Blog Tour · Book Promo · Books · New Releases · Reviews

Blog Tour: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel Blog Tour

MSF Tour Banner

MSF 2D High ResPublication Date: December 6, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Goodreads

Lying is a symptom shared by the most convincing, cunning and ruthless individuals such as psychopaths and narcissistic manipulators. They have an invincible sense of self-importance and an addictive urge to project an image of power and perfection at all cost which are fuelled by the rewarding tools of charm, diversion and … clever deception.

Like anything in life, whether the skill is morally laudable or not, skills require training, effort and hard work. The danger lies in the brain progressively adapting to the dishonest behaviour and the longer the lies, the harder it would seem to be able to change the conditioning of one’s sensitivity to telling the truth. The truth and nothing but the truth or at the very least the intention to do so most of the time therefore appears to be a basic requirement for any interpersonal trust.

In my new stand-alone novella, I explore the idea that when crossing the line between truth or lie too often, it becomes a curse the person is eventually unable to shed … (H.A. Leuschel)

Excerpt

Summer-Hat_420x294

I was brushing my teeth the next morning when Alexa called, crying over another nasty phone call from her ex. I was running late as it was but was unable to stop her barrage of insults against a man I didn’t even know the name of.

‘He’s driving me absolutely insane. I’ve really had enough,’ I heard her shout, the heels of her shoes clicking on the pavement. She was clearly on her way to work while I was only slipping my feet into my shoes. It had been her second frantic call that morning.

‘Listen. Alexa, calm down. I understand you’re upset but I’ll be late if you don’t stop.’

‘I’m there for you when you need me but when I’m the one in need for once, you fob me off. Great, really nice, thanks.’ She hung up, leaving me in an angry sweat. I was her polar opposite – organized and calm – but lately I felt out of kilter myself. I’d missed out on seeing my mum because, for one reason or another, Alexa managed to ambush my attention.

When I eventually rushed through the office door, Alexa was looking up at me indifferently, in deep conversation with Jack, who tapped his watch with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. I lowered my eyes, my stomach heaving with repressed fury. Alexa had crawled under my skin yet I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why and how it had all come about.

Purchase My Sweet Friend Here!

Enter for your chance to win a digital copy (Format of Choice) of My Sweet Friend

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

HA Leuschel.jpg

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches yoga.

Helene Leuschel | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Organized By:

R&RButton350x350-1

R&R Book Tours

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

Blog Tour Schedule

Feb. 19th

Reads & Reels (Feature Promo) http://www.readsandreels.com

Brizzle Lass Books (Excerpt) https://brizzlelassbooks.com

The Repeat Mom (Review) http://Thethreepeatmom.blogspot.com

Sinfully Wicked Reviews (Review) https://sinfullywickedbookreviews.wordpress.com

Nesie’s Place (Review) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Jill’s Book Blog (Review) https://jilljemmett.com

Feb. 20th

Books and Belle (Excerpt) https://booksandbelleblog.wordpress.com

Beware the Reader (Excerpt) http://bewareofthereader.com

Jenacidebybibliophile (Review) https://jenacidebybibliophile.com

Darque Dreamer Reads (Review) https://darquedreamerreads.wordpress.com

Cover to Cover (Excerpt) http://www.liisthinks.wordpress.com

Feb. 21st

Girl Masked (Review) http://girlmasked.wordpress.com

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Book Reviews by Shalini (Excerpt) www.bookreviewsbyshalini.wordpress.com

The Starving Book Worm (Review) http://thestarvingbookworm.wordpress.com

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

Feb. 22nd

Splashes Into Books (Review) http://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com

Kristin’s Novel Café (Review) https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Chronicles (Excerpt) https://www.muretbookworm.wordpress.com

Feb. 23rd

The Orangutan Librarian (Review) https://theorangutanlibrarian.wordpress.com

On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Love Books Group (Review) http://lovebooksgroup.blog

Just 4 My Books (Review) https://just4mybooks.wordpress.com

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

 

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: Mother of Shadows (The Chosen Book 1) by Meg Anne

