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The Enemy Within: Somehow, this wasn’t Alien ENOUGH?!

bookreview

 

THE ENEMY WITHINThe Enemy Within
by Scott Burn
161 Pages
Science Fiction / Young Adult
Publication Date:  July 24th, 2016
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Seventeen-year-old Max has always felt like an outsider. When the agonizing apocalyptic visions begin, he decides suicide is his only escape. He soon finds himself in an institution under the guidance of a therapist who sees something exceptional in him. Just as he begins to leave the hallucinations behind, Max discovers the visions weren’t just in his head.

There are three others who have shared those same thoughts and they’ve been searching for Max. Like him, they are something more than human. Each of them possesses certain abilities, which they’re going to need when a covert military group begins hunting them down.

As the danger escalates, Max doesn’t know which side to trust. But in the end, his choice will decide the fate of both species.

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3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: slightly confusing premise; I felt some important information was just sort of tossed at us at weird times; interesting, complex characters; the ending felt a bit forced/cliche; I wish this had felt more “alien” than it did

Huge thanks to Scott Burns for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for a (voluntary!) honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

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This book was SUPER interesting, Penguins! I was sucked into the story almost immediately, and taken on such a wild journey I don’t quite know where to begin. The characters are well-rounded; their personalities practically leap off the pages and into reality. I felt as if I were, for brief moments, part of the gang–I felt their struggles, I empathized (maybe a little too much for a few). I also really enjoyed that we’re given brief glimpses into the most important players. Each voice is distinctly crafted and easy to tell apart, and each shift brought something new and unexpected.

 

I did, several times, find myself wishing this felt MORE alien. While it becomes apparent early on that the main group are not “human”….I found myself forgetting this fact several times. So far as I can tell, they look human and for the most part act human and have very limited “powers,” which made reading this–especially during those quiet moments of the story–feel a bit more normal and every day than I felt it should. In fact, there weren’t many moments that the main group felt actually alien; throughout this entire read, their reactions to and interactions with the world were weighted more toward “human” than “not,” which sort of disappointed me.

 

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I did, however, like the way the battle between the sides was written. While I really loathed many of the (actual) humans in the military group chasing these kids, I also found myself being suspicious of and eventually loathing a few of the other characters as well. This balancing act between “good” and “evil”–and the ways each side portrayed themselves as the victims–really validated this journey and helped make it more realistic for me. The fact that each side also has personalities with…questionable morals is the right term, I suppose…only helped to more fully immerse me in the read (and the characters’ mindsets).

 

This was a super intriguing and thought-provoking read, though I do wish it had felt just a bit more “alien” and a bit less “another day in the human world.” The characters are complex and interesting, and there were a couple “laugh out loud” snark moments that I really enjoyed. I’d recommend this to lovers of science fiction, “alien” versus “human,” and fast-paced reads. The Eye is watching, Penguins; which side are you on?

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Fall in One Day: These Characters Read a Lot Younger to Me

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Fall in One DayFall in One Day
by Craig Terlson
327 Pages
YA / Historical
Blue Moon Publishers
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

In the summer of 1973, fifteen-year-old Joe Beck lives in a small Canadian city near the U.S. border where he watches dark-suited politicians lie on TV during something called Watergate. So when his best friend Brian goes missing, Joe has a hard time believing that adults ever tell the truth.

Joe learns that Brian left town with his father after Brian’s mother ended up in the hospital. He listens to the news reports for information, but nothing is being said. Eventually, Joe launches his own investigation, using a tape recorder—just like the American president—to help sift through the clues. Feeling that everything is up to him, Joe embarks on a perilous and enlightening journey to decipher a mental institution diary full of secrets about a drug called LSD, and uncover the truth about Brian’s father and save his best friend.

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3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: I seriously thought Joe was younger than he is for, like…this whole read, which was problematic; interesting, suspenseful read; there are some intriguing, if not a little bit confusing, tangents woven throughout; Joe’s brain is a mess of confusion and teenager angst and humor

Huge thanks to Craig Terlson, Blue Moon Publishers, and Netgalley for sending me a free digital galley of this read in exchange for a voluntary honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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I have to start with admitting I went into this read putting emphasis on the wrong words for this title. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the title in the text (thankfully not long after starting this read) that I realized the error of my ways…and then totally understood how brilliant this title actually is. Seriously, once the whole emphasis thing was figured out…everything with the title fell into place, and made such better sense for me.

