Guest Post: Proof of Lies Playlist by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

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Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

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PROOF OF LIES Playlist by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

It’s hard to make a playlist for a new book without giving away too many spoilers. Let’s face it, if you include a funeral song (“In the arms of the Angel,” Sarah McLachlan), wedding song (“At Last,” Etta James), or a just plain depressing song (“Hallelujah”, Jeff Buckley), it gives a rather large hint as to what’s to come. But as a reader, I also don’t like when playlists are too obscure (songs you’ve never heard of) or not in the order in which they would appear in the book. It’s nice to know exactly what scene is playing in an author’s mind when she hears a song.

So behold—my playlist for PROOF OF LIES equipped with the exact chapters that the songs fit. I can’t say too much beyond that, but after you read the book, take another look at this list and see how you think I did.

Epigraph

One by U2 & Mary J. Blige  

For a very long time, the bellow lyrics were the epigraph at the beginning of the PROOF OF LIES manuscript. I had to change it, because you know, U2 lyrics don’t come cheap. But in my head, these worse are still there (and they’re being song as a duet by Bono and Mary J).

“Have you come here for forgiveness

Have you come to raise the dead

Have you come here to play Jesus

To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much

More than a lot

You gave me nothing

Now it’s all I got

We’re one

But we’re not the same”

Chapter 2: House Party Scene

Momma I’m Coming Home by Ozzy Osbourne

“I’ve seen your face a hundred times

Everyday we’ve been apart

I don’t care about the sunshine, yeah

‘Cause mama, mama, I’m coming home

I’m coming home”

Chapter 4: Talking to the Police

Unsteady by X Ambassadors

“Mama, come here

Approach, appear

Daddy, I’m alone

‘Cause this house don’t feel like home

If you love me, don’t let go

If you love me, don’t let go

Hold

Hold on

Hold on to me

‘Cause I’m a little unsteady

A little unsteady”

Chapter 20: Cortona, Italy with Luis

Demons by Imagine Dragons

“Don’t want to let you down

But I am hell bound

Though this is all for you

Don’t want to hide the truth

No matter what we breed

We still are made of greed

This is my kingdom come

This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat

Look into my eyes

It’s where my demons hide

It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close

It’s dark inside

It’s where my demons hide

It’s where my demons hide”

 

Chapter 26: Leaving Rome, Italy

Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers

“I need you, I need you, I need you right now

Yeah, I need you right now

So don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

I think I’m losing my mind now

It’s in my head, darling I hope

That you’ll be here, when I need you the most

So don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

D-Don’t let me down

Don’t let me down”

Chapter 30: Venice, Italy with Marcus

I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

“You and me have seen everything to see

From Bangkok to Calgary

The soles of your shoes are all worn down

The time for sleep is now

It’s nothing to cry about

Cause we’ll hold each other soon

The blackest of rooms

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied

Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs

If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks

Then I’ll follow you into the dark”

Chapter 33: Venice, Italy preparations

Hero by Family Of the Year

“So let me go

I don’t wanna be your hero

I don’t wanna be a big man

I Just wanna fight with everyone else

Your masquerade

I don’t wanna be a part of your parade

Everyone deserves a chance to

Walk with everyone else”

Chapter 34: Venice, Italy Piazza

Helena by My Chemical Romance

“Burning on just like a match you strike to incinerate

The lives of everyone you know

And what’s the worst you take (worst you take)

From every heart you break (heart you break)

And like the blade you stain (blade you stain)

Well, I’ve been holding on tonight

What’s the worst that I can say?

Things are better if I stay

So long and goodnight

So long and goodnight”

Chapter 35: Venice, Italy

Fix You by Coldplay

“When the tears come streaming down your face

When you lose something you can’t replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you”

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

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When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

review4/5 Stars 

Unpopular opinion time. It turns out that there’s a ton of controversy surrounding this book because of some dismissive and rude comments made by the author about the YA genre. Here’s the thing, I did not read anything about this book or any of the Goodreads comments before my rating. This is a 100% unbiased, non-influenced rating on the story alone. While I do not agree with the author’s perception of dystopia YA or some off the offhand comments made by Gwen within the story, authors and characters do not always share beliefs. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the author’s opinions from the character’s and vice versa. I thought I would preface this review by saying that whether or not I like the author has absolutely nothing to do with this review because so many of the Goodreads reviews are attacks on the author not the book. 

