The Loneliest Girl in the Universe: YA Review

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication: 7th September 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Review copy from Walker
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .


Wow, what a page turner. The dates across the tops of the pages really push the story along and create a heavy tension. You’ll want to read this in one sitting.

Romy was born on The Infinity, a star ship despatched with the mission to create a human colony on a new planet. Romy has never ever known any other life then that onboard The Infinity and after an incident takes both her parents away from her, she is alone. Romy is further away from earth than any human has ever been, hurtling towards the unknown. The weight of a new human colony, by default, resting on her teenage shoulders. Romy has to grow up fast! to have any hope of completing her parents mission.

Poor mental health due to the toll that guilt and grief cause is a big part of three integral characters storylines and there were some beautiful scenes, like the one where Romy makes peace with her Mother (I cried). But the highlights for me were the sections of the book where Romy is fast thinking and fighting for her life. I was ripping through the pages desperate to see what happened next.

There is so much more I could talk about; Romy’s parents, ‘pen-pals’ and psychological torture, Romy’s cute-as bits of fan-fiction (kind of Rainbow Rowell Fangirl-ish – but it enhanced rather than detracted from the main story). But it’s so much more fun If you find these things out for yourself. Off you go.


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No Limits: YA Review

35298151No Limits by Ellie Marney
Genre: Contemporary
Publication: August 14th 2017
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Review copy from Author
Thanks Ellie, you wonderful woman
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Boozer, brawler, ladies’ man – nineteen-year-old Harris Derwent is not a good guy.

His one attempt to play the hero – helping out his old flame, Rachel Watts – has landed him in hospital. Now injured, broke, and unemployed, he’s stuck back in the country, at his father’s mercy. Harris needs to pay off his dad’s debts, and fast. But working as a runner for a drug cartel is a dangerous path – especially if Harris agrees to narc…

Eighteen-year-old Amita Blunt is the perfect police sergeant’s daughter – practical, trustworthy, and oh-so responsible. Getting involved in Harris’s case was never part of the plan. But working at the hospital, she’s invisible – which makes her the ideal contact for a boy feeding information back to the police…

Harris and Amie’s connection is sizzling hot – but if the cartel finds out about them, things could get downright explosive. Backed into a corner, with everything at stake, it’s time for Harris and Amie to find out if love really has no limits…


Woah! What an action-packed adventure ride this book was. I loved it. It was fan-frigging-tastic!

Right from the start I was enjoying reading this book; Ellie’s writing, the characters and the prospect of romance and drama. The story reeled me in, fast, and I was happy to be hooked.

Harris’s dad is an evil arsehole. Had to be said! He has subjected Harris to emotional and physical abuse his whole life, making Harris an emotionally closed off hard arse. We meet Harris at an extreme low point. He has no self-worth and a bit of a death wish. Enter Amie.

Amie’s dad is a good man, a man of the law. And Amie has a loving extended family. After the death of her mother Amie can’t bear being separated from her remaining family. So, she plans on giving up her dreams of studying photography and visiting far off places to stay and be near them. Little help here please Harris (and Nani).

Harris and Amie are two extremely different people, but the chemistry between them is undeniable right from the start. Each helping the other heal, let go and move on to bigger and better things – oh and there is a whole lot of criminal activity, dangerous dudes and wrongs righted in between.

Meth, not even once mate! Methamphetamine, Crystal Meth, Crank, Speed, Ice, Poor Man’s Cocaine etc. whatever the hell you want to call it, it’s poisonous s**t. I really liked how Ellie went into detail with her characters drug use without glorifying it. The message of the damage it can do shines through the story, but she’s not preachy.  She shows the painful truths, the negative side effects and deadly consequences. She also bothers to show how it feels, and why they do it.

The last eight chapters were a full-on adrenalin rush. I was physically anxious, my stomach was churning as I flew through the words, racing to find out how it all ends. Totally worth it! The ending made my heart sing.

I can see myself reading this book again. I really enjoyed getting to know Harris and Amie intimately, and the rush of experiencing their world.

Harris does feature in the last book of Ellie’s Every series, but you in no way need to read it first. Do yourself a favour, go and buy No Limits and fall in love with Ellie’s story telling awesomeness .

