Review: Heart of Ash by Kim Liggett

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“I carved out my heart and threw it into the deepest ocean. And I’d do it again and again. I will never be sorry for loving you.”

“We’re like the dissonant chord in the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, begging for resolution. As long as we’re apart, there will never be peace in the world.”

All that remained were our bodies—vessels for each other’s hearts.”

“But if I gave in to him, gave in to the darkness, I knew it would be my ruin.”

synvia Goodreads

Ash may have escaped the immortal-worshipping cult that killed her mother, but the love of her life is still under its thrall. Dane has been possessed by his diabolical ancestor Coronado, a man who’s fabulously wealthy, dripping with fame, and the leader of Europe’s most dangerous immortal network. Dane begs Ash to join him at Coronado’s castle in Spain, and swears that his blood bond with Ash is stronger than Coronado’s hold over him. Ash is desperate to help Dane vanquish Coronado without having to sacrifice herself to the darkness. But when you’re all in, blood and salt, the only way to hold on to the light might just be by setting everything on fire.

review5 Stars 

Heart of Ash is exactly the book I needed at the right time. As many of you know, my reading record this year has been staggered and less than stellar. In the past week, I have read 3 horrible ARCs and I was questioning what happened to YA. For every 20 books there may be 1 truly great one. When did this become the norm? It could be me. It could be that over the past year, I have changed and become too busy, but I think that it’s because of that I’m okay with passing over books that are not for me and more than fine with slapping a DNF on a book that consumes my time with no heart. I don’t know if you have felt it to, but it feels like a turning point in YA. How has your reading been going?

That being said, Heart of Ash restored my faith in YA and my love of reading. The twists, the angst, the lust, the suspense, everything about this book sucks you in like a sweet and sometimes bloody addiction. When I read Blood and Salt, I was impressed with the story, but Heart of Ash blew the first book out of the water. 

The writing is beautiful, with profound and emotion-laced introspection at every turn.

The twists and turns keep you guessing to the point that nothing is what it seems.

I love this book. From the lush setting, to the deep, pulsating romance. What I appreciated was that while the book was essentially a romance, it felt like more. I was invested in every character, hoping for the HEA when everything seemed destined to end in total destruction. I hoped for more for these cursed lovers.

Great plotting. Better pacing. 

The blood and evil pours off the pages. When the truth is out…it’s astounding and powerful that Ash can withstand and overcome so much. Ash flirts with darkness and makes the choice to sacrifice herself and chance at happiness for the happiness of others.

The chemistry is straight fire. Slow burning sometimes, simmering others, and a blaze the next. There are some scenes that I would mark as mature YA, but they fade to black, not before all that angst and tension builds. Their love is explosive, volatile, and eternal. 

There are so many things I could say about this book, but the most important is: read this. 

If you like dark and twisted with a greater chance at utter devastation than happily ever after, try the Blood and Salt series.

If you like any of the following, enjoy this:

Read your heart out, 
Jordan
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ARC Review: Burning Bright by Chris Cannon

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synvia Goodreads

Bryn is back for her senior year at the Institute for Excellence, also known as shape-shifting dragon school. She isn’t sure which is scarier, the life-force sucking dragons stalking campus or the fact that she’s officially betrothed to Jaxon, a guy who will never love her. Not that she could ever love him, either… That’s just ridiculous.
 
Senior year should be fun. Her parents are alive, she’s finally fitting in, and she’s learning how to be a Medic. But what’s with Jaxon giving her strange looks? He runs hot and cold, and he doesn’t even have the excuse of being a hybrid fire-and-ice-breathing dragon like her. One minute they’re having a great time and the next, she wants to blast a fireball at his head. The marriage contract of doom looms over them–unless this match not made in heaven kindles a flame…

review3/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen 

I think part of the reason I was underwhelmed by this book is because I loved Bryn’s story so much. I was so invested in her story, that I yearned for a happy ever after. I was not disappointed. Watching the love blossom and evolve and grow was like a sudden discovery of something that has always been there. Bryn is one of my all time favorite characters. She’s sarcastic, headstrong, brilliant, and so brave. A risk-taker, a leader-she breaks down walls and questions authority, unwilling to give into the archaic ideas of gender roles-especially for the upper class dragons. Bryn is a true warrior and she deserves someone equally as fierce. 

