ARC Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

gilded-cageGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: Feb 14, 2017

syn

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

review

3.5/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Del Rey

PROS: 

That first chapter. Holy on the edge of your seat foreboding, anxiety, and all around fascination. Three hot brothers, a mysterious woman with a baby, magic…it’s compelling, gripping, you won’t want to put it down. And the personality. Each character is strong in tone and development. They almost feel like dark fae princes. If you’ve read Holly Black or Julie Kagawa, you’ll get some serious vibes here. Gavar, Jenner, and Silyen. The whole Jardine clan of men. The layers and layers of questionable morals and cold snark. The darkness within. It’s addictive. They’re the most interesting characters, no matter how intriguing Luke’s work as a rebel is. Gavar alone is like this grumbly Phantom of the Opera character meets Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Jenner is a sort of Darcy. Silyen, you want to hate him, but his story is the most versatile, interesting, and he’s so unreliable as a narrator that you’re unsure whether to trust him. He’s your epic love-hate male interest. 

Luke’s story is almost on Les Mis level. Tossed into the heart of the rebellion and amongst a clandestine group of people within the working class. My Russian heart swelled at this revolutionary vibe. Luke is bumbling, he doesn’t know who he is, what he wants to be, he’s a little baby-ish and resentful as the story starts-he just wants to hang with his friends, play some football and chill, but no. Luke makes the biggest transformation in the story. His heart is full of justice and yearning, of that desperation to do right, even if it results in death. He becomes the cause and OMG does he get slaughtered for it-figuratively (no spoilers). You know in Les Mis when they sing “Red and Black” or “Do You Hear the People Sing?” That is the soundtrack to Luke’s chapters. He’s a supplanted Marius. 

OMG that cliffhanger. The last few chapters of the book are jam-packed with twists that will stun and shock and turn you inside out. The predictable ones were made unpredictable because they had another level of deceit. I’ve never seen anything like it. Just when you’re nodding your head along, satisfied and sure that you had everything figured out, boom, epic level twist tacked right on. Mind blown. The ending. I can’t get over everything that happened. All the lies, the evil, the morals are tossed to the wind (not that they weren’t throughout, but these are particularly sinister and vile). 

Love is everywhere. Sibling, friendship, romantic. All forms. Sometimes it’s twisted, others it’s pure and builds. There’s so much of it. Romance is subtle, but grows. The one Romeo and Juliet style romance…oh my poor little heart-obliterated. Cruel cruel story. 

CONS:

Some of the POVs thrown in were questionable and didn’t really seem to have a function. More than that, they threw off the whole feeling of the book. As a reader, you pause and question why these new characters are suddenly there and whether we should care or not. For the most part, it was random and jarring. These POVs that shifted from the main characters detracted from the overall tone.

This book was highly political. At its heart, it’s a story of repression, rebellion, and challenging the system through planned and exhilarating vigilante justice. Sometimes the politics were unclear, especially in terms of history, why the world is structured the way it is, and it doesn’t explain as much as it should until late in the book and from there it’s a whirlwind of explosive reveals and insanity-utter chaos to the extreme, which leads me to my next point…

Pacing. The book starts out interesting enough. It pulls you in, it keeps you going, and then there’s a major lag, which is infuriating because it should not be happening at all. There’s all sorts of crazy stuff happening-plans for fighting oppression, protests, escapes, all high adrenaline stuff, but the constant swapping POVs dimmed the tension. There’s also a lot going on, inside the magical “palace” and in the slums. 

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

 Lovely reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

the-bear-and-the-nightGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

bearandthenightingale_ecards_v3-81

review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and  Del Rey

The Bear and the Nightingale is a love letter to old Rus’. 

The other day I found myself missing the Motherland. Once you’ve been to Russia, the spirit of the country latches on to you and you’ll never be able to forget it, even if it forgets you. The Bear and the Nightingale was the perfect answer to my melancholic nostalgia. That being said, rating this book was tricky for me because I love Russian culture so much, so deeply, that it hypnotized and transported me back to those dark and beautiful nights in Moscow and Suzdal and Vladimir and Tolstoy’s estate. I digress, but the point is if you have even the tiniest interest in Russian folklore, the old culture, and adore fairy tales, you’ll be swept up into this rustic and romantic tale of a girl kissed by magic and determined to save her people. 

