Book Tour + Author Interview: Mind Virus

Welcome to the Mind Virus Book Tour, hosted by Roger Charlie!~

Title: Mind Virus
Author: Charles Kowalski
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Genre: Mystery Thriller
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Robin Fox, peace-loving professor of world religions, wants only to leave his dark past as a military interrogator behind him. But when an unknown suspect tries to disperse a deadly virus in downtown Washington, Fox is unwillingly drawn back into the shadowy world of intelligence.

The FBI and CIA automatically suspect Islamic terrorists, but Fox digs deeper to discover the far more frightening truth: a global conspiracy to eradicate all religion from the face of the earth.

From Washington to Jerusalem, from Rome to London, Fox must use all his wits in a perilous race to stop a psychopathic mastermind from unleashing worldwide devastation.

Buy Links:
Publisher | Amazon

Interview:

What is the theme of Mind Virus?

Mainly, that the fanaticism that leads to violence can be found anywhere, whether among religious believers or nonbelievers, and the will to seek peace and understanding can also be found anywhere.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

Everything begins with “What if…?” In this case, the question was, “Everyone is always talking about terror in the name of religion; could there be terror in the name of atheism?” From this question flows the rest of the plot and the characters. It was easy to develop Robin Fox; he’s the person I might have been if my life had taken a slightly different turn. As for the other characters, they may be loosely patterned on a real person, or a composite of several. If a minor character doesn’t seem sufficiently well-developed, I ask myself: if I were an actor, how would I play this character? How would I see the story from his or her point of view, since in our own minds, we’re always the central character of any story we appear in?

Tell us about your background. What made you decide to pursue writing?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned to write, and finished my first (unpublished) novel at the age of 17. I write fiction because my mind naturally frames things in terms of stories; that’s how I try to make sense of complex issues. I also find that, especially on controversial and polarizing issues, the best way—perhaps the only way—of getting people to see an alternative point of view is through story.

Tell us about the challenges of getting your book published. How did it come about?

It was indeed a challenge. The manuscript won more than its fair share of awards and nominations, and agents and editors found the premise intriguing, but not enough to sign, possibly because they felt the story was too controversial to make it past a risk-averse editorial board. But after dissipating my savings in writers’ conferences, I finally met—on a Twitter pitch fest, of all places—an editor willing to take a leap of faith, Susan Brooks.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Forget what they say about “write what you know.” Write what excites your imagination, and the knowledge you need can be acquired. And if a story grabs hold of you and won’t let go . . . tell it! Pay no attention to the inner voices that say “this is no good” or “no one else will be interested in it.” Believe in yourself, even when it feels like no one else does. To paraphrase Florence Foster Jenkins, people may say you can’t write, but never let it be said that you didn’t write.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

I teach English at a university in Japan. Living abroad adds an extra layer of challenge to the writing process. I often feel somewhat out of touch with contemporary American culture, and research that for a U.S.-based writer would take only a simple trip to the local library, or a call to a local expert, for me requires careful planning and considerable expense. But on the other hand, field research in exotic locations is easier, and living at a distance from my native culture gives me a different perspective from writers who are immersed in it.

What are some of your favorite authors or books?

Of course, I took some inspiration from the big names in the genre, like Lee Child. Tana French showed me it’s possible to write genre fiction with a literary flair. Dan Brown, Daniel Silva, and Jeffrey Small paved the way for thrillers with religious themes. Barry Eisler and Barry Lancet showed me it’s possible for Japan-based authors to produce books with worldwide appeal; I’m hoping the same will prove true even for one who isn’t named Barry! And the list wouldn’t be complete without Leo J. Maloney, who ever since our chance meeting at Killer Nashville has been very generous with his time and expertise and always gave me a dose of encouragement at just the time I needed it.

Thanks so much for your time! We look forward to your upcoming projects!

About the Author:

 

Charles Kowalski is almost as much a citizen of the world as his fictional character, Robin Fox, having lived abroad for over 15 years, visited over 30 countries, and studied over 10 languages. His unpublished debut novel, Mind Virus, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award and was a finalist for the Adventure Writers’ Competition, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association literary award.

Charles currently divides his time between Japan, where he teaches English at a university, and his family home in Maine.

Mind Virus is scheduled for publication by Literary Wanderlust on July 1, 2017.

