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

bookreview

 

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

BLURB:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Blog Tour, Teasers, Giveaway, and Review: Freak

Freak banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for Freak by Erin Lee. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 27 June till 3 July. See the tour schedule here.

FreakFreak
by Erin Lee
Genre: LBGT/ Contemporary
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: 29 June, 2017

Blurb:
Regret Comes in Every Color of the Rainbow

Based on Erin Lee’s novella, Her Name Was Sam, Freak is the story of Kelly and Morgan, the mother and sister of Sam Harris, in the aftermath of her suicide. Bullied for being brave enough to show her true colors to the world, Sam has been gone exactly one year and Kelly and Morgan are left to tackle the grief that comes with regret in her absence.

But Sam’s story is far from over…

Through the love of Willow, a teenager intent on standing up for her “Freak” best friend at all costs, Ryan is able to finally come out to family and friends. His transformation from ashamed to proud with Willow’s help gives new meaning to Sam’s story and how things could have been.

Because love comes in all shades too.

Freak graphic

You can find Freak on Goodreads

You can buy Freak here on Amazon

Freak square graphic

Erin LeeAbout the Author:
Erin Lee is a freelance writer and therapist chasing a crazy dream one reality at a time. She is the author of Crazy Like Me, a novel published in 2015 by Savant Books and Publications, LLC, Wave to Papa, 2015, by Limitless Publishing, LLC and Nine Lives (2016). She’s also author of Alters, Host, and Merge of the “Lola, Party of Eight Series,” When I’m Dead, Take Me As I Am, Greener, Something Blue, Once Upon a Vow and 99 Bottles. She also penned Her Name Was Sam, an LGBTQ awareness novella. She is author of Losing Faith, and co-author of The Morning After with Black Rose Writing. These days, she spends her free time working on the sequels to this novel, Jimmie’s Ice Cream and Thing Fifteen.

Lee is a co-founder of the Escape From Reality Series. She, along with authors Sara Schoen and Taylor Henderson, are working with twenty other authors to bring the hopes, dreams, fears and terrors of a tiny fictional town alive. The town and its setting is exactly the type of place a man like Jimmie might escape to as the bodies thawed.

Lee holds a master’s degree in psychology and works with at-risk families and as a court appointed special advocate. She cannot write horror with the lights off. However, these days, she’s getting braver and dimming them. She’ll get there . . .

You can find and contact Erin Lee here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Freak. One winner will win a signed paperback of Freak by Erin Lee. US only.

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


bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: loveloveLOVE the juxtaposition of colors; really, this whole novel is a juxtaposition; the experimentation with the paranormal/death was heart-breaking and well-done; complex, well-written characters; love to love the love; this read was not what I was expecting going in

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

 

Slight trigger warning for sensitive readers: the first half of this book is, at times, a bit difficult to read. Mature subjects such as suicide, grief, and bullying are woven into this story, so please keep this in mind if you’re bothered by or uncomfortable with reading such things. While the subjects are handled with sensitivity and tact, these characters do struggle with and are surrounded by them daily–so please, keep yourselves safe while reading! That being said, these characters are gorgeously written. I really loved how Erin Lee juxtaposed this entire novel–in the first part, looking at a family dealing with grief after the suicide of a loved one. In the second, a family banding together to try and heal a dear friend. This method of compare and contrast was gorgeously handled–and so thought-provoking to read!

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The use of colors throughout was also beautifully done, though I feel it might have been even more intriguing if the colors that head each chapter were the ONLY colors mentioned in that passage. Of course, this is mostly wishful thinking–I know how difficult it is, as a writer, to try and limit oneself like that, and can’t imagine trying to pull it off. Still, I found it interesting that, in the first section of this read (for Sam) the colors are described normally–the names are common, like orange, red, yellow. In the second section (for Willow) the colors have vibrant, alternative names–things like citrus and plum. Each section, however, shares two very distinct colors–black and white. This is sort of a yin-yang way to wrap each section up–and tie the two halves of the novel together.

