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

Excerpt Blitz: Stay by A.L. Jackson

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Release Date: Jan 23, 2017

synFrom NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson comes the next sexy, gripping Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel…

I’m Ash Evans.
The life of the party.
Hot. Rich. Charismatic.
A tattooed rock star with the world at my feet.
I burn through women faster than the strike of a match.

I’ve embraced my lifestyle and live it to the fullest.
Until the day my lifestyle caught up to me.

Willow Langston found me at my lowest.
Literally.
Facedown in a puddle of my own blood.

I owe her my life and I have three months to repay that debt.
What I never should have done was touch her. Kiss her. Take her to my bed.

Love wasn’t supposed to be a part of the equation.
I gave up that nasty complication a long damned time ago.
Now I want her more than my next breath.
But she doesn’t know what I know.

Do I leave to protect her? Or can I face my demons and ask her to Stay?

Excerpt

She stared back at me with big chocolate eyes.

Molten.

Her gaze washed over me like lava.

Burning up everything in its path.

“You are so beautiful,” she said, voice hoarse.

“Peaches,” I whispered as a warning. Wasn’t sure I trusted myself with her right then.

“You are. Did you know…did you know the first time I saw you…when you were lying covered in blood and you opened your eyes and looked at me, that I saw it? Something so beautiful and raw and powerful. Even when you’d been broken. The way you looked at me shook me straight to my bones. And then tonight…what you did for me…I don’t…”

I roughed a hand through my thrashing hair, a perfect mirror to my thrashing heart. “Peaches.”

Another warning.

I didn’t deserve the way she was looking at me. Like I was good and right when I was no better than the bastard we’d left lying back there on the floor.

So slowly, she reached out, shaking fingers gentle as she traced them along the scar that marked that night beneath my eye.

A tremble took me whole.

Energy pulsed and shivered and shook.

Shit.

I gripped her by the wrist and pressed the underside to my nose. “You’re killing me, darlin’.”

“And you’re saving me.”

A hard frown hit me. “It was you who did all the saving.”

Sitting back a fraction, she shook her head. “If it weren’t for you, I’d be home tonight, hiding in the dark.” Her tongue darted out to sweep across her lips. “I never would have been brave enough to go there or to stand up to him. To say those things.”

“But that’s where I think you’re wrong, darlin’.” This time it was my turn to reach out and touch her. I cupped the side of her face, glancing between her and the road. “I think you’re so much braver than you’ve been giving yourself credit for. I see it there. Feel it every time I look at you. You’re incredible, Willow. Every time you walk through my door, I know it. So good that I know I shouldn’t be doing whatever the fuck it is I think I’m doin’ with you.”

She was still panting those breathy pants, and she leaned into my touch.

“I…” she attempted before she looked down, averted her gaze. Even with her head downturned, there was no missing the blush creeping to her cheeks. She hesitated before she spoke. “When you kiss me…it doesn’t feel like pretending. It feels like the best thing I’ve ever felt.”

I swallowed hard, crossing a line. Pushing into the boundaries that should have been firmly set in place. “That’s because when I kiss you? It’s not pretend. When I tell you you’re gorgeous—the best thing I’ve ever seen? I mean it. And when I look at you…”

I touched the center of my chest, feeling ripped open wide. Exposed. Maybe telling her the truth when it wouldn’t do either of us any good was wrong. But there was no hiding when this girl was looking at me that way. “I feel it right here. We might be pretending, but you can’t fake this.”

Like she didn’t trust herself, she pressed farther against the door. “You make me want things…things I know I shouldn’t want.”

“And what is it you want, Peaches?” I prodded low, knowing full well I was pointing us in the direction of no return. “Told you when I came into your store that I’d give you anything.”

“I want…” She tucked her bottom lip between her teeth, nervous or unsure whether to give me the truth.

Blood pounded mercilessly through my veins. Thickened with lust. All of it clouded my judgment, knocking loose my center of gravity.

Because I knew the look on her face. Desire was written across her like a musical score.

The way her body rocked and trembled and silently pled.

Desperate to be played.

I knew I should close my mouth. Shut this down. Drop her at home. Instead, I let the words slide free. “Tell me, Peaches.”

