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Blog Tour: White Stag by Kara Barbieri (Excerpt Post)

Hello, fellow readers! Today, I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for White Stag by Kara Barbieri! If you’re lovers of fantasy, feel free to read on for a summary and excerpt of the novel. 😉

Summary

White Stag_cover image

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

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Excerpt

1

MASQUERADE
THE FIRST THING I learned as a hunter was how to hide. There was a skill in disappearing in the trees like the wind and merging into the river like stones; masquerading yourself as something you weren’t was what kept you alive in the end. Most humans didn’t think the masquerade was as important as the kill, and most humans ended up paying for it with their lifeblood.

Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.

I kept my steps silent and my back straight as I passed beneath the white marble pillars. My eyes flickered around me every so often, counting hallways, retracing my steps, so I could escape at a moment’s notice. The Erlking’s palace was treacherous, full of twists and turns, stairways that led into nowhere, and places where the hallways dropped to gaping chasms. According to Soren, there were also hollow spaces in the walls where you could slink around unnoticed to the mundane and the monstrous eye, but you could hear and see all that went on in the open world. The lair of a king, I thought bitterly. I dared not say it out loud in case someone was near. But beside me, Soren sensed my disgust and made a sound deep in his throat. It could’ve been agreement.

Soren examined his king’s palace with the usual contempt; his cold, calculating eyes took in everything and betrayed nothing. His lips turned down in a frown that was almost etched permanently into his face. Sometimes I forgot he was capable of other expressions. He didn’t even smile when he was killing things; as far as goblins went, that was a symptom of chronic depression. He lifted his bored gaze at the gurgling, choking sound coming from his right, and it took all my willpower not to follow his line of sight. When I felt the subtle whoosh of power transfer from one body to the next, my fingers twitched to where I’d slung my bow, only to remember too late that it had been left at the entrance of the keep in accordance with ancient tradition.

A scream echoed off the cavernous passageways as we made our way to the great hall where everyone gathered. It sent chills down my spine with its shrillness before it was abruptly cut off. Somehow, that made me shiver even more. Ancient tradition and custom aside, nothing could stop a goblin from killing you if that was what they desired. My hand reached for my nonexistent bow again, only to be captured by cold, pale fingers.

Soren’s upper lip curled, but his voice was low and steady. “The next time you reach for a weapon that isn’t there might be the last time you have hands to reach with,” he warned. “A move like that will invite conflict.”

I yanked myself away from his grip and suppressed the urge to wipe my hand on my tunic like a child wiping away cooties. “Force of habit.”

Soren shook his head slightly before continuing on, his frown deepening with each step he took.

“Don’t look so excited. Someone might get the wrong idea.”

He raised a fine white eyebrow at me. “I don’t look excited. I’m scowling.”

I bit back a sigh. “It’s sarcasm.”

“I’ve told you before, I don’t understand it,” he said.

“None of goblinkind understands sarcasm,” I said. “In another hundred years I’m going to lose my understanding completely.”

Another hundred years. It hadn’t hit me yet, not until I said it out loud. Another hundred years. It had been a hundred years since my village was slaughtered, a hundred years as a thrall in Soren’s service. Well, ninety-nine years and eight months, anyway, but who’s counting? Despite the century passing by, I still looked the same as I had when I was forcefully brought into this cursed land. Or, at least, mostly; the scars on my chest hadn’t been there a hundred years ago, and the now-hollow spot where my right breast should have been burned. The four months when I’d belonged to another were not something I liked to think about. I still woke up screaming from nightmares about it. My throat went dry and I swallowed. Soren isn’t Lydian.

“You look tense,” Soren said, breaking me out of my thoughts. I’d crossed my arms over my chest. Not good. A movement like that was a sign of weakness. It was obvious to everyone that I was the weakest being here, but showing it would do me no good.

“I’m fine,” I said. “I just don’t like this place.”

“Hmm,” Soren said, eyes flickering around the hall. “It does lack a certain touch.”

“What does that even mean?” I asked.

“The entire design of the palace is trite and overdone.”

I blinked. “Okay, then.”

By now we’d entered the great hall where the reception was held. Every hundred years, the goblins were required to visit the Erlking and swear their fealty. Of course, their loyalty only extended to him as long as he was the most powerful—goblins weren’t the type of creature to follow someone weaker than themselves.

