Tag Archives: ya books

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman finds her world turned upside down when a handsome stranger enters her life from another time, and together they discover fate’s plans for them when a rogue threat targets her for a power she never knew she had in author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Romance, Celtic mythology, and adventure swirl together in this time travel fantasy by #1 New York Times bestselling author, booktuber, and popular Outlander social media influencer Sasha Alsberg.

Fate brought them together. Time will tear them apart.

When a mysterious Scotsman suddenly appears in the middle of the road, Klara thinks the biggest problem is whether she hit him with her car. But, as impossible as it sounds, Callum has stepped out of another time, and his arrival marks the beginning of a deadly adventure.

Klara soon learns she is the last Pillar of Time—an anchor point in the timeline of the world. After being unable to protect the previous Pillar, Callum believes he’s fated to protect her. But now a dark force is hunting the Pillars—and Klara and Callum are the only two standing in the way. They’ll have to learn to trust each other and work together…but they’ll need to protect their hearts from one another if they’re going to survive

The Review

This was such a powerful and entertaining new read! The author did such an incredible job of world-building in this narrative. Each scene felt vibrant and alive on the page, thanks to the author’s incredible handle on imagery in her writing and the atmosphere she builds as the narrative progresses. The striking balance the author struck between the rich mythology of the world she created and the intimate and emotional character growth was superb. As a huge fan of mythology in general, I was immediately drawn into this narrative, but what was really fun was being introduced to new mythological figures and stories, and the intricacies of Celtic mythology definitely drew me into the story so much that I’ll be researching the mythos myself, really adding to the author’s ability to draw readers in. 

Yet it was the rich character development that really drew me in further and further into the story. The multiple POVs were great to have, as they added depth to both Callum’s and Klara’s stories. Their backstories and the eras from which they hail and the instant chemistry and discoveries they make about themselves along the way were truly inviting to behold on the page. Even the antagonist, who emerges from the shadows and strikes into the heart of these two protagonists, was chilling and haunting to behold and did a great job of becoming the hero’s foil in the narrative. 

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and brilliantly written, author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time” is a must-read YA Historical Fantasy meets Time Travel story and one of my top picks for best reads of 2022. The author does a great job of traversing the influences of other series such as Outlander and The Mortal Instruments, and yet feels so original and authentic on its own at the same time, bringing magic back into the Historical Fantasy meets Highland genre. With a twist ending that left this reader eager to read more, you guys won’t want to miss out on this spectacular story. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Sasha Alsberg is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Zenith, the first book in The Androma Saga. When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland, she is galavanting across social media with her two dogs, Fraser & Fiona. Sasha lives in London, England.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.sashaalsberg.com/ 

Twitter: @sashaalsberg

Instagram: @sashaalsberg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sasha.alsberg 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15100575.Sasha_Alsberg 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Time-Sasha-Alsberg/dp/1335284893 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-

time-sasha-alsberg/1140332910 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335284891 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Breaking-Time/Sasha-Alsberg/9781335284891 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/ch/audiobook/breaking-time/id1591477301 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sasha_Alsberg_Breaking_Time?id=5TlHEAAAQBAJ 

Please enjoy this excerpt from Author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time”

Excerpted from BREAKING TIME by Sasha Alsberg, © 2022 by Sasha Alsberg, used with permission from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins.

Callum

1568

“Thomas!” Callum yelled as he left the pub. The wall of crisp night air dizzied him, causing him to stumble over cobblestones that seemed to shift beneath his feet. Drunken laughter muff led as the door slammed shut behind him. 

“Where the hell are ye?” he shouted. His voice echoed through the deserted streets. 

No answer came. 

Lanterns flickered along the main road, setting the heavy fog aglow. In a wee town like Rosemere, the slightest whispers could be heard a mile away. They carried farther than that, Callum knew; the windows around him were shuttered, but candles burned low just inside. How many prying eyes watched from behind the slats? How many would speak of his friend, the disgraced fighter, in hushed voices at tomorrow’s market, over bread bought with the coin they’d won betting on him mere weeks earlier?

Callum clenched his fists. The whole pub had shouted and jeered while Thomas got pummeled that night. Sounds still rang in Callum’s ears: the thud of fist and flesh, the sickening crunch of bone. It was the third time this month that Thomas had lost—only the third time, in two years of fighting.

Brice would be angry.

Master, keeper, devil, father. Brice MacDonald was all of these things to Callum and Thomas. Whatever Brice’s wrath tonight, Callum could not let Thomas face it alone. Not when Thomas had looked after Callum for so long, raised him up from a nipper as well as a real older brother would.

But he would not abandon Thomas like his mother had abandoned him.

The thought sobered Callum. He called again, lowering his voice to a taunt.

“Thomas! You owe me three shillings!” Thomas could usually be drawn out with a jab.

Callum paused, straining his ears for a response but was met with unease instead. An owl watched from its perch atop the baker’s roof, golden eyes unblinking against the dark night sky. The shining orbs fixed on him.

He tore his gaze from the bird and walked on, moving away from the firelight and into shadow.

Even more worrisome than Brice was the fact that Thomas had given Callum his most treasured item earlier that night: his notebook, small sheaths of vellum bound in leather. When he first began carrying it around, Thomas claimed to have stolen it from the apothecary when he went in for a poultice. 

