Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of Hello Girls

 

HELLO GIRLS TOUR BANNER

hello girls book cover
Title: Hello Girls
Authors: Brittany Cavallaro & Emily Henry
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: August 6th 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

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Synopsis:

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.


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“Am I hallucinating?” Lucille asked. “Are we even on earth or, like, on Tatooine? Is this . . . suburban Tatooine?”
“No,” Winona said in a hushed voice. “It’s a truck stop.”—Hello Girls

WHOA! You guys, Hello Girls threw me through so many loops and unexpected turns. I cannot even count how many times my eyes went wide, my mouth awed, and I kept thinking, “this is so dark.” The two main characters, Lucille and Winona, are total opposites to any outsider, but their friendship is the only thing that is firm and good in their lives. Both characters have faced some traumatic abuse from the men in their families, which, at one point, becomes too much and they both plan an escape from their cruel worlds.

“You absolutely amaze me, Winona Olsen,” Lucille said. “You terrify me, but you amaze me too.”—Hello Girls

As a heavily action-packed story, these fierce girls literally and figuratively drive on unknown roads to escape their pasts; they naively create plans that often end in disappointment, but damn, they never stop trying. The pages of Hello Girls are salted with dark humor which provides the most refreshing opportunity for the characters to be themselves. Their road trip doesn’t hold the best laid out plans, but I love how their minds are constantly in sync and in survival mode.

“Why did people lie? With their words, with their voices, with their bodies, with their beautiful houses and beautiful clothes and sometimes even their faces? Why couldn’t everyone just be what they were?”—Hello Girls

In the end, Hello Girls is a testament to survival, self-acceptance, and the incredible strength found in female friendships. Lucille and Winona are trailblazers writing their own stories, finding their own freedom, and hopefully just a smidge of a happy ending.

“How do I make myself cry?”
“I don’t know!” Lucille said. “How does Jennifer Lawrence do it?”
“Probably just thinks about Hollywood pay discrepancies?” Winona said.—Hello Girls
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WIN a 1 of 5 copies of Hello Girls (USA only)

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brittany
Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, including A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE, THE LAST OF AUGUST, and THE CASE FOR JAMIE. She’s also the author of the poetry collection GIRL-KING (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Michigan with her husband, cat, dog, and collection of deerstalker caps.

 

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Emily Henry
Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World and A Million Junes. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.
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TOUR SCHEDULE

Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Harper Teen for providing me an e-ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material is not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of Romanov

TOUR BANNER (1)

book cover
Title:
Romanov
Author: 
Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retelling

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Synopsis:

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.


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I have always been fascinated by the history of the Romanov family, and through the narrative of many historical truths with a dash of magic, Nadine Brandes takes her readers on a new journey that explores Anastasia and her family’s lives. From the first page, the main character, Nastya, provides such a captivating voice and point of view that leaves the reader craving more about this mischievous spell caster and her daring trial to survive and save her family.

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Romanov hits a lot of the high points of the Romanov history, but this fictional mouthpiece also provides a unique perspective into one of the most sincerest families. While the Romanovs are imprisoned and hidden from society, this tight-knit group longs for justice, peace, and the chance to truly live again. They are often thrown into such uncomfortable situations but their tenacity, along with Nastya’s fierce but playful attitude, create perfect moments of relief. Every page had me emotional invested and yearning to see hope for Nastya and her family.

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Overall, Romanov is a very captivating story that portrays strengths in themes of forgiveness and love. I really enjoyed the steady pacing of the book, which allowed the book to smoothly flow and unfold. Plus, adding in a dash of magic and young love to a historically well-known story had me ingrained from beginning to end.

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WIN a copy of Romanov by Nadine Brandes (USA only)

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AUTHOR
Nadine once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She’s the author of FAWKES and of the award-winning The Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.

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TOUR SCHEDULE

Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me an e-ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of The Waking Forest

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Title: The Waking Forest
Author: 
 Alyssa Wees
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

Pan’s Labyrinth meets The Hazel Wood in this novel about a girl with terrifying visions and a wish-granting witch whose lives collide in the most unexpected of ways.

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?


review and quotes

You guys, I found The Waking Forest to be a combination of one of the most mind-boggling, creepiest, and eeriest books I have read in a long time. Told in chapters with alternating settings, this book was like reading dark fairy-stories within other grim fairytales. The novel truly felt like a web of dreams within nightmares within dreams.