Now that that’s out of the way, I loved this book. This is exactly what I’ve been searching for in YA. A thriller. Spies, lies, cover ups, danger, it’s like Bourne Identity for teens. And there are so many important and eye-opening topics discussed within the story about crime, human trafficking, and other terrifying and unsavory aspects of society. While the story wasn’t perfect, it definitely kept me engaged and enthralled with Gwen and her quest to save her father. I kept asking myself how far I’d go to save my loved ones.

Gwen is made of reckoning and a hunger for vengeance. I adore her. She’s of Jewish heritage, thick-waisted, opinionated, speaks multiple languages, and likes jazz. I mean, come on, that alone is enough to keep you interested. When Gwen embraces her new identity at Sofia, we see her transformation and wow, what a switch. The girl she started as is still there, but her alias is a fighter. Sofia is a vixen. She’s manipulative, calculating, more like an agent. She has a huge heart. She will go to the ends of the earth for her father and then some, sacrificing herself in the process. She knows she might die, she might get assaulted or scarred, but she is willing as long as she gets her father back. That’s insane and incredibly brave. Gwen has to shut off her emotions or she’ll break and sometimes it’s truly hard and devastating for her. In several scenes, I almost had to look away because I was so scared for her. But she puts on cruelty like armor and is surprisingly successful for such a small amount of training. 

There are so made shades of women within this story and they’re all powerful in their own ways. From prostitutes to the women who serve the crime bosses, from the trafficked girls to the bully at the introduction of the story, all of these women are fighters and wise to the ways of the world. They accept that sometimes life is dirty and hard and terrible, that horrific things happen but they can’t collapse, they rise and rebuild and take everything for what it is. Every character was memorable, even the fleeting ones and others that I abhorred. They were developed, multidimensional, and made me ask questions. 

Yael. OMG this woman. She’s fierce, hardened, cruel when she needs to be and lives by a do whatever it takes attitude. Suck it up and do what needs to be done. Yael is at times heartless and cold, others she’s mildly concerned. You can tell she feels a little motherly towards Gwen. Yael is the kind of woman, Mossad, who would take her child who can’t swim, throw him in a lake and tell him to find his way out; he’d learn pretty quick. I loveddddd her. She’s an epic badass of a character. 

The story itself is layered and developed. It’s cross multiple countries and gets right into the seedy underbelly of the cities. I have not been to most of the countries mentioned, so I can’t say how accurate the portrayal was, but there wasn’t much in way of description anyway. Scott Bergstrom appears to be more about the character than the setting. I loved the cyphers and the danger. Every edge of your seat moment was a new rush and there are so many. 

What I did not like was the random romance between Gwen and Terrance. He’s barely there, there’s no building, hardly any foundation, and while he is functional, the emotions are severely lacking and then suddenly it’s supposed to be like fireworks for the reader-yeah, no. I was not the biggest fan of the way Gwen was introduced at Danton Academy. While it did function to present her place in the social hierarchy, establish her race and figure, it felt clichéd and predictable. In fact, I don’t really know why it was there at all. School is nothing in this story. It’s gone in like 2 days of book time. 

Sometimes the pacing was slow. When you think of a thriller/suspense, you expect fast, but spy work and investigating is sometimes just pushing paper and waiting for leads, so in that respect, it was accurate. 

That ending. YES.

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

Suspenseful reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Safe and Sound by Alli Hope

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“Gritty and suspenseful with touches of swoon, Safe and Sound will keep readers on the edge of their seat.”

~Trish Doller, author of Where the Stars Still Shine

“Alli Hope is a brave new voice in YA Fiction. Compulsively readable, terrifyingly real at times, Safe and Sound is a thrilling debut novel sure to keep readers guessing until the end.”