He had kept it on him, always, and had never let Callum lay eyes on what was inside. Yet he had pressed it into Callum’s hand, just before the match tonight. He said something to Callum when he did, but his words were inaudible within the roar of the pub. Then after, he disappeared from the pub without even a goodbye.

Now Callum was wandering the streets, alone.

It was unlike Thomas to behave so strangely, to lose so badly. The Thomas he knew—boyish and rowdy, tough as leather but never mean—had fallen away with the autumn leaves these past months. Instead of spending evenings at The Black Hart Inn, weaving stories he’d learned as a child of selkies and sailors for red-cheeked barmaids until the sun rose, Thomas began to disappear for days, weeks at a time—stretches too long for Callum to explain to Brice. He took a beating or two for it, too. When Thomas returned, he was sullen, sometimes violent, and consumed by a strangeness Callum had no words to describe. His eyes stared but did not see, as distant as stars burning in his skull. If he spoke at all, he told tales of the demons that terrified them as children: like the Sluagh, spirits of the dead who wandered in flocks, flying around the sky like soaring reapers and stealing souls, flesh hanging off them like blackened rags. Or the bean-nighe, banshees, messengers from the Otherworld and omens of death, who lingered in lonely streams, washing the clothes of doomed men. Normally Callum heard of such dark creatures within the stories of heroes, but Thomas’s stories didn’t end in life…but death. He fixated on that fact, as if it were coming for him.

I saw her, he’d said of the bean-nighe. I refuse to die. 

It worried Callum, but just as his worry morphed into confrontation, Thomas would come back to himself. This was enough to comfort Callum as he watched Thomas return to tales of ancient heroes and kings. Maybe he accepted his relief too soon since the nights of those stories were fewer these days, and more often Thomas’s speech would turn dark again. He would speak of strange visions, of men who leaped from one world to the next.

They’re coming, Cal, you’ll see. It’s as simple as stepping through a veil.

Who’s coming, Thomas? What veil? Callum asked, and Thomas would laugh.

It was no tale that Callum knew. He’d warned Thomas not to tell it. He didn’t like the wary looks it earned him. It was one thing to be a bard who told these stories for a living, but it was another thing to speak like a madman of evil spirits and fairies as if they were tangible things away from the lyrics of a song or the pages of a book.

Callum reached the end of the main road—the turn for Kelpie’s Close. If you wanted trouble, you found it in Kelpie’s. The narrow backstreet edged Rosemere like a blade pressed against the town’s throat.

A chill clung to his skin. Here, there were no lanterns to light the way, his only guide sparse slivers of moonlight. The wind picked up suddenly, lifting his hair and reaching under his woolen cloak. He tried to shake off visions of the Sluagh hovering above him, raking their cold fingers down his neck.

“It’s as dark as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat,” he mumbled.

Callum reached for the dirk tucked under his arm and found the carved handle concealed under layers of wool, feeling a sting of guilt. It was Thomas’s knife. Callum had slipped it away from him before the match, worried about what his friend might do in the crowded pub if he got enough drink in him. He tapped it, drawing enough strength to plunge into the darkness.

“Scunner!” he cursed, meaning it. “Where are you?”

A cry pierced the quiet.

Callum’s heart pounded as he followed the sound farther down the alley. He pulled the dirk from under his arm, certain now that he’d need to use it.

“Thomas?”

Unease, cold and metallic, crept up his spine. The alley appeared empty—strange, for this time of night—but the silence was thick, alive with a feeling Callum couldn’t name. He pushed on, deeper into the gloom. “Thomas?”

Another strangled cry, ahead.

Callum broke into a run.

A single lantern flickered a short distance away, casting a wan glow over a lone figure slumped against the wall. A sweep of red hair, bright even in the dim alley.

“Thomas, ye bastard, do ye ken what—”

The insult lodged in his throat. Thomas lay on the ground, his legs splayed at sickening angles. Blood seeped through his shirt, blooming like ink on paper. Callum rushed to his friend and knelt beside him. He dropped the dirk and pressed his hands against the deep slice that marred his friend’s torso. A knife wound.

“Dinnae fash, Thomas, dinnae fash,” Callum repeated, voice tight and panicked. He glanced up, searching for friend or foe, and found no one. “We’ll be back to the pub before Anderson kens we havna paid our tab.” 

Thomas stared up at him with glassy blue eyes. With each shuddering breath, more blood spilled through Callum’s fingers. He ripped the cloth stock from his neck and pressed the fabric onto the wound. It did little to stem the flow of blood. Within a few heartbeats, the cloth was soaked through, red and dripping.

If he pressed any harder, would it be doing more harm than good? Should he call for help, though it might draw the attacker? Callum hadn’t a clue. He wished suddenly, ferociously, that he’d had a proper mother, one whose wisdom he could call upon to calmly guide his hands. However, Thomas was the only family he had.

His only family was dying.

Thomas opened his mouth, but instead of words, a wet cough came out, splattering red across his pale face.

“Dinnae move, Thomas,” Callum shushed him. His uncertainty gave way to desperation, burst from his throat. “Help! Help us!”

His words dissolved into the night air, leaving behind only a tightness at the center of his chest. If he hadn’t taken Thomas’s dirk, he would have been able to defend himself, he wouldn’t be dying in Callum’s arms—

Thomas gasped, but it seemed as if no air reached his lungs.

