifying, painful, and heartbreaking. Witnessing the incidents and being able to feel the pain is like a karate chop to the chest. The visions are written with just enough anxiety and fear to give nightmares.
  • Jack is a former bad boy with the same sexy exterior but a lot more charm. Between is circa 1960 cherry red mustang, his seedy past, and his big heart, Jack is irresistible. The soothing lull of his Spanish endearments, the bliss he has on his face when he’s taking care of his little sister, and the raw need in his eyes when he looks at Ally is to die for. ❤ Jack is thoughtful, sweet, and always there to rescue Ally, her own personal knight in black leather.
  • Together, Ally and Jack are made of temptation and adoration. They’re honest with each other and it makes their relationship that much stronger. Some scenes are hot and heavy, others sugar sweet and melty. One scene is so cute it’s almost sickening between Ally’s crimson blush and Jack’s smirking. Sigh.

CONS:

  • About ¼ of the way through the book, the story gets a little lost. The paranormal aspect is overshadowed by the push for romance.
  • While the scenes in Ally’s visions were brutally graphic and violent, the gaps between visions took away from the intensity and made the situation feel like less of an emergency. So much energy was placed on the blossoming love story that while Veronica’s situation was dire, it was more like background noise to Jack and Ally’s relationship.
  • Sometimes Ally’s comments are asinine and rude, they kind of make her feel hypocritical and as mean as some of the popular girls. Particularly, her derogatory names for Veronica, a girl who used to be her childhood friend, are hypocritical and presumptuous.
  • Some secondary characters were introduced and then forgotten about. I would have liked to see more of Ally’s interactions with her friends, Travis feels like a mute, he’s there but summarized.

cooltext1889172435 copySeeker1 copy

cooltext1889178114 copyAmyReece

Amy Reece lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and family. She loves to read and travel and has an unhealthy addiction to dogs. She loves wine and friends, in that order. Stay tuned for the rest of The Seeker Series, coming Summer and Fall 2015.

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

Light Keepers307f2-snake2beyes2b-2be-cover2bsmall20934582Deviate 500x750

cooltext1754437870 copy

Cover Reveal: Forbidden Waters-Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson

ForbiddenWatersCRFWhalfGoodreads

Forbidden Waters (Mica and Lexy #2)-Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson

cooltext1889161239 copyAfter nearly being killed by drug dealers during an April hiking trip, Lexy and Mica are now on lock down. Their parents want them to stay safe and in town…but where’s the fun in that?

Bored and frustrated by these new restrictions and the fact they can’t hang out with their new boyfriends at will, the girls decide to take a sneaky boat ride across the lake, which isn’t strictly against the rules considering they aren’t actually leaving town.

But things don’t go according to plan.

Their sneaky trip across the water is fraught with disaster when they end up with an annoying tag-along, Tracey, who fills their heads with terrifying ghost stories of the murdering hermit who lives on the other side of the lake. Easy enough to brush off, until their boat capsizes and they find themselves injured and stranded in his ghostly turf. As night sets in, the girls find themselves on the run from a series of unexplained creepies that can only mean one thing…the ghost man is alive.

Will Eli and Tom, figure out where their girlfriends are and get there in time to help them? Or will these two best friends fall into the hands of the man rumored to have murdered his family?

cooltext1889178114 copyBMHaastBeach

Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson have been best friends for well over a decade. Both mothers of two young children, both married to school teachers, and both lovers of writing, they have a lot in common. Having spent many vacations away together, they have become as close to sisters as two girls can get. It was on one of these holidays away that the Mica and Lexy Series was born.

Melissa is the author of multiple YA and NA books, written in a variety of genres. She is a fully trained elementary teacher, but is lucky enough to stay home and watch her kids grow. She is also spending every spare moment trying to turn writing into a full-time career … and loving the process.

Find out more about her books here: http://www.melissapearlauthor.com/news

Brenda was the one who encouraged Melissa to start writing in the first place. Once Melissa got started, Brenda caught the bug; she has been writing for ten years, in between motherhood and working at a local high school in the computer department. She has won two short story competitions and been runner up in another. Forbidden Territory is her first published novel.

