Posts Categorized: Book Tour

Book Tour Review – The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika Johansen

December 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2016 6 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika JohansenThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Harper on June 9th 2015
Pages: 528
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Queen of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling

three-half-stars

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen was educated at Swarthmore College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the Author of The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling, the first two novels of The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy.

The Queen of the Tearling series

Book Tour Review – The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen [Purchase//Review]

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“Fortune favors the bold, history tells us. Therefore, it behooves us to be as bold as possible.”

The Invasion of the Tearling, the second installment of the trilogy, opens with Queen Kelsea struggling to devise a way to save the Tear from the incoming Mort invasion. As if an impending invasion wasn’t bad enough, Kelsea is also dealing with executions, romantic dalliances, her sapphires which have fallen silent magically speaking but are subtly changing her physical appearance for reasons unknown to her, and also the visions she’s having of a woman named Lily Mayhew from pre-Crossing America. The story roughly splits the time spent between both women, showcasing the differences between the time periods, but these visions aren’t happening without reason. Could learning about the past possibly help her secure the future for her people?

“The wrongs of the past are not less significant, they’re just harder to fix. And the longer you ignore them in favor of more pressing issues, the worse the harm, until the problems of the past actually create the problems of the future.”

If I felt like The Queen of the Tearling was lacking in complexity, The Invasion of the Tearling made up for that in spades. There were a great many tiny things going on and yet Johansen maintained a steady handle on everything and kept it from getting too complex. There was Kelsea’s changed appearance as well as her obsession with her appearance, her desire for romance (she is 19 after all), the Mort invasion, her strange fireplace visitor, uncovering the mysteries of the Mort Queen, the visions of Lily and determining what they could possibly mean, the peculiar conflict with the Church, and Kelsea’s struggle to reign in the darkness inside her that craves violence (it’s very Gollum-like).

Honestly, this strange world managed to completely enthrall me this time around even if it was terribly violent and exceptionally difficult to read at times. In the pre-Crossing world, women are treated as nothing more than incubators and the sole property of their husbands. Lily’s husband Greg was a loathsome individual that brutalized Lily often for no reason at all. She was under constant surveillance in her own home and wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without an escort. It felt very much like The Handmaid’s Tale: a horrifying train wreck that you can’t look away from. I’m not sure if this bird’s-eye view of the past was intended to inform us of how terrible the world could be, and that it’s not out of the question for it to go back to that way in time, or if there was some other lesson there. I don’t think we’ll be returning to Lily’s story though. It served its purpose by educating the reader on this “pre-Crossing America” that was previously only referenced briefly. Considering the amount of questions I had regarding the serious lack of world-building, I was pleased to finally get some answers.

“There’s a better world out there, so close we can almost touch it.”

I had a lot of issues with the first installment and I can’t say for sure if I would have continued reading if I hadn’t already committed to a complete binge read. Even with my concerns for the entirety of the plot and my mountain of unanswered questions, I was still always intrigued enough to keep reading. Whenever I have similar issues with books there’s always this voice in the back of my head that wonders whether or not it will get better and all be worth it in the end. Primary reason why I have such difficulty DNF-ing anything; that possibility, no matter how minuscule, that it would all pay off if I just had some patience and kept at it. I never would have expected to go from disliking The Queen of the Tearling to be completely absorbed in The Invasion of the Tearling. Sophomore slump? No such thing here. Granted, my mountain of unanswered questions has only been slightly diminished, however, the biggest issue which was dealt with is the issue with the past and present. We’re given a curious glimpse at the pre-Crossing world and what led to the world becoming how it is in Kelsea’s time. It transforms this straight fantasy/medieval story into something out of a dystopian novel and I am incredibly intrigued to see how everything ends up playing out in the final installment.

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This post was a part of ‘the Tearling trilogy’ blog tour.
Check out this post for a complete list of tour stops!

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Book Tour Review – The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

November 10, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2016 5 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika JohansenThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Published by Harper Paperbacks on July 8th 2014
Pages: 464
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Invasion of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling

two-half-stars

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa and knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers established a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling. Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance.

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen was educated at Swarthmore College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the Author of The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling, the first two novels of The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy.

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‘The future was only disasters of the past, waiting to happen anew.’

Princess Kelsey Raleigh Glynn has known from an early age that as soon as she turned nineteen, when she officially came of age, that she would ascend the throne as The Queen of the Tearling. Smuggled from the kingdom  in an effort to protect her from would-be assassins, she is raised by her foster parents Barty and Carlin and theirs are the only two individuals she interacts with her entire life. Her mother, long dead, had left her kingdom in the hands of her brother, Thomas Raleigh, and Kelsea’s arrival to court certainly throws a wrench in his continued plan to rule. The policies put in place by her mother and upheld by her Uncle don’t sit well with Kelsea and she sets out to make things better so her people are truly protected but this is only the start of her journey.

