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Book Blitz, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Daybreak

 

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(Girl from the Stars #1)

by Cheree Alsop
Publication date: October 7th 2015
Genres: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Liora Day, half-human, half messwith-her-and-you’ll-die Damaclan, had been thrown onto a rough path at a very early age. But when she is broken out of a cage by Devren, the young captain of the SS Kratos, she is shown that perhaps humanity does have a heart. The Kratos is set on a mission to rescue fallen surveyors from the Revolutionaries, and Liora is given the
choice to follow her Damaclan instincts, or trust Devren’s dark eyes and captivating smile that promise an adventure unlike any she has ever experienced.

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EXCERPT:

Liora twisted the bent end inward until she felt the teeth slide free. She slipped the
bar from the handcuff and let it fall off her wrist. In two more seconds, the other cuff was on the floor.

The lock of her cage proved to be more difficult. Luckily, Liora had the two pieces of
the tweezers to work with. She bent the second one to match the angle of the first.
Following the same steps the apprentice had done so many times, Liora pushed the
bent end of the first piece into the lock opposite the pins. She turned it slowly upward
until it was in tension.

Inserting the second piece, Liora raked it slowly along the pins. The small metal on
metal sound set Liora’s nerves on end. If Malivian found out what she was doing, she
would be tortured again. The voice in the back of her mind whispered that perhaps she wouldn’t survive a second round.

A subtle, metallic click sounded. Liora’s heart jumped. She pushed at the bars. Her
breath caught in her throat when the door swung outward. Liora stepped onto the cold
floor and stumbled lightheadedly. She caught herself on the next cage, pushed upright, and ran down the hall.

The alarm sounded when she hit the button for the hatch to open. As soon as the
gap was wide enough, Liora jumped out. Her feet, then her knees, hit the deck of
Gaulded Zero Twenty-One. She shoved up to her feet once more and ran past the other starships.

Even at the late hour, the Gaulded’s landing deck was filled with activity. It appeared
the Kratos and Kirkos weren’t the only ships who had been attacked. Blow torches,
plasma cutters, and blazers filled the contained air inside the Gaulded’s hold with the
acrid scent of metal. The sound of mallets and hand saws sounded from every corner.

Crew members of the ships Liora passed turned to watch her go. She felt conspicuous and alone as she darted between space crafts and around repair gear. A giant pallet of artillery swung over her head. Liora ducked and made her way along the stripped hull of a Copper Crow painted to look like an iridescent fish. The name Space Poseidon glowed near the hatch.

Liora ran around the corner and slammed into Devren.

“I was about to come looking for you—” he began.

Tariq cut him off. “Dev, her face.”

Devren gently pushed her back so he could see her better. Liora dropped her gaze at his gentle probing.

“Malivian did this to you?” he asked.

The anger in his voice made Liora look up. Devren appeared ready to kill someone.

“Calm down,” Tariq told him. “Let’s get her to the ship. It’s the only place we’ll have
leverage.”

Devren put a protective arm around Liora. Tariq walked behind them like a bodyguard. Liora felt as though she had entered some different reality. Somehow, even with the thought of Malivian coming after her, she felt safe between the two humans who had entered her life by accident.

 

chereeAuthor Bio:

Cheree Alsop is an award-winning, best-selling author who has published over 30 books, including two series through Stonehouse Ink. She is the mother of a beautiful, talented daughter and amazing twin sons who fill every day with joy and laughter. She is married to her best friend, Michael, the light of her life and her soulmate who shares her dreams and inspires her by reading the first drafts and giving much appreciated
critiques. Cheree is a fulltime author and mother, which is more play than work! She enjoys reading, traveling to tropical beaches, spending time with her children, and going on family adventures while planning her next book. Cheree and Michael live in Utah where they rock out, enjoy the outdoors, plan great quests, and never stop dreaming. You can find Cheree’s other books at http://www.chereealsop.com

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November Snow: This Battle for Equality is Cold

 

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November Snow (Bad Bloods, #2)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway: The Alchemists of Loom

 

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The Alchemists of Loom  (Loom Saga #1)
by Elise Kova
Publication date: January 10th, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ
market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and
her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon
oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter
an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to
navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she
brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

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elise

Author Bio:

Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: interesting, though slightly confusing, world-building; I had trouble picturing the characters; some of the rules of the world were unclear; fun, entertaining, super snarky characters; not quite like anything I’ve read before

Huge thanks to Elise Kova, Keymaster Press, Netgalley, and Xpresso Book Tours for granting me early access to a digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Okay, penguins–let’s talk. This book? Super entertaining! It’s clear that Elise Kova spent a lot of hours crafting and imagining the worlds of Loom and Nova. Every page is full of action, snark, and discord. For a whole poised on the brink of war, this helped set the tone and put me in the middle of the action.