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I have a strong fascination with fantasy books set in dark forests, and I loved how The Waking Forest used the forest as an entity to thicken the plot and mold the most magical scenes. Sometimes the highly decorated language was jarring and puzzling because it was literally being told through the character’s own eyes, which often stilted some scenes for me. But overall these specific instances kept me entranced by well-kept secrets and the yearning to know what was going to happen next.

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Overall, The Waking Forest is truly a dark and spellbinding novel. Once I was used to the alternating chapters and the multiple character perspectives, the book became a constant page-turner. The twisted lore and fascinating character development created a hint of mystery, and the unraveling of fantastical secrets was a constant eyeopener. Purple prose decorates the story with vivid imagery and unbelievable scenes filled with fox pets, undiscovered constellations, and tasty wishes that melt on your tongue. Family, friendships, sacrifice, and self-acceptance are important themes that allowed this story to grow into its own form of a memorable fairy tale.

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giveaway

WIN One copy of The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees (USA only)

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about the author

 

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In between training in ballet and watching lots of Disney movies, Alyssa grew up writing stories starring her Beanie Babies. She earned a BA in English from Creighton University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she works as an assistant librarian in youth services at an awesome public library. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two cats.
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Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Delacorte for providing me an ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Friday Raves & Giveaway: Dumplin’ is now on Netflix!

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Title: Dumplin’
Author:  Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen 
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis:

NOW a Netflix film–featuring Jennifer Aniston, Danielle Macdonald, and Dove Cameron, as well as a soundtrack from Dolly Parton!

The movie tie-in edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller and feel-good YA of the year—about Willowdean Dickson, the fearless, funny, and totally unforgettable heroine who takes on her small town’s beauty pageant.

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.

With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any girl does.

Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

Julie Murphy is the leading voice in body positivity for teens in the YA space. Willowdean is a heroine rarely seen in teen books and movies—she is confident and unafraid.  Her struggle with body image issues is a subject every teen can relate to. But Will doesn’t have to lose weight to be happy at the end of this book—or to fall in love.


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You guys! One of my favorite books of 2015 is now a NETFLIX movie! AHHHHH!!!

I teamed up with the amazing Wunderkind-PR and we are giving away a free copy of the paperback movie tie-in book.  

Dumplin’ was previously released in 2015 and is a New York Times #1 bestseller. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

giveaway

Please note that Wunderkind-PR is kindly giving away a movie tie-in edition of Dumplin’. Open to all US residents. All you need to do is Retweet my tweet, and I will pick a winner Friday, December 14. And if you win, the book will be sent by Wunderkind-PR straight to your mailbox. How awesome is that, Y’ALL?!

TWEET TO RETWEET:

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER HERE:


Praise for Dumplin’

 “Murphy (Side Effects May Vary) successfully makes every piece of the story—Dolly Parton superfans, first love, best-friend problems, an unlikely group of pageant entrants, female solidarity, self-acceptance, and Willowdean’s complicated relationship with the mother who nicknamed her “Dumplin’ “—count, weaving them together to create a harmonious, humorous, and thought-provoking whole.”
   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 “Will’s singular voice compels readers to think about all that goes into building-and destroying-self-esteem…Splendid”

 Booklist (starred review)

“DUMPLIN’ should be required reading for anyone who has ever felt even slightly uncomfortable in his or her skin. Julie Murphy’s star continues to shine with this groundbreaking, poignant story that will surely change lives.”
   — John Corey Whaley, award-winning author of Noggin and Where Things Come Back

“I’m obsessed with this book. Wickedly funny, heartbreakingly real, full of characters to love and cheer for. DUMPLIN’ is such a star.”
   — Katie Cotugno, author of How to Love and 99 Days

Awards and Other Acclaim

  • ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • An ALA Top Ten Pick for Reluctant Readers 
  • An Indies Choice Best Young Adult Honor Book
  • Best Book of the Year & Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel by Romantic Times
  • New York Public Library Best Book of the Year 
  • Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year 
  • Tumblr Reblog Book Club Pick
  • Amazon Best Book of the Year
  • B&N Best Book of the Year
  • Booklist Editor’s choice
  • Spirt of Texas High School Reading List
  • Tayshas (Texas Teen) Reading List
  • Indigo Best Book of the Year

ABOUT JULIE MURPHY…THE QUEEN

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Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time. When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure. She is also the author of Puddin’ and Side Effects May Vary. You can visit Julie at www.juliemurphywrites.com.

