Friday, March 25, 2016

Review- THE ALMOST GIRL by Amalie Howard

Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Pub. Date: March 15, 2016
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Source: Print ARC from Publisher
Rating: 3 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world parallel to Earth, a world that has been ravaged by a devastating android war. As a Legion General, she is the right hand of Prince Cale, the young Prince of Neospes. In her world, she's had everything: rank, responsibility, and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to rescue his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Armed with the mindset of a soldier and racing against time to bring Caden home, Riven must learn how to blend in as a girl in a realm that is the opposite of all she's ever known. Will she be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Upon reading The Almost Girl, one thing I noticed about the book was that it was achingly slow. It took me a couple of chapters to even get into the story. I don't mind world building or developing characters - they help me understand the book better. But I don't feel like I got that here. There was some info dumping that probably could have worked out a little bit better and the characters at times seemed flat and uninteresting. 

Did I like Riven? For the most part, yes. She's only ever known one thing - fight; after all, she is a general. I thought the concept was cool for involving parallel universes. Riven has come to our world to find her target - Caden, the brother of the King of Riven's world. Well, she finds him alright. But instead of just taking him and running, Riven is met with many obstacles along the way. 

This is a classic tale just told in reverse. Instead of the broody guy who wants to take the girl to her impending death and doesn't "want" the girl but secretly does, we get the broody girl. I thought that was great, Riven is a bad ass. But she's also emotionless at times...but that's not her fault. Caden was an okay character. I didn't love him and I didn't hate him. He was just...okay. 

Will I be reading the next book? Yes, absolutely. The story ended on a sort of cliffhanger and I'd like to see where Riven's story takes her.

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Buy the Book!

About the Author:
AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead.

She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts. She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her at

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blog Tour Review- SECRETS OF SOLACE (World of Solace, #2) by Jayleigh Johnson

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: March 8, 2016
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Source: Print ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

From Jaleigh Johnson, the acclaimed author of The Mark of the Dragonfly, comes another thrilling adventure in the magical world of Solace.
    Lina Winterbock lives in the mountain strongholds of Solace. She’s an apprentice to the archivists, the wise men and women whose lives are dedicated to cataloging, studying, and preserving the objects that mysteriously fall from the sky in the scrap towns.
    Lina should be spending her days with books, but the Iron War has changed everything. The strongholds are now a refuge, and the people Lina once counted on no longer have time for her, so she spends her days exploring the hidden tunnels and passages of her home. The strongholds are vast and old, with twisting paths, forgotten rooms, and collapsed chambers, some of them containing objects that have been lost and forgotten even by the archivists.
    And in one of the forgotten chambers, Lina discovers a secret.
    Hidden deep in a cavern is a half-buried airship like nothing she has ever seen before. She’s determined to dig it out and restore it. But Lina needs help, and she doesn’t know anyone she can trust with her secret.
    Then she meets Ozben, a mysterious boy who has a secret of his own—a secret that’s so dangerous it could change the course of the Iron War and the world of Solace forever.  

I'm so grateful I was contacted to review "Secrets of Solace" because its fantastically written for adults and children alike. I especially like the magical feel to the book grabbing and taking us to another world. I live for stories such as these; strong heroine, interesting plot, and the promise of something new. Sure, there were times that I thought the pacing could have been a little bit better but it was good for the most part.

Lina is studying to be an archivist. But she also has a a secret love for eavesdropping and scheming. Most of the time those things don't end very well. She meets Ozben, then mysterious boy that has a secret. That's okay because Lina also has a secret, after all her exploring, she's found an air ship. Who can she trust to help her with restoring it. That's where Ozben comes in. The two become friendly and go on an adventure that will keep readers on their toes. 

I absolutely love high fantasy. Sure, I admit, I like a little more romance in my books but this one had me intrigued from the first page. Lina was a great character to follow; she's smart, a little bit reckless, and she's just an all around fun character to read about. Ozben was cool too. Overall, I think if you're looking for a good book to read with your kid, ages 10 and up, pick this one up. It's fun and so, so good!
*Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Buy the Book!
Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields. The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home. The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible. Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.
Buy Me!!

