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My Viking Vampire: Lackluster Plot, Intriguing Characters

bookreview

My Viking Vampire (Sanctuary, Texas #1)

Bailey Ross’ world is crumbling around her. Her abusive ex, a human, is closing in on her again, and to make matters worse, a new enemy, a djinn, is stalking her. This supernatural being takes great pleasure in human pain, something Bailey has in excess thanks to her ex. If she’s caught by either, she’s as good as dead.

Backed into a corner and desperate to escape, she does something she swore wouldn’t ever be possible again –trusting a man. And he’s a vampire.

Protection via the sexy vampire Erick Thorson may prove to be a little more than she bargained for. Sparks fly between them and she finds herself agreeing to more than just protection. Though he has promised not to let anyone harm her, the small west Texas town is more than it seems and he may not be able to make good on his vow no matter how hard he tries.

Will Sanctuary be the home Bailey longs for or will she have to die to find out?

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Sanctuary, Texas #1
Paranormal / Romance / Fantasy
400 Pages
KS Publishing
Publication Date:  August 25th, 2014
Get a FREE copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: interesting premise; random POV shift at the very end?!; definite sense of insta-love; interesting exploration of BDSM and boundaries; some heavy, mature themes; the audiobook of this was entertaining and fun; intriguing, well-rounded characters

Okay, penguins. I am, once again, TRYING to read more books via my EARS and not my eyes. Therefore, this review will also include my thoughts on the audiobook, because…YAY audible listening!

Can I just take a moment to rant a little bit? Because… this book? Had a sudden POV shift at the very end, and it drove me absolutely BONKERS. Don’t get me wrong, okay. Sudden POV shifts are the best surprises ever sometimes–but…at the end of a book? Randomly? With seemingly no true purpose behind it? That just bothers me. In this instance, Erick’s POV I could have done without honestly. The language was different, his thoughts were a lot more…crude? and I just couldn’t get into his character. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, but something about him bugged me, and being thrust so suddenly into his head for only a few short pages did nothing for me but make my thoughts on this book drop a bit. It felt like Krystal Shannan switched up the language–made it harsher, more graphic, more crude–to make it fit her idea of what men think about…and that didn’t work for me. At all.

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Aside from that, I had fun listening to this audiobook! While the characters and plot felt a bit flat at times, there was plenty of action both in and out of the bedroom–though I admit I was much more into the action OUTSIDE of the bedroom than in it. Something about these characters just didn’t mesh well with me. Bailey, while scarred emotionally from an abusive past relationship, seemed TOO open–until it came to exploring BDSM. Erick, on the other hand… while his accent was sexy, I couldn’t get a real great sense of “him” from the read. This led to me not really being able to properly form a connection to the characters, or to truly believe them as a couple. Still, the read was entertaining, and Bailey had a few awesome moments of snark. A few of the other characters also stood out in my mind, and I’m curious to see if Krystal Shannan reintroduces them later in the series.

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I was a bit disappointed in the “insta-love” aspect of this read, though I suppose I should have expected it. Also, Bailey seemed like some sort of drug for the supernaturals–they all wanted her?! Which made close to zero sense to me, because…I mean…why would they all be fighting over ONE girl? The fact that she later has a sort of “special snowflake” destiny just irked me further. Authors, I promise, the world’s not going to end if your character isn’t the most perfect of perfect of perrrrrfect! The fact that there was very little explanation to or exploration of this theme in the book… Well, needless to say I sort of shoved that information to the back of my head until writing this review. So, yeah–that happened, too.

Overall, though, this was an entertaining book to listen to. There were some sort of steamy moments, I loved that BDSM was explored in a safe and consenting manner, and the characters were intriguing enough that I’m interested in picking up the next book in the series (which is good, because it’s already on my Kindle shelves). I’d recommend this to lovers of steamy reads, paranormal/supernatural elements, and a few heavy-handed subjects. This was a walk on the supernatural side, penguins; maybe you should see what the fuss is about!

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The Quest for Humanity: Slightly Confusing, though Intriguing, Narrative

bookreview

MUDMEN - The Quest For Humanity

What if you thought you could play a better god than God?

Mudmen is a story unlike anything you have ever seen before. It all starts with a half-crazed dwarf scribbling furiously on a piece of paper while the world outside his little cottage is ravaged by a great storm. There is an artifact in his possession which gives him power over all else, but that artifact is stolen by the very creatures that he gave birth to in his frustration – these creatures are what we come to know as the Mudmen.

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Mudmen #1
Science Fiction / Fantasy
88 Pages
Publication Date:  January 31st, 2017
Get a copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: intriguing, entertaining premise; I was a bit confused on some of the key aspects; definite feel of an “oral narrative”; this felt a little unfinished; I didn’t feel a sense of connection with the characters or the story

Huge thanks to Shitij Sharma for sending me a free galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

I have to admit, penguins–I was SUPER intrigued by the premise of this book. I thought there was perhaps a bit of something akin to Terry Pratchett happening here, and I was so excited for that. The idea of Mudmen, and of starting anew after the “cleansing” of the world, seemed like it might be right up my alley.