Find Ellie and her books here: Amazon AU | Amazon US | BooktopiaAngus & Robertson Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Black Blade: Blog Tour

Black Blade by Alexander Charalambides
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: June 11th 2017

Summary

Lance is a hero.

With his friend Megan, he does his best to survive high school in a world that doesn’t always make sense, and is almost never fair.

When their school receives a donation from an anonymous millionaire, Lance and Megan find themselves on an international field trip to England, where the two receive an irresistible call to a supernatural adventure that could change their destinies, and the destiny of the country, forever.

Together with three mysterious adults who all claim to be wizards, Lance must safe-guard the legendary Excalibur. Traveling into a strange parallel world and keeping his friends, new and old, safe from harm at the hands of a malevolent army of magical soldiers, Lance discovers the truth about heroism and the content of his character.

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About the Author

Alexander Charalambides was born in London and grew up in Berkshire.

He studied Creative Writing, and graduated from the Open University.

In 2008 he moved to the United States, and now lives in New Hampshire.

As a freelance writer Alexander enjoys storytelling just as much as editing and analysis, but often takes time off to enjoy wind surfing, do the sickest of motorcycle flips, wrestle with deadly animals and lie about his hobbies.

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsFacebook

Alexander’s MUSIC PLAYLIST for Black Blade
Music is an extremely powerful tool for the imagination, it strengths atmosphere and preserves the author’s intent while still allowing the reader to freely imagine the details and texture the author chooses to leave blank. That said, Black Blade’s atmosphere, and therefore “imaginary” soundtrack is sort of set in stone. Since Black Blade is almost a comedy, you might expect me to have listened to all sorts of silly music (which is what I usually listen to), but this is where the “almost” is important. Black Blade’s characters are pretty over the top, sometimes absurd, but the plot and atmosphere are always serious and often sombre, so the comedy really comes from contrast rather than any specific action. I can’t score the whole thing, but plenty of musical pieces went into building the atmosphere, and since the atmosphere really grew from John Boorman’s Excalibur, we’ll start there.
If you watch Excalibur (and I highly recommend you do) the soundtrack will stand out immediately, the key player being Wagner’s Siegfried’s Funeral March. It’s the keystone of the film’s atmosphere and Black Blade’s as well. In fact, I’m listening to it right now and feeling really proud of myself. Obviously, though, playlists aren’t composed of a single song. I tried to diversify and ended up with a lot of classical stuff. Most people know Night On Bald Mountain, which I think comes in louder and louder towards Black Blade’s end, and I always imagined the crowded breathing and clattering equipment of the Mason’s Guild accompanied by Prokofiev’s Dance Of The Knights.
I know, you probably think I’m boring. All posturing about authorial intent and atmosphere aside, I found that writing with these really old, forbidding pieces added something that I couldn’t find in more modern music, and lyrics were right out.
Maybe I’m just ignorant of the music I really needed since all I usually listen to are nonsense mashups and songs made of sampled dog barks.

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About Last Summer: Blog Tour

Title: About Last Summer

Author: Patricia B. Tighe

Genre: YA Romance

Pretend to be from Spain? Act like she can barely speak English? Sure, why not? It wouldn’t be the first time Gabby Vega had agreed to a challenge from her best friend, Kenzie. Besides, it’s only for a week of vacation with Kenzie’s cousins. Gabby will prove to Kenzie she can keep up the fake identity for the whole trip—that she’s not a quitter.

There’s just one major surprise. Noah Jernigan is also staying with Kenzie’s cousins. Noah, the boy she fell in love with at drama camp last summer and the boy she had to dump when it was over. The boy who knows who she really is.

Noah can’t believe it when Gabby appears at the Bryson’s vacation home in the New Mexico mountains. He hasn’t seen her in a year. It practically took that long just to get over her. And now she’s Gabriela from Spain? All he wants is to get as far away as he can. Or maybe the exact opposite. Stick as close to her as possible and find out what the heck happened last summer. And definitely get some payback.

Now Gabby has to keep Noah at arm’s length as she pretends to be Gabriela. She doesn’t want to answer his questions or rehash last summer. Because one thing is clear—the more time she spends with Noah, the more she’s in danger of falling for him all over again.