My biggest issue with this final installment in the Going Down in Flames series was not the plot, because that was epic, but the uneven focus. So much time was spent dwelling on the will they/won’t they of the impending relationship that it disrupted the pacing, making it much slower than the previous books. 

I adored Bryn’s internal dialogue. How she questions herself, sorts through her feelings, and pushes herself to be bold, further, to see things in a new light made me admire her even more. Everything was so genuine, from the confusion to the surprise lust. 

Jaxon. What a powerful shift. From the cold, calculated, and arrogant jerk he originated the series as to the compassionate, loving person he becomes. His walls were high and armored but he was willing to take a chance. I have crushed on Jaxon since book 1. There’s something about a bad boy, semi-villain that is so intriguing. Jaxon has much more depth and heart than he was ever given credit for and it’s finally in this book that we get to see Jaxon broken and bare, with his heart on his sleeve. ❤ ❤ ❤

All in all, this was a quick, fun read, but not all that I hoped for the conclusion of the series. 

Read on, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine

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Something is wrong in Hidden Creek. The sleepy Alabama town is more haunted than any place fiend hunter Grisham Caso has ever seen. Unearthed graves, curse bags, and spilled blood all point to an evil that could destroy his gargoyle birthright. The town isn’t safe for anyone, and everyone says fiery Piper Devon knows why.

Piper wants to leave Hidden Creek behind. She’s had enough of secrets—they hide in the shadows of her room and tell her terrible things are coming. Too-charming city boy Grisham might be her only chance to save herself.

To survive, Piper and Grisham have to shed their secrets and depend only on each other. But what lurks in Hidden Creek still might take everything away from them, including each other.

review3/5 Stars

***I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen

+++Triggers for self harm, violence, animal cruelty/death

PROS:

  • The gritty and graphic material. The descriptions are grotesque and disturbing. The occult stuff is awesomely weird and full on terrifying at times. 
  • This version of a gargoyle is way different from what I’ve come to expect. It’s a little Anna Dressed in Blood meets Supernatural with a fierce guy who hunts down monsters as his birthright. He rides a motorcycle. He’s got razor-sharp claws. His sole purpose is to kill these gross and horrifying fiends that are far more powerful than your average ghost. 
  • Depictions of a lesser known form of OCD were informative, researched, and necessary. Understanding the spectrum of disorders and not sticking everyone in a box is what Piper’s condition is all about. I loved that about this story. That it showed more than one form of OCD and how it can manifest in ways that are not obvious or expected. 
  • I liked that this was old school sleuthing mixed with paranormal. There are still murders, vandalism, and missing people to contend with and Piper and Gris work together to tackle those mysteries. 

CONS:

  • The pacing was abysmally slow. For subject matter that is so intriguing and mystery so bizarre, the book lacked the speed needed to keep my attention for long. Even with the driving need to uncover the mystery, the occult stuff, and the budding romance…it seemed like nothing really happened for several pages.
  • That Gris is trusted so easily is a little weird. He’s welcomed in Piper’s home after hardly any time. Their romance evolves quickly, though I did appreciate the fact that the author remarks on the timeframe and discusses how much of what they’re feeling could be lust and that they need to be levelheaded about their feelings. 
  • Piper accepting the existence of fiends and gargoyles almost immediately is not at all realistic. I expected much more of a freak out at least. 
  • The book does deal with self harm in the form of cutting, which the author addresses in the beginning for those who could potentially be triggered. The self harm, the fact that Piper can sort of turn it off by sheer willpower is strange to me. Every portrayal I’ve seen has been to the effect that it’s more than just a decision, that there’s a need or compulsion that cannot just be switched off because someone asks you to quit. 

Read on, 

Jordan

Interview & Giveaway: Witchtown by Cory Putman Oakes

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When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.

Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.

Secrets have their own power.

