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

bookreview

Sugar & Other Luxuries

Katherine Humphries wants to find the love of her life.

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

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

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

addtogoodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2

Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway, and Review: Lost Girls

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Lost Girls, by Merrie Destefano
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.

Purchase Links:
Amazon.com  | B&N iBooks | Kobo
Amazon.com.au Amazon.com/uk | Amazon.ca 

Excerpt:

Chapter One

I remember last night perfectly.

I know what we ate for dinner. I know my little brother didn’t do his homework. I know Dad drove me to my ballet lessons, then waited for me in the Starbucks across the street.

I know that, later in the evening, I fell asleep when I was supposed to be studying geometry, my earbuds in while I listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album.

That was my yesterday.

The problem is, everyone, from my parents to my teachers to the police, says that stuff didn’t happen yesterday.

It happened last year.

I went to sleep with music playing, curled up on my bed, and wrapped in the afghan Grams knitted for me when she was on chemo.

I woke up in a ditch, half-buried in a pile of leaves. I was shivering and wet, a soft rain falling, icy drops hitting me in the face and running down my neck. Trees towered overhead, black branches scratching the sky, wind howling, and from somewhere nearby came the muted sounds of traffic.

I sat up, confused and scared, grogginess giving way to an intense adrenaline rush.

Then I screamed, louder than I thought I could. The sound ripped out of my lungs and wouldn’t stop; it went on and on until I thought I would collapse because I knew I couldn’t breathe and scream at the same time. And then—when I was sure I would fall forward, bent over at the waist, my lungs empty and spots dancing before my eyes—then I found some way to yell

again. At first my shouts were primal and there were no words, just terror and pain and a black pit in my stomach that wouldn’t allow me to have conscious thoughts.

I began to cry the same thing, over and over.

“Help! Somebody help me!”

I tried to stand, but the gully was so slanted that I kept falling back to my knees, every stumble forcing me to become aware of another injury—the raw skin on my wrists and ankles, covered with dried blood and stinging with each drop of rain; the muscles in my legs sore and weak, like I’d been running for days; the soles of my feet aching, my tennis shoes ripped and stained with mud.

I stretched out my arms, latching onto tree roots to gain my balance, and I pulled myself up the incline, foot by foot. Fingers now coated with mud, I perched on the edge of a highway, nearly blinded by headlights whenever a car sped past.

There I stood, waving my arms and screaming again, not knowing that my hair was matted or that there was blood and dirt on my clothes or that my photo had been on the news for the past two weeks.

Lost girl. Disappeared on her way home from school. Anyone with information, please contact the Santa Madre police department.

Two cars drove past, headlights splashing me with brilliant light. I hadn’t realized until now that the sun tipped on the edge of the world, ready to disappear, or that twilight shadows were already stretching across the horizon. Great pockets of violet darkness yawned between each pair of lights that hurtled toward me, greedy fingers of darkness that wanted me to tumble back into that gully and remain hidden.

Please, somebody stop and help me.

I was screaming again and some sort of weird survival panic took over.

I walked into the middle of the two-lane southbound road and stood there.

Go ahead, run me over. I dare you.

Wait, what was I doing?

Several cars spun to a stop, skidding sideways, tires squealing, metal crashing metal and rubber burning. The old me, the girl who fell asleep listening to Taylor sing about a broken heart, never would have done this. What was wrong with me?

My heart thundered in my chest, but I refused to move, even when the wreckage screeched closer and closer, fenders crunching, bumpers twisting, windshields shattering. I stared all the passengers in the eye, glancing from one face to the next, coolly noting that none of them were hurt—nothing beyond a bump or a bruise.

You. Will. Stop. And. Help. Me.

Still the wreckage surged forward. I merely lifted one hand, palm up, signaling for them to stop. Like I was a traffic cop or something.

Everything finally slid to a stop, a few feet away from me.

Tears coursed down my cheeks and I began to shake uncontrollably. I sank to my knees, truly myself again. Frightened and alone and lost.

“Help me,” I begged, then buried my face in my hands.

Car doors opened: a strange cacophony of voices tumbled out, some yelling, some speaking in hushed tones.

“What’s going on?”

“Is that the missing girl from the news?”

“9-1-1, we have an emergency here—”

“Honey, you’re gonna be okay, don’t worry—”

An elderly woman with white hair and bright, pink lipstick pulled me close and draped her coat over me. When I glanced up I saw blood on her forehead, but she didn’t seem worried about herself. She smiled down at me, her face a map of connected wrinkles.

“We’re gonna get you home to your parents,” she said. “Do you want to call them?” She handed me her cell phone, but my fingers were shaking too much to dial. I told her the number and she punched it in, waiting while it rang. When a voice answered on the other end, the white-haired woman said, “I have someone who wants to talk to you.” Then she handed me the phone.

“Hello? Who is this?” It was my mom, a frantic tone in her voice that brought fresh tears to my eyes.

My words came out shaky, with long pauses between.

“Mom?”

Neither one of us could talk, not for a long time, because we were both crying. Then she finally whispered my name, like it was a magical word that could change the world.

“Rachel? Rachel, baby, where are you?”

I looked around. “I don’t know.”

“You’re on the 39, just north of Azusa,” the white-haired woman told me.

Flashing lights spun in the distance and sirens blared. An ambulance and a fire truck and two police cars were headed toward us. I blinked at the brightness, shielding my eyes with one hand.

“Rachel? Are you still there?” It was my father’s voice now, calling me back to the cell phone.

I pressed it against my ear. “Daddy?”

“Honey, when the ambulance gets there, you get inside and you stay there. Do you hear me? Don’t get in a car with anyone else!”

“I will—I mean, I won’t. I’ll go with the paramedics.” My teeth were chattering and I was shivering so much I could hardly hold the phone. I think I may have started talking gibberish, half-sentences with little meaning. I remember saying something about my geometry test and worrying that I wouldn’t make it to class tomorrow and I may have mentioned something about my biology class, too, because Dad interrupted me.

