Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

review

3/5 Stars

***Potential triggers for human trafficking, abuse, animal cruelty, violence, death

It pains me to write this review because I was so looking forward to this book-it was at the top of my highly anticipated list for 2017. I mean, The Phantom of the Opera??? As a theater kid, this is my personal form of euphoria. Unfortunately, my feelings on this rendering are mixed. 

PROS:

  • Thorn’s story is almost as tragic and heartbreaking as the Phantom’s and yet so full of beauty. No matter the darkness and fear he experienced as a child captured by traffickers and tormented beyond measure, his heart is pure and OMG is he swoonworthy. Some of the stuff he says to Rune, I mean, my heart swelled with joy. He’s like a part-time poet and the way he plays that violin. He’s the definition of dreamy. That dark hair and those coppery eyes, and that jaw. Smokin’ hot. I loved the way his past evolved and changed him and his starry-eyed devotion to the Phantom. Plus the way he looks at Rune…it’s like she’s his world at first sight. Now, let me warn, this does read like instalove on Thorn’s part, but there are reasons so hold out. 
  • This twist on the Phantom is super weird and complex. It can be hard to wrap your head around and accept, but there are enough history and allusions to the original Leroux story. The Phantoms’s story is somehow even more depressing and horrific than in the original. When you read about the love he felt for Christine, the hope he held for a happy ending, it will crush you and hit you right in the feels.
  • There’s a ton of seriously disturbing elements to this story-from creepy, crawly animals that don’t belong in nature, to taxidermy, to cryogenics. It’s a mix and match of sci-fi meets paranormal. And when you find out the truth about Rune’s heritage and how she relates to the Phantom…well, whether or not you’re a fan is up to you, but for me, I was torn. It felt like the author didn’t stay entirely true to the mythology (and that’s all I can say without spoilers). 
  • One of my favorite characters was the cat, Diable. He’s not particularly cute, but he has so much attitude in his mannerisms and he’s so clever. A sassy cat, what’s not to love?

CONS:

  • This book is at least a hundred pages too long. Let me explain. There were so many parts that seemed unnecessary, dragged, and pulled down the whole sense of foreboding that should have wrapped around the reader. The pacing was in line with a Gothic novel, but because it is set in contemporary time, it didn’t fit well with the story, despite the setting. There were whole sections of sprawling description that could have been trimmed, but went on for pages. While these sections certainly painted a picture, the length didn’t really build the emotions, but distracted from them with painstaking details. Scenes that would have benefited from being shortened by heightening the anxiety and fear got lost in a sort of step-by-step, piece-by-piece map of the setting. It became more about setting the scene than the story/scene itself. 
  • There’s so much going on that it became overwhelming. After you get used to the shock factor and adjust to the bizarre twist on the traditional Phantom story, the shifts in POV, the flashbacks to the past, and the absolutely strange quirks of every character (which was a bit much to begin with) don’t fall into place but feel strung together and random. There’s not a feeling of cohesion and planning, it hits like chaos and stays that way. Told in a more measured way, these pieces are all elements that explain the characters and their personalities. I guess what I’m saying is that I would have liked more build up. 
  • So much time was placed on carefully crafting the back stories for the Phantom and Thorn, even for Jipetto and Audrey, so that you know their hearts, their motivations, how they became who they are. And yet, despite the tragedy of her past with her father and the terrible situations she had with her grandmother, and even the history of the family name, Rune’s character felt undeveloped in comparison. While there are tidbits, like her joy of gardening, her knitting, her personality was kind of bland for such a strong story arc. Honestly, she was much better, much more interesting when she was interacting with other characters than by herself. 

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

Cryptic reading, 

Jordan

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

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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.

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  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

Cover Reveal: Fading Frost by Alicia Rades

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Where do you turn when you lose a piece of yourself?
 