Links

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Patricia B. TigheAuthor Bio

The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and dog. She eats way too much pizza, drinks way too much coffee, and watches way too much NFL football. On the bright side, she also reads and writes teen fiction. She promises to include as much romance, angst, and adventure as possible in her books.

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Excerpt

Noah

I was three measures into a different Celtic song when a sound broke my concentration. A footstep? Probably not. I frowned and kept playing. But somehow, the shades of darkness shifted. I squinted. Someone stood on the blacktop where we shot baskets, half hidden by the side of the deck.

My heart rate picked up. There was only one person it could be. The others were inside, and Amanda didn’t go anywhere without Haley. I kept playing, just more quietly. “You can come out,” I said. “I know you’re there.”

Gabby’s voice came from the blackness. “How?”

I waited until she reached the bottom of the steps. “A shadow moved or something.”

“Oh.” She stepped up and sat on the stair just below the deck’s floor. “That sounds familiar.”

Crap. I’d been playing her song again. I purposely plucked the wrong string, the flat note twanging out like a slap. “Haven’t played it in awhile.” Idiot, idiot. You played it a few minutes ago. If she was outside, she heard it.

She leaned back on her elbows and faced the backyard. “It’s still good.”

I could’ve switched songs. I so wanted to. But a perverse need to show her just how great the song could be filled me with determination. So I let myself fall completely into the music, each note ringing out with precision and aching sweetness.

Finally, when my chest was so tight I could barely breathe, I stopped. My body still rocked uncontrollably forward and back, the last notes reverberating into the night.

She said nothing. Just sat there as if she deserved the whole performance.

And I was caught. I wanted to jump up and go inside. But I also wanted to lean toward her. Remember how much you liked that last summer? Do you still? I had to be the biggest fool between here and whatever the hell river ran through Texas.

She sighed, and it broke through the Gabby-cloud in my mind. “What’re you doing out here, Gabby?”

She looked over her shoulder at me, but I couldn’t see her face in the darkness. Just her soft voice floated out. “Why didn’t you play games with everybody?”

I picked idly at the guitar strings. “I’m tired of games. Especially ones I can’t win.”

Dreamwalkers: Blog Tour

Title: Dreamwalkers

Author: Tiaan Lubbe

Genre: YA Fantasy / Adventure

“You walk the bridges between two worlds, between reality and dreams, Ciso.”

“You are a Dreamwalker”

Narciso di Angelo, a sixteen-year-old boy, living on the streets of Rome thinks he is the only one that can walk in other’s dreams.

He’s not.

When a mysterious and dark woman makes her appearance in one of his dreamwalks, he is rescued from her clutches by Project Somnus, a secret underground United Nations organisation, that recruits and trains children with his gifts, using them to fight against and prevent worldwide terrorist threats.

Here Narciso learns more of his abilities and where they come from as well as what it means to be part of a family and a home.

But, as the threat of the mysterious woman and the terrorist organisation Tantibus increases, he also learns what it is like to lose this.

“In dreams we live. In reality we dream.”

 Author Bio:

Tiaan Lubbe lives in Pretoria, South Africa where he spends his time teaching little monsters, directing
plays, doing what he calls writing and dreaming up the future. Mostly all at once.

Links:

eBook Pre-order | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads


Excerpt:

“Remember your training,” Agent Knight says when we’re all in our pods, our heads lifted from the water so we can hear her, game faces on. “Stick together. Work as a team,” she continues. “Captain Evans and his team are counting on you to keep the girl safe long enough for them to get to her and extract her to physical safety.”

We all nod our heads. “Yes, ma’am,” Jamie says. “Fifty Euros says I’ll take down more Tantibus freaks than you, Ciso.”

I laugh. “You’re on, muscle man!”

“It’s the muscles that’ll make sure I get fifty bucks,” he says and I hear him kissing his arms.

“Boys! Always competing,” Leah says letting out a chuckle. “Besides, there’s no use really. I’ll be taking down most of those goons for you. Might as well give me the fifty now, Jamie.”

