Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Stand by A.L. Jackson

Goodreads/Amazon/iBooks/Kobo/B&N/GooglePlay/Signed Paperbacks

Release Date: May 22, 2017
Photographer: Wander Aguiar
Models: Tyler Halligan & Madelyn DeSantis
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From NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson comes the next seductive, unforgettable Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel…
 
Zachary Kennedy has never been known as a fighter, but he’ll never regret fighting for her…
 
I’m Zee Kennedy.
Quiet. Reserved. Predictable.
When my brother died, everyone thought I was just the good guy who stepped up to take his place in the band.
 
No one knew what I was hiding. The one thing I’ve been fighting for.
 
For six years, I’ve never lost focus.
 
Not until one chance encounter with Alexis Kensington.
 
Now she’s become my greatest temptation.
I knew better than to touch her, but now that I’ve had a taste, I can’t get enough.
Her kiss becomes my air. Her body my salvation.
 
She needed a savior and somehow she became mine.
 
Taking her was a betrayal. But keeping her means risking everything.
One look at Alexis Kensington, and I know she’s worth the fight.
Will my past continue to keep me down or will I finally find the strength to pull myself up and Stand!

teaserStand_5

ExcerptHis voice was low. The word might have been a question had it not glided across my skin like familiarity and warmth. “Alexis.”

I barely nodded, my response a whisper as my heart fluttered and sped. “Alexis.”

His gaze dipped for a moment, tracing me head to toe. As if he needed reassurance I was here. Something about it felt so intimate and private, as if maybe when he’d chipped away that piece of my soul he somehow knew he held it, too.

“I hope it’s okay I’m here,” he said, forcing my attention back to his eyes.

A lump grew heavy in my throat and I swallowed around it, nodding as I tried to find my voice. “Of course it’s okay.”

Maybe I should have been hearing warning bells. A thousand caution flags tossed in the air and raining down around me. Because there was something about this brilliant boy that screamed trouble and mayhem. Undoubtedly, this man wore his own beautiful brand of destruction.

And I was the fool who always seemed to run straight for it. Diving right into the middle of it without having the first clue what was waiting for me.

“I’m Zachary Kennedy. Friends call me Zee,” he said, shifting on his feet as if he were wondering what he was doing here.

I could feel the pull of the soft smile at the side of my mouth. “I know who you are.”

“Is that so?” he asked. Something about it rang with a tease.

I nodded.

Of course I did. He was the drummer for one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

And I realized that probably put both of us at a disadvantage. No doubt he had women throwing themselves at him any time he walked off a stage or into a room. Wanting a taste of fame or maybe a name to drop, salivating over this boy simply for who he was.

It didn’t help he had to be the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen.

But this was different. The staggering need I felt to know him more. Not the boy pinned to Pinterest boards labeling him a sexy, tattooed bad boy. Not the boy splashed across the tabloids with their speculations and judgement.

The real man.

This man made up of flesh and bone. The man who rushed into an alley in the middle of the night to defend a complete stranger. The man who’d tenderly rocked me in his arms while I’d felt the controlled rage radiating from his body.

The one who now stood in my doorway, spinning my mind with how he could both look so powerful and vulnerable.

My insides shook, and I took a step back and widened my door. “Would you like to come in?”

A smile crept to his mouth that would be my complete undoing, this tug of full, soft lips framed by his beard. He tilted his head to the side. “You’re awful brave to be inviting a complete stranger into your house.”

I lifted my chin and met his gaze. “A complete stranger who put his life on the line. A stranger who stood between me and a gun. You could have died, and I very well might have if it wasn’t for you. Trust comes in a lot of forms, and I’m pretty sure you’ve already earned mine.”

giveaway

Grand Prize: Bleeding Stars Signed Book Bundle

(includes first 5 books in Bleeding Stars Series)

Second Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

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 author
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 installment STAND, coming Spring 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 – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 24587 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.
Happy reading, 
Jordan

Spotlight & Giveaway: Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott

prettyAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Kobo | iTunes | Indiebound

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

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An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat novel about a teen who, when backed into a corner, fights back, from the author of What Waits in the Woods

Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal, more special, than her boyfriend, Oliver.

But when she’s attacked by someone from her mother’s past and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. Stalked at every turn, Oliver and Kaia must protect each other…or die trying.

authorKIERAN SCOTT is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including the Non-Blonde Cheerleader trilogy, the He’s So/She’s So trilogy, and Geek Magnet. She also wrote the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Private and Privilege series under the pen name Kate Brian. She is a senior editor at Disney/Hyperion and resides in New Jersey with her family. Visit kieranscott.net.

