Thursday, July 31, 2014

GET BRANDED by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki + GIVEAWAY!

Get-Branded-banner

Welcome to the GET BRANDED promo for

Branded (Sinners #1)
by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.


Branded-Cover



Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.

To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.

Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.

Constant darkness.

Brutal and savage violence.

Excruciating pain.

Every day is a fight for survival.

But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.


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Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
Publisher: Month9Books



Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams.

The rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down, making sure the knot is secure. It seems sturdy enough. My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my throat. Sweat pours down my back.

Death and I glare at each other through my tears.

I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy memories here.

I’m ready to go. On the count of three.

I inhale, preparing myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye. It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice. He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now.

A door slams in the hallway, almost causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand waiting with the rope hanging around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through the walls.

Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever. I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head.

Peering through the eyehole in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’ door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s home.

It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me.

My father would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the front door shout my name.

On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too. Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob, twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I sprint into the hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder.

Reaching the fifth floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder.

“Let me in! Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running, knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what happens to sinners.

Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go without trying.

Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now.

My previous desolation evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest.

Gotta keep going.

“Stop!” Their voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they command. They’re gaining on me.

I resist the urge to glance back, running into what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost.

My first instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell leaves me vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners.

I push myself to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against their black leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and closer until I know I’m trapped.

Never did I imagine they’d come for me. Never did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d join them.

“You’re a sinner,” they say. “Time to leave.”

I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them, even as I shiver with fear.

“There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother this will be for everyone,” a guard says.

I cringe into the blackness along the wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care.

The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders digging into their arms.

Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes. My dignity is all I have left. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how much it hurts.

Did they need so many guards to capture me?

I’m not carrying any weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns on activities like that.

The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass, and the air grows warmer, more humid the farther we drive. The landscape mutates from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole. Twenty-foot cement walls encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year in twelfth grade.

To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does.

“All sinners go through a transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think about the things I’ve been told.

“You won’t last too long, though. Young girls like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face.

Get your hands off me, you pig. I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him.

They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole.

Few have seen the Commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation.

I lose myself in thoughts of my father.

“Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided unconditional love.

“Get out,” the guard says while pulling me to my feet. The vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. The doors slide open and the two guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in front of us, looking barren in the darkness.

The coolness of the air sends a shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line, and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white with fear. Some are hardened criminals; others, like me, are innocent. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny microchip.

I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined up facing the wall. Glancing right, I see one of the men crying.

“I didn’t mean to hit the guard. I swear it!” he pleads.

I turn my head when I see a guard whip out his baton. The thumping sounds of his beating unnerve me.

“Spread your legs,” one of the guards says icily.

They remove my outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body.

What do they think I can possibly be hiding? I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what they’re doing to me. “MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room, trying to cover up.
One.


Two.


Three.


Four.


Five of us sit in the holding room. A woman clings to a man sitting next to her. She grips his arm and I can see the whitening of her knuckles. Her eyes meet mine and then she quickly turns away. He’s bent over his hands, defeated.

“I’m not the criminal they say I am,” he whispers. His voice breaks.

One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure. I hear screaming from somewhere inside. An agonizing amount of time passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door opens.

“Lexi Hamilton.”


A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have time to look back. The first thing I see is a large photo of a regal-looking man on the wall. His frame is wide and he has cobalt blue eyes and a shock of black hair. He’s handsome, middle-aged, and wears the uniform of the Commander. My jaw drops open. It can’t be…

Then the door slams closed. I feel their strong arms pick me up and place me on a table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice cube. They exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks.

“Don’t move. This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.”

A wet cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places a metal collar around my neck.

Click. Click. Click.

The collar locks into place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the painted black words above me.


The Seven Deadly Sins:


Lust — Blue

Gluttony — Orange

Greed — Yellow

Sloth — Black

Wrath — Red

Envy — Green

Pride — Purple


“Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.”

Within seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks.

“GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature drops, and the doctor loosens the collar.

He removes it and sits me up. Excruciating pain rips through me, and I’m on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out.