“Rachel, are you talking about the class you took with Miss Wallace?”

“Yeah. She always gives exams on Wednesday.”

There was a long silence. I wondered if we had gotten cut off. Meanwhile, the ambulance doors opened and someone wheeled a stretcher toward me.

“Honey, you had geometry with Miss Wallace last year. When you were a sophomore.”

I frowned. “But I’m a sophomore now.”

“Baby girl, you’re a junior. Don’t worry about it. All this will get straightened out when you get home—”

I dropped the phone. My hands were shaking too much to hold it. I glanced down at my hands, at the chipped red nail polish. But I hadn’t been wearing nail polish last night and I never use this color. I turned my hands over and discovered a tattoo on my inner wrist.

A tattoo?

Always and forever. That’s what it said. But there was no redness or swelling. I didn’t get this tattoo anytime recently.

The paramedics helped me onto the stretcher, and then the world was rushing past me, rain falling on my face, people staring down at me as the stretcher wheeled by, the air thick with the smell of oil and gasoline and burned rubber. Then another smell came suddenly and violently—a memory.

A thick, cloying scent of pine and cedar.

My stomach lurched and I couldn’t stop.

I started screaming again.

Check out the TOUR SCHEDULE here!

Giveaway Information:

Blog Tour: All prizes listed below will be given to one prize winner.
Prizes listed are for a US winner only; if an International winner is chosen, the prize will be a $50 Amazon gift card.
• 1 – Kindle Fire Tablet, black: 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, with the Alexa cloud-based voice
service—just press and ask.
• 1 – digital Kindle copy of LOST GIRLS
• 1 – Pack of 14 vintage-style Swan Lake postcards
• 1 – pr. Black Swan earrings, handmade by author
• 1 – “Always” temporary tattoo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

giveaway

About the Author:

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CURRENTLY A FULL-TIME NOVELIST and magazine editor, Merrie Destefano’s next novel, LOST GIRLS, releases on January 3, 2017. Her other novels include AFTERLIFE and FEAST, both published by HarperCollins, and FATHOM, which was self-published. The editor of Victorian Homes magazine, she has also been the editor of American Farmhouse Style, Vintage Gardens, and Zombies magazine, and was the founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine.

With 20 years experience in publishing, she worked for a variety of publishing/broadcasting companies that include Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, and PJS Publications (now Primedia). Besides editing and writing, her background includes print buying, writing/producing radio promos, directing photo shoots, developing new products, writing jacket copy for books, creating sales media packets and organizing direct mail campaigns.

Born in the Midwest, she currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

Website |Twitter |Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | Blog


5Penguins
Quick Reasons: life ruiner alert!; this book swept me up in a tidal wave of emotion, and refused to let go; awesome use of unreliable narrator; the mystery and intrigue was so beautifully-written and complex; this is a race head-first toward an explosive ending, and I adored every second of it; I need more of Merrie Destefano’s writing in my life

Huge thanks to Merrie Destefano, Entangled: Teen, Netgalley, and the crew at Chapter by Chapter for granting me free access to a 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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After TWO MONTHS of no 5 Penguin reads…I’m closing out 2016 with a very high note. It’s New Years Eve for another hour, penguins (or at least, it is for another hour where I’m living now), and I’ve just closed the page on this read…and let me tell you, it was QUITE the whirlwind journey. I started this read this afternoon, thinking I’d get partway through it as this review goes live next week on my blog…and found myself instead finishing it off in one sitting. And OH, my heartstrings. This book? This book is life-ruiner material, and it RUINED me.

 

So let’s talk nitty gritty, yes? I promise, I’m going to do my VERY VERY best to stray away from the icky spoilers territory…hopefully I can manage to convey how much I enjoyed this book, and the reasons why, without dropping some huge spoiler bomb or other. Hopefully. So…characters first, yes? Rachel is possibly one of the BEST, most effectively-written characters suffering from memory loss I’ve encountered in books in recent years. While I know this is a bit of a cliche trope…Merrie Destefano handles it so beautifully and makes it SO realistic, you’ll find yourself racing toward the answers instead of feeling bogged down by what little you actually know.

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The focus on relationships throughout is also astounding and deliciously done. There’s a thin line between trust and paranoia that gets played on throughout this read, especially in Rachel’s case. She is, for all intents and purposes, the perfect unreliable narrator–and that makes it so easy for readers to both be enthralled by her, while also side-eyeing her. I give HUGE kudos to Merrie Destefano for managing this so beautifully; humans are complex and confusing creatures even on our best days, so adding in memory loss and internal conflicts only heightened such vast emotions.

 

I was blown away by the complexity of this read, penguins. Rachel–and her relationships with those around her–goes through so many shifts and changes, so many trials and tribulations, you’ll find yourself biting your nails, sitting on the edge of your seat, needing the answers as much as being scared of them. And the ending! The ending was just… I have to admit, I didn’t see where the plot was going until we were already on the downhill track and racing fast to the crashing point. This book surprised me–immensely. That’s not such an easy thing to do, in my world.

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I am just… Speechless, might be the closest way to explain how this book left me after the close. Merrie Destefano explored some heavy-handed, important subjects (which I won’t get into, because SPOOOOOILERS, people) and wrote a complex, beautifully engaging whirlwind of emotions and life-ruination. I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary novels with huge bite, strong-willed characters who know how to keep fighting, and life-ruining reads that will leave them thinking, “woah.” THIS is one book you don’t want to miss out on in 2017; pick it up, and let the fight for survival begin!

 

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6

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman: Flighty Plot, Much?

bookreview

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman

Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her—and it’s not just the mysterious tattoo her conspiracy-obsessed grandfather marked her with before he disappeared. She’s being visited in her bedroom at night by aliens claiming to have shared an alliance with her grandfather. And imaginary or not, they’re starting to to take over her mind. “Mental illness is a slippery slope,” her mother warns her.