Other novels and short stories by Charles Kowalski:

“Let This Cup Pass From Me”

“Arise, My Love”

“The Evil I Do Not Mean To Do”

Author Links:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Official Website

Book Blast: Dating the It Guy

Welcome to the Dating the It Guy Book Blast, hosted by I Am A Reader!~

Title: Dating the It Guy
Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Clean Reads
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Buy Link:
Amazon

Excerpt:

He put the magazine between us, and when I moved forward to see it, he put his arm across the back of my chair. Now lots of guys did put their arms on chair backs, even Kirk did that with Rory, and he definitely wasn’t interested in her, but I couldn’t help but hope it meant something. I got this shivery feeling, and he asked if I was cold. I shook my head. I always got a feeling before something major was about to happen, and it has nothing to do with being cold, but I didn’t know why I got the feeling. Grandma used to do the same thing and always said, “Somebody just walked across my grave.” Somehow I didn’t think Brendon would understand if I told him I needed to move my future burial plot to a less high-traffic area.
“Are we still on for the art fair?” he asked.
I had only been circling it with hearts on my calendar since he asked.
“Sure, I think I’m still free,” I said.
We finished up our work, and he walked me out to meet Kylie.
“Okay, I’ll pick you up at three tomorrow,” he said, walking off.
“Can I ask a stupid question?” Kylie asked as soon as Brendon was out of earshot. “What’s he like? Because he’s so well-known, and I can’t imagine what it’d be like to grow up with your whole life under a microscope. I mean, my mom remembers his first birthday party pictures being shown on the news. And he’s hot, but he’s not like I-know-I’m-a-hottie hot, but more like a confident, ‘Yes, I am hot. Any questions?’ I mean, he has to have noticed there aren’t any guys who look like him walking around.”
“I should tell him what you said.”
“Don’t you dare,” Kylie said.
“I get what you mean—he’s grown up with everybody knowing his dad and watching him, but he’s pretty down to earth.”
“So what’s up with you two? You guys didn’t do any work last Saturday, and now you’re going to an art fair.”
“I dunno. He just asked me to go with him.”
“Asked you to go with him as his study buddy or asked you to go with him because he’s desperately in love with you?” she asked.
I said we were just friends, but she wouldn’t let it go.
“Okay, duh, obviously I like him, but let’s be honest. He’s out of my league. He’s out of most people’s league. It’s weird because normally if I like a guy then one of two things happens—either he likes me and asks for my number…or I find out he’s not into me and I cry in my pillow and listen to man-hating music for at least three days,” I said. “But this time’s different because he’s, I dunno, not just ‘some guy.’ I mean, I’m not putting up a shrine to him in my room, and I haven’t rooted though his garbage can, but I have as much chance of going out with him as Kirk does of getting an ‘A’ in this class.”
“You listen to man-hating music?” she asked, and I narrowed my eyes at her. “Whatever. Anyway, Em, he’s asked you out once already, and you are seeing him tomorrow. Plus, he’s always staring at you.”
I said he was probably just bored in class today, but she wouldn’t let it go.
“I’m not just talking about today. When we watched the movie on Monday, he watched you instead, and whenever I see you guys, he acts like there’s no one else in the room,” she said.
I couldn’t hold back the big, stupid smile spreading across my face. “He does? For real?”
She nodded. “You know, it’s weird. Here you were all upset you didn’t have a partner at the beginning of the semester, and then you ended up with like, Mr. Perfection, as your partner.”

Praise for Dating the It Guy:

“Dating the It Guy is an entertaining story that is as absorbing as it is hilarious.” Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite
“A satisfying YA romance that is really about growing up and learning how to deal with life.” Writing Pearls book review blog
“There is so much to love about this book. Krysten Lindsay Hager knows how teens think and speak, and she understands why Emme would feel overwhelmed by everything about Brendon – his looks, his popularity, his feelings for her, his exes, his family.” Vox libris: the voice of books book review blog
Book Trailer:

Buy Link:
Amazon

About the Author:

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2), and Dating the It Guy. Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Best Sellers award. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Grand Blanc View, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Giveaway:

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 7/23/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Review + Book Tour: Internet Famous

Welcome to the Internet Famous Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: Internet Famous
Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Can an online romance survive in real life?

Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. Even Madi’s dismal romantic life seems ready to take off as Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!) starts flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies.

Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s “real life” hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything―and everyone―she loves?

Review:

First off, I loved that this book gave so much time to Madi actually writing her blog, and tweeting out to her followers. It gave a sense of realism to the book – she wasn’t famous just because, she was famous cause she actually put time and effort into her work. As a blogger, I was able to relate to her a lot. That being said, I can’t say that I’m as accustomed to so many (read: any) responses to my work. It was great seeing Madi interact with her fanbase and try to be neutral and kind in her posts.