The palace, for what it was worth, was much grander than most other parts of the goblin domain. Soren’s manor was all wood, stone, and ice, permanently freezing. Nothing grew—I knew because I had tried multiple times to start a garden—but the roots never took to the Permafrost. Here, it was warm, though not warm enough that I couldn’t feel the aching chill deep in my bones. The walls were made of pure white marble with intricate designs far above what a goblin was capable of creating, and streaked with yellow and red gold like open veins. It was obviously made by humans. Goblinkind were incredible predators and hunters, gifted by the Permafrost itself, but like all creatures, they had their flaws. The inability to create anything that wasn’t used for destruction was one of the main reasons humankind were often stolen from their lands on raids and put to work in the Permafrost.

Soren’s scowl deepened as we passed under a canopy of ice wrought to look like vines and flowers. “I feel like I need to vomit,” he said.

I stopped in my tracks. “Really?” I swore, if I ended up having to clean up Soren’s vomit …

He glanced at me, a playful light in his lilac eyes. “Sarcasm? Did I do it right?”

“No.” I forced myself not to roll my eyes. “Sarcasm would be when you use irony to show your contempt.”

“Irony?” He shook his head, his long white hair falling into his face.

“Saying one thing when you mean the other, dramatically.”

“This is beneath me,” he muttered. Then, even quieter, he said, “This place is in dire need of a redecoration.”

“I’m not even entirely sure what to say to that.” With those words, he flashed me a wicked grin that said little and suggested much. I turned away, actually rolling my eyes this time. For a powerful goblin lord, Soren definitely had the ability to act utterly childish. It could be almost endearing at times. This, however, was not one of those times.

In the hall, the gazes on the back of my neck were sharp as knives. I kept my head straight, trying my hardest not to pay attention to the wolfish faces of the other attendees.

From a distance they could almost be mistaken for human. They varied in size and shape and the color of their skin, hair, and eyes much like humans did. But even so, there was a sharpness to their features, a wildness, that could never be mistaken for human. The figures dressed in hunting leathers, long and lean, would only seek to torment me if I paid them any attention. As the only human in the hall, I was a curiosity. After all, what self-respecting goblin would bring a thrall to an event as important as this? That could very easily get me killed, and I wasn’t planning on dying anytime soon. My hand almost twitched again, but I stopped it just in time, heeding Soren’s warning.

We finally crossed the floor to where the Erlking sat. Like Soren’s, the Goblin King’s hair was long. But unlike Soren, whose hair was whiter than the snow, the Erlking’s hair was brown. Not my brown, the color of fallen leaves, underbrush, and dark cherry wood, but murky, muddy brown. It was the color of bog mud that sucks down both humans and animals alike and it somehow managed to make his yellow-toned skin even sallower. He was the strongest of all goblins, and I hated him for it. I also feared him—I was smart enough for that—but the fear was drowned out by the blood rushing in my ears as I locked eyes with Soren’s king.

Soren turned to me. “Stay here.” His eyes turned hard, the glimmer of light leaving them. Whatever softness he had before drained away until what was left was the hard, cold killer he was known to be, and with it went the last shreds of warmth in his voice. “Until I tell you otherwise.” Subtly, he jerked his pointer finger at the ground in a wordless warning.

I bowed my head. “Don’t take too long.”

“I don’t plan to,” he said, more to himself than to me, before approaching the Erlking’s throne. He went to one knee. “My king.”

I eyed Soren from underneath the curtain of my hair. His hands were clenched in fists at his sides. He must’ve sensed something from the Erlking, from the other goblins, something. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Cautiously, I directed my gaze to the Goblin King himself, aware that if I looked at him the wrong way, I might be inviting my own death. While the behavior and treatment of thralls varied widely among goblins, I had a feeling submissiveness was required for any human in the Erlking’s path.

This close, the Erlking’s eyes were dark in his shriveled husk of skin and there was a tinge of sickness in the air as he breathed his raspy breaths. His eyes flickered up to meet mine and I bowed my head again. Don’t attract attention.