The last thing Courtney wants to do is end up crazy and dead like her grandfather did. But what about the tattoo? And the aliens trying to recruit her? With her new alien-savvy friend Agatha and her apocalyptic visions, Courtney begins connecting the dots between the past, present and future—of her bloodline, and the ancient history that surrounds it. Is she going insane, like her family claims her grandfather did, or is she actually a “chosen one” with ancestral connections to another world? Either way, Courtney has a mission: untangle her past, discover the truth, and stop the apocalypse before it’s too late for everyone.

addtogoodreads

Science Fiction/Fantasy/YA
282 Pages
SparkPress Publishing
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Get a copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: confusing, chaotic plot progression; unbelievable character interactions/reactions; tons of action, but I didn’t feel invested in the characters; this felt a bit like watching a horror movie with the sound turned off; complex characters and relationships; very little romance

Huge thanks to Brady Stefani, SparkPress Publishing, and BookTasters for sending me a free 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 feel like, after a year of pretty awesome reads, I’ve hit a bit of a slump at the end of December. Perhaps this is to be expected–I mean, I’d be surprised if I continued on such a high streak of exciting, enthralling books! Sadly, this particular title just didn’t speak to me the way I was hoping it might. Which sounds worse than I mean it to, because honestly, at the beginning of this journey, I was SUPER stoked. There was a hint of mystery and intrigue laced throughout the pages, I was super curious about what happened to Courtney in her childhood–and what was happening to her in present day. I was excited for this book, but somewhere along the way, that excited sense of longing fizzled out and disappeared.

To be honest, I think there was almost TOO much happening in this book–and this led to a fair amount of confusion for me as a reader. Instead of stopping now and again to focus on the little things–character development, dialogue, interactions and reactions–I feel Brady Stefani rushed through those aspects of writing in order to keep the plot moving and push things along. But this effort, while commendable, still fell flat; I wasn’t able to connect or empathize with the characters much at all, and instead found myself scoffing at their interactions, or wondering over the realistic implications. Courtney, while snarky and dramatic, came off as flighty and wishy-washy to me. I didn’t understand half of her reactions to the situation around her…and found I didn’t try to comprehend the other half. Her family, as well, felt a bit stiff and awkward–more cardboard cutouts instead of actual, complex people.

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While there were several entertaining moments of high snark and sass, I overall felt as if the dialogue was half-heartedly written and meant more to spur the action on than to reveal anything important to the story. The plot is FULL of action and adventure…but I felt as if there was too much trying to be done in a very short amount of time. I wasn’t, as a reader, given the chance to acclimate myself to the changes happening before yet another weird change was thrown at me. While it’s not always necessary to let your readers wrap their heads around your plot, it’s sometimes a good idea–especially in books such as this, where genres are being blended and a character’s mental state is called into question. Where at the beginning, I was super confused and LOVING it because I felt I was getting a great glimpse into Courtney’s head…by the end I was confused because the plot seemed to bounce from one idea to the next without a coherent plan or shape.

Yet again, I guess this just wasn’t quite the right fit for me personally. I am not giving up on books about aliens, penguins–I WILL! one day! find a book with aliens or alien characters that I actually enjoy, I promise. Today just isn’t that day, unfortunately. For this book, I couldn’t connect with the main character; I struggled with my sense of disbelief; and I was super annoyed at how dramatic and flighty the plot seemed. I would still recommend to readers seeking unique titles, alien visitors, and dysfunctional family dynamics. Even though this book failed to beam me out of MY bedroom, it might not fail for you–so give it a shot!

9

The Neverland Wars: Beautiful Prose, But Not Enough Plot

bookreview

The Neverland Wars

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

The Neverland Wars (Book 1)
Retellings/Fantasy/YA
302 Pages
Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date:  May 9th, 2016
Get a copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: super descriptive, beautiful prose; not much in the way of actual story; interesting, vibrantly written characters; a lot happens, but I didn’t feel like much of anything happened; love how much we saw of the fairies; the ending was sort of abrupt and weird

Look, penguins–ANOTHER book review! Are you all proud of me for actually sitting down and getting some reading done? I haven’t finished a book in so long, and today (or, rather, today for me, which….isn’t today for you all but still), I finished off two! YAY ME!

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Unfortunately, this retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales fell a bit flat for me overall. But let’s start with first things first: the prose. Audrey Greathouse wove some gorgeous, stunning imagery throughout this read. There were many times throughout these pages I found myself in awe of the beautiful, captivating AMOUNT of detail she managed to sneak into every sentence–it was as if every one of my five senses was awakened and heightened. I was transported into this world–or, at least, into Neverland, which is where Audrey Greathouse’s imagery really pays off.

However, I felt as if–while it seems a lot happens within the course of this journey–there wasn’t really a story taking place at all. While Gwen is both captivating and entertaining as a character, she is also stuck in the midway place between child- and adulthood. This makes for an interesting and complex point of view…but also a stifled, sometimes confusing one. Gwen is struggling to come to grips with a lot of things in this book, and I felt that the action was perhaps a bit lagging to focus instead on her relationship with her little sister…and her struggles to make peace with what’s happening around her. It was a fun, enthralling read–but I don’t feel like much story was told in the end.

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The characters were vibrantly written and complex, however. The relationships explored throughout–between Peter and the lost children, Peter and the mermaids, Gwen and the mermaids… All of them helped to mold and shape my opinions of them as individuals and as a cohesive group. It was especially interesting to watch Gwen interact, as sort of a hovering outsider–someone not quite on the inside, but not on the periphery either. Her reactions and interactions were both endearing and entertaining.

In the end, this was just an okay retelling for me. The prose is gorgeous and descriptive, but I felt the story fell very flat. The characters were intriguing, though, and Neverland came to life for me in a new and exciting way. I was curious about the war between reality and Neverland they kept alluding to…but unfortunately wasn’t given as many answers in this book as I’d hoped. I’d still recommend this to lovers of Peter Pan, retellings, and dystopian/fantasies. This was a fun and complex journey; I just wish I’d enjoyed it a little bit more.

