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Blog Tour: With Fire in Their Blood – Kat Delacorte

Packed to the brim with bisexual and queer representation, With Fire in Their Blood is a simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. . . 

When sixteen-year-old Lilly arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed.
A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out. 

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost. 

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone — not even herself. 

And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human… 

Perfect for lovers of Chloe Gong, Renée Ahdieh and V.E. Schwab, With Fire in Their Blood is quality YA storytelling at its best by an exciting new voice in YA fantasy. 

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Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and she hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy. 

My thoughts: Lilly’s whole life, what there was of it anyway, is uprooted when her dad gets a job in a small Italian town thats proudly stuck in a sort of timeloop – no WiFi, no technology at all really. There’s a reason for that, as Lilly discovers. This town burns witches, or those it suspects of being Saints, as they’re known. And the mysterious General keeps a tight grip on everything in the town.

As Lilly investigates the town’s past and finds links to her own dead mother, she discovers she has some unusual gifts herself.

A clever and imaginative take on the witch trials of the past and the problems of living under a censorious regime. No information gets in or out.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: River of Ashes – Alexandra Weis & Lucas Astor

ALONG THE BANKS OF THE BOGUE FALAYA RIVER, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.

And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.

The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Star quarterback. Handsome. Charming. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.

He is also a psychopath.

A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the haunted abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.

As the victim toll mounts, it becomes clear that someone must stop Beau Devereaux.

And that someone will pay with their life.

My thoughts: Beau is a cruel and violent young man, he sees nothing wrong in what he does to young women or even in how he treats his mother and friends.

But the terrible things he does are catching up with him as his victims start to talk to one another and even his girlfriend, blind to his monstrous nature, turns against him. He plans to torture and rape her twin sister, but the avenging women have their own plans for him.

Dark and sometimes hard to read, discomforting and rage inducing. I couldn’t believe no one had tried to stop him before. Only once Beau started to lose the tightly controlled persona he let others see, did changes start to happen. His comeuppance came at a terrible price but at least he was finally stopped.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Blitz Bullion Busters – Daryl Joyce

During the Blitz in World War II, £5 million pounds in gold bullion was loaded onto a secret, secure train in London.

When the train arrived at its destination the gold had vanished.

Eighty years later, three teenagers stumble across the mystery and set out to find the truth. What starts as an enjoyable search soon turns into a mysterious, dangerous and thrilling hunt under and through the streets of London, and a fight for their lives.

Daryl Joyce was born in Andover, Hampshire and brought up in Farnborough, also in Hampshire. He worked in IT for over twenty years, mostly in London, before deciding to do something more worthwhile than switching it off and on, and so become a primary school teacher.

Somewhere before being in school at 7am and after the end of a long day teaching hordes of young people, Blitz Bullion Busters was written. Daryl has long had a fascination with the London Underground and the myriad of stories surrounding it. Working with children has also given him valuable experience of what makes a story exciting and worthwhile.

When he is not writing, Daryl spends most of his time reading about hidden places underground and watching Star Trek. He now lives in Surrey, not far from Gatwick Airport with his wife and two pampered cats. This is his first book.

My thoughts: along with his best friend Jack and older stepsister Fazia, Wade is on the hunt for missing gold. Meant to be shipped to a secret location, it vanished in the tunnel somewhere between Bank and London Bridge during the Blitz. Can three smart teenagers manage to do what no one else has done and find the gold or will the sinister forces chasing them stop the search?

A short book but one that packs a lot in, this was a fun adventure story set in London’s Square Mile around Bank underground station. I knew all of the locations from when I worked just round the corner and that was fun, a different perspective on places thousands of people pass every day.

The characters are clever and work well together, resourceful and able to dodge the many people seemingly after them. Thank goodness for Ms Corner of the secret service though, helping them out so they don’t get grounded for their adventures.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Blitz: Year Zero – David Dean Lugo

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Check out this thrilling new YA Dystopian novel, Year Zero! This is the first book in a new trilogy called Revolution’s Children and I have an exclusive excerpt for you all today!

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Year Zero (Revolution’s Children Book 1)

Publication Date: May 24th, 2022

Genre: YA Dystopian

A thrilling new YA dystopian novel has dark parallels to a conceivable future America.

It’s been two years since the establishment of the brutal dictatorship The Incorporated Precincts of America and its governing Board and CEO, as well as the death of the old America. Sixteen-year-old Joey Cryer has two missions: to keep their six-year-old sister, Julia, safe, and to not die.

