Spotlight: A Court of Miracles

Disclaimer: I signed up for this blog tour long before FFBC uploaded a very controversial picture regarding the Black Lives Matter movement in their Instagram story. They have since deleted the picture, however I want to clarify that this post will be my last post with the blog tour company at least for the time being because of their highly insensitive remarks. This post is purely book-related because Kester Grant is an amzing author and she deserves all the attention for her new book. Please don’t forget to sign the petitions, educate yourself on a system that actively discriminate against black people and do your part as a good citizen.

Hey guys! I’m so excited to be part of the Court of Miracles Blog Tour today!

BOOK INFORMATION

The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles #1)

by Kester Grant
Publisher: Knopf Children’s
Release Date: June 2nd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retellings, Science Fiction

Synopsis:

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Bookdepository | Google Book

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Kester Grant is a British-Mauritian writer of color. She was born in London, grew up between the UK, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the tropical island paradise of Mauritius. As a wanton nomad she and her husband are unsure which country they currently reside in but they can generally be found surrounded by their fiendish pack of cats and dogs.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest

Read an excerpt here!

GIVEAWAY

Don’t forget to enter this giveaway to win in a copy of THE COURT OF MIRACLES! (US Only)

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Review: A Simple Wedding

Title: A Simple Wedding Author: Leigh Duncan Genre: Sweet Romance Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Fall in love with Heart’s Landing, a romantic wedding destination, in the first book of a Hallmark series. Jenny always dreamed of getting married at Heart’s Landing. But when she finally visits the charming small town, she’s there to make wedding arrangements for someone else: her cousin, who also happens to be her boss and a famous movie star. Her cousin wants a simple wedding, not a media circus. To keep the event top-secret, she’s talked her assistant Jenny into pretending she’s the one getting married. Nick, a baker and lifelong resident of Heart’s Landing, is intrigued by this bride-to-be who starts visiting his bakery for sweet treats and conversation. It seems strange that her fiancé isn’t at least little involved with the wedding plans. As Jenny tries to keep up with her fickle cousin’s ever-changing demands—which exasperate the florist, the caterer, and several other vendors—she tries to hide her attraction to Nick. Meanwhile, the people in town talk Nick into trying to distract Jenny with a sightseeing tour in order to keep her from changing her mind again. The more time Nick spends with Jenny, the harder it becomes to remind himself that she’s already spoken for. Planning this wedding couldn’t be more complicated…and what will happen once the truth comes to light?

MY THOUGHTS

I’m a sucker for Hallmark movies. There, I said it. I like how they show imperfect relationships and sudden turning points in lives that change everything for a person. I know they follow a certain story formulas but I was curious to see how these storylines and emotions would translate into a book, and I was pleasantly surprised how well it was done. The story is about Jenny, a twenty-something professional who works as a personal assistant to her cousin, a famous Hollywood actress. You see, when private and personal life get mixed up, chaos has to be in the cards. No wonder it gets even more complicated when she is tasked to go to Heart’s Landing, a small town on the East Coast, to pose as her cousin who just got engaged after a whirlwind romance with a co-star in a movie. A Simple Wedding was a very light read, with lots of sweet and fluffy romance. Nick, who runs a bakery that specialises in wedding cakes (most shops in Heart’s Landing are involved in the wedding business), is initially less than excited to meet Jenny, who literally bumps into him while he’s on his way to make a cupcake delivery. However he quickly finds out that she has to be one of Heart Landing’s True Brides, which means he and the rest of the town will do anything to meet her wishes — there is something special about them. I liked how this book had a slow burn sort of romance with a couple that doesn’t rush into quick decisions but draws out time to treasure each simple moment. The author takes her time to carefully introduce the reader to each character and I really enjoyed seeing the tight-knit community growing together. What Jenny didn’t expect was to develop true feelings for Nick whom she can never tell that she is only a pretend-bride. The story exactly centers around this conflict — Jenny’s loyalty to her cousin, as well as her love for Nick. Over the course of a few weeks, we see how their relationship grows stronger against all odds, rooting for their happiness in times of uncertainty and betrayal. There were certainly some aspects that could have been more elaborated, such as her relationship with her cousin, it being rather shallow and not’t really growing over time despite their joint background. Nevertheless, A Simple Wedding gave me some very pleasant reading hours and I recommend it to anyone who is a hopeless romantic or is simply looking for a book for an easy and warm read.

Find the book here:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author:

Author Leigh Duncan. (Photo by Chris Kridler)
Leigh Duncan, an Amazon bestselling author and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, has written over two dozen novels, novellas and short stories, including A Simple Wedding, A Country Wedding, and Journey Back to Christmas for Hallmark Publishing, the Glades County Cowboys series for Harlequin, and her own Orange Blossom series. Leigh lives on Central Florida’s East Coast where she writes complex, heartwarming, and emotional stories with a dash of Southern sass.

Connect with Leigh:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Matzah Ball Surprise

Matzah Ball Surprise

This Passover is starting to feel like the ten plagues might be coming back to haunt them before the weekend is over…one hilarious misstep after the next.

Gaby Fineberg just wants to get through Passover Seder without her “well meaning” family playing matchmaker. She needs a date, just for one simple meal—that includes singing, the history of her forefathers, and not one bit of yeast. The hot guy at her gym would be perfect. He probably hates bread, anyway, with a body like that. But when she finally works up the nerve to ask him…he doesn’t hear a word she said.

Levi Miller is deaf and happily single. Initially, he doesn’t know why this beautiful woman is talking to him, but it’s clear she needs help—and suddenly so does he. In a very complicated situation, Levi finds a simple solution. Gaby will pretend to be his new girlfriend to bail him out, and he’ll return the favor. But he didn’t bargain for a family dinner quite like this one…

Title: Matzah Ball Surprise
Author: Laura Brown
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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Matzah Ball was, hands down, one of my most highly anticipated contemporary romance releases in a very long time. I am currently trying to pick up some ASL and seeing that the main character is Jewish (I mean the book title literally screams “Passover food!”) made me super intrigued about the story. It’s diversity on a whole new level!

The book follows Gaby Fineberg, a woman who comes from a big Jewish family and who recently broke up with her boyfriend. Passover is just around the corner and since big families can get super nosy, she decides to ask out Levi Miller — a guy she just met at the gym — to pose as her fake boyfriend over the holidays so she can avoid awkward questions. With nothing seemingly connecting them — not even verbal language — the following days are destined to be one whirlwind of chaos and misunderstandings.

It was really easy to fall for the two main characters, Gaby and Levi. The book is told in dual POV, allowing each of them to have their own unique voices. Whereas Gaby was exactly the quirky, somewhat insecure but yet super fun character that I expected her to be, Levi was a whole different level. Seeing him being the professional disciplined deaf man with his own personal issues who eventually loosens up, you could feel the chemistry right between the two of them. I loved the easiness between them, seeing them fall for each other, as well as the way small gestures suddenly played a much bigger role in their lives since “standard” talking is not possible. Picking up these small hints and overcoming the challenges in communication was such a delicate feature of this book.
Now let’s talk about the big bear in the room: What initially drew me to this book was my curiosity to see how the author would translate non-verbal communication into dialogues in the book. In the end, it was really well executed! This book gave me a lot of insight on not only the everyday life challenges of deaf people, but also on how the deaf/hard of hearing community rolls. Their scenes were always really fun, and seeing their culture being integrated so well into the story was such a surprise twist. Before picking up the book I was afraid to have awkward feelings towards reading about a deaf character but none of this was to be true! Instead we learn a lot about life from their perspectives, e.g. how typing on phones are crucial for communicating with the outside world or seeing ASL beginners struggle with ASL. It was really cool how the author left some hints here and there on how to sign certain words too!
In addition, we also learn a lot about Jewish culture in modern America — something I have never seen being played out in a book before, so that was really interesting! With Gaby’s weirdly adorable family, it was no wonder this book left me charmed.

The only flaw I saw with this book was that the story takes place in a relatively short amount of time so the backgrounds of the caracters were not necessarily fully explored. I would have loved to see Gaby and Levi’s relationship being played out more, but given the story’s background, it definitely made up for it. Ultimately, Matzah Ball was a super light contemporary read that you will read in one sitting. Definitely recommend!

Find the book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author:

Laura Brown author photo

After spending her childhood coming up with new episodes to her favorite sitcoms instead of sleeping, Laura Brown decided to try her hand at writing and never looked back. A hopeless romantic, she married her high school sweetheart. They live in Massachusetts with their two cats and son. Laura’s been hard of hearing her entire life but didn’t start learning ASL until college, when her disability morphed from an inconvenience to a positive part of her identity. At home the closed captioning is always on, lights flash with the doorbell, and hearing aids are sometimes optional.

Connect with Laura:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

arc review (blog tour): when we left cuba

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In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life–and heart–to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.
The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez–her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future–but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything–not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart… 

April 9, 2019
Women’s Fiction/Historical Fiction
Penguin/Berkley

AbtrennungI remember when I finished reading Next Year in Havana a year ago, I got an awful book-hangover because I fell hopelessly in love with Elisa and Marisol’s stories and I could not believe I would have to leave their extravagant world behind. By the way, the fact that Camila Caballo’s Havana was being played non-stop on radio stations at that time certainly added to the fact that it ended up being one of my favourite reads of last year. When I heard that Cleeton had another book coming out focusing on another Perez sister, I knew that i.) I had to read it and ii.) it would be really hard to live up to the first book. I never quite connected with Beatríz in the first book in the way I connected with Elisa since she was a little bit too reckless in my opinion so I was curious to see if the author could convince me otherwise. Spoiler: If Elisa’s story was a tornado sweeping off your feet, then Beatriz’s was one of fire burning you from the inside. Passionate, adventurous, loving and fierce — these are only some words trying to capture the essence of When We Left Cuba.

Just a little background: Forced to flee her native country Cuba for the US with her family, Beatriz suddenly finds herself in a life she never wanted for herself. Somehow belonging in but not really, scrutinised by the society for being different, surviving on her family’s assets in the US but not truly living, she naturally just feels like any queen who has been pushed down from her throne (in her case, the throne in Havana): Hurt, betrayed and bored. You can smell it from the first page that trouble has its way of finding her, and unfortunately, she likes trouble just as much. Inevitably she is more than willing to join when she is approached by the CIA to assassinate Fidel. From then on, it is a sweeping story leading the reader from Florida to Washington D.C., then to London over Havana and eventually back to Miami. As we follow Beatriz’s journey to fight for her kind of justice, and eventually her love, you can’t help but fall in love with her headstrong and fierce character. I don’t think I had so much fun reading a character’s voice in a while — unique, refreshing and without filter, she just states things the way they are.
While I really enjoyed the book’s very unconventional plot, I could not help but wonder if these types of events really happened (just the fact that a single girl is supposed to kill Fidel? Loco…). You can tell though that Cleeton put a lot of research into her book, something that she also addresses in the afterword, mixing fiction with reality so seamlessley by capturing the time’s zeitgeist. This book is full of life and it is like a collection of strong emotions, grave historical events and strong characters. Another thing I really enjoyed was how Cleeton sometimes added present-day chapters to the book that is mostly set in the 1960s. While it was pretty clear for me from the beginning to where the story is going, it definitely added some tender and sweet moments to the whole story, poking at possible turnouts of events which makes the reader even more eager to find out what other things Beatriz has up in her sleeves.

Final thoughts: When We Left Cuba is a tragical at times, heart-wrenching for most of the parts but ultimately hard-to-resist book, and while it definitely is not an easy story because of the raw political and social events at that time, it was a powerful story of loyalty, passion and female empowerment, making you race through the book in no time.
Seeing Beatriz grow, mature and becoming the strong lady we eventually see in the final chapters of the book, set against the retro and nostalgic backdrop of America’s old money political elite, is like tasting a sweet forbidden wine — unique and unforgettable.

AboutTheAuthor

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Website Facebook Facebook Reader Group Twitter Goodreads Newsletter Instagram

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Review: Next Year in Havana (Blog Tour)

Next Year in Havana.jpgAfter the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a familysecret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

February 6, 2018
Women’s Fiction/Historical Fiction
Penguin/Berkley

AbtrennungStarting this book, I didn’t know much about the history of Cuba or even its culture. Chanel Cleeton makes sure that you are going to pick up so many pieces of Cuba along the way of reading the book. Alternating between Marisol’s POV — the present — as well as Elisa‘s POV, as a reader, you are instantly drawn into two worlds. One, the one of Marisol, seems to be carefree and somewhat melancholic. As a member of the Perez family, she never had much to worry about; it isn’t until her grandmother’s death however that she is catapulted back into her family’s history. Traveling back to Cuba, a place she only knows from stories, she can finally see the country of her dreams for herself — only  to realize that there are so many layers of Cuba.
Something that really surprised me was the author’s realistic approach to the situation in present Cuba, as well as the political undertone to the book. Chanel Cleeton draws a perfect picture of the many facets of Cuba, vividly painting its lush, lively culture and twisted history, and she sure did an amazing job in making the setting as authentic as possible.

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Book Talk with Tessi: THE FALLEN PRINCE

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I am more than THRILLED to be part of the blog tour in celebration of Amalie Howard’s The Fallen Prince book release! In case you didn’t know, TFP is the second book in The Riven Chronicles, following The Almost Girl which I liked very much.

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There is barely any book out there that has left me with such mixed feelings. While the book did not exactly trigger one rollercoaster ride of emotions in me, it still left me breathless in the end. Oh, and can I just say how fascinated I am by the world Howard created?

But let me start from the beginning.

The book picks up about one year after where the story left off, but since no major changes have happened since, Riven is still on the run to find her father. Having read The Almost Girl almost two years ago already, I found it rather hard to get back into the story after such a long time. Of course there were some things that I still remembered from The Almost Girl such as Riven being a badass fighter/assassin or her inner struggles after the loss of many loved ones; nonetheless I did wish the book would have provided some memory aids especially in the first one or two chapters.
Unlike the first book, The Fallen Prince focuses on more serious themes than the first one. It revolves more around the question of how human Riven is rather than on how willing she is to save herself and her loved ones. You can tell that Riven has matured a lot by gaining more responsibility and empathy instead of focusing on her senses only. I often wished however that she would have just let her stubbornness go instead of keeping all of her anger to herself. That probably would have made the plot more exciting since the first half of the book was pretty predictable to me. There were times where she reminded me more of an unforgiving attack dog than a badass fighter but after all she has been betrayed by a lot of people.
We are also introduced to new characters who — like the other secondary characters — came a little too flat in the beginning. Maybe it is inevitable due to the book’s technology theme, but it sometimes felt that the book’s atmosphere was too clinical, leaving not a lot of space for emotions and big character developments.

On the romantic side, Caden and Riven are obviously still hot for each other (like really hot!) but again, I sometimes felt that Riven’s voice drifted too much to that of little whiny girl again. Caden is one of the few characters who can make her self-conscious, but instead of admitting to all of her feelings, she decides to let rationality run over emotions. This of course made Riven a fiercer and determined character but it also turned the book more into a one (wo)man show — which is not necessarily bad but it might have allowed more space for the secondary characters. (Note: I love badass heroines. Riven is a perfect example of why you only need yourself to be strong, but love can make you even stronger!)
Then on the other hand, I often asked myself if I would have acted differently if my DNA has been altered and changed. It always raised the question on how far scientists would go in order to create the perfect fighter.
However the book still follows a very fast-paced plot so the reader is literally thrown back into the story with no time to question small details. The last hundred pages or so are so worth of the reader’s patience. It didn’t fail to surprise me with new twists, more action-packed scenes, intrigues, new betrayals. You know what makes a good villain? If the villain has a deep motive to be evil and is convinced that whatever he does, it is for the good. The way they were shaped in the book — so three-dimensional — I couldn’t help but admire the author’s evil genius brain for coming up with such huge plot twists.

Overall, I still find it hard to give a proper review on the book without revealing too much. The book showed pieces of the best but also of the worst of humanity, making it so much more than ‘just’ a YA scifi book. Also, the world-building was the perfect blend of technology, scifi and fantasy. While there weren’t any dragging parts in the book, the first half of the book was still very predictable and foreseeable. However, the questions that were raised throughout the book — how far can science go? What makes a human human? — make up for the little ‘flaws’ in the story, adding a deeper meaning to the whole story. If you are looking for a book that is one of its kind, this one is for you.

Riven has fought for a hard-won peace in her world, and has come to shaky terTHE FALLEN PRINCE - coverms with who and what she is—a human with cyborg DNA. Now that the
rightful ruler of
Neospes has been reinstated, Riven is on the hunt for her father in the Otherworld to bring him to justice for hiscrimes against her people.

But when she receives an unwelcome visit from two former allies, she knows that trouble is brewing once again in Neospes. The army has been decimated and there are precious few left to fight this mysterious new threat.

To muster a first line of defense, her people need help from the one person Riven loathes most—her father. But what he wants in return is her complete surrender.

And now Riven must choose: save Neospes or save herself.

Get the book here, here, here, here or here.

Amalie Howard - headshot

AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.She is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national silver IPPY medalist. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children.

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[Bloggeraktion]: Essenz der Götter aka #TeamDivinus

Gestern Morgen erhielt ich eine mysteriösen Brief der ungefähr so aussah:

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(Um ehrlich zu sein, sah er genauso aus)

Nun, Martina Riemer hat sich zum Start ihres neues Buches “Essenz der Götter” eine tolle Bloggeraktion ausgedacht: Es wurden Briefe verschickt, in denen ihr eurer Bestimmung folgen könnt und ich bin stolz, verkünden zu können, im Team der Divinus zu sein!!

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Wenn du auch den Ruf der Götter gehört hast und die Essenz in dir spürst, dann bist du bei uns genau richtig! Wir sind die Divinus – Nachkommen der Götter und gewillt dich in unsere Reihen aufzunehmen! Einzige Voraussetzung: Ein Blogger müsst ihr sein! Auch die Titanus – Nachkommen der Titanen versuchen ihre Reihen zu füllen. Doch wir wissen das zu verhindern, denn auf das Gewinnerteam warten unglaublicher Ruhm und natürlich tolle Gewinne. Z.B. das:

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Was müsst ihr tun, um auch ein Divinus zu werden?
  • Verfasse einfach einen Blogpost, in welchem du zu erkennen gibst, dass du auch ein Divinus bist
  • Meld dich mit dem dazugehörigen Link an mich zurück, entweder in den Kommentaren oder per Mail (tessireysiia @ gmail.com)

Hättest du gerne noch mehr Infos zum Buch und der Blogger Aktion? Dann schau doch bei Martina, der lieben Autorin von Essenz der Götter vorbei oder besuche die Haupttrainerin der Divinus: Katja. (Diesen Satz habe ich überhaupt nicht schamlos von Nina @ book:blossom übernommen.)

Ich hoffe sehr, dass viele Divinus den Ruf der Götter folgen werden und die Essenz in sich spüren, damit wir bald den Titanus zahlenmäßig überlegen sind! Also:

Sei ein Divinus und mach uns stolz!

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Review: Into the Fire

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Title: Into the Fire

Publication date: September 9, 2014

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.

Author: Ashelyn Drake

ITF-CoverSeventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | TBD | iBooks
Into the Fire

AbtrennungThere are books that start off slow but turn out to be a real page-turner, and there are books like Into the Fire that start off with a BANG and still manage to keep you engrossed throughout the story.
Cara’s rebirth is getting closer which means she cannot afford to let new people into her life, especially boys like Logan. See her brother, Jeremy, who has just undergone his own rebirth — within minutes he has forgotten all about their close relationship. The pain that not only Cara, but also her family felt was almost seizable and it was seriously gut-wrenching seeing her helplessly watching her brother re-navigating in life again. Actually, the worst thing she could do is imprinting on a boy — but it happens and I really felt the cruelty and irony in falling heads over heels in love.
I’m usually not into those stories where a girl is torn between duty to her family and love, but in this book, each emotion is real, true to the MC’s life and background, both raw and edgy. I did not just know what emotions Cara felt, I lived them. I was able to empathize with her anger as well as her confusion although her relationship toher mother could have been better developed for my taste: I clearly saw that her mother meant well but some passages just felt too overblown — I mean I sometimes just wanted to jump up and tell them to speak with each other instead of avoiding confrontations. Nonetheless, Ashelyn Drake managed to bring the characters to life in a way that left me thinking about them long after I have finished the book.

Also, the book is told from dual POV which I really did not expect, namely Cara’s and Logan’s POVs. Both voices were so refreshing to read although I do have to say I enjoyed Logan’s voice slightly better. There is just something about the sarcasm and bluntness in the way he thinks and speaks. Cara’s voice has a sadder and more melancholy shade which clearly fits the plot, and it was so much fun seeing her loosen up in front of Logan. You just feel the chemistry between them, why they can’t keep their hands off from each other, and adding Drake’s casual writing style to that it was just the perfect love story I needed to read.

I do, however, have to say that the book’s focus is more on the romance than on the mythical phoenix aspect which was a little bit disappointing for a mythology geek like me. The thing is, the book felt more like a contemporary book for me and is strongly based on the characters’ development whereas the world building somewhat lacked in detail and originality. I know it sounds a little bit contradictive to what I have said before, and to do the book justice, I really did not feel bored for a second while I was reading the book, nor did I feel the urge to skip some pages. Nonetheless, I really would have liked to learn more about the phoenix mythology although we do get to know the “basics”, aka reincarnation etc..
That being said, I do have to say I really enjoyed the way the author embraced the mythology by creating the hunter theme and thus increasing the tension in the book: There are phoenix hunters who are on the prowl to kill people like Cara’s family to “steal” their life times.

The pacing in the last few pages was seriously mind-blowing and as unpredictable as a rollercoaster ride. I wished the same fast-paced action had happened earlier since I felt almost overwhelmed by the huge number of twists in the last few chapters as well as the ENORMOUS cliffhanger, but I did enjoy reading the ending though. Nonetheless, I really would not have minded it if there would have been a clearer answer to Cara’s phoenix conflict, especially since many actions at the end of the book felt a little bit too rashed and pressed, leaving many questions unanswered. The ending does however perfectly reflect the wonderfully developed dynamics of Cara and Logan’s relationship and I was surprised how Ashelyn stayed true to Logan’s sarcastic voice despite the dramatic situation.

Ashelyn Drake’s writing is commanding and stunning — I could not pull myself away from the book’s hypnotic grasp. While I would not exactly call the book’s plot “innovative”, the book is a unique twist on the phoenix theme though, making Into the Fire an exhilarating and refreshing novel and ultimately, an unforgettable read!

3.5Schmetterling

AboutTheAuthor

Ashelyn DrakeAshelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some drk chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Author Guest Post: A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger

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Title: A Whispered Darkness

Publication date: August 26, 2014

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.

Author: Vanessa Barger

A-Whispered-Darkness-CoverWhen Claire Mallory’s father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house.The old house creaks and whistles, and smells well — like it’s been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.Just as things start to pick up in Claire’s love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it’s all over?

So y’all know A Whispered Darkness also includes a little twist of YA horror…and the easiest way I can personally connect with scary stuff is…well, horror movies. But what are actually the author’s own thoughts on such movies? Vanessa Barger was kind enough to answer this question in this post — and guys, be prepared to fall off your chairs because the post is HILARIOUS!Banner (2)

Okay, so I have a confession. My name is Vanessa Barger, I write YA Horror (and other things), and I’m terrified of scary movies.

No, really. It’s kind of stupid really. I’m…well… let’s leave off the age, but suffice to say, I’m old enough to know that Dracula does not live in my closet with the other monsters. But horror movies… I have this strange and weird fascination with. I don’t like slasher flicks. At all. If there’s a lot of shock and gore, I won’t watch. The Saw movies? Nu-uh. No way.

Of course, I will admit to turning Nightmare on Elm Street on a few months ago. Bits at a time. When I thought something scary was coming, I flipped it back to the Food Network.

Probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen was The Ring. Some of you are probably snickering. Let me explain – I think the Ring (if you haven’t seen it, watch out. Spoilers! Lol) bothers me because when I was a kid there was a ghost story told at a sleepover once about a possessed cassette tape that killed people. I don’t remember the details anymore. It was probably a really bad retelling in the dark with flashlights while people’s training bras were being soaked and shoved in a freezer. But I remember it scaring the crap out of me.

Then in college a group of us head to the movies. It’s a Saturday in a big theatre in Northern Virginia. There are a LOT of people. We get in the long line, and four of them are headed to the Ring. Me and another girl are planning on seeing Bond. We don’t do horror flicks. Halfway up, Bond sells out, along with everything except The Ring and some other adventure flick.

We decide on the adventure flick. The person in front of us buys the last two tickets.

We are now stuck seeing The Ring with everyone else, or sitting and waiting in the lobby. Not a fun prospect.

The movie itself has a decent plot. I liked the mystery aspect. Then they talk about watching a movie and dying in seven days. Somewhere that sleepover memory is triggered. And a friend shared her coat with me, so I could hold it in front of my face for the scary parts. Except one. The big one. The ghost pops out of a TV after seven days to kill the main character.

Oh, crap.

So there I am, seven days later, asleep on my aunt’s couch for Thanksgiving, watching the minute hand creep along in the dark and staring at a blank TV screen. I just kept repeating that if I made it past midnight and she didn’t pass out, I’d be safe.

As you can see, I’m safe.

I’ve gotten better about watching horror flicks. Like my tolerance for spicy food, I’m working on it. But I’m never going to be able to watch them all the time. I’d never sleep.

To me, what makes a horror flick good is its ability not so much to scare you in that moment, but its ability to scare you later. You know, hours later when you’re home, not thinking about it and you get into bed. Suddenly it’s dark and there’s a creak, and you remember the movie and shadows begin to look sinister and you see teeth gleaming in the dark.

That’s what I’m going for. If I can scare myself a little when writing it, I’m hoping you are scared a little when reading it, and a little more later, when you’ve put the book down and are settling in for the night.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you have a horror movie you think I must, MUST see, feel free to let me know. But no promises. 😉

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Giveaway Information:  Winner will be drawn September 26, 2014

· Four (4) winners will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger (INT) · One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card or B&N Gift Card – Winner’s Choice (INT)

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AboutTheAuthor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer’s Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing. Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook Goodreads