Side note: Throughout the story I yelled at the book in Russian. Like full on what is this??? yelling. The transliteration irked me to no end and then I got to the end of the book and I laughed so hard. That author’s note made my day. She explained her choices and described how she though Russian speakers/students would react to the transliteration-with disdain and hands pretty much clenched in fists. Somehow, the fact that she knew it made it okay. 

The Bear and the Nightingale is whimsical, haunting, and twisted like any good fairytale. A blend of many stories known, loved, and feared in Russia still today, The Bear and the Nightingale is one epic journey that spans years. From the house-spirits, to the gods of the elements, to the celebrated figures of Baba Yaga and the Firebird, everything that is inherently Russian is present and accounted for. I loved that the focus was not on these known figures, but on the everyday ones that live in the household and receive offerings, that protect the hearth and livelihood of the family. 

This is a love story. Not in the traditional sense, but one of love for the land, for heritage, for culture, and in beings that others believe are myth. There’s not romance in the usual fashion, but there is a hint. 

The atmosphere and world building is strong. You’ll become fully immersed in the countryside, the power of the forest and all the magical beings that inhabit it. 

I loved Vasya. She’s known for being unattractive, frog-like, and weird, but her spirit makes her beautiful. She’s fierce, determined, sure of herself. She believes when others are filled with doubts. She throws herself into danger, she risks her life, she loves hard and barters for her people. She’s small, but she’s crafty and wild and bold. She does what everyone else in the story wouldn’t dare and that’s what makes her compelling. 

On a more somber note, there is some conversion that goes on in the story. Religious crusade of a sort that makes the reader question what happens when people story believing in their folklore, in their old gods, and all the stories that come with them. There’s something heartbreaking and sobering about this war within the people. 

The pacing may be slow for some, but it builds as it goes and Vasya becomes more adventurous. 

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

Magical reading, 

Jordan

#TheBlackMage Series New Cover Reveals: The Black Mage series by Rachel E. Carter

blackmage

These covers are for new editions for The Black Mage, a YA fantasy series. They will not be available for purchase until 1/26/17 (book 4, Last Stand, preorder will go up same day). The new editions will have new covers, fresh edits, updated content. Please note that the old editions of the series (for books 1-3) will be removed from all vendors between now – 1/23. If you would like to be notified when the new editions are available to purchase from all ebook retailers, you can follow her on Amazon or BookBub.

Would you like to start reading the series now for free? Rachel is giving out the prequel novella (told in Prince Darren’s point-of-view) if you sign up for her newsletter (www.subscribepage.com/rachelecarternonheir) >>she also notifies readers of new releases, giveaways, and sales first.

Add the series to your TBR on Goodreads

first-year-cover

Magic. Romance. Rivals. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.

Fifteen-year-old Ryiah enrolls at her realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic. But there’s a catch—only fifteen will be apprenticed. Competition is fierce and she trusts no one, especially the arrogant Prince Darren… Will she survive, or will her dream go down in flames?

apprentice-cover

Sixteen-year-old Ryiah is an apprentice of Combat, her school’s most notorious faction. When she finishes, she will be a war mage, but in order to do so, she has to survive four years traveling across Jerar, training with a master she hates, her old nemesis, Priscilla, and Prince Darren, her sometimes-rival sometimes… more?

candidate-cover

Twenty-year-old Ryiah is a black mage of Combat, but she’s not the Black Mage. Yet. She’s had her eyes on the legendary robe for as long as she can remember, and in just one year, she will have a chance at her country’s prestigious—and only—tourney for war mages… Too bad she is going up against a certain prince—the one person she has yet to beat.

last-stand-cover

Ryiah’s world was shattered the night she discovered King Blayne’s nefarious plans. Now, she has to betray the one she loves most in order to save the realm from war. Ry finds herself on a perilous mission to help the rebels and convince the kingdom of Pythus not to honor its pact with the corrupt king of Jerar.

non-heir-cover

Prince. Prodigy. Mage. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.

This prequel novella is set before the events of First Year (The Black Mage Book 1), following Prince Darren as a child through adolescence and his first run-in with Ryiah at the Academy of Magic. Readers discover the dark backstory between the two princes and their father, as well as the ensuing events that shaped Darren into the Academy’s most prodigal mage.

author

Rachel E. Carter is a YA & NA author who hoards coffee and books. She has a weakness for villains and Mr. Darcy love interests. Her first series is the bestselling YA fantasy, The Black Mage, and she has plenty more books to come.

Sign up for her newsletter to stay up to date on all new releases, giveaways, and sales: http://bit.ly/rachelecarter.