‘The Queen held up her hands for silence. At that moment, Javel knew for certain that she truly was the Queen, though he never knew why or how he knew.’

Regardless of all the talk of thrones and kingdoms and courts, this story is not set in some medieval past but rather a distant future where an unexplained catastrophe has managed to bring about a dark age. No technology exists, books are not commonly owned with most individuals not even possessing the ability to read, violence is rampant, and slave ownership is customary. This story definitely would have worked far better if it was a true fantasy (which it is not, even though it is marketed as such) rather than a future based on our current reality, especially with the lack of explanation regarding how we as a society could have possibly gotten to that point. It could almost be called a dystopian, but even that doesn’t completely fit. Honestly, it’s better just to go in with the belief this is nothing more than a fantasy because if you attempt to rationalize the world-building you’ll be at it for days. In terms of this being viewed as a fantasy story though, this has been billed as an exciting new entry into the fantasy and alas I believe this to be anything but. Simply put, this fantasy and historical fiction mash-up will appeal to fans of the genre even if it doesn’t necessarily bring anything unique to the table.

Game of Thrones meets Hunger Games has been the standard comparison and while there are aspects that fit with both stories, it unfortunately only sets the reader up for failure if going in with that comparison in mind. The Game of Thrones comparison is shown in the medieval aspects, the political strife, and the inner turmoil of the court. Everyone is either good or evil though, Kelsey is something of a Mother Teresa and the villain of this tale is a mass murderer so it’s completely black and white. And speaking of color, there is a decided lack of diversity and that is something that I admittedly fail to notice in most cases, but apparently not this one. While there may be some form of diversity present in some way shape or form, it’s never referenced. The Hunger Games comparison is mostly in regards to the the heroine, but Kelsey is certainly no Katniss. Our character definitely had appealing qualities but we got off to a rocky start. Here’s a girl that has had no interaction with the outside world and her only knowledge consists of what she is told and what she has read in books. As soon as she has begun her journey to her kingdom, she transforms into this individual completely lacking in self-doubt (minus the strange fixation she has on her plainness and of others beauty or lack of), holds herself and comports herself as a Queen would be expected to. And while I loved this aspect of her because she was a force to be reckoned with, it just didn’t fit with our initial introduction to her. I did thoroughly enjoy the magical aspects of this tale, the sapphire necklaces that she wears, and the power that she learns to wield.

 While I did not adore this as many have mainly due to my hopes for additional world-building explanations, this world still managed to sufficiently intrigue me. The Queen of the Tearling is the start of a trilogy and I have hope that Johansen will be able to build further on the foundation she’s laid.

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This post was a part of ‘the Tearling trilogy’ blog tour.
Check out this post for a complete list of tour stops!

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Blog Tour Review + Giveaway! Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

September 16, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2016 10 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway! Pasadena by Sherri L. SmithPasadena by Sherri L. Smith
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 13th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Coming-of-Age
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Orleans

four-stars

Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.

When Jude's best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.

Now everyone is a suspect--family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that's the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude's got a few skeletons of her own.

About Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels LUCY THE GIANT, SPARROW, HOT SOUR SALTY SWEET, FLYGIRL and ORLEANS. In October 2015, she makes her middle grade debut with THE TOYMAKER’S APPRENTICE from G.P. Putnam and Sons for Penguin Random House.

Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association Best Books for Young People, and Junior Library Guild Selections. FLYGIRL was the 2009 California Book Awards Gold Medalist.

She loves her family, travel, chocolate chip cookies, reading, and and a really good cup of tea.

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Jude is visiting her estranged father on the East Coast when she receives the call about Maggie. They tell her she committed suicide. That she was found floating in her pool with a belly full of drugs. But that simply doesn’t make sense, because everyone loved Maggie Kim’s vivacious and charismatic attitude; she was a girl who truly had everything to live for. Jude flies back home immersing herself in the mystery surround her death, convinced that it wasn’t suicide and that she’s going to discover the person truly responsible for her death.

‘Maggie Kim was the sun in our universe. We all circle her. Never the other way around. And now that she’s gone, we’re shifting orbits.’

Maggie was Jude’s best friend, however, once her absence becomes all the more apparent, she begins to recognize that Jude wasn’t necessarily Maggie’s best friend. Her group of friends are a diverse bunch that come together to celebrate her life but clash constantly with one another. Maggie was the bond that linked everyone and now that she’s gone, there’s nothing left to keep the friendships from surviving. As Jude begins looking beneath the glossy veneer of Maggie Kim’s life, she starts to realize that there was a reason for it: to cover all those fine cracks hidden just below the surface. All the unexpected secrets slowly being uncovered that Jude would have expected a best friend to confide to her. We’re frequently shown flashbacks of time spent with Maggie, and with all the new knowledge she’s exposed, Jude reflects on these encounters with her best friend in a different light.