I have to admit – the troll made me nervous. There’s something about a faceless villain that really gets to you. And the scary thing is that it can happen. This is the world that we live in, where people can ruin your safe space with a few simple clicks of a button. And it sucks. It sucked for Madi more than most <highlight for spoilers> because the troll actually affected her real life – her schooling, her grades – and I think the worst is that the school kept buying into anonymous tips about Madi’s work that never actually panned out.  My stomach kept knotting itself every time the troll struck, and that feeling is what fueled me through the book. I needed to know what the resolution was. I needed to know why this troll was after her.

Madi herself was well developed – I enjoyed her little quips and appreciated her introversion. Her motto was something along the lines of human interaction sucks, and I can definitely relate to that. We really got to see her step outside of her comfort zone and learn to take control of her own life. Madi’s sister, Sarah, added a lot of emotion to the book. I loved her and yet I also understood Madi’s own kind of resentment towards her parents, and kind of her sister. We learn early on that Sarah is someone with special needs, though her condition is never actually named. She is fun and lovable, and my heart hurts for her throughout the novel. Madi tries her best with her and I love the sisterly relationship that is a big part of this novel.

The romance itself is cute – it doesn’t actually steal the spotlight in the book, and I have to give the author credit for that. Some of the ideas lent to the whole long-distance relationship were fun and creative, too, and I enjoyed learning more about Laurent and the other NYC characters.

Random note: I would love to see/own a printed version of the book because some of the details would be cool to see off the screen.

As a whole, this book is probably one of my favourites this year. The resolution of the book was really well done, and I didn’t actually feel like the end was rushed. In fact, the epilogue was just what I needed to finish off the book (it’s something I kind of wanted to see at the end of books like Girl at Sea and other romantic contemporaries). Definitely would recommend!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.8

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author:

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Tour-wide giveaway | Open US/CAN

Enter to win a print copy of Internet Famous!

Review: The Darkest Corners

Title: The Darkest Corners
Author: Kara Thomas
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery Thriller
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
GoodReads

Synopsis:

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Review:

This took a me a long time to review. It’s not that it was a bad book – it was quite good in fact. I think it was because I didn’t know what to do with it. At the end, I had so many questions that didn’t have answers. Here I am, a year later, reflecting on it, and I still say that it’s a pretty great book.

I liked Tessa. I enjoyed accompanying her on her hunt for clues, even when her curiosity made my stomach clench in fear for her. In the end, I also ended up liking Callie, despite my initial annoyance with her character. She grows up, I think, a lot throughout the novel.

Admittedly, the pacing was a little slow. There was a lot of history of the characters and of the town itself, and a lot of “why me” thoughts. But I felt like the book as a whole was put together well. Nothing was revealed too quickly, and I liked that there were some dead ends. It helped make the story more intriguing and creepy.

I read this book when I was taking a criminal profiling class in uni and I found it fascinating to learn and read about this whole thing simultaneously. While I found that some things made sense, I felt that there were a couple things that were a bit of a stretch. In the end though, I was too surprised to really care much about the couple of things that didn’t really click for me.

The end itself was quite the surprise for me, but at the same time, it left me wondering so many things. I get that there wouldn’t be a second one, but maybe a little more added to the ending would have been eye opening, or it might have ruined it, I don’t know.

The thing I love about Kara is that her books always surprise me. I really enjoyed her Prep School Confidential series, and I loved this books as well. I look forward to diving into her new book, Little Monsters, when it comes out in July!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.78/5

eARC obtained via Delacorte Press via Random House Children’s via NetGalley.

Review: The Bachelor Auction

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Title: The Bachelor Auction [The Bachelors of Arizona #1]
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Genres: New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Cinderella never had to deal with this crap.

Jane isn’t entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn’t she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes—or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire—maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn’t anyone’s dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk—even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it’s karmic retribution that he’s tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can’t have. But while they can’t have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy

Sometimes, I just want to write a review like, “This book. It was good. Good book.” But that’s not very helpful to you or me (well, it would save me some time…).

When I think back to reading this book, I think light, fluffy, funny, great read. Then the rest of the story comes floating back into my head like a train wreck. Not that the book itself was a train wreck, but there was some heavy emotional healing in here. I loved the development of the characters as a whole, but I think the Brock’s brothers stole the show for me. I looked forward to their scenes and their entertaining quips. They helped lighten the mood and gave readers a well needed break from the brooding mains. Also, he ending was pretty great, and it really got me excited for the next books.

