Lost Review & New Review: Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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synThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

review4/5 Stars

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

Illuminae is a reading experience. The documents, interviews, emails, and recordings get the reader involved in every clue, panic attack, and bit of romance in this epic space thriller.

The pacing is inconsistent. At first, it’s an action-packed thrill ride that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat. The setting is insane. The danger, the terror of the invasion-it’s beyond intense. The middle part, despite the varied documents lags behind that initial hysteria only to pick up at the end with an unexpected and terrifying twist. 

Some scenes are gory and full of sickening detail. It’s awesome. The attacks are straight out of your favorite horror film and darkest nightmares. 

The world building is fierce and complex and full of politics that put profit over humanity. It’s cruel, despicable, and packed with drama. 

Kady is stellar as a protagonist. She’s conflicted in love, nostalgic, occasionally scared and so relatable, despite being a mad hacker on a space ship. Kady has skills. She uses her brain to dip into the computer systems and uncover secrets, take control, and steer everyone aboard away from utter destruction. The adrenaline is high. Her task has slim odds for survival and yet, Kady NEVER gives up. No matter how much is thrown at her, she fights and fights and keeps fighting for her people. 

The AI, wow. Unexpected and so cool. He’s got personality and such a presence. He’s dangerous, deadly, and struggles to understand emotion, but he’s sort of lovable in a weird way and the only thing saving our heroes from total devastation.

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Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

review

4/5 Stars 

My core issue with Gemina was the lack of rehash early on. There’s no explanation of previous events in Illuminae so I spent most of the book wondering what was going on and when it would link up with the previous story. I was super confused for much of the book. 

Hanna has a big personality, maybe even more epic than Kady’s in book 1. She’s a total, unabashed B.A. character. She’s fierce, intelligent, sexy, and full of sass. She flirts and plays and is one heck of a vixen, but underneath her perky, blonde exterior is a deadly force. Her fighting skills, her Sun Tzu references, her tactical skills, she’s wicked awesome and completely refreshing. She owns her body, her life, and will mess up anyone that threatens her. I’m impressed with how she transforms from a party girl to a warrior. The transition is smooth, floating to the surface because it was always a part of her. 

The added dynamic of Russian gang life was a marvelous addition to this story. The danger, the intrigue, the stories that went along with the Knives, the drama, it totally swept me away. 

Cat and mouse game to the extreme. Man the hunt is deadly, bloody, full of gross description, and the code names alone-each and every character is different, has a strong personality, and has their own reason for trying to capture Hanna. 

There’s a twist. It’s made of science and theory, and is a little confusing but the illustration helps. Oh the illustrations. They’re beautiful and hilarious, part comic book style and part precise diagrams. 

Elena. Oh my gosh, I love her. She’s a sarcasm queen, witty, and full of life. She doesn’t take put downs from anyone and is a genius on the computer. She’s a heroine that may even trump Hanna. Her interactions with Nik are adorable and lively. They fight like siblings, but the love floats off the pages.

Nik is complex. He’s a pervert, a flirt, and his comebacks are hilarious. He’s got the House of Knives gang cred and the tattoos to prove it. He’s so much more than meets the eye. He’s a big softy underneath that tough exterior and loves so hard it will make you swoon. His story is made of drama and lies and twists that will keep you guessing about who he truly is. 

I loved the set up at the end. The parallel between Hanna and Nik, the use of color, the poetic way it works together as one narrative despite the circumstances *no spoilers*. You have to see it. Trust me, it’s genius. 

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

Intense reading,

Jordan

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Cover Reveal: Friction by Casey L. Bond

Goodreads

Cover Designer: Cover Me Darling

Model: Daniel Wells

Cover Photography: Cassy Roop of Pink Ink Designs

Expected Release Date: Early August 2016

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A cure has been found for both the Infection and Vampirism, and Porschia Grant must take this news out of the colony. Between her friends volunteering to go with her and a well-planned route, the first journey should be easy. But when they make it to Mountainside, things are strange. The people are frightened of female night-walkers and won’t say why.

