21 July 2018

The Unbinding of Mary Reade - Review

The Unbinding of Mary Reade
by Miriam McNamara





What they say: A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.
 


I received a copy in exchange for an honest review!

What I say: The Unbinding of Mary Reade is full of forbidden YA romance, mistaken identities and pirates galore! 

In a Twelfth Night meets As You Like It pirate twist we meet Mary Reade who has been living a double life. She has spent most of her time disguised as her brother Mark. The story is told across timelines with flashbacks to her past. In the present we meet her working on board a ship as it is attacked by pirates. Dressed as Mark, Mary finds herself spared by the infamous pirate captain, Calico Jack Rackham, and his pirate girlfriend Anne Bonny. I was a big fan of the TV show Black Sails so already had an image of how these two pirates should be and look, but it was interesting to see them portrayed in a very different manner through Mary's teenage eyes.

The representation of gender identity is handled very tactfully. I loved Mary as Mark. I felt so bad for her whenever she was forced to dress as Mary again. Her pain and confusion is palpable - I really empathised with the struggle even though it's not something I've experienced myself.

Where so many other have failed The Unbinding of Mary Reade takes a positive approach to bisexuality.  BUT there is a lot of confusion with some elements including the blatant homophobia and sexism demonstrated, particularly by the male characters in England. This shows the unfortunate attitudes of the time. 

I liked Mary even with her incessant pursuit of the idolised version of Nat. I wanted her to be happy with she is and to get a HEA. Where I liked Mary wasn't won over by either Anne or Jack. This was surprising considering how much I loved them in Black Sails. Jack is borderline abusive to Anne and considering what a badass Anne Bonny was she definitely takes a lot more nonsense from him than I was expecting. Perhaps this too was down to the position of women at the time in the 1700s?!

The action itself is kinda slow. A LOT of the focus is on the romance, but I wanted more time spent focusing on a being a pirate and life at sea. Mostly I wanted Anne to be the badass I was expecting! I liked the ending and the message of the book is good. I think I just wanted a quicker pace and more chemistry between Mary and Anne.

3 Stars in my Sky!

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19 July 2018

Clandestine - Tour


Clandestine - Ascension #2



Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: July 2018
Aletha Press





Cheyenne Lane never believed it could come to this—imprisoned by her own family, who are plotting to overthrow the Vampire Council. Ripped away from the happiness of her summer romance and friendship in New Orleans, Cheyenne is forced to begin her education at Clandestine, the secret Deuxsang University, one year early.
    She is guarded constantly, separated from her best friend Anne, and desperate for any word from Eli and the witches. Meanwhile, her cousin Lilith has discovered that Cheyenne possesses all four vampiric abilities—unheard of for a Deuxsang—and intends to use her in the Ascending’s rebellious scheme.

     At 17, Cheyenne finds herself the center of a centuries-old conspiracy involving the vampires, Deuxsang, and witches, and everyone is telling her who she should trust and what she should do. Her head is too full of voices and opinions, and it’s time for Cheyenne to make up her own mind.

     Is she ready to step into the role she was made for? Who can she trust? Who is her friend and who is her enemy? Is she really a born leader? All questions that only she can answer. As the information and scenario gets more confusing, she knows she must listen to her intuition if she is going to shift the truth from all the lies.



Buy here:


Hannah's favorite quote from the book:
“If you fail, you'll wish you'd never been made.”