Side note: I’m crazy excited for the sequel coming out in August: The Playboy Bachelor! The MC is Bentley and I loved his character in this book!

The being said, Jane and Brock fit well together. I really liked how their character grew into themselves. I loved the memories they had of their families especially – there were some cute memories/flashbacks.

Oh. My. Goodness. Jane’s sisters made me want to tear my hair out. I know they were supposed to drive me bananas, but how did they manage to become so freaking spoiled??? I just don’t get it.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book, but I can’t say it wowed me. It was well written and well executed, but I think I’m just a little tired of the Cinderella story.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.9/5

eARC obtained via Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

Review + Book Tour: Groupie

Welcome to the Groupie Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: Groupie [Rock-Hard Beautiful #1]
Author: C.M. Stunich
Genre: New Adult Romance
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
GoodReads

Synopsis:

“Can one of these five rockstars fill the hole in my heart? Or will I stay broken forever?”

Young, dumb, and broke.

That’s what started everything. With five dollars in her pocket, and everything she owns stuffed in the back of her car, Lilith Goode’s life is over. Done. Destroyed.

Ten words. One text. That’s what it took to change the whole world.

A crumpled concert ticket. A chance encounter. That’s what it takes to start all over again.

Five rockstars. One girl. Six dark hearts, six withered souls.

But can one broken person really put another back together again?

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo

Review:

First off, I should really start looking at the GoodReads synopsis too, ’cause it tells a VERY different story than the one here. This book is erotica, and I don’t know why I didn’t expect what I got based on the one given up there ^, but I didn’t… ’cause like “put another back together” usually indicates one person. No, she tries to fix all five.

Second, I really didn’t like the first half of this book. Lilith leads a sad life, as does every person in this band she encounters, and so they connect. But I mean, she does the didly-doo in the first 50 pages with like four guys, and it’s just like girl, what. And then she starts being sad again. LIKE ???

I mean, this girl’s world is crashing down, but it’s all seemingly fixed through sex – and it just baffles me. Sorry friends, but sex is definitely not the answer to your life problems.

However, I do love a book that has good character development, and I really saw that throughout the book – not really with Lilith to be honest (maybe that comes in the next book, I don’t know, but there wasn’t much here). I was really interested in the boys and I wish there was more focus on them (and Lilith) than all the sex. There’s a lot of heartbreak in each of their lives, and I feel like this book was really just skimming the surface of it all.

I liked that each boy had his own personality. I wouldn’t say there was much depth to them, but their habits made me curious about their lives, what got them there, what “messed” them up. I got a few answers, but it wasn’t satisfying enough. But I enjoyed reading about them and about their banter because their characters brought colour to the mess that was Lilith.

Lilith though was weird. Like I’ve lost family members before, but this girl is hella bipolar with her grief and it was simultaneously weird and annoying?? Like she’s screw everyone and then just be like wow, my grief busted open my lustful side! And then ten minutes later she’ll be curled up in a ball just like my dad is dead… -sobs-. LIKE okay… Aside from this though, Lilith was a strong, yet comforting female character, and her love for the band and the band’s love for her was healing in a way.

Last random fact – I found a few typos in this book, so I kind of wish it was given an extra edit or two.

As a whole, this book was way out of my comfort zone, but I think the characters made it for me – they really brought colour to the book (even if it was just dark colours).

Plot: 2.5/5
Characters: 4/5
World Buiding: 4/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.3/5

eBook obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo

About the Author:

C.M. Stunich is a self-admitted bibliophile with a love for exotic teas and a whole host of characters who live full time inside the strange, swirling vortex of her thoughts. Some folks might call this crazy, but Caitlin Morgan doesn’t mind – especially considering she has to write biographies in the third person. Oh, and half the host of characters in her head are searing hot bad boys with dirty mouths and skillful hands (among other things). If being crazy means hanging out with them everyday, C.M. has decided to have herself committed.

She hates tapioca pudding, loves to binge on cheesy horror movies, and is a slave to many cats. When she’s not vacuuming fur off of her couch, C.M. can be found with her nose buried in a book or her eyes glued to a computer screen. She’s the author of over thirty novels – romance, new adult, fantasy, and young adult included. Please, come and join her inside her crazy. There’s a heck of a lot to do there.

Oh, and Caitlin loves to chat (incessantly), so feel free to e-mail her, send her a Facebook message, or put up smoke signals. She’s already looking forward to it.

