Blog Tour: Ahe’ey – Promo

Aheey Omnibus

Ahe’ey
by Jamie Le Fay
Genre: Epic Fantasy Romance
Release Date: March 8th 2017


Summary:

Morgan’s feminist books didn’t prepare her to deal with the dashing Gabriel and the land of Ahe’ey.

Morgan is a dreamer, change maker and art lover. She is a feisty, slightly preachy, romantic feminist full of contradictions and insecurities. Morgan uncovers a world where women have the power, and where magic is no longer just a figment of her wild imagination. Sounds like a dream, but it may, in fact, turn into a nightmare.

The world of the Ahe’ey challenges and subverts her views about gender, genes, and nature versus nurture.

The strong and uninvited chemistry between her and the dashing Gabriel makes matters even more complicated. His stunning looks keep short-circuiting her rational mind.

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EDITORIAL REVIEWS

“A bracing mix of emotionally and intellectually honest fantasy.” – Kirkus Reviews

“This book is a thoughtful look at empowerment for women. At the same time, it’s a rollicking trip into a fantasy world complete with dragons, love and strength, and ideas that really get you thinking. This book is highly recommended for all ages.” – HUGEOrange

“They’re flawed, real, and honest characters that can be easily related to. Ahe’ey is the kind of novel society needs to read, to create inspiration and to make people think. Ahe’ey is daring, complex, and honest. A must-read novel that tackles heavy and real topics with a mix of serious and humorous, charm and tragedy.” – Reader’s Favorite – 5 Star Review

“Ahe’ey contains a richly imagined world that raises complicated and timely questions about our own.

Jamie Le Fay’s Ahe’ey is an action-packed love story that puts forth a nuanced vision of gender stereotypes, body politics, and the dark side of seeking perfection.” – Foreword Clarion – 4 Star Review


Jamie

About the Author

Jamie is an accomplished writer and speaker that focuses mainly on topics related to girlhood, feminism, gender equality, and the misrepresentation of minorities in media and marketing.

Author Links:

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Ahe’ey Soundcloud Chapters

The first 3 chapters of Ahe’ey can be found on Soundcloud:

Link: https://soundcloud.com/user-133206247/albums


Excerpt 1

“For many years, I’ve been reminding the women in the community that they are role models. That they should model self-esteem; that they should stop commenting on other women’s appearances and throw the beauty mags in the trash. As I do, I must admit that I sometimes feel like a fraud, because on occasions I’m paralysed by a tremendous lack of physical self-worth. So today, I want to acknowledge that we are all works in progress. I want you to know that sometimes it’s important to share, to look the monster in the face, to acknowledge its existence. Hiding what we are and projecting what we should be doesn’t always keep the monster at bay.

“Together, we are stronger. We work to overcome our upbringings; to outgrow the damaging fairy tales of our youth; to ignore the pressure from entire industries whose profits rely on our self-hate.

“And when you see the monster, remember to look it in the eyes and tell it that every second you lose worrying about your looks is a second you are not learning; it is a second you are not experiencing the world; it is a second you are not contributing to your communities in a positive way.

“When you don’t go to the park or to the beach because you are ashamed of how you look, remember the girls and boys that live in war-torn countries that are not allowed the joys of outdoors fun.

“In moments where you focus on your appearance, remember the girls that are kidnapped from their schools in countries where women are denied an education.

“Every moment you are unhappy with your shape or size, remember those who are paralysed, unable to walk, jump, or dance.

“When you starve yourself to reach unattainable standards of beauty artificially constructed by businesses, you are weakening your body and your mind. You are wasting away the precious moments you have and you are giving up your power.

“The obsession with beauty is death by a thousand cuts. Every micro decision is guided by meaningless worry that limits your future, your opportunities and your ability to experience the joys of pleasure.

“Because when you kiss your first boy or girl, you don’t want to be so caught up in your lack of self-worth that you forget to enjoy the kiss, that you forget that you deserve the pleasure of that moment. You don’t want to be so caught up in your lack of self-worth that you become an object of his or her desire, a grateful unworthy slave to his or her attention.

“Who you are has little to do with how you look. You are what you know, what you can do, the impact you have delivered, and the collection of experiences in your meaningful life.

“More than ever, this world needs your intellect, your cleverness, your resourcefulness, and your passion for making the world a better place for those who are less privileged than you.

“More than ever, this planet needs your kindness and your generosity. It needs those who reject the ‘I’ and celebrate the ‘we’. Those who reject hate, violence, and destruction for the sake of power and financial gain.

“You are the most powerful army in the world; you are the future of this planet. You cannot, you will not spend one more minute of your time looking in a mirror wishing you looked different. And if and when you do, you will have compassion and love for the monster; the victim in the mirror, the helpless slave to upbringing, culture and media. You will be kind to her, and then you will be brave, you will reject the victim, and become the fearless hero this world deserves. And you will reject it again and again and again until the voice inside your head that stands between you and your bright future can no longer be heard.

“Sometimes I need to remind myself that I’m not my reflection in someone’s eyes. That what is important; what is truly essential; what really matters about me is invisible to the eye.

“In those days I have to remind myself to live, to love, to laugh, to learn, and to lead.

“In those days remind yourself to live, to love, to laugh, to learn, and to lead.”

Excerpt 2

It took less than two minutes for Gabriel to knock on her door. “Surely you’re not considering going ahead with the outdoor event?” He spoke faster, and his pitch was higher than usual. “It’s much too dangerous. We have no way to control the crowd or prevent an attack. I can’t allow—”

“You can’t what, sir?” she said, raising her voice. She was furious. Her eyes were spears ready to be fired without mercy. “Who do you think you are, to give me orders?”

There was nothing he could say or do. This confrontation wasn’t about the event. She needed to show him that she was the agent of her own destiny and that he had no power over her.

“Morgan, don’t risk your life for anger and pride.” He lowered his voice and attempted to reason with her.

“Great advice from the person who placed my life at risk in the first place. Why don’t you go and do your job instead? Aren’t you supposed to be leading my security team? Do your job! Neither you nor the MRD will stop me from doing mine. I won’t allow manipulation or bullying.” Morgan’s tone was cutting, almost feral.

“I can’t let you risk your life,” his mouth twisted; his voice held a cocktail of frustration and desperation.

Excerpt 3

Before she could process her actions, Morgan found herself walking towards the door, signalling the guards to follow her. Outside, the strange woman shouted.

Where are the Ma’asai?

“At the venue, in the Great Lawn in Central Park. We enclosed the perimeter and created some security checkpoints,” said the blonde man.

“You betrayed my direct orders, Bastian.”

“I received no such order my Sky. Please! We are already here. It’s just for a few hours. We don’t want another incident like the Met where he disclosed his skills to protect her. Let me prevent further—” The blonde man stopped talking as he saw Morgan and the security guards approach.

The woman wrapped her cinnamon-coloured cape around her body, fully covering her weapons and her unusual outfit.

How odd. They look like they belong in a sci-fi TV series, thought Morgan.

“Good afternoon,” Morgan said loudly. She flashed a theatrical smile, trying to defuse the situation. “Hey, nice outfits. Is this Comic-con weekend? I love Comic-con. Which character are you?” She looked up to meet the eyes of the imposing Amazon. The woman looked at Morgan with an expression of cold indifference.

For one moment, Morgan felt like she was looking into a mirror. She recognised the texture and the fire of that hair. How strange.

Excerpt 4

“What do you want from me, Ange’el?”

“Your warriors, they can help secure the area. It’s just for a couple of hours.”

Are you out of your mind? Has Viviane heard about this? My warriors protect our people from those who threaten our security,” she spoke decisively.

He adjusted his tone, trying to reason with her. Silk and honey flowed from his voice and his eyes. “Sky, we were once—”

“Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare!” She leaned in, speaking to his face. Her hand squeezed the hilt of her sword. She gritted her teeth, responding to his silence. “Where were you when we battled the Hu’urei for over twenty years? Where was the powerful prince of Ange’el as my warriors died in the battlefield, crushed by the dragons? Why would I risk the safety of Ahe’ey to respond to the whims of a spoiled coward? Go back to your rich city penthouse Ange’el. You don’t belong here.” Her eyes and her words were razor-sharp spears.

“Please. Sky.”

She mounted the horse and galloped away.

