The Lost City by Amanda Hocking Blog Tour

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Welcome to The Lost City Blog Tour!

Today I am sharing with you and excerpt from The Lost City by Amanda Hocking! I had the pleasure of reading this book a few months ago and I love this world. I think that she created a unique, YA fantasy where you will just get sucked in immediately! You can purchase this book from most retail sites in person and online!

AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-Million – Macmillan

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and Amanda Hocking for the free book to read and review!


About The Lost City

Amanda Hocking, the New York Times bestselling author of The Kanin Chronicles, returns to the magical world of the Trylle Trilogy with The Lost City, the first novel in The Omte Origins—and the final story arc in her beloved series.

The storm and the orphan

Twenty years ago, a woman sought safety from the spinning ice and darkness that descended upon a small village. She was given shelter for the night by the local innkeepers but in the morning, she disappeared—leaving behind an infant. Now nineteen, Ulla Tulin is ready to find who abandoned her as a baby or why.

The institution and the quest

Ulla knows the answers to her identity and heritage may be found at the Mimirin where scholars dedicate themselves to chronicling troll history. Granted an internship translating old documents, Ulla starts researching her own family lineage with help from her handsome and charming colleague Pan Soriano.

The runaway and the mystery

But then Ulla meets Eliana, a young girl who no memory of who she is but who possesses otherworldly abilities. When Eliana is pursued and captured by bounty hunters, Ulla and Pan find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous game where folklore and myth become very real and very deadly—but one that could lead Ulla to the answers she’s been looking for


Excerpt

Prologue

Ten Years Ago

“Tell me about it again,” I entreated—begged, really, in a small voice, small especially for a girl like me. 

Mr. Tulin, on the nights he had a little too much hot tea and brandy, would tell me stories of other, less fortunate babies. One had been left out for the wolves, another drowned in the icy river. Still another was killed by an angakkuq, this time to be mashed into a paste for one of her potions.

On the other nights, he’d try to convince me there wasn’t any time for a story. But I’d beg and plead, and his eyes would glimmer—already milky with cataracts, lighting up when he spoke about monsters. I would pull the covers up to my chin, and his normally crackled baritone would go even lower, rumbling with the threat of the monsters he impersonated.

I was never sure how much he’d made up or what had been passed down to him, as he’d weave through all sorts of patchwork folklore—the monsters and heroes pieced together from the neighboring Inuit, our Norse ancestry, and especially from the troll tribe that Mr. and Mrs. Tulin belonged to—the Kanin.

But I had a favorite story, one that I asked for over and over again.

This one I loved because it was about me, and because it was true.

“Which one?” Mr. Tulin asked, feigning ignorance as he lingered at my bedroom door.

It was dark in my room, except for the cast-iron woodstove in the corner. My room had been a pantry before I was here, before Mr. Tulin had converted it into a tiny bedroom. Outside, the wind howled, and if I hadn’t been buried underneath the blankets and furs, I would’ve felt the icy drafts that went along with all that howling.

“The day you met me,” I replied with unbridled glee. 

“Well, you turned out to be a big one, didn’t ya?” That’s what Mr. Tulin liked to say, particularly when I was scooping another helping of potatoes on my plate at the supper table, and then I would sheepishly put half a portion back, under the sharp gaze of Mrs. Tulin.

But he wasn’t wrong. I was tall, thick, and pale. By the age of nine I was nearly five feet tall, towering over the kids in the little schoolhouse.

Once, I’d overheard Mrs. Tulin complaining aloud to a neighbor, saying, “I don’t know why they chose our doorstep to leave ’er on. By the size of her, her da’ must be an ogre, and her ma’ must be a nanuq. She’ll eat us out of house and home before she’s eighteen.”

After that, I tried to make myself smaller, invisible, and I made sure that I mended all my clothing and cleaned up after myself. Mrs. Tulin didn’t complain too much about me after that, but every once in a while I would hear her muttering about how they really ought to set up a proper orphanage in Iskyla, so the townsfolk weren’t stuck taking in all the abandoned strays.

I didn’t complain either, and not only because there was nobody to listen. There were a few kids at my school who served as a reminder of how much worse it could be for me. They were sketches of children, really—thin lines, stark shadows, sad eyes, just the silhouettes of orphans.

“You sure you wanna hear that one again, ayuh?” Mr. Tulin said in response to my pleas.

“Yes, please!”

“If that’s the one the lil’ miss wants, then that be the one I tell.” He walked back over to the bed, limping slightly, the way he did every time the temperatures dipped this low.

Once he’d settled on the edge of the bed, his bones cracked and creaked almost as loudly as the bed itself.

“It was a night much like this—” he began.

“But darker and colder, right?” I interjected.

His bushy silver eyebrows pinched together. “Are you telling it this time?”

“No, no, you tell it.”

“Ayuh.” He nodded once. “So I will, then.”