Official Site/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest/Tumblr/Goodreads/Wattpad

Amazon 

Magical reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review: Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

poisonsGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: Jan 10, 2017

syn

A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like– a poison kiss– and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

review

4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Books for Young Readers

Poison’s Kiss is a sweeping and thrilling journey into rich Indian folklore. Full of mystery, intrigue, a reluctant assassin, and gods, Poison’s Kiss is an adventure that will leave you hungry for more. 

PROS: 

  • Poison’s Kiss is a blend of Northern and Southern Indian legends, with a twist. In this world, based on India, the gods of folklore are spoken of in whispers, they’re on coins, they’re known by the masses, but more of as a hazy bedtime story. As someone who knows very little of Indian lore besides the main stories related to religion, this was epic. It’s whimsical and dark. There’s a sinister and revered undercurrent that runs throughout the story that keeps you on edge for the unexpected. I loved that the culture was just present. It wasn’t knock-you-over-the-head, explanations all over the place. From the food, to the clothing, to the bustling markets and snake charmers. You become immersed fast and it will consume you. 
  • Visha kanya. Poison maidens. This takes the idea to a whole new level. The poison becomes a vicious and deadly part of the maiden’s body. A kiss that kills. The process, how the poison takes hold, the connection to snakes, everything is elaborate and terrifying and absolutely addictive. 
  • Marinda grew on me. At first, I wasn’t sold on her. She takes forever to figure things out, she is defiant, she puts herself in danger, she doesn’t think and rushes in. There’s nothing that drives me nuts worse than someone who doesn’t take a second to think. But Marinda is incredibly brave, compassionate, and will do anything for her brother, who is not even hers by blood, but he’s the only thing that helps her keep her humanity after so much death and destruction. The guilt consumes her. The toll of killing, knowing what the poison does, it breaks her despite the knowledge that she is doing something for the greater good. Marinda doesn’t want to be what she is, but she has no choice. The danger is so high and she knows the consequences of trying to escape her keeper. Marinda has a beautiful heart. She genuinely loves and gives that love to her brother, no matter how down she is. Scenes from her childhood and how she became a visha kanya are brutal and heartbreaking. 
  • Not all villains are wholly evil. The characters are complex. Their beliefs are deeply rooted and not everyone is what they seem. Gopal is a true villain. He’s sadistic, horrible, and the carnage he leaves behind, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Kadru, she’s super creepy, otherworldly, and vicious. Those snakes, chills. 
  • Devin’s charm is in how much he cares. It doesn’t matter that he’s hot, it’s his heart. The way he treats Mani is enough to make any girl fall for him. 

CONS:

  • I wish there would have been a more in-depth look at the various gods and how they featured in the culture at their height. The main character knows pretty much nothing about them because she was so sheltered, so that’s a big blank for the reader as well. A little more world building would have solidified each of these figures, their strengths, their weaknesses, and how they relate to the world as it is now. 
  • The romance was so-so. On one hand, I liked that it wasn’t so centered on the falling. On the other hand, I would have liked more build up. Near the end it feels rushed and clumsy. I mean the surge of emotion. Sure after everything they’ve been through emotions are off the charts, but it bordered on instalove because of how it’s slammed into the story at the end. There were some cute interactions before everything fell apart though.

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

Epic reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: The Pine Forest by Michelle Dare

Goodreads/Amazon US/Amazon UK/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/ARe

Cover Designer: Covers by Christian

syn

One touch, one spark, two lives forever changed.

Pine and Azure. The war between the two kingdoms lasted far too long. Peace was finally established, but the survivors would never forget who fought on the front lines. Oliver Sage had a reputation for being a ruthless knight. He’d seen enough death to last a lifetime and worked on putting the past behind him, although not all would let him forget.

Addison was the only daughter of King and Queen Azure. With three brothers, she knew she’d always be protected, but she also wanted to learn how to take care of herself. She was strong, had a good heart, and wanted to be treated as an equal. Magical abilities ran in her family, and she had one no one knew of.

Oliver had given his heart to one princess, until the night he dreamed of another. Addison was the last woman he should desire, especially given who she was. However, what if she wanted him as well? They’d hated each other their entire lives, but suddenly couldn’t resist the desire which built between them. There were also those who didn’t think they should be together. Forbidden romance could only stay hidden for so long in the dark depths of the Pine Forest.

