0

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.

addtogoodreads

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.

 

KAB Quote1

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.

 

KAB Quote2

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 Review: Incense and Peppermints

 

Incense and Peppermints
by Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: March 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war.

Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.

With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Author Bio:

Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don’t Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for 2015 and The Literary Classics Seal of Approval and Literary Classics Gold Award. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: entertaining, fun historical; awesome “coming of age” premise; mature topics handled with sensitivity and tact; endearing, realistic characters; just a smidge bit of “insta-love,” but I’ll forgive it; a wild glimpse into the past

HUGE thanks to Cathrina Constantine 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.

IP Quote1

This was such a fun and entertaining glimpse into the past for me! Of course, there are some more mature subjects–and they are handled with sensitivity and tact. The characters were endearing and realistic, wholly relatable for me as the reader–and super easy for me to form connections with/become emotional over.

The growth and “coming of age” journey Mary embarks on throughout this novel reminded me, in part, of my own youth. Of course, I wasn’t the party type–I didn’t touch alcohol, save a few tiny sips, until my 21st birthday. But the journey she takes with HERSELF–to find and become comfortable with who she is–reminded me of my own journey to find the same. In fact, I’ve recently discovered myself on that same path, and watching Mary unfold from herself and find a foot to stand on really inspired and awed me. I also really appreciated the many relationships we look into in this read–friendships, family, the dark secrets that lurk beneath all our skins. It was a poignant, beautifully written expose of human nature and reality, I felt.

IP Quote2.png

The only thing that really irked me was the Michael/Mary relationship. There was quite a bit of insta-love happening; in fact, I didn’t feel as if Michael or Mary really got to KNOW each other. Of course, this is quite realistic I think–I had my own sort of “insta-love” moment in high school…and that relationship carried on for something like seven years, without me really knowing much about the boy. I mean, I KNEW him…but only the pieces he wanted me to, and those pieces were constantly shifting. However, I felt as if Michael and Mary were a bit more swept up in the emotional tsunami than I’d have liked–I didn’t feel like they really breached the walls of each other’s minds. Mary, even, seems to just accept Michael at surface level. He’s the hottest boy in school and all the girls want him, so she does too. It felt pretty shallow to me, honestly. But I’m forgiving it, because as I said, I experienced something similar in my past…and Michael is exactly the shady, dark, mysterious guy I go for in book boyfriends.

Overall, this was an entertaining and poignant look into a world I’ve never really known. The characters are realistic, the romance is…a bit shallow, but not wholly unbelievable. I really enjoyed the look into relationships that happens throughout, and Mary’s “coming of age” journey was turbulent but relateable for me. I’d recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, characters along for a wild ride, and vibrantly colored worlds. Settle back and relax, penguins; let the ride begin!

XBTBanner1

0

Cover Reveal: Hide from Me

 

Hello Readers! Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Hide From Me by Mary Lindsey

presented by Entangled TEEN!

I cannot WAIT for this book to come out this fall!

What do you think of the cover?

 

 

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Something’s not right about Rain Ryland’s new hometown. On the surface, it’s a friendly, tight-knit community, but something deadly lurks underneath the small-town charm. Everyone he meets is hiding something—especially Friederike Burkhart, the hottest girl he’s ever laid eyes on. Rain’s determined to find out her secret, even if it kills him…and it just might.

Ancient magic and modern society collide in a sexy, spellbinding romance perfect for fans of C. C. Hunter and Maggie Stiefvater that proves sometimes beauty is the beast…

Hide From Me

By Mary Lindsey

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

 

Available for Pre-order:

Amazon

 

 

Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband.

Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 “pet” Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the “pet” roaches found a home… somewhere else.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

 

0

Book Tour and Review: The Married Girls

blog tour banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

addtogoodreads

Costeloe 1_bwAbout the Author:

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

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


bookreview

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

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

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

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

MG Quote1

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

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

6

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Duels and Deception

 

Duels and Deception
by Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: April 11th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


arcreview

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: entertaining, beautifully written historical fiction; absolutely adore Lydia; realistic, delicious romance; a subtle hint of mystery and intrigue; Lydia’s shift from “not a romantic” to “fully in love” is believable and well-done; oh my penguins, THE SNARK

Huge thanks to Cindy Anstey, Swoon Reads, Netgalley, and Xpresso Book Tours 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.