11

Pumpkintown Perils: For a Magical Town, There isn’t Much Magic

bookreview

Pumpkintown Perils: A Witch Mystery Collection (Wild Wild Witch Mystery Bundle Book 1)

Deep in the Jagged Wood enchanted forest, wild witch Wanda Tempest owns a magic supply shop, practices witchcraft, drinks too much, dances, and struggles with a weakness for attractive men. She also happens to be a promising, if only part-time, Private Investigator. She’s talented, beautiful, and has earned the respect and admiration of the equally talented, though far less striking, Police Inspector Sam Shamrock, an overweight leprechaun. He’s crazy about her… she’s crazy about her cat-food-refusing whiskered companion, Jinxy.

Join this formidable, if mismatched, crime-solving duo, as they tackle mysteries ranging from the scandalous to the outright strange. Talking trees, evil gnomes, murderous wood trolls, and homicidal humans will keep Wanda and Sam fighting for justice, and their very lives.

Troublesome twin sisters, a crazy great-aunt, a kiss that shouldn’t have happened, and a spoiled Siberian cat with a smart mouth all guarantee that Wanda’s life remains full of surprises. As long as Sam doesn’t drink too many Irish Coffees everything usually works out.

Wild Wild Witch Mystery Bundle (Book 1)
Humor/Mystery/Paranormal
260 Pages
Publication Date: August 4th, 2016
Get a FREE copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: fairly annoying, arrogant main character; none of the characters really came to life for me; weird moments of crude humor; very fast, unbelievable plots; easy-to-spot endings; the internal monologue happening throughout this read was chaotic and often confusing; a lot of repetition and awkward sentences

Huge thanks to Aubrey Law and the crew at BookTasters for sending me a copy of this title free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I’m going to be honest, penguins–this book didn’t work for me, personally, for several different reasons. When I picked this book up, I was really looking forward to diving into my first actual mystery read–as you might know, I don’t usually pick up mystery books, and I’ve been hoping to change that as I feel some of them sound like a ton of fun. This one, for instance, seemed to be right up my alley–and I really DID enjoy the quirky setting and the element of magic/fantasy that was woven throughout the story. The characters, for the most part, sounded like a ton of fun–who wouldn’t want to follow a witch and her talking cat around, after all? Or meet up with leprechauns? Or solve magical mysteries?

Unfortunately, that’s not quite what I got from this book. Don’t get me wrong, the four stories included in this read do all have an element of mystery/whodunit….but the plot was so quick, the stories so concise to fit all four into one go, I don’t feel like we really got the best side of Aubrey Law’s writing. Instead, I felt like we got a high level of crude humor and arrogant confidence in the form of our main character…mixed with some quickly-written and chaotic stories. Instead of being able to dive into the world of this town, I found myself plodding along listening to the main character make snap judgments about everybody and talk about herself as if she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

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The writing is also pretty spotty throughout the read. There are some awkward transitions, some poorly-chosen descriptive images, and a LOT of repetition. The main character often thinks to herself before opening her mouth…which leads to readers already knowing what she’s going to say, and then having to follow along after while she actually carries on the conversation. I think Wanda could be a sassy, snarky, strongly independent character…if she were written in a slightly different way. In this book, however, she comes off as arrogant and prideful, and I found myself rolling my own eyes more than once throughout the read at her antics or thoughts.

Overall, this perhaps wasn’t the best fit for me personally. The characters and world fell a bit flat, I was annoyed with how arrogant Wanda seemed, and I didn’t really connect with anyone or anything I read about. The spotty writing and unbelievably quick plots also didn’t help to make this book more entertaining. I will, hopefully, be picking up more mysteries in the future…perhaps I’ll find that this genre just doesn’t work for me. I’d recommend this to lovers of crude humor, magical mysteries, and quirky characters. Just because I wasn’t caught up in the race, doesn’t mean you can’t be!

3

November Snow: This Battle for Equality is Cold

 

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November Snow (Bad Bloods, #2)

When Daniel and Serena unite, their accidental relationship becomes the catalyst for a twelve-year war to continue. Exposing the twisted past of a corrupt city, Daniel, Serena, and everyone they know will come together to fight. But Serena has another battle.

After a political rumor threatens their lives, Serena must leave her family and join the political front against her will. To survive apart, Daniel has to separate his love from his hatred and join forces with his worst memory to secure Vendona’s war. But very few of them will survive to see the last day. Bad blood or human, a city will burn, snow will fall, and all will be united by catastrophic secrets and irrevocable tragedy.

Bad Bloods #2
Dystopian/Fantasy/Science Fiction
275 Pages
Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date: September 19th, 2016
Get a copy here!

See my review for November Rain (Bad Bloods #1) HERE!

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: strong characters; fast-paced, heart-stopping action; the ending resolution seemed very quick; lots of societal and moral lessons; I found myself racing through the pages; suspenseful, thought-provoking, and heart-wrenching; I’m only sad so many characters were lost


Huge thanks to Shannon A. Thompson and Clean Teen Publishing for sending me a copy of this title free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I finished this sequel last night and just… Oh, my penguins, guys. I think if my heart continues cracking, I will be starting the new year with a bunch of pieces and shards. These characters leaped off the page in book one….but stole my heart away in this second half. Every character is individualized, unique, and given their own quirks and voices. Shannon A. Thompson put a lot of time and effort into making this cast of personalities–and their reactions to the world around them–wholly realistic and believable.

 

The plot is fast-paced and full of action. We start off right in the thick of things, and aren’t allowed to relax until the very end. Shannon A. Thompson knows how to write a heart-stopping scene–and she proves it, with several of the most intense action scenes I’ve read in recent months. I found myself holding my breath, clenching my fists, and hoping for things to just work out for the characters–even though I knew at least a few of them would be inevitably lost.

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I was a bit surprised at how quickly the resolution came, though. It seemed like a very large portion of this series was spent focusing on fighting back, taking a stand, and showing the world how wrong it was. For things to just magically, within a couple of pages, be “better” seemed a bit unbelievable for me as a reader. Sure, most of the people were probably hoping for just this resolution…but the resolution seemed TOO quick, TOO easy, for a book that was full of so much division and struggle.