Author Links:
Facebook | Twitter | Website | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Tour-wide giveaway | Open internationally | Ends June 1st

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card + a signed copy of Groupie.

Book Tour + Review: The Waterfall Traveler

Welcome to the The Waterfall Traveler Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: The Waterfall Traveler
Author: S.J. Lem
Publication Date: April 19th 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
GoodReads

Synopsis:

All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive who saves her life—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressive city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.

In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unforeseen love, Ri risks it all to save those she cares for. But if she prevails, she’ll find the one thing she yearns for most—a cure for Samuel.

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Review:

The Waterfall Traveler surprised me. I thought it’d be a little lighter, but this book was intense. There were a lot of dark scenes and a lot of death, and it was definitely an adventure/thrilling sort of read.

The book starts off running. We meet Ri and Samuel in the first few pages, and after the first couple chapters there’s an attack and then we’re off. It was fast-paced and intense, but not so much so that you didn’t have a chance to catch your breath.

I really like the intricacies of the book – a lot of the characters were connected to each other in unexpected ways and I was always surprised as to how. The development of the characters is pretty good too – each character has a chance at telling their story and what happened to them, and we as readers get to understand why they are how they are. I liked Ri’s independent and fighting spirit, even when it got them in trouble, and Bryce’s loyalty, and Carter’s sassiness, Katie’s sweet heart. That being said, I kind of really wanted to kick them all. Despite all their differences, every character was pretty self-sacrificing and overprotective. It was both admirable and irritating.

One thing that bothered me was that at the beginning there were a lot of “we’ll tell you later” sort of things. I get that they didn’t want to do an information dump, but there are less obvious ways to do that. I guess, in part, it was due to Ri’s bullheadedness, but it made the beginning kind of frustrating.

The end, however, was stellar. I was so surprised, I sped through the pages in excitement. There was a lot to digest, but it was worth it. I was really surprised, and kind of heart broken.

My next question would be whether this book has a sequel or not, as the end seems to hint at something of the sort!

Overall, an enjoyable read, but you really have to be willing to push through the first few chapters of the book!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.45/5

ebook obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

S.J. Lem is a digital art director gone writer in hopes of expanding her creative aspirations. Whether it’s introducing dimensional characters, crafting imaginative worlds, or transporting readers into high-stakes adventures, she strives to deliver an immersive experience.

She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When not writing, she enjoys pottery, gardening, and volunteering. Connecting with readers and fellow writers is one of her greatest joys.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Open internationally! Enter to win:

  • A print copy of The Waterfall Traveler
  • $50 Amazon GC

Review + Book Tour: Forbidden Dance

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Welcome to the Forbidden Dance Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

33389018Title: Forbidden Dance [Lover’s Dance #1]
Author: Deanna Roy
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

She was hidden from the world. Then he arrived.
An emotional new novel from six-time USA Today bestselling author Deanna Roy

For four years, I’ve lived in almost total seclusion. Homeschooled, forbidden from social media, seeing no one other than the dancers at Dreamcatcher Academy, where I teach ballet to little girls in wheelchairs.

Then Blitz arrives.

He’s the disgraced host of Dance Blitz, a bawdy reality show where Blitz sleeps with as many dancers as possible while looking for his perfect partner.

At least he was. A few weeks ago, he got kicked off his own show.

He’s at my academy for a publicity stunt, and my wheelchair ballerinas are his ticket back into the public’s good graces.

I intend to hate him and stay as far away as possible. But when he looks at me, I can’t resist. Before I realize what’s happened, we’re sneaking into back rooms, dancing, kissing, planning dates away from the cameras and the wrath of my family.

But I’m afraid. I have a secret at the academy, a small, wonderful, terrible secret, and if I stay with Blitz, the world will find out.

Buy Links:

Review:

I will admit, there are some aspects of this book I didn’t love – there was some insta-love going on there, and honestly the relationship moved a little faster than I thought it should have. I mean, this girl was hidden away ’cause she made some huge mistake and then she just jumps down the rabbit hole the first chance she gets. It was a little unrealistic and too fast.

That being said, I did really like the characters and the overall premise of the book – the accessible ballerina class was adorable, as was the grandma jazz class, and the overall premise of the book was cute. There are a lot of funny, awkward, and cute moments, as well as a couple steamy moments throughout the book. To be honest, it’s those steamy moments that I just felt like shouldn’t have been in this book – I mean it’s be 45 seconds, put your hormones away.