51bSt1lTiYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Amazon.com – Mother of Shadows (The Chosen Book 1) by Meg Anne

Goodreads.com – Mother of Shadows (The Chosen Book 1) by Meg Anne

Barnesandnoble.com – Mother of Shadows (The Chosen Book 1) by Meg Anne

Bookdepository.com – Mother of Shadows (The Chosen Book 1) by Meg Anne

*WARNING: Strong sexual and mature content*

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, Meg Anne, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/YA/Adult/Fantasy

Plot: Helena’s life had always been quiet. In fact, she liked it that way. When her childhood friend returns home and tells her that she is the prophesied ruler of the Chosen, those blessed with the gift of magic, her quiet life goes up in flames. Suddenly Helena finds herself surrounded by a circle of protectors, each having sworn their loyalty to her since her birth. All except for one: her Mate. It’s not enough that she learn how to use her magic and undergo a trial to prove her worthiness; in order to claim her title, Helena must also find the man who carries the other half of her soul. Exiled due to a past he had no part in, Von is the last man the Chosen expect Helena to select. Despite their protests, his soul calls to hers and there’s no denying that he was made for her. But the prophecy stands and all isn’t as it seems. There’s an enemy lurking within plain sight who will stop at nothing to destroy her.

Opinion:

*Ding ding ding*…. Addiction alert!

This series…is like a Cheez-it, a salt and vinegar chip, a girl scout cookie, a Hersey’s Kiss! YOU CAN’T HAVE JUST ONE! You can’t just read a few chapters and put this book down, you MUST devour the entire story in one sitting! I love a fantasy story where a female lead is a complete and total badass in a fight., but I REALLY love when that same female turns into an all-powerful demonic queen (for good of course). You go girl!

A prophecy has been foretold that a Damaskiri would rise and become the most powerful of all magical beings, even more so than the first of the Chosen. But with the acceptance of her title as ruler, the Shadow Years would begin, and her true power would be tested. Those gifted in magic may wield one, and sometimes more, of the branches; Earth, Water, Fire and Air. But only the Damaskiri may wield magic of the Spirit branch, thus making her the strongest of all the mother’s chosen.

Helena has spent the last 20 years believing that she was one of the few who were born without magic, an ungifted, and in turn living a simple and quiet life. But the return of an old friend brings shocking news; Helena is the Damaskiri and she was hidden away at birth in order to keep her soul pure and innocent. Now with her new title, Helena is thrust into a world where she carries the weight of so many on her shoulders. Only she can keep the darkness from touching the lives of those she cares about, but only if she is able to keep the darkness from reaching her soul.

Dedication for every girl that still carries a dream in her heart, this one is for you.

-Meg Anne, Dedication – Mother of Shadows

This series feels a little bit like Throne of Glass and a little bit like Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas but is a unique and interesting series all on its own. The idea for this series is really creative, and for some reason I am all about a series with a prophecy lately. Helena is in her 20’s and is told by her childhood friend Darrin that she is now the Damaskiri, who is the ruler and most powerful of magical beings. She is taken into the palace and thrown into lessons, given a circle of men who are her protectors and advisors, and must find a mate.

Oh yes, you heard me! A mate! Enter: Von. Von is that male character we all know and love. The ginormous brooding warrior who has a bad reputation and a sarcastic attitude. I love the introduction to his character, which is at this festival where any male may come forward and present Helena with a gift in an attempt to be her mate. As soon as Helena meets Von there is an instant connection between them, but I thought their relationship went WAY too fast. I understand that their souls instantly recognized each other, but where was the “getting to know each other” stage? I would have preferred the beginning stages to have been stretched out a bit more, but what can you do. I adore Von, especially because he had such a terrible reputation at the beginning. Not to mention he is a fierce warrior and extremely gentle with Helena.

“Smiling to herself, Helena closed her eyes and wondered how anyone would think Von was heartless. ‘Because I was until I found you.’”