 

Overall, this was a fast-paced, heart-wrenching, climactic read! The characters are realistic and believable in their actions/reactions, the plot is quick and full of action, and the ending is just a little bit on the “unbelievable” end for me personally. I definitely recommend this to lovers of dystopian fiction, strong characters, and a world filled with chaos and divisive thinking. I was swept right into the middle of this world–you should dive in, too!

12

Full Tilt: This Book Broke My Stone-Cold Heart

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Full Tilt (Full Tilt, #1)

“I would love you forever, if I only had the chance…”

Kacey Dawson has always lived life on the edge–impulsively, sometimes recklessly. And now, as lead guitarist for a hot up-and-coming band, she is poised at the brink of fame and fortune. But she is torn between wanting to be a serious musician, and the demons that lure her down the glittering, but alcohol-soaked path of rock stardom. A wrecked concert in Las Vegas threatens to ruin her career entirely. She wakes up with the hangover from hell and no memory of the night before, or how she ended up on her limo driver’s couch…

Jonah Fletcher is running out of time. He knows his situation is hopeless, and he’s vowed to make the most of the handful of months he has left to him. His plans include seeing the opening of his glass installation at a prestigious art gallery…they do not include falling in love with a wild, tempestuous rock musician who wound up passed out on his couch.

Jonah sees that Kacey is on a path to self-destruction. He lets her crash with him for a few days to dry out and get her head on straight. But neither of them expected the deep connection they felt, or how that connection could grow so fast from friendship into something more. Something deep and pure and life-changing…something as fragile as glass, that they both know will shatter in the end no matter how hard they try to hold on to it.

Full Tilt is a story about what it means to love with your whole heart, to sacrifice, to experience terrible grief and soaring joy. To live life with all its beauty, and all its pain, and in the end to be able to smile through tears and know you wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Full Tilt #1
Contemporary Romance/New Adult
292 Pages
Trillian Publishing
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
Get a copy here!

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: oh penguins, my heart!; this book hurt; I cried!–a little; emotionally challenging; I knew this love was bound to hurt, but I was pushing for it the whole time; realistically flawed, beautifully complex characters; the growth in this read is astounding; I loved every relationship in this book

Huge thanks to Emma Scott, Trillian Publishing, and Netgalley for granting me access to a digital ARC of this read free 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. We’ve talked about this before–usually, I’m a stone-cold heart when it comes to emotionally challenging books. Usually, I can read difficult passages and distance myself from them enough to NOT be left a sobbing mess. Usually, I’m tough, and I’m strong, and I kick emotions in the butt. BUT. This book? SOOOOO not the case. I mean, I wasn’t left a sobbing mess per se….but there were tears. I was definitely choked up. That ending BROKE. ME. APART. And I can’t lie–while I HATED it because nuuuuuuuuh, so not nice!…I loved it all the same? Maybe I’m a masochist; why else would I take such pleasure out of reading books that hurt me so hard?

Let’s talk about the nitty gritty for a second. This book is NOT rainbows and butterflies and happily-ever-after. There is not a princess to be saved from a scary dragon, though perhaps there IS, in a sense, a dragon (if you count medical conditions dragons, and I SO do. I mean, I should know, given my own chronic illnesses.) This book bites, and it bites HARD, penguins. There are some pretty heavy subjects broached throughout. There’s a LOT of grouchy, a lot of mistrust, and a lot of holding back. These characters–one in particular–carry some very heavy demons. This is not, by any means, a “light and fluffy” romance (though there are some very fluffy moments).

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Emma Scott wrote these characters as if she had specific, in-depth knowledge of their brains. Their reactions, their interactions, their dialogue and their personalities–everything that makes these characters is individualized, thought out, and complex. Due to this, there are a TON of relationships being explored and being changed throughout. I really adored how human and realistic the characters, their motivations, and their relationships were in this read. They all scrambled to put themselves at the forefront of my brain, and keep themselves there. Each one became a distinct voice, a separate personality–and I found myself longing to be friends with pretty much all of them.

But the GROWTH. The growth our main duo goes through is probably my favorite part about this read (I mean, apart from the life-ruining, heart-crushing ending. Because I’m a masochist, remember?) Jonah and Kacey face off against demons, both their own and each others’, in ways that I couldn’t imagine having to go through–and hope I won’t have to experience, because yeesh, they went through a LOT in this book. I especially loved that, while each character was growing in their own way and coming into themselves…they were always growing because of each other. The best relationships, in my mind, are those that make you want to change for yourself–and Kacey and Jonah gave each other that. And it was absolutely beautiful to see happening.

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I just… I don’t get choked up by reads very often, penguins, so you KNOW this book is something special. The characters are realistic and wholly distinct, the read is quick and emotionally-challenging, and the ending… The ending is every romantic masochists’ dream. I recommend this to lovers of difficult plot lines, new adult reads with a punch, and loves even the fates should be jealous of. I ran into this read full tilt…and that was the best decision I could have made. You should take the fall, too!

14

Weekly Wishlist (#9)

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Because I needed a post in my life that kept me up to date on all things BOOKS!  and it seemed like Wishlist Wednesday was dead, I decided to make my own.

Welcome to Weekly Wishlist!

I’m all about breaking bending the rules to my will, so I’m switching it up!  I’m going to pair books that are already in the wild…with books soon to be released. Click the covers to be taken to the Amazon page.

Except this week…I’m SWITCHING things up!  Because I’ve been getting some awesome recommendations from lovely people on goodreads and here, and I want to showcase those books.

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The Farther He Runs: Kick

In an explosive novel of long-awaited release from the award-winning author of The Deeper He Hurts, two emotionally exposed Marines learn to lean on each other—and discover the courage to act on their innermost needs.