“This just got more interesting, hey Ciso,” Jamie says. “Now me and a girl will beat you.”

“Ready to initiate Dreamwalk,” Agent Knight interrupts our antics. “In three…”

I ready myself. Take a breath. Try to calm the sudden burst of chill in my stomach. The pod closes. Darkness. Silence.

“Two..”

Trust in yourself Ciso.

“One,” Agent Knight’s voice says. “Good luck team.” There’s a pause. “Initiate.” And then I’m enveloped, drifting into nothingness, into a place where reality has no hold and even the unimagined runs wild.

It doesn’t take long for us to get through the mist and reach the first door. I take the lead this time and the others ready themselves for anything, because that’s exactly what could be on the other side of the door. Anything. The knob turns in my hand and the door eagerly clips open. At the last second, the suspense gets the best of me and I burst through it. A zinging sound whirs towards my face. I turn my head just in time. A knife is dug into the doorframe right in front of my nose, the merciless blade grazing its tip. I look to where the sound came from. A short girl stands ready with another knife in her hand. Jamie and the others push me forward to get into the room. They all freeze at the sight of the little girl.

Night Swimming: YA Review

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Night Swimming by Steph Bowe
Paperback, 311 pages
Publication: April 3rd 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…


“In real life, there’s no such thing as happily ever after, there’s just life passing day by day. After you ride off into the sunset, then you’re just in the middle of nowhere on a horse at night, aren’t you?” – Oh Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, how I adored your Internal monologue.

The story follows 17-year-old Kirby Arrow, her bestie Clancy Lee and her pet goat Stanley as they navigate day to day life in the small town of Alberton. I read this book in one day! and that’s not the norm for me. It was delightful and easy to read. An adorable feel good romp about growing up, finding your inner strength and place in the world.

Kirby wants to stay in Alberton, much to her mother’s dismay. She is determined that nothing in her life will change. Kirby’s mother wants her to go off and explore the world, as she never had the opportunity to do so. Clancy wants to leave Alberton to pursue musical theatre, while his parents want him to work in the family restaurant. The besties may seem to be on different paths at first, but they are both just trying to balance their dreams with family expectations.

The arrival of Iris and her family, rising flood waters and the inevitability of growing up, all threaten Kirby and Clancy’s friendship. I really enjoyed the whole Kirby+Clancy+Iris dynamic. You know someone is going to get hurt, you know the ball is going to drop sooner or later, that the goat poo is going to hit the fan etc. etc.

There are plenty of high jinks between these pages but ultimately this is a heartwarming story about first love, true friendship and finding the courage to move forward.


Steph’s Links: Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Buy Links: Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

Night Swimming is a sweet story of coming of age, family and first requited love. There is a genuine-feeling desire in the story to see the good intentions in lightly sketched but complex characters, which gives the book a lot of heart. It will appeal to fans of realistic Australian YA and to readers searching for sweet and hopeful queer love stories.’ – Books + Publishing.

‘This bittersweet comedy of romantic misunderstanding, life management and family relations is poised at the emotional intersection between forgiveness and self-acceptance. Despite its whimsical tone, Night Swimming tackles serious themes of mental health, family upheaval and sexual coming-out with commendable delicacy and humanity.’ – Readings.

“The utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.” – Erin Gough.

“Night Swimming is a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex – it’s an ode to first times and best friends…but above all else, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst” – Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader.

Review: To Betray My King by Kayla Lavan

34109142To Betray My King by Kayla Lavan

Genre: YA Romance/Fantasy

Release Date: May 1st 2017

Summary:

Would you choose to save your kingdom or follow your heart?

Brave and kindhearted, Arianna is a princess of a kingdom that nobody wants. The magicless. Marrying the charming, flirtatious, and egotistical Prince Roland was the last thing either of them wanted, but for the sake of their people they agreed. War breaks out with the neighboring kingdom, forcing the prince’s hand to join in the fight. He leaves his new wife with the only man he trusts, his childhood friend, a dutiful, strong, and handsome knight.

A sweet romantic tale of forbidden love in a dark fanatical world.