From the beginning of the story, the author does a series of “switch backs” from the present to past moments. She executed them well and there wasn’t any confusion for me, even though the “switch backs” were only separated by a new paragraph. I did find the first part of this story to be a bit confusing though, in that the author doesn’t explain the Damaskiri and the chosen all that well until later. It’s one of those things where you must keep reading to figure out what everything means, but you eventually pick it up. The MOST confusing for me however, was the lack of indication for how much time was passing. Between Darrin telling Helena that she is the next Damaskiri and her trial to see if she is worthy, I literally have NO CLUE how much time has passed.

There also wasn’t a lot of moments for the reader to see Helena training and learning about her abilities and how to act now that she is basically Queen. The reader is sort of just told that she is learning things. Due to the speedy nature of this book, I am left feeling a bit disconnected from the characters. I would have liked to have a bigger idea of who Helena and Von really are by seeing their interactions more, not just being told by the author what their traits are. Furthermore, where exactly is this place located? Are we in another world? Another time? I can’t even recall if a city or kingdom name was ever mentioned.

Though these things were a bit annoying to me, in the end they really don’t hinder my opinion of the story all that much. Where the author lacks in a bit of extra explaining, she fully makes up for it with where she takes this story. I never once found myself bored or uninterested in what was happening, which I find is VERY hard for an author to do. As Helena starts to become stronger and take on her role as the Damaskiri, a lot of sinister moments begin to happen that jeopardizes her people and her relationships. Eventually Helena and her circle, Von and his warriors, and a smattering of others travel to Von’s home. On this journey, this story REALLY begins to form. There is some EPIC battles and the reader gets a glimpse into what Helena can really do with her magic. Mark my words guys, you don’t want to cross this woman when she’s angry. YIKES. In the major battle that happens the reader is introduced to Shadows, which is a corrupted spirit of a chosen. By this point, the reader is subjected to a lot of death and darkness…and it is gripping!

I don’t want to give too much away, but this story leaves you with a HUGE cliffhanger. UGH…what a way to leave the reader (well done Meg). Overall, I really loved the first book in this series. Though I had a few issues with it, I was able to look past them easily and really enjoy the story the author created. There is magic, battles, romance and a TON of witty comments in this story. I found myself laughing constantly from the things these characters would say to each other. With that, I leave you with one:

“Twisting his head, he pressed a tender kiss into the palm of her hand. Eyes closing at the contact, she savored the feel of his lips against her skin. As her hand lowered, her fingers curled into a loose fist.

‘I think I’ll save that for later.’

His lips quirked in amusement, ‘And why’s that?’

‘Just to remember what it feels like to have you eating out of the palm of my hand.’”

4-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

 

 

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Book Wrap-up · Books · Netgalley · Reviews

January 2018 Book Wrap-Up

January Wrap-up

Hello readers! Today I bring you my Book Wrap-up for January 2018!

I have given myself a goal of 75 books to read for 2018 (via my Goodreads challenge). Last year I tried for 100, but I sadly didn’t make it. So for this year, I made it more attainable for myself. Who knows, maybe I will go above and beyond 75. We shall see… 😉

As for January 2018, I read/reviewed 6 books, which I am kind of bummed out about. That’s it? Yikes. I need to step it up!

Shatter (Glitter Book 2) by Aprilynne Pike

519AGoNMHtL._SY346_

Shatter follows up the incredible first book in this two book collection, Glitter. Though it doesn’t look like there will be a book three, I am wishing with all my might there will be. These books ROCK! This story blends present times and the 18th-Century, set with the corsets and big wigs! Our main character is Queen and living in the Palace of Versailles, but she is doing everything she can to get out. This book is packed with murder, jewels, backstabbing, and romance. I LOVE these books. ❤

The Healer by C.J. Anaya

51AIqeFn2eL._SY346_

The Healer is the first in this series and it gets kicked off fairly well. I have read books two and three already (look for my upcoming reviews) and am currently on book four. I thought this was a great intro to what this series is really about, and I am still happily lost in the world this author created. Hope has the ability to heal people, but she keeps it a secret. But when two mysterious boys show up at her school who know of what she can do, her world drastically changes. We eventually learn that Hope is involved in a prophecy and that these two males are Gods. Let me tell you guys, swoon-worthy.