Lowering his head, Callum gripped Thomas’s hands, though his own were shaking. “I will find the man who did this, I swear—”

Then the world flipped sideways. A blow had hit Callum like a runaway carriage, throwing him against the alley wall opposite Thomas.

Pain exploded along his ribs. Grasping the mossy wall for purchase, he struggled to his feet and wiped blood from his eyes, scouring the darkness for his attacker—and found no one.

“Show your face,” he growled.

A cruel whisper cut through the quiet. “Are you certain?”

The man emerged from the shadows as if he had been one with them. He wore a dark black cloak, in stark contrast to his unkempt, pale hair. Deep set in his face, a pair of amber eyes seemed to emit their own light. Callum’s gaze was drawn to a glinting shape in the man’s hand.

A dagger, dripping with blood.

Thomas’s blood.

Callum’s heart pounded like a war drum in his ears.

The man sighed. “Move along. Unless you’d like to meet the same fate as your compani—”

Callum lunged forward, cutting off the man’s speech with a guttural cry, striking with the speed of a viper.

The man ducked. He whirled around as Callum charged again. He overreached with the arc of his knife, and Callum used the moment to surge upward with a punch. His fist took the assailant in the chin—

And the force knocked Callum back.

He stared. A blow like that would have laid out the toughest fighter, yet the man stood and smiled, rubbing his chin with a gloved hand.

“I’m going to have fun with you,” the stranger whispered. “I like a man with a bit of fight in him. It’s more fun to play with your prey, don’t you think?”

Callum didn’t see the blow coming, only felt the pain searing across his temple as he was thrown to the ground again. 

He lifted his head, vision blurring. He blinked it clear, took in his friend’s ashen face. The sight flooded Callum with rage.

Whoever said to never fight with anger fueling your fists was a fool. Thomas’s best fights had been powered by emotion. Callum wasn’t fighting for money now. Or for Brice. He was fighting for Thomas. Because Thomas was—

“Stay down, little man,” the attacker’s voice hissed.

Callum dragged himself to his feet. His body, corded with muscle from a lifetime of training, screamed for him to stop. Instead he stood, swaying.

“I dinnae believe I’m going to Heaven,” Callum said, raising his fists once more, drawing strength from the familiar ache that radiated through his arms. “But I cannae wait to bring you to Hell with me.”

Lunging forward again, Callum poured everything he had into a single strike. He swung, landing the punch more out of luck than skill, half blinded by blood and dirt.

The man merely flinched, then caught Callum easily by the throat. A grin curled over his face.

How could that be possible?

“My, my, you are a feisty one,” he hissed.

The man lashed out, and pain flared along Callum’s torso. He released Callum and stepped back, red-tinged silver shining in his fist.

Callum touched his side, and his fingers came away wet with blood. He watched as crimson spread across his shirt. He tried to take a step, only to crumple to the ground beside Thomas, whose head rested limp against his chest.

Callum had never feared death, but now as he looked into its eyes, terror seized him. 

“Many thanks for the entertainment,” the man said.

To Callum’s horror, he bent low, holding a vial to the spreading pool of Thomas’s blood. He was gathering it.

“If you’ll excuse me, there’s one last Pillar I must find.”

Pillar?

The unearthly amber eyes melted into darkness as his opponent backed away and turned, disappearing into the shadows once more. Softly hissed words echoed in the alley. Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh, Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh…

The words the man spoke were Gaelic, but Callum’s fading mind couldn’t make out their meaning. A dark, mist-like substance rose from the ground and curled around the man’s feet, nearly indistinguishable from the dim of night. Like a sudden fog had rolled in.

Callum sputtered a curse, lacking the strength to spit. He tried to lift himself, but with each breath, pain flared in his side like a web of fire.

“I’m sorry, Thomas,” he croaked. Tears fell freely down his face, mingling with blood and sweat. He pressed his forehead against his friend’s. Grief washed over him at the still-warm press of his skin.

Thomas was gone, and Callum would soon follow.

A shiver raked his body. His eyes drifted shut.

Take me already, he pleaded to the darkness.

And the darkness answered.

No, not the darkness—Thomas’s voice, a memory now, though it was solid as stone.

“Get up, scunner.”

The warmth of the words turned electric, spreading through Callum’s body like wildfire. His eyes shot open and he gasped, breathing in a shock of cold air still sharp with the smell of blood. His fingers found the dirk he’d dropped earlier.

Grief and agony and pain and rage lifted Callum onto his feet, thrumming in him as he charged after Thomas’s murderer, knife raised and eager for flesh. He grabbed blindly, finally grasping a handful of fabric—the man’s cloak. Turning, the man’s eyes widened, making two white rings of surprise in the dark. Callum’s hand grabbed the man’s neck and aimed his dirk at the pale slash of his throat.

Suddenly, they froze. Callum could not move. His hand remained around the man’s neck, the tip of the dirk pressed against his vein. Light flowed around them. It’s not time for sunrise, he thought. Dimly, he noticed markings along the man’s collarbone. Knots carved into his skin.

The man cried out—not in pain, but in anger—but then, the cry was stifled by a rush of silence, so thick Callum thought he might drown in it. His stomach turned violently as the ground seemed to drop out from under him, forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut. He was falling, flying, falling.

I must be dead in the alley. The man must have killed me. This must be death.

