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Book Blitz, Teasers, and Giveaway: Tales from Harborsmouth

 

Tales from Harborsmouth
(Ivy Granger Psychic Detective, #0.5, #1.5, #2.5, #5.5)

E.J. Stevens
Publication date: July 11th 2017
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

In Tales from Harborsmouth, readers get the chance to delve deeper into the award-winning world of Ivy Granger.

Ivy Granger is a psychic detective with ties to Harborsmouth’s paranormal underworld. Too bad those ties tend to ensnare Ivy and her friend Jinx in the Machiavellian schemes of the city’s teeming population of bloodsucking vampires and psychotic faeries.

 

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

QUICK SNEAK PEEKS:

It’s hard to pay the bills when you’re dead, but if you die in a city filled with faerie magic and have Ivy Granger on the case, you sure as Hell can settle your debts.

—Ivy Granger, Frostbite

A detective’s job is to take note of the little things, the small details that can break a case wide open, but having anthropomorphic snot treat you like you smelled worse than a troll fart could give a girl a complex.

—Ivy Granger, Frostbite

There was a serial killer in Harborsmouth with a penchant for murdering faeries. Happy freaking holidays.

—Ivy Granger, Blood and Mistletoe

If a faerie, a vampire, and a demon walk into a bar, you wait for the punch line. At Private Eye, when a faerie, a vampire, and a demon walk through the door, it’s just another day at the office.

—Ivy Granger, Blood and Mistletoe

I blew a stray lock of hair from my eyes while running a damp cloth over the bar. The raven black curl froze at the edge of my vision, ice crystals from my breath coating it like the dust of fractured diamonds. But within seconds the damp chunk of bangs thawed from the perpetual heat of the club. The heat was one of the many things that I despised about bartending at Club Nexus.

—The Ice Faerie Beryl, Club Nexus – Iced

Deviance is nothing if not full of variety and Puck had discovered how to capitalize on each and every one of our desires. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the imp was purposely late to our meetings to build the suspense, and empty my wallet.

—The Vampire Cyrus, Club Nexus – Dusted

It had been centuries since a human had piqued my interest, longer still since anyone had stirred feelings of lust and longing, but there was something unquestionably magnetic about the woman my eyes now frantically sought.

—Forneus, Club Nexus – Demonized

Of all the nightclubs, in all the cities, in all the world, the freakin’ demon had to walk into Club Nexus.

—Jinx, Club Nexus – Jinxed

I’d seen a lot in my nine lives, but nothing so strange as Ratfink’s Family Fun Palace and its tone-deaf taxidermied talent.

—Torn, Thrill on Joysen Hill

 

Author Bio:

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS’ GUILD urban fantasy series, and the WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter @EJStevensAuthor. For more, including a list of her books, freebies, and upcoming events visit http://www.EJStevensAuthor.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebok / Twitter

 

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Cover Reveal: The Girl Who Saved Ghosts

 

The Girl Who Saved Ghosts
K.C. Tansley
(The Unbelievables, #2)
Publication date: October 17th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult

She tried to ignore them. Now she might risk everything to save them.

After a summer spent in a haunted castle—a summer in which she traveled through time to solve a murder mystery—Kat is looking forward to a totally normal senior year at McTernan Academy. Then the ghost of a little girl appears and begs Kat for help, and more unquiet apparitions follow. All of them are terrified by the Dark One, and it soon becomes clear that that this evil force wants Kat dead.

Searching for help, Kat leaves school for the ancestral home she’s only just discovered. Her friend Evan, whose family is joined to her own by an arcane history, accompanies her. With the assistance of her eccentric great aunts and a loyal family ghost, Kat soon learns that she and Evan can only fix the present by traveling into the past.

As Kat and Evan make their way through nineteenth-century Vienna, the Dark One stalks them, and Kat must decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to save a ghost.

Add to Goodreads

Sequel to:

 

Author Bio:

K.C Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables–spells, ghosts, time travel–and writes about them.

Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days.

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is her debut YA time-travel murder mystery novel. As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

If you’d like to receive exclusive bonus content on my books, subscribe to my author updates: http://kourtneyheintz.com/contact/

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Blog Tour and Review: When I Wake Up

When I Wake Up - blog tour banner.png

When I Wake Up coverWhen I Wake Up
by Jessica Jarlvi
Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
272 Pages
Aria / Head of Zeus Publishing
Publication Date:  June 1st, 2017
Get a copy:
Amazon  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Google Play

BLURB:

A breathtaking, heart-pounding, dark debut, sure to delight fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep. When Anna, a much-loved teacher and mother of two, is left savagely beaten and in a coma, a police investigation is launched. News of the attack sends shock waves through her family and their small Swedish community. Anna seems to have had no enemies, so who wanted her dead?