DD Quote1

Holy penguins, is Lydia QUITE the character! I fell in love with her pretty quickly, honestly–her snark and personality are loud and vibrantly painted and she drew me in like a fine work of art. I kept trying to burrow my way into her heart, to better see and feel the world from her point of view. In fact, I’d say she’s one of my favorite characters of recent reads–the fact that she’s so super snarky and to the point only helped to cement her place in my list of favorite personalities. She’s blunt, she goes after what she wants (for the most part), and she doesn’t let society denote what she does with her life or her time. I mean seriously, she’s a role model–and her story in this read? Only helped to strengthen the message that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to, so long as you don’t let the rest of the world get in your way.

The relationship with Robert– ahem, Mr. Newton –started out a bit awkwardly and stilted. In the end, though, it was believably written and so, so endearing. Robert was written to perfectly match Lydia in wit and intellect–and helped prove that real romance and passion do exist in the world. The fact that they start off a little rocky, and each hiding their feelings for the other because of convention or rules– only to finally drop the act –was realistic, though a bit frustrating at times for me (I just wanted to shake some sense into their hearts, that’s all!)

DD Quote2.jpg

The slight, subtle use of mystery and intrigue helped to pull me more thoroughly into this read, and I really enjoyed that we got the story from both perspectives. I find what I miss most in books like this– such as Pride and Prejudice –is that we weren’t given a glimpse into the OTHER side of the story. This book took the guessing and the mystery away by giving us access to Mr. Newton’s thoughts and emotions, which I really appreciated. This helped to make him less a “bystander” in the action of his life, but have a more concrete and tangible role in the story.

This was such a snarky, personality-filled, entertaining read, and I’m even more excited now to pick up more of Cindy Anstey in the future! Lydia’s vibrant, strong-willed character and Robert’s passionate intellect made for a positively wonderful match. The action of the plot, mixed with the subtle mystery, helped to keep me enthralled throughout. I definitely recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, vividly-painted characters, and subtle societal statements. This read enchanted me, penguins; maybe you should take a taste of the magic, too.

XBTBanner1

1

Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway, and Review: Capturing the Captain

capturing-the-captain-tour-banner

 

Capturing The Captain (American Pirate Romances Book 1)Capturing the Captain (America Pirate Romance #1)
by C.K. Brooke
Genre: Adult Historical Adventure Romance
Release Date: April 26th 2016
Limitless Publishing
Summary from Goodreads:
In 1720, it’s a pirate’s life for Abigail Clear, daughter of a notorious colonial pirate captain…

But when a rival crew invades Abigail’s ship, she is taken prisoner. Now aboard the enemy vessel, she must contend with its formidable captain. But who is the real captive?

Locked away in the belly of The Indomitable is no place for a woman…

Captain James Morrow is more than displeased to discover his sole captive to be none other than an untamable young lass who will earn him no bounty. Yet if he can soften the little rogue, she just might switch her loyalties to him, and reveal the whereabouts of the infamous thief who sired her—and his stolen treasure. But two can play that game, as Abi is equally inclined to charm the dogged sailor off her father’s tail.

Might she and Captain Morrow run the risk of falling for their own charades?

They dance about their disguises as genuine developing emotions clash against deeper motives, and suspicion runs high. When the captain finally steals a first kiss, Abi decides it’s high time to make her escape—fleeing not only his vessel, but her fondness for the man who intends to see her father hang.

The high seas heat up as Captain Morrow’s quest to recapture Abi is halted by her pirate father, Captain Clear. Will James succeed in pursuit of his captive love, or will his desires conspire to make him a captive himself?

addtogoodreads
Buy Links
Excerpt:

“Well, don’t just stand there, gaping like a codfish,” snapped the captain, the corner of his mouth twitching. “I want my decks shining by noon.”

If Abi had been gaping before, now her jaw truly dropped. “You want me to wash your decks?”

Morrow stepped in. Nearby, more sailors looked up from their labor to watch. “Scrub it spotless,” he growled.

Abi rested her hands on her hips. “I’m no one’s swabber. I did no such task on my father’s ship, and I sure as hell ain’t doing it on yours.” She shook her head. “Clean an enemy vessel,” she scoffed, turning back.

A large, cool hand gripped her arm, just above her elbow. Abi had to stop. “Excuse me.” The captain reeled her in, speaking under his breath. “But do ye notice anyone absent here? None of my crew is above maintaining the cleanliness and orderliness I expect. Least of all, you. Pirate.”