However, some of the world-building was confusing. We know the dragons reign over the skies and set the laws of the ground, but we aren’t told exactly what the laws entail. We know the people of Loom (the Fen, the Chimera) are required to take skill tests and are tattooed with their guild, or–if they fail–are killed off… But we aren’t told exactly how the Dragons above oversee this. I have a LOT of questions, actually, revolving around the laws of the world and how they’re governed or enforced. Dragons don’t leave the sky often, so how do they keep the people of Loom in check? Are there people hired to enforce said laws for the Dragons? I mean, they’re little details, sure…but they left a lot of room for confusion.

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The people/Dragons were also confusing, and hard for me to “imagine” in full detail. While we got bits and pieces along the way–each Dragon’s blood smells differently, and their skin color varies depending on their house; Dragons bleed gold; the people of Loom are grey, unless they’re Chimera, and then they’re varying colors….. But we aren’t ever given ENOUGH description to form a full, completed picture. I don’t know, for instance, exactly what the Wraith looks like–we know she wears white, she has a blue dragon ear, she has purple eyes… But hair color? Height? Facial structure? Nothing. I don’t know. I also can’t tell you if the Dragons have scales or wings, or how tall they are, or if they have tails. I just… I couldn’t SEE the characters.

The snark and dialogue are on point, though. I absolutely ADORE how much attitude we get from the White Wraith. Her interactions with and reactions to Cvareh are both tense and super amusing, especially as Cvareh begins to experiment and play with his own sass. I also love that we can see their relationship shift and change as time passes. Cvareh’s reactions to Loom, and the people living there, were also super entertaining. While it’s clear at the start he’s prejudiced against the Fen, you can see this change the longer he stays with them and interacts with them.

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This was a SUPER fun, snarky read–though a bit confusing on some of the finer details. I loved the dialogue, but wish I’d been better able to “see” the characters. Here’s hoping the next book will help clear things up for me–I cannot WAIT to lay hands on it next year! I recommend this read to lovers of fantasy, dragons, and steampunk. The White Wraith crawled under my skin and stuck there; maybe you should join the rebellion, too!

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5

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Frost

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The robots are rising.

Sixteen-year-old Frost understands why she’s spent her entire life in an abandoned apartment building. The ruined streets below are hunting grounds for rogue robots and Eaters.

She understands why she’s never met a human besides her father. She even understands why he forbids her to look for medicine for her dying pet. But the thing is, it’s not her real father giving the orders . . .

It’s his memories.

Before he died, Frost’s father uploaded his consciousness into their robot servant. But the technology malfunctioned, and now her father fades in and out. So when Frost learns that there might be medicine on the other side of the ravaged city, she embarks on a dangerous journey to save the only living creature she loves.

With only a robot as a companion, Frost must face terrors of all sorts, from outrunning the vicious Eaters . . . to talking to the first boy she’s ever set eyes on. But can a girl who’s only seen the world through books and dusty windows survive on her own?

About the Book

Title: FROST
Author: M.P. Kozlowsky
Pub. Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Goodreads

Cinder meets The Walking Dead in a chilling futuristic fairy tale that will reboot everything you thought about family, love, and what it means to be human.

About the Author:

m-pM.P. Kozlowsky lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of Juniper Berry and The Dyerville Tales, books for readers of all ages.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


GIVEAWAY:
3 Finished Copies of FROST

Interested in snagging your own copy of this read?!  Click above to go to the giveaway!


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4Penguins

Quick Reasons: yet another awesome take on the robot (and zombie!) apocalypse; I LOVE the examination of what it means to be “human” that goes on throughout this read; the robots I expected, the zombies took me by surprise; a few delicious “twists” I didn’t see coming, a few delicious twists I guessed pretty early on; this was a quick, entertaining read

One very HUGE thank you to M.P. Kozlowsky, Scholastic Press, Edelweiss, and Rockstar Book Tours for sending me digital and physical copies of this ARC free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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This book gave me EVERYTHING I never realized I’d been looking for in a dystopian world: humans vs. zombies vs. robots. A main character akin to Rapunzel–both endearingly naive and yet stubbornly strong in her morals. A wide cast of vibrant, well-rounded, individualized characters. A darker, questioning undertone. Sly and subtle hints at a bigger picture. I just… I am blown completely and utterly away, penguins!