While the mystery itself was appealing on its own merits, the coming-of-age type story and self-reflection it causes Jude to go through is a surprisingly heavy yet affecting facet. The story uncovers Jude’s own past, the inner demons which she is constantly struggling with, and forces her to finally bring them to the light. The glitzy L.A. backdrop is vivid, describing the stifling heat and the wildfires that constantly consume the hillsides surrounding the city. Each aspect of this story is written with a startling intensity that manages to be completely captivating. Pasadena is just my second read by this author, Orleans being my first, and I continue to be riveted by each story she’s told, regardless of genre.

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Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Penguin Books, I have a finished copy to share with one lucky reader! Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on September 30th, 2016.

Good luck!

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Pasadena Blog Tour

Wednesday, September 7 – Teen Librarian Toolbox (guest post)
Thursday, September 8 – The Book Smugglers (guest post)
Monday, September 12 – I Read Banned Books (guest post)
Wednesday, September 14 – Finding Wonderland (interview)
Thursday, September 15 – Portrait of a Book (review)
Monday, September 19 – In Wonderland (interview)
Tuesday, September 20 – The Forest of Words and Pages (review)
Wednesday, September 21 – Here’s to Happy Endings (review)
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Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart

September 6, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2016 7 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy StewartLady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
Series: Kopp Sisters #2
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 6th 2016
Pages: 320
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Girl Waits with Gun, Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

four-stars

After besting (and arresting) a ruthless silk factory owner and his gang of thugs in Girl Waits with Gun, Constance Kopp became one of the nation’s first deputy sheriffs. She's proven that she can’t be deterred, evaded, or outrun. But when the wiles of a German-speaking con man threaten her position and her hopes for this new life, and endanger the honorable Sheriff Heath, Constance may not be able to make things right.

Lady Cop Makes Trouble sets Constance loose on the streets of New York City and New Jersey--tracking down victims, trailing leads, and making friends with girl reporters and lawyers at a hotel for women. Cheering her on, and goading her, are her sisters Norma and Fleurette--that is, when they aren't training pigeons for the war effort or fanning dreams of a life on the stage.

Based on a true story, Girl Waits with Gun introduced Constance Kopp and her charming and steadfast sisters to an army of enthusiastic readers. Those readers will be thrilled by this second installment--also ripped from the headlines--in the romping, wildly readable life of a woman forging her own path, tackling crime and nefarious criminals along the way.

Kopp Sisters Series

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart [Review//Purchase]

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“‘Lady Cop Makes Trouble.’ That’s our headline.”
“Am I making trouble for the sheriff or the criminals?” I asked.
“Both, at the moment. You’ll be famous either way.”

The year is 1915 and Constance Kopp couldn’t be more pleased with her new role as the first female deputy in Bergen County, New Jersey. Her happiness comes to a crashing halt when Sheriff Heath advises her that the law allowing women to be police officers doesn’t necessarily apply to women deputies and that there must be a legal precedent in order for her to keep her job. Until that precedent can be found (or until Sheriff Heath decides to set his own precedent) Constance is given the role of jail matron in charge of the female prisoners. To make matters worse, a prisoner escapes from her watch and not only is she facing serious trouble but due to a law of the time, the Sheriff may actually be jailed in the escaped prisoner’s place. Constance admits full blame for her error but instead of wallowing in the loss of the future she dreamed for herself, she decides to get out there and find the prisoner and right a wrong.

Lady Cop Makes Trouble was yet another captivating and enticing story and Constance is even more of a charismatic character. Fascinating and incredibly memorable, Constance Amelie Kopp was a real woman in history that was credited as being one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. The story has been embellished making this a work of fiction, however much of it still remains true. She really did go after an escaped prisoner by the name of Dr. von Matthesius, she was responsible for a major arrest during the investigation, and the three boys which brought Dr. von Matthesius to the attention of the authorities were also real individuals from history. The blending of both fact and fiction emphasizes what a thorough amount of historical research was conducted to bring such an enigmatic character to life.

What was most enticing about this installment was how realistic the story portrays detective work. It showed the long nights standing on cold streets waiting for suspects to make an appearance, the time spent waiting for trial, and running out of leads and being unsure of what to do next. Sure, that may seem boring and tedious especially when it comes to having to actually read about it, but it was all just so refreshingly genuine feeling compared to mysteries where everything goes perfectly. I for one had many childhood aspirations of someday being a detective and solving crimes (this can be mostly blamed on Nancy Drew and X-Files) and while Nancy Drew and Dana Scully are perfectly acceptable role models, Constance Kopp is the real deal. I anxiously await future adventures from the inspirational Constance Kopp.

Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I have a copy to share with one lucky reader! Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents and will end on September 20th, 2016.

Good luck!

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Book Tour Review – The Good Liar: A Novel by Nicholas Searle

March 4, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2016 3 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Good Liar: A Novel by Nicholas SearleThe Good Liar: A Novel by Nicholas Searle
Published by Harper on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Spinning a page-turning story of literary suspense that begins in the present and unwinds back more than half a century, this unforgettable debut channels the haunting allure of Atonement as its masterfully woven web of lies, secrets, and betrayals unravels to a shocking conclusion

Veteran con artist Roy spots an obvious easy mark when he meets Betty, a wealthy widow, online. In no time at all, he’s moved into Betty’s lovely cottage and is preparing to accompany her on a romantic trip to Europe. Betty’s grandson disapproves of their blossoming relationship, but Roy is sure this scheme will be a success. He knows what he’s doing.

As this remarkable feat of storytelling weaves together Roy’s and Betty’s futures, it also unwinds their pasts. Dancing across almost a century, decades that encompass unthinkable cruelty, extraordinary resilience, and remarkable kindness, The Good Liar is an epic narrative of sin, salvation, and survival—and for Roy and Betty, there is a reckoning to be made when the endgame of Roy’s crooked plot plays out.

About Nicholas Searle

Nicholas Searle grew up in the southwest of England and studied languages at the University of Bath and the University of Göttingen, Germany. He spent more years than he cares to remember in public service, in the UK  and New Zealand, before deciding in  2011 to leave and begin writing fiction.  The Good Liar is his first novel. Nicholas lives in Yorkshire, in the north of England.

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‘He is not sure he believes in fate, or whether he believes in anything but the very present. Then again, life has treated him well generally.’

Roy is now in his 80s but is set on doing another con, after all it’s what he’s done his entire life. Betty is a widow of a similar age and has agreed to have a drink with a man named Roy whom she met on the Internet. The two develop a quick familiarity with one another and little to no time passes before they’ve agreed to something of a companionship and begin living together. It all seems very easy and Roy is already considering this con to be a slam dunk, however, Betty is more aware of what’s actually going on than he knows.

The story initially splits POV between Roy and Betty and their new life together before diving into the past where bit by bit Roy’s background is revealed. His past details are what make up the majority of this story and is ultimately where The Good Liar left me struggling to stay involved. Every aspect of his past is something that needs knowing for the most part, you just don’t realize it at the time because it’s something you need to know in order to understand the plot twist near the end. But while immersed in his past, it becomes extremely difficult to understand how it’s in any way relevant to the story. Roy is also one of those characters you have a hard time feeling anything for, being a rather unemotional guy himself, this left him somewhat uninteresting for the most part. He was your cardboard cutout con man whose real motivations in life didn’t narrow down to much. Once we’re fully in the know in regards to Roy, the author switches to Betty’s past. Much less time is spent on her background which was a real shame seeing as that portion of the story was its biggest strength. Betty’s troubled past is handled deftly and managed to finally draw me into the story, albeit near the end. The twist managed to be interesting yet still expected once all the facts were revealed.

The Good Liar is being marketed as a crime story yet it should be said its primarily a character study. The pacing of the story is at times exasperating but the author skillfully disperses small nuggets of import to keep you curious throughout. The mystery itself may have taken too long to unravel but this was nonetheless a finely written debut novel.

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This post was a part of The Good Liar’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, February 2nd: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, February 3rd: Priscilla and Her Books
Thursday, February 4th: I’m Shelf-ish
Monday, February 8th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, February 9th: Vox Libris
Wednesday, February 10th: Curling Up by the Fire
Tuesday, February 16th: Book Journey
Thursday, February 18th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, February 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, February 23rd: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, February 24th: she treads softly
Thursday, February 25th: FictionZeal
Thursday, February 25th: A Bookworm’s World

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Book Tour Review – Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

October 1, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours 5 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Pretty Girls by Karin SlaughterPretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Published by William Morrow on September 29th 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Blindsighted

three-half-stars

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girlsis a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

About Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of fifteen thrillers, including UNSEEN, CRIMINAL, FALLEN, BROKEN, UNDONE, FRACTURED, BEYOND REACH, TRIPTYCH, FAITHLESS, COP TOWN, and the e-original short stories “Snatched” and “Busted.”

