Book Review/Blog Tour

Title: Risking It All
Author: S.M. Koz
Published: June 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like It

Risking

Synopsis:

A high-achieving teen who’s determined to become a fighter jet pilot is matched up with an accused criminal at an elite military boarding school in SM Koz’s YA novel, Risking It All.

Paige knows exactly what she wants—to graduate from Wallingford Academy and become a pilot in the US Air Force. She’s inherited her father’s no-nonsense attitude and whip-smart intelligence, all of which have made her the perfect Wallingford cadet.

Wallingford Academy is the last place in the world Logan wants to be. But after his girlfriend borrows his car and commits a crime, Logan takes the fall and ends up there with hopes of striking a decent plea bargain. For him, graduation can’t come soon enough.

When Paige is asked to mentor Logan, it’s the perfect opportunity to prove her leadership skills—but she doesn’t account for the feelings that start to develop or the baggage from Logan’s past which could threaten both of their futures.

A very happy book birthday to Risking It All by SM Koz! Thank you to Koz, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. You can click the banner above to follow the tour for more reviews and excerpts.

Paige has had her whole life planned out for as long as she can remember. All she wants in life is to follow her fathers footsteps…well, almost. Being a student and cadet at Wallingford Academy is everything she could ask for to help her achieve her dreams. While Logan doesn’t have his whole life mapped out, or really any of it, Wallingford is the exact opposite of what he wants. His bad attitude could really hurt his chances in court, but how else is he supposed to respond to this torture?

Paige and Logan are as opposite as can be, but that’s the best part. The more time they’re forced to spend together, the more those differences help round out each other’s personalities. They are able to learn things from each other that neither expects. The character growth in this story is absolutely captivating to watch–and it really feels like you’re right there in the sidelines, watching. As each hurtle comes, Paige and Logan find themselves learning more and more how to loosen their closed hands and open themselves up to new perspectives.

I’ve read one other book by Koz, so I was not surprised how engaging the writing was. The military aspect of this story was a very cool addition; I haven’t read any books about this career area, but it was quite the enjoyable premise. It allowed for situations that really helped flesh out the characters and helped me connect with them. I was on board from chapter one. There were moments where I would get frustrated at Logan for not coming clean, and therefore digging himself in a hole more and more. But if he had come clean, we wouldn’t have this beautiful story between him and Paige. This hate-to-love is a win for me.

Purchase Links:
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

 

About the Author

SM Koz was born in Michigan, but moved to North Carolina for college and never left. She enjoys traveling, camping, hiking, photography, reading, spending time with foster kids who call her house home, and learning new things. When she’s not creating online training for pharmaceutical companies (her day job) or writing, Koz can be found at the local community college taking courses on various topics ranging from digital art to HTML to desktop publishing. SM Koz has written six novels. Although her stories differ by genre, ranging from contemporary realism to sci-fi to fanfiction, two things they all have in common are a young or new adult focus and romance. If you’d like to learn more about SM Koz, check her out on social media.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
Print copy of Risking It All
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – Toxic

Title: Toxic
Author: Lydia Kang
Published: November 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Cyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. A small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death of the ship, but the abandoned ship is anything but abandoned―one girl has been left behind.

Hana has known nothing but the isolation of a single room and the secret that has kept her there for seventeen years. When she meets Fennec, the boy assigned to watch her, she realizes that there is a world she has yet to experience but she is doomed to never meet.

When crew members begin mysteriously dying, Hana and Fenn realize that they are racing against the death of the ship to find a way to survive―unless someone kills them even before Hana’s truly had a chance to live.

“Somewhere outside of Cyclo, stars are colliding, black holes are collapsing, and galaxies are being born. People are dying, and people are opening their eyes for the first time in their lives. But right now, Hana is the only thing in my universe” (chapter 20).

Thank you Entangled Teen and Lydia Kang for a free eARC of this book in return for an honest review.

Hana wakes up one day in the room she has never once left and realizes that everything is wrong, there is a world outside her door that is dying and she’s never had a chance to explore it because she was never meant to be. When a group of criminals are assigned to a death mission to document the death of this biological ship, the first of its kind, Hana realizes that all the knowledge she has acquired in her studies are no substitute for actual human interaction.