It was a night much like this. The sun hadn’t been seen for days, hiding behind dark clouds that left even the daylight murky blue. When the wind came up, blowing fresh snow so heavy and thick, you couldn’t hardly see an inch in front of your nose. All over, the town was battened down and quiet, waiting out the dark storm. Now, the folks in Iskyla had survived many a winter storm, persisting through even the harshest of winters. This wasn’t the worst of the storms we’d faced, but there was something different about this one. Along with the cold and the dark, it brought with it a strange feeling in the air.

“And a stranger,” I interjected again, unable to help myself.

Mr. Tulin didn’t chastise me this time. He just winked and said, “Ayuh, and a stranger.”

The old missus, Hilde, and I were hunkered down in front of the fireplace, listening to the wind rattling the house, when a knock came at the door. 

Hilde—who scoffed whenever Tapeesa the angakkuq spoke of the spirits and monsters—shrieked at me when I got up to answer the door. “Whaddya think you’re doing, Oskar?”

“We’re still an inn, aren’t we?” I paused before I reached the door to look back at my wife, who sat in her old rocker, clutching her knitting to her chest.

Well, of course we were. Her father had opened the inn years ago, back when the mines first opened and we had a brief bout of tourism from humans who got lost on their way to the mines.

But that had long dried up by the time Hilde inherited it. We only had a dozen or so customers every year, mostly Inuit or visiting trolls, but whenever I suggested we close up and move south, Hilde would pitch a fit, reminding me that her family settled Iskyla, and she was settled here until she died.

“Course we’re an inn, but we’re closed,” Hilde said. “The storm’s too bad to open.”

Again the knocking came at the door, pounding harder this time.

“We got all our rooms empty, Hilde!” I argued. “Anyone out in this storm needs a place to stay, and we won’t have to do much for ’em.”

“But you don’t know who—or what—is at the door,”

Hilde stammered, lowering her voice as if it would carry over the howling wind and out the door to whoever waited on our stoop. “No human or troll has any sense being out in a storm like this.”

“Well, someone has, and I aim to find out who it is.”

I headed toward the door, Hilde still spouting her hushed protests, but my mind had been made up. I wasn’t about to let anyone freeze to death outside our house, not when we had ample firewood and room to keep them warm.

When I opened the door, there she stood. The tallest woman I ever saw. She was buried under layers of fabric and fur, looking so much like a giant grizzly bear that Hilde let out a scream.

Then the woman pushed back her hood, letting us see her face. Ice and snow had frozen to her eyebrows and eyelashes, and her short wild hair nearly matched the grizzly fur. She wasn’t much to look at, with a broad face and a jagged scar across her ruddy cheeks, but she made up for it with her size.

She had to duck to come inside, ever mindful of the large bag she carried on her back.

“Don’t bother coming in,” Hilde called at the woman from where she sat angrily rocking. “We’re closed.”

“Please,” the giant woman begged, and then she quickly slipped off her gloves and fumbled in her pockets. “Please, I have money. I’ll give you all I have. I only need a place to stay for the night.”

When she went for her money, she’d pushed back her cloaks enough that I could see the dagger holstered on her hip. The fire glinted off the amber stone in the hilt, the dark bronze handle carved into a trio of vultures.

It was the symbol of the Omte, and that was a weapon for a warrior. Here was this giant troll woman, with supernatural strength and a soldier’s training. She could’ve killed me and Hilde right there, taken everything we had, but instead she pleaded and offered us all she had.

“Since we’re closed, I won’t be taking any of your money.” I waved it away. “You need sanctuary from the storm, and I’m happy to give it to you.”

“Thank you.” The woman smiled, with tears in her eyes, and they sparkled in the light like the amber gemstone on her dagger.

Hilde huffed, but she didn’t say anything more. The woman herself didn’t say much either, not as I showed her up to her room and where the extra blankets were.

“Is there anything more you’ll be needing?” I asked before I left her alone. 

“Quiet rest,” she replied with a weak smile. 

“Well, you can always holler at me if you need anything. I’m Oskar.”

She hesitated a second before saying, “Call me Orra.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Orra, and I hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

She smiled again, then she shut the door. That was the last I ever saw of her.

All through the night, she made not a peep, which upset Hilde even more, since it gave her nothing to complain about. I slept soundly, but Hilde tossed and turned, certain that Orra would hurt us.

By the time morning came, the wind had stopped and the sun had broken through the clouds for the first time in days. I went up to check on Orra and see if she needed anything, and I discovered her gone. 

She rode in on the back of the dark storm, and she left before the sun.

Her room had been left empty—except for a little tiny baby, wrapped in a blanket, sleeping in the middle of the bed. The babe couldn’t be more than a few weeks old, but already had a thick head of wild blond hair. When I picked her up, the baby mewled, but didn’t open her eyes.

Not until I said, “Ullaakuut,”—a good-morning greeting.

Then her big amber eyes opened. She smiled up at me, and it was like the sun after the storm.

“That’s how we met.” I beamed, and he smiled back down at me. Mrs. Tulin wasn’t sure if they would keep me, so she wouldn’t let him name me yet, but then they called me Ullaakuut until it stuck.

“It was quite the introduction,” he agreed with a chuckle. “Oskar!” Mrs. Tulin shouted from the other room. “The fire’s gone cold!”