 

This novel was a gorgeous, though challenging, read–and I thoroughly enjoyed the way Erin Lee wove this story together. While it tugged at heartstrings and, at times, hurt to read… I came out of this with a different viewpoint. The juxtaposition was a really effective, beautiful way to pair and piece these characters together. I definitely recommend to lovers of beautifully complex personalities, the realities of emotional turmoil, and reads that pack a moral punch. Take a paintbrush to the world, Penguins; this rainbow’s bound to stick with you.


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

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

BLURB:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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The Duchess’s Descendants: I am Head Over BEAK for Jordinia!

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The Duchess's Descendants (Jordinia #3)The Duchess’s Descendants
(Jordinia:  Book 3)
by C.K. Brooke

Fantasy / Romance / Historical
285 Pages
48fourteen Publishing
Publication Date:  June 19th, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

The next generation. A new adventure…

Over three decades have passed since the Ducelle Empire reclaimed the land, and Jordinia has never prospered more. When the Emperor negotiates a treaty among neighboring nations, Jordinia is awarded an archipelago of islands in the north. With intentions to colonize, His Majesty enlists his two underachieving nephews on an expedition to chart the wilderness.

Reclusive Ludwig has his violin and no desire to travel, while his charismatic brother Drew is seduced by the grandeur of making history…and money. Desperate to flee a secret scandal of her own, their sister Johanna insists upon accompanying them. With a team of soldiers – including longtime friend and royal guardsman, Bram Visigoth – the Cosmith siblings set off to conquer their uncle’s newly-acquired territory.

From an icy shipwreck to precarious encounters with the native inhabitants, almost nothing goes as planned in this fast-paced comedy of errors teeming with humor, fantasy and plenty of romance. Prepare to fall in love with Jordinia all over again!

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See my reviews for the previous books in this series:

The Duchess Quest (Jordinia #1)  The Duchess Inheritance (Jordinia #2)

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: aaaaaaah, I adore this series!; a new cast of unique, complex, well-rounded characters to love; political intrigue and subtle morals; awesome, entertaining action; I love the way C.K. Brooke writes about love (scratch that. I love the way C.K. Brooke writes, period)

Huge thanks to C.K. Brooke and 48fourteen Publishing for sending me an early 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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C.K. Brooke has knocked it out of the park for me again with this return to Jordinia. I swear, each time I hear there’ll be a new book in this series, my penguin heart flutters a little bit harder–it sounds unhealthy, sure, but oh my goodness, I ADORE everything about this series, and can honestly admit this is my favorite fantasy series to date. Seriously, the world of Jordinia is ripe with adventure, political intrigue, and humongous personalities–and I love rediscovering every nook and cranny with each book!

 

I really enjoyed that we were given more glimpse into the family dynamics for this particular read. The focus on their relationships, their interactions and reactions, made this read pure gold for me. While they separated throughout and chapters were interspersed with alternating POVs, a large chunk of the story remained on the siblings and their “growth”–both together and apart–throughout this journey into the unknown.

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As always, C.K. Brooke has written a series of complex, realistic, and believable romances–and I adored every single one of them! I was a bit worried near the 90% mark that one of the couples I’d been rooting for from the start wasn’t destined to work out…but was, pleasantly, wrong. The ending is adorable, and while I feel this read might have been a smidge shorter than the other books in this series, it’s just as beautifully written and just as entertaining as the others.

I am head-over-beak in LOVE with Jordinia and every character we’ve been introduced to! The romances are realistic and butterfly-inducing, if not a little bit roMESSy at times. The plot is fast-paced and filled with delicious political intrigue/moral conflicts. All-in-all, I devour every book C.K. Brooke puts in front of me…and feel more readers should do the same! I’d recommend this series to lovers of fantasy, flawed but redeemable characters, and snark (because there’s a lot of that in C.K. Brooke’s novels). Set sail for Jordinia with me, penguins; it’s a wild ride, but I promise you’ll love every minute!

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Star-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet: This Verona is Full of Strife and… Pizza Sauce?!

bookreview

 

Fakespeare: Starcrossed in Romeo and JulietStar-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet
(Fakespeare, #1)
by M.E. Castle

280 Pages
Middle-grade / Children’s / Retellings
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group /
Imprint Publishing
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Three kids get lost inside Shakespeare’s book and must help Romeo and Juliet finish their story in order to return home in this silly middle school series!

