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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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Blog Tour: Cage of Deceit - Guest Post + Giveaway

Tour Schedule
Title: Cage of Deceit (Reign of Secrets #1)
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Links: Sophia's "Review" | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing

Jennifer Anne Davis’ best-selling True Reign series captivated readers from the very first page. Now, get ready to become entangled in the follow-up series, Reign of Secrets. In this new series, follow Allyssa, the daughter of the beloved Emperor Darmik and Empress Rema— and find out what happens after happily ever after.

Seventeen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand. Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their country and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life.

Ten Things You Should Know About Cage of Deceit
  1. The world is realistic even though it’s fantasy. You won’t find any magic or crazy creatures. It’s simply a made up kingdom.
  2. It takes place in a medieval time period.
  3. I love fight scenes so I’ve got a few in there.
  4. It ends on a cliffhanger.
  5. I love political intrigue! I try to have a lot going on under the surface but I don’t want the action to be bogged down by it.
  6. Allyssa is everything I wish I could be.
  7. I don’t like weak characters. They drive me nuts.
  8. I love action.
  9. While there is romance, it’s not the driving force of the book.
  10. Did I mention there’s a cliffhanger? Be prepared!

Author Bio

Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she married her best friend and high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three young children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.

Author Links:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

  • Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box
  • Ends October 8, 2015
  • Giveaway is International
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Sunday, September 27, 2015

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ARC Review: Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles (A Kill-Happy Book)

Becoming Darkness

Becoming Darkness
Author:
Lindsay Francis Brambles
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Publisher: Switch Press
Reviewer: Sophia

Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune--a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles' debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis' terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.
Advanced copy provided by Switch Press via Netgalley for review – thanks!

Never have I ever read a book in which Hitler won World War II and succeeded in taking over the world.

Until now. I admit I'm a little fond of this one because of the whole alternative history thing going on right there, but I'm a little disturbed here, Lindsay Francis Brambles. You're as bad as Agatha Christie and came very close to killing everyone. Although technically, you did kill most of the characters that I grew fond of. Not cool. I don't think I can ever forgive you for this transgression of Trigger Happy Book. (More like Explosion Happy Book.)

But in the very long run, I only liked Becoming Darkness for a few things.

Sadistic as it may be, I did like how Brambles made Hitler won the second world war and unleashed a virus that made a lot of people turn into vampires – all of that is told within the first few pages. Although the origins of Gemorrah (le virus) is revealed throughout the story and integrated in the plot, I still don't understand how the creators came up with that name in the first place. Does it mean something in German, or is it something they thought sounded sinister and cool and decided to go with it? In my humble opinion, it does not sound cool or sinister. It sounds like a Mary Poppins word.

I also really liked how Brambles didn't go completely off course from history – there are some references to the war, there might be another significant historical figure who makes a cameo appearance (under a different name, but don't quote me), etc. Basically, there's not much that's thrown in completely off kilter aside from maybe the virus – I still feel fishy about that.

Sophie Harkness does not take BS when there are boys hitting on her in the stupidest, cheesiest ways. Namely: "We're meant for one another because you're a girl, I'm a guy, and we have the parts to create phenomenal offspring." Sorry for the disturbing image, but that was very much implied by the character. Unfortunately for her, she sort of believes in love at first sight when she first met Val back when she was fourteen.

Sophie is also not a judgmental character – she's very open-minded and believes vampires aren't exactly sinister blood sucking creatures. Every other Immune, those who can't get Gemorrah, are so judgmental and narrow-minded, it just peeves me greatly. It IS understandable, though, considering the year Brambles sets the book in.

Unfortunately, I didn't really like the whole flashbacks. For awhile in the beginning, it's a little confusing and I had to backtrack to make sure it was a flashback and not actually set in the present day. There's a "sort-of" warning and then we're in flashback mode that feels like it's set in the present but is really Sophie telling a story. On the bright side, all those flashbacks (and the journal entries written by Sophie's mom) all play a relevant role in the overall plot.

I also didn't really like Valentine. Though I eventually warmed up to him over the course of the book, something about him was really disturbing. He's not an annoying "stalker type" of character, but it IS a little weird he still tried to keep his connections to Sophie's family from grandma to mom to Sophie in the hopes of falling in love again. But considering the fact he's doesn't throw out stupidly cheesy lines at Sophie, I like him a little.

Have I mentioned I'm sick and tired of seeing the name Valentine over and over again in literature? We just can't get any more original than St. Valentine, can we?