I enjoyed stepping into Ms Lavan’s medieval world of Sol and meeting the magic weavers she has filled it with. I struggled a little with the male leads at first. While I really enjoyed the playful banter and friendship between Prince Roland and his bodyguard/best friend, Conrad, it took me a while to warm up to either of them as love interests for Princess Arianna. Princess Arianna was easily likeable. She was kind hearted and always looking to improve herself, be it mentally or physically (e.g. learning to sword fight).

The story starts off following Roland, Conrad and Arianna. Their day to day lives, before, during and after the arranged royal marriage. But when Roland goes off to war we are left behind with Conrad and Arianna. I wish we could have followed Roland into War!!!

The whole time I was reading it felt as if Ms Lavan was preparing Arianna for something big. We kept being given tastes of Arianna’s archery skills and magical status/abilities and it felt like this was building to something bigger. Well, she did get to kick some butt in the end.

This felt like the first in a series, if that makes sense. A lot of set up with a dramatic actioned packed ending propelling you on to read the next book. There even is a Twist at the end that I didn’t see coming and the ‘betrayal’ goes down not as you expect.

Even with his man-whore start to the story, Prince Roland ended up being my favourite character and I am looking forward to reading more from Ms Lavan and finding out how he handled becoming King.


About the Author

I’ve been writing half of my life, starting at the ripe old age of 13. Back then my favorite pass time was doodling in class, sleeping in class, and studying tests or homework that was due the next class period. But by night I lead a secret life. I would go home, turn on my computer, and get on my dialup Internet (which makes me sound really old) and I would write. At first it was for fun. I was brave back then and posted everything online. In the 14 years I have been writing, I have posted over 1.5 million words, all of which is still available to read for free. My most well known story being “Fun ‘N’ Games at Ouran”. A year or so ago I posted a one-shot that was 50k-60k in words. Afterwards, I looked at it laughing, and said to myself “I think I would like to get paid for this now” and then ‘To Betray My King’ was born. It seems so simple as I’m sitting here, typing this foryou to read, but it’s the truth. ‘Betray’ is my first book, but it won’t be my last. I love writing. I would never give it up for anything in the world.

The Betrayal Legacy

#1 To Betray My King (Available Now)

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#2 To Betray My Kingdom (Coming Soon)

#3 To Betray Myself (Coming Soon)

Author Links:

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Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

29486766The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Laini’s Goodreads | Website | Twitter 

 Amazon US | Amazon AU | Booktopia | Bookdepository

Thank You Hachette Australia and Netgalley for allowing me a copy to read and review.I don’t think I’ve ever been more full of wonder when reading a book then during Strange the Dreamer. I finished it over a week ago and I am still just contemplating. THAT ENDING! I wanted to cry. I wanted to break something. I needed a hug. Love, love, loved it! You’re a brilliant woman Laini Taylor and your imagination is phenomenal, but damn you, that epic cliff hanger has caused me one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve had in years.

At the start of the story we meet Lazlo, dubbed Strange the Dreamer, as a small energetic orphan boy with a vivid imagination and love of stories. We get to see him grow and find himself a safe haven with a job as a junior librarian, where his love of stories and desire to learn all he can of the lost city of Weep flourishes. Lazlo becomes a mild mannered, intelligent and kind hearted young man. A twist of fate sees Lazlo going on the adventure of a life time, taking his lifelong dream by the reins and traveling to find the answers his heart truly desires.

Straight from the start I felt a strong connection to Lazlo and Sarai (The Muse of Nightmares) and I grew to love many more characters along the way. The Characters were deeply developed, most likeable, some lovable, some scorn worthy and with one to be feared.Laini’s writing is beautiful, her world building is intricately beautiful, the underlying plot is beautiful, the whole gosh darn book right down to the cover, is beautiful. Actually beautiful really isn’t even a good enough word. This story has it all; mystery, adventure, magic, romance, forgiveness and revenge.

I was in Weep. I ran with Lazlo straight towards danger. I felt my hands pass into the Mesarthium. Strange the Dreamer is an enthralling story, cover to cover you can’t step away. I give it Five “just go and read it” Stars.