So let’s start with the last thing first, yes? There is, throughout the entirety of this read, a darker undercurrent seeping through the pages. Every word, every emotion, begs the question: what, exactly, does it MEAN to be human? I absolutely ADORE how M.P. Kozlowsky went about broaching and examining this subject–and then portraying it across the spectrum of the characters in such satisfying, well-rounded ways!

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There were some very surprising twists and turns throughout–and a few that I, avid reader I am, was able to catch onto fairly early in the read. Don’t worry, penguins–I’ll save these secrets for you to discover all on your own! I will say, despite knowing the biggest twist at the end, I wasn’t at all disappointed–it wasn’t until the big reveal that I actually realized there HAD been hints scattered throughout. M.P. Kozlowsky wrote these with subtlety and sly genius–he knew how to give readers just enough to make them stop and ponder…but not enough to realize TOO soon that they were actually foreshadowings of what was coming. It was brilliantly done, and I tip my hat to the author for pulling it off so well!

I think the biggest triumph, though, came in the smallest package for this read: the characters are astoundingly vibrant, uniquely individualized, and portray HUGE amounts of character growth in very short amounts of time. I was especially taken by Flynn (I mean, let’s not even talk about the fact that his name is FLYNN, and therefore another tipped hat to Rapunzel–Disney’s version, at least). There is so much growth happening, so many changed motivations and shifted allegiances…but Flynn, in particular, exuded the most amount in my opinion. In just a short amount of time, he seems to flipflop on several of his strongest morals. And while there’s a HINT at romance happening…that’s all it is. A hint. Flynn and Frost part ways, to find their own destinies and do what they need as individuals. I just… I have so much love for these characters, guys! SO MUCH!

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I think the only problem I have is, I don’t know if this is a stand-alone or the start of a series. And this bothers me…because…I LOVE these characters, and this world, and I need more! The ending is so ambiguous and open, I just… I am dying to know what happens next. I guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled, and keep hoping. I definitely recommend this to lovers of dystopians; new twists on the zombie/robot apocalypse; and sort of star-crossed lovers who put their destinies before their emotions. This was a wild, entertaining ride from start to finish; I cannot WAIT to see what M.P. Kozlowsky does next!

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The Counting-Downers: Inventive, Perspective-Changing, and Beautiful

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The Counting-Downers

The stunningly poignant and life-affirming debut novel by A.J. Compton

Imagine if we could see how long everyone around us had left to live. But we weren’t allowed to know our own numbers…

Trying to make sense of life after the death of her beloved father, free spirit Matilda Evans meets Tristan Isaacs and discovers a marrow-deep connection with him.

No stranger to grief himself, lonely artist Tristan is in awe of Matilda’s fun and philosophical approach to life. With every second spent in her presence, he finds his views on life and loss changing, and begins to embrace the beauty of being alive.

As their friendship turns into something deeper, lessons are learned, memories are made, and legacies are created.

But with both of them knowing how long their soulmate has left in this lifetime, important questions have to be asked and tough decisions have to be made before time runs out.

The Counting-Downers is an inspiring story about life, loss, love, and making the most of every moment.

Goodreads Rating: 4.27 Stars
Contemporary/New Adult/Romance/Sci Fi/Fantasy
344 Pages
Publication Date: July 24th, 2015
Get a copy here!

5Penguins

Quick Reasons: life-ruiner!; this book is just… SO many feels, SO much to ponder, SO powerful; a poignant, beautiful story of life, loss, love, grief, death…but most importantly, LIVING; there are no words for how much I love this book; gorgeous, atmospheric prose; beautifully description scenes; a landscape painted of words and emotions; this book touched me, deeply

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Firstly: JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER, oh my penguins it’s so exquisite and gorgeous and just… gaaaaah, so much yes!

I just… I mean, it’s a bit early in my relationship with A.J. Compton to be certain, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found a new favorite author. A new auto-buy. A new person to watch out for with impatience and childlike wonder in the future. Because A.J. Compton? speaks to me, so deeply. I’ve read two novels by her so far, and have been ABSOLUTELY blown away both times. Why? Because she leaves me thinking. She challenges me to view the world, and the subject she’s chosen to focus on, in different and vastly unique ways. She challenges me to think outside the box, to examine my reactions, and to WONDER. And that is a gorgeous, wonderful, awe-inspiring talent, in my opinion.