I would totally summarize Becoming Darkness in a few words, if only I didn't end up giving major spoilers. But in a nutshell, the book quite literally tells me all of us should be downright grateful the Third Reich didn't succeed. It also told me I'm royally screwed if the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I think I've established that in sixth grade with the whole Ramen Noodle Stove catastrophe.

3.5 Owls


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Saturday, September 26, 2015

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Book Blast + Giveaway: Spark - Seven Fantastic First-In-Series-Novels


Title: Spark - Seven Fantastic First-In-Series Novels
Authors: Ednah Walters, Anthea Sharp, Brenda Hiatt, Eva Pohler, Terah Edun, Allie Burton, Cidney Swanson
Links: Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

A collection of seven fabulous first-in-series novels from the Seven Sparks author collective. Dive into these adventurous, fantastical, romantic stories with strong heroines and plenty of action. Seven Sparks books are all compelling reads without explicit descriptions or swearing, making these books perfect for YA readers or anyone in the mood for a marvelous adventure! This multi-author bundle contains more than 2,200 pages of great reading. Combined, these books have over 800 *5-star reviews* on Amazon, with an average ranking of 4.4 stars.

ABOUT THE BOOKS IN THE BUNDLE:

RUNES – USA Today Bestselling author Ednah Walters (Norse Mythology/Paranormal Romance/Angels & Demons/Clean Romance)
Seventeen-year-old Raine Cooper has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s disappearance, her mother’s erratic behavior and the possibility of her boyfriend relocating. The last thing she needs is Torin St. James—a mysterious new neighbor with a wicked smile and uncanny way of reading her.

FEYLAND: THE DARK REALM – USA Today bestselling author Anthea Sharp (Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction/YA Romance/Fae Adventure/Fairytales)
What if a high-tech computer game was actually a gateway to the Realm of Faerie? Jennet Carter soon finds herself battling the Dark Queen, falling for the perfect hero, and trying to save her own world from unspeakable danger!

STARSTRUCK – USA Today bestselling author Brenda Hiatt (Science Fiction/Sweet Romance/Coming of Age)
The middle of nowhere gets a lot more interesting for an orphaned astronomy geek when the hot new quarterback inexplicably befriends her and strange things start to happen: her acne clears up, her eyesight improves, and when they touch, sparks fly—literally! The incredible truth will change her mundane life forever—if she survives!

THE GATEKEEPER’S SONS – Bestselling author Eva Pohler (Greek Myths & Legends/Teen Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
Fifteen-year-old Therese Mills is heading home in the car with her parents when someone begins shooting at them, sending their car into a lake. She finds the strength to escape, and winds up in the coma that introduces her to the twin sons of Hades… and plunges her into the center of a war brewing between the Gods on Mount Olympus.

SWORN TO RAISE – New York Times bestselling author Terah Edun (High Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery/Coming of Age/Action Adventure)
When peasant girl Ciardis is chosen for a position at court, she travels across the empire to begin a new life. To survive, she’ll need to master intrigue, befriend a crown prince, and learn to control magical abilities she never knew existed.

ATLANTIS RIPTIDE – Bestselling author Allie Burton (Mermaids/Clean Romance/Sci-Fi Fantasy/Genetic Engineering)
Pearl ran away from the circus, tired of her adoptive parents’ abuse of her special skills. Unknownst to her, a battle rages under the ocean and each side wants to use her powers for their cause. As Pearl discovers her talents she must choose her destiny – ignore the churning seas or swim into battle.

SAVING MARS – Bestselling author Cidney Swanson (Science Fiction/Teen Romance/Action Adventure)
Jessamyn pilots a ship to Earth to steal food for the Mars Colony at a time when Earth-Mars relations couldn’t be worse. Breaking rules of no contact, Jess falls for Pavel, nephew to Earth’s Chancellor, but when Jess’s brother is captured, she must choose: rescue her brother or her planet?

Giveaway

  • $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
  • Ends October 16, 2015
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Friday, September 25, 2015

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Blog Tour: The Heartbeat Thief - Guest Post + Giveaway

Tour Schedule
Title: The Heartbeat Thief
Author: A.J. Krafton
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Publication Date: June 12, 2015
Publisher: Self Published

Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth—she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.

In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death—and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step.

So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible—he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it…

When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death—but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.

It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of stealing heartbeats in order to stay young and beautiful forever. From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…

How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?

Senza Fyne, Senzafine:
The Musical Inspiration behind AJ Krafton's THE HEARTBEAT THIEF

I've always been inspired by music. Words are powerful things but somehow, when they are sung, they gain an extra layer of strength and intent, especially when the singer pours their heart and their emotion into each note, each line.

