Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Author Interview: Elliot Gavin Keenan

Today on the Underground, I'm excited to bring you an interview with Elliot Gavin Keenan, author of On Being Insane: In Search of my Missing Pieces. You can find my review of his memoir here. Elliot wrote about his college years studying psychology while dealing with his autism and bipolar diagnoses and multiple psychiatric hospitalizations. Currently, Elliot is working on his PhD.

What genre do you write and why?

Memoir and lyric essay, mostly, but I also branch out into poetry and lately I’ve been writing a fiction piece. I like to sample different genres, and use whatever form is most conducive to the story I want to tell. I would say my single favorite form is lyric essay because I feel like I have the most freedom when I write that way.

Tell us about your latest book.

On Being Insane is a memoir that focuses on my years as a college undergraduate while going through a series of psychiatric hospitalizations. That said, it also dives into my childhood, giving insight into what it’s like to grow up with an autism diagnosis. I think the major theme of the book is the importance of neurodiversity.

Who are your favourite authors?

One of my favorite writers is Maggie Nelson. I fell in love with her work after reading her book Bluets. I also really like the work of Kay Redfield Jamison, whose memoir An Unquiet Mind was a major inspiration for On Being Insane. And, of course, I have to mention John Elder Robison, who is not only an excellent memoirist but a passionate advocate for autistic people who I have had the pleasure of meeting several times now.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Be truthful to the story you’re telling; be brave (especially if you’re writing memoir!); and be almost-recklessly bold. But not quite recklessly. It’s a fine line, one that I mostly dealt with in the editing process – but when you’re churning out the first draft, I say you should put it all to the page.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I have a Tumblr blog (professorprettyboy.tumblr.com), which is one of the best ways to connect with me.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

My favorite character is the speaker’s mentor, Dr. Pinball, who is all at once an absent-minded professor and a sage-like figure dispensing timeless wisdom. He’s kind of a good-hearted goofball.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I wrote the entire book in about a year.

Who designed the cover?

The cover is actually derived from a painting I did myself!

What are you currently reading? 

NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman – a book I should have read long ago!

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I love tabletop games, like Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and Settlers of Catan. I also will be spending a good deal of time studying from now on, since I’m in a psychology PhD program at UCLA.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Book Review: Silver Girl

Book Review: Silver Girl by Leslie Pietrzyk 

My Review: I was given an ARC of Silver Girl through a partnership with Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. 

Silver Girl transports us back to the 1980s in a flurry of Tab and typewriters, where a nameless narrator has escaped her past by moving away to college. There she meets, Jess--beautiful, brave Jess from a wealthy Chicago family who flies through life with reckless abandon. As their college years progress, the narrator and Jess become closer at the same time that the chasm of secrets widens between them. The narrator is desperate to keep her past a secret-- from Jess as well as the reader. Meanwhile, she spirals into self-sabotaging behaviour that throws all of her relationships onto the rocks. The narrator struggles to reconcile the person she wants to be--wanted, loved, and finally a person of value-- with what the circumstances of her past push her to be-- the “monster.”  As the narrator falls from grace throughout the book, she continually minimizes her behaviour to the reader and lies to all those around her until it becomes difficult to trust her. Is the narrator telling the truth, or lying to the reader like she lies to her friends and family? Who is the narrator, really, and what about her past has left her so damaged? 

An incredible character study, Silver Girl is all about relationships: between best friends, between sisters, between parents and children. The book has no discernible plotline, in the same way that real life doesn’t either, but is written with a comfortable pace and mysterious tension that keeps the reader turning pages.  Right from the first page, the mystery of the narrator grabs and doesn’t let go-- who is this girl? And what is she running from? The book begins on the day the narrator moves into the freshman dorm, where she meets Jess for the first time. The end of the chapter gives us some interesting foreshadowing when Jess decides the narrator isn’t afraid of much, and while the narrator doesn’t agree with her, she also doesn’t object. “She could believe what she wanted, and I didn’t have to lie.” As their relationship develops, we see how the narrator bends the truth: not always by outright lying (though she lies a lot by the end) but by letting people make their own assumptions without challenging them. The narrator is especially fascinating because as her downfall progresses and we see her turn to destructive behaviours, her actions are at first understandable, but she continues to escalate until the character you once sympathized with becomes unlikeable. All of this was done without resorting to dramatic lengths—the narrator doesn’t haven’t to scream or use violence or key anyone’s car to be destructive—which is a pleasant subtly. 