America first. America last. America always. This is the vow that the CEO leader of the IPA—The Incorporated Precincts of America—pledges to his suffering citizens. With violent protests breaking out in every city, attacks against immigrants, and the national crisis of the Capitol Event, young Joey must keep their vigilance in staying clear of the IPA’s ever-watching Sons of Liberty—its ruthless police force—to avoid becoming “disappeared” with his little sister. This means not maligning the governing body, The Corporation, with any thought, word, or action, or else suffer the consequence. One such sanction for disobeying citizens is being forced on to the required viewing television show “Manhunt,” where they fight for their lives against the Sons, upholding The Corporation’s domination over society.

Two years earlier, before the Second Revolution ended and before the election, Joey’s biggest concern was sitting at the right cafeteria table at his high school or if the girl they liked liked them back. Avoiding the school bully, Harlan Grundy, was always a plus, and so was not getting pummeled. So, it was no big surprise that Harlan became a Son, loyal to The Corporation and carrying out their dirty deeds to keep citizens in check and in fear. The only correct response to a Son? Everything is goodly.

Having lost everything in the revolution’s aftermath, Joey takes an unfathomable risk by helping the near-dead leader of the rebellion, John Doe. Having anything to do with Doe will skip you right past penalties and sanctions all the way to the death penalty, not only for you, but for anyone you love. And yet Joey’s sole mission is keep Julia safe until they can secretly escape to freedom. To do so, they finds they have an unlikely partner in a recently betrayed Harlan. Trusting their former enemy may be the only way to ensure their future—but is it worth the risk for Joey, Julia, and his community?

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Chapter One

No law respecting the established religion, prohibiting its free and compulsory practice, may be passed. All citizens free or otherwise are responsible for their speech, as is the press. The Board may sanction the people or the press should they choose to malign The Corporation or its representatives in print, thought, word, or action.

—First Amendment, Constitution Incorporated Precincts of America

A hand grabs my shoulder, and I know I’m screwed. The flickering light from the Jumbotron across the street dispels the concealing darkness. What was I thinking trying to sneak my way across town square after dark? I pull my hat lower, hoping that he won’t recognize me.

Especially if curfew has started.

Dan and Katie are starting the Manhunt preshow on the Jumbotron, which isn’t a good sign. Manhunt rarely starts before seven.

My mouth is dry, and my heart’s hammering fills my ears. It’s the fight-or-flight response kicking in big time. Except in my case, it’s the flight-and-still-get-pommeled response.

Even knowing how it will end, I still think about running.

Just for a second.

Old habits die hard.

I move my eyes to the hand, hoping it’s not covered by a white glove. Crap. It is. So, the he attached to the hand isn’t a regular cop. A cop will just shake me down and let me go. But not this guy.

He’s a Son of Liberty.

I’m surprised he hasn’t shot me yet. They usually do. I mean, it’s kinda their go-to move. I glance from his glove to his face.

I silence a scream. This guy isn’t any old Son. He’s Harlan Grundy. That name alone makes most kids cry. Always has.

Harlan’s been bullying kids since the old days, back when we still lived in a place called the USA. By the time The Corporation ran things and changed the name to The Incorporated Precincts of America, or IPA, Harlan had transformed bullying into an art form. I mean, watching him terrorize a kid is like watching Michelangelo turn a hunk of stone into a statue. Pure artistry.

Unless you’re the rock.

All the Sons are big, but Harlan’s bigger. Not like Schwarzenegger big. It’s more natural. Like a gorilla. Most let his stocky form, with its squashed nose, thick fingers, and stubby legs, fool them. But he possessed a speed unheard of, even among Olympic athletes.

And I, underneath this big ass coat, am just a scrawny sixteen-year-old. Exercise and me are not the best of friends. I mean, we wave when we pass by in the halls. Unless running from Harlan counts. Because if it does, I’m a gold medalist.

Okay, maybe a bronze because he always catches me.

“Hold it, citizen,” he says loud enough for me to hear over the Jumbotron’s droning voices. That is quite a feat since they always have it turned up to like a million.

Wait. Citizen?

He doesn’t recognize me.

He says something, but Dan speaks over him from the Jumbotron. “We’ll be back after this message.”

A second later, tolling bells replace his smug voice, sounding out the half hour. I glance at the screen, hoping it says six thirty. Instead, a robotic voice says, “The time is now seven thirty. Curfew is in effect.”

I’m doubly screwed.