BOOK ONE

Amazon US/Amazon UK/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/ARe

author

Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/Website/Newsletter

Romantic reading, 

Jordan

Review, Excerpt, Q + A, & Giveaway: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

freeksfreeks-coverMacmillan/Books-A-Million/Barnes & Noble/Amazon/Goodreads

syn

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Excerpt

5. Carnival

Unlike many of the other members of the sideshow, I didn’t have a specific job. My mom was a fortune- teller, Gideon did a magic show, Zeke had his tigers, Brendon and his family did acrobatics, Seth was a strongman. My best friend Roxie Smith was in two acts— she helped out Zeke, and did a peepshow revue with two other girls.

I had no talent. No special ability, making me essentially a roadie. I did what was needed of me, which usually involved helping set up and take down, and various menial tasks. I cleaned the tiger cages and emptied out latrines when I had to. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but it was crucial to our way of life.

Since Roxie worked with the tigers, Mahilā actually tolerated her. Roxie was helping me clean out the tiger cage they traveled in. The cage was open to a fenced-in enclosure Seth had built, so the tigers could roam as they pleased.

Safēda lounged in the grass, the sun shining brightly on her white fur. Whenever we stopped, Safēda seemed content to just lay in the sun, sleeping the entire time, but as the older tiger, it made sense.

Mahilā paced along the fence, occasionally emitting an irritated guttural noise in between casting furtive glances back toward Roxie and me. Her golden fur was mottled with scars from her past life in the abusive circus, including a nasty one that ran across her nose.

“So where did you go last night?” Roxie asked, her voice lilting in a sing song playful way. She was out in the run, using a hose to fill up a blue plastic kiddie pool so the tigers could play in it, while I was on my hands and knees scrubbing dung off the cage floor.

Her bleached blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and the sleeves of her white T- shirt were rolled up, revealing her well-toned arms. The cut- off jean shorts she wore barely covered her bum, and her old cowboy boots went up to her knees— her chosen footwear anytime she was at risk of stepping in tiger poop.

With fair skin, full lips, large blue eyes, and a dainty nose, Roxie was pretty and deceptively tough. Being a beautiful carnie was not an easy job, and dancing in the revue under the stage name “Foxy Roxie” didn’t help that. But she made decent money doing it, and Roxie never put up with anybody’s crap. I’d seen her deck guys much bigger than her and lay them out flat on their backs.

“I was just at a party,” I said as I rinsed the brush off in a bucket of bleach and warm water.

“A party?” Roxie looked over at me with a hand on her hip.

 “How’d you get invited to a party so fast?”

I shrugged. “I was just exploring town, and I saw some people hanging outside of this big house party, and they invited me in.”

“So what are the people like here? Are they nice?”

Safēda had gotten up and climbed into the pool, and then she flopped down in it, splashing Roxie as she did. Roxie took a step back, but kept looking at me.

“I don’t know. The people I met last night seemed nice, and they were superrich, so that bodes well for the town, I guess.”

“Like how rich?” Roxie asked.

“Like their house is practically a mansion.” I dropped the brush in the water and sat back on my knees, taking a break to talk to her. “It was the nicest house I’ve ever been in, hands down.”

“Is that why you spent the night there?”

Roxie understood my fascination with houses. Well, “understood” wasn’t the right word. It was more like she knew of it, but didn’t understand it all. She’d grown up in an upper- middleclass family, in nice houses with basements, and thought they were about as boring and lame as she could imagine.

“Partly.” I nodded. “It was a really amazing house. There were pillars out front, and the front hall was bigger than my trailer.”

“It’s just a house, Mara.” Roxie shook her head.

“I know but . . .” I trailed off, trying to think of how to explain it to her. “You know how you felt when you first joined the sideshow two years ago? How everything seemed so exciting and fun, and I was like, ‘We live in cramped trailers. It kinda sucks.’”

Roxie nodded. “Yeah. But I still think this life is a million times better than my old life. I get to see everything. I get to decide things for myself. I can leave whenever I want. There’s nothing to hold me back or tie me down.”

She’d finished filling up the pool, so she twisted the nozzle on the hose to shut it off. Stepping carefully over an old tire and a large branch that the tigers used as toys, she went to the edge of the run and tossed the hose over the fence, before Mahilā decided to play with it and tore it up.

She walked over to the cage and scraped her boots on the edge, to be sure she didn’t track any poop inside, before climbing up inside it.

“So what was the other reason?” Roxie asked.

I kept scrubbing for a moment and didn’t look up at her when I said, “Gabe.”