Fenn (goodness, I love his name!) has been enjoying the thrill of stealing since he was quite young, but this death mission is the push he needs to recognize how his lifestyle affects other people—a little too late. When he learns that the ship isn’t as empty as he was told, he discovers how to live, as he counts down the days until they die.

Young adult sci-fi lovers, get this book in your hands! Kang writes with such urgency, you can feel the emotions radiating off the page. Plus—it’s in space! As Hana and Fenn learn more about their biological ship’s abnormalities, as they learn more about each other, you can’t help but feel drawn to their charming personalities and their desperate search for meaning and fulfillment. Every moment that death looms closer, every secret unearthed, every refocus of perspective, every curve ball thrown into their plans—you’ll be hooked onto every word.

Book Review/Blog Tour – Love Me, Love Me Not

LoveMeLoveMeNotTourBanner-1

Follow the rest of the tour HERE!

Title: Love Me, Love Me Not
Author: S.M. Koz
Published:June 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it
LMN
Synopsis:
Family, abandonment, and forbidden romance are at the core of SM Koz’s powerful and emotionally charged novel about a teen who falls for her foster brother.
When Hailey Brown is removed from her home and put into foster care, all she wants is a safe, comfortable place where she can finish school and move on with her life. It’s not easy adjusting to a new school and a new life, but Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and their teenage son, Brad, welcome Hailey with open arms.
As Hailey begins to adjust to her new life, she and Brad grow closer. For the first time, Hailey feels like she might have a real shot at a future. Soon, however, Hailey realizes her relationship with Brad has crossed the line from friendship into something more. But being with Brad would mean giving up the perfect life that Hailey has waited so long to have.
Can Hailey and Brad resist the feelings that are developing between them—or will they risk it all to be together?
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, SM Koz delivers a powerful debut about the ups and downs of being a foster child.
“Maybe, sometimes, you have no choice but to do things before you’re ready” (chapter 3)
Happy book birthday to Love Me, Love Me Not by S.M. Koz! Thank you Koz, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Book Tours for giving me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I read this whole book from start to finish in one day and found myself completely enchanted. A heads up, though, you probably shouldn’t start reading it while you’re serving at your church like I did since the book opens up with a sex scene. Oops.
Koz does a wonderful job of giving a raw look into the ups and downs of foster care, which I think is completely necessary for people to grow in empathy. Hailey has had a rough life, living with a mother who is a drug addict who has made choices that have hurt Hailey emotionally and physically. She gets put into the foster care system as a senior in high school, so she has to go through the changes this entails knowing that she will be aging out soon and will have to go through more changes. Not only is this a difficult concept to wrestle with, but Hailey also has trouble trusting the multiple families she gets placed with because she doesn’t want people pitying her or elevating themselves in their views of her. My heart ached to watch Hailey struggle with who she is because of her past and who she could become because of her future.
Brad, Hailey’s foster brother, is honestly a dream. He’s a buff football star with the most empathetic heart. He refuses to let Hailey view herself as someone stuck in her past and choses to help her move forward by remembering the good memories. I could definitely see him being a Hufflepuff with his loyalty, kindness, and dedication. Maybe that’s why I liked him so much.
In the midst of Hailey’s chaotic changes, she discovers that her friendship with Brad is growing beyond appropriate boundaries. Their relationship moves into the forbidden, which is a trope that I’ve learned is popular, but it isn’t so rule breaking that I lost interest. Brad’s care for Hailey in learning about her without pushing her trust too hard is heart melting and I found myself rooting for ways they could make their relationship work without getting Hailey kicked out of the first stable home she’s ever been in. Hailey’s character growth and the Campbell’s demonstrations of their love for her will completely enchant you from start to finish.

Purchase Links:

AmazonB&NiBooksKobo

About the Author
SM
S.M. Koz is a medical writer from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and numerous pets. She has a BS in Biology from Duke University and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, photographing nature and her family, gardening, travelling, and attempting, usually unsuccessfully, to decorate birthday cakes. Love Me, Love Me Not is her first traditionally published novel.
Giveaway

Giveaway Details:

Print copy of Love Me, Love Me Not (US/CAN)

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Blog Tour – The Dylan Dilemma

Happy book birthday to The Dylan Dilemma by Patricia B. Tighe! Take a look at what this book is about and then click on the banner to follow the rest of the tour! My review is to come (thank you Chapter by Chapter, Swoon Reads, and Patricia B. Tighe for my review copy).