Dear Reader, 

You are reading this because you expressed interest in the Get Lost Book Club. 

Are you ready to embark on a journey to Italy, where you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a major feud between two rival pizza-making families: the Montagues and the Capulets? A swordsman and perfumer will hunt you. There will be disguises, fake pizza, and tomato fights (make sure to duck!). You must help Becca, her stepbrother Sam, and her dog Rufus convince Romeo Montague to ask Juliet Capulet on a date, or you will all be stuck in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet forever! 

Intrigued? Worried? Downright terrified? You should be. But if you’re ready for an adventure, step right up and follow me. It’s time to get lost.

Sincerely,

The Narrator

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this was, throughout, laugh out loud hilarious; I LOVE the new “spins” that M.E. Castle put on this classic; the morals and lessons are whimsical, witty, and well-done; the nods to the original play were woven in to this story brilliantly

HUGE thanks to M.E. Castle and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Imprint Publishing for sending me a gorgeous hardcover 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. Here’s what’s going to happen next: I’m going to FREAK THE FRACK OUT about this hilarious, awesome book…and then you’re going to drop everything you’re doing for the next few hours and go read it! Trust me, the time is well worth it, and passes in a fit of rib-cracking laughter and manic cackling that’s bound to make your (insert family, roommate, lover, children, pet, wallpaper, violent pink flamingo, etc. here) wonder just what it is you’re up to. Which is GOOD, because that means more Penguins wanting to pick this book up, and that means my army will grow even bigger! Yes. This is such a great plan, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!

 

This book is, as I mentioned a time or two earlier, absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious! Within a page, I was giggling (very obnoxiously, might I add). From the very get go, this book sucked me into the story–almost as literally as the book in the book that eats the main characters, in fact! (Wow, that was a mouthful of a sentence! Let’s not do that again.) The action begins almost immediately upon landing in Verona, though we quickly learn that things are not QUITE like the original play led us to believe. This retelling was super inventive, with some genius spins on the “tragedy” that kept this read perfectly acceptable for young hearts and minds. I really appreciated the amount of humor M.E. Castle put into this, while still maintaining the bigger plot points from Shakespeare’s star-crossed tale of woe.

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The morals and lessons woven throughout the journey–about bullying, and family, and self-love/self-acceptance, and so many other delicious things!–were well-handled and portrayed in a light that made them both entertainingly humorous and super easy to understand. This is such a great book to lead mid-grade readers to, both for the morals AND for the introduction to Shakespeare. While the prose is much less complex (and much easier to understand!) than Shakespeare’s tragedy, the main story is still mostly there–just minus the actual TRAGEDY of the, uh, tragedy.

 

I had an absolute BLAST blasting my way through this retelling, and cannot wait to pick up the next book in this series (and YAY me, I already own it!) These characters are entertaining and set on a path of growth/acceptance; the prose is humorous and enlightening; and the new spins on an old tragedy both made this read unique and were laugh-out-loud hilarious. I definitely recommend this to lovers of middle-grade novels, those seeking a less intimidating introduction to The Bard, and readers who love humor and word play. Be careful when touching this book, Penguins; it just might eat you while your back is turned!

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: All that Glitters

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find All That Glitters on Goodreads

You can buy All That Glitters here.

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

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

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

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


bookreview

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Scandal

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Scandal on Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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


bookreview

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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


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Kiss Me After–Cue the Butterflies, SO MANY Butterflies

bookreview

Kiss Me After Kiss Me After
(Kiss A Belle #1)
by Cecilia Gray

Historical / Romance / YA
127 Pages
Gray Life, LLC
Publication Date:  March 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

A brand new series from the author of The Gentlemen Next Door, praised for being a “delightful Regency romp… in the spirit of Georgette Heyer.”