Ascension Testimonials

"Their love story anchors the novel, the first installment of a series, and sets the stage for the cliffhanger ending. An entertaining and promising series opener about an appealing human and vampire hybrid. "-Kirkus Reviews



"Dark, surprising, and full of twists, the Ascension series is a delectable addition to vampire canon. Rials paints a rich and engrossing world of vampires, half-vampires and witches– each with their own agenda. Cheyenne’s struggle to be free is one that every girl will recognize, and I rooted for her as she bristled against the roles cast for her by society. It’s the story of a girl yearning to come into her own powers, powers both frightening and beautiful."-Maggie Thrash, author of L.A. Times Book Prize nominee Honor Girl


Kirkus review for Clandestine





Author Spotlight:



As Maryville native and a senior in college at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Hannah Rials began writing her first novel, Ascension, at age twelve. Her first YA novel Ascension is a modern day teenage romance filled with "double-blooded" vampires and revengeseeking witches. Published by Aletha Press of Maryville, TN is the second book in the trilogy, Clandestine, was written and editing while she was a full-time college student. After graduating from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a BA in Creative Writing, she will be attending college at Bath Spa University’s MA (England): Creative Writing for Young People; a yearlong master’s degree. 

Hannah is a vampire fanatic, a New Orleans lover, and a dog obsessor. She loves her friends, family, and finding new adventures. To keep up with Hannah, you can find plenty of pictures of her corgi Buddy and her travels on Instagram @herials because who doesn’t love a cute corgi picture? Connect with Hannah on Facebook, Twitter and via her website. 

“I feel like I am living proof that dreams do come true.”- Hannah Rials



Blog Tour Organized by:





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18 July 2018

Whatcha Reading Wednesday - The Last Thing I Told You

I don't get the chance to read many thriller stories and I thought it was time to rectify this...

The Last Thing I Told You
by Emily Arsenault








What they say: From the acclaimed author of The Evening Spider and The Broken Teaglass comes this psychological thriller about the murder of a psychologist in a quiet New England town and his former patient whose unreliable thread will keep readers guessing until the shocking end.

I hear myself whispering. Not again. Not again.

Why did I ever come back here? Surely because of you. Because I thought of something I’d always meant to tell you. Because you were the only one I ever really wanted to tell it to…

Therapist Dr. Mark Fabian is dead—bludgeoned in his office.

But that doesn’t stop former patient Nadine Raines from talking to him—in her head. Why did she come back to her hometown after so many years away? Everyone here thinks she’s crazy. And she has to admit—they might have good reason to think so. She committed a shockingly violent act when she was sixteen, and has never really been able to explain that dark impulse—even to Fabian. Now that Fabian’s dead, why is she still trying?

Meanwhile, as Detective Henry Peacher investigates Fabian’s death, he discovers that shortly before he died, Fabian pulled the files of two former patients. One was of Nadine Raines, one of Henry’s former high school classmates. Henry still remembers the disturbing attack on a teacher that marked Nadine as a deeply troubled teen.

More shockingly, the other file was of Johnny Streeter, who is now serving a life sentence for a mass shooting five years ago. The shooting devastated the town and everyone—including Henry, who is uncomfortable with the “hero” status the tragedy afforded him—is ready to move on. But the appearance of his file brings up new questions. Maybe there is a decades-old connection between Nadine and Streeter. And maybe that somehow explains what Nadine is doing in Fabian’s office nearly twenty years after being his patient. Or how Fabian ended up dead two days after her return. Or why Nadine has fled town once again.

But as Nadine and Henry head toward a confrontation, both will discover that the secrets of people’s hearts are rarely simple, and—even in the hidden depths of a psychologist’s files—rarely as they appear.

More info...


Releases July 24th 2018 by William Morrow 


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17 July 2018

Juan Pablo and the Butterflies - Blitz

Juan Pablo and the Butterflies
by JJ Flowers


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Young Adult
Date Published: June 2017
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

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Read Juan Pablo and the Butterflies Before It Comes Out On The Big Screen!!

Juan Pablo, a brilliant classical violinist, lives in El Rosario, Mexico’s Butterfly sanctuary. His grandmother Elena is the local medicine woman. The story opens with a bang: a group of narco-traffickers have posted banners signaling a takeover of their town. El Rosario is turned into a ghost town, but Juan Pablo must remain, as his grandmother has fallen gravely ill. His best friend Rocio and her grandfather (who owns the local cantina) stay as well, to help Juan Pablo care for the woman they all love. Just before Elena dies, she makes a startling announcement: she tells Juan Pablo it is time for him to follow the migration of the butterflies north--up through Baja into the United States and all the way to Pacific Grove, CA, another butterfly sanctuary, where, she promises, someone will be waiting for him.