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This book? Focuses on some very difficult and abstract subjects. Time, for one thing–and how to handle the passing of it, when you can see exactly how much time everybody but you has left. The subject and plot of this book is so uniquely different from anything I’ve ever read before, because the characters start this book KNOWING that the world around them is dying. Knowing that they, too, have a finite number of minutes, even though they don’t know that number exactly. These characters are flawed, but courageous despite their fears. These characters are well-rounded, vibrantly written…and so, so heart-wrenching.

The world A.J. Compton has written within these pages is both believable and vibrant. There are some grammatical errors–things like missing words are a bit of an issue, though it’s easy enough to figure out from the context what words have been dropped, and it didn’t in any way hinder or take away from my reading. This journey–the growths, the strengths and weaknesses, the love of these characters–took me for a wild, thought-provoking ride. This is yet another book that’s bound to haunt me for years to come, and I adore that so much. I adore how much this one read has changed my perspective, has made me reconsider the world.

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If you guys haven’t picked up an A.J. Compton book yet… GO DO IT! Seriously, what are you waiting for?! Her writing is descriptive and vibrant, her characters are heart-wrenching, and the journey is ALWAYS inspiring and perspective-shifting. A.J. Compton knows how to make her readers think…and that’s a beautiful talent to have. I definitely recommend this book to lovers (or haters) of time; to readers seeking an unexpected but beautiful journey; and to those who think they need a new outlook on living and dying. Seriously, guys–don’t waste any more time. Pick this book up NOW; I swear it’s worth the risk!

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Future Shock: Mystery, Mayhem, and Murder

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Future Shock

Future Shock Book 1
Goodreads Rating: 3.90 Stars
272 Pages
AW Teen Publishing
Publication Date: April 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

What do you do when the future is too late, and the present is counting down to an inevitable moment?

Elena Martinez has street smarts, the ability for perfect recall, and a deadline: if she doesn’t find a job before she turns eighteen, she’ll be homeless. But then she gets an unexpected offer from Aether Corporation, the powerful Los Angeles tech giant. Along with four other recruits—Adam, Chris, Trent, and Zoe—Elena is being sent on a secret mission to bring back data from the future. All they have to do is get Aether the information they need, and the five of them will be set for life. It’s an offer Elena can’t refuse.

But something goes wrong when the time travelers arrive in the future. And they are forced to break the only rule they were given—not to look into their own fates. Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future—and a murder—from happening. But changing the timeline has deadly consequences too. Who can Elena trust as she fights to save her life?

The first book in an unforgettable series about rewriting your destiny in the city of dreams.

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: very small emphasis on the romance–like, hardly at all, though it’s sort of instalove-esque; awesome mystery/thriller; lots of yummy world-building and twisty-turns; great cast of characters and wide array of “relationships” featured; different science to the time-travel lore we all know

I know it took me a while to get to this one, but HUGE thank yous to Elizabeth Briggs, AW Teen Publishing, and Casey at Media Masters Publicity for sending me an ARC copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title. My selected quotes are from the ARC copy, so my apologies if they are different from or taken out of the finished version!

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First off: the world-building of this book is DELICIOUS. No tiny details are spared; Elizabeth Briggs put a lot of time and effort into making this story, and this world, coherent, seamless, and believable. I LOVE that every detail is thought out, described just enough to foreshadow…but left just open-ended enough to allow readers to be entertained and enthralled throughout. When I hit the 50% mark, I was almost positive I’d already put the pieces together and knew where the plot was headed…and then I read several chapters more, and found myself utterly confused. The mystery of this read is masterfully done, with just enough push and pull to keep even the most avid mystery readers guessing and leaping to red-herring answers.

The sense of “time running out,” particularly near the end, was also an awesome touch. While the characters have 24 hours in the future to figure things out and “solve” the mystery…in reality, that’s not much time at all. I also really liked that in the present-time, only 12 minutes pass. This was, in my opinion, an interesting way to do this–I’d be interested in knowing the why behind this, actually, as it’s not exactly explained (I mean, it’s not that important a detail, so no biggie either way).

