ARC Review & Giveaway: Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

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After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll to take to her grave if she must.

GardenOfThorns4

review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Entangled and with participation in the YAReads tour

+++Contains potential triggers for graphic violence/abuse 

From the very first page I knew I’d love this book. It’s dark and twisted and made of intrigue and the darkest forms of humanity. What happens when humans are reduced to numbers? When they become dispensable and money/greed reign supreme? You have the sparks of a rebellion and the vilest and most inhumane atrocities.

From the sinister descriptions to the unflinchingly honest voice of Rose, this story is gripping and despite the carnage, you won’t be able to look away. The Flowers, the Wilted, the whole hierarchy of these dancing, trafficked girls and the pain their Wilted faces every time one of the Flowers disobeys. It’s terrifying. From the clicking of the shears on their caravan cages to the pools of blood and threats made all too real; it’s gory, graphic, and sickening. The fear and anxiety will keep you on edge, it definitely had me flipping pages like mad hoping that Rose and the others made it out of whatever dangerous mission they happened to be on. 

If there’s one thing this story excels at, it’s pacing and keeping the tension high. Whether it’s blossoming sexual tension or fear, it’s there in abundance. 

The characters are full of life and strong voices. Every one of them is memorable and leaves you with something to thing about. They add to the story. They’re so much more than throwaway characters and after seeing so much of that lately, I am seriously impressed. I loved each and every one of them. Whether I liked them as characters was one thing, but they all had flaws and an energy that took over whenever they were present, despite the story being told from Rose’s POV. 

Rose has suffered years of psychological and verbal abuse. And I’m not sure if this term is correct, but secondary abuse-having to watch someone she loves get punished in her place. Everything she’s seen, each horrific, bloody act, all the guilt she’s felt, all the pain, and still Rose rallies on, she fights, and she sacrifices everything for her Flower sisters. Her determination, her courage, and her humility are a powerful example and completely unexpected. Some other things I loved about Rose was that she admitted her mistakes, she thought through every situation, and she weighed the risks. And her voice was consistent throughout. 

Rayce. Dear sweet gorgeous man. He’s playful and regal and brilliant and loves his people so fiercely that you can’t help but fall for him hard as the story progresses. The way her looks at Rose, how comfortable he feels with her, the honest way he confesses his fears and just listens to her, made of head over heels swoon. A noble and epic love interest that is more than worthy of Rose. 

Some of the plot was a little iffy. I would have liked a stronger history lesson on why these two groups hate each other, why the intial rebellion happened, and the aftermath. What’s happening in Varsha? More of that backstory would have painted a clearer picture of the animosity between groups and better explained why blondes are discriminated against, etc. 

authoramberGoodreads/Twitter

Amber Mitchell graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Creative Writing. She likes crazy hair styles, reading, D&D, k-dramas, good puns and great food.

When she isn’t putting words on paper, she is using cardstock to craft 3D artwork or exploring new places with her husband Brian. They live a small town in Florida with their four cats where she is still waiting for a madman in a blue box to show up on her doorstep.

Garden of Thorns is her debut novel from Entangled Teen.

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Read on, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Guardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake

Guardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake | Release Day Launch | JenHalliganPR.comGuardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake | JenHalliganPR.comGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes
Publisher: Entangled Teen

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Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1):

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Excerpt

She did a U-turn and drove off. I sprinted to the area where I spotted the lightning. A shadowed figure sat on a white bench near the water. Another flash of light kissed the sky and illuminated Nick.

Since discovering he was a wizard, Nick struggled with his new magic. And he was careless. Anyone could spot him out here. How would he explain it to someone who was human and not from the Mystik realm? I couldn’t imagine how it felt to have that much power. Unlike him, I was a Sentinel. I had little magic and relied on my battle training to best wizards and other-world creatures. He only needed to shock or electrocute his adversaries.

“What exactly are you doing?” I asked, approaching.

He almost fell off the bench. “Shit, Gia. Don’t sneak up on a person like that.”

“Seriously, Nick? What are you doing? Someone might see you, and then we’d be discovered.”

“Just leave me alone.”

“I’m not going to just leave you alone.” I sat down on the bench beside him. A light breeze swept loose strands of my hair across my face. The briny smell of the ocean filled my nose. “Talk to me. You’re my best friend, Nick. I’m here for you.”