Meet Alice Belle—the Bossy Belle—used to getting her way. If anyone has to fall on the matrimonial sword it will be she and not her sisters. She has set her sights on the richest, most titled gentlemen in her acquaintance. The perfect man to make her father happy, leaving her beloved sisters free to marry whom they choose.

Meet Robert Crawford—ringleader—used to masterminding his way. If anyone is going to marry Alice Belle, it is he. Never mind that he’s poor, without a title, and completely unsuitable for Alice in the eyes of her father. He loves her. Which makes him the perfect man to make her happy, whether she realizes it or not.

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4Penguins
Quick Reasons: cue the butterflies, SO many butterflies!; LOVELOVELOVE the humor and entertainment factor woven into the narrative voice; these are interesting, headstrong, vibrantly written characters; I didn’t really “see” the setting/surroundings

 

Huge thanks to Cecilia Gray; Gray Life, LLC; and Xpresso Book Toursfor sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

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This was such a TREAT of a read, Penguins! I know I say, after every historical romance read, that I really OUGHT to read more of the genre but…that would mean missing out on the wonders and excitement of picking up such books, I think. So while I read them rarely…I am better able to appreciate and enjoy the journey? Does that make any sense?! Regardless, this was just such an awesome read!

 

I did, unfortunately, find it a little difficult to put myself into the settings of this novel. While we get several descriptions of the characters, and I could pretty vividly “see” them, I didn’t feel as much attention to detail was given to their surroundings or the goings-on around them. Of course, this in no way detracted from the read! While I missed out, a little, on being able to “see” the settings, I was so thoroughly entertained by the characters–and by rooting for the love to unfold!–that it was a passing, occasional thought.

 

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There were also moments of humor I wasn’t expecting headed into this read. The beginning “warning” was enough, when I read it, to set me tittering and giggling–the outside narrative voice was able to both draw me into the subject matter AND give a taste of the historical setting before I turned to the first page and saw the time period. This small nod to humor was played throughout, in both the narratives (in this instance, a dual POV between the two main characters) and the character interactions/reactions. Robert and Alice were swept up in a journey of propriety and familial obligations, and I found myself torn right along with them in the headiest moments of drama and passion.

 

This was an authentically written, gorgeously rendered glimpse into the past. The characters were complex, vibrant, and SO super endearing. While I wasn’t necessarily able to visualize the settings, I appreciated the narrative humor and butterfly-inducing roMESS that happens between these pages! I definitely recommend this read to lovers of historical romances, intriguing familial obligations, and characters with entertaining growth journeys. Prepare yourselves for a wild ride, Penguins; with stolen kisses, anything can happen!

2

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Reviews: Phoebe Pope

 

The Year of Four
Nya Jade
(Phoebe Pope, #1)
Publication date: October 28th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

The students of Green Lane Academy roam their halls unaware that below their manicured campus exists a prestigious school of an entirely different kind . . .

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Pope has enrolled at the Campus Below: a spy academy for shape-shifters hidden deep beneath the grounds of a boarding school whose humans unknowingly protect it. There, thanks to a carefully planned schedule, she leads a double life: spy trainee Below and normal teenager Above.

As if two course loads, concealing a secret power she alone wields, and coping with her father’s recent death weren’t enough, Phoebe finds herself developing major feelings for actor and teen heartthrob Colten Chase, who attends the Campus Above and appears to be majoring in winning Phoebe’s heart. But when officials learn that Phoebe may be at the center of a startling prophecy, she becomes the target of shape-shifting assassins who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth.

Now Phoebe’s lessons about Shaper’s enemies and spycraft take on great importance as a menace stalks the campus, with Phoebe as its target. Meanwhile, what began as an unlikely relationship with Colten, quickly morphs into heartache when she suspects that something sinister lurks beneath this movie star’s glitter and fame. Suddenly, Phoebe’s caught in a mesh of lies, betrayals, and danger where she doesn’t know who to trust, and needs to rely on herself—and her secret power—to get to the truth and to stay alive.

The Blood of Kings
Nya Jade
(Phoebe Pope, #2)
Publication date: April 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

According to the press, Phoebe Pope and teen movie star Colten Chase are no longer an item—which is just how the happy new couple like it. And yet there’s trouble in paradise . . .