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The characters, though… Especially Elena, our main narrator–she immediately tugged at my heartstrings. I LOVE how realistic and human these characters come off; they don’t feel like words on a page, but instead took up their own space in my head while reading. They lived, breathed, and entrenched themselves in my thoughts. Elena’s struggle, in particular, became my struggle–and I loved that about this book.

Like I said earlier, the plot is fast-paced, well considered, and easy to dive into even for the most-novice science fiction readers. You don’t have to know all the technical aspects of this book (because penguins knows I definitely didn’t, going in!) to be sucked into the world and dragged along for the ride. What little you DO need to understand…is explained quickly and thoroughly, though not in an overwhelming or confusing way. It’s obvious Elizabeth Briggs thought this out and strove to make sure that even people who’ve never read sci fi would understand and be entertained by this story.

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I had a ton of fun reading this book and being transported to, for at least a time, a world very different…and yet vaguely similar…to our own. The characters are realistic and endearing, the plot is full of twists and turns, and the journey is bound to enthrall even the most novice sci fi readers. If you love time travel, sassy characters, and well-written red herrings, you should definitely consider picking this book up!

 

2

A Review of Epitaphs (Echoes #2), by Therin Knite

Epitaphs (Echoes, #2)

Goodreads Rating: 4.36 Stars
352 Pages
Knite and Day Publishing
Get a copy here!

Adem Adamend still has it rough. His name is still ludicrous. His friends are still few. And his new boss likes to break his nose twice a week in combat training.

But when a local college senior is brutally murdered by the dream of a sandstorm brought to life–and the monsters hiding within–Adem finds himself swiftly ripped from his boring training curriculum and tossed into a web of secrets and lies in the heart of the city he calls home.

With threads pointing to the ruthless Columbian mob, a cyber-attack threat against multiple federal agencies, and the shadow of the man who sponsored Adem’s corrupt ex-mentor, the IBI-turned-EDPA agent knows he has little time before the body count rises exponentially.

But in order for Adem to solve the case, he’ll have to contend with old wounds still raw, a new team he doesn’t think he can trust, and his own developing echo powers…

…the last of which may pose the most dangerous threat of all.

– – – – –

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: Adem is still a quirky, arrogant genius; we get to see more of his “human” side in this sequel; the rest of the cast also are more vibrant, more rounded-out; the writing is still action-packed and humor-laced; there was some confusion on Adem’s name near the 60% mark—which annoyed me

Huge thanks to Therin Knite for, once again, providing me with an ecopy of this read in exchange for an honest review! This in no way changed my opinions or enjoyment of this book.

I’m holding an eight-pound turkey like a newborn in my arms when a flying bag of yams breaks a man’s jaw.

And then someone is murdered by a dream.

(Because this is my life we’re talking about.)

Warning for sensitive readers: there is graphic language and detailed violence in this book. There is a good amount of blood and gore, and several dozen murders. If you are triggered by or uncomfortable with this, please be sure to really think about picking this book up.

So…first off, I’m not sure I enjoyed this one QUITE as much as I did the first book in this series. I don’t know why this is, exactly—there’s still a TON of action, drama, and genius involved. Adem is still a snarky, arrogant, quirky character; Jin is still the strange, overly-attached sidekick. There are still plenty of dream sequences, violent life-or-death battles, and AHA! moments. But for some reason, I wasn’t as INTO this book as I was Echoes. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this sort of read this time around; that’s what I’m hoping, at least, because I LOVE Therin Knite’s writing.

And that’s when I realize I’m sitting next to my body.

It’s lying on the floor, face down. Blood creeps out from around a gaping wound on my skull (and seeps from my nose). With the orange haze, I can’t be sure, but I swear I spot a flash of white bone beneath the bloody pulp and tangled, matted patch of hair. My body doesn’t move, doesn’t even twitch, and for years in seconds I don’t think it’s breathing, this thing with my face and my shape and my clothes and my recently acquired injuries.

I’m a ghost.

That’s the first thought that pops into my head.

I was killed by a f*cking statue, and now I’m a ghost.

That being said, this was still an entertaining, enjoyable read. The action kicks off right from the beginning; Therin Knite continues to astound me with her awesome writing and on-point plot. Perhaps the biggest thing I found lacking in this book were the plot twists—there didn’t seem to be as many as in Echoes. Instead, most of the answers were clear from the get-go (at least, to me) which made the “reveal” feel less authentic.