I tend to listen to music that is emotionally-laden. My writing playlists lean heavily toward rock and metal—Type O Negative, Blind Guardian, My Chemical Romance, and especially the Italian band Lacuna Coil.

Lacuna Coil's songs take me to a place where urban fantasy becomes real. Their song "Our Truth" from the album Karmacode even appeared in one of the Underworld movies. What can be more urbanly fantastic than a movie about vampires and werewolves and (quite literally) everything in between?

While I have lots of favorite LC titles, the top of the list is Senzafine, one of their Italian-language songs.

Senzafine is the Italian word for "without end" or "endless". It's the word that inspired the main character's name: Senza Fyne. It also told her story.

It wasn't only the title that inspired the character. The lyrics themselves and their underlying interpretation accurately portray the internal struggle Senza experiences and is the perfect companion piece to the story.

This video of Senzafine contains an English translation of the lyrics so that you can enjoy the song, even if you don't speak Italian. (It also has live clips of LC, which makes me very happy. I love seeing them in concert!)

While the provided translation may not be perfect, it does get the gist of it. The female singer expresses her desire to break free of her life, her destiny. The male voice sings of darker things, the force that fights against the female. There is a constant battle between good and evil and the female admits that is sometimes hard to choose between them. There is also the realization that she must be prepared to live alone, dependent upon only herself.

And that, to me, sounds very much like the symphony of Senza's determined heart.

And what of Knell? He's not forgotten in this song. In fact, I believe the last lines belong to him.

Non c'e scelta senza me
Non c'e vita senza me

There's no choice without me
There's no life without me


I hope you'll read The Heartbeat Thief and keep these words somewhere in the back of your heart. And when you finish, and you close the book, think back upon Senza and her struggle to escape her destined life. Think back upon Knell and think back upon those last lines. I hope you'll find them as deliciously poignant as I do.

Most of all, think back upon your own feelings, and firmly resolve to resist destiny's plans for you and choose your own, instead. The song will still be there to inspire you on your journey.

Author Bio

AJ Krafton is the author of New Adult speculative fiction. Her debut The Heartbeat Thief is due out on Kindle in June 2015. Forthcoming titles include Taking' It Back & Face of the Enemy. She's a proud member of the Infinite Ink Authors. AJ also writes adult spec fic as Ash Krafton. Visit Ash at http://ashkrafton.com

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Blog | Facebook

Giveaway

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

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ARC Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (good historical fiction...good not much else)

These Shallow Graves
Author:
Jennifer Donnelly
Links: The Book Depository
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Random House
Reviewer: Ella

 Josephine Montfort is from one of New York's oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the Gilded Age, her future looks set - after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome gentleman, after which she'll want for nothing. But Jo has other dreams and desires that make her long for a very different kind of future. She wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly. But when Jo's father is found dead in his study after an alleged accident, her life becomes far more exciting than even Jo would wish. Unable to accept that her father could have been so careless, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters on the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.
An ARC was provided by the Publisher via Netgalley - thanks!


These Shallow Graves is 2/3 exasperating, 1/3 enjoyable with a healthy dose of, "Whyyyy did you do that, book??!!" on the side.

I've read some of Jennifer Donnelly's other (adult) books because my older sister pushed them on me (thanks, sis) and I really think she writes better for adults then she does teens. In here the writing is cautious, tentative, like Donnelly isn't sure if she's doing it right and it made the writing come across as slightly stiff.

As characters go, the main character, Jo, reminded me SO much of Fiona from Donnelly's Tea Rose series that it was almost like reading about the same character. I didn't really care for Eddie, but his character was interesting. The differences between New York's rich and New York's poor was fascinating to read about and the character cast from both were enjoyable to read about.

The romance was the biggest thing that annoyed me as there was SO much angst! Jo meets Eddie, Jo immediately thinks Eddie is the most good looking guy she's ever seen and OMG! Look how bluuueeeeee his eyes are!! Jo's never SEEN such bluuueeeee eyes on a man before and it's a fact she brings so many times during the book, that by then end, I wanted to punch Eddie's baby blues just so Jo would shut up.

There was so much angst between Jo and Eddie and the way it draggggged on throughout the whole novel definitely lowered the rating. One minute, they "love" each other, next minute, they don't, then they do, then they don't, and the cycle repeats itself until the romance just becomes...not very romantic any more and kind of fizzles out which frustrated me because so much of the book is ABOUT their relationship, gah!