His guilty conscience endured her justified anger and her hate for him. He wore her wrath as a reminder of his weakness, of his betrayal. He gave Sky her rage, and he would suffer it for the rest of their lives. The tension between their roles at Ahe’ey only worsened their frail and fractured relationship. Their agendas were different. She was ultimately responsible for the security of the people of Ahe’ey, and within its borders she was as powerful as the queen and king. She was to be obeyed and rarely needed her mighty army to enforce her orders. Gabriel worked to hide any clues of Ahe’ey’s existence from the humans. In parallel, he sponsored and lobbied for technological and political progress so that Ahe’ey’s secrets could one day be disclosed.


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Blog Tour Schedule –

June 19th

June 20th

June 21st

June 22nd

June 23rd

Blog Tour: The Dragon Orb – Review

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The Dragon Orb (The Alaris Chronicles #1)
by Mike Shelton
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 1st 2017

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Summary from Goodreads:

The fate of a kingdom rests on the shoulders of three young wizards who couldn’t be more different.

Bakari is a brilliant scholar wizard who’s more at home in a library than a battlefield. Alli is a beautiful young battle wizard whose grace in battle is both enchanting and deadly. Roland is a counselor wizard with a seemingly limitless depth of untapped power — and the ego to match it.

As the magical barrier protecting the kingdom of Alaris from dangerous outsiders begins to fail, and a fomenting rebellion threatens to divide the country in a civil war, the three wizards are thrust into the middle of a power struggle.

When the barrier comes down, the truth comes out. Was everything they were taught about their kingdom based on a lie? Will they all choose to fight on the same side, or end up enemies in the battle over who should rule Alaris?

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The Alaris Chronicles Praise:

The first book of the Alaris Chronicles series brings a refreshing take on magic and politics in fantasy. The world feels very much alive as the wizards take on their new challenges, struggling with their personal demons as much as those of the land they are expected to protect. For people wanting a fantasy kingdom-based read that is more sorcery than swords with a depth of intrigue that goes well beyond blood and debauchery, The Dragon Orb is a solid new entry in the genre.” –Self-Publishing Review

The Dragon Orb is full of magic and adventure, and a way for younger readers to get a peek into the world of politics. The book is a strange combination of a Dungeons and Dragons adventure with Game of Thrones, but with kids as the movers and shakers of the story — and with a PG rating. It is a very easy read, a page turner. I love the fact that the protagonists of this story come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and that our leads are not your usual all-white characters. As mentioned before, the world our characters inhabit borrows from already established fantasy folklore; from Lord of the Rings to the Wheel of Time series. The biggest innovation on these series by Mr. Shelton is the inclusion of how politics work (hence the Game of Thrones reference), but accessible for a younger audience.” –  Erika Grediaga for Readers’ Favorite

“Dragon Rider is packed with action, adventure and a well-thought fantasy world. In a sort of collage of a wide variety of fantasy literature, from Lord of the Rings to The Wheel of Time, Mike Shelton goes into the ugliness of power and politics in a very interesting way, creating this type of introductory and age-appropriate version of Game of Thrones for kids. I think any tween or teen, from age ten on, would love to immerse themselves in this world of treason and power, where children are the ones who hold everyone in check.” – Readers’ Favorite


About the Author

Author

Mike was born in California and has lived in multiple states from the west coast to the east coast. He cannot remember a time when he wasn’t reading a book. At school, home, on vacation, at work at lunch time, and yes even a few pages in the car (at times when he just couldn’t put that great book down). Though he has read all sorts of genres he has always been drawn to fantasy. It is his way of escaping to a simpler time filled with magic, wonders and heroics of young men and women.

Other than reading, Mike has always enjoyed the outdoors. From the beaches in Southern California to the warm waters of North Carolina. From the waterfalls in the Northwest to the Rocky Mountains in Utah. Mike has appreciated the beauty that God provides for us. He also enjoys hiking, discovering nature, playing a little basketball or volleyball, and most recently disc golf. He has a lovely wife who has always supported him, and three beautiful children who have been the center of his life.

Mike began writing stories in elementary school and moved on to larger novels in his early adult years. He has worked in corporate finance for most of his career. That, along with spending time with his wonderful family and obligations at church has made it difficult to find the time to truly dedicate to writing. In the last few years as his children have become older he has returned to doing what he truly enjoys – writing!

Author Links:

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4 stars

Review:

I was sent a e-copy of the book for the tour and this is my honest review.

I LOVE dragons and that, especially, was the reason I wanted to review this book.

The Dragon Orb is the first in a new fantasy series, and it was pretty fantastic.

Great magic, well paced action, and well rounded and relatable characters.

A bit slow and/or cliche in places but over all, a good read. If you like dragons, wizards, and fantasy, its worth checking out.


Blog Tour Schedule –

June 12th

June 13th

June 14th

June 15th

June 16th

Blog Tour: Black Blade – Review

Black-Blade

Black Blade
by Alexander Charalambides
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: June 11th 2017


Summary:

Lance is a hero.

With his friend Megan, he does his best to survive high school in a world that doesn’t always make sense, and is almost never fair.

When their school receives a donation from an anonymous millionaire, Lance and Megan find themselves on an international field trip to England, where the two receive an irresistible call to a supernatural adventure that could change their destinies, and the destiny of the country, forever.

Together with three mysterious adults who all claim to be wizards, Lance must safe-guard the legendary Excalibur. Traveling into a strange parallel world and keeping his friends, new and old, safe from harm at the hands of a malevolent army of magical soldiers, Lance discovers the truth about heroism and the content of his character.

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About the Author

ajnoc-eating-books-1000-600-portrait

Alexander Charalambides was born in London and grew up in Berkshire.

He studied Creative Writing, and graduated from the Open University.

In 2008 he moved to the United States, and now lives in New Hampshire.

As a freelance writer Alexander enjoys storytelling just as much as editing and analysis, but often takes time off to enjoy wind surfing, do the sickest of motorcycle flips, wrestle with deadly animals and lie about his hobbies.

Author Links:

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3.5 stars

Review:

I was sent a e-copy of the book for the tour and this is my honest review.

Black Blade is a great story based of the legends of King Arthur, full of its own unique twists, magic and dark humor.

The characters are all great – they irritating at times, its well written, with the changes in point of view clear and easy to follow.

Its a little slow in places, but an overall good read.


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Promo:

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MUSIC PLAYLIST 

Music is an extremely powerful tool for the imagination, it strengths atmosphere and preserves the author’s intent while still allowing the reader to freely imagine the details and texture the author choses to leave blank.

The said, Black Blade’s atmosphere, and therefore “imaginary” soundtrack is sort of set in stone. Since Black Blade is almost a comedy, you might expect me to have listened to all sorts of silly music (which is what I usually listen to), but this is where the “almost” is important. Black Blade’s characters are pretty over the top, sometimes absurd, but the plot and atmosphere are always serious and often sombre, so the comedy really comes from contrast rather than any specific action.

I can’t score the whole thing, but plenty of musical pieces went into building the atmosphere, and since the atmosphere really grew from John Boorman’s Excalibur, we’ll start there.

If you watch Excalibur (and I highly recommend you do) the soundtrack will stand out immediately, the key player being Wagner’s Siegfrieds Funeral March. It’s the keystone of the film’s atmosphere and Black Blade’s as well. In fact, I’m listening to it right now and feeling really proud of myself.

Obviously, though, playlists aren’t composed of a single song. I tried to diversify and ended up with a lot of classical stuff.

Most people know Night On Bald Mountain, which I think comes in louder and louder towards Black Blade’s end, and I always imagined the crowded breathing and clattering equipment of the Mason’s Guild accompanied by Prokofiev’s Dance Of The Knights.

I know, you probably think I’m boring. All posturing about authorial intent and atmosphere aside, I found that writing with these really old, forbidding pieces added something that I couldn’t find in more modern music, and lyrics were right out.

Maybe I’m just ignorant of the music I really needed since all I usually listen to are non-sense mashups and songs made of sampled dog barks.


 MY DREAM CAST FOR BLACK BLADE 

Books are amazing things because you don’t need to cast anyone. It’s one of the things that’s always stood out to me as important about the medium. Because of that, I don’t usually detail my characters or “cast” them, and when details about their personal appearances come up it’s always because they’re relevant to what’s happening in the story. I want to preserve the freedom of anyone to imagine any of my characters to be as much like or unlike them as they want.

That said, I understand why people like to talk about their “dream casts”. It’s a fantasy probably every author has shared at one point or another, sitting down and talking to a casting director about who they can get for the movie adaption, why you want who you want and why they’d be perfect.

Unfortunately, because of the approach I take to how characters look, and because I want my readers to have as much freedom as possible imagining them, I never “cast” anyone I write about, but I can talk about some influences particular performances have had on my decisions about those characters.