After curfew, you get arrested or worse, unless you’re on official IPA business. It won’t take anyone more than one look to know I’m not. And Harlan’s fists and I have known each other since I was eight, and he was eleven. It’s only a matter of time until his dim brain dusts off the cobwebs and the first faint itch of recognition dawns on him.

If he doesn’t shoot me, which I doubt, I have two simple choices left. But I won’t get to choose. Instead, an Inquisitor will decide between sending me to a Liberty Camp or inducting me into the army.

The second is most likely. They’re drafting more people every day. Younger and younger too. I mean, except for like Ward Commanders, Inquisitors, and Auditors, the whole Corporation is getting younger. I guess they figure the young don’t have as much attachment to the way things were.

The CEO says we’re winning the war, and the extra troops are for the last push into Ottawa. But I’ve heard the rumors. Who hasn’t?

Some say Mexico, Canada’s ally, has won ground in the Southwest. Others say the early winter weather has paralyzed our troops in Ontario and Alaska. What’s happening in Europe is anyone’s guess.

So, whatever the Inquisitor decides, it’s better if Harlan shoots me.

Usually, I’m home before curfew, but I had forgotten it’s earlier now. That’s thanks to the Does—John and Jane Doe—and their rebels blowing up stuff. Last Tuesday, the day most Sons get their rations, they blew up the rationing center. Now, the rest of us are still living off our last pitiful portion.

Movies make rebellion seem exciting and heroic. I guess it is, fighting oppression or whatever. But from where I sit, trying to get by and staying off The Corporation’s radar, it’s terrifying. It doesn’t help people like me. Maybe it will someday, but I’m not holding my breath.

I burrow deeper into my father’s coat, trying to avoid eye contact. The coat must be the only reason Harlan hasn’t recognized me. There’s no point in trying to hide the bag of contraband I’m holding.

I mean, it’s right there.

Besides, it’s just dumb cans of stupid beef stew I bought at the black market. E-rations don’t hardly give anyone enough food. So, most people, leastways those who can afford it, turn to the black market. Even Block Watch Commanders like Harlan.

It’s not totally the Does fault, though. Food, at least the unpowdered kind, was scarce even before they blew up the rationing center. The troops passing through on their way north to the wall, took most of what we had. They didn’t bother leaving much for us citizens.

I’m not sweating the stew, though. I expect he’ll “impound” it. I’m more worried that what’s stuffed into my belt will spill out. If it does, he’ll definitely shoot me.

He’s eyeing the bag though. His mouth might even be watering. We both stand there, playing our weird freeze tag while waiting for the stupid bell to stop tolling.

As soon as it does, Harlan says, “You’re behind curfew, citizen. Slice me the stew, and I won’t donate a one.”

Ugh. Slanguage.

It takes me a moment to translate his words to regular English. If I give him the stew, he won’t give me a class one penalty. I can’t speak because he’ll recognize my voice, so I nod. Kneeling, I set the bag down and take off.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

If you do, they might see your face, connect it to a list of subversives, rebels, or whatever list you didn’t know you were on.

I’m two blocks away before a grin spreads across my face. Dumbass Harlan was so preoccupied by the bag that he didn’t notice the cans crammed in my pockets.

I decide to go home through the woods. It’s longer and a thousand percent spookier, but it has more cover. Plus, The Corporation hasn’t put cameras in the forest. At least not yet anyway. That might change if they suspect the squirrels of treason.

Plus, Harlan lives two houses away from me. If he’s heading home, it’s worth the extra twenty-minute walk to avoid him.

I trudge along. I can’t see a thing in the inky blackness. Everything is a muddied silhouette, and I don’t want to trip on something and break my neck. I used to find the sounds of leaves crunching under my feet satisfying. But I don’t anymore.

They just tell the Sons or the rebel squirrels where you are.

My breath comes quick now. Heart racing. It’s my anxiety getting the better of me. I don’t bother fighting it because I’m too busy cursing myself. If Harlan is out on patrol, he’s nowhere near his house. Then again, it might be dumb luck that we ran into each other.

Either way, I don’t really care right now because I’m sure Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers has spotted my dumbass alone in the woods. I stop for a second, but the sound of crunching leaves doesn’t.

A twig snaps.

I turn.

A half-naked figure lunges from the darkness, falling to the ground.

I almost scream.

A man lies motionless. I get a little closer and notice he’s covered in blood. Against my better judgment, I turn him over. A few holes leak his blood.

Someone shot him.

