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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”. 

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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

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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).

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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”. 

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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. 

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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

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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.

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Warriors of Potentia (The Shadows) by J.J. Angelus 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 young people are all that stands between Earth and an unimaginable threat in author J.J. Angelus’s “Warriors of Potentia (The Shadows)”. 

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The Synopsis

The souls of mankind have always had a fascination with the unknown. Humanity desires nothing more than to unravel the secrets of the Universe in hopes of gaining enlightenment and uncovering the truth. But what if they uncovered something which darkened their perceptions? Something that could wipe out their existence if it was given the opportunity?A supernatural entity descends upon an unsuspecting community carrying a hostile attitude and voracious appetite. The only offset for this cosmic menace is a few young adults who gain mystical abilities from unknown origins. Inexperienced and unaware, the odds are clearly against them as they face a merciless and ever-evolving enemy. An enemy who not only threatens their young adult lives, but also the entire Earth. As the mystery unfolds, your deepest and darkest fears will become reality, and the shadows surrounding your conscience shall come to life. A reality which fuels your imagination and reshapes your mind towards understanding the inner workings of the Cosmos just a little bit better.

The Review

The book hits the ground running, setting the stage for a powerful sci-fi epic YA series that is both emotional and action-fueled. After a deadly accident on a space station launches a lone astronaut back to Earth carrying a dangerous alien threat, the world becomes a target and a few teens find their lives changed forever.

The author does a great job of creating unique mythology that blends sci-fi and fantasy seamlessly. The cast of characters is strong and does well to elevate the story naturally, and readers become invested as the story progresses. The only thing of note would be that sometimes perspective changes between characters occur suddenly without warning, so perhaps in the future, these character perspective changes could occur with some separators between each passage within a chapter. 

The Verdict

A gripping sci-fi tale like no other, author J.J. Angelus has set the stage for a fantastic YA series. Engaging, heartfelt, and incredibly detailed in its mythological approach, Warriors of Potentia is a must-read novel of the summer. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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Facebook: https://facebook.com/warriorsofpotentia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53936297-warriors-of-potentia

Author Bio: 

In 2016, J.J. Angel was a part of an anthology called Voices from the Bayou, he loaned his words on several troubling events that year in Louisiana. Specifically, The Great Flood of 2016, the shooting of Alton Sterling, and the deaths of three police officers. His written portion titled, “Still Water Runs Deep” is about an outward conflict clashing with his own inner conflict, both as a flood victim and a misguided African American male.  

 Several years later, he decided to differentiate himself from the book with a new pseudonym, but since he loved his original pen name so much, he simply turned Angel into Angelus which is Latin for angel. The Angel portion of his original pseudonym is a shortened form of his mother’s name Angela.

JJ prefers to write stories focusing on the supernatural, with spiritual awareness intertwined somewhere in the plot. He enjoys educational science books as well.  

Warriors of Potentia is his most developed production, with one completed book and several sequels on the way. The idea of the story originated twenty-five years ago as a way to combat the ongoing verbal and physical torment from peers. Beginning as simple stick-figure drawings, these characters developed, as he developed, and became a greater manifestation of his creativity into what they are today.  

JJ is also working on a few other titles that are not a part of the Potentia franchise. These works will be released sometime in the near future as well.

When he’s not writing, JJ’s outside moving around the downtown capitol; enjoying the great Louisiana cuisine and entertainment, visiting parks and zoos to become closer with the elements of nature, and trying to control his ongoing obsession with Star Trek Deep Space Nine. 

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The Out Crowd by Michael Kirby Review

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

Examining the life of two groups of students, the In-Crowd and the Out-Crowd, of a high school, this coming of age satire explores the toxicity of division in author Michael Kirby’s YA satire/drama, “The Out Crowd”. 

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The Synopsis

Hallie Flynn was ready for the perfect senior year, but everything changes at Homecoming when petty rumors spiral out of control. The In Crowd was always who everybody in the Out Crowd dreamed of being. The Out Crowd consisted of everybody else. Isaiah was also expecting a normal senior year. His biggest concern was earning a scholarship for college, but then all the norms evaporated. Gossip piles on top of itself, overwhelming his social life, and everyone else’s. Friendships are ruined. People from all walks of Gates High School life no longer know who to trust.