Abi knew he must have meant it as an insult, the way he spat the last word. And yet, her pride couldn’t help but inflate. “You’re right.” She looked him square in the eye. “I am a pirate. Which means I’m not part of your crew.” She whipped her arm out of his hold. “And I don’t have to answer to you.”

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

bookreview

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: well-crafted, gorgeously-written historical fiction; pirates! because who doesn’t love pirates?; complex, intriguing, well-rounded characters; action and adventure; forbidden/star-crossed lovers; C.K. Brooke has captivated me once again

Huge thanks to C.K. Brooke, Limitless Publishing LLC, and YA Bound Book Tours 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.

cc-quote1

I would wax poetic about how much I adore C.K. Brooke and her mastery of the written word…but I feel like I do that every time I review a book from her, and you guys have GOT to have gotten the point by now, right? If you haven’t picked up a book from this author, I just… WHY NOT?! Go do it. Seriously, she knows how to write characters, her plots are always complex and action-packed, and I swear you are bound to fall in love with everything she writes. I know I have, and continue to do so.

That being said–this book managed nothing less than I was expecting. When I first discovered this book tour, I was super excited. I mean, why wouldn’t I be–there are pirates, and a love arc, and adventure, and… WHO could say no to all the awesome that this book’s blurb promises? I certainly couldn’t–and I wasn’t disappointed in any way. Abi is exactly the sort of strong-willed, powerfully independent woman I was hoping for going into this read. Her interactions with and reactions to the rest of the characters that come gallivanting along were realistic and, at times, super entertaining. There were so many moments I found myself awing over her level-headed fierceness, and wishing I could be friends with her in the real world. Seriously, the girl is a tiger–I could learn a lot from her.

As always, the plot was engaging and action-packed. C.K. Brooke has a mastery over weaving complex, exciting adventures that will leave you on the edge of your seat, thirsting for more. She also knows how to write realistic, believable romances into the mix–and how to do so subtly, with a focus on relationship growth that not many authors think about while writing. I adore how easy C.K. Brooke makes reading her books seem–the pages fly by me seemingly without a breath, keeping me enthralled and pushing forward without realizing the passage of time. Seriously, once I dive into one of C.K. Brooke’s novels, I lose track of everything–except what’s happening in the book.

cc-quote2

As always, this was another adventure-packed, complex read from an author high on my favorites list. The characters are realistically-written and entertaining; the prose is authentic to the time period; and the journey is fast-paced and, at times, heart-wrenching. I definitely recommend this title to readers of pirates, historical fiction, and star-crossed lovers. C.K. Brooke wields her words like a pistol; perhaps you should take a bullet and let her set your reading world aflame.

Blog Tour Organized by:
2e6a6-yabounktourbutton
2

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Book Review: A Mortal Song


A Mortal Song
Megan Crewe
Publication date: September 13th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Goodreads

Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie.

Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.

“Megan Crewe’s A Mortal Song is engrossing from the first chapter. The world of the kami is beautifully fantastic and delicately drawn, and the switched-at-birth scenario made me instantly feel for both of these resilient, brave girls. A Mortal Song has lots of magic, lots of heart, and lots to love.” -Kendare Blake, author of Three Dark Crowns

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives with her husband, son, and three cats in Toronto, Canada (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she can’t look at the night sky without speculating about who else might be out there.

Join her newsletter for book news, recommended reads, and exclusive giveaways: http://eepurl.com/btE8mH


GIVEAWAY:  CLICK HERE!

Seriously, guys, click the above–the giveaway is HUGE, and filled with media and treats from Japan!  GO ENTER!


Penguin2.3

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: diverse setting with an intriguing look into culture and mythologies from the region; strong-willed, resilient, endearing characters; lots of action and fight scenes; quick, entertaining read with a very large side of sass; awesome, unique story filled with well-crafted, relatable morals/lessons

Huge thanks to Megan Crewe, Another World Press, andGiselle @ Xpresso Book Tours for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

ams-quote1

So first and foremost: I signed up to read this book PURELY because of the intrigue surrounding it. When I signed on for a review copy, I didn’t even have a cover or title. There was no blurb. What can I say–I’m the kind of person who picks up mystery grab bags because I want to know what’s in them! This is not, honestly, the first book I’ve signed up to review before knowing what it was–and I sort of have a ton of fun doing it this way. It’s like…mystery fuels my little penguin heart, or something.