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

34964846

This sadly wasn’t a big thriller for me. I am a HUGE fan of Amanda Hocking and will read just about anything she writes. So when I saw this on Netgalley, I NATURALLY did an instant request. Between the Blade and the Heart is basically about a Valkyrie’s and their purpose to send immortals back to the underworld. I wasn’t overly impressed with the result, and I probably won’t continue to read the series. Amanda usually blows me away with her fantasy stories, but this one didn’t. 😦

A Quiet Kind of thunder by Sara Barnard

41nC8MiHyZL

THIS is such a sweet story guys, definitely the first heartwarming read of 2018. A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi, a selective mute, and Rhys, a new student to Steffi’s school who is deaf. The story gives the reader a glimpse into the relationship that forms between these two characters, and the struggles they have in a world where most people can speak or hear one another. These two go through a lot together, and it was a truly endearing book to read. It was something different than what I had ever read, and I really enjoyed it.

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

519HD8mSPEL

AH! THIS!

I mean…what can I NOT say about this book? It is probably one of the most important pieces I have read in my life. No joke. It is a collection of five short stories, and each story spins a tale of a different kind of manipulative person. It ranges from manipulation of others for greed to manipulation for innocent attention. One story in particular really resonated with me; a story about a young man manipulating a young girl into thinking he loved her, but he was just using her. YANKS on my heartstrings.

This book, I strongly and seriously urge every one of you to purchase. You NEED to read this. Your family needs to read this, your friends need to read this, your children…NEED to read this.

Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

51i2sgqkjVL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

Forlorn….eh. I couldn’t even finish the book, and I kind of wish I had just so I could have given a full review. This story is about angels and demons, so naturally i thought I would love it. However, I did not. There were too many holes, undeveloped characters, and a load of cheesiness going on. I couldn’t handle it. Not my cup of tea.

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · Reviews

Book Review: Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

51i2sgqkjVL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

Amazon.com – Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

Goodreads.com – Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

Barnesandnoble.com – Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

Bookdepository.com – Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Vinspire Publishing, LLC, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Bad luck seems to follow Grace Fortune wherever she goes. She was orphaned at a young age, and her musical talent got her accepted to a prestigious school for the arts, where she was caught in the middle of horrific school shooting that nearly takes her life. But then she meets gorgeous loner, Jared Lorn, and falls madly in love. There is only one problem. Jared is not exactly human. He’s a Nephilim, an angel/human hybrid, descended from a cursed line of fallen angels known as the Watchers. Having a half-demon boyfriend who’s under a curse from God can be tough enough. But then Grace decides that she wants to help free Jared from the curse by killing his angel father, Azazel, who is bound up in the Abyss, where he will be judged at the End of Days. She has a powerful ally in her guardian angel Ariel, who has given her a weapon: a Song that can tame demons. With a crew of loyal friends, Grace and Jared will travel to the ends of the earth, battling the forces of heaven and hell that seek to defeat them. Yet as their love grows stronger, they will find themselves in danger of succumbing to the very corruption that caused the Watchers’ downfall.

Opinion:

Don’t hate me for this guys

….but this is a review of an unfinished book. I know, I know…it’s all very dismal.

I am forgoing my own synopsis of this book for my review, as the plot above gives all the information that is needed to read this story. Though I did not end up finishing this book, it doesn’t mean it’s the most terrible thing that has ever hit a bookshelf. It really isn’t. It’s a fast read, easy to follow, basically enjoyable, and the writing is fair. The main reason I couldn’t finish Forlorn, was because I lost interest and I didn’t care for it enough to pick it back up once I had closed it. I am quite confident that I could have finished it, but there were just too many distracting flaws in it for me to continue.