Keep reading,

cooltext1915142005 copy

ARC Review: Dylan-S. Kline

dylan tourdylan coverGoodreads/Amazon

Dylan (Book 2 of the Fianna Fail Series)-S. Kline

Hosted By: Bloggers From Down Under

Released: March 8th

cooltext1889161239 copy

Contains graphic sex, drug use, violence, and adult situations. Not recommended for anyone under 18.

This is a continuation series picking up from the end of book one.

“This is what life is all about. This is the place where all of our troubles are put to rest. This is my family. It’s not traditional, but it’s mine, and I will do everything in my power to protect what’s mine. Down to my last breath.”

Dylan Trent is more than just the main drug dealer for the organization known as Fianna Fail. He is also Troy Donovan’s childhood best friend.

Six months after Marcus’s betrayal, and Callie is still in hiding. The whole of the organization is on the hunt for revenge.

But what happens when a broken girl suffering abuse at the hands of her drug addicted mother and step-father entwines herself in Dylan’s world?

Meet Raven Colt. One girl who holds too many secrets for her eighteen years of age.

As their world collides will they rise above, or shatter under the pressure? Find out in book 2 of the Fianna Fail series.

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Here is a small excerpt from book two in my Fianna Fail series!!!! If you haven’t read book one, Troy, get it now for only $0.99, and get ready for Dylan! Coming March 8th

“Are you going to the fight this weekend? I know Trisha will be there, and I won’t even lie and say I don’t want you to be there.” Dylan’s words make my heart stop and my palms start to sweat. Say no, Raven! You can’t be close to him like this!

“Yeah, I’ll be there.” What? That’s the opposite of no, Raven!

Dylan’s smile is so bright it rivals every star I’ve ever seen. I can’t look away. It’s not one thing in particular about him that pulls me in, it’s everything. How could anyone not want to be close to him? How could I not want to be close to him?

“I’m still not sleeping with you.” I say it just as the door swings open, and an extremely disheveled Trisha and Ethan stumble in. I look at them briefly before I shift my gaze back to Dylan.

His expression is amused as he brings a hand up to run soft fingers over the skin of my cheek. I tense from head-to-toe, but if he notices he doesn’t say anything about it.

“I still haven’t asked.” His words are only loud enough for me to hear, but when I look back at Trisha she is smiling like a kid in a candy store, and I know it’s because of our close proximity.

“Let’s go, man, we have things to take care of.” Ethan’s words seem to snap Dylan out of whatever trance he had been in.

He stands, and my eyes follow his movements until my head is tipping back just to see his face towering above me.

“See you ladies this weekend.” He winks at me, gives a slight wave to Trisha, and then follows Ethan out of the room.

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cooltext1889171582 copy 3.5/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review and in participation with this tour.

+++TRIGGER WARNING+++ 

PROS:

  • This story does contain triggers. Sexual abuse/rape of a minor. The emotions associated with these scenes as experienced by the protagonist are overwhelming and heartbreaking. Some scenes are more graphic than others. S. Kline does a great job capturing the fear and the moments when Raven collapsed into herself and disassociated with the rape to save herself mentally. The signs of PTSD are poignant and make Raven’s everyday life a constant battle between terror and memory, hope and romance.
  • Dylan is a major playboy. He’s gruff, uber masculine, hyper sexual and uses the f-word more than I thought possible. He’s a playful, cocky tease one moment and a predator seeking out his prey in the form of gorgeous, skanky women. Dylan’s lines are full of innuendo and graphic dirty talk that will make even the most lascivious blush. He knows what he wants and states it in a provocative, honest manner. Despite Dylan’s hit it and quit in mentally of one night stands, lots of alcohol and quite a few joints, he’s a big, gushy sweetheart. He’s got a past that haunts him but never breaks him, a boyish charm that wins over all the ladies (well, that and his delicious body), a mother son bond that is so pure it will make your heart melt and the way his is with Raven and Harper-a gigantic guard dog. Dylan is forgiving, takes no BS, he listens and understands with very little questioning. He accepts and loves with an open heart and mind. Dylan is so many things, BA, violent, stoner, player but he’s also super loyal, loving, compassionate, and sacrifices his needs for those he loves and respects.
  • Raven is a beautifully broken soul. She’s scarred and scared. A victim of a horrific past that continuously haunts her, Raven is trying to overcome the memories of her trauma, one that disgusts and debilitates her when it comes to other men. The fiery, confident girl Raven buried to survive is not gone but lying just beneath the surface and when she rises from the ashes of her past, she’s fierce, strong, and a genuinely good person. Raven has lived with horror so sickening and the repercussions of a twisted molester that left her damaged mentally towards men. Raven doesn’t know how to trust men and even when she’s attracted to Dylan she fights it. She feels as though she is baggage that no man will ever want to take on, that she’s soiled and it’s gut-wrenching to read. Raven is gorgeous inside and out, throughout the story your heart will ache for what she has lost and what she thinks she doesn’t deserve. Raven is a shoulder to cry on, the rock that holds people up when they feel like they’re falling apart, and like Dylan, she can’t hold in the truth, she wears her heart on her sleeve.
  • Steven in the most repulsive human being. His words are almost worse than his actions. The threats he makes, the possessive way her marks, hurts, and claims Raven is disgusting and absolutely despicable. It kills me how complacent people can be, how they can turn a blind eye to something so obvious or just not care. There were a lot of things to hope for in this story but my greatest was that Steven got what was coming to him. S. Kline got his smarmy, vindictive, sadistic personality down pat and OMG you’ll want to tear him apart.
  • Dylan and Raven are PERFECT for each other. A balance of heady lust and curiosity, their attraction builds into something much more potent. They’re scorching hot together. The chemistry is off the charts. Some scenes are avert your eyes, blush-worthy bliss. Graphic, passionate, and all out sexy. That dirty talk. You will have chills.
  • The secondary characters have strong personalities. Most are memorable, wonderful people who have always got Dylan and Raven’s back. 

CONS:

  • Dylan’s infatuation with Raven escalated at an unbelievable pace that sometimes felt rushed but never dishonest. The romance builds in an explosion of raw lust and genuine emotion that reads as beautifully sappy and oh so sexy. The L-word hit hard and fast, so quick that it was startling and had me questioning whether it was indeed love or that Dylan was simply captivated by the first woman who rejected him.
  • For someone who doesn’t often read mob stories, references to the group and scenes that happened in a previous book (I was unaware this was a series and I’m gathering this is book 2) were confusing and tripped me up. I found myself going back to skim and see if I missed something.
  • Violent scenes including the Irish brothers were cut off and shortened. There are leaps from one scene to the next that were lacking transition.
  • An unexpected escape left me puzzled. How? There were no answers and because there was no explanation, it seemed as though it was randomly inserted for extra drama.

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Kline is a stay-at-home wife, and mother of three. She was born and raised in small town Indiana. She spent three years working at a state psychiatric facility, was married at eighteen, and is now accomplishing her life-time dream of becoming a writer.

Facebook/Goodreads/Website/Email/Amazon/Twitter

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Troy Book 1 of the Fianna Fáil Series

cooltext1889161239 copyContains graphic sex, drug use, and violence. Not recommended for anyone under 18.

Troy Donovan has it all; respect, legacy, and women. Men envy him, and women just want to be with him. All women except for Kaci Quinn.

Kaci made the mistake of falling for Troy once when she was twelve. After finding him making out with her cousin she vowed never to fall for his games again.

But how will they handle fate throwing them together as Troy tries to prove himself to the organization by avenging his mother’s murder? Not to mention the news of an unwanted pregnancy. Will desire bring them closer than ever, or will fate tear them apart for good?

“I was a powerful man by birth. My life chosen before I’d taken my first breath, it was a blessing and a curse. Fianna Fáil owned Palms, Florida. Half the cops were on our payroll, and the other half weren’t brave enough to stand against us.”