The only people with guns these days are Sons or rebels. Which means they’re probably out searching for him. That thought alone makes me nope my sorry ass out of the woods as fast as I can.

I emerge, unharassed by either rebel squirrels or a fictional slasher, near the non-Harlan end of my block. My breath comes in short, panicked gasps. I’m more than a little embarrassed by how fast I’m moving down the block.

I turn the corner. My house blazes bright in the frigid night. It’s almost enough to chase away the harsh twilight glow from the screens on the telephone poles.

Julia, my little sister hates being alone, but she isn’t right now. Unless Winnie’s wandered off again. She has turned on every light, which means he probably did. The Sons don’t pay him much mind, so he’ll be okay. Hopefully, she hasn’t used up our electricity ration for the month.

I linger in the driveway, eyes darting. I need to make sure I wasn’t followed.

An angry orange flower of fire blooms over the nearby hills. Must be the rebels blowing something up or being blown up themselves. Either way, a bunch of people are dead. A tenth of a second later, a dull roar reaches my ears, and everything shakes.

Every porch light in the neighborhood blinks on, and people spill out from their houses, scurrying around like angry ants. A few have wide eyes, their O-shaped mouths gulping the chilly night air. Which reminds me of the fish that Dad and I used to catch. Others just sigh, wringing their hands. A few look furious.

I’ve lived here for like forever and recognize everyone.

That is everyone except the young man with the neat dark hair walking along the walkway in front of the house next door. His hands are in his pockets, posture crisp but relaxed.

I do a double take because I didn’t expect to see anyone coming from there. It and the house across the street have stood vacant since the Perrys and the Youngs disappeared a year ago. He might be a zig though.

Zig is short for zigzag. They’re the people who refuse to go along with The Corporation but won’t join the resistance either. So, they zigzag between the two opposing forces that shape the IPA. They usually come in small groups, no more than four. There’s not a lot of them. At least as far as anyone can tell. Anyway, neither side likes them much, and both will see them wiped out just as soon. Which is why, if he is a zig, he certainly wouldn’t be so careless and let everyone know where he lives.

He might be a rebel. They sometimes hunker down in vacant buildings. That thought both excites and frightens me.

As he draws closer, there’s no mistaking this man for a zig or a rebel. He wears a suit, but the distant flames give everything a crimson tone, so I can’t tell what color it is. Something on his jacket flickers. He reaches the end of the walkway, and I notice that the light glints off a bunch of Corporation commendation pins on his lapel.

At first, he acknowledges no one as he crosses his arms and stares straight ahead. He appears calm, but his breath comes in peculiar fits like he’s out of breath but doesn’t want anyone to know. Maybe he’s asthmatic? I don’t know. His eyes don’t watch the distant flames like everyone else; they’re watching the streetlights.

Something glistens on his forehead like sweat, but the night is cold, so that’s impossible. He appears to sense me gawking and gives me a nod.

By reflex, I wave.

Another fireball blossoms, this one almost bright enough to read by. The windows rattle from the blast. The neighborhood lights blink a few times before going out. Someone screams as we’re plunged into a weird twilight of flickering screens since those never stop.

I swear Pinman smirks.

A second later, old Doc Salazar asks, “Do you think it’s the Canadians?”

That isn’t as silly as it sounds, since if you’re lucky enough to own a car, it’s like three hours to the border.

“Nah. I bet it’s the Does and the rebels,” Mr. Taylor replies.

Everyone stares at him for a moment. Calling the Does rebels is against the law.

“You mean terrorists,” a throaty unfamiliar voice—my new neighbor—says.

“Yes, y-yes,” Mr. Taylor stammers. He probably noticed every commendation on Pinman’s jacket. He chuckles nervously, running a hand across the back of his neck.

I don’t want to call attention to myself, but Taylor was my dad’s fishing buddy. I can’t count the number of times that the Taylors shared a meal with us after a good day on the lake.

A familiar voice breaks the uncomfortable silence. “Mr. Taylor is scaredly is all. He’s not trying to be outside the box.”

I look around, trying to find who spoke. For some reason, everyone’s staring at me like I punched a nun or something.

Well, everyone except Taylor. He’s got a grateful smile pasted on his stupid round face. The looks confirm my growing suspicion. The voice was familiar because it’s mine.

Pinman doesn’t reply, just cocks his head.

“Well, um, good night, sir,” Mr. Taylor croaks as he scurries back inside his house.

