4

Blog Tour, Excerpt, Teasers, Giveaway, and Review: Operation Prom Date

OperationPromDateTour

Operations Prom Date Cover.pngOperation Prom Date
(Tactics in Flirting #1)
by Cindi Madsen

YA/Contemporary/Romance
230 Pages
Entangled:  Crush
Publication Date:  March 13th, 2017

Kate ships tons of fictional couples, but IRL her OTP is her and Mick, the hot quarterback she’s crushed on since, like, forever. With only one semester left of senior year, it’s now or never if she wants to land him in time for prom. Since she’s flirtationally challenged, she enlists Cooper Callihan, the guy who turned popular seemingly overnight but who used to be a good friend.

Cooper lives and breathes rowing, but his partner just broke his wrist. When he remembers Kate’s good with a set of oars, he strikes a deal: help him train, and he’ll make sure her crush notices her. Only he didn’t know how addicting spending time with her would be. Or how the more successful the Operation is, the more jealousy he experiences.

The mission has been set. The troops have their marching orders. But what if the target is the wrong guy all along?

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains stargazing, accidental swimming, and poker swindling. This kissing practice will melt your ereader…and give you a new couple to ship


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Purchase Links:

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

EXCERPT:

“That’s Klaus,” Kate said. “Don’t worry, he’s got a much better temperament than his namesake.”

“Oh? And who is he named after?”

“An original vampire. From the show The Originals? Technically he was on The Vampire Diaries first, but they did a spin off, and anyway…” She scooped up the creature as she sat on her bed. “Klaus kills for fun—the vampire. This Klaus is too lazy to do much of anything.”

I sat next to her on the bed, still taking in her collection of figurines.

“That’s my Funko Pop collection. I paired them up the way they should be on the shows.” She gestured at one in a green hood and the blonde figure next to him with the glasses. I realized it was from Arrow.

            “I ship Olicity the hardest.”

“‘Ship’ them?”

“I want them in a relationship. Like I’d put them in a ship together so they’d be forced to see they’re perfect for each other, bribe the writers to get them together, ship them. Partnership, friendship, please-God-put-them-in-a-relationship-already ship them.”

“Oh-kay.”

“It’s a common phrase. Oliver and Felicity are totally my OTP, which means one true pairing, if you haven’t somehow heard of that, either. I also ship Alexa and Clarke on The 100 a crazy amount, and I was pretty mad at the writers for a while, but something happened and…well, I won’t spoil it, but I might’ve teared up. Then of course there’s Stydia and Captain Swan”—she pointed at a blond figure wearing a red jacket and a goateed dude with a hook for a hand—“I used to be all about Damon and Elena, but there toward the end, I shipped her and a coffin. Which sounds mean, I know, but vampires don’t technically die, so a bit nicer?”

“I’m still judging you too much for saying ‘ship them the hardest’ to judge you for the vampire stuff.”

She smacked my arm and I laughed. Honestly, I was also trying to keep up with all the words she’d spouted, trying to make sense of them. We’d spent the past few afternoons on the boat, and the more time I spent with her, the more amused I was by her, even though I only understood about half of what she said.

Klaus crawled higher on her lap and she rubbed his chin. I never knew a lizard could smile, but damned if the thing didn’t grin. Kate caught my eye. “Just call me Khaleesi, mother of dragons. Or dragon, as it were. Please tell me you at least get that reference.”

Game of Thrones. I’ve only read the first book, though. Okay, half of the first book, but I meant to pick it back up. But then I sort of just watched the show instead.”

She glanced around like someone might be listening and then leaned in. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never read the books.”

I leaned a few inches closer, until I could see the different shades of green in her eyes. “Your secret is safe with me.”

“You’re starting to have a lot of my secrets, so I certainly hope so.”

            Unexpected warmth swirled through my chest. I’d never thought I would want to be a secret keeper, but there was something about having Kate’s trust that made me proud to be one.

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Cindi MadsenAbout the Author:

Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

If you’re interested in ARCs, interviews, and/or blog tour information please contact the publicity department at publicity@entangledpublishing.com

Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Copy of OPD Blog Tour Giveaway

Giveaway:
Kate Hamilton’s OTP Prize Pack, including two Funko Pops: The Green Arrow and Felicity*

*NOTE: A $20 Amazon gift card will be substituted in the place of the prize pack if the winner is international.

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bookreview

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: realistic, believable romance; lots of delicious angst and drama; this took me back to my younger years; entertaining snark, endearing characters; strong focus on familial relationships; huge personality, vibrant voice

Huge thanks to Cindi Madsen, Entangled: Crush, Chapter by Chapter, and Netgalley 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.

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I know, I know–I’ve been reading WAY too many contemporary romances lately. I just can’t help myself, penguins! LOVE IS LOVE IS LOOOOOOVE, and it makes my life complete! Or…maybe I’m just a bit off my rocker? I don’t know. Regardless, I’ve been LOVING the amount of love I’m reading, so…I don’t intend to change it anytime soon? Don’t worry. I’m sure someday I’ll get tired of the cliches and tropes and move along to my next obsession, but right now? I believe in a thing called love, and I ain’t giving up on the reads just yet.