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YABM: Witchtown is an unexpected story. Often you find characters trying to get into some place special like Witchtown to be a part of the community, but the main characters want nothing more than to destroy. What are their motivations? What made you decide to take that route in the story?

CPO: There are a lot of stories about witches that involve a main character (a witch) desperately wanting to fit in with the “normal” folks and be part of the community. PRACTICAL MAGIC (by Alice Hoffman) is a wonderful example of this – I love those kinds of stories because I think they speak to a need we all have (to one degree or another) to be accepted for who we really are. When I was writing WITCHTOWN I thought it might be fun to turn that idea on its head – what if the main character was non-magical and all the “normal” folks in town were witches? What would that look like? And to go a step further, what if the main character wasn’t trying to fit in because of a pure, deep desire for belonging. What if her motives were more nefarious (or at least she thinks they are at the outset). It’s a twist on the more well-known witch story formula but I think it’s fun and it explores the need to belong in a different way.

YABM: Tell me about Macie. Why should we root for her? What are some of her best and worst qualities?

CPO: Macie was an interesting character to write. She and her mom are thieves, and they enter these witch-only towns (called havens) with the intent of stealing everything they can from the inhabitants and then using magic to erase the town-people’s memories so they can move on to the next haven and steal more. Macie is a liar, she sees people only as potential marks, and she has a really depressing, non-emotional way of analyzing every situation. On the surface, she’s not very likeable. But once you get to know her you start to understand that Macie has never had a chance to be good – or even to figure out for herself what “good” is. She’s been raised by a truly terrible human being (her mother) who has taught Macie that her only value lies in what she can steal. Because of their lifestyle, the constant moving and the mind erasing, she has no one in her life but her mother. Everybody else she has ever met has literally forgotten about her. On top of that, Macie depends on her mother to help hide who she really is (non-magical people, called “Voids” are not allowed in havens) so even after she starts to question their lives of crime, she doesn’t see a way of escaping it.

You meet Macie just as she has decided she doesn’t want to steal any more. Her mother convinces her to do one last big heist at the most mysterious (and wealthiest) haven of them all – Witchtown. Macie reluctantly agrees and then has to decide how far she’s willing to go (and how many people she’s willing to hurt) to free herself from her mother. When you break it down, she’s someone who desperately wants to be good but has no idea how to do it. She doesn’t always get it right. I hope people will root for her – I know I did!

YABM: Is the magic in Witchtown based off of any magical communities in real life?

CPO: The magic traditions in WITCHTOWN are based loosely on modern day paganism. I’m not religious myself, but I have a great deal of respect for modern pagans and it was really important to me to get that part of the story right. I ended up adding some things (for example, the distinction between “Natural” witches and “Learned” witches) for story purposes, but there are a lot of things in the book that came from my reading and talking with people who practice Wicca and other pagan belief systems. The idea of doing no harm, the holidays, the structure of the rituals, and the way that ancient beliefs interplay with modern life are all based on reality. So, I don’t know if there’s really a “Witchtown” somewhere – it would be insanely cool if there were. But there are people who practice religions similar to the one in WITCHTOWN and it was very important to me to portray that part of the story in a respectful and realistic way, while still being entertaining and serving the story. I really hope I managed to do that.

authorCoryWebsite | Twitter  | Facebook |  Goodreads

Sometime around sixth grade, Cory was forced to face the sad truth that being a heroine in a Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, or Madeleine L’Engle book was not, in fact, a valid future career choice. But since she thought it might be almost as much fun to grow up to be Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, or Madeleine L’Engle, she decided to do just that. She’s still working on it.

Cory’s path to being an author did not go in a straight line. There was the whole “maybe-I’ll-be-a-psychologist” thing (just on the side, until the writing took off) which led her to UCLA and an eventual B.A. in Psychology. Then there was the “maybe-I’ll-be-a-lawyer” thing (just on the side, until the writing took off) which led her to Cornell Law School, a J.D., and a year of working as a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. There was also a brief “maybe-I’ll-teach-law” phase (just on the . . . well, you know) where she taught business law to undergraduates at Texas State University.