About the Author:
Jaleigh Johnson is the author of the New York Times Bestselling novel The Mark of the Dragonfly, and The Secrets of Solace, from Delacorte Press.  Her books for the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms fiction line include The Howling DelveMistshoreUnbroken ChainThe Darker Road, and Spider and Stone. In her spare time, she is an avid gamer, and also enjoys gardening, reading and going to the movies with her husband.  Visit her online at 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Blog Tour Excerpt + Giveaway- THE HISTORY MAJOR by Michael Phillip Cash

The History Major

After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can't quite put her finger on it. She's sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she's registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Available at Amazon:

Chapter 1
    Amanda Greene lay facedown on the bed, her nose squashed against the scratchy blanket. She became aware of the smell first—musty, with the hint of sourness that comes from too much vodka on an empty stomach. She sniffed, rubbed her aching eyes, and then rolled up, the light sending darts of pain all the way to the middle of her fuzzy brain.

Groaning, she fell back and tried in vain to pull the thin cover over her gummy eyes. It was trapped beneath her body, but she continued to tug crankily.

“Shut the lights off, Danielle,” she wailed, surprised that her voice was this thin, reedy thing. She tossed restlessly, something hard digging into her thigh. She shifted, causing it to dig deeper. That’s going to bruise, she thought absently. Reaching beneath her leg, she pulled out her phone. Swiping her finger across the surface, she squinted. She propped herself onto her elbow and looked at the smudged face of her cell. Seventeen missed calls. 

She scrolled down; more than half were from her mother. What does she want? Amanda groaned, her head falling back heavily onto the mattress. They had only just reconnected, and now her newly divorced mother wouldn’t leave her alone.

“Danielle,” she said. “Kaitlyn?” She called for her two best friends. Her knee throbbed. She rubbed it absently, the skin raw and sensitive. Her rib cage screamed when she moved. Ugh, what did I do to myself? she wondered.

The phone vibrated impatiently in her hand. She looked at the illuminated screen, disappointment blooming in her sore chest when she recognized the number was not Patrick’s. Her mother. Again. Really, her mother had virtually ignored her for four years after Amanda moved back with her dad. It had taken her mother’s second divorce and the death of her beloved grandmother for them to reconnect at all. It hadn’t been all peaches and cream, either.

 Just recently they had developed a wary sense of appropriate—unless there was a phone involved, apparently. Her mother never understood boundaries. Amanda threw her phone onto the floor, wincing when it made a crunchy sound.

Something fluttered from the corner of her eye. It changed the quality of the light in the room, playing with the shadows for a second. She raised her impossibly heavy head and looked through squinting eyes, but she couldn’t quite see anything. Her head was loaded, as though it weighed too much. It fell back onto the tousled sheets. Movement by the window competed with her attention again, but she didn’t have the strength to look at it. 

Her belly spasmed with anxiety, and inexplicably, her eyelids prickled as if she were going to cry. She stretched her right hand to the messy side table, searching for her antacids, but her fingers fumbled with her collection of pill containers, all of them empty. She cursed long and loud, throwing the amber-colored container against the wall with a loud crack. Patrick had said he would reorder her prescription. 

He always took care of her, reminding her to renew her megastrength stomach meds and antianxiety pills. Yeah, well, that was before yesterday, she thought angrily. Her bottom lip trembled, but she fought the feelings of hurt and despair with deep, painful breaths. She sucked in air through her nose and exhaled slowly through her mouth. It left her lightheaded, the gut-wrenching, twisting pain persisting.


"Cash never shies away from tough topics and themes; however, in The History Major his exploration of certain thematic elements goes deeper than usual. His love of history combined with a keen sense of human nature has provided a riveting story that deals with trauma, grief, acceptance, and finding inner strength. Cash has created a multi-dimensional experience between plot and character through the exploration of dreams and historical figures. He has created a riveting sense of perplexity that lingers long after the last page and author's note.”—Bianca Schulze, Book Reviewer

"Cash intermingles beauty and violence ...It's smartly ambiguous and open to interpretation, and some may delight in a second (or third) read." Kirkus Reviews

About Michael Phillip Cash

Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning screenwriter and novelist. He’s written eleven books including the best-selling Brood X, Stillwell, The Flip, The After House, The Hanging Tree, Witches Protection Program, Pokergeist, and Battle for Darracia series. Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island. He writes full-time with his screaming monsters in the background.