 

I also have to admit I thought, through the entirety of this read, that Joe was a WHOLE LOT younger than it turns out he is. See, I have this habit of not actually reading a book’s blurb–I’ll skim over it to see if it sounds like something I’d be interested in, but I pretty much forget everything about the blurb after deciding to pick a book up. Which means that Joe, in this book, came off a whole lot more like 12 or 13…and not the apparent 15 he actually is. Which, in my opinion, is problematic. I’m not sure if it’s the way he was written, or if I just stumbled upon this assumption by mistake, but Joe came off a lot more immature than I think a 15 year old actually would–there were moments I found myself wondering if he was actually 10, honestly, and I can’t convince myself of the truth now, thinking back on the read.

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Regardless of the weird age thing, this was an entertaining and intriguing read. We’re given such a complex, confusing glimpse into Joe’s head–I felt as if I was actually living in one of the darkest, deepest corners of his mind! To watch him react to and interact with his friend going missing, and the whole “crazy father” thing, was gut-wrenching and nail-bitingly realistic. I did feel he was a bit naive to the world yet…and the fact his friend seemed equally young didn’t help. The parents seemed to be babying them, on top of it, which only helped to confuse me further. This is also a pretty “subversive” read–there are a lot of twisty, curvy trails of tangents and plot lines that don’t seem to lead anywhere…and yet, somehow, add to the story nonetheless.

 

Overall, this was an interesting–if not a little confusing–read. While Joe and the rest of the characters his age felt more like 10 year olds than 15, their reactions to the world were entertaining and, at times, humorous. I’d recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, mystery/thrillers, and complexly written characters. Grab your jackets, Penguins; fall is coming.

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: All that Glitters

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This is my stop during the book blitz for All That Glitters by Tracy Krimmer. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 19 till 25 June. See the tour schedule here.

All That GlittersAll That Glitters (All That #1)
By Tracy Krimmer
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction
Age category: Adult
Release Date: summer 2017

Blurb:
Country-music star, Dory Walker, never wanted to come back to the small town of Sycamore Bay. But after her fairy-tale life is flipped upside down, and her marriage becomes a casualty, she has no choice.

Harris Malone is a man with few commitments. He keeps a low profile most days while he cares for his young daughter and helps run his dad’s hardware store.

But when he and Dory run into each other at the local gas station, all either can think about is the searing kiss they shared many years ago.

Can a woman who only wants to rekindle her career and a man who enjoys a no-strings attached lifestyle find everlasting love?

You can find All That Glitters on Goodreads

You can buy All That Glitters here.

Tracy KrimmerAbout the Author:
Tracy’s love of writing began at nine years old. She wrote stories about aliens at school, machines that did homework for you, and penguins. Now she pens books and short stories about romance. She loves to read a great book, whether it be romance or science fiction, or any genre in between, or pop popcorn and catch up on her favorite TV shows or movies. She’s been known to crush a candy or two as well. Her loves include fitness, reading, coffee, dogs, and naps (not in that order), and her dislikes are blue cheese, cold weather, and burpees.

You can find and contact Tracy here:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon
Bookbub
Instagram
Newsletter

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of All That Glitters. One winner will win a $10 Amazon gift card!

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this read a LOT like a YA; I was super annoyed with Dory throughout most of this read; in fact, I wasn’t impressed with a lot of the characters; Harris’ relationship with his daughter is adorable; I’m glad the “ex boyfriend returns” trope wasn’t found here

Huge thanks to Tracy Krimmer and Lola’s Blog Tours for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

I’ll be honest, Penguins–this book fell very flat for me in a few different instances. The biggest one? I felt that, on the whole, these characters were much more immature than I was expecting them to be. Several times, I had to force myself to STOP thinking of them as teens and remember them for what age they really are–mid to late 20’s. I’m not entirely sure where the disconnect happened for me; I feel as if the attitudes, especially those in times of drama or stress, were less “put together” and more “chaos roaming” than I expected. Dory, especially, seemed much more like she was still in high school. Perhaps there was a reason for this, in the end–perhaps Dory was meant to complete some life-changing character ARC/growth journey that I, as a reader, didn’t catch onto or witness. This disconnect, however, held me back a little–I wasn’t entirely able to connect with or feel for these characters, especially Dory.

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The plot was entertaining and well-paced, however! I also feel as if the relationships outside Dory’s POV (those between Harris and his daughter, for instance; or Harris and his ex-wife; or Harris and his dad) were all gorgeously written and so well done. I was SO happy to see a divorced couple that actually strove to remain friends after splitting; for a romance novel (or our world, to be honest) this was a refreshing and surprising outcome, and I love that it’s how Tracy Krimmer handled that particular relationship. I wish we’d seen such growth and closure from Dory’s relationships; even at the end of this book, I felt she was a bit too stiff and awkward with the people who were supposed to be her family. Still, I had fun following Dory on her journey to finding where she belonged.

