Crown of Thunder Blog Tour – Creative Photo

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BOOK DESCRIPTION 

CoverIn the sequel to the acclaimed Beasts Made of Night, Taj has escaped Kos, but Queen Karima will go to any means necessary–including using the most deadly magic–to track him down.

Taj is headed west, but the consequences of leaving Kos behind confront him at every turn. Innocent civilians flee to refugee camps as Karima’s dark magic continues to descend on the city. Taj must return, but first he needs a plan.

With Arzu’s help, Taj and Aliya make it to the village of her ancestors, home of the tastahlik–sin-eaters with Taj’s same ability to both battle and call forth sins. As Taj comes to terms with his new magic, he realizes there are two very different groups of tastahlik–one using their powers for good, the other for more selfish ends.

Aliya is struggling with her own unique capabilities. She’s immersed in her work to uncover the secret to Karima’s magic, but her health begins to mysteriously deteriorate. With the help of a local western mage, Aliya uncovers her true destiny–a future she’s not sure she wants.

As Taj and Aliya explore their feelings for each other and Arzu connects with her homeland, the local westerners begin to question Taj’s true identity. Karima is on his heels, sending dark warnings to the little village where he’s hiding. Taj will have to go back and face her before she sends her most deadly weapon–Taj’s former best friend, Bo.

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CREATIVE PHOTO

I am THRILLED to be a part of this tour! A huge thank you to Penguin for sending me copies of the book. I have chosen to share a creative photo I have taken for these books, my version of a dragon. I hope you enjoy:

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AUTHOR BIO

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Tochi Onyebuchi holds a BA from Yale, an MFA in screenwriting from Tisch, a master’s degree in global economic law from L’institut d’études politiques, and a JD from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction and Ideomancer, among other places. Tochi resides in Connecticut, where he works in the tech industry.

 

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SCHEDULE

WEEK ONE

October 8 – Pop the Butterfly Reads – Review

October 9 – A Gingerly Review – Creative Instagram Picture

October 10 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review

October 11 – YA Bibliophile – Listicle

October 12 – Moonlight Rendezvous – Playlist

WEEK TWO

October 15 – @wizardylibrary – Creative Instagram Picture

October 16 – A Court of Crowns and Quills – Creative Instagram Picture

October 17 – Book Fidelity – Author Guest Post: Playlist

October 18 – A Dream within a Dream – Review

October 19 – The Fandom – Author Q&A

WEEK THREE

October 22 – Margie’s Must Reads – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

October 23 – Just Add a Word – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

October 24 – Jellys Book Bliss – Creative Instagram Picture

October 25 – Rheya_Reads – Creative Instagram Picture

October 26 – Allison in Bookland – Review

 

 

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The Sacrifice Box Blog Tour: ARC Review

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CoverBOOK DESCRIPTION 

A horror story about friendship, growing up, and finding a place in the world: Gremlins meets The Breakfast Club by way of Stephen King and Stranger Things.

1982, the summer before seventh grade. Five kids with nothing in common–Sep, Arkle, Hadley, Lamb, and Mack–become instant friends. On the last day of summer, they find a stone box buried in the forest, and each places an object inside to seal their friendship. And they make rules:

Never come to the box alone.
Never open it after dark.
Never take back your sacrifice.

1986, the summer before eleventh grade. The five haven’t spoken since that day in 1982. Sep has gone through the past four years alone and plans to escape to boarding school. But strange things are happening–mirrors are breaking unexpectedly, electricity is flickering in and out, and people are coming down with inexplicable physical ailments.

Someone has broken the rules. And it seems the five committed more than objects to the box’s ancient stone–they gave it their deepest secrets and darkest fears, and now these are being returned in a flood of shambling corpses, murderous toys, and undead pets. The gang must reunite in an attempt to discover the secrets of the sacrifice box–and Sep might be the only one who can stem its tide of evil before it’s too late.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Martin  StewartMartin Stewart has previously worked as an English teacher, university lecturer, barman, recycling technician, and golf caddy. A native of Glasgow, he now lives on Scotland’s west coast with his wife, baby daughter, and a very big dog. He enjoys cooking with eggs, running on the beach, re-watching his favourite films, and buying books to feed his to-be-read pile. Follow him on Twitter @martinjstewart and Instagram @martin_j_stewart.

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REVIEW:

I was not entirely sure what I was getting myself into when I started this book. Creepy? Sure, I’m game. Mystery? Yeah, I’m always down. Horror? If it is written correctly, of course. This was a nice mix of everything I just mentioned.

Short recap: During one summer in the late 70s, September “Sep” and four unlikely friends discover a mysterious box in the woods. They all decide to sacrifice something personal and valuable to the box to cement their friendship. Fast forward four years: Sep and the others are no longer really friends. But they are forced to band together to figure out who opened the mysterious box and why their sacrificed possessions are coming for them.