That being said, this book? Took me by total surprise. For one thing–read that blurb up there. Read it again. This book? Takes “switched at birth” to a WHOLE new level. The setting is diverse…but THE FOCUS, guys! The focus of the plot here–on the cultures and mythologies of the region–is my favorite part of this entire read. Megan Crewe knows how to weave a story around what she learns of a corner of the world–and she proved that with this book. I had not, until opening this on my kindle, known anything about the kami mythology. Having read this, I’m disappointed by that fact–despite leaning more toward the fantastical (I mean…Sora DOES live with the kami in Mt. Fuji for most of her young life), Megan Crewe depicted the lore beautifully and with respect.

ams-quote2

The plot was fast paced and entertaining. From page one, we are thrust into Sora’s life, and all the drama that unfolds within just a matter of several days. There is a LOT of character growth happening in this book, as well–and not just in the case of Sora. Even the minor characters have some small semblance of growth, of backstory–every contributing character is fleshed out and brought to life almost seamlessly. This story evokes a lot of conflicting emotions, as well–as Sora struggles to come to grips with her newfound identity and role in the life she THOUGHT was hers, readers are taken on a roller coaster of an emotional journey.

There are also many profound, relatable morals and lessons sprinkled throughout that readers–particularly those struggling to come to terms with who they are or what their roles in life are–will appreciate and emote with. This is not necessarily, however, a “heavy” read–the sass in these characters is real, and it’s HUGE in several chapters. And you all know I love my books full of sass–snark is like hot fudge on a sundae in my world.

ams-quote3

Despite going into this read literally blind, I LOVED the journey, and will definitely be looking out for Megan Crewe works in the future. She blended mythology and culture with the fantasy/paranormal seamlessly–and made the roller coaster of emotions both profoundly relatable and emotive. Lovers of switched at birth tales, diverse settings/cultures, and stubbornly kick-ass characters will ADORE this (currently) stand-alone novel. If this sounds like your type of book–pick it up!

2

In the Shadow of David: An Interesting Twist on the Messiah

 

Penguin2.3

In the Shadow of DavidIn the Shadow of David: The Secret Rebellion is the story of a small band of revolutionaries and how they nearly toppled the world’s mightiest empire without a fight, and their failed conspiracy giving birth to the world’s largest religion.

Miriam (traditional for Mary) is a descendant of the last rulers of a free Jewish homeland. In 30AD, the young would-be princess ends her secret exile in Egypt to begin her quest of vanquishing the brutal occupation of Roman supremacy.

The story unfolds with her among a small group following the word of a strange preacher, who has also returned from a self-imposed exile. Yohannon (John the Baptist) sees the world in a radically different way than any other religious leaders. That is less important to Miriam than the fact that he is a descendant of King David himself.

When Miriam’s scheme to fake the death and resurrection of the reluctant evangelizer ends in his capture and ultimate execution, a new messianic figure is needed. Yeshua (Jesus), the estranged cousin of Yohannon, is that man.

Within days of a contentious reunion, and the arrest of his elder kin, Yeshua is swept up in Miriam’s vision for a united and free Jewish nation.

Backed by an underground network of wealthy Jewish businessmen, a clandestine ministry is launched to roam the countryside, spreading a gospel of inclusion, faith, and a new destiny for the oppressed. Yeshua and Miriam believe the greatest strength they can call upon is the collective faith of their fellow countrymen. A fragmented Jewish people must be unified.

For twelve demanding months the ministry walks, escaping Roman detection, to nearly every town and village of Judea, Perea, Sumaria, Galilee, and Decapolis. Yeshua blossoms into his role as Messiah, captivating crowds large and small with his gift of oratory and soaring spiritual rhetoric. To cement his larger-than-life persona, the group routinely devises staged “miraculous” events. Restoring sight to the blind, and strength to the lame.

It is not long before the two principals of the movement are husband and wife, with a child on the way.

The ministry culminates with their much-anticipated visit during Passover, to the crown jewel of Jewish civilization, Jerusalem. The unveiling of the Messiah and the attempted reclamation of the Holy City is to take place during the most misunderstood hours of recorded history.

What follows are a series of events that have defined the faith of billions for two thousand years. Yeshua is rescued from crucifixion in a daring act of cunning and bravery lead by his stalwart companion, Yehuda (Judas).

In the Shadow of David: The Secret Rebellion is the juxtaposition of political-thriller in Biblical times. It sets today’s perceptions of campaigns, manipulation, and money, atop the ancient world of the New Testament and personalities we thought we knew.