The length also troubled me. It was too long and 100 pages could've been cut and I wouldn't have missed anything. The story goes at such a slow pace that it becomes tedious in places and that's never fun to read.

But hey. It wasn't all bad. It was historical fiction (HISTORICAL FICTION OMG!) and Donnelly writes really good historical settings so I enjoyed that! And the cast of characters were all unique and interesting especially the thieves and pickpockets (hehe) and even though Jo could be very annoying over her obsession with Eddie's eyes, she was a character I enjoyed reading about.



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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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DNF Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Nothing Remotely Impressive)

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall
Author:
Bethany Griffin
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Reviewer: Sophia

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

*puts on best announcer voice* Ahem.

I'd like to present to you the most confusing book of the year, The Fall by Bethany Griffin. It's a very odd and peculiar book based on Edgar Allen Poe's short story, The Fall of the House of Usher. In Griffin's retelling, Madeline Usher believes that she can break the curse on the Ushers, but then she wakes up in a fabulously claustrophobic box called a coffin.

In all seriousness, The Fall is actually a retelling on one of Poe's stories that I didn't actually read, but watched instead (so bad, it was good). From reading the synopsis of Griffin's retelling, it sounded like Madeline Usher had spent most of her life trying to break free from the curse.

I ended up with something different. At least, that's what I would probably end up with if I actually made it to the end of the book, which I chose not to. I totally admit I peeked at the last few pages just to see what would happen, and it was nothing special.

Griffin starts us out right when Madeline wakes up in a coffin. The rest of the book, however, is all flashback from Madeline's childhood, starting from when she was nine. It's a little out of order, but has a pattern to it in a way – one chapter is nine, the next is fifteen, and occasionally there's a diary/journal entry from Lisbeth Usher. I'm no fan of chapters being even remotely out of order (they can get confusing when you're busy and come back to the story a few days later), but at least Griffin had a pattern.

At least, until about page 150. WHERE IS THIRTEEN AND WHY ARE YOU SKIPPED.

Of course, we go back to thirteen in the next chapter and continue the pattern. In my little game of peek-ahead, I found out there is no particular pattern. My hypothesis to all this is Griffin portraying Madeline's madness increasing as her age increases. As Madeline grows older, she goes more mad. How's that for implementing science?

Anyways, about 50 pages later, I'm pretty much going, "Your point is..?" in a very uninterested mental voice that may or may not include a mental eye roll or two in the process. Here's all that I've found out from what I read:
  1. Madeline wakes up in a coffin – Go figure.
  2. She and her brother Roderick is cursed – Knew that.
  3. The House of Usher is, well, alive – Knew that.
  4. The House of Usher is malicious – Knew that, but this was ten times creepier from the cheesy short film.
  5. Madeline has a desire to break the curse on her family – It's very subtle.
In the long run, The Fall is written in a scattered format (see my hypothesis!) to emphasize the fact that the House of Usher is alive, malicious, and will do anything to keep an Usher within its walls for all eternity. It's nothing remotely impressive if you read or watched the original.

And this is when book club kills me.

2 Owls


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Monday, September 21, 2015

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Frost by E. Latimer

Title: Frost
Author: E. Latimer
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Patchwork Press

Megan Walker’s touch has turned to ice. She can’t stop the frost, and the consequences of her first kiss are horrifying.

When her new powers attract attention, Megan finds herself caught up in an ancient war between Norse giants. One side fuelled by a mad queen’s obsession and an ancient prophecy about Ragnarök, the other by an age-old grudge. Both sides believe Megan to be something she’s not. Both sides will stop at nothing to have her.

Fire or frost. It’s an impossible decision, but she’ll have to act soon, because the storm is coming.

Author Bio

Erin Latimer is a young adult fantasy writer who currently resides in Vancouver, BC. She writes books, makes silly vlogs about writing with the YA Word nerds, and reads excessively. She has had an article featured in Chicken Soup For the Soul, and another in the Dear Teen Me online anthology. But mostly she writes about murderous queens and the magical teens who fight them.

Author Links:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Wattpad | Goodreads

Giveaway

  • Paperback Copy of FROST
  • eBook Copy of FROST
  • Amazon Gift Card
  • Bag of Goodie Swag
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Saturday, September 19, 2015

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Book Blast + Giveaway: Rogue by Karen Lynch

Title: Rogue (Relentless #3)
Author: Karen Lynch
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iTunes

Sara Grey is done hiding and done being afraid. The Master thinks he has her running scared, but she's taking matters into her own hands and taking her life back. With the help of her friends, she sets out to find the one person who can answer her questions about her past, and who may be able to lead them to the Master.