As well, every character was so beautifully flawed! Even little Penny was both the darling, innocent victim as well as a troubled, disruptive brat, which was so awesome to see! Pietrzyk doesn’t shy away from the dark side when creating complex, dynamic characters. When she shows the characters’ dark sides, it’s not in an attempt to sway the reader’s opinion. The characters simply are-- their good and bad parts--and this allows the characters to have more nuance. 

The writing itself is both lyrical and to the point, both wildly expressive and yet down to earth. The writing style focuses heavily on mundane details, and the observations that come out of those details were both beautiful and tragic. I really loved the level of detail, as I felt it helped reveal things about the narrator as well as set a vivid scene. However, there were times where I felt the book veered too much into detail, which slowed down some scenes. The book was written in a non-linear fashion which worked so well. Because the story is not about a plotline and more about revealing the characters’ true “character,” the non-linear progression was effective in tricking the reader into making their own assumptions about the narrator. This non-linear style allowed the author to revisit scenes later in the book and reveal more information, which could totally change the reader’s perspective of the situation. The non-linear style is another way in which the narrator manipulates how the reader sees her, which made for an interesting read.  

Despite this grand fall, Silver Girl gives us a lot to connect to. The narrator finds a way to redeem herself at the end, and figures out how to reconcile her past with the person she wants to be. All throughout, we see the depth of the narrator and Jess’ friendship, as well as the bonds of sisterhood as Jess loses one sister and gains another, while the narrator struggles with what to do for her own sister. All of it speaks to a human experience that’s both messy and profound, that means nothing and everything all at once. 

TL;DR: All in all, 4/5 stars. An incredible character study of a college girl who can’t stop running from her past, even when it starts to hurt the people she loves. 

About The Book:

Author: Leslie Pietrzyk
Pub. Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Unnamed Press
Pages: 272
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: AmazonB&NTBDiBooksGoodreads

It's the early 1980s. Ronald Reagan's economy will trickle down any day now, and Chicago's Tylenol Killer has struck: an unknown person is stuffing cyanide into capsules, then returning them to drugstore shelves.

Against the backdrop of this rampant anxiety, one young woman, desperate to escape the unspoken secrets of her Midwestern family, bluffs her way into the fancy "school by the lake" in Chicago. There she meets Jess, charismatic and rich and needy, and the two form an insular, competitive friendship. Jess' family appears perfect to the narrator's wishful eye, and she longs to fit into their world, even viewing herself as a potentially better daughter than the unappreciative Jess. But the uneven power dynamic chafes the narrator, along with lingering guilt about the sister she left behind. Her behavior becomes increasingly risky - and after Jess' sister dies in murky circumstances and the Tylenol killer exposes the intricate double life of Jess' father, she finds herself scrambling for footing. Nothing is as it seems, and the randomness of life feels cruel, whether one's fate is swallowing a poisoned Tylenol or being born into a damaged and damaging family.

SILVER GIRL is a cousin to Emma Cline's The Girls and Emily Gould's Friendship in its nuanced exploration of female friendship, with the longing of Stephanie Danler's Sweetbitter.

About Leslie:
Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of two novels, Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. This Angel on My Chest, her collection of linked short stories, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in October 2015. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the 16 best story collections of the year. A new novel, Silver Girl, is forthcoming from Unnamed Press in February 2018. Her short fiction and essays have appeared/are forthcoming in many publications, including Hudson Review, Southern Review, Arts & Letters, Gettysburg Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, River Styx, Iowa Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, Salon, Washingtonian, and the Washington Post Magazine. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Pietrzyk is a member of the core fiction faculty at the Converse low-residency MFA program and often teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. Raised in Iowa, she now lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Giveaway Details: 

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SILVER GIRL, US Only.

Ends on March 20th at Midnight EST!

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Link:

Tour Schedule:

If you enjoyed my review, check out some of the other stops on Silver Girl's blog tour! 