This story starts with a prologue, in which it describes what happens to Grace when she is involved in a car accident with her parents. Here we learn that Grace had a guardian angel watching over her, and that really is where the story takes off. At first, I kind of liked that the writing in the prologue was short and to the point. It is sort of “clipped” or in “bullet note” form for the reader so only the most important points are said. However, this made the scene feel less important than it should have. It made me not take it seriously, and in turn made me not really care about the deaths. Heartless? Ehhhhh, maybe. But come on, a book is SUPPOSED to make me care about the characters and events, isn’t it?

Another issue I had was that I kept getting a gnarly sense of Déjà vu while reading. I feel like I have read that EXACT car accident in another book. To make matters worse, THE Twilight moment happens. What moment do I speak of? Oh, you know that one from the first book. When Bella and Edward first catch some eyes and Edward gets all cringe-worthy weird and awkward? As if it wasn’t awkward enough if the book, the movie makes you literally scrunch your face up because of how weird it is. Well, that moment happens in this book and I couldn’t handle it.

As the story continues and I start to meet some of the other characters at Grace’s school, I just see a lot more cheesiness and simplicity. I feel no connection to any of the characters because they feel boring and underdeveloped, and they also over-dramatize everything. Once the story starts to pick up and some action starts happening, I still can’t quite get into it. Even though this is a Fantasy story and things are meant to be unbelievable, it just felt…literally unbelievable. It honestly just felt like too much “fluff” was being put into the story, and not enough substance.

I stopped reading when a character named Penny claimed that she was addicted to X. That did it for me, so I put the book down and haven’t touched it since. With all this said, I just couldn’t finish the story. Meaning: You may actually like it and I might just be ridiculous. It’s for you to decide in the end, this is just my opinion. I really wanted to like this story because of the fallen angel and demon themes (one of my favorite Fantasy themes), but it just wasn’t up to par for me.

1-star

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

519HD8mSPEL

Amazon.com – Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

Goodreads.com – Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

Barnesandnoble.com – Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

Bookdepository.com – Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, H.A. Leuschel, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction

Plot:

Five stories – Five Lives

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well-balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

Opinion: Hello readers, today I bring you a collection of short stories! Manipulated Lives showcases five different stories, with each story portraying a different form of manipulation. The reader is introduced to five characters who either come in contact with a manipulative person or prove to be the manipulator themselves.

The first story is called Tess and Tattoos and focuses on an elderly woman named Tess who resides in an “old folks home”. Tess is a very kind and artistic person and yearns for company and affection from others. As Tess forms a friendship with one of the staff members, she begins to open up about her past and an abusive relationship. I found Tess and Tattoos to be an uplifting and hopeful story about friendship and acceptance. Tess was a very gentle character who had been manipulated when she was younger into staying in an abusive relationship. Though this story is about how Tess was manipulated by another, I found that Tess even had her own forms of manipulation that were more positive. She would do small things in the mornings of her assisted living home to receive extra attention from staff, and this COMPLETELY pulled on my heartstrings. I think this is a FANTASTIC example of how manipulation doesn’t always have to be negative either.

The second story is called The Spell and is one of the longer short stories in the collection. It is about a woman named Sophie who meets a young boy named Leo and forms an instant kinship with him. Soon after Sophie meets Leo’s father (David) and they begin to date. Sophie becomes a mother figure for Leo, as his mother is out of the picture. David explains that Leo’s mother was a horrible and manipulative woman, and was put into a mental hospital years before. The Spell is interesting because there are two manipulators that come into Sophie’s life. One more obvious than the other. I found this dynamic to be very interesting, and it proves how hard it is to know when someone is manipulating you. Like Sophie, I am still not quite sure who was telling the truth by the end of this story. And like life, sometimes you never really know.

The third story, Runaway Girl, really hits home for me. This story was the one I really connected with, and it left my heart aching quite a bit after reading it. It follows a sixteen-year-old named Holly who is saving up every penny she has in order to run away to Scotland to live with distant family. One day at school, a boy named Luke starts to show interest in Holly. At first Luke is charming and caring with Holly, but that quickly changes. He begins taking advantage of her for her money, and smoothly talks his way out of things to continue manipulating her. I was once a Holly, so this story really resonated with me. It saddens me that this sort of thing happens a lot to young girls and women, and that so many boys/men can get away with it. I adore the ending and the strength Holly has, you go girl!