The clearest influence I can trace is for Lance, an adolescent malcontent and Black Blade’s “hero”. He whines, he judges, and he is a haver of wrong opinions. I’m sure you’re picturing him already, but I drew a lot on Shia Labeouf for this character, particularly his roles in all the Transformers movies. Please forgive me.

Next are the wizards (spoiler warning: there are wizards in this book), and they’re much harder to pin down to any specific actors. It’s essential that they are aloof, condescending (and in one case very angry), but I have a heard time narrowing their casting beyond the traditional stable of Very Serious British actors.

Last is Megan. Black Blade is driven by an obligation that forces the characters on a supernatural journey. If you think of the story of the book as the story of this quest, Megan is peripheral, or even irrelevant.

She’s really small, almost never confrontational, and almost never takes the initiative. She is (as far as I’m concerned) by far the most important character. Why haven’t I mentioned a cast yet, you might be asking?

The answer is the most important reason that we keep writing books: I’ve never seen an actress cast that would be appropriate for her, and there probably isn’t one for the simple reason that no executive or casting director would employ someone so “ordinary”.

We can write about whoever we want, people who could never be represented by any actor. Without that willingness to write about ugly, strange, ordinary people, we cripple ourselves creatively, so when you think about your “dream cast” while writing, please don’t forget that not all people are actors.


READ BLACK BLADE IF YOU LIKE… 

I think writers are defined by what they take from their influences, and one of the great things about this is that there are no “conventions”. When I look at an author’s work and then read about their influences I can usually see what came from where but I’m always surprised by the whys and hows.

To be honest, this is a subject I could talk about all day, and the way books can be influenced and influence others faster and more fluidly than any other medium is why they’re so important. Obviously, though, I’m supposed to talk about my own influences, since, after all, those are the only ones I can be completely certain of. In fact, writing this post helped me realize some influences I’d completely overlooked.

The most important influences on any writer are the books that first interested him or her in writing, although not necessarily reading. I remember refusing to read anything other than non-fiction until I was press-ganged into enjoying Harry Potter, but I never really thought about story-telling or applying my own creativity until I discovered Cliff McNish’s Doomspell and Silver series. They really stood out to me for their imagination, concise communication with the reader and intelligently detailed worlds. Bot of them captured an atmosphere of mundane gloom, like something bad everyone knew would happen, was pointless to try to stop, and that more than anything else found its way into Black Blade.

I have to admit, for a long time I was coasting creatively. My storytelling ideas advanced, but technically speaking my writing wasn’t improving. That changed after I read Melvin Burgess’ Junk. The book’s influence extends beyond atmosphere, and even though in terms of plot it has almost no relation to Black Blade at all, it’s probably the work that had the biggest impact on my book for a very simple reason: Voice. Without Junk I never would would’ve worked on differentiating my voices, or realized how important narration can be for characterization.

By now we’re on to the visual stuff, the movies. This first one won’t really surprise you, but John Boorman’s 1981 Excalibur really defined for me the atmosphere I feel myth should have, and while Black Blade’s characters and world are very different, you’ll find the same sense of predestination and determination in both.

Lastly is the one I didn’t realize influenced me until I started to really think about atmosphere. Black Blade has mythic themes, sometimes mythic language and even mythic style over-acting and over-emotional characters, but I think what really formed the spine of my book comes from Jacob’s Ladder.

Black Blade isn’t even approaching that level of suspense or horror, but the journey through an abstract, shifting landscape that seems to represent parts of the characters, and shifting perspective traveling through past and future to give the audience a unique changing perspective is definitely something I learned from Jacob’s Ladder.

When I started out I was worried that this whole thing might sound derivative, but now I feel as confident as an author can. What is creativity except a long list of debts?


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June 12th

June 13th

June 14th

June 15th

June 16th

Blog Tour: It Could Happen – Book Review

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It Could Happen
by Mia Kerick
Genre: NA Romance (LGBT)
Release Date: June 5th 2017
Dreamspinner Press

It_Could_Happen_FINAL


Summary:

Three misfits, mismatched in every way—Henry Perkins, Brody Decker, and Danny Denisco—have been friends throughout high school. Now in their senior year, the boys realize their relationship is changing, that they’re falling in love. But they face opposition at every turn—from outside and from within themselves. Moving to the next level will take all the courage, understanding, and commitment they can muster. But it could happen.

Henry is a star athlete and the son of religious parents who have little concern for the future he wants. Brody is a quirky dreamer and adrenaline junkie, and Danny is an emo artist and the target of bullies. Despite their differences they’ve always had each other’s backs, and with each of them facing a new and unique set of challenges, that support is more important than ever. Is it worth risking the friendship they all depend on for the physical and romantic relationship they all desire?

In this unconventional new adult romance, three gay teens brave societal backlash—as well as the chance that they might lose their treasured friendship—to embark on a committed polyamorous relationship.

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About the Author

mia kerick

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com.

Author Links:

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Buy Link: Amazon


3.5 Stars

Review:

I was sent a e-copy of the book for the tour and this is my honest review.

It Could Happen was a cute, quick read. I haven’t read many New Adult books, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but it was a quick, cute read. The writing was well done, I liked the transitions in writing type between POVs (Brody’s Journal, Henry in 1st person, Danny is poems – the poems were kind of cringe, but there are meant to be written by a teenage boy so it gets a pass).

Some aspects of the story felt a little forced. I’ve never read about a three-person couple before, but it felt a little forced initially, as did some of the more “look at how bad his life is” aspects.

But overall, I liked the book and I’m glad I read it. If you like NA, consider picking it up!


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Excerpt #1

CHAPTER 1 MEET THE PLAYERS

Brody’s notebook

Monday, September 15
Before I bare my soul on paper, I’d like to set the record straight. 1. I’m not a ten-year-old girl.
2. My journal isn’t pink and fuzzy with a heart-shaped lock.
3. I don’t make daily entries with a magenta gel pen.
4. There’s nothing simple about bromance.
I feel better after getting that off my chest—my flat chest, and

I’m not in the market for a training bra. See #1, above.

My end goal is to create a user manual for my relationship with Henry and Danny, because I’m seriously confused about where we go from here—wherever here is—and how we get past everything that stands in our way to make it there. In theory, if I write down what goes on with us, I’ll be able to read it back to myself and make sense of things before I do something stupid and/or dangerous.

To get back to my original point, I am not keeping a diary. It’s just the third section of my AP Physics notebook, which I consider a safe place to record my most top-secret thoughts about life, as nobody on earth gives a shit about my half-assed notes.

Maybe I’m not the creative one, but I can write stuff down as well as the next guy. And everybody knows that getting started is the hardest part, so I won’t obsess over it… too much.

I’ll start here, about Henry.

Mostly Henry Perkins strives to live life by the book—it makes it easier to deal with his parents’ rules and expectations. The problem is that the smaller, more insistent—and much hornier—part of Henry wants to do whatever the hell he wants to do. But the thing is, Henry can’t get any of the stuff he wants if he lives by the book, which his mom and dad wrote.

I nailed that summary, so I’ll move on to Danny.

Next there’s Danny Denisco, who is the creative one. He can do stuff like write poetry and paint pictures and still not come off as lame. I can sum up what he wants in a couple of simple sentences. Danny wants only one thing out of life and, more specifically, from the guys he goes out with. And no, it’s not sex. Danny’s looking for the L word, but his problem is that he’ll settle for any liar’s promise of affection, and lie is the wrong L word.

Then there’s me. It’s tough to look objectively at the big picture of yourself, conclude that “Brody Decker’s main objective is to _____,” and then fill in the blank with something profound. Because all kinds of shit comes to mind when I think about what want—to feel the wind in my face and to find the highest adrenaline rush of all time are on the top of the list. But there’s this other guy in me. He gets freaked out easily, so he lives life by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” code. I’m starting to think he wants some of the stuff Henry and Danny want too.

Wind and adrenaline don’t take much effort to find where there’s speed, and I’ve got that part covered. But maybe I want the stuff Henry and Danny want more.


Excerpt #2

Henry: My life

Something’s off with Danny. He didn’t come to the movies with us on Saturday night because he had a date with that thirty-five-year- old fry cook he met at work. I spent this Sunday, like all the rest, with my family, doing the church and Sunday-dinner thing, but Brody texted me that night to let me know that Danny never returned his calls. And Danny was out of school yesterday.

When we stopped by his apartment after cross-country practice today, he didn’t answer the door. Maybe he wasn’t home, but Brody’s got “inner feelings” about things, and he says Danny was in there. I tend to believe him.

You can’t distract Brody when he’s worried about one of us, although he uses distraction to throw us off track when we’re worried about him. And since we’re almost always worried about him, he has to distract us a lot.