 

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed with the execution in the end. As intrigued as I was by the premise and the stories being woven throughout, I felt at times that I was missing key pieces of information. I wasn’t able to “picture” what was happening–the scenery felt flat, the characters didn’t stand out or set themselves apart. There was something here, and I was intrigued…but I never really got the answers I wanted, either. I felt like I was thrown into the middle of a story that I should already have known the beginning of, instead of being taken on a journey.

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I was also unable to form any sort of connection to the characters or the adventure. There is quite a bit happening in this book, but I feel perhaps the timing of things was a bit off–instead of being able to take my time getting to know the characters and their quirks, figuring out where they were or what their goals were… I was thrust into the middle of a race to the finish. It felt rushed, in other words–instead of feeling as if I had all the information I needed for such a journey, I was left a bit confused and uncertain of what had just happened.

 

Still, the premise was intriguing, and I’m interested in the world that Shitij Sharma created for us. While I was confused about some of the finer world-building details, I loved the feel of “oral narrative” that was woven throughout the text, and would be interested in learning more about this world/these characters. I recommend this to lovers of origin stories, oral narratives, and interesting characters. Break out of your shells, penguins, and crack this journey open.

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Secrets of a Reluctant Princess

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soarp-coverSecrets of a Reluctant Princess
by Casey Griffin
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Blurb:

At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

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Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N| Kobo | TBD | iBooks

casey-griffinAbout the Author:

Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in

Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and

photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy

writing every moment she can.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Information: 

  • One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess + a Tiara!

Find the giveaway RIGHT HERE!


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3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: Adrianna/Andy has a super entertaining, snarky, vibrantly-written voice; this was a roMESS if I’ve ever read one; that director is absolute slime; lots of angst and drama; the hilarious banter between the characters is SPOT ON; I could literally “see” each of these people in the pages

HUGE thanks to Casey Griffin, Entangled: Teen, Chapter by Chapter, and Netgalley 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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Hear ye, hear ye! On behalf of the Porcelain Princess (toilet thrones now 25% off at the door!) I present to you….my review! And what a grand thing it shall be, because… Wait, wait, cut. Okay, sorry penguins–my fingers got away from me. I just couldn’t help myself! But this is a great way to start off–because this book? FILLED with snark, attitude, and just the right amount of teenage drama and hysterics. Seriously, if you’re looking for an entertaining read with a HUGE personality, you need to pick up this one–I promise it won’t let you down!

Having skimmed a few other reviews on goodreads, I can tell you it seems a majority of the readerly population was a bit… put off? by Andy/Adrianna’s attitude and personality. HOWEVER…this was not the case on my end. I really enjoyed how snarky and strong-willed she is. While there were, admittedly, a few moments I cringed over (her decisions are, as the rest of humanity, rather flawed in some instances) I ADORED how much voice and spunk Casey Griffin managed to shove into each and every page. I found myself giggling aloud, dropping my jaw at some of the twists, and even raging alongside Andy as the world seemingly fell apart around her. I was thoroughly and immensely amused by her antics and her reactions to everything happening, and loved how much “growth” I saw in her throughout the read.

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The plot is fairly predictable in some places–I mean, it IS a YA Contemporary Romance, after all. There are bound to be a few tropes and cliches along the way, right? But Casey Griffin managed to tell this story in a unique and inventive way, in my opinion–the “Bathroom Business” and ensuing reality TV show turned roadside disaster made this a quick, entertaining read. The focus on “being true to yourself” really helped to tie the story together in a seamless, engaging way, as well.

In the end, I proclaim this an enthralling, snarky, angsty read! I cannot wait to see what Casey Griffin delivers in the future–the amount of unique voice and personality she packed into these pages has me begging my liege for more. If you’re seeking a quick, witty read with a ton of attitude, look no further than this one! Just promise not to drop it in the toilet, okay? Soggy pages are not good for reading.

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9

Pixie and the Green Book Mystery: Fast-Paced and Entertaining

bookreview

Pixie And The Green Book Mystery (Pixie Book Mystery 1)

Just like in the Never Ending Story, you’ll leap into a magical book filled with unforgettable characters on a quest to save their stories.

Pixie’s school day is an apple disaster, but a trip to the library changes everything. Fairytales have come to life out of their books and danger is lurking. It’s up to our book loving hero to get them out of the mysterious green book and back into their stories. The clock is ticking. Tick! Tock!

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Pixie Book Mystery #1
Children’s Books / Chapter Books / Fantasy
Wonder Bay Publishing
Publication Date:  November 19th, 2016
Get a copy here!