I was hooked from the beginning of this story. Random kids sacrificing objects to a chest in the woods in order to seal their friendship? What could possibly go wrong? A lot, apparently. There were rules that the kids were supposed to follow: never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings. Someone did not follow these simply rules and things get creepy, spooky, and terrifying … quickly. Why was I hooked so early on? Simple – I had questions that needed answers: Why was the box in the woods? Where did it come from? Who were the people that sacrificed before them and what happened to them? What happens if someone breaks the rules?

I will pause here to give a mild warning – there are some triggers that might upset some people. There is animal cruelty within the pages of this book. I, for one, do not have any patience or tolerance for said animal cruelty. Zero. HOWEVER, I feel it was not a huge trigger for me. Why? Because it was always implied but (thankfully) never spelled out in detail like some other stories. This is your warning just in case.

Continuing on. There were a lot of characters within this story and those characters had backstories. That being said, there were an awful lot of flash backs and flash forwards. There were several groups of kids involved with this sacrifice box so be aware that you could potentially get a little lost.

Regardless, this was one crazy ride. Not all of the characters were bad and not all of their stories were bad. While it is a horror story, it is also a coming of age story about friendship and facing your fears. I know this review is pretty vague but I did that in the hopes you would be intrigued enough to give this book a chance.

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SCHEDULE

WEEK ONE

August 20 – live.laugh.love.library – Listicle

August 21 – Fear Your Ex – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

August 22 – Nerd Girl Official – Review + Playlist

August 23 – Spinatale Reviews – Q&A

August 24 – By Hook Or By Book – Review

WEEK TWO

August 27 – Curly Book Owl – Review

August 28 – Bookcrushin – 80s Pop Culture That We Would Sacrifice

August 29 – A Gingerly Review – Review

August 30 – This Dark Material – Q&A

August 31 – thenightowlbookblog – Review

 

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ARC Review: Wildcard

Wildcard (Warcross, #2)

 

You already know I love this author and I love this world. I should just find a huge image or GIF that proclaims, “SO MUCH LOVE” and call it a day, right? That would be too easy. Instead, you lucky reader you, I’m going to give you a review worthy of this masterful novel and worthy end to the duology that stole my heart. (I’m also not falling victim to the slew of negative reviews on GR. I LOVED THIS STORY.)

Short recap: Emika Chen has survived the Warcross Championship and has one heck of a battle in front of her. She has discovered the real reason behind Hideo creating the NeuroLink program and it isn’t as peachy as it first seemed. She has to stop Hideo and is able to form a plan with the help of the Phoenix Riders. Can Emika really stop the man she loves? Can she do what might be necessary to put a stop to his plans?

I tried to so very hard to read this book slowly because I wanted to soak up every word like a sponge. Did it happen? Nope, not at all. I tore through this book like I was on a deadline. And then there was the overwhelming sadness of being done with yet another Lu book that tore out what little was left of my heart.

Just when I thought Emika’s character couldn’t be developed more or grow more, Lu swoops in with the sweep the leg kick to knock me over. I should have known better than to ever doubt Lu. For me, this author writes gold and can do no wrong. Emika and Hideo are one of my biggest ships ever. EVER. Just thinking about them know has me all fluttery in the stomach and weak in the knees. Now, please know I’m not all rainbows and kittens about this book (let’s be real, yes I am), I am also a reviewer. I read stories and mentally critic them. I make note of things that did and did not work for me. I’m not blinded by my unyielding adoration for this author (ok, maybe a little). I know that as a reader/reviewer, I really did love everything about this story. I very much enjoyed how Emika and Hideo had a very complex relationship (think hate to love to hate to love), while at the same time always growing and always evolving. Emika did not start this story the same person she started Warcross as. She saw things, survived things, and knew things that changed her forever in the first book. Hideo ended Warcross not being the super hunky billionaire he started the story as (well, he was still super hot and a billionaire… but you know what I mean). Both of these characters adapted to what life put them through and both came out stronger on the other side. Both were products of the challenges put in front of them. That made them very relateable and believable. Also, both of these character stayed true to who they were, they never compromised for the sake of  money or fame. They did what they believed was right and true.

The world that Lu created was masterfully done. It really did remind me a lot of Ready Player One, one of my top 5 favorite novels ever. The technology, the creativity, the lush world made this story come to life in my head. I felt completely immersed and I never wanted to leave.

I really do not know what else I can say about this book. I know that some people stated they were let down by this story but that wasn’t the case for me. I implore you to read the story for yourself and make up your own mind. Go in with an open mind and give the story a chance. Give Lu the chance to finish Emika and Hideo’s story, it certainly deserves to be told.

 

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ARC Review: I Am Still Alive

I Am Still Alive

 

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I picked up this book from Penguin Teen but I was wrong. What a roller coaster of a thriller!