This was, overall, a cutesy contemporary that read just a BIT too much like YA for me. I was often confused or embarrassed by Dory’s immature outbursts, and felt she wasn’t given enough chance to grow and shape herself on this journey. I adored the relationships centered around Harris, however, and found him to be a complex and entertaining character to get to know. I’d recommend this to lovers of angsty romances, intriguing sub-plots, and well-rounded relationships. Kick up your heels, Penguins; glitter doesn’t always have to be gold.

 

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Scandal

Scandal banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for Scandal by Athena Grayson. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 12 till 25 June. See the tour schedule here.

ScandalScandal (Scions of the Star Empire #1)
By Athena Grayson
Genre: Sci-fi dystopian with romantic elements
Age category: New Adult/ Adult
Release Date: 23 March 2017

Blurb:
They can have anything they want…except a future.

Nothing infuriates Princess Ione Ra more than having someone else take control of her reputation from her, and her old nemesis–gossip journalist Jaris Pulne–is poised to do just that with pilfered pics of her caught in a compromising position with her power-couple partner. As someone who’s no stranger to manipulating the markets on her own social life, Ione knows the wrong scandal means social suicide.

For the other half of the power couple, Den Hades, his survival has depended on staying in his powerful father’s shadow in order to protect his secrets. But on the very night of his one chance to earn a shot at becoming a Scion–and freedom from his father’s ambitions, scandal threatens to tear him from Ione, or worse–force them together before their time.

Damage control turns into danger when their attempts to retrieve the images lead them both into the dark underbelly of the glittering city-planet, exposing secrets of both friends and foes that could lead to more than just social suicide.

You can find Scandal on Goodreads

You can buy Scandal here:
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iTunes
Google Play
Smashwords
Books2Read

You can also find all the buy links for this book here on the author’s website.

About the Author:
Athena Grayson likes kickass heroines, big-brained and sexy beta heroes who aren’t afraid of strong women or their own feelings, and stories that turn the genre tropes sideways. If you’re looking for something a little unexpected, a little more, and a lot of fun…this is your kinda place.

You can find and contact Athena here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Goodreads
Bookbub

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Scandal. These are the prizes you can win:
– 2 paperback copies of Scandal by Athena Grayson (US Only)
– 2 $10 Amazon Gift Cards (International)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

 

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: I feel I was thrust into the middle of a story I never got; vibrantly detailed, gorgeous descriptors and characters; the complexities of the political intrigue were interesting and enthralling; these are murky, murky waters, penguins; a promising start to a new series!

Huge thanks to Athena Grayson and Lola’s Blog Tours for sending a free egalley of this title my way in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

 

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Alright, Penguins–let’s talk about some things. This book and I? Didn’t QUITE agree about a few things–mostly in terms of story. See, I feel as if I was thrown into the middle of a story that I never really was given, if that makes sense? I was very, very confused–from basically the get go–about what was happening and the reasons why. While answers are found and given throughout, I felt as if there was a bit of disconnect between story line and world-building. In other words…I felt like I was expected to know more about this world/the characters going into this, book one, than I ended up ACTUALLY knowing. And this bothered me a bit, because I was bound and determined to adore this book, and instead found myself struggling to put the pieces together.

 

The descriptors and prose, though! There is so much to take in throughout the course of this read. Athena Grayson went to very long lengths to ensure readers were completely immersed, head to foot, in this journey. While I struggled to connect the dots of the story line, I was almost immediately entrenched in the gorgeous world being painted around me. Every page was filled with sights, sounds, smells–the five senses all came into play and helped to more fully encapsulate me in Athena Grayson’s imagination. This read THRUMMED with the senses, and made it so much easier for me to visualize and feel a part of each page, so kudos to Athena Grayson for such awesome world-building!

 

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So, while I was a bit confused throughout–and felt I was thrust into the middle of a story I had no beginning for–I REALLY adored the world-building and vivid descriptors. I was ensnared almost immediately, lusting for more of Athena Grayson’s gorgeously detailed word-paintings. I just wish the fit had been a BIT more snug in terms of story line. I would recommend this to lovers of sci fi/fantasy, uniquely vivid worlds, and curiously enthralling political intrigues. Put your seat belts on, Penguins; we’re about to go off-world!


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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: It Could Happen

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It Could HappenIt Could Happen
by Mia Kerick
200 Pages
New Adult / Romance / LGBTQ+
Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: June 5th, 2017
Get a copy here!