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: adorable, quick, light read; the pace is fast, but believable; love the play on fairy tales; interesting, unique characters; this book promises and delivers HUGE fun; I chuckled several times; even the easily-bored little readers will settle into this quickly

Huge thanks to Coraline Grace and Wonder Bay Publishing for sending me a free digital copy 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, entertaining, fast-paced chapter book. I was sucked into the story from page one and kept enthralled throughout. There were several moments I even found myself giggling to myself, as the antics of some of the characters were so amusing. The action is pretty fast-paced, and while it seems that a LOT of things happen in a small amount of time, in the end it is also fairly believable–after all, the events take place (for the most part) in a quick trip to the library, and therefore happen in a very short sequence. This didn’t bother me, though; while a lot happens, it is in no way overwhelming, and I followed the story line very easily.

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Pixie and the cast of characters she meets in these pages are strong-willed and independent. I really enjoyed the way Coraline Grace played with fairy tales; the introduction of the Book Guardian brought about a sense of drama and mystery, and enabled her to explore options she might not have been in regards to “changing” the stories the way that this book does.

 

I had a TON of fun diving into this short chapter book, and am intrigued with how the rest of the series will unfold. The plot is fast-paced but believable, the characters are unique and entertaining, and I am so glad to have been given the chance to pick this book up! If you’ve a young reader who is easily bored or distracted in your life, you should try this book–it’s a wild, entertaining ride from start to finish, and is bound to capture even the most fussy of book penguins! The Green Book Mystery is taking over a library near you, penguins; how will the fairy tales YOU adore be changed? You’ll have to read this series to find out!

4

Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway, and Review: A Ghostly Mortality

A Ghostly Mortality

by Tonya Kappes

on Tour February 28 – March 30, 2017

Synopsis:

A Ghostly Mortality

That ghost sure looks . . . familiar

Only a handful of people know that Emma Lee Raines, proprietor of a small-town Kentucky funeral home, is a “Betweener.” She helps ghosts stuck between here and the ever-after—murdered ghosts. Once Emma Lee gets them justice they can cross over to the great beyond.

But Emma Lee’s own sister refuses to believe in her special ability. In fact, the Raines sisters have barely gotten along since Charlotte Rae left the family business for the competition. After a doozy of an argument, Emma Lee is relieved to see Charlotte Rae back home to make nice. Until she realizes her usually snorting, sarcastic, family-ditching sister is a… ghost.

Charlotte Rae has no earthly idea who murdered her or why. With her heart in tatters, Emma Lee relies more than ever on her sexy beau, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross…because this time, catching a killer means the Raines sisters will have to make peace with each other first.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal

Published by: Witness

Publication Date: February 28th 2017

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 0062466976 (ISBN13: 9780062466976)

Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries #6

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Lawdy bee.” Granny scooted to the edge of the chair and lifted her arms in the air like she was worshiping in the Sunday morning service at Sleepy Hollow Baptist and the spirit just got put in her.

I sucked in a deep breath, preparing myself for whatever was going to come out of Zula Fae Raines Payne’s mouth, my granny. She was a ball of southern spitfire in her five-foot-four-inch frame topped off with bright red hair that I wasn’t sure was real or out of a L’Oréal bottle she’d gotten down at the Buy-N-Fly.

“Please, please, please,” she begged. “Let me die before anything happens to Emma Lee.” Her body slid down the fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair as she fell to her knees with her hands clasped together, bringing them back up in the air as she pleaded to the Big Guy in the sky. “I’m begging you.”

“Are you nuts?” My voice faded to a hushed stillness. I glanced back at the closed door of my sister’s new office, in fear she was going to walk in and see Granny acting up. I sat in the other fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair next to Granny’s and grabbed her by the loose skin of her underarm. “Get back up on this chair before Charlotte Rae gets back in here and sees you acting like a fool.”

“What?” Granny quirked her eyebrows questioningly as if her behavior was normal. My head dropped along with my jaw in the “are you kidding me” look.

“Well, I ain’t lying!” She spat, “I do hope and pray you are the granddaughter that will be doing my funeral, unless you get a flare up of the ‘Funeral Trauma.’ ” She sucked in a deep breath and got up off her knees. She ran her bony fingers down the front of her cream sweater to smooth out any wrinkles so she’d be presentable like a good southern woman, forgetting she was just on her knees begging for mercy.

“Flare up?” I sighed with exasperation. “It’s not like arthritis.”