There were also some…spelling? inconsistencies in regards to Adem’s name near the 60% mark. I became confused pretty quickly, because suddenly (for at least one chapter) he began calling himself ADAM, instead of Adem. It caught me off guard, and sort of annoyed me overall—I actually took a second to wonder if I’d perhaps just been reading his name wrong this entire time. But no, it reverts back after that chapter. I’m not sure what happened there, but… Eh.

It’s a requirement for people in positions like theirs, breaking your heart until it heals calloused. Because they must be immovable rocks, reliable always, for their men and women to stand upon when the rest of the world shifts like sand beneath unsteady feet.

Overall, this was just the sort of quirky, adventurous read I’ve come to expect of Therin Knite’s novels, and I can’t WAIT for the concluding novel to come out this year…mostly because this book ends on a pretty spectacular cliff-hanger. I recommend this book to lovers of Inception, adventure-packed novels, and lots of life-or-death battle scenes. For the second book in a series, this held up pretty well; I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Adem in the future!

2

A Review of From a Distant Star, by Karen McQuestion

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When Lucas Walker inexplicably recovers from a terminal illness, everyone is astonished –except for his girlfriend Emma, who never gave up hope. However, as friends and family celebrate the miracle, Emma becomes alarmed: Lucas has changed. He speaks haltingly, can’t recall past events, and even his own dog doesn’t recognize him. Emma begins to suspect something is terribly wrong. What happened to the Lucas she loved? Does his strange behavior have something to do with the shooting light that fell into Lucas’s backyard the night he recovered?

As the two set off on a road trip in search of the truth, the journey takes an unexpected turn. First they’re shot at by unknown enemies and then helped by unlikely allies. Before long, Emma and Lucas are plunged into a desperate life or death race against time.

Packed with intrigue and emotion, FROM A DISTANT STAR is a riveting novel about loyalty and the power of love.

– – – – –

Rating: 3/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: too “teenage romance”; I had a hard time suspending my disbelief at points; Emma’s absurd and adamant belief that Lucas was “the one” didn’t work for me; the story was interesting, though cliche; the characters were flat and hard for me to feel for

Huge thanks to Karen McQuestion for the free copy in exchange for an honest review of this book! This in no way altered my opinions or review.

Also, I read this as an audiobook. It was an interesting experiment; the narrator put a TON of personality into the characters that might have been missed otherwise. I’d definitely recommend it, if you like listening to your books.

“This is a very confusing planet. People believe things that aren’t true about other people just because of how they look and what kind of vehicle they drive. Why can you not wait and see who they are inside before you make a decision?”

“Because we’re afraid,” I said. “If I had trusted them and they turned out to be bad people, they might have robbed us or attacked us. It’s better to be cautious.”

“That is a sad thing,” he said. “Always thinking the worst of other people.”

I think it’s safe to say this book is just not the book for me. Which is depressing, because I recently read another book by Karen McQuestion and I LOVED it. This one, though? No such love. I just… Ugh.

So let’s dissect this a little bit, yes? First off: the characters. While there’s some interesting play going on with different forms of strength and different types of handling stress…most of the characters fall very, very flat. I mean paper flat. And the characters that are a bit rounded? Pretty much annoyed the snot out of me. Also, there’s quite a bit of emotional abuse directed toward Emma from Lucas’s mom–in fact, this is carried through the entire read. Even when Lucas finds his miracle cure, the mom still tries shunting Emma to the side with unnecessary cruelty. It was confusing, to be honest–though maybe spurned on by a type of jealousy? The only character I really felt anything for is Scout. The alien. That’s a bit depressing, in my opinion.

Maybe it’s just that the story had SO MUCH potential, but fell short in the end. A lot of what did happen in this book was rather cliche, and the fact that I felt nothing for the characters meant I felt nothing for the plot. Also, Emma’s absurd and ADAMANT belief that she and Lucas were “for life, forever, happy shiny made for each other soul mates” just didn’t work for me. After about the tenth time of her assuring readers he was THE ONE…I stopped caring. After the fifteenth, I began to get really annoyed.

I’d never been one for prayer, but when things got serious, I put it into overdrive, imagining God on the other end thinking, hmmm . . . Emma doesn’t usually pray. This must be serious.

The audiobook leant a good deal of character and personality to characters that might otherwise have been no more than paper. Which I appreciated–so much! The narrator had a way of breathing life into the characters, and while I was still thoroughly annoyed with Emma, Scout really jumped off the page for me. The fact that the narrator included the stilted, awkward way of speaking into Scout’s character was just–I adored that so so much!