As loved-ones wait anxiously by her bedside, her husband Erik is determined to get to the bottom of the attack, and soon begins uncovering his wife’s secret life, and a small town riven with desire, betrayal and jealousy.

As the list of suspects grows longer, it soon becomes clear that only one person can reveal the truth, and she’s lying silent in a hospital bed…

addtogoodreads

 

Jessica Jarlvi photoAuthor Bio

Born in Sweden, Jessica moved to London at the age of 18 to obtain a BSc Hons degree in Publishing and Business. She worked in publishing in the UK for a number of years before heading to Chicago where she edited a magazine for expats. Back in Sweden, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing. Since 2010, Jessica has taught journalism and media at a local university, and has spent the last five years as the marketing and PR manager for a British firm. Last year, she was one of the winners in the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Jessica is married with three spirited children, and although she’s known for her positivity, her writing tends to be rather dark!

Follow Jessica–

Facebook: @JessicaJarlvi
Twitter: @JessicaJarlvi
Website: http://www.jessicajarlvi.com

 


bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: there are some super creeptastic scenes, with a SUPER creeptastic POV; these characters are vibrant, well-written, and so individualized; I’m not so sure I like the epilogue chapter, I feel it cheapened the rest of the book somehow; this was a wild, unexpected journey–and I adored it

HUGE thanks to Jessica Jarlvi, Aria Publishing, and Netgalley for sending me a free egalley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

WIW Quote1

There is something to be said about an author who, seemingly effortlessly, can weave their readers into the heart of a mystery…and keep them enthralled there throughout. Jessica Jarlvi promised a tapestry of drama, intrigue, and fear in the blurb of this book–and then delivered beautifully on those promises! I was sucked in from the very beginning, and taken through a whirling journey spanning the past and present.

These characters are SO defined–super vibrant, complex in their emotions and reactions. Each character was individualized and believable, while still maintaining a sense of “suspicion” that kept me wavering between who might have done it. In fact, I was SO focused on hoping that Jessica Jarlvi wouldn’t go for the obvious, wouldn’t take the scapegoat she provides early on, that I *might* have missed some of the hidden foreshadows….and was caught completely off guard when the answer was finally revealed! This was brilliantly written, honestly–the leaps back and forth between past and present, with the alternating POVs, only helped to confuse and meander my mind from the truth!

WIW Quote2.png

I’m not entirely sure I like the epilogue chapter of this book, though I feel this is mostly a personal opinion than anything inherently wrong with the writing. I just felt, after such heavy buildup and tension, that the ending sort of cheapened the read a bit–probably because it ends on a bit of a “and they all lived happily ever after” note, which I just can’t wrap my head around I guess. I wish we had been given a DIFFERENT perspective for the ending, honestly–in fact, there was at the end one character I wish we’d been shown the TRUTH of. I went so far as to imagine how that closing scene could be written, even–though I’d bet Jessica Jarlvi would do much more justice with it than I. Regardless, the rest of the plot was fast-paced and filled with disturbing tension, and I adored the read overall.

This was a SUPER creepy read filled with some unique, sometimes creeptastic, characters. The action was tension-heavy and fast-paced, though I felt as if the ending didn’t quite live up to the rest of the read. I cannot WAIT to see what Jessica Jarlvi will deliver next, as I had a ton of fun stepping out of my head and into these characters’ for a while! I recommend this to lovers of mysteries, alternate POV journeys, and slightly unhinged characters. The coma’s over, penguins; can you figure out who-dun-it before the big reveal?!

Follow Aria Publishing–

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Facebook: @ariafiction
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Instagram: @ariafiction
NetGalley: http://bit.ly/2lkKB0e

Sign up to the Aria newsletter: http://bit.ly/2jQxVtV

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Blog Tour and Review: Stalker, My Love

Stalker, My Love banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for Stalker, My Love by Zack Scott. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 21 May till 10 June. See the tour schedule here.

Stalker, My LoveStalker, My Love
By Zack Scott
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/ Romance
Age category: New Adult, Adult
Release Date: 14 May, 2017

Blurb:
Welcome to Pine Bridge, a small town where secrets are rife, personal is everyone’s business, and passion is high.

With the disappearance of Rosalyn Ray, tensions soar and fingers point in every direction: the lover, the mother, the best friend, and the stalker.