On her journey, Sara faces new challenges and dangers, and learns that the world of good and evil is not as clear cut as she had believed. She makes new friends, unexpected allies, and reconnects with people from her past. As her powers continue to change and grow, she transforms from a struggling girl into a strong young warrior.

But at what cost? How much is sara willing to sacrifice in her need for independence and her quest for the truth? And will her newfound strength be enough to save her and the people she loves when she finally comes face-to-face with her powerful nemesis? Nothing could have prepared her for what is to come, and it will take everything in her to survive the final test of courage and love.


Author Bio

Karen Lynch grew up in Newfoundland, Canada - a place rich in colorful people and folklore to which she attributes her love of the supernatural and her vivid imagination. She moved to Charlotte, North Carolina years ago and was immediately charmed by the southern people but she says she will always be a newfie.

Though she loves supernatural fiction, she has a soft sport for Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austin. She is a fan of classical rock, country, and classical music but her favorite music is the sound a good thunderstorm or a howling blizzard. Two of her favorite past times are baking artisan breads for her friends and spending quality time with her two German Shepherds.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

  • $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
  • Ends October 5, 2015
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive, and use an Amazon Gift code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am a Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Friday, September 18, 2015

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Blog Tour: Steam - Excerpt + Giveaway

Title: Steam (Legends Saga #3)
Author: Stacey Rourke
Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Amazon UK | Smashwords
Publication Date: September 10, 2015
Publisher: Anchor Group

Time passes, sins forgotten.

The bodies of the victims long since rotten.

Trapped within the essence of the Headless Horseman by the guilt of slaughtering her best friend, Ireland Crane follows the father of science fiction, HG Wells, in search of freedom from the curse that binds her. Instead, she discovers even he has a hidden agenda. A dark, relentless passion to be reunited with the woman he loves has driven him to manipulate time and a murderous Horseman.

Yet heed my warning, as the Raven flies,

The Hessian will come … and you will die.
All that prevents Ireland from abandoning Wells’ twisted pursuit, or introducing him to her sword, are the undead witches haunting her. Begging for freedom from a vile succubus, the ghoulish coven leads Ireland and her crew on a journey through Salem’s sordid past. There, they learn there is more to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s history than a scarlet letter, and the secret they’ve uncovered seeks to destroy them all.

Excerpt:
     Cradled in his strong arms, Peyton’s eyes snapped open. Her welcoming pools of blue had been stained to inky black voids of nothingness. Fat cerulean veins wriggled beneath the surface of her skin, like roused and ravenous serpents. Malachi pulled back, Peyton’s body floating upright as if hooked by the ribs and dragged. Bones audibly snapped, and her head contorted at a freakish angle to gape in Ireland’s direction.
     To the cantankerous Horseman, that was the equivalent of throwing down the gauntlet. Feeling her senses sharpen, Ireland braced herself with one hand on the back of a booth. Catapulting over Malachi’s head, she landed beside him in a low crouch and forcibly shoved him aside. The lights continued to flash, each illumination revealing another grisly contortion of Peyton’s body: knees bending backward, arms twisting in countless joints, her spine seemingly liquid as she rolled head over feet in Ireland’s direction. The motion appeared more arachnid than human.
     The window to their right shattered in a spray of shards, Ireland’s sword sailing in to settle into her waiting palm. While everyone else shielded themselves from the shrapnel, she struck a defensive pose with her sword by her ear in an overhand grasp. “Don’t make me stab a nun,” she growled. “I mean, I’ll do it, but I won’t feel good about it.”
     Again, the nun’s body rotated in an inexplicably spineless back walkover that ended with her feet being planted directly in front of Ireland.
     Chest rising and falling with the yearning for bedlam, Ireland hissed out a simple warning, “Don’t do this.”
     Peyton’s body retracted board straight, the ends of her hair brushing the floor before she flung forward as if on a spring. Her fingers darted out to encircle the wrist of Ireland’s sword wielding hand. Blood trickled from her nose, staining her lips with ruby droplets. Leaning in, cheek to cheek, her breath singed Ireland’s nostrils with the foul, rotten-egg stench of sulfur.
     “Take … her … to … hell,” Peyton rasped against Ireland’s ear.
     The lights beamed back on. The ghouls gone.
     Letting her sword fall to the ground with an ear-piercing twang, Ireland caught the full weight of Peyton’s body as she fell limp against her.
     “I’m pretty sure we’re already there,” she rumbled and eased the girl to the ground.