 
When the excursion takes a wrong turn, Porschia’s friends make a decision that will impact the rest of their lives. They expect to save Porschia from the evil contained in The Manor; they don’t expect to have to save her from herself.
 
When everything goes wrong, who will be left to pick up the pieces and save Ford from a threat no one could have seen coming?
 
What will happen when they risk everything to save one?
Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.

#Free with #KindleUnlimited
Frenzy: http://amzn.to/29P92Jg
Frantic: http://amzn.to/29P9cGp
Frequency: http://amzn.to/29VpTxG

Read on, 
Jordan

Review: Broken Lies-Claire Vale

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cooltext1889161239 copyScientists predicted it would take seventy years for the Arctic Shelf to completely melt. In the end, it took less than five. We lost thirty percent of our land to the oceans and a big chunk of our structure to panic and anarchy.

The Melt crippled us.

But it was the Arctic Virus at the bottom of The Melt, trapped for millennia in the darkest depths of ice strata, that broke us. The real flood was the Living Corpses. A population of billions turned to soulless, rabid shells within months. That’s what washed away the human race as we know it.

Born into a post-apocalyptic world, Lake has grown up in the last city standing. Governed by what used to be the Queen’s Cold Stream Guard, vaccinated against the threat, life in Windsor City is both harsh and fair. The rules are designed to strengthen the city and ensure survival.

Lake’s future is planned out with opportunities and unfair advantages and then there’s Ash—her best friend and hopefully more. Things could be worse, considering she’s living past the end of days. And, sometimes, she could definitely do with being a better person, which was what drafting into the Guard for two years of service was supposed to be about.

But she has no idea what she’s signed up for. The city is more vulnerable than she’d ever imagined, on its knees at the mercy of a megalomaniac organisation, and she’s just been chosen to pay the price

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***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Book Enthusiast Promotions. 

PROS:

  • Decisions to join the military are not as catastrophic as typically portrayed in dystopia. Here, it’s a duty and there’s little risk, despite the zombie issue. The zombies are violent, bloodthirsty, and disturbing (when they’re depicted). 
  • The nostalgic memories of Ash and Lake as children are adorably romantic. The emotions are charged and almost whimsical. The natural love is prominent and intoxicating. It’s wonderful seeing it build in these small moments.
  • Friendship saves lives in this story. Ava and Lake are inseparable, they get each other on the deepest levels and will do anything and everything for each other, even if it means running face first into a hungry zombie horde. 

CONS:

  • The plot was slow and didn’t pick up until a good 75% in. Not much happens apart from relationship drama and friendship issues. 
  • The ending almost feels like the beginning, as if the whole first section should have been a novella or prequel before the main event. 
  • Story elements are mashed together and they don’t mesh well. The explanation for The Melt and the Arctic Virus, the role of the military, and the whole history is thrown in haphazardly. A deeper, more in-depth explanation would have prepared the reader for where the story was going. Instead it’s a bunch of puzzle pieces missing a definitive connector. It’s unclear whether this is a zombie story, a military one, a dystopian, the focus was lost.

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

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Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Fever-Megan Abbot

Title: THE FEVER
Author: Megan Abbott
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 336
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The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.
 
As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.
A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation” (Laura Lippman). 
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Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels QueenpinThe Song Is YouDie a LittleBury Me DeepThe End of EverythingDare Me, and her latest, The Fever, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Summer by the New York Times, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.
 
Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
 
Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.
 
She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize.
 
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5 winners will receive a paperback copy of THE FEVER! US Only. Ends on May 22nd at Midnight EST!

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Pandemic-Yvonne Ventresca

Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca

I’m so excited to be celebrating one year of publication for Yvonne Ventresca’s contemporary disaster novel, PANDEMIC! Check out the book below and be sure to enter the amazing giveaway!

