Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Release date: June 7th 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really? 

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.

*Received physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I loved how the story started with a startling discovery and from there I was pulled into the mystery of what had happened and who had done that?

While it was an interesting story, told from third person narration and giving the reader everyone's backstory and what the surrounding was like, the pacing was rather slow and a tad draggy. I couldn't wait to get back to the present and find out the situation with Grace, and that alone kept me going. But at the same time, I understood that knowing each character would give me an idea as to who had hurt Grace. I figured it out pretty early and was basically looking forward to some kind of punishment. But unfortunately, it didn't come. And at the end of the story, I was left disappointed and confused. I kept asking, "What was the point of all that then?" 

I don't think I cared much for any of the characters, well except for Pip. She was the most likable. And I kind of felt like she was too mature for the age. The voice came out like a sixteen year old and not of a twelve year old, and she even seemed older than her sister, who was thirteen. I don't know, maybe it's me. But a lot of times I was confused and forgot their ages because their voices and actions seemed older. 

In regards to what happened to Grace, some may say she deserved it and should have behaved better. But look at the situation. Her father was mentally ill and the family had endured a dramatic, emotional change. The poor girl didn't know how to cope and was clearly looking for something. And I think the mom should have put an end to Grace's relationship with that kid. What they'd done was inappropriate for their age and they were too young to have been carrying on like that. Plus Grace needed better structure and a more present parent. That's just my opinion on the matter. 

Pip was the only one that seemed to have it together. People forget sometimes that just because you're adults doesn't always mean you'll handle things better. In fact, Pip seemed more together than their mom. I'm just saying. 

Other things that bugged me were the Howes family. They were just too carefree and the father was clearly a perv. Their children didn't seem to have much discipline either and the mom would rather be in the dark than address issues. 

There was just a lot of things that put me off about this group of people and the things that took place with the kids. But the mystery surrounding Grace kept me going. Sadly, the ending didn't satisfy me and I wanted a better conclusion--justice--for the girl. Overall, an interesting story. It need a bit more though. 

Lisa JewellAbout the Author
Lisa Jewell is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph's Party, Thirtynothing and 31 Dream Street. She lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae and Evie Scarlett.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

COVER REVEAL & CONTEST~A Raven's Touch by Linda Bloodworth

It's here! Today is the day! Without further adieu, feast your eyes on the newly updated cover for A Raven's Touch.

Bullied through high school, seventeen-year-old Justice St. Michaels is grateful for the help of her best friend Moira O’Fhey. Together they’re just managing to scrape through the nightmare they call high school. Between Justice’s bizarre body changes and being involved in explosive school fights, things are going from bad to worse. Darien Raventhorn arrives on the scene only to add fuel to an already burning question—has Justice been living a lie her whole life? Thrust into an unwanted revenge mission Justice must avenge a family death, embrace her birthright, and slay a demon before all Hell breaks loose.


A Raven's Touch by Linda Bloodworth
Created by Amanda Walker.

Linda Bloodworth loves chips, like really, ketchup to be exact. Ketchup chips are only found in Canada. Lucky for Linda she lives in Toronto with her husband and three fur babies. In between writing, debating for hours about the Oxford comma, and the misunderstood semi colon, Linda enjoys camping and getting away from the city on day trips.

How do I get my hands on this book!? 



1. Post a screen shot of your confirmation order for A Raven's Touch in the comment section on Linda's BLOG: It doesn't matter when you've purchased the book now or before.

2. Subscribe to her newsletter: PLEASE MAKE SURE SHE CAN IDENTIFY YOU. Your screen shot + sign up name should be the same. You MUST approve the subscription email you receive.

PRIZE: A $3 Amazon Gift Card!

TIMING: Linda will randomly pick the winner Oct. 23 @ 10 AM ET.

Thank you so much everyone! Linda can't wait to hear what you have to say. Please leave a review on Amazon or any other retailer. Your review is INCREDIBLY important and helps Linda out as an author. Let the contest begin!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Release date: November 1st 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

*Received physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This one had really nice writing, a diverse setting, and an instant yet sweet romance. I don't think I've ever read a story that plays out in one day (maybe I just don't remember) but I liked the author's delivery and how much was touched on throughout. 

Natasha was a bit hard for me to like in the beginning. She just seemed too tough, too much attitude, but then I realized that the way she was had a lot to do with the issues she had with her father. And also, her family was about to be deported, so of course she would be upset. She was about to leave the country that had been her home since she was eight, and return to an island she didn't remember and didn't have much connection with anymore. While I'm from Jamaica and love that the author is also from there (yay), I do understand this family's situation. This is something that happens often and I wish more could be done for immigrants like Natasha and her brother (he was actually born in the US). So that was another thing I liked about the story--it's realistic. And even if I can't relate to the situation, I'm sure someone else will. 

Daniel was a sweetheart. I can't get over how awesome of a guy he was, coming from a family that had so much expectations and never cared to ask what he wanted. His older brother was a self-hating a-hole, by the way. Both Daniel and Natasha were from different cultures and their parents came from different countries, but there was some correlation. For instance, going back to the parents, they all worked hard to give their children opportunities, so they wouldn't have to face the hardships they once did in their home country. I wasn't expecting certain racial issues to come up in a story that only takes place in one day, but I liked that the author brought it up, especially in the scene with Natasha and Daniel's father. Man I wanted to slap him for his asinine presumption about her hair. That's another real issue that happens in society and it's truly sad. By the way, did I mention that Daniel's brother was a self-hating a-hole? Yeah, he had me seething. Another thing too, while it wasn't really obvious if Natasha's parents wanted her to be with someone black, though I doubt they cared, Daniel's parents wanted him to be with Korean girls. Yeah, that's still going on in modern times. 