The “Funeral Trauma.” It was true. I was diagnosed with the “Funeral Trauma” after a decorative plastic Santa fell off the roof of Artie’s Meat and Deli, knocking me flat out cold and now I could see dead people. I had told Doc Clyde I was having some sort of hallucinations and seeing dead people, but he insisted I had been in the funeral business a little too long and seeing corpses all of my life had brought on the trauma. Truthfully, the Santa had given me a gift. Not a gift you’d expect Santa to give you, but it was the gift of seeing clients of Eternal Slumber, my family’s funeral home business where I was the undertaker. Some family business. Anyway, a psychic told me I was now a Betweener. I helped people who were stuck between here and the ever after. The Great Beyond. The Big Guy in the sky. One catch . . . the dead people I saw were murdered and they needed me to help them solve their murder before they could cross over.

“I’m fine,” I huffed and took the pamphlet off of Charlotte Rae’s desk, keeping my gift to myself. The only people who knew were me, the psychic and Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, my hot, hunky and sexy boyfriend. He was as handy as a pocket on a shirt when it came time for me to find a killer when a ghost was following me around. “We are here to get her to sign my papers and talk about this sideboard issue once and for all.” Granny stared at me.

My head slid forward like a turtle and I popped my eyes open.

“I’m fine,” I said through closed teeth.

“You are not fine.” Granny rolled her eyes so big, I swear she probably hurt herself. “People are still going around talking about how you talk to yourself.” She shook her finger at me. “If you don’t watch it, you are going to be committed. Surrounded by padded walls. Then—She jabbed her finger on my arm. I swatted her away with the pamphlet.

“Charlotte Rae will have full control over my dead body and I don’t want someone celebrating a wedding while I lay corpse in the next room. Lawdy bee,” Granny griped. I opened the pamphlet and tried to ignore Granny as best I could.

“Do you hear me, Emma Lee?” Granny asked. I could feel her beady eyes boring into me.

“Don’t you be disrespecting your elders. I asked you a question,” she warned when I didn’t immediately answer her question.

“Granny.” I placed the brochure in my lap and reminded myself to remain calm. Something I did often when it came to my granny. “I hear you. Don’t you worry about a thing. By the time you get ready to die, they will have you in the nut-house alongside me,” I joked, knowing it would get her goat. The door flung open and the click of Charlotte Rae’s high-dollar heels tapped the hardwood floor as she sashayed her way back into her office. The soft linen green suit complemented Charlotte’s sparkly green eyes and the chocolate scarf that was neatly tied around her neck. It was the perfect shade of brown to go with her long red hair and pale skin.

“I’m so sorry about that.” She stopped next to our chairs and looked between me and Granny. She shook the long, loose curls over her shoulders. “What? What is wrong, now?”

“Granny is all worried I’m going to get sent away to the nuthouse and you are going to lay her out here.” The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them. Or did my subconscious take over my mouth? It was always a competition between me and Charlotte, only it was one-sided. Mine. Charlotte never viewed me as competition because she railroaded me all my life. Like now. She’d left Eternal Slumber with zero guilt, leaving me in charge so she could make more money at Hardgrove’s Legacy Center, formerly known as Hardgrove’s Funeral Homes until they got too big for their britches and decided to host every life event possible just to make more money.

Excerpt from A Ghostly Mortality by Tonya Kappes. Copyright © 2017 by Tonya Kappes. Reproduced with permission from Witness. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Tonya KappesTonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

Catch Up with Tonya Kappes on her Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗,
& Facebook 🔗

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Tonya Kappes and Witness Impulse. There will be 1 US winner of one PRINTED set of The Ghostly Southern Mysteries #1-6 by Tonya Kappes. The giveaway begins on February 27th and runs through April 2nd, 2017.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


bookreview

 

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: I was a tiny bit confused about some plot things; entertaining, snarky, head-strong character; love the setting and dialect; love that a loose end played on throughout is used as a mini introduction to the next book; I might just have to pick up the rest of this series!

Huge thanks to Tonya Kappes, Witness Publishing, Partners in Crime Tours, and Edelweiss for sending me a free digital copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

First things first: I went into this book KNOWING I hadn’t read any of the previous books in the series. I knew, going in, that this might potentially lead to some confusion about the world and/or characters. I warned myself the confusion might, at times, be more than anticipated. So I wasn’t blind or oblivious to the fact that there might, reading this, be problems waiting for me. This being said… I was pleasantly surprised when I managed to get through most of this read without a hitch! While some past events went unexplained or were left up to me to figure out for myself (the relationship between Emma Lee and Jack Henry, for instance)–I was able to piece them together fairly easily, and remain convinced of the world and characters. Of course, there was still a little bit of confusion about certain things…but in the end, I was able to dive into this story and remain curious and enthralled throughout. This basically boils down to this for potential readers: while I still recommend starting at the beginning (because I’m usually that type of reader) you could pretty easily slip into the story later on if you want or need to.

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The characters are realistic and entertaining. Emma Lee was a snarky and head-strong character throughout the read; not once did she allow anyone to talk down to her, or sway her mind once she’d set it, or tell her what to do. I really loved following her on her ventures to find her sister’s killer–while it’s clear from the get-go that she’s not a professional detective or cop, she made the journey quick and fun. The moments with her sister were mixed parts aggravating, endearing, and totally believable; the moments with Granny, who’s a spitfire all her own, were both hilarious and heart-wrenching.