Determined, Hallie makes it her mission to set the record straight. But by the time the gossip desperately needed to be stopped, it was already too late. Gates High could never be the same as it was again, because rumors and gossip are not toys to be played around with. What appears simple and straightforward becomes more confusing. Eventually the rumors take on a life of their own and truth and untruth merge into an unrecognizable blur. Both the In Crowd and the Out Crowd learn to live with their new fate in different ways. Inevitably, lessons are learned, but only after the damage is already done.

The Review

An engaging read, author Michael Kirby has created a great YA read that not only delves into the inner-workings of high school life but on a much broader scale examines the social and political divides that keep our world at odds with one another. The author’s use of high school life to illustrate the larger problems of society is an inspired choice here, as often high school life can serve as a precursor for what is to come in life later on. 

The narrative is very character-driven, with kids from both the In-Crowd and Out Crowd showcasing the various aspects of high school’s social scene, and how rumor and gossip can not only spread like wildfire but how it can ruin and change lives wholeheartedly. The characters remain relatable and engaging to readers as the story progresses. However the only note I would make is that at times the narrative and dialogue can become repetitive at times, and although the story still flourished it did take me out of the narrative at times. 

The Verdict

Well-written, entertaining and relatable, author Michael Kirby’s “The Out Crowd” is a must-read YA drama. Creative and engaging, the characters come to life in the reader’s mind easily, and although a shorter read the core story has an amazing impact that will stay with the readers long after the final chapter. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Ever since childhood, Michael has had a constant urge to liberate stories from the realm of his imagination and share them with the world. Various tales and characters would nag at him from inside his head until he finally agreed to give them a new life by putting pen-to-paper or finger-to-keyboard. In time, he realized this meant becoming a writer.

In college he wrote articles for the campus newspaper. After graduating he tried out publishing on various blogs over the years. Now he has turned to books, with a focus on novels.

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Day Zero by Kelly deVos Review

I am proud to present an exclusive blog tour stop for Harlequin Press and Inkyard Press! 

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

A young teenager trying to live her life finds the years of survivalist training given by her father more vital than ever before as a series of disasters hit the country and her father is named the culprit in author Kelly deVos’s novel “Day Zero”.

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The Synopsis

Don’t miss the exhilarating new novel from the author of Fat Girl on a Plane, featuring a fierce, bold heroine who will fight for her family and do whatever it takes to survive. Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It series and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series will cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride.

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?


The Review

The first in a duology, Day Zero is the perfect blend of YA character development and storytelling with political/action-adventure themes and drama. Whenever stories involving terrorist attacks or political conspiracies arise, it is usually within an adult setting and involves said adults. What really stood out was the point of view turning instead to the teenage daughter of a survivalist who becomes the main suspect in the attacks across the country. 

The book also is highly relevant, showing a nation torn apart by politics and the affects of social classes and finances can have on the divide in our nation. Seeing a political figure rise to power and the shadow of a conspiracy rising blends with the personal struggles of new heroine Jinx, who uses her knowledge and skills not only to survive but get to the heart of the true threat and discovers secrets and hidden agendas that will rock her to her core. She is a powerful new YA hero who shows not only she has the skill and talent to take on enemies, but the emotional core to keep the reader invested and engaged with her and the story as a whole. 


The Verdict

Overall a truly wonderful read, Day Zero does a great job of creating a near-future scenario that allows readers to examine the world around them, and to recognize the signs that can lead to the downfall of the world. It’s a story of survival, finding hope and love as the book’s twists and turns will keep readers hanging on the author’s every word, shocking many with future revelations and causing Jinx and the reader to ask themselves, who can they really trust? Grab your copy of Kelly deVos’s novel “Day Zero” to find out for yourselves!

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

KELLY DEVOS is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time” by Reader’s Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins.

Kelly’s work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.

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Book Excerpt From “Day Zero”

Dr. Doomsday’s Guide to Ultimate Survival

Rule One: Always be prepared.

I exhale in relief when MacKenna pulls the car into the Halliwell’s Market parking lot. Because of the Sugar Sales Permit waiting list, old stores like these are the only places that carry Extra Jolt soda. I have to buy it myself, because Mom won’t keep any in the house.

She thinks too much caffeine rots your brain or something. Halliwell’s is a squat brown building that sits across the street from the mall and is next door to the town’s only skyscraper.

The First Federal Building was supposed to be the first piece of a suburban business district designed to rival the hip boroughs of New York. The mayor announced the construction of a movie theater, an apartment complex and an indoor aquarium. But the New Depression hit, and the other buildings never materialized.

