Lost Review & New Review: Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

iliGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

synThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

review4/5 Stars

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

Illuminae is a reading experience. The documents, interviews, emails, and recordings get the reader involved in every clue, panic attack, and bit of romance in this epic space thriller.

The pacing is inconsistent. At first, it’s an action-packed thrill ride that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat. The setting is insane. The danger, the terror of the invasion-it’s beyond intense. The middle part, despite the varied documents lags behind that initial hysteria only to pick up at the end with an unexpected and terrifying twist. 

Some scenes are gory and full of sickening detail. It’s awesome. The attacks are straight out of your favorite horror film and darkest nightmares. 

The world building is fierce and complex and full of politics that put profit over humanity. It’s cruel, despicable, and packed with drama. 

Kady is stellar as a protagonist. She’s conflicted in love, nostalgic, occasionally scared and so relatable, despite being a mad hacker on a space ship. Kady has skills. She uses her brain to dip into the computer systems and uncover secrets, take control, and steer everyone aboard away from utter destruction. The adrenaline is high. Her task has slim odds for survival and yet, Kady NEVER gives up. No matter how much is thrown at her, she fights and fights and keeps fighting for her people. 

The AI, wow. Unexpected and so cool. He’s got personality and such a presence. He’s dangerous, deadly, and struggles to understand emotion, but he’s sort of lovable in a weird way and the only thing saving our heroes from total devastation.

gemina

Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

review

4/5 Stars 

My core issue with Gemina was the lack of rehash early on. There’s no explanation of previous events in Illuminae so I spent most of the book wondering what was going on and when it would link up with the previous story. I was super confused for much of the book. 

Hanna has a big personality, maybe even more epic than Kady’s in book 1. She’s a total, unabashed B.A. character. She’s fierce, intelligent, sexy, and full of sass. She flirts and plays and is one heck of a vixen, but underneath her perky, blonde exterior is a deadly force. Her fighting skills, her Sun Tzu references, her tactical skills, she’s wicked awesome and completely refreshing. She owns her body, her life, and will mess up anyone that threatens her. I’m impressed with how she transforms from a party girl to a warrior. The transition is smooth, floating to the surface because it was always a part of her. 

The added dynamic of Russian gang life was a marvelous addition to this story. The danger, the intrigue, the stories that went along with the Knives, the drama, it totally swept me away. 

Cat and mouse game to the extreme. Man the hunt is deadly, bloody, full of gross description, and the code names alone-each and every character is different, has a strong personality, and has their own reason for trying to capture Hanna. 

There’s a twist. It’s made of science and theory, and is a little confusing but the illustration helps. Oh the illustrations. They’re beautiful and hilarious, part comic book style and part precise diagrams. 

Elena. Oh my gosh, I love her. She’s a sarcasm queen, witty, and full of life. She doesn’t take put downs from anyone and is a genius on the computer. She’s a heroine that may even trump Hanna. Her interactions with Nik are adorable and lively. They fight like siblings, but the love floats off the pages.

Nik is complex. He’s a pervert, a flirt, and his comebacks are hilarious. He’s got the House of Knives gang cred and the tattoos to prove it. He’s so much more than meets the eye. He’s a big softy underneath that tough exterior and loves so hard it will make you swoon. His story is made of drama and lies and twists that will keep you guessing about who he truly is. 

I loved the set up at the end. The parallel between Hanna and Nik, the use of color, the poetic way it works together as one narrative despite the circumstances *no spoilers*. You have to see it. Trust me, it’s genius. 

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

Intense reading,

Jordan

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

rememberyesterdaytour-copyremember-yesterday-cover-copy

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syn

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

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads/Newsletter/Instagram

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.

giveawayOne (1) winner will receive a limited, annotated hardcover of Forget Tomorrow

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

 

Epic reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

into the dimGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

synWhen fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

review3.5/5 Stars 

***I recieved this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers.

I was crazy excited for this story. Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my favorite historical figures, so naturally when I saw this time travel set in the 12th century, I zoomed in on my favorite lady and HAD to have it. That being said, Into the Dim is an enjoyable read. Full of phobias, secrets, intrigue, danger, Tesla science, and romance, Into the Dim will keep you captivated and wanting. 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re into historical fiction but the light kind. Diet edition. 
  • You’re intrigued by the science behind time travel.
  • You love accents.
  • Mysteries are your playground.

