Monday, October 16, 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

The Midnight Dance
Nikki Katz
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: October 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

When the music stops, the dance begins.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.

But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.

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My Review:

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Historical, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Teen--

Penelope has been getting intense headaches and forgetting time, unsure as to why or what is going on. At least she can count on her Grandfather to give her medical care while she is at the elite boarding school ran by the Master. Penelope is so lucky to have been one of the chosen pupils at the school, spending her time perfecting her dancing and learning useful information to make her a good conversationalist to the upper class. But is she really lucky? When she starts having strange flashes of her past, and her memories are not matching up, Penelope enlists the help of Cricket, the ever helpful (and cute) servant to try and find the truth.

I was so excited to get my hands on this book, seriously it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I am a cover lover, so when I set eyes on the gorgeousness that is the cover of the Midnight Dance, I was entranced. Add in the fact it is about dancing, a boarding school and mysterious, I knew I was going to have to read this story. The imagery was spectacular, transporting me to the time and setting as well as getting me caught up in the plot, trying to decipher what was real. This was a great balance or creepy, mysterious, dangerous, compelling and romantic.

When I first started the story I was a little uncertain because I had NO IDEA what was going on. One minute I felt I knew what was going on and got a grasp on Penny, and then the next thing I knew I was super confused and had no idea who Penny was. I was concerned that maybe my expectations had been too high and I was going to be disappointed. But then the pieces started coming together, and it made perfect since as to why I was confused, it was 100% necessary to the plot. I slowly read the first half(ish) if the book, trying to piece things together and ponder the story, but the second half of the book I flew through in one sitting, enjoying the action and twists and turn that Penny faces. It was almost as if it was two books put together, but overall I enjoyed the pacing and direction of the story.

The book starts out 20 years in the past learning about Cirillo and Beppe, two boys who have been experimenting of medical science, potentially to better mankind. I had no idea how that​ played a role in Penelope's life, but sporadically more chapters were thrown in that led up to the conclusion and explained a lot of motivations in the story. Is it bad that I felt for Cirillo, or a mark of a really talented author, that makes you question the motives of the villain and maybe empathize (ok, I will admit that I am a sucker for a well crafted bad guy, maybe it's a character flaw of mine)? It was a really great way of revealing the mystery aspect of the book that kept the reader guessing while giving motive as well.

This was my first book by Nikki and I really enjoyed her writing style as well as the uniqueness of the plot. This is a complete story so no sequel but I will definitely be looking forward to whatever else Nikki wants to create! This is a great choice for anyone looking for a creepy mystery with a romantic flair.

I received this title for reviewing purposes.

Author Bio:

Nikki Katz is an author and editor living in sunny San Diego with her three children. With a BS in aerospace engineering, Nikki first put her writing skills to use publishing four nonfiction books. She moved on to writing young adult fiction, her favorite genre to read as well. The Midnight Dance is her debut novel.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blog Tour Dream Cast & Giveaway: Marked Beauty by S.A. Larsen

Book Blurb:

Title: Marked Beauty

Author: S.A. Larsen

Publisher: Ellysian Press

Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.

Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger. As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

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Coming up with a dream cast for the book was a dream in itself. I had so much fun! I hope you enjoy…

Anastasia Tate

(Empath: daughter to Roy Tate & love interest to Viktor)

Katherine Langford

(image credit)

Viktor Castle

(Mystery & love interest to Ana)

Ryan Guzman

(image credit)

Josh Tucker

(Neighbor & self-appointed big brother to Ana)

Uriah Shelton

(image credit)

Katee Davenport

(Best friend to Ana)

Dove Cameron

(image credit)

Roy Tate

(Fire fighter dad to Ana)

Chris Hemsworth

(image credit)

Callista

(Villain – shares past with Viktor & sister to Caspian)

Amber Heard

(image credit)

Caspian

(Leader of the Dusk Court & brother to Callista)

Leonardo DiCaprio

(image credit)

Greycious Miller

(Leader of the Solstice League, uncle to Viktor, & father to Kahl & Roxi)

Michael Sheen

(image credit)

Eliza Miller

(Aunt to Viktor, wife to Greycious, & mother to Kahl & Roxi)

Kate Beckinsale

(image credit)

Roxi Miller

(Cousin to Viktor & sister to Kahl)

Kristin Kreuk

(image credit)

Kahl Miller

(Cousin to Viktor & brother to Roxi)

Alexander Ludwig

(image credit)

Justice

(Lives with the Miller Family & brother to Mercedes)

Avan Jogia

(image credit)

Mercedes

(Lives with the Miller Family & sister to Justice)

Bella Thorne

(image credit)

Author Bio:

S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at www.salarsenbooks.com.