Admittedly, Livia is a sweet girl who made a mistake at a young age – her parents’ over-protectiveness is understandable to some extent. But this girl is 19 now and she’s still restricted from most things, like cell phones, Internet, closing her bedroom door, and it’s like… okay time to release the reigns a little. Then those steamy moments come in and I’m like girl, this is why there are still tight reigns on ya. In contrast, Blitz has been kicked off his show for being a cheeseball – he’s seen too much of the world – but as he goes back to his roots you get to see the real him. He’s sweet, thoughtful, and not an absolute idiot when you think he COULD be, and it’s much appreciated.

Of the characters in this book though, I think most of my pity went out to Livia’s mom and brother – because of Livia’s mistakes, they’re caught in the crossfire, in the rules, the restrictions, and it sucks. Similar to the book The Truth She Knew though, this may be a social commentary on the concept of “the man of the house”… Or maybe I’ve been analysing way too many English books for my degree…

As a whole, this book was sweet and nice, but it was rushed. There are sequels to the novel, but this book can stand alone if you want it to (just don’t read the teaser for the second book and you’ll be fine) (In other words, I read the except and now I want to read the second one ’cause I have some questions I want answers to). All in all, a light, easy read.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 3/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.0/5

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

About the Author:

Deanna Roy is the six-time USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction.

She is a passionate advocate for women who have lost babies. She has several books on the subject, including her bestseller FOREVER INNOCENT, a romance about a couple whose baby is taken off life support at seven days old.

She has run the website PregnancyLoss.Info for fifteen years, including many large spin-off support groups both online and in person.

To learn about new releases, sign up for her subscriber list. She has regular giveaways in conjunction with major pregnancy loss events.

Author Links:

Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

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Enter to win a Kindle Fire and two $25 gift cards!

Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: October 25, 2010
GoodReads

Synopsis:

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

I wrote this review for a media class, and I figured I’d post it since a) I already wrote it, and b) the movie just released recently. Let me know if you want more reviews like this in the future. Here it is:

I turned the last page of Before I Fall expecting one more line, a funny quip, or even an epilogue. All I got were the Acknowledgements, and I sat there for a moment stunned. How could it just end like that?

Originally published in 2010, the novel Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is gaining worldwide attention due to the upcoming release of its movie adaption by the same name. The movie stars Vampire Academy actress Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston. According to the synopsis, Sam is popular, has the perfect boyfriend, and dies on Friday, February 12, only to wake up the next morning and relive the day of her death six more times.

I decided to take a chance on the book before watching the movie. As they say, the book is always better.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that Samantha’s character undergoes a huge transformation throughout the story. Although we only see seven days of her life, her character develops exponentially. Sam plays by the rules of her friend group without really questioning why they do the things they do. As the book progresses, we see Sam become herself, living her life authentically and being more accountable for her actions.

Each relived day is spent differently – the first two are slightly similar, then she spends a couple full of angst, and then another day is spent solely with her family. Each day is a testament to how multifaceted our lives are, and how easily we neglect different aspects of them.

Something I often didn’t think about during high school was that my friends were basically my family. I saw them eight to nine hours a day, spoke to them when I was home, and hung out with them during the weekend. My family was on the backburner. This is true in Sam’s story as well. Her friends have become such a large part of her life that her family is neglected as a result.

That being said, there is more to it than that. With friends, there is the potential for judgment and shame for saying or doing the wrong things. There is also a certain amount of scrutiny that you are under when you are popular. Sam reflects on this as she watches her friends bully people, her boyfriend belittle her, and people’s reactions to her being nice. It is fascinating how much is missed when focusing on oneself.

Before I Fall encourages readers to examine their everyday choices. A couple changes here and there lead Sam to learn things about her friends, family, teachers, and classmates that she would never have known otherwise. Her relationships were superficial, and she drifted through life with ease. When push came to shove, however, she began to see people for who they were and began to challenge the status quo.

Before I Fall is a very easy book to lose yourself in – the plot is well developed, the characters are thoroughly fleshed out, and the story feels real, relevant, and heartbreaking. In the end, I gave Before I Fall four and a half stars of five.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.92/5

Interview + Book Tour: Finding Paradise

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Welcome to the Finding Paradise Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

findingparadise

Title: Finding Paradise
Author: V.P. Ortiz
Publication Date: Sept 24, 2016
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Mila Quinn is ready to finally move out of the college dorms into an apartment with her longtime boyfriend, Ethan Lowe. But when Ethan reveals a big secret, her world is suddenly turned upside down, stirring up old memories of love and loss. Completely torn apart, she boards a plane to Hawaii to escape for the summer.