~Lindsay Cummings, NYT Bestselling Author of Zenith

“Suspenseful, swoony, and full of heart. Safe & Sound is a thrilling debut by Alli Hope!”

~ CJ Redwine, NYT Bestselling Author of Shadow Queen

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16 year-old, 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 junior class golden boy, 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.

Warning: Safe & Sound contains explicit language and a scene that portrays explicit sexual abuse & molestation. We have included this in order to tell an accurate story; to be a voice for those who have none. And to bring light to an issue we believe must be brought out of the darkness and into a broader awareness. If you are sensitive to sexual abuse issues, please be advised.

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Enter for your chance to win 2 signed books from Katie McGarry. 

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Intense reading, 

Jordan

 

 

Cover Reveal: Project Pandora by Aden Polydoros

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Release Date: August 1, 2017

synOlympus is rising…

Tyler hasn’t been feeling like himself lately, his dreams are full of violence and death, and there are days where he can’t remember where he’s been.
Miles away, Shannon finds herself haunted by similar nightmares. She is afraid that she has done something terrible.
As the daughter of a state senator, Elizabeth has everything she could ever hope for. But when an uninvited guest interrupts a fundraising gala and stirs up painful memories, everything goes downhill fast.
Murder is what Hades is good at. So when two of his comrades go AWOL, he is rewarded with the most exhilarating hunt of his lifetime. For him, the game has just begun.
author
aden-polydoros
Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. 
As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin Project Pandora. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US. 
Thrilling reading, 
Jordan

Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

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Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

review

3/5 Stars

+++Contains graphic violence, grotesque imagery, self-inflicted mutilation, and scenes that could be disturbing to some readers. 

I loved Daughters Unto Devils so when I saw The Women in the Walls I was gleeful. It felt like a lovely early Christmas present for my horror-obsessed little heart. Then I started reading. I waited. And waited. And waited some more for something to happen and finally it did, but it took ages. The pacing is slow. So much so that the tension doesn’t build like it should. Scenes that should have sucked all the air out of the room with the sheer creepiness of what was going on fell flat and missed their mark entirely in some places. 

The setting didn’t quite fit with the story. The Women in the Walls read like a Gothic novel, but was set (I’m assuming because of a few-very few-references) in present time. There were so many details that were left out. It bugged me that I had no clue how old the main characters were. All we know is that they are not legal adults. I was at a loss for what Lucy looked like. Descriptions of people were sparse. Apart from Lucy’s habit of self-mutilation, we really know nothing about her hobbies, her interests, her friendships, nothing. There are measly references to her mother, and some moderately detailed memories of her and Penelope, but that’s it. Lucy’s closeness to Margaret was stressed throughout, but there are no flashbacks, no nostalgia, and certainly no friendly interactions as the story evolves. If anything, they look like enemies. It’s hard to invest in their relationship when it felt as though it was never there to begin with. 

What Amy Lukavics excels at is those spine-tingling, chilling images that are blunt and brutal and made of nightmares. The horror is grotesque, packs a punch, and so bizarre that it takes a second for it to process and then, boom. I said this about Daughters Unto Devils as well, this would make a fantastic scary movie. Some statements are disturbing on levels that sink their teeth into you and keep going, gnawing at your thoughts. I can’t get them out of my head and that shows you how powerful those scenes are. 

The ending. The bulk of the horror happens in the last 15 or so percent of the book. What gets you is the anticipation. You know something terrible is coming. Something so bad that you persevere and wade through the slowness. Will it be paranormal? Will it be bloody? Will Lucy make it to the end of the book? What happened? All of these questions nag and plague and will drive you mad with need. I had to know. I pushed and fought and when I got there…

Holy plot twist. That’s some next level horror. The clues are minimal. You might expect it a little, but the full extent of what happens-never. 

That finale. The gore is enough to keep you awake for days. Read it with the lights on. You were warned. 