Week One:

February 26, 2018- BookHounds YAInterview
February 27, 2018- The Book TowerReview
February 28, 2018- BookishRealmReviewsReview
Today! - The UndergroundReview
March 2, 2018- Confessions of a YA ReaderExcerpt

Week Two:

March 12, 2018- Don't Judge, ReadInterview
March 13, 2018- Daily Waffle - Excerpt
March 14, 2018- Hauntedbybooks13Review
March 15, 2018- Pretty Deadly ReviewsReview
March 16, 2018- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt

Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review: On Being Insane

Book Review: On Being Insane: In Search of my Missing Pieces by Elliot Gavin Keenan

Goodreads Description: After being diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder at age seven, Elliot becomes fascinated with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the Bible of American psychiatry) and its enumeration, categorization, and systematization of innate human differences. This specialized knowledge of the DSM's rules and codes comes in handy as Elliot struggles through multiple psychiatric hospitalizations for severe bipolar depression, but his dreams of being a clinical psychologist seem ever further out of reach until a kindly professor and autism scientist termed herein as Dr. Pinball takes notice of his abilities. This is a story of one young man's searching: for sanity, for stability, and for the people who understand. They may be found in unlikely places.

My Review: Books like this are so hard to explain for me. They are about everything and nothing, about something so personal and at the same time universal, that it makes pinning down exactly what the book is about difficult. On Being Insane is a memoir of the author's experience of growing up with autism and how that affected his journey towards a career in mental health. But there's so much more going on than just that. Keenan is transgender, has bipolar disorder as well as autism, and deals with multiple hospitalizations. He asks some big questions, like whether or not people with mental illnesses can actually work as mental health professionals, which he approaches with such a raw honesty and sincerity that it tugs at the heartstrings. 

As far as the linear progression of the book, it can be sometimes hard to follow, as the author jumps around in the timeline a bit in a way that made it easy to lose track of what happened when. The book isn't written as a straight dirty details, tell-all kind of memoir, and instead focuses on the feelings of events rather than explaining the full situation. Even his goodbye scene with JS, who is a major character and influence in his life, left me a little confused as to what happened between them that made them part ways. I can understand the artistic intent around shying away from the details and focusing on feeling, and in a lot of ways it works really well, so I am a little torn. I do feel that a little more information and clarification could have gone a long way.

As for the writing itself... wow! The book is so beautifully written, and filled with such poignant observations that I was often writing down passages in my quote book. Even with the non-linear narrative, his message comes through loud and clear, and we're given a hopeful look at life with mental illness. All the parts of it come together in such a beautiful way, from all the characters portrayed to the descriptive observations and use of metaphor, such as the descriptions of the fake grass outside the hospital. The pieces compound into a really great look into what it feels like to live with autism, which I think would make this an awesome read for anyone interested in/works with mental illness, has autism, or wants to gain a little more insight into what life with a disorder is like. 

All in all, this was a really beautiful book that has forged its own place in my heart. I can't exactly articulate what about it is so wonderful, other than while reading it, I just kept thinking, "Me too, me too, me too..." 

TL;DR: 4/5 stars. An incredibly heartfelt memoir of Keenan's life with autism and his journey towards working in the mental health field. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Release Day Blitz: 20 Shades of Shifter

Hey all! The 20 SHADES OF SHIFTERS ANTHOLOGY released on February 14th, and I'm stoked to share the release day blitz with you all in partnership with Rockstar Book Tours! 

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful box set, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card (where Amazon is located), courtesy of author K.L. Bone and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About The Book:

Author: Demelza Carlton, Evelyn Lederman, ML Guida, Aidy Award, Carmen Fox, David Adams, Sascha Illyvich, Lynn Best, Lilly Cain, Emma Alisyn, Vonnie Davis, Brenda Trim and Tami Julka, Nina Croft, K.L. Bone, Natalie Jones, Kailin Gow, Moxie North
Pub. Date: February 14, 2018
Publisher: Laudanum House
Pages: 511
Formats: eBook
Find it: Amazon, Goodreads

Order now for only $1.99! Or read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
20 Shades of Shifter is a limited-edition collection of new and exclusive paranormal romance novels guaranteed to suck in you from page one. 

