Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Safe and Sound by Alli Hope

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Release Date: February 22, 2017

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High school junior, Hailey Perish, knows her life can’t get much worse. Since her dad split a few years ago, Hailey’s mother has spiraled hard and fast, careening toward rock bottom and threatening to take her daughter down with her. Hailey now marks time by evictions, her mother’s poker games, and Saturday School where she voluntarily shows up for weekend detentions to secure her one promised meal of the week. She has no room for relationships, especially with someone like her childhood love and golden boy of their high school class, Carson Hart. Hailey trusted him once and Carson failed her. She’s determined not to let herself be hurt again.

When Hailey’s mom does the unthinkable and bets her own daughter in a high stakes poker game, Mitch, the loan shark, is all too eager and determined to collect on his debt. To him, Hailey is nothing but property. His property. And he’ll do anything to recover it. On the run from a fate that promises a much worse life than she already knows, there’s only one person in the world Hailey can call for help.

Will Carson be there for her in her darkest hour and deliver her from harm’s way safe and sound? Or will he abandon Hailey—just like he’s always done—just like they all do?

Alli Hope’s debut novel delivers an unforgettable story about love & surviving in the dark places.  Safe & Sound contains mature situations and content.

author

Alli Hope lives on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. She spends her days working with homeless veterans and her nights putting words on the page. Co-creator of fangirl podcast All The Flails, Alli loves binge watching shows on Netflix or reading swoony books with characters she can fall in love with. She recently married Ricky Whittle and David Ramsey, despite what they’d say otherwise. Sign up for email updates at Allihopewrites.com.

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Help spread the word! Every share gets you entered to win. Just use #safeandsound, share the cover and/or links, and we’ll pick winners on 12/15!

TWO grand prizes: 1 signed paperback A Shot of Reckless by Maddie Paige (Alli Hope shared pen name) and stickers exclusive to safe & Sound! OR 1 advance e-copy of Safe & Sound! US only. Not affiliated with anyone except the author/publisher.

Emotional reading,

Jordan

 

ARC Review: You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche

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In the high-pressure months leading up to the performance that will determine their futures, a group of friends at a performing arts school look back on when an unexpected event upended everything. The moment that changed their relationships, their friendships, and their lives forever.

At a prestigious New York City performing arts school, five friends connect over one dream of stardom. But for Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan and Dave, that dream falters under the pressure of second-semester, Senior year. Ambitions shift and change, new emotions rush to the surface, and a sense of urgency pulses between them: Their time together is running out.

Diego hopes to get out of the friend zone. Liv wants to escape, losing herself in fantasies of the new guy. Ethan conspires to turn his muse into his girlfriend. Dave pines for the drama queen. And if Joy doesn’t open her eyes, she could lose the love that’s been in front of her all along.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Penguin First to Read 

You in Five Acts is told from the 5 perspectives of friends at a performing arts school in New York City. Each act is a new person directly talking to someone they care about, addressing them as “You”. They read like both diary entries and letters. The premise and organization is engaging, inspired, and gives you the opportunity to know each character-there are no secondary characters, they’re all the main character.

The biggest problem with this style choice is making sure each section is as strong as the last, unfortunately, (at least to me) 3 of 5 POVs were just so-so. Joy and Diego were by far my favorite. There was so much substance in their stories, whereas Liv, Ethan, and Dave read like a bucketful of teen angst. I struggled to sympathize or even empathize with them. Stress, unrequited love, and failed dreams lingered just out of touch. For some reason, all of the components were there but didn’t come across as powerfully as they should have.

Joy is a vision. She’s fierce, determined, and incredibly brave. She aims to break stereotypes and prove to her parents that despite the fact that the ballet world is dominated by thin, white ballerinas, that she can make it as prima ballerina. Joy has so much to offer and her story addresses the not-so-subtle prejudice in ballet. She’s strong, she has a normal body and she refuses to let commentary about her weight as not being the ideal ballet figure break her down. She’s proud of her body image and I think we need more of that in YA. In a world where everyone is unhappy about parts of themselves, they’re constantly critiqued, judged and put down when they don’t fit whatever ridiculous standards and tossed out there, Joy is not only refreshing but a straight up heroine. There’s a scene where she fights back against the toxic body image commentary and it is simply revolutionary. At the same time, Joy has insecurities about boys that are relatable and endearing. 

