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

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel Blog Tour

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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

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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.

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About the Author

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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

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

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Book Review: Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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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

 

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Book Review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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Genre: YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

Opinion: As I sit in my desk chair at work, obviously not working, I can’t help but wonder why I don’t stop to write a review before moving onto the next book in a series. Once again I have read book 2 and then immediately rushed to book 3 without even a second’s hesitation. Now I am sitting here with the misfortune of having to decipher WTF happened in books 2 and 3, because they have COMPLETELY blended together now. Obviously my need to know what happens next overshadows my responsibility to share my thoughts with you guys, but you are just going to have to suffer due to my selfishness. Book obsessions are a fickle mistress my darlings ❤

If you read my review for book 1 in this series, Red Queen, then you know that I was having some deep deeeeeeep issues with the fact that I couldn’t connect with the characters. Reading that a character is sad/guilty/happy/blah blah blah is COMPLETELY different than feeling what the characters feels. I don’t want to be TOLD that Mare is disappointed in herself for getting more people killed, I want to know it and feel it. As I was hoping would happen, the author has only improved in this while she has continued to write. After reading Glass Sword I was finally starting to feel the things that Mare, Cal, Kilorn, Farley and various other characters were feeling. As the story started building into a darker and more cutthroat story, the personalities and actions of the characters grew as well. Though I still feel as if Mares emotions aren’t translating as well as they could, I definitely am noticing an improvement and growth in the writing.

For me, halfway into this story is where it really starts excelling. Mare and her “team” have begun the search to recruit/rescue newbloods, and the abilities that these new characters show are KILLER! Their skills range from manipulating sound, teleporting, playing with gravity, changing ones physical appearance to match another, or being able to kill someone or something with only touch. Here is where the reader is introduced to some amazing new characters, and where I think the story actually comes into its own. As they start training the newcomers to fight and control their abilities, it starts to become clear that we are in for some epic battles in the next few books.

I am all for action scenes and cutthroat battles happening in a Fantasy story, but I am really starting to tune out of these sequences in this series. I keep finding myself skipping over a lot of these scenes, and I mean just flipping pages and not even looking back. I think there is a way to detail a battle without using so much wording, because this is what keeps losing my interest. In the Throne of Glass series there is a TON of fighting and killing happening, but I never lost interest once. I think this is because Sarah J. Maas really knows how to describe a moment in detail, but in a way that you are hanging onto her every word and not feeling as if you are being thrown too much information. In the Red Queen series this just wasn’t happening, and I couldn’t help but skip past these parts.

Glass Sword is where we also have a heart attack moment in which the author hints at a love triangle. But then again, there’s already a weird love triangle happening between Maven, Cal and Mare isn’t there? Well for those of you who love a nice romantic drama full of heart ache and emotional woes between three people…sorry. That’s not really happening here. In saying the least amount possible: some emotions are expressed, some emotions are respectfully shot down, and some other emotions are…emotional. J But fear not my romantic readers!  Book 2 is where the heat begins between Cal and Mare, and by heat I mean a very VERY dim flicker of flame on a tealight candle. Yes, it’s kind of a letdown. Though now I think we are all starting to realize that Victoria Aveyard has decided to focus more on the story, less on the romance. Which I can full on respect. You go girl!

With that said, I think this is a nice step towards what is to come in this series. I always see book 2 as the stepping stone for everything else that is building up in a story, and I feel like that with this one as well. I was glad to see that some of my concerns from Red Queen had improved in Glass Sword, and I can’t wait to see if things only get better. Though this series still hasn’t hit the WOW factor for me and has left me a little disappointed, I still find it an enjoyable read. If an author is keeping at least part of me interested and I am speeding through the series, then they have to be doing something right. I have already finished King’s Cage and hope to have a review up soon, so keep a look out guys!

3-5-stars

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Genre: YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. There, before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess, and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays the only certainty is betrayal.