The writing, also, isn’t bad. While the plot is a bit cliche and the characters are sort of flat, the action scenes were mildly entertaining and the action was fast-paced. If I had been able to more fully connect with or feel for the characters, my rating for this read would be MUCH higher, so take the 3 stars with a grain of salt here please–most of my dislike fell on the characters, after all, not the story or the writing.

Overall, though, I couldn’t find much I personally liked about this book. Of course, this isn’t a bad book at all–it just wasn’t the right fit for me. I’d still definitely recommend to younger readers and lovers of aliens or ever-lasting, true loves. Just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean YOU won’t, so you should definitely give it a shot if it seems the type of book you’d enjoy!

5

Review of Girl of Myth and Legend (The Chosen Saga #1), by Giselle Simlett

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A girl with a past she tries to forget, and a future she can’t even imagine.

Leonie Woodville wants to live an unremarkable life. She wants routine, she wants repetition, she wants predictability. So when she explodes in a blaze of light one morning on the way to her college, it’s enough to put a real crimp in her day.

And things only get weirder…

Leonie learns from her father that she is last of the Pulsar, a phenomenally powerful member of a magical species called the Chosen. It will be her sole duty to protect the Imperium, a governing hierarchy, from all enemies, and to exceed the reputation of the Pulsar before her. So – no pressure there, then.

Leonie is swept away from her rigorous normality and taken to a world of magic. There, she is forced into a ceremony to join her soul to a guardian, Korren, who is both incredibly handsome and intensely troubled, a relationship for which ‘it’s complicated’ just really doesn’t cut it.

But Leonie is soon to learn that this ancient world is no paradise. With violent dissidents intent to overthrow the Imperium, and dark entities with their own agenda, she and Korren find themselves caught in a war where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to survive.

Dare to dream. Dare to hope. Dare to be a legend.

Book One in The Chosen Saga.

– – – – –

Rating: 3 (???)/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: fascinating, mostly-unique read; intriguing characters; annoying, arrogant protag; the devil is not in the details—because there really aren’t any; where there IS detail, the prose is gorgeous; a lot of confusing action and unanswered questions

Huge thanks to Giselle Simlett, WWS Publishing, and Netgalley for an ARC of this read in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered how I read/reviewed this book.

“You say immortality isn’t a burden and you may think it a wonderful, divine thing; maybe it is for those who have freedom. But if all your days are kept within this cage, with no way to escape, how can you call that living?”

I’m a bit iffy on my star rating.

The blurb made this sound amazing—characters who kick butt and take names, an intriguing world filled with magic and myth… Just my kind of read, I thought! Unfortunately, this didn’t quite match up to my expectations.

Now, that’s not to say is isn’t good! There are moments when the prose swept me off into that promised fantasy land. These snippets are poetic, descriptive, and gorgeous. They are also few and far between. In fact, most of this reads rather like a string of diary entries. The two points of view we “see” the world through remain wholly flat, unemotional (even when the characters are meant to be emotional, they aren’t) and robotic.

“So now imagine this companion, a bird we’ll say, exotic, beautiful, and created from a powerful love that began with a promise. The magical being it adores is not its master, but its friend, and they live side by side as equals for many years. But the bird is naive: it doesn’t realize the fragility of a mortal’s kindness, or the quickening of their temper, nor the malice and hate they can weave. The bird is made only of love, of trust, and so when their friend lays breadcrumbs, the bird doesn’t doubt them and follows their trail. Then the door of a cage shuts behind it.”

The world, also, didn’t really leap to life. What little information we’re given about the different lives/societies is often conflicting and confusing. Creatures like Pulsar and Kytaen are explained in the simplest ways…and left vastly undescribed. This makes the characters, the world, the scenery very hard to imagine. There’s SO MUCH packed into this read, I feel as if some of the finer, more important details fell to the wayside instead of being allowed breathing room. Things that should have been the main focus instead felt like trivial details.

And while the characters are fascinating and their stories promise excitement, there isn’t much personal growth for either. The author played around, instead, with the idea of an unexplained/unwanted connection…but didn’t do it justice enough to make it work smoothly in the grand scheme of story telling.