The First Federal Building alone soars toward the clouds, an ugly glass rectangle visible from every neighborhood, surrounded by the old town shops that have been there forever. Most of the stores are empty.

We park in front of the market.

Our car nestles in the long shadow of the giant bank building.

Charles gets out and stands on the sidewalk in front of the car.

MacKenna opens her door. She hesitates again. “Listen, I know you might not want to hear this or believe it. But my book report wasn’t about hurting you or getting revenge. I’m trying to get you to see what’s really happening here. That Carver’s election is the start of something bad. We could use you at the rally. You’re one of the few people who understands Dr. Doomsday’s work. You could explain what he did. How he helped Carver cheat to win.”

“I’ve been planning this raid for months,” I say. My stomach churns, sending uncomfortable flutters through my insides. I don’t know what it would mean to talk about my father’s work. What I really want to do is pretend it doesn’t exist. Pretend the world is normal and whole.

I reassure myself with the reminder that there’s no way MacKenna is going to the rally either.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Charles give us a small wave. Before MacKenna can say anything else, I get out and grab my backpack.

Inside Halliwell’s, I pick up a blue basket from the stack near the door. The small market is busy and full of other people shopping after school or work. The smell of pine cleaner hits me as we pass the checkout stations. They are super serious about germs and always cleaning between customers.

I leave MacKenna and Charles at the Click N’Grow rack near the door to check out the seed packets that my brother collects. Dad got Charles hooked on this computerized gardening that uses an e-tablet and a series of tiny indoor lights to create the ideal indoor planter box. Each week, they release a new set of exclusive seeds. Their genetic modifications are controversial.

All the soda is in large coolers that line one of the walls of the market. They keep the strange stuff in the corner. Expensive root beers. Ramune imported from Japan. And! Extra! Jolt! I put a few bottles of strawberry in my basket. I snag some grape too. For a second, I consider buying a couple of bottles of doughnut flavor. But that sounds like too much, even for me. The chips are in the next aisle. I load up on cheese puffs and spicy nacho crisps.

MacKenna and Charles are still at the rack near the door, and I try to squeeze by them without attracting any notice. I usually don’t buy unhealthy snacks when I’m with my brother. I smuggle them in my backpack and have a special hiding space in my desk.

My brother has type 1 diabetes, and he’s supposed to check his blood sugar after meals. He can have starchy or sugary snacks only when his glucose level is good or on special occasions.

MacKenna grimaces at a packet of seeds in her hands. “I still don’t like this one. It’s pretty. But still. It’s…carnivorous.”

I have to hand it to her. She really does have a look. She’s pale and white, like me, but she manages to seem like she’s doing it on purpose and not because she’s some kind of vampire- movie reject. Her glossy black hair always rests in perfect waves, and if the journalism thing doesn’t work out, she could definitely have a career in fashion design.

Charles smiles at her. “It’s a new kind of pitcher plant. Like the Cobra Lily.” He points to the picture on the front of the seed packet. “Look at the blue flowers. That’s new.”

 “It eats other plants,” MacKenna says.

“You eat plants.”

“But I don’t eat people,” MacKenna says. “There’s got to be some kind of natural law that says you shouldn’t eat your own kind.”

Charles giggles.

So far so good. Until.

My brother trots up behind me and dumps a few packs of seeds in my basket. His gaze lands on my selection of soda and chips. “Can I get some snacks too?”

Crap.

 I freeze. “What’s your number?”

Charles pretends he can’t hear me. That’s not a good sign.

“Charles, what’s your number?”

He still doesn’t look at me. “I forgot my monitor today.”

“Well, I have mine.” I kneel down and dig around for the spare glucometer I keep in the front pocket of my backpack. By the time I get it out, MacKenna has already pulled Charles out of his blazer and rolled up the sleeve of his blue dress shirt. I wave the device over the small white sensor disk attached to my brother’s upper arm.

After a few seconds, the glucometer beeps and a number displays on the screen.

221

Crap. Crap. Crap.

“Charles! What did you eat today?”

My brother’s face turns red. “They were having breakfast-for-lunch day at school. Everyone else was having pancakes. Why can’t I have pancakes?”

I sigh. Something about his puckered up little face keeps me from reminding him that if he eats too much sugar he could die. “You know what Mom said. If you eat something you’re not supposed to, you have to get a pass and go to the nurse for your meds.”