“I’ll be right down!” he yelled over his shoulder before turning back to me. “Well, you’ve had your story now, and Hilde needs me. You best be getting to sleep now. Good night, Ulla.”

“Good night.” I settled back into the bed, and it wasn’t until he was at the door that I mustered the courage to ask him the question that burned on the tip of my tongue. “How come my mom left me here?”

“I can’t say that I understand it,” he said with a heavy sigh. “But she’d have to have got a mighty good reason to be traveling in that kinda storm, especially with a newborn. She was an Omte warrior, and I don’t know what kind of monsters she had to face down on her way to our doorstep. But she musta known that here you’d be safe.”

“Do you think she’ll come back?” I asked.

His lips pressed into a thin line. “I can’t say, lil’ miss. But it’s not the kind of thing I would hang my hat on. And it’s nothing that you should concern yourself with. You have a home here as long as you need it, and now it’s time for bed.”

Chapter 1

Home

Emma sprinted into my room first, clutching her older brother’s slingshot in her pudgy hands, and down the hall Liam was already yelling for me.

“Ulla! Emma keeps taking my stuff!” Liam rushed into my room in a huff, little Niko toddling behind him.

My bedroom was a maze of cardboard boxes—all of my worldly possessions carefully packed and labeled for my move in six weeks—and Emma darted between them to escape Liam’s grasp.

“He said he was going to shoot fairies in the garden!” Emma insisted vehemently.

Liam rolled his eyes and brushed his thick tangles of curls off his forehead. “Don’t be such a dumb baby. You know there’s no such things as fairies.”

“Don’t call your sister dumb,” I admonished him, which only caused him to huff even louder. For only being seven years old, Liam already had quite the flair for the dramatic. “You know, you’re going to have to learn how to get along with your sister on your own. I’m not going to be around to get in the middle of your squabbles.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Liam replied sourly. He stared down at the wood floor, letting his hair fall into his eyes. “She’s the one that always starts it.”

“I did not!” Emma shouted back. “I only wanted to protect the fairies!”

“Emma, will you give Liam back his slingshot if he promises not to kill anything with it?” I asked her. She seemed to consider this for a moment, wrinkling up her little freckled nose, but finally she nodded yes.

“I was never really going to kill anything anyway,” he said.

“Promise!” Emma insisted.

“Fine. I promise I won’t kill anything with my slingshot.”

He held his hand out to her, and she reluctantly handed it back to him. With that, he dashed out of the room, and Emma raced after him.

Niko, meanwhile, had no interest in the argument, and instead made his way over to me. I pulled him into my arms, relishing the way his soft curls felt tickling my chin as I held him, and breathing in his little-boy scent—the summer sun on his skin and sugared milk from his breakfast. 

“How are you doing this morning, my sweet boy?” I asked him softly. He didn’t answer, but Niko rarely did. Instead, he curled up more into me and began sucking his thumb.

I know I shouldn’t pick favorites, but Niko would be the one I missed the most. Sandwiched between Emma and the twins, he was quiet and easily overlooked. Whenever I was having a bad day or feeling lonely, I could always count on him for cuddles and hugs that somehow managed to erase all the bad—at least for a few moments.

But now I could only smile at him and swallow down the lump in my throat.

This—all the scraped knees and runny noses, the giggles and tantrums, all the love and chaos and constant noise of a house full of children—had been my life for the past five years. Which was quite the contrast to the frozen isolation of the first fourteen and a half years of my life.

Five years ago, a Kanin tracker named Bryn Aven had been on an investigation that brought her to Iskyla in central Canada, and when I met her, I knew it was my chance out of that town. Maybe it was because of the way she came in, on the back of a storm, or because she was a half-breed. She was also blond like me, and that wasn’t something I saw often in a town populated by trolls and a handful of the native humans of the area, the Inuit.

Most trolls, especially from the three more populous tribes—the Kanin, Trylle, and Vittra—were of a darker complexion. Their skin ran the gamut of medium brown shades, and their hair was dark brown and black, with eyes that matched. The Kanin and the Trylle looked like attractive humans, and the Vittra often did as well. 

The Omte had a slightly lighter complexion than that, and they were also more prone to gigantism and physical deformities, most notably in their large population of ogres. With wild blond hair and blue eyes, the Skojare were the fairest, and they had a tendency to be born with gills, attuned to their aquatic lifestyle.

Each of the tribes even had different skill sets and extraordinary abilities. All of the kingdoms had some mild psychokinetic talents, with the Trylle being the most powerful. The Vittra and the Omte were known for their physical strength and ability to heal, while the Kanin had the skin-color- changing ability to blend in with their surroundings, much like intense chameleons.

Iskyla was officially a Kanin town, and the Inuit coloring wasn’t much different from that of the Kanin. Most everyone around me had a shock of dark hair and symmetrical features. My noticeable differences had always made me an easy target growing up, and seeing the blond-haired tracker Bryn, I recognized a kindred spirit.

Or maybe it was because I could tell she was running from something, and I had been itching to run since as soon as I could walk. The Tulins had been good to me—or as good as an elderly couple who had never wanted kids could be when a baby is dropped on them. But Mrs. Tulin had always made it clear that I would be on my own as soon as I was ready, and when I was fourteen I was sure I was ready.