A second later, the loudspeakers atop every telephone pole on the block crackle to life. On the screens, a severe looking yet appealing middle-aged woman appears with her hair wrapped tight around her head. Everything can go dark but not PR Polly, the voice of The Corporation.

There’s a whine of feedback, and Polly stares with a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, waiting for it to pass. It fades to a crackling static and clears.

Her familiar, faintly British voice sounds out. “Return to your homes. All is goodly. We have the situation under control.” As always, she adds the Corporate slogan. “America first. America last. America always.”

Another squeal of feedback sounds out. Dan and Katie return to the screens, laughing about the ratings bonanza it’ll be when the real Does are caught and put on Manhunt. But since Manhunt is required viewing, ratings are a bonanza every day anyway. I’m also not sure how we’d know if they’re the real Does. I mean, every time they think they’ve got them, it turns out they’re regular rebels.

No one even knows what the Does look like.

A weird sensation tingles my leg. It’s my phone vibrating in my pocket. I put aside my stray thoughts for now as I fish it out.

“What did you think of this Realnews brief” flashes on the screen. Underneath, like always, are two emoji:

a smiley one,

and a frowning one.

I tap the smiley face to show that I loved it. No one clicks the other one anymore. Well, no one without a death wish.

Soft clicking echoes around me as my neighbors do the same. By the time I’m done, they’re scurrying back into their homes. I guess they’ve all realized it’s after curfew, so we are all technically criminals right now.

Pinman still stands there with his arms crossed, staring at me. I try not to meet his gaze and mumble something about how my little sister is waiting for dinner inside.

In the distance, sirens blare. A lot of them. All isn’t goodly. I sense the stranger watching me as I walk into my house.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Author David Dean Lugo often gets ideas for his stories by wondering what if? In his new young adult dystopian novel, Year Zero, he probed this when writing about a future fascist America run by a governing body called The Corporation and its CEO. Lugo believes that today’s trend of people judging one another too harshly—whether based on their political party, gender identity, or something else—is causing people to drift too far away from one another. His story explores potential extreme ramifications of this.

Lugo believes a great book is one that has believable characters that readers can identify with and relate to. He hopes his stories evoke emotion and thinking from his readers long after the book is closed.

When he isn’t writing thought-provoking YA novels, Lugo enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, playing video/board games, and hanging out with his amazing family. He lives in southwest New Hampshire with his wife Meredith, son Jacob, and their rascally Labrador/Collie mix named Astrid. Year Zero is the first volume in his The Revolution’s Children trilogy.

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On Bookstagram Today: The Reluctant Vampire Queen – Jo Simmons

Head over to Instagram today to see my thoughts on new book The Reluctant Vampire Queen – info on the book and author below.

Meet Mo Merrydrew – independent young woman, Mini Battenberg fan, president of the debating society – and reluctant vampire queen …

Fifteen-year-old Mo Merrydrew isn’t exactly expecting to be asked to be Vampire Queen of Great Britain when she’s cycling home from school one wet Tuesday evening. Apparently, she is ‘the Chosen One’. Aside from being uncomfortable with the idea of unelected power (not very democratic), there’s the blood drinking to consider (Mo is a vegetarian), and frankly it’s just not really the sort of role Mo’s looking for (she wants to aim for a real job in politics). But – if you’re Vampire Queen, you probably don’t have to do PE any more, and when the dreamy Luca, a vampire familiar, turns up, it all suddenly starts to look a bit more appealing …

Jo Simmons is an author of funny fiction. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet was shortlisted for the Lollies Book Awards 2020 and was translated into several languages. Jo began her working life as a sub editor on magazines in London and later became a freelance journalist. She started writing for children when her two boys were young and hungry for daft and silly stories to make bedtime more fun. She lives in Brighton with her family and a small, scruffy dog who leaves hair absolutely everywhere. THE RELUCTANT VAMPIRE QUEEN is her first novel for teenagers. Twitter

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Blog Tour: Son of Shadow – John Lenahan

A world of faeries, leprechauns and dragons – and magic fuelled by the blood of trees. A mystery portal to the Real World.

And a pair of curious young adventurers who know they shouldn’t step through it…

Meet Fergal the Second, nicknamed ‘two’. Or ‘Doe’, in his own language. He can do magic. But, for the moment, he’s forgotten where he’s from. Or what’s happened to his blind friend Ruby.

He’s actually from Tir na Nog, the enchanted world of Shadowmagic, where a new generation of the royal House of Duir are cheeking their parents, preparing for adulthood and itching to see the Real World for themselves – whatever the peril.