Soren spat out the vows required of him in the old tongue of his kind, the words gravelly and thick. He paused every so often, like he was waiting for when he would be free to drive his hand through his king’s chest, continuing on with disappointment every time.

The tension around the room grew heavier, pressing down on those gathered. Somehow, like dogs sniffing out blood, they all knew the king was weak. Beautiful she-goblins and terrifying goblin brutes were all standing there waiting until it was legal to kill him.

Beside the weakened king’s throne, a white stag rested on a pile of rushes. Its eyes were closed, its breath slow. Its skin and antlers shone with youth, but the ancient power it leaked pressed heavy against my shoulders. That power was older than anything else in the world—maybe older than the world itself.

Goblins were, before all things, hunters. Born to reap and not to sow. Cursed with pain upon doing any action that did not in some way fit into the power the Permafrost gave them, the goblins fittingly had the submission of the stag as the symbol of their king’s ultimate power. Until it runs.

I didn’t want to think about what happened after that.

Soren continued to say his vows. The guttural language was like ice shards to my ears, and I shuddered. Catching myself about to fidget, I dug my fingers into my thigh. Control yourself, Janneke, I thought. If they can do it, you can.

A soft voice whispered in my ear, “Is that you, Janneka?” His breath tickled the back of my neck, and every muscle in my body immediately locked. Icy dread trickled down my spine, rooting me in place.

Don’t pay attention to him. He’ll go away.

“I know you can hear me, sweetling.”

Yes, I could hear him, and the sound of his voice made me want to vomit. My mouth went dry.

CREDIT: WHITE STAG by KARA BARBIERI Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of Wednesday Books.  

Buy Link From the Publisher’s Site

About the Author

Kara BarbieriKara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop. Kara Barbieri’s Twitter handle is @PandeanPanic.

 

 

 

For those of you who are interested, White Stag can be found in stores on January 8th, 2019! Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

 

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Blog Tour: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Summary

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey, everyone! So excited to be a part of this blog tour! It was a real treat to read Emiko Jean’s Empress of All Seasons and I can’t wait to talk more about it. 😉

Firstly, I really did appreciate the different POVs in this book. Whether it was how they were woven together to tell a story or just sharing another character’s view, I was all in! You would also see that same character in the eyes of another main character, which would make the former even more developed. My only qualm with the novel character-wise is that by the end, while the plot seemed rushed, the character development couldn’t catch up enough for my liking. I felt that if the story went on for at least another book, then this sudden shift in a particular character could be explored. But all readers get is a jarring change in a particular character rather than the subtle development of others.

Another really great thing I loved about this book was the world it was set in. It was yokai versus humans with Akira in the middle, not really knowing where he should stand. There are the Animal Wives and Mari’s failure to fit in with them. Taro disagreeing with his father’s views but cannot openly oppose them. All these characters have something in common: they all want more. To pair these wants with rich Japanese mythology makes it even better! Plus, if there are any fans of The Selection, you definitely should give this book a read!

Overall, I was really taken by this book, which is kind of weird since I haven’t been into fantasy lately… but if I got into it, it probably says something good about the book! Anyways, for anyone who is interested, Empress of All Seasons is already in stores near you! And if you have any questions about the book, feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Q & A from the Author

Sumaya: Out of the three different points of view in the novel, did you have a favourite point of view?

Emiko: Yes. This is difficult to admit because as I writer I’d like to say I love all my characters equally but I loved Akira most. He was the character I developed first. I love his origin story. And I also identified with him the most. He feels that he straddles two worlds, yōkai and human, and as a mixed-race person I am very familiar with that feeling.

Well, that’s all for now. Have a wonderful day!

– Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Summary

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey there, fellow readers! Are you excited for the weekend? Thankful that it’s Friday? I hope so! Today, I’m part of blog tour, reviewing Somaiya Daud’s debut, Mirage. I actually heard about this book from Twitter and was totally stoked to hear about a sci-if book with Moroccan roots. I’ve never seen it done before and was really curious as to how it would turn out. Also, I did find it pretty cool that the author has the same name as me! This has honestly never happened to me before! 😀

Firstly, I really liked the two main characters, Amani and Maram. Even though the book is only in Amani’s perspective, you get a real sense of both characters through their interactions with each other. They have this kind of Prince and Pauper relationship that develops over time, affecting how Amani sees Maram and vice versa. Not only does it affect their perspectives of each other, but their own individual growth as well. I honestly preferred reading their conversations over all others, such as the ones Amani has with Idris, Maram’s fiancé. The only thing that would have loved to see from this is if Maram had her own POV, especially at the end. But maybe that’ll happen in the next book!