Slaughter was born in a small southern Georgia community, and now resides in Atlanta. She is widely credited with first coining the term "investigoogling" in 2006.

‘You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing about the missing teenage girl. Sixteen years old. White. Middle class. Very pretty. No one ever seemed quite as outraged when an ugly woman went missing.’

Twenty-four years ago, nineteen-year-old Julia Carroll was walking home one night and disappeared without a trace. The cops believed that she had joined a commune or had run off with a guy and that she’d turn up in a few months. She never did and no body was ever discovered. The Carroll’s have never quite recovered from the loss of Julia, most especially her father who took his own life years after continuing the investigation long after the police had stopped. Claire, Julia’s younger sister, found herself a quiet, comfortable life to rely upon, however, it’s tragically upset when she bears witness to the brutal murder of her husband. Following his death, she discovers a side of her husband that she wouldn’t have thought possible. This discovery sets in motion an inability to know who to trust, and when you don’t know who to trust, what can you do?

Most thrillers these days tend to involve the actual kidnapping, but rather in Pretty Girls, Slaughter hits fast-forward and focuses on the impact on the family left behind even decades later. Most heartbreaking are the snippets between chapters of the fathers journal, his passages written in the form of letters to his deceased daughter. It paints a tragic picture of his inability to give up hope. Their mother, we learn, has kept Julia’s room completely intact as if she’s still expecting her to walk through the front-door. The best characterization is given to Julia’s two estranged sisters, Claire and Lydia. Claire has found a way to have the most normal life possible, one where tragedy doesn’t unexpectedly occur. Lydia seems to have been the one to overcome the memories, yet they crop up when it comes to raising her teenage daughter to not be just another statistic. Claire turns to her sister to help her sort through the chaos that’s become her life, but what she managed to uncover was only the tip of the iceberg. The villain of the story, well, once clues started popping up it all became a bit predictable albeit still incredibly distressing to watch everything unfold.

Kidnapping statistics are pretty heartbreaking to review. Did you know, that according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there are 84,924 active missing persons cases as of December 31, 2014? [Source] 74% of kidnapping victims that aren’t taken by a parent, are female. Also, 74% of victims who were ultimately killed had died within 3 hours of being taken. [Source] That’s the harsh reality of the world we live in and Karin Slaughter’s story of “pretty girls” being kidnapped is unfortunately far more common than I think any of us realize.

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This post was a part of the ‘Pretty Girls’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, September 29th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, September 30th: Curling Up by the Fire
Wednesday, September 30th: Imaginary Reads
Thursday, October 1st: For the Love of Words
Friday, October 2nd: Mary’s Cup of Tea
Monday, October 5th: JulzReads
Tuesday, October 6th: The Book Bag
Wednesday, October 7th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, October 8th: Why Girls Are Weird
Friday, October 9th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Monday, October 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, October 13th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, October 14th: Stephany Writes
Thursday, October 15th: I’m Shelf-ish
Thursday, October 15th: Book Hooked Blog

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Book Tour Review – Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

August 21, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours 3 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Crooked Heart by Lissa EvansCrooked Heart: A Novel by Lissa Evans
Published by Harper on July 28th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Old Baggage

four-half-stars

Paper Moon meets the Blitz in this original black comedy, set in World War II England, chronicling an unlikely alliance between a small time con artist and a young orphan evacuee.

When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge—a thirty-six-year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Noel’s mourning his godmother Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years, raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs—and what she’s never had—is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.

On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.

Together, they cook up a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war—and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all. . . .

Noel, a ten year old boy, has been raised by his eccentric, ex-suffragette godmother Mattie. In addition to his normal schooling, Mattie always took the time to give what she referred to as “proper schooling” which included discussions on the obscure and essay topics that gave you more reasons to think such as “What Is Freedom?” and “All Things are Difficult Before They Are Easy”. Mattie imbued in him her particular understanding of the world causing him to develop the most intriguing personality making him an immediate addition to my favorite quirky children in literature shelf. In addition to the impending war causing the residents of London and its outskirts to be constantly on their toes, Noel is attempting to handle the seriousness of Mattie’s decline into senile dementia. Instead of evacuating London with the rest of the children, he opts to stay with Mattie to take care of her knowing that soon she’s not going to be able to take care of him much longer let alone herself. The introduction of Noel and Mattie is fantastically succinct and encompasses the Prologue alone. It set an amazing tone and heightened expectations for the rest of the story. I’m so very pleased to say that it never disappointed and only continued to impress me.

‘The day after that, all the children disappeared, as if London had shrugged and the small people had fallen off the edge.’