That being said–this book? Super adorable with a side of give me your boyfriend, please. Because seeeeeeriously, penguins, Cooper is exactly the type of book boyfriend I fall for. Or, at least, ONE of the exact types, because let’s be honest–I’m down for a lot of different book boyfriend types. (Which…explains why I root for the villains and the sweeties equally, I suppose) Cindi Madsen took me right back to my high school days with this read–I remember being somewhat like Kate, in fact. A lot awkward, a lot shy, and a lot unsure just exactly what I wanted (from life OR boys). The nostalgia caught me hardcore…and I enjoyed every delicious moment!

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There are some hugely entertaining snark moments woven throughout this read. I especially loved Kate and Cooper’s interactions–they were funny, heady with chemistry (invisible though it was to the two of them), and super endearing. Coupled with some emotionally heavy scenes–especially between Cooper and his dad–this book was gold. I really enjoyed watching these characters interact with and react to each other/the world surrounding them. I also loved that, while there’s a bit of jealousy stemming from each of the main duo, there aren’t any heavy moments of girl hate or violence.

Cindi Madsen helped me revisit my high school days with this endearing, snarky read–and I loved every delicious minute of it. The characters are well-rounded and the romance is believable. There’s a twinge of jealousy in a few places…but that jealousy doesn’t go much farther than a twinge. I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary romances, high school angst, and well-matched characters. Start your checklist, penguins; let the countdown begin!

 

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9

All In: Because Sometimes, a Risk is Worth the World

bookreview

All In (Full Tilt, #2)

SPOILERS FOR FULL TILT….

Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.

Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.

Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.

PLEASE NOTE, this novel is NOT a standalone. It is highly recommended one read Full Tilt first to get the entire arc of the story and to avoid spoilers.

Full Tilt #2
New Adult / Romance / Contemporary
296 Pages
Publication Date:  October 11th, 2016
Get a copy here!

Other books in the duet:

Full Tilt (Full Tilt, #1)

See my Review for Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) RIGHT HERE!

 

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: emotional, dramatic, explosive conclusion to a book duet; I feel like I was wrung out and hung up to dry; complex, well-rounded characters; so many heavy subjects handled with sensitivity and grace; poignant, powerful series

Huge thanks to Emma Scott and Netgalley 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.

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This was such an explosive, emotional, heart-wrenching conclusion to a journey, penguins. And this book? Took some of the hardest, most challenging subjects…and made me really think about them. Honestly, Emma Scott has a knack for approaching a heavy topic with grace and sensitivity while making readers rethink their opinions. I’ve only read this series by her so far, but each book in the duet challenged my ways of thinking and made me approach the world in different ways after reading.

 

These characters are, at the beginning of this read, utterly broken. They are shattered, lost, unsure of themselves or the world around them–and for good reason. This doesn’t make them bad characters…it just means they are more well-rounded and complex than we left them off in the first book. They make mistakes. They do silly things, or lie about the ways they feel to keep others from hurting. They are, in essence, completely human–and I adored them all so much for it. The ways they face and deal with grief throughout just brought so much growth and emotion to them.

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I think the most profound–and uplifting–growth is seen between Theo and his dad. Throughout the entire series, they’ve had such a stilted and out-of-touch relationship…it was amazing to watch them, finally!, come together and find a common ground to stand on. To watch them learn how to respect each other, and accept the differences between them. Seriously, though, each character has an amazing amount of growth, and it was this that touched me the deepest.

 

This was an emotionally-driven journey, and I am so happy to have taken the ride. The characters are realistic and well-rounded, their reactions/interactions are endearing, and the way Emma Scott approached the heavier topics was tasteful and poignant. I recommend this series to lovers of contemporary romances, a look into the ways people handle grief, and families coming together after a loss. Strike a chord and hit the high notes, penguins; the crescendo will change you.

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Blog Tour, Teasers, Giveaway, and Review: ALEX

 

ALEX: Perfect Opposite Book One
(Extended edition)

Zoya Tessi
Publication date: January 23rd 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Their wishes were simple and modest. Fate had other things in store though, and she can be a real bitch sometimes.

All he wanted was to get the job done and somehow to endure those long months playing nanny to a spoiled little rich girl. Without strangling her with his bare hands in the process. Well, it is going to be much easier said than done.

All she wanted was to escape the past and live like any other girl. Her plan definitely didn’t include the arrogant, tattooed savage, with his awful mohawk and lack of social graces, whose only mission was to stick real close and mess up her life.

But, people aren’t always what they seem to be, are they?

Goodreads / Amazon

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Author Bio:

Zoya spent years doing volunteering work all across Europe, from cleaning school basements in Northern Russia to excavating Stone Age artifacts in Euskadi (the Basque country) and renovating castles from the middle ages in Southern France. She always dreamed of working with ‘Doctors without borders’ somewhere out in Africa, but ended up doing an ‘ordinary job’ in one of the smaller European countries.