After years away from home, Tanner Dorsey is back and sorting through feelings that have him in a stranglehold. The hardened Marine will do anything for a fallen comrade, so when an accident leaves Finn Kelley fighting for his life, Tanner’s eager to be there for him. In fact, Tanner’s ready and willing to do anything Finn asks—especially if it means finally acting on the sexual tension that’s always kept him craving more.

Finn senses it too—when he brushes against Tanner’s stubbled jaw, when he inhales the scent of the T-shirt that clings to Tanner’s body like a second skin. Now that he’s more vulnerable than ever, Finn knows the time is right to take control, even if it means risking the heart and soul of their friendship. The bond they share goes beyond desire; it’s a bond of brotherhood, forged under conditions few could imagine. But once they cross that line, there will be no more secrets. No more boundaries. And no turning back.

The Farther He Runs is intended for mature audiences and includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

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The wonderfully awesome Pandapants Annelise (this nickname is YOURS now; you’re stuck with it!) recommended this to me recently and OHEMGEEEEEE I want to read it so so badly!  I mean seriously, that bluuuuuuuurb!  I just… so much win?!  I think yes.  Plus, Annelise is wonderful, and she loved this book, so…MOAR WIN!

Full Tilt (Full Tilt, #1)

“I would love you forever, if I only had the chance…”

Kacey Dawson has always lived life on the edge–impulsively, sometimes recklessly. And now, as lead guitarist for a hot up-and-coming band, she is poised at the brink of fame and fortune. But she is torn between wanting to be a serious musician, and the demons that lure her down the glittering, but alcohol-soaked path of rock stardom. A wrecked concert in Las Vegas threatens to ruin her career entirely. She wakes up with the hangover from hell and no memory of the night before, or how she ended up on her limo driver’s couch…

Jonah Fletcher is running out of time. He knows his situation is hopeless, and he’s vowed to make the most of the handful of months he has left to him. His plans include seeing the opening of his glass installation at a prestigious art gallery…they do not include falling in love with a wild, tempestuous rock musician who wound up passed out on his couch.

Jonah sees that Kacey is on a path to self-destruction. He lets her crash with him for a few days to dry out and get her head on straight. But neither of them expected the deep connection they felt, or how that connection could grow so fast from friendship into something more. Something deep and pure and life-changing…something as fragile as glass, that they both know will shatter in the end no matter how hard they try to hold on to it.

Full Tilt is a story about what it means to love with your whole heart, to sacrifice, to experience terrible grief and soaring joy. To live life with all its beauty, and all its pain, and in the end to be able to smile through tears and know you wouldn’t have changed a thing.

***FIRST BOOK IN A TWO PART DUET***
All In (Full Tilt #2) forthcoming…
#nocliffhanger #nocancer #tearjerker

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Trinity (from Goodreads) recommended this one to me and it just… that blurb tugs at some serious heartstrings, and I can tell the read is bound to BREAK me, but I am deeeeesperate for it anyway.  Thanks, Trinity!

Living Dead Girl

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.

Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.

Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends — her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

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And finally, the LOVELY LADY Lauren recommended this to me recently in one of our #commentconversations because she knows I loooooooove books that break me…and apparently this one broke her BIG TIME.  I. Cannot. Wait! to get my hands on a copy!

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Have a book YOU’D like to recommend to me?!  AWESOME!  Either shoot me a comment down below, or send me a recommendation on Goodreads RIGHT HERE!

What do you guys think–have you read any of these…or WANT to?  What did you think of them, if so?  Let me know your thoughts and as always…

Until next time, happy book-ing!

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8

Blog Tour, Press Release, Spotlight and Review: Smoke Sky

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The DARK SKY Series:

Amber Sky (#0.25) — See my review HERE!
Smoke Sky (#0.5) — Review to follow below
Crimson Sky (#1) — See my review HERE!
Midnight Sky (#2) — See my review HERE!


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SMOKE SKY is the second prequel novella preceding the adventurous steampunk horror tale CRIMSON SKY and centering around a young thief named Gemma––not yet a member of the Dauntless Wanderer crew––as she was forced to choose between freedom from a twisted family, and forsaking the only people who have ever shown her kindness…

Buy it here:
Kindle | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads

To survive in a horrific world overseen by bloodthirsty monsters, young thief Gemma will do whatever she must to see another day. Even though that means working for a damaged man convinced to make her a permanent member of this thuggish family.

So when her employer tells her that he’ll release her from his clutches, Gemma is obviously skeptical. Especially since the job is easy enough– recruit the two marauders that the gang has been spying on to take her place.

But as Gemma lies to Nash and Sawyer, she commits the greatest mistake a spy can make–– she begins to see them as friends, and perhaps more. Soon, she will have to choose: Sacrifice two strangers to ensure freedom from a brutal future, or risk her life
to save them…

Set two years before the events of CRIMSON SKY, this prequel novella tells the story of how Gemma met Nash and Sawyer, and what prompted her to chose their safety over her own. While best enjoyed before reading CRIMSON SKY, this bonus story can be read at any time or enjoyed as a standalone.

Press Release:

SMOKE SKY is set two years before the first novel in the DARK SKY series, CRIMSON SKY, and takes place shortly after Captain Sawyer Kendric and his first mate Nash meet AMBER SKY. The story is told from the perspective of Gemma, the future master gunner and rigger of the Dauntless Wanderer. Before she became a marauder, Gemma was a thief working for a sadistic and morally damaged man named Fletcher, who formed a “family” with three young men named Boyd, Tyler, and Morris. She longs to escape their horrible plans for her future, but to do so, she must take one last job: Trade her life for the lives of two young marauders named Sawyer and Nash to take her place in their family. But when
Gemma integrates with them, she realizes they are good men and develops strong feelings for them, especially charming, kind-hearted Nash. Soon she is torn between sacrificing her freedom, and her morals and sanity.

Of all the novellas I’ve written to date, Smoke Sky is one of my favorites. Gemma and Nash have a relationship that I love––they are two characters who could hardly be more opposite, but who fit together so beautifully––and I couldn’t let their story go untold. This is likely the most romantic story in the Dark Sky series and features one of my favorite romance moments, so I hope a lot of readers enjoy it.