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Review: A Dark Road-Amanda Lance

Dark Road BannerADRCoverGoodreads/Amazon

cooltext1804448395 copyNot every friendship is as harmless as it seems.

Loner James McKay wants nothing to do with Hadley Grayson. After all, the last thing a drug dealer needs is the pretty, new girl trying to be friends. Walking distractions like her lead to trouble, the kind that can get you 10 to 15 behind bars.

Likewise, fencing champion Hadley Grayson isn’t thrilled about her family uprooting her during her senior year of high school. At least there’s James McKay, the quiet, mad scientist who is as adorable as he is mysterious.

Though McKay may reject the idea of friendship, he gets one whether he wants it or not. But once the lies are told and the rumors spread, the dangers of meth making and dealing are impossible to avoid. Between secrets and overdosing classmates, McKay and Hadley will learn that loneliness can be a two-way street, changing both of their lives forever.

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***I received this book in exchange for an honest review and in correlation with this tour

A Dark Road is an unconventional love story. It’s a dark journey into the world of drug distribution and addiction without being too gritty or graphic. Hadley and McKay are a slow burning passion built on understanding at a soul level. It’s beautifully broken, a road to recovery and self discovery, of learning to live, love, and simply be in the moment.

PROS:

  • McKay (James) is not the typical YA male specimen. He’s not the epitome of lusty dreams and shameless flirting, while he is attractive, he’s a recluse. He’s socially awkward, paranoid, and places little value in himself. McKay is just trying to get through his last year of high school and stay clear of jail. Nothing matters but escaping the mess of his home life. An addict for a father, a house falling apart at its seams, the only consolation and comfort is his pet, Dog. McKay is shy and unsure in a completely endearing way. He stutters and blushes, he has bursts of playfulness that bring out the cute dimples on his cheeks. He’s passionate about chemistry and adores Dog, caring more about his safety than his own. For so long, McKay has pushed people away and lived life in the shadows, dealing drugs and living day by day. McKay is bashful and insecure when it comes to others but when he does assemble some courage, he’s witty and smart, and oh so sexy in a nerdy way.
  • Hadley is compassionate, pushy, and feels just as alone in a crowd as McKay. Unlike her twin brother, Simon, Hadley can’t pretend to cope with the mundane pleasantries from people she can’t stand and instead goes out of her way to befriend the school freak. Hadley is open, speculative, she looks beneath the surface and tries to help from the bottom of her heart. She’s flirty and silly and just as likable as McKay. 
  • Hadley and McKay together are intoxicating, a magnetic combination of casual hanging out and budding passion. They ease into each other, creating a feeling like when you slip on a well loved, worn pair of jeans. They’re completely natural and honest with each other. They don’t strive for steamy make out sessions or heavy petting. It’s real and perfect love. Their friendship takes a while to develop and IMO there’s nowhere near enough kissing but I couldn’t help but smile at how warm they are together. 
  • Simon and Hadley have a hilarious banter that can only be found between close friends or siblings, in this case, twins. The tease and provoke each other in ways that leave you craving more of them. You can easily feel their connection and how deeply they love each other.

CONS:

  • The ending was abrupt and devastating. There wasn’t enough to cling to.
  • Some of the subplots like with Louie fizzled out and trailed into the nothing. The same with Simon and Jenna. The whole popular crew became a background noise when Simon’s presence was so strong in the beginning. 

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cooltext1804451952 copyAmanda

A native of New Jersey and lifelong nerd, Amanda Lance recently completed her Master in Liberal Arts at Thomas Edison State College after her BA in English Literature and AFA in creative writing.

She currently resides in Easton Pennsylvania with her boyfriend and their spoiled hound dog. She is a cliché booknerd who is terrible at math, clinically obsessive, and prone to addictive behavior. She may or may not be a recluse.

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ARC Review: The Empress Chronicles-Suzy Vitello

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***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via Mark My Words Publicity.

3/5 Stars

 “I stared fully into his eyes, and there we lingered, not even the length of breakfast tray apart from, each other. Our eyes locked in something between hate and desire that had no name.”