 

Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Title: The Fever King
Author: Victoria Lee
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: March 1st 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

READ CHAPTER 1:

Outbreaks of magic started all kinds of ways. Maybe a tank coming in from the quarantined zone didn’t get hosed down properly. Maybe, like some people said, the refugees brought it up with them from Atlantia, the virus hiding out in someone’s blood or in a juicy peach pie.

But when magic infected the slums of west Durham, in the proud sovereign nation of Carolinia, it didn’t matter how it got there.

Everybody still died.

Noam was ringing up Mrs. Ellis’s snuff tins when he nearly toppled into the cash register.

He all but had to fight her off as she tried to force him down into a folding chair—swore he’d just got a touch dizzy, but he’d be fine, really. Go on home. She left eventually, and he went to stand in front of the window fan for a while, holding his shirt off his sweat-sticky back and trying not to pass out.

He spent the rest of his shift reading Bulgakov under the counter. He felt just fine.

That evening he locked the doors, pulled chicken wire over the windows, and took a new route to the Migrant Center. In this neighborhood, you had to if you didn’t want to get robbed. Once upon a time, or so Noam had heard, there’d been a textile mill here. The street would’ve been full of workers heading home, empty lunch pails in hand. Then the mill had gone down and apartments went up, and by the 1960s, Ninth Street had been repopulated by rich university students with their leather satchels and clove cigarettes. All that was before the city got bombed halfway to hell in the catastrophe, of course.

Noam’s ex used to call it “the Ninth Circle.” She meant it in Dante’s sense.

The catastrophe was last century, though. Now the university campus blocked the area in from the east, elegant stone walls keeping out the riffraff while Ninth and Broad crumbled under the weight of five-person refugee families crammed into one-room apartments, black markets buried in basements, laundry lines strung between windows like market lights. Sure, maybe you shouldn’t wander around the neighborhood at night draped in diamonds, but Noam liked it anyway.

“Someone’s famous,” Linda said when he reached the back offices of the Migrant Center, a sly smile curving her lips as she passed him the morning’s Herald.

Noam grinned back and looked.

Massive Cyberattack Disables Central News Bureau

Authorities link hack to Atlantian cyberterrorist affiliates.

“Haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about. Say, have you got any scissors?”

“What for?”

“I’m gonna frame this.”

Linda snorted and swatted him on the arm. “Get on, you. Brennan has some task he wants finished this week, and I don’t think you, him, and your ego can all fit in that office.”

Which, fair: the office was pretty small. Tucked into the back corner of the building, with Brennan’s name and Director printed on the door in copperplate, it was pretty much an unofficial storage closet for all the files and paperwork Linda couldn’t cram anywhere else. Brennan’s desk was dwarfed by boxes stacked precariously around it, the man himself leaning close to his holoreader monitor with reading glasses perched on the end of a long nose and a pen behind one ear.

“Noam,” he said, glancing up when the door opened. “You made it.”

“Sorry I missed yesterday. I had to cover someone’s shift at the computer store after I got off the clock at Larry’s.”

Brennan waved a dismissive hand. “Don’t apologize. If you have to work, you have to work.”

“Still.”

It wasn’t guilt, per se, that coiled up in Noam’s stomach. Or maybe it was. That was his father’s photograph on the wall, after all, though his face was hidden by a bandanna tied over his nose and mouth. His father’s hands holding up that sign—Refugee rights are human rights. That was in June 2118, during the revolt over the new, more stringent citizenship tests. It had been the largest protest in Carolinian history.

“Linda said you had something for me to work on?” Noam said, tilting his head toward the holoreader.

“It’s just database management, I’m afraid, nothing very interesting.”

“I love databases.” Noam smiled, and Brennan smiled back. The expression lifted the exhaustion from Brennan’s face like a curtain rising from a window, sunlight streaming through.