Secondly, I appreciated the world building that went into this novel. Even within the first few pages, the author paints us a picture of both the world Amani lives in and the past world that was lost long ago. While reading this book, I find it incorporates the struggles of diaspora and refugees as well as the Moroccan roots her novel is based on. There’s a lot of hatred between the Vathek and Andalaan people, boiling to the surface as the novel progresses. It just made me of today’s political climate and how it’s almost interchangeable with the one in Mirage, which is really scary.

But that ending! The ending both strengthens Amani as a character and gives readers an idea of the second book’s plot. I just wish that I had an explanation for spares and where they came from. Again, there might be an explanation for this all in the next few books. Until then, I’m just going to have to speculate on my own, which can be kind of fun, too! 😉

Well, that’s all I have to say about Mirage by Somaiya Daud. It was a pretty good read with an enticing ending that makes me want to read the sequel! And for those of you who don’t know, Mirage comes out on August 28th, 2018! Oh, also, feel free to comment on the book in the section below, or check out some other reviews from this blog tour!

Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi (Q&A)

Summary

Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?

Sourced from Goodreads

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Hey, everyone! I’m back on a blog tour! This one is on the short story collection Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi, which btw I loved! If you want to see my full review, click here! But today’s post is dedicated to some amazing questions and answers! 😉

Q&A

  1. Out of all the characters in your novels, which one did you have the most fun writing about and who do you relate to the most personally? What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
  2. In the world of the Star – Touched Queen, I think the one who I related to the most was also the one that I had the most fun writing: Kamala! There’s just something about the demon horse that resonated a lot with me. I think it’s because she does everything that I would do in a fantasy story, which is frantically derail the plot and whine to her friends about how hungry she is all the time.
  3. What inspired you to create this fictional world? Were there anyRomo mythologies that particularly inspired you? I was really inspired by the childhood stories that my grandmother told me. To me, they were so rich with details and texture that it really shocked me how these worlds and mythologies were never explored in mainstream literature. I was particularly inspired by Greek and Hindu mythology.
  4. Why did you feel it was important to add Star-Touched Stories to this world you’ve created?  What do you want readers to gain from the stories? Do you think there are any more stories to tell from the Star-Touched world, and if so, who you most like to write about next? For me, this collection of stories is my farewell to the world that I created. It was extremely cathartic to write these three stories. I want readers to gain a sense of closure. I want readers to feel as much as I did when I with the stories. Who can say whether or not there are more stories left to tell in this world? 😉
  5. Will you miss writing this world and characters? Absolutely! They lived in my head for so long that I feel strangely weightless to be without them.
  6. What was your favorite scene to write from Star-Touched Stories, and what was your favorite scene to write from the whole series? Honestly, my favorite scene that I wrote was the last scene the last story. I think you’ll see why. As for my favorite scene that I wrote from the whole series, I think it would have to be the moment when Maya first enters the Night Bazaar.
  7. Is there a scene or character from one of your stories that you’ve had to cut which you really wish you could share with readers? There once was a speaking monkey character… But I had to let go of him. Maybe he’ll reappear some other time.
  8. How is writing short stories different than writing a full-length book? How different is it to write YA and MG? How has your writing evolved? Writing short stories is really different from writing a full-length book because you’re ultimately writing to a punchline in a shorter amount of space. There is less space to explore so the language must be very deliberate. I think my writing has evolved to become a lot more character focused than I once was. I still love gorgeous, decadent prose, but I believe that the best kind of language is that which is emotionally filtered through the feelings of a character.
  9. What is the best advice you would give to inspiring writers? Read often. I realize that sounds trite, but so many people retread the same path with stories out of comfort or nostalgia. I totally understand this and I’m one of those people who loves to reread my favorite books but I never found a sense of my own writing voice or writing style without reading a wide variety of works.
  10. What sort of music do you listen to when you write? I mostly listen to music to get me in the mood for writing rather than listening to music to get me through a scene. I think the only times I listen to music when I’m writing is if I’m in a third or fourth round of revisions. Otherwise I get distracted.
  11. If any of your books were given an adaptation, would you rather it be a movie, TV show, web series, or stage musical? For The Gilded Wolves, I would rather see that as a miniseries. For both books in the Star-Touched universe, I’d rather see those as movies.
  12. Favorite myth and how has it inspired your writing? What was your inspiration for these stories? I think my favorite myth is Hades and Persephone. I love the atmosphere, the goth undercurrent, the power dynamic. I love the movement of princess to Queen.
  13. Do you remember the first book that made you fall in love with reading? Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. That was the first fairytale retelling book I ever read and it shocked me because I didn’t realize you could do something like that! It opened my imagination to a whole new realm of narrative possibilities.

