Guest Post & Giveaway: The Special Ones by Em Bailey

THE SPECIAL ONES9780544912298_hresGoodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | TBD

Release Date: July 18, 2017

synEsther is one of the Special Ones: four young spiritual guides who live in a remote farmhouse under the protection of a mysterious cult leader. He watches them around the clock, ready to punish them if they forget who they are—and all the while, broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside. Esther knows that if she stops being Special, he will “renew” her. Nobody knows what happens to the Special Ones who are taken away from the farm for renewal, but Esther fears the worst. Like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance if she wants to survive long enough to escape.

guest

Book Playlist for The Special Ones by Em Bailey

Every Breath You Take (The Police)

Under the Milky Way Tonight (The Church)

Special Ones (George)

Helter Skelter (The Beatles)

Candle in the Wind (Elton John)

Bird Set Free (Sia)

A Message to You Rudy (the Specials)

authorEmGoodreads

Em Bailey is an Australian living in Germany where, despite having been a vegetarian for many years, she now enjoys the occasional Wurst. Em used to be a new-media designer for a children’s television production house and is now a full-time author. Shift is her first YA novel, although she has written a number of books for children under the name Meredith Badger.

When she’s not writing, Em is generally getting lost, losing stuff, reading, hanging out with her friends and family, and listening to Radiolab podcasts. Like Olive, she doesn’t like leggings that look like jeans, but has no problem with tofu schnitzels.

giveaway3 winners will receive a hardcover of THE SPECIAL ONES! US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR SCHEDULE 

Week One:
7/10/2017- YA Books Central- Interview
7/11/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings- Review
7/12/2017- YA Book Madness- Guest Post
7/13/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review
7/14/2017- Novel Novice- Interview

Week Two:
7/17/2017- The Best Books Ever – Review
7/18/2017- Literary Meanderings- Excerpt
7/19/2017- Book Sniffers Anonymous- Excerpt
7/20/2017- YA and Wine- Review
7/21/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: Dreamwalker by Bridgette O’Hare

syn
To realize who you are, you must forget who they taught you to be.
 

For eighteen years, Halle Michaels has been the ideal daughter, the perfect friend, and the good girl she was expected to be. She never knew she was living a lie and that those closest to her have been the most deceitful of all.

 

Now, she’s hunted by Hell’s elite and armed only with what she can learn from the cryptic journal her father left behind and a protector she’s not so sure she can trust.

 

All she wants is to find the truth, but the longer the truth lives in the shadows the harder it is to recognize in the light.

teaser

 OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES 

Lullaby: FREE
 
Silent Night:

 

author

By night, Bridgette O’Hare is the bestselling author of the Upper YA Supernatural Suspense Book of Dreams series. 
 
By day, Bridgette is the owner and Senior Editor at Plot2Published Publishing Services, owner at Wit & Whimsy Cover Design and ridiculously proud Mom to two awesome male human beings.
 
You can often find her instigating shenanigans on Facebook and she loves when readers join in on the fun. Check out her books on Amazon, book three in the Book of Dreams series is scheduled for release in June.
Read on, 
Jordan

ARC Review: Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott

violet-grenade-coverGoodreads/B&N/Amazon/iBooks

syn

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind. Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

teaserVioletGrenade4VioletGrenade1review

3.5/5 Stars

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

+++Some scenes might be triggers for assault and/or violence

Violet Grenade is unexpected. It’s dark and twisted, sinister and honest and raw. There’s so much going on in here, so much pain and torment, so much that is unfair. 