Author Bio

-RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
-Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
-Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series as well as the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.

Author Links:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

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Blog Tour: Taking the Ice - Guest Post + Giveaway

Tour Schedule
Title: Taking the Ice (Ice #3)
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Publication Date: August 17, 2015

Olympic rings and an engagement ring.

Courtney Carlton is ready for both.

She and her boyfriend Josh have skated together and dated for four years, and they’ve reached a critical point in their partnership both on and off the ice. With the Winter Games coming up and their career nearing an end, they are fighting to win a spot on the Olympic team, something Courtney has dreamed of since she was ten years old.

She also has another wish she hopes comes true soon. She’s waiting for a marriage proposal from Josh that she expected to happen by now. Will she realize either dream or will her heart be broken from disappointment?

Courtney Carlton's Bucket List

I’d like to thank Sophia for having me as a guest blogger today! I’m celebrating the release of TAKING THE ICE, the third and final book in my Ice Series, so Sophia asked me to do a fun post with my heroine Courtney’s bucket list. Courtney is a pair skater, so she is no stranger to danger as she is thrown around the ice on a regular basis. Some of her bucket list items show her fearlessness!
  1. Skate at the Olympics with Josh
  2. Go cliff diving
  3. Learn to ride a horse
  4. Drive along the Pacific Coast with Josh from California to Canada
  5. Eat pizza in Rome
  6. Drive a race car
  7. Meet the band Muse
  8. Sleep on the beach
  9. Be in a Disney parade
  10. Ride in a bobsled

Author Bio

Jennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night. There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a die-hard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. One of her favorite pastimes is traveling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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Book Blast + Giveaway: Courtlight Series 1-3 by Terah Edun

Title: Courtlight Series Books 1-3
Author: Terah Edun
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Courlight Series comes to Overdrive, Ingram, and 3M Cloud Library

Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a clearner in a small vale on the outskirts of the empire. But beneath her empire's seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder - intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companions Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she'd never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.

But she must master those skills quickly. If legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn to Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.

Giveaway #1

  • $40 Amazon/Barnes & Noble Gift Card
  • 3 Official Terah Edun Swag packs
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2

  • $50 Amazon Gift Card/Paypal Cash
  • Ends October 5, 2015
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive, and use an Amazon Gift code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am a Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Monday, September 14, 2015

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Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard (Splintered Was Honestly Better As A Stand Alone)

Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Splintered #2
Author:
A.G. Howard
Publication Date: Jnauary 7, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Reviewer: Sophia

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Unhinged, the second book in the Splintered trilogy, is set an entire year after the events in Splintered. With the curse broken, Alyssa finally hopes to have as much of a normal life as possible, despite the fact nothing is actually the same.

I personally thought that Splintered was better off a stand alone when A.G. Howard first takes us to her dark version of Wonderland. The ending definitely could have taken two turns – the book could have expanded into multiple books, or it could have been left alone.

With Unhinged, I just didn't feel as passionate as I was with the first book. Though Alyssa believes she has left Wonderland behind, Morpheus and Wonderland eventually come back to haunt her through dreams and violent paintings – something bad is going on and Wonderland needs Alyssa back now that she's taken her place as the Red Queen. The sequel isn't as adventurous or dark – it just felt like something I would normally see in a novel.

I don't even know how to phrase it – Unhinged focuses a lot in the human world; Alyssa's conflicted feelings between Morpheus and Jeb, and where she actually belongs. I hoped the book would bring us back to Wonderland, but I don't even think we even entered Wonderland – it came to Alyssa and it just wasn't as exotic or enchanting or amazing as it was back in book one. Am I sounding whiny now?

That's not including Morpheus and Jeb. Much as I like Morpheus and his sassiness, I just don't like him for the life of me. I still don't like Jeb [for the life of me]. If I really had to choose between the two, I would probably pick Morpheus simply because he just seems to have more personality than Jeb. (Have I mentioned Morpheus has sass?) All Morpheus seems to really care about is Red and how to finally get her out of his wings. Alyssa is just... convenient enough to be used and he ends up falling in love with her in the process of "using" her.

Now I don't know if that's true. I'm sure he actually cares about her greatly considering their history, and I'm sure Jeb cares about her as well, even though he is overprotective and it probably seems endearing. They don't fight as much as they did back in Splintered, but I just don't feel anything for the corners of the love triangle. I just don't. I feel completely indifferent about Unhinged altogether and I'll read the last book simply for the feeling of closure.