On a particularly typical yet cold Winter night, Mattie decides to take a walk and doesn’t come back home. Noel is now forced into evacuating and he’s rounded up with several other children hoping to find families willing to take in another mouth to feed. Noel comes across as a shy, silent child but is actually in very deep mourning for the one person on this earth he truly loved.

‘Reading felt effortful. It was odd to think that for years he had sucked up print without thinking. Since leaving Mattie’s house, he hadn’t finished a book. He couldn’t follow a plot any more, the meaning seemed to bypass his brain, or else stuck to it briefly and then fell off when he turned the page, like an inadequately licked stamp.’

He finds himself taken in by a middle-aged woman named Vee, for the sole reason of the money she’s able to collect for taking him into her care. Right off the bat, her intentions aren’t honorable, but considering Noel is never mistreated or anything of the like, she’s easily forgiven. Vee’s son Donny has a heart problem and is unable to contribute financially and her mother is unable to speak following an incident where she collapsed and hit her head after Vee first told her she was pregnant (and un-wed). Drastic times call for drastic measures and Vee begins grasping for any possible way to earn enough money to help her household survive. This is how she comes up with the idea of going door to door for donations, except there is no charity awaiting her collected coin; it’s going straight into her own pocket. Noel, wrapped in the comfort of his mourning, regains a spark of life when he recognizes Vee’s actions for what they are subsequently intriguing him enough to offer to help. He comes up with a better plan and together, the unlikeliest of duos use the War as an opportunity to survive.

 I really paced myself with this one, knowing early on it was going to be hard to say goodbye to this vibrant and original cast of characters. For a book that I picked up simply because it was related to World War II, it had surprisingly little to do with the actual war. It was rather a behind the scenes type look on what you would expect to encounter during wartime but never quite earns its own story. I loved how the story delves into what’s morally right after the duo uncover a crime occurring where people’s belongings are being stolen after they are forced to evacuate. Even though they are collecting for a charity that doesn’t actually exist, these people are still giving willingly. Crooked Heart asks the question: is it better to take under false pretenses or to steal without their knowledge? Is one legally wrong and the other simply morally wrong?

Crooked Heart, while also delving into the seriousness of war without going as far as to take us to the battle lines, is also instilled with a dark humor that I feel is most appropriate for that day and age. Because even though there is sadness that is saturated into every nook and cranny and hangs over the city like a pall, there’s still some humor to be found and Evans characters use it as a coping mechanism to get through these trying times. Wonderful, wonderful novel, I’m so very glad I took the chance on this obscure little gem of a read.

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This post was a part of ‘Crooked Heart’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, July 28th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, July 29th: BookNAround
Thursday, July 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, July 31st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 3rd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, August 4th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, August 5th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, August 6th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 10th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, August 12th: Cold Read
Tuesday, August 18th: Kissin Blue Karen
Wednesday, August 19th: FictionZeal
Wednesday, August 19th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Thursday, August 20th: Bilbiophiliac
Friday, August 21st: For the Love of Words
Monday, August 24th: Doing Dewey

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Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

July 21, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2015, Release Day Feature, YA 5 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Damage Done by Amanda PanitchDamage Done by Amanda Panitch
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 21st 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-half-stars

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning….

In this deliciously twisted contemporary thriller, family can be a real killer. For fans of We Were Liars and readers who love unique multiple perspectives that leave clues like breadcrumbs until they reach the stunning conclusion.

About Amanda Panitch

Amanda Panitch grew up next to an amusement park in New Jersey and went to college next to the White House in Washington, DC. Amanda now resides in New York City where she works in book publishing by day, writes by night, and lives under constant threat of being crushed beneath giant stacks of books. You can follow her on Twitter @AmandaPanitch, and visit her online at www.amandapanitch.com

‘I only did what I did to protect myself. I didn’t have any other options.’

Julia Vann had the seemingly perfect life before the incident. She belonged to a happy family, had a twin brother she was incredibly close to, close friends, and a boyfriend she thinks she could love. The incident took that all away and left her and her family packing up their belongings to move to a new town with new names where nobody knows who they are. Lucy Black has a chance to start over, to start fresh, but her past proves to be a bit more inescapable than she thought.

Julia/Lucy was a very surprising character and her first-person narrative which carefully entwines the past and present was written extremely well. She was quite a distorted character that at first appears to be like any normal teenager, but the subtle glimpses that begin to leak through her façade tells a whole other story. Was it the incident that transformed her or does her past provide the real answers? The side characters weren’t as impressive: the dutiful boyfriend that comes over to make her homemade soup when she isn’t feeling well, the devoted best friend that asks no questions, and even the absent parents that we see very little of. The legal technicalities did manage to raise some eyebrows as well, however, despite these issues that could have brought down the whole story, Panitch still impressed me with an incredibly riveting tale.