190 Pages
Historical Fiction
Onq Film & Video Inc Publishers
Publication Date: June 21st, 2016
Get a  copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: interesting, diverse setting; challenging, complex plot/ideas; historical, though perhaps not entirely “accurate”; perhaps not the book for everybody; intriguing, though at times confusing, story; MANY different perspectives

First and foremost, huge thanks to Martin Baggen and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

Let me just say, I am not, by any means, a religious person. I was not brought up to be religious…and that made reading this a bit difficult, mostly because I did not have the past reading to compare and contrast it to. Therefore, I went into this book viewing it as any other book–and may have, in the end, missed out on some key elements and/or important plot points.

itsd-quote2

This WAS, overall, a bit confusing. There are a ton of perspectives coming into play, and it was hard at times to keep track of whose thoughts we were following. Also, because of aforementioned lack of comparison, I also don’t feel I picked up on all the plot cues and points that I maybe COULD have–which means, unfortunately, I personally did not take much away from this read.

Martin Baggen, however, made the story interesting and enthralling enough that I was compelled to keep reading. The “twist” on the subject was both challenging and unique, mixing religion with politics–yet keeping it easy to follow and understand. So, while this book wasn’t necessarily “up my alley” in terms of subject matter, I was intrigued enough regardless to keep reading and find out what happened next.

itsd-quote1

Overall, this was an interesting, entertaining take on the coming of the Messiah–and the political movement that spawned it (at least, in this “twist” on the story). While not necessarily my favorite type of read, I still enjoyed seeing where the journey led and learning what happened next. I definitely recommend to lovers of historical fiction, political thrillers with a focus on religion, and books that put new twists on the stories we all think we know!

5

Of Better Blood: This World is Terrifying

Penguin2.3

Of Better Blood

Goodreads Rating: 3.76 Stars
304 Pages
Aw Teen Publishing
Published: February 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

Teenage polio survivor Rowan Collier is caught in the crossfire of a secret war against “the unfit.” It’s 1922, and eugenics the movement dedicated to racial purity and good breeding has taken hold in America. State laws allow institutions to sterilize minorities, the “feeble-minded,” and the poor, while local eugenics councils set up exhibits at county fairs with “fitter family” contests and propaganda. After years of being confined to hospitals, Rowan is recruited at sixteen to play a born cripple in a county fair eugenics exhibit. But gutsy, outspoken Dorchy befriends Rowan and helps her realize her own inner strength and bravery. The two escape the fair and end up at a summer camp on a desolate island run by the New England Eugenics Council. There they discover something is happening to the children. Rowan must find a way to stop the horrors on the island if she can escape them herself.”

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: life-ruiner!; the world in 1922 was absolutely terrifying, I am so glad I didn’t live there; this historical fiction is SUPER important, even today; lots of focus on human nature and ingrained paranoia; atmospheric, beautiful prose; the main character has a ton of personal growth; snarky, sassy characters made for some entertaining dialogue

HUGE thanks to Susan Moger, Media Masters Publicity, and Aw Teen Publishing for sending me a free copy of this title in exchange for an unbiased review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

BB Quote1

This book is terrifying. And not in a, “big vicious monsters and alternate worlds” sort of way. No, this book is terrifying in a completely realistic, human-nature and ingrained paranoia way. This book bleeds human nature, seeps each page in ingrained paranoia…and attempts to show readers how such judgments, how such actions, can be hugely damaging in the long-run. This story is packed with morals—and comes out a life-altering, breath-stopping read.

 

I thought, going into this, that the book was going to be nonlinear. The first few chapters are set up just as if it were—they jump times, they switch settings. They took me on a journey, and sucked me in. But once the backstory is established and Rowan’s journey begins, the time-hops stop. I didn’t notice much while reading; I was so focused on the story being woven around me, the trials and tribulations faced by our characters, that I didn’t even notice the world. I do wish the time skips had been kept throughout, even if only sporadically—they helped to show us the many different sides of the characters we grew to know so much about throughout the read. Regardless, I still love this book!

BB Quote2

The prose is gorgeous—poetic, atmospheric, and steeped with historical accuracy. While not every bit of this world is “real,” the ideas, the human-nature shown, all of it is realistic enough to leave me with goosebumps even now, almost a half hour after closing the covers.