3.5 Owls


Have you read Splintered? Do you like Morpheus or Jeb? If you do, what do you like about them? Perhaps your thoughts and opinions about these two in particular will help me see each in a new light – I think I can use it. ;)

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

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Instead of a Review, Let's Chat About Reviewing Slumps

Confession: I've been writing reviews for every book I've read since November 2, 2012.

EVERY. SINGLE. ONE OF THEM.
Early last month, near the end of summer, I just didn't feel up to writing reviews for some books. Steelheart was one of them, but I chose to write a partial review of sorts in the end that ended up as a list.

I planned on reviewing The Eye of Minds today. In the long run I decided to give myself the shorter end of the reviewing stick and come up with another post entirely different than a review.

So... without further ado, let's chat about reviewing slumps!

Mash Up the Titles

Back in 2014 when I first started Chibi Views (BT's version of mini reviews), it was just short and sweet and reserved for anthologies, short stories, and novellas. I later stopped because I thought it was being far too positive. This summer, though, I brought it back. I chose two books (none of them anthologies, short stories, or novellas) and decided to play around with the titles, being as creative as I could without moving any of the words in the original titles around. I did it just for the pure fun of it all and (primarily) for my own amusement. Steelheart is not Unhinged unless On a Clear Day. See?

Post Other Things You're Passionate About

Once upon a time I considered myself a book blogger and a book blogger only. These days, I guess I consider myself an Entertainment/Media Blogger with a primary focus in books. I started out in books, and eventually threw in the occasional gaming post, movie review, and definitely a music related post or two (not playlists) in the future. I spent the last few weeks of my summer planning with Lupe her new feature (we started it just last Friday!).

Write a Tutorial or Guide

You don't have to be a complete expert – it can even be something as simple as "What To Do with eBooks You Hate," which I did save up in my hard drive. I think I'll have to go through that folder and pull some out for actual use rather than stuffing it in a virtual folder (considering the fact I'm too busy catching up on schoolwork).

I'm as bad as a writer in that department. I'm not saying writers are bad though...

Make a List of Really Random Questions

When all else fails, make a list. Make a list of really random questions – maybe a mock interview with the author? Who knows – maybe one day you'll actually get to interview the author and you'll have a set of questions you could potentially pull from!
I honestly haven't tried this one yet (although lately I've been questioning love interests). Maybe I'll make a sporadic feature (Sporadic Questions, but that sounds like something you'll find on Sporadic Reads. I didn't think too much through the blog name, did I?) out of this.

Make A Bookish Playlist

If you're a huge music fan, you might want to come up with your own playlists for the books you read!

Wait... maybe you could give out song recommendations. I call kpop.

Go On a Mini Hiatus

Maybe you're not feeling anything. Take a little vacation and come back a newbie blogger with fresh ideas and content. Your readers won't be going anywhere because you're downright amazing. While numbers matter in some way or form, it doesn't really matter too much if you enjoy what you're doing and enjoy your little band of loyal minions followers.

It's like Twitter – 500 followers who happily interact with you is better than 5 million followers who stare at your tweet like any other tweet carelessly.
I admit I haven't gone a hiatus in my entire blogging life – maybe the occasional mini one, but it doesn't actually qualify as a hiatus. I did have plans to ask one of my cobloggers to take over for a week or two if QuizBowl went to Nationals, but we didn't even make it past round one in State (it was a brutal brain beating). Maybe this year I'll try my hand at Nationals in FBLA. Wishful thinking – it's my first year.

I'll even make a "Do Not Disturb Sophia" sign if necessary (okay, I'll totally be available. I'll demand to bring my tablet if I can't bring a book or two) – it'll have "Read. Blog. Sleep." In reality, it'll say, "Chill. Sleep. Repeat."

I think I have this all planned out.

Bring the teacups, coffee, and chocolate, and let's chat about what you do when you're in a reviewing slump. What do you do? Have you actually done any of the things I came up with? Anything I haven't tried yet?

And please, don't suggest singing in the shower.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

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Blog Tour: The Foxglove Killings - Excerpt + Giveaway

Tour Schedule
Title: The Foxglove Killings
Author: Tara Kelly
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Publication Date: September 9, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet, something bad was coming. And the crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started with the murdered deer in the playground with the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in the dying boondock town of Emerald Cove, life goes on.