Her greatest passion is devouring each and every book that comes within her reach.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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GIVEAWAY!
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bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: you fooled me, book; emotional, dramatic, entertaining; love the love happening here; realistic, though sometimes slightly annoying, characters; some of the reactions/interactions were a bit over the top; that 89% mark almost broke me

Huge thanks to Zoya Tessi 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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Okay, penguins. I’m sure you’re all sitting there in front of your computers looking at this review like, “ANOTHER romance?! Really, Beth?! REALLY?! What is wrong with you?” Well… I’ll be honest. I? am really very fond of romances. Love is the hope that keeps me going in the world. I LOVE, love, okay? And lately, I’ve been feeling a mighty need for more “happily ever afters” in my world, because let’s face it–happily ever afters are what make my little penguin heart go pit-a-pat-a-pitter. Yes, I know that’s not a real word. No, I don’t particularly care to change it.

This romance was at turns wholly realistic…and over-the-top. I’ve always been a fan of the “enemies to lovers” stories, and that’s exactly what we get here…but I felt like a few of the character reactions (especially from Sasha’s end) were a bit unrealistic and came off rather “spoiled-brat” esque. HOWEVER…the snark is super on point, especially in the moments Sasha and Alex are alone together. I fell in love with them early, thanks to their snark and sass–the moments they tear each other apart verbally were some of the most entertaining, best scenes in this book. So while Sasha was, at points, a bit childish in my mind…I forgave her easily, because she was pretty adorable at the same time.

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AND THAT 89% MARK! I swear, I about threw my tablet across the room when I hit that point, because TARNATIONS, penguins, that moment hurt. It was like I’d found the most perfect pebble ever….only to accidentally swallow it and get it lodged halfway down my poor penguin throat. I spent the next 7% of the read on tenterhooks, trying to convince the book to stop hurting me (trust me, there was a LOT of threatening happening!) Luckily, the book knew better than to leave me with such a broken mess of heart, and quickly fixed the world around me before the close.

This was, in the end, a snarky, dramatic, and entertaining read. Alex and Sasha were believable in their interactions, though perhaps (in a few cases) just a bit childish. There were some unbelievably surprising plot twists laced throughout the story, and the plot was fast-paced and complex. I definitely recommend this to lovers of star-crossed lovers, heartbreaking plot twists, and well-rounded characters. I cannot wait to pick up another Zoya Tessi book in the future! This book put me in chains, penguins; why don’t you join me in my prison?!

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20

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Queens of Geek

 

Queens of Geek
by Jen Wilde
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult

Three friends. Two love stories. One convention.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek, an empowering young adult novel by Jen Wilde, is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

Jen Wilde is a writer, geek and fangirl with a penchant for coffee, books and pugs. She writes YA stories about zombies (AS THEY RISE), witches (ECHO OF THE WITCH) and fangirls (QUEENS OF GEEK). Her debut series reached over three million reads online and became an Amazon bestseller.

When she’s not writing, Jen loves binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix, eating pizza, traveling to far away places and going to conventions in Marty McFly cosplay.

Jen lives in a sunny beachside town in Australia with her husband and their cheeky pug, aptly named Heisenberg.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: super important morals/lessons; these characters are quirky and lovable; LOVE the love happening here; authentic, real-life reactions and interactions; awesome character growth; THIS is a coming-of-age done well; beautifully endearing

HUGE thanks to Jen Wilde, Swoon Reads, Xpresso Book Tours, and Netgalley for providing 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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I just can’t even with how adorable this book was, penguins. Seriously?! it wins my week. Let’s just talk about that cover to start with, okay? That pink! That pink is EVERYTHING. Honestly, the pink hair on the cover was the very first reason I knew I needed this book in my life–for one, because at the time I had never seen a cover like it before. For two…I mean, that hair makes a statement, okay?! And it was a statement I was desperate to hear. Having finished the book… I have to admit I was totally right about that.

Which brings us to…the morals. There are some heavy subjects running through this read, including mental health. Jen Wilde approached each obstacle with a clear “end goal” in mind…and came out on top of this journey, in my opinion. The subjects are approached in sensitive, subtle ways…only to be body-slammed by the moral message later on. Like the cover, this book makes a loud and important series of statements–and comes out with head held high and chin up. The character growth and “coming-of-age” journey within these pages will have readers viewing the world–and themselves!–in new, confident ways. And that, in my opinion, is such an important thing to have achieved.

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The characters are complex, endearing, and believable. I was rooting for these three from the very beginning–and laughing, crying, hurting, celebrating right along with them. This read sucked me in from page one, and refused to let me loose. I am only a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see the world from Jamie’s perspective. Headed into this, I was rather expecting it to be split into three POVs. Instead, I only got to glimpse things from two. Still, Jamie came to life for me regardless–and I adored his interactions with Tay just as much as I adored watching Charlie fall for Alyssa. Each relationship was realistic and adorable, so it wasn’t hard to love the characters as much as I loved their journey.