Gemma’s past is hinted at in Crimson Sky when Gemma has a conversation with the main series heroine, Claire Abernathy, but at the time, it was something I just threw in there for context. I didn’t really plan anything beyond moving Crimson Sky forward. But when I decided I wanted to do some novellas, I thought it would only make sense to go back to that moment when she was explaining pieces of her past to Claire, and extrapolate from there.

I started Smoke Sky shortly after completing its predecessor, Amber Sky. Because it’s so short, less than 40,000 words, I decided to write it as an ebook only, though it will be included in the Dark Sky Box Set releasing in April 2017. The whole story was a lot of fun to write, but I have to say that my favorite part was building the relationship between Gemma and Nash. Their personalities are so contrasting––she’s brash and fiery, he’s gentler and relaxed––that it was fun just to have them flirt and grow close to each other, while Sawyer grudgingly accepts that he enjoys the challenge of her company, as she’s not afraid to challenge him.

After hard weeks of writing, editing, and gushing over the cover created by Deranged Doctor Design, I worked on setting up my own promotions with Google Forms and contacted book reviewers, bloggers, and bookstagrammers who have helped me with previous releases. They are all fantastic, friendly, wonderful people, and if they’re taking the time to read this, know that I appreciate all your hard work more than I can say.

Though I’m very happy to have the release of Smoke Sky––one of my favorite written novellas to date–– out in the world, I’m eager to get back to working on the final novel in the Dark Sky series, Obsidian Sky. I love hearing feedback from everyone I work with (I really couldn’t have done it without you) and everyone I share my books with, and would love to hear thoughts on this novella and upcoming work.


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

Q: What inspired you to write Smoke Sky and two prequel novellas?
A: Gemma is one of those characters who you know has a story to tell as soon as you meet her in Crimson Sky. What pushed her to become a thief? Why is she so fiercely attached to Nash? Is it just her personality that causes her to clash with Sawyer more often than not? I love Gemma––she’s exactly the kind of heroine I like reading about and after mentioning a snippet of her story in Crimson Sky, I knew I had to find out more about her. As with Nash, I wanted to tell her story and learn more about the world of Westraven and Aon. I just had no idea that there would be so much to tell!

Q: Why did you choose to tell the story from Gemma’s perspective?
A: For a thief, Gemma is a noticeable character. She’s not quiet and not afraid to speak her mind to anyone challenging her––including her captain. Since I love writing characters who snark and question authority as much as they breathe, it was really a no-brainer to tell the story in her own sarcastic, quickwitted words. Plus, delving into the true depth of the emotions she feels for Nash, feelings she never considered she might have, add another layer to her character and give her an almost vulnerable appeal, something Gemma would never let show if she could avoid it.

Q: Which was more challenging to write: Amber Sky or Smoke Sky?
A: Both of them had their challenges, but if I had to choose, I would say Smoke Sky was harder. There were more settings to construct, a more complex challenge for the characters to overcome, and more world building to do. I also had to answer certain questions about the Dauntless Wanderer and how it was able to be transported to its final location, which was no easy feat. But I also think that because of those challenges the story is stronger. Don’t get me wrong––I love and am very proud of Amber Sky, but there’s more going on in Smoke Sky and that makes it engaging and exciting.

Q: Gemma’s relationship with Nash and Sawyer are vastly different. Which did you enjoy writing more?
A: While I had a great time pitting Gemma against Sawyer and loved writing their barbs and teasing, I liked writing the moments between Gemma and Nash more. I’m a sucker for sweet romances, and Nash is nothing if not a teddy bear. Considering I wanted to tie in events from Amber Sky with Smoke Sky, I thought their scenes flowed wonderfully. Nash is smitten early on but Gemma is a little more hesitant, and watching her test those barriers between them was amazing. There is one particular scene in the middle of the novella that I’m very proud of and sums up their relationship tenderly and beautifully, so I look forward to hearing feedback from readers and reviewers on it.

Q: What can you tell us about the final novel in the Dark Sky series?
A: Obsidian Sky will be the last of the last in the Dark Sky books. I’m currently editing it, and it will be slated for release on February 7, 2017, with a cover reveal happening January 2. The story is told from both Sawyer and Claire’s perspectives, will be full of action, and will vastly expand the world by going way beyond the borders of Westraven. I have some surprises and a lot of excitement planned for this final book, and couldn’t be more excited to share it. I’ll be doing a lot of promotions around social media and my website, but newsletter subscribers will get first peeks at the cover and notifications on the big giveaway I’ll be doing. I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Amy BraunAmy 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, world-building 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.

Her short stories published by independent houses like Mocha Memoirs Press and April Moon Books, and she has independently published a collection of standalone and series novels including Storm Born, Path of the Horseman, and the Cursed and Dark Sky series. Many of her short stories have been featured in anthologies such as Amok!, Avast, Ye Airships!, and That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do, and Stomping Grounds.

More From Amy Braun
CURSED
DEMON’S DAUGHTER | DARK DIVINITY | DAMNATION’S DOOR | TRILOGY BOX SET

DARK SKY
CRIMSON SKY | MIDNIGHT SKY | AMBER SKY

ENGINEERED DECEIT (In GHOSTS GEARS
AND GRIMOIRES)

STANDALONE NOVELS AND NOVELLAS
STORM BORN
PATH OF THE HORSEMAN
NEEDFIRE

Social Media Links
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon


bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: awesome action/adventure; Gemma is so snarky and strong-willed, I adore her; YAY to the Sawyer and Nash I fell in love with in Crimson Sky; fast-paced, quick read that starts you off in the middle of the action; I really enjoyed this novella

Huge thanks to Amy Braun for sending me a free 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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So I’m sure you all remember, I read a different novella from this world– Amber Sky –several months back, and felt overall disappointed in it. I am super excited to say, THIS novella?! set me back on track with this world, and made me fall back in love with Amy Braun.