“I just want to hear Danny say he’s okay. Until I hear that, I’m not going to stop trying to reach him.” Brody’s draped across my bed on his belly. His T-shirt is twisted in a way that lets me see his skinny back. I think he forgets to eat when he’s worried, but he still looks good.

And then there’s his ass…. I stare at it a little bit too long, but he can’t see my eyes, so it’s okay. I shake my head in an effort to get my unwanted horniness under control, and I say, “My folks aren’t about to let me out tonight, not after I was late coming home from cross-country.”

Eleven months until I leave for college. I can survive eleven more months trapped in this split-level ranch prison with controlling parents who think they own me.

Do over—controlling parents who actually do own me.


Excerpt #3

Brody’s notebook

Tuesday, September 23

Memoir of a Stalker—I sincerely hope this is only a temporary title.

I’m not exactly a stalker, but when it comes to Danny and Henry, sometimes I play the part of one.

And the situation with Danny is seriously messed up. I keep telling Henry that it will sort itself out. I hope I’m not lying to him.

Before I picked up Henry for school today, I drove by Danny’s apartment building three times. Or maybe it was five times. I lost count.

Extremely stalkeresque.

I stared at the building each time I drove by, but there was nothing out of the ordinary—one beige cement building, nine nondescript windows with torn screens, five crumbling brick steps leading to a cracked plate glass door, zero landscaping. The place is almost invisible in its plainness. The only thing that draws any attention to the residence is the number of beat-up SUVs, ancient boats on trailers, and motorcycles that have seen better days that surround it. The property looks like a used-vehicle auction lot.

The first three times I passed by, I saw a couple of wrinkled old men with bloated bellies smoking cigarettes on the front walkway. I also noticed about five skinny cats skulking around the property. But no Danny. I was tempted to park behind the row of overgrown shrubs on the corner and wait as long as it took to see if he emerged alone or arm-in-arm with Jared, the jealous fry cook.

But I didn’t stop. I passed by unnoticed… unless Danny happened to glance out the window. Lime-green Jeep Wranglers are hardly stealthy.

There’s no valid reason for me to be snooping on him. Danny Denisco is not my boyfriend. He’s not my best friend’s boyfriend. We’re straight. He’s gay. The whole romance thing is not possible.

Danny’s not a mystery I need to solve. He’s just a guy from the bad part of town who happens to enjoy the darker side of life. He has an extraordinary gift for painting fluorescent sunsets on black velvet without making them look redneck tacky. His poetry could even bring tears to Lionel Wagner’s eyes.

Danny has a fashion sense that, on a good day, could be called peculiar. Most of the time, Danny comes to school looking like a boy witch. He has multiple piercings in his ears, nose, bottom lip, right eyebrow, and probably other places I don’t want to know about. Add to that an emo haircut, complete with sideswept bangs and neon-blue tips, and way too much black eyeliner.

That’s Danny.
Like I said, no mystery.
Danny defines “gay, emo, Goth boy.”
He looks radical, but he just wants what everybody else wants out of life.

And Danny is not my boyfriend. I don’t know how I feel about that.


Excerpt #4

Free Verse Poetry by Danny D

“Secure”

everything aching joins into one,

an opaque cloud blocking the sun

I must walk through this storm

alone, like a martyr at death

guilty that I stole their breath

afraid as a child in the night

injured, the loser of a fight

jealous, like the one in last place

lost as a call with no trace

the only shelter I can see

is in this false security


Excerpt #5

Henry: My life

First Wagner surges past me, and then the top three runners on the Wilson Brown Bears Cross-Country Team go by me, one by one. Each time I get passed feels like a stab in the gut. But when No-neck Nelson awkwardly lopes by, I know I’m up a creek.

“You can do this, Perky.” Brody’s not even wearing running shoes, but he breaks out of the small crowd at the top of Linden Hill to run beside me. And then he’s with me—baggy cargo-pocket fatigues and work boots with a loose button-down shirt flying behind him, and even wearing his backpack—racing along, offering encouragement.

“Pick up the pace now. Focus on getting past just Nelson for starters. You’re so much faster than him it’s not even funny.”

Brody doesn’t look at me, but he keeps on rambling words of inspiration until I pass Nelson. Then he retreats back into the scattered group of spectators and calls out a final bit of advice. “Keep it up, Henry. You’ve got this!”

But I don’t “got it” at all. I run into the finish with my tail between my legs and end up in fifth place.

Dad is in my face before I can blink.

“What on earth do you call that?” He grabs my shirt by the Golden Eagle emblem on the front. “You call that an effort?”

I look around for Brody. I’m not sure why. It’s not like he can save me from my dad. All I can see are teammates crossing the line and their parents and other students congratulating them.

“Look at me, son,” Dad barks, and then he shakes me to make sure he has my full attention. “You think you’re going to get into a Division One track school with a performance like this?” He jabs his watch with a pointed finger.

The people around us can’t miss that Dad is basically exploding all over me in an ugly show of public parental frustration. It’s like he thinks I ran slowly to hurt him.

“This is unacceptable.” Again he looks at his watch. “I’m speechless.”

As I again look around for Brody, I sincerely wish Dad actually could be speechless.

“Have you been taking lessons on how to get slower? Have you?” He won’t let up.

Finally I see Brody come through the crowd. I think he heard my father’s last insult, as he steps up to my side in an act of solidarity. “And this pothead loser”—he gestures toward Brody with his elbow—“is most certainly the one who’s teaching you how to run at the pace of a damned turtle.”

We now have the attention of the entire crowd. Coach Wentworth stands behind Dad, looking seriously disturbed. He places his hand on Dad’s shoulder and says, “Mr. Perkins, with all due respect, this is just one race. Henry’s a little bit off his game today. I’m sure he’ll perform much better next time.”

Dad turns around and glares at Coach, who shakes his head in mute frustration but steps back.

“I’m seriously considering sending you off for a postgrad year at Northrop Sports Academy. Maybe there you’ll be able to concentrate on the important things in life, like running faster, rather than wasting your time hanging around with boys who are never going to amount to anything.” The crowd’s attention shifts to Brody. He looks down at the grass.

I can’t help it. I make one of those lame choking noises. I want to cry because everything is so fucked-up in my life, but I can’t. So the messed-up, strangled sound just pops out from deep in my throat. Even Lionel Wagner cringes, none too eager to see an eighteen-year- old guy cry ten feet past the finish line of a stupid cross-country race. Brody leans against me, and we stand shoulder to shoulder and wait for what comes next.

Dad storms off—finally speechless—but before I have a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, Mom steps up and shepherds me a few yards away from Brody.

“Kneel down,” she says in all seriousness and then drops to her knees on the grass despite the fact she’s wearing a skirt. “Get on your knees and pray with me, Henry.”

I look back at Brody, and his face is pale. He shakes his head slowly, but obedient as always, I get down on my knees in the grass beside Mom. The shocked stare of the crowd heats all of my exposed skin.

“Lord Jesus, we thank You for all of the blessings You have bestowed upon us. We ask that You hear our humble prayer,” she begins, her head bowed and her eyes closed. “Please help our son to succeed, dear Jesus.”

I don’t bow my head or close my eyes. But I do pray. Silently. Oh God. Public prayer. Please, no.
“Let’s do this at home, Mom,” I manage to utter.
Apparently God hears my desperate plea and passes it on to my mother. She rises to her feet, as I do, takes me by the hand, and leads me to the family minivan. I don’t look back at Brody. There’s no point. Dad is waiting in the driver’s seat. He refuses to look at me when I slide open the door and climb in back.

This afternoon was the crowning glory on a week from hell.


Blog Tour Schedule –

Adding the tour schedule to promote my fellow bloggers. Check out their posts!

June 6th

June 7th

June 8th

June 9th

June 12th

June13th

June 14th

June 15th

June 16th

Blog Tour: The Wishing Heart by J.C. Welker – Review

The Wishing Heart by J.C. Welker

Published by Entangled Teen

To Be Released on May 1st, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Goodreads

thewishingheart1600-600x900


Summary:

With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel’s been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her defective heart.

But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni’s vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical mobster in the city wants the vase for himself.

Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker.

But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline’s freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel’s heart…


About the Author:

J.C. WELKER is a YA Fantasy author who’s been, among other things, a fashion designer, a graphic designer, a filmmaker and a kickboxer (seriously).