TDDTour

Follow the rest of the tour HERE!

Title: The Dylan Dilemma
Author: Patricia B. Tighe
Published: April 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

The Dylan Dilemma Cover

Synopsis:

High school senior Kenzie Harper-Shea has no time for dating, especially after the arrival of the basketball coach from hell. Now Kenzie has lost her confidence, is in a slump, and in danger of losing out on a scholarship to play college ball. The last thing she needs is her “vacation boyfriend,” Dylan McCoy, distracting her with warm smiles, inside jokes, and swoony kisses.

Dylan, however, is totally ready to date. He finally lives in the same town as Kenzie and is not about to lose the chance to let their relationship grow into something more. But for now, he’ll stay in the friend zone because he’s determined to find out what has her running scared. It can’t be just about basketball.

As Kenzie spends more time around Dylan, her feelings become a jumbled-up mess. It’s obvious they’re into each other. So, why does she panic whenever she thinks about dating him? Is it connected to basketball or to something deeper? She’s not sure. Does she have the courage to examine her heart, even if it means breaking Dylan’s?

Purchase Link:
Amazon

About the Author

Patricia-B.-Tighe

 

The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and dog. She eats way too much pizza, drinks way too much coffee, and watches way too much NFL football. On the bright side, she also reads and writes teen fiction. She promises to include as much romance, angst, and adventure as possible in her books.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Giveaway

Giveaway Info:

• One (1) winner will receive an Echo Dot (US Resident) or a $25 Amazon GC (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Review – Fighting Fate (Joining of Souls #2)

Shaila Patel’s second installation of the Joining of Souls series comes out in FIVE DAYS! Today I’ve got an early review for you to help you get excited. Thank you, Shaila Patel, for my eARC. If you missed my review for the first book, check it out here: Soulmated. I also have an interview with the author after the first book’s release HERE, as well as an excerpt of Fighting Fate HERE!

Title: Fighting Fate (Joining of Souls #2)
Author: Shaila Patel
Published: April 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy
Goodreads 

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s Okay

fightingfate_ebook-amazon

Synopsis:

Empath Liam Whelan is determined to protect Laxshmi “Lucky” Kapadia, the girl he loves, at all costs–even if it means breaking her heart to keep her alive. Stopping the joining cold means Liam’s life is in danger from the Soul Seekers and the ruthless Minister Gagliardi who now has designs on Lucky. Liam has no choice but to find the strength to fight his desires, fight the joining, and fight fate.

After the unthinkable happened, Lucky’s “hallucinations” have been working double-time. Heartbroken and plagued by doubts, she meets a man who gives her a mind-blowing explanation for her predicament. Her apparent savior provides her with an escape from her hell: run away with him or return to her drab existence and watch Liam move on with her heart in his hands. All Lucky ever craved was to be in control of her own fate, but when her only choices fight against her heart, can she find the strength to battle for what she wants?

“Who was the real Lucky?” (chapter 17)

Shaila Patel did it again! The characters were captivating, the connections between Liam and Lucky were descriptive, and my heart was beating out of my chest with ANOTHER cliffhanger! Why do you do this to me, Shaila?

One thing I particularly loved about this second book is the more in depth looks into Liam and Lucky’s individual cultures, as well as that of the empaths. The descriptions of the landscape of Ireland and the foods of Lucky’s Indian heritage created a desire to know more, to understand more. I even went and made myself some penda after reading the mouth-watering descriptions! There is also a bunch more background on the empath history, which sometimes slowed the plot down quite a bit, but it all ties up very nicely by the end of the book.

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As Lucky learns more about what it means to be an empath, her powers and connection with Liam, and the dangers racing toward her, it honestly gave me some Twilight vibes. Let me preface this by saying I do NOT like the Twilight books, I DO like the Joining of Souls books. For starters, I think Patel writes these stories better than Meyers did. But the phenomenon of Lucky turning into this supernatural being and Liam teaching her about this world and her powers made me feel a ton of similarities between the stories. Thankfully, while Liam and Lucky can get pretty obsessive about each other, neither are whiney and selfish like Bella and Edward. In fact, one thing I admire a ton about their love for each other is how much they seek to put the other person before themselves, trying to give them what’s best for them. But, like typical teenagers, that’s not always actually the best thing for them.