Stainless steel counters and boring white walls press in on me. And that large, gilded photo stares at me like it’s watching. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.” His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as usual.

I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor.

“Are you going to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire up from my neck to my jaw, making me wince.

He shrugs and points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my clothes and pulling the shirt over my head, I try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with my name.

“Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he says. I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my body and opens his fist.

“Give it to me.” His eyes turn to slits. “Don’t make me rip off your finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I beg.

“My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me.

“It was my mother’s ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his eyes, he reached for my hand and said, “Lexi, you’re exactly like her. She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the engraving.

You can overcome anything… short of death.

“You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking my life, dignity, and respect?”

A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist.

“Look at me,” he commands. I look up and he smiles with arrogance.

“What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?”

“Nothing,” I respond, confused.

“What color are they?”

“Turquoise.” I glower at him.

“Interesting,” he says, regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.” Reality slaps me across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can't take them from me. I twist the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand.

“Take the damn ring,” I say. I walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the outside.

“You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and secure it into a ponytail. My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead in the darkness, I almost run into a guard standing on the sidewalk.

“Watch where you’re going,” he says, shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness of his voice.

“Cole, this is your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new home.” The guard departs with a salute.

“Let’s move,” Cole says.

I take two steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up, and I see his face for the first time.


Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author


Courtesy of authors' website
Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.






Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Twilight (Season 8, #7) by Joss Whedon - Ashley's Review


Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Twilight (Season 8, #7)
Authors: Brad Meltzer (Scriptwriter), Joss Whedon (Scriptwriter), Georges Jeanty (Penciller), Karl Moline (Penciller), Andy Owens (Inker), Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
Publication Date: October 6, 2010


Synopsis: Buffy Summers and her Slayer army have suffered heavy losses throughout Season Eight and faced scores of threats new and old, but the one mystery connecting it all has been the identity of the Big Bad-Twilight!

In this penultimate volume of Season Eight, New York Times best-selling novelist and comics writer Brad Meltzer (The Book of Lies, Identity Crisis) joins series artist Georges Jeanty in beginning the buildup to the season finale in the story line that finally reveals the identity of Twilight! In the aftermath of the battle with Twilight's army, Buffy has developed a host of new powers, but when will the other shoe drop, and will it be a cute shoe, or an ugly one? Still reeling from the losses of war, Willow goes looking for missing allies, and discovers a horrifying truth about several of the Slayer army's recent ordeals. Adding to the mayhem is the unexpected return of Angel, in his Season Eight debut!

This volume also features two stories from series creator and executive producer Joss Whedon!

* Collects Buffy Season Eight #31 — #35, and the Willow one-shot.

My The Long Way Home (#1) Review                 My Time of Your Life (#4) Review
My No Future For You (#2) Review                    My Predators and Prey (#5) Review
My Wolves at the Gate (#3) Review                   My Retreat (#6) Review



----------------------------------------------

Review: In the aftermath of the battle in Tibet, Buffy suddenly has all of these unexplained powers, Willow is trying to find their missing friends, and Twilight is causing more trouble. Oh, and we finally find out who Twilight actually is!

This was an interesting enough volume, but it did leave me confused and wanting more in the way of plot. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was interesting to see Angel and Buffy reunited and to finally learn what all of this Twilight stuff is about. I did not really care for all of the Buffy/Angel space sex, but I guess maybe it was important to the Twilight mythology? I think it could have been covered in way fewer pages regardless. It was weird and definitely too long. (It's a little difficult for me to write this review because all I can really remember about this volume are the Twilight reveal and the Buffy/Angel space sex.)

I think I was more excited for Spike to come back than I was for Angel to be back. Spike has an awesome steampunk spaceship now! And weird bug minions. And I really enjoyed all the digs back and forth between Spike and Angel - I definitely missed that. I wish there had been more Spike though. 

The dialogue and the artwork in this volume was better, I think, than it has been in the past. There were more pop culture references, more jokes, and better explanations of things. I liked that Giles knew pretty much all along about Twilight. And I enjoyed the fight scene between Faith and Twilight - his taunts make SO much more sense once he's finally revealed. 