PROS:

  • Despite the first section of the book, I couldn’t forget the story. I wanted to know what happened, if Hope would rescue her mother, the budding relationship with Bran, the reason behind Celia’s vengeance, etc. There were questions that needed answers that propelled me forward. 
  • Diversity. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Phoebe and Doug. Their characters NEED to be explored. Phoebe is outspoken, crazy, wonderful, and Doug is a genius, a little nerdy, and all around adorable. Their romance, man, I lived for those scenes. Swoon. Collum. Why, oh why, wasn’t there more of him? I had my fingers crossed that the tiny spark brewing between him and Hope would manifest because, well, he’s strong, determined, passionate, and oh so serious. Heavy sigh. 
  • Hope is interesting. She’s bursting with knowledge, at little bit of a know it all because of her perfect memory, but still insecure and sheltered. Hope doesn’t know how useful and strong she can be because she gives into her phobias. She definitely grows on you. As she adjusts to her new life, she gains courage and opens up. She becomes stronger because of her troubles. Sometimes, there’s a wisp of lighthearted comedy between her and Bran that is engaging and endearing, though not often enough. 
  • The concept itself is wonderful. Rival time traveling families, Tesla science, artifacts, learning the times to collect bits of history. The tragedies. Oh, the earth-shattering, heart-breaking tragedies. 
  • The danger is heart-stopping intense. Sword fighting, anxiety, foreboding, it’s all there, keeping you on edge. 

CONS:

  • The balance is off. There wasn’t enough establishment of life in the 12th century to get a full picture. It was more about the actions of others. While there are threads of what it was like during the time, poor treatment of Jews, rise of the church, crime, etc., the magnificence that was Eleanor of Aquitaine was muted. 
  • Explanation of ley lines, Tesla science, and lodestones was weak. If I didn’t already know about ley lines and lodestones from other time travel novels, I would have been pretty confused. 
  • “Twists” were predictable. There are so many clues pointing to them that they feel obvious and it’s frustrating how long it takes the main characters to figure it out. 
  • Secondary characters were intriguing, unique, and I wanted so much more from them but their time was taken up by Hope’s obsession with Bran and her internal struggles with the “curse” of her eidetic memory and claustrophobia. 

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Stacey Rourke

Meet Stacey Rourke! She is an award winning, best-selling author, yet her quirky writing style and personality has her better known for her irrational fear of garden gnomes and her insistence that pretty shoes actually call out to her as she shops. That said, if you like books with a heap of action, a swirl of suspense, a dash of romance, and a slathering of snappy one-liners, Stacey’s books might be the right recipe for you! Without further ado, let’s explore the works of this twistedly, fun ginger!
 
In the literary world, Stacey is probably best known for her Legends Saga. This suspenseful literary adventure dares to ask the question; what if the best fiction had dark roots of truth? It kicks off with Crane, a modern day spin on the Legends of Sleepy Hollow. Things delve into the macabre in Raven, book 2, where the works of Edgar Allen Poe are weaved together into an intricate tapestry. The third book, Steam, combines the writings of HG Wells and Nathaniel Hawthorne into a backstory filled with witchcraft and time travel.
Spiral into madness with this series today!
Crane: Amazon/Audio/B&N
Raven: Amazon/B&N
Steam: Amazon
 
In between writing the Legends Saga, Stacey admits to needing a “mental health” break from the dark and maniacal.  Her pallet cleanser came in the form of the light-hearted romantic comedy, Adapted for Film.
Set in Hollywood, we travel along with International Best-Selling Author, Aubrey Evans, as her blockbuster book is made into a major motion picture. But when she and the director begin butting heads over how to bring the book to life the studio takes drastic measures to save the flailing film. Will Aubrey find her happy ending in the City of Angels? Or will the credits roll on all she has worked for?
Stacey entered the literary world with this YA fantasy series filled with shapeshifters, dragons, pirates, demons, and the horrifying image of grandma in a leopard print bikini! Yikes. The lives of three siblings are turned upside down when they suddenly find themselves linked to the mystical creature known as the Gryphon; oldest brother, Gabe, takes the form of a lion, the youngest of the trio, Kendall, grows the wings of an eagle, and middle child, Celeste, becomes his Conduit—the Celtic warrior fated to save us all.
Together, they must battle the forces of darkness, all while getting on each other’s last nerve.
 
Conduit #FREE: Amazon/B&N
Embrace: Amazon
Sacrifice: Amazon
Ascension: Amazon
giveaway
Now that you’ve learned about Stacey, Check out this amazing giveaway prize pack that she has put together! Fill out the Rafflecopter for your chance to win!! GIANT PRIZE PACK! One insulated tote, signed copies of The Conduit, Adapted for Film, and Crane, an acrylic “Can’t Do Chores, I’m Reading” tumbler, “Books I like, You Not So Much” notebook, “Just One More Chapter” pen light, Steam keychain, Stacey Rourke pen, and assorted book swag! All for ONE lucky winner!
CHECK OUT MY STACEY ROURKE REVIEWS:
Happy reading, 
Jordan