This sweeping story of palace intrigue, class hierarchy, and deception will keep readers hurtling along, desperate to find out Mare’s fate. Her honesty and determination, quick wit, and no-holds-barred attitude will surely make readers fall in love with her.

Opinion: Red Queen has been sitting pretty on my bookshelf for a few months now, but I keep putting it off for a few reasons. The first being that I had WAY too many books from authors/publishing houses to get through, and the second being that I didn’t want to get addicted to this series and read it too quickly…which I always do. The Red Queen series has been very hyped up in the book community, so I figured it must be amazing. I found myself really enjoying the story line, but something was missing for me.

Mare Barrow lives in a world where humanity is separated by the color of your blood. Silver bloods are blessed with powers that make them both godlike and elite, while the Red bloods are forced into servitude due to their lack of abilities. Mare, being a Red blood, has been living in poverty her whole life and has mastered the art of stealth and pick-pocketing in order to survive. But as her 18th birthday nears, so does her conscription into a never-ending war. As Mare desperately searches for a way to save herself and her best friend Kilorn from being put on the front lines, she finds herself in an even more compromising position…being a new servant to the Silver King. But when Mare begins work in her new position, her world flips upside down as she finds that she not only possesses an ability of her own, she is now betrothed to a Prince of the Silver court. With a hatred for the Silver kingdom and everything negative that they have brought against the Red bloods, Mare secretly joins the Scarlet Guard, a rebel group. Now Mare must decide who she can trust and how to survive, even if that means living with the enemy.

Long description I know, but these books are LONG. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games while reading this book, and I think it had to do with the themes of rebellion and a court of insane characters. The Silver bloods are very similar to those that live in the first 3 districts of The Hunger Games, they are cruel, cold, and calculated. Of course the obvious difference is that the Silver bloods possess some seriously amazing gifts from the gods. Their powers range from super strength, wielding fire, manipulating metal, having control over someones abilities or mind, and so on. These traits are what make the Silver bloods more powerful than the Red bloods, and what allows them to control the lives of every Red blood in their kingdom. The Silver bloods are a brutal group in how they act and what they can do, but their appearance only adds to their dominance. Having Silver blood running through their veins makes them look pale and hard, almost inhuman. These traits definitely work to serve as many reasons as to why the Silver bloods have taken power of the Red bloods, and why it has been so hard for the Red bloods to rise up over the years.

Mare Barrow is an interesting character. She is a Red blood and has been in poverty all of her life with her family. She has seen all three of her older brothers go off to war due to conscription, and she has fought hard to find a way to help provide for her family. Unfortunately for Mare, she lacks any particular skill and is unable to find herself work as an apprentice. While living in the shadow of her perfect sister, Mare uses her time to steal from the Silver bloods in order to compensate for what she cannot do. I like that mare has a fierce and quick tongue, and has no problem speaking her mind. She holds strong morals and beliefs, and she bares these on her shoulders throughout the story.

What I found frustrating was that the chemistry and connection between characters, and between myself and the characters, was really lacking. I didn’t feel Mare and Kilorn’s strong life-long connection to each other, or a connection between mare and any other character for that matter. The author EXPLAINS the relationship between Kilorn and Mare or how the bond between Mare and Cal and Maven grows, but I didn’t believe it. It’s like someone just telling you that they have undying trust for someone else, rather than you noticing it and believing it. I just didn’t buy it. So naturally when the romances started to come forward, I was left rolling my eyes and thinking that they felt forced and unnatural. I find this happening in so many YA stories now, and it saddens me. I JUST NEED MORE!

Characters aside, this story has a really great imaginative feel and flow. The world that the author has created is wonderfully described and made up, even though I sometimes get a little lost in the countless names of characters, places, and abilities.  There is A LOT of description and character reflecting in this story, so be prepared for that. I found myself skimming through some of the paragraphs once and awhile because of the overload of explanations, but that’s just me. Besides a lot of great detail putting this story together, the author does a great job of inserting some amazing blindsides and twists and turns. I honestly had NO IDEA that the story was going to take a turn like it did, and I LOVED it. I mean naturally I am a bit crushed, but I adore when an author can do something unexpected.