Damage Done is quite the twisted mystery and the summary does little to prepare you for what’s in store. I think it’s best kept that way, seeing as the reveal was quite the impressive twist, even if it was foreshadowed early on. The first twist isn’t the only twist though and this is one engrossing mystery that will keep you speculating. Panitch has another YA psychological thriller coming up in 2016, Never Missing, Never Found that will most certainly be on my TBR.

Thanks to Random House Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of Damage Done to give away to one lucky reader! This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Ends August 4th, 2015

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Book Tour Review – Love May Fail by Matthew Quick

July 8, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours 2 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Love May Fail by Matthew QuickLove May Fail by Matthew Quick
Published by Harper on June 16th 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Portia Kane is having a meltdown. After escaping her ritzy Florida life and her cheating pornographer husband, she finds herself back in South Jersey, a place that remains largely unchanged from the years of her unhappy youth. Lost and alone, looking for the goodness she believes still exists in the world, Portia sets off on a quest to save the one man who always believed in her—and in all of his students: her beloved high school English teacher, Mr. Vernon, who has retired broken and alone after a traumatic classroom incident.

Will a sassy nun, an ex-heroin addict, a metalhead little boy, and her hoarder mother help or hurt Portia’s chances on this quest to resurrect a good man and find renewed hope in the human race? Love May Fail is a story of the great highs and lows of existence: the heartache and daring choices it takes to become the person you know (deep down) you are meant to be.

Portia Kane is a woman who used to have big dreams of being a published author but is currently experiencing something akin to a mid-life crisis. We’re first introduced to her character as she hides drunk in her bedroom closet with a handgun watching her porn-producer husband cheat on her with a much, much younger woman. As sad as it sounds, Quick made this introduction memorable and hilarious, as unlikely as that seems. Deciding that going to jail for shooting her husband and his lover she dubs “Khaleesi” just isn’t worth it so she hops on a plane to head back home to her simple-minded hoarder of a mother. She has a coincidental run-in with a nun she’s seated next to on the plane at which point Portia, still drunk, spills her guts to her even going so far as to describe just how endowed her soon to be ex-husband isn’t. Coincidentally the nun is actually the mother of her favorite English teacher that changed her whole outlook on life, who just so happens to be going through his own mid-life crisis as well.

Honestly, I could continue on with the various plots and coincidences (there are many of both in this tale). There are also several different POV changes: Portia of course, her English teacher Mr. Vernon, Chuck Bass (another individual left changed by Mr. Vernon and someone who has harbored a crush on Portia for the better part of two decades), and even a brief interlude to Mr. Vernon’s mother who we’re made informed by the letters she sent to her son. Portia, regardless of her protestations that “it wasn’t about the money” doesn’t ever come across as anything but a rich, privileged whiner. The flashbacks to her past and her childhood dreams should have been enough to make her a bit more tolerable, but unfortunately, she never did dredge up any sympathy from me. And her showing up at her favorite English teacher’s house was more creepy than gracious. I have a favorite teacher that I recall with absolute adoration, however, I still can’t say I would ever get the urge to show up at his house unannounced declaring that I was there to “save him”. Mr. Vernon’s character was the POV most explored and was the most interesting to read about. His mother’s POV could have been left out entirely, which would have left this book minus the two dozen or so mentions of “my husband, God” which made my eye twitch just about every time. There is also a very strange and intense focus on negative reviews (it specifically mentions a bad review a published book received via Kirkus) and ultimately the impact they have on an author. Not sure what Quick was trying to say with that little tirade but I find it more than a bit funny that Kirkus didn’t actually care for Love May Fail very much.

I’ve heard this is a common trend in Quick’s novels (this is my first Quick novel so I can’t speak for the rest), but faith and the belief that there’s always something to live for is the theme with this one. It’s about finding that spark in life that spurs you up over the next hurdle that life will inevitably throw your way. The idea was there with this one but the execution and the abundant coincidences left me feeling far from inspired.

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This post was a part of ‘Love May Fail’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, June 16th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, June 17th: Novel Escapes
Thursday, June 18th: 5 Minutes For Books
Friday, June 19th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, June 22nd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, June 23rd: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, June 24th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, June 25th: Chronicles …
Monday, June 29th: she treads softly
Tuesday, June 30th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, July 1st: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, July 2nd: Many Hats
Monday, July 6th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, July 7th: Becca Rowan
Wednesday, July 8th: For the Love of Words
Thursday, July 9th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, July 10th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

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Shades of Treason Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway!

July 2, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2015 0 Comments

I received this book free from Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shades of Treason Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway!Shades of Treason by Sandy Williams
Series: Anomaly #1
Published by Brimfire Press on July 1st 2015
Pages: 275
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Book Tour
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Shadow Reader

three-half-stars

Ash would have given her life to save her teammates.
Instead, they gave their lives to save hers.