Cover Reveal: The Art of Persuasion-Heather C. Myers

Genre: NA Romantic Comedy/Time Travel
Expected Release Date: January 26th, 2016
syn Isla Barnes hates love, marriage, and commitment.  As a Millennial in her twenties, she’s focused on starting her medical communications carrier, moving out of her parents’ place and into a ridiculously expensive studio apartment in a semi-safe neighborhood.  After a bachelorette party with her closest friends, she wakes up in nothing but her party dress to an unfamiliar bedroom next to a man claiming to be a pirate from the Eighteenth Century.  While she attempts to figure out where she is and why she’s here with him, her new companion, Captain Matt Scott of the Crimson Wave, is on a mission to rescue his sister from the hangman’s noose.  Isla decides to tag along because he offers her free passage and she finds she feels safe with him – which is odd, considering the only man she trusts is her father.  This new adventure is completely unexpected, mind-blowing, and seemingly impossible, but Isla will learn that survival is easier with friends, magic is real, and love is beautiful.
authHeather  C. Myers Full disclosure: I am an acquired taste. I’m a typical blonde Orange County suburbanite who says ‘like’ more than necessary, laughs loud and probably obnoxiously, and loves to dance in the rain. I’m a 26 year old college graduate with more than a few tricks up my sleeve, and I also happen to be a pretty big Ducks fan. Oh, and I’m a writer. Like, for real.  

I recently signed with Anchor Group Publishing, which will see two of my series being published this year. I’ve self-published over 15 books, with more on the way, so I’m familiar with both a hybrid-traditional publishing method as well as self-publishing.

I don’t speak in third person (normally) nor do I wear glasses (except when I’m feeling particularly mischievous). I’m lucky to have found my soul mate at the ripe old age of 22, even though he frustrates me on purpose to get a reaction out of me. We live near Disneyland, have two rambunctious female puppies, and have a beautiful baby girl. He has two amazing boys, and has gotten me hooked on Smallville, watching soccer (okay, okay FOOTBALL – FC Barcelona, baby!), and Cancun Juice.

Sign up by January 24 Sign up HERE for FREE weekly chapters starting Tuesday January 26th!!
Read on,
Jordan

Release Day Blitz, Review & Giveaways: Thief of Lies-Brenda Drake

Thief of Lies_BannerFinal_RGBThief of Lies by Brenda DrakeGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1) by Brenda Drake
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

synGia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

ExcerptWe stepped into the Children’s Library and stopped in the center of the room. A massive light fixture designed to resemble the solar system dominated the ceiling. The hushed rumble of two male voices came from one of the reading nooks. I crossed the room, paused at the built-in aquarium, and inspected the fish. Afton halted beside me.

“This is great,” I whispered, not wanting to disturb whoever was in there with us. “Fish and books. What’s not to love?” Spotting a sign referencing classic books, I searched the shelves for my all-time favorite novel.

The male voices stopped and there was movement on the other side of the bookcase. I paused to listen, and when the voices started up again, I continued my hunt.

Warmth rushed over me when I found The Secret Garden. With its aged green cover, it was the same edition I remembered reading as a young girl. The illustrations inside were beautiful, and I just had to show them to Afton. Coming around the corner of the case, a little too fast for being in a library, I bumped into a guy dressed in leather biker gear. My book and notebook fell and slapped against the floor.

“Oh, I’m so sorry—” I lost all train of thought at the sight of him. He was gorgeous with tousled brown hair and dark eyes. Tall. He flashed me a crooked smile, a hint of dimples forming in his cheeks, before bending over and picking up my forgotten book.

He held the book out to me. “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” He’d quoted a verse from The Secret Garden with a sexy accent that tickled my ears.

I stood there like an idiot, my heart pounding hard against my chest, unable to think of a response. The fact that he had read the book and could recite a line from it stunned me. And impressed me.

Say something. Anything.

“Good read there,” he said when it was obvious I wasn’t going to speak. He winked and nodded to a guy behind him before ambling off. When he reached the end of the row, he paused and glanced back at me, flashing me another killer smile, and then he disappeared around the bookcase.

Tingles rose in my stomach. He looked back at me. The guy following his Royal Hotness gave me a final appraisal before departing. His stringy blond hair hung over his large forehead. It looked like he hadn’t washed it in weeks, and there was probably an acne breeding ground under it. He grinned, and I broke eye contact with him, making for the nearest window.

Oh God, you’re so lame, Gia. You could have finished the quote or anything less tragic than not speaking at all. The response I would have said played in my head. With silver bells, and cockleshells, and marigolds all in a row. Why? Why hadn’t I said that?

review4/5 Stars

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

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re a fan of The Pagemaster or The Neverending Story
  • You’ve secretly dreamed of exploring all the world’s libraries and/or living in them
  • You’re looking for a blend of magic, romance, and prophecy with a twist
  • You like books 😉

Thief of Lies is a fast-paced and engrossing adventure that will suck you right in just like Gia and her friends in the story. Full of magical creatures, diverse characters, a sassy heroine, a complex plot, AND romance, Thief of Lies will hold you captive til the very end.