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She’s best known for writing and producing the documentary short films focusing on homeless Iraq vets and LGBTQ+ issues in the military, which was selected by the North Texas Film Festival and featured on CURRENT TV. Her recent novel placed first in the paranormal category of the 2016 YARWA Rosemary Awards, and she continues to work towards giving a voice to stories that are needed, while facing magic and monsters along the way.

Website / Twitter – @jcwelker / Goodreads


4 Stars


Review:

The Wishing Heart is a modern, urban-fantasy Aladdin-Esque retelling. Featuring magic, criminals, and epic love.

I wasn’t expecting the more modern setting (was anticipating a closer following to Aladdin) but I was pleasantly surprised and loved how it become its own.

We follow Rebel – a girl who (despite who irritatingly on the nose I find her name) is a great MC. She’s witty, funny, smart, and an epic thief (I have a thing for criminal MC’s). Rebel is also an orphan with a diseased heart – the reason she steals etc. so she can get a cure. I’m a sucker for anything medical, and it added a lot as a subplot.

We also have Angeline, a jinni, as our other narrator/MC. She has her own distinct voice, and its easy to tell whose POV your reading. I liked seeing the world and plot through her eyes and motivations, which are pretty different from Rebel’s.

The romance is well done, as was the romance. It was well paced to, fast and gripping right from the beginning.

I really enjoyed it.

*I received an e-ARC in exchange for a honest review from the publisher


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About the Book:

The Wishing Heart by J.C. Welker

Published by Entangled Teen

To Be Released on May 1st, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wishing-Heart-J-C-Welker-ebook/dp/B06Y5WFY1C

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Wishing-Heart-J-C-Welker-ebook/dp/B06Y5WFY1C

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Wishing-Heart-J-C-Welker-ebook/B06Y5WFY1C

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wishing-Heart-J-C-Welker-ebook/dp/B06Y5WFY1C

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wishing-heart-jc-welker/1126186821?ean=9781633759398

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-wishing-heart/id1225391034

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-wishing-heart

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32171947-the-wishing-heart

 


The Wishing Heart by J.C. Welker Blog Tour Excerpt

Whatever natural tendency toward hope Anjeline once possessed had manifested itself into something harder on her face. Her eyes were far away, like she had thoughts on bigger things than just freedom. “This isn’t like your books,” she said as though Rebel were naive. “They’re stories that know nothing about life. People are thornier than what those things tell you. Good doesn’t always win. Light doesn’t always burn away the darkness.”

Rebel pressed her lips into a hard line. “Maybe it’s you who knows nothing about people. Darkness exists because light casts a shadow. That’s life…painful and beautiful all at the same time.” Books might have not told her everything about magic, but they taught her how to see it in all things.

Anjeline’s lips twitched. “Painful but beautiful. Sounds more like human love.”

“Now that, I wouldn’t know,” she said sarcastically, but she meant it. She took a cold breath, feeling for her pendant resting on her chest. There was a black void in her heart, where the love of a parent, the love of anyone, had never occupied.

Golden eyes met hers, Anjeline contemplating her with that look. “You’ve always been without kin?” Rebel nodded, turning aside from the fascinated gaze roaming over her. “So, you’ve never been loved?”

The question wasn’t just about family. Rebel shrunk from those words, unable to stop from gravitating toward the ones living in the back of her mind. Believing herself, maybe, to not be worthy of it, or anything good. That black void had yawned so wide she used to think gathering stolen treasures could fill it. She used to put rocks under her pillow, wishing for them to turn into diamonds. But she was a book no one wanted to open. A riddle no one dared to answer. A lost girl no one desired to find.

Her heart was tired of not being useful to anyone— especially herself.

She was tired of being a captive to her own flesh. With a shake of her head, she didn’t reply. But as Anjeline gazed at her with that look, as though something tied them together, her chest hummed with…what, exactly? She tried willing it away but it spread deeper. She rubbed at her bruises, as if calming the ones within. Her numb hands shook, and she rummaged in the satchel for her pills. Anjeline persisted to stare, unbothered by the cold. Lucky her. “Stop staring at me,” she said.

Anjeline clicked her tongue. “You could just ask me.”

“For what?”

“For warmth.”

Rebel glanced up in both sheepishness and stubbornness. Taking that for an invitation, Anjeline moved closer. “I’m fine…”

“I can hear your teeth rattling.”

“I’m…”

Anjeline put a finger against Rebel’s lips. “Shh. If you’re frozen, neither of us will get our wish.” The light in her palm danced, and she placed a hand atop Rebel’s.

The air throbbed between them. It crackled and purred, and Rebel startled as her blood hummed at the touch. Wisps of sultry light danced across her arms, snaking around her legs and torso in a shroud of warmth.


The Giveaway:

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Tour Organized by:

YA Reads Blog Tours


Tour Schedule:

May 1st

The Broke Book Bank – Review

A Leisure Moment – Spotlight Post

May 2nd

Booklove – Review

Crossroad Reviews – Spotlight Post

May 3rd

For Love of Books4 – Spotlight Post

Roxy’s Book Reviews – Spotlight Post

May 4th

Literarydust – Review

Just One More Chapter – Spotlight Post

May 5th

Lovely Loveday – Spotlight Post

Sleeps on Tables – Spotlight Post

May 6th

deal sharing aunt – Spotlight Post

May 7th

YaReads – Author Interview

May 8th

A Dream Within A Dream – Review

May 9th

The Book Beacon – Spotlight Post

May 10th

Becky on Books – Guest Post

May 11th

Literary Meanderings – Guest Post

May 12th

Goldilox and the Three Weres – Review

May 13th

RiverMoose-Reads – Review

May 14th

Cinnamon Cindy’s Book Blog – Author Interview

Book Tour: The Runes of Issalia – Promo

The Runes of Issalia TOUR banner NEW

The Buried Symbol (The Runes of Issalia #1)
by Jeffrey L. Kohanek
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: May 5th 2016
Black Rose Writing

The Buried Symbol Cover Image

Summary:

Discover a lost magic, long buried and forgotten…

Without a rune marking his role in society, Brock is doomed to an existence below the lowest rung of the social ladder. Unwilling to accept his fate, the teen risks his life to obtain a fake rune that marks him as a member of the Empire’s ruling class. He then embarks on a quest to join an institution where the Empire’s future leaders are trained.

As a student of the Academy, he soon uncovers a chain of secrets kept hidden for centuries, secrets that expose cracks in the foundation of Empire society. Among his discoveries is a powerful magic, long buried and forgotten.

Brock’s compassion and sense of justice are seeds that sprout tight friendships and a blossoming romance. An unwillingness to be bullied earns him a dangerous enemy, becoming a feud that escalates to a climactic showdown.

Add to Goodreads


The Emblem Throne (The Runes of Issalia #2)

Release Date: October 6th 2016

The Emblem Throne Cover Image

Summary:

Journey on a magical quest to save the world…

As they strive to become Masters within the Ministry, Brock and his friends resume their training at the Academy, an institution founded on magic, science, knowledge, law, and combat. They soon discover an expansive web of conspiracies and deceit within the Ministry, hidden behind a veil of benevolence and piety. The exposure of one of those secrets forces Brock and his friends to flee the institution with their lives in the balance.

Joined by a fierce Tantarri warrior, the group embarks on a quest to locate a mysterious throne that has been lost for centuries. Guided by the cryptic words of an ancient prophecy, and backed by a forbidden magic that they are still learning to wield, they journey across the continent to save humanity from extinction.

Add to Goodreads


An Empire in Runes (The Runes of Issalia #3)
Release Date: April 27th 2017

An Empire in Runes Cover

Summary:

A Long Forgotten Magic That Might Save the World…Or Destroy It

Led by a boy named Brock, a small team of teens urgently assembles a force to confront an army of monsters, one that ravages and destroys anyone or anything in its path.

In a race against time, Brock attempts to train a group of recruits to wield the powerful magic known as Chaos, a magic that he himself is still learning to master. All the while, they must remain vigilant against a secret organization within the Ministry that will do anything to prevent the return of Chaos.

As foretold by an ancient prophecy, the human army must face and defeat their ancient enemy on the Tantarri Plains. For if they fail, all will be lost.

Add to Goodreads


Amazon Buy Links: The Buried Symbol | The Emblem Throne | An Empire in Runes


About the Author

jeffrey l. kohanek
Jeffrey L. Kohanek grew up in rural Minnesota, where comic books sparked his young imagination and inspired fantasies of heroes with super-powers saving the day. His tastes later evolved to fantasy epics, featuring unlikely heroes overcoming impossible odds to save worlds born from the writer’s imagination.