There is still the tension of Lucky’s mom’s desires and Lucky being straddled between Indian culture, American culture, and empath culture, which is one of the most interesting conflicts in these books in my opinion. How does Lucky stand up to her mom without dishonoring her? How can she be one person split between so many people and worlds?

Patel does a fantastic job of jumping in right where Soulmated ended, while also slowly reminding you of things from the first book without being completely obnoxious. Yes, that’s a thing. I remember hating it way back when I was a kid reading the Nancy Drew books as a kid. YES I KNOW WHO NANCY IS BY THIS POINT, OKAY? The last fourth of the book had my heart racing. I was reading as fast as I can, devouring the drama. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, Shaila LOVES her cliffhangers, so now I have to wait even MORE impatiently for the next book!

Blog Tour – Sneaking Out

Title: Sneaking Out (Chased #1)
Author: Chuck Vance
Published: March 2018
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult

SO

Synopsis:

Could you sleep next to a murderer?

Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.

For fans of “A Study in Charlotte” and boarding school lit, “Sneaking Out” (book one in the “Chased” series) immerses readers in the privileged prep school world, with a mystery that exposes the dark side of life on a residential high school campus.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

“Come quick! You gotta see this!”
Luke was just exiting Talbot and walking toward the quad behind the library when Andy Slater called out to him. He stopped and waited for Luke as several students ran past, taking the path toward the pond.
“What is it?”
“Just come! They think they found something.”
“By the time Luke and Slater made it to the pond there was a large group of kids clustered in the northwest corner pointing at something. Luke could see two security guards in front of the pack, furiously talking on their walkie-talkies, and one on his knees by the pond.
“What is it?” Luke asked.
Andy elbowed through the crowd, with Luke following. There was frenzied excitement in the air, and everyone was pointing and talking nervously.
“It’s a bra!” said Andy, who had a better view from his vantage point.
The news rippled through the crowd, setting off a cacophony of comments and outbursts.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” some student called out.
“The Southborough Strangler was here!” shrieked a girl’s voice.
“Was someone else murdered?” another girl called out.
“Okay, everyone, move aside.” Mr. Hamaguchi, a science teacher, pushed his way through the crowd. “Step back right now or you will be receiving demerits.”
The students dispersed enough to make a path for Mr. Hamaguchi and the additional security guards. Mr. Hamaguchi bent down next to the security guard, who was using a stick to pull the bra toward him. Luke heard footsteps slapping the pavement and glanced to his side to see Mr. P. running from the direction of Archer. His tie was askew and his hair windblown.
“What is it?” asked the dean, moving toward Mr. Hamaguchi.
The guard pulled up the bra in time for everyone to see that it was a lacy and red. He immediately bagged it in a Ziploc and sealed it closed. Mr. Hamaguchi and the dean conferred in hushed tones, and everyone stood still, craning to hear what they were saying.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” Andy called out.
Mr. P. put his hands up. “Everyone back to class.”
“Should we be worried?” a girl’s plaintive voice called out.
“No. This was obviously a prank, and not at all funny,” warned Mr. P. “We will be looking into this.”
“How do you know it’s a joke?”
“Yeah, maybe someone else was strangled and dumped in the pond.”
That set off a new wave of frenzied discussions.

About the Author

 

 

Chuck

Chuck Vance is a pseudonym for a bestselling writer of both adult mysteries and novels for young adults. Vance attended boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University. Vance has lived in New York, Moscow, London, Paris and Los Angeles and is frequently on the move.

Website / Goodreads

 

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
2x signed copies of Sneaking Out + 2x $25 gift cards

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Book Review – Turtles All the Way Down

Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Published: October 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russle Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see” (p. 9).

John Green has finally released another book, and one about a girl navigating life with anxiety and OCD no less. In the promotion for his new book, Green revealed that this story is a special one as he deals with these things as well. No wonder it took a while for him to finish—but the wait was well rewarded!