A bright glow burned against his lids. He closed his eyes tighter and welcomed whatever might follow, only hoping he’d find Thomas there. A wall of light had formed above, descending as if the sun were pulling him through the sky. His body rose into its searing embrace.

He waited for the long drop to the ground, but it never came.

Callum kept soaring.

Not just through the street.

Not to death’s embrace. 

But somewhere else.

Leaping to another world, like the man in Thomas’s story, Callum thought.

So he leaped. 

Amethyst (Ambrosia Hill Book 1) by Rebecca Henry Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl struggling with her identity and her parents impending divorce finds her birthright and power with the help of her aunts in author Rebecca Henry’s “Amethyst”, the first book in the Ambrosia Hill YA series. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

She was sent away because of her feelings for another girl. But what she discovered at her aunts’ lake house was a birthright of magic.

Thirteen-year-old Zinnia is about to turn fourteen when her life is flipped upside down. With her parents on the brink of a divorce, Zinnia is sent to spend the summer with her eccentric great-aunts at their lake house away from her home in Manhattan. Zinnia arrives at her aunts’ massive Victorian house with a heavy heart after a recent falling out with her best friend Charlotte, who betrayed her trust by showing the meanest and most popular girl in school a letter Zinnia wrote confessing her feelings for Charlotte. The aunts rely on practical magic, acceptance and old family friends to help heal their great-niece in more ways than one.

What Zinnia discovers on Ambrosia Hill is more than just her birthright to magic—she meets Billie, a girl who conjures feelings inside Zinnia that she can no longer deny.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of homophobia and mild peril.

The Review

I instantly fell in love with this story. The author did such an incredible job of crafting a unique and beautiful world that felt real and yet held incredible magic that kept the paranormal and fantasy elements of this narrative alive. The sheer volume of backstory and narrative the author was able to pour into this fairly quick read was breathtaking to behold, as were the little bits of mystery and suspense that the author peppered throughout the read, especially with a tease of future storylines in the next book in this series.

Yet it was the heartfelt character development that really played well in this story. The magic and wonder of the world the author crafted only elevated the emotional story of these characters, from the backstory and history of Billie, who brings a sense of edge and pain to her meeting with Zinnia. Then there is Zinnia herself, who not only struggles with the pain of her family falling apart due to her parents impending divorce but the struggles to feel accepted for her LGBTQ status. 

What I love about the story is that the author doesn’t portray Zinnia as someone in doubt necessarily of who they are, but struggling because she does know who she is and who she loves, and wants the world and those around her to accept her as she is. I feel there are so many people, especially teens, in this world who feel the same who could use an inspirational protagonist like Zinnia to connect with and follow, and I applaud the author for this amazing story development for the character.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, emotional, and magical, author Rebecca Henry’s “Amethyst” is a must-read novel of 2022 and the perfect first entry into this brilliant paranormal and fantasy YA series. The balance of realism and magic, along with the positive outlook on witchcraft and magic that is often overlooked in the world, made this world stand out, and the positive exploration of LGBTQ themes made this a home run in my book. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on April 26th, 2022, or preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Rebecca Henry is an American author living abroad in England. She is a devoted vegan who gardens, practices yoga, crafts, travels the world, and bakes. Rebecca’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and she is obsessed with anything and everything witchy! Besides writing fiction, Rebecca is also the author of her vegan holiday cookbook collection and green living lifestyle book. Her love for animals, baking with her family, having a plant-based diet, and cruelty-free, green lifestyle inspired her nonfiction novels. You can find all Rebecca’s books on Amazon.

https://www.rebeccahenryauthor.com/

Cheers from Heaven by Mary Elizabeth Jackson and Thornton Clive Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A group of friends must come together to grow and learn from their pasts after a classmate they once mistreated passes away, and sends them on a journey of forgiveness and hope in authors Mary Elizabeth Jackson and Thornton Clive’s “Cheers from Heaven”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Five friends discover they are feeling uneasy emotions about a former classmate, Drew, who suddenly passed away from a dreadful disease. Each of them had mistreated him in their own way and style. Guilt soon overtakes the students, and they are guided by their teacher to visit Drew’s parents and confess their wrongdoings.

During their visit, they are entrusted with Drew’s secret locked box which he left behind. What’s inside sets the students on a life-changing journey. Drew has left these students with some unexpected notes that unites them in a way they never imagined.

They are led to grow in maturity and emotionally, beyond who they once were. The insights gained inspire not only these students to accept others and their differences but leads the whole school to follow. The mysteries continue till the very end with a final message from Drew that leaves everyone wondering can you really send Cheers from Heaven.

The Review

A truly heartfelt and thought-provoking middle-grade read, the authors did such a brilliant job of writing an emotionally-driven narrative while also making the story both entertaining and enlightening at the same time. The exploration of bullying as a theme in our world as well as in literature was the perfect vessel for this story, as this problem has become a huge thing in our public school system, both in school and online. The need to teach our students and children to respect and be kind to one another, and not allow peer pressure to drive us to negative behavior, was perfectly illustrated here in this story.

The characters were so perfectly written and relatable for young readers and did a great job of illustrating this theme to its fullest. Not only did the story and characters showcase the harm and damage that bullying can take, but showed the impact that taking ownership of one’s mistakes and trying to fix our behavior moving forward can bring one onto the path of redemption, and can help hopefully curb any rise in bullying that can occur in schools. 

