Blind Spot Blog Tour (Review + Giveaway)

"It's a story about how sometimes we fail to see things that are right in front of us."

Since You've Been Gone (Review)

"fabulous, wonderful, endearing, amazing story"

Dissected by Megan Bostic (Blog Tour)

"Powerful & Thought Provoking"

In Honor by Jessi Kirby (Review)

"This is going on my favorites shelf and I will probably reread it again in the future."

Blog Tour: Hungry by H.A. Swain (Review + Giveaway)

"Hungry is a captivating and thought-provoking story set in a fascinating world."

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Review))

"All-in-all, a perfect summer read and you should totally pick up these books, if you haven't already!"

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle (Review)

"The Edge of Falling is a beautifully told story, both in plot and writing."

Hexed by Michelle Krys (Review)

"Hexed was just the thing that I needed to get back into the reading world."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blog Tour: Astray by Amy Christine Parker | Review & Giveaway

Genre:
Young Adult, Contemporary, Psychological Thriller
Publication.Date  August 26th 2014
Pages:352
Published By:  Random House Books for Young Readers
AuthorAmy Christine Parker

Astray on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:


Lyla is caught between two worlds. The isolated Community that she grew up in and the outside world that she’s navigating for the very first time. The outsiders call the Community a cult, but Pioneer miraculously survived a shooting that should have killed him. Are the faithful members right to stay true to his message? Is this just a test of faith? One thing is for sure: the Community will do anything to bring Lyla back to the fold. Trapped in a spider’s web of deception, will Lyla detect the sticky threads tightening around her before it’s too late? She’ll have to unravel the mystery of what Pioneer and the Community are truly up to if she wants to survive.

Suspenseful and chilling, Astray is Amy Christine Parker’s nerve-fraying sequel to Gated. This fast-paced psychological thriller is masterfully plotted and sure to leave goose bumps. Perfect for fans of creepy YA thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

(Goodreads)

It’s been a month since the world was supposed to end. By now you’d think I wouldn’t wake up every morning in a panic with the Community’s alarm echoing in my ears and my breath coming so fast that I’m not actually taking in any oxygen.
But I do.
I want this day to be over. I fold my arms across my chest as the bitter air stings my face and hands. I stare out at the crowd and then look beyond them, to the woods out past the fence, trying to distract myself by focusing on the trees. I won’t lose control and cry. Not now. Not ever. I bite my lip hard, hoping that the pain will keep the tears pooling in my eyes from overflowing. Keep it together, Lyla.
I wish I could tell you that everything that your Pioneer told you about people being cruel was wrong. But I can’t do that either. The truth is that everyone has the potential to be good or bad.
"I’m not trying to take your beliefs away from you. Really. All I’m asking is that you consider why you believe them.” Her eyes rest on me. “Questions aren’t bad, in fact they’re necessary when you’re trying to figure out just exactly what you stand for."
Cody wants me to be happy here with him. And I want to be that. Happy. I need to be. Otherwise, all that’s happened was for nothing.



   
      Astray, the sequel to Gated, was, in many ways, even more intense and riveting than the first novel. I enjoyed Gated quite a lot, but ultimately, Astray has made an even bigger impression on me. Parts of it were creepy (even downright bone-chilling), other parts really sad and gut-wrenching, and I think it is safe to say that if you read and enjoyed Gated, you should be ordering your copy of Astray ASAP, for it is a beautifully plotted, emotionally gutting gem of a psychological thriller.

     One month has passed since the fatal events of Pioneer's "End of the World" and Lyla is still dealing with the psychological aftermath of it all. The fear and anxiety are deeply rooted in her soul and she still wakes up screaming, expecting to be dragged away and locked in an underground bunker. Worst of all, she feels lost, confused and completely out of place in the "outside world", still struggling to make sense of everything that happened and second guessing herself. (I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that Past Me was nodding right along with everyone else … or the fact that Present Me still has an inexplicable urge to. My brain feels like it’s split in half and Past Me and Present Me haven’t decided who’s in charge yet.) While she's trying to recover and start a new life, Lyla is staying with Cody and his family, separated (temporarily) from her own parents who are still unable to see reason and accept that Pioneer is not, in fact, a messiah, but a violent, twisted, manipulative, power-greedy murderer.

"I am a miracle. I am the messiah. After seeing what I’ve survived, how could you possibly believe otherwise?
—Pioneer"

     The wicked-minded leader of Mandrodage Meadows, Pioneer, has miraculously survived getting shot by Lyla and he is now on trial for all the crimes he committed. But even after all he's done, he still has the support of his followers. They still believe in him, still see the Messiah in him and are still willing to sacrifice themselves for him. All except one person: Lyla. And that makes her not only an outsider, but a traitor. A sheep that went astray. And even though she has left the Community, she is not free of them, for they will never stop trying to make her come back.

     It isn't often that I come across a sequel that is not only equally well written and interesting to read as the first book, but it actually manages to surpass it in many ways. Astray is that kind of book. I feel that Parker's writing - already accomplished and captivating in Gated - got even better in this installment. The story got more depth, the characters - more complexity. The prose was more descriptive, but the plot line was also better paced, and while big part of the mystery was gone, the book was no less disturbing and haunting than the previous one.

     Parker is a strong literary voice, and one that obviously has something intelligent to say. She deftly explores issues of family, community, faith, identity and belonging, and she does it with remarkable sensitivity and honesty. I found Astray to be very thoughtful, disquieting and emotionally riveting. I couldn't help but try to put myself in Lyla's shoes and see the world from her perspective. What I saw was a scary and lonely place, full of strangers and danger, a world just as welcoming and full of possibilities, as it is judgmental, unforgiving and cruel. Parker did an amazing job evoking Lyla's feelings and capturing her thoughts, hopes and fears in all their heartbreaking glory. Her desperate need to belong, to be accepted, to know that what she did was right. Without a doubt, I was more invested in her story than I was while reading the first part.

     Again, if you read and enjoyed Gated, don't hesitate to pick up Astray. It is an absolute must read.






Follow the tour:

Itching for Books                              8/26   
Me, My Shelf and I                          8/26   
A Dream Within a Dream              8/27   
Candace's Book Blog                     8/28   
Stories & Sweeties                          8/29   
Evie Bookish                                       9/2    
The Hiding Spot                                8/29   
Christy's Book Addiction              9/3    
Live to Read                                       9/4    
Confessions of a Readaholic        9/5    
Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club      9/8    
Bundle of Books                               9/15   
Happy Indulgence Books              9/25 


Giveaway:

Thanks to the wonderful Sadie and Random House Childrens we have one hardcover copy of Astray up for grabs today!
US only, enter through Rafflecopter below:



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Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little (Review & Giveway)

Genre:
Adult, Murder Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller
Publication.Date  July 31st 2014
Pages:346
Published By:  Viking Adult
AuthorElizabeth Little

Dear Daughter on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:


As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I'm not.

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she's been released on a technicality she's determined to unravel the mystery of her mother's last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America's media on her tail, convinced she's literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn't like her mother. Could she have killed her?

(Goodreads)

Did you know that the more you remember, the more you expand your perception of personal time? No, really. There's, like, studies and shit. Even though we can't outrun death, if we muscle up our memories the race, at least, will seem a little longer. That is, we'll still die, but we'll have lived more. Kind of comforting, right?
Of all the challenges of incarceration, this was perhaps the worst: I was a fundamentally rational creature reduced to rudimentary divination. I promised myself that if I ever got out I'd try to find out what really happened, to find out what I really was. 
It’s hard enough to maintain your innocence when so many people are so sure you’re not. It’s impossible when you’re not sure of anything at all – other than the awful, inescapable fact that you hadn’t particularly liked your own mother.



     Taut, captivating and fresh, Dear Daughter follows the story of Janie Jenkins as she is trying to uncover the truth behind her mother's brutal murder and her last words written in blood. Words that landed Janie in jail for ten long years and have the entire world convinced of her guilt. Janie is out now, released due to mishandling of evidence in her case. And she is determined to get to the bottom of it all. She has a long journey ahead of her, with lots of digging to do, and she will not like what she's about to learn about her mother, her past, and herself. 

     Dear Daughter is all around lean and mean, stylish and deftly written. It's a solid and dramatic thriller for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, strong female characters and sharp dialogues combined with gritty, slower-paced plots. It's a book in which the setting is just as important as the characters, the atmosphere is thick and seductive, and all the dark secrets are buried six feet under and better left undisturbed.

"Twenty-six, fabulously wealthy, and I never even finished high school"

     Janie is quite a fascinating character to follow. Being a celebrity known for wild partying and shocking behavior (just like Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton), she's constantly flocked by paparazzi. Alcohol and drugs make her late-night escapades just a blurry memory in the morning, and she doesn't even remember everything that happened on the night of her mother's death. Truth is, she and her mother did not get along at all, but could she have actually killed her own mother? She doesn't think so, but proving her innocence is a whole different story, especially considering the fact that her name was found written in blood  next to the body. She's been wronged (OK, let's face it, her own mother completely screwed her over, there's no other way of putting this) but she refuses to play the victim, she's bold, often tactless, rude and selfish. Tough and resourceful. Completely unapologetic. She swears a lot, talks back too much for her own good, has spontaneous sexual encounters with randomly picked guys (usually of the not-good-for-you, dangerous kind), and doesn't know when to back down from a fight. Is she brave or just reckless and stupid? I am still trying to decide this. One thing for sure, she is highly entertaining and I had a great time poking around in her head and learning things about her. 

Understand that this is how it works with people like me. Self-pity is the sun around which we orbit, the great gravitational force that rules those of us for whom Things Didn't Quite Turn Out. If we're lucky, purpose (vengeance, absolution, cookies, not in that order) can keep us from falling in, from burning up, but we're fooling ourselves if we ever think we're going to break free.

     The plot line is not a very fast-paced one, though I didn't mind that one bit. The narration style is  extremely addictive - witty, clever, sharp, biting, sometimes genuinely funny, always honest and straight to the point - and it makes up for the lack of exciting twists in the first 3/4 of the story. The twists are there, and they are exciting, but they don't come until the last couple chapters. They're all crammed into the ending of the book. That is, perhaps, why I felt the ending was a bit too rushed and abrupt. And too explosive to be realistic. I also thought it was a bit too neat and too convenient, but I do realize that there are plenty of readers who prefer it that way.

     This was, overall, a really good read. Captivating and intense, it kept me reading long past my bed time. The conclusion to the story was well thought out and, though slightly vague on some details, mostly satisfying. I enjoyed this ride and would recommend this book to mature readers with a soft spot for noir fiction.


Giveaway:

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Viking Adult, we have one hardcover copy of Dear Daughter up for grabs today!
Open to US addresses only, no PO Boxes please!
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Monday, September 1, 2014

Blog Tour: The Jewel by Amy Ewing (Spotlight | Giveaway)




The Jewel (The Lone City #1)
by Amy Ewing
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 2nd 2014
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.
Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
Excerpt:


Trailer:


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Follow the tour:

Follow the FFBC The Jewel Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.


About the author:


 Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook 
Amy Ewing is the young adult author of THE JEWEL, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.

She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.


Giveaway:


Win (1) of (3) copies of The Jewel (Us Only)





A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott Southard [Book Blog Tour by Historical Fiction Virtual Boog Tours] Book Review & Giveaway

9780983671923 Austen Cover.indd
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Madison Street Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Women's Fiction


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READ AN EXCERPT.


All her heroines find love in the end—but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone's guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years—did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us—to a greater or lesser degree—are head over heels for Jane.



History is not known for being kind to writers. Their lives, when one takes the time to study them fully, are often fraught with pain, loss, and a desire to find meaning. Some are overcome by their passions, letting reckless emotions ride them to a bitter end. Others are obsessed with their losses and the losses of those around them. 
 The gypsy stared into Jane's eyes for a minute, as if she was reading her mind for the truth, then turned back to the palm. I have not seen this before. What is it? Jane asked excitedly. Am I going to die soon? No, I would have told you when you were to die if that was true. The gypsy shook her head. Your life line never ends. 
 I would not even know what to say to a stranger, especially a gentlemen. You speak to our brothers. I hardly consider them like men, especially gentlemen. Cassandra said crossly. They are brothers. They are like a third sex. What are sisters then? Jane asked quickly. Angels, Cassandra replied just as fast. So true. Jane smiled. 
Praise for A Jane Austen Daydream

"For those of you who are exhausted by the innumerable retellings of Austen's novels, this is a style entirely new.... be rewarded by a quick paced novel unlike any you can ever have read, which injects new ideas and possibilities into the world of Jane Austen." -Laura Boyle, The Jane Austen Centre

"Mix one part biography and one part historical re-imagining...add witty characters and some surprises and you have A Jane Austen Daydream. This was a delightful read." -Amelia Rodriguez, Jane Austen Society of North America

"...Lovely, thought-provoking novel. Fans of Austen will adore this book." -Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List.

"Southard has taken the facts about the great author and woven them into a credible, touching, and also entertaining portrait of a life." -Historical Novel Society

“The good news is Scott Southard’s Jane is a delightful creature. She is clever and witty and determined to do the best she can for herself, even when things take a turn for the worst….her thoughts and comments had me smiling (and even laughing) on more than one occasion.” -Austenprose.com

“This book takes the opportunity to dream her up the romance we are not sure she ever had… Watch out also for the many references to her novels, which are like a puzzle, challenging you to recognize where they are taken from.” -Dan Wiggs, publisher of The Jane Austen Travel Guide

“An excellent concept and a great achievement, a must read for Austen fans open for a playful read and those who wish Austen had written more. This is like a little welcome encore for us fans.” -Christoph Fischer, author

From Pride and Prejudice“A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM by Scott Southard, a fictionalized account of Jane’s life, is a book that should be placed on the shelf of every book-loving fan of Jane Austen because she’s absolutely “alive” on the pages of this book.” -Julie Valerie’s Book Blog




  I am always on the lookout for a good Jane Austen biography as I have always been very fond of her many novels. Ever since reading "Pride & Prejudice" and "Emma" when I was young, I was fascinated with this woman and what a romantic life she must have led. However, if you have ever read anything about Jane Austen you know that she was never married. She was engaged once briefly but never married. I find this fact to be intriguing to say the least, since her novels were very centered on love and romance.


The author brilliantly re-imagines the life of our beloved Jane Austen, weaving in facts, names, dates partly just fiction but some real based on the facts we know of Miss Austen's short life. He even tucks in quite a few quotes/book references, as to keep us on our toes.

Firstly, the quality of his writing is top-notch. From the opening sentence to the last word, I was captivated.  I felt the author knew where he wanted to take the story and did so in an authoritative as well as engaging way.

Secondly, Scott Southard is an expert at writing in such a fashion as to induce feelings of hate, love, joy, sadness, and righteous fury. I wept, I laughed , I talked back at the characters making foolish decisions, I even rallied against those standing in the way of Jane’s happiness.

Some will say that knowing the ending as we know that Jane's life came to spoils this story, but on the contrary. This story takes us on a new adventure from the viewpoint of a very gifted writer. The author kept me on my toes anticipating each sadness and trial Miss Austen faced. I was excited for the chance to get to know Jane's family, including her crazy brother Henry (who was the family outcast) and Cassandra, Jane's older sister who seems to be Jane's best friend, confidant and equal in many respects.

The story starts with Jane and Cassandra being invited to attend a ball in order for the two to find husbands. Sound familiar to anyone? This is one of the first scenes of Pride and Prejudice as most may recall. The girls are invited to their older brothers home for this ball and their sister in law is the host which Jane makes clear she could do without. The humor and scenes that follow are very reminiscent of Miss Austen's writings. I just loved the carefree tone of this story and how close I felt to the character of Jane.

Although I am saddened by the fact that Miss Austen never achieved the happy ending she desired, I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of her writing (which should be almost everyone) 



Buy the Book

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Book Depository


About the Author

02_Scott D. Southard Photo Credit: Adam Emperor Southard

Scott D. Southard, the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, swears he is not obsessed with Jane Austen. He is also the author of the novels: My Problem with Doors, Megan, Permanent Spring Showers, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, and 3 Days in Rome. With his eclectic writing he has found his way into radio, being the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production. Scott received his Master’s in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard” (http://sdsouthard.com) where he writes on far-ranging topics like writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site. Currently, Scott resides in Michigan with his very understanding wife, his two patient children, and a very opinionated dog named Bronte.

You can find Scott on Facebook and Twitter.



A Jane Austen Daydream Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 1
Review at Bookish

Tuesday, September 2
Spotlight at I'd So Rather Be Reading

Wednesday, September 3
Review at Diary of an Eccentric

Friday, September 5
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, September 8
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read

Wednesday, September 10
Review at What Is That Book About

Thursday, September 11
Excerpt & Giveaway at Romantic Historical Reviews

Friday, September 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past



GIVEAWAY

WIN AN E-COPY OF "A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM" 
Open internationally! 
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