Overall, this wasn't one of my favorite volumes of this season. I think there was a lot lacking and a lot that could have been different. I was a little disappointed that Joss didn't take the lead on this script - you'd think he'd want to be in charge of the Big Reveal instead of leaving it to someone else. This volume was ambitious, and I'm not convinced it accomplished everything it set out to do. I'd only give it a 3/5, although there were parts that I did really like.


--Ashley

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) by Ann Aguirre - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group/Feiwel & Friends on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1)
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Synopsis: Revenge is a dish best served cold.


Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

Why?: I really enjoyed Ann's Razorland series (at least what I've read so far), so I was really excited when I heard about this book. It sounds like something totally different from Enclave, and I think that it has a lot of potential to be really great. Also, a Faustian deal, revenge, secrets, and fiends? Count me in!


Expectations: I expect this book to be pretty intense. Edie is on a mission for revenge, and that never usually ends well. Or nicely. I have pretty high expectations overall for this book, especially since I've read and enjoyed some of Ann's other YA books. I'm hoping for a fast-paced thriller with some magic and a little romance maybe!


Judging a book by its cover: I absolutely love this cover. It's simple, yet powerful. The infinity symbol could mean so many things, and I like how this book about revenge has a cover that looks like it's splattered with blood. I mean, not that blood is ever a good way to take revenge... but it makes for a really cool looking cover. I would totally pick this book up off of a shelf based on just the cover. I can't wait to have a copy for my shelves!



--Ashley

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat (Season 8, #6) by Jane Espenson - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat (Season 8, #6)
Authors: Jane Espenson (Scriptwriter), Georges Jeanty (Penciller), Andy Owens (Inker), Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
Publication Date: March 3, 2010

Synopsis: Buffy Season Eight Volume 6 showcases the first retreat of the Slayer legion. Vampires have solid footing at the top of the totem and Slayers have been crushed to the bottom -- in short, no one likes Buffy anymore . . . least of all this season's mysterious Big Bad, Twilight, who is hot on her magical trail!

Now that it's the world against Slayers, Buffy must find a way to return the status quo to . . . status quo -- and keep her girls alive long enough to do it! Enter Oz, the only person/werewolf Buffy knows who is down with the suppression of magic, and can take the Slayer army off of Twilight's magic-specific radar.

With Oz's assistance, the Slayers and Wiccans try to become "normal" through meditation and hard labor -- although, not everyone sees the advantage of being magicless, namely, Willow, Giles, and Andrew. And they could be right. After all, is a peaceful life for a Slayer even possible?

* Oz appears in Buffy Season Eight!

* Collects issues #26-#30 of the ongoing series.


My The Long Way Home (#1) Review                    My Time of Your Life (#4) Review
My No Future For You (#2) Review                      My Predators and Prey (#5) Review
My Wolves at the Gate (#3) Review


-------------------------------------------------------


Review: I totally did not read the synopsis for this volume before I read it (who needs to do that, it's just more Buffy and the continuation of season 8!), so I had absolutely no idea that Oz was supposed to make an appearance. I was pleasantly surprised and I think it made me enjoy this volume even more! I also really enjoyed that the title, Retreat, is totally a pun. 

Retreat deals with the affects of Twilight making Slayers shunned in society. Vampires are (obviously) the better of the two, and Slayers everywhere are regarded as terrible, vicious, super-strong people who are killing off the innocent vampires. Everything is upside down, and Buffy does what she has to to keep her girls safe. She's also still trying to deal with what she learned about Willow in Time of Your Life, so this retreat is as much to save Willow as it is to save the Slayers.

I really enjoyed that Oz is the one to help the girls learn how to let go of their magic and channel it into the earth and manual labor. It's interesting to see what happens when the girls become human again. Especially Willow. She's been powerful for so long that it's hard for her to adjust to being normal again. I really liked the scenes with Willow and Oz too. Even though Willow isn't interested in Oz romantically anymore, she's still hurt by how he ran off and disappeared and started a new life without her. 