PROS:

  • Gia is a saucy, feisty little thing. I ADORE her. She’s courageous, take charge, and puts herself out there in the line of fire for her friends. She’s not shy about admitting she’s scared and that makes her all the more strong. She’s confused when it comes to her heart and it’s so easy to identify with her struggles to figure out what she wants. A true spitfire with mad fighting skills.
  • Gia and Arik. Be still my teeny tiny heart. They’re romance is sweet and playful without being in your face. The moments they spend together when they’re not trying to stay away from each other are small but intimate, you feel how much they like each other with touches and smiles, kind words, and timid looks. Arik is a tempting little flirt. Be ready to swoon.
  • The story concept is brilliant and there’s a solid follow through. So many times a story will start amazing and fizzle out by the end, I’m crazy happy to say that this book just keeps on giving.
  • Secondary characters are memorable and each have their quirks. There’s a ton of diversity.
    The combination of action, mystery, intrigue, and romance will have you flipping the pages excitedly, you won’t be able to put it down.
  • Twists. Twists on twists. There’s so many layers of plotting and secrets that each new reveal is like a perfectly wrapped present.
  • Fight scenes are EPIC. Swords, blood, magical orbs and vicious creatures all come together to make explosive scenes that will have you on the edge. You never know what’s going to happen. Several times, I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. ANXIETY & ANTICIPATION. 

CONS:

  • The villains were predictable and a bit cliché. You’ll see it coming.
  • Some of the plot lines were distracting and didn’t add to the story.

authBrenda 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).

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake

giveawayEnter for your chance to win a prize of Touching Fate (ebook) and $25 gift card to Amazon/Barnes & Noble or for one of two copies of Touching Fate (ebook)

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Follow Entangled Teen’s THIEF OF LIES Blog Tour for more chances to win the prizes below!

Enter to win the tour wide Grand Prize: Kindle Fire 7” Display Wifi 8GB + Coffee Table Book that inspired the Library Jumpers series, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LIBRARIES IN THE WORLD + Swag Pack (US/Canada) or a $50 Amazon gift card (INT)

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Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Mayan Blood-Theresa Delayne

Their empires have fallen, but their mythology lives on…
Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. Diagnosed with anxiety and night terrors, no one believes her cuts and bruises are a result of an evil entity, and not a brutal case of self-harm.
 
With the only home she’s ever known being the isolated institution—where breakfast is a handful of medications, the psychiatry sessions are mandatory, and her every move is watched—the only relief is her red-haired roommate named Tara, who’s more like a little sister than her best friend.
 
Free will is strong, but destiny is stronger.

When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Mayan descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision: bond with an enchanted stone and save humanity from rising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.

A wicked secret hides behind a handsome face…
 
 
When Arwan, a dark-eyed timebender, takes interest in Zanya’s mission, it’s unclear if his intention is to help, or if he’s on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for another guy with major secrets and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.
Excerpt 

Chapter OneZanya

“Let’s get the formalities over with before we begin.” Dean Nelson shifted through paperwork scattered across the table. “Patient identification number A692. Age, seventeen. Mother, unknown. Father, unknown. No living relatives.” He rubbed his bearded chin. “Hmm, that’s unfortunate. Name, Zzz…” He flipped back through the case file.

Zanya watched everything from her special spot—center stage in the nearly vacant evaluation room, in a single wooden chair—as he butchered her name, yet again. She should have been used to it, considering every dean who had come and gone did exactly the same thing. “Zan-yuh,” she said, “with a short a.”

“Ah.” He nodded. “Right. Well, now that we’ve been introduced, let’s continue. Nice to meet you, Zanya. I’m Dean Nelson.” He smiled, though the deepening creases in his forehead made it seem painful. “How are you feeling today?”

She glanced at him between layers of chestnut brown hair draped along her high-set cheekbones. Squinting, she and blinked under the burning lights, then turned her gaze to the floor. “I’m okay.”

“Just okay?”

She shrugged. Why the hell was he acting like he cared, anyway? He was just one in a long line of interim administrators. The stress of working with a school full of insane teenagers every day ran most of them off pretty quick. This one had that eager zeal—all too happy to pick her brain—and he probably wouldn’t last long either.

Dean Nelson set down the papers. “I know I’m new here, but in order to conduct your evaluation, you need to answer my questions.”

The two board members flanking him shifted in their seats. Zanya’s breath sped up. Damn it. If she didn’t want to be sedated again, she’d have to keep the panic attack at bay.

She shut her eyes and played a classical melody in her mind. Ludwig van Beethoven’s violin concert in D major, Op. 61—Larghetto. That piece always slowed her heart rate. She imagined the sounds pouring out of her violin as she caressed imaginary strings.

Dean Nelson cleared his throat, jarring her out of the moment. Annoyance tugged at her, but at least she could breathe again.