The one thing about the story that some may not like or find the most unrealistic, is the way these two characters came to meet and fell in love (in one day). But I thought it was sweet and their emotions were convincing. I'm the kind of person that believes in falling for someone instantly because that happened to me and my husband, but when it comes to books I don't always like it because it usually isn't believable. But in the case of Daniel and Natasha, their romance tugged at my heart, especially when they only had one day together and who knew what the future had in store for them. I loved how Daniel got her to reconsider love and actually believe it, and believe that some things are just meant to be.  

My only issue with the story were the parts that gave a character breakdown on someone I didn't really care for, and the scientific explanations. I thought the book could do without those parts, but thankfully it wasn't enough to break my interest. Like I said, nice writing and a sweet romance. But the one thing I loved most of all was the multicultural aspect. Do give this one a read. 

Nicola YoonAbout the Author
NICOLA YOON is the number one New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, who created the artwork in these pages, and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Guest Post~Andrew Joyce on 'Yellow Hair'

It's great having Author Andrew Joyce back on the blog. Check out his awesome guest post and do pick up his latest release, Yellow Hair.

Release date: September 22nd 2016
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. 

Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. 

The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people and the author uses their real names. 

Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. This is American history.

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Shane has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to talk about my latest, Yellow Hair.

The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.

Because the book exists only because I read the phrase, “the largest mass execution in the history of the United States,” I’ll tell you a little about that. What follows is an extremely abbreviated version of events.

The Dakota signed their first treaty with the United States in 1805 when they sold a small portion of their land to the Americans for the purpose of building forts. It was right after the Louisiana Purchase and President Jefferson wanted a presence in the West. At the time, “the West” was anything on the western side of the Mississippi River.

In the treaty of 1805, the Dakota sold 100,000 acres to the Americans. The agreed-upon price was $2.00 per acre. But when the treaty came up before the Senate for ratification, the amount was changed to two cents per acre. That was to be a precursor for all future treaties with the Americans. There were subsequent treaties in 1815, 1825, 1832, 1837, and 1851, and basically the same thing happened with all those treaties.

In 1837, the Americans wanted an additional five million acres of Dakota land. Knowing it would be a hard sell after the way they failed to live up to the letter or spirit of the previous treaties, the government brought twenty-six Dakota chiefs to Washington to show them the might and majesty that was The United States of America.

The government proposed paying one million dollars for the acreage in installments over a twenty-year period. Part of the payment was to be in the form of farm equipment, medicine, and livestock. Intimidated, the Indians signed the treaty and went home. The United States immediately laid claim to the lands—the first payment did not arrive for a year.

The significance of the 1837 treaty lies in the fact that it was the first time “traders” were allowed to lay claim to the Indians’ payments without any proof that money was owed . . . and without consulting the Indians. Monies were subtracted from the imbursements and paid directly to the traders.

By 1851, the Americans wanted to purchase all of the Dakota’s remaining lands—twenty-five million acres. The Sioux did not want to sell, but were forced to do so with threats that the army could be sent in to take the land from them at the point of a gun if they refused the American’s offer.

“If we sell our land, where will we live?” asked the Dakota chief.

“We will set aside land for the Dakota only. It is called a reservation and it will be along both banks of the Minnesota River, twenty miles wide, ten on each side and seventy miles long. It will be yours until the grasses no longer grow,” answered the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

The Dakota were offered six cents an acre for land that was worth at least a dollar an acre. The payment would be stretched out over a twenty year period and was to be made in the form of gold coins. One year later, in 1852, the Americans took half the reservation, the seventy miles on the north side of the river. The Dakota were now reduced from a nation of fierce, independent people to a people dependent on hand-outs from the ones who stole not only their land, but also their dignity.

The Dakota were forced to buy their food from the traders who ran trading posts at the Indian Agency the U.S. Government had set up on the reservation. All year long the Dakota would charge what they needed. When the yearly payment for their land arrived, the traders would take what they said was owed them. Subsequently, there was very little gold left for the Dakota.

By 1862, the Dakota were starving. That year’s payment was months late in arriving because of the Civil War. The traders were afraid that because of the war there would be no payment that year and cut off the Dakota’s credit. The Indian Agent had the power to force the traders to release some of the food stocks, but refused when asked to do so by the Dakota.

After they had eaten their ponies and dogs, and their babies cried out in the night from hunger, the Dakota went to war against the United States of America.

They attacked the agency first and liberated the food stock from the warehouse, killing many white people who lived there. Then bands of braves set out to loot the farms in the surrounding countryside.

Many whites were killed in the ensuing weeks. However, not all of the Dakota went to war. Many stayed on the reservation and did not pick up arms against their white neighbors. Some saved the lives of white settlers. Still, over 700 hundred whites lost their lives before the rebellion was put down.

When the dust settled, all of the Dakota—including women and children, and those people who had saved settlers’ lives—were made prisoners of war.

Three hundred and ninety-six men were singled out to stand trial before a military commission. They were each tried separately in trials that lasted only minutes. In the end, three hundred and three men were sentenced to death.

Even though he was occupied with the war, President Lincoln got involved. He reviewed all three hundred and three cases and pardoned all but thirty-eight of the prisoners.

On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

About the Author
Andrew Joyce
Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: Roar by Cora Carmack

Series: Stealing Storms #1
Release: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Cora CarmackAbout the Author
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Losing It series.

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