Blog Tour: K My Name is Kendra

kmynameiskendrabanner

kendra2017coverTitle: K My Name is Kendra

Author: Kamichi Jackson

Genre: Young Adult

Fifteen-year-old Kendra James’ life begins to spiral out of control with the return of her long-lost runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable intentions. Things take a particular turn for the worse when that uncle exploits Kendra’s loneliness and untreated depression and makes a move on her that sends her world into a tailspin from which she’s not sure she’ll ever recover. Will she survive this tragedy…or will she hit rock-bottom before anyone even notices?

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Author Bio

In addition to K My Name Is Kendra, Kamichi Jackson is the author of an eBook entitled Where Present Meets Past (originally available as part of the now-defunct Amazon Shorts Program), the middle reader book You’re Too Much, Reggie Brown, a forthcoming adult novel entitled The Brownstone, two unproduced screenplays, and several short stories. KJ has made numerous appearances in support of her work, among them the Baltimore Book Festival. When not writing, Kamichi is likely off somewhere singing karaoke. The South Norwalk, Connecticut native currently resides in Northern Virginia with family.

* * BOOK EXCERPT * *

I think someone is stalking me.

I say this, not because I’m paranoid, but because I’ve been seeing the same strange car outside my house almost every other day for the past two weeks. I haven’t told anyone but Nita about it. She thinks I should call the police or something, but what are they going to do? Whoever is inside the car hasn’t done or said anything to me, so what would I be reporting?

Of course that could change. I realize that today when I step outside onto the front steps of my school. This could be the afternoon that changes everything.

“What’s wrong?” Nita asks as I stop dead in my tracks, almost tripping this kid walking on my heels.

There it is again. The same black car with the tinted windows. I recognize it right away because it has two small dents in the back door and a bright red ball on the tip of the antenna. I still can’t see who is inside, and I can’t tell if the person is even looking my way, but it’s definitely the same car.

“What’s wrong?” Nita asks again. She looks across the street. “Is that it?” she asks and I nod.

“I need to know,” I say as I step down off the curb. The car starts to move forward and I wave and scream for it to stop. It does, and I keep running towards it, even though I hear Nita yelling behind me that I shouldn’t go. She catches up to me and pulls on my sleeve, yanking me back before I reach the car.

“Even three-year-olds know not to talk to strangers, Kendra!” she warns. “Come on, girl. Let’s go.”

I know she’s right and I sigh, letting her lead me away. There’s a buzzing noise behind us as we’re walking, and I can tell the driver is opening the window now.

“Keep going!” Nita whispers, her grip on me getting tighter.

All of a sudden I hear my name called out from behind me. Nita and I both stop. She looks at me. We turn at the same time and step forward a little bit towards the car. I hear ding ding ding as the door opens, and a lady’s leg—rockin’ the fiercest thigh-high boot I think I’ve ever seen in my life—hits the pavement, and then the rest of the woman slides out from behind the wheel.

“Who are you?” Nita asks her, not letting go of my arm.

“My name is Meisha,” the young woman replies to Nita, but she’s not looking at her. She’s looking straight at me.

“She’s my sister,” I add, my voice so low I can barely hear myself saying the words.

PRAISE FOR KENDRA

“This emotionally powerful novel gets right to the essence of what a young adult novel should be, empathetically exploring the experience of a teenage girl. Kendra is dealing with depression, the social dynamics of the black community, family problems, and abuse, yet holding on to a core of optimism that will help her become a strong and successful adult. Kendra is the first member of her family to reconnect with her missing sister, Meisha, who ran away a decade earlier. Meisha’s return puts a strain on the family when the reason behind her departure is finally revealed. Kendra’s talent and strong desire to be a writer bring the attention of her English teacher, but this also leaves her vulnerable to her famous sports announcer uncle, CJ. Desperate for attention, Kendra ignores the warning signs; CJ gains her confidence and offers her a laptop to use in his apartment. The abuse that follows is not described in detail and is not the only defining point for the character. An excellent read for any girl who feels misunderstood, or for readers that remember what it felt like to be confused and hurt, but hopeful as they moved toward adulthood.”

–Publishers Weekly (as part of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition)

This book is for 15 year olds, parents of 15 year olds, friends of 15 year olds and for those who know a 15 year old. It touches on very real issues that young adults encounter and the conflict that ensues. This book is captivating and meaty yet an easy read. This is not your average, predictable young adult novel but a layered, well executed story that illicit illumination through the heavy darkness felt by depression. Well done!