Frustrated by the search going nowhere, Rhett Calloway makes it his mission to discover the truth, find the girl, and win her heart. Some people in Pine Bridge say he’s obsessed. Some say he’s dangerous. Some say he’s hurt Rosalyn. All Rhett knows is he’s loved Rosalyn since they were kids and he’ll do what it takes to see her again.

Stalker, My Love is an untraditional love story where fantasy clashes with reality, and happily ever after seems like an elusive dream. Told through four POVs, the story follows those closest to Rosalyn Ray.

You can find Stalker, My Love on Goodreads

You can buy Stalker, My Love on Amazon

About the Author:
Zack is the author of the zombie apocalypse trilogy, THEIR DEAD LIVES, the horror comedy, ONE PISSED-OFF SHARK, and the untraditional love story, STALKER, MY LOVE. He’s licensed to practice law in the State of California. When he’s not writing, he enjoys baseball, avoiding LA traffic and playing with the dogs.

You can find and contact Zack Scott here:
Website
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon


bookreview

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: I have a LOT of thoughts; this was a unique, one of a kind read; love the cyclical nature of the plot; I had no idea where the story was leading me, and I ADORED that; the bright, vibrant cover only emphasized the chaos within the pages

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

SML Quote1

I….have a LOT of thoughts about this book, penguins. Like, I finished this read last night and just sat here staring at my computer, my mind racing. I had to wait until this morning to be able to coherently put into words what I was feeling–and I’m STILL, even now, not sure I can manage. So be warned: I might, at any given time, become a blubbering mess of chaos. Bear with me, please–I’ll do my best to explain in a way your beaks might be able to handle.

So let’s start with the easy: this is, in my mind, EXACTLY how a mystery should be written. From the very first page, I was suspicious of EVERYONE. Nobody was safe from that part of my brain that likes to jump to conclusions and see secrets hiding in the shadows. The fact that we were given a look into multiple POVs only helped to make everyone shady. Zack Scott KNOWS how to write an excellent mystery, and he drew upon foreshadowing and vague word choices to, at some point or another, cast every character in a villainous light. I literally went from thinking such and such character had done it one page…to totally flip-flopping the next, and I absolutely ADORED the chaos. It made this so much more fun, knowing I had absolutely zero clue who I was supposed to be suspecting. It also made it feel much more authentic, for me.

SML Quote2.png

These characters are vibrantly written in regards to their personalities, though I honestly felt I couldn’t really *see* them. I feel, thinking about it this morning, that that might have been part of Zack Scott’s plan. While their personalities leaped off the pages, we weren’t given much to go on about them physically–we got small glimpses of their clothes, the way they stood, how they reacted to stress…but we’re never really outright told what they look like. This, in hindsight, allowed me to imagine them as ANYONE–and probably helped, in some instances, to confuse and mislead me, because hello, stereotyping and preconceived judgments. So the fact I couldn’t see the characters? NOT a bad thing in this instance–it actually helped to make this read more confusing and chaotic!

I just… I had a ton of fun stepping into this twisted, intriguing mystery, and cannot WAIT to see what Zack Scott does in the future! The plot was confusing enough that I followed red herrings several times, and I adore that I had pretty much no clue who to suspect through the journey (a rarity for me, to be honest!) The characters were vibrantly written, though also vague enough to bring a different sort of chaos to the read. Overall, I LOVED how one-of-a-kind this read was! I definitely, DEFINITELY recommend to lovers of mysteries, who-dun-its, and suspiciously shady characters. Follow the clues, penguins, and see if YOU can figure it out before the big reveal–it’s not as easy as you’d think!


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Book Blitz, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Serenade

 

Serenade
(The Nightmusic Trilogy #1)

Heather McKenzie
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

Kidnapped and held hostage in the Rockies, a teenage heiress falls for her abductor while her corrupt father and devoted bodyguard fight to get her back. The discovery of true love and dark family secrets turns deadly in this epic coming of age adventure.

Kaya Lowen dreams of living like a normal eighteen-year old, but being heiress to a billion-dollar company has put her life in constant danger. Fiercely guarded by her powerful and corrupt father, she develops close bonds with those who protect her, especially Oliver – a bodyguard who has proven his devotion to her time and again. He wins her heart – until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning everything she believes in. Haunted by true love and reeling from a guilty conscience, Kaya’s world unravels when she’s kidnapped.

Held captive in a rugged wilderness fraught with raging storms, mystical caves and deadly predators, Kaya’s father scours the forest and her bodyguard fights to get her back. But, the discovery of a dark family secret makes Kaya wonder if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor—a captivating stranger with dark secrets of his own – is a safer place to be. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her, her head is saying run…

An epic adventure centered on a smoldering love-triangle, Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and life-or-death love that will leave you breathless.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

This was it, now or never.