Fortunately, Bryn had been smart enough—and kind enough—not to leave me to fend for myself. She brought me to Förening, the Trylle capital in Minnesota, and found me a job and a place to stay with friends of hers. 

When I had started as a live-in nanny working for Finn and Mia Holmes, they’d only had two children with another on the way, but already their cottage was rather cramped. Shortly after I moved in, Emma came along—followed by a promotion for Finn to the head of the Trylle royal guard—and Mia insisted a house upgrade was long overdue.

This grand little house, nestled in the bluffs along the Mississippi River—cozy but clean and bright—had enough room for us all—Finn, Mia, Hanna, Liam, Emma, Niko, Lissa, Luna, and me. As of a few months ago, we’d even managed to fit in Finn’s mother, Annali, who had decided to move in with them after her husband passed away last fall.

This home had been my home for years, and really, this family had been my family too. They welcomed me with open arms. I grew to love them, and they loved me. Here, I felt like I belonged and mattered in a way that I had never been able to in Iskyla.

I was happy with them. But now I was leaving all of this behind.

From The Lost City.  Copyright © 2020 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of Wednesday Books.


 

AMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera PhotographyYou can find Amanda at:

 

 

 


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Mayhem by Estelle Laure Blog Tour

Mayhem_blogtourbanner_coming soon

Welcome to the Mayhem Blog Tour!

Today I am sharing with you and excerpt from Mayhem by Estelle Laure, out July 14th! I recently finished this feminist mash up of The Lost Boys and the Craft and I really enjoyed it! I love the idea of taking your life into your own hands and creating something new. So check out the letter from the author, the synopsis, and the first chapter and then add this book to your cart at Libro.FM or most other retailers!

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and Estelle Laure for the advanced copy to read!


A Letter to the Reader

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable… that got me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thoughts. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as well as a result of a devastating trespass. Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying. I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure


Synopsis

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.


Excerpt

Three Santa Maria

“Trouble,” Roxy says. She arches a brow at the kids by the van through the bug-spattered windshield, the ghost of a half-smile rippling across her face.

“You would know,” I shoot. “So would you,” she snaps.

Maybe we’re a little on edge. We’ve been in the car so long the pattern on the vinyl seats is tattooed on the back of my thighs.

The kids my mother is talking about, the ones sitting on the white picket fence, look like they slithered up the hill out of the ocean, covered in seaweed, like the carnival music we heard coming from the boardwalk as we were driving into town plays in the air around them at all times. Two crows are on the posts beside them like they’re standing guard, and they caw at each other loudly as we come to a stop. I love every- thing about this place immediately and I think, ridiculously, that I am no longer alone.

The older girl, white but tan, curvaceous, and lean, has her arms around the boy and is lovely with her smudged eye makeup and her ripped clothes. The younger one pops some- thing made of bright colors into her mouth and watches us come up the drive. She is in a military-style jacket with a ton of buttons, her frizzy blond hair reaching in all directions, freckles slapped across her cheeks. And the boy? Thin, brown, hungry-looking. Not hungry in his stomach. Hungry with his eyes. He has a green bandana tied across his forehead and holes in the knees of his jeans. There’s an A in a circle drawn in marker across the front of his T-shirt.

Anarchy.

“Look!” Roxy points to the gas gauge. It’s just above the E. “You owe me five bucks, Cookie. I told you to trust we would make it, and see what happened? You should listen to your mama every once in a while.”

“Yeah, well, can I borrow the five bucks to pay you for the bet? I’m fresh out of cash at the moment.”

“Very funny.”

Roxy cranes out the window and wipes the sweat off her upper lip, careful not to smudge her red lipstick. She’s been having real bad aches the last two days, even aside from her bruises, and her appetite’s been worse than ever. The only thing she ever wants is sugar. After having been in the car for so long, you’d think we’d be falling all over each other to get out, but we’re still sitting in the car. In here we’re still us.

She sighs for the thousandth time and clutches at her belly. “I don’t know about this, May.”

California can’t be that different from West Texas.

I watch TV. I know how to say gag me with a spoon and grody to the max.

I fling open the door.

Roxy gathers her cigarettes and lighter, and drops them in- side her purse with a snap.

“Goddammit, Elle,” she mutters to herself, eyes flickering toward the kids again. Roxy looks at me over the rims of her sunglasses before shoving them back on her nose. “Mayhem, I’m counting on you to keep your head together here. Those kids are not the usual—”

“I know! You told me they’re foster kids.”

“No, not that,” she says, but doesn’t clarify. “Okay, I guess.”

“I mean it. No more of that wild-child business.”

“I will keep my head together!” I’m so tired of her saying this. I never had any friends, never a boyfriend—all I have is what Grandmother calls my nasty mouth and the hair Lyle always said was ugly and whorish. And once or twice I might’ve got drunk on the roof, but it’s not like I ever did anything. Besides, no kid my age has ever liked me even once. I’m not the wild child in the family.