Phoebe is haunted by dreams that show her things she can’t possibly know about—including a pact between Colten and a wanted assassin. In the daylight, she struggles to keep a newly emerging power hidden, even as her hands itch to wield it.

Meanwhile, in the wake of their escape from a Vigo crèche, Phoebe and her fellow Hyphas study under lock and key at the Campus Below. As the foursome wait to see who among them will fulfill the prophecy, someone dear to Phoebe is kidnapped by a powerful Vigo determined to use her to spy on the Shaper royalty. When the Hyphas are called to the Royal Court, Phoebe refuses to heed warnings of imminent danger for she will do whatever it takes to rescue her loved one.

But once at court, nothing is as it first appears. A sinister force controls some royals, while others whisper behind closed doors about forbidden alliances. And as Phoebe draws on her courage to complete the task set by her enemy, she makes a startling discovery—one that upends her father’s memory.

With dangerous conspiracies surfacing, Phoebe must uncover what the Royal Shapers really want from her, and decide whether there’s room for Colten in her unraveling life.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

 

Author Bio:

Nya Jade has enjoyed a fun career as a singer-songwriter. Her music videos have aired on the Vh1, BET and MTV networks and she’s opened for some of the biggest names in music. Nya’s music has also received recognition in major publications, including USA Today and the LA Times. She took a break from writing and performing music to write The Year of Four, her first YA novel. When she isn’t writing, Nya can be found hanging out with family and friends, reading or bargain hunting for her next pair of funky shoes. Nya lives with her family in California.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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bookreview

 

 

 

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: stellar, fast-paced action; one easy plot twist and one HUGE surprise; believable, slow-building, totally awkward romance; LOVELOVELOVE the paranormal/fantasy aspects; shape shifting for the total win!; awesome, entertaining read

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

 

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So, uh…. is my beak on straight, penguins?! Because I feel like it’s backward and upside down and maybe just a whole lot out of place after this wild, awesome read! The action is fast-paced and super intense; I was biting my nails and holding my breath through the majority of this read. Nya Jade breathed life into this world, and immersed me fully into it. For the hours I spent reading, I left reality and stood right beside these characters–basically experiencing the same things they did. It. Was. AWESOME, okay?! Pure reader ecstasy, promise.

 

These characters are well-rounded and complex, handling a bunch of different stuff that both individualizes them and brings them together. I had a ton of fun following each of them on their journeys–and was so caught up in the one plot twist I saw coming, I didn’t think there’d be a second, BIGGER one to come! So kudos to Nya Jade for catching me by surprise on that one; I definitely love when those unexpected roller coaster moments happen.

 

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I was a teensy bit disappointed to see the old “monster turned good” trope being played out in one of my favorite characters. I totally blameTwilight for this–that whole “survives on blood but doesn’t kill because special snowflake not a monster” trope. I wish that hadn’t been used in this read–it would have made things even MORE entertaining, and much less predictable, for me as a reader. I mean tell me, penguins–isn’t there a way that characters can remain monstrous while not being MONSTERS, per se?! Or is that asking for too much? Either way, it bothered me.

 

Still, this read was super entertaining! The action was fast-paced and intense, the characters are SO much fun to watch, and there was a wild roller coaster moment of a plot twist that caught even ME off guard. I definitely recommend this to lovers of paranormal/fantasy, shape shifters, and fantastic characters! The moonester has begun, Penguins; what are YOU studying?!


 

 

 

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: Nya Jade knows how to write a plot twist so it’s both seen, and unexpected; not nearly enough Colten in this book!; I want, I need, I must have more!; I love the way these relationships were both altered and strengthened; I’m not sure anymore who’s friend and who’s foe

HUGE thanks, again, to Nya Jade, Dreamwell Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours for sending a free digital galley of this title my way in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

AND OH, MY, PENGUINS! What a book it is! Just as with the first book in this series, I was pulled straight into the action. From page one, I was enthralled–the action remains fast-paced and intense, and the mysteries/dramas surrounding our main characters and their emerging powers was only exacerbated by the political intrigue they find themselves thrust into. There are secrets layered upon secrets, there’s a TON of magic and conspiracy, and I just… gaaaaah, this series! While, like in the first book, I had my suspicions about a certain plot twist…I’m happy to say that Nya Jade paired it, once again, with a twist I HADN’T been expecting. This beautiful mastery of her world only makes me feel more awed by her talents.