I gathered every single ounce of energy I had and steadied my mind to ignore the pain in my foot and the dizziness in my head. Then, with everything I had, I turned and bolted toward the dense forest. The darkness instantly enveloped me. I could see well enough not to run into tree trunks, but branches caught me at every turn. My head felt as if it was spinning like a top, but I forced my legs to keep going. I could hear the men’s voices yelling at each other in an organized manner.

I tripped and found myself on all fours. Get up, girl. There’s nothing wrong with you—get up…

I made it a few more steps before my head connected with a blue spruce, and then I collapsed in a pathetic heap. My arms were so wobbly I could barely wipe at the gash across my forehead. My body was completely failing me. I prayed to God that the dog would just snap my neck and get it over with quickly…

Human footsteps approached. I gulped in some air and tried to push myself up, but the world tipped on its side and I fell with it. Within moments, large hands had my wrists pinned to the ground. I struggled and fought with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.

“Stop fighting,” he said.

His voice created such confusion inside me. I kicked harder.

“Stop… please,” he begged.

His body pinned mine to the ground. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

“Please, Kaya, trust me. I won’t let anyone hurt you, I promise.” He leaned forward and pressed his sleeve to my bleeding forehead, dabbing and inspecting it closely while I had no choice but to gaze up him. How could this beautiful man be a kidnapper? It just didn’t fit.

“It’s just a scratch; no stitches required,” he said, voice trailing off as his eyes met mine.

We stayed like that for a while: me on the ground, him kneeling over me, and our line of sight only on each other—until an unmistakable sound broke through the tree tops.

“They’ll find me,” I said softly, wondering if Oliver was in the helicopter circling over our heads.

He positioned his arms under my body, and, in one graceful motion, he picked me up and into his arms. “Just don’t run. Promise me that, please. I’ll keep you safe. You have my word. Okay?”

He held me tightly—protectively—waiting eagerly for my reply with turmoil in his blue eyes. My whole body hurt, and admittedly, I couldn’t have walked another inch. The wolves or that beast would have got to me long before Oliver would have. I was at my kidnapper’s mercy, laying helplessly in his arms and falling harder for him by the second.

“I promise,” I said.

 

Author Bio:

Heather McKenzie is a Canadian author and Serenade is her first novel. A professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she has been telling stories through music for years and pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. A rocker at heart, a mom of three, an aspiring painter, and a lover of animals, she is kept grounded by her husband at their home in Edmonton.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Everything You Want Me to Be: Deliciously Dramatic!

arcreview

Everything You Want Me to Be

Mystery/Thriller/Contemporary
352 Pages
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date:  January 3rd, 2017
Get a copy here!

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to her death.

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

 

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this is a haunting merry-go-round of mystery; I LOVELOVELOVE all the different viewpoints we’re treated to; the plot is deliciously dramatic and angsty; I honestly didn’t see that ending coming; this was a treat of a read!

Huge thanks to Mindy Mejia, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, and Netgalley for granting me free digital access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

eyw-quote1

This was SUCH a delicious dramatic, angsty treat to read, penguins! So let’s start with that–the plot. The plot for this is action-packed, laced through with tension, and unbelievably mysterious all at once. For someone who often figures out the ending long before the halfway mark….this book caught me up in a whirlwind of visceral emotions and total surprise. From page one, I was drawn in–to Hattie’s story, to the wonderful lure of the unknown. This book was an exciting, captivating journey!

 

The characters are wholly realistic, believably flawed, and so complex you’ll feel as if they’re in the same room with you instead of written down on a page. I really enjoyed that we were given several different viewpoints to fight through and learn from–and that the plot is not necessarily linear, but written in a series of present times and back-flashes. This helped to both bring the entire story together, and keep the mystery at a high par. I also really enjoyed how Mindy Mejia handled each of these perspectives; it’s clear, from the beginning, that she knew where she wanted this story to take readers…and she knew EXACTLY how to get us there without giving the important details away too soon.

EYW Quote2.png

This is the type of book you pick up expecting to read only a few chapters of at a time…and instead find yourself devouring. The pacing was spot-on, the tension was high and heart-pounding, and the characters all played their roles and brought readers closer to the answer without actually spoiling the journey. There were several moments I thought I knew EXACTLY where this story was headed…only to turn around and be proven totally wrong, and I love books (and authors) who manage to do that.