A shape-shifting dragon must win over his reluctant mate and stop Jack the Ripper. A Fae trucker becomes allies with an MC member when trying to deliver magical motorcycles to the Fae Queen. A wolf shifter is held captive in a human research lab where he is tortured until he meets one sexy scientist. An angel risked it all to steal the elixir of life and save his mortal love’s life and over two millennia later must get her to remember she once loved an angel. These stories and many more are included in this steamy, hot collection. 

Don’t wait to read this set. It is only out for a short time before it will be gone forever! 

Demelza Carlton 
Evelyn Lederman 
ML Guida 
Aidy Award 
Carmen Fox 
David Adams 
Sascha Illyvich 
Lynn Best 
Lilly Cain 
Emma Alisyn 
Vonnie Davis 
Brenda Trim and Tami Julka 
Nina Croft 
K.L. Bone 
Natalie Jones 
Kailin Gow 
Moxie North 

Excerpt from one of the books in the Box Set:
Embracing the Dragon:
The Flames of Kalleen

By: K.L. Bone

Ash fell from the sky, blanketing the charred ground like cascading snow. Amelia stretched out her fingers, finding the burnt residue cool against her pale skin, lacking the heat responsible for the land’s horrific transformation. As she searched the valley for the conflagration’s source, or any living being, toxic particles coated her lungs with each labored breath.

Normally this lush region would have been filled with the merry songs of chittering birds, and the scattering rustle of creatures hidden amid the tall grass. As she walked the field, the only sounds were the crunch of charred vegetation, and her occasional cough as her chest attempted to expel the smoke-laden air.

She scanned the horizon, seeking flames. Gloomy air surrounded her, with smoke so thick she couldn’t even discern the fire’s glow through its suffocating layers.

Amelia pushed forward, drawing shallow breaths as more particles lined her throat, turning coughs to occasional gags as she reached what should have been the forest’s edge. In place of towering trees, she found blackened stumps. Her heart skipped at the sight, her mind rejecting the ruined vision of the land she had loved.

“What happened?” she asked the desolate terrain. “What, by the gods, took place here?”

She had cherished this land with its lush shrubbery, thick enough to hide even her darkest secrets. A place all were once welcomed to enjoy shaded comfort, perfumed by the sweet scent of fresh grass and wildflowers. Now, only cooling embers remained.

When she reached the clearing’s center, a pitiful squeak drew her attention. She knelt, brushing her hand through ash and soot to find a bird chirping meekly between desperate gasps. Gently cradling the suffering creature between her hands, Amelia closed her eyes.

As though anticipating her intentions, the wren remained motionless against her palms, and its labored breathing eased.

Settling her mind upon the bird, soft-blue light emanated from between her fingers, bathing the unremarkable brown feathers in cerulean light. As Amelia’s power drew out the toxins poisoning the delicate creature, it first flapped its wings, and then flew from Amelia’s hands.

“Fly away,” she urged. “The air remains poisonous.”

The bird chirped in thanks before fluttering away, though Amelia was uncertain as to the safety of its chosen direction.

She resumed her survey of the ruined forest, helping a struggling squirrel in the same manner she had the bird. As it scampered away, Amelia stood and attempted to brush the soot from her hands, but only managed to smudge the fine black powder.

Without audible warning, orange flames surged toward her, forcing Amelia to jump to her left, rolling through the fire’s debris, hands and knees stinging as they encountered hidden rocks.

A roar resounded, shattering the unnatural silence as Amelia glanced toward the sky to face a looming figure.

Above, darker than the choking smoke, hovered an immense beast, its wingspan casting a wide shadow over her curled form. The deep purple wings had a feathered appearance, glowing with what appeared to be golden flames, though they did not burn. Instead the menacing creature’s wings fanned hotter, reminding Amelia of a forge fire amplified by a blacksmith’s bellow. From an ebony body, its back feet were hooved, but its front arms had claws similar to a bird’s, while larger talons protruded from the outer tips of both wings. A terrifying creature of utter destruction.

The dragon stared down with glinting silver eyes, glowing nostrils framing the fire within. With each methodical beat of its wings, Amelia’s blonde tresses were alternately tugged and blown back in the wash of hot air.

Fear consumed her, stole her breath, and froze every thought. She briefly considered running, but knew she would never escape the creature’s wrath.