The Verdict

A truly heartfelt, relatable, and quick yet powerful middle grade and YA drama, authors Mary Elizabeth Jackson and Thornton Cline’s “Cheers from Heaven’’ is a must-read book. The narrative is relatable and emotionally driven, and the exploration of bettering oneself and taking ownership of our own mistakes, as well as teaching students how to treat one another and to let go of peer pressure to fit into some sort of social norm, made this such a passionate and engaging story to get lost in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Authors

Mary Elizabeth Jackson is an #1 Amazon Best selling author in the collaborative anthologies The Fearless Entrepreneurs and Invisible No More, Invincible Forever More and the 2017 Maxy award-winning author of the children’s book series Perfectly Precious Poohlicious, Poohlicious Look at Me, and Poohlicious Oh the Wonder of Me, (Tuscany Bay Books). Cheers from Heaven, a mid-grade reader releases in 2021, (Tuscany Bay Books), with co-writer Thornton Cline. Jackson focuses on writing empowering books for kids and is working on an eight-book series with Cline for children as well as books for the special need’s community and a motivational book for adults. Jackson is also a ghostwriter, songwriter, book collaborator and the voice for the Sports2gether App.

Jackson is the co- founder and co- hosts of Writers Corner Live TV Show and Special Needs TV Shows on Amazon Live, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Writers Corner Live features author interviews from debut authors to New York Times bestsellers and everything about writing all the way to getting published. Special Needs TV features interviews and resources for parents, families, and caregivers. Jackson is an ambassador advocate for AutismTn.

Mrs. Jackson has been featured and interviewed on national and international radio shows including Sirius XM and iheart radio as well as numerous Podcasts and TV shows.

Jackson is starting a YouTube channel and an Amazon Live show dedicated to children’s book reviews with her son who inspired her series, and an education show for kids of all needs.

Mrs. Jackson is a very busy mom and wife. She loves nature, being creative, anything funny, and inspiring others to believe in themselves. She lives with her hubby, three kids, and dog in the Nashville area. -Cherish every moment of life.

https://www.maryejackson.com/

Thornton Cline is an in-demand author, teacher, speaker, clinician, performer and songwriter

http://www.thorntoncline.com/

The Trouble with Belonging by Magdalena Stanhoff Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young kids who meet one another in the city and grow up together as friends find their relationship changing, and the challenges of everyday life changing them as well, in author Magdalena Stanhoff’s “The Trouble With Belonging”. 

The Synopsis

New city, again. New language, new school, new people. Another place where he doesn’t belong. Chen Kehuan is a boy adrift: he has no friends and no family to speak of, and he doesn’t care much for anyone. Until he meets that little girl, and then everything changes.

Niki roams the streets, talking to strangers on a whim and making things out of nothing, and since she has no choice, she fends for herself well enough. But then that older boy starts looking after her, and everything changes.

Years later, teenage Niki still struggles with the fallout of her turbulent childhood. Thankfully, Kehuan is there to help solve each and every problem she may have. Until everything changes again, and he becomes the problem. Now what?

The Review

This was such an intriguing and thoughtful read. The author does a great job of exploring so much about the lives of our younger generations and how the way we raise our children can really have an impact on how they handle situations as they arise in their lives. The author does a great job of covering so many different issues that young people face on a daily basis all around the world through these characters, from racism and alienation from their peers to developing hormones and the impact adult decisions have on still developing teens. 

What was fascinating to read was the examination of different cultures within this YA Romance and Drama. The multi-cultural cast of characters found the perfect balance of highlighting the aspects of each character’s background and culture that makes them unique, and the similarities they all shared in the issues that came across their paths. One thing I noticed that the author highlighted so well was the impact absent parenting and tragedy can have on young children as they grow older, and how moving too fast in any relationship can lead to hardships and struggles as they each look to find their own footing in the world.

The Verdict

A thought-provoking, engaging, and emotional read, author Magdalena Stanhoff’s “The Trouble with Belonging” is a fantastic YA Romance/Drama to read this fall. The story can get quite adult in certain spots, but the emphasis on relationships of all kinds and the way real issues are worked into the narrative along with the main character’s growing relationship and their own development made this such an interesting character study overall in the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

I’ve always loved books, and I’ve always wanted to see the world.  But while I read compulsively in my childhood and teenage years, traveling used to be just an unrealistic dream. Many years had to pass before I could pack my bag and set off on my first journey abroad, but it happened in the end. Since then, I’ve visited many countries and met many amazing people of different nationalities and cultures. We worked, and learned, and played together, and I’ve gained some wonderful friends this way. My life would’ve been so much duller and paler without them.  Books and travels have made me who I am. And my family, of course, but that goes without saying.

As for my books, I write what I like to read: stories about people overcoming various difficulties, sometimes fighting their inner demons, sometimes struggling to fit in or starting anew from the scratch, and finding love and happiness with a little help from their friends and family. Throw in the motif of clashing cultures and world views, and the mess and growth that can come out of it. And since I’m an incurable dreamer, also the obligatory HEA. 