The Slayers end up taking on Twilight's army head on in this volume and calling on some ancient magicks to help them defeat said army. Things never go according to plan though, and the battle becomes a lot deadlier than intended. I think this is probably the most intense volume of this season, since most of it is the battle with Twilight and the ramifications of wakening three wrathful goddesses. We also get to see another character who hasn't been around for a while, so that was nice! 

I really enjoyed this volume, and I can definitely tell that the Twilight story-line is wrapping up. It's almost like this volume serves as a reason for Buffy to finally pursue Twilight, since he kind of steals some things that are pretty important to her. I would still recommend these comics to fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! They're not exactly the same as the show, but the heart of the series is there and that's what counts. At least for me. 4/5!


--Ashley

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries - Vlog Extravaganza + Giveaway!

Hello!

We're really excited today to be hosting Jessie Humphries, author of Killing Ruby Rose, as a part of her vlog tour! Jessie's publisher, Amazon/SkyScape hired a film crew to video her major extravanganza launch party in Las Vegas, NV and interview Jessie, the filmmaker of her trailer, and more! Some of those videos were used for local media, but the rest are being used for this vlog tour.

Jessie is also giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, a copy of Killing Ruby Rose in audio book format, and a Killing Ruby Rose T-shirt, so don't forget to enter via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

Our video is an interview with movie director JJ Huckin on the night of Jessie's launch party. Let us know what you think in the comments!



About the Book



Title: Killing Ruby Rose
Author: Jessie Humphries
Publication Date: May 1st, 2014

Synopsis: In sunny southern California, Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died six months ago, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope with her father’s death, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Mahnolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal), but after months of therapy and more than a few months of pathetic parenting by her mom, District Attorney Jane Rose, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself. 

But when Ruby ends up killing a murderer in defense of another, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up changing Valentino red for prison orange. 

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?


About the Author


Jessie Humphries was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. She received a BA from San Diego State University, where she cultivated her love of the beach, then lived in France, where she cultivated her weakness for shoes, and finally earned a law degree from UNLV, where she cultivated her interest in justice. After practicing law for several years she began writing, and, appropriately, her debut novel Killing Ruby Rose is a thriller about vigilante justice set in sunny southern California with a shoe-obsessed protagonist. Jessie currently writes and practices law in Las Vegas, where she lives with her husband and children.






The Giveaway!

During this exclusive vlog event, Jessie is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, a copy of Killing Ruby Rose in audio book format, and a Killing Ruby Rose T-shirt!




We hope you enjoyed the interview as much as we did! Thanks for stopping by! :)


--Ashley & Paul

Monday, July 28, 2014

RELEASE BLITZ: Oceanborn (Aquarathi #2) by Amalie Howard + GIVEAWAY!


Check out the blog tour HERE


HAPPY RELEASE DAY, OCEANBORN!



Author Amalie Howard has a message for you... 





ABOUT THE BOOK


The coronation is over.

But the battle has just begun.

Nerissa Marin has won her crown. But can she keep it? Already, her ties to the human realm are driving a wedge between Nerissa and her people. When word arrives that her part-human prince consort, Lo, has been poisoned, she makes the difficult choice to leave Waterfell and return landside. As the royal courts debate her decision, even more disturbing rumors surface: a plot is rising against her, led by someone she least expects.

On land, Nerissa learns another shocking truth: Lo does not remember who she is. As her choice to try to save him threatens her hold on her crown, changing loyalties and uncertainty test her courage in ways she could never have imagined. Nerissa will have one last chance to prove herself as a queen …and save the undersea kingdom she loves.










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Order your copy of book one, WATERFELL
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SEAMONSTER by Amalie Howard (Aquarathi #1.5)
Available on AMAZON for only $.99















AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.com.

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The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick - Paul's REVIEW


**I was provided an edvanced ecopy of this book by ANGRY ROBOT via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

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Title: The Shadow Master
Author: Craig Cormick
Year Published: 2014

My Pre-Reading of The Shadow Master

Synopsis: In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation. 