But the writing thing was a bug that she just couldn’t shake, and she officially made her sixth grade dream come true in 2011, with her debut young adult novel, THE VEIL. Cory’s debut middle grade, DINOSAUR BOY, came out from Sourcebooks in February of 2015 and it’s sequel, DINOSAUR BOY SAVES MARS, launched in February 2016. Cory’s next young adult novel, WITCHTOWN, will come out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers on July 18, 2017.

Cory lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Mark (who, luckily for all concerned, decided to stick with the whole “maybe-I’ll-be-a-lawyer” thing), their two kids, and their pets. In addition to writing, Cory enjoys running, cooking, and hanging out with her family. She is proud to be represented by Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency. Photo by Sam Bond Photography.

Tour Schedule

Week One:

7/10/2017- Brittany’s Book Rambles- Interview

7/11/2017- Book Briefs- Review

7/12/2017- Always Me- Guest Post

7/13/2017- The Blonde Bookworm- Review

7/14/2017- YA and Wine- Interview

Week Two:

7/17/2017- Savings in Seconds- Review

7/18/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post

7/19/2017- Eli to the nth- Review

7/20/2017- Don’t Judge, Read- Review

7/21/2017- YA Book Madness- Interview

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3 winners will receive a hardcover of WITCHTOWN! US Only.

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Keep reading, 

Jordan

Promo: The Realmers Series by William Collins

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The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.

Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-operas and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.

Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon creatures to fight for him and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

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After the catastrophic events of book 1, Evan and Brooke are trying to come to terms with recent revelations. However, it isn’t long before their duties as Venators throw them back into action.

Whilst Evan faces a deathly trial to advance further in his training, Brooke embarks on her very first mission, which sees her embroiled in a war between the vampires and werewolves of London. If the werewolves and shifters baying for her blood wasn’t enough, Brooke also has to face a starkly changed Arantay.

Meanwhile the Dark-Venator forces are rising, whilst Evan and his friends contend with the mysterious disappearances of several Venators. Could they have been kidnapped? Evan also faces backlash from many of his fellow trainees, who hate or fear him. Evan thinks their reactions are bad now, but it would be nothing if they discovered his secret. His peers may even try to kill him if they learned the truth.

Evan knows he has to pass his trial to gain his first mission as a Venator, but he may never make it that far if his hidden powers aren’t controlled. Across the realms, a terribly malignant force has learned of Evan and Brooke, and plans to strike.

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Brooke has learned who engineered the war between werewolves and vampires in London, and if she and Arantay can’t stop it, not only will the city be destroyed, but everyone will know the Moonlight races exist.

Jed has discovered why Venators are being kidnapped from Veneseron, but now he’s trapped inside the captor’s lair himself, perhaps never to return.

Evan has set off on his own first mission, where he must travel through multiple bizarre worlds, attempting to stop a demonic cult. Unfortunately, two of Evan’s companions are two of his biggest rivals. His mission is thrown into further jeopardy when Evan learns he is being hunted by a force more powerful than anything he’s faced before.

Jed suffers a grisly injury. An enemy discovers Brooke’s biggest secret. Evan is marked by a wound magic can never heal, and not everyone survives.

Due to Moonlight War growing so long, it was split into two acts. As such, this novel continues directly from where Act I finished.

Excellent reading, 

Jordan

 

Guest Post: On Writing Strong Female Characters and Other Musings by Jennifer Siddoway

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As Rory Gilmore once said, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books.” I have never felt more connected to a character than in that moment, because I too, have lived a hundred different lives through the beautifully crafted pages of a novel. An author’s ability to paint a world with words is something that amazes me to this day, and will continue to do so for years to come.

I never thought that I would become an author, not even in my wildest dreams. Sometimes it still feels like I’m an imposter who has infiltrated this community and has not yet been discovered for the fraud she is. Yet, here I am about to release book two in the Earthwalker Trillogy and it finally feels like I’m treading water.

The heroine in this series, Wynn Hendricks, is a headstrong, fiery redhead who desperately wants to finish high school when a Demon Lord shows up in her bedroom and declares her soul his property. To regain her freedom, she must conquer the seven deadly sins. In doing so, she finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, with the angel Caleb as her only ally.

