Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge

 

Deadly Sweet (Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge

Published by: Ink Monster LLC

Publication date: January 16, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Page Count: 270

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: eARC from Xpresso Book Tours

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo


For fans of Hex Hall, The Magicians, Practical Magic, and Food Wars!

Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Too bad one wants witchcraft on their campus. Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with rejection letter after rejection letter.

Desperate to escape her dead-end future, Anise contacts the long-lost relative she’s not supposed to know about. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl.
The Spellwork Syndicate rules the local witches in Taos, but as “accidents” turn into full-out attacks on Anise’s life, their promises to keep her safe are less and less reassuring. Her cranky bodyguard is doing his best, but it’s hard to fight back when she has no idea who’s the enemy. Or why she became their target.
If Anise can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brûlée.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?


I’ve received an eARC for an unbiased and honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author/publisher for providing the eARC.

 

With a cup of sugar and a heavy dose of magic, Deadly Sweet will entice your inner sweet tooth. So get your sweatpants and your candy ready. You’re in for a fun and delicious time.

Anise Wise lives in a world where society knows of the supernatural world, and no one will accept her because she’s a witch. She finally gets her chance to prove herself when her great aunt offers her a chance to be an apprentice at the bakery in Taos, New Mexico. But as she settles in, her life is threatened by an unknown force. And her dream of becoming a baker may just have a higher price than her she thought: her life.

I’m not surprised to learn that the author is a baker herself. From the first chapter, you see the passion Lola has for not only her writing but also her baking. She makes me want to find the nearest bakery and splurge on sweet delights. Deadly Sweet is an easy and entertaining read. Lola weaves together both magic and baking and creates an interesting beginning to her new urban fantasy series, the Spellwork Syndicate.

Witch-centred series can go either way: strong women guiding the next generation or power-hungry ones who refuse to bend. I can see the start of the former. I love the matriarchy in this book. It’s a refreshing feeling to see woman supporting and protecting other women and girls. And that aspect to the book builds a solid foundation for this series. You don’t see women insulting others. They are there to protect, love, support, and grow together. More importantly, they are a family. And you can’t imagine how happy I was when Anise first arrives.

Lola presents appealing characters who are growing into their own. You see their strengths, weaknesses, and fears. Anise is a strong-willed witch who isn’t afraid to walk into danger. But this strength has a downfall though. She often doesn’t see that danger until it threatens her life and others around her. She needs some developing, but she is a relatable and, dare I say, an authentic character who wants to find who she is.

The first instalment in this series has a touch of mystery to it. You go along with Anise as she finds out who is out to get her. And even if the antagonist is predictable and not strongly developed, I enjoyed reading her story. I was hoping for more world building. There are too many unanswered questions. And while the author’s world is engaging, I wanted a bit more from this paranormal life.

If you’re looking for an engaging witch story and craving your next cupcake, Deadly Sweet will entertain you. I’m interested to see where Anise goes from here.


Author’s Bio

Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University–and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.

Author’s Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 


Giveaway

This giveaway is a tad different from other book tours. In this one, you get the chance to win a a Deadly Sweet prize pack and a Treat House 12 pack. If you’re looking for yummy treats, ENTER HERE.

 


Tour Schedule

Don’t miss out on this tour. Check out the other reviews and posts here:

January 15th
Kindle and Me >> Guest post
It’s a Book Life >> Review
Belle’s Book Blog >> Review
Stuffed Shelves >> Review

January 16th
Butterfly-o-Meter Books >> Guest post
Book Reviews Express >> Review
Novels & Necklaces >> Review
Adventures in Writing >> Review

January 17th
Girls With Books >> Excerpt
Movies, Shows, & Books >> Review
Novelties >> Review
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
Sincerely Karen Jo >> Review

January 18th
Booker T’s Farm: Books & Nails & Puppy Dog Tales >> Review
Whatever You Can Still Betray >> Excerpt
Bibliobibuli YA >> Guest post
Rabid Reads >> Interview
Touch My Spine Book Reviews >> Review

January 19th
The Avid Reader >> Review
A British Bookworm’s Blog >> Review
Desert Rose Reviews >> Review
Dani Reviews Things >> Interview
The Genre Minx Book Reviews >> Review

 

Blog Tour Review: Hinder by Kristin Ping

 

Hinder by Kristin Ping

Published by: Fire Quill

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Page Count:

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: eARC from Xpresso Book Tours

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Ethan Sutcliff seems like a normal seventeen-year-old—at least that’s what he’s trying to portray. In a secret society run by the Supernaturals, Ethan is what witches call a Bender. Benders are Witches’ Guardians, who are able to control a witches’ ability, bend it, or move it away from harming humans. In Ethan’s case, he is able to bend the Earth element. But at the age of fifteen, he lost all connection to it, and the reasons behind it could only mean one of two things: His Wielder is either dead, or hiding out somewhere.

Alex Burgendorf has been living in her aunt’s locket for the past sixteen years with her mother—a Fire Wielder, and her father—a Water Wielder. For sixteen years, her parents vowed to protect her, and they have, as she is the last Earth wielding witch. However, time is running out. Alex must find her Bender, or the fate of the Supernaturals might be at stake.