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack...

Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.


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Review: I like the ambiguity that goes along with the worldbuilding in The Shadow Master. Is it really an alternate history? Or is it somehow a future world rebuilding the past? When a book brings forth so many questions in the reader's mind, it is either super frustrating or awe inspiring. This book is the latter. I wanted to know so much more than was on the page.


The second half of this book does take a turn for a different vibe, though. It is strange. Strange isn't always bad and I don't know how exactly I feel about the strangeness of the ending of this novel. I did enjoy it though. It just was very unexpected. 

If you are a fan of unique stories that don't fit into the box of modern genre books, you should definitely try this book out! I give this book a 4/5.


--PAUL

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Sourcebooks Fire on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: The Girl From the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Synopsis: You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night. 


A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out. 

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge", based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

Why?: I never saw The Ring (the US version or the original Japanese one) since I've only recently started watching/enjoying horror movies, but the story really interests me. This book seems like it will be just as terrifying but since it's told from the perspective of the girl, I think it will be really interesting. Why does she haunt people (other than the fact that some jerk threw her down a well)? How is her fate tied to the fate of the strange boy? What is the boy's secret?! I just have so many questions!


Expectations: I really enjoyed "Dexter" - both the TV series and the first book - so I'm hoping that a girl who kills murderers will be just as intriguing as a serial killer who kills serial killers. Well, except she's a ghost and not a blood splatter analyst. I'm also expecting this book to be absolutely terrifying. And have a lot of mystery. Maybe even some magic? I've got pretty high expectations for this book even though I haven't read anything from Rin Chupeco or read any reviews for The Girl From the Well. 


Judging a book by its cover: This cover is nice and creepy, and I think it fits the title pretty well. Except that there isn't an actual well on it... and I kind of wish there was. It makes me think that crows will be important to the story. I do like the colors and how the tree branches look dead though, and the typography of the title. I'd be pretty likely to pick this book up based on the cover alone.



--Ashley

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 2 - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from DC Entertainment on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*



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Title: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 2
Author:  Tom Taylor 
Illustrator: Jheremy Raapack
Year Published: 2014


Synopsis: From the makers of Mortal Kombat comes the critically acclaimed prequel comic to the smash hit fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us!

From the ashes of Metropolis comes Superman and the JLA's newest ally: Lex Luthor! Against all odds, he's not only survived but now embraces Superman's goals. Of course, Lex has his own ideas for how to create a better world. The Man of Steel trusts him, but can the rest of his allies be so sure?

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Review: I really enjoyed the first graphic novel collection of Injustice: Gods Among Us. I haven't played the game, but the story concept is so cool. I love that the events in these comics take place separate from the main comics so you don't have to keep up with so many different comic lines. Also, big major life changing events can take place to these characters that have been around for decades. 


This second volume keeps up with the awesomeness that was the first. I like how different characters are matched up than usual. 

If you want a more standalone DC story, these volumes are so well written and epic! I give this second volume a 4/5 and highly recommend it!


--PAUL

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predator and Prey (Season 8, #5) by Joss Whedon - Ashley's Review

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Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predator and Prey (Season 8, #5)
Authors:  Jane Espenson (Scriptwriter), Steven S. DeKnight (Scriptwriter), Drew Z. Greenberg (Scriptwriter), Jim Krueger (Scriptwriter), Doug Petrie (Scriptwriter), Georges Jeanty (Penciller), Cliff Richards (Penciller), Andy Owens (Inker) , Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
Publication Date: September 30, 2009

Synopsis: Buffy's world goes awry when former-classmate-turned-vampire Harmony Kendall lands her own reality TV show, Harmony Bites, bolstering bloodsucking fiends in the mainstream. Humans line up to have their blood consumed, and Slayers, through a series of missteps, misfortunes, and anti-Slayer propaganda driven by the mysterious Twilight, are forced into hiding.