Shakily, Amelia climbed to her feet, her blue eyes wide as she waited for her inevitable fate. The dragon’s jaws opened, flames spilling to engulf the girl below before she could even utter a scream.

Embracing the Dragon Copyright © 2017 by K.L. Bone

Giveaway Details: All International
1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (where Amazon is located), International

Ends on February 21st at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Release Day Blitz: The Leak of Madness

I am so excited to bring you guys a release day celebration for THE LEAK OF MADNESS by Alice J. Black which is now avalable!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Alice J. Black, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for 10 eBook copies of THE LEAK OF MADNESS, International, courtesy of Parliament House Publishing and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About The Book:

Title: THE LEAK OF MADNESS (Soul Seekers, #1)
Author: Alice J. Black
Pub. Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Pages: ?
Formats: eBook
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kobo

The spirit world has been in touch with Peyton, and it’s more than she can tolerate. Sometimes their messages are loud enough even to pierce beyond the veil of her alcohol-induced stupors.

When she is invited to attend her best friend's brother’s wedding at The Manor House, Peyton is compelled to stare down memories of her life before it was decimated by fire and tragedy. Continuously topping herself up with alcohol to keep the voices at bay, it becomes clearer and clearer that there are forces at work in the old building…shadows darker than Peyton could have ever imagined.

The Leak of Madness is the beginning of a thrilling, fast-paced series of horror novellas overflowing with intrigue, romance, redemption, and most importantly…ghosts.

Will Peyton find the normal life she could have if only she stops drinking or will the forces of evil drive her mad?

Book Trailer:

Exclusive Excerpt:

“What would the lady like?” he asked as he stood behind the bar, waving at the bottles in their optics.
Little did he know how much each of those bottles appealed. Like a kid choosing candy in a store, I was transported back to my first drink, stolen from my dad's cabinet. That one had been whiskey. 

Back then, I took whatever I could get. Now I was old enough—and I might argue wise enough—to choose my own poison.

“Do you know,” I started as I leaned over the bar, looking between the man and the bottles. He really was a good-looking guy. “That you’re giving me reason to give in to temptation.”

His smile widened. “Hey, if I didn't ply you with alcohol, what sort of bar man would I be?”

I grinned as he continued to watch me. This guy still wore the label of lad, and he was cute, but I had a couple of years on him. Still, age wasn’t everything. “See the thing is,” I started again. “My friend doesn't like it when I drink.”

“And is your friend your keeper?” He raised his brow.

“No, but see, that's my point. This has to be a secret.”

“Secret.” He leaned in conspiratorially and I couldn’t help but inhale the deep scent of his aftershave. 

“I like secrets.”

About Alice:
I’m an author in the North East of England where I live with my partner and overly-ferocious cat. I have been writing for as long as I can remember mostly in the dark genres but recently, I have expanded into other genres (such as young adult). My cupboard is stocked with an array of different and funky notebooks (because you can never have too many). My inspiration tends to come from a lot of different places but my first novel and a lot of my ideas come from my rather vivid dreams (which my partner tells me I tell him about as I’m still dreaming!)

Giveaway Details: International
10 winners will receive an eBook of THE LEAK OF MADNESS, open international.

Ends on February 13th at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 29, 2018

Book Review: Vassa In The Night

 Book Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter 

Goodreads Description: In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

My Review: In an alternate Brooklyn, the nights are stretching longer and no one is sure why. The clocks stay the same, but each minute drags on, until even the non-magical residents of the city begin to grow restless. Vassa tries to make it through the long nights living with her step-mother and step-sisters with her best friend, Erg, a wooden doll her mother gave her on her deathbed that walks and talks back and eats everything she can get her hands on. After a fight with her sisters, Vassa takes off on a self-destructive mission to BY's, the magical convenience store that dances on chicken legs and whose employees gleefully behead shoplifters. After Erg saves her from being framed for shoplifting, Vassa is forced to work for Babs Yagg, the witch in charge of BY's, for three long nights. Vassa's nights in BY's quickly become about more than just surviving, and she begins to believe she was sent there for a reason: to put an end to Babs once and for all.