Three misfits, mismatched in every way—Henry Perkins, Brody Decker, and Danny Denisco—have been friends throughout high school. Now in their senior year, the boys realize their relationship is changing, that they’re falling in love. But they face opposition at every turn—from outside and from within themselves. Moving to the next level will take all the courage, understanding, and commitment they can muster. But it could happen.

Henry is a star athlete and the son of religious parents who have little concern for the future he wants. Brody is a quirky dreamer and adrenaline junkie, and Danny is an emo artist and the target of bullies. Despite their differences they’ve always had each other’s backs, and with each of them facing a new and unique set of challenges, that support is more important than ever. Is it worth risking the friendship they all depend on for the physical and romantic relationship they all desire?

In this unconventional new adult romance, three gay teens brave societal backlash—as well as the chance that they might lose their treasured friendship—to embark on a committed polyamorous relationship.

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About the Author:

mia kerickMia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Giveaway!

$25 Gift Card

Click right here to go to the Rafflecopter!


bookreview

 

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: cutesy contemporary; loveloveLOVE the love happening; not much depth overall; endearing, though not real complex, characters; believable romance, though the butterflies didn’t take wing for this read

Huge thanks to Mia Kerick, Dreamspinner Press, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a free egalley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

This was a super cute, contemporary LGBTQ+ read. The characters were endearing and entertaining, and face some realistic and difficult struggles in the course of their journey. I really adored watching their relationship blossom from friends into something closer; the connection between them was believable and so super easy to root for. I particularly loved watching them face and overcome the odds together–there was a lot of strength written into this relationship, and I really admire that Mia Kerick wrote them first and foremost as friends, as that helped make their connection even more realistic for me as a reader.

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However, while there are some nail-biting moments, overall I didn’t feel as if there was much depth to this journey. The characters don’t really grow much apart from their discovering the inner turmoils of their feelings for one another, and nobody outside their circle really does much in the way of growing or accepting. Which, on one hand, is probably realistic…but on the other hand, made me, as a reader, just a little bit angry. I suppose I went into this book looking for more than I got in the end, which disappointed me. So while I’m super happy with the love that happened, and the relationship growth between the boys… I wasn’t entirely convinced with the rest of the characters, or the rest of this read. Unfortunately, it just fell a bit flat for me personally.

 

So, to recap: I LOVE the relationship between the boys–it’s super realistic and endearing. The story and the rest of the characters, unfortunately, fall a bit flat for me–possibly because I went into this read looking for something deeper than what I received. I’d recommend this to lovers of diverse romances, contemporary fiction, and journeys with a few slight bumps along the way. Keep your eyes open, penguins; a love like this? It could happen.

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Unexpectedly Hers: The Slopes of Her Secrets are Steep

bookreview

Unexpectedly Hers (Sterling Canyon, #3)

Unexpectedly Hers (Sterling Canyon #3)
by Jamie Beck
Chick Lit / Contemporary / Romance
282 Pages
Montlake Romance
Publication Date:  February 21st, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB: 

By day, bashful wallflower Emma Duffy works at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. By night, she secretly pens erotic romance hot enough to melt the snow in their cozy Rockies town.

But Emma’s real life is about to heat up when her mother books the entire inn to a professional snowboarder, hoping the publicity will put them on the map. In a karmic twist of fate, that guest is Wyatt Lawson, the man with whom Emma had shared the secret one-night stand that became the inspiration for her novel and its dreamy hero. Worse, a film crew is documenting his comeback just as her debut is about to hit the shelves. Emma’s only saving grace is that Wyatt doesn’t remember her—and hopefully he never will.

When Wyatt arrives in Sterling Canyon for several weeks of intense training, the last tumble he expects to take is falling for a girl, especially one as shy as Emma. Unlike groupies with their hidden agendas, she isn’t using him—or so he believes…until the film crew uncovers Emma’s pen name and steamy novel.

Wyatt’s comeback run can withstand a fall or two, but can his heart recover from this crash and burn?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

jamie-beck-press2 (3).jpg Jamie Beck is a Romance Writers of America Honor Roll author with a passion for writing stories about love and redemption, including her best selling St. James and Sterling Canyon series. When she’s not writing, you can find her dancing around her kitchen or hitting the slopes in Utah and Vermont. Above all, she’s a grateful wife and mother to a very patient and supportive family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: cutesy contemporary; shy wallflower to strong woman plot; mostly believable romance; the ending seemed a little too easy; unexplained girl hate; weird, though believable, family dynamics; interesting look into the many layers of guilt

Huge thanks to Jamie Beck, Montlake Romance, and PR By the Book for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book!

