HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY | ARC REVIEW | The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair

HAPPY RELEASE DAY, KATHARYN BLAIR!!

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Title: THE BECKONING SHADOW (THE BECKONING SHADOW #1)

Author: KATHARYN BLAIR

Released: 2ND JULY 2019 by KATHERINE TEGEN BOOKS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY | CONTEMPORARY

TWs: Anxiety, violence, death/murder, house fire


Vesper Montgomery can summon your worst fear and turn it into a reality—but she’s learned the hard way that it’s an addicting and dangerous power. One wrong move and you could hurt someone you love.

But when she earns a spot in the Tournament of the Unraveling, where competitors battle it out for a chance to rewrite the past, Vesper finally has a shot to reverse the mistakes that have changed her forever. She turns to Sam Hardy, a former MMA fighter who’s also carrying a tragedy he desperately wants to undo. However, helping heal Sam’s heart will mean breaking her own, and the competition forces her to master her powers—powers she has been terrified of since they destroyed her life.


Before I tell you how I found The Beckoning Shadow, let me first say that I did NOT realise this was not a standalone… It is only a duology, but I wanted to let you all know before you pick it up. Especially because book 2 probably isn’t out until at least next year. I definitely thought it was worth the read!

I’m going to be really honest here… I only chose this because I loved the cover. I mean, a badass girl fighter (plus, the colour scheme) says great things about what’s inside the pages, right? Well, I was pretty spot on! I mean, Supernatural Fight Club, amirite? I received this awhile ago and when I picked it up I had mostly forgotten the synopsis. So, I decided to jump straight in since publication was coming up and I was not disappointed. I devoured it in 2 days, and the only reason it took me that long was because I had to work full days! In a word, unputdownable!

I really enjoyed the action and world building in this novel. It was a story set in San Francisco, which made me nostalgic for my college years.. By turns, seedy and classy, we see a multi-faceted city with depth and heart. it flows so well, and we can clearly see Katharyn Blair is a master wordsmith in the way her descriptions tug at heartstrings along the way. We get so much backstory without it being information overload, so that we are able to see a fuller picture of how Vesper arrives at the beginning to this novel. The characters nearly jumped off the page they were so full of life. Vesper (a very distinctive name) has her flaws, but still wants to forge relationships with the people she meets, even when she actively tries to push them away. Sam surprised me in a lot of ways, which I can’t explain without spoilers!! So, enjoy him. And the other Oddities – Sapphira, Aldrick, and the others they meet along the way – are so interesting! I loved this found family! I appreciated the sheer amount of abilities involved in the story. I’m not going to regurgitate the plot here, but suffice it to say I loved it! It was well constructed and unique, if not entirely original. Ultimately, I was hugely satisfied with this story, and would have been happy with the ending had it been a standalone. So, no, there’s no major cliffhangers here, but I imagine we’ll all want to stick around for the resolution!


Thank you to Harper 360 YA UK for this ARC.

ARC REVIEW | All We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter

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Title: ALL WE COULD HAVE BEEN

Author: T.E. CARTER

Released: 23RD APRIL 2019 by FEIWEL & FRIENDS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY

Rep: LGBTQ+ | TWs: PTSD, anxiety, depression, violence, gore, death/murder.


WOW!

Just wow…

This story has so much soul from start to finish. I found it difficult to put down even to do life things! I read it in bed, in the bath, in the car (but only when I wasn’t driving), and everywhere in between. I was very close to calling into work, but then I just stayed up entirely too late to finish. Have I gotten your attention yet? Basically, you need to read this as soon as you can!

Like the synopsis says, it’s a strong discussion on our assumptions about people based on the way they look or seem. We should be way less focused on how people appear and maybe try to put a little more emphasis on getting to know the heart of people. Lexie has always been harshly judged because she looks and acts differently to her peers, but that’s her way of coping with her PTSD. She feels she needs to do those things in order to get through her life.