“Well, all right then.” Roxy messes with her hair in the rear- view mirror, then sprays herself with a cloud of Chanel No. 5 and runs her fingers over her gold necklace. It’s of a bird, not unlike the ones making a fuss by the house. She’s had it as long as I can remember, and over time it’s been worn smooth by her worrying fingers. It’s like she uses it to calm herself when she’s upset about something, and she’s been upset the whole way here, practically. Usually, she’d be good and buzzed by this time of day, but since she’s had to drive some, she’s only nipped from the tiny bottle of wine in her purse a few times and only taken a couple pills since we left Taylor. The with- drawal has turned her into a bit of a she-demon.

I try to look through her eyes, to see what she sees. Roxy hasn’t been back here since I was three years old, and in that time, her mother has died, her father has died, and like she said when she got the card with the picture enclosed that her twin sister, Elle, sent last Christmas, Everybody got old. After that, she spent a lot of time staring in the mirror, pinching at her neck skin. When I was younger, she passed long nights telling me about Santa Maria and the Brayburn Farm, about how it was good and evil in equal measure, about how it had desires that had to be satisfied.

Brayburns, she would say. In my town, we were the legends.

These were the mumbled stories of my childhood, and they made everything about this place loom large. Now that we’re here, I realize I expected the house to have a gaping maw filled with spitty, frothy teeth, as much as I figured there would be fairies flitting around with wands granting wishes. I don’t want to take her vision away from her, but this place looks pretty normal to me, if run-down compared to our new house in Taylor, where there’s no dust anywhere, ever, and Lyle prac- tically keeps the cans of soup in alphabetical order. Maybe what’s not so normal is that this place was built by Brayburns, and here Brayburns matter. I know because the whole road is named after us and because flowers and ribbons and baskets of fruit sat at the entrance, gifts from the people in town, Roxy said. They leave offerings. She said it like it’s normal to be treated like some kind of low-rent goddess.

Other than the van and the kids, there are trees here, rose- bushes, an old black Mercedes, and some bikes leaning against the porch that’s attached to the house. It’s splashed with fresh white paint that doesn’t quite cover up its wrinkles and scars. It’s three stories, so it cuts the sunset when I look up, and plants drape down to touch the dirt.

The front door swings open and a woman in bare feet races past the rosebushes toward us. It is those feet and the reckless way they pound against the earth that tells me this is my aunt Elle before her face does. My stomach gallops and there are bumps all over my arms, and I am more awake than I’ve been since.

I thought Roxy might do a lot of things when she saw her twin sister. Like she might get super quiet or chain-smoke, or maybe even get biting like she can when she’s feeling wrong about something. The last thing I would have ever imagined was them running toward each other and colliding in the driveway, Roxy wrapping her legs around Elle’s waist, and them twirling like that.

This seems like something I shouldn’t be seeing, some- thing wounded and private that fills up my throat. I flip my- self around in my seat and start picking through the things we brought and chide myself yet again for the miserable packing job I did. Since I was basically out of my mind trying to get out of the house, I took a whole package of toothbrushes, an armful of books, my River Phoenix poster, plus I emptied out my underwear drawer, but totally forgot to pack any shoes, so all I have are some flip-flops I bought at the truck stop outside of Las Cruces after that man came to the window, slurring, You got nice legs. Tap, tap tap. You got such nice legs.

My flip-flops are covered in Cheeto dust from a bag that got upended. I slip them on anyway, watching Roxy take her sunglasses off and prop them on her head.

“Son of a bitch!” my aunt says, her voice tinny as she catches sight of Roxy’s eye. “Oh my God, that’s really bad, Rox. You made it sound like nothing. That’s not nothing.”

“Ellie,” Roxy says, trying to put laughter in her voice. “I’m here now. We’re here now.”

There’s a pause.

“You look the same,” Elle says. “Except the hair. You went full Marilyn Monroe.”

“What about you?” Roxy says, fussing at her platinum waves with her palm. “You go full granola warrior? When’s the last time you ate a burger?”

“You know I don’t do that. It’s no good for us. Definitely no good for the poor cows.”

“It’s fine for me.” Roxy lifts Elle’s arm and puckers her nose. “What’s going on with your armpits? May not eat meat but you got animals under there, looks like.”

“Shaving is subjugation.”

“Shaving is a mercy for all mankind.”

They erupt into laughter and hug each other again.

“Well, where is she, my little baby niece?” Elle swings the car door open. “Oh, Mayhem.” She scoops me out with two strong arms. Right then I realize just how truly tired I am. She seems to know, squeezes extra hard for a second before letting me go. She smells like the sandalwood soap Roxy buys sometimes. “My baby girl,” Elle says, “you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to see you. How much I’ve missed you.”

Roxy circles her ear with a finger where Elle can’t see her.

Crazy, she mouths. I almost giggle.


AP Estelle Laure_Credit Zoe Zimmerman

Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.

You can find Estelle at:

Twitter: @starlaure
Instagram: @estellelaurebooks

 


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Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson, Illustrated by Leila Del Duca

Cover Image

Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Rating: 5 Stars


Synopsis:

Princess Diana believes that her 16th birthday will be one of new beginnings–namely acceptance into the warrior tribe of Amazons. The celebrations are cut short, however, when rafts of refugees break through the Themysciran barrier. Diana tries to help them, but she is swept away by the sea–and from her home–thus becoming a refugee herself.