CRYSTAL FROST has known for a year that she’s psychic, but a car accident leaves her sixth sense weaker than ever. When she begins sensing a ghost she can’t actually see, Crystal isn’t sure if she has what it takes to help. Meanwhile, her friend Derek is going through something personal, only Crystal doesn’t know what’s wrong. Will she be able to help this ghost cross over, help Derek find peace, and save her own life in the process?
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author
Alicia Rades is an award-winning young adult paranormal author with a love for supernatural stories set in the modern world. When she’s not plotting out fiction novels, she’s running her own professional writing business, plowing her way through her never-ending reading list, or preparing for the backpacking trips she takes every summer. In college, Alicia majored in communications with an emphasis on professional writing. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two cats.
Don’t miss a thing related to Alicia’s books. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.aliciaradesauthor.com/newsletter/
Magical reading, 
Jordan

Excerpt Blitz & Giveaway: Touching Fate by Brenda Drake

Touching Fate by Brenda Drake | JenHalliganPR.comTouching Fate by Brenda DrakeGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.

But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

Excerpt

They spread a blanket on the sand and sat on top of it. Aster pulled her legs into a pretzel. “So what’s in the box?”

“You aren’t the patient type, are you?” He undid the ribbon holding the package closed and flipped open the top, then handed her a napkin.

The wind whipped Aster’s hair across her face and she tucked it behind her ears. “Nice thermos,” she said.

“My mother sent it to us. She has an addiction to online purchasing.” He lifted out a cream puff.

It was her favorite pastry at the shop. “I’m impressed. You did your research. I’ll have to thank Leah later.”

He chuckled, handing her the pastry. “You will. She was very specific.”

She took a bite, the creamy, sugary goodness tasting like heaven on her tongue.

“Good, huh?”

She nodded, not wanting to speak and spray powdered sugar at him or something.

He unscrewed the thermos and poured a brown liquid into the cap. “Hot cocoa?” he asked, and passed the cap to her.

“Obviously,” she said, taking a sip. Because cream puffs tasted best with hot chocolate. It was sweet that he’d taken the time to find out what she liked.

They ate in silence, but it wasn’t boring. It was more like…comfortable. When they finished, Reese screwed the cap back onto the thermos and placed the used napkins in the box. He scooted as close as he could get to her. She leaned her head on his shoulder, and he slid his arm behind her back. They watched the sun set on the ocean and listened to the waves clap against the beach.

“It’s beautiful here,” Reese said, finally.

She raised her head to look into his eyes. “This is the best date ever.”

He smiled, brushing crumbs away from the corner of her mouth. Her heart shivered as his fingers moved to her chin and lifted her mouth to his. The kiss was soft and gentle, and way too short for Aster. He pulled away, a serious expression on his face.

“Do you believe in fate?” he said softly.

Aster swallowed back her surprise.

“I think I do,” she said, recovering. It was a lame response. Before meeting Miri, she probably would have said she did right off. It used to be just a word without meaning. But now, it held a power beyond that of a simple definition in a dictionary. She had looked the word up. Fate was unavoidable. Something that couldn’t be measured. Yet she had the ability to shift it. She worried she didn’t have the maturity to know when to let sleeping fates lie.

“I believe in it,” Reese said with a nod. “We were to go straight to Florida, but I had an urge to stop in Ocean City. I felt you. Fate brought us together.”

“I thought it was an ice cream cone.” She giggled.

Oh God, Aster, stop giggling, already.

He touched her cheek. “I’m being serious here. I don’t want to hesitate anymore. There isn’t much time. I’ll only be here a few months.”

Grab your copy of TOUCHING FATE for $0.99 for a limited time only!

Touching Fate by Brenda Drake | JenHaliliganPR.com

Cursing Fate by Brenda DrakeCURSING FATE (The Fated #2)
Release Date: November 21, 2016
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Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’.

Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

Join the celebration for CURSING FATE’s release! Sign up to take part in the Release Day Launch on November 21st (open to everyone)!authorBrenda DrakeWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling.

So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

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Magical reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour, ARC Review & Giveaway: Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn

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Remember Yesterday is the sequel to the NYT Bestselling and RITA™ Award-winning book, Forget Tomorrow.

Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries, if only she’d let TechRA study her. But ten years ago, the scientists kidnapped and experimented on her, leading to severe ramifications for her sister, Callie. She’d much rather break into their labs and sabotage their research—starting with Tanner Callahan, budding scientist and the boy she loathes most at school.

The past isn’t what she assumed, though—and neither is Tanner. He’s not the arrogant jerk she thought he was. And his research opens the door to the possibility that Jessa can rectify a fatal mistake made ten years earlier. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister—even if it means teaming up with the enemy she swore to defeat.

review4/5 Stars

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

Remember Yesterday is a heartfelt and magnetic sequel to Forget Tomorrow. The emotions are high, the risks even higher, and the danger is enough to keep the pages turning. 