 

I had such a fun time following the clues in this murder-mystery, I’m considering picking up the rest of the series (and starting from the beginning this time)! This was an entertaining, snarky, believable read with some wild and head-strong characters. I recommend this to lovers of cozy mysteries, sleuthy characters, and small towns with big hearts. Follow the clues, penguins, and see if you can figure out who the killer is before the big reveal! I promise you’ll be just as surprised as I was!

2

Piper Perish: Poisonous Family Dynamics, Open-Ended Ending

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Piper Perish

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and into art school in New York City, the better. It’s been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this ridiculously compelling, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she’s missing any one of these things?

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Contemporary / YA / LGBTQIA+
Chronicle Books
Publication Date:  March 7th, 2017
Get a copy here!

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: realistic and true-to-life; I LOVE how open-ended the ending is; an interesting glimpse into family dynamics and sibling rivalries; a focus on opportunity, self-preservation, and personal sacrifice; Piper has an entertaining, strong voice, but she comes off a bit unreliable at times

Huge thanks to Kayla Cagan, Chronicle Books Publishing, and Netgalley for granting me free early access to an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

The first thing you need to know about this book: it’s written in diary form. Therefore, the only perspective we get is Piper’s–and while I adored how strong and unique her voice is throughout this novel, I also struggled a bit with seeing the world through her eyes. Don’t get me wrong–single perspective reads are not in any way a bad thing! However, Piper’s perspective is (as to be expected, with diary entries) very biased. A couple of times, I found myself wondering if she was more unreliable than honest. You know that saying, “there’s three sides to every story. His, hers, and the truth.” ? I felt it applied to a lot of this book, when perhaps it shouldn’t have.

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I really enjoyed the different themes that Kayla Cagan explored, though! One of the biggest focuses, sibling rivalry, was a new one for me to encounter in YA, and it was beautifully done. Growing up with a TON of half-siblings and one younger brother, I know just how volatile and dramatic such relationships can be. They are, at times, downright caustic. When you add in pregnancy and the additional hormones that come with it, it’s pretty easy to believe in Marli’s terrifying unpredictability.

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In fact, the entire family dynamic was never once sugar-coated or glossed over. Kayla Cagan did an awesome job of asking the right questions, and then employing the answers in ways that shifted the plot and changed my perspective as a reader. Both parents are fully present and realistically flawed, acting and reacting in predictable AND surprising ways. After all, who hasn’t done or said something out of character when stressed? Unlike a lot of YA reads with missing or “side-note” parents, I felt as if I got to know Piper’s mom and dad as fully as I did Piper and Marli. I felt as if all these characters came to life for me, honestly–and that’s a hard thing to do in writing, to make each character feel individualized and equally vibrant.

 

In the end, this was an entertaining and thought-provoking read. There are tons of moments filled with teen angst, family drama, and abstract philosophies or ideas. It is, at times, difficult to put yourself in Piper’s shoes and understand where she’s coming from. Marli is, throughout, downright terrifying–and, at times, emotionally abusive. Still, each character feels fleshed out and unique, and the ending is open-ended enough to let readers continue the story on their own, if they want. I recommend this to lovers of contemporary fiction, “differing” family dynamics, and the exploration of abstract ideas/human nature. This was an interesting read; I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next project Kayla Cagan tackles.

4

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Awakening

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awakeningAwakening: Bloodline Book One
by Tiera Rice
Publication date: October 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal

Antanasia knows better than anyone that being royal comes with lots of expectations. Born into war as a Vampyre Witch, she has to battle the ultimate enemy: her own blood. When she has a terrifying Vision, Antanasia fights harder than ever to prevent it from coming to pass. Will she succeed? Or does she die trying?

Nadia is an average teenager celebrating her nineteenth birthday. But her day turns upside down when she starts developing unusual abilities that make her question everything she knew. Searching for answers to her predicament, she finds herself trusting Nicolae, a stranger with a familiar presence. Why does she feel so drawn to him? Will Nadia find answers to the questions about her past and take on her new role willingly? Or will she choose to remain in the dark and deny her destiny?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

 

 

tieraAuthor Bio:

Tiera Rice was raised in Rockland County, New York and is a realtor in Rockland, Westchester, and Orange Counties. She earned her degree in criminal justice from
Temple University, is the founder of Laughter and Lemonade: a project that focuses on motivational posters for those experiencing a chronic illness, and co-founder of #26forTiera: a foundation that provides financial resources to single parents battling life-threatening illnesses.