About the Author

Roshani Chokshi CREDIT Aman SharmaRoshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A CROWN OF WISHES. Her middle grade debut, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME, released April 3, 2018 from Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. Her next young adult novel, THE GILDED WOLVES, is slated for Winter 2019. Chokshi’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

 

Author links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Thanks for reading, everyone! And remember, if you’re interested, Star-Touched Stories is available for purchase on August 7th, 2018!

Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

Blog Tour: This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

Summary

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

This Heart of Mine is a haunting, poignant tale about living and dying, surviving grief, guilt, and heartache, while discovering love and hope in the midst of sadness.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

My rating:

red4

Hi, everyone! I’m so glad to be on the blog tour for This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter! I’ve read all of her Shadow Falls books, whether the protagonist was Kylie, Della or Miranda! I remember when I first started that series way back when and the journey I went on with it. I’m so glad to have picked it up! However, I was kind worried how this book would stand against the Shadow Falls series, whether I would like it or not because of the constant comparison. I have to say, though, that I really did enjoy this novel!

One of the main things I liked about this novel was the character development that was expressed in the dual POVs of Leah and Matt, specifically Leah’s. All throughout the book, Leah would describe herself, contrasting her personality before and after she got sick. But I think it made it easier for readers to appreciate the character development she had gone through without actually seeing it. I do love that character now though; how she stands up for herself, making a point to take risks and regret less. I think that should be a lesson everyone could learn from. I did like reading in Matt’s POV though, as it gives a fuller sense of the story, while telling the story of a young man who understands what it’s like to live with intense grief and how he learns to manage it.

Another thing I liked was the plot. It always intrigued me whenever some new development was made, either with the mystery or their lives. It kept me reading right till the very end! And the writing style, always including things that are totally necessary but you didn’t think they would be! Plus, I loved seeing the arguments brought up within the book, like “literature vs genre”, because it got me so riled up! Especially when a lot of “literature” wasn’t even considered great in its day, sometimes downright scandalous. So we shouldn’t shame people on reading what they like! We should be celebrating it!

Well, that’s all I have to say about This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter! Overall, it was a really great read that makes me excited to see what C.C. Hunter will write next! Has anyone else read other books by C.C. Hunter? If so, feel free to share about them in the Comments Section below! And for those who are interested, This Heart of Mine is out today in stores! 🙂

Buy links

AmazonAmazon CA | Amazon UKKobo | Barnes & Noble | Chapters Indigo

About the Author

cc-hunter_no-credit

C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she’s still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.

For more information on C.C. Hunter and the books she writes, check out her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thanks for reading, everyone! And have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Until You by Bridie Blake (Review)

About the Book 

Until You by Bridie Blake until-you

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Published by Evernight Teen

Release Date: 26th May 2017

Ellie Foster lives and breathes normal. She’s the responsible one, the girl everyone depends on.

Jason Holden doesn’t know the word normal. Star of the hit Planet Gazers films, his every move is watched by millions.

A chance encounter between the pair leads to a deal that will change their lives.

Ellie needs money for her family. Jason needs a girlfriend for the world tour of the final Planet Gazers movie. It’s a match made in Hollywood heaven.

But what happens when the lines between their act and reality become blurred? Can they figure out what is real and what’s fake?