Lieutenant Ramie Ashdyn is an anomaly, a person whose genetic makeup makes her stronger and smarter than the average human. She’s pledged her life to protect the Coalition, an alliance of thirteen planetary systems, but when a top secret operation turns bloody, she’s charged with treason and the brutal executions of her teammates.

The Coalition needs the information Ash’s team stole on their last mission, so they send in Commander Rhys “Rest in Peace” Rykus to get it. He’s the man who’s responsible for turning Ash into an elite soldier… and he’s a man who isn’t, never was, and never will be in love with the woman he trained. Or so he tells himself.

Ash wants nothing more than to clear her name and be the woman her former instructor wants her to be, but the enemy who killed her teammates did more than frame her for treason and murder: they telepathically silenced her mind, preventing her from saying anything that might point to the truth about what happened.

Now Ash is trapped and set to be executed, the truth dying with her. Unless she can prove her innocence. But taking that path could destroy the Coalition she’s sworn to preserve and protect…

About Sandy Williams

Sandy graduated from Texas A&M University with a double major in political science and history. She thought about attending law school. Fortunately, before handing over her life’s savings, she realized case studies weren’t nearly as interesting as novels and decided to get an MA in Library Science instead. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. She’s now back home in Texas, writing full-time, raising twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Runebound.

She loves hanging out with other readers and talking about books. For recommendations, check out her Goodreads account. And if you have a favorite book or author, she’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.

‘All they need was a reason, a conspiracy. Learning that telepaths existed and that they had infiltrated the Coalition would make them suspect everyone. The senators already fought and argued and threatened to secede. She wouldn’t give them more fuel to burn their ties.’

Lieutenant Ramie Ashdyn and her team are sent on a mission by the Coalition to steal classified information from the Saricean’s but she is the only survivor. She is subsequently blamed for their deaths and charged with treason. She’s left unable to speak the truth of the situation in order to clear her name because her mind has been altered by a telepath. The proof of the existence of telepaths is the classified information that her team stole and inevitably gave their lives to keep secret because the knowledge of this may be the very thing to tear the Coalition apart.

‘In three days, Rykus would lead a contingent of soldiers in a daring, deadly assault on an enemy shipyard. In three days, the Coalition and the Sariceans would be at war.’

Ashdyn is a stubborn, badass chick who has no problem taking care of herself. Growing up starving on the streets of Glory, she volunteered to become a soldier of the Coalition. She also discovered she’s faster and more powerful than any human being: she’s an anomaly. We’re given very little of her background and the details behind being an anomaly and while it was enough to clarify most questions, I wanted more details because it was an extremely interesting concept. I loved the inclusion of Commander Rhys Rykus and the whole concept behind the loyalty training as well. Due to an issue with an anomaly’s mental stability, they underwent loyalty training which made them dependable soldiers that would follow instruction and wouldn’t snap under the strain they underwent. Commander Rhys Rykus was Ashdyn’s instructor and he’s been requested to use that loyalty training in order to get the classified information from her. It doesn’t help matters that the two have a very complicated and heated rapport, both denying the existence of feelings they may have because a relationship between them is out of the question.

Conspiracies, treason, and intrigue oh my! Shades of Treason includes all of that and more (like a pretty hot relationship build-up). I hope to see more delving into the world-building in subsequent installments. Specifically, I’d love to know more about anomaly’s and not just who the Saricean’s are but what caused the war between them and the Coalition. Nonetheless, this is still an auspicious start to an exciting series that I’m most looking forward to!

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This post was a part of the “Shades of Treason‘ blog tour hosted by:

Be sure to check out the other tour stops below!

June 29, 2015: Addicted 2 Heroines – Author Interview
June 29, 2015: thehellviscompendium – Promo
June 30, 2015: Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama – Review
June 30, 2015: Bibliophile Mystery – Review
July 1, 2015: Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – Character Bio
July 2, 2015: For the Love of Words – Review
July 3, 2015: Love Affair with an E-Reader – Review
July 3, 2015: The Reading Cafe – Author Interview
July 4, 2015: Nessa’s Book Reviews – Promo
July 5, 2015: Romancing the Readers – Promo
July 6, 2015: LuLo Fangirl – Review
July 7, 2015: Goldilox and the Three Weres – Review
July 8, 2015: Oh My Shelves – Author Interview
July 9, 2015: Rabid Reads – Character Bio
July 10, 2015: (un)Conventional Bookviews – Review
July 11, 2015: BookwormBridgette’s World – Promo
July 12, 2015: Readaholics Anonymous – Promo

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