The main protagonist, Leonie, comes off as crass, arrogant, and often cruel. Korren, also, is rather stubborn and mean. Their stories make sense, when taken as a whole…but together they’re more drama than I’d have liked, with almost no redemption for either at the end. It’s a nice setup for book two…but it doesn’t make me care for them, or feel anything for their struggles.

His voice grows dark. “But when the sun sleeps and gives way to the moons, the serpent slips silently into the deepening pockets of darkness, and it is then that the enchantment of this world dissolves into something perilous, when instead of dreams and wishes it is twisted into nightmares and curses.”

So, while I enjoyed the uniqueness and creativity of this read, I found myself mostly bored and disgruntled with the characters. While I see a LOT of potential in this author’s style, there’s also a lot of work to do to make this series seamless. I’d recommend to lovers of sci fi/fantasy, mythology, and unique otherworlds. For now, I guess we’ll wait and see what book two promises—perhaps it’ll patch up some of these loose ends!

1

A Review of Obsidian (Lux #1), by Jennifer Armentrout

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Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

– – – – –

Rating: 3/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was reading Twilight again?; pretty slow start; lots of snark, agnst, and teenage drama; aliens…sort of?; fast-paced second half; some pulse-pounding, sexy moments

Anyone else out there find the first ½ of this book annoyingly like Twilight? No? Just me? Well.

So don’t get me wrong—this wasn’t what I’d call a bad read. But when I started this the other day, I guess I was expecting something a bit more…unexpected. I feel like this was Twilight rewritten with aliens (although their sense of “alienness” is something I found lacking overall)…and I’m not sure it worked for me in the end.

“You don’t look like an alien!’ It seemed important to point that out.

He arched a brow. ‘And what do aliens look like?’

‘Not…not like you,’ I sputtered. ‘They aren’t gorgeous–‘

‘You think I’m gorgeous?’ He smiled.

Let me get into the specifics. The characters are well-rounded. It’s clear from the get-go that Katy isn’t your “average” teenager (though what IS average, really?) Daemon I loathed immediately—with his attitude, who wouldn’t? But none of them really stood out to me, to be honest—they were all thrust into their roles, but given no space to really breathe. They didn’t go above and beyond; they didn’t really tug at my heart or knock me on my butt. They were like actors who’d lost passion for their craft—some witty lines, some epic banter, but overall flat.

The action, as well, was pretty run-of-the-mill. Despite a few weird blips on the supernatural radar, the beginning of this book was just like every other YA read I’ve come across lately: the unusual new kid (a “bright and shiny new toy” for the rest of town); a hyper, instant best friend; a few prickly bullies; and one sexy guy the protag knows she couldn’t possibly have…yet wants anyway. Yawn, yawn, and double yawn.

“Doesn’t he own a shirt?” I asked, grabbing a spade.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Not even in the winter. He’s always running around half-dressed.” She groaned. “Its disturbing that I have to see so much of his…skin. Yuck.” Yuck for her. And hot damn for me.

It wasn’t until about the 60% mark things began getting interesting—and straying away from the heavy Twilight influence. The last few chapters of this book were pretty awesome, in fact! Fast-paced with action, some intriguing and different ideas at play, a few twists and turns I hadn’t expected. If the first part of this had relied more on the story to tell the story, instead of fulfilling the “average teenage love story—with ALIENS!” vibe, this probably would have gotten a higher rating from me honestly; the second part of this was more what I was looking for when I picked up this read.

The plot isn’t bad, overall—besides a slow start, things pick up pace and kept me enthralled enough to want to see what happened next. There’s a twinge of paranormal mystery throughout. In fact, after the halfway mark, even the characters seem like totally different people. The dialogue wasn’t as heavy-handed, forced, or awkward; the characters were more believable and realistic in their actions/reactions. I finally started feeling something other than frustration for them. Too bad it came a bit late in the story.

“Is this what you do with your spare time?” he asked me, ignoring his sister.

“What—are you deciding to talk to me now?” Smiling tightly, I grabbed a handful of mulch and dumped it. Rinse and repeat. “Yeah, it’s kind of a hobby. What’s yours? Kicking puppies?”

I don’t know if this just wasn’t the right book for me, or if the timing was off, or if the heavy Twilight influence is what caused the scrupples…but I didn’t like this as much as I hoped I would. I’d still recommend to lovers of sci fi/fantasy, aliens, and the paranormal—the characters are snarky and quirky once you get past the awkward. So someone tell me: how’s book two? If it’s better than this one, there might be hope for this series with me yet.