Now Diana must survive in the world outside of Themyscira for the first time; the world that is filled with danger and injustice. She must redefine what it means to belong, to be an Amazon, and to make a difference.

Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is a story about growing into your strength, battling for justice, and the power of friendship.


Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank DC Comics for providing me with an e-copy to voluntarily read and review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

WOW. This graphic novel was truly something else. Graphic novels have been doing an amazing job for YEARS tackling societal issues. This one specifically brought awareness to child trafficking, which is still prevalent in the world today. Although this book was geared towards children,  do feel that this serious world issue would make an age appropriate impact on the reader. This book also has LGBTQIAP+ rep, issues surrounding bullying, culture, homelessness and loss of family, sexual harassment, and foster care.

This new origin story was definitely a 5 star read for me. I really connected with this version of Wonder Woman. I love that she feels alienated and lonely, but she still does what’s right for other children in the community. Laurie Anderson did an amazing job creating a character that shows determination to make this world better, despite challenges.

The illustrations were beautiful. I loved the way the illustrator depicted the scenes. Often times I feel like I’m not getting the full story with such a short dialog and with this, I definitely felt connected to the story.

I appreciate that this version of WW tackles the themes of immigrant life in our society, and the extreme weaknesses we have in our availability of social services. I think that discussing issues like this with children of all ages is important. We are never too young to understand our privilege and it’s role it has on shaping the world around us. This brings to light people who do not have those same privileges and how we can learn to become activists just by caring about other people.

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The Lost Carnival by Michael Moreci

The Lost Carnival by Michael Moreci, Illustrated by Sas Milledge and Phil Hester
(A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel)

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Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Rating: 4 Stars


Synopsis:

Before Batman trained him to be Robin, Dick Grayson discovered the power of young love–and its staggering costs–at the dangerous, magical, and utterly irresistible Lost Carnival.

Haly’s traveling circus no longer has the allure of its glamorous past, but it still has one main attraction: the Flying Graysons, a family of trapeze artists starring a teenage Dick Grayson. The only problem is that Dick loathes spending his summers performing tired routines for a dwindling crowd.

When the Lost Carnival, a wild and enchanting new attraction, opens nearby and threatens to pull Haly’s remaining customers, Dick is among those drawn to its magical nighttime glow. But there are forces ancient and dangerous at work at the Lost Carnival, and when Dick meets the mysterious Luciana and her carnival workers–each stranger than the last–he may be too mesmerized to recognize the danger ahead.

Beneath the carnival’s dazzling fireworks, Dick must decide who he is and who he wants to be–choosing between loyalty to his family history and a glittering future with new friends and romance. Writer Michael Moreci and artist Sas Milledge redefine Dick Grayson in The Lost Carnival, a young adult graphic novel exploring the power and magic of young love


Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank DC Comics for providing me with an e-copy to voluntarily read and review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

I recently started getting back into graphic novels after reading White Sands by Brandon Sanderson. I forgot how exciting seeing the story come to life is. I haven’t explored Batman or the supporting characters since childhood and now that I have two kids, I looked forward to getting back into this universe through these beautiful illustrations.

Dick Grayson is an acrobat in a failing circus. As we watch the decline of the carnie lifestyle and see him become involved in a new, mysterious yet enchanting attraction that opens up next door, we really get into the meat of the story. The dual color palettes of the circus was really interesting and I was so invested in the plot!

I think it’s hard for some authors to get their ideas across in the format of a graphic novel. In some, I have struggled with getting immersed in the world without the actual world building through words. I think that the illustrations really help with the world building and were able to focus more on the character building. I liked reading about Robin before he was Robin, being a teenager with feelings of wanting to “find his place,” seeing his relationships with his parents and friends, and the overall thrill of something new.

I really think that this book is more suited towards the younger crowds rather than older YA. I think I would let my 8 year old read this novel and not feel that it was inappropriate. I really appreciated the diversity of the characters and the overall feel of this book. I am definitely grabbing a physical copy!

This book is available NOW for purchase! Thanks again DC Comics!

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The Lost City by Amanda Hocking

The Lost City by Amanda Hocking
(The Omte Origins Book 1)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Rating:
3.5 Stars


Synopsis:

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lays the secret kingdom of the Omte—a realm filled with wonder…and as many secrets.

Ulla Tulin was left abandoned in an isolated Kanin city as a baby, taken in by strangers and raised hidden away like many of the trolls of mixed blood. Even knowing this truth, she’s never stopped wondering about her family.

When Ulla is offered an internship working alongside the handsome Pan Soriano at the Mimirin, a prestigious institution, she jumps at the chance to use this opportunity to hopefully find her parents. All she wants is to focus on her job and the search for her parents, but all of her attempts to find them are blocked when she learns her mother may be connected to the Omte royal family.