–S. Jones (Amazon.com Customer Review)

Links: Website | Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon AU

 

 

 

Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

33791316The Cruelty is the first book from a groundbreaking new YA voice: an utterly compelling thriller.

When Gwendolyn Bloom realizes that her father has been kidnapped, she has to take matters into her own hands. She traces him from New York City across the dark underbelly of Europe, taking on a new identity to survive in a world of brutal criminal masterminds. As she slowly leaves behind her schoolgirl self, she realizes that she must learn the terrifying truth about herself. To overcome the cruelty she encounters, she must also embrace it.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 9th 2017 by Walker Books. Goodreads.

 Amazon AU | Amazon US | Booktopia | Bookdepository


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review >>

“A woman who seeks to rise in this world must be crueller than even men.”

Yes! Kill them, kill them all Gwendolyn. Oops sorry, that wasn’t me, it was The Cruelty inside me.

We (the reader) follow 17-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom as she goes through the process of; finding out her dad is missing, finding out what her father did for work wasn’t what she thought it was, finding out who she can and cannot trust, and finding out what she is truly capable of.

We watch Gwendolyn harden and evolve as she unearths and follows clues about the whereabouts of her father and the real reason behind his disappearance. Her journey takes her from New York, to Paris, to Berlin, to Prague, to her own personal Hell and back again.

I really enjoyed this book. I am confident I could give this book to my 78-year-old crime thriller loving grandfather and he’d devourer it. I confident that even in my early teens I would have enjoyed this book. Scott Bergstrom has written a captivating story that I think teens and adults alike will eat up greedily.

I loved that Gwendolyn wasn’t instantly a super spy /ninja assassin extraordinaire. She wasn’t a natural born killer, she made mistakes, had regrets, got herself in and out of trouble, needed help and knew when and when not to use the help offered – but ultimately, I loved that she got the job done like a boss, like a badass bitch.

 “…if no one else is going to act for me, then I have a choice: remain a child and do nothing, or become an adult and do it myself. That, it seems to me, is the difference between the child and the adult, the difference between the girl hunted by wolves and the woman who hunts them.”

By the last page of the story Gwendolyn Bloom is dead and a force to be reckoned with lives on in her hard-won skin.

There is a sequel, The Greed, coming out in 2018 and I am interested to see what becomes of Gwendolyn, her crash course mentor Yael and what goes down with the organisation that now, as I see it, “owns” Gwendolyn and her father.

Four “I really Liked It” Stars.

The above is what I drafted before I went onto Goodreads to see what the masses thought. It is, what after much deliberation I ended up posting. I almost altered it, I started to, because of all that I ended up reading online started to sway me (reviews from people I respect, news articles about the author and tweets about the text).

People are calling the author out for comments made in the book by the protagonist. I remember that while reading the particular part of the book they refer to, that I just thought he was trying to make her come across a bit up herself, you know, as if she thought she was above it all. Then after reading all the banter online I thought, damn maybe I got it wrong, maybe he really believed what he was writing. Maybe I’m stupid.

Calling the author out for the story being too farfetched and a protagonist being to superficial in her transformation. Hello you’re reading the YA book version of a mission impossible action movie, of course it’s farfetched and shallow. Isn’t that the point. Again, maybe I’m stupid.

Calling the author out for some belittling comments he and his people made. To me they just came off as idiots not knowing what they were talking about. I’m sure their intention wasn’t to offend. I’m sure that they are just ignorant of the wonderfully diverse and complex world that is young adult literature. Again, maybe I’m stupid.

Once I realised that other people’s views were swaying me I stopped and went back to the copy that I had drafted immediately after finishing it. My honest review. Yes, it is a happy rah rah review where I only mention the good points, but that’s how I try to write all my reviews. There is enough negativity in the world without me adding to it and I want my reviews to make people read more books, not turn them off them.

Sorry, I had to say something. It really upset me how quickly I started to think my thoughts were wrong. Damn you internet.I really enjoyed reading this book. You blew my after book buzz.