She lifted her chin. “I said I’m fine.”

“How are you managing the panic attacks? Have you had any recently?”

“Yeah. I had one last night…and the night before.”

“They’re becoming more frequent?”

If he had bothered to actually read her case file instead of just skimming through it, he’d already know the answer. “Not really. Pretty much the same.”

“And how are you sleeping?”

“Like usual.”

“It says in your case file you suffer from night terrors. Are you still experiencing them?”

Zanya shrugged.

Dean Nelson frowned. “Okay. Let’s talk a little about The Man. Is he still hurting you?”

The mention of him made the hairs on Zanya’s arms twitch. She pulled her sleeve over the blue and yellow bruise that encompassed her wrist. This team of board-certified, renowned medical professionals didn’t know the first thing about what could be found in her dreams.

They claimed she suffered from severe anxiety and night terrors. They had no idea. The knots in her stomach tightened. She balled her fists, but stayed quiet.

After all, what could she say? If she told them the man in her dreams hurt her almost every night, they would continue to believe she was delusional. If she lied and told them she hurt herself, it would only confirm their misdiagnosis. She’d just tell the truth and prove both theories correct.

“He’s always in my dreams.” Bits and pieces of her nightmares reeled in her head. “He’s always waiting for me.”

“But you do understand that a dream cannot hurt you? Dreams are simply images, feelings, and sensations that collect and pool involuntarily in your mind during sleep. They can seem very real, but once you wake up, they’re gone. A simple figment of your imagination.”

Zanya fidgeted nervously with the sleeve of her uniform, twisting a seam that had come undone.

“And dreams certainly don’t leave bruises or any of the other alarming wounds Nurse Faber has found on you over the years.” He flashed photos taken during Zanya’s countless visits to the hospital.

“I guess.” She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, forgetting about the fresh gash on the back of her hand—evidence of last night’s brawl with a demon of some sort.

Nurse Faber leaned forward in her seat and peered at the swollen wound. “Where did you get that cut? I haven’t seen that, and it needs to be treated—maybe with stitches.”

Dean Nelson scribbled a note on her evaluation paper. “Perhaps we should continue this patient’s assessment once we get an updated report of her physical condition.”

The nurse stood and waved Zanya to her feet. “Come on, honey. Let’s get that taken care of.”

* * *

The stone sat high on the altar’s peak, as it always did, glowing like a beacon in the darkness. Its whispers echoed in Zanya’s mind, guiding her blind footsteps. It drew her in with some invisible tether—a connection she couldn’t explain.

She never understood why she searched for it.

Longed for it.

Needed it.

With each careful step, her bare feet padded up the cool, smooth steps. Then another source of light flickered on, casting a soft glow around her.

The light churned out from her chest, pulsing with hues of blue and white—colors of recognition. The stone and the illumination in her chest seemed to be connected; only flickering to life when they were close.

At the temple’s base, she steadily ascended the narrow steps until she reached the peak. Zanya cupped the stone in both hands and lifted it from its perch. Orbs of light twinkled over its smooth surface.

Searing pain tore through her belly. She gasped and jolted forward, then wrapped shaky fingers around a blade protruding from her gut. Scarlet liquid slowly seeped through her shirt. The stone dropped from her hand and thudded to the altar, rolling down one step at a time until it reached the bottom. The blade was yanked out of her, though she couldn’t see by whom. No matter. It was always the same person who watched her die.

Zanya stumbled down the steps while gripping her belly. When she reached the bottom of the temple, she fell to her knees and curled into a fetal position, the pain more than she could bear. The edges of her vision became fuzzy. Darkness closed in while she stared helplessly at the stone lying just feet away.

Warmth cradled her body. Death was warm. She’d always heard passing would be peaceful, like slipping into a pool of serenity. With her cheek rested against the cold ground, hot liquid saturated the dry, cracked dirt.

A slithering creature slinked toward her, its eyes as black as onyx. Thousands of legs stuck into the hard soil, pushing its armored body forward.

It was not a creature Zanya would soon forget, as the last time she encountered it, it had killed her—again.

The Man had to be lingering somewhere nearby. His bitter scent whirled through the air. His footsteps grew louder as he approached.

Not again. She lay like a suffocating fish, gulping in her final breaths.

Zanya jerked awake and shot up in bed, gasping for air. She clawed at her chest where a thin mark etched her skin. It burned, as if someone had pressed a cattle brand to the delicate curve between her breasts. She moaned, willing away the pain. It never took longer than a half hour, but it hurt, and this time, it nearly made her cry.

Zanya glanced at a clock mounted on the far wall. It read three thirty. She wouldn’t be able to sleep for the rest of the night. She lay back down in bed and rolled onto her side, searching for a hint that Tara was awake. Only a few feet separated their beds. Tara was the only person in the world who understood her.