Who this is becomes one of the mysteries fueling the novel.

After shooting up the town, the droguistas take over the cantina, demanding food and discovering Rocio hiding in the upstairs apartment. Juan Pablo must save his best friend and the love of his life. In desperation he uses one of his abuela’s poisons and inadvertently kills eight men. An epic chase begins, one that puts Juan Pablo and Rocio in constant danger on the ever so suspenseful and exciting journey north. Did I mention the story rips beginning to end?

A strong spiritual element is woven throughout the narrative, emerging as Elena’s unique, wise and sometimes comical understanding of the world guides our two heroes on the treacherous journey north. The spiritual element provides a strong counterpoint to the devastation, violence and ruined lives brought by the drug cartels operations on both sides of the border.

Praise for Juan Pablo and the Butterflies:

"The novel delves into a variety of hardships … the content is powerful. Flowers delivers a … touching contemporary novel that is … relevant in its treatment of drug-trafficking, immigration, and human rights issues.” (Kirkus Reviews)


Buy here:



Amazon * B&N * Kobo * iBooks * IndieBound


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Excerpt:


Machine gun fire!

Juan Pablo cracked open the door of his modest home, and peered down the darkened street. The bratatat sounded louder than the blaring music and a furious rev of engines. Like a hammer to glass, the onslaught of noise destroyed the quiet of the butterfly sanctuary. Headlights swept El Rosario’s plaza as several trucks and an SUV circled the cobble stone square. Armed men hung off the side of the trucks and the relentless barrage of their machine guns filled the star-filled night.

Narco-traffickers. Here in El Rosario, home to a billion Monarch Butterflies and the two dozen families who loved them.

Juan Pablo slammed the brightly painted front door with the rainbow colored “Welcome!” sign. For the first time in his life, he found the rusty old lock and bolted it. He rushed to switch off the lamp at his abuela’s bedside before collapsing to the floor. He finished his ninth desperate text to the Novedades de México, the major newspaper for Mexico City.

Help! Narco-traffickers are shooting up the plaza in El Rosario. No one is left but our neighbors Mario and Rocio Ruiz and my abuela, Dr. Elena Venesa. She is unconscious with a fever--we need a doctor. Please send help

After hitting send, he texted Rocio who was hiding in the Cantina:

Juan Pablo: They’re here.

Rocio: Outside.

Juan Pablo: Can u get here?           

Rocio: Too late. Under the bed. Scared. Praying. You? Elena?

Juan Pablo: Same. She is so still…

Rocio: Abuelo will request an ambulance for her.

Juan Pablo: Be safe Rocio. Don’t come out until they are gone. Promise me.

Rocio: I promise.

Juan Pablo stared with horror at his shaking hands. His violinist’s fingers, long, calloused, agile and strong, had never failed him before. He clasped them tight, and made his way to  to the door to listen.

Last week a large black, red and white banner, sporting a menacing el Diablo with sinister eyes and a leering grin stretched across the sole road into their sleepy town. This was how the drug cartel marked a territory and warned the people that the police could not protect them now.  The tourists had departed with most of the butterflies nearly a month before. Of the locals, everyone with relatives in Mexico City, Guadalajara or anywhere with a larger population and so somewhat safer, had packed up and left. Everyone promised to send help back to save the old lady they all loved, but no help ever came. No ambulance dared pass these murderous gangs.

Machine gun fire cracked like thunder and lightning into the sky.

          Would Rocio be safe under the bed? 

Born auspiciously one year, one month, one day apart from him, Rocio was his best friend in this life. (Even though she was bossy and they spent half the time arguing with each other, “like two puppies rough housing,” his abuela said more than once, “You Juan Pablo, such a know it all and Rocio always so bossy, this great cosmic dance between you two is hilarious already…) He closed his eyes, conjuring Rocio’s waist length dark hair and bright, teasing eyes, her skinny legs, and big feet.