The portrayal of Lexie’s anxiety, depression, and PTSD are phenomenal. They are so realistic and don’t shy away from the darker side of those afflictions. The author also keeps the reader in the dark for the first bit of the story, which really added to my interest. I felt like I had to keep reading until the end to find out what happened to make Lexie the way she is, and then to find out her resolution at the end. It’s a massive page turner, but it does have a lot of darkness, too. I found her relationships (and the romance) made it that bit more realistic. While she didn’t have to have the romance aspect to overcome her challenges, I felt the support she had because of it only added to the story.

This has been one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s so emotional and powerfully written. I had to give this five stars without a doubt.


Five years ago, Lexie walked home from school after her older brother failed to pick her up. When she entered her house, her brother sat calmly, waiting for the police to come arrest him for the heinous crime he had just committed.

Treated like a criminal herself, Lexie now moves from school to school hiding who she is—who she’s related to. She struggles with loving her brother, the PTSD she now suffers from, and wanting to just live a normal life. But how can she be normal when she can’t even figure out how to just live?

This is a powerful look at the assumptions we make about people. Lexie’s emotional journey to separate her brother’s horrific act from herself is stunning and heartbreaking. This is Lexie’s story and journey—not her brother’s—and it will stay with you long after you turn the last page.


Thank you to Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley for this ARC.

five stars

ARC REVIEW | On the Rocks by Kandi Steiner

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Title: ON THE ROCKS

Author: KANDI STEINER

Released: 13TH JUNE 2019 by KANDI STEINER

Genre: CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE


These characters had my attention from the off! I really loved Noah and Ruby Grace (well, maybe not Ruby Grace at first, but I came around). The (not so) minor characters are are also strong enough to have a story of their own! Kandi has this way of writing that just draws you in and then you’re addicted until the last drop. She always surprises you, as well. You may think you know what’s coming next, but you don’t –  trust me on this. And that is just part of her charm.

This story is one about whiskey, forbidden love, strong-minded women, and soft-hearted men. It’s also one that burrows into your soul and won’t let you go. You will feel all the emotions while reading this! I love when an author can make me laugh, cry, and want to throw the book (ahem…Kindle) at the wall all in the same story. Kandi does it every.single.time… I highly encourage you to pick this up as soon as you can because I think you’ll love it, even if it pisses you off!


Noah Becker is nothing but trouble.

That’s what Mama told me when I was a kid, kicking his pew in church and giggling at the games we’d play. It’s what the town said when his father died and the Becker brothers went wild.

And it’s on repeat in my mind the day I walk into the whiskey distillery where he works to buy a wedding gift for my fiancé.

He’s trouble.
Dirty, sweaty, rude trouble.

No matter how many times I repeat it, I can’t escape Noah in our small Tennessee town. And the more I run into him, the more he infuriates me. Because he sees what no one else does.

He sees me—the real me.

The me I’m not sure I’m allowed to be.

I’m Ruby Grace Barnett, the mayor’s daughter. Soon to be a politician’s wife, just like Mama and Daddy always wanted.  Soon to fulfill my family’s legacy, just like I always knew I would.

Until the boy everyone warned me about makes me question everything, like whether the wedding I’m planning is one I even want.

Everyone says Noah Becker is nothing but trouble.

If only I had listened.

four stars

ARC REVIEW | The Irish Lottery by Sienna Blake

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Title: THE IRISH LOTTERY

Author: SIENNA BLAKE

Released: 18TH JUNE 2019 by SB PUBLISHING

Genre: CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE


This was my first Sienna Blake novel and I was not disappointed! I was surprised to find she also lives here in Dublin, though! So cool ❤

I wish my Irish story was as exciting as this! Alas, I have a pretty cute, yet bland story of my own. That being said, The Irish Lottery is so cute and worth the read! I really connected with the main character, Aubrey, and loved her connection with Noah. He’s just the best Irish character I think I’ve ever read -swoon-. I would be happy to just read about his daily life.