Wow. What a book, kids. VASSA IN THE NIGHT is everything you've heard it is. It's weird, it's wacky, it's all over the place, and it's beautiful. The book is based off a Russian folk tale, and like all good folktales, this whole story is a metaphor, which can sometimes be frustrating for people looking for a more typical A to B story. There are a lot of weird things in the book that most readers are able to accept-- a wooden doll that eats, stores on chicken legs, disembodied hands, witches-- but once the story veers off into trying to explain big weirdness, I can see how some readers get lost, such as with Babs' reality bending bedroom or freeing a piece of captured night weirdly personified. It's not necessarily to everyone's taste, but I felt like all this weirdness tied together by the end. As I said, this story itself is a metaphor for growing up, grief, and finding your place in the world. We really see that through Erg and her final role in the story. At its core, the story is about Vassa getting over the loss of her mom, fully grieving for her, and accepting her home with her step-sisters.

The characters themselves were all really well done. Erg was so likable and fun, Vassa was brave and headstrong, even Babs is just a lonely old woman locked away in a psychopath. The hands-- even the freakin' hands had personalities distinct from one another, which was pretty impressive considering how limited they were in communication. The only thing that tripped me up was a bit of inconsistent characterization for Vassa in regards to her voice. At the beginning of the book, we see Vassa charging off into BY's to buy light bulbs, a self-destructive move fueled by her anger at her sister, which is rooted in deeper insecurities she has about not feeling welcome in her own home. It's totally believable as a teenager move-- impulsive, self-destructive, emotional. My issue came later, when Vassa is working the cash and several of her classmates enter BY's to go 'shopping,' taunting the disembodied hands trying to frame them for shoplifting with sewn up pockets. Vassa is highly judgmental in this scene, thinking that what they're doing is reckless and stupid. She does admit that her own actions were reckless and stupid as well, and that she's probably being a hypocrite, but it doesn't stop her from being angry. This emotional response and the way she thinks about the shoppers... doesn't jive with me. It's incredibly hypocritical for one, and most teenagers aren't complete hypocrites when they have the maturity that Vassa has, and for two it feels more like the judgmental thinking of an adult rather than a kid. She dissects their actions with a depth that she shied away from during reflection on her own situation. If she was just being a hypocrite, there would be no issue, but this sudden contempt doesn't make much sense within the rest of the story, and the scene sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

As for plot, tension? Both flow smoothly. The beginning especially is really well set up, and we begin with a movie-like zoom in effect where we slowly narrow in on the scene until we reach Vassa. From there, we get an excellent sense of setting and plot, and after Vassa has settled into her job of working at the store, the real weirdness begins. Vassa undergoes three night's worth of trials, slowly collecting allies that help her attempt to overthrow Babs. The writing all throughout was incredible, and often times I felt like I was reading one long poem. I know some readers complain about purple prose, and if you're one of them then you're better off avoiding this book. This book is a love letter to writing, and doesn't shy away from flowery prose or metaphor stacked upon metaphor. The book is called dark, and while I don't exactly agree with that label, it is definitely gory at times, with people being decapitated and their heads put on stakes, and several characters being chopped into literal pieces. So if you can get squeamish, keep in mind there is violence, even if it is minor.

TL;DR: All in all, 4/5 stars. A weird and lyrical story of a girl finding her place in the wake of her mother's death, coloured with beautiful Russian folklore.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cover Reveal: DARK EMBRACE

Hey all, I'm excited today, in partnership with Rockstar Book Tours, to bring you the cover reveal for Elle Boon's DARK EMBRACE, a paranormal romance that releases on February 8. Check out the gorgeous new cover as well as an excerpt from the book, then enter to win an Amazon gift card for $10. Covers, sneak peaks, and free treats. Talk about a win, win, win. 

On to the reveal! 

Title: DARK EMBRACE (The Dark Legacy Series, #1)
Author: Elle Boon
Pub. Date: February 8, 2018
Publisher: Elle Boon
Formats: eBook
Pages: ?
Find it:  Goodreads, iBooks, B&N, Kobo  

A DARK LEGACY where only the strong survive and those who are Goddess touched can complete the warriors who fight to protect the world from the creatures that go bump in the night.