Rocio’s uncle in La Peñita de Jaltemba, just north of Puerto Vallarta, begged them to leave before it was too late, but both Mario and Rocio had refused. They would not leave either him or his abuela. “Even if my abuelo could bear to lose the Cantina to the banditos, how could we possibly leave Elena and you, JP?”

Mario had agreed with his granddaughter. “Elena saved my beautiful wife’s life. She saw my daughter into this world and then Leonardo and Rocio. She taught Leonardo all she knows about the herbs and potions and helped him become a doctor too, bless her.” Rocio’s mother worked as a nurse in Arizona, helping to pay for Leonardo’s medical school in Puerto Rico and she was now very close to becoming a US citizen. “We owe everything to Elena, we all do,” Mario added. “Besides, Rocio would never forgive me if anything happened to you, Juan Pablo.”

You could sometimes reason with these modern day monsters, Mario had heard. Wasn’t it rumored that they sometimes paved a road or built a school or gave money to an orphanage? Mario planned to beg them to let an ambulance through for an old woman. “We will pay whatever they ask. Even the worse banditos would not let an abuela die for no good reason. And since no one is here but us and the butterflies, they will soon tire of El Rosario and be gone.”

Just keep Rocio safe. They wouldn’t hurt her, would they?

She was just a girl, only fourteen.

The relentless gunfire and booming music snatched the hope, replacing it with an escalating fear as he thought of the hundreds of stories of the narco-traffickers brutality and viciousness. “Like a deadly virus consuming my beloved country,” his abuela had shaken her head helplessly, knowing no medicine of magic with which to save Mexico from this terrible plague. Everyone had at least one relative, often more, who had lost their life’s savings, died, disappeared, or lived in fear of dying and disappearing. This army of the devil shot people for no reason anyone knew, and like demons from hell, they often tortured them first. They were known to disappear whole families, killing those police that they couldn’t bribe, and taking over whole towns before stealing everyone’s money. They recruited boys even younger than him, forcing them to rob, hide drugs, kill, or be killed. His abuela always imagined El Rosario, their tiny portion of paradise was at least safe, that the mountains and the butterflies themselves would always protect them. But this was not so anymore.

The gunfire and rev of engines abruptly ceased.

Unlatching the rusty lock, Juan Pablo cautiously cracked the door an inch in order to better hear. A man shouted orders, his loud demands rose above the noise of drunken laughter. Tajo, Rocio’s dog, barked frantically at the commotion. 

Gunfire sounded again, followed by Tajo’s surprised yelp.

 “No, no. Dios Mio.” Mario cried out, this barely audible. “Tajo. Tajo.”

Juan Pablo brows drew a sharp line above his green eyes.

Did they shoot Tajo? Why would they shot a little dog?

Sweet, friendly Tajo, their town’s mascot, Tajo whose wagging tail greeted the tourist buses, who followed them up to the meadow in the afternoons, Tajo who loved his violin’s music, Mario’s left over uchepos, and Rocio’s gentle hands. If they killed a small dog, what else could they do? Would they let an ambulance through to aid an old lady? Would they leave a young girl unharmed?

The answer ricocheted through his mind, but how could he stop them? He was just a teenager, tall maybe, but skinny too. He had no gun, power, and worse, no courage. He might love superheroes, but he was not one of them. All he knew was music and books; he was the exact opposite of an action hero.

He shut the door again, bolting it again.

His gaze found his abuela’s stilled form on the small cot.

How could the old woman fall ill now, when they needed her most?