My brother’s shoulders slump. “I couldn’t go to the nurse. Hummingbirds were visiting the Chuparosa and…”

Charles is on the verge of tears and frowns even more deeply at the sight of my basket full of junk food.

“Look,” I say. “There are plenty of healthy snacks we can eat. I’ll put this stuff back.”

“That’s right,” MacKenna says, giving Charles’s hand a squeeze. “We can get some popcorn. Yogurt. Um, I saw some really delicious-looking fresh pears back there.”

“And they have the cheese cubes you like,” I add.

We go around the store replacing the cheese puffs and soda with healthy stuff. I hesitate when I have to put back the Extra Jolt, but I really don’t want to make my brother feel bad because I can drink sugary stuff and he can’t.

We pay for the healthy snacks and the seed packets.

 I grab the bags and move toward the market’s sliding doors.

I end up ahead of them, waiting outside by the car and facing the store. The shopping center behind Halliwell’s is mostly empty. The shoe store went out of business last year. Strauss Stationers, where everyone used to buy their fancy wedding invitations, closed two years before that. The fish ’n’ chips drive-through is doing okay and has a little crowd in front of the take-out window. Way off in the distance, Saba’s is still open, because in Arizona, cowboy boots and hats aren’t considered optional.

I watch MacKenna and Charles step out of the double doors and into the parking lot. Two little dimples appear on MacKenna’s cheeks when she smiles. Charles has a looseness to his walk. His arms dangle.

There’s a low rumble, like thunder from a storm that couldn’t possibly exist on this perfectly sunny day.

Something’s wrong 

In the reflection of the market’s high, shiny windows, I see something happening in the bank building next door. Some kind of fire burning in the lower levels. A pain builds in my chest and I force air into my lungs. My vision blurs at the edges. It’s panic, and there isn’t much time before it overtakes me.

The muscles in my legs tense and I take off at a sprint, grabbing MacKenna and Charles as I pass. I haul them along with me twenty feet or so into the store. We clear the door and run past a man and a woman frozen at the sight of what’s going on across the street.

I desperately want to look back.

But I don’t.

A scream.

A low, loud boom.

My ears ring.

The lights in the store go off.

I’ve got MacKenna by the strap of her maxidress and Charles by the neck. We feel our way in the dim light. The three of us crouch and huddle together behind a cash counter. A few feet in front of us, the cashier who checked us out two minutes ago is sitting on the floor hugging her knees.

We’re going to die.

Charles’s mouth is wide-open. His lips move. He pulls at the sleeve of my T-shirt.

I can’t hear anything.

It takes everything I’ve got to force myself to move.

Slowly 

Slowly 

Leaning forward. Pressing my face into the plywood of the store counter, I peek around the corner using one eye to see out the glass door. My eyelashes brush against the rough wood, and I grip the edge to steady myself. I take in the smell of wood glue with each breath.

Hail falls in the parking lot. I realize it’s glass.

My stomach twists into a hard knot.

It’s raining glass.

That’s the last thing I see before a wave of dust rolls over the building.

Leaving us in darkness.

Excerpted from Day Zero by Kelly deVos, Copyright © 2019 by Kelly deVos. Published by Inkyard Press.

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young Review

A young woman’s life is turned upside down as the brother she thought lost to her forever returns to the land of the living, fighting alongside her people’s enemy, in author Adrienne Young’s novel “Sky in the Deep”. 

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The Synopsis

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

The Review

This was a powerful and original YA adventure like no other. Bringing to life a fantastic new YA heroine that embodies strength, power and emotion all at once, the series brings a unique blend of history and mythology while creating a cast of characters readers will instantly connect with.

Showcasing a strong message about the power that comes from understanding the differences between cultures and the tragedy that comes from warring over those differences, the novel does a great job of both entertaining and highlighting real world struggles through the use of historical and mythological context. More than anything, the novel does an excellent job of showcasing a strong female protagonist amidst an era of battle that saw men and women taking to the battlefields. 

The Verdict

In a novel that has equal parts entertainment with equal parts historical and mythological content, the first book in a world filled with Viking warriors and ancient gods dictating the laws of the land, the book highlights how underneath all the different gods, ways of life and landscapes that people live on, at the end of the day they are all just human after all. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Sky in the Deep” by Adrienne Young today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author of SKY IN THE DEEP, THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK & the upcoming FABLE duology from Wednesday Books. Agent: Barbara Poelle, IGLA

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

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Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin Review

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

A young man forced to give up his summer vacation in order to serve as a camp counselor takes an emotional and roller coaster turn in author S.L. Mauldin’s novel “Life Sliding”. 