Enter to win an autographed copy of The History Major, by Michael Phillip Cash; plus a Google Chromebook!

One (1) winner receives the grand prize:
  • A copy of The History Major autographed by Michael Phillip Cash.
  • An Asus Chromebook C201.

Value: $179.99

Three (3) winners receive:
  • A copy of The History Major autographed by Michael Phillip Cash.

Value: $10.99

Giveaway begins March 1, 2016, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends March 31, 2016, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

How to enter:
  • Fill out the required fields in the form below. It may take a moment to load.

This giveaway is sponsored by Michael Phillip Cash.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Blog Tour Review- TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub. Date: April 5, 2016
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Print ARC from publisher
Rating: 4.5 Stars

What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

I loved being pleasantly surprised with a book. Tell Me Three Things definitely hit the mark by being so great unexpectedly great. I honestly didn't know what to expect - the synopsis doesn't give the story my opinion anyway. Although the book is very predictable, I was still able to enjoy it. It's a romantic, cute, and fun way to have a secret admirer. Maybe even a little bit scary and exciting. I mean come on, what if it's a fifty year old man preying on a young girl? Yuck. Luckily, it's not that. You're welcome. 

Jessie has up and moved from her hometown in Chicago to sunny California, in the land of the movie stars. Her life is anything but a movie. Losing any kind of parent is terrible but imagine losing two. Jessie had lost her father to a woman he met on an online support group and quickly elopes with her. Hence the moving all the way to L.A. Rachel is a movie mogul with a huge home and douchebag son that's in the same grade as Jessie. They are everything Jessie and her dad are not - regular, middle class people. 

Life is lonely when you have no one that wants to get to know you. Being the new kid blows buckets and buckets of crap. Especially in Jessie's case. Not only is she alone but she has to deal with catty girls on top of that. The moment she receives an email from an anonymous source wanting claiming to want to be her 'spirit guide' of sorts. He goes by the name Somebody Nobody and get just...gets Jessie. Can you possibly fall in love with someone you've never met? How about someone that's hidden away through the lovely Internet? Sounds very suspicious and catfish like too.

Jessie and SN embark on a friendship that's basically just emails and then turns into IMs. We don't know who 'he' is but I can tell you now, I knew since the beginning who it was! I mean, it's I said before, it's predictable. 

It was so nice seeing Jessie develop into a character I could love - the secondary characters were just as great: Scarlett, Dri, Agnes, Ethan, Liam, and Caleb. Even though some of those characters I wish we would have gotten a little more from. I felt the voice was realistically like a teen girl but as for mister SN... At first I thought it was creepy as all get out. I would go crazy wondering whoever I was talking to, knew and watched me... It's like having a piece of food on your face, you don't see it but everyone else does. 

Overall, I think everyone should pick up this adorable and satisfying read. Readers of all ages will want to line up for the baby because it's one you can't help but fall in love with! The author is one I plan to keep a look out for: the style of writing is fun and easy to read. It's also easy to get lost in the pages. Enjoy!

Buy the book!

About the Author:
Please check out my two novels, THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE and AFTER YOU, both now out in paperback. My first YA novel, TELL ME THREE THINGS, debuts April 2016.

Please check out my website for more information about my books.

Or to follow my recent shenanigans, please check out my blog, JULIE HAS WRITER'S BLOG, at

One of my favorite things about being a novelist is the opportunity to talk to reading groups. If you are part of a reading group and would like to set up a conference call, or maybe even a meeting in person, please check out the reading group form and the reading group guide on my website.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review- THE PASSENGER by Lisa Lutz

Publisher: Simon & Shuster
Pub.Date: March 1, 2016
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Print ARC from publisher 
Rating: 3.5 Stars

From the author of the New York Timesbestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

'The Passenger' is one of those books that has an unreliable narrator. You don't know what or who to believe, and the main character only lets you know what they want you to know. In this case, our MC is a woman by the name of Tanya, who flees her home, after her husband falls from a flight stairs and dies. Tanya then works on changing her whole identity and moves to get away from who we think she is.