The plot of TIL was interesting and original, while also being completely unexpected. I couldn’t put it down for the most part. There were a few places I got a tad bored, but that’s probably only because the rest of the story was so good! The secondary characters were also very multi-faceted and I really enjoyed reading about the side relationships, as much as the main ones. I hope there are going to be other stories about the rest of the Gallagher clan! Will have to wait and see!


Keep reading for your chance to WIN!

 

Four hot Irish brothers

ready to play out your ultimate fantasy…

Noah

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Our ma is sick and this lottery is the only way to raise that much money quickly.

But when my best friend in the whole world, the girl I’ve secretly loved for years, turns up as the winner I cannot believe it.

When I read the secret fantasy she’s submitted I almost choke.

She just wants us to give her what she’s never had…

…an O.

This could be the very thing I need to convince her that we should be more than friends. I could give her what she wants—the sexiest night of her life…and more.

I just hope she’s happy when she finds out who’s behind the mask. 

The Irish Lottery is a full-length standalone friends-to-lovers contemporary romance.

Grab The Irish Lottery at this special Release price!

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR COPY!


About the author

Sienna Blake is a dirty girl, a wordspinner of smexy love stories and an Amazon Top 20 & USA Today Bestselling Author.

She lives in Dublin, Ireland, where she enjoys reading, keeping fit and adding to her personal harem of Irish hotties 😉

Get her bestselling Bound duet as a ‘Thank you’ gift when you join her sexy subscribers: bit.ly/FreeBoundDuet


ENTER TO WIN! 

A paperback copy of The Irish Lottery

A tin of Butlers Assorted Chocolates

A $25 Amazon gift card! 

ENTER HERE http://bit.ly/2MQB27Z

 

four stars

REVIEW | The Forgotten Girl: A Thriller by Rio Youers

Title: THE FORGOTTEN GIRL

Author: RIO YOUERS

Released: 28TH MAY 2019 by TITAN BOOKS

TWs Graphic violence and body horror. Gore; On the page character death, parental death; Behavior and descriptive language akin to self harm, and references to such; Reference to suicide and suicidal ideation.

Genre: ADULT THRILLER | SCI-FI | HORROR


This was an awesome novel! It more than met my expectations and I truly enjoyed it. I’ve never read Youers before, but after this I’ll definitely be adding him to my list of authors to watch! I am so glad I was able to pick this up.

The plot was so interesting and unique. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything quite like this. There is so much life, and death, in The Forgotten Girl. I found myself thinking about this story even when I wasn’t reading, and there were several times I kicked myself for not bringing it along with me to read in my downtime.

The characters were so real and the writing actually made me feel I was in the room with them dodging bullets and engaging in high speed car chases! Even the secondary characters were so well written and captivating.

It is such a page-turner and I urge you to pick this up as soon as possible! It will surprise you in the best way.


“She possesses a unique and powerful ability. Just like we can erase data from a computer hard drive, Sally can erase memories from a person’s mind.”

Abducted and brutally beaten by a group of thugs, street performer Harvey Anderson is convinced he’s a victim of mistaken identity when they demand to know the location of his girlfriend, Sally Starling. Harvey Anderson has been single for years. 

She dominated my dreams. Sometimes as a lover, more often as a scared, lonely girl running from something that slathered and swooped. I woke with her name on my lips, clutching the empty half of the bed, knowing beyond all doubt that she should have been next to me. 

Aided by his thugs, a sinister man known as “the spider” has tracked Sally to Harvey. He has pursued her for nine years, desperate to possess her remarkable talents. Yet emotion runs deeper than memory, and so Harvey goes looking for a woman he loves but can’t remember, and encounters a danger beyond anything he could ever imagine.


Thank you so much to Lydia Gittens at Titan Books for the review copy!