Now residing in southern California, Jeff uses that imagination to weave tales of engaging characters caught in fantastic plots to inspire young adults and the child within us all. His first book series, The Runes of Issalia, began in May 2016 and will conclude in Spring 2017.

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Author Links:

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 GIVEAWAY:

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Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

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Here is an excerpt from THE BURIED SYMBOL. This is a short scene that takes place after Brock and his friend Tipper take refuge in a cave when a rain storm interrupts their journey to the Academy.

Promo 4 The Buried Symbol

A noise woke Brock, who sat up to find his clothes still damp. He rubbed the crust from his eyes and blinked to shake the cobwebs from his brain.

Recognizing his surroundings, he remembered the cave they had found to escape the rain. Early morning light emanated from the entrance, shedding light on Tipper, who lay asleep beside him. In the dim light, Brock noticed something near Tipper.

He leaned close to get a better look, finding bones he hadn’t noticed in the dark of night. Near the bones, rows of four parallel lines marked the surface of the rock. His chest constricted as he realized that something lived here, something large.

A howl echoed in the forest outside the cave.

Brock urgently shook Tipper.

“What? What’s happening?” Tipper blurted, sitting up in confusion.

“Shh.” Brock whispered. “Be quiet. There’s something out there.”

Tipper rubbed his eyes. “Huh? What are you talking about?”

A shadow eclipsed the light at the mouth of the cave. As Brock turned toward the entrance, his breath caught in his throat.

Against the light of the morning sky, the silhouette of a massive four-legged creature blocked the opening. Whatever it was, they were in its home and it was angry.

A low growl sounded, its ferocity rumbling in the small cave. The boys backed away, and Brock stumbled when he collided with a boulder near the rear of the cave. He scrambled to his feet as his mind raced. The beast blocked the only exit. Like the banshee attack at Glowridge Pass, they were trapped in a hopeless situation with no way out. His mind drifted back to that event and he reacted.

Brock scooped a bone from the cave floor and began scraping a symbol on the boulder: the same rune he had drawn on Hank.

The creature stepped forward, and Brock noticed the beast’s eyes, glowing an angry red. The smell of wet animal filled the cave, mixing with the smell of fear from Brock and Tipper.

Spurred by desperation, Brock closed his eyes and began pushing with his will. He felt the same force as last time, just beyond himself. Pushing harder, he latched onto it and his body grew flush with hot energy. A storm raged within, threatening to destroy him. He opened his eyes and poured the energy into the rune. It glowed bright red, pulsing as the boulder began to shake.

Brock backed from the advancing creature into the rear of the cave, against Tipper’s cowering form.

The boulder suddenly burst. Bits of rock pelted him, cutting hands held up to protect his face from the beast. The creature leapt back from the blast, dozens of small shards hitting its face and body. It growled in rage. Brock lowered his throbbing hand to see what had happened.

The boulder moved toward the beast. The round headless body of the rock advanced on four legs made of stone, emitting crunching and grinding sounds with each movement.

The hairy beast attacked, swinging vicious swipes with its huge paws. Sharp claws scraped the hard surface of the living boulder and bounced off harmlessly. The beast backed away, but the boulder continued to advance.

The beast attacked again, with little result as the boulder relentlessly forced it backwards. Suddenly, animal was outside, its red eyes squinting in the pale light of pre-dawn. It made one last swipe and then bolted.

The boulder turned the corner to give chase, one leg stepping over the edge, and it disappeared. The rumbling and crunching sound of a small rockslide followed as it tumbled away.

The cave became silent.

“What in the blazes? Brock, what did you do?” Tipper shouted. “What was that thing? What’s happening?”

“I don’t know!” Brock yelled back. He was breathing heavily, trying to calm himself. “I don’t know, Tipper. I had to do something, and it just came to me. I don’t know what it is.”

“It’s like what happened with Hank. You did it again with that big rock,” Tipper said.

“Yeah. I know,” Brock replied. “I wish I knew what it was, but I don’t.”

Brock grabbed his pack and headed toward the entrance. “Let’s get out of here before that thing comes back.”

Stepping outside the cave, he looked down. The rock-thing lay at the bottom of the outcropping, its legs broken off with the pieces still twitching. A shiver went down Brock’s spine.

“That’s creepy,” Tipper said.

Nodding, Brock began to climb down as the first rays of morning sun streaked across the valley.

 

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Promo 3 The Buried symbol

Here is an excerpt from THE EMBLEM THRONE:

Cameron emerged from the changing room, unsure of what to expect. The past month had been that way, ever since his first interlude with Tegan. She was beautiful yet bold. Passionate and unpredictable. His stomach twisted in anxiety of what she might do next, yet his heart raced at the mere thought of her.

He stopped in the middle of the arena floor, dimly lit by the late-day sun coming through the glass panels in the ceiling high above. He glanced toward the stands, nodding to Brock and Ashland. Tegan had asked him to be sure to have a healer present. He had found two. The three of them were alone within the building until the door from the girl’s changing room opened.

With her hair tied back, Tegan had her sparring helmet under one arm and wooden sparring swords in the other. Cameron’s heart began to pound as he watched her long lithe legs stride confidently across the open floor. Rather than wearing the traditional sparring vest and trousers, she wore short brown leather shorts and a matching leather vest, leaving her flat mid-drift exposed. He thought she looked stunning.

She stopped just a few feet from him, flashing a devious smile. “Are you ready for this?”

Cam somehow pulled his focus from her body and mustered a response. “I don’t even know what this is.”

Tegan pulled her helmet down over her head. “This is about redemption, Cammy.” She showed a naughty smile, biting her lip. “I’ve had my way with you a number of times now, but not in the arena. Not for real. Losing to you in the championship last year still irks me. It’s time for a rematch.”

“You want to fight me here and now because of what happened last year?” he asked.

She smiled again, holding her short swords up. “Yes.”

Cam stared at her as he searched for a way out of her bizarre plan. Deciding she wouldn’t take no for an answer, he released a sigh and slid his helmet over his head.

“Okay. Let’s do this, then,” he raised his wooden longsword.

She attacked, spinning with her leading sword high and the following sword low. He slapped the high one away with his shield and blocked the other with his sword. Countering with a stab at her mid-section, he only found air as she dodged to the side.

Now caught in the flow of the fight, Cam forgot that he was fighting the girl of his dreams. Swinging, blocking, dodging, and countering all came naturally in a rapid rhythm. Back and forth, they exchanged blow after blow with neither gaining an advantage. Tegan’s speed and agility made her a difficult target. Her ferocious fighting style required Cam to react rapidly with little opportunity to attack.

As the minutes wore on, Cam could feel the hot wetness of sweat building under the metal helmet. He remained poised, concentrating on the duel as he waited for her to make a mistake.

After blocking a swift series of strikes from Tegan, Cam swung his wooden sword low, trying to catch her off-guard or knock her off-balance. She jumped and flipped backward over the sword as it swept beneath her. When she landed, she thrust hard at his exposed side. Cam had anticipated the move, having seen her use it before. Her swords slashed in vain as he spun away with his shield arm outstretched. The shield clanged off her helmet with a glancing blow, causing her to stumble. In a moment of concern, Cam let his guard down and took a step toward her. She dipped low and slammed her sword under his shield arm and into his ribs. He felt them crack as air shot from his lungs and a grunt escaped his lips. Pulling his shield arm in tight to protect his wound, he stepped backward.

Smiling, Tegan lowered her swords. “Got you.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I think I broke some ribs.”

Cam turned to find Brock and Ashland descending the stairs from the stands. He walked across the floor to meet them.

“That was a pretty spectacular duel,” Brock said as he drew close.

“Yeah. It could have gone either way,” Ashland said. “I think you may have some broken ribs, Cam.”

Cam nodded, holding his side tenderly.

“What about you, Tegan?” Brock asked. “That shield hit to the helmet made quite a racket.”

Tegan yanked her helmet off, her wet red hair sticking to her face. “Just a bit of a headache.”

Ashland stepped close to Cam, putting her hand on his bare arm. A moment later, Cam’s body shook with a chill, and he gasped for air. Thankfully, the deep breaths no longer hurt.

“Thanks for the healing.” Cam said as she stepped away.

Brock held out an apple. “Sorry, but it’s all I’ve got on short notice.”

Cam grabbed it and took a big bite.

“Thank you two for coming to watch,” Tegan said. “Thanks for healing him, too. We’re done here now, so you can leave.”

Brock shrugged. “It was no problem. We’ll see you guys later.”

Grabbing Ashland’s hand as she waved goodbye, Brock led her toward the stairs. Cam continued to nibble at the apple, now half gone.