Brennan oriented him to the task, then gave up his desk chair for Noam to get to work. He squeezed Noam’s shoulder before he left to help Linda with dinner, and a warm beat of familiarity took root in the pit of Noam’s stomach. Brennan might try to put up boundaries, clear delineations between professional life and how close Brennan had been to Noam’s family, but the cracks were always visible.

That was pretty much the only reason Noam didn’t tell him up front: database management was mind-numbingly boring. After you figured out how to script your way past the problem, it was just a matter of waiting around. He’d have once maybe emailed Carly or someone while the program executed. But they were all dead now, and between the Migrant Center and two jobs, Noam didn’t have time to meet new people. So he sat and watched text stream down the command console, letters blurring into numbers until the screen was wavering light.

A dull ache bored into Noam’s skull.

Maybe he was more tired than he thought, because he didn’t remember what happened between hitting “Execute” and Brennan shaking him awake. Noam lurched upright.

“You all right?” Brennan asked.

“What? Oh—fine, sorry. I must have . . . dozed off.” Noam seized the holoreader, tapping at the screen until it lit up again. The script was finished, anyway, and no run-time errors. Thankfully. “It’s all done.”

The thin line between Brennan’s brows deepened. “Are you feeling okay? You look . . .”

“Fine. I’m fine. Just tired.” Noam attempted a wan smile. He really hoped he wasn’t coming down with whatever it was Elliott from the computer store had. Only, he and Elliott had kissed in the back room on their lunch break yesterday, so yeah, he probably had exactly what Elliott had.

“Maybe you should go on home,” Brennan said, using that grip on Noam’s shoulder to ease him back from the computer. “I can help Linda finish up dinner.”

“I can—”

“It wasn’t a request.”

Noam made a face, and Brennan sighed.

“For me, Noam. Please. I’ll drop by later on if I have time.”

There was no arguing with Brennan when he got all protective. So Noam just exhaled and said, “Yeah, all right. Fine.”

Brennan’s hand lingered a beat longer than usual on Noam’s shoulder, squeezing slightly, then let go. When Noam looked over, Brennan’s expression gave nothing away as he said, “Tell your dad hi for me.”

Noam had arrived at the Migrant Center in the early evening. Now it was night, the deep-blue world illuminated by pale streetlight pooling on the sidewalk. It was unusually silent. When Noam turned onto Broad, he found out why: a checkpoint was stationed up at the intersection by the railroad tracks—floodlights and vans, police, even a few government witchings in military uniform.

Right. No one without a Carolinian passport would be on the street tonight, not with Immigration on the prowl.

Noam’s papers were tucked into his back pocket, but yeah, he didn’t need to deal with Chancellor Sacha’s anti-Atlantian bullshit right now. Not with this headache. He cut through the alley between the liquor store and the barbecue joint to skirt the police perimeter. It was a longer walk home from there, but Noam didn’t mind.

He liked the way tonight smelled, like smoked ribs and gasoline. Like oncoming snow.

When he got to his building, he managed to get the door open—the front latch was ancient enough it probably counted as precatastrophe. Fucking thing always got stuck, always, and Noam had written to the super fifty times, for what little difference that’d made. It was November, but the back of Noam’s neck was sweat-damp by the time he finally shouldered his way into the building and trudged into his apartment.

Once upon a time, this building was a bookstore. It’d long since been converted to tenements, all plywood walls and hung-up sheets for doors. The books were still there, though, yellowing and mildewed. They made him sneeze, but he read a new one every day all the same, curled up in a corner and out of the way of the other tenants. It was old and worn out, but it was home.

Noam touched the mezuzah on the doorframe as he went in, a habit he hadn’t picked up till after his mother died but felt right somehow. Not that being extra Jewish would bring her back to life.

Noam’s father had been moved from the TV to the window.

“What’s up, Dad?”

No answer. That was nothing new. Noam was pretty sure his father hadn’t said three words in a row since 2120. Still, Noam draped his arms over his father’s lax shoulders and kissed his cheek.

“I hope you want pasta for dinner,” Noam said, “’cause that’s what we’ve got.”

He left his father staring out at the empty street and busied himself with the saucepans. He set up the induction plate and hunched over it, steam wafting toward his face as the water simmered. God, it was unbearably hot, but he didn’t trust himself to let go of the counter edge, not with this dizziness rippling through his mind.