With little progress made, Ulla and Pan soon find themselves wrapped up in helping Eliana, an amnestic girl with abilities unlike any they have ever seen before—a girl who seems to be running from something. To figure out who she is they must leave the city, and possibly, along the way, they may learn more about Ulla’s parents.


Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Wednesday Books and St. Martin’s Press for providing me the ARC to voluntarily read and review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

First, I would like to say that I have not read the original stories connected with this spin-off. Secondly, I don’t think that impacted my reading experience in regards to the story line. I was able to just jump into the story and figure things out as I can do most of the time with YA books. This was a quick, fast paced read, and I loved that I was able to complete this book essentially in one sitting.

I loved Ulla. I felt very connected with her and her goals as I would do the same things she would in her position. I think that it is very realistic that she wants to find out who she is and why and get more answers about her parents. The other character I enjoyed was Pan. I really feel like he was well developed and easily likable. There is a magic system within this book and I want to continue to explore that. I do believe that this book sets groundwork for future novels, in which I will be requesting the next book to read. There are quite a few questions I have but I don’t want to say too much to spoil – I am hoping book 2 and 3 answer them for me so I can discuss this series as a whole!

Rating this book as if I were 14, I truly think I would become immersed in this world and want to go back and read the original stories based on this world. The Lost City is available for purchase on July 7, 2020 and the second is releasing in August! You can preorder now!

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The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US by TRICIA LEVENSELLER

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Fiewel and Friends
Audiobook Publisher:
Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: February 25th, 2020
Rating:
4.5 Stars


Synopsis:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?


Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Macmillan Audio for providing me a finished audiobook copy to listen to. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

When I first heard that The Shadows Between Us was a Slytherin romance, I was very intrigued. I have never read a book where the main character is a straight up villain and that’s exactly what we got. I really enjoyed this change of pace. I am so used to stories where the main character is of low status and stumbles upon heroism. Alessandra is not your normal girl. She is cunning, quick witted, and vicious. This is a girl who takes what she wants and never looks back. Along with the Alessandra, we have the Shadow King who is just as unapologetic in is rule.

One of the things I found interesting is that I didn’t need a ton of world building to enjoy this story. As a reader of epic fantasy, I usually rely heavily on the world building in order to draw myself in. This is, in my opinion, a character driven story and I think the author did a phenomenal job in getting me to want to know more with every page.

*SLIGHTLY SPOILERY BELOW*
I also found that by the end, I didn’t think the characters learned anything. They were both still villains. I really appreciated this spin on fantasy stories as we always have a villain that gets redemption. I feel that the characters were still true to themselves, though maybe a bit softer due to love.
*END SPOILERS*

I think the audiobook narrator did a phenomenal job, though sometimes I think she overly pronounced words to sound more sinister and it would throw me out of the story. Overall, I gave it a 4.5 star and would definitely recommend to anyone who loves a good YA villain story! I read this book in two sittings because it was so hard to stop!

Thank you so much to Macmillan Audio for the free audiobook to listen to! This book is on sale now!

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TRUEL1F3 by Jay Kristoff

TRUEL1F3 (LIFEL1K3 #3) by Jay Kristoff
Genre:
 Young Adult SciFi
TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: 
June 30th, 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis:

Best friends have become enemies. Lovers have become strangers. And deciding whose side you’re on could be the difference between life and death. For Eve and Lemon, discovering the truth about themselves–and each other–was too much for their friendship to take. But with the country on the brink of a new world war–this time between the BioMaas swarm at CityHive and Daedalus’s army at Megopolis, loyalties will be pushed to the brink, unlikely alliances will form and with them, betrayals. But the threat doesn’t stop there, because the lifelikes are determined to access the program that will set every robot free, a task requiring both Eve and Ana, the girl she was created to replace. In the end, violent clashes and heartbreaking choices reveal the true heroes . . . and they may not be who you think they are. 


Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Jay Kristoff, Penguin Random House, and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

TRUEL1F3 was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint! After the heart stopping cliff hanger in DEV1AT3, I anxiously waited an entire year to feel closure and I truly felt we got it. There are some things I wish that were expanded on but it left it in a way that if he ever wanted to write more, there would be meat left for that to happen. As far as I know this is a trilogy only, though!

I loved the multiple points of view, I loved Lemon Fresh and her character ARC. Honestly when I started LIFEL1K3 I thought Eve would be the star but Lemon emerged from the scrap and stole my heart. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything! Once the series is out and people have had time to read it, I will expand more  on my thoughts about this book and the characters. The love, the betrayals, the romance… I loved (and hated LOL) it all!

Just know that this book was an excellent conclusion to the series. It had action, adventure, so much laughter, heart warming moments… it does have a few triggering moments so if you are sensitive to some triggers please let me know and I can tell you so you can prepare. They aren’t graphic but it does add a layer of sensitivity to the issue.

Just like DEV1AT3 I have a hard time conceptualizing the time frame in which all of this takes place.. a matter of days.. a matter of weeks. It’s so hard for me to imagine Eve and her story ARC coming full circle in this time but again, it ramped up the intensity!

True Cert, this book was just what I needed to get out of my slump! I enjoyed seeing the direction the characters went! Jay Kristoff is a forever favorite author of mine.