READ THIS BOOK IF: 

  • You’re searching for a sister bond that transcends time and space. That kind of love is timeless. 
  • You love to be kept on your toes.
  • You’re looking for a scifi, dystopia world with time travel, precognition, and dare to test Fate. 

PROS:

  • I thought book 1 was emotional but Remember Yesterday, talk about emotional turmoil. The feels are deep, resonate, and hit you with a punch that you don’t see coming. Sometimes they’re bold confessions, other times they’re bittersweet truths. No matter what form these power surges of emotion come in, they’ll get under your skin. The impact is hard-hitting and compelling. 
  • Callie and Jessa. Despite the fact that Callie is not a predominant character in this book in terms of agency, her presence influences every choice, every step towards the future. Her memory is a legacy that rebuilds the world. Jessa and Callie’s love for each other is an aching, beautiful thing. It builds and transforms into something unbreakable and infinite. You feel every single ounce of the respect and adoration. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a stronger sibling bond.
  • If you remember little 6-year-old Jessa from book 1, you’ll recall that she was always a little feisty, energetic thing. This Jessa, the one who has lived through years of self-esteem issues, a strained relationship with her mother, and the sobering reality and guilt of her cherished sister’s choice, is not at all what I expected. She’s sporty, a bit of a daredevil, and kind of flits about. There are subtle allusions to her personality that are, unfortunately not expanded on. Jessa is likable, bold, outspoken, and her ability to choose who she wants to be and how she wants to live is one of her greatest superpowers. Choice, and the freedom to make those choices, even in the most dire of situations is a remarkable form of bravery and sacrifice. 
  • The romance. It’s sexy, flirty, a sort of love/hate attraction that simmers and escalates quickly. The attraction is undeniable and yet, somehow innocent despite the innuendo. They’re discovering each other. They’re puzzled and confused by their bond that seemed to develop overnight and while this usually feels like instalove, this felt right. 

CONS:

  • Jessa’s personality is slightly stunted by the fact that her hobbies and her likes are downplayed and glossed over. There are mentions of them throughout, but they’re far and few between. Jessa’s advocacy, her selflessness could have been emphasized sooner. That compassion was always there. Things like her love of hoverboard, parkour, that’s the side that we don’t see that I would have liked to. 
  • The world in Forget Tomorrow is defunct now, there’s not too much interaction with the world as it is now. 10 years have passed, I would have felt more in tune with this new world had there been a summary or precise breakdown of what changed. There’s not much dealing between the divided compound of Harmony and the outside world. It felt as though time was super short and the book took place over a time span that was lightning speed for what happened. 
  • If you haven’t ventured back into Forget Tomorrow since the last time you read it, Remember Yesterday will be a rough and abrupt start. I had no clue what was going on and scrambled to remember what happened in book 1. 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

forgetGoodreads

syn

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.

Callie herself.

authorPintip cropped-2

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Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journel.

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, Forget Tomorrow, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. Her other novels include The Darkest Lie and the forthcoming Remember Yesterday.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.

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Epic reading, 

Jordan

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn

Remember Yesterday | Release Blitz | JenHalliganPR.comRemember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn | A Book and a Latte | bookandlatte.comGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo

REMEMBER YESTERDAY (Forget Tomorrow #2)
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Publication: October 4, 2016

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Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries―if only she’d let TechRA study her. But after they kidnapped and experimented on her as a child, cooperating with the scientists is the last thing Jessa would do.

But when she discovers the past isn’t what she assumed, Jessa must join forces with budding scientist Tanner Callahan to rectify a fatal mistake made ten years ago. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister―even if it means aligning with the enemy she swore to defeat.

Excerpt

I lift my eyes to meet his, and I reach into the future—his future. The vision pours into me. The future Tanner grabs me and kisses me. Without warning, without hesitation. It is hot and searing and exquisite. And I like it. Oh, how I like it.

“No!” I fall out of the vision and scoot away from him, so far that I approach the edge of the platform. My pulse is thundering; my nerves are jumping. Oh, Fates. What’s wrong with me? Is it because I don’t want him to kiss me? Or because I want it too much?