Should’ve had more than an apple for lunch. Should’ve gone to bed early last night, not stayed up reading Paradise Lost for the fiftieth time.

If his mother were here, she’d have dragged him off to bed and stuck him with a mug of aguapanela. It was some sugary tea remedy she’d learned from her Colombian mother-in-law that was supposed to cure everything. Noam had never learned how to make it.

Another regret to add to the list.

He dumped dried noodles into the pot. “There’s a checkpoint at the corner of Broad and Main,” he said, not expecting an answer.

None came. Jaime Álvaro didn’t care about anything anymore, not even Atlantia.

Noam turned down the heat on the stove. “Couldn’t tell if they made any arrests. Nobody’s out, so they might start knocking on doors later.”

He turned around. His father’s expression was the same slack-jawed one he’d been wearing when Noam first came in.

“Brennan asked about you,” Noam said. Surely that deserved a blink, at least.

Nothing.

“I killed him.”

Nothing then either.

Noam spun toward the saucepan again, grabbing a fork and stabbing at the noodles, which slipped through the prongs like so many slimy worms. His gut surged up into his throat, and Noam closed his eyes, free hand gripping the edge of the nearest bookshelf.

“You could at least pretend to give a shit,” he said to the blackness on the other side of his eyelids. The pounding in his head was back. “I’m sad about Mom, too, you know.”

His next breath shuddered all the way down into his chest—painful, like inhaling frost.

His father used to sing show tunes while he did the dinner dishes. Used to check the classifieds every morning for job offers even though having no papers meant he’d never get the good ones—he still never gave up. Never ever.

And Noam . . . Noam had to remember who his father really was, even if that version of him belonged to another life, ephemeral as footprints in the snow. Even if it felt like he’d lost both parents the day his mother died.

Noam switched off the heat, spooning the noodles into two bowls. No sauce, so he drizzled canola oil on top and carried one of the bowls over to his father. Noam edged his way between the chair and the window, crouching down in that narrow space. He spun noodles around the fork. “Open up.”

Usually, the prospect of food managed to garner a reaction. Not this time.

Nausea crawled up and down Noam’s breastbone. Or maybe it was regret. “I’m sorry,” he said after a beat and tried for a self-deprecating grin. “I was . . . it’s been a long day. I was a dick. I’m sorry, Dad.”

His father didn’t speak and didn’t open his mouth.

Noam set the pasta bowl on the floor and wrapped his other hand around his father’s bony wrist. “Please,” Noam said. “Just a few bites. I know it’s not Mom’s cooking, but . . . for me. Okay?”

Noam’s mother had made the most amazing food. Noam tried to live up to her standard, but he never could. He’d given up on cooking anything edible, on keeping a kosher kitchen, on speaking Spanish. On making his father smile.

Noam rubbed his thumb against his father’s forearm.

The skin there was paper thin and far, far too hot.

“Dad?”

His father’s eyes stared past Noam, unseeing and glassy, reflecting the lamplight outside. That wasn’t what made Noam lurch back and collide with window, its latch jabbing his spine.

A drop of blood welled in the corner of his father’s eye and—after a single quivering moment—cut down his cheek like a tear.

“Mrs. Brown!”

Noam shoved the chair back from the window, half stumbling across the narrow room to the curtain separating their space from their neighbor’s. He banged a fist against the nearest bookshelf.

“Mrs. Brown, are you in there? I—I’m coming in.”

He ripped the curtain to one side. Mrs. Brown was there but not in her usual spot. She was curled on the bed instead, shoulders jutting against the ratty blanket like bony wings.

Noam hesitated. Was she . . . no. Was she dead?

She moved, then, a pale hand creeping out to wave vaguely in the air.

“Mrs. Brown, I need help,” Noam said. “It’s my dad—he’s sick. He’s . . . he’s really sick, and I think . . .”

The hand dropped back onto the blanket and went still.

No. No, no—this wasn’t right. This wasn’t happening. He should go downstairs and get another neighbor. He should—no, he should check on his dad. He couldn’t. He . . .

He had to focus.

The blanket covering Mrs. Brown began to ripple like the surface of the sea. Outside, the hazard sirens wailed.