The Synopsis

As Gavin’s junior year comes to a close, he faces an inner conflict with his status as the most popular kid in high school. It’s not lost on his father, who sensed for some time that his overly indulged son needs redirection. Making matters worse for Gavin, his dad sends him away for the summer to assist at a camp for children with special needs. 

Arriving at camp Life Me Up, Gavin is suddenly forced to dabble in a world less familiar. After his first uncomfortable encounter with a strange girl with multi-colored fingernails, who refuses to waiver his arrogant behavior, Gavin comes face to face with a person from the past, which leaves him uneasy. 

Inevitably, three people clash and collide, but when tragedy strikes, they come to an understanding regarding their differences. Becoming a young adult, Gavin faces a summer of harsh lessons in reality. Once he crosses the bridge from a self-inflicted prison to the road to freedom, Gavin and his new friends implement a strategy to stir up the social order when they return to school in the fall. 

Because of one jaded person jumping to conclusions, the plan backfires. Will they be able to survive the fallout of what they’ve put into motion? #LifeSliding

The Review

A truly powerful read, author S.L. Mauldin has created a truly accurate portrayal of the harsh reality of high school life, the social hierarchy that often rules the school scene, and the dangers of intolerance and hatred of the unknown. More relevant now than ever before, the issues faced by the protagonist and the cast of characters is a reflection of our society as a whole, and the sad reality of judgement and cruelty that knows no bounds in society. 

The journey of Gavin to rediscover who he truly is, as well as the emotional toll of the loss that hits Gain early into the summer, makes him such a compelling protagonist. More than anything however, what the author does a masterful job of showing is that everyone is going through private struggles in life, and not only should society realize that, but work to help those struggling whenever possible, and to fight hatred and ignorance with love and compassion whenever possible as well. 

The Verdict

A brilliant YA drama that creates a relatable story as old as time, and yet breathes new life into the story of a young man struggling to define himself and determine what is more important: his image or his self-worth. Fantastic writing all around and a great cast of characters make this quick read a must have, so be sure to grab your copy of “Life Sliding” by S.L. Mauldin today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Born in the suburbs of Atlanta, where he now resides and continues to write young adult books but stories relatable to readers beyond those turbulent adolescent years. 

Shannon is a producer, screenwriter, and  author of the young adult novels Life Sliding and Always Here. 

Currently, he is editing Kudzu, a fiction title and working on a new adult novel tentatively Somebody Else.  

Posted in reviews

Always Here by S.L. Mauldin Review

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

A story that begins as a young woman’s dream of becoming a musical theatre star begins with a local high school production turns into an emotional story of painful secrets, things that are not always what they appear, and shocking loss in author S.L. Mauldin’s novel “Always Here”. 

The Synopsis

Miranda is an awkward teen, who dreams of musical theater stardom and following some encouragement from her eccentric best friend Christian, she decides to audition for their school’s upcoming performance. It comes as no surprise when she is beat out by the most popular girl in school. 

All is not lost however since Miranda is selected to understudy the girl whom everyone views as perfect. Perfect looks, perfect money, and the perfect boyfriend. Even her younger brother’s goofy best friend falls prey to allure of Pam who Miranda jokingly speculates might be a vampire. 

Soon after the leap of faith, Miranda and Christian uncover that someone in a seemingly perfect high school romance is hiding something. The bruises and the public displays that aren’t so affectionate initiate the discovery. The secrets are well hidden behind the walls of popularity and gated communities where proper fork placement takes priority over the frivolous dreams of a teenager. 

Rushing to save someone dramatically alters to the lives of six young adults when late one night on a two lane road a flickering brake light leads to the revealing of truths and the fulfillment of promises. One of those promises Miranda and Christian made in the third grade. With an auditorium fully seated on opening night, it becomes necessary for Christian to remind Miranda of a pact they made at a very young age. It came with two words “Always Here.”

The Review

A gripping tale that hits all of the emotional chords in perfect procession, author S.L. Mauldin does a magnificent job of creating characters readers will be able to relate to while also showcasing the everyday struggles that people don’t always think happen around them. 