P.S. As you may have already guessed, Magdalena Stanhoff is a pen name. My real name wouldn’t fit on any book cover, and besides,  most of you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it anyway.

https://www.magdalenastanhoff.com/

https://www.facebook.com/magdalenastanhoff

https://www.instagram.com/magdalena.stanhoff/

This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two students from very different walks of life find themselves working together after they discover the body of a young teen girl floating off the coast of their small town, and discover students from both the local prep school and reform school all have secrets to hide in author Gabriella Lepore’s “This is Why We Lie”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Riverdale meets One of Us Is Lying in This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, a standalone thriller following two teens who discover a body off the coast of their seaside town. As they search for the killer, they will learn the students of both the local prep school and the nearby reform school will do anything to protect their secrets.

Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.

When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.

Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.

As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.

As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.

The Review

A truly gripping and engaging thriller for YA and murder-mystery fans, author Gabriella Lepore has crafted a mind-bending tale of suspense and secrets that readers will not be able to help to fall into. The twists and turns that this novel takes both for the characters and the narrative itself are truly captivating, and the author does a fantastic job of setting up solid pacing to peel back the layers of this mystery one by one. 

The growth of the characters was what drew me into the narrative, to begin with. The emotional depth that both protagonists have gone through in their pasts, and how these two young people who have had to learn to trust only themselves and have experienced hard family lives make their way to one another in the midst of great tragedy was so enthralling and mesmerizing to see unfold and really tugged at the heartstrings as well. This in turn really balanced out the emotional beats with the suspense and drama of this murder mystery and small-town life. 

The Verdict

Pretty Little Liars meets Riverdale, author Gabriella Lepore’s “This Is Why We Lie” is a must-read YA Mystery of 2021! Perfectly crafted and shocking as the final reveal of the killer is shown, this novel delivers powerful characters that readers might be able to relate to, and a great exploration of both the contrast and similarities people from different walks of life can truly have. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible book today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from South Wales in the United Kingdom. She lives in the countryside with her husband James and daughter Sophia. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline. She enjoys cups of tea, bookstore coffee shops, stormy beaches, and autumn days.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/this-is-why-we-lie/9781335418609 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-is-why-we-lie-gabriella-lepore/1138317761 

Powells: https://www.powells.com/book/this-is-why-we-lie-9781335418609 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/This-Why-Lie-Gabriella-Lepore/dp/1335418601

Target: https://www.target.com/p/this-is-why-we-lie-by-gabriella-lepore-hardcover/-/A-82007842 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gabriella_Lepore_This_Is_Why_We_Lie?id=eqsJEAAAQBAJ

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/author/gabriella-lepore/id1153311848

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/this-is-why-we-lie 

SOCIAL LINKS: 

Twitter: @GabriellaBooks 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gabriella-Lepore-Books-240139339377522/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellalepore_books/?hl=en 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4814169.Gabriella_Lepore 

Here is an Excerpt from “This Is Why We Lie”

JENNA

Gardiners Bay at dawn is my secret. There’s a moment, right before the day starts, when the ocean is bathed in amber light. That first golden breath of morning. Everything is still, apart from the pelicans gathering near the water, their plump bodies shuffling along the shoreline. Sometimes I sit on the promenade for hours with my legs suspended over the pebble beach below, just watching the night turn to day. Watching the darkness turn to light.

It’s often like this, just me and the birds. The only other people I tend to cross paths with at this hour are fishermen wearing heavy-duty gear and hugging their thermoses. They sit on the benches and swig their hot drinks while skimming the daily newspaper. Then they leave. A little while later, their boats drift out onto the water.

Today, though, I’m the only one here.

I raise my camera and adjust the focus, capturing the new light as it spills over the ocean. In the muted daylight, the silver tide is a murky, dull gray and frothing as it slaps against the shore.

“Help! I need help!”

My eyes dart across the shoreline. There’s a boy on the stretch of beach at the foot of Rookwood Cliff. He’s kneedeep in the water, fully dressed.

He shouts again.

I spring to my feet and run along the promenade. Ducking beneath the boardwalk railings, I jump down to the pebbled cove.

The soles of my feet sting at the impact of the stones beneath my Converse. I scramble toward him, my footing slipping on the damp pebbles.

It’s then that I recognize him.

Adam.

His jeans are soaked to the thigh. He’s wading through the shallows, his legs tangled in fishing net and seaweed. And a body lies limp in his arms. A girl. She’s swollen, her skin has turned purple, and one arm is swinging downward with the momentum of Adam’s labored movements.

I press my hand to my mouth.

“Call an ambulance,” he shouts.

But all I can do is stand there, paralyzed by the sight. He lowers the girl onto the sand and begins CPR, breathing into her mouth.

It’s too late, I want to tell him.

She’s already dead.

Excerpted from This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, Copyright © 2021 by Gabriella Lepore. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl surviving on the streets of 1960’s London as a petty criminal gets a taste of high society after befriending two young scions and seeks to make her dreams of becoming a world renowned fashion designer a reality in author Maureen Johnson’s fantastic new retelling of a Disney classic, “Hello, Cruel Heart”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis 

An electric new story of teenage Cruella de Vil in an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios Live Action Film, Cruella.

Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in London as a young girl, Estella now runs wild through the city streets with Jasper and Horace, amateur thieves who double as Estella’s makeshift family and partners-in-(petty)-crime. How can Estella dedicate herself to joining the ranks of the London design elite when she’s sewing endless costumes and disguises for the trio’s heists?