In Germany, Faith and Giles discover a town where Slayers retreat from a world that has turned against them, only to find themselves in the arms of something far worse. A rogue-Slayer faction displaces an entire Italian village, living up to their tarnished reputation as power-hungry thieves. And finally, with the help of a would-be demon lover, Dawn addresses her unfaltering insecurities.

* Collects issues #21-#25 and the short stories "Harmony Bites" and "Vampy Cat Play Friend" from MySpace Dark Horse Presents!


My The Long Way Home (#1) Review                My Wolves at the Gate (#3) Review
My No Future For You (#2) Review                   My Time of Your Life (#4) Review


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Review: This volume really felt like it belonged mid-season. There's so many story lines going all over the place and only one or two episodes are actually related to finding out more about the Big Bad. I think this is actually a collection of one-shots, because the stories really don't seem to be connected at all. It was still fun though, and I think maybe my favorite volume so far!

Harmony is back, and she's just as weird as ever. This time, she's got her own reality TV show. Which, as you can imagine, causes all sorts of problems for Buffy and the gang. Vampires are suddenly seen by the world as the misunderstood heroes, and Slayers are now the villains. Why would you hurt a creature that's just trying to find its way in the world? Vampires don't have to kill - they totally know when to stop! And who doesn't want to live forever? All of this mixed in with Harmony's usual antics is actually pretty humorous and I really enjoyed the sections with her show more than I thought I would. I probably would not watch it in real life, but it was entertaining for the sake of these comics

Twilight is behind the whole anti-Slayer thing, and the plot involving it was better than it has been in past volumes. We actually learn a little bit more (although not who or what Twilight actually is), and I didn't find myself rolling my eyes every time he talked. Oh, and there are also these evil Vampy Kitty toys which are absolutely hilarious. I think they crawl inside of people while they're sleeping and possess them? I'm not entirely sure, but it was kind of funny watching the Slayers battle an army of evil stuffed kittens.

Then we have the Slayers who have taken over an island. They're actually pretty annoying, and the only good thing was Andrew. His nerdy speeches have always been my favorite, especially when I know what he's talking about. And I had totally forgotten that he has the ability to control/speak with demons, and I'm glad it made an appearance here again. As always, he manages to bungle the job, but it wouldn't be an Andrew story if something didn't go wrong. 

Dawn is back to being pretty annoying in this volume and I wish someone would slap her and tell her that the world doesn't revolve around her. She was hilarious as a giant and a centaur but the doll thing just amplifies how annoying she is. And she's not even a doll long enough to really get into trouble before she's saved and makes up with the thricewise and is a normal human again. I hope she stays out of the way now. Which she probably won't. Because she's annoying.

Overall, I really enjoyed this volume. It was fun to see some more familiar faces, have my memory refreshed about characters who have been around since the beginning of Season 8, and see what people are up to when they aren't directly fighting Twilight. If you've read the rest of this series, I'd definitely recommend this volume. 5/5!


--Ashley

Friday, July 25, 2014

Board Stiff (Xanth #38) by Piers Anthony - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Premier Digital Publishing on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: Board Stiff
Author: Piers Anthony
Publication Date: December 17, 2013

My Board Stiff Pre-Reading

Synopsis: Be careful what you wish for...

"I'm actually a smart girl who would make any man an excellent wife. But no man sees that. No man is interested in my mind or personality, just my whatevers. So here is my wish: I'm board stiff. I want Adventure, Excitement, and Romance.”

So begins Piers Anthony's 38th Xanth novel, in which Irrelevant Kandy, looks at her reflection in the water of the shallow well and sees luxuriant midnight black hair to her breathtakingly slender waist, matching dark eyes in a lovely face. A torso coming yea-close to absolute perfection. She was man's desire. That was part of the problem.

And in the shallow magic of a wishing well, she asks her wish to be granted. Something happens. A sudden whirlwind surrounds her, lifting her up and ripping off her clothing. She is changing, somehow. Then she falls flat on the ground.

Literally. She has been transformed into a flat, stiff board with two knotholes for eyes.

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Review: It's been a really long time since I've read a Xanth book. Like, several years. And I'm pretty sure the last one I read I was a re-read of A Spell For Chameleon. But the thing I love about these books is that I don't have to remember much to become fully immersed again in this magical, puntastic world!