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Enter for your chance to win a copy of Pretty Fierce 

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One of my favorite things about writing PRETTY FIERCE was trying to figure out what Kaia would do next. I don’t consider myself to be particularly brave—except for the fact that I don’t mind public speaking which is one of those things that keeps people awake at night. But I imagine that if I were ever in a situation like Kaia is in—being pursued by bad guys, hunted down at every turn, forced to try to protect the man I loved—I’d probably end up a ball of blubbering mush in a corner. So when I was writing her, I would try to imagine the exact opposite of what I would do in a given situation, and then write that. More often than not, it ended up being the thing that I wish I would have the guts to do, but really just couldn’t imagine myself doing. And that’s what I think makes a great kick-butt heroine—someone who allows us to see the possibilities of what we could do—what we could be—if we could find that deep well of courage within ourselves.

Here is one of my favorite kick-butt heroines:

Laia, An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir

This book is just one of those reads that completely blew me away. It’s not only full of action and emotion and suspense and a ridiculously well-realized world, but the characters are so believable and realistically flawed. Laia, though an orphan, lives a relatively peaceful life in the military state of the Martial Empire, but when her grandparents are slain right in front of her and her brother, Darin—her only living relative—taken to prison, she rises to the occasion. Though Laia is almost always afraid, she takes on the role of spy/slave under basically the scariest woman in all of literature—the Commandant of Blackcliff Academy—in an attempt to save her brother. Laia’s fierceness is a quiet, but incredibly powerful kind. Sometimes the greatest strength lies where you least expect it.

Excerpt

KAIA

Oliver was bartering with the cab driver, trying to tip him with cans of soup, when we pulled up in front of my house, and their conversation faded into the background. A lump the size of a soccer ball formed in my throat. The house was exactly the same.

Same olive-green siding, same intricate white trim, same yellow and purple flowers bursting from the flower boxes. My parents’ rocking chairs sat on the porch, angled toward each other as if waiting for them to walk out the front door with glasses of lemonade. Next to them was the wicker couch that I’d always laid out on, my knees crooked over the arm, my bare feet dangling down the side closest to my father, so he could tickle them. The door was the same burgundy color and looked freshly painted. The lawn was recently mowed.

Was someone living here?

My heart seized.

Was my mother living here?

What if I walked through the door, and she was sitting on the couch in her old, fluffy pink slippers, waiting for me? What if, all along, all I’d needed to do was come home? The idea made me queasy with excitement and dread.

The taxi’s door opened, and Oliver was there, right in front of me. I blinked up at him. I hadn’t even heard him get out of the car. He offered his hand, but I ignored it and shoved myself out, feeling silly. I walked to the end of the driveway and looked at the garage. I could see the top of my father’s silver SUV through the garage door window. I felt disoriented, as if I’d stepped into a time warp.

“What?” Oliver asked. “What is it?”

“My dad’s car. It’s still here.”

If anyone was living here, it wasn’t a new family.

My pulse raced. I bounded up the porch steps and over to the fourth shingle under the second window, jabbing my fingers up under the crease. A key fell into my hand and the lump in my throat widened.

“You okay?” Oliver asked.

All I could do was nod. Tears were threatening to spill over. I shoved the key into the lock, turned it, and pushed open the door, quaking with pent-up emotions—anticipation battling it out with hope and anger and fear.

No one was home. That was obvious the second I stepped inside. The air was stale with the scent of too many hot days with windows locked tight. A thin layer of dust had accumulated on the table next to the stairs, where my mother’s favorite, framed picture of our family sat. I ran a finger through the dust and swallowed.

Oliver squeezed my shoulders. “So,” he said lightly. “This is where you grew up.”

“Sort of. I mean, we were hardly ever here, but…we were here more than any other place. My parents called it ‘home base.’”

Oliver kissed my cheek and squeezed my shoulders again, grounding me. Reminding me that even though my parents weren’t here, he was. He headed toward the foot of the stairs.

“What’re you doing?” I asked, swiping a hand across my cheek.

His fingers curled around the top of the newel post and he grinned. “I’m going to go see your room.”

Oh crap.

“Oliver! Oliver, no!”

But he’d gotten a lead on me. By the time I made it to the second floor he was already throwing open doors. To the bathroom, the linen closet, the spare room, and then—

“Don’t,” I said, eyeing his hand on the doorknob.

“Oh, but I have to,” he replied playfully.

He opened the door, and a shaft of pink light engulfed him.