Overall, this was an amusing read filled with pop and nerd culture. I really loved all the references played throughout the pages. The characters are adorable, their relationships are realistic, and I had an absolute blast watching them grow and come into their own throughout this book! I cannot WAIT to pick up another Jen Wilde book in the future! I definitely recommend this to lovers of pop culture, diverse reads, and books with some heavy-handed subjects. Don your mask and meet me at midnight, penguins; we’ll take the world by storm yet!

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3

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Traveler

 

Traveler
(Traveler, #1)

by L.E. DeLano
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 7th, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

A teen writer discovers that every mirror is a portal into an alternate version of her life in this romantic YA fantasy by author L.E. DeLano.

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all teacakes, pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

L.E. DeLano is a YA novelist rep’d by Barry Goldblatt Literary agency, author of the upcoming “Traveler” (Swoon Reads/MacMillan 2017) and lifelong writer. Her work has been featured on various online outlets and she lives in Pennsylvania with two very adventurous kids and two very ridiculous cats. In her spare time, she writes (of course) and binge-watches way too much Netflix.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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bookreview

4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: GAAAAAH, why must you hurt me, book?!; entertaining, complex, realistic characters; TIME TRAVEL FOR THE WIN!; there’s also a sort of mirror worlds/through the looking glass thing happening that I adore; I need book two, and I need it now–give it or risk a temper tantrum!

HUGE thanks to L.E. DeLano, Swoon Reads, Xpresso Book Tours, and Netgalley 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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I think the wounded penguin noises I made after this read might have been loud enough to scare the entire WORLD, guys. Seriously. My heart? Broken into itty bitty pieces I could never hope to glue back together. I need book two…and I mean NEED, as in I will not survive without it, as in I am putting the fate of my poor penguin soul in its hands. Which is probably not the best idea, considering it doesn’t come out until next spring at the earliest. BOOK, WHY YOU HURT ME SO?!

Let’s just…try to be rational and coherent for a minute, okay? There is something deliciously “through the looking glass/mirror-worlds” happening in this book that I adored from the get-go. I’ve always been a sucker for alternate realities/time travel (perhaps that’s the daydreamer stuck in me?), so when I read the blurb for this book however long ago it was, I immediately knew I needed to read it. And as I hoped, I wasn’t disappointed in the least! The plot is intricately-woven and beautifully done, a crescendo of action and emotions that left me a sobbing wreck at the end. I mean…what more could I ask of a book?!

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The characters and their relationships/interactions are fairly believable and complex. While there were a few moments of trope to be found, the drama of the plot and the intrigue of the mystery enthralled me throughout…and the use of alternate realities helped, in a sense, to keep me somehow grounded. I LOVED stepping through the mirror with Jessa, in fact, and seeing the different ways she “altered” in each place. And Finn…. I just…. Let’s just not talk about Finn right now, okay? My penguin heart can’t handle it.

Basically, I NEED BOOK TWO! And I need it desperately. I think I left a large part of my heart trapped in the pages with Jessa, and I need the second book to retrieve them. Someone, PLEASE, give me book two sooner than next spring when it’s promised?! PLEAAAAASE?! I definitely recommend this to lovers of time travel/alternate realities, complex and entertaining personalities, and fast-paced enthralling action. Take a step through the mirror with me, penguins; let’s help save the world.

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3

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen: A Snarky Reinvention of a Well-Loved Fairy Tale

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My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen

Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues like sexuality, family and financial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments like how one rogue shoe can launch a secret, whirlwind romance and a chance meeting with a drag queen can spark magic and light in a once dark reality.

YA / Contemporary / Romance / Fairy Tale Retellings
336 Pages
Sky Pony Press
Expected Publication Date:  May 2nd, 2017
Preorder a copy here!

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: just a bit stereotypical; love the humor and personality of the voice; entertaining, endearing, wholly recreated characters; I was sucked in from start to finish; tons of delicious angst, drama, and fun; the snark is on point; LOVE how David Clawson made this retelling wholly his own

Huge thanks to David Clawson, Sky Pony Press, and Edelweiss for sending me a free digital ARC of this read in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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By now, I’m sure ALL my loyal penguins know full well that I am all about retellings. They are the bread to my readerly sandwich, after all! I am ALSO all about snarky characters, uniquely individualized reads, and reinvented story lines (especially if it’s a retelling being reinvented)! There’s nothing quite like stepping into a world you’re pretty sure you’ve seen from every angle…and being proven wrong.

 

 

David Clawson did exactly this for me with this title. I’ll be honest with you guys–when I stumbled upon this title on Edelweiss and saw it was up for instant download, I didn’t think twice. I read the title, laughed out loud like a lunatic, and promptly hit “download.” I didn’t even stop to read the blurb, which means, when I picked this book up to read…. I had no idea it was a retelling. It took only a couple of pages for me to realize that’s exactly what I was reading…and only a couple more after that to realize it was going to be entirely different from the story I thought I already knew. David Clawson took this fairy tale, and molded it into his own witty, snarky, entertaining beast–and I ADORED every second of it!