 

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Once again, these characters took me along for the ride. Their journeys are both individualized and, at the same time, woven together. I really love the dynamics of the relationships we’re given a glimpse into here–while each is obviously struggling with their own secrets and dramas, they still manage to, at the most important moments, band together. Their growths–both as unique personalities and as a group–held me enthralled and taught me some things about human nature/myself along the way. I really adore the ways Nya Jade penned these relationships; it is obvious that they are awkward, and uncomfortable, and yet somehow still connected by the events happening around them. I really LOVE that their relationships, even in the most strained moments, never once came off as superficial or contrived.

 

This second book was just as entertaining, though a bit darker in tone overall, than the first–and I cannot wait to lay my hands on the third installment. I must know what happens next, Penguins! I MUST! I definitely recommend this series to lovers of paranormal/fantasy, magical political intrigue, and shape shifters. The plot is fast-paced and intense, the twists are both easy to see and super surprising, and the characters leap off their pages to dance before readers’ eyes. The conversion is approaching, Penguins; what shape will your second heart take?

 

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2

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Internet Famous

 

Internet Famous
Danika Stone
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Can an online romance survive in real life?

Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. Even Madi’s dismal romantic life seems ready to take off as Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!) starts flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies.

Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s “real life” hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything―and everyone―she loves?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand

adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: some heavy, mature topics handled with sensitivity and poise; a deep glimpse into internet “fame”–and the ways it touches everyone; endearing, well-rounded characters; just a bit of “love at first sight”, but I’m willing to overlook it; really loved that the “bully” wasn’t at all who I thought it would be

Huge thanks to Danika Stone, Swoon Reads, Xpresso Book Tours, and Netgalley for sending a free digital galley of this title my way in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Let me start by saying: I ADOOOOORED SARAH! I felt she was so super well-written, and tactfully complex. I really, really loved seeing this character in a read like this! While she’s not the main character and this isn’t HER story, she’s so integral to the events and the journey, I feel this might have been a different read without her in it. I am so stoked that Danika Stone wrote her, and wrote her so gorgeously–HUGE penguin flappers to her!

 

There are so many important and true to life messages found within this book, though the biggest remains internet bullying. I feel that Danika Stone set out with a goal in mind–and managed to reach that goal while still retaining the poise and tact surrounding sensitive subjects that I’ve come to expect in my favorite reads. There are a LOT of things said in this book, penguins–and the fact that the “bully” wasn’t, in the end, who I was expecting–like, at all!–only helped to emphasize some of the biggest messages. I was especially impressed in how Danika Stone brought home “trolling”–and the ways it touches everybody, not just the victim.

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I was, honestly, just a little disappointed in a few of the relationships. The mom, I felt, was severely lacking in several ways–while I understand that situations like this DO happen, and that even parents have the right to follow their dreams…her interactions with her family felt very fake and surface-only. I didn’t feel as if she was really putting HER best foot forward with them, I suppose–even while she expected them to do just that for her. It felt a bit fake, overall, and I’m not real sure why she was even included except to 1.) complicate the family dynamic; and 2.) give a boiling point to Sarah’s struggles, which then lead to Madi’s struggles. I guess what I’m saying is, she was a catalyst–and while I know this happens in real life, I wasn’t real impressed with it here.

 

In the end, though, this was a super entertaining, cutesy, snarky read–and I adored it! I really really loved the inclusion of Sarah, and the other characters (save the mom) were genuine and well-rounded. While a few of the relationships felt a bit flat and contrived, I had a ton of fun following Madi and the various characters on their journey, and cannot WAIT to see what Danika Stone will do next! I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary fiction, catalyst characters, and realistically dropped #truthbombs. Watch your #hashtags, Penguins– #fandom is on the loose in this read!

 

 

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