“Oh. My. God. It’s like a My Little Pony shrine in here!”

My love of pink had come from my mother. But while she had used the color as a mere accent—a bag strap here, a beaded bracelet there, the occasional stripe on a headband—I had embraced the color with every fiber of my being. When I was four.

“You cannot judge me by this room!” I said, arriving at the door as he flung himself, face up, onto my canopy bed.

Damn. It was even pinker than I remembered. A light pink rug, pink and hot pink striped walls, a pink flowered canopy and pink plaid sheets. There were pink stuffed animals, a pink-framed mirror, pink bookshelves filled with pink and purple and white books and toys and knickknacks. There was no color in the room other than pink and white and purple. Except for Oliver. He was all gray T-shirt and tan skin and blond hair.

“I never had you pegged for a Disney Princess,” Oliver said, pushing himself up on his elbows.

I walked over and sat next to him. The bed gave a familiar squeak. “I thought about changing it when I was thirteen, but we never got around to it. We were rarely here, so it didn’t seem to matter. I never even thought about the fact that a guy might see it one day.”

“Are you saying I’m the first guy you ever invited into your Barbie Dreamhouse?”

“I didn’t exactly invite you,” I pointed out, shoving his chest. “You barreled right in.”

Oliver reached an arm around my waist. He got that look in his eye he only got when we were entirely alone. It made my heart catch.

“Just like the day we met.”

I smiled. The day we met. Probably the single best day of my life.

Now, an entire year of kisses and phone calls and texts and adventures and secrets and whispers and near-death experiences between us, we were sitting in my pink explosion of a room, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer luck I felt at finding him. I leaned down and kissed him. He pulled me to him, pressing the whole length of his body against mine, and slid his hand under my short hair, around the back of my neck. We kissed for a long time, legs intertwining, chests bumping, hands exploring. For those few spare minutes, there was only Oliver.

Then he rolled me onto my back, and I winced as one particular bruise on my spine ached. I sat up, remembering why we were here. Oliver almost fell off the bed.

“What? What’s wrong?” he said.

“Oliver,” I replied, gasping for air. “I have to show you something.”

Fierce reading,

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant


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Eva Walker is a seventeen-year-old math genius. And if that doesn’t do wonders for her popularity, there’s another thing that makes it even worse: when she touches another person or anything that belongs to them — from clothes to textbooks to cell phones — she sees a vision of their emotions. She can read a person’s fears and anxieties, their secrets and loves … and what they have yet to learn about calculus. This is helpful for her work as a math tutor, but it means she can never get close to people. Eva avoids touching anyone and everyone. People think it’s because she’s a clean freak — with the emphasis on freak — but it’s all she can do to protect herself from other people’s issues.
 
Then one day a new student walks into Eva’s life. His jacket gives off so much emotional trauma that she falls to the floor. Eva is instantly drawn to Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist who also has a troubled home life, and her feelings only grow when she realizes that she can touch Zenn’s skin without having visions. But when she discovers the history that links them, the truth threatens to tear the two apart.
Excerpt
 
           While he waits for his coffee, I snuggle deeper into the couch, hoping he won’t notice me. The only thing worse than filling out college applications the night of the homecoming dance is your crush seeing you fill out college applications the night of the homecoming dance. I guess it should make me feel better that he’s not at the dance, either, but it doesn’t. When guys don’t go to homecoming it seems like a conscious choice. When girls don’t go, it just seems like they didn’t get asked.

….

            “Tall black drip!” the barista calls out, like she’s calling out his name and not the drink. Zenn is tall and dark, but there is nothing drippy about him. He is most definitely non-drippy, whatever that means. He takes his coffee and I think I am home free until he steps away from the counter.
           Crap. He sees me. I am equal parts mortified and thrilled.
           He raises his cup in a silent greeting and comes a few steps closer. He opens the lid and I try not to stare at his mouth as he blows on his coffee to cool it.
          “Hey, Zenn.” My voice sounds goofy in my own ears. Too loud in this small, cozy space.
          He takes a tentative sip from his cup. Straight black coffee, no cream, no sugar, no chocolate syrup. What a badass.
          “No homecoming for you either?” he asks.
          I close my laptop and press my hands against the warm surface. I shrug.
         “I’m not much of a dancer.”
          Zenn nods in agreement. “Yeah. Me neither.”
          He comes even closer and sits down on the arm of the sofa across from me. His knees are spread wide, his forearms resting on his inner thighs, his hypnotizing hands holding his coffee in the triangle between his legs. He looks so comfortable, so at ease in his own skin. How does one get that way? You wouldn’t think it would be hard – I mean, we’re born in our skin. It should be pretty comfortable by the time you hit seventeen, eighteen.
          But for me … not so much.
 