Short recap: Teenager Jess (aka Sequoia) has had a very rough life. Her dad left when she was very young and her mother was recently killed in a car accident. That same car accident left her with a disability that makes it difficult for her to walk, or even run. Forced to live with her estranged dad, who happened to relocate to very remote Canada, Jess will discover who she really is and what she is truly capable of.

If you want a stellar read about survival and finding inner strength, this will be the book for you. This absolutely blew me away. I read this from cover to cover in a matter of hours. I was so hooked on this story and so involved in Jess’ survival that I couldn’t put this down for anything. It also made me realize that I probably wouldn’t survive in a situation like this. I might last a few minutes but that would be it. I’m far too soft. 😦

The entire story is told from Jess’ perspective and split into Before and After. The Before chapters are from her life with her Mom and back when she was happy. The After chapters take place after the loss of her father. That’s right – her father is killed and Jess is forced to find a way to survive in the middle of absolute nowhere with nothing but her small knowledge of wilderness survival and her father’s dog, Bo. Are you interested in reading yet? I’ll continue.

What Jess doesn’t know about her father is the reason he left her and her mom – he got caught up in some truly terrible things. These terrible things ended up costing him his life, and could possibly take her life as well. The main question I had throughout the entire story was who killed her dad and why? Who would want to take out her father who was living off of the radar in the most remote part of Canada? He was nowhere near phones or even civilization. If her dad couldn’t grow it, hunt it, or make it, it wasn’t necessary.

Do  I have you interested in this now? This was a quick read and it was outstanding. The writing was fluid and I loved it. The suspense was heart pounding and had me on the edge of my seat. My only complaint is that I took so long to finally read this.

 

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ARC Review: Lies You Never Told Me

Lies You Never Told Me

 

HOLY COW. This book was one heck of a thrill ride! I was hooked from the start and sad when it was over. I should have seen the ending coming but I was so engrossed that I was just enjoying the storytelling and mystery. DANG this was good.

Short recap: Gabe is on his way home from spending some time with his girlfriend, Sasha, when he is hit by a car. He has no idea who hit him as the driver is never found. After recovering from his injuries, he realizes that he really is tired of Sasha’s shallow and controlling ways so he breaks up with her. Only Sasha isn’t the type of girl you just break up with. She vows to get Gabe back no matter what. In a parallel story, Elyse has just been given the lead in Romeo and Juliet and she couldn’t be more thrilled! It is the only good thing she has going in her life. Outside of theater, she works nights to pay the bills because her mom is addicted to pain pills and cannot care for herself. Elyse has to be the adult. During one rehearsal for the upcoming play, Elyse rehearses a scene with her teacher and they share a very intimate kiss. This stars these two down a dark and disturbing storyline that really cannot end anywhere good.

There is a lot happening in this book but y’all, it is unputdownable. I could not get enough! I wanted nothing more than to wrap myself in a blanket, shut out the world, and read this book. It sunk it’s hooks into me in a way that was the best. I haven’t had a book do that in a while. I was so involved and captivated with every single character. Gabe had a serious psychopath of an ex-girlfriend to deal with while trying to get to know the new girl, Catherine. Catherine was also in the way of Sasha’s wrath. Catherine had her own demons to deal with and I wanted to know her story so bad. Sasha was clearly messed up in the head. Elyse had some heavy issues to deal with being the adult while her mom chose to stay high on pain pills. Every single character had a story I wanted … no… needed to know more about. It doesn’t seem like these stories have anything in common but they come together in the end and it is perfect. It was done masterfully and I was rendered speechless.

The entire story is told from the POV of Gabe and Elyse. They really do lead very different lives but really do come across as teenagers with their own set of troubles and tribulations. The development of the characters was very well done. They felt completely flushed out and wonderfully flawed. The character I connected with the most and was cheering on the hardest was Gabe. I was so furious that nobody believed him when crazy stuff happened! His parents were always doubting him and siding with Sasha, even after they broke up. They never bothered to even try to find out the truth, they just took her word for it. To be able to invoke that type of emotional reaction from the reader (ME!) proves how great of a writer Donaldson really is.

Even though I am gushing about how much I loved this story, there were some parts that were rather hard to read. There were a lot of serious topics covered: drug addiction, inappropriate relationships, and kidnapping to name a few. The way Donaldson handled them was very well done. She did not mention them and then skirt away. Oh no. She introduced them, talked about them, and then showed about how horrible they are to not just that one person but to the people around them. That may not make sense but I’m trying to say she did a wonderful job of incorporating these serious topics into the entire story. She did not glorify them or make light of them, she knew they were serious and portrayed them as serious. They were all very well handled.

I am not going to be able to say enough good things about this book. I am now a Donaldson fan for life. Her ability to write THAT ENDING put her high on my Auto-Buy List. I should have been able to predict what was going to happen but I just didn’t. It blew my mind. The twists and turns and secrets and lies were just so well written that I soaked them up like a sponge. I highly – highly – recommend this to everyone who loves a good page turner of a story. Happy reading!

 

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