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Purchase here 

Review

My rating:

black4

Hey, everyone! I recently finished reading Until You, and I’ve got to say that it was just too cute! When I first heard about it, I thought “this has potential”, since I’ve always liked reading books about the entertainment industry. But I didn’t think I’d like the book this much!

At first, it kind of reminded me of Pretty Woman, especially with the fact that she’s being paid to be a part of his world and pretend to be his girlfriend. Based in the entertainment industry, it focuses on the publicity gained by Jason Holden’s new all-American girlfriend Ellie, a first year college student from USC. They’re actually trying to sell the fact that they’re a couple, which makes for cute moments at times and aggravating moments during others. It was a good balance of tension to say the least! I certainly wasn’t bored. One thing I just kind of wish happened was that someone in the novel got their just desserts, but then I guess it’s more realistic this way…

As for Ellie and Jason’s relationship, while I do admit it developed a bit too quickly near the end, it didn’t stop me from rooting for them, especially in the middle! I liked their development and how they got to know each other. It was unconventional, sure, but would it have been as entertaining otherwise? I think not! Also, I really liked the alternating POVs or else my feelings for these characters would be seriously skewed. I would have probably favoured one character over the other (Ellie obviously 😉 ). In this case, I got to learn about both characters and like them for themselves just as much, if not more, than their pairing.

Overall, I would seriously recommend Until You by Bridie Blake, especially if you’re looking for a light read! I’ll certainly be on the lookout for Bridie Blake’s next book! 😉 If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to ask away in the Comments Section below! Thanks for reading, everybody!

– Sumaya

About the Author

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Bridie Blake lives, daydreams and writes in Melbourne, Australia. She’s happiest at her computer, coffee in hand, Tim Tams on standby and her furry companions Poppy and Mac at her feet. When not writing she’s usually found with a book in her hand or playing with her tribe of nieces and nephews.

Bridie is the author of the YA fantasy novel, THE JEWEL OF KAMARA, and YA contemporary novels A DISTANT VOICE and UNTIL YOU.

Author links: Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Facebook|Instagram

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Blog Tour: All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham (Review)

About the Book

All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham

Published by Entangled Teen

Release Day: June 6, 2017 all-the-stars

Relocating to Arctic Norway would put a freeze on anyone’s social life. For Leda Lindgren, with her crutches and a chip on her shoulder the size of her former Manhattan home, the frozen tundra is just as boring as it sounds. Until she meets her uncle’s gorgeous employee.

Unfortunately, no matter how smoking hot the guy is, Roar comes with secrets as unnerving as his moving tattoos. And Leda doesn’t trust him.

Roar shouldn’t be drawn to the moody human girl with eyes that leave him weak in the knees. But when Leda gets shot by one of his enemies and survives, Roar finally understands why he’s drawn to her: Leda is exactly what he was sent to Earth to find. A weapon of immense power capable of saving his planet.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

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Review

My rating: purple4

(3.75 stars)

Hi, everyone! I recently finished All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham, and I’ve got to say that overall, I liked it! There were some parts that I was kind of iffy about, but, by the end, it was pretty good.

Firstly, I think I liked how action packed the book got at times. During the beginning, the book was a bit slow for my taste. But once something actually happened, I was fully engrossed in the story. And trust me, a lot does happen in this book. Almost to the point where it’s unreal. But I think it manages to jampack everything that could happen while not being too dramatic. Plus, the book would do a nice job of explaining any raised questions that readers might have right away.

As for the characters, for the most part, I really liked the ones that were fully fleshed out, like our protagonists, Leda and Roar. Without thinking about pairings or whatnot, I really admired Leda’s ability to stay strong and sensible, even with everything that’s been going on. Even at times where she’d doubt herself or want nothing more than to follow her desires, she doesn’t, because she knows there is more at stake. Plus, I like the way the author treats her disability in the novel, not something to be overlooked but at the same time, it doesn’t limit Leda’s potential to be a hero at all. The only problem I had with her was her link to Roar. While it was explained away and everything, I still kind of felt like it was too instalovey for me. I have few exceptions for instalove, and this wasn’t one of them… Other than that instalove and the amount of time it would take to get from one POV to the others, I really liked reading about our main characters.

Well, that’s all I have to say about All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham. I’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind instalove and is in the mood for a good Sci-Fi read! If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below! Thanks for reading, everyone!