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So first things first: I was super nervous, when I received this book for review, that I’d be stepping into the middle of a story and wind up SUPER confused (or, at the very least, super spoiled on the previous two novels). Much to my surprise, this read like a standalone novel–in fact, I was immediately immersed in the story and SO admire the way Jamie Beck both brought back the recurring/previous characters, while still allowing this novel to stand apart and be read on its own. That being said, now that I’ve had a chance to look up the previous two novels, there ARE a few spoiler-y moments I encountered….but in the end, they’re so minute and tiny, I feel as if I could still backtrack and read those two novels without too much fuss.

The romance in this particular read is super believable and SO, SO steamy–seriously, my poor penguin beak about melted off my face during certain sexy moments, though Jamie Beck wrote them to remain tasteful enough that sensitive readers won’t have problems reading the scenes. While there are some moments of tension/plot-heavy action…the book, for the most part, is more focused upon the characters and their changes/growth journeys. Emma’s story, in particular, was super sweet and endearing to read–her growth from shy wallflower into strong, comfortable-with-herself woman has become something of an inspiration for me, to be honest. I really, really enjoyed following her through these events of her life!

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I was a little bit disappointed with how quickly things are resolved in the end. I felt like Wyatt left Emma with SO much drama and anger, only to “suddenly” realize how right she was for him after seeing her again several weeks later. It felt a bit contrived, honestly, and wasn’t entirely believable for me. While I understand forgiveness, I felt like Wyatt’s complete 180 in emotions was a bit TOO quick in coming.

Still, I had a ton of fun getting to know these characters and visiting their sleepy Colorado town. The fact that the settings are so close to my home (Wyoming girl, here!) brought about a fair amount of nostalgia–though I have to admit, I still don’t miss the cold or snow! I definitely recommend this read to lovers of chick lit, contemporary romances, and character-focused plots. Put on your goggles and strap in, penguins–these slopes are steep!

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Blog Tour, Giveaways, and Review: Cry Wolf

 

Cry Wolf
Greta Stone
Publication date: March 1st 2017
Genres: Gothic, New Adult, Paranormal Romance

Peter is a kitsune. Chaos follows him wherever he goes. Good intentions, bad intentions—it doesn’t matter. Even mimicking the howl of a friend he hasn’t seen in over a decade turns out to have disastrous consequences.

The wolf doesn’t have a name. For now, he goes by Luca. He has no past, and as an escaped slave, if he can’t stay hidden in the shadows, he’ll have no future. When someone steals his howl, he’s drawn to investigate, and ends up saddled with a mouthy fox who insists they used to be friends once upon a time.

Petty problems and a dubious reunion are pushed aside the longer they’re stranded together. The Underwood is a dangerous place.

They have two choices: work together or die.

Join Greta Stone in a dark paranormal MM romance retelling of Aesop’s fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and David P. Mannix’s classic novel, The Fox and the Hound.

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Author Bio:

Greta is the unruly offspring of a tiger and a dragon. She spends most of her time reading, stalking her favorite musicians, and harassing other authors with pranks.

Underwood District Series (MM Romance/UF)

Cry Wolf – Book 1

Cry Wolf: Mating Season – Book 1.5

Take a Tour of New Gotham: http://www.brimstonepub.com

Sign up for GRETA STONE’S MAILING LIST and receive access to a bonus adventure featuring Peter and Luca.(Their fates might be changed forever.)

Copy and paste to join my newsletter: tinyurl.com/l99rh6m

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Newsletter

 

GIVEAWAYS!

eBook giveaways:

The first 5 people to comment on ANY tour post (given on each day) will automatically win a free e-book copy of Cry Wolf. Greta will keep tally and submit prizes at the end of each tour day.

Take a trip to New Gotham!

A paid vacation to New Gotham is an expensive affair. I found a witch who specializes in crafting gatestones. These magical pendants are used for traveling between dimensions. The bauble offered as a contest prize should take the winner to Avaline’s Trees. Keep in mind, gatestones are touchy things. It might not do anything at all. Or you might up in oblivion. Good luck with that. We’ll read about it in the papers, no doubt.

Elderstone Keys – What’s the big deal?