Even though Mila wants to spend her time in paradise in isolation, fate has other plans when it drops sexy local Gage Madden in her lap. Hesitant at first, she agrees to let him take the reins on her island exploration. As Mila discovers the wonders of Oahu with Gage, it becomes harder for her to fight the budding attraction between them.

But behind the curtain of island adventures and undeniable chemistry, trouble is brewing where Mila least expects it. Secrets begin to bubble to the surface that could destroy her all over again. Will Mila find her paradise? Or will she leave Hawaii with another broken heart?

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Interview:

Hi! Welcome to Between Printed Pages, we’re so happy to have you here today.

Thank you so much for having me, Alicia! This is actually my first author interview, so I’m super excited that I can have it here at Between Printed Pages!

Before we start, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I’m a long-time reader, first-time author. I fell in love with reading at a very early age – say, around first grade or so. Unfortunately for me, writing novels isn’t my “day job.” I actually work in the legal field as part of a litigation support team. I’ve been asked why I write romance novels instead of crime or lawyer drama novels if I know the legal field so well. The answer is simple: to escape! Haha! Who wants to work all day, then come home and write for a few more hours about work? No, thank you!

Aside from being a reader and a writer, I’m a mother to two awesome kids and a wife to a very loving and supporting husband. They are really the reason why I feel so inspired to follow my dream of being an author and to never give up!

What was the inspiration for Finding Paradise and what about the story called to you?

My husband and I eloped on the island of Oahu in Hawaii over ten years ago. He had grown up on the island (his dad was in the Army and was stationed there for a few years) and we decided to have a wedding/honeymoon in one. The minute I stepped foot off the airplane, I fell in love with Hawaii! From the culture to the food to the scenery to the lifestyle, it was all so mesmerizing. Fast forward nine years, we went back to Oahu for a family vacation with our children and, as expected, I fell in love all over again. There is just something about Hawaii that is special and I wanted to share that with others so they can see and feel the same things about Hawaii that I do.

It’s interesting because a few months after we returned from our Oahu family vacation, I decided to write and publish my first novel. I wrote about six chapters worth of another story, but always had the Hawaiian islands in the back of my mind. They were haunting me in the most beautiful way. So I pushed that novel aside and mapped out a new idea that transformed into Finding Paradise. I wrote Finding Paradise in a way that the love story of Mila and Gage were almost secondary to Mila discovering Hawaii in the same awestruck way that I did so many years ago.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

JUST DO IT! No, I’m not plugging the Nike brand, though if they paid me to, I wouldn’t turn it down. My advice is to just do it! Go for it! I know it’s a scary concept – to open up your heart and your work to the world. And I will tell you right now: not everyone is going to love your novel. But that’s okay! You’re not writing for everyone else. Not for your significant other, not for your neighbor, not for your frenemies (though I get the innate urge to rub your accomplishments in their face). Write the novel because it’s your dream, not theirs.

Like Gage says in Finding Paradise, “You have to leap if you want to know how it feels to fly.” It’s so easy to find a million reasons why you can’t do it, but you will never know the amazing feeling of being a published author if you don’t try.

Finding Paradise is a self-published book, which is a whole new ballgame when it comes to writing novels. You are now not only the author, but you are also the publisher and the marketing team. I’ve started a blog on my website, www.vportiz.com/confessions, called Confessions of a New Author. This blog is a series of my adventures in writing that I hope can calm some fears and maybe even inspire some aspiring writers to take the next step and publish their novels. I’m hoping to put up some new content on the blog after my next novel is published this spring.

Within Finding Paradise, which character was your favourite to write and why?

Honestly, I would’ve thought it would be Mila because we share so many of the same personality traits. But it turns out that I loved writing Aunt Sophie and Baylee! Probably because I based those two characters on two people that I know personally. Aunt Sophie is based on my best friend’s mom, who is witty and sharp while having the gentlest heart I’ve ever known. And Baylee, oh Baylee, she is based on one of my work besties. A crazy, fun soul who is just as vulnerable as anyone, even though she tries to hide it. It’s so funny because the inspiration for Baylee was one of my beta readers and after she read Finding Paradise, she said she LOVED Baylee. I told her, “Well, of course, you did. You two are the same person!” Both Aunt Sophie and Baylee were such fun characters to write. I loved their dynamic together and separately with Mila. They were a big part of Mila’s journey.

And yes, readers, Baylee will have her own story coming soon! That will be a fun book to write!

What are three songs that describe Finding Paradise?