Diego. Breaking away from a cycle of crime, poverty, and bad choices feels impossible. When you’re surrounded by that environment, getting caught up in that life is easy. Diego is a wonderful person. He’s funny, full of life, and completely enamoured with Joy. She’s his light and hope. She makes him smile and he does everything to see that laugh he adores. Diego’s story is complicated, but intensely real. 

That ending. Do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers. They’re everywhere and it destroys the story. The build up to tragedy is consistent and keeps you going even when the pace is mind-numbing slow. 

PROS:

  • Diversity
  • Creative style
  • Deals with tough and culturally relevant topics

CONS:

  • So much angst
  • So-so characters (apart from Diego and Joy)
  • Snail’s pace

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Rebel Bully Geek Pariah-Erin Jade Lange

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syn“The Breakfast Club” gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever.

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.

The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.

The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college.

The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight.

When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive.

With cinematic storytelling and compelling emotional depth, critically acclaimed author Erin Jade Lange takes readers on literary thrill ride.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You enjoy contemporary coming of age stories with a twist
  • Books like Perks of Being a Wallflower, Paper Towns, and anything Kasie West make you giddy
  • Self discovery, coming out of your shell, and friendship with mild romance are something you’ve been searching for
  • And yes, there is something very Breakfast Club about this story

Rebel Bully Geek Pariah is a surprisingly deep and layered story of that desperate search for belonging, for finding your place in the world, and making friends that appreciate your “mad” side. 

PROS:

  • Sam’s voice is rich and emotional. Her feelings towards her mother’s addiction and the horrific accident that forever altered her life are complex and poignant. The disappointment, hurt, and occasional hatred for her chaotic life are the basis for her quest for invisibility (Pariah). The story is told entirely from Sam’s POV despite the synopsis, which makes it seem like it would have several POVs. 
  • The plot picks up quickly and has a steady pace that keeps you on your toes. 
  • Each character has a unique voice. Their personalities are developed and memorable. They each have quirks and depth. Their pasts are interesting and make you want to know more about them. 
  • Laugh out loud funny at times and pensive the next. Get ready to laugh and feel and mourn and hope. Mostly hope. These endearing moments are special and warm. No matter the mistrust and apprehension, these friendships are life changing and important. Each interaction awakens parts of the characters that have been carefully buried and mask them from their peers. 

CONS:

  • The premise is a little farfetched for contemporary. Some parts were just scratch-your-head at the bizarreness. 
  • Some of the characters are more fleshed out than others. Their pasts are like snippets of information that aren’t always explored. Andi and Boston did not feel as alive as York and Sam (but this could have something to do with the slight romantic element). 
  • THAT ENDING. What happened? I want answers.

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

Keep reading,

Jordan

Interview, Review & Giveaway: Thicker Than Water-Kelly Fiore

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synCecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Thicker than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes. 

intYABM: Thicker Than Water explores the far-reaching effects of drug addiction not only on the addict but everyone around them. Was it hard writing the dark and raw truth of drug addiction? What were some elements that were particularly challenging?

Kelly: I think when it comes to the dark and raw stuff, the truth was what was hardest to tell. There’s a line in the book where CeCe thinks about the relief she’d feel if Cyrus just OD’ed and died, then realized that would cause it’s own problems with paying for the burial. I had that thought when my brother was struggling with his addiction and I find it important to admit it now. I know there are other siblings thinking the same thing and feeling wracked with guilt. I want those sisters and brothers of addicts to know they’re not alone.

YABM: What do you want the reader to take away from your CeCe and Cyrus’ story?

Kelly: That addiction has far more victims than one and that it is, like cancer, a crime against humanity that is both involving humans and not entirely the human’s fault. We crucify drug addicts, and all addicts, for their “choices.” Sometimes it isn’t a choice. Especially with opiates.

YABM: Tell me about your inspiration for Thicker Than Water.