There is a house in New Gotham that is rumored to be haunted. No one has lived in it since the Great Depression, and no one can recall what its last occupants looked like, what they did for a living or where they went. Only one is fated to enter and learn its secrets. Anytime I host a contest, I give away keys to Elderstone. The person who collects ten of them is fated to own the house. Among their keys, they’ll have the mystical key that opens the door. (More information)

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bookreview

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: intriguing, entertaining takes on some well-known classics; vibrantly written, well-rounded characters; some awkward writing and grammatical mistakes; adorable, stubborn romance; whimsical, but a bit meandering plot-wise

Huge thanks to Greta Stone, Skeleton Key Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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So, okay. This was definitely an entertaining, intriguing read! The characters are vibrantly written and complex, each with their own defined struggles and inner demons. I really enjoyed being pulled along for this journey with Luca and Peter; their individual arcs and growths are only intensified when woven together, and I adored watching the transformation take place!

There’s a lot of the “oral narrative” vibe happening in this read, which I also really love. This being said, though, it felt as if the plot was a bit more meandering than anything. While there IS a story happening here, it seems to take place more in the background; we are, instead, at the whims of the characters, following blindly where they lead–which is in a lot of different directions at times. While this type of story-telling works for some journeys, I don’t feel it really did THIS journey much justice.

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The romance was slow-building but so super steamy, I was impatient for them to get past the walls entrapping them and just kiss already! And penguins, the fireworks when the walls finally got torn down?! I thought my kindle might go up in flames in my hands! It was a believable, endearing romance, and I loved watching them interact with and react to each other–and the world around them. There were, throughout, some awkward grammatical moments and missing words…but I was so caught up in the romance, I didn’t even care. Honestly, I was ALL ABOUT the love between these two.

This was a fascinating, whimsical read, and I adored every minute of the journey! The characters were vibrantly portrayed, the romance was believable and easy to root for, and the whole read had an air of the oral narrative to it. I definitely recommend this to lovers of the fantastical, to seekers of complex character arcs, and to those who adore whimsy. In this forest, the trees are purple and love abounds; step outside, won’t you?

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Harmful Rush

 

Harmful Rush
(Remedy #3)

by Debra Doxer
Publication date: April 24th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Harmful Rush is a standalone, full-length novel set in the Remedy world. You do not have to read the first two books to read this book.

Skylark Samuels has a secret.

She’s not a normal teenager, although she plays one in real life. Pretending to be something you’re not isn’t easy, especially in high school where gossip is gold. For years, Sky manages to hide her uniqueness, until one fateful day when she exposes her gift, her curse, and all her fears come to pass. Now instead of going to college near home like she planned, she has to leave town and go someplace where the rumors can’t follow. The plan when she gets there: keep to herself and stay under the radar.

But blending into the background is impossible when local heartthrob Dylan Parks notices her. Even though Sky keeps her distance and doesn’t act like one of Dylan’s adoring fans, he goes out of his way to talk to her. Her. The girl who wants to be invisible.

Sky isn’t immune to Dylan’s charm, but getting close to him is a bad idea. It goes against the promise she made to herself. Besides, if Dylan knew the truth, he wouldn’t want her. If he discovered her secret, he’d treat her differently and possibly fear her. It’s happened before. But the more Sky gets to know Dylan, the harder it is to resist him, until fate intervenes.

A tragic event forces Sky to reveal herself to the one person she’s come to care for, and his reaction is unexpected. For the first time, she doesn’t feel so alone. But what she doesn’t realize is that she’s never been alone. When she finally lets her guard down, someone comes along who threatens to unravel everything, because being normal was never Sky’s destiny.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

 

Author Bio:

Debra Doxer was born in Boston, and other than a few lost years in the California sunshine, she has always resided in the Boston area. She writes fiction, technical software documents, illegible scribbles on sticky notes, and texts that get mangled by AutoCorrect. She writes for a living, and she writes for fun. When her daughter asks when she’ll run out of words, her response always is, “When I run out of time.”

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bookreview

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: just a bit of insta-love; interesting “coming of age/discovery of self” journey; I didn’t really connect with these characters; the romance was a bit unbelievable; the plot was intriguing and entertaining, but not filled with many answers

Huge thanks to Debra Doxer and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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This was an interestingly bittersweet read for me. I became SUPER invested in the story pretty early on–the beginning of this hooked me, put me right into the action, and made me want to keep going. I wanted to know more–about Skylark, about her abilities, about the world around her and how such things came to be. Unfortunately, I felt a bit stiffed in terms of answers at the closing of this read–I don’t feel as if we really LEARNED much more about Sky than we start out already knowing, because she doesn’t come up with many answers on her journey either. It was a bit disappointing–I’d been hoping, I suppose, for a more complex story than the one I ended up being given.