He formed an electric charge on his palm. I created my pink globe and tossed it on his hand, snuffing out the charge.

He made another electric ball and I cast another globe at it.

“Quit doing that.”

“You stop it.”

“I get it. Your globe is badass. It can counter magic and shield people, but it makes you weak. I can do this all night and wear you out.”

“You’re not nice.”

He buried his face in his hands. The knuckles on his right one were torn, with blood coagulating around the wounds. “I don’t know what’s happening to me. I can’t stop myself. I know I’m being mean to Deidre, to my parents…to everyone.”

“You haven’t been that mean to me, yet. That has to say something. I’m the most annoying one of the bunch.”

He snorted. “Did you just snort?”

“No.” He looked startled. “It was a sneeze.”

“I think you snorted.”

His face brightened. “I know what you’re trying to do. And it’s working.”

“I’m not trying to do anything. That was a full-on snort.” I wrapped my arm over his back and watched the water lap against the retaining wall in front of us. “I know you can’t see a therapist for this, ’cause what would you say? That you just found out you’re the son of the most evil wizard of the Mystik world and the curers recently released your magic?”

He gave me a half smile. “Yeah, that might not go over too well.”

“Or maybe you could. They’d think you were delusional, and you’d score some drugs.”

“Drugs make me nauseous.”

He stared at his hands, and I stared at the water, searching for the right words to say. “This has to be tough for you. I get it. I’ve been there. It’ll take time to adjust. How about I be your counselor? Anytime you feel anxious or angry, you call me and we’ll punch some bags or whatever. It always helps me to relax. Plus, my services are cheap.”

“Violence would make you relax.” He was pleased with his retort and laughed, which was followed by another snort.

authorBrenda DrakeWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), and Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2). She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. 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). Look for her upcoming novels, Thunderstruck, Seeking Fate (Fated Series #3), and Assassin of Truths (Library Jumpers #3) coming soon from Entangled Teen.

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Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

Guest Post: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

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Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5). Each book can be read as a standalone.

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Is it Writer’s Block… or?

This morning as I walked through the cold and foggy pre-dawn I was thinking about writer’s block.  This is a common thinking topic of mine since I have been led to believe that Writer’s Block is something to be terrified of – at least that’s what years of television, movies and the Internet have taught me.

I should probably mention that I have accomplished very little writing over the course of the past year or more.  I have been very busy and distracted, you see.  But does that count as Writer’s Block?  Not really, according to wisdom of television, movies and the Internet, but still I wonder.

My usual writing process involves thinking and imagining the flow of the story ahead of time, then sitting down to actually write it.  But what I have learned (I think) from my being so busy over the last 18 months is that I have no time to think and imagine.  And with no thinking or imagining ahead of time, I therefore don’t sit down and write.  I still WANT to be writing, but my normal process doesn’t seem to work in these busy circumstances.

So what has that taught me?

I think it’s taught me that sometimes you just have to sit down and write and see where it takes you.  You’ll know inside if it’s going somewhere good, or if it’s just blah, or if (god forbid) it completely derails and goes off the track into the woods (which is also a good place to go sometimes too, right?).

In essence, I have learned what the wisdom of television, movies and the Internet has said all along.  Just write.  No matter what.

And maybe when I am spending those early morning walks wondering if I have Writer’s Block or not, then maybe I should spend that luxury of time thinking and imagining instead.  Right?

Right.

I think.

authoriain-readingFacebook/Twitter/Goodreads

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to http://www.amazon.com/Iain-Reading/e/B00B0NGI6Q/

Adventurous reading, 

Jordan

 

Lost Review: Riding the Odds-Lynda K. Scott

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“Fire. Kissing Tara Rowan was like touching living fire, magical fire that heated his body but didn’t burn. Magical fire that warned him, filled him, made him want more. More…He tilted his head, deepening the kiss. Her response was all he could have wished for. She parted her lips and he took immediate advantage to taste her.”

cooltext1790897456 copyAn act of desperation and the beginning of seduction…

Spaceship captain Tara Rowan has her secrets. One is her Rider, Zie. Zie is an organic symbiote—like a living tattoo—that enhances Tara’s physical abilities, including superhuman strength and reflexes. The other is the past she’s tried so hard to leave behind her. But it’s not until oh-so-sexy Trace Munroe decides to blackmail Tara that she realizes her secrets aren’t so secret after all…