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Release Party Giveaway:

What better way to celebrate a book birthday then by a giveaway! There are many ways to enter, which you'll find below. You can win an iTunes, Amazon, or Starbucks gift card, an authentic Vera Bradley Little Crossbody in Cobalt Tile, an assortment of bookish swag, and even a KINDLE Fire HD 7"! The giveaway runs from release day, October 17, 2017 to December 5, 2017. Winners will be announced via social media December 7, 2017.

*No purchase necessary to win*

However, if you have read Marked Beauty or purchase it and read you can earn extra entries by posting a review on any major online retail bookstore and Goodreads! All the information you'll need is in the form below.

BUT there's more...

FOR WRITERS!

Writers who enter can WIN a first five pages critique!

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Blog Tour provided by Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours

Blog Blitz & Giveaway: The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr

The Cutting Room Floor
Dawn Klehr
Publication date: October 13th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult

Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley

Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she’s publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.

Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn’t know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez’s web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.

Goodreads / Amazon


Author Bio:

Dawn Klehr is the author of the young adult thrillers: The Cutting Room Floor and If You Wrong Us.

She began her career in TV news and though she’s been on both sides of the camera, she prefers to lurk behind the lens. Mostly, she loves to get lost in stories –in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book.

Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blog Blitz & Giveaway: The Beautiful Dead by Jun Prince

The Beautiful Dead
Jun Prince
Publication date: September 22nd 2017
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal

Yubin knows she’s different than the other girls in the pop group SIITY. Yes, they all got sucked into the same machine, giving up schooling and signing ridiculously long contracts before anyone knew if they’d be successful, but that’s how pop stars are made in Korea. Yubin is supposed to be thankful for that, but she isn’t. She doesn’t even like the girls she performs with.

She’s more connected to her former schoolmate Jieun, even though all they ever dois text. Over the last two months, Jieun has become her confidant and best friend, connecting Yubin to the real world in a way she desperately needs. Now that SIITY is going to appear on the reality show The Incredible Race: Asia, Yubin will need that connection more than ever, which is why she’s devastated to discover Jieun has been dead five years and is actually haunting her.

If that weren’t enough, Yubin’s not the only SIITY member with issues. Rena’s father is emotionally abusive. Somi has a learning disability, and after a near death experience, Tae-eun becomes a nine-tailed fox woman. The only way they’ll survive theshow, each other, and the supernatural currents buffeting them is to work together and win the hearts of their fans. Because if they don’t, they have nothing to go back to even if they survive what’s trying to kill them.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

She was still unaccustomed to spirit combat, but a small tempest swirled in the underworld around her. Humans too felt the wind she created, their muscles tightened, and more than a few quickened their pace to evade the chill. Scraps of litter spiraled over real world concrete, and whips of black hair whirled in an angry nimbus around Jieun’s face.

The shadowman looked up. She’d expected empty pits of darkness where eyes should have been, but when the creature ceased feeding, a set of all too human brown eyes that now lacked eyelids appeared in the monster’s head. They contrasted with the rest of its body in that while the majority of the creature lurked in shadow that was darker than everything else in the Dead World, these two spheres burned as if absorbing all the spirit light that should have detailed the shadowman’s body. The flow of spirit energy that connected its ugly mouth to the girl stopped, and the ghost realized that she held the creature’s attention.

The shade of an eerily human face like black paint on even blacker canvas contorted in what could have just as easily been taken for triumph or rage. It unleashed an otherworldly snarl that was anything but human and charged Jieun. Though it had a man’s body, it rushed in an inhuman lope on all fours that seemed more like an animal. Jieun darted out of the way—it wasn’t a conscious thing, and the instinct may well have saved her dead life. If she hadn’t known before, alarm she felt made her certain; ghosts could die a second death.