I’ve received an eARC for an unbiased and honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author for providing the eARC.

 

This fast-paced, high action fantasy will throw forbidden love, conflicting characters, intense passion, a secret society, and dangerous magic at you, so watch out. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book, but it has a few tricks that surprised me.

Ethan Sutcliff and Alex Burgendorf live in a dangerous supernatural world, where witches, also known as welders, are hunted down and killed. What they don’t know is that they are both their own bender, the guardians of witches, and welder. Ethan lost his bending power when he couldn’t find his welder, Alex. Simply finding each other may put their lives at risk, but their world and the people who live in it depend on just that.

I’m always a sucker for a forbidden love that will surely kill the main characters. As depressing as that thought sounds, I enjoyed reading Hinder, the first instalment in the Guardians of Monsters series. I took a chance on this book since I want to branch out to find more authors and stories. So when I started reading it, I wasn’t too sure what I got myself into. I found some scenes and character’s actions unneeded and unnecessary, and sometimes a few slow parts take away from the story. However, by the end, I warmed up to Hinder and found it to be an enjoyable read for the holidays.

Kristin creates a world of her own. Like other authors, she hides hers within ours. And she ramps up the forbidden love factor to a hundred. Both Alex and Ethan find out that if they break the law by falling in love, their love will ultimately kill them, turn them evil, or destroy the both of them. Benders and welders cannot consummate their relationship, period. So for the entire book, I was rooting for these two, even though, in the process, I was calling for their untimely death. I’m a horrible reader, but the author and her writing make you want them to fall in love. She made me hopeful, dammit.

I think I’m at this reading stage where high school stories simply don’t intrigue me anymore, so I don’t blame the author for using this overused setting. But she plays with it and makes it interesting. Kristin carries you off to a vicious but magical world. Alex and Ethan control the earth element, the most dangerous and lethal one. The world building is what fascinates me. The author throws in enough twists into her story to make it exciting. But I was hoping for a bit more character development. And the info dump might serve the readers better if it was dispersed throughout the novel, not at the beginning.

The dual POVs gives the book a refreshing outlook on the two characters. I love Alex, her strength and stubbornness, and her weaknesses. I connected with this character the most, and I wanted her to grow into her own character, which she does. Ethan, the high school’s golden boy, is also an interesting character, and I sympathized with him when he lost his mother. But I preferred him not to identify women by animals, which threw me off. But the banter between these characters is what hooks you in. And their intense attraction for each other is steamy and will keep you turning the page.

Kristin unfolds an enchanting world that has the potential to grow into a marvelous one. With a dash of teen angst and a hefty dose of magic, Hinder will surely entertain fantasy lovers who are looking for something new. I’m interested to see what’s next in this series. So go check it out!

 


Author’s Bio

Kristin resides in South Africa with her husband, two beautiful girls and two bulldogs that tries to eat her house.
She has been writing for the past eight years and her first debut novel, Hinder: A Bender’s novel will be published 2018 by Fire Quill Publishing.

When she isn’t writing, she is spending her time with her family, or trying to teach her two bulldogs to not eat her house. You can find more about Kristin at www.authorkristinping.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Giveaway

The author is giving away $75 Amazon gift card. ENTER HERE for your chance to win.

 


Tour Schedule

Don’t miss this tour. Check out the other posts here:

December 11th
Rainy Days and Pajamas >> Excerpt
What Is That Book About >> Spotlight
tfaulcbookreviews >> Interview
Mes Livres >> Excerpt
Am Kinda Busy Reading >> Review

December 12th
blogs and coffee >> Top 10 List
Girls With Books >> Excerpt
Novels & Necklaces >> Review
Tiffany Shand Author Blog >> Guest post

December 13th
Stuffed Shelves >> Review
Charmed Book Haven Reviews >> Review
The Book Club page >> Review
everywhere and nowhere >> Review

December 14th
The Page Unbound >> Excerpt
Natashareadabooks >> Excerpt
Sincerely Karen Jo >> Review

December 15th
The Avid Reader >> Review
Loves Great Reads >> Excerpt
Hawthorn Book Reviews >> Review
Mythical Books >> Guest post
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review

 

December 18th
Angel’s Guilty Pleasures >> Interview
knjigoljubka >> Top 10 List
Married To Books Reviews and Blog >> Review
O. D. Book Reviews >> Excerpt

December 19th
Firstbooklove >> Excerpt
My Lovely Secret >> Excerpt
Rainne’s Ramblings >> Guest post
Novelties >> Review

December 20th
Books a Plenty Book Reviews >> Review
Brooke Blogs >> Excerpt
Dani Reviews Things >> Review

December 21st
To Be Read >> Review
Lovely Paranormal Books >> Excerpt
Lori’s little house of reviews >> Excerpt
Literary Meanderings >> Excerpt
Movies, Shows, & Books >> Review

December 22nd
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Review
So Few Books >> Interview
Caught Reading Redheaded >> Review

 

Blog Tour Review and Kindle Fire Giveaway: The Vixen’s Lead by Tate James

 

The Vixen’s Lead by Tate James

Published by: KDP

Publication Date: September 19, 2017

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Page Count:

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Xpresso Book Tours

Goodreads | Amazon CAN | Amazon US


I want vengeance so badly that I can almost taste it. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. So, I did what any privileged, adopted boarding school girl would do. I slapped on a secret identity and became an internationally renowned thief, known as The Fox. Nobody knows me. Nobody can catch me.