 

Overall, this was a treat to read from start to finish! The characters and plot were believable, the action was full of drama and angst, and I absolutely adored the multiple perspectives we were given insight to. I recommend this to lovers of murder mysteries, star-crossed lovers, and flawed but endearing personalities. If you like gritty stories with a ton of twists, you should pick this one up! As for me, I cannot WAIT to see what Mindy Mejia writes next!

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.

pp-quote1

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.

pp-quote2

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!

4

The Last Valentine: Love Letters with a Side of Murder/Mystery

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The Last Valentine

When Olivia Villalobos finds a bloodstained love letter she endeavors to deliver it before Chief Inspector Sedeño finds it in her possession.

A city along the southern coast of Puerto Rico emerges in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Olivia, daughter of a drunkard police investigator who never knew the truth behind her mother’s disappearance, finds a bloodstained love letter in the hidden compartment of her father’s coat. Convinced it belonged to the man recently found dead she sets out to deliver it to the Labyrinth of Love Letters. A mysterious place believed to be an urban legend where the transients of forbidden love leave missives for one another. She enlists the help of Isaac Quintero to find the Labyrinth and they soon realize their quest has opened the door into Old Sienna’s darkest secrets—the perils, madness and depth of tragic love.

Romance/Murder/Mystery
241 Pages
ForeverPoetic Publishing
Expected Publication Date: February 13th, 2017
Preorder a copy here!

addtogoodreads

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: lots of purple prose and beautiful descriptions; there wasn’t much “plot” to this story; cliched, too-clean ending; I didn’t really connect with any of these characters, though I did empathize with a few; overall entertaining, question-evoking, and complex read

Huge thanks to Felix Alexander and BookTasters for sending me a free digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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First things first: this was an interesting, though not necessarily action-packed, read. What I mean is, I was super intrigued and held in pretty deep thrall…but I feel as if certain parts of this might have moved a bit slowly, all together. A lot of this book is internal monologues and ponderments; there is not overall a lot of dialogue. Which I suppose, in a sense, makes sense–these characters are, for all intents and purposes, romantics in their own rights…and therefore given to being lost in their own heads. But it does not, in the end, lend itself to action scenes or quite the right “mood” for what is meant. This read much more like an overreaching love-story, not what turned out to be a sort of murder/mystery.

The characters are intriguing and complex, but I didn’t find myself really “connecting” with any of them. Yes, I was able to empathize with and understand their motives…but I found I didn’t really care for them in the end. I wasn’t rooting for them, or holding my breath in anticipation, or fearing for their safety. I was sort of a neutral ground in the scope of this read–not really swayed or moved by the course of events. Even the characters who were meant to be HUGE in personality, fell a bit flat for me, unfortunately.

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I REALLY enjoyed the purple prose aspect, though. Seeing as Felix Alexander is a poet, I went into this read expecting gorgeous scene-setting and beautiful descriptors, and I was not disappointed in either of these aspects. The scenery, the world, the sounds and tastes–everything leaped to life around me as I read, helping to better “immerse” me in the book. Felix Alexander did a beautiful job painting this world for me.

I was, in the end, a bit disappointed with the ending. While I understand why it was done the way it is, it’s also…very cliche? in books like this, I feel–and in movies, as well. It also sort of took me by surprise, as I hadn’t seen that ending coming quite as soon as it did (or, it felt soon to me, given the way the characters had been described).

This was an enjoyably descriptive, though a bit plot-slow, read. I had a ton of fun following Olivia and Isaac on their journey; I had more fun being immersed in and awed by the scenery and world being built. I recommend this to lovers of old-world secrets, the consequences of forbidden love affairs, and murder/mysteries that feel more like long-winded romances. Felix Alexander penned a love letter around his readers; why don’t you pick it up and read?

1

Book Blitz and Review: The Masterminds

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The Masterminds

From prisons and reality TV to mansions and safe houses, THE MASTERMINDS revisits THE MASTERPIECERS and closes the twins’ story. It is a tale of imperfect love and imperfect people.

The only downside to Joshua Cooper’s investigation of a mob runner is not being able to discuss it with his two best friends, nineteen-year-old twins, Aster and Ivy Redd. However, when Ivy sells one of her quilts to the mob runner, and Aster hits him with her car in a motel parking lot, they become entangled in his investigation. The FBI even believes the twins could knowingly be involved with the mob. Joshua will do everything he can to disprove their suspicion and nail the true criminal.

Brook Jackson is a judge on the Masterpiecers’s art competition. That is his official job; his unofficial job is running questionable errands against easy cash. But a ripped quilt and the girl who sewed it will make Brook’s life and heart spiral out of control.