She whirled after the attack expecting the shadowman behind her but it had vanished. She sighed in relief. Then, without warning she saw the black shape leap from the roof of a magazine stand just outside the subway station. She cried out in alarm, and before its feet had touched the ground its giant mouth fastened on her shoulder. The weight of the attack forced her to the ground, and in a moment of dawning horror she realized it was impossible to escape.

She shrieked. The pain was beyond anything she imagined possible for a spirit to experience. It wasn’t like trailing her fingers through the wall, or even passing completely through a physical object. Those pains were an affirmation of life, cold shocks that, while not comfortable, served as a reminder that she was still in some sense alive. The feeling of her spirit body being torn apart by the shadowman’s teeth seemed as if the devil had run away with God’s scalpel and used it to peel thick ribbons of her soul away from creation.

Though the shadowman looked like and had similar features to a man, it made low growls that were far distant from human speech. It wasn’t a language at all – if it had been she’d have instinctually understood it. It shook its head like a starved wolf and further tore into the fabric of firelines that composed her spirit body. Its breath smelled ofrotten flesh, and she could hear the pulse of bestial rhythmic snorting in her ears. She needed a weapon. She didn’t have one. This was it. Jieun would die… this time for real.

Author Bio:

Jun has lived in Asia for the better part of the last decade. During his years in Korea, he made a point of learning about and getting as close to the Korean entertainment industry as possible while writing his first novel "The Beautiful Dead." He enjoys telling stories about monstrous humans and humanized monsters.

He has a MFA from the University of California: Riverside, graduated with a BA in English Cum Laude from the University of Washington Seattle, and attended Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea as an exchange student.

Visit Jun on Facebook at:
http://www.facebook.com/JunPrinceAuthor/


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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

Book Blurb:

A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

Publication Date: October 2, 2017

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Life is funny sometimes.

And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer.

I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom.

And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die.

So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled

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From the outside, it must have looked like a weird improv girl about to lie right on top of a strange boy. Onstage. In front of almost two hundred people.

We had been doing near-acrobatics for the past two minutes. Snippets popped into my mind—entangled arms, wrapped legs, arched backs. My brain processed the building energy of the audience, the rising laughter, the hoots and whistles, and I realized our scene must have looked like an epic dry-humping session.

Mortification enveloped me, like all the naked, peeing nightmares of childhood but without the happy escape of waking. I feared this might be one of those shuddery life-moments to etch a forever-home on my memory’s instant-cringe list.

And yet. The rare connection, the out-of-body-ness… I understood what it felt like to be in the moment. I also knew there was “in the moment,” focused but aware, and really in the moment, where everything outside the scene slipped away. It was what I’d read about in all our improv books—like some Holy Grail of improvisation. But I hadn’t known it was possible to totally “lose your mind” and be completely in the moment. Now I did, and it was fun.

If only it could have happened in private.

But it hadn’t. And we were still in it—I was hovering perilously close to his face, as all this flashback processed in the embarrassment quadrant of my brain in an instant. I made the mistake of looking him in the eyes.

Our faces were so close. His lips formed a shy grin on one side, revealing a single, irresistible, dimple. We cracked up, and I released the rest of my weight onto him in a fit of nervous laughter, my head falling in the crook between his neck and shoulder. My nose informed me I had a new favorite smell. As he brushed off some of my hair that had fallen in his face, his arm mashed against me in a nice and only slightly suffocating kind of way, and he shouted, “Will someone please yell freeze already?”

Someone from the audience yelled, “No! We’re waiting for you to do it.”

“Yeah!” the whole audience agreed in unison.

And then they chanted, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

Oh my God. It hit me that I was, in fact, still laying on top of him. Super speedily I stopped sniffing him like some crazed wildebeest and jumped up, only to be left standing downstage, caught and bewildered, a flush of embarrassment crying out like a face tattoo.

I decided I really should quit improv.

It would make life so much easier.