From Miranda’s journey to realize her dreams and escape from under the shadow of another’s popularity and her attempt to cope with a shocking loss, to Christian’s inner conflict regarding his parents reflecting the way he handles another couples violent romance and a young woman seeking to find her own way in life despite an overbearing mother and an abusive boyfriend, this novel touches on truly emotional, deep and imperative questions of not only social views, but of mastering one’s own self-worth in the process. 

The Verdict

A one of a kind, passionate and emotional read, author S.L. Mauldin’s novel “Always Here” is a must read story. A fairly quick read, this YA drama never misses a beat, and creates an engaging story with a fantastic cast of characters that readers will instantly identify with. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Born in the suburbs of Atlanta, where he now resides and continues to write young adult books but stories relatable to readers beyond those turbulent adolescent years. 

Shannon is a producer, screenwriter, and  author of the young adult novels Life Sliding and Always Here. 

Currently, he is editing Kudzu, a fiction title and working on a new adult novel tentatively Somebody Else.  

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Book Giveaways, book launch, book news, Book Promotion

Book Release Day Blitz: Not So Wicked by T.A. Moorman

 

Not So Wicked by T. A. Moorman

Published October 30, 2018 by GothicMoms Studios

YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Synopsis:

Caught in a realm they know next to nothing about, in a time
where they’re hated for not what they are but how they look, these supernatural
teens may find it harder to curve their bloodlust than they thought.

 

Like most teens, even those with supernatural powers and
abilities, Elvira thinks that her days at Be Prepared High are a colossal waste
of time. Especially Feeding 101, since she’s a cursed vampire that was born
without fangs. She and her friends view most of the classes as useless since
they never plan on venturing to the human realm. Why would they when Underlayes
was made specifically for every factions’ safety, where they could roam free
day or night with not a care in the worlds.
But just like her parents always told her, sometimes you’re
put into situations you can’t control.
Elvira’s life takes an unexpected turn when a wizard hell
bent on misplaced revenge kidnaps her and several of her friends. Not only does
she send them with a one-way ticket to Detroit, Michigan, she sends them to a
time when the tension amongst the races is at its highest. And having to deal
with race issues is the one thing that has never even been so much as a thought
to any of them and is the one course not on the roster.
But will everything they’ve learned in school be enough to
keep them alive? What will they all do when racism stares them in the face?
Most importantly, how will they get back home?

 

 

 