Kelly: When my brother was struggling with his Oxy Contin addiction, I found great solace in watching episodes of the A&E series Intervention. I was able to watch other siblings deal with the same issues and problems I was dealing with. At one point, it occurred to me that teens don’t always have a voice in their family when they’re on the periphery of that addiction. I wanted to help give them that voice.

YABM: What would you say are CeCe’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Kelly: Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, CeCe’s greatest weakness is her inability to make a choice. To move forward. She lives inside her own head far more than outside of it and that is a problem when you’re being tried for murder.

Her strength, however, is her ability to transition and grow in the end. This is most evident in her prose and writing, which she starts in jail. She allows art and words to invade her life in a positive way, even though she’d never written for expression before. That’s a brave move in my mind.

YABM: What do you love most about your characters? Do you have a favorite secondary character?

Kelly: I’m a big fan of CeCe’s public defender, Jennifer, actually. Her tenacity and her youth is incredibly admirable. She also slides into a female role model space that CeCe desperately needs.

YABM: If you had to describe your book in the length of a Tweet, what would it say?

Kelly: Death isn’t the worst outcome; the worst outcome is living this life for one more day. WWYD if you had to choose between your brother, the boy, or your brother the addict?

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss & Harper Teen

Warning: Contains what may be considered triggers for drug abuse/addiction

Thicker Than Water is an emotional minefield. It’s been a while since a book has left me at a loss for words (for a positive reason). Thicker Than Water is beautiful and poignant and written in simple truths that read like profound revelations. A heartbreaking tale of the far-reaching effects of addiction and the emotional and physical wreckage it leaves behind, CeCe and Cyrus’ story brings the hidden side effects of addiction to light.

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re looking for a raw and honest glimpse into addiction from a loved one on the periphery.
  • You’re game for sarcasm, tears, and hard truths.
  • You know someone struggling with drug abuse.

PROS:

  • CeCe has one of the strongest voices I’ve read in a long, long time. Her brutal honesty, her avoidance tactics, and her guilt translate into this brilliant prose that comes off as mildly philosophical and ingenious. Feelings are put into clear, precise comparisons that make every, even those most complex and convoluted emotions make sense.
  • One of the compelling aspects of this book is how often people turn a blind eye. How loved ones can see but refuse to believe or feel so helpless that it’s like the ground is ripped from beneath their feet and all hope slowly slips away. Desperation and heartbreak, in words but much more in feeling.
  • The descriptions of addiction are eye-opening. The sighs of relief, the anxiety, the hunger in their eyes, the ease in which addiction escalates and the lies addicts tell themselves. It’s all these in stark and disquieting glory. But it’s not only the false promises addicts make to themselves, it’s the quiet ones that friends and loved ones repeat like a prayer. The yearning to believe in change, in getting better, and hoping that this will pass without intervention is all too real. You can feel the author’s heart in the story and her close connection to its contents.
  • Secondary characters had small, but life-altering influence on CeCe, especially those at the center. The moments are brief but they open CeCe up to forgiveness and understanding of herself and help alleviate her guilt. The scene with her roommate putting on makeup felt almost spiritual.
  • Romance is not central to the story. It’s there but it’s more of an awakening for CeCe than anything else. It helps her discover parts of herself that she locked away, her fears and insecurities. Tucker and CeCe are cute and fall together naturally.

CONS:

  • The mystery didn’t feel like much of one to me. From the get go, there’s enough hint dropping to guess at what happened. The opening scene is an adrenaline-inducing and totally captivating start that will make you want to read but it mark the story as more crime fiction that in truly is.
  • There were many substories worked into the plot that were left unexplored and it was kind of distracting. CeCe’s roommate’s horrible circumstances, Tucker’s emotions, Jason’s fight with addiction, and Cyrus’ story as well were left wanting. There are flashes of Cyrus’ pain and the reasoning behind his path to pills shouted in bursts of anger, however, deeper insight was left at only what CeCe could see on the surface.

authKelly fiorWebsite/Facebook/Tumblr/Goodreads

Kelly Fiore-Stultz has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. She received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2005 and 2009. Kelly’s poetry has appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Samzidada, Mid Atlantic Review, Connotation Press, and the Grolier Annual Review. Her first young adult novel, Taste Test, was released in August 2013 from Bloomsbury USA, and her second, Just Like the Movies, again from Bloomsbury, was releasted in 2014. Forthcoming novels include Thicker Than Water from HarperTeen in 2015.

giveaway3 winners will receive a finished copy of THICKER THAN WATER. US Only.