About the Author

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Ashley Graham was born in Ontario, Canada, and has since lived in five countries. Before writing her first manuscript in 2015, she worked as a clerical assistant, quality assurance officer, chef, and stay-at-home mom/homeschool teacher. When she isn’t writing or reading every book she gets her hands on, Ashley enjoys online window shopping, Netflix binges, and spends way too much time thinking about space travel. ALL THE STARS LEFT BEHIND is her debut novel.

Author links: Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Facebook

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Blog Tour: Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine (Review)

About the Book

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Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine

Published on June 5th, 2017

Published by Entangled Teen

Something is wrong in Hidden Creek. The sleepy Alabama town is more haunted than any place fiend hunter Grisham Caso has ever seen. Unearthed graves, curse bags, and spilled blood all point to an evil that could destroy his gargoyle birthright. The town isn’t safe for anyone, and everyone says fiery Piper Devon knows why.

Piper wants to leave Hidden Creek behind. She’s had enough of secrets—they hide in the shadows of her room and tell her terrible things are coming. Too-charming city boy Grisham might be her only chance to save herself.

To survive, Piper and Grisham have to shed their secrets and depend only on each other. But what lurks in Hidden Creek still might take everything away from them, including each other.

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Review

My rating:

red3-5

Hi, everyone! It’s time for another review, with this one being on the newly released Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine. The reason I was so interested in this book was the gargoyle aspect. I’ve only read only one series about gargoyles and that was Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Elemental trilogy. I wanted to see what more the world of gargoyles can offer since I’m not too used to it yet.

Speaking of the story’s world building, I hate to say it but wasn’t too excited by it. There were just some things that puzzled me, like the idea of fiends. I wasn’t too sure on what they were, only that they were evil and Watchers had to kill them to rid the world of their evil. Also, I wanted to know more about Watchers and their mythology. For instance, how many were there in the world? Do they have a secret organization themselves? If I dug too deeply, I’d be left with more questions than answers.

The thing that had me going though was the plot. I was invested in what was going on, like the mystery surrounding the town and its inhabitants, especially Piper. I really, really wanted to know why someone would want to target Piper. I also thought that as a whole, the novel developed at a pretty good pace. I didn’t think that anything was too sudden or out of the blue, although there were moments where continuity failed to happen. However, the near-ending still had the power to surprise me! The ending itself wasn’t nearly as good!

As for the characters, I really liked our protagonists, Piper and Gris, the best. They seemed to work really well together romantically, and you can actually buy them being a couple of adorably lovestruck fools! Maybe it was the fact that they weren’t afraid to call each other out on things. Maybe it was their witty banter. Either way, you could tell from the getgo that they were OTP and not in a forced way, too!

Well, that’s all I have to say about Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine. I really enjoyed reading this book on an entertainment level, but still had trouble with it in other ways. If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, please leave them in the Comments Section below. For those of you who are interested, Secret’s of Skin and Stone is out today and you can find it here:

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Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

About the Author

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Wendy Laine is the penname of author Wendy Sparrow. Writing is in Wendy’s blood as are equal parts of Mountain Dew and chocolate. Wendy has been telling tales since she was a child with varying amounts of success. Her parents clearly anticipated her forays into the paranormal because she heard “The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ over and over. She lives in Washington State with a wonderful husband and two quirky kids and is active in Autism and OCD support networks. She can usually be found on Twitter where she’ll talk to anyone who talks to her and occasionally just to herself.

Author links: Website|Blog|Goodreads|Twitter|Facebook|Newsletter

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Blog Tour: Love and Vandalism (Author Interview)

Hi, everyone! Today’s officially the book birthday of Love and Vandalism by Laurie Boyle Crompton! In honour of its release date, I have a few questions that were answered in an interview by none other than the fabulous author herself! Honestly, I’m really ecstatic that she took the time to answer these questions! 😁

 

Interview 

1. First off, I noticed that you’ve written YA novels, specifically contemporary. Are there any other genres you think about pursuing or is it YA Contemporary all the way? 