The Narcissist is the fourth story in this collection, and a great example of another type of manipulator. In this case, the character the reader follows is the manipulative person. The reader is introduced to an old man in a hospital who is dying and is having a hard time remembering his life due to his medical condition. Eventually, the reader learns that this man has been manipulating people his entire life in order to get himself ahead. He lived a double life and challenged and mocked anyone who tried to tell him he was wrong or incapable of something. In the end, he does something horrible which leads him to dying alone. This story ends on a sad note where I wished that the main character could have realized things sooner. Karma, karma, karma.

The last story is The Perfect Child and is about a woman who coddles and gives way too much to her child, and the repercussions of doing so. This mother spends most of her life making excuses for her “perfect child” by blaming others for his faults and insisting that he does no wrong. This obviously teaches her child how to manipulate others for his advantage, especially his mother. I know a mother and son just like these characters, and let me tell you, this author is SPOT ON. It is a great example of how a parent needs to be more objective and standoffish with certain things when it comes to raising their kids, in order to teach them right from wrong. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect child.

Go out and get this story guys, the writing is descriptive and paints a beautiful picture for the reader to get lost in. I think anyone can connect with at least one story in this book, and hopefully it can bring clarity to your personal life. I am so glad to have read Manipulated Lives, and so grateful for the author for reaching out to me. I think this is a great story for all ages to read, because it can teach everyone something different. I strongly urge you to read this, and if not you, your friends or kids! There are so many important lessons in these stories. I wish someone would have given me this book years ago. It is something EVERYONE should read!

5-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

41nC8MiHyZL

Amazon.com – A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Goodreads.com – A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Barnesandnoble.com – A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Bookdepository.com – A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Teen & YA/Coming-of-Age/Fiction

Plot:

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

Opinion:

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a refreshingly different sort of story that centers on two young teens. After stumbling upon this story on NetGalley and liking the description that was provided, I requested it with an excitement to see what I would be getting into. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. This story feels genuine and realistic, and there is an innocence around it that hugs the reader until the end.

For years Steffi has lived with a crippling anxiety that has ruled her life. Her social anxiety has caused her to become a selective mute, and she is only able to speak freely and comfortably around her family and best friend. At school the teachers are understanding to Steffi’s situation, and it allows Steffi to sink into the shadows and become invisible to her peers. But when a new boy enters her school, Steffi realizes that she might not be as invisible as she thought. Rhys transfers to Steffi’s school in the hopes of having a more normal school experience, even though his hearing impairment requires special attention from teachers. Together Rhys and Steffi find common ground by way of communicating through sign language and form an instant friendship. As they grow closer and a relationship begins to form, Steffi notices herself starting to change for the better. A Quiet Kind of Thunder showcases the hardships two teens face as they navigate through school and personal relationships, while also learning how to adapt themselves into a normal way of life.

I found A Quiet Kind of Thunder to be a very unique and endearing YA story. I found Steffi’s situation to be VERY interesting…a selective mute? WHAT?! Steffi explains that she is psychically able to speak, but her social anxiety and fears make it hard for her to form sentences as easily as others do. Due to her having a hard time communicating in front of her peers, she chooses to be mute in public and at school. The reader catches up with Steffi as she starts her first year of school without her best friend by her side, which means she doesn’t have an ally or someone to talk freely to. But when Rhys comes along and her learns that she knows sign language, they form an instant friendship and understanding.

This story really gives the reader an inside look into what it is like for teens with hearing and speaking impairments. For Steffi, her parents explain to her how hard it’s going to be to go to University and to have a life on her own when she is unable to communicate with others. For Rhys, the reader sees that a lot of times he gets lost in translation if he is unable to read lips or if someone isn’t speaking in front of him. It made me much more aware of both conditions and made me realize how much we take for granted on a daily basis.