Excerpt from Zenn Diagram © 2017 Wendy Brant, with permission from Kids Can Press.
author
 
So my name alone should give you a clue that I graduated from high schoo when bangs were big and clothes were baggy. I went to Northwestern University and majored in journalism even though I had no desire to be a journalist. I’ve been married to a great guy for a whole drinking-aged person’s life. I’ve got two amazing and yet very different (and very tall) teenage kids.  I like crappy food, pinning inspirational quotes on Pinterest, have a tendency to start paragraphs with “anyway”, and I wish I were funnier. I would love to be one of those really, REALLY funny bloggers (like Insane in the Mom-Brain) that makes you pee yourself a little bit. I am only moderately funny. I admit that. It’s one of my great sadnesses in life. I started writing fiction when I was 10, but tried to be practical with the whole journalism thing. Didn’t take. Shortly after college, the fiction-writing desire reared its non-practical head and I’ve been writing ever since.

 

Anyway, I’m probably just like you. We’d probably be friends if we met in real life. (Well, let’s be honest. It’s likely that only my friends are actually reading this blog, so we probably ARE friends in real life.) But whether we are friends in real life, or just virtual friends through cyberspace, I hope you will enjoy your time here. 

giveaway 3 winners will receive a hardcover of ZENN DIAGRAM, US Only.

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Read on, 

Jordan

Release Week Blitz & Excerpt: Other Breakable Things by Kelley York & Rowan Altwood

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Entangled Publishing | Goodreads

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According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.

Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her.

Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again.

And now it is.

Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn.

And she’s not giving up so easily.

A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be.

Right down to the thousandth paper crane.

Excerpt

Nembutal isn’t a name I recognize. One of Luc’s medications? Something he wanted to try that he couldn’t get here? He didn’t tell me anything about it. I Google the name and get an array of results: Nembutal (pentobarbital), sedative and anticonvulsant. Used to treat tension, anxiety, nervousness, and epilepsy. Pentobarbital may induce death in high dosages and is used for euthanasia in both humans and animals.

My legs nearly give out.

The night Luc went to the hospital, I saw webpages open on his phone on euthanasia in Oregon. It hadn’t seemed right, and I hadn’t been able to wrap my head around it at the time, and so I’d shrugged it off and never even broached the subject with Luc. He could have been looking it up for any number of reasons. Curiosity brought about by temporary desperation.

This, though? This is a step further. This makes me feel cold all over.

The bathroom door swings open and Luc steps out. I hadn’t even heard the shower turn off. He’s dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, towel around his shoulders, and he

pauses when he sees me. “Evelyn?”

I could ignore it. I’m overreacting. I have to be…right? Yet I find myself turning to stare at him, holding up the business card and trying to keep my voice level. “What’s this?”

There’s a hitch in Luc’s step as he crosses the room to take it from me, and he won’t meet my eyes. “Just something someone gave me the other day. I don’t know.”

Any hope I had that this was some dumb misunderstanding is quickly fading. “Don’t lie to me.”

“It’s nothing,” Luc insists, pushing a hand back through his wet hair and turning away. “Just…don’t. I don’t want to—it’s not…”

“It’s not what? Not what I think it is?” My voice cracks near the end, and Luc goes still, as though he knows this entire conversation is about to hit the roof. I snatch my phone back up and read to him aloud: “Pentobarbital is contained in a group of drugs called barbiturates.”

“Evelyn…”

“Used to treat insomnia and seizures—”

“Evelyn.”

“—and for human euthanasia. Death in a bottle.” I lower the screen and stare at him, fighting back the overwhelming flood of tears threatening to reduce me to a complete mess. “Is that not what I think it is?”

Slowly, Luc turns to me, his expression one of guilt and grief and frustration. “I’m dying. You know that.”

I twist my fingers around my phone so tightly it hurts.“We’re all dying, Luc.”

“Some of us faster than others.”

auth

Kelley York and Rowan Altwood are a wife and wife writing team living in central California with their daughter and way too many cats. Kelley is the author of Hushed, Made of Stars, and Modern Monsters, and Other Breakable Things is Rowan’s debut.

Website | Kelley York Twitter | Rowan Altwood Twitter | Author | Kelley York Goodreads | Rowan Altwood Goodreads

Happy reading, 

Jordan

 

Spotlight & Giveaway: But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

 

BUT THEN I CAME BACK9780544531260_hresAmazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Goodreads

Pub. Date: April 4, 2017

 

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Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed? 

authorEstelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

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3 winners will receive a hardcover of BUT THEN I CAME BACK, US Only. 