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This was a fast-paced, entertaining read with some well-written, complex, and wholly unique characters. Trust me, penguins–this is not the Cinderella cast you know, but that doesn’t mean you won’t love them to tuna fish pieces. Honestly, I feel like the relationships sewn and nurtured in this book are SO MUCH BETTER than those I’ve been reading in the recent months. They are realistic, they grow and change as the characters do, and they’re all, in some tiny way, flawed…but they’re also easy for readers to relate to. In the original Cinderella story, and the subsequent retellings I’ve had the pleasure of reading/watching… I was never quite sure WHY the stepmother and sisters hated Cinderella so much. There never seemed to be an actual reason. David Clawson approached this in a new and unique way, and managed to wrap it up in the process!

 

 

I had a ton of fun with this book, and while it leans a bit heavily on certain stereotypes, I feel the personality and uniquely individualized characters really set this apart from other Cinderella retellings. The snark was heavy-handed, the morals (being true to yourself, feeling comfortable in your own skin) are handled with sensitivity, and I just ADORED me some Coco Chanel Jones–seriously, one of the best characters EVER! I recommend this to lovers of fairy tale retellings, diverse reads, and a strong focus on the sewing and building of familial relationships. If you’re seeking YOUR Prince Charming, maybe you should wear shoes that are much too big for you…you never know whose face you’ll kick one into!

10

Ensnared: Beware this AI’s Gears

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Ensnared

A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Watch the Book Trailer

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

[This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+]

New Adult / Romance / Science Fiction / Retellings
380 Pages
Expected Publication Date:  December 18th, 2017

Rita StradlingAbout the Author:
Rita Stradling is the author of The Deception Dance series, the Dakota Kekoa series and The Fourteen Day Soul Detox Novella Serial. She has a BA in Art History and a particular love for modern and medieval art.

Rita lives with her husband and son in Northern California.

She has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: romance, paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.

You can find and contact Rita here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: this is terrifyingly realistic; LOVELOVELOVE the small nods to the original, interspersed with new ideas from Rita Stradling; entertaining, heart-wrenching, and horrifying all at once; there are some very mature themes and situations found in these pages; believable, complex, well-rounded characters

Huge, HUGE thanks to Rita Stradling and Lola’s Blog Tours for granting me free early 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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First off–LOOK at the gorgeousness that is this cover! I mean seriously, I could not have imagined a prettier, more perfect cover for this book. I LOVELOVELOVE the inspiration that is so obviously drawn from the read (the gears and bolts and whatnot behind the silhouette–there’s obviously a tone of science fiction set here!) So just… A++ and two penguin feet WAY up for cover design, it’s what initially drew me to this book.

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AND THEN! I found out! this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and you all know I flipped my silly penguin beak totally upside down and jumped all over this opportunity. Because…ugh, my favorite fairy tale. My favorite Disney movie. I need more retellings like this one in my life, on top of this, because seriously, Rita Stradling did BEAUTIFULLY with drawing inspiration from the original story while maintaining her own sense of creativity and unique voice. Seriously, guys, I haven’t read a retelling quite as lovely and original as this in a LONG time–Rita Stradling wins, in my book.

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The characters are complex, well-rounded, and so true to the “originals” while being uniquely written I can’t even. Also, I just realized who this book’s Gaston is and OH MY PENGUINS I can’t believe I didn’t put that connection together in the middle of reading. Holy beaks, penguins, it’s just so fitting and…GAH! I will break off my little love-fest for a second, though, because I have a bit of a trigger warning. There are mentions of: abuse, possible rape, assault, attempted murder, and murder. While the scenes are not in any way explicit or overly detailed, keep this in mind while reading please, and keep yourselves safe if you’re triggered by these things in any way!

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Overall, I had a HUGELY awesome time reading this book, and cannot wait to get my hands on more of Rita Stradling’s writing in the future! The characters are realistic and well-rounded, the moral implications are terrifying and inspiring in turn, and the personalities are spot-on and still brilliantly unique. I need more Beauty and the Beast retellings in my life, penguins–if you know of any good ones, please send titles my way! For now, I’m going to go blow the dust off my shoulders and try not to fall into a reading slump!

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12

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Any Boy but You

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any-boy-but-you-coverAny Boy but You (North Pole, Minnesota #1)

by Julie Hammerle
201 Pages
Published By:  Entangled:  Crush
Publication Date: February 13th, 2017
Genre:  Contemporary/Romance/YA

BLURB:

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.

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Purchase Links:
Google Play | BAM | Amazon | Indies | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

About the Author:

julie-hammerleJulie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instragram | Goodreads

Giveaway Information:

• One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle (US ONLY)

CLICK HERE for the giveaway!


bookreview

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: spontaneous moments of cute coupled with a realistic relationship = me in a penguin puddle; I’m such a sucker for enemies-to-lovers; star-crossed love meets Pride and Prejudice; some small geek/nerd culture references; complex characters and a plot with a TON of drama, angst, and resolution

Huge thanks to Julie Hammerle, Entangled: Crush, Chapter-by-Chapter, and Netgalley 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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Okay penguins, I have GOT to know: how do you all feel about enemies-to-lovers romance tropes? Because honestly, this is one of my personal FAVORITES! I’ve always been a sucker for star-crossed loves, and this book bridges the gap between the dramatic angst ofRomeo and Juliet and the snarky tingles of Pride and Prejudice. Seriously, I’m not even dramatizing that–that’s just EXACTLY what this book does, except in modern day…with cell phones, computers, and all that awesome delicious.