Jennaveve, the Fey chosen by the Goddess to be the queen of her people for the past few millennium, is tired and wishes for a break, but hadn’t counted on being reduced to almost mortal thanks to a dark stranger. They say you should be careful what you wish for. The last time she’d taken a break, her Fey had left their realm, resulting in shifters on Earth known as the Mystic and Iron Wolves and even more she was still searching for.

Damien and Lucas Cordell knew they’d share a Hearts Love when the time came. As the twin sons of the Vampire King who’d mated a shifter, they were the first of their kind. When they’d thought their mate was finally within their reach and was a shifter like their mother only to realize she wasn’t theirs, they’d almost lost their lives to the alpha of the Iron Wolves, Kellen Styles. Instead, the error led them to the being that was…the Fey Queen Jennaveve. Only she was even more elusive than the wind.

Time and patience was something Damien and Lucas had in spades, until the female they’d already laid claim to, even if she hadn’t accepted them yet, was taken by an enemy. Saving Jenna became their one and only focus. As time and realms slip between them, their fear for her had them forgetting about patience and made claiming Jenna as their Hearts Love, hoping she accepted their Dark Embrace.

Will the Cordell Twins be able to rescue Jenna from the evil who has taken her? Will Jenna get her powers back? Who is the dark presence and how will they defeat a being who is strong enough to bring the Fey Queen down to her knees?

Lyric’s Accidental Mate, Iron Wolves Book 1 is a crossover series with the first book being FREE http://amzn.to/1NOzmVF

Exclusive Excerpt!

They both turned as one toward the door as a commotion swirled into the room.

“What have you done?” Raina asked.

Lucas looked at the tall man who followed behind their sister, waiting to see what Creed, the son of Satan, had to say. Hellboy himself would be a good one to have on their side. “Shit, how’d you get in?” he asked as realization dawned.

Damien flashed to his sister. “Where did you come from?” He held her by the arms, giving her a little shake.

A deep rumble came from Creed. “Boy, I suggest you unhand my Eros, or I’ll remove your arms from your body.”

Lucas came to stand next to his brother. “Our Hearts Love is missing along with our father. We’ve been locked into this fucking castle and you two just strolled in like it’s nothing. We just want to know if you can get us out.” The last was yelled at a decibel that bordered on a roar, but Lucas was at the zero fucks giving point.

“You got two seconds before I start dismembering your brother. Tell him to get his fingers, palms, and any other body part off my Raina if he wants to keep them.” Creed’s voice had become the deep tone of his demon side.

“Damien, you might want to take a step back before we have to rumble with our brother-in-law in front of baby sis here. Raina, please answer the damn question while our brother is letting you go. Now, Damien, release her.” He put as much order behind the last part, hoping to reach his twin, but he’d never seen his twin’s eyes turn such a dark obsidian like their father’s.

Raina wrapped her arms around their brother, stilling Creed from going killer beast. “Damien, calm down. We popped in like we always do. I felt mama’s distress and told Creed I needed to visit. He of course insisted he come with. When we got here I couldn’t find her, so I followed you two morons’ scents. There’s another, not quite the same, but familiar smell here too.” Her voice shook, the slight tremor more an indication of her rising worry. She released Damien and went to the same corner. “It’s like dad but toned down.”

“Can you track him?” Damien asked.

“No,” Creed growled.

“He took Jennaveve and our father went after him, alone. He’s our…brother,” Damien said in a barely there whisper.

Raina spun to face them, her hand going to her throat. “What?”

Creed flashed to her side. “She will not be your sniffing dog.”

“Our father has another son. Goddess, its messed up to even say that. He’s the one who hurt Jenna. He nearly killed her the last time he had his hands on her. Somehow that…bastard traced her back here and took her out from under our noses. Now, our father is tracking them alone while we stand here arguing. We can’t breach these walls, but you two can. You can sense him, Raina. Please.” Lucas held his hand out, holding the pillow with Jenna’s scent still on it.

“That’s why mother is hurting.” She moved forward, a tear slipping down her cheek. “Creed, I can’t stand here and do nothing when my family is falling apart.”

“Damn it, I knew this family stuff was going to be a pain in my ass.” Creed jerked the fabric out of Lucas’s hand. “It’s the Fey Queen. I can scent her as well. We go together, all of us on one condition.”