Because Tanya has been keeping secrets. The reader is then left in the dark and taken on a while ride as "Tanya" takes on several different identities. The most prominent to me was when she met "Blue". Another woman who sees a kind of brokenness in "Tanya" as she sees in herself. Blue...was an interesting character. In fact, she kind of scared me at times. In the end, she did become a character that I felt was very well written and multidimensional. 

I think that reviewing this book is a bit hard because I feel if I say too much, I may give things away and spoil the story for potential readers. The plot twists are done with clever thoughtfulness that will take you on a wild ride. The last time I felt so unsure of a main character was when I read 'The Girl on the Train' and that one took me for a doozy. 

While Tanya was also a multidimensional character, I couldn't bring myself to like or trust her. I don't know if this is exactly what the author wants or not, but if so, job well done! Overall, I really enjoyed this suspenseful masterpiece full of so much uncertainty. I think booklovers alike will also enjoy 'The Passenger' and all of its glory into the deception. Where you won't know what hit you when you finally learn the truth. 

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Buy the Book:
Amazon UK- (March 15, 2016)

About the author:
Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the six books in the Spellman series, How to Start a Fire, Heads you Lose (with David Hayward), and the children's book, How to Negotiate Everything (illustrated by Jaime Temairik). Her latest book, The Passenger, a psychological thriller, will be published March 2016 by Simon and Schuster. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor's degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. Lisa lives in the Hudson Valley, NY.

Cover Reveal + Giveaway- DIRTY GIRL by Allie Cooke

Today we have the cover reveals for Allie Cooke’s Dirty Girl series. I’m so excited for this novella series! Check out the gorgeous covers and make sure to preorder your copy tomorrow!! 

  DirtyGirl2 DirtyGirl2   

Title: Dirty Girls: The Velvet Rope, Part 1 
Author: Allie Cooke
 Release Day Date: March 15th 
Genre: Erotic Romance 


About Dirty Girl: Angus Boone is the devil. He lured me in, but not with candy or treats. And like the devil, he saw what no one else did. All of my sins...all of the stains on my soul. And then he smiled. I should have run...far far away. Instead I made a deal that changed us both forever.
 ***This is part one of a three-part serial*** Warning: This is non-traditional romance,with adult content, sexual situations and a non-traditional ending. Pre-order @IBooks Other links coming soon (Wednesday March 2)

Exclusive Excerpt:  
BOONE She was nothing if not predictable. I’d watched her for weeks on the security monitors, traipsing from club to club. Smiling. Flirting. Seducing. It had taken me a while to figure out her system—her game—but I hadn’t minded. It was time well spent watching her work her magic. And tonight? I knew if I was patient, my persistence would pay off, because like I said, she was nothing if not predictable.

 Ten o’clock every third Friday night at The Alibi Room. I shook my head and took a sip of my coffee, wishing I had something stronger to drink. I watched her smile at the bouncer and step inside the club, the knot in my stomach loosening and tightening by degrees. She shouldn’t be there. I shouldn’t be watching but that’s how obsessions went. 

And obsession was something I knew a lot about. As much as I hated seeing her on my screen, I couldn’t stop myself from watching her. And every time she appeared, I leaned a little closer, unable to take my eyes off of her, unable to stop myself. Unable to stop her. “Fucking stupid girl.” Tonight she wore a short gray skirt, a pink sweater, and high heels. Tonight she was all legs. 

 Tonight I was all hard-on. I licked my lips and settled in for the show, hating myself just the same. I should do something, I should stop her, I should help her, but I don’t. I shouldn’t enjoy this as much as I do.     

 About Allie Cooke: Indie author and die-hard Southern girl, Allie Cooke has been reading and writing romance since she was old enough to hold a crayon, so a future as a romance writer wasn’t very farfetched for her.

 From billionaires to blue collar, from CEO to sexy entrepreneur, whether they’re wearing jeans or suits, Allie’s always had a thing for hot, hunky Alphas who need to be saved from themselves…Usually with the help of the right woman. 

When she’s not writing, editing, or reading. Allie can be found cooking up mayhem in the kitchen or catching up on the latest and greatest TV shows with her favorite man.  

 Enter Allie’s Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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