The romance is entirely realistic. There’s no “love at first sight” to be found here, unless you want to count the opposite–hate at first sight. Instead, this romance goes to the chatroom…and anonymous profiles. I seriously ADORED how cute that made this entire thing–while we, the readers, knew exactly who was whom, our poor unfortunate star-crossed pair had no idea until it was too late. There was a sense of…innocence, maybe? in the ways their relationship started that had me flashing back to my own high school romance–in a good way, swear!

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The plot is not necessarily “action-packed” because, hullo, contemporary romance…BUT. There are a ton of delicious snark fests between our main characters/the rest of the cast. There are also a ton of nerd/geek culture references that I found myself giggling and fawning over. And while the plot isn’t action-filled, it moves along at a decent clip regardless; I read this in a matter of a few hours, NEEDING to know how things worked out for Oliver and Elena.

This was well-worth the read, penguins. The roMESS is adorable and endearing; the read is fast and entertaining; and the characters are bound to steal your heart from your chest and run away with it (I know they did mine!) I recommend this title to lovers of cutesy contemporaries, star-crossed lovers, and the mysteries surrounding small-town family feuds. Put down the Pokemon Go! and pick up this book; this is one Stash Grab you won’t want to miss!

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5

Blog Tour, Teasers, Q&A, Playlist, Giveaway and Review: Obsidian Sky

The third and final novel in an epic steampunk horror series, OBSIDIAN SKY closes the dramatic adventures of Claire, Sawyer, Gemma, and Nash, digging up the final secrets of their past, bringing new allies into a dangerous fray, and drawing friends and foes into a battle where the cost may be too much to pay…

osThe final struggle against the Hellions has arrived. A trapped engineer and a desperate marauder scramble to fight an enemy with unspeakable power on its side. Time is running out, and one world will be destroyed…

After sacrificing herself to save the lives of her friends and family, Claire Abernathy struggles to outwit her Hellion captors. They torment and terrify her into working on a weapon with the sole purpose of obliterating the world, friends, and love she has struggled to save. If Claire has any chance of saving those she loves, she must delve deeper into the Hellion world, and witness nightmares she could never imagine.

In Westraven, Sawyer Kendric is desperate to find the woman he loves. To do so, he must finally embrace his family’s atrocious past and heal the wounds it has caused. He will be forced to make new allies, uncover secrets that change all he knows, and find the courage to lead a ragtag crew into the darkest, deadliest battle of their lives.

Claire and Sawyer fight to save their broken world in the final installment of the epic DARK SKY trilogy.

Buy it here:

Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads

DARK SKY SERIES GIVEAWAY

CLICK HERE to go to the giveaway!

Two stories are told in OBSIDIAN SKY––the first chronicling a young engineer named Claire Abernathy as she struggles to survive the in the terrifying world of Hellnore, home of the blood-drinking Hellions, forced to serve their ghastly King and avoid the torment of Davin Kendric, the Hellion general, in hopes that she will be able to escape and return to her home and loved ones. The second story follows Sawyer Kendric, the young pirate captain who must make final peace with his own inner demons and face his responsibilities as a leader, all while uncovering secrets that will either save Claire, or seal her bloody fate. Their adventures will collide in an explosive finale that will change their lives forever, and leave one world altered forever…

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A Message from AMY BRAUN (author):

While I love every book in the DARK SKY series, OBSIDIAN SKY is my favorite. I know I’m not supposed to pick a favorite, but I can’t help it. The book was just so much fun to write, allowing me the chance to write a story from two different perspectives and challenge myself as an author while bringing events to a conclusion where everything fell into place. Sometimes I worried that I was going to stray off from the main storyline, but thankfully everything fell into place just the way it needed to.

One of the great things about this novel is that it gets to move outside of Westraven. That’s been the main hub of activity throughout the first two books and two novellas, but I had made an expanded world and wanted to explore it. While Claire is stuck in Hellnore, which I modeled after Mordor from Lord of the Rings (a source of inspiration for almost every fantasy author, let’s be honest), Sawyer gets to explore the Aon, the country beyond the borders of Westraven. Both of them attract more than their share of trouble because let’s be honest, they couldn’t stay away from it if they tried.

World building aside, the best part about splitting the engineer and the marauder up was being able to focus on their individual characters and their final arcs. I did my best to balance the events and keep the tension and action flowing throughout the story, making the pacing fast for one character and slow for the other. When Claire needs a breather, Sawyer is the one getting into trouble and vice versa.

The ending is a lot more emotional than I intended, and it was sad to see these beloved characters reach their conclusions. This series has been with me for years, and there were a couple tears shed when I wrote the final chapter. I’m committed to going out with a big bang, so I worked hard with my editor to wrap up all the details and worked with XPresso Book Tours for a book blitz while organizing a second blog tour. I’ve also discounted the prices of every book in the series, and will keep them lowered for the month of February.