Magic.

Dragging his eyes away from Mrs. Brown, Noam twisted round to face his own apartment and vomited all over the floor.

He stood there for a second, staring woozily at the mess while sirens shrieked in his ears. He was sick. Magic festered in his veins, ready to consume him whole.

An outbreak.

His father, when Noam managed to weave his way back to his side, had fallen unconscious. His head lolled forward, and there was a bloody patch on his lap, yellow electricity flickering over the stain. The world undulated around them both in watery waves.

“It’s okay,” Noam said, knowing his dad couldn’t hear him. He sucked in a sharp breath and hitched his father’s body out of the chair. He shouldn’t—he couldn’t just leave him there like that. Noam had carried him around for three years, but today his father weighed twice as much as before. Noam’s arms quivered. His thoughts were white noise.

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, a voice kept repeating in Noam’s head.

He dumped his father’s body on the bed, skinny limbs sprawling. Noam tried to nudge him into a more comfortable position, but even that took effort. But this . . . it was more than he’d done for his mother. He’d left her corpse swinging on that rope for hours before Brennan had shown up to take her down.

His father still breathed, for now.

How long did it take to die? God, Noam couldn’t remember.

On shaky legs, Noam made his way back to the chair by the window. He couldn’t manage much more. The television kept turning itself on and off again, images blazing across a field of static snow and vanishing just as quickly. Noam saw it out of the corners of his eyes even when he tried not to look, the same way he saw his father’s unconscious body. That would be Noam soon.

Magic crawled like ivy up the sides of the fire escape next door.

Noam imagined his mother waiting for him with a smile and open arms, the past three years just a blink against eternity.

His hands sparked with something silver-blue and bright. Bolts shot between his fingers and flickered up his arms. The effect would have been beautiful were it not so deadly. And yet . . .

A shiver ricocheted up his spine.

Noam held a storm in his hands, and he couldn’t feel a thing.

 

Author Bio:

Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey. Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her partner.

For exclusive updates, excerpts, and giveaways, sign up for Victoria’s newsletter at https://victorialeewrites.com/newsletter/

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NERD BLAST & GIVEAWAY: The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

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Title: The Lantern’s Ember
Author: Colleen Houck

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Genres:
Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance 

SYNOPSIS

Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back whereshe belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.

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Praise for THE LANTERN’S EMBER

“[Houck] offers a fresh spin on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow…with some genuine surprises in store.” —Kirkus

“A wild and seductive adventure…a must-have for YA collections.” —SLJ  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she’s not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.

 

WEBSITETWITTERGOODREADS  / FACEBOOK  / INSTAGRAMPINTEREST 

***Giveaway***

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5 Winners will receive a Copy of THE LANTERN’S EMBER by Colleen Houck

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

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Title:
 Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Author:  Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery

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Synopsis:

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


review and quotes

Once again, Kerri Maniscalco has astounded me with her storytelling. I cannot and will never get enough of Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell. I love the chemistry between these two characters, their banter, and how Thomas, truly a Victorian gentleman, always treats Audrey Rose with respect and as an equal. They are my ultimate OTP. Now in Escaping from Houdini, things are shaken up between these two and I’m not going to say I was the hugest fan in riding those waves, but when these two characters are on the same page with each other, their partnership is outstanding. 

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I love that Escaping from Houdini stays true to the first two books and portrays feminism in the best light. As the main female lead, Audrey Rose Wadsworth is witty, sassy, and so intelligent. She defies many characteristics of a stereotypical Victorian woman, and instead is a proto-feminist of the era. I love that she is deep into solving mysteries and murder with science and rational deduction. She wants to know the truth and how things tick, and she is not afraid to dig deeper into danger to find her answers. 
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Overall, the setting of this novel made the mysterious story even more intriguing. I was captivated by the details of Victorian fashion and mannerisms, as well as the illusions and magic of the traveling carnival performers and entertainers on board a ship. Mix in history, quirky banter, the sleuthing of Sherlock Holmes, the atmospheric allurement found in Caraval, and you have Escaping from Houdini delivering on all levels of entertainment, education, fascination, and mystery.
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4 star rating
giveaway

WIN One ARC of Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco (USA only)

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about the author

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

 
Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for providing me an ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.