When a chance encounter with Magda and Richard Moresby-Plum, two young scions of high society, vaults Estella into the world of the rich and famous, she begins to wonder whether she might be destined for more after all. Suddenly, Estella’s days are filled with glamorous parties, exclusive eateries, flirtations with an up-and-coming rock star, and, of course, the most cutting-edge fashions money can buy. But what is the true cost of keeping up with the fast crowd-and is it a price Estella is willing to pay? 

The Review

This was a truly riveting narrative and perfect spin on the classic story of Cruella. Estella is an endearing and tragic figure, highlighting the person beneath the persona that is destined to become a classic Disney villain. The struggle between Estella’s journey to the streets of London and her petty crimes to striving for the posh life she always thought she wanted and even trusting and falling in love all culminate in a series of events that drive the protagonist to face her darker self, Cruella.

The pacing and setting really stood out in this narrative, highlighting the late sixties in London, an era known for great music, upscale fashion and the seeds of rebellion and so much. The story expertly creates a new layer to the legend of Cruella while honoring the character’s arc and setting the tone for the villains eventual rise, all while making Estella an empathetic protagonist that shows the woman she never had the chance to become, a fate many people have had to endure throughout their lives.

The Verdict

A brilliant, edgy yet heartfelt retelling of a classic character’s history, author Maureen Johnson’s “Hello, Cruel Heart” is a must-read YA novel. The perfect blend of classic Disney characters meeting a retro-style setting and a YA narrative direction, this is the perfect companion read to the hit Disney film Cruella, and a fantastic summer read for 2021. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Advertisements

About the Author

Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue EnvelopesSuite ScarlettThe Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

https://www.bookbub.com/books/hello-cruel-heart-by-maureen-johnson

Guest Blog Post: Turning a YA Book into a Bestseller: The Best Tools for Online Promotion by Hayley Zelda

Hi there everyone. I am honored to welcome writer Hayley Zelda onto my website today to discuss with you all the best tool for online promotion for any author of YA books and how to turn those books into a best-seller. Give her a warm welcome and enjoy this wonderful guest post.


These days, a YA book doesn’t turn into a bestseller just by its story alone. In many cases, much of the success can be attributed to promotion as well. Whether it’s an e-book, a paperback or a hardcover, there are many digital strategies you can use to help get your book out there.


Online marketing comes in many forms —there’s at least one option that can match your budget, skills, and specific marketing goals. Below are some ideas you can try online to YA novels.

Advertisements


The Sign-Up Form and the Mailing List

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have encountered those pop-ups asking for you to sign up or add your email address in exchange of a freebie. Sometimes, the sign-up form is also placed prominently on the top or bottom portions of a website. You may find them on sidebars, too.


This is an integral part of email marketing. Basically, the said strategy involves sending emails or newsletters to those who signed up (a.k.a. subscribers). With this, you can pique your subscribers’ interest by sending a sneak peek to your book or by announcing a book giveaway. To help you get started with your email marketing, you can use services like Constant Contact and MailChimp.


These days, many YA authors have their own websites where they have their own sign-up forms. Kelley Armstrong, author of Aftermath and The Masked Truth, has her sign-up form on the bottom of her website’s homepage while Broken Things author, Lauren Oliver, has it near the top.

Advertisements

The Author Interviews

Nothing can beat author interviews when it comes to putting the spotlight on you and your work. Even if you’re just debuting as a YA novelist, there are many magazines, organizations and bloggers out there who may consider featuring you.

For instance, Shannon Hale, well-known for her Princess Academy series, has been interviewed by AdLit.org and the Young Adult Library Services Association. You can prepare for magazine-style and video interviews like hers.


Meanwhile, the Hunter’s Moon author, O. R. Melling, had a radio interview posted on Mixcloud. If you like discussing your book over the phone, look for local radio stations or podcasters. As much as possible, choose platforms that teens and twenty somethings prefer as they are your target readers.


Smaller scale sites are great practice and can provide great niche exposure as well. Sites like Wired For Youth are much easier to land interviews on and can still drive some great exposure. Don’t just search for platforms with a great audience though. Make sure you also prepare for the questions and the way you present yourself.


Ann Brashers, the novelist behind The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, features her YouTube interviews on her own site. The Hunger Games series creator, Suzanne Collins, has featured an interview on how site as well. You can get the video links from your interviewer and include them on your platforms, too.

Advertisements


The Cross-promotion with Other YA Novelists (Or Any Other
Author for That Matter)


All writers get help from other writers. For most authors, it’s just inspiration. Promotion is another assistance that you can give and take. This can be a mere mention of another person’s work on social media. A recommendation through blog posts, vlogs, interviews and book
conventions is more favorable though.


Aside from inspiring people, John Green uses his influence to recommend books written by other writers. Sometimes he just give others positive reviews like when he stated that Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette as the funniest novel he had in years.


When you’re starting out though, don’t expect that you’ll get on the radar of popular authors right away. Instead of wishing for their attention, you can find those who are in a similar situation like yours. Join Discord servers and Facebook groups meant for writers. You can scan for chats or posts from those who are looking for someone to cross-promote with. When there are none, you can post one yourself.

Writing feedback for each other’s books and having them published in your respective works could help. Each of you can use your social media pages and mailing list for further co-promotions as well. As much as possible, choose to work with someone who have similar niche and range for your social media reach.