I can’t begin to express how excited the cover and artwork have made me. Deranged Doctor Design outdid themselves yet again, capturing everything this book is about: The red lava that represents Hellnore, the crossed swords for Sawyer, the claw marks and dents inflicted by the Hellions. I’m constantly floored by their fantastic work and can’t wait to work with them again in the future.

This is the second series I’ve closed in the past year, the first being the CURSED trilogy for urban fantasy fans. While I’m just as sad to say goodbye to this one, I’m also relieved that it’s a project off my plate. I learned so much from writing OBSIDIAN SKY and the DARK SKY series, and can’t wait to take these lessons and apply them to future work.

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Q & A: Amy Braun and Obsidian Sky–
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW.

Q: Were you nervous about writing the end of Obsidian Sky? Was everything planned or were some events spontaneous?

A: I’m a meticulous planner when it comes to world building and plots, but there were some events that I hadn’t intended that were added into the final story. Certain characters and events appeared in places and scenes where I hadn’t intended them to. Characters acted in ways I hadn’t originally planned, or would have to think creatively to escape a challenge. I had a great time experimenting and using a lot of “What If” scenarios where my characters were pushed to the limits and forced to react unconventionally. I felt like I was experiencing their adventures with them, and at some points, didn’t know what would happen next, either.

Q: Did you have any challenges writing Obsidian Sky?

A: Sometimes I can’t seem to control my characters––they go off and do what they want! Sawyer was notorious for this (which isn’t a surprise, really), and his scenes often took off in directions I didn’t anticipate. Claire’s challenges were a little more planned out, though I remember a particular moment about three-quarters of the way through the book where she got to be an ultra badass. That was a lot of fun to do. Other challenges I had were with the new elements and characters being introduced. I wanted them to have a major impact to the story, and had to work with my editor to make sure their presence was balanced with the other characters. But for the most part, I was stoked to write this book and couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out.

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Q: How did it feel to close out a series you’ve worked on for so long?

A: It’s a mix of sadness and happiness. On one hand, I realize how much I’ll miss these characters and this world. I came up with the idea when I was fourteen years old, and now over ten years later, it’s finally over. It’s a lot to let go of. But on the other hand, I feel a great deal of closure. Here was this crazy, random idea I had as a kid, and I finally went ahead and made it a reality. Now that it’s done with and received with better success than I could have hoped for, helped me establish my career, I’m aware that if I work hard, put in the time and effort, and do all the re-writes, I can transform any idea into a book. And if you’re an author still hesitant about such a thing, read the opening dedication to Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. She did the same thing, and she became published. Never give up on your idea!

Q: What will you miss most about the series and the characters?

A: I’m definitely going to miss the world and the creatures in it. Writing the Hellions and Hellnore was so much fun. I’m also going to miss Claire’s inventiveness, Sawyer’s attitude, Nash’s soft-heart, and Gemma’s tendency to scream her lungs out in battle.

Q: Is there any chance of a continuation or a spin-off series in the future?

A: A reviewer actually asked me that not too long ago. While I’ll never say never to anything, at this moment, I have no plans to continue the Dark Sky books. Nash and Gemma have both already had their own spin-off prequel novellas, titled Amber SkyAmber Sky and Smoke Sky respectively, and if I did do another spinoff, it would likely be a prequel series. But the odds of that happening in the near future are slim, given how I want to move onto other projects.

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Q: Now that the series is over, what’s next?

A: At the moment, I’m working on two brand new series. I don’t want to say much about them to avoid giving away spoilers, but the first series will be an urban fantasy involving the Greek gods, and the second project is a Young Adult fantasy series with Gargoyles that was inspired by Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I wish I could tell you more at this point, but I can’t give you anything such as titles or release dates as both of these projects are going to be going to literary agents. I received amazing feedback on the Greek god project from one of my favorite fantasy authors, Michael J. Sullivan, and have been diligently working to improve it. I’ll know in the next month or so whether or not it’ll be going the indie or traditional route, and my newsletter subscribers and website/social media followers will be the first to know.

The same can be said for the YA fantasy Gargoyle project. I’m working on editing it and am hoping that in the next month or so I can send it to literary agents. YA fantasy is extremely popular right now, and I’m hoping that will be my “in,” but if not, I will happily take the project through independent publishing. I learned a lot last year and am ready to use that knowledge to expand my horizons and hopefully gain new readers.

At this point, the only project that will be happening will be the release of the complete Dark Sky box set in April. But anything can happen in this industry, and I doubt anything could slow me down at this point. I’m having too much fun!

amyAuthor Bio:

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense
action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, worldbuilding
and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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OBSIDIAN SKY PLAYLIST
(because fun!)