Thank you so much for allowing me to read an advanced copy and for leaving this burning hole in my chest. This book goes on Sale 6/30/20 and is up for PREORDER now!

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Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Publisher:Knopf Books For Young Readers
ISBN: 9781524720926
Genre: 
YA SCIFI
Rating: 
5 Stars
Audio Rating: N/A

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DISCLAIMER:
This e-book was sent to me for free by Penguin Random House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacts my rating, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


[SYNOPSIS]
This synopsis contains spoilers for Aurora Rising, Book 1 in The Aurora Cycle

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces. And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri. Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.


NON SPOILERY REVIEW

“I’m the girl who’s going to save the damn galaxy…”

Where do I even begin? It’s so hard for me to review this book without leaving spoilers so I’m going to have to keep this pretty simple. This book will make you laugh, cry, it will emotionally break you… and I can’t thank Jay and Amie enough. To be able to feel all of these emotions and to connect to characters so deeply — characters who stay with you once the book is long over, that’s truly an amazing reading experience. I haven’t stopped thinking about Squad 312 since I finished the book and I am already itching to re-read it because I’m not ready to let them go.

This book was truly explosive, action packed from beginning to end. There were so many times were I actually laughed out loud and times were I had real tears streaking my face. This book is more mature than Aurora Rising, but due to the nature of their circumstance it makes sense. All of the characters grew in their own way and I loved seeing their personalities shine. I loved the twists and turns — I just couldn’t get enough.

“I am not feeling nothing.”

Thank you so much for allowing me to read an advanced copy and for leaving this burning hole in my chest. This book goes on Sale 5/5/20 and is up for PREORDER now!

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Foul is Fair Blog Tour

Today is an exciting day as I am participating in my first ever Blog Tour including an exclusive excerpt of the novel!

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin came into the world on February 18th, 2020, published by Wednesday Books!

This novel will have you on the edge of your seat, rooting for every single take down. This bloody, fem powered revenge is right up your alley if you’re into Kill Bill! It’s definitely got some trigger warnings, so beware! I would recommend this book to older young adults due to language and content sensitivity.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me an e-copy of Foul is Fair to share! Here’s what some people are saying!

“Vicious and beautifully brutal, Foul is Fair gives a sword to every girl who has ever been a victim and makes them a warrior. This book is pulls no punches and will make anyone think twice before uttering the phrase ‘just a girl’. An unapologetic feminist battle-cry that leaves you breathless and thirsting for vengeance.” – Sonia Hartl, author of Have a Little Faith in Me

Foul is Fair delivers the story of a girl who snatches control back from a world that stole it away, through whatever means necessary. Hannah Capin deftly combines stunningly lyrical prose with the raw power of engulfing fury, sending a message written in blood. In a world where too many are forced into silence, this book roars back.” – S. Gonzales, author of The Law of Inertia and Only Mostly Devastated

FOUL IS FAIR buy link: https://wednesdaybooks.com/the-real-deal/foul-is-fair/


[SYNOPSIS]

Hannah Capin’s Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

Jade and her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Jade’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Jade as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Jade transfers to St. Andrew’s Prep. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Please CLICK HERE to read an exclusive excerpt of FOUL IS FAIR!


[ABOUT THE AUTHOR]

image of Hannah Capino
Hannah Capin
 is the author of Foul is Fair and The Dead Queens Club, a feminist retelling of the wives of Henry VIII. When she isn’t writing, she can be found singing, sailing, or pulling marathon gossip sessions with her girl squad. She lives in Tidewater, Virginia. (social media listed below)


 

Thank you for joining me on my first ever blog tour! There’s more to come! Happy Reading!

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Lobizona by Romina Garber

Lobizona by Romina Garber
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press
Genre:
YA Urban Fantasy
Rating:
5 Stars
Audio Rating: N/A

Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1)

—–[SYNOPSIS]—–

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.


DISCLAIMER:
This e-book was sent to me for free by St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review. This in now way impacts my rating, all thoughts are my own.


NON SPOILERY REVIEW

Wow. This book was heartbreaking, raw, and powerful. I am so impressed with Romina Garber and her writing style. This YA Urban Fantasy was gripping right until the end. I am 100% here for the Argentinean folklore and the female empowered heroes journey.

Lobizona begins with Manu, an undocumented immigrant from Argentina who is in hiding due to her immigrant status and due to the unusual look to her eyes. She is a very thoughtful, caring, and intelligent young woman who is put in impossible situations due to her mother’s choices. This book explores the very much real immigrant experience. My heart was pounding during the very first section of the book. I appreciated how heavily the Spanish was used, as it made Manu’s life feel real to me.

Finding a hidden school and the secrets about her father (whom she has been on the run from her entire life) also intrigued me, considering that those two things were tied together. I also appreciated the queer representation within this novel. I think that it’s so important to represent all types of people and this book really took it to the next level without making it seem forced. Manu’s life is a strange yet powerful one and I cannot wait to see what Romina does next.

Thank you so much for allowing me to read an advanced copy. I loved everything about it. This book goes on Sale 5/5/20 and is up for preorder now!

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