A creator of poems and short-stories for many years, Tiera challenged herself by
leaping into the world of novels. Having recently survived a battle with cancer, Tiera
decided to use her writing to entertain and motivate her readers. When not writing or
selling houses, Tiera can be found spending time with her friends and family, especially her young daughter, fish, and kitty cat. Her other interests include singing, drawing, and dancing.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

 

GIVEAWAY!

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bookreview

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: exciting, unique adventure; love the dual-perspectives/time shifts; Nadia had some unfortunate immature reactions that made it hard to connect with her for me; realistic, mostly-believable characters and relationships; just a few weird plot-holes

Huge thanks to Tiera Rice, Eula Rae Printing & Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours for providing me with a free digital copy 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 a fun, entertaining read–and that cover is GORGEOUS! I love how the cover reflects the dual perspectives/time jumps we have happening within these pages–even the color differences, while maintaining the same tone, lend a sense of personality to the book. Covers like this one are the reason I breathe, penguins–there’s so much detail to digest and ponder over!

I was just a tiny bit disappointed in the world-building of this book. I feel like a LOT of things happen in quite a short period of time, and that left me feeling a little dizzy in the end. There were a lot of questions I found myself asking that were never really answered for me. I feel like we spent so much time focused on our main duo and their personal feelings, and not enough learning about the worlds surrounding them both. I felt, at times, that the author mentioned certain aspects of the world…but never really gave them time to develop or be explored. For instance…why is it only AFTER the ceremony that Antanasia can feed upon animals? What about the world or their biology makes this happen? The ending of this read was also a bit vague and confusing–I found myself unsure of what had just happened, and confused about what to think.

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The characters, for the most part, were believable and intriguing…though Nadia had several unfortunate “immature” moments that made it hard for me, personally, to connect with her as a character. By this, I mean she had a tendency to overreact and overdramatize. In another character, this might have worked…but for Nadia, who seems overall pretty clear-headed and well-grounded, it was a bit of a shock. It also felt as if these moments might have been part of a ploy to keep the plot moving forward, though I might be wrong about that.

Still, this was an entertaining read with plenty of snark and sass to go around! I’m curious about the world and these characters, and will be waiting for book two to see if any of my answers/curiosities are cleared up. The characters are fairly believable, the read was quick and full of action, and I can’t wait to see what the next installment promises for us readers! I’d recommend this to lovers of: all things vampire, dual-perspectives/time jumps, and snarky characters. Pull your hood down and take a sip, penguins; let the battle begin!

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Sugar & Other Luxuries: The Internal Monologues could Put Shakespeare to Shame

bookreview

Sugar & Other Luxuries

Katherine Humphries wants to find the love of her life.

As a recovering perfectionist who hasn’t been on a date in five years, finding love is harder than she thought. Faced with beginning her twenty-sixth year of life insecure and living in Los Angeles where men and women either ignore or insult her curvy existence, Katherine decides to make dating her bitch. She’s not changing her curvy body. She won’t put down the dessert. And she isn’t going to apologize for any of it.

Her first night out ends nothing like she’d planned. When a flirty and rugged New Yorker asks for her phone number, Katherine freezes. She’s ready to give up before heartbreak happens. That is, until she meets a polyamorous, fairy-godmother-wanna-be, Hunter. The self proclaimed Queen of Pleasure coaches Katherine on badass, dating etiquette. Hunter’s first rule? Don’t fall in love. The second rule? Perfection doesn’t exist.

But when a bet with a sexy and sensitive music teacher changes her perspective on the dating game, Katherine learns that breaking badass rule #1 before loving every inch of herself might spell trouble. On the other hand, breaking rules might be exactly what Katherine needs to discover the true power of a woman’s body, the sugary sweetness of indulgence, and whether saying yes to her dream life against the wishes of advice-slinging friends will lead to heartache or harmony.

addtogoodreads

Contemporary/Romance/Chick Lit
225 Pages
Publication Date:  April 4th, 2016
Get a copy here!

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: cutesy contemporary; unique, endearing characters; the internal monologues are both hilarious and, at times, really self-deprecating; realistic and true to life; there were some super entertaining, laugh-out-loud moments; Katherine is the sort of character we need more of in our reading lives

Huge thanks to Everly Scott and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free digital copy 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 is not the type of book I usually read, but PENGUINS, did this one call to me. First off–LOOK at that cover! It’s absolutely stunning. I love the pastels, the fact that the macaroons are in a china cup, how gorgeously soft the entire look is. It’s drool-worthy, okay, and it immediately caught my eye when I stumbled across it on social media or in my email or wherever it happened to be lurking on my internet when I found out about this book to begin with. Second, the blurb sounded SO intriguing and entertaining and exactly like the kind of book I needed to take a chance on…and I’m so so glad, having finished the read tonight, that I did.