Chapter
1

Once
upon a time… Really? I’m not starting my story off with that lame ass cliché. Fat chance. Not when my story is anything but
classic. You can think of this as the life and times of a teenage vampire. A
real one, not one that sparkles as though we were sprinkled with some type of
fairy dust. Oh! And we’re born, not made by just being bitten, consuming blood
from another vampire, or any other legend you may have researched somewhere. The
bitten one is the most ridiculous theory any of us have ever heard of. I mean
really, think about it, if everyone ever bitten by a vampire were to turn into
one how could they ever go back for seconds on the same victim, er donor? Could
you imagine how large the vampire population would be? Anyway, you wanna hear
my story? Just sit back, grab a pint of blood, or milk, and have a listen.
First
off, I don’t live in your dimension, I live in a separate one called
Underlayes. Where the things that go bump in the night – werewolves, vampires,
mermaids, sirens, witches, and so much more – truly are real. Underlayes has
regular neighborhoods just like Earth does, we don’t live in a ton of dug out
caves, or cryptic looking castles; besides the royals anyway. We used to live
amongst you guys, but that was way before my time, and a story way too long and
boring for me to bother with repeating. Just know that we all truly do exist
and a very few of our number walk alongside you still. So, you may want to
think about that before you lay down at night after bullying the school nerd or
your shy co-worker. If they’re the silent and quiet type they’re more than
possibly plotting your untimely demise and deciding what side-dish you’d go
best with. Or what curse to place on you. Something my Mom should have thought
about a long, long time ago.
Me?
The names Elvira, yea, Mom and Pops have a sick and twisted sense of humor.
Which when you come to think of it is actually a very good thing, since Mom was
dumb enough to piss off a witch when she was preggers with me and my brother,
Dracula (yup, again with the humor), Drake for short. During one of her many
mood swings dear old Mom went completely off on an already pissed off witch;
something about the witch crossing in front of her, and Mom thinking that would
make us come out cross eyed (and you thought your mom was superstitious, Ha!).
Miss Witch decided to do her one better and really did curse us both. I was
granted with the gift of being the only vampire known of with NO FANGS! Since
Underlayes doesn’t have hospitals bagged blood isn’t exactly just lying around.
Why not just bite down extra hard you say? Probably because that leaves a big
chunk of meat in my mouth and vampires can’t digest meat; we have a strictly
all liquid diet. Why not just slit someone’s wrist and pour it in a cup you
ask? If you were on an all liquid diet, would one glass a day keep your hunger
pains at bay? NO! And draining someone completely dry doesn’t work either,
unlike how they portray things in your human movies, blood clots up pretty
quickly when it hits air; unless pumped up with nasty anti-coagulants which
leave a horrible aftertaste and makes the blood nearly impossible to digest. So
the blood shortage on your neck of the veil? Feel free to blame that on us, Mom
and Dad had to feed us somehow during the experimental processes of properly
bagging and storing the blood the way humans do. But no worries, they haven’t
had to raid your neck of the realms in a long time now. The alchemist’s studied
the components your scientists used and now have it down pact.
I’m
not really sure if Drake’s curse is worst or pretty much just as bad. Him? He
goes into a full-blown shock at the very sight of blood; fainting spells,
seizures, black outs, the works. Though lucky for him rarely all of those at
once. Lucky for Mom and Dad, he could still at least savor the taste and smell
of it. But talk about being seriously dependent upon someone else, hard to
nourish yourself when you can’t even look at your food. And as a baby? You try
putting a blindfold on an infant, especially one with fangs, and let me know
how well that works out for you. Ah, but it made for some fangtastic pranks
when I was thirteen, which also ended in a lot of punishments. But they were so
worth it!
So
that’s us, Elvie and Drake, two of the only known vampires forced to live on
bagged blood. Though Drake may get lucky one day and be able to savor a neck or
two, as long as he keeps his eyes shut tight and doesn’t dribble.
Can’t
we just break the curse you ask? Ask Aunt Flo that one. Did I fail to mention
the witch in question was, and still is Mom’s best friend? She’s also a witch
with more power than she can handle who needs to watch what she says at ALL
times. The curse was supposedly never intentional and trying to undo it has
proven pretty much impossible.
 Mom, Trinity Alkaev, is a beautiful creature
with a body neither skinny nor large, but what one describes as buxom
perfection. Also, one of the most patient females you will ever meet, and a
truly ferocious beast, fangs and all, when pissed. Dad, Borya Alkaev, is the
strong not so silent type, with a chiseled chin and sculpted cheekbones in
which I heard would give Michaelangelo a run for his money. Born after the
creation of Underlayes, he’s only two hundred years old, so I never understood
how he ended up with such a thick accent as if he just left the great
Motherland of Russia. The exact opposite of Mom when it comes to patience, but
the best dad any set of unorthodox twins could ask for. Neither of them were an
only child, but both are the youngest and only surviving children from both of
their respective lines. Many died before the dimension of Underlayes was made,
some during the move. And Aunt Flo, I’m not even getting into that one. And as
far as looks go Drake and I are a perfect combination of the two, with the
exception of the fact that I have no fangs.
THUD. CRASH. SCREAM.
What
in Hel’s name was that?
“Elvira
Esfir Alkaev!” Moms blood-curling screams vibrated through the floorboards,
“How many times do I need to tell you not
to leave your blood bags lying around? Get down here and help me clean up this
mess. And carry your brother to his room!”
Well
there you have it, the usual beginning of a day in the house of Alkaev.
“Now
young lady!”



About the Author:
When you become a Mom, you begin to put yourself last, and your
combat boots begin to collect dust. Going to your child’s PTA meetings in full
Gothic, especially industrial, regalia is pretty much frowned upon. Especially
by your own children, and your teens would die of a heart attack. But, one
should not have to completely stop being themselves, uniqueness is greatness.
So all of that darkness is put into words in her books, and designs in her
jewelry sold in her Gothic Moms Dark Charms shop on Etsy and Rebels Market.
Single mother of five beautiful children, but by
far more than just that. T. A. Moorman is an artist, a former violinist, a
seamstress, a crafter, a writer, a blogger, a reviewer, a dark confidant and a
darkly dangerous, fiercely protective friend. She still hopes to one day find
her Dark Knight in shining armor, since Prince Charming would never be able to
handle her. And currently broke, so go buy something of hers and tell everyone
you know how much you love this book.
Author Links:

 

http://eepurl.com/cELB79




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