The needy rasp fell from between her lips. “I want you to touch me.”

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Romantic reading, 

Jordan

2017 YA Reading Challenge

For those of you who saw that sorry post I put up earlier with bullet points while I struggled with this graphic program, I apologize, that was just sad. Anyways I know this is a little late, but odds are if you’ve already read a book this year, it probably fits somewhere on this list. 

Same deal as last year: 52 weeks, 52 books. Easy peasy. 

This year I really tried to be inclusive and get all sorts of contemporary issues and diversity in here. I want you to branch out as readers, to learn new cultures, to keep up on real issues-even if they’re fictionalized. Reading is a wonderful educational process. So here it is, I hope you enjoy. Explore, reach, tackle some new themes and genres. 

Tell me what you’re reading, what you’re excited about, recommend books. Help others complete this list and mostly, have fun. 

Side note: This can fit in all age ranges. It’s not ONLY for YA. Apply it as you will. 

2017

As always, happy reading!

Jordan

 

Release Day Blitz: Austin & the Magical Jawbreaker by Austin Hildenbrand with Heather Hildenbrand

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Austin’s normal 5th grade life is changed forever when he eats a magical jawbreaker that gives him superpowers. Now, it’s up to him to defeat the city’s evil candy-stealing villains starting with Tootsie and her chocolate minions.

Will Austin’s sweet-toothed superpowers be enough? Read on and find out!

This sounds super fun!

Jordan

 

 

Promo #Free & Giveaway: A Stone In the Sea by A.L. Jackson

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“A passionate ride of secrets, surprises, and steaming hot sex.”

~Penelope Ward, NYT Bestselling Author

“Sheer brilliance from start to finish.”

~MJ Loves to Read

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From NYT Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson…

Sunder lead singer Sebastian Stone is no stranger to trouble.

It follows him wherever he goes.

From his track record, he should have known Shea Bentley would be a problem. But the soft, innocent Southern girl was all he could see. All he wanted to see. Now they’re both drowning in a sea of desire, sinking hopelessly into a world of lust, and their passion refuses to let them up for air.

No matter how much he wants that to be enough…Shea has an inescapable past. One she would do anything to keep running from.

But some secrets never die.

If her history is dragged from the depths, it could tear his world apart. He has to decide if she’s worth fighting the tide or if they should just sink like a stone in the sea.

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Get updates or preorder HERE!

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A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installments, STAY and STAND, coming in 2017.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson

Text “jackson” to 96000 to receive short but sweet updates

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Dreamy reading, 

Jordan

 

 

Blog Tour, ARC Review, and Excerpt: Demon Dialysis by Jennifer Siddoway

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Inspired by the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, Wynnona Hendricks finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, fighting for her right to live.

The Demon Lord, Aidan, has activated her latent powers carefully hidden behind a mortal facade and now, she must conquer the Seven Deadly Sins or be sent to Hell herself as one of his minions. The only one who seems to believe in her is Caleb, the angel who chose to spare her life rather than risk the shedding of innocent blood, but by doing so, may have started a war between the factions, throwing the Mortal Realm into mayhem.

Follow Wynn as she fights to protect her family from being ripped apart, including her mother, who isn’t what she seems.

ExcerptFocus, I commanded myself sternly. Belphegor laughed at my apparent failure, but then a curious wrinkle came to his eye. His faces twisted into an unnatural and uncomfortable grimace. “What are you—doing…?”

“You’re the one who told me to eat, don’t you want to fill your own belly?” I mocked him callously. “I thought you’d find it satisfying.”

His visible discomfort only encouraged me as I visualized what was happening inside, using everything I had to keep up the summoning charm. Below his fingers, the skin started pulsating and bulging as something stretched and pushed from the inside of his gut. He groaned at the pressure and discomfort of an alien presence adulterating his very being. If he was trying to stop me or attack, I couldn’t tell—my heart and blood were pumping so hard. His moans turned into wails and shrieks as his clutching fingers could not contain the writhing snakes that suddenly exploded from his body, dragging with them the oversized and redundant viscera that remained firmly entangled within their twisted throes.