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My Review:

4.5 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Heart-Wrenching, Hysterical, Romance, Teen--

​Ellie is ready to enjoy her senior year of high school, perform in her improve comedy group and maybe talk to the cute boy, Jason, she just met (if she can cure herself of saying awkward comments to him!). But it seems like life has other plans for her when she ends up falling and passing out at a party while talking to said cute boy. Ellie is now facing a struggle for her life, the only things keeping her together is her sense of humor and her close friends and family. How can she even think of having a boyfriend when her life is up in the air.

I love cancer books, I seriously grew up on Lurlene McDaniel's stories, where all the main characters have an illness that may result in death (hence my family referencing them as "my death books"). No, I am not morbid, but something about the life and death struggle really speaks to me and it is just so life affirming, emotional and surprisingly uplifting. When I found this book and read the synopsis, I knew I needed to read this story, and it didn't hurt that the cover was so pretty! Ugh, the feels that this story brought to me! The story tugged on my heartstrings, making me so confused as to if I wanted to cry or laugh. This was such a well balanced read to not overwhelm the reader with sorrow but at the same time bring forth the seriousness of Ellie's struggle. I want a copy of this book to own so I can hug it to my chest and re-read my favorite parts when I miss it.

​I love how humor was used in the story, be it something big and in your face such as the hilarity of the Spanish music video they discovered or the subtle little comments (Ellie's mental-and verbal- tangents were the best!) I found so endearing.

​For example:

"...he had a particularly charming way of holding scissors. A charming way of holding scissors? Maybe there was a brain tumor in my brain."

"Mom returned and we were released with a bag of drugs, two crutches, one swollen leg (and a partridge in a pear tree)."

"'It wouldn't be wrong. He's not my brother. I mean, it would be wrong, but not because of bloodlines. What I mean is, it would be spiritually, chemically, emotionally, physically wrong. Anyway. We better find our parents- one of his and one of mine. He's my stepbrother.' With that Toast-Masters-worthy speech I wriggled out of his bear clasp and turned around."

"It was so absurd that I couldn't stop my first thought from popping out of my mouth. 'Really? That's so weird- I love sugar. Cancer and I must have a lot in common.'"

"It was a disco disaster. But the shimmies, the glitter, the commitment! There's a saying in improv: if you're going to fail, fail big."

Seriously, there were so many parts I wanted to share in my review, it took forever for me to pick just a few to include. So the take home message here is that I wanted to share the whole book which really means that I just need everyone to experience this story as well.

This was a very character driven story which I am always up for and the cast of characters here were so fun and quirky. Of course we have Ellie, our brave heroine who is trying to figure out how to keep going on and to do the right thing while her world is crashing around her. Besides Ellie, I think my favorite character was Craig- the unwanted step-brother who became like her real brother. When he hugged her at the hospital when she was first admitted and just let her sob on him was the moment I knew I loved Craig. Her two friends Quinn and Hana, as well as her mom, were the best support system imaginable. And then there is strong, reliable and sweet Jason with comments like "Plus, Mom told me to always follow my heart. To follow love". If that is not swoon worthy, I am not sure what is.

This was such a feel good story with lots of heart and a much needed romance. I would love to read more from this author because she has a may of creating people that I feel like know and connect to. Pick this book up if you want to laugh and possibly cry but overall be swept up in the journey Ellie takes.

I received this title for reviewing purposes.

Author Bio:

Sara Jade Alan wrote her first comedy sketch during second grade recess, then cast it, directed it, and made costumes out of garbage bags. Since then, she has performed in over a thousand improvised and scripted shows all over the country. When she lived in New York City with her college improv group, she worked as an assistant to a best-selling author of young adult novels featuring strong female heroes and was completely inspired by her books and the awesomeness of her teen fans. Spending a year on crutches, Sara turned to writing her own young adult stories and was hooked. Currently, she is one-half of the comedy duo, The Novelistas, who perform about writing and teach performance to writers. Hailing from a suburb of Chicago, Sara now lives in Colorado with her husband—who she met in that college improv group—and daughter, who they waited a bunch of years to make. She is a member of and guest instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

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