Tara shifted under the covers, and Zanya caught a glimpse of her face—her angelic, freckled cheeks, rosy and flawless, under dark auburn lashes. Tara yanked the thin blanket over her shoulders and under her chin.

Zanya whispered, “Are you awake?” After a moment of silence, she sighed and exercised her only option—to stare at the ceiling and wait for the morning community alarm.

At six o’clock sharp, the bell sounded. Tara blinked open her eyes. With a sleepy stare, her lips tightened and she let out a deep sigh. “Another nightmare?”

“What else is new? That’s the third one this week.” Zanya rolled on her side to face her. “At least it wasn’t accompanied by a midnight panic attack this time.” Zanya touched the now faded mark on her chest. “They’re getting worse.”

“Any real-life damage?”

Zanya shook her head. “Not this time.”

The day unwound as usual. Secular studies followed by a mid-day group therapy session, journal entry writing, and their afternoon dose of medications.

Zanya found her last class of the day and ascended to the fourth row in the music room. Miss Lippard must have been sick. A sub had written his name on the stand-alone chalkboard in the front of the class: Dr. Fitzgerald.

Zanya slouched in her chair, pinching her violin case between her feet.

Great, another doctor. He’d be watching the students during class, assessing, and trying to pick out which students needed more psych work. “Patient B843 has the beginning symptoms of early onset Diogenes Syndrome, and patient A119 seems to be suffering from clinical depression, brought on by early childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect.” Blah, blah, blah. Ugh, she hated doctors.

Tara skipped in, holding her clarinet; an instrument she wasn’t particularly good at. All students were required to take up an instrument. Apparently, music helped to express emotion and heal physiological damage.

Tara sat beside her. “Hey.” She tucked a curl behind her ear. “New teacher?”

“Just a sub. Miss Lippard is out sick. I needed to ask her a question about our sheet music.” Zanya leaned forward and propped her elbows on her knees. “I guess I’ll have to wait.”

“Yeah. The sub probably doesn’t know a thing about music, anyway.”

“Well, just try not to be,” she waved her hand in the air, “yourself. I don’t want him picking your brain.”

Tara grinned. “Afraid he’ll discover what a genius I am?”

“More like what a—”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence.” Tara puckered her lips, then smiled.

When the bell rang, Dr. Fitzgerald made his way to the center of the room. A tailed sports coat hugged his tall, lean frame. His skin—like toasted caramel—complemented his dark brown eyes. He was handsome for a middle-aged man, and she tried to imagine what he might have looked like twenty years ago.

He locked his hands behind his back and cleared his throat. Zanya sat up straight as the room fell silent.

“Good morning.” He had a charming Spanish accent. “As I’m sure you have already noticed, your teacher is out for the day. Everyone please get your books and arrange into groups.” He pointed to several areas of the large music room as he spoke. “Strings in the upper right corner, percussion in the lower left, and winds in the center. I understand from Miss Lippard’s instructions the advanced strings students are working on a piece, Canon Pachelbel in D Major. Those students, please break off to the lower right corner. Everyone else, practice your sheet music.”

Violin in hand, Zanya descended the stairs, the soles of her shoes catching on the Berber carpet along the way. Canon. She rolled her eyes. If the other advanced students practiced more often, they’d be on to something more challenging by now.

She reached the right corner of the room and took her place at first chair. With the rest of her group ready, she tucked the chinrest in place.

Her fingers relaxed, and she held the bow with balance rather than tension. Her pinkie pinched against the frog, loosely cradling it in her hand, her index finger draped over the top.

Just holding the sleek wooden tool made her breath rhythmic. It was a rare feeling—peace. But with her violin cradled against her and the familiar strings calling out, all her fears melted away.

She drew in a cleansing breath and began to play. The notes pulsed through her body, feeding life to parts of her soul that lay dormant, hiding from the realities of life.

She became lost in the melody while each note stirred her heart and awoke her senses. The darkness, the pain, it all stepped back, overpowered by the light and energy of the notes. Music was always there to fill the space in her heart that she had locked away.

With one final pass over the strings, the vibrato left her with a feeling of drunken satisfaction. Her muscles relaxed as she exhaled and opened her eyes, then lowered her bow to her lap.

Dr. Fitzgerald watched her intently. His gaze did not waver as she sat motionless, returning his stare. He peered into her. Through her.

The bell rang, and she slinked out of the room, avoiding eye contact with the sub.

* * *

Weekends weren’t much fun at the institution. To kill time, Zanya sometimes listened to Tara’s stories about what normal kids did on Friday nights. Parties, bonfires, sleepovers. Teenage girls painting each other’s toenails, their polished feet later dressed in fuzzy slippers, and blushed cheeks that accompanied stories about a boy and a kiss.

None of that happened here. And although religion was only taught for educational purposes in their institution, Zanya often felt like she was stuck in purgatory. Long, terrifying nights. Tedious, drawn-out days that always ended in the same way with lights-out in her assigned bed.