Gabe?” Roxie asked. “That sounds like a boy’s name.”

“That’s because it is.”

“Did you have sex with him?”

“No.” I shot her a look. “We just made out a little.”

“What what what?” Luka Zajiček happened to be walking by just in time to hear that, and he changed his course to walk over to the tiger cage. “Is that what you were up to last night?”

“That’s what sucks about living in a community so small. Whenever anything happens, everybody knows about it right away,” I muttered.

Luka put his arms through the cage bars and leaned against it, in the area I’d cleaned already. Since he was rather short, the floor came up to his chest, and his black hair fell into his eyes.

His eyes were the same shade of gray as mine, but his olive skin was slightly lighter than mine. We first met him when he joined the carnival four years ago, and the first thing my mom said was that she was certain that we were related somehow.

Unfortunately, Mom knew next to nothing about our family tree to be able to prove it. All she could really tell me was that we were a mixture of Egyptian, Turkish, and Filipino, with a bit of German thrown in for good measure.

Luka had been born in Czechoslovakia, but he’d moved here with his family when he was young, so he’d lost his accent.

He had recently roped me into helping him with a trick. He’d stand with his back against a wall, while I fired a crossbow around him. Originally, Blossom had been the one to help him, but she kept missing and shooting him in the leg or arm, so he’d asked me to do it because I had a steadier hand.

“So you made out with some local guy last night?” Luka asked, smirking at me. “Are you gonna see him again?”

“He’s a local guy. What do you think?” I asked, and gave him a hard look.

Luka shrugged. “Sometimes you bump into them again.”

“And that goes so well when they find out that I work and live with a traveling sideshow,” I said.

The floor was spotless, or at least as spotless as tiger cages can get, and I tossed my brush in the bucket and took off my yellow rubber gloves.

“We can’t all meet our boyfriends in the sideshow,” I reminded Luka as I stood up, and it only made him grin wider. He’d been dating Tim— one of the Flying Phoenixes— for the past three months.

“But you didn’t see Blossom anywhere in town last night?” Roxie asked, and Luka’s smile instantly fell away.

A sour feeling stirred in my stomach, and I looked out around camp through the bars of the cage, as if Blossom would suddenly appear standing beside a trailer. As I’d been doing my chores all morning, I kept scanning the campsite for her, expecting her to return at any moment with a funny story about how she’d gotten lost in town.

But so far, she hadn’t. And the longer she went without coming back, the worse the feeling in my stomach got. I shook my head. “No. I didn’t see her at all last night.”

“She’s gotta turn up, though, right?” Luka asked. “I mean, it’s not like there are really that many places she could’ve gone considering she has no money or car and she’s in a small town.”

The tigers were still down in the run, so I opened the side gate and hopped down out of the cage. Roxie got out behind me, then we closed the door.

“I should talk to Gideon,” I decided as Roxie locked the cage up behind me. “It’s not like Blossom to do this.”

“It’s not totally unlike her, though,” Roxie pointed out.

“When we were in Toledo six months ago, she dis appeared for a few days with that weird commune, and came back just before we were leaving, totally baked out of her mind.”

Blossom had grown up with parents who pretended to be hippies but were really just a couple of drug addicts. That— along with her unexplainable telekinesis— led to her dabbling with drugs and alcohol at a young age, before the state intervened and shipped her off to a group home.

My mom tried to keep her clean of her bad habits, but sometimes Blossom just liked to run off and do her own thing. That wasn’t that unusual for people who lived in the carnival.

“But if you’re worried, you should talk to Gideon,” Roxie suggested. “Luka’s right in that Blossom really couldn’t have gone far. Maybe you can scope out Caudry.”

“Since that sounds like a mission that may take a bit of time, can you help me and Hutch with the museum before you talk to Gideon?” Luka asked. “The exit door is jammed, and we can’t get it open, and Seth is busy helping set up the tents.”

“Sure. Between me and Mara, I’m sure the two of us can get the door unstuck,” Roxie said.

I dropped off the bucket with the other tiger supplies, and then followed Roxie and Luka away from our campsite to the fairgrounds on the other side of a chain- link fence. We always stayed close to the rides, the midway, and the circus tent, but we didn’t actually sleep there. It was much better for every one if we kept our private lives separate from the crowds.