1. Far From Over – Rev Theory

2. Brave This Storm – Trivium

3. Forget About Me – Escape The Fate

4. Dangerous – Within Temptation feat. Howard Jones

5. Canine – Senses Fail

6. Gateways – Dimmu Borgir

7. Fever Dream – Tyler Bates

8. Eye Of The Storm – Killswitch Engage

9. Before The Hangmans’s Noose – DevilDriver

10. Ghost River – Nightwish

11. Beast – Nico Vega

12. Let You Down – Black Veil Brides

13. Iron – Woodkid

14. My Name (Wearing Me Put) – Shinedown

15. Forgiveness Is A Six Gun – DevilDriver

16. Drunken Whaler (The Dishonored Video Game Track)

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bookreview

4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: can we talk about this cover?!; can we talk about THIS SERIES?!; awesome, complex, strong-willed characters; satisfying end; trigger warning for sensitive readers; this whole journey was filled with heartbreak, horror, and darkly intense atmospheres; I’m sad to see it end, but so happy to have read it

HUGE thanks, as always, to Amy Braun for being the epic author she is and 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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Wheeeeeew, penguins. This was an intense, bitter-sweet ending to a journey that I’ve adored and been in awe of these last few years. And I don’t mean bitter-sweet in terms of the way this series ended…but instead that it had to end at all. I’ve fallen so deeply in love with this world, and these characters… I’m sad to see them go. I know one of the first things I intend to do, as soon as I’m able, is buy these books in physical copies–I NEED them on my shelves. I mean, just the covers alone are GOOOOORGEOUS; whoever designed these books did an A++ job on it, seriously. But the stories?! The stories inside are just as gorgeous, and I need them in more than one form. NEED, penguins.

Let’s talk gritty for a minute, though. This is a courtesy trigger warning for sensitive readers–certain difficult topics are broached and handled throughout. These include, but are not necessarily limited to: rape; physical assault; physical abuse. These are, by far, the biggest that I found. Please be careful if you decide to pick this series up–keep yourselves safe! While most scenes are brief and not overly detailed, there were some difficult moments, so keep this in mind.

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These characters are just… They’re going to haunt me for a while to come. They are well-rounded and realistic, and while they’ve made some judgement calls I’m not sure I agree with… I love them. I love them all so hardcore, I can’t even. The plot is action-packed, filled with drama, and just SO epic I can’t even begin to explain. Amy Braun knows how to ratchet up the tension, and she does so twenty-fold in this book especially. I found myself unhinged in several key instances, both glued to the pages and wanting to fling the book away in “NO NO NO don’t hurt me again!” pleas. These, of course, went mostly unheard.

In the end, this was a WILD ride–from page one, book one to the last closing words. I have, once again, been reminded why I need to pick up more steampunk novels–they always wind up being some of my favorites, and this series is no exception! I definitely recommend this journey to lovers of alien vampires, cloud-surfing pirates, and plots that are more like delicious action stew. Amy Braun, this series has turned the cogs in my penguin heart; I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for your writing! Take down the Hellions with me, penguins; let’s save the world!

6

Devil in the Countryside: This is Not Your Average Witch-Hunt

bookreview

Devil in the Countryside

Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart.

And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

Historical / Horror / Adult Fiction
348 Pages
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication Dates–January 5th, 2017 (Paperback)
February 15th, 2017 (Ebook)
Get a copy here!

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: creeptastic to the penguinth degree; LOVE the many different POVs; I’d never heard of the Werewolf of Bedburg before, and now I’m intrigued; super entertaining, informative, and fast-paced; Cory Barclay brought so many different personalities to life, I’m in awe; some of the practices in 1588 disturbed me greatly

Huge thanks to Cory Barclay and CreateSpace 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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Okay, penguins. This was SUPER out of my comfort zone–in a lot of ways–but OH MY PENGUIN GLOBS, did I enjoy stepping off that cliff! I am going to take a second to talk about trigger warnings, though–this book has some pretty mature subjects floating around throughout, including: rape; gore; graphic violence/descriptions; assault. Please, PLEASE be careful if you’re easily triggered and/or bothered by such things!

Now that that’s out of the way…. THIS BOOK! The plot is fantastic–fast-paced, full of drama and intrigue, and super creeptastic in the best of ways. I could feel the terror, the upheaval of emotions, churning at me through the pages. The character’s emotions bled from these words and seeped into my own mind, leaving me breathless and curious about what was happening, what would happen. At all moments, I was enthralled and intrigued–this is definitely an informative, edge-of-your-seat read!

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We’re given several varying POVs throughout, as well–but they didn’t feel muddied or rushed. Instead, each character brought a new and unique vantage point to the events surrounding this journey. Also, their personalities are complex and well-rounded, bringing more depth and delicious story-telling mastery to this tale. This is, as I’m sure some of you deduced, based on real life events…but Cory Barclay portrayed the pertinent details in such entertaining and interesting ways, the suspension of disbelief wasn’t once broken for me.

I had an awesome journey diving into and reading about this time-period, and will be seeking out more information about the Werewolf of Bedburg in the future. While there were some very difficult moments to read in this title, I was enthralled by the fast-paced action and air of intrigue surrounding the chapters. I recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, those interested in this time period, and readers seeking a journey outside their normal safety nets. Sink your teeth into this book, penguins; just beware the full moon.