Katherine is exactly the sort of fierce, realistic character I feel I’ve been lacking in my reads of late. Her inner monologues are snarky, hilarious, and just the tiniest bit self-deprecating at the start of the read. While normally, this would bother me…I found it endearing and realistic for this particular book. It worked for me; her flaws and quirks actually made me feel more connected to her than I expected. There are SO many gorgeously written, complex moments of character growth throughout this read–and I feel like more girls and women could learn some things about body positivity from the journey.

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This is, in the end, a cutesy contemporary with a very BIG message–we are all our own worst critics, every single one of us is human and beautifully flawed…and we should own the things that define us, that make us unique, instead of trying to push them below the surface or mold ourselves into somebody different. Of course, there are other, smaller morals laced throughout as well…but self-love? Self-acceptance? Self-confidence? Those are the big kickers, and I love how beautifully Everly Scott wrote them into this.

While just a bit out of my comfort zone, I had quite a bit of fun being taken on this journey! The characters are realistic and beautifully flawed, the morals are poignant and complex, and the snark that ensues in some of the internal monologues were absolutely hilarious. Katherine is the type of character I need more of in my life! I definitely recommend this to lovers of cutesy contemporaries, strong-willed and fierce women on the path to self-love, and endearing journeys. Plus, that cover is gorgeous enough to eat–so why not give it a taste?!

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Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway, and Review: Swords & Stilettos

Swords & Stilettos banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for Swords & Stilettos by Kristin D. Van Risseghem. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 4 till 10 January. You can see the tour schedule here.

Swords & StilettosSwords & Stilettos (Enlighten #1)
by Kristin D. Van Risseghem
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: December 7, 2016

Blurb:
Zoe Jabril needs to devise a kick-ass plan to save the world ASAP. Otherwise, Armageddon starts the day she turns eighteen—and if that happens, everything is going to hell. Literally.

She could be any other 17-year-old attending parties and checking out cute guys—except she discovers her best friend is a Guardian Angel and the boy she crushes on is a Nephilim, both sent to protect her from the demons who want her dead.

Now Zoe has to deal with growing feelings toward the Nephilim, who spreads a strange electrical current through her body every time he touches her. And she’s under constant attack from Demons, trying to stop her from fulfilling the Prophecy: a girl will be born who will unite Angels, Nephilim, Fairies and Werewolves to battle evil. Then she has to control newly found talents if she’s to prevent the devil from escaping Hell.

You can find Swords & Stilettos on Goodreads

You can buy Swords & Stilettos here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iBooks

You can get a free book if you join Kristin her newsletter. Get your free copy of The Prince, a Betrayal, & a Kiss here on instafreebie.

Excerpt:

The three of us walked out to his car, and dad surprised me with how cordial he was around Shay. Not the overprotective father I’d expected at all.

“When did you buy it?” Dad asked. “All the parts still original?”

“Mostly,” Shay replied, avoiding his first question. “I changed out the stereo to a CD/iPod player.”

Dad seemed to agree. “I would, too. Do you drive it to car shows? I don’t think I’ve seen this one at any of them around here.” He glanced up from the car, looking sheepish. “I can’t get the women to go with me when one’s in town, so I usually go alone.”

“There’s one coming up next weekend at the Minneapolis Convention Center,” Shay said. “Wanna go with me?”

Oh Shay, you’ll have my dad wrapped around your finger in no time. Dad glanced at me with hopeful eyes. I couldn’t deny him this.

“I think you should,” I told him.

Now that he had my permission, Dad walked around the Bel Air, not touching it, but examining it under a microscope. Looking up from the wheels he asked, “What made you pick this model and not some other one?”

“It was between her and a 1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible with suicide doors.” He shrugged. “I got a better deal on this.”

“A ‘62 Lincoln. That’s a pretty sweet car, but I’d have to agree. This is better.” He shook Shay’s hand again. “Good choice. Very good choice.” They stood side by side, staring at the car, and I had to work on not laughing.

“I’ll leave you two alone now,” I said with a grin, then turned back to the house. Just before I reached the front door, I glanced back, still amazed at my dad’s behavior. If I hadn’t turned around, I would have missed it. Dad had leaned over to whisper something in Shay’s ear. Shay nodded and said something back. I was dying to know what they were talking about. Then again, they were probably just talking cars.

By the time I made it to the front door, Shay had jogged up to stand beside me. “Your dad is way cool!”

“You’re saying that to butter him up.”

“No, he is. Kieran says so, too.”

“What did he whisper to you at the end?” I asked.

He smiled gently and brushed his fingers over my cheek, tucking back my hair. “He told me to treat you better than I care for the car. He said a car can be replaced, and you can’t be.”

Now that was nice to hear. “And you said?”

“I promised I’d protect you with my life.”

About the Author:

Kristin D. Van Risseghem
USA Today bestselling and Award-Winning, Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River with her parents and older sister. Currently, Kristin lives in Minnesota with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and probably has way too many of both.