Accused of money laundering, Brook becomes the fall guy. After three weeks of imprisonment, he cuts a deal with Joshua: his freedom for the real felons and a meeting with Ivy. Although eager to clear his name, Brook wants to win Ivy’s forgiveness—and if she’s willing to give it to him—her love.

Masterful #2
NA/Mystery

280 Pages
Publication Date: October 12th, 2016
Get a copy here!

 About the Author:
oliviaOlivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City, the daughter of a French
father with a great sense of humor, and a Swedish mother whom she speaks to at least three times a
day. She chose Brown University to complete her undergraduate studies and earned a bachelor’s in
comparative literature. After designing jewelry for a few years, Wildenstein traded in her tools for a
laptop computer and a very comfortable chair. This line of work made more sense, considering her
college degree.
When she’s not writing, she’s psychoanalyzing
everyone she meets (Yes. Everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next
book, baking up a storm (that she actually eats), going to the gym (because she eats), and attempting
not to be late at her children’s school (like she is 4 out of 5 mornings, on good
weeks).
Wildenstein lives with her husband and three
children in Geneva, Switzerland, where she’s an active member of the writing
community.
Author Links:

Buy Links:

The Masterpiecers: http://amzn.to/2emk7nF

 The Masterminds: http://amzn.to/2agsfEn

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THE MASTERMINDS – CHAPTER
1
Brook
2 MONTHS PRIOR TO THE
SHOW
A girl who stitches quilts.
This is the first thing I learn about Ivy Redd.
After skimming through her Masterpiecers application, I toss it aside because quilt making is not really art. I admire people who stitch stuff. My grandmother was one of them. Up until the day she died, she was part of a quilting club who met each week. They’d cut and sew squares of gaudy-patterned cotton with such fervor that it had seemed as though their lives would fall apart if they didn’t truss them up with their needles.
Dominic, the president and founder of the Masterpiecers School, picks up the application and thumbs through it.
“Don’t bother. It’s quilts,” I say, grabbing the next file.
He studies the picture stapled to the last page. “You are too rash in judging this girl. She has something. What do you think, Josephine?”
He hands it over to the vice-president of the school.
“Pas mal. But we only have one more slot.  And I found the perfect candidat.”
“Really?” Dominic asks, leaning back against the silk upholstery of his wooden chair. It was carved by one of the school’s graduates, Christos Natter.  One side is curved and smooth, while the other looks windblown, stretching irregularly toward Dominic’s bulky chestnut bookcase. “Who struck your fancy?”
Josephine flings a file onto the eighteenthcentury French desk next to the industrial steel lamp. Dominic picks up the file, takes one look at it, and dumps it back on the table.
“No.”
“Pourquoi pas?” Josephine asks.
Dominic flaps his hand in the air. “He’s a former soldier, not an artist.”
She folds one leg over the other and rests her hands on her bony white knee. “That is not a reason, Dom. He’s skilled. Look at that rope he wove while he was on tour.”
“Come on, Jo. It’s a rope,” Dom says.
“And this”—she nods toward Ivy Redd’s file— “is a quilt. Why does quilt trump rope?”
“Because!” I can tell from the way he looks away from Josephine that there’s more to his staunch refusal than the medium of the pieces.
“You both have a special person,” she says, “whom you did not pick on merit. I am certain Chase is a talented boy, Brook, and I am certain that Maria—actually, I’m not certain Maria has anything to offer besides her body, Dom—but I accepted. Now consent to my choice.”
Dominic reddens at the mention of his exgirlfriend, a former beauty queen and ham-fisted artist whose claim-to-fame are crude renditions of overly made-up pageant contestants. What I heard was that he impregnated her and the only way to get rid of the baby was accepting her onto the show.
Josephine rises, and her tailored pearl-gray dress slips right into place over her skeletal body. “I will alert Mr. Kevin Martin that he has been selected. Oh, wait. That’s why we have Brook now, n’est-ce pas? To do all the menial jobs.”
I glare at her, although she’s right. That is why I’m here, to do the jobs no one else cares to do. “I’ll notify the contestants this afternoon.”
She gives me a crooked smile before stepping out of Dominic’s office.
“She hates me,” I tell Dom some time after she shuts the door.
“She hates everyone.”
“Except her fiancé.”
“I doubt she even likes him.”
As I straighten out the files of the applicants who didn’t make the cut, Dominic tut-tuts.
“What?”
“The girl who sews quilts; keep her application aside. We’ll be needing it.”
I slip it out of the pile and put it on top. “Why?”
“Because.” He shifts his eyes toward his cell phone. Dominic is certain we are being listened to. “She’s a sound runner-up.” As he talks, he grabs a piece of paper embossed with his name and scribbles something.
I scratch the stubble on my cheek as I read it. When my jaw unhinges, Dominic picks up his message and shreds it into dozens of tiny pieces that he drops into his leather bin. They flutter down like confetti, settling in the dusky emptiness. I doubt anyone will collect them and glue them back together, but just in case, I crouch down, swipe some into my palm, and stick them inside my blazer pocket.