JOHN LENAHAN, whose Shadowmagic trilogy sold more than 100,000 copies, takes us back to his enchanted parallel world where Irish folk myth combines with lively 21st-century banter.

The first in the new trilogy, Son of Shadow, takes up the story in the next generation. It opens in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where teenage princeling Doe – son of the hero of the original trilogy – is arrested for making a gold coin disappear at a magicians’ convention. He has lost his memory while following his abducted friend Ruby into the Real World.

Born in Philadelphia but long settled in the UK, Lenahan is an acclaimed magician and TV performer. He fronted his own BBC2 magic series Stuff the White Rabbit, played the voice of the toaster in Red Dwarf and has appeared on a wide range of entertainment shows including TFI Friday, Comedy Café and Celebrity Squares.

He is a member of the exclusive Magic Circle.

My thoughts: incorporating characters and beings from Irish mythology, this is a fun, YA, adventure story about family, friendship and magic. Doe can’t remember who he is or where he’s from but he knows he’s supposed to do something. Incarcerated in the mental hospital, he meets Sarah, who can see the future. Together they travel across America in search of answers.

Moving back and forth in time and between worlds, the story is gradually revealed. Doe is in fact a faerie prince from Tir na Nog, and on a mission to rescue his kidnapped friend Ruby. He just didn’t tell his parents all the details. Luckily they’re more worried about saving Ruby and the new Big Bad – a human sorceress and her ally, who they all thought was dead, than grounding Doe.

This was a fun romp across America, with Sarah trying to explain the Real World to Doe, who has never even eaten pizza before, let alone dealt with money, trans-continental buses or well, anything. He meets some helpful, and some very unhelpful, people along the way, searching for legendary Irish hero Cu Chulainn, who he hopes can help him rescue Ruby.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: From Brick & Darkness – J.L. Sullivan

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Welcome to my stop on the tour for From Brick & Darkness, a gritty YA novel steeped in djinn mythology. Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a signed copy!

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From Brick & Darkness

Publication Date: May 16, 2022

Genre: YA/ Modern Fantasy/ Retelling

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

The most powerful wishes aren’t said with words.

Bax always fantasized something remarkable would happen in his life. So when a decrepit man with glowing purple eyes offers him a ring intended for his estranged father, Bax accepts.

The ring speaks to Bax in a dream, tempting him with a vision of a powerful djinn. Desperate to make his fantasies a reality, Bax unleashes a creature called Ifrit, but soon learns this djinn isn’t what the ring led him to believe. Feeding off the depths of his subconscious, the sinister demon fulfills what he thinks Bax wants by manipulating, threatening, and murdering. With everyone he loves in danger and a trail of crimes pointing back at him, Bax must scramble to solve the puzzle that will banish Ifrit forever.

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Excerpt

Neck bones popped as his head rotated toward me, his face eclipsing the rays of the streetlight. His irises were dull purple, glazed over with a foggy film, and deep-set wrinkles radiated from the corners of his eyes like arrows drawing attention to them.

A shudder caused the keys to slip from my hand and clank on the ground. My face burned with shame that the poor man’s appearance had startled me. My rudeness would have disappointed Mom.

“I’m sorry, but really—” I snagged my keys.

His hand slithered out of the brick-colored sleeve as his arm rose, trembling as he strained to hold the weight of his own limb. Gloved in loose, veiny skin, his skeleton hand had yellowed fingernails so overgrown they grew in on themselves like curly birthday ribbons. As his fingers unfurled, he revealed a ring nestled in his palm.

It was large. Too large. The ring resembled the toy jewelry Jason’s sister played with or something from a Halloween costume. Grimy gold with a single dull purplish jewel that matched his eyes.

His hand trembled under the heaviness of the ring. “Take it.”

Shifting my backpack to my other shoulder, I took it. “What is this?”

The corners of his thin lips curled into a grin as a gust of warm, dry wind cut through the chilly October night and swirled around me

Available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble

About the Author

John-Sullivan-headshot-BW-Cropped-Web

J.L. Sullivan writes young adult stories inspired by gritty urban environments and the tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth.

J.L. Sullivan | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

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My thoughts: this was a fun magical story about why it’s not so wise to get involved with djinn. One little monkey like jann who runs errands is one thing, but a murderous ifrit is another!

Luckily Bax has good friends who want to help him out when he needs to return the ifrit to its own dimension.

Wishes can be dangerous, especially if someone is interpreting them from your subconscious while you sleep.