***

“People think that what kills the soul is failed love. It is not. The real tragedy to one’s soul is regret. Regret, Lizbeth, leaves its stain for generations.”

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In this dazzling novel from the author of THE MOMENT BEFORE, one courageous girl seeks keys to the past to unlock the future…

When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control. She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval. The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons. But all of this changes in one historical instant.

One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own. Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love. But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.

When Liz finds a time-worn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria.

It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own…

Readers of books like Rachel Harris’s MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY will love THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES.

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The Empress Chronicles is an enchanting glimpse into the parallel worlds of two girls coming of age-Elizabeth of Austria (Duchess and future Empress) and Elizabeth of Portland.  The vibrant court life and the subtle country world of the Austrian nobility is a surprisingly bizarre and simple contrast. The Empress Chronicles is historical fiction with a magical twist.

PROS:

  • Lizbeth’s OCD is a nightmarish and dangerous disorder. The nauseated and grotesque imagery of uncleanliness and lack of organization were aptly depicted. Getting into Liz’s head was enlightening and put perspective on OCD that someone who does not have it could never truly understand. The emotional turmoil and paranoia, the constant analysis of potential germs and unsanitary conditions that spurred Liz’s eating disorder were hellish and crippling. Liz has had trauma in her life and what Suzy Vitello does masterfully is show that it is not always the big, life altering events that can affect us, but the smaller, devastating moments that fester over time. It’s extremely important to talk about disorders like OCD or ADD because many do have these and it’s often overlooked for things like STDs or abuse but is just as prominent. I was impressed with how detailed the OCD mindset was and how Suzy wrote about it as a consuming lifestyle trait that shapes every decision. The symptoms and help line in the back of the book were also very informative and a great resource for readers. 
  • The random German passages and poems added a lively cultural experience to the read. As someone who has studied this time period and region, it was lovely just being able to escape into the dual time periods, to imagine the clothing and the expectations regardless of knowing the ending. 
  • Elizabeth of Bavaria (Sisi) is an impassioned, rambunctious, forward sort of girl. She’s unafraid to put herself out there, to get dirty and she questions gender role expectations. Sisi is a bit of a tomboy, she thirsts for freedom and has so much love in her heart that she’s a free-spirited, adventurous young woman, consequences matter little. Sisi is absolutely stunning in her personality and so unlike what you’d expect from history books. Her quirks and connection to her father make her as intriguing as she is endearing. She acts first and thinks later and yes, it does get in trouble but she knows how to live and let live. 
  • Sisi’s father is quite the character. He’s comical, makes decisions on a whim and is completely spontaneous. The look of horror on Sisi’s mother’s face when he reveals his plans is epic. 
  • The mystery of the journal and Sisi’s private thoughts pushes the story forward and adds suspense to the plot.
  • Count S. and Sisi are enthralling together. The Count as a way with words that just oozes sex appeal. Their attraction is hot and heavy but clandestine and this makes their time together a rush.
  • Liz’s parts are reminiscent of Pink Smog by Francesca Lia Block. The sort of anticipation, the caught between childhood and adulthood, and the uncertainty about how to act in romantic situations is awkward but realistic. 

CONS:

  • The ending is incomplete and so many elements were unresolved that it felt like more than a cliffhanger.
  • I would have loved to have more of Elizabeth’s (Sisi’s) story. The swapping between the two time periods felt abrupt and disjointed. While Elizabeth did have a lot in common with Sisi and their lives were strikingly similar despite the time difference, it felt as though both stories were cut off before the real story began. Everything was leading up to this one moment and when it got there, the book was finished. 
  • The semi-supernatural elements were unnecessary and took away from the authenticity of the story in Austria. The drama of nobility life and courtship were enough, adding in the witchcraft/enchantress/faerie magic changed the entire tone of the story.
  • Liz’s story was slow and kind of uneventful. It was a true coming of age story and though she’s remarkably intelligent, she lacks maturity. She seems younger than 15/16.

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Pleasant reading, 

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