Or so I thought…

It turns out; I have what they want. Special abilities. And trust me, these abilities are coveted–and dangerous. Now, I don’t know who to trust or where to go. Peril lurks on every corner as I try to uncover my past and origin. Teaming up with unlikely allies may be my only chance at survival or my biggest mistake. Only time will tell.

I’m Kit Davenport and this is only the beginning.


I’ve received an eARC for an unbiased and honest review.

“Don’t move from this spot, Vixen. There are some bad sorts in this room, but you’ll be safe here.”

Listen up, paranormal romance fans. Tate James is paving her way, and you had better not miss this series because it’s the next sizzling read you’ve been waiting for.

Hellbent on revenge, Kit Davenport—known as “the Fox,” a renown thief—teams up with her closest friend and fellow foster sister, Lucy. Together, they’ve faced untold pain by the hand of an abusive foster parent. Now, Kit steals from the very men who wronged them. And she hasn’t been caught yet. Until now. When a team of men stops an attempted abduction, Kit must confront her past, trust these men, and figure out how she has developed these abilities.

I’m not going to lie: I love this book, and I’m dying to get my hands on the sequels. I would have finished this in probably two days, but this cold kicked my butt. Nonetheless, I love it! And I recommend it to any PR reader who’s looking for a steamy, dangerous, and insta-lust novel.

Vixen’s Lead is my first reverse harem story. So I’m not accustomed to this type of storyline, but Tate weaves it in naturally. And it doesn’t ruin the overall story; it enhances everything. I also thought that this many characters might detract from the book. However, I fell in love with all of them. I was hoping for a bit more development, though. But the author plans on writing six books for her series, so I can’t hold that issue against her. This debut novel is more plot-driven. Tates adds in horrific backstories, hardened yet fragile (and relatable) characters, and action-packed scenes.

The relationship between Kit and Lucy will melt your heart. Tates gives you real characters who are still fighting their past and somehow working past their pain, albeit slowly. She also throws in sexy banter and steamy chemistry among Kit and these men who work for the Omega Group. I’d suggest you book some time off and prepare yourself for these delectable alpha males because there are plenty, and you don’t want to miss out on a single one.

The paranormal side works as a secondary arc in this novel. It plays a stronger role in the last half of the book and opens up new storylines for future books, so I’m not disappointed that it doesn’t take centre stage. Kit does. She is one of those female leads who will rival my own sarcasm, and I appreciate seeing that in a character like her. Her weakness will speak to many readers looking for believable characters.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like reading this story, but, as you can tell, I was wrong. And I’m glad I am. I cannot wait to read what else is in store for Kit. This suspenseful paranormal romance will make you ask for more.

Be warned that the novel involves several triggers that readers may not be comfortable reading.

 


Author’s Bio

Tate James was born and raised in the Land of the Long White Cloud (New Zealand) but now lives in Australia with her husband, baby and furbaby.
She is a lover of books, red wine, cats and coffee and is not a morning person. She is a bit too sarcastic and swears too much for polite society and definitely tells too many dirty jokes.

Website | Facebook | Instagram

 


Giveaway

I’m excited to announce the giveaway! Enter for your chance to win a Kindle Fire. This contest is open to American and Canadian readers. ENTER HERE.

 


Tour Schedule

Don’t miss out on the other reviews and posts!

December 11th
Rolling with the Moments >> Review
So Few Books >> Interview
Jenea’s Book Obsession >> Review
Meghan’s Mindless Mutterings: Reviews & Giveaways >> Review

December 12th
Rainy Days and Pajamas >> Playlist
C Exley Books >> Excerpt
Loves Great Reads >> Excerpt
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
Novelties >> Review
Books,Dreams,Life >> Excerpt
Pervy Ladies Books >> Review

December 13th
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Lovely Paranormal Books >> Guest post
Chill and read >> Excerpt
Butterfly-o-Meter Books >> Guest post
Hawthorn Book Reviews >> Review

December 14th
BrizzleLass Books >> Review
Stylish Brunette >> Excerpt
Abooktropolis >> Review
Just Books >> Excerpt
The Avid Reader >> Review
JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder >> Excerpt

December 15th
Book Addict >> Review
Booked J >> Excerpt
tfaulcbookreviews >> Review
Books a Plenty Book Reviews >> Review
Reading for the Stars and Moon >> Review
Book Lovers 4Ever >> Excerpt

XBTBanner1

Blogiverssary Part II | My 100th+ Follower Giveaway!

 

Hey, book lovers!

I haven’t been around lately since school has basically zapped my entire time. But I’m back! I am not dead (even though my blog took a big hit). So guess what. I’m celebrating my 100th+ follower on my blog. ☺️ To honour it and to give back to the blogging community, I’m giving away a free hardcover copy of Batman: Nightwalker, by Marie Lu! This international pre-order contest ends December 30 at midnight. Good luck!