A clever, entertaining read with some twists and turns.

Book Tour Schedule

June 6th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Timeless Romance Blog (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

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@beastreader – https://www.instagram.com/beastreader/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

June 7th

@bookscoffeehappiness (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/bookscoffeehappiness/

@jacleomik33 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jacleomik33/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

Not a Bunny Blog (Review) https://notanybunny.wordpress.com/blog

@marie.sinadjan – https://www.instagram.com/marie.sinadjan/

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

June 8th

@amber.bunch_author (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

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@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

June 9th

Freelance Writer, Janny (Spotlight) https://freelancewriterjannyc.com/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@tabithabouldin (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/tabithabouldin/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@mels_booksandhooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

June 10th

I Love Books & Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

@books_inthecity (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_inthecity/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

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Blog Tour: Throw Me To The Wolves – Lindy Ryan & Christopher Brooks

Southern gothic meets urban fantasy meets supernatural horror, Throw Me to the Wolves is a series debut as much about surviving the monsters within as it is conquering those without.

Ten years ago a witch murdered Britta Orchid’s family and turned her into a werewolf. Now the witch has been killed, and rookie cop Aaron Labaye has dragged Britta back to southwestern Louisiana to help him solve the murder.

The bloodthirsty ghost of her brother, a jealous member from her pack, and a former friend with a serious prejudice against wolves all stand to stop Britta as she fights to finally get the truth about that night ten years ago.

As an unseen hand sets events in motion, Britta helps Labaye dig into the murders old and new. But, as she looks harder than ever into her own dark past, Britta will confront more than just her own demons as she fights for peace for herself and for her family. She can’t hide anymore when the past comes back to haunt her, but must instead find her place in a world she’s avoided—and discover what it truly means to be a wolf.

Some evil wants to live forever.

Lindy Ryan is a bestselling and multi-award-winning author-editor-director with numerous titles in development for film/television adaptation. An award-winning professor, Lindy has published two textbooks on visual data analytics as well as numerous papers and chapters. She also writes seasonal romance as Lindy Miller and is the author of the forthcoming books-to-film Renovate My Heart and The Magic Ingredient. Lindy currently serves as a board member for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and was named a 2020 Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. She is an active member and staff volunteer for the Horror Writers Association.

Christopher Brooks juggles writing and editing with a healthy dose of manual labor around the Pacific Northwest, where he lives with his wife and children. This is his first novel.

My thoughts: this was interesting, I found the method of turning someone into a werewolf unusual, it’s usually a straightforward whoopsie daisy biting thing, but this seemed to have a slightly more complicated edge to it, and they can shift at will – no full moon needed.

I liked Britta, she was an unusual protagonist, tortured and guilt ridden by the murders of her family but angry and ready to kick ass and take names if she had to. Although she really needs to learn how to spot trouble better – neither Alec or Aaron were good people and she just couldn’t see it.

Obviously New Orleans and rural Louisiana are drenched in witchcraft and Southern Gothic vibes, so it would be interesting to see how that works in Britta’s new home in Maine, where it’s a bit more Stephen King, monsters in the night, kind of thing. Do her problems follow her north or can she leave that in the swamps and find a clearer path in the forests?

And what is she going to do about the two useless and manipulative men in her life? Alec is heading home to cause problems there and Aaron clearly needs watching. Britta has just as many complications at the end of the book as she had at the beginning. Just slightly different ones.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Readalong Round-Up: When Women Were Dragons – Kelly Barnhill

I took part in another Tandem Collective readalong last week – this time for Kelly Barnhill’s first YA novel, When Women Were Dragons.

A rollicking feminist tale set in 1950s America where thousands of women have spontaneously transformed into dragons, exploding notions of a woman’s place in the world and expanding minds about accepting others for who they really are. • The first adult novel by the Newbery award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours, except for its most seminal event: the Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales, and talons; left a trail of fiery destruction in their path; and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of.

Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this astonishing event: a mother more protective than ever; an absentee father; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and
watching her beloved cousin Bea become dangerously obsessed with the forbidden.

In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the tyranny of forced limitations. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small—their lives and their prospects—and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.

My thoughts: first up, I love the cover, all those lush greens and purples, the hint of scales and then that eye in the bottom left corner, hinting at hidden things and the mystery within.