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

Hypnotic reading, 

Jordan

Re-Release Blitz & Giveaway: Dangerous Love by Liz Lovelock

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU / B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS / GOODREADS

Cover Design: Letitia, RBA Designs 
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 Jay Jones, a first-rate police officer, is given a new undercover assignment which forces her to reassess her insecurities and to build a relationship of trust with her new partner. He’s the one man she thought she’d never see again. A man who once held her happiness and then took it with him when he left, Brayden Falcone.

Years after suffering a significant loss, Jay remains guarded. The pain of getting hurt still haunts her. She holds a secret so great, it eats away at her happiness. She wants to tell Brayden all about what they both lost. But, all she remembers is the loneliness she felt and, the heartbreak she suffered.

Working closely with Brayden, she knows he’s the one person who can save her from the hellish crimes she’s about to witness.

But Jay isn’t the only one who’s keeping secrets.

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Excerpt

Despite the heartbreak he caused me, the feelings I had for him have never completely disappeared. Reduced, definitely, but they’re still there. A first love leaves a special imprint on one’s heart. There was so much good with us, but also so much bad, and Brayden left me with a view that love will always be tainted. The L word is now a dirty word and something I’m incapable of. Serious relationships are non-existent in my life. He made sure he destroyed them for me, just like he shattered my happiness.

Relaxing into my pillows and releasing a breath, I try to calm my racing heart. Closing my eyes, I silently hope and pray that I will sleep better for the rest of the night. As I begin to settle in, a strange sensation prickles over my already clammy skin.

Someone’s watching me.

My eyes open slightly and move to a dark silhouette standing in my doorway. Panic begins to take over, and my machines beep crazily once again. Fumbling for my buzzer, I know I need a nurse, but as I hold the device in my hands my eyes catch the doorway, and the silhouette is gone.

author TWITTER/FACEBOOK/AMAZON/INSTAGRAM/GOODREADS/WEBSITE/NEWSLETTER

Liz Lovelock is from bright sunny Queensland in Australia. She is the mother of three little monsters, a wife to an amazing husband and very much a lover of everything books and reading. Liz has always loved books and, from a very young age she began reading comic books and then in high school her passion grew. She was given Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden for an assignment but, when that was done she continued to discover new books to fall in love with.

Liz always has a book she is currently enjoying and, a notebook beside her bed for in her hand bag for when inspiration hits at those crazy times. She is a stationary addict and will buy more notebooks and pens then what she needs. Her one click finger likes to go crazy as well.

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Thrilling reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

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Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it’s just the risk she’s been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

review

2.5/5 Stars 

+++Parts of this story are MATURE

The Devil You Know was not at all what I expected it to be. You know those horror films that start out with a bunch of kids partying and end up with someone winding up dead? This is exactly like that, I can easily see it as a film. The familiar tropes were there: restless heroine looking to escape, love triangle with two hot out of towners, a series of semi-sinister but not entirely scary incidents. It all feels so familiar and more than a little predictable. 

The premise didn’t sit right with me. I don’t care how tired of her situation the main character is (it’s stressed repeatedly), she’s responsible, smart, and known for making rational choices, so when she makes the decision to ride off into the sunset…or in this case a canoe, with complete strangers it made zero sense. Everything felt super fast in terms of development-so much so that it was jarring. The insta-attraction was fierce, the meet and run away happened within hours. What kind of crazy person hops in a car with two random guys she met the night before? It wasn’t exactly believable for modern times…maybe if it was set in the 70s or even the 80s. 

The story was enjoyable though. It felt like a romance with just the right amount of angst and drama. The chemistry was hot. The boys were both contenders and had a lot going for them. A clean-cut, pretty boy, his rough cousin, tatted and with a record. There’s something for the good girl with a reckless streak in all of us. 

Scenery was spot on and engaging. The trip to Casadaga was especially interesting because I’ve been there and it’s a creepy, yet fascinating place that anyone should check out given the opportunity.

Secondary characters were memorable, if a little cliché. The ex boyfriend’s brother was much-needed comic relief and pretty gross, but in a lovable, perverse way. 

The twist had so many tells and clues that it came as no surprise to me, however this did not detract from the suspense-filled, adrenaline rush of a finale. 

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

Exciting reading, 

Jordan