Lucas and Damian nodded, waiting.

“I’m in charge and Raina is not to be harmed.”

“Hellboy, you can call all the shots as long as we find our Love.” There was nothing he wouldn’t 
agree to in order to find Jenna.

“I’m so going to regret this.” Creed dropped his chin to his chest.

Raina turned to face Creed.

Damien pointed at the two. “No making out with our sister in front of us. Save it for the bedroom. Let’s go people, times a wasting.” He changed into all black clothing, and although his words were teasing, the hardness behind the tone was anything but.

“Can I eat them?” Creed asked.

Raina shook her head. “You promised to be nice to my family.”

“Can I let Liv eat them?”

Their sister snorted. “No, you told her she couldn’t do that either. Come on, boys. Let’s get this party started.”

Lucas focused on Jenna’s sweet smile and promised himself they’d have her tucked between them soon. When he opened his eyes, his brother was staring with that same single minded intent on his face. “We’ll get her back and make sure she can’t escape without one of us always knowing where she’s at.”

Raina snorted. “You two will learn, a woman like Jenna won’t take to being caged or coddled.”

He met Creed’s dark stare. “How’s that working for you, Hellboy?”

Creed lifted his middle finger. “You still wanting a way out of here, or we gonna sling insults back and forth? Believe me, your little nickname is nothing compared to the things I’ve been through and trust me, boy, I’ve definitely had much bigger beings say much nastier things than that to me.”

Instant regret punched him in the gut. “Damn it, I’m sorry man. You’re right. Hellboy isn’t meant to be a…bad thing. Shit! I like you and I think you’re great for our sister.”

His sister’s mate tilted his head and nodded. “Good enough. Let’s go. One big circle like…well, one big happy family.”

Damien groaned. “Son of a bitch, not you, too.”

Their sister clapped like she was proud to be part of the crazy, wrapping one arm around Creed and held the other out. He moved forward, slipping his hand in hers, waiting for Damien to grab onto his other one.

Once they formed a circle, Creed’s lips formed a straight line. “Here we go boys and my girl.”

Darkness came quickly. The opulent bedroom replaced by a forest that had gone eerily quiet. Creed moved next to Raina, waving his hand around her, changing the sexy dress she’d had on into all black, making her resemble a character from the movie Underworld. He didn’t have time to question the man as they all seemed to notice the unnatural quietness.

“Anyone know exactly where we are?” Damien’s voice echoed around them.

Creed closed his eyes, then opened them quickly. “We’re still on Earth. Something is unnatural here, but it’s not demon born.”

Dark Embrace

1. You don’t know by Katelynn Turner
2. Sorry by Halsey
3. The Feeling by Justin Bieber and Halsey
4. I’m Gonna Show You Crazy by Bebe Rexa
5. Sway by Danielle Bradberry
6. Tennessee Whiskey by Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapelton
7. Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Levato
8. Faking by Calvin Harris Kehlani and Lil Yachty
9. Praying by Kesha
10. Bad at Love by Halsey
11. Dusk till Dawn by Zayn
12. Issues by Julia Michaels
13. Heavy by Linkn Park
14. At my Best by Machine Gun Kelly ft. Haily Steinfield
15. Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara
16. Glorious by Mackelmore and Skylar Grey
17. Perfect by Ed Sheeran
18. I Like Me Better by Lauv
19. Filthy by Justin Timberlake
20. There’s Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendez

About Elle: 

Elle Boon lives in Middle-Merica as she likes to say…with her husband, two kids, and a black lab who is more like a small pony. She’d never planned to be a writer, but when life threw her a curve, she swerved with it, since she’s athletically challenged. She’s known for saying “Bless Your Heart” and dropping lots of F-bombs, but she loves where this new journey has taken her.

She writes what she loves to read, and that is romance, whether it’s erotic, Navy SEALs, or paranormal, as long as there is a happily ever after. Her biggest hope is that after readers have read one of her stories, they fall in love with her characters as much as she did. She loves creating new worlds, and has more stories just waiting to be written. Elle believes in happily ever afters, and can guarantee you will always get one with her stories.

Connect with Elle online, she loves to hear from you:
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