I have as much to lose as Dominic. No, that’s a lie. I have more to lose because it’s my name that’s being used, not his. Mine.
“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” he says, all cheery again. “I love spring. Don’t you?”
I’m tongue-tied.
“I’m heading out for lunch. I’ll see you tonight,” he says.
“Tonight?”
“Didn’t your father tell you? We’re having dinner all together at his house. To celebrate the sale. It went well, didn’t it?”
I make a jerky head movement that’s supposed to be a nod.
“Did it pay off the bills?” he asks.
“Not all of them.”
He pats my shoulder. “I’m sure they’ll get paid soon. I have an idea.” His fingers clamp down around my shoulder like a metal claw.
I’m starting not to like his ideas.
“I’ll tell you later.” He squeezes once, then lets go and walks out, whistling a tune that sounds like something from a Broadway show.
Clutching the pile of applications against me, I stop by my office, which is more of a glass cubicle than an office. I don’t even have screens or blinds. As I heave the folders onto my desk, I notice one of the secretaries fanning a leaflet in front of a young boy’s face. It throws me back in time. Four years to be exact. I was standing at his exact spot, overwhelmingly excited at the prospect of starting at the Masterpiecers. Four years ago, when everything was still so peachy. When my family was still rich. When my little brother didn’t despise me for having usurped “his life.”
The school has strict laws forbidding siblings from attending. Supposedly, it’s to discourage family feuds. Didn’t discourage Chase from hating my guts.
Movement behind the secretary catches my attention. Josephine stands next to her triangular-shaped desk, where a lone potted orchid holds court over an ultra-skinny computer screen and a pencil cup made of cerulean blue clay. It looks as though it was crafted by a kindergartener, when in fact it was fashioned by an alumni from this school.
Josephine sees me staring. There’s something unsettling about the way she gazes back, eyes sort of slanted. My shirt collar suddenly feels too tight so I pop the top button open. She smiles that glacial smile of hers, then gapes down at my jacket pocket. I stick my hand inside protectively, before reassuring myself that Josephine Raynoir does not have X-ray vision. I rub the pieces between the pads of my fingers, feeling the raised edges in the vellum where Dominic inked his command: Find out who Kevin Martin really is.
Josephine flicks a switch and her glass walls blur, and I am left with the shadow of her body moving about like the giant stick insect I won at a fair when I was twelve. I kept it in a murky aquarium, which I couldn’t be bothered to clean. Our housekeeper, Carmelina, was too frightened of the bug to touch the thing, so it became filthier and filthier until my mother got so sick of it, she seized the aquarium and dumped it on the curb for some other little boy, or some garbage collector, to find.
I eye my trashcan, but decide against putting anything inside. It’s lunchtime, and even though I’m not hungry, I walk out of Delancey Hall, a two-story building with glossy green ivy scuttling over the brick walls. It was named after Dominic’s favorite adviser, Robert Delancey. A few years back, when I was starting on college applications, The New York Times dedicated its entire art section to the man. It was titled The Monocled Star-Maker. My father read it out loud to us over breakfast.
“Art is Chase’s dream, Dad. Not mine,” I remember telling him, mostly to get him off my case.
Chase looked up from his big bowl of cornflakes, milk dribbling down his chin. He was fourteen then. It was the year his upper lip finally grew some fuzz.
“I wasn’t given a choice,” Dad said.
“Well I’d like a choice,” my seventeen-year old self demanded.
“And you’ll get one,” Mom chimed in, clicking into the dining room for her usual breakfast of sliced papaya, raw oatmeal, and strong coffee. She dropped a kiss on my forehead, and then tried to peck Chase’s, but he ducked away from her. “Right, Henry? We always said we would let the kids choose.”
In the end, after two years spent at Duke University, I asked to transfer into the art school to my father’s delight. It was the same year Chase sent in his college applications. His top choice was the Masterpiecers, but I beat him to it, something he never forgave me for. Just like he never forgave me for consoling his ex after their awful breakup.
As I walk toward Riverside Drive, I spot a trashcan. I grab the slivers of paper from my pocket and drop them inside. I open a search window on my phone’s browser and type in Kevin Martin’s name. There are several pages of results. I add the words ‘retired sergeant.’
There is only one result.
Dominic was right…Josephine is investigating him.
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 Penguin2.3

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: I just couldn’t get into this one; these characters felt a bit stiff; the action/adventure fell a bit flat; I appreciated seeing these characters from different perspectives; this took the original story and flipped it to show the OTHER side; the epilogue with Ivy’s POV was awesome

HUGE thanks to Olivia Wildenstein 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.