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I’m a big fan of strong female characters, and in Wynn’s story I really wanted to show her rising above this terrible situation and coming out on top. She doesn’t need a knight in shining armor to protect her, but would rather have someone love and support her while she rescues herself. Her journey covers a three-book arc that I’m hoping will show growth and depth of character over time. Each of the Demon Lords are unique and come at her in different ways, which I found fascinating to write about. I didn’t want the straightforward, hand over fist, showdown that you’d expect. They’re clever and come at her sideways, hoping that Wynn will become overconfident or make some fatal mistake. One of the things I like about them is that they do not make idle threats. Aidan and the other Demon Lords follow through on what they promise and that is terrifying, especially when they don’t play by the rules – nothing is off the table.

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After tragedy strikes the Hendricks family, Wynn leaves for college, hoping the Demon Lords follow her. She is reunited with Caleb after his fall from grace. Now, they no longer have to hide their feelings for one another. Together, they prepare for Wynn’s three remaining trials and encounter another demon who has infiltrated the Mortal Realm. Charlene is strong and beautiful, with complete control of her demonic powers – everything Wynn hopes to achieve one day.

The Demon Lords aren’t holding back, but they’re not the only ones who are conspiring against her. Maya is on the warpath and blames Wynn for Caleb’s decision to leave. Wynn learns that to defeat Aidan once and for all will come at a terrible price, taking her away from the ones she loves most.

With the help of some unlikely allies, can Wynn defeat the Demon Lords and finally make Aidan pay?

ExcerptHis lips broke from mine and left a trail of kisses down my neck, sending a jolt of hot confusion coursing through my body. Electric tingles ran up and down along my spine in a delicious need to hold him and have his body pressed against me. I tilted my head to give him better access and let out an involuntary sigh. “Caleb …” l breathed out dreamily.

“I love you.”

He cradled my face in his hands and pulled away briefly so that he could whisper, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.”

I breathed out a ragged laugh before kissing him again and losing myself completely in his touch. My body ignited beneath his hands and I all I could think about was this magnificent creature had pledged himself to me. His lips were on me once again, and I wrapped myself around him like a snake in another one of his passionate kisses. A moment later, I felt myself being lifted off the ground as he carried me back into the apartment.

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authorJennifer SiddowayWebsite/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Jennifer is an author from Tallahassee, Florida who writes paranormal romance and fantasy novels for young adults. She is a member of both Gulf Coast Authors and the Florida Writers Association.

After receiving a degree in theatre and working as a scenic artist for twelve years, she changed careers to do what she really loves—writing. Jennifer believes that part of her job as an artist and story teller is to create a narrative that explores a fresh perspective and leaves the audience thinking.

Even as a child, she has always been intrigued by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and particularly enjoys a twist on an established plot. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children.

 

 

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Kingdom of Darkness by Tricia Copeland

Release Date: June 21, 2017
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“… the previous night’s vision, or whatever it was, ended with a name I heard clear as day, as if the people were in my room. Ivy, the girl and boy recited together.”

– Camille

Could her dreams be real? Is she the key to freeing witches from their curse? Of course not, right? Thinking that her only chance at a normal life lay in a new treatment, Camille joins Dr. Antos and a group of teens for a month long camping trip in Iceland. There she meets Jude, a fellow schizophrenic. Dr. Antos invites Camille and Jude to extend their work with him on the island of Sardinia. Camille is suspicious of Dr. Antos’s intentions but her dad goes missing, leaving her no choice but to travel to Italy. Is she walking into a lion’s den or has her illness invaded her reality?

 OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

  
 author
Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in Colorado with her family. Her books include the clean new adult Being Me Series, Is This Me?, If I Could Fly, Thinking You Know Me, and the final installment, Being Me, as well as a young adult novellas, Drops of Sunshine and the Lovelock Chronicles, Lovelock Ones: Native One, published in The Butterfly Box. If she’s not out running, you can find Tricia at www.triciacopeland.com or your favorite social media.
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Enter for your chance to win a Kingdom of Embers ebook. 3 winners.

 

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Read on,
Jordan