Again, I’d like to thank every single one of you who have supported me. I love the book blogging community so much and feel honoured to be a part of it.

ENTER HERE for your chance to win.

Please see above that I’ve extended the contest end date, which was changed from the 23rd to the 30th.

 

Like all my other giveaways, please read the following rules:

  • You must be a follower or subscribe to be one.
  • You must also complete the required Rafflecopter entries. If you haven’t completed them, your entries are are no longer valid.
  • All information you provide (including your email and mailing address) is not shared, but it will be used to send you this prize. So please ensure that all information is accurate and is in this order: name, address, city/town, postal code/zip code, and country.
  • You must use one email address only. If you have one email for your Facebook and another for Twitter/blog, pick just the one so you won’t miss out on entries.
  • You can reblog and retweet once a day for more entries.
  • The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL. I’m using Book Depository, so please ensure that BD ships to your country. If you do not know, here is a list. If not, I’m sorry, but you cannot enter this giveaway.
  • If you are under 18, please have parental permission to give me your address before you enter any entries. If you enter the giveaway, you confirm you have said permission.
  • Absolutely no giveaway blogs can enter.
  • If you are the winner, you have 5 days (since this contest is close to the holidays) to respond to my email. If you not do, I’ll select a new winner.

Blog Tour Review: Monsterland by Michael Okon

 

Monsterland by Michael Okon

Published by: WordFire Press

Publication Date: October 13, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal

Page Count: 214

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Rockstar Book Tours

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iBooks


Welcome to Monsterland, the scariest place on earth.

When world markets are decimated by a crippling plague, philanthropist, and billionaire businessman, Vincent Konrad decides to place monsters in a theme park setting to promote education and tolerance. Copper Valley is chosen as the primary site for the park in the United States. 

Wyatt Baldwin, a high school senior is dying to go to the opening and when he lands special passes to the park, he and his friends are expecting the experience of a lifetime. 

After all, in a theme park where real zombies, werewolves, and vampires are the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong? 


I’ve received an eARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

 

“The gate loomed before them. The first thing he noticed was the ‘Monsterland’ logo, a large M in the center of the vampire teeth.”

Picture Disneyland with a Jurassic Park twist, and you’ve got Monsterland. This over-the-top thrill ride will appeal to the fantasy and horror lover who is looking for the next unique read. Monsterland amplifies the fear factor, so watch out!

As a plague paralyzes the world, the market, and all the countries, Vincent Konrad, philanthropist and businessman, finds a solution to the ever-growing problem: to build a worldwide theme park teeming with monsters. And Wyatt, who is given passes to attend opening night, cannot wait to walk through the front doors. But what can happen at an amusement park filled with werewolves, zombies, and vampires? Everything.

So I had to read this book when I first heard about it. There was no chance I could pass it up. Come on now. I adore Jurassic Park (and World), and I’m a huge fantasy fan. So I instantly signed up for the book tour. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I wish I spent more time focusing on the book. However, I enjoyed this intriguing story. Michael doesn’t leave out any beasty that readers have grown to love reading. But he brings a new approach to the horror genre.

What sparks my interest in the book is the backstory. Governments are crumbling when Vincent steps in with his extraordinary scheme. This theme park will bring back the jobs, stabilize the economy, and create a solution to the plague and the other monsters. But it puts into question the rights of these once human beings. Human rights play a strong role in this book, and I enjoyed that a lot.

Monsterland also reminds me of the movie Saw, in the sense that, since we haven’t seen this attraction before, it scares us, and we want more, even though it goes against what we are as a society. We want something that terrifies us, frightens us, and is bigger and flashier, yet we can’t look away. We’ll always want the better scare, no matter the cost.

The strong point in this story is the characters. Wyatt is your typical teen who loves the girl who is dating the school jock. But he must deal with cooperating with his step-dad, brother, weird friends, and the prospect that his life has changed for the worst since his dad died. The relationship between Wyatt and his step-dad, Carter, is strained at best, but you get a real sense of their character development later on in the book. Wyatt’s friends and love interest and the other secondary characters are a lively cast and brighten this dark story. But they don’t take away from the horror.

I feel that Monsterland is somewhat disorganized by the end. A lot of scenes are taking place, and the plot twist throws off the overall storyline. And at times, I felt that the story takes off at a prolonged start and slows down much more than I liked, and I hoped for more action in a few scenes. However, Michael stays true to the story and gives you a horror-filled adventure you’ve been waiting for. He isn’t afraid to bring more dark elements to fantasy.

So if you’re looking for a story that is totally out there and that you haven’t read before, pick up Monsterland. Horror lovers can rejoice in this wild ride.


About the Author

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Snapchat

 


Giveaway

Looking for your next scream? Enter win Monsterland! 2 winners will receive a free copy. Only US residents can enter.

 


Tour Schedule

 

Week One

10/30/2017- Owl Always Be Reading– Excerpt

10/30/2017- Abooktropolis– Review

 

10/31/2017- Books, Dreams, Life– Spotlight

10/31/2017- Texan Girl Reads– Review

 

11/1/2017- Reese’s Reviews– Guest Post

11/1/2017- Under the Book Cover– Review

 

11/2/2017- Dazzled by Books– Excerpt

11/2/2017- A Gingerly Review– Review

 

11/3/2017- Twirling Book Princess- Excerpt

11/3/2017- Birdie Bookworm– Review

 

Week Two

11/6/2017- Books at Dawn– Guest Post

11/6/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Review

 

11/7/2017- BookHounds YA– Interview

11/7/2017- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

 

11/8/2017- Savings in Seconds– Spotlight

11/8/2017- Novelties– Review

 

11/9/2017- Sweet Southern Home– Review

11/9/2017- Twisted Book Junkie– Review

 

11/10/2017- Parajunkee– Interview

11/10/2017- The Midnight Society– Review

Blog Tour Review: The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

 

The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

Published by: Common Deer Press

Publication Date: October 31,2017

Genre: Young Adult

Page Count: 294

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Common Deer Press

Goodreads | Common Deer Press | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


Deep below the market, in the dark tunnels no human knows exist, a war has begun. Lead by the charismatic Beloved Chairman, a colony of rats plots to exterminate the ugly two-legs who have tortured them in labs, crushed them with boots, and looked at them with disgust for as long as anyone can remember. 

When the Chairman’s nephew is injured and a young two-leg nurses him back to health, however, doubt about the war creeps in. Now the colony is split—obey the Chairman and infect the two-legs with the ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or do the unthinkable… 

Rebel. 


I’ve received an eARC for an honest and unbiased review.

 

“Over the mountains and across the sea, there came a terrible scourge…a scourge that would deal death not only to the Old Ones, but to all.”

When I first heard of this YA illustrated novel, I knew I had to sign up for the tour. And I am not disappointed with what I read. This dark, poignant, yet somehow relevant tale will keep you on the edge.

Courtsey of A. T. Balsara and Common Deer Press

Strength is tested, lines are drawn, and a war has begun. As more two-legs (humans) torture rats in labs and see them as nothing more than vermin, the Chairman, the leader of a colony of rats deep underneath the city, conspires to release the old plague that wiped out these evil beings. Their time is now. They can taste their revenge. But doubt seeps into this colony when the Chairman’s nephew, Fin, is wounded, and a two-leg decides to take him in and heal him. Now that act of kindness divides a once united colony.

Andrea, the author, weaves a richly dark tale that speaks to readers of all ages. At first, I wasn’t sure how dark this story will go, but she pushes against the boundary of writing and also incorporates real-life health scares like Ebola and, most recently, the plague. Throughout the book, she shows you the cruel side of our society, yet she then demonstrates our humanity. The contrast between the two is rather jarring but realistic though. How many times have you freaked out over seeing a wild animal, even a rat, but you’re an advocate for animal rights?

Courtesy of A. T. Balsara and Common Deer Press

The Great and the Small is a slow burn. Andrea builds up the story by adding complex layers and characters. But I don’t mind that build up though. It is a character-driven book that needs time to reveal itself to readers. What speaks out among these pages is Fin and Ananda, the teenager who saves him. I adore reading Fin’s story, especially his history, which is heartbreaking. I didn’t know if I could connect with a rat, but the way Andrea writes him just makes you fall in love with this deeply conflicted yet loyal rat. And Ananda represents the essence of real humanity. She doesn’t see a rat and cringe; she sees it as a living being that needs as much protection as anyone else. And while the scenes between these two are short, I relished them.

I was surprised by the level of world building Andrea mixes into her story. She creates such an imaginative and lively underground for her rats. The politics will keep you guessing as well. This world is built on a two-tiered class, which, regardless of what the politicians say, sets each rat apart and divides them. The Chairman, Fin’s uncle, is a cunning, ruthless, yet charismatic antagonist. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the author drew inspiration from dictators we’ve grown to hate. What I love is the anticipation in the book. This atmospheric tone in Great and the Small builds suspense throughout each chapter. And I had to question each character’s decision and action.

Courtesy of A. T. Balsara and Common Deer Press

Typically, you don’t see a lot of illustrations in YA novels. But these drawings bring out the story and enrich it. I enjoyed seeing them. And you don’t usually find a YA with an animal as the main character. However, more authors are testing the limits of genres and book categories. They’re not always limiting their readership based on just an age range. And I appreciate that both the author and the publisher have done just so.

This illustrated novel holds a strong meaning behind it. Sometimes the unlikeliest stories will teach you something or give you perspective on another that you weren’t sure you’d ever find. And The Great and the Small is that book.

 

 

 

 

 

www.commondeerpress.com

www.facebook.com/commondeerpress

@AHerdOfDeer

Blog Tour Interview: The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

 

Hi, everyone!

On my second blog tour stop. I interview, A. T. Balsara, the author of The Great and the Small. I want to know why an author stepped away from the traditional route of YA books, which usually don’t include illustrations.

You’ll be surprised what what you find out.

Enjoy!


 

Hello, Andrea! I’m excited to welcome you to my blog. Thank you for taking some time to discuss with me about your book. And I’d love to congratulate you on your book birthday!

 

 

Thank you very much for having me! I really appreciate it!

 

  1. You’ve just recently published a book. Tell us about it.

Sure. The Great & the Small is the story of a colony of rats, led by their charismatic Beloved Leader that has sworn to kill humanity using the bubonic plague. When the Beloved Chairman’s nephew, Fin, gets rescued from certain death by a young “two-leg,” a teenager named Ananda, doubt creeps in about the war. Now Fin must decide: follow his beloved uncle and murder the two-legs, including the one he has grown to love or do the unthinkable…rebel.

 

  1. Your novel is one of the unique stories I’ve heard this year. So why did you choose rats for your protagonists?

They were the ultimate enemy that could bring down humanity. They are smart, can chew through concrete, take down a grown cat, and multiply like…well, rats. They were the carriers of plague-ridden fleas, and were instrumental in killing almost half of Europe’s population during the years of the “Great Mortality.” Humanity does a collective shiver when we think about wild rats running amok.

 

  1. Can you explain your writing and drawing process? What inspired your drawings and writing for this story?

For my writing, I think I’ve always been drawn to Tolkien, and his epic, all or nothing, type of story. I also loved the book Watership Down and loved how the author made you feel as if you were watching the lives of rabbits. I wanted the epic feel of a Lord of the Rings, combined with the intimacy of what it would be like to be this particular animal. It was incredibly interesting to me to write from a rat’s point of view. For the drawings, I wanted something monochromatic, so that it felt like it might be taken from old times. I love adding texture, and layers to the drawings, and used the computer software Corel Painter to do the illustrations.

 

  1. You don’t always see illustrations in YAs. Why did you include them in yours?

I was told that young adults don’t read animal stories, that they don’t do illustrations…blah, blah, blah…in other words, the big publishers didn’t want to take a chance on a story that was outside of their lines of acceptable risk. There is far too much emphasis, nowadays, on staying safe in order to make a sure profit, than on publishing something that pushes boundaries and takes risks. I wrote and illustrated the story I wanted to read. If I had listened to the gatekeepers at the big houses, I would’ve been bored out of my mind.

 

  1. When did you first realize you had to write this book?

I had gotten the seed for this story many years ago when I visited a concentration camp museum. From that moment, there was a burning need inside of me to make a difference, to try to do my part to shine a light. I wrestled with the question of what makes someone capable of doing such heinous acts. In writing this book, I took my question to the next level, and asked, if you were raised in the orbit of one who did such acts, could you save yourself, or were you doomed? The Great & the Small was my attempt to work through those questions, but it was painful. Most of us aren’t devils or saints but fall somewhere in between. It was painful exploring that light—and darkness—within myself.

 

  1. What do you want readers to take away from it?

There are many things. The most important thing is that no one is born evil. So-called “evil” people are made, usually slowly, by the choices they make. Many of us feel we have no choice, that we are helpless within our own lives. Not true. We always have a choice. The Nelson Mandela of the world teaches us that no matter what happens, you have a choice. The other thing I would say, and I will quote Balthazar, a wise old rat in The Great & the Small, on this one: “Seek Truth.” I believe that the truth really will set you free. But it takes soul-searching, and a willingness to deal with our own garbage.

 

  1. What was the most difficult part in creating The Great and the Small?

Persistence. This story took me close to 15 years to write because projects would come up, or opportunities, or life, and I would have to shelve it for years at a time. It was hard to have to dust it off, reread it, realize with horror that it needed a complete rewrite, keep going, and then put it on the back burner…etc. etc.…it was a loooong process. Recently, I came across an old CD from 2012; it had a copy of the manuscript, and was labeled, “final draft.” Seeing that made me burst out laughing. The book has been rewritten a million times since 2012 (okay—not a million; it just feels like a million!!). If I hadn’t loved the story so much, I would have given up a long time ago.

 

 

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Blog Tour Spotlight: The Great and the Small by A. T. Balsara

 

Hi, everyone!

The tour is finally here! I’m excited to announce the release of The Great and the Small, by A. T. Balsara. Ever since I heard of this book, I knew I had to be a part of the tour. A rat struggling with an existential crisis? I’m in.

Check out Common Deer Press’ latest literary treat! The Great and the Small is now available.

 

 

 

The Great and the Small

A. T. Balsara

Publication date: October 31, 2017

Publisher: Common Deer Press

Buy links: Common Deer Press, Indigo, Amazon CAN, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

 

Deep below the market, in the dark tunnels no human knows exist, a war has begun. Lead by the charismatic Beloved Chairman, a colony of rats plots to exterminate the ugly two-legs who have tortured them in labs, crushed them with boots, and looked at them with disgust for as long as anyone can remember.

When the Chairman’s nephew is injured and a young two-leg nurses him back to health, however, doubt about the war creeps in. Now the colony is split—obey the Chairman and infect the two-legs with the ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or do the unthinkable…

Rebel.

 


About the Author

A.T. Balsara lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband. She is the proud mom of two adult daughters, two dogs, two cats, and two hives of bees.

 

She writes and illustrates for young children up to young adults.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

www.commondeerpress.com

www.facebook.com/commondeerpress

@AHerdOfDeer

Cover Reveal: Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

 

today Adrienne Kisner and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive excerpt for DEAR RACHEL MADDOW, which releases June 5, 2018! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win an ARC!

On to the reveal!

 

 

Title: DEAR RACHEL MADDOW

Author: Adrienne Kisner

Pub. Date: June 5, 2018

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 400

Find it: AmazonB&NTBD, and Goodreads

 

Sixteen-year-old Brynn Harper’s life has one steadying force—Rachel Maddow. She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project—and actually getting a response—Brynn starts drafting emails to Rachel but never sending them. It’s an outlet; Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with Sarah, her first serious girlfriend, about her beloved brother Nick’s death, her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

But then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. She learns that one student representative will be allowed to have a voice among teachers and administrators in the selection of a new school superintendent. Sarah, along with Brynn’s arch-nemesis John, believes only honors students worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn knows they are more interested in power and perks. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position the knives are out and her brother’s memory and her new crush Michaela are shamed. Brynn asks herself: What would Rachel Maddow do?

 

Exclusive Excerpt

Folder: Sent

To: egrimm@westing.pa.edu

From: Brynnieh0401@gmail.com

Date: September 10

Subject: School Assignment

 

Dear Rachel Maddow,

I am writing to you because of a school assignment. It’s a totally lame reason to be writing, but I don’t think you’ll actually read it anyway. This kind of thing is so sixth grade. I am a junior in high school and I’ve been forced to write to a “celebrity hero” by the Applied Language Arts teacher. (Hey Mr. Grimm! How’s it hanging, buddy?) I wasn’t going to do it, because my ex-girlfriend worships you and, hello, school assignment. But I turned on your show and Mom totally freaked out to see me watching you. Apparently your liberal and leftist views don’t sit well with her. Mom spat out the words like she was talking about my dad, so I knew she meant it. That made you my celebrity hero.

You were talking about some guys running for congress. But then you said one of them was “freaking amazing.” I don’t think news people are supposed to say things like that. And isn’t that biased? News people aren’t supposed to be biased. I know this because Mr. Grimm made us watch this video about newswriting. Though no one else knows this about me, Rachel Maddow, I have a near photographic memory for stuff people say. Their words just stick in my brain. So I remember what a reporter is supposed to do.

Anyway, thanks for pissing off my Mom.

Sincerely,

Brynn Harper

 

Folder: Sent

To: Brynnieh0401@gmail.com

From: Egrimm@westing.pa.edu

Date: September 11

Subject: RE: School Assignment

 

Dear Rachel Maddow,

I am writing to you because of a school assignment. It’s a totally lame reason to be writing, but I don’t think you actually read them anyway. This kind of thing is so sixth grade. [Brynn, this is good, honest writing. Can you try to put a positive spin on it?] I am a junior in high school and I’ve been forced [asked] to write to a “celebrity hero” by the Applied Language Arts teacher. (Hey Mr. Grimm! How’s it hanging, buddy?) [I’m doing well, thanks. But you can take this out.] I wasn’t going to do it, because my ex-girlfriend worships you and, hello, school assignment. And Mom totally freaked out to see me watching you. Apparently your liberal and leftist views still don’t sit well with her. Mom spat out the words like she was talking about my Dad, so I knew she meant it. So that made you my celebrity hero. [Again, great personal touch. But maybe too intimate for this correspondence?]

You were talking about the people running for congress. But then you said one of them was “freaking amazing.” And I don’t think news people are supposed to say things like that. And isn’t that biased? News people aren’t supposed to be biased. I know this because Mr. Grimm, my English teacher, made us watch this video about newswriting. Though no one else knows this about me, Rachel Maddow, I have a photographic memory for stuff people say. Their words just stick in my brain. So I remember what a reporter is supposed to be. [You are right, Brynn! I didn’t know that about you. Shouldn’t you remember your assignments, then?]

Anyway, thanks for pissing off my Mom. [There is a list of questions I asked you to include. Maybe you could end with that instead.]

Sincerely,

Brynn Harper

Folder: Sent

To: Egrimm@westing.pa.edu

Cc: Rachel@msnbc.com

From: Brynnieh0401@gmail.com

Date: September 12

Subject: School Assignment Again

 

Dear Rachel Maddow,

I learned an important lesson about rough drafts. If you really want to send someone a letter, you should just send it. Do not turn it in to your English teacher first. But Mr. Grimm (said English teacher) is the only person I know who doesn’t think I’m hopeless, so I am trying this again for his sake. Though I’m sending it to you too, to avoid further editing.

My name is Brynn Harper and I am sixteen years old. I live with my mother and stepfather in Westing, Pennsylvania. I have a brother, too. Or, I had one, anyway.

I first watched your show a couple of times in high school because my best friend (well, okay, my girlfriend) loved you, so she kind of dragged me along with her. She’s not my girlfriend anymore. And she said she didn’t have time to watch television anymore either, even for you. So she dumped us both. That gives us something in common

I had a list of questions that I was supposed to ask you, but I got most of the answers online already. Mr. Grimm suggested I think of new ones. So here you go:

  1. When you look at the papers on your desk and circle something, are you really reading from them? Don’t you read from a teleprompter? When you go to commercial, you shuffle those papers, too. Seriously, is there anything even written on them?
  2. How much does a person have to know to be considered a “wonk?”
  3. At least one person laughs in the background while you are talking. Is this on purpose? Who is that?
  4. Why don’t you run for political office?
  5. Is there ever a staff meeting when you think to yourself, “Huh, there really isn’t a lot going on in the news today.”
  6. How many pairs of shoes do you actually own?

 


About the Author

I have lived my entire “adult” life in a college dormitory working in both Residence Life and college chaplaincy. I like the term “dormitory” better than “residence hall.” I went to school for a long time so that now I get to swoop around in a fancy robe and silly hat (like at Hogwarts). I have an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts (a place like Hogwarts).

I play both the viola and tennis with more heart than skill. I love my current home in Boston but will always be a Pennsylvanian at heart.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 


Giveaway

Here’s your chance to win an ARC of Dear Maddow! This contest is for US residents only. ENTER HERE.

 

Blog Tour Review: Haven by Mary Lindsey

 

Haven by Mary Lindsey

Published by: Entangled Publishing

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Page Count: 400

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Rockstar Book Tours

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play Books | Indiebound | iBooks


“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.


I’ve received an eARC for an honest review. It doesn’t affect my rating.

 

“I believe we all hide a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Are you looking for a dark, twisted, and sizzling new YA fantasy? Haven‘s your book. With betrayals, forbidden love, power plays, and family secrets, it will surely keep you up at night as it did with me.

Rain Ryland, a misunderstood teen who can’t get a break in life, becomes an orphan when he loses his mother, who dies unexpectedly. He thinks he has an opportunity for a new start when he finds out he has an aunt, who lives in New Wurzburg, where he meets Friederike “Freddie” Burkhart, who warns him to stay away from her. Unfortunately, this new opportunity comes with a price, but he’s determined to save Freddie, find her father’s killer, and fight for someone who’s worth dying for.

I have to admit. I get an insta-love vibe off of this book, but, don’t let that fool you. Mary plays on that rather well. Haven reminds me of a shape-shaping version of Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. And I love how she doesn’t go with the female POV. It’s strictly Rain’s perspective throughout the entire book. I don’t see that often, so I enjoyed the change. Haven has a few rough edges, like Rain describing Freddie as perfect, but it kept me wanting more, kept me reading long into the night. It’s a refreshing story for anyone who’s looking for a quick read.

What surprises me the most is the backstory of the book. Mary wonderfully creates an intricate world with unique characters and intriguing history. Rain has stumbled upon a town where Weavers (witches) rule, and Watchers (shape-shifters/werewolves) obey. These characters originated from Germany and immigrated to the States when the German witch trials occured. Each character adds to the mystery of the town, which shapes into a character itself.

My favourites, obviously, are Rain and Freddie. Their chemistry is hot and intense and will keep you turning the page. Freddie, the only-female Alpha, refuses to back down, will protect her family and pact, and never runs away from a fight. I love her strong-willed attitude and her vulnerability because of her father’s murder. I’m a sucker for a tortured character, and Rain matches that through and through.

The world building is superb. Mary puts in a new twist in the overused werewolf and witch story. The politics in the world adds layers to this story and creates more mystery and suspense. I wasn’t expecting this kind of political play, but Mary pulls it off nicely. Haven is a fast-paced, intense, and dark adventure any fantasy lover will love to jump into.

 

“It’s said that on a full moon, that power of the earth reaches for the heavens at that one spot, infusing the surrounding area with magic strong enough to change man to beast.”

 


About Mary

Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband.

Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 “pet” Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the “pet” roaches found a home… somewhere else.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

 


Giveaway

Does Haven sound like your next YA fantasy read? Here’s your chance to win a free copy of it. One winner will receive a finished copy of Haven. Giveaway is for US residents only. ENTER HERE.

 


Tour Schedule

Week One
10/23/2017- Twinning for Books — Review
10/23/2017- Flyleaf Chronicles — Review

10/24/2017- Blushing Bibliophile — Review
10/24/2017- Ex Libris — Review

10/25/2017- Omg Books and More Books — Review
10/25/2017- Novelties — Review

10/26/2017- Deep Dark Feminist Reviews — Review
10/26/2017- Mama Reads Blog — Review

10/27/2017- Kendra Loves Books — Review
10/27/2017- Why I Read — Review

 

Week Two
10/30/2017- Bibliobakes — Review
10/30/2017- Betwixt the Pages — Review

10/31/2017- For the Lover of Books — Review
10/31/2017- Kati’s Bookaholic Rambling Reviews — Review

11/1/2017- Adventures Thru Wonderland — Review
11/1/2017- Tea With Mermaids — Review

11/2/2017- Hauntedbybooks13 — Review
11/2/2017- The Best Books Ever — Review

11/3/2017- Portrait of a Book — Review
11/3/2017- Nerdophiles — Review