Green has a style of writing in the YA genre that is uniquely his own. His characters deal with tough issues in a very teenager way, but they are also very smart, which is something that isn’t done much in YA. Not that other authors are writing stupid characters, but Green allows his characters to wrestle with things by asking deep and intellectual questions—ones that I don’t see in other books. As Aza struggles with her OCD, she is struggling to understand who she is and if she can possibly be a person apart from the circumstances in her life. She’s constantly researching facts far beyond high school curriculum because she MUST know the answers. And yet, she is still a short sighted, self-centered teenager like the best of them. Somehow Green is able to create characters that are so intellectual without taking away from the fact that they are teenagers with a lot of life and learning ahead of them. Turtles All the Way Down is just another phenomenal example of this.

Aza explains her anxiety in the best way that she can, which is often jumbled and confusing, but captures the feeling so well. I found myself using some of her descriptions to explain to my boyfriend how it feels when I get anxious about something. Another theme throughout this book that I was actually pleasantly surprised to find was that of economical differences. Davis is obviously the son of a billionaire, but Aza and her best friend Daisy have several conversations about financial privilege and what “poor” looks like to them. I personally grew up in a lower economical status than many of my friends in high school, yet I never felt like we had to go without because of money. This theme throughout the book really resonated with me and I feel like Green raised a lot of interesting points by doing this.

Turtles All the Way Down is a book that our society needs. We need books that are open and honest about mental health, that helps people who don’t know understand, and that shows those who do that they are not alone. However, I love that, while Aza’s struggles were a huge part of the plot, it wasn’t the only thing going on in her life. She was also learning, as most teenagers do, about love, loss, how to be a good friend, and that the world is so much bigger than ourselves. She learns so much more in her own way, but I want you to learn along with her—pick up this book as soon as you can!

Book Review – No Vain Loss

Title: No Vain Loss (No Ordinary Star #3)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: November 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Rating: 2 stars
Cover: Like it

no vain loss cover

Synopsis:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do.
A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.
This is the One World.
The year is 2524.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic young adult novel in three parts is set in a world where Christmas—among other things—is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three parts, this is the breathtaking story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

In No Vain Loss, the world is on the brink of the greatest war humanity has ever known. Lives will be lost. New truths will be revealed.

*I received a free eARC of this book from the author in return for an honest review. Check out my reviews for the first two books in the series HERE and HERE.*

 The long awaited finale of the No Ordinary Star series is finally arriving November 25th. I’ve loved following along the journey of Felix and Astra in their dystopian world. This final book answers a lot of questions, while bringing me back to this creative world Frank has dreamt up and the characters I’ve grown to care about. The first two books have built up to this big struggle of powers in the final book, and Frank did a good job of keeping the foreshadowed action exciting.

However, I had quite a few problems with this installment. While the ideas are good and the twists have been built up, the writing itself seems incredibly rushed and spacey in comparison to the other books. I found myself getting frustrated because it felt like Frank was talking in circles, frequently repeating herself several times before moving on to the next thing—and I’m not even talking about the different perspectives. Often times I’d finish a page and wonder why it took so long to say one thing. Everything felt scattered and it was exceedingly hard to stick with it. I even feel like the synopsis shows signs of this, and it doesn’t actually tell you anything about the story.

In the first two books, getting Felix’s perspective AND Astra’s perspective added to the plot immensely, especially because they both came from different backgrounds of knowledge. In the third book, the different perspectives seem pointless because they don’t add anything different to the story. There were also these moments where Felix and Astra would have entire conversations with their eyes: fully fleshed out thoughts being conveyed without a sound. I definitely feel like you can tell someone something with your eyes, but these conversations felt like such a stretch, I had a hard time believing it was anywhere near possible. The suspension of disbelief was just not there.

I was so excited about this final installment and, while I felt like my questions were answered and some of the plot twists were long awaited, I just felt like it missed the mark by a mile. I wanted to love it, but I just ended up confused by the circular writing.