Many of the games were already set up, and the Ferris wheel was in the process of being erected as we passed. Near the end of the midway was a long black trailer painted with all kinds of frightening images of werewolves and specters, along with happier pictures of mermaids and unicorns, and the sign was written in bloodred:

Beneath that were several smaller signs warning “Enter at your own risk. The creatures inside can be DISTURBING and cause NIGHTMARES.”

The entrance to the left was open, but the exit door at the other end was still shut. Wearing a pair of workman’s gloves, Hutch was pulling at the door with all his might. His neon green tank showed that his muscles were flexed and straining in effort. The bandana kept his dark brown hair off his face, but sweat was dripping down his brow.

“Let me have a try, Hutch,” Roxie said.

“What?” He turned to look back at her. “Door’s stuck.”

“I can see that. That’s why I said let me have a try.”

“Okay.” Hutch shrugged and stepped back.

Hutch’s real name was Donald Hutchence, but nobody ever called him anything but Hutch. He didn’t have any special powers, unless you considered being really agreeable and easygoing a super power, so, like me, he was left doing whatever else needed to be done.

Roxie grabbed the door and started pulling on it, and when it didn’t budge, I joined her.

“Luka, go and push from the inside,” Roxie commanded through gritted teeth.

Both Luka and Hutch went inside, pushing as Roxie and I pulled. And then all at once, the door gave way, and we all fell back on the gravel. I landed on my back, scraping my elbow on the rocks.

Roxie made it out unscathed, and Hutch fell painfully on top of me, so he’d avoided injury. Luka crashed right on the gravel, though, and the rocks tore through his jeans and ripped up his knees and the palms of his hands pretty badly.

“Do you need me to get a Band- Aid or anything?” Hutch asked as he helped me to my feet.

“No, I’ll be okay.” I glanced over at Luka and the blood dripping down his knees. “What about you? Do you want anything?”

“Nah. Just give it a few minutes.” Luka waved it off and sat down on the steps leading up to the museum door.

No matter how many times I saw it, I couldn’t help but watch. His knee was shredded, with bits of gravel sticking in the skin. Right before my eyes, the bleeding stopped, and the rocks started falling out, as if pushed by his flesh, and the skin grew back, reattaching itself where it had been little mangled flaps.

Within a few minutes, Luka’s knee was healed completely.

Copyright © 2017 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

int

  1.     Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?

If it’s just the characters from FREEKS, and only one could win, I would put my money on Luka or maybe Roxie. Luka because he can heal from injuries, which gives him a crazy advantage, but Roxie is smart and she’s a survivor. Plus, she has the power of pyrokinesis, which I think I would come in handy in a battle to the death.

  1.     What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?

I almost always listen to music when I write, unless I’m writing a really difficult scene. Sometimes the silence helps me focus, but most of the time, I prefer music. For FREEKS, I got to make a really fun 80s playlist, so I especially enjoyed working to that.

  1. What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?

There are sooo many things. For FREEKS, I had to do fun stuff like, “What does a dead body smell like?” and “How much blood can a human lose?” And then after those macabre questions, I did a bunch of googling on fireflies and tarot cards. My search history when I’m working can be pretty exciting like that.

  1. What was your favorite part of writing FREEKS?

I love Southern Gothics and I love pulpy 80s horror movies, so I was excited to be able incorporate those things in FREEKS. But my favorite part was actually Mara and Gabe. I think they complement each other well, and it was fun writing their banter and flirtations.

  1. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from FREEKS?

For Mara, I envisioned Cassie Steele from the start. I used to be a hardcore Degrassi fan, and I loved Cassie Steele on that. For Gabe, I like Ryan Guzman. I saw him in a Jennifer Lopez movie, and I was like, “Yep. That could be Gabe.”

  1.  Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I usually write between 11 am and 7 pm. I’ve tried to write earlier in the day and have more of a 8-5 type schedule, but I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t want to work much before noon.

  1.   Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I usually have a goal in mind before I start writing, but it varies. Some days, it’s slow going and I hope to get at least 500 words out. Other days, I fly through with thousands of words. So it depends on where I’m at in the book, when it’s due, and how I’m feeling about the whole thing.

  1. When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?

With all my main characters, I have a really good idea of who they are, and it’s just a matter of showing that to the readers. With the side characters, they tend to be rather one-dimensional, and they grow into the story as they’re needed.

  1. How did writing Freeks differ from your writing your previous novels?

FREEKS was the first thing I had written in awhile that was started out just for me. For most of the past ten years, I have been writing my books with the intention of publishing them, with the audience and readers and trends in mind. I think I had gotten a little burnt out on trying to make everyone happy (mostly because it is impossible to please all readers all the time), and I just wanted to write something that for the sake of writing it.