Trace is a Holy Knight who does everything by the book. Desperate to find a missing princess, he’ll do whatever it takes to rescue her and bring her kidnappers to justice. Including blackmail. Yet something about the feisty ship captain draws Trace in and stirs his desire—even if she is a wanted criminal. Because the last thing he needs is any complications…especially when he has his own secrets to hide.

cooltext1790896132 copy4/5 Stars

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

Two words. Space Pirates. Riding the Odds is an intergalactic enterprise filled with startling twists, action, romance and comedy. A stunning mix of science fiction and paranormal, Riding the Odds is Firefly meets Star Wars.

I read this over a year ago and still feel a rush when I think about this story.

The chemistry is explosive, out of this solar system, fiery heat that is as magnetic as it is sexy. It’s slow to start and takes some building, but worth it. 

Tara is a strong, independent woman who does what she wants, when she wants, and takes risks that most would think are crazy but for her, it works. Tara is on a mission. She’s going to do everything in her power to make it on her own, to escape her past, and live a general badass existence. She radiates sex appeal and charisma. Her snark, her prowess, she’s like a mesmerizing lioness on the prowl. ❤ Tara has a past, a back story that is as intriguing, if not more so, than the central plot. The secrets, the drama, the butt-kicking. Yes, yes, yes. 

Zie. Oh my Zie is adorable and sweet and innocent and the interactions between Zie and Tara are lovable, full of laughs, and oh so endearing. You won’t be able to help yourself from falling hard for this cute character. 

The plot is action-packed, complex, and will keep you entertained, that’s a promise. 

Trace HOLY KNIGHT Monroe. Just wow. Loyal, determined, full of erotic thoughts and he too has some insane secrets. Some of his lines. Get ready to laugh at the banter.

Some of the world building was super slow to get into and it may take a bit for the story to hook you, but when it does, you won’t be able to stop. Be patient, give it a chance to catch you.

Epic reading, 

Jordan

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby

synWhat You Believe, Can Destroy You!
             William and Sydney have sacrificed everything to fortify their love, so much so that William dares to brave the depths of space to find a cure for their deadly Supernova bond, leaving both her and Earth vulnerable to Torrian Alliance attack. But with a full scale rebellion in play on Fabricius, the reality of Sydney’s execution from Torrian hands is diminished, only eclipsed by the certainty of a more threats – The Third Faction and The Dagmas Clan – lead by Dominic and his insurgent recruits.
             With overwhelming odds mounting against them, William makes a desperate attempt to find the last of the endangered Star-children only to be captured by a new menace, where he is forced to compete in the dreaded Gauntlet of sport. Allies surge to free Fabricius, seeking alliances across the galaxy while Sydney tries to keep her identity hidden and trains to master the third phase of her Star-child evolution: Solstice.
             With Sarah’s mysterious return home with clues to unlock the future, Noella’s training and Bill’s symbiotic development hope is restored, but will it be enough to unite the galaxy and destroy evil for once and for all?
author
Multi-Award Winning and #1 Amazon Bestselling author Braxton A. Cosby is a dreamer who transitioned his ideas on pen and paper to pixels and keyboards. He tells stories that evoke emotions and stimulate thought. PROTOSTAR: BOOK 1 OF THE STARCROSSED SAGA and THE SECT: THE WINDGATE are currently Young Adult/New Adult series he created. He has written over 10 novels, including his new Superhero adventure book, THE CAPE is book three of the Dark Spores Series. He lives in Georgia with his amazing wife and a highly energetic Morkie named StarKozy.
giveawayEnter for your chance to win audio copies of books 1 &2 and an ebook copy 
Exciting reading, 
Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

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Pub. Date: November 1, 2016

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover, paperback, eBook

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The action-packed, thrilling sequel to Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf.

There would be blood.

Blood for blood.

Blood to pay.

An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

This gripping, thought-provoking sequel to Wolf by Wolf will grab readers by the throat with its cinematic writing, fast-paced action, and relentless twists.

bfb-preorderauthor4fa9e-ryanWebsite | Twitter |Tumblr | Goodreads | Pinterest | Blog

Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at http://www.ryangraudin.com.