LOVE AND VANDALISM is my fourth YA novel (thanks for noticing!) and the next few projects I’m working on are definitely YA, but I do love to stretch myself and have been playing with some other forms of writing. I’ve actually written poetry since high school and have really grown in that area and my newest passion is scriptwriting! I’ve always vacillated between drama and comedy and while it can be tough to incorporate both I’ll never stop trying!

2. Is there any inspiration behind Love and Vandalism?

Besides painting my first car hot pink using 40 cans of spray paint, I did have an actual vandalism experience. I grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania which is hardly what people think of when they hear the word ‘graffiti’ but we had this one bridge near our high school that was covered with a bunch of seniors’ names along with a few bad words. My friend and I were sick of being goody goody girls and since we weren’t about to try drinking or smoking we decided we were going to get our names on that bridge. There were no streetlights and we dressed all in black so we wouldn’t get caught so looking back it wasn’t our brightest moment. Our names stood for a week before someone painted over them but we had a blast doing something that felt so rebellious and wild.

3. Likewise, are there any authors that have inspired you? It could be based on the topics they write about, their writing style or just general admiration. 

Like many writers, Anne Lamott is right up there in my list of favorite authors. Anne is so brilliant and inspiring, particularly when she discusses the writing process. I love all of her non-fiction so hard! And actually, Rory’s dreadlocks are a tribute to Anne Lamott who is just so gifted and generous. Also, I’ve been a lifelong fan of Stephen King and was thrilled when ON WRITING came out and he gave us a small peek behind the dark curtain. There is actually a secret backstory between two characters in one of my books that serves as a twisted private homage to my love of Stephen King. I won’t say who or what or which book; only that it’s super dark!

4. If you could describe yourself as one character in all of fiction, who would it be? 

I don’t remember how old I was when I read the book LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott. Probably around ten or eleven, but I do know it was the exact right age because I identified so strongly with Jo March I wanted to be just like her! It’s actually a large part of the reason I became a writer! Thankfully, beyond just wanting to be like Jo, I truly do love to write.

5. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Or both? 

I definitely do a bit of both. I started off as a pantser but then I had to rewrite the second half of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) and decided it might be worth it to take a little time and think things through beforehand. I’m not much of a planner in real life, so it’s easy for me to get off track, but in writing that’s where some of the best plot twists come from. I love unplanned detours both in writing and in daily life.

6. As a writer, are there any scenes that are hard for you to write? Were there a few in Love and Vandalism?

The toughest scenes aren’t always the deep emotional ones that make me reflect on painful parts of my past. In fact, those scenes are often the reason why I’m writing the book in the first place! Those connector scenes are the toughest where I know what needs to happen but I want to let things happen organically. I think the trick to writing any scene is to find an interesting way to get inside it, so even when I already know the outcome I can still let my characters dictate how to get there.

7. What’s the best compliment you have received as a writer? 

Having my agent believe in me and then having multiple editors say “I’d like to publish your book” is really the best feeling! I’ve been lucky to have some enthusiastic readers and really love it any time anyone says they enjoyed one of my books. I’m honestly just thrilled that people are willing to spend time with my characters! The only stories that really matter are the ones that are shared and I’m blessed for the opportunity to share some of mine. Thanks for reading!!

About the Author

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Laurie Boyle Crompton is the YA author of ADRENALINE CRUSH (Macmillan/2014, Square Fish/2016), BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains), THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH and the upcoming LOVE AND VANDALISM (Sourcebooks/2013, 2014, 2017). Growing up in ‘Pennsyltucky’ in the 1980s, Laurie couldn’t wait to escape rural life. After saving up her tips from waitressing at a local greasy spoon at 18 she packed up her acid wash jeans and moved to NY. Where everyone else had stopped wearing acid wash.

She graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a BA in English and a minor in Journalism. Since then she’s written for national magazines like ALLURE, survived a teaching stint at an all-boy high school, and appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. And yes, ‘toy expert’ is an actual profession. Really.

She has lived in places like Orlando, Florida where she and her husband spent all of their spare time and money visiting theme parks before moving to the Cotswolds in England for six months, which was every bit as cool as that sounds. The Cromptons are now back in New York where their two children resent never going to Disney.

Laurie occasionally enjoys hanging out in fields of blooming flowers and also refering to herself in the third person.

Author links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Buy links 

Amazon | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Chapters Indigo

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

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