Obviously being published right now when reproductive rights in the US are at risk makes a book about women – wives and mothers all, as the book says, spontaneously turning into giant fire breathing mythic beasts, breaking free of society’s confines, feels very prescient. As the law seeks to repress women yet again, an age old conflict, the idea of one of the oldest creatures in our collective folklore being within women is very intriguing. I wouldn’t mind being a dragon sometimes.

This is an incredibly moving book, I cried a few times, and very honest. Alex is a wonderful protagonist, my heart really ached for her as she loses her aunt, her mum, her home and struggles to get by, taking so much care of her sister Beatrice.

I was angry with her stupid dad and wanted a dragon to eat him – what a terrible man, so weak and cruel. Who in their right mind treats any child the way he does. He’s pathetic.

I loved librarian Mrs Gyzinska, she was amazing, what an incredible woman, total hero. Her support of Alex and Bea is so important to Alex’s survival.

Overall I thought this was a powerful, timely book about women, their strength and courage, about change and hope. I really enjoyed it once I got into the story, the use of extracts from various documents got a bit grating at times – I cared more about the characters.

I’ve posted the challenges from the readalong below – if you read the book, maybe you’d like to share your thoughts inspired by these starters.

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Blog Tour: Of Legends and Roses – Ashley W. Slaughter

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Welcome to the book tour for Of Legends and Roses by Ashley W. Slaughter. Read on for details and the chance to win a fabulous giveaway! Oh and stay tuned for the release of the second installment in the series Of Deceit and Snow which comes out this November!

Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.

A young queen orphaned by disease.

A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Teaser

I heard Zeke’s voice again. Point your blade downward.

With every emotion swirling through my head, I almost laughed; even in his absence, Zeke was trying to tell me what to do.

But I listened to him as I pushed up from the cobblestoned street and let the tip of my sword hang downward toward the ground. Don’t relax. I tried to feign fatigue, which really wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I kept my arms taut. Ready.

A wicked smile spread across my opponent’s face, and he strode forward, his weapon glinting in the sun, ready to strike.

Then, just before I was within his sword’s reach, I shot the tip of my blade upward, and I thrust my sword forward with every fiber of strength contained within me.

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About the Author

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Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

Ashley Slaughter

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Giveaway

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Who wants to win this amazing book box containing a “Happy Reading” reusable tote, a Magian Peninsula “MP” plastic tumbler, and an Of Legends and Roses button pin, along with a signed paperback?

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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, Rose is a great protagonist, always trying to live up to her parents, but even when she falls short, she doesn’t give up. She wants to be the best Queen she can, even if that means giving up some of the things she wants.

She’s also a good big sister, caring about her younger sisters, aware they don’t remember their parents the way she does.

I liked her relationships with her servants, advisers and friends – she’s aware of the boundaries between them because of who she is but is still able to talk to them as people, not in a high handed “Queenly” way.

The plot is interesting without being overdone and story moves at a good pace, keeping me engaged and keen to read more – something not every writer can do. Fingers crossed book 2 is as good.

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Book Tour Schedule

May 16th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

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@belle.bookcorner (Review) https://www.instagram.com/belle.bookcorner/

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@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

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May 17th

@read.with.ash (Review) https://www.instagram.com/read.with.ash/

@biblio.jojo (Review) https://www.instagram.com/biblio.jojo/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Review) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

@over.on.my.bookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/over.on.my.bookshelf/?hl=en

B is for Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

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May 18th

@readwithria (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/readwithria/

@books_inthecity (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_inthecity/

@jennlynnadams (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jennlynnadams/

@bookishly_kenia (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookishly_kenia/

@allpagesandcoffee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/allpagesandcoffee/

@bookloverleah (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookloverleah/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@bhaneereads_ (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bhaneereads_/

May 19th

@dany.alvy (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dany.alvy/

@amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

@atrailofpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/atrailofpages/

@ofmoviesandbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/ofmoviesandbooks/

@jadeisreading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jadeisreading/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

@what.kerry.reads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/what.kerry.reads/

Not a Bunny Blog (Review) https://notanybunny.wordpress.com/blog

@bookbriefs (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookbriefs/

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@NerdyFoxReads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/nerdyfoxreads/

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

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May 20th

@happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

@jacleomik33 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jacleomik33/

@balancing_books_and_beauties (Review) https://www.instagram.com/balancing_books_and_beauties/

Balancing Books and Beauty – https://balancingbooksandbeauties.wordpress.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

@tabithabouldin (Review) https://www.instagram.com/tabithabouldin/

@junk.journal.librarian (Review) https://www.instagram.com/junk.journal.librarian/

Book Tour Organized By:

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.