 

And the characters! Rowan and Dorchy go through so much, and learn so much from each other—and the world around them. Rowan, especially, is marked by a wide-arcing and inspiring journey of self-discovery and self-love. While some of the other characters fall a bit flat and come off as 1-dimensional, I feel this is not so much a fault of the writing but instead a testament to how little Rowan, our main character, spent with those characters while such traumatizing and horrifying events were occurring. She was, after all, a bit preoccupied with other things. She was more concerned with making it through the events in one piece, and getting as many others out as possible—where Dorchy, her foil, was much more impulsive. Such vast differences helped to shape and mold our characters—and show readers that things are only impossible if YOU think they are.

BB Quote3

In my opinion, this book is SO important. It’s also absolutely terrifying—and wholly realistic. The lengths that people in Rowan’s world went to for the eugenics movement… There are no words to explain how impacted I was by this read, and the characters who so valiantly faced whatever obstacles were thrown at them. This is a life-ruiner, guys—if you’re a lover of historical fiction, stories focused on human nature/ingrained paranoia, or atmospheric prose, this is definitely the book for you! I recommend picking it up, for sure.

10

A Review of The Uninvited, by Cat Winters

The Uninvited

Goodreads Rating: 3.78 Stars
343 Pages
William Morrow Publishing
Get a copy here!

Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.

But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

– – – – –

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: LOVE the paranormal aspect of this book; I caught on to the “big reveal” but this didn’t change my enjoyment of the book; all the secrets come together in a beautiful, heartbreaking crescendo; I love how much “girl power” the MC spouts off; as always, Cat Winters blew me away

“One of my brothers just lost his life in France, though, and my family is … um …” I braced my hands on my hips. “Well, we’re not doing well. I’ve decided to head out into the world and live my own life now. Sort of”— I forced a smile to my face—“ burst out of my cocoon, so to speak.”

May merely blinked in response at first, but then she arched a dark eyebrow and said, “You picked one hell of a time to spread your wings, little butterfly.”

If I had to choose a favorite Cat Winters novel right this second, I’d pick this one of those I’ve read (which, admittedly, are only two so far. Don’t worry, though—I intend to fix this!) Regardless, of the two I’ve read, THIS ONE is my favorite… And I’m pretty sure the paranormal aspect had a LOT to do with this, if I’m being honest.

Cat Winters, from what I’ve read, blends the historically accurate with her own flair for poltergeists…and this one answered so many more questions about the WHY and the HOW of this weird in-between world than I felt the last one I read by her did. In fact, this book is all about the why and the how of ghosts—especially in Ivy’s world. I had a ton of fun watching as Ivy “spread her wings” and found her own way to fly amidst the griefs and struggles of the town, in the midst of the Spanish Influenza… In the midst of everything she faces throughout. Ivy is a warrior, and I enjoyed watching her don her battle axe to take charge of her own life. The plot is, while not necessarily “action-packed,” still quick-moving and often surprising in its direction. Each page kept me enthralled, on the edge of my seat, needing to know what happened next. Needing to know what was lying just around the bend.

Nela lowered her face. “I’m just a stupid woman, Ivy. And a foreigner at that.”

“Poppycock!— as my granny Letty would have said.” I raised my chin. “I’ve been driving my family’s trucks and tractors since I was fifteen years old, and not once did my womb or my breasts get in the way of steering and braking.”

The characters found throughout are vibrant, strong-willed, and determined to live life to the fullest—which is something I think we tend to forget, in our lives today. Not everything’s a guarantee. Tomorrow isn’t always promised. There are so many other awesome, moral-driven moments in this book, I found my sense of self shifting and altering like the turning of the pages—often quickly, and without warning. The best sort of read, in other words—the kind that leaves readers not only thinking, but breathless with sudden epiphany.

There is, of course, romance at play…but MAHGOSH, the romance! I was rooting for these characters the entire way through. I did catch onto the “big reveal” at about the 70% mark—so about 15% sooner than the book was set up to tell us all about. This in no way altered my enjoyment of the read, though! I only had the vaguest of suspicions…and was conflicted, to be honest, between two or three different “plot twists” I thought might happen.

“But this is not the fantastical land of liberty that people portray in stories. The melting pot does nothing but scald and blister right now.”

Once again, Cat Winters has knocked my feet from under me and left me floundering. I really enjoyed watching the story blend the paranormal with the every day…and do it so beautifully. The plot twist, while I caught on at the 70% mark, I feel is still surprising enough that most readers will be caught unawares. I recommend to lovers of diverse reads, historical fiction, and ghostly hauntings. I can’t wait to dive into my next Cat Winters’ book; I’m sure I won’t be disappointed!