THINGS I LIKED:

  • Domino believes she’s a monster. She has a past that will make your skin crawl and you’ll feel more than a little sick to your stomach when the truth comes out. There’s just enough to keep you on edge. Throughout the book, there are hints, little flashes of information that are gripping, blunt, and brutal. The need to know becomes a compulsion. I HAD TO KNOW. The scars on her arms, why Wilson manifested, the foreboding and constant allusions to an ugly and unforgivable past. Victoria Scott is an expert at building anticipation. It gets under your skin. 
  • A different portrayal of trafficking and extortion. Many times we think of trafficking as young girls or boys being abducted and forced into servitude/usually sexual in nature. What doesn’t get talked about enough is how people of specific walks of life are targeted and manipulated, they’re sold on an idea of a better life and before they know it, they can’t escape. Domino, like many of the other flowers, was homeless. She was vulnerable and a target. It’s not hard to persuade someone who rarely has a roof over their head or food to eat to go with someone at the prospect of safety, making money, a home, or even love. Madam Karina is the worst kind of villain because she’s real. She’s walking the streets right now. Her, and others like her, are predators. While Madam Karina has her own demons that make her the psychologically messed up person she is, she’s smart, she’s vindictive, and calculated. She makes these decisions, she knows what she’s doing, and that is inexcusable. 
  • The romance. Domino and Cain are beautifully broken but complete each other. They both had monstrous demons like guilt and fear that eat away at their souls, but inside, they’re good people who want nothing more than to be loved. Their romance is a slow-building realization. It’s imperfect and complicated. It’s right for them. 

THINGS I DISLIKED:

  • The pacing. This book felt a good hundred pages longer than it actually was because of how slow it read. It took time to really get into. The introduction to Domino and her life on the streets was intriguing, but kind of dull. The only things that save this section are the potential love interest with Dizzy and the hints at her past, that this horrible life is so much better than the one she escaped from. Then the shift happens. After Domino enters Madam Karina’s household, despite all of Domino’s plans, ambitions, and woes, it drags. Not much is going on. Each shift to the next flower level felt pretty much the same despite different dynamics and different girls. 
  • The lack of back story. Here’s the thing: the back story is there, sure. You get bare bones glimpses of what Domino’s life was like as a child and sure, it’s understandable because Wilson has blocked those memories from her so that she can live her life without constantly being haunted by the guilt and gore. That’s fine. When things are revealed about the seriously twisted and disgusting actions that Domino was coerced into doing, I mean, wow. MESSED UP. However, why her mother went off the handle, what her relationship was like with her mother that made the manipulation work so well, any moments with her father…it’s missing. There’s like this gaping black hole of stuff that the reader can fill in or guess about but it’s not enough to 100% embrace the emotions Domino felt towards her mother or even the anger. She blames herself, but what about her mother? What happened? There are so many unanswered questions. 

THINGS I’M TORN OVER:

  • How dissociative identity disorder was presented. Domino’s other identity-Wilson-is the result of PTSD and a coping mechanism for all of the horrific (truly, messed up scary stuff) she was forced to participate in as a child. Wilson is a protector, he’s loving and defensive, and flips out, goes off the handle and is way prone to violence. Domino is scared of him. She tries to keep him under lock and key because when he comes out, bad things happen and sometimes he takes total control. At the same time, Wilson is a friend. He’s been there for her, he never leaves like everyone else has in her life, and at the end, there’s a bittersweet moment that really makes you feel torn about Wilson. Ultimately for me, despite the insane and sadistic choices he makes, he’s a sort of savior for Domino that helps her realize that she is enough, that she can get through anything on her own. I wasn’t necessarily happy with this relationship between the two, but I didn’t hate it either. Wilson grows on you. And when he takes over, well, it’s definitely memorable and a little sickening. 

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: Perfect Match by Lyssa Layne

A note from Lyssa: I am happy to announce that I will be part of Paige Tyler’s Dallas Fire & Rescue Kindle World! My book, Perfect Match, will debut May 11 with some amazing authors that are contributing to the Kindle World, too. If you love firefighters, and I know you do, then you’ll love this Kindle World. Not to mention some of your favorite firefighters from Love is a Fire and Burst Into Flame *might* make an appearance… 
Cover Designer: Amanda Walker
syn

New to FDNY Engine 58, proby Paul Jefferson has no idea the expectations that the firefighters before him have set. He walks into his new job with an arrogance that’s sure to land him proby duty for the rest of his days but he has the professional skills to back his attitude. Loving every minute of his time with fire, Paul struggles to find his place in the FDNY brotherhood. Outside of the station, a true playboy at heart, he has no issues making connections, but there’s only one girl that holds his heart.