That being said, this WAS an entertaining and thought-provoking read. While I didn’t necessarily feel a strong connection to the characters, I was also not wholly distanced from them–I cared about what happened, was rooting for them or disgusted by them in turn. I sat down to read this this afternoon, and finished it in a matter of a few short hours; the read is fast-paced and easy to fall into. I am intrigued by the world that I found myself residing in, and am interested in possibly picking up the other books in this series to see what else I’m missing out on. There’s a sense of…unfinished about this read, I guess–I’m not sure if the rest of the series holds the answers I seek, but I’m willing to at least try and find out.

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The romance was a bit of an insta-love moment, and parts of it felt disingenuous to me as a reader. While it’s realistic for the most part, I felt Skylark and Dylan moved a bit too quickly in other instances. I was, honestly, more invested in the romance between Trevor and Maggie. There was also a bit of a love triangle happening that I didn’t particularly care for. Still, Dylan and Sky were endearing and adorable in their own way, and I wouldn’t pass their romance off as wholly unrealistic.

Overall, I had a fun few hours stepping into this world, even though I feel like I was left with more questions than answers at the ending. The characters are complex and believable, and the romance only a little unrealistic. I’d recommend this read to lovers of fantasy, genetic quirks, and fast-paced plots. Duck and run, penguins; danger lurks in these pages!

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Book Tour and Review: The Married Girls

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Costeloe_THE MARRIED GIRLS The Married Girls
(The Girl with No Name #2)
by Diney Costeloe

Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Head of Zeus Publishing
Publication Date: February 17th, 2017
420 Pages

BRAND NEW FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE SISTERS OF ST. CROIX, THE THROWAWAY CHILDREN AND THE GIRL WITH NO NAME.

Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.

Meanwhile, the squire’s fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming… and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne’s past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.

For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry’s return disrupts the village quiet and it’s not long before gossip spreads.

The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

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Costeloe 1_bwAbout the Author:

Encouraged by my publisher father, I have been writing all my life. When I was five, he took my first effort to his office and brought it back in a cardboard cover with the label, ‘Tom’s Party’written by Diney, published by Daddy. I’ve never looked back and always have some writing on the go. To date I have written 10 romantic novels under the name of Diney Delancey (I liked the shape of the name and it sounded like a romantic novelist) and four novels as Diney Costeloe. All are also in large print and several recently published as e-books.

See my reviews on Amazon and on my website, http://www.dineycosteloe.co.uk or http://castlehavenbooks.co.uk


bookreview

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: this book and I did not agree much; beautiful, evocative, atmospheric writing; I felt transported into the time period; realistic, flawed, but redeemable characters; the two main women seem to foil each other, almost; the juxtaposition was clever and well-done

Huge thanks to Diney Costeloe, Head of Zeus Publishing, and Netgalley for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

Okay, penguins, this might make me a terrible person, but… this book and I didn’t get along very well at all. I think the biggest issue was, I couldn’t find any ounce of CARE for these characters. While Charlotte was likable and her devotion to her family and husband obvious, she didn’t much leap off the page at me for a majority of the read. And Daphne… Well, to be honest, Daphne rubbed me the wrong way from the get-go. I wasn’t fond of her AT ALL–though looking back on it, I’m sure that might have been part of the point.

These two women, the married girls this story revolves around…they were cleverly and beautifully written foils. In fact, I found myself musing over their complete opposite-ness throughout most of the read. Diney Costeloe did a wonderful job of penning the two in different, individualized personalities…while still keeping them somewhat redeemable. Despite this, I unfortunately, as a reader, could not connect with either of them–I could not celebrate their victories or mourn their losses as I was hoping to going into this read.

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Still, the historical fiction aspect was well-written and transporting. I felt I’d taken a trip back in time and landed in this neighborhood to watch the events unfold. And as much as I disagreed with the book, I found myself intrigued regardless. There were small moments with Charlotte–seeing her with her kids, watching her interact with her husband, the strength she had hiding deep beneath her skin that flared in moments of upset–that made me admire her. There’s something to be said about the strength of a woman able to keep her head high in the midst of a flurry of rumors, like Charlotte does. Watching her confront the woman behind the rumors? was both entertaining and awe-inspiring for me.

So while I wouldn’t probably pick up another book in this particular series, I did find the adventure to be thought-provoking and emotionally challenging at times. I wish I had been more able to connect with the characters; they were written as such wonderfully complex foils, I feel I might have missed out just a little on something magical. I would recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, flawed but redeemable characters, and the exploration of human nature. This book transported me to a different time; maybe you should turn off the modern world and let it do the same for you!

9

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Forbidden Dance

 

Forbidden Dance
(Lover’s Dance, #1)

by Deanna Roy
Publication date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

She was hidden from the world. Then he arrived.