Someday it would be different. Someday, things would change.

“Lights out in fifteen minutes,” the dorm mother announced, shuffling through the sleeping quarters. Her shoes squeaked against the tile with every step. “Let’s go, ladies.” She clapped to gain everyone’s attention. “Get changed and into bed.”

Zanya snatched her pajamas and slipped into the bathroom. When she came out, all but the backlights were switched off. The soft glow cast over the room painted tall shadows of headboards on the walls.

After settling in bed, she braced herself on the edge and leaned over to inspect the dark space beneath her mattress.

“There’s nothing under there,” Tara whispered.

Zanya glanced up. “I know.”

“No, you don’t, or you wouldn’t be checking.”

Zanya’s attention returned to the dark space. If Tara only knew what could be hiding in the darkness, though it was best she didn’t. Zanya was glad her friend wasn’t taunted by the same horrifying images she was every night. It gave her someone to talk to—someone who wasn’t equally paranoid, and who made her feel normal.

A shudder crawled up her arms and down her spine. “There’s no harm in checking.”

“There’s plenty of harm, Zanya.” Tara played with the corner of her pillow. “The board will never place you with a foster family if you don’t show them you’re getting better.”

“Who said I want a foster family? Besides, I have you. You’re all the family I need.” Zanya slipped under the over-starched sheets.

The lights shut off and the room fell silent. Zanya closed her eyes, wishing, praying, that just for one night she would sleep peacefully.

The fire alarm sounded. Bright red-and-white emergency lights cast color over the room. The screaming sirens sent every student shooting out of bed. Staff members flooded the sleeping quarters. They rounded up the children and shouted instructions to form a line and exit the building.

Zanya jumped up and followed Tara to the back door and down a ramp, which lead them outside into the bitterly cold night. She hugged herself as breath flowed from her lips in clouds of white.

Emergency vehicles sped down the gravel driveway. They skidded to a halt, and a team of firemen loaded with gear poured out of the trucks.

While Zanya watched the men in uniform, a strange sensation tugged at the back of her mind. Her eyes narrowed. Shivers quaked her muscles. She blinked and huddled against Tara as a stretcher was unfolded from an ambulance.

“Oh, crap!” Tara’s eyes grew wide. “Do you think someone got hurt? I hope it’s not another suicide attempt. I swear to God…”

As Tara rambled on, Zanya couldn’t shake the feeling someone was watching her. She glanced over her shoulder at the tree line of the forest—aspen and beech trees sprinkled between a thick blanket of fallen leaves. But there was nothing. No one.

She turned back around, the freezing temperatures biting at her toes. She hadn’t thought to put on her slippers, and the soles of her feet were paying a heavy price. She balanced on one foot, then the other.

“I mean, if every kid here who hated their lives tried to kill themselves, we’d have nobody left,” Tara continued to rant. “Just two more years and I’m so outta here.”

A whisper, from what seemed like far away, caressed Zanya’s ears. She glanced over her shoulder at the tops of frail trees swaying under the moonlight. Leaves danced across the soggy ground, blown by gusts of chilled wind. She rubbed her arms.

Maybe it was just the breeze. Through the branches, it could sound like a whisper. Just as she prepared to chalk it up to fatigue and chaos, she spotted a tiny shadow lurking between the trees.

Zanya gripped her arms tighter. She blinked once, twice… Her eyes watered from the cold. When she blinked again, the shadow was gone. She spun back around, determined to ignore any more noises.

The image of the tiny shadow pulsed in her mind. Another whisper. Zanya’s heart raced. The urge to look again grew stronger, and when she finally collected the nerve, she turned around one last time.

The figure stood motionless just beyond the first row of trees.

Not just a figure—a girl in a thin, white nightgown with her hands hanging at her sides.

Zanya tugged on Tara’s sleeve. “Turn around.”

Tara’s attention was solely focused on the broad-chested firemen. Zanya tugged harder. “Turn around and look at this.”

Tara finally obeyed and followed Zanya’s attention toward the trees. She gasped. “What the hell is she doing out there?”

Zanya shook her head. Without saying another word, Tara stalked toward the woods.

“Wha… Where are you going?” Zanya’s voice cracked, her gaze flickering between Tara and the child.

“To get her.” When Zanya didn’t reply, Tara stopped and spun to face her. “Well? Are you coming?”

“Am I coming?” The eerie night suddenly consumed her. “I can’t. You know I hate the dark. And there could be…” She frantically searched her mind for some epic excuse to keep Tara from trekking forward. “Wolves.”

Wolves? That was the best she could come up with?

Tara snorted. “It’s fine, Zanya. I’ll go alone. It’ll only take a sec.”

Zanya shifted her weight as Tara walked toward the shadowed figure standing unnervingly motionless in the woods.