And that turned out to be a gothic love story about a teenage girl travelling with a band of misfits in the 1980s. It was a very cathartic writing experience for me, and it reminded me of exactly why I loved writing in the first place – I love getting lost in the world, with the characters.

  1. If Freeks had a theme song what would it be?

Either “Hush” by Limousines or “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears.

  1.   Can you please tell us a little bit about Freeks and where you got the inspiration to write it?

I was going through a rough patch, creatively speaking, and so I just sat back and tried to think of my favorite and what I loved most that I would want to write about.

When I was a kid, I used to get old books at garage sales all the time, and I distinctly remember getting Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King and a few old V. C. Andrews novels, which are pulpy Southern Gothic-esque novels. I also watched The Lost Boys and Pretty in Pink over and over again (I think I literally ruined the old VHS of The Lost Boys from watching it too much).

So I basically threw all those things together in a soup, and I picked apart the things I liked and wanted to explore more. That became a travelling sideshow in the 80s stopping Louisiana, where a supernatural monster is afoot, and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is smith with a local boy with secrets of his own.

  1.   Freeks is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?

Mara and Gabe are my obvious favorites, since they’re the main characters because I was drawn to them and their story the most. Both of them of them have complex feelings about family and personal identity, and their instant chemistry was fun to write.

But I think Gideon – the namesake and head of sideshow – was actually the biggest surprise, which made him fun in a different way. In the original outlines of the story, he was much a different character – very one-note and cruel – but he completely changed and evolved as I was writing.  

  1.   The book is based off of a type of traveling circus that is full of many mysterious acts. If you were to attend a Freekshow, which act would you want to see most?

My favorites are usually the acrobatics, but I think if I attended Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, I would be most excited to see Gideon’s magic act. With his skills and knowledge, I think it would be a really amazing show.

  1.   What do you hope readers will take away from FREEKS after reading it?

With some of my other novels, I deal with heavy themes like life and death, identity, honor, mortality, classism, and family. And while I do definitely touch on those themes in FREEKS, I mostly wrote it as an escape for myself, and that’s what I hope it is for other readers. Life can be hard and frustrating, and I just wanted to write a fun book that readers could get lost in for awhile.

  1. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Probably how chronically shy I am. Writing is a weird profession, because a good 90% of it is perfect for introverts – you sit alone by yourself and make up imaginary friends to go on adventures. But the last 10% – which involves introducing the whole word to your imaginary friends – is the most exciting and rewarding part, but it’s also the most difficult when you’re as shy as I am.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC via NetGalley, St. Martins, and with participation in this tour in exchange for an honest review 

PROS:

  • Mara is spontaneous, responsible, and terrified to get too close because she knows with her lifestyle love can’t last and once they find out that she lives with a traveling show it’s all over. Mara has grown up fast and loves her eclectic bunch-they’re family. She’s got secrets, she’s completely calm and collected about the supernatural, it’s her life. Mara does more than anyone to find out what’s going on at their camp. She’s likable, thoughtful, and so brave. As a heroine, she’s not particularly special in the typical YA way, she just uses her head, makes connections, and is determined to beat this invisible enemy. 
  • What Amanda Hocking is particularly skilled at is making her secondary characters memorable and unique. You might not like them, but you certainly will not forget them. Each member of the sideshow has a great back story and tons of personality. Roxie is a fiery (she’s has the gift of pyrokinesis), flirty, and sassy little thing. She’s a real minx. I adored her character, I only wish there had been more of her. Her story is made of fierce survival and overcoming her horrific past. Gideon is just as intriguing. From the scars on his back, his past, everything about his is suspect, but at the same time full of a heroic desperation to save his army of misfits. 
  • The concept is AMAZING. I mean super creepy and gory attacks on a sideshow. There’s an abundance of just not right, chilling things that you can’t put your finger on that will keep you on edge about what’s really going on. 
  • I usually loathe instalove, but I didn’t mind this one. Gabe is sexy, sensual, and just the right amount of mysterious/brooding. The chemistry is spot on and you’ll definitely crave more of them, even if they have very few conversations with substance. Lots of hot make out scenes though. 