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It’s safe to say I didn’t enjoy this companion novel nearly as much as I enjoyed the original. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this book–I really appreciated that we were given the opportunity to step out of Ivy and Aster’s minds and INTO the other side of the story. I LOVE that we were given the chance to see what was happening in Josh and Brook’s lives while Ivy and Aster were struggling to stay alive. But… there was something I found lacking about this read.

I think it comes down to the characters, in the end. While I appreciate being granted an insight into these two minds, I didn’t feel nearly as connected to them as a reader. I felt like a lot of their interactions/reactions in this book were forced to fit the story line, instead of being allowed to flow naturally. They came off a bit like cardboard cutouts, to me personally–I just couldn’t FEEL them, or believe them, as characters in this story.

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The action/adventure also fell a bit flat for me, as these two characters weren’t nearly as involved or as in danger as Ivy and Aster in the first book. It felt like these two were always the ones running to SAVE the girls instead of facing their own struggles and danger. Even Josh’s relationship took a backseat; instead of being part of the story that could connect me to him better, he spent the majority of the book running away from/standing up his girlfriend. And I understand why–his job, and the girls, came first–but that was a HUGE part of the story that could have helped cement him as a realistic character in my mind, that seemed to be overlooked.

In the end, this companion novel just wasn’t for me I guess. It wasn’t bad, necessarily–I just feel like I got all I really needed to from the original novel. Save the last few chapters, which weren’t included in the original story, I don’t feel I walked away from this read with any new information. I’d still recommend this to lovers of crime novels, action/adventure scenes, and flawed but redeemable characters. And of course, I can’t wait to see what Olivia Wildenstein does next!

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4

When: Is Seeing Death a Gift, or a Curse?

Penguin2.3

When

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late?

YA/Mystery/Paranormal/Contemporary
336 Pages
Disney-Hyperion Publishers
Publication Date: January 13th, 2015
Get a copy here!

4Penguins

Quick Reasons: great mystery/thriller; love the little plot twists thrown in throughout; another awesome take on this idea; great murder mystery/contemporary, with just a small flair of paranormal thrown in for flavor; endearing characters and heart-warming relationships; some “mature” themes

This is the second take on this idea I’ve read in the last few weeks. I was worried, going in, that I might be in for something akin to the last book I read that broached this subject. I shouldn’t have been–the two books are different in every possible way, and I enjoyed both equally.

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This was only SLIGHTLY similar to the last book I read that had the same plot idea. And by that, I mean just the main idea–seeing people’s death dates–is similar. The approach to the subject, and the ways the authors handled the world-building around the idea, are totally different. And I ADORE how Victoria Laurie handled it in this book–the world-building is believable and well-done. I especially loved all the little plot twists she slipped in throughout the read; there were several times I found myself wondering about certain plot points that hadn’t been touched on yet (for instance, whether the main character knew her OWN death date) only to, much further down the line, find it come up in the text.

The characters are endearing and entertaining. I especially loved the focus the relationships, and how they played such key roles in the events of this story. There were several interesting plot twists that also revolved around these relationships, which made these characters more relatable and human in my mind. Aside from this, they’re well-rounded and complex…and it’s SO easy, as a reader, to empathize with and understand them.

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This is, overall, a contemporary murder/mystery/thriller…with just a LITTLE bit of magical realism (or something akin to it) thrown in for flair. There is also very little romance–while the main character DOES have a crush on a boy throughout most of this read, the focus on that crush is minimal, and it never once gets in the way of the main plotline. In fact, even at the end, there’s only a small mention of what COULD be–in the future. I really appreciated this in this book–the focus remained where it was meant to, on the mystery. I tip my hat to Victoria Laurie for that especially.

In the end, I had a ton of fun learning about this world, and the way the plot idea works in Victoria Laurie’s version. The characters are well-rounded and complex, the relationships are heart-warming and realistic, and the mystery is filled with delicious twists and turns. I recommend this to lovers of thrillers, who dun its, and “psychically sensitive” characters. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, needing to know what happened next… Pick up this book, penguins–let it surprise you!