Long review I know, but this story deserves it. I know that my review ended up sounding a bit more negative than even I was expecting it to be, but rest assured that this story really is enjoyable. I think that because this story was so hyped up, I was expecting it to be “out of this world” amazing. I am currently reading book 2, Glass Sword, and trust me…it’s getting crazy good. I am hoping the character development improves and becomes stronger, because I really want to have a connection o these characters. Keep a lookout for my review of book 2, Glass Sword!

3-5-stars

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Book Review: A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, ABRAMS Kids, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Plot: In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .

Opinion:

WHEW! Listen up guys, because this is one book that NEEDS to be noted and fawned over.

“It draws you in. You twist your mind into new shapes. You start to understand Caverna…and you fall in love with her. Imagine the most beautiful woman in the world, but with tunnels as her long, tangled, snake-like hair. Her skin is dappled in traplantern gold and velvety black, like a tropical frog. Her eyes are cavern lagoons, bottomless and full of hunger. When she smiles, she has diamonds and sapphires for teeth, thousands of them, needle-thin.”

-The Kleptomancer, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell’s story begins at the young age of five, when she is found by Cheesemaker Grandible after falling into a vat of his curdling Neverfell milk. After rescuing her and taking one look at the young girl, Grandible notices the differences in the young child, covers her face with a mask, takes her in and appoints her as his apprentice. After some seven years later, Neverfell is accustomed to her life as a cheesemaker. But unable to remove her mask around other people or to leave the cheese tunnels, she finds herself fighting a curiosity about what lays beyond. Soon Neverfell’s opportunity to leave the tunnels presents itself, and she gets her first look at the world that she has been hidden from. But her freedom is short lived when her mask falls from her face, and what lies beneath is shown to the people of Caverna. Neverfell, unlike the residents of Caverna, is able to make expressions on her own without having to be taught. As word travels of Neverfell, she becomes sold to the highest bidder. Caverna is flushed with experts in dangerous and strange delicacies, and murder is just another game for the members of the court. Pushed into a world where Neverfell finds trust in the wrong people, she struggles to find a way to protect herself and to recover the memories that she feels may be lost forever. But most importantly, to find a way out of Caverna.

Caverna. Woah. This place is seriously vicious guys. Do you remember reading The Hunger Games and being introduced to the strange people in the capitol? These people were insane and followed bizarre fashion trends that made them both appealing and frightening. Trust me when I say, the capitol has NOTHING on the court in Caverna. These people are PSYCHOTIC. They create wines that have minds and temperaments of their own, cheeses that can explode upon a slight bump, and strange foods that have creatures trapped inside gelatin. Not only do they spend all of their free time trying to poison rival families or hire assassins, but they are unable to make facial expressions on their own. The higher up in society and the better-off you are, the more “Faces” you are able to buy for yourself. People of a lower faction usually are unable to have 1 to 3 faces, depending on their job titles.

How to prepare the perfect Cardlespray Wine:

“One hundred and three years…The grapes spoil if they are exposed to loud noises, so they are tended by a silent order of monks, and all the local birds are killed. The fruit can be harvested only at night during the new moon, and must be crushed by the feet of orphans. The barrels are stored deep in the earth, and only the softest, sweetest music is played to them, continually, for over a century. And after all this, the Wine is fit to be drunk…unless somebody throws it over a table.”

-The Grand Steward, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell finds herself caught right in the middle of the chaos that is Caverna. The people of the court are all trying to get her hands on her for personal benefit, she cannot remember her past, and there is a strange person labeled “the Kleptomancer” running around Caverna stealing incredible objects with no apparent motive. I felt so horrible for young Neverfell throughout this story, and it was honestly staring to feel like something out of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Her innocence started to become her downfall, and it was heartbreaking to see her trust in so many people that proved to be using her in a game much larger than her. Her character grows a great deal in this story however, and I really enjoyed who she becomes. She still has her morals and good intentions, but acquires a cunning and righteous personality by the end of the story. Not only does Neverfell work to help herself be free of Caverna, but she fights to free those who have no voice at all.