“I…I…” Zanya forced her feet to uproot from the ground and rushed to catch up. “I’ll come with you.”

Tara grinned. “You have to admit, being eaten by a hungry pack of wolves is still better than being stuck in this loony bin by yourself.”

Zanya’s eyes widened. She’d made the wolf thing up, but what if…

Tara rested her hand on her hip and cocked her head. “Oh, come on. I’m just kidding.”

“Definitely not funny.”

“Sorry.” She grabbed Zanya’s hand. “Now come on. The longer we wait, the more likely it is she’ll catch frostbite. Poor thing is out here in nothing but that dress.”

Zanya walked over the damp leaves, pushing muddy water through the moss, between the cracks of her toes.

Now just yards away, Tara reached out to the young girl. “Hey. Come here. We’ll take you back.”

A gust of wind blew, carrying the child’s blonde waves off her shoulders. Her bright green eyes seemed to glow in the silky moonlight.

Tara dropped her arms and sighed. “I guess she likes freezing her ass off in the middle of the night.” When Tara stepped closer, the child darted into the woods. Tara scoffed. “I never want to have kids.”

Zanya blinked at the maze of shuddering trees. “Let’s get out of here.” She stepped back. “Now.”

“We have to get that girl. If she stays out here overnight, she’ll freeze to death.”

Zanya couldn’t feel the cold anymore. Whether that was good or bad, she wasn’t sure.

The little girl carved a deeper path into the forest.

Tara shook her head. “Something’s not right. It’s like she’s running away from us.”

“Maybe she’s one of the more critical psych patients.”

“I don’t know, maybe.” Tara cupped her fingers over her nose and mouth to keep them warm while she searched their surroundings. “You’re right. We shouldn’t have come out here alone. Let’s go back.”

A tiny girl, no older than eight or nine years old, stepped into sight. Her nightgown was damp and smeared with mud.

Tara’s eyebrows crooked downward. “There you are. Now we can get out of here.” Tara held out her hand to the child, who only stared at her reaching fingers.

The child stepped to the side and slid her small hand into Zanya’s. The little girl’s bare feet was covered in pine needles.

“Come on,” Zanya said. “I’ll carry you back. You must be freezing out here with no shoes.” She would know, being in the exact same situation. She lifted the small-framed child to her hip, and the girl wound her legs around Zanya’s body. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

She didn’t reply.

“She’s probably too freaked out to talk,” Tara said. “Let’s just get back.”

Zanya did her best to shield the child from the wind as she followed Tara back toward the orphanage. She hummed the tune to Romance softly in the little girl’s ear. The melody had always calmed her. Maybe it would do the same for the kid.

The girl’s cheek pressed against hers. “Thank you for rescuing me,” she whispered in a tiny, angelic voice.

Her humming must have worked. “You’re welcome, sweetie.”

The girl’s blonde hair bobbed up and down with a subtle nod. “Everything will be fine, Zanya. Do not be afraid.”

Zanya smiled softly. “I’m not scared. Are you?”

“No.” The little girl hugged her tighter. The stars twinkled above them blurred into streaks. Her head spun and her knees buckled. She collapsed onto the damp forest floor.

Trapped in a thick mental fog, she fought to break through. Her eyes fluttered open and closed. Snapshots of what was happening around her filtered through the cerebral haze.

The girl stood over her, staring down with a sweet face and bright eyes. A tiny smile curled the corners of her delicate lips.

Another voice. It was stronger. Deeper. Who… God, she was so tired. She would give anything to be able to just relax her mind and drift off.

A mixture of voices and a shout from Tara sprouted a renewed resolve, and Zanya pushed against the desire to sleep with all her might. When she managed to force open her eyes, a dark-haired man leaned over her. Tara crept toward him with a small log clenched in her hand.

Heavy lids drew over her eyes.

A loud thud followed by scrambling movements forced Zanya’s eyes open one last time.

The man struggled to hold a flailing Tara under his arm like a bag of potatoes while rubbing the back of his head. Was he talking to himself? The child seemed to be paying attention, but didn’t reply. Still, while Tara kicked and punched, he continued to hold what seemed like a one-sided conversation.

A second later he dropped Tara to the ground with a shout, and lifted his shirt to find a crescent bite wound over his ribs.

The young girl loomed over Tara; then, silence.

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A long-time enthusiast of things that go bump in the night, Theresa began her writing career as a journalism intern—possibly the least creative writing field out there. After her first semester at a local newspaper, she washed her hands of press releases and feature articles to delve into the whimsical world of fiction.
Since then, Theresa has been married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and has been repeatedly guilt-tripped into adopting a menagerie of animals that are now members of the family. But don’t be fooled by her domesticated appearance. Her greatest love is travel. Having traveled to over a dozen countries—not to mention an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. Wherever life brings her, Theresa will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers.
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