Paramedic Mariana Barbosa is new to the big city. Luckily, her path crosses with Paul Jefferson shortly after accepting her new position. The two instantly connect and become the best of roommates… or something like that. Behind closed doors, the two are the perfect couple without crossing any lines because Mariana is too afraid to risk their living situation to pursue what her heart is telling her she feels.

When Mariana feels betrayed by Paul, she jumps on the opportunity to date the handsome, good guy from work. Paul isn’t a fan of Mariana’s new boyfriend and starts to slack with Engine 58. Things don’t go as expected with Mariana’s new boyfriend and after she uses Paul to cover her issues, she pushes him further away until it may be too late for either of them to admit their true feelings.

author
lyssa

Lyssa Layne is first, and foremost, the proud momma to her precious daughter, AR. In addition to working full-time and being a mommy to AR, she is also an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, a runner, blogger, and an infertility survivor.

Having watched one too many medical dramas and being inspired by author Rachelle Ayala, who introduced her to the world of indie writing, Lyssa decided to try her hand at writing a romance story. Her attempt turned into the Burning Lovesick series. You can find Lyssa’s own interests throughout her stories although all stories are fictional.

 
Paige Tyler’s DALLAS FIRE & RESCUE is part of Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, which means some of your favorite authors are now adding their characters and stories to her World.
 
DALLAS FIRE & RESCUE is an amazing world filled with the action and suspense of fighting fires and the drama of saving lives, combined with the intimacy of those moments when the heroes and heroines are brought together amid the danger. From battling huge blazes all across the city to saving accident victims to working with all forms of law-enforcement, DALLAS FIRE & RESCUE explores every facet of heroic action and romantic adventure. With heroic firefighters and life-saving paramedics, the possibilities for stories are limitless!
 
Kindle World Books can only be purchased on Amazon, but you don’t need a Kindle to read
them. You can download and read them on any device with the Kindle app. Kindle World Books are only available on Amazon US, but that doesn’t mean Non-US Residents can’t purchase them. For instructions click here.
 
Check out Paige Tyler’s DALLAS FIRE & RESCUE Series here!

Steamy reading, 

Jordan

Exclusive Interview with Victoria Scott on Violet Grenade

violet-grenade-coverGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/Book Depository/Indie Bound

Release Date: May 16, 2017

syn

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

int

YABM: Violet Grenade is a little different than your other books, what inspired this story? 

Victoria: I kept thinking about girls who get attacked, and what it would look like if someone targeted a girl who was capable of killing a man. How glorious that scene would be to watch in a movie. This idea of a small girl with a deadly secret wouldn’t leave my mind until I put her on paper. 

YABM: How would you describe Violet Grenade to a reader in 3 or less sentences? 

Victoria: I’d simply say it’s a story about manipulation, revenge, damaged characters, and love found in unlikely places. Oh, and multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

YABM: What do you want the reader to take away from Violet Grenade?

Victoria: Always, always…entertainment. I never seek to achieve anything besides giving readers an escape from reality. What they find outside of that is unique to their own journey and experiences.

YABM: Give me a brief rundown of Madam Karina’s Home for Burgeoning Entertainers? What is it like?


Victoria: The girls who live there are sorted by silk flowers they wear on their dresses or blouses. It ranks them, and signifies how much of their earnings they actually keep. Those flowers keep the girls competitive. And of course it’s symbolic of losing a certain something. *wink*

YABM: Is there any romance brewing between characters?

Victoria: Oh, yes. Domino and Cain have chemistry, but mostly they share past wounds.

YABM: Which character would be most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Victoria: Cain. Those zombies wouldn’t stand a chance.

YABM: How do you balance home, life, and writing (and your adorable little girl)?

Victoria: With great difficulty! Even as I finish this interview I’m thinking how I didn’t get enough time with my little girl tonight. Le sigh.

YABM: What would you tell aspiring writers? What’s your best advice for completing that draft?

Victoria: To just power through! Trust me, we all think our first drafts stink. If you do too, then you just might be a published author one day. Ha!

authorVictoria Scott Author Photo copyWebsite/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Goodreads

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her most recent release, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from across the world. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.

Check back closer to release date for my review. 

As always, happy reading!

Jordan

 

Guest Post: Proof of Lies Playlist by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

proof

syn

Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

a294d-playlist

PROOF OF LIES Playlist by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

It’s hard to make a playlist for a new book without giving away too many spoilers. Let’s face it, if you include a funeral song (“In the arms of the Angel,” Sarah McLachlan), wedding song (“At Last,” Etta James), or a just plain depressing song (“Hallelujah”, Jeff Buckley), it gives a rather large hint as to what’s to come. But as a reader, I also don’t like when playlists are too obscure (songs you’ve never heard of) or not in the order in which they would appear in the book. It’s nice to know exactly what scene is playing in an author’s mind when she hears a song.

So behold—my playlist for PROOF OF LIES equipped with the exact chapters that the songs fit. I can’t say too much beyond that, but after you read the book, take another look at this list and see how you think I did.

Epigraph

One by U2 & Mary J. Blige  

For a very long time, the bellow lyrics were the epigraph at the beginning of the PROOF OF LIES manuscript. I had to change it, because you know, U2 lyrics don’t come cheap. But in my head, these worse are still there (and they’re being song as a duet by Bono and Mary J).

“Have you come here for forgiveness

Have you come to raise the dead

Have you come here to play Jesus

To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much

More than a lot

You gave me nothing

Now it’s all I got

We’re one

But we’re not the same”

Chapter 2: House Party Scene

Momma I’m Coming Home by Ozzy Osbourne

“I’ve seen your face a hundred times

Everyday we’ve been apart

I don’t care about the sunshine, yeah

‘Cause mama, mama, I’m coming home

I’m coming home”

Chapter 4: Talking to the Police

Unsteady by X Ambassadors

“Mama, come here

Approach, appear

Daddy, I’m alone

‘Cause this house don’t feel like home

If you love me, don’t let go

If you love me, don’t let go

Hold

Hold on

Hold on to me

‘Cause I’m a little unsteady

A little unsteady”

Chapter 20: Cortona, Italy with Luis

Demons by Imagine Dragons

“Don’t want to let you down

But I am hell bound

Though this is all for you

Don’t want to hide the truth

No matter what we breed

We still are made of greed

This is my kingdom come

This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat

Look into my eyes

It’s where my demons hide

It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close

It’s dark inside

It’s where my demons hide

It’s where my demons hide”

 

Chapter 26: Leaving Rome, Italy

Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers

“I need you, I need you, I need you right now

Yeah, I need you right now

So don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

I think I’m losing my mind now

It’s in my head, darling I hope

That you’ll be here, when I need you the most

So don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

D-Don’t let me down

Don’t let me down”

Chapter 30: Venice, Italy with Marcus

I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

“You and me have seen everything to see

From Bangkok to Calgary

The soles of your shoes are all worn down

The time for sleep is now

It’s nothing to cry about

Cause we’ll hold each other soon

The blackest of rooms

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied

Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs

If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks

Then I’ll follow you into the dark”

Chapter 33: Venice, Italy preparations

Hero by Family Of the Year

“So let me go

I don’t wanna be your hero

I don’t wanna be a big man

I Just wanna fight with everyone else

Your masquerade

I don’t wanna be a part of your parade

Everyone deserves a chance to

Walk with everyone else”

Chapter 34: Venice, Italy Piazza

Helena by My Chemical Romance

“Burning on just like a match you strike to incinerate

The lives of everyone you know

And what’s the worst you take (worst you take)

From every heart you break (heart you break)

And like the blade you stain (blade you stain)

Well, I’ve been holding on tonight

What’s the worst that I can say?