Tegan turned toward him, her eyes scanning him from head to toe. “Nice fight, Cammy. Thanks for agreeing to do it and for putting effort into it.”

He shrugged, continuing to eat.

“Well, I’m going to take a bath. I stink.” Tegan turned to walk away.

Cam finished off his apple as he stared at her backside strolling toward the changing room. The door to the arena sounded, echoing in the large space as Brock and Ashland departed, leaving Cam and Tegan alone. She stopped and turned back toward him.

“Aren’t you coming? Bathing alone is quite boring.” She spun and continued toward the baths.

Cam considered her words briefly before he followed along. He never knew what this amazing girl was going to do next.

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Promo 2 series banner

Here is an excerpt from AN EMPIRE IN RUNES:

“Good. You’ve got it,” Brock said, feeling genuinely excited.

Salina beamed with pride as she held the brightly glowing stone  up in triumph. The other students held hands before their faces to block the bright light from their vision.

“I knew you guys could do this.” Brock said, encouraging them.

“You just need to keep at it. Feeding off raw emotion to grab ahold of Chaos the first time is the tough part. After that, it gets easier each time you do it.”

Salina laughed as she lowered the rock, not looking directly at it.

“I knew I could feel Chaos before, but I just couldn’t seem to get to it. When you had me reliving the fear I felt when they kidnapped me from the Academy, everything changed. I was suddenly able to reach it and draw it in. It felt like I ate a thunderstorm that might tear me apart. It was frightening, yet exhilarating.”

Brock smiled as he shared her excitement. “That sounds right. I shudder to think of what would happen if you continued to hold it in. I don’t think our bodies are made to hold that kind of energy for long.”

Jerome stood. “I want to try again. If she can do it, I know I can do it.”

Salina raised an eyebrow. “Do you think you’re better than me, Jerome?”

Jerome stepped closer, thrusting his chest out as he glared down at Salina. Brock jumped between them.

“Stop!” Brock shouted. “We’re not going to start fighting each other. The Horde is out there, killing innocent men and women. You can’t imagine how frightening they are. We need to band together to stop them, not fight each other over our own stupid pride.”

Despite Jerome being a head taller than Brock, he backed away. Brock could see fear in his eyes. He turned to see Salina step back. Looking to the side, he saw Wraith standing with her ears flat and her teeth showing a menacing grin. Despite the tension of the previous moment, Brock chuckled.

“Relax.” He said to the dog. “I’m fine.”

A rumble from the direction of the wall caught his attention. He turned to find Parker driving a two-horse wagon through the gate. The wagon turned toward the mess hall and slowed as Parker pulled on the reins. With Puri leading Parker’s horse, she and Cam rode in on horseback, following the dust tail left by the wagon. Brock addressed the small group of former Academy students.

“We’ve made some progress today. However, I think now is a good time to stop. Practice drawing the Light rune on your own, memorizing every line. We’ll meet here again tomorrow after breakfast.”

They nodded and thanked him as they dispersed. He stepped away, heading toward the wagon as it circled behind the mess hall. After a dozen steps, Wraith caught up to Brock before slowing to shadow him. When he neared the horses, he held his hand up for her to stay back from them.

“Where’s the driver?” Brock shouted to Parker as the wagon came to a stop.

Parker dropped the reins and jumped down with his bow in hand. The bangs of his dark hair were fluttering in the west wind, dancing against the Orderrune marking his forehead. Standing a half-head taller than Brock, Parker’s eyes met Brock’s gaze.

“It didn’t go as well as it did with the last driver,” Parker said as he met Brock. “I suspected problems just by watching this man’s demeanor. I tried the same casual approach you took last time, but his response to my first question was a crossbow bolt.”

Brock’s brows raised in concern. “You’re okay though?” Parker nodded. “Yes. I saw it coming and ducked. The bolt went over me and then he fired one that sailed between Puri and Cam before he turned the wagon and tried to outrun us.”

“Bad idea.” Brock said.

Parker lifted his bow. “Yeah. I put an arrow through his throat and he tumbled off the wagon. Puri caught the team and slowed the wagon while I checked on the man.”

Glancing around, Parker stepped closer and whispered, “He was marked with ink at his back hairline. It was in the shape of a hand.”

The Hand again. Brock was afraid of that. He suspected they might have an extensive network, stretching far beyond the walls of this compound. He would need to remain mindful of that and treat outsiders with caution until he was confident they were not compromised. An inspection of the previous wagon driver thankfully yielded nothing suspicious. This time, they weren’t so lucky.

“Grab some people and get the wagon unloaded.” Brock said to Parker.

“Cam, Puri,” Brock shouted. “Can you two make sure these horses get food and water? We’ll need this wagon for more supply runs.”

“Sure, Brock.” Cam replied, stepping beside one of the horses to unhook it from the wagon as Puri approached the other.

As they worked, Brock walked away. He waved his hand and Wraith followed. The dark specter of the future was looming on his mind. The confrontation with The Horde was coming fast; he could feel it. He had put it off as long as he could, but it was time to put things in motion.

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Top 5 Wednesday: LGBTQ+ Reads

 

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started, and is now hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes
If you want to join in checkout the Goodreads page!


April 19th: Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads
–Talk about your favorite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or are by LGBTQ+ authors.

(Changing this a bit – spotlighting LGBTQ+ reads I NEED/WANT to read.
– Not comprehensive of course)


Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – 1

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Summary:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

This book is crazy popular – everyone LOVES it. A movie is being made! I have to read it! And I’m a sucker for cute romances so… I need this in my life.

Anyone want to buddy read this over the summer?
I have the e-book but haven’t gotten to it yet.


The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue – 2

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Summary:
An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

This is one of my most hyped releases for the year. European travels, 18th century (bisexual!) romance. Family dynamics. Pirates! I need this in my life.


They Both Die At The End – 3

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Summary:
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: they’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news is: there’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—an unforgettable day that will change both their lives forever.

I haven’t read ANYTHING by Adam Silvera but I want to read LITERALLY ALL OF THEM. Of all three of his books, this is the one that most intrigues me – I want it.


Peter Darling – 4

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Summary:
Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

This is the least hyped book on this list. I haven’t seen much on it, but I recently added it to goodreads and I really want to read it. Its a Peter Pan retelling featuring  a growing up, trans Peter, and not-so-villainous Hook (a favorite of mine in retellings) and a romance. It has really great reviews too – though not very many.


The Wishing Heart – 5

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Summary:
With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel’s been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her ailing heart.

But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni’s vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical being in the city wants the vase for himself.

Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker.

But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline’s freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel’s heart…

I received an e-arc of this for a book blog tour from Entangled Teen – its really good so far and features a lesbian romance in a fantasy setting – something far too rare. My tour stop/review is May 13th!


What do you think of my list?

Are any of these on your TBR?

Have you read any? 

What did you think?

Let me know!

Cover Reveal: Dream Frequency by SJ Lomas

Dream Frequency

by S.J. Lomas

Genre: YA

Release Date: June 2017

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Summary from Goodreads:

Christine would never have considered herself new recruit material for a secret U.S. agency. Until recently, she’s just been an ordinary girl graduating from high school and wondering if a friendship with Gabriel, a mysterious coworker, would grow into something romantic. When Christine’s fascination with Gabriel leads to her discovery of dreamworlds, she learns that she’s anything but ordinary. In this thrilling conclusion to Dream Girl, Christine and Gabriel must choose their allegiances and face corruption, conspiracy, and the complexities of love in order to save themselves and everyone who matters to them – or die trying.

Add to Goodreads


About the Author

S.J. Lomas
S.J. is a cheerful Michigan girl who writes strange and somewhat dark stories for young adults and those who love to read YA literature.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook


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Cover Reveal Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

Cover Reveal: Before I Shatter

 

Today is the cover reveal for Before I Shatter by Mandy Peterson.

This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

The cover MSN Art Studio (Maduranga Sampath): https://www.fiverr.com/mnsartstudionew

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This is an exciting rebranding of the original cover as the author prepares to release book 2 in the series.


Before I Shatter (Before I Shatter #1)

By Mandy Peterson

Genre: Science Fiction

Age category: Young Adult/ New Adult

Release Date: July 2016

Before I Shatter


Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Vita is the next step in human evolution.

 

The daughter of two prominent scientists, Vita is content to live in the spotlight. After all, it affords her a lifestyle most only dream of: living in a Lunar Colony, luxurious gifts, and her unique ability to project her consciousness onto different planes without the aid of injections.

Succeeding where others have failed has a price. A growing population of Shells – people whose minds have shattered from the stress of experimentation – shows just how ruthless the Director can be in pursuit of his goal.