Advertisements


The Fanfictions (and Other Forms of Fan Labor)


On his blog, Neil Gaiman once responded to a fan who asked about his opinion on fanfictions. The author behind the award-winning The Graveyard Book said it didn’t bother him. However, there are authors out there who preferred not to have their works used as bases for such kind of
fan labor.


If you haven’t made a mark though, you might want to consider letting your readers make fan-fictions out of your characters, settings and/or plot. Platforms like Wattpad and Commaful are there for such pursuit. You can also allow them to create their own drawings or trailers based on your work.


Or, you can also get started by writing fanfiction yourself. Just remember not to exploit others’ works for commercial purposes. Make sure you’re not also lifting characters, settings and plots from the books of those who are against fanfictions.


Many writers have tried this out before they hit it big. Meg Cabot, the creative behind the Princess Diaries series, used to pen Star Wars fanfic. Even Gaiman admitted that he used Marv Wolfman’s horror plot for an essay he wrote when he was younger.

Advertisements

Conclusion


Just like the contents of your YA book, make sure you plan your promotion as well. Take some time in testing and revising your marketing campaigns accordingly.

Advertisements

About the Writer

Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She’s written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.

Eden Rising (Eden Rising #1) by Andrew Cunningham Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young teens find themselves in a fight for survival as they become one of the few survivors of a planet-ending event, and must discover how far they are willing to go in order to live in author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

“The Earth died in less than a minute. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s not like the planet ceased to exist altogether. It just seemed like it. Cities were reduced to rubble. Millions of people died that day. I’ve since been told that 95% of the Earth’s human population was wiped out. I don’t know if that’s true—I mean, who can know that for sure? It’s not like we still have any of the technology that we once used to determine such things. But I do know that it was almost empty of people—live ones, that is…”

Thus begins the journey of Ben and Lila, two ordinary teenagers forced to rise to extraordinary heights when faced with a world that has suddenly and inexplicably died. Dealing with the sorrow of all they have lost, but the love they have found in each other, they set off on an odyssey that will bring them to the limits of human endurance and face to face with the frailty of their very existence. From the extreme violence of many of the surviving humans toward one another, to a world physically falling apart at the seams, Ben and Lila are determined to make it through the devastation in their quest for a place to quietly share their life together. In the process, they have to become as violent as the world around them in order to survive, while struggling to hold onto the humanity that will keep them sane. Eden Rising is a survival tale and a love story, but it is also a book that delves deeply into the human psyche to discover just how far we would go to survive, and how much inner strength can be found when things are at their absolute worst.

The Review

This audiobook was not only well read, but incredibly well-written. The action kicks up immediately, as the two protagonists find themselves going from awkward teen romance hanging in the air to waking up and finding the people of the world dead. 

The author does an amazing job of leaning hard into the dystopian YA sci-fi genre, while also bringing a maturity to the narrative by examining the psychological affect an apocalyptic event like this would have on any survivors, let alone two young teens forced to grow up very quickly. The pain of the loss brings to them a bond that highlights a growing romance, while the horrors they endure in the narrative and the lines they must contend with crossing showcase complex and deep character developments, a key to this novel’s pacing and delivery overall.

The Verdict

A must-read, heart-pounding audiobook and novel, author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”, the first in the Eden Rising series, is an edge of your seat dystopian YA novel that is not to be missed. Memorable characters, romance and deep psychological character studies all define this amazing novel, and readers will not be able to get enough of this wonderful work. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author 

Andrew Cunningham is the author ten novels, including the award-winning Amazon bestselling thriller Wisdom Spring; the “Lies” Mystery Series (All Lies, Fatal Lies, Vegas Lies, Secrets & Lies, and Blood Lies); the Cape Cod terrorist/disaster thriller Deadly Shore; and the post-apocalyptic Eden Rising Series (Eden Rising, Eden Lost, and Eden’s Legacy). As A.R. Cunningham, he has written a series of 5 humorous children’s mysteries in the Arthur MacArthur series for middle-readers. Formerly an interpreter for the deaf and a long-time independent bookseller, Andrew has been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for the last 18 years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, Andrew finally gave up active training when his body said, “Enough already!” Andrew was a long-time resident of Cape Cod, and he and his wife now live in Florida. He can be contacted at info@arcnovels.com. Visit his website at www.arcnovels.com. He can also be found on Facebook (Author Andrew Cunningham), and Twitter (@arcnovels).

Blood and Silver by Vali Benson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl must find a way to save her mother from a nefarious Madame in the town of Tombstone in author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

The Review

This was a fast-paced, intricate character study and intense YA historical read. The author does a great job of focusing on character development within the narrative, and the historical nature of the novel was very well researched and integrated naturally into the book as well. 

The story takes off immediately from the very first pages, with a murder leading to Carissa’s discovery of her mother’s condition and the lengths Miss Lucille will go to secure her business. The young woman risks it all to save those closest to her, and historical fiction and YA fans will love the intricate way the setting plays into the character’s arc and the narrative overall. 

Advertisements

The Verdict

A must-read novel, author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver” is a truly one-of-a-kind read. The historical fiction YA adventure is filled with a gritty Western theme and does a great job of giving a voice to people who are usually relegated to background characters in the typical Western novel, making this a wonderful read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, “Blood and Silver”. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

Website:

Amazon:

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53167218-blood-and-silver

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/RealValiBenson/?modal=admin_todo_tour