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Happy reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Hope for Her-Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

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Hope for Her (Hope series, #1) By Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Release Date: October 1, 2014

cooltext1712921505 copyNo one ever expected much from him.

Joshua Elijah Griffin, IV is on his last chance. A stint in rehab and a transfer to a new school has scared him into putting his life on track. He’s determined to live up to his family’s expectations, but on the first day of class, Josh meets a girl, and he knows his father won’t approve, but in Carrington, he sees a kindred spirit. He’s willing to give up everything to be with her.

No one ever thought she was special.

Carrington Olivia Butler is ready to shine. Always in the shadows of her siblings, she goes away to college to break out of her shell. All Carrington wants is to feel special. Josh’s attention is exactly what she craves, but their intense and sometimes volatile relationship is more than what she bargained for.

Josh’s demons return, and Carrington’s feelings fade, but both aren’t ready to give up hope. They give their love one last shot to survive, but hope, may not be enough.

**This book contains adult subject matter. Not intended for young readers.**

cooltext1712942546 copyI reached out and grabbed her, wrapping my arms around her waist. She resisted, pushing and punching my arms and shoulders. I wanted her to fight me. To hit me and scream and show me what I did to her.

After a while, she collapsed in my arms, exhausted from fighting, but her sobs continued for several more minutes. My neck and chest dampened from her tears, and her whole body convulsed when she released an uncontrollable series of coughs. It shook us both, but I held on tight. The vibration of our bodies glued together made me hard, and I found it difficult to concentrate. I tried to push those thoughts out of my head. I wanted her to understand.

It tore me up to know I caused her an ounce of pain. I held her tight with one arm and stroked her back with the other. Each stroke, her body softened. When her last bit of energy drained, I turned us around and her back was up against my car. I placed my hands on her hips; she whimpered as I lifted her and sat her on the trunk.

Her damp hair stuck to her face, and I pushed it away. I wiped her eyes and lifted her chin.

“How could you leave me like that?” she asked. The desperation in her voice fucked with my mind. I hated myself.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered as my lips sweep across her cheek. She tensed. I expressed my gratitude by kissing her other cheek. She whimpered, and my heart cracked.

I kissed her forehead, dropped my hands to her waist, and her head fell forward without my support.

“Why?” she asked. Her voice sounded defeated, but defiant. She wanted an answer. She deserved an answer.

“Since I meet you, I’ve had the time of my life.” I kissed her jawline as I placed my hands on her thighs.

“I’ve never met anyone like you before.” As my lips moved to her ear, she leaned into me. I pushed her legs apart. I wanted to hold her, get closer to her. She relaxed more with every kiss.

“I want to be with you so bad.” When I reached her earlobe, I bit it, and she moaned. “But eventually you’re going to leave me.”

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cooltext1718229341 copySydney Aaliyah Michelle

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is a New Adult Contemporary Romance writer, a voracious reader and movie fanatic who hails from Texas.

After surviving 5 1/2 years living in China, she had the courage to finally pursue her passion and become a writer.

Sydney has been blogging at sydneyaaliyah.com for three years, where she interviews people about their tattoos, discusses her favorite movie quotes, reviews books (New Adult & only the ones she loves) and journals about her writing and editing process.

Sydney’s self-published debut New Adult Novel Another New Life was released in May 2014.

An active tweeter, she is also a JuNoWriMo (2x) and NaNoWriMo (2x) winner who notes the sci-fi action flick “The Matrix” as the best representation of her life in the past. She is now awake.

She can recite the entire script for the 80’s teen comedy/drama “The Breakfast Club” and loves any and everything associated with the Avengers Movie, especially Tony Stark.

When it come to books, Sydney reads different genres, but some of her favorite writers are Stephen King, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Cora Carmack & Emily Bronte. Under the Dome, The Great Gatsby & Wuthering Heights are her favorite books.

MMW

Pleasant reading,

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