 

When Vita makes a startling breakthrough, the ambitious Director takes over her development, and he wants to see just how far she can go. It’s up to Vita’s young Processor, James, to catch her before she breaks.

 

But he’s keeping a dangerous secret.

Someone is playing games with her.

 

A game where the loser ends up shattered.

Vita must make the choice:

Continue risking her life  for a cause she doesn’t believe in

or make an unprecedented escape?

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You can find Before I Shatter on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31142459

You can buy Before I Shatter on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Before-I-Shatter-Mandy-Peterson-ebook/dp/B01IQJM1QW/


About the Author:

Mandy Peterson

Mandy Peterson grew up all over Nebraska and eventually settled down there with a family of her own: husband, daughter, and son.

 

When she isn’t writing about herself in third person, Mandy the high school librarian can be found digging through young adult and new adult lit. An avid reader of all genres (but she secretly told me she loves sci-fi the most), you will usually see her with her nose in a book or face to her Kindle app, iced or blended coffee drink in hand. A former roller girl and roller derby referee, she can also be found watching roller derby online or dragging her family behind her to cheer on teams in person all over their great state.

 

You can find and contact Mandy here:

– Website: http://www.mandypetersonbooks.com

– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mandypetersonbooks

– Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/mandyrpeterson

– Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15491545.Mandy_Peterson

– Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mandy-Peterson/e/B01IQJMGCG/

– Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cqy2iT

 


Giveaway

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Before I Shatter. One winner will win a 10$ Amazon Gift Card.

 

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1000e4f1221/

 

Before I Shatter books graphic


Excerpt:

“Vita!” James is panicked, shaking my shoulders, when my eyes begin to crack open. The bright light violates my pupils, and I slam my eyes shut again. My head is pounding.

“Stop shaking her, boy. We don’t know what damage that could cause.” I relax a bit as my body takes in the grandfatherly voice of wisdom. James’s hands release me. “She’s coming around. Give her a moment.”

I moan, raising an arm to cover my closed eyes. “I’m fine.”

“She could pave a road with those words.” The Old One’s voice gets farther away.

Before I can even wonder what that means, the light mercifully wanes, and I dare to peek out from under my arm. I begin to piece together where I am. The tiny white room. Lying on my monitoring station.

A visibly shaken James is sitting next to me, tears threatening to spill out of his eyes, face ashen.

“Hey,” I coax. “It’s okay. Nothing to be worried about.”

James shakes his head and looks down. A sniffle seems to actually compose him, and he looks up at me. “Vita, I’m so sorry. If I would have known, I would have warned you.”

Still hazy, I recall my experience in the meadow with the solider boy. Before speaking, I resolve to never let myself be that helpless again. Starting right now. Just like James said, I will be the one doing the breaking. Well, maybe not right now. After I recover from whatever this is.

“Warned me about what?”

“The dazers,” he practically whispers, but I still hear the George’s tongue cluck from the computer station. His disapproval is thick. “You passed out on the steps. I couldn’t wake you up. When I brought you here, I thought you were dead.”

“Yes, the drugs caused your heart to race,” the wizard explains, less emotionally. His eyes never leave the tablet in his hands. “Your heart didn’t care for that so it shut down…for a bit.”

“It shut down?” I echo as panic begins to rise from my toes.

“Only for a moment.” His hand waves dismissively. “Everything’s fine.” The Old One smirks, finally looking up at me as he turns my own words around on me.

“I died?”

“For a second.” George holds up two fingers very close together in an attempt to keep us positive.

Whoosh. “I came as soon as I heard.” Long brown hair whirls through the room. Mom busies herself snatching the tablet and replacing James at the side of my bed. She grasps my hand, leans in, and begins examining my eyes. I have no idea what they look like, but her fear and disgust focus across the room. “George, thank the stars you are still here! How could this have happened? I’m not even sure what this means.” She shakes the tablet at him, the data revealing itself to me shortly. “Where was she? Who was with her?”

James makes a move to step forward and the Old One stops him. “She was just doing as I instructed. Taking time off. Meeting new people. Trying out a party. I’m sorry. I didn’t know she would be confronted with…substances.”

Mom visibly calms down. I guess maybe she couldn’t be too angry with the man who had just saved her daughter’s life? She lays the tablet down gently. “What can I do for her?”

“Nothing, I’m afraid. The drugs have to work their way through her system. She won’t be able to start training until they are flushed out. Her new friends just may have bought her enough time to completely restore before the next round.”

My eyelids feel as though they are made of lead. My hand is nestled between stronger ones. I fight to stay awake behind the fading light.

“What will we ever do without you?” My mother’s whisper floats across the room to me.

His firm response slices through the darkness closing in around me. “The director has plans but so do we. Stick to the plan. Thanks to your husband’s—ex-husband’s—news story, she’s about ready to enter a world where everyone knows her and what she can do. She needs you two more than ever.”

I didn’t know then that when I awoke, it would be to a new world. A world without George, without visits from my dad, and without panic attacks. A world where I was a celebrity, a scientific wonder, and no longer alone. Never mind that I put my life at risk each time I pushed one the boundaries of human capability. I lived by the words I was never meant to hear:

“Vita’s never going to be broken. She’s going to be the one doing the breaking. She’s stronger than any of us will ever know.”

Blog Tour – Book Review – Hero High: Figure In The Flames by Mina Chara

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Hero High: Figure in the Flames
by Mina Chara
Genre: YA Mystery Romance/Superheroes
Release Date: October 1st 2016

Summary from Goodreads:

Reality TV meets Superhero High School in this intriguing story about friendship, fame, and what it means to be a hero.

In Icon City superheroes save the day every day on the quarter hour. Led by Captain Fantastic, scores of superhero celebrities do their best to train the next generation. Seventeen year old Friday Fitzsimmons and Jake her childhood friend are their latest starstruck recruits. When Doctor Dangerous returns from the dead and the Figure in Flames decimates the city, Captain Fantastic is betrayed by one of his own.

Torn between Jake, Ashley and her feelings for Doctor Dangerous, Friday must decide if her childhood friend is worth fighting for, and if the worlds most famous super-villain is worth saving, all while learning how to be a hero.

Add to Goodreads

On sale this week only (12/12-12/16)! 

Buy LinksAmazon | Amazon UK

GIVEAWAY

Rating:

4 Stars

My Review:

The book is a bit cheesy, the character names makes it seem like a parody of itself, like its trying to hard to make Marvel superheroes not look like their from Marvel.

That being said, I did enjoy the book. The illustrations were a nice touch, and the story was well written. The premise was a bit cheesy, but then again, most superhero books that aren’t all “death and gloom” are a bit cheesy. It reminded me a lot of Sky High, which was one of my favorite movies as a kid (And is now on Netflix!). Also sort of reminded me of Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram. If you liked that book, I think you’ll like this one.

I’m a sucker for superheroes.

In all, I enjoyed the book, and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to read and review it. If you like slightly-cheesy romance and superheroes, you’ll love this.

 

Advance Praise:

– I think this book will appeal greatly to fans of the Selection. – the dressmaker D’fwan reminded me of America’s maids … The whole TV reality show aspect also reminded me of Hunger Game as well as The Selection.

– I Really Loved The Book
I am so looking forward to book two. I love the world you’ve created and I want to explore it more. I thoroughly enjoyed Friday and her story.

– I Really, Really Enjoyed This Book!
The way that Ashley and Friday’s relationship progressed was amazing. Too often, in books the two main love interests relationships progress way too quickly and it was refreshing to see Ashley and Friday’s relationship develop gradually instead of it being super rushed.

– I Would Give This Book a Full 5/5 Stars!
Like there was just so much to this book and none of the characters are like what you originally predicted. Every chapter keeps adding to the story and making it more and more complex, and it leaves you on the edge of your seat in suspense.

 

 

About the Author

Hi! I’m Mina Chara, I’m a student, an artist, a daughter, sister and companion to my two furry friends, Gimli and Gwynne. This blog is here because I’ve just written a book called Hero High: Figure In The Flames.

This is My Story:

Being dyslexic isn’t so much of a problem, the hard part is not letting it dictate what I like, and what I can do. For years I was scared of reading, but then I discovered YA fiction, real books with main characters I could relate to because most of them were girls.

When someone criticizes my writing, I feel like crying, because I feel like that I’m back in English class getting yelled at again, just wanting to go home, but I’m not a kid anymore, I’m an adult, and as an adult, I wrote a book, and you can too.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookTumblrAuthor’s Amazon Page

Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

 

*I received a e-book of this book in exchange for an honest review.