Even under the most normal circumstances, high school can be a painful and confusing time. Unfortunately, Lilianna’s circumstances are anything but normal. Only a few people know what caused her sudden change from model student to the withdrawn pessimist she has become, but her situation isn’t about to get any better. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak-her father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey-Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread illness and fatal disaster. Now, she’s more alone than she’s been since the “incident” at her school months ago.

With friends and neighbors dying all around her, Lil does everything she can just to survive. But as the disease rages on, so does an unexpected tension as Lil is torn between an old ex and a new romantic interest. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. In this thrilling debut from author Yvonne Ventresca, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound

cooltext1921345213 copyAt this point in Pandemic, there have been local cases of the Blue Flu, including one death. Lil visits her best friend, Megs, who is getting dressed to meet a boy she has only corresponded with online. This scene is a snapshot of both the mundane aspects and the very deepness of their friendship.

***

I found Megs surrounded by a dozen shirts heaped on her bedroom floor.

“What should I wear?” she asked. “I need something to go with my favorite jeans.” She plopped on her bed, face flushed.

I hesitated, torn between worrying about her safety and wanting to support her romantic longings. “You’re sure you want to go through with this?”

She nodded.

“Then don’t worry, we’ll find something. You have great clothes.” I glanced at her alarm clock. It was 6:15.

She followed my eyes. “I’ll be fashionably late.”

I pulled out a turquoise blouse that had fabric cutouts in the back.

“I need to look good from the front, not when I leave,” she said.

“Right.” I told her about Ethan while I searched her closet for something better.

“Are you sure you want to start with him again?” she asked.

“I don’t know. He made it sound like, how could I not give us one more chance?” My phone pinged. “Ugh.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Ethan’s already texting me.” I sighed. “He’s looking forward to tonight.”

“Ah, it’s nice to see he hasn’t lost that stalker-ish quality.”

I glared at her.

“Lil, you know I’m right. If your heart’s not in it, don’t go.”

“I miss my old life before . . . everything.” I kept flipping through her closet.

“But dating Ethan again won’t magically turn back time. It won’t make the other stuff vanish.”

“I guess you’re right,” I said.

“Hmm . . . at least we both have dates tonight.”

“It’s not a date. I’m going over to his house.”

“I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about tomorrow,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m finally meeting him.”

Near the back of the closet, a black top with three-quarter sleeves was lodged between two camis. I didn’t even take it all the way out before Megs shook her head. Her face was shiny and I realized she was sweating. “Are you nervous?”

“A little. I’m not feeling great. I think it’s all the excitement.”

“You shouldn’t go if you don’t feel well.”

She scowled at me. “I have to go. I can’t explain it. It feels like part of something bigger, like destiny.”

I pursed my lips together to keep from spouting my opinion. After pulling out a pale blue shirt, I held it against her. “This will look good with— ”

My fingers brushed against her arm. She was burning hot. I put the back of my hand against her forehead the way Mom always did to me. “You feel feverish.”

“I’m fine.” She swayed as she tried to stand.

“Megs, you’re sick.” Fear made my voice quiver.

“You can’t go. This is crazy.”

“It’s too late to cancel.” She sank onto her bed, coughing. “Can you get me a glass of water while I change?”

“Sure.” I hurried to the kitchen. Mrs. Salerno sat at the counter, a newspaper spread in front of her.

I had to tell her about Megs. She’d forgive me for missing her date, eventually. “Mrs. Salerno, I . . .”

She looked at me, waiting.

Then we both heard it: the crashing sound from Megs’s room.

We raced up the stairs. Megs lay sprawled on the floor next to her toppled bedside table.

“I felt dizzy, and then . . .”

Mrs. Salerno scooped her up and laid her on the bed. “Let me get the thermometer.”

After her mom left the room, Megs looked at me, pleading. “I need you to do me a favor.”

I knew what she was about to ask. “No way.”