ARC REVIEW | Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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Title: WILDER GIRLS

Author: RORY POWER

Released: 9TH JULY 2019 by DELACORTE PRESS

REP: LGBTQ+ | TWs taken from https://itsrorypower.com/wilder-girls/: Graphic violence and body horror. Gore; On the page character death, parental death, and animal death, though the animals are not pets; Behavior and descriptive language akin to self harm, and references to such; Food scarcity and starvation. Emesis; A scene depicting chemical gassing; Reference to suicide and suicidal ideation; Non-consensual medical treatment.

Genre: YA HORROR


This story made me highly uncomfortable and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. We really need a lot more novels that explore what people are able to become, even when it’s not nice to examine. Wilder Girls is a story about a boarding school in which the entire community is affected by something they’ve taken to calling the Tox, but they don’t know exactly what it is or how it came to affect them.

My favourite thing about this story is that it focused on female friendships rather than romance or anything else. Girls are so strong when we lift each other up and have each other’s backs! The POV switches between Hetty and Byatt, two of the main three girls. The triumvirate rounded out by Reese. The relationships between each are very different and seem to be held together by Byatt, so you can imagine how messy it gets once Byatt is gone…

The girls are so flawed! Not only are they conscious of that fact, but they’re also allowed to be so! There’s definitely a discussion on the ideals of society as regards young women in there. The only thing I’d change is getting more answers about all the things I still have questions about, because damn, I need to know!! There are so many things to love about this, though! The atmosphere, the girls, the plot, the tension throughout, and the not knowing what will come next! Rory Power just made my list of auto-buy. I just love her writing

Hands down a FIVE STAR read for me.

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It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.


Thank you so much to Rory Power + Delacorte Press for the ARC.

five stars

ARC REVIEW | Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

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Title: WAITING FOR TOM HANKS

Author: KERRY WINFREY

Released: 11TH JUNE 2019 by BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Genre: ROMANCE


I don’t know if you’ve all noticed, but I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump these last few weeks. Between being so busy with my business and just life, reading some really wonderful books in the last few months, and feeling generally overwhelmed, I just haven’t been interested in much I’ve picked up. Enter Waiting for Tom Hanks, stage left…and I immediately felt pulled into this story!

Annie is a college graduate who thought she’d be further in life, love, and her career at this stage than she has gotten; however, her life hasn’t gone to plan. I must say, I didn’t love her as much as I expected I would, but she was necessary to the story. I wish she’d been a little bit of a stronger character, but I still enjoyed her. I loved her best friend Chloe, though! She was hilarious, down to earth, and totally not afraid of calling Annie on her bullshit when needed! Annie has some very high standards – her ideal man owns a houseboat, after all – and will settle for nothing less! Meaning she is waiting for her own Tom Hanks to show up in her life. I guess she’s lucky a romcom is being filmed in her hometown!

Drew is a very famous movie star who is cast in previously mentioned romcom, and Annie hates this idea of this jokester ruining this movie. So, obviously, she pre-judges him. There’s more to him than she knows, though. Turns out he’s a way better man than the gossip sites portray *shock*. She views their interactions way differently than himself and they take a little while to sort things out. But once they do, it’s magic! I loved them together and felt they were a really great match. AND THAT GRAND GESTURE – BE STILL MY HEART!

There are several minor characters I loved throughout -Uncle Don, Nick, and Tommy, to name just a few. They really gave the story added depth. I truly loved Kerry Winfrey’s storytelling and world-building. She’s a massively talented author, and I cannot wait to see what she gives us next!

This was a cute, fun story that kept me highly entertained start to finish! I just want to read Annie’s screenplay, now!

Definitely a FOUR STAR read for me. Keep reading for an excerpt!


A rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man learns that life doesn’t always go according to a script in this delightfully charming and funny novel.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?