In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold!

Kristin’s books are published by Kasian Publishing LLC.

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

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Swords & Stilettos. One winner will win a signed paperback copy of Swords & Stilettos and custom swag. Open to both USA and International.

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


bookreview

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: intriguing, promising premise; love triangle meet instalove meet fated love meet unexplained girl hate; there was a LOT happening in this book; the “magic” could use a bit of expansion/work; Zoe wasn’t as interesting as I hoped she’d be

Huge thanks to Kristin D. Van Rissegham, Kasian Publishing LLC, and Lola’s Blog Tours for granting me free digital access to 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 book had HUGE potential, penguins. I was intrigued and entertained throughout, always wanting to know where the plot was leading or what was bound to happen next. There were some well-written, heart-wrenching moments–most of which had Zoe and Shay alone, exploring their feelings (and each other). I felt the plot was complex and dynamic, and had just enough going on to entice and enthrall me. Overall, this was an amusing, fun read.

The characters were, for the most part, also well-rounded and vibrantly detailed. There were little notes about each that Kristin D. Van Rissenghem took care to include–such as wing color, tattoo intricacies, and nervous habits. Each character felt individualized and unique, and each brought their own flair into this story. I especially liked that we had several different perspective shifts throughout this book–it helped to break up the “monotonous” moments and make things more lively.

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But…there were also things that didn’t work for me, personally. For one thing, as I mentioned above, there were A LOT of different “love” connections happening. We had the love triangle, the instalove, the fated lovers…and a few others that I won’t take the time to list out, because then we’d all be confused. While I understand this was an attempt to pair the key players off or whatnot, it felt like TOO many feelings happening. Sure, don’t get me wrong–Eternals need love in their lives, too. It just felt a bit like awkward timing, with a supposed huge war on the horizon. Zoe, in particular, seemed more focused on her love life (and on being a “normal” teenager) than on the impending danger. On top of this, these tropes at times felt a bit connived or forced–I didn’t FULLY buy into any of the romances, to be honest, mostly because they happened way too quickly.

Overall, while this was an engaging and promising beginning to a new series, I had a few minor issues with it as well. The characters were vibrant and entertaining, the snark was on point, but the romance aspect in the long run didn’t work for me. I’d still recommend this to lovers of mythological creatures, the battle between good and evil, and characters who take a few hard knocks before coming to terms with their “destinies.” This one didn’t sweep me completely off my feet as a reader…but maybe it will you. Give it a go, maybe?


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The Sacrifice: Emotionally-Driven, Poignant Reads

bookreview

The Sacrifice

In this collection, meet:

Guillaume, who gives up everything to protect his child; young Matthew, who stakes his life to save his home; and François, who makes the biggest sacrifice to rescue his grandson.

addtogoodreads

Short Stories/Contemporary
219 Pages
Publication Date: August 25th, 2016
Get a copy here!

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: thought-provoking, emotionally-driven reads; each short story explores and imparts a spine-chilling message; the prose is smooth and effective overall; some of the plot lines seemed a bit forced/too tidy

Huge thanks to Estelle (the muse!) for reaching out to me for a review and sending me a free copy of Indrajit Garai’s short story collection in exchange for my honest opinions! This in no way altered my read of or thoughts on this title.

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This collection of short stories is both haunting and emotional. Each plot introduces a complex, thought-provoking moral implication or message, and carefully crafts the story around it to the most heart-wrenching or powerful end. Indrajit Garai plays on his readers emotions throughout this series, leaving them breathless, angry, or hurting in turn. Each story manipulates the heart of readers in a beautifully engaging way, and is bound to leave people thinking long after closing the final page of the book.

I did, however, find a few of the plot points to feel a BIT awkward or forced. It seemed in several places, things happened in a weird or unnecessary order strictly to keep the plot moving and the story rolling, dragging out a situation or event. While this isn’t a bad thing necessarily–several times, these moments led to the more profound and poignant revelations–there were moments I found myself wondering over the realism of said events or situations. Some of them felt, I suppose, a bit fake or unbelievable in the end.

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The prose, however, is smooth and easy to follow, and the characters find their place within these pages. In fact, each character felt uniquely individualized and wholly separate from the rest, and while there were some interactions or reactions that I found myself doubting, they helped to draw me in more fully and immerse me in their stories. I believe the last story, especially, stands out as a favorite in my mind–the trials and tribulations faced and suffered by the characters, the climax and resolution of the plot, all came together in an emotionally powerful and deeply profound way.

While I don’t read many short story collections, I would definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary fiction, powerful characters, and stories with punch. These emotionally-driven, heart-wrenching reads are bound to open readers up to a variety of different settings and characters…and, hopefully, impart some powerful, poignant messages in the process. Picking this book up isn’t a sacrifice, penguins–maybe you should consider it next time you’re seeking a turbulent read.