I really liked Kandy in this book. It was fun to see things from her perspective since she spends most of the time as a literal board. That's totally what she deserves for saying she's "bored stiff" though, since she should know better having grown up with puns all around. She's looking for Romance, Adventure, and Excitement, and I loved how the Wishing Well grants her wish in a most ridiculous manner. I do think she learns a lot throughout her adventure and is definitely a different person at the end of the book than she was at the beginning. She knows more about life, love, adventure, and men and is a better person for it. 

I also really enjoyed getting to know the other characters she meets along the way. Ease is kind of an idiot and I'm not sure I would ever pick him to be the romantic interest, but whatever. Some times I just wanted him to do something idiotic and not have Kandy save him, but I guess that's not how Xanth works. Astrid was probably my favorite character in the group and I think her friendship was Kandy was an even better relationship than any of the romantic ones. We also get to see Com Pewter again, which was pretty neat since he's one of my favorite Xanth characters of all time. 

The plot is this book feels really pieced together. Kind of like Piers Anthony was like "Ok, I want this group to do this, this, and this even though they are not related in any way. How can I string them together to make a cohesive story?" and I'm not really convinced that it worked as well as he hoped it would. I mean, it's tied together loosely, but all of the Events are just so random. There's a little bit of an explanation near the end... but it's not a very strong argument and feels kind of like he thought of it last minute.

Speaking of the ending, I thought it was a little lame. As I was reading, I looked at the amount remaining and was concerned that things wouldn't wrap up by the end. They do, but it just felt really rushed. We spend this entire book trying to figure out how to save the puns and in the end it's so much easier than you would ever think. And it was kind of annoying. This book could serve as a standalone because this plot is wrapped up pretty nicely, but I can still see there being a sequel because it felt like it was setting one up. 

I would recommend this book to any fans of previous Xanth books. Even if you haven't read one in a while, there's enough here to get you right back into that magical place. All of the groan-worthy puns are there, and familiar characters show up. I would also recommend this series (and this book even) to pun-lovers and casual fantasy readers. Not my favorite Xanth book, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. 3/5!


--Ashley

Shadows Fall Away by Kit Forbes - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Month9Books in exchange for an honest review*

Month9Books | Goodreads

Title: Shadows Fall Away
Author: Kit Forbes
Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Synopsis: Mark Stewart is one incident away from becoming a juvenile delinquent, and his parents have had enough. They ship Mark off to London England to stay with his eccentric aunt Agatha who is obsessed with all things Jack the Ripper. After a strange twist of luck, Mark is struck by lightning, and he wakes to find himself in 1888 Victorian London.


His interest in a string of murders Scotland Yard has yet to solve make him a likely suspect. After all, why would a young boy like Mark know so much about the murders? Could he be the ripper they've been searching for? Convinced the only way to get back home is to solve the murders, Mark dives headfirst into uncovering the truth.

Mark's only distraction comes in the form of the beautiful Genie Trembly, a girl who is totally out of his league and who may have already caught the attention of the infamous ripper. To save her, he'll endanger both their lives, and risk being trapped in the past forever.

Why?: Time travel, mystery, and Jack the Ripper? Count me in! This book sounds really interesting, and I can't wait to find out who the ripper is and if Mark ends up staying in the past with Genie (I already don't trust Genie though, so I'm also curious as to how that turns out).


Expectations: I expect a lot of mystery, since Mark is solving a crime. Also a lot of historical facts/events/etc. because of the time travel. A little bit of romance, and maybe some magic? I haven't heard much about Shadows Fall Away in terms of early reviews or read anything by Kit Forbes, so my expectations are reasonably high based on the synopsis alone.


Judging a book by its cover: This cover is dark and mysterious and I kind of love it. I love the colors and how the title stands out. I love how part of the title is in red - like blood - because it deals with Jack the Ripper. I would be pretty likely to pick this up off of a shelf if I saw it in a bookstore or in a library. 



--Ashley