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Author Spotlight:

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Most of JJ Flowers' published books are historical romance novels (Avon Books, Zebra Books,) many of which actually won awards and one of these awards was almost considered prestigious. She finally stopped being able to write these novels when she began having fantasies of killing off her heroines—in really dreadful ways. Her screenplays have been optioned at Warner Bros., Julian Krainin Productions, Bright Light Pictures among others; She suspects she holds the record for most amount of options! Two of her screenplays have received excellent coverage: The Good Fight, Clarence Darrow’s most compelling case where he successfully defended an African American physician who was falsely accused of murder and a two part miniseries Harriet Tubman: Let My People Go. As the world confronts the refugee and immigration crisis, Juan Pablo showed up to share his story, one that she thinks can offer hope for everyone.



RABT Book Tours & PR
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16 July 2018

Shift - Review

Shift
by M.A. George




What they say: Seventeen-year-old Perry Teasdale is a dreamer. 

She’s not the kind of dreamer who waltzes through fields of wildflowers, twirling her skirts in a starry-eyed daze; or the kind who aspires to be the biggest rock star the world has ever known (not that she’d complain, if that accidentally happened). She’s the kind of dreamer who can’t get a decent night’s rest, because her sleep is flooded with scenes from other worlds—ones that seem as real as life itself. 

Mind-blowing dreams may sound like loads of fun, but when they start to bleed into Perry’s waking hours—confusing the line between dream and reality, and keeping her in a sleep-deprived fog no amount of caffeine can cure—Perry’s not exactly thrilled. 

Try as she might to shake the dreams from her mind, they keep gaining speed, growing ever more vivid and intense…until that hazy boundary between real and imaginary fades away, and Perry is forced to consider the impossible: Her dreams seem real, because they are

When disaster strikes, sending Perry’s newfound normalcy into a tailspin, she takes the only logical path left: a whirlwind tour of the multiverse, scouring an ever-growing assortment of alternate realities for the missing piece—the missing person—to put her life together again. 

Along the way, Perry enlists the help of an ancient wise woman (who may be a tad homicidal); a nerdy-in-all-the-right-ways mathematician (who knows all of Perry’s secrets, even before introducing himself); and a sword (because you can never go wrong with a sword). 

At times hilarious—at times heartbreaking—Shift is sure to be, well, one of those two things.



I received a copy from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review!

What I say: I'm a huge sci-fi nerd and can talk for hours about the idea of a multiverse or metaverse. I'm always there with my hand raised ready to sign up for a new story that has anything to do with such a concept. Over the years I've read some wonderful parallel universe stories and some really terrible ones as well. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed Shift and loved the idea behind it.

Imagine if Parallel universes a real and that infinite versions of people exist all at once. Now take it a step further and imagine if you could shift between these universes and explore the differences between them. What I liked about Shift is that we're not taking the usual time travel or different planet route into the multiverses or scapes, but using science and even dream recall hello Max.  How awesome would that be?! 

When Perry and her Aunt go to visit her brother Ezra at uni, she's in for one heck of a surprise when she meets his friend Max. Max is quite literally the man of her dreams...

Perry is a straight talking and creative YA lead. I wasn't expecting to like her as much as I did. Although I didn't always agree with her, I appreciated her strength and determination as well as her fab dream paintings. Max is nerd girl heaven. He's smart and adoringly charming - oh the cuteness!!

We meet a plethora of characters along the way - it was certainly entertaining getting to met them all. The plot is fun and clever - the idea that they are living many different lives simultaneously is really intriguing and works well here.

4 Stars in my Sky!

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15 July 2018

Weekend Freebies

This varied mixed of beauties is currently FREE on the UK kindle store! 

(correct at time of writing but I cannot guarantee how long they will remain free for).





Bloodless (Witch's Blood #1) by Neha Yazmin (Young Adult Paranormal)

Taking Off the Princess Dress by L.A. Lancy (Young Adult)

Tainted Kiss (Tainted Knights #1) by Terri Anne Browning (Contemporary Romance)

The Random Series Box Set (Books 1-3) by Julia Kent (New Adult)

She Doesn't Know by Shane Morales (Young Adult)

The Unexpected Gift of Joseph Bridgeman by Nick Jones (Contemporary with a touch of time travel)

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