I hardly had time to savor the wet, sizzling flops of roiling snake and entrails hitting the ground before the demon vanished with a final screech. I stooped, panting and seeing red, as I collapsed on the ground from expending so much energy. He had been right, the auras had made me stronger. I don’t think I could have summoned that on my own. My eyes drifted in and out of focus, but then the indistinct light before me coalesced into Caleb standing there in all his angelic glory. The way he was looking at me didn’t have the usual tenderness though, and I actually shrank from the harsh anger burning in his eyes.

“You mind telling me what in the world that was?” he demanded.

review

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

Here’s What I Liked:

  • Flawed characters who struggle with temptation, morality, and recognize that good and evil reside in all of us. The fight against their inner demons against all-too-real demonic forces is an uphill battle. Wynn makes mistakes, she fights hard, and is not always successful, that makes her relatable and easy to sympathize with. 
  • The premise is tried and true, but has a special twist. It’s taken a step further than your traditional Heaven vs. Hell trope, adding on a whole world of other paranormal creatures and complexities that blend well in both the para and human worlds. 
  • Aidan is a brilliant take on Lucifer. He’s playful, seductive, and yet, surprisingly helpful. It almost seems like he has a heart buried somewhere deep and dark in his chest. The interactions with Wynn were dangerous, foreboding, and amusing, despite the sense that something terrible would happen. Aidan makes good on horrific threats one second and is sweet the next. You’ll never know if you can trust him. Delightfully complex. 
  • The ending. Epic, in your face, violent and sudden. Seriously brutal. You won’t see it coming and it’s so quick it hits harder. Emotional turmoil extreme. This made me, more than anything else, hunger for the next book. 
  • The deadly sin trials were creative and graphic. You’ll be able to picture everything and they really helped Wynn to grow. 
  • Cover love.

Here’s What I Disliked:

  • The pace. After the initial meeting with Caleb and Aidan, it’s achingly slow at times. The space between the first few chapters, the trials, and that explosive ending drag and you’ll wonder what actually happened in those pages. 
  • Instalove. Wynn’s attraction to Caleb is automatic and understandable. He’s super cute and a sweetheart. Plus, the way he vouches for her, serious knight in shining armor. After that scene and the verdict (purposely vaguebooking to prevent spoilers), they don’t have much interaction and what interaction they do have (up until almost the end of the book with the roof scene) feels like nostalgia or a flashback. It’s a lot of telling, not enough showing. I didn’t experience and live through Wynn’s character because there wasn’t the opportunity, at least romantically. There was more lead up to a romance with Aidan. On top of that, Wynn makes offhand comments about how close she and Caleb are that almost feel like a lie because their interactions weren’t that memorable, were far apart, and short. 
  • At the circle ruling where Wynn meets all the paranormal entities, it’s a rush of information that suckerpunches. All of these details at once were a little overwhelming. There’s one description after another of each of these people without names and then they come in and have names and it’s hard to keep track. The world building is also jam-packed in this tiny section. It would have functioned a bit better and been less intense if it had been more spaced out. 

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Jennifer is a Florida based, Indie Author who writes paranormal romance and fantasy for young adults. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children. Demon Dialysis is a contemporary Young Adult Fantasy and her debut novel.

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

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Twisted by Christa Simpson

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Can a man and woman be “just friends?”

After graduating from law school with honours, Edwin Santora, Abigail’s occasional ex and handsome housemate, could get a job anywhere he wants. Of all the places to land, why does he take a position with her small firm? As if sharing a house with her irresistible ex isn’t bad enough, it quickly becomes the least of her concerns. When Edwin’s macho arrogance begins to seriously affect her dating life, Abigail starts to reconsider their friendship; not that Edwin believes a man and woman can be “just friends” anyway.

With Edwin’s swoon-worthy stunts and fierce persistence, Abigail finds herself catching feelings. When Edwin makes a friendly proposal, no-strings-attached, Abigail can’t resist.

After some sexy role playing, she finds herself dangerously in love and wrapped back up in Edwin’s powerful grip. When Abigail risks everything, revealing a treacherous little secret, will their friendship pass the test? Or will they give in to the mysterious forces trying to drive them apart?