Blog Tour – Carry Me Home

Title: Carry Me Home
Author: Jessica Therrien
Published: September 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult
Goodreads
Review to come next week

CMH Ebook Cover

Synopsis:

“A riveting page-turner… Jessica Therrien broke my heart into a million pieces — and then put it back together again. This book will haunt and uplift readers long after they turn the last page.”
-KAT ROSS, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea

CARRY ME HOME is a fictional novel inspired by the true story of a teenage girl’s involvement in several Mexican gangs in San Jose and Los Angeles. The members of her crew call her, Guera, Spanish for “white girl” and it doesn’t take long for her to get lost in their world of guns and drugs.

* * *

Lucy and Ruth are country girls from a broken home. When they move to the city with their mother, leaving behind their family ranch and dead-beat father, Lucy unravels.

They run to their grandparents’ place, a trailer park mobile home in the barrio of San Jose. Lucy’s barrio friends have changed since her last visit. They’ve joined a gang called VC. They teach her to fight, to shank, to beat a person unconscious and play with guns. When things get too heavy, and lives are at stake, the three girls head for LA seeking a better life.

But trouble always follows Lucy. She befriends the wrong people, members of another gang, and every bad choice she makes drags the family into her dangerous world.

Told from three points of view, the story follows Lucy down the rabbit hole, along with her mother and sister as they sacrifice dreams and happiness, friendships and futures. Love is waiting for all of them in LA, but pursuing a life without Lucy could mean losing her forever.

Ultimately it’s their bond with each other that holds them together, in a true test of love, loss and survival.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

“You ready for this, Guera?” he asks.

It’s a test, Guera. Only thing I can say is you’re allowed to fight back. Take ‘em out with everything you got.

I’d heard of people being jumped into a gang before, maybe it was Rosa who told me about it. As the girls start to descend from their spots around the room, slowly closing in like encircling wolves, I know what’s about to happen.

The realization takes hold in my chest, a quick plunge of the heart into an icy lake of fear. I back away slowly out of instinct, ready to run, but there’s nowhere to go. The sound of their skittering feet is the first thing I hear before they come at me. Me against all of them. Me against Rose Tattoo and Cigarette Twins. Me against the jealous novias. Ten sets of eyes glinting with the thrill of a fight. I flinch and turn my back to avoid the fists, but they’re all around me. One of them catches me by the shoulders, holding me in place as the other girls hit the back of my skull. My head flies forward, chin to chest.

At first I don’t know whether to swing or cover. I reach up to protect myself, but there are too many points of contact. The rush of adrenaline is intense. It blocks the pain, but there is a fiery need in me to get away. I try and kick or punch, feeling one or two connect, but the girls are everywhere. An elbow slams against my temple. My head splits and my ears ring. I go down.

Every infinite minute of being the enemy feels like it’ll never end.

Someone’s shoe stomps my thigh. Others strike my ribs. I heave and gag until I can’t breathe. But that kind of terror turns me into a resilient kind of crazy. The kind of rabid-mad that is born of desperation. I scrape and flail until I’m on my feet, pulling hair and swinging my fists, making contact with whatever I can. I don’t realize I’m screaming until Toño calls them to a stop.

It ceases the moment the girls hear his voice, and I’m left there shaking and crazed, my breath dragging in and out of my lungs in a feverish effort to return to its normal rhythm. I pant and cry, as softly as I can, but it’s hard to deny my body the relief of all-out sobbing. My head hurts. My brain smashes against my skull with the pulse of too much pressure. I taste blood in my mouth, though no one has touched my face. Now that it’s over, the pain of it all rushes to the surface and makes me want to vomit. I feel like I could die.

Why am I here? Why am I doing this?

“She’s in,” Toño says, and the cheers of the group shock my senses and make me tense up.

They all rush me, and at first I’m terrified it’s about to start again, but instead they hug me and pat me on the shoulder all at once. Each hand on my back or squeeze around the shoulders rocks me with pain, but they’re so happy. Their laughter and cheering is contagious, it flows into me, filling me with a strange sense of pride and belonging. I can’t help my smile when I see their encouraging faces. I even start to laugh.

About the Author

Jessica Therrien is the author of the young adult series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, became a Barnes & Noble best-seller shortly after its release. Her trilogy has been translated and sold through major publishers around the world, such as Editions AdA (Canada), EditionsMilan (France), and SharpPoint Press (China).

Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica is the author of a kid’s picture book called, The Loneliest Whale. Her award-winning stories can also be found in a published anthology of flash fiction.

Jessica currently lives in Irvine with her husband and two young sons. She is working on an a YA suspense thriller series and a middle grade fantasy series.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)

Signed copy of Oppression (Children of the Gods #1)
Signed copy of Carry Me Home
$10 Amazon Gift Card

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Book Review – Counting Wolves

Title: Counting Wolves
Author: Michael F. Stewart
Published: August 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

The Breakfast Club meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the lair of an adolescent psych ward.

Milly’s evil stepmother commits her to a pediatric psych ward. That’s just what the wolf wants. With bunk mates like Red, who’s spiraling out of control; Pig, a fire-bug who claims Milly as her own—but just wants extra dessert—Vanet, a manic teen masquerading as a fairy godmother with wish-granting powers as likely to kill as to help; and the mysterious Wolfgang, rumored to roam for blood at night; it doesn’t take long for Milly to realize that only her dead mother’s book of tales can save her.

But Milly’s spells of protection weaken as her wolf stalks the hospital corridors. The ward’s a Dark Wood, and she’s not alone. As her power crumbles, she must let go of her magic and discover new weapons if she is to transform from hunted to hunter.

“It reminds me that these people may all be crazy, but they’re still people. With dreams and fears. (Chapter 11)

I am extremely grateful to Xpresso Book ToursMichael F. Stewart, and The Publishing House for a free advanced reader’s copy in return for an honest review. Head over here to follow the rest of the tour.

Milly doesn’t think she needs help. She’s counting to save the world from the big bad wolf by maintaining her magic spell. Honestly, her evil stepmother just doesn’t want anything to do with her, which is why she’s locked her up in this psych ward, right?

When admitted into the ward, Milly meets a strange cast of characters that resemble those from the fairytales her mother used to read her before she died. All of them are stuck in this place until the doctors figure out how to fix them. All of the patients are quirky and angsty—I would definitely say the Breakfast Club vibes are there. But as Milly spends more time with them, she begins to care for each of them and seek ways to give them confidence that she doesn’t have. Though her meddling isn’t always helpful, it’s as if these desires to help her new friends are loosening the chains to her counting spell.

All of the characters have struggles and traumatizing events that just pull at your heartstrings until you can’t bare it anymore. Each of their quirks and mental illnesses seem to stem out of these experiences and chain them to those memories. If that doesn’t make your empathy for each character go through the roof, I’m not sure what will.

The more time Milly spends at the ward, the more the wolf seems to take shape and she sees what she’s really running from, what she’s trying to save the world from. Will she be able to stand face to face and banish him, or will she have to cast her spell until it kills her?

Michael F. Stewart writes a quirky, dark, engaging story about how fear manifests itself. This book was original, heartbreaking, and funny—I can’t wait until you get into the heads of this ragtag group of teens and watch as your heart melts for them. Stewart’s characters have layers of depth and their struggles end up bringing each other closer in support. If you pick up this book, you won’t want to put it down.

Purchase Links

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

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Michael F. Stewart is winner of both the 2015 Claymore Award and the 2014 inaugural Creation of Stories Award for best YA novel at the Toronto International Book Fair.

He likes to combine storytelling with technology and pioneered interactive storytelling with Scholastic Canada, Australia, and New Zealand’s, anti-cyberbullying program Bully For You. In addition to his award winning Assured Destruction series, he has authored four graphic novels with Oxford University Press Canada’s Boldprint series. Publications of nonfiction titles on Corruption and Children’s Rights are published by Scholastic and early readers are out with Pearson Education.

For adults, Michael has written THE SAND DRAGON a horror about a revenant prehistoric vampire set in the tar sands, HURAKAN a Mayan themed thriller which pits the Maya against the MS-13 with a New York family stuck in the middle, 24 BONES an urban fantasy which draws from Egyptian myth, and THE TERMINALS–a covert government unit which solves crimes in this realm by investigating them in the next.

Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he was the Ottawa Public Library’s first Writer in Residence. To learn more about Michael and his next projects visit his website at http://www.michaelfstewart.com or connect via Twitter @MichaelFStewart.

Michael is represented by Talcott Notch.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)

25x ebook copies of Counting Wolves

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