These are much closer to the characters I grew to know and fall in love with in the two full novels in this series so far. In fact, this novella helped me fall back in love with Nash and Sawyer–their snark, their gentle caring, pretty much their everything shines through so beautifully in this read. Gemma, also, came to life for me–her snark and strong-willed character permeated every page. I really enjoyed watching her react to and change from the shift in the people she surrounded herself with. She makes some admittedly poor decisions…but she carries herself with such sass and strength, I found myself giggling through several very tense moments. Her inner voice is unique and well-crafted; I felt like I was literally seeing through her eyes.

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The plot is fast-paced and full of action and adventure. There are plenty of fight scenes, heart-pounding moments, and Hellion battles. While there are still missing words, missing letters, and weirdly written sentences, I was so captivated by the story being woven around me that I was able to ignore the majority of these–they in no way hindered or slowed my reading progress. Amy Braun knows how to write detailed, finely-oiled action…and she did beautifully in this novella, holding me hostage until the very end. While this IS part of a larger arc, this can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone–so if you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to such a wide-arcing story, maybe consider picking this up and getting a taste of the world first?

I am LOVING this series, and cannot wait for the third full-length novel to be released. I mean, it helps that these covers are SO super stunning–the steampunk theme is carried into the world-building. And who could possibly say no to pirates vs. vampires?! That’s such a tempting pairing, I can’t imagine any reader who’d snub their noses at these reads. I definitely recommend to lovers of science fiction/fantasy, steampunk, and creeptastic vampire/mosquito hybrids. Trust me–these books are a blast!

8

Blog Tour, Teasers, and Review: The Red Pearl

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the-red-pearl-coverThe Red Pearl,
by C.K. Brooke

Genre: NA Fantasy/Adventure Romance

Release Date: November 2015
by 48fourteen

Summary from Goodreads:

Treasure lost… passion found?

Antonia Korelli ison the run from her coven of priestesses. She never desired a life confined tothe temple, relegated to chastity and service to the goddess, Azea. Instead, she longs for true love and adventure in the Kingdom of Elat.

Robin Watkins is a fiery dreamer on a mission of his own, to uncover the legendary lost Red Pearl. Only, he must first regain his treasure map, which was stolen by his former best mate and conniving ex-girlfriend.

When Antonia becomes unwittingly entangled with Rob, she’s more than dismayed to find herself stuck on his harebrained hunt. But somewhere amidst their bickering and banter, their plight for survival through desert and tropics, and the joint pursuit of impossible dreams, Antonia begins to realize that perhaps she might have found the unforgettable adventure – and romance –she was seeking.

*Advisory: Contains some sensual/sexual content

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Buy Links:

Amazon |  Barnes and Noble  |  Books a Million  |  Goodreads  |  Publishing

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About the Author

ck brookeC.K. Brooke is a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie author with a five-star rating by Readers’ Favorite. She holds numerous fantasy and romance publications with 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her lifelong passion is books – reading, writing, editing, publishing and blogging about them. When not blissing out in literary land, she enjoys info-tainment podcasts, singing, songwriting and playing the piano. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. There’s tons to check out at the new CKBrooke.com, so come and see what she’s up to!

Check out her V.I.P. Readers Club (Subscribers get a free eBook!)

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookAmazon Page

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GIVEAWAY:

Subscribe to the author’s newsletter (www.ckbrooke.com/vipclub) and get a free eBook!

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bookreview

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: fun, fast-paced read; I fall just a little more in love with C.K. Brooke every time I pick her books up; complex, emotionally well-rounded, entertaining characters; Antonia has QUITE the personality, and I adored her; action-packed and full of adventure

Huge thanks to C.K. Brooke, 48fourteen Publishing, and YA Bound Book Tours for granting me access to this title free 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 continues to amaze me. Every time I pick up a new book from her, I KNOW I’m in for an adventure, a few snarky and stubborn characters, and a steamy love affair. So of course, when I saw this one up for tour, I KNEW I needed to jump on it if I could–how could I possibly turn it down?! It called to me, penguins. (Of course, that cover is STUNNING and did it’s own share of calling me)

I was not disappointed. Let’s start with the characters. Antonia and Rob are a pair of snarky, stubborn, willful people…and I adored them from the very start. For one, Antonia recognizes she is not doing with her life what SHE would choose, and therefore sets out to set that to right–by abandoning her parents’ plans for her and following her own dreams. And Robin… Well, he’s just the sort of roguish, gruff character I expected him to be…with a soft and vulnerable side that evens him out and makes him even more human than he already felt. They are complex and emotionally well-rounded…and I adored every second the pair spent together, bickering or not. While I knew it was pretty much assured they would end up together in the end, I was hardcore shipping them from the get-go regardless; they’re just TOO adorable and well-matched not to root for!

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There is a group of other characters who make an appearance–and a right mess of things–throughout this story. While they are not the focus of this book and, therefore, sort of fade into the background when not a part of the action, I still found myself wondering about and wanting to know more of each of them. They are equally as well-written and just as entertaining as the main duo.

The plot is action-packed and full of adventure. C.K. Brooke knows how to weave a story of romance, daring, and disappointment around readers–she took me on a journey with this one through towns, mountains, and infested forests. Every page is ripe with beautifully detailed descriptions and pulse-pounding situations. I thoroughly enjoyed stepping into this world and “living” through these characters for a time, and was sad to reach the ending–I didn’t want to part with them or their story just yet!

I think it’s safe to say that C.K. Brooke has quickly become one of my favorite fantasy authors, and for good reason. Her plots are action-packed, her characters are vivid and well-written, and the story literally leaps to life around you while you read. You will, stepping into her novels, forget about the real world for a time–and lose yourself to romance, daring, and adventure. I recommend this to lovers of willfully stubborn characters, dreamers fighting to find their “destiny,” and books that remind you what it means to hope. I cannot WAIT to dive into my next C.K. Brooke novel (and trust me, it’ll be soon!) If you haven’t picked her up yet, all I can think to ask is… Why not?! GO DO IT.

Blog Tour Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

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