Review of Wolf by Wolf 

***FIVE STARS***

From the first page, Wolf by Wolf is an addictive, compelling, whirlwind of a story. The history nerd in me reached Nirvana. Wolf by Wolf is one of the best books I’ve read, and those of you who follow know that I read hundreds a year. From the sweeping historical rewrite to the adrenaline rush of the motorcycle race that spans continents, Wolf by Wolf has something for everyone and will leave you with an unshakeable book hangover. 

PROS:

  • The opening page. There’s beauty in simplicity. Ryan Graudin jam packs so much into short, compiled sentences that each word hits like a sucker punch. I fell in reader and writer love with that first paragraph and immediately knew that this book would be one of the greats. 
  • Yael is as fierce, brave, and calculated as the wolves she has inked on her body. The trauma and pain she has suffered seems insurmountable but we learn that through memory and determination that we can overcome even the most horrific of pasts. Yael’s time in the camp, the incredible losses she’s went through, everything is ingrained into her very soul and marked on her body, she’ll never forget and it’s through these reminders that she finds the courage and strength to rebel and take on a task more risky than any other. Yael doesn’t let any setbacks break her down, she’s come so far and has been broken but never beaten. She is a lesson in inner strength and perseverance. 
  • The historical rewrite is ingenious, mainly because it could have been. So many elements of the story are bold and brutal, historically on target and put you right in the mad frenzy that was Hitler’s reign. The policing, the camps, the politics, and the terrifying roots of Hitler Youth become a stark reality that is much more real than what you read in history books. One of the sentiments that stayed with me from this story is the coldness of historical memory, the need to reduce people down to numbers so much that we forget the individual. Through Yael, you see every person, every memory, present and memorialized in her tattoos. 
  • Each character, no matter how small, leaves an impression and has their own unique background. The stories of the wolves added levels to Yael’s character, you see how she was built through her union with others and how their experiences changed her life. 
  • THE moment. The critical seconds when Yael meets Hitler face to face. My heart stopped. The anticipation built into an overwhelming and all-consuming beast of anxiety. The emotion is astounding and poignant, every memory, every ounce of pain culminates in a few short seconds.
  • Motorcycles, nefarious tactics, and honor all reign supreme during the Axis Tour. It’s not simply a race but a legacy of political propaganda and competition. The race is full of perilous terrain, vindictive components, and deadly situations. Though it’s stressful and in some part horrifying, there are scenes on the road that are light and playful, it’s a nice balance. 

CONS:

  • The twist was sort of predictable for me but the sheer rush of the scene itself more than made up for it. Even when you know what’s coming, the actual occurrence is more fierce and tense than you could ever imagine.

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Ends on November 15th at Midnight EST!

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Intense reading, 

Jordan

Release Blitz: Thief in the Myst by Ben Hale

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Jack Myst infiltrated the Thieves Guild to avenge his mother’s murder, but never expected to find a home. Now a master thief, he grapples with his new identity as he unravels the secrets of the fallen Guildmaster. The trail of questions will lead to a shocking truth, that his foe is a remnant of an ancient race, the very devil of Lumineia.
 
Skorn.
Seething with hatred and cast out by the thieves, Skorn is not without allies. Forcing an assassin into service, he journeys to the forgotten fortress of Margauth, where a cult worships him as a god. With such an army at his command he seeks a return to power, and two keys that unlock a legendary vault.
 
The Vault of the Eternals.
author
As an avid snowboarder from Utah, Ben grew up with a passion for learning. This thirst for knowledge led him to sports, music, and academic endeavors. After a year of college, he did volunteer work in Brazil and became fluent in three languages. Graduating from the University of Central Florida, he started and ran several successful businesses before publishing his first novel in June of 2012. By the end of the year he’d sold almost ten thousand copies of The Second Draeken War, and he began writing full-time. Now spanning 10,000 years, ten titles, and two series, The Chronicles of Lumineia
represents a sprawling YA series that has sold over 100,000 copies, and continues to expand its readership across all ages. Each of his books has been inspired by his wonderful wife and five beautiful children.
To contact the author, discover more about Lumineia, or find out about upcoming novels, feel free to contact Ben via his contact page. He loves to hear from readers and writers, and welcomes feedback.
Magical reading, 
Jordan