The writing in this story is AMAZING, and I can’t wait to start reading other books by Frances Hardinge. She writes with an amazing creative and descriptive style, and it almost feels like poetry after a while. She PERFECTLY set the scene for Caverna as being a dark and curious place, one that can both thrill and kill a person. I thought the entire idea for having a civilization underground was amazing, but one where the characters aren’t able to make their own facial expressions? GENIUS! I seriously couldn’t get enough of this story, and I am wishing it was a full-blown 20 book series. This is one of those stories you wish would make it to the big screen because of how dazzling it looks in your head, but one you fear they will completely ruin…like they usually do.

All in all, I LOVE this story! I have nothing negative to say, not one thing. I can’t help but give this book 5 stars, which I hope will lead to many of you going and purchasing this story RIGHT AWAY. It is the perfect amount of fantasy and science-fiction, and a great read that will twist your mind into two. This book is suitable for all ages, but the youngest I would say is Teens because the writing could get a little confusing for a younger audience.

5-stars

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Book Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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

Genre: Teen/YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was murdered in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives, and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

Opinion:

AHHHHH! THIS book! THIS FREAKING BOOK!

You are probably thinking to yourself Wow, WHAT about this book. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK! I have been searching high and low for a specific genre of story to read for WEEKS now. A story that will make my heart hurt and my stomach flip due to eloquent and depressing sentences. You know the kind of story I am talking about. The sort of tale that doesn’t just make you sorrowful, but a story that makes you MAKE yourself sorrowful because you don’t want to stop feeling what the characters feel.

Well, this story comes pretty close to that.

Call it a gift or a curse, but ever since Ivy was a child she knew when the people around her were going to die. The ability to see a countdown of each person’s remaining time over their heads has proved to be most difficult for Ivy, especially when her own death has been approaching quickly over the past few months. After the murder of her best friend, Ivy falls into a downward spiral as she realizes that she can’t save the people she loves. But the need to find out the truth about what happened begins to consume her, and soon Ivy finds herself on the trail to figuring out who the murderer is. As Ivy’s last weeks begin to draw near, she fights to live her final days instead of just watching them tick by.

I can’t express enough how much I loved the concept for this story. Ivy is forced to watch the people around her die as their life clock comes to an end, while feeling helpless the entire time because she has no way to save them. I felt like I had a truly strong connection to this character. She is a loner at school and made to feel like an outcast because of events from her past, but she has a snarky attitude and is quick to fire off amazing zingers. When first introduced to Ivy, the reader quickly learns that there is a sense that she has already given up in life. With the death of her best friend being so recent and her own clock only being a few months before ending, Ivy has an overwhelming sense of despair and sorrow engulfing her. She has nobody close to her that she can talk to, and her family is very distant and wrapped up in their own lives.

As the story progresses, Ivy starts to become obsessed with finding out who killed her friend and why. In regards to the mystery aspect of this story, I was pretty surprised to figure out who it was. I had about one or two main suspects that I thought had definitely done it, but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong. The point where this story starts to get truly heart wrenching, apart from the already depressing events, is when the reader learns about Myers. Myers is the ex-boyfriend of Ivy, and let’s just say that relationship ended horribly on a night when everything else shattered Ivy’s world. I found that this author EXCELS when she is describing a sorrowful or dark moment. Not many authors know how to capture a feeling in words, and I thought Kelsey Sutton did a great job of it. This story is riddled with amazing descriptions of sadness and regret, and I adored every single minute of it.

Even after he’s gone I let my fingers linger on the glass, until the cold creeps under my skin and into my bones. Maybe if it goes deep enough, it will numb everything.