An emotional new novel from six-time USA Today bestselling author Deanna Roy

For four years, I’ve lived in almost total seclusion. Homeschooled, forbidden from social media, seeing no one other than the dancers at Dreamcatcher Academy, where I teach ballet to little girls in wheelchairs.

Then Blitz arrives.

He’s the disgraced host of Dance Blitz, a bawdy reality show where Blitz sleeps with as many dancers as possible while looking for his perfect partner.

At least he was. A few weeks ago, he got kicked off his own show.

He’s at my academy for a publicity stunt, and my wheelchair ballerinas are his ticket back into the public’s good graces.

I intend to hate him and stay as far away as possible. But when he looks at me, I can’t resist. Before I realize what’s happened, we’re sneaking into back rooms, dancing, kissing, planning dates away from the cameras and the wrath of my family.

But I’m afraid. I have a secret at the academy, a small, wonderful, terrible secret, and if I stay with Blitz, the world will find out.

____________

Forbidden Dance is a full-length standalone HEA, although fans who fall in love with Blitz and Livia can continue the series to follow more of their love story

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

 

Author Bio:

Deanna Roy is the six-time USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction.

She is a passionate advocate for women who have lost babies. She has several books on the subject, including her bestseller FOREVER INNOCENT, a romance about a couple whose baby is taken off life support at seven days old.

She has run the website PregnancyLoss.Info for fifteen years, including many large spin-off support groups both online and in person.

To learn about new releases, sign up for her subscriber list at http://deannaroy.com/news. She has regular giveaways in conjunction with major pregnancy loss events.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: an unsolved mystery/plot hole; deliciously dramatic, believably human; I just cannot EVEN with that early plot twist; adorable, butterfly-inducing romance; steamy, sexy scenes; loved the addition of dance; cute, snarky banter

Huge thanks to Deanna Roy, Chasey Shay Press, and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Let’s start with the light and easy lifting first, shall we? These characters are SUPER adorable–especially together! I am, as I’m sure you all realize, a HUGE sucker for “bad boy turned good” stories. Unrealistic though this may be (I mean c’mon, a person only changes if THEY want to change) I find myself swooning on my penguin feet each time I run across this trope in my romances. I can’t help it, I suppose–I’m hopeless when it comes to love. BUT AS I WAS SAYING before I distracted myself… these characters are adorable and endearing and totally what I needed in a read like this. I loved falling in love with them, and contemplated more than once trying to shove myself into these pages to bask in the glory of their romance up-close and personal (I mean, seriously, who needs boundaries when love is involved?! Privacy?!?!?! What even IS that?! Let me just drool on you a little bit, okay?!)

The familial relationships were…interesting, to say the least. I was a bit confused, even at the end, about why her family–especially her father–reacted so harshly to her circumstances. It doesn’t make much sense to me that a grudge like this could be held onto for SO long–and with such determination! I mean, I get that perhaps her family at first would “crack down” on the rules a little and all, but…for four years?! To be holding on so hard?!?!?! When she’s older and officially an adult?!?!?! WHAT EVEN HAPPENED HERE?! It didn’t help that, in the end, I felt there was a bit of a plot loop or plot hole happening. We are told pretty early on WHY her family is so adamantly against her having a life…but…I don’t feel like we got the whole story. There seem to be moments where pieces almost fall into place…only to be ignored or shoved aside. Her father is pretty emotionally abusive and terrible throughout the entire read, but we’re never told exclusively what his problem really is. There were also hints that he somehow did something BEFORE “the issue” to upset the family, but…that’s also glossed over and not explained. Overall, I felt very confused about certain aspects of the backstory.

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The romance is believable and realistic, though, and made the butterflies dance in ALL the right places for this penguin reader (which is probably a bad thing. Have you seen penguins around butterflies?! It gets messy.) I fell in love with Blitz pretty early on, and adore the addition of dance into the drama. It made for a delicious, steamy, sexy love affair–and you all know how much I love my love, especially when it’s dramatic! The snark and sassy banter between the main duo was endearing and entertaining, to boot, which made this read even more enjoyable for this penguin’s fluttery heart.

This was, in the end, a dramatic, entertaining read…though a bit lacking on the answers front in certain instances. While I adored the main characters and their steamy love, I was a bit let down by the familial interactions and reactions. Livia has a TON of character growth throughout the journey, though, and I was tempted to applaud her when she finally stood up for herself and stopped backing down on what she wanted–you go, girl! I definitely recommend this to lovers of steamy contemporaries, complex and messy families, and realistic roMESSes. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this duo in the future. Take your spot at the bar and point your toes, penguins; let the dance begin.

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