CONS:

  • The story is set in the 1980s; while there are some randomly inserted references, there weren’t enough of them to feel fully cemented in the time period. The book could have been set in any time range, but maybe because the prevalence of “freak shows” has gone way down since the 1950s. Because there are a limited number of references, they feel like you’re being hit over the head with them whenever they do come up. A more fleshed out setting would have helped with total immersion in the story. 
  • Pacing lagged despite the disappearances, murders, and general supernatural encounters. Some sections were more everyday monotony than working to solve the crimes and harassment against the sideshow members. A ton of focus was placed on the instalove portion of the story, while I didn’t mind the romance, a whole lot of making out some conversation made scenes longer than they actually were. 

authoramanda-hocking-new-credit-mariah-paaverud-with-chimera-photographyAuthor Website/Twitter /Facebook/Author Blog/Pinterest/GoodReads

Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Several of her books have made the New York Times Bestsellers list, including the Trylle trilogy and Kanin Chronicles.  Her zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite. She has published over fifteen novels, including the Watersong quartet and My Blood Approves series. Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom  – all three books in her latest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles – are out now.

Her next book will be Swear, the final book in the My Blood Approves series, and it will be out November 9, 2016. After that, her next book is Freeks – a standalone YA paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a traveling sideshow. It will be out sometime in early 2017, with the St. Martin’s Griffin.

-via Goodreads

giveaway

For your chance to win a hardcover copy of FREEKS comment with your favorite Amanda Hocking book or encounter either on this blog post, via Twitter @jw08k, or on the Facebook blog page 

U.S. ONLY. Ends 11:59 p.m. EST on 12/28 

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Within the Darkest Hollows by D.A. Roach

 

“It also fills you with so much excitement as you devour this epic adventure that Roach has taken you on.” – 5 Star iScream Books 

“For a YA paranormal, this series is superb. Personally I usually want/need that ‘adult’ edge – however this series really doesn’t need it.” – 5 Star Hashtag Minxes Love Books 

“Love!! I’ve been waiting for book 2 for what seemed like forever and so worth the wait!” – 5 star Reader Review

syn
Cassidy and her mystical ring are stuck in the middle of a battle between the Demon World and the Mortal Realm…
 
A conflict with the demons has left Killian, head of the Demon Hunters, injured and stripped of his powerful Demon Hunter tattoo. Cassidy is tasked with caring for him in the Human Realm until he is well enough to cross back into the Demon Realm. But soon she notices he is acting strangely and begins to suspect something is wrong.
 
She seeks help from Serena, a retired Demon Hunter, but it’s too late…
 
Cassidy returns home to find Killian has gone missing. Tyler, a friend with his own set of mystical powers, shows up to tell her that Killian is at his house demanding a meeting with the Demon Queen Rya. She and Serena have to work fast to find a way to heal Killian and get Cassidy’s ring away from him before Rya is involved. Meanwhile, Tyler and his dad have their own plan to make a deal with the Queen.
 
The Queen has a decision to make, but not before securing her leverage…
 
Rya wants time to consider the offer presented by Tyler’s dad, and takes Cassidy to the Demon Realm as collateral. The Demon Queen must choose between Tyler, the mate she was promised, and the mystical ring that was forged for her years ago.
 
Tyler is forced to face the inner demon he has worked so hard to restrain. Will he succeed, or will he be lost to the darkness, leaving Cassidy to be sacrificed by the demons?
 
As both sides gain alliances, the tension between the realms grows and the time for action draws near…
teaser

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES 

author

Facebook/Twitter/Amazon/Goodreads/Website/Newsletter

D.A. Roach has been telling stories since she was a young girl in the suburbs of Chicago. In college she met the man of her dreams, her happily ever after, and married him 2 weeks after graduating. They have 3 kids together and a pet cockatiel named Gimli. D.A. did not find a love for books until after college. Her parents were immigrants from Lithuania and found tv and radio easier ways to hear stories so they did not do much reading or encourage it. But once she finished college and D.A. had free time, she discovered how amazing it was to get lost in a story.

D.A. is a full time mom and wife. When she is not doing domestic things (laundry, bills, etc) she is writing, reading, creating mixed media art, and helping beautify her kids’ school landscape. Oh, and she is ALWAYS listening to music. Her favorite authors include Rebecca Donovan, Richelle Mead, Larissa Ione, Stephanie Meyer, E.L. James, and Sylvia Day. Reading great works from authors like these has motivated D.A. to write her own stories. She hopes to make positive changes in the world with her art and writing.

 giveaway
Enter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card 
 

 

HOSTED BY:

Thrilling reading, 
Jordan