“Please? You don’t have to talk to him. It’ll be crowded, so he won’t notice you. Look for the guy carrying a book, something that would have meaning to me. Then I’ll tell him later how sick I was, that I couldn’t make it.”

“I’m supposed to meet Ethan soon. And a crowded shop mean germs.”

“Could you tell him you’re running late? It wouldn’t take much time. If you walked in and out, it’s like two minutes of exposure.” She widened her eyes, pleading.

This was important to her, no matter how much I disapproved. I considered it. For my best friend, I could probably handle a few moments in a public place.

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Pandemic teaser

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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Yvonne Ventresca is the author of PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), a young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a deadly bird flu outbreak. School Library Journal called PANDEMIC “an engrossing apocalyptic story” and Kirkus Reviews said “this realistic page-turner will keep most readers enthralled.” Yvonne’s other writing credits include two nonfiction books for teens, AVRIL LAVIGNE (a biography of the singer) and PUBLISHING (about careers in the field).

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Ventresca-necklace

Winner will receive a signed hard cover of PANDEMIC, a $75 VISA gift card, and a limited edition necklace (mentioned in the story!).

***Any entrants using fake or contest only social profiles to enter will be disqualified.***

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Keep reading,

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Review: Killshot-Aria Michaels

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cooltext1804448395 copyWhen seventeen year old Liv Larson and her brother are sent to separate foster homes, she gives up on her old life, her old friends, and her faith in God. The only bright spot in Liv’s new life is her energetic and obnoxious foster-sister, Riley. When Riley convinces her to come to the rooftop party to view Icarus, the up-coming solar flare, Liv has no idea she’s being set up to meet the sexy and mysterious, Zander James. Despite her resistance, Liv finds herself drawn to Zander, and for the first time in months her troubles take a back seat…that is until what should have been a small flare, erupts into a full blown solar storm.

Now, Liv and her rag-tag group of not-quite friends must find a way to survive the sweltering heat, lingering radiation, and the mysterious virus that appears to have found an ideal host among their ranks. Alliances will be formed, and battle lines will be drawn.
Together, Liv and her new friends set out on a perilous journey to save their loved ones, find answers, and reach salvation.

But, something sinister awaits them in the dark—and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.

Soon, Liv and the others realize they may be more connected than they thought, and the truth may be too much to handle. Will Liv be able to keep her promise and reunite with her brother? Will her brave determination be enough to save them all from a rogue government, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night?

…Or was Icarus, indeed, the KILLSHOT.

cooltext1804472332 copy4.5/5

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via the author

Killshot is the action-packed, post-apocalyptic thrill ride you’ve been searching for. It’s gritty, violent, and full of enough gore and suspense to keep you on your toes. A heart-stopping journey into a dangerous new world that takes on dystopian without going zombie, Killshot blends science fiction with natural disaster and astronomically bad luck.

PROS:

  • The plot is intricate without being convoluted or overwhelming. Every little clue is like a puzzle piece leading to an insanely cool mystery. The blurred lines between science fiction and natural disaster make for a moderately believable dystopian and that makes everything all the more horrifying.
  • Military involvement, secret plots, dormant viruses and space catastrophes create an air of suspense and sinister intentions. 
  • I appreciated that Aria Michaels didn’t take the zombie route but went with something different. The creatures take on an almost alien persona.
  • Each character, from the most fleeting has a huge personality. Every character is memorable whether it be for good or bad reasons. The banter between characters flows well, the dialogue is wonderfully natural and authentic. Jake, Riley and Falisha are hilarious. They have enough sass to take over the world and then some. They’re brilliant, witty and made of acerbic sarcasm. 
  • The descriptions are graphic. Between the blood and violence it’s easy to picture every epic fight scene and the carnage on the streets. Bursting with explosions, immense heat, and bloodshed, Killshot is a survivalist’s dream read. Perfect for guys and girls. Sometimes, especially with post-apocalyptic books, they can feel geared towards one gender and Killshot is a major exception to this trend.
  • Liv and Beans have such a heartwarming, beautiful relationship. It’s astounding how powerful the connection and love between these siblings is when Beans is not an active character in the book. The flashbacks are vibrant, glowing memories that capture the genuine adoration between Liv and her baby brother. 
  • Liv grows substantially throughout the book. She evolves into a take charge, daredevil. She’s passionate, a leader, she takes risks that consistently put her life on the line for her friends and brushes off her own pain. Liv keeps her head straight and plans despite her inner turmoil. Though she’s the head of this ragtag group of survivors, she’s not confident. She has doubts in herself and that makes her all the more easy to identify and sympathize with. Her confusion over boys, the struggle to maintain composure in the face of all the death around her is remarkably human and reminds the reader that in spite of her responsiblity, Liv is a high school girl. 
  • Zander is HOT. Between the motorcycle and the way he seems to just get Liv, it’s a natural, sexy romance in a crazy, mixed up new reality. Zander calms and soothes Liv, he heightens her senses and lulls her out of her hopelessness. He’s the shoulder to lean on and the arms to steady her when she feels weak. While their attraction escalates quickly, it’s real and they sort of complete each other. 

CONS:

  • Riley’s past was missing. Many of the secondary characters had sections where their trauma and hardships were elaborated on, showcasing what made the characters who they were. Riley is a bit of a paradox. Some moments she’s so strong, hardheaded, and a tad bratty and others she’s an emotional wreck. I would have liked to see more of her background. 
  • Some of the more precarious situations were too easily resolved and with little injury. Being slammed into walls from a massive explosion should have lingering wounds. 

cooltext1804461156 copytate house teaserdesolation trailerUntitledZanLivKiss teasershirtless.Zander

cooltext1804451952 copySF9YejKQ_400x400Website/Facebook/Twitter

Aria Michaels lives in a small town in Illinois with her loving, patient husband and her six (yes, SIX) energetic boys. Always the creative type, Aria fed off the encouragement of her mother, and started writing and illustrating her own stories at a very young age. Aria’s passion for creation and love of the human spirit followed her to the university level where she graduated with an Associates Degree in Fine Arts, and a Bachelors Degree in Communications, with a minor in psychology.

After years of juggling parenthood with her a career in higher education, the universe finally called Aria back to her original passion…writing. When she isn’t glued to her computer, or painting her next masterpiece, Aria can be found playing in the dirt with her kids, snuggling up to a good zombie flick with her husband, or sipping a glass of wine by the fire with friends.

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

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Joyous reading,

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Release Day Blitz: No Going Back-Brina Courtney

No Going Back

NGB

No Going Back by Brina Courtney

Camryn Cruise series

Book #2

Releases: November 10, 2014

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Camryn Cruise is not human. But her best friend Kiley is.

They’re stuck, they can’t leave Silverlake without possibly being killed. Or Kiley could become one of the Sick. She could die. But Silverlake isn’t safe for her either. The Designed don’t want her there. The sickness could use her to mutate the virus again.

She could kill them all.

Camryn could be the key to saving them.

BUY THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES:

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Runaway (Camryn Cruise #1)

Amazon

cooltext1790897456 copyCamryn Cruise is not human. But she doesn’t know what she is. Not yet.

The world is falling apart and her only escape is Camp Silverlake where she frequently stayed as a child. But Camryn’s summers weren’t filled with crafting and swimming, they were spent learning combat skills and how to protect herself from the outside world.

Now she must return to Camp Silverlake to learn the truth, about who she is and she’ll discover the secret hidden within her blood. A secret that could save them all.

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Brina Courtney is a young adult author obsessed with chocolate, crime shows, and fantasy movies. She’s spent the last few years as an elementary teacher and a high school cheering coach. She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and two very loud, small dogs. You can find her on her website, http://brinacourtney.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter, @brinacourtney.

Happy reading, 

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