In regards to the writing and story, I found Steffi to be very mature for her age…but maybe even, too mature? I found her speaking to be very eloquent and beyond her years, which made me feel that it was a bit unbelievable. I also found the characters of Rhys and Steffi to be a little too positive and peppy. Obviously, I am not saying that these two should be depressed and sulky! I just thought that their characters were very fluffed and over-the-top with how perky they were. The manner in which they spoke was very formal, and it makes them feel a bit detached from their emotions. These are teenagers, not adult acquaintances! It felt a bit too “cookie cutter” for me, and it made me not connect with them as much as I would have liked. This was bothering me a lot while reading and is a reason why I didn’t fall 100% in love with the story.

The plot was entertaining, and I liked where the author went with the relationship between Rhys and Steffi. Their conditions put stress on their relationship and the relationships around them, and I thought the author showcased these hardships effectively. It was empowering to watch Steffi grow and begin to succeed. The dynamic of how it affected Rhys was something that any couple could relate to, and I began to really feel for his character in that sense. These conditions can make a person feel very alone and isolated unintentionally, and it was sad to see Rhys begin to feel defeated.

Overall, I enjoyed this read but I didn’t love it. It was even-paced, keeps the readers attention, and is entertaining and informative. In the end, I wanted a little more grit and raw truth from these characters. That being said, I think this might be aimed at a younger audience. Though this won’t be one of those books that I put on my “Have to Read Again” shelf, I still found it to be a sweet story that had a strong amount of innocence.

3-5-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF

Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1) by Amanda Hocking

34964846

Amazon.com – Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie 1) by Amanda Hocking

Goodreads.com – Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie 1) by Amazon Hocking

Barnesandnoble.com – Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie 1) by Amanda Hocking

Bookdepository – Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie 1) by Amanda Hocking

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy

Plot:

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin must decide where her loyalties lie and if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Opinion:

A slaying female heroine, naughty immortals hell-bent (haha, pun) on staying alive, and long walks into the underworld. Suh-Woon.

Kind of.

A Valkyrie has the sole duty of returning immortals to the afterlife once their lives are up. As one of the feared and sometimes hated Valkyrie, Malin dedicates her life to her job. When given a target, Malin knows not to ask questions and to complete her task as quick and efficiently as possible; when your time is up, your time is up. As Malin trains alongside her mother and learns her ways, she proves that she is almost ready to go out on her own. But when a boy named Asher attacks Malin in her apartment, she learns that her mother may have let one of her targets go in the past…and the repercussions involve the death of an innocent and the fate of their existence.

Sounds like a killer fantasy tale of badass female fighters and demons, right? Well, it is. It’s packed with action, has an INCREDIBLY strong female lead, a little romance, a little betrayal, and the ever-loving descent into the underworld. Though the author, Amanda Hocking, has laced this book with everything I love in a story, I still wasn’t completely blown away. I was intrigued with the direction that it took, and it successfully pulled me in. I just didn’t feel like I HAD to keep reading it. It didn’t seem to flow as easily and naturally as the other works from Amanda, and it left me a little disappointed.

Do not let that discourage you, because I am still giving this book a semi-positive review. I can honestly report that I did find enjoyment out of Between the Blade and the Heart, and I am still impressed with the idea and plot. I think my main concern was that I felt a lack of connection to the story and the characters. Malin is a fierce and insanely awesome main character, but I don’t feel like I know her as well as I would have liked. For me, the character and world development didn’t translate properly into something relatable. Obviously, it’s hard to do that in a Fantasy story about creatures that don’t exist. But making the reader feel like they could fall into this world with just a touch to the page is what makes a Fantasy story relatable, and I just wasn’t feeling it with this one.

I think my final opinion on Between the Blade and the Heart is “Eh okay, good…but not my favorite”. Since this is a series, I probably won’t go on to read book 2. BUT, there have been many a series to turn my opinions around in the second installment, so I will have to wait and see. Honestly guys, Amanda Hocking is one of my favorite authors, so I am a bit bummed out to be writing a not so stellar review for one of her works. I know this story really worked for a lot of other readers, but it just wasn’t all the way there for me.

2-5-stars

 

612B40E9C1CD2F68AD9B9A8097CED4FF