Enter Giveaway

Tour Schedule

Week One:

3/27/2017- Literary Dust- Interview

3/28/2017- The Best Books Ever – Review

3/29/2017- Novel Novice- Guest Post

3/30/2017- Portrait of a Book- Review

3/31/2017- Literary Meanderings- Excerpt

 

Week Two:

4/3/2017- YA Book Madness- Review

4/4/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Review

4/5/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview

4/6/2017- Just Commonly– Review

4/7/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Excerpt

Keep reading,

Jordan

ARC Review: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

things i should have knownGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

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From the author of Epic Fail comes the story of Chloe Mitchell, a Los Angeles girl on a quest to find love for her autistic sister, Ivy. Ethan, from Ivy’s class, seems like the perfect match. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy.

Uncommonly honest and refreshingly funny, this is a story about sisterhood, autism, and first love. Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan, who form a quirky and lovable circle, will steal readers’ hearts and remind us all that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

review

4/5 Stars 

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

I’ve read a ton of books lately that I’ve loved, but this is the first book in maybe years that I can honestly say I’m grateful for. There are so many beautiful things that happen in this book and they’re done so well that you might not even notice until it hits like an epiphany and the biggest of those things is spreading awareness. People make assumptions and judgments about what autism is, how those who have it should function (or not) in society, and say offhand comments that are both offensive and ignorant. This book does a fabulous job of making people think about what they say and their prejudices against those who are different. Some parts are profound in their simplicity and eye-opening with the totally real and heart wrenching examples that happen in everyday life. 

What’s great about this book is that it showcases various forms of autism that show up on the spectrum. Not all autism is the same and mannerisms, behaviors, and what upsets each person is totally individual. No two cases are identical and how to cope with anxiety, sadness, and rapid mood changes varies immensely. You really have to know the person to understand. Claire LaZebnik stresses that point in the relationships between Ivy and Chloe and David and Ethan. Their parents are not as observant or patient as they could/should be and the siblings know each other best.

When Ivy or Ethan are upset, Chloe and David break through their defenses, ask them questions, and notice when they start tapping or talking louder that these are signs of distress that an outsider would not pick up on. When kids are “freaking out” in public we have a tendency to be dismissive and judgmental, to say it’s poor parenting, the child is a brat, or get angry because they’re “spoiling” your day. Several times throughout the book, Ethan and Ivy are pitied, looked down upon, and their opinions rejected because they “don’t know any better,” it made my blood boil just reading those words. There’s a scene where they’re at the bowling alley and these old ladies make comments about “them” being allowed out and whether they should use bumpers “for safety”, which could be a legitimate concern if there was a visible problem but the condescending approach, speechless. 

Ivy and Ethan are incredibly real. If you’ve ever met someone with autism, you’ll recognize the blunt, factual commentary, focus on a specific niche or activity, and trouble processing the “why” question in regards to emotions and feelings. This book will truly make you think about things you might have never considered. How does someone who may not process/understand or know how to convey their feelings deal with lust or attraction? I mean, this is so so important. If someone who has autism has questions about this, how do they know if they’re attracted to the same sex? The LGBT dimension of this book is challenging and urges the reader to question. The conversations between Ivy and Chloe are fueled by understanding and asking matter of fact questions that lead Ivy to come to her own conclusions. These are model conversations and full of so much love. 

David is an intriguing character. He’s sarcastic, cold, antisocial, and yet, there’s something about him that’s compassionate and will win your heart. The way he adores his brother and is willing to sacrifice his future for him, total swoon material. Don’t get me wrong, he’s abrasive and takes a bit to get used to, but he’s a catch. 

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Chloe. The way she let terrible comments roll off her, the way she let her boyfriend and friends say stuff about Ivy, like she was abnormal or a mistake conflicted with the understanding and love she showed her sister. At first, Chloe seemed like an opinioned, flighty, typical popular girl and I pretty much loathed her. She fought one moment and shut down to keep her hot girl status the next. She does grow as the story progresses but it takes a long, long time. 

Sometimes the pacing was slow because they focus was on the lust between Chloe and her boyfriend, which was full of semi-repulsive groping and horrible comments about Ivy and the fact that the boyfriend didn’t get enough attention because she was always helping out her sister. Just no.

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review & Giveaway: Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

garden of thorns banner copygarden-of-thornsGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

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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. 

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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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Jordan