Twisted - Teaser 2

Excerpt

Edwin Santora’s eyes were on me the second our solid wood door clunked shut.  After kicking off my shoes and giving a silent wave to my brooding, shirtless roommate, I rushed directly upstairs taking two steps at a time.

Within seconds, Edwin was flying up the stairs behind me, all brawn and pride.  He stalked me down the hall, his large agile physique a shadow of stealth.

No matter how smooth Edwin thought he was, I could always sense when he was lurking around.

I disappeared into the bathroom, ignoring his approach, heart still racing, cheeks flushed with a healthy glow.  It had been way too long and it was time for me to move on with my life.  The days of Edwin and I were over and I had finally faced that fact.  For that reason, I trusted my matchmaking to an eager co-worker.  What else could I do?  I didn’t seem to have any luck finding myself a man.

Edwin filled the doorframe with his imposing shoulders.  “Where are you going all dolled up like that?”

I should have slammed the door shut behind me while I had the chance.  The last thing I needed now was Edwin giving me a hard time.  It had been months since my last date and let’s just say that it’s not possible for this one to go any worse than that one had.

After carefully touching up my mascara in the mirror, I twirled around to face him, my glossy, brown hair fanning out behind me.  “I got a date!”  I smiled from honest excitement, but I really didn’t have time to chat about it.

“Who is he?” Edwin pried.

“You don’t know him.”

Edwin’s chest flexed under my warm gaze, his abs held tight, sculpted from stone.  Oh, I love watching him sweat.  He narrowed his aqua eyes in response to my devious smile.  Then, as if on cue, the doorbell rang.

I made my way to the bathroom door, but Edwin boxed me out with his hip and took off ahead of me.  He hurried down the hall with swift, powerful strides, every muscle in his body twitching with adrenaline.  There was no point in trying to fight him for the front door.  He had me beat.

“Do you think you could put on a shirt, Eddie?  Please?”

Edwin shuffled down the stairs and ignored my request.  “I’ll get it,” he hollered.  He was all too eager to answer the door and his mischievous grin gave away his greedy intentions.

“Edwin, be good!” I warned, stopping at the top of the open staircase.

“What?  I’m always good.”  He flashed me a sly smile and raised his dark arched eyebrows.

I knew it meant trouble, as the butterflies danced nervously in my tummy.  Edwin had better not blow this one too.  He had a tendency of scaring away my dates.  It was getting old.  I clung to the wooden post, hoping the poor guy would pass the test.

Edwin opened the front door ever so slightly and started in on his usual act, deliberately blocking my view.  Bastard.  Then he cracked the door open a little farther, teasing, his generous back still in the way.

He folded his bulging arms over his impressive chest and stared down at my date with eyes dark and voice low.  “Can I help you?” he asked firmly, acting all macho.

I nearly burst out laughing and had to hide the smile on my face to show that I was not amused.  Even if I was.

“Is this the home of Abigail Jenkins?” the poor guy asked, hesitantly.

“Yes,” Edwin answered, but he didn’t invite him in.

“Edwin!” I warned, scowling at his back.  I’d had enough.  As I started down the stairs to intervene, I struggled to interpret their mumbling.  It was time that I took things into my own hands.

teaserTwisted - Teaser

authChrista Simpson is a small town Canadian girl who enjoys beaches, dancing and dirt track car races. She lives in Tilbury, Ontario, with her husband and two beautiful daughters. On an ideal day you’ll find her relaxing on the beach, reading by the poolside or getting into trouble with her girls. You’re more likely to find her procrastinating with her bestie, working her butt off or chauffeuring her active family around.

Christa delivers in modern day fantasies with the most captivating alpha men and her breezy, entertaining writing style. She’s an all or nothing kind of girl whose mission in life is to prove that women do it better. Her romance novels are loaded with passion, suspense and sarcasm, much like her life. Pick up the first books in her Twisted and Destiny Series for free—no strings attached!

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1 e-copy of The Twisted Trilogy (3 books direct to kindle)
3 e-copies of Twisted Desire (direct to kindle)

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Read on, 

Jordan