I have a Spotify playlist specifically for Finding Paradise at https://open.spotify.com/user/vportiz_books/playlist/3loOrvQKy3c6XXStWk4zVj. I listened to this playlist pretty much non-stop while I was writing Finding Paradise. Most of the songs are sung either by native Hawaiians or are sung in the Hawaiian language. Such beautiful melodies that take you to the islands and make you never want to leave!

I love all the songs on the playlist, but if I had to pick three, they would be:

  • Simple Love Song by Anuhea: This song is what I consider to be the anthem for Finding Paradise. The words accurately describe everything that Mila felt for Gage and I love Anuhea
  • Falling by Keahiwai: These Hawaiian singers capture what it feels like to fall in love in paradise in this song.
  • Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole: This song is so important to me. Not only does it appear in a great scene in Finding Paradise, but it is also the wedding song that my husband and I chose. It’s a gorgeous rendition by a Hawaiian legend.

I heard that you have some ideas for your next book! Can you tell us anything about them?

YES! YES! YES! I am so excited to exclusively announce my next book on your blog!

Damaged Property is slated to be released this spring, though the exact date is currently tentative. It’s the story of a broken woman, Talia, and her chance meeting with a ridiculously hot Albuquerque Police Officer, Dante, who has demons of his own. Even though they fight it, fate throws them together and they learn to work together to fight their pasts before it catches up with them.

Where Finding Paradise was bright, fun, and sweet, in contrast, Damaged Property is much darker and sensual. The heat between Talia and Dante is unimaginable and you’ll find yourself caught up in their sexual tension, biting your nails and waiting for them to give into each other. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions with an ending that you’ll need to read to believe!

What are three books you believe everyone should take a chance on?

I read across all genres of novels, so my answer to this may seem a bit odd. But there’s something for everyone.

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover: This book BLEW ME AWAY! I wasn’t so sure about it when I first cracked it open, but I was stuck on a six-hour flight home and that was the only book on my Kindle. By the time my final plane landed in my hometown, I was literally in tears. So perfectly written by my favorite author. My goal in life is to bring Colleen Hoover to tears with one of my books as she did to me with her book.

The Project Eden series by Brett Battles: The first novel in this series, Sick, captured my attention and refused to let it go until the conclusion of the series six books later (seven books total). I’ll admit, I’m a secret lover of doomsday and apocalyptic novels, but many books I’ve read fell short of what I was looking for. Project Eden was what I was looking for!

The Pact by Jodi Picoult: Oh my gosh, this book was incredible. It was the second book I ever read by Jodi Picoult and it was the one that turned me into a lifetime fan. I love that Jodi Picoult can make you question your own morals that you thought were set in stone before opening the book. What you thought, in the beginning, is never what you think about in the end.

Aside from reading and writing, what do you do in your spare time? Any unusual hobbies?

Most days, I share the same hobbies as my three fat cats: sleep, eat, and complain. But, when I can actually talk myself into it, I love to go running outside when the Colorado weather allows for it. I’ve run two half-marathons, a few 10K’s, and an obstacle course race.

But if we’re being honest here, I love to dance and lip sync. I’m not talking about professionally. I’m talking about acting out my own music video when no one is around. Sometimes in the mirror. Sometimes in the kitchen (best place to spin in my socks). Sometimes in my office at work when the door is closed and no one is watching. It’s weird, I know. But it’s fun. In my head, I’m a superstar!

Last, but not least, what is your favourite word?

Peculiar. I like the way it rolls off your tongue, especially if you have some sort of accent. Everyone says it just a little bit differently and I love that. Plus, I tend to describe myself as peculiar and whenever I do, no one ever disagrees with me. Sort of peculiar, isn’t it?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! Congratulations on your debut release! We’re extremely excited for Finding Paradise, and we’re looking forward to reading Damaged Goods!

About the Author:vp

V.P. Ortiz lives, works, and breathes in sunny/snowy/beautiful Colorado with her loving husband, their two beautiful children, and their three fat cats. While her home may be in the Rocky Mountains, she left her heart somewhere on the island of Oahu, where she plans to retire someday in a tiny house with an avocado tree and free-range chickens. Besides reading any book in sight, her hobbies also include eating, dancing, lip syncing, and occasionally running until her husband has to pick her up eight miles away because she got lost and has a leg cramp.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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Oh man, I'm so not used to using my brain - two months of rest has made me soft. I come home from work everyday dead tired. I'm just going to put it out there that I will be pretty MIA the next two months thanks to my short term job, so sorry in advance!
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