EXCERPT (Chapter 4)

I blink a few times, staring straight into Drew Danforth’s face. It’s like when you’re a kid and there’s a solar eclipse, and all the teachers are like, “Don’t look directly into the sun! You’ll destroy your retinas!” but there’s always that one kid (Johnny Berger, in our class) who can’t stop staring.

In this situation, I’m Johnny Berger. And I guess Drew Danforth is the sun.

“Are you okay?” he asks again, enunciating his words even more as if me understanding him is the problem. His brown eyes, I notice, are flecked with tiny bits of gold, which is something you can’t see when you watch him on TV. His hair is just as voluminous as it seems in pictures, but in person, I have the almost overwhelming urge to touch it, to reach out and pull on that one lock of hair that hangs over his forehead.

“She’s not responding.” He turns to Chloe. “Is something wrong?”

“She’s French,” Chloe says without missing a beat. “She only speaks French.”

“I’m not French,” I say, breaking my silence. Chloe and Drew’s heads swivel to look at me.

“I’m sorry about your coat,” I whisper, then I run toward Nick’s.

Chloe bursts in the door behind me, the bell jingling in her wake. “I’m not French?” she screeches. “Those are the first words you spoke to Drew Danforth? Really?”

“Well then, why did you tell him I was French?” I shout, ignoring the curious stares of everyone working on their laptops and the calming melody of whatever Nick put on to replace the Doobies.

“I don’t know!” She throws her hands in the air. “You weren’t talking, so I thought I’d give you an interesting backstory!”

I put my hands over my face. “This is ridiculous.”

“No,” Chloe says, grabbing me by the shoulders. “This is your meet-cute, and now you need to go back out there and find him and say something that isn’t a negation of your Frenchness or an apology for destroying his probably very expensive coat.”

“Meet what?”

Nick stares at us from behind the counter, a dishtowel in his hand.

“A meet-cute,” Chloe stands up straight, shoulders back, as if she’s delivering a Romantic Comedy 101 lecture to Nick and his patrons, “is the quirky, adorable, cute way the hero and heroine of a romantic comedy meet.”

Everyone stares at her blankly.

“Or hero and hero. Or heroine and heroine. Not to be heteronormative,” she clarifies.

“Like how me and Martha met at her wedding,” Gary says.

Chloe thinks about it. “I don’t know that I would necessarily call that one a meet-cute, but sure, Gary.”

“Did you just make that up?” Nick asks, arms crossed.

I shake my head. “No. It’s a thing.”

“Watch a romantic comedy, dude,” Tobin says.

Nick rolls his eyes.

“Anyway,” Chloe continues, “Annie straight up ran into Drew Danforth and spilled a cup of coffee all over his coat, which is, like, the cutest of meets.”

“That doesn’t sound very cute,” Nick says skeptically, rubbing the scruff on his chin. “Was it still hot?”

“Scalding,” I say, sinking into my chair and resting my head on the table.

“Sounds like a meet painful,” says Gary, and a few people laugh.

“Thanks,” I mutter. “I’m so glad you all find my embarrassment entertaining.”

“Annie!” Chloe sits down across from me as a customer walks in and the rest of the shop stops paying attention to us. “This isn’t embarrassing. This is merely a story I’ll tell in my toast at your wedding to Drew.”

I lift my head to look at her. “I hate to break this to you, but I don’t think he’s my Tom Hanks. I think he’s just a famous guy with a possible third-degree burn on his chest. And now my first day on set is going to be super awkward because I accidentally assaulted the lead actor with a beverage.”

Chloe’s about to say something, but then a song starts and she closes her mouth, looking up toward the speakers. “I swear to God, I told Nick not to play any more Bon Iver. It makes people look up their exes on Instagram, not buy coffee. I’m gonna go put on some Hall and Oates.”

As she walks away, I rest my head on the table again. As if it wasn’t embarrassing enough to have my uncle get me a job on set, now I have to deal with this.


Thank you so much to Kerry Winfrey + Berkley Publishing Group for the ARC.

four stars