As numb as death.”

-Ivy

Overall, this was a TRULY wonderful read. I was hooked the entire time and felt connected to the characters and the story throughout the read. I am excited to see what else this author has done. If her writing is as good as this in all of her stories, then she is going to become a favorite of mine quickly. I recommend his to all ages, but primarily Teen and YA readers. It has a strong message of finding acceptance and living your life to the fullest, which I think anyone can relate to.

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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Blood Rose Rebellion is available for Pre-order, and will be available on March 28, 2017. Please see the links below:

Amazon.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Goodreads.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Barnesandnoble.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Bookdepository.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Opinion: As soon as I requested this book on Netgalley.com, I had my fingers crossed for DAYS in the hopes that I would be accepted to read and review it. After seeing quite a bit of hype about the release of this book on Goodreads and Bookstagram, I read the description and immediately felt the gut-wrenching yearning to get my hands on an ARC copy! Not only did I get that ARC copy, but I became absolutely enthralled as soon as I started reading.

In Anna Arden’s world, the high society figures referred to as Luminate wield magic and power.  Anna, even though her family is of high society and nobility, was pronounced barren at her Confirmation at the age of eight. But one thing Anna can do is unintentionally break the spells that others cast, which is exactly what she does on the most important night for her sister. Without knowing what to do with her, Anna’s family sends her off to Hungary with her grandmother. In the hopes that Anna will return a proper and civilized lady, Anna sets off to a new life. But things in Hungary turn from bad to worse as a rebel tracks Anna down, begging her to use her ability to break spells to destroy the binding – which restricts the use of magic to only Luminate. Soon Anna finds herself stuck in the middle of a rebellion, unsure which side to stand with and against.

Sometimes with such a hyped up book, I worry that once I start reading I will lose interest or it won’t be as amazing as everyone claims. I can happily admit that this story turned out to be WONDERFUL! I loved the imagery that the author used, especially how she turned our world into a place with magic and strange creatures. The idea that Anna is barren and cannot wield magic like the rest of her family and fellow Luminate jump-starts the quest for Anna to find out who or WHAT she is. The reader follows Anna through different countries where she meets people of different walks of life, and becomes entangled in wanting to assist the rebels in Hungary. Anna finds herself in a compromising position: help break the binding and let magic be free to anyone that possesses the ability, or to side with her fellow Luminate and let magic be “given” to nobility and those “deserving”.

I personally liked the character of Anna, but I felt that she lacked a bit of substance. I didn’t quite make a connection to her and to the emotions that the author was trying to portray…as a matter of fact, I don’t really recall making a strong connection with any of the characters. I felt curious about what might happen to them and hoped that they wouldn’t die, but I wasn’t too chocked up about it when some of them actually did die. The relationship between Anna and Gábor starts out cold and prickly but soon turns into the romance of this book. Because Anna is Luminate and Gábor is Romani (gypsy), their love is forbidden and would be frowned upon. I found it interesting that at the end of the story, their relationship suddenly doesn’t seem to be THAT forbidden. This felt rushed and thrown together to me. What will her parents say?? Where were they?

This story has a very unique blend of historical and fantastical elements. The characters do a lot of traveling in the world, which obviously brings the use of different languages. After Anna travels to Hungary, the language barriers start to rise. There is A LOT of words that get thrown around that most of us won’t be knowing, so it makes reading a little confusing. I was getting lost at times when Gábor would say “gadzhe” or when the names of a castle or town would be said. Little did I know that there was a glossary of the words and of Luminate orders in the back of the book… *sigh*.

Those tiny things aside, I loved this story and where the author took it. Though the ending felt a little rushed to me, I think that such an extravagant story is always going to be hard to wrap up into one book. I am VERY excited to read book 2 when it is released and to see where the author is going to take Anna. I really recommend this story to anyone that loves a YA story that involves fantasy and adventure!

4-stars

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