His eyes turn watchful. “Come back here, Jessa. You’re too close to the sky.”

I look into the open space, fluffy with wads of cotton-ball clouds. I take a breath, hoping to inhale some of the sky’s serenity. He doesn’t know about the kiss. Why would he? In the vision, he acted impulsively, without premeditation. The desire to kiss me hasn’t arisen in him yet. Maybe I can prevent it from cropping up altogether.

“Look, you don’t want to kiss me,” I babble, staying where I am. And hope I sound more reasonable than I feel. “It’s only because we talked about kissing the other day. When you talk about something, you give it life. Make it real. Like an annoying song you can’t get out of your head.”

He creeps toward me, his eyes flicking between my face and the sky. “So you can’t get the idea of kissing me out of your head?”

“I said it was annoying. Like a song. Not based on anything real.”

He stops five feet from the edge of the platform. “So let me get this straight. You saw into the future and we kissed. Right?”

“Y-yes,” I stutter, shocked that he guessed the truth so easily. “But it doesn’t have to happen that way,” I add quickly. “As my sister proved, we’re in control of our own fate. We can make any future we wish.”

“Unless this is our Fixed.” His voice is low, rough. And yet, every syllable imprints into my memory forever. “Unless this kiss is so important, it happens in every one of our worlds.”

“It’s just a kiss. How can it be that important?”

His eyes glitter with the challenge. With one last look at the platform’s edge, he crawls to me, slowly but steadily. “The path of our particular world might depend on this kiss. Would you risk our future just to be stubborn?”

And then, he’s right in front of me. He rests his hands lightly on my back. They slide down to my waist, until his fingers brush against the strip of bare skin between my pants and top. I shiver, and my skin pebbles into a million goose bumps. He pulls me against him. So much of my body is touching his that I can’t think; I can’t breathe. All I can do is feel. His trembling breath. My hammering heart. His shaking hands—or hell, maybe that’s me, vibrating against his touch.

Our lips are inches apart. Time blends together. You couldn’t move me from this spot if the world were crashing down around us.

“I thought I wasn’t your type,” I whisper.

“You’re not,” he says. “But for the fate of our world, I’m willing to make the sacrifice.”

And then, he closes the gap between us.

authorPintip cropped-2Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language, and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. Her other books include THE DARKEST LIE and REMEMBER YESTERDAY.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at www.pintipdunn.com

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Fierce reading, 

Jordan

Review: Fire by Annie B. Matthews

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Leaving school should be exciting, right? All those dreams and ambitions ready for the taking…

Kelly doesn’t feel it. In fact, the only thing she’s feeling is dread and guilt – she has no idea how to tell her family and her soulmate that she has changed her mind about university. About everything, in fact. So instead, she’s been withdrawing from everyone and hoping that inspiration will strike.

When she discovers that Danny has been keeping his own secrets, and the threatening text messages begin, Kelly realizes that cutting people out might not be the answer.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author

PROS:

  • Distance between Danny and Kelly is heartbreaking. Told from both POVs you can feel their struggle to connect, to go back to the chemistry and love they had before, but it’s just not working. That slow, painful growing apart is all too real and raw. When Danny and Kelly do have their moments of attraction, they’re bursting with emotion. 
  • The main threat came out of nowhere. It was abrupt and totally shifted the plot in a new direction that felt out of place from where the story was headed. It kind of throws you, but in an insanely awesome way. You won’t see it coming and it’s so quick that nothing can really prepare you for the reality when it hits. 
  • The society searching for the talents is intriguing and exciting. All the possibilities and the hopeful way that Kelly and the others search for others like them is uplifting, and full of warmth. 

CONS:

  • If you haven’t read the first book, be prepared to be really confused. There are references throughout to things in book one, but only snippets. A stronger reiteration of events in book 1 might have helped to solidify the plot and lay a foundation for the emotional issues throughout the story-specifically Kelly’s withdrawal from Danny.
  • The pacing was so-so. The majority of the book is angst-filled drama up until the last few chapters and didn’t have much to do with the talents at all.
  • Secondary characters were fleeting. They sort of jumped in and out of the story and on occasion, so many characters were present at once that it was easy to get confused. It was hard to form attachments to any of them, one way or another. 

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan