Mar 31, 2015

Review: Holding Strong by Lori Foster

Title: Holding Strong
Author: Lori Foster
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: 3.31.2015
Pages: 480
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, MMA
Series: Ultimate #2
Source: eARC from publisher

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
An up-and-coming MMA fighter wants more than just one night from a woman fleeing her past in New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster's irresistible new novel 
Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn't share. That's why he's been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry's about to need more than she knows… 
Denver's combination of pure muscle and unexpected tenderness has been driving Cherry wild. Yet no sooner does she get what she's been craving than old troubles show up on her doorstep. And this time, Cherry can't hide behind a carefree facade. Because the man by her side is one who'll fight like hell to keep her safe…if only she'll trust him enough to let him…
Whenever I picked up a Lori Foster book, I know I’m in for a great story and HOLDING STRONG is no exception. Briefly introduced to Denver and Cherry in book 1 of the series, this story is all about them and their love and what a great guy Denver is.

What starts as a spicy beginning turns into something a little gross when post-coital Cherry gets a massive case of the flu. I absolutely loved this beginning because Denver was such a stand-up guy and took care of her. It really showed that their relationship went beyond the sheets and there was mutual caring going on there.

Cherry has a bit of a twisted, sordid past that come back to bite her in the butt, but Denver (and all her friends) are right there to rally around her. While I love the romance between Denver and Cherry (Foster’s descriptions burn up the pages), I love the all-around cast of this series and how much they genuinely care for one another. This series is as much about friendship as it is romance.

While the MMA scenes may be a little light (sorry for those of you looking for something more graphic with the fight scenes), Lori Foster more than makes up for it with a great hero and a stubborn heroine that I loved watching fall in love.

Is it time for book 3 yet?!
Buy: Holding Strong

Mar 25, 2015

Review: Chase Me by Tessa Bailey

Title: Chase Me
Author: Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: 3.17.2015
Pages: 272
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Broke and Beautiful #1
Source: eARC

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
College drop-out, Roxy Cumberland, moved to New York with dreams of becoming an actress, but her dwindling bank account is quickly putting the kibosh on that fantasy. To make some quick cash, she signs up to perform singing telegrams. Her first customer is a gorgeous, cocky Manhattan trust-funder if she ever laid eyes on one. And what could be more humiliating than singing an ode to his junk, courtesy of his last one night stand? Maybe the fact that she’s dressed in a giant, pink bunny costume...

After a night out to celebrate winning his last case, lawyer Louis McNally II isn’t prepared for the pounding in his head or the rabbit serenading him from the front door. But the sassy wit and sexy voice of the girl behind the mask intrigues him, and one look at her stunning face—followed by a mind-blowing kiss against his doorjamb—leaves Louis wanting more.

Roxy doesn’t need a spoiled rich boy who’s had everything in life handed to him on a Tiffany platter. But there’s more to Louis than his sexy surface and he’s determined to make Roxy see it...even if it means chasing her all over NYC. 

After falling in love with Tessa Bailey in a previous series, I was excited to see she was giving a go at New Adult with CHASE ME. And while the characters may be a bit younger and the scenes a bit cleaner, the same heat and steam swelters on every page.

The hardest part of this book for me was Roxy. It's hard to love a book when you want to constantly strangle the main character. Her bitterness and snark became a deterrent to me as the story progressed. Eventually she grew on me (kind of the way mold grows on bread), but we would never be friends.

Louis on the other hand, I adored. He kept me anchored to this story and I loved reading about him and his friends. I can't wait to visit with them in later books. He definitely kept me  ROXY on her toes.

As a whole, this is what you would expect in a New Adult book. There's romance and frustrating misunderstandings, but the huge plus is it also has Bailey's steamy scenes that give it a bit of an edge over the competition.
Buy: Chase Me

Mar 24, 2015

The Wicked Will Rise Event!

Join us in celebrating a Book Birthday for THE WICKED WILL RISE by Danielle Paige!  

Big news, fangirls and boys: The second installment in the DOROTHY MUST DIEseries by Danielle Paige, THE WICKED WILL RISE, is coming out a week from today, 3/31/15, and we are going all out to celebrate! We will be holding the festivities at the 92nd Street Y in New York City at 7:00PM, featuring a panel called “New Twists on Old Fairytales” with Danielle Paige, Sara Benincasa (GREAT), Soman Chainani (THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL), and Christopher Healy (THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM). Anyone under the age of 35 can get a special price ticket of $15!


Immediately after the panel, we will be teaming up with Coolhaus to celebrate with some wickedly good desserts you will not want to miss.

Review: Captive by Brighton Walsh

Title: Captive
Author: Brighton Walsh
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 3.24.2015
Pages: 288
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Captive #1
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
He’s the most dangerous man she’s ever met…and she’s falling in love with him.

Madison Frost is desperate to escape her life. Daughter of a prominent businessman, she has everything a girl could ask for. Except for a family who’s present in her life, and anyone to talk to outside the four walls of the prison she calls home. Madison dreams of one day leaving her life behind. She never thought being kidnapped is how it would happen.

Now she’s being held captive by a man who’s as frightening as he is sinfully gorgeous. Enormous, muscular, and filled with secrets, the man they call Ghost is an enigmatic mercenary, and Madison is trapped with him. She doesn’t know who hired him or why, but the more time she spends at his mercy, the more she realizes he’s not what he seems. Beneath his rough exterior lies an unexpected gentleness and a heart as broken and battered as her own.

But as Madison lets down her walls, Ghost holds tight to his, hiding secrets that could destroy everything.

Oh, Brighton Walsh, can I keep you? Please? Because your books are the stuff dreams are made of, and CAPTIVE is just another fantastic, wonderful addition to the book world.

It’s no secret I’m a huge Brighton Walsh fan, but she warned me prior to starting CAPTIVE that it was nothing like her last book. CAPTIVE is darker with harder characters and morally ambiguous scenarios and maybe a little Stockholm syndrome thrown in for good measure.

Madison is trapped in her life—her parents are absent and aloof, her father drowning himself in work and her mother drowning herself in anything with alcohol content. Madison struggles to be the good girl but it’s slowly killing her.

Enter Ghost who kidnaps her. Yes, kidnaps her. He takes her to a cabin and locks her away in the woods against her will. And of course sparks fly in true Walsh fashion. Ghost is complex and so layered and one of the better heroes I’ve read in a long time. He’s rough and gentle all at the same time, in all the right ways.

I absolutely loved this story. It’s addictive and full of mystery and suspense and some seriously hot scenes. Madison and Ghost balance each other wonderfully. This book just further cements my love of all things Brighton Walsh.
Buy: Captive

Mar 23, 2015

Review: All That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Title: Everything That Makes You
Author: Moriah McStay
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 3.17.2015
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Multiverse, Contemporary
Series: N/A
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore. 

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck. 

This is a strange and wholly original debut from Moriah McStay. EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU tackles that question: Does one moment define you? Can a singular moment in time set you on an irreversible path? What happens if you miss that moment?

Fiona/Fi live out two different lives because one was involved in a tragic accident as a child and the other wasn’t. Fiona deals with horrific scars because of a freak accident involving hot oil at the zoo when she was a kid. Because of the scars, Fiona is introverted and quiet and extremely, painfully self-conscious. Fi was never involved in the accident – she’s the star lacrosse player, popular, and has no problem being the center of attention.

I love the idea of this book, and McStay has a beautiful way of writing. Her descriptions are powerful and drew me in with every page.

The problem was I didn’t like either incarnation of Fiona/Fi. Fiona I found to be too quiet and awkward. Fi was brash and irritating. Maybe I would’ve liked a mixture of the two, but these two were polar opposites and polarizing as main characters. I never cared about the outcome for either girl.

Again, I can’t stress enough that McStay has a great voice that I think will really resonate with readers. She is going to have a bright future. Unfortunately, the characters in this one weren’t to my liking, but I will definitely be picking up her next book!
Buy: Everything That Makes You

Mar 20, 2015

Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Title: All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 1.20.2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Series: Embassy Row #1
Source: ARC from NCTE

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter. 

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

Prior to ALL FALL DOWN, I had never read an Ally Carter book. But now I can see why so many of my friends are such firm fans of Carter's work. She creates original stories with unique characters and thrilling situations.

Grace is still reeling from the loss of her mother three years earlier. She is sent to live her grandfather, a well known ambassador, in a last ditch effort to help reign her in (the adult rationale) and find her mother's killer (Grace's rationale).

Grace was a hard character for me to nail down. She was impulsive and kind of bratty, but I could always see her heart underneath. The more the book continues, you learn that Grace is less of a rebel and more of a girl with a broken heart.

There were parts of ALL FALL DOWN that I loved and other parts I couldn't get through fast enough. While Grace does read a bit on the younger side of the YA spectrum, she is still a refreshing character and someone I think teens will rally behind.

Buy: All Fall Down

Mar 13, 2015

Giveaway: Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

A few weeks back I was looking for a new book to pull me out of a slump and I stumbled into BETWEEN THE NOTES, a debut by Sharon Huss Roat. And I absolutely fell in love with this story that had me grinning and laughing out loud and even misting up a little. I loved every second I spent with these characters and told the world (well, the social media world I'm part of). 

Sharon reached out to me recently and asked if I would like to host a giveaway for an ARC of BETWEEN THE NOTES (comes out June 16, 2015 from Harper Teen). She also talked a bit about her inspiration for her witty and poignant debut:

The first kernel of an idea that led me to write BETWEEN THE NOTES was a simple case of mistaken identity. I kept seeing a handsome young man in my kids' school. I had no idea who he was and never spoke to him. But I made certain assumptions based on his appearance, only to learn later that his circumstances were very different than I had imagined. It got me thinking about how we so often judge people––whether favorably or negatively––on appearance or circumstance. And how wrong we can sometimes be! I started that whole "what if" line of questioning, putting a teen girl into various situations of mistaken identity, and Ivy's story began to take shape.

I was just starting my first draft when a friend told me about a family she knew that was going through financial hardship. The parents were attempting to borrow money so they could keep their enormous house and lavish lifestyle. They didn't want their teenage children to have to make any sacrifices, or to even know that they were struggling! That gave me the idea to start Ivy's story in a similar situation, but with parents who chose to move out of their big house and live within their means. It immediately put Ivy in a difficult situation—one she makes worse by trying to hide it!

If you like contemporary with a character that grows and learns a lot, a sweet romance, and a fantastic family unit, this is your book. I can't wait for June until I own my own copy!

When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.

And it isn’t pretty.

Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

As things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some unlikely new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. She may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

Debut author Sharon Huss Roat crafts a charming and timely story of what happens when life as you know it flips completely upside down.

About Sharon:
Sharon Huss Roat lives in Delaware with her husband and two kids. When not writing books for young adults, you might find her reading (YA of course), planting vegetables in her backyard garden, or sewing costumes for a school musical. BETWEEN THE NOTES is her first novel.

US Only (but Sharon is running an INT giveaway on Goodreads!)

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Mar 12, 2015

BookExpo America vs. The Book Con

In 2014, BookExpo America and ReedPOP introduced a new concept and part of the traditional BEA lineup: The Book Con. Originally an idea to marry the industry with the consumer, Book Con turned out to be a confusing, frustrating crush of people crammed into a corner of the spacious Javits center. It divided the line between professional and fan, turning one 1/3 of the floor into a madhouse and the other 2/3 into a ghost town.

Almost every review of the event I saw was negative to the point of scathing. But it seems ReedPOP took the complaints and issues seriously and reconfigured The Book Con to satisfy all sides. So I want to clear up a few questions people may still have.

Dates: May 27, 2015 (Wednesday) 1pm-5:30pm
           May 28, 2015 (Thursday)    9am-5:30pm
           May 29, 2015 (Friday)        9am-5:00pm

Dates: May 30, 2015 (Saturday)   9am-5:00pm
           May 31, 2015 (Sunday)     9am-5:00pm

Industry vs. Consumer:
BookExpo America (BEA) is an industry based show. This means that professionals attend hoping to explore new and upcoming titles as well as recent releases they are interested in selling, buying, and/or promoting. As such, the books are free, provided in the hopes of building buzz. 

The Book Con (TBC) is a consumer driven show. This is designed to bring the reader together with the authors. Books will be for sale, and less will be free or given away. There will be more versatile panels to reach a variety of readers and the focus will be on celebrating authors and their books.

Authors and Signings:
BEA and TBC will have separate authors attending each event. While there may be some overlap, don't count on an author you see attend TBC as being at BEA and vice versa. Make sure you keep an eye out for the official schedules on both sites to see what authors will be attending/signing and when.

Books from home:
BEA is not the place to bring your books from home to be signed - but TBC is. However, keep in mind that authors and publishers have the right to refuse something to be signed due to time constraints or anything else. If your favorite author is attending TBC, don't plan on getting at 53 of your books signed and personalized. Most authors get a 1 hour signing window and will have a line of a hundred or more attendees. A few books is all right - a few dozen, not such a great idea. Also keep in mind that rolling bags/suitcases are not allowed on the Javits floor (you can check them for $3 and access them throughout the day, but cannot cart them around with you).

Again, BEA is not a signing opportunity. Authors will be signing and attending BEA to promote a certain book - not to sign a dozen of their backlist titles.

As BEA is a professional environment, attendees must be over 18. TBC welcomes children of all ages. Depending upon their age, they may or may not need to have an official ticket to TBC to enter. Make sure to check the website to be certain what pass your child qualifies for.

Last year BEA passes included access to TBC. This year you must buy a pass for BEA and another pass or TBC. Having a BEA pass does not get you into TBC.

The only exception to this rule is press pass holder who have access to cover both events for their outlets.

In 2014, the final day of BEA was merged with TBC which meant dividing the Javits center floor into a choppy mess that shoved 80% of attendees (both for BEA and TBC) into one cramped area. This year TBC attendees will have access to the entire floor of the Javits, thus alleviating the stress of putting everyone together in one area.

Last year people complained about the safety of having so many people in such a confined area (with a lot of BEA badge holders seeking refuge on the BEA side of the floor to escape the masses), but this year people will be spread more evenly across the Javits.

I truly believe ReedPOP is striving to make Book Con a great event for fans. I'm curious to see how it will go this year (it can only go up after last year). As a 4 year BEA attendee, I'm also excited to get BEA back to being an industry event that no longer overlaps with a consumer event. Separation between the two will (hopefully) contain the chaos of both.

Mar 11, 2015

Keep YA Weird!

Andrew Smith and the folks over at Penguin Teen have a message for you  - KEEP YA WEIRD!

The next big thing I wanted to let you all know about is the Keep YA Weird Twitter chat on March 17th at 7:00pm ESTwith some of our favorite weird YA writers:
Andrew Smith (The Alex Crow)
Jon Skovron (Man Made Boy)
April Genevieve Tucholke (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea)
Kat Rosenfield (Inland, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone)
Brenna Yovanoff (Paper Valentine)

In the lead time to this chat, we are running a giveaway through Rafflecopter for free copies of all 6 of the above books, a Keep YA Weird button, and a Keep YA Weird tote bag (all images attached). This will run from 3/9 until 3/18.

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Guest Post & #Giveaway: The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

On building worlds

   So, you want to make a universe, do you? So I had guessed—you have that Demiurge look about you. Step in, step in, but watch your head under the—oh, those? Just some little beasties I’ve been working up. No, not poisonous, but mind the beaks. Let me clear off some—aha! So that’s where I put those. Lovely, lovely, I’ll just file them later. Here, have a seat.

The first question to ask is “Why?”. By that I mean, beyond satisfying your urge to shape and create, what purpose will your world serve? Neither you nor I are clever enough to author the subtle majesties of the universe in which we both live—I intend no slight, I am merely stating a fact—so the question is really how much of a world do you need to create to make everything in it cast a shadow? Once you know that, once you know what purpose your creation serves, everything else you do will have its proper order and place.

Perhaps you do not know what I mean by casting shadows. Let me explain. When you or I make anything, being ourselves finite, our creations will thus also be finite. That is a fact, but at the same time a fact that can be dodged. If you know what your world is there to do, then you will know where to sculpt with a thin-bladed knife and where to just dump rocks in vaguely suggestive shapes at the horizon. Do it right, and the detail in front of your audience will suggest distant details that you never actually made. The good artist knows when to let his audience do the work. Leave what matters most to your purpose in full sun, and you might find your audience painting into the shadows surrounding.

A parlor trick? You defame a high art! Even if you could make a universe as grand, as infinitely detailed and yet elegantly simple, as crystalline in its order and yet so outwardly chaotic as the one we both inhabit, you would make something so total in its perfection that it would not appear to serve any purpose at all. We lack that power, lucky us, and so if we make something, we must make it for something. That is a limit, but there is loveliness in limits.

Let us then be more specific, and assume that you are making a world that tells some sort of story. With every aspect of this world you are to build, then, ask yourself how this aspect reflects on the sort of story you wish to tell. Let us use geography as an example. How far is it from Hogwarts to Buenos Aires? The answer: it does not matter. How far is it from Hobbiton to Rivendell? The answer: about four hundred miles, and it matters very much. You see? There are worlds you can make where the divisions between here and there are notional. There are other worlds where you might know that this land here is stony downland that supports a few flocks of sheep, while over there is a river delta full of rich alluvial soil, and so you know where to place your city and also what sort of trade might pass through it. You might then go so far as to draw a map, but a word of caution first—before you start drawing rivers, have a look at a real one.

Are there people in your world? Of course, but it was worth asking. By “people” I don’t necessarily mean humans—cats and rabbits have served their turn quite well, and I had the most fascinating young woman in here a week ago, talking about the life struggles of the cephalopod… I digress. Are some of those people meant to be the window through which your audience sees your world? Very good, so then we must next consider what sort of people they are. Here we have both promises and pitfalls. Allow me to summarize. If you are going to draw from life for your cultures, make sure to draw from the roots. Perhaps your people have a language—very well, which one? Where did it come from, and how did it get to be the way that it is? If the meaning of that question eludes you, then do go and look up the history of the language you yourself speak. You might find much to inspire your efforts.

Ask the same of culture and politics. If your world is governed by an evil empire, how then did that empire rise? If one man sits upon the darkling throne, what keeps him there? If a shadowy cabal pulls the strings of power, how do they do it, and what stops them turning against each other? Following that line, look back again to ask how the politics of your world serves your story. Do your heroes live in a dark age? If so, look into why the dark ages of our world occurred, why scholars think that kingdoms and empires fall. Here, I’ll show you—see this text? It argues that the Bronze Age of our world ended in chaos and strife because the widespread use of iron weapons made the old empires unstable, though of course this treatise over here argues vehemently to the contrary, and that—well, you get the idea, I am sure.

Perhaps, though, you wish to create things in your world that you cannot find in our own. Everywhere you make a change, go back and think of what other facets of your world this might affect. If, for example, there are beings of great power, how do they coexist with everything else you have made? Are they simply rare, or perhaps vulnerable, or are they governed by a ethical code? Why doesn’t Superman take over the world—just because of the Kryptonite? What do dragons eat? What matters, ever and again, is that you know the reasons behind what you show, and moreover that you know what sort of story you are telling by setting things up like that.

Two last things, for I must return to my feeding pits before—well, never mind that. First, don’t fall so in love with what you have made that you make it static. A world under change is thrilling in a way that a stable world can never be. If you set up the One True King upon the throne, get ready to knock him right off again. Second, look up what Tolkien said about allegory. Here, take one of these to get you started—it only bites when you tickle it, just there. Come back any time! I do so love to watch worlds being born.

Oh, and don’t use apostrophes for glottal stops. It’s been done.

Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes' honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned!

Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together--and work apart--in ways that will test every ounce of resolve.

About Matthew Jobin:
When I was small, I often spent my free time playing in a little forested ravine near my house. I found names for places, climbed trees as high as they would bear me, watched the change of seasons – I even rafted down the creek that wound through it one flooded spring. Somewhere back in those days a place began to take shape in my mind that I have been exploring ever since. I loved to read, and loved to make up stories, using anything I could find in the world around me. The world of the Middle Ages enchanted me, with its colours, its bravely glittering thoughts and clarion spirit.

As I grew up I became fascinated with the story of humanity, with the weave of nature and culture that makes us what we are. I studied anthropology, drawn to investigate how we got here and what life means. The questions I considered there sharpened my thoughts and spurred me to set down my dreams in words. Since then I have found my own path, writing to help me see better the place in my mind I have known for so long, for in that place answers form to the questions I have asked.

A copy of THE NETHERGRIM for US residents only

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Mar 10, 2015

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Inspiration for THE ORPHAN QUEEN:
THE ORPHAN QUEEN started as a seed planted while I was watching comic book cartoons with my husband. (Justice League, I'm pretty sure. Maybe the Unlimited series.) I remember it struck the first time I saw a particular scene -- some saving someone else, as is common in comic books -- and the second time I saw it, I decided to poke that spark of interest and see what happened.

First, I pulled out the things I loved about the original scene: a girl was rescuing a guy, and it was really dangerous for her to do that.

That was my seed. Everything else was built on a daring rescue that would, ultimately, make things worse.

I knew the characters in my story were children at the time this was happening, and it was just the catalyst for the rest. So before I even began to take notes, I let the idea simmer more, figuring out what happened to both of my characters after this rescue. Where did they go? What choices did they make? What choices were made for them?

The whole thing cooked for a couple of months until I knew it wasn't going to go away, and from there I began the process of building the world -- using the bits I already knew from the parts of the story that were already so real to me -- and figuring out the parts of their present-day story that intrigued me most.

Months of frantic writing later, I had a draft. The scene that sparked the whole story is still in there, though it moved from its original place as a prologue to a flashback in part three (it starts with "I was there when the war began."). Ultimately, it's nothing like the show I'd been watching, besides that potentially ill-advised rescue, and I think that's one of my favorite parts of inspiration. You just never know when it's going to strike, or what will come from it. 

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

About Jodi Meadows:
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen). Visit her at
*A Kippy is a cat.

A finished copy (trust me, it's gorgeous) of THE ORPHAN QUEEN to one lucky winner with a US mailing address!

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Mar 9, 2015

Blog Tour & #Giveaway: Little Peach by Peggy Kern

Title: Little Peach
Author: Peggy Kern
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 3.10.2015
Pages: 208
Genre: Young Adult, Issues, Contemporary
Series: N/A
Source: eARC from publisher

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options. 

Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels. 

But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition. 

This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

It’s no secret I suck at writing reviews on time. I let them back log and build up and then will go on a binge where I write dozens in a span of a week or two to catch up. It’s a testament to LITTLE PEACH and Peggy Kern that it’s only been an hour since I finished this book and I’m now writing a review in the beginning of August 2014 that most of you won’t read until March 2015. But I’m terrified I’ll miss something if I don’t get this out now.

LITTLE PEACH isn’t an easy book to read. I spent the majority of it wishing I could cuddle under my covers with my stuffed animal collection piled high around me. It reduced me to tears at work and had me hiding in the bathroom, sobbing into a fistful of toilet paper. Yes, it’s fiction … But no, it’s not. This book is the horrifying, stark reality of what happens to girls and boys every single day. Boys and girls you pass on the street with a sad smile or downcast eyes. These are the kids no one really likes to admit exist because it means we failed. As a society, as human beings, we failed.

Michelle is a girl who could be almost any girl in any city. A girl who grew up without the protection and support parents are supposed to give. A girl who was forced out onto the streets because she became simply too inconvenient until a predator told her she was worth something. A monster that protected her while simultaneously destroying her. At one point, after Michelle has been with “Daddy” for a bit (mind you, she never actually had a real father), one trick goes sideways, but Daddy saved her. And for a second—just a second—I relished in him protecting her. The way I would imagine Little Peach/Michelle did. But then I realized she never would have been in this position had he not brought her into this world. It’s a sick, twisted dichotomy that chilled me.

Kern is simply phenomenal. She immersed me in Michelle’s world, showing me the ugly truth of things I typically forget because I’m too busy worrying about which DVD to buy at Target. Kern has a captivating voice that is haunted and poignant, crafting a story that will linger for a long while. She deftly and soundly shows the broken, seemingly hopeless life these children drift through daily as they struggle to survive.

Is this a book you will like? Probably not. But it’s a book you need to read. It’s a brutal, unflinching glimpse into a disgusting world that exists around every single one of us every single day.
Buy: Little Peach

About Peggy Kern:
Peggy Kern has written two books for the Bluford High Series. She lives in Western Massachusetts. 

1 finished copy of LITTLE PEACH. US/CA Only. 

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How To Help:
Human trafficking is a global issue that creeps into our country, city, and streets on a daily basis. Visit these organizations to get involved and help break the cycle of silence.