I work at Gramps's diner, and the cakes—the entitled rich kids who vacation here—make our lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person who gets me. Only Alex has changed. He's almost like a stranger now. I can't figure it out... or why I'm having distinctly more-than-friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn't be having.

Then one of the cakes disappears.

When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a rumor goes around that Alex was the last person seen with her—and everyone but me believes it. Well, everyone except my worst enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it's up to us to prove his innocence and uncover the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything I've ever known about myself—and Alex.

Excerpt:
     “Miserable people are gonna find misery, Angela,” Gramps said to her. “There’s no point in rolling over and playing dead.” He nodded at me. “Tell that boy to go stick it and be done with it.”
     “Dad.” Mom pulled the jaw clip from her bun, letting her dark hair unravel down her back. “If you had your way, this would be a saloon.”
     Gramps poured pancake batter into a pan and shrugged. “What’s wrong with that? I could wear my wooly chaps.”
     Mom rolled her eyes at me. “I thought I burned those.”

Read Chapter One HERE.

Author Bio

Tara Kelly adores variety in her life. She’s an author, one-girl-band, graphic designer, editor, and photographer. She lives in Sin City with her beloved guitars, sound design master husband, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.

Author Links:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

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Review: Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs & Tracey Deebs (STAHP WITH THE FIGHTS)

Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs

The Hero Agenda #1
Author:
Tera Lynn Childs, Tracy Deebs
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Reviewer: Sophia

Kenna is tired of being "normal". The only thing special about her is that she isn't special at all. Which is frustrating in a world of absolutes. Villains, like the one who killed her father, are bad. Heroes, like her mother and best friend, are good. And Kenna, unlike everyone else around her, is completely ordinary— which she hates.

She’s secretly working on an experiment that will land her a place among the Heroes, but when a Villain saves her life during a break-in at her lab, Kenna discovers there’s a whole lot of gray area when it comes to good and evil and who she can trust.. After all…not all strength comes from superpowers.

Guys, I've found the Fight Book of the Year. At this rate I'm actually wondering if there's such a thing as a Blogger's Choice Awards so I can actually nominate this.

(If there is one, point me there NOW. I'll love you forever. :p)

In a world with heroes and villains, Kenna Swift works as an intern in a lab. While working in the lab one night, Kenna gets attacked by villains and is even saved by one of them. Being saved by a villain causes her to think about what a hero or a villain really is, and she ends up teaming up with them after finding out that maybe heroes aren't exactly heroes.

I actually like Kenna as a character. Considering her circumstances, she's actually pretty brilliant and resourceful – when all else fails, kick butt by kneeing someone in the balls. She even had an experiment before everything went Inferno to try and become a hero as well instead of being powerless. Her brilliance and intelligence sometimes fall short in the midst of chaos, but I pretty much approve her as a character.

Except... I'm still irritated. Powerless just has sooo many arguments and fights. The characters fight with each other constantly – verbally and physically. The fighting takes up over half of the book when Kenna, Rebel, and Jeremy team up with villains. Kenna is basically a bystander, Rebel is ironically the glue, and Jeremy is going neck to neck with Draven. Nitro and Dante already have some tension between them. There's boy drama and fighting thrown together, and it is SO. DARN. IRRITATING.

Have I mentioned it sounds completely immature? By some point in the book I've deemed Powerless a book unworthy of memorability in my brain simply because of the amount of fights that belong in a playground with unruly little kids tugging each other consistently. The amount was also great enough I mentally started to threaten poor A.G. Howard's Unhinged.

But of course, Splintered has a love triangle to which I feel completely indifferent to regardless of the fact I like the world and read the second book to determine which, if any, corner actually deserves my complete and utmost devotion.

(It also inspired a few discussion posts for the future. *tucks posts in an invisible drawer*)

Anyways, back to the fights. The majority of book are the characters not getting along for most of the book – it's akin to the romance overshadowing the plot and I found it highly annoying. Meanwhile, I'm left with questions about the entire world after reading the book and none of them actually got answered.

How does this whole power thing work? Are powers inherited, or are they random? Is being a villain or hero random, or are they inherited (that seems to be yes)? Why was the hero/villain world created? HOW was it created? Was it an experiment gone awry? Is it similar to Captain America?

I got vague answers, or no answers. Childs and Deebs may answer those questions in the sequels, or perhaps it's the overall plot of the series, but, I don't really see how it will all fit with what they've laid out in Powerless. It's plot-driven and doesn't take too much time to develop the world or the characters, but makes you question what is considered good and evil.


3.5 Owls


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