Things are better if I stay

So long and goodnight

So long and goodnight”

Chapter 35: Venice, Italy

Fix You by Coldplay

“When the tears come streaming down your face

When you lose something you can’t replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you”

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

the-crueltyGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

review4/5 Stars 

Unpopular opinion time. It turns out that there’s a ton of controversy surrounding this book because of some dismissive and rude comments made by the author about the YA genre. Here’s the thing, I did not read anything about this book or any of the Goodreads comments before my rating. This is a 100% unbiased, non-influenced rating on the story alone. While I do not agree with the author’s perception of dystopia YA or some off the offhand comments made by Gwen within the story, authors and characters do not always share beliefs. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the author’s opinions from the character’s and vice versa. I thought I would preface this review by saying that whether or not I like the author has absolutely nothing to do with this review because so many of the Goodreads reviews are attacks on the author not the book. 

Now that that’s out of the way, I loved this book. This is exactly what I’ve been searching for in YA. A thriller. Spies, lies, cover ups, danger, it’s like Bourne Identity for teens. And there are so many important and eye-opening topics discussed within the story about crime, human trafficking, and other terrifying and unsavory aspects of society. While the story wasn’t perfect, it definitely kept me engaged and enthralled with Gwen and her quest to save her father. I kept asking myself how far I’d go to save my loved ones.

Gwen is made of reckoning and a hunger for vengeance. I adore her. She’s of Jewish heritage, thick-waisted, opinionated, speaks multiple languages, and likes jazz. I mean, come on, that alone is enough to keep you interested. When Gwen embraces her new identity at Sofia, we see her transformation and wow, what a switch. The girl she started as is still there, but her alias is a fighter. Sofia is a vixen. She’s manipulative, calculating, more like an agent. She has a huge heart. She will go to the ends of the earth for her father and then some, sacrificing herself in the process. She knows she might die, she might get assaulted or scarred, but she is willing as long as she gets her father back. That’s insane and incredibly brave. Gwen has to shut off her emotions or she’ll break and sometimes it’s truly hard and devastating for her. In several scenes, I almost had to look away because I was so scared for her. But she puts on cruelty like armor and is surprisingly successful for such a small amount of training. 

There are so made shades of women within this story and they’re all powerful in their own ways. From prostitutes to the women who serve the crime bosses, from the trafficked girls to the bully at the introduction of the story, all of these women are fighters and wise to the ways of the world. They accept that sometimes life is dirty and hard and terrible, that horrific things happen but they can’t collapse, they rise and rebuild and take everything for what it is. Every character was memorable, even the fleeting ones and others that I abhorred. They were developed, multidimensional, and made me ask questions. 

Yael. OMG this woman. She’s fierce, hardened, cruel when she needs to be and lives by a do whatever it takes attitude. Suck it up and do what needs to be done. Yael is at times heartless and cold, others she’s mildly concerned. You can tell she feels a little motherly towards Gwen. Yael is the kind of woman, Mossad, who would take her child who can’t swim, throw him in a lake and tell him to find his way out; he’d learn pretty quick. I loveddddd her. She’s an epic badass of a character. 

The story itself is layered and developed. It’s cross multiple countries and gets right into the seedy underbelly of the cities. I have not been to most of the countries mentioned, so I can’t say how accurate the portrayal was, but there wasn’t much in way of description anyway. Scott Bergstrom appears to be more about the character than the setting. I loved the cyphers and the danger. Every edge of your seat moment was a new rush and there are so many. 

What I did not like was the random romance between Gwen and Terrance. He’s barely there, there’s no building, hardly any foundation, and while he is functional, the emotions are severely lacking and then suddenly it’s supposed to be like fireworks for the reader-yeah, no. I was not the biggest fan of the way Gwen was introduced at Danton Academy. While it did function to present her place in the social hierarchy, establish her race and figure, it felt clichéd and predictable. In fact, I don’t really know why it was there at all. School is nothing in this story. It’s gone in like 2 days of book time. 

Sometimes the pacing was slow. When you think of a thriller/suspense, you expect fast, but spy work and investigating is sometimes just pushing paper and waiting for leads, so in that respect, it was accurate. 

That ending. YES.

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

Suspenseful reading, 

Jordan