January 27, 2020

Cover Reveal: Ruthless Sentinel by Lynn Burke


Ruthless Sentinel (Vicious Vipers #2)
Author: Lynn Burke
Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: February 20, 2020


Working security for my MC brother, I’m tasked with protecting a crooked judge who targets his willful daughter with emotional abuse.

She’s beautiful. She’s confident and has a backbone of steel, but I recognize the pain in her eyes.

She distracts me from my job, and echoes of Pop’s taunts of my being a failure fester in my head.

But I will prove him wrong.

I will withstand our connection, the relentless pull between us.

I will protect her family–her—from the unknown enemy, even if it costs me my soul.

Lynn Burke is a full time mother, voracious gardener, and scribbler of spicy romance stories. A country bumpkin turned Bay Stater, she enjoys her chowdah and Dunkin Donuts when not trying to escape the reality of city life.


January 26, 2020

The Hand on the Wall Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3)
Author: Maureen Johnson 
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins
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New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph...

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.
The Hand on the Wall is the third and final book in the Truly Devious series. I have to say that I'm on a roller coaster of emotions right now. On one hand, this book was an amazing ending to the trilogy. But on the other hand, I'm freaking out because it means that it's over. No more Stevie and Ellingham Academy - and I definitely want more. But I guess it's true when they say that all good things must come to an end.

You definitely need to read the first two books in the series before this one. They're all very connected and you'll be instantly confused once characters and events start coming up. This is not one of those series where you can read the books independently and still be okay. I'm still reeling from finishing the book, so my emotions and thoughts are completely scattered. I apologize if this review ends up with me rambling on.

The characters continue to be an interesting group of individualistic teens. I don't really want to call them weird or misfits, because they are who they are and don't try to hide it. Stevie continued to be an awesome main character and I loved taking this wild ride alongside her. She's incredibly smart, obsessive (which can be both good and bad), determined, brave, and so many other things. She's very realistic in every way - her personality, flaws, and mistakes. I immediately connected with her at the beginning of the first book and that connection only grew stronger as the series continued. One funny thing that probably made me identify with her a bit more was that her name - Stephanie Bell - is my maiden name. So it kind of felt like I was reading about a version of myself, in a way. I loved watching Stevie grow and mature throughout the book (and series). By the end of the series, I felt like I had been right beside her the entire time and we had experienced all of it together.

The plot continued to amaze me until the very end. This genre is one of my favorites, so it takes a lot to get me stuck in a mystery. But this book (and series) has so many different layers of mysteries that not only go together in the present but they intertwine with the past and mysterious events that happened then. I can't even count how many times I had a theory and was sure I had the answer only to have a huge plot twist knock me back to square one. The story was absolutely filled with twists and turns that I never saw coming, so it definitely had me on the edge of my seat, reading as fast as I could to see what would happen next. It was incredibly well written and honestly kind of blew my mind.

The last thing I want to mention is the author's writing style. When it comes to point of view, I almost always prefer the first person. The author chose to write this series in the third person which normally I really don't like and it ends up losing points in my book. Even though I think this series would have been epic if she had written it in the first person POV, I understand why she went with the third person and it worked great. It ended up not bothering me at all actually, which is weird since it plays a huge role in any book I read. Plus there's the dual narratives - two narrators and two different timelines - intertwining and connecting to form this massive layered knot of mysteries. That was awesome. I love that she chose to do the dual timelines and have them kind of happen at the same time so you're watching two different stories play out (or is it just one big plot?) and trying to guess what's going to happen next in each one. It was a huge breath of fresh air from other books out there right now and makes it stand out not only in the genre but as an unique thrillride of a story/series. I can't recommend this book (or series) highly enough to anyone who loves YA mysteries and thrillers. Read these now!! You won't regret it!

Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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January 22, 2020

Book Blitz + Giveaway: The Not-So Dead by Isaiyan Morrison


The Not-So Dead (The Dead Series #1)
Author: Isaiyan Morrison
Genre: YA Fantasy/Horror
Publication Date: January 21, 2020


All Faye wants is another chance at being normal: hanging out with friends, playing video games, reading the latest Manga… As a wraith, her craving for a normal existence seems forever out of reach. When she makes the move to the small town of Hueman, Texas with her not-so dead nomadic family, she prays this fresh start will be the one that sticks.

Until… one of her kind is murdered by a mysterious man in a black mask.

With only Carter, an unlucky human witness, by her side, Faye must find a way to prevent the body count from rising and protect her family’s secret identity. As the man in the black mask lurks in the shadows waiting to strike again, her choice becomes a matter of life and death.

In the face of true evil, being normal is overrated.

As far as Faye knew, explorers explored, but she didn’t tell Maddy that. She probably would have stayed there waiting for Dusk to come back, but another person shakily emerged from inside the club. It was the guy from before, the one she had fed on. He swayed, and his legs shook heavily as he turned toward her and made eye contact. That was when she decided to leave. She grabbed her backpack from the ground, stuffed her gaming device back into it, and jogged off after Maddy.

“Hey! Wait!” She heard the man shouting after her.

She caught up to Maddy and dared not to look back. The man chased after her, and when he caught up with them, he grabbed Faye’s arm and forced her around. His eyes drooped. 

“What did you do to me?” he mumbled.

Faye didn’t know what to do. She drew closer to Maddy, even reaching out to take her arm. 

Then he was gone.

There was a brief eddy of wind as Maddy moved faster than a human eye could follow. She took hold of the situation and forced the weirdo to release his grip before she tossed him into an alley. His body slammed against the wall, and she stood over him a second later.
The veins underneath her skin pulsated red, and with both hands on his face, she fed.
Then it was over. He crumpled to the ground, and she dragged him behind a dumpster. None of the passersby noticed what had happened.

“That’s how you take care of drunken idiots.” She wiped her hands and strolled down the street.

“Did you kill him?”

Maddy shot her an evil glare. “I should have, but no, he’ll wake up in a few hours.”

“Th-thank you,” Faye mumbled.

Maddy sneered. “Don’t thank me. Next time, stand up for yourself, Dora. You could have done that just as easily as I did.”

She turned and continued moving down the street, away from the center of town. Faye followed. They walked for a while in silence. Maddy was right; she could have handled the guy as easily as she had. So why had she been so scared?

“I’m Asian,” Faye muttered.

“What?” Maddy asked.

“I’m not Hispanic.”

Maddy stopped and whirled on her. “What?”

“Dora isn’t Asian.” Faye avoided her eyes.

Maddy threw her hands up. “I don’t call you Dora because I think you’re Hispanic, dumb ass. It’s ’cause you carry that stupid backpack everywhere.”

“I carry my games.”

“You carry kid toys, like your games,” she said. “You know, Dora, you could use those to lure stupid nerds like that boy, but you don’t.”


“Whatever the boy’s name is. I mean, why hang out with that if you aren’t going to at least try him?”

“I didn’t want to leech off him.”

“My God, you’re just annoying as all hell, aren’t you?” Maddy turned down a side street. 

“After two years, you’d think you would’ve grown into this by now, but no. You still get all depressed when it’s time to eat.”

“How long did it take you to get used to it?”

Maddy slowed her steps. “As soon as it happened. I had no regrets. Actually”—she faced Faye—“I was happy it happened. I felt special because the wraith who did this to me chose me. He could’ve killed me after he took what he wanted, but he didn’t.” She jabbed her finger in Faye’s chest. “Instead he took it all and he made me into what I am now. He understood that taking only a little doesn’t stop the hunger.”

“We take just a little so they won’t end up like us. That’s what Dusk says.”

“If you always do that, you start to rot and smell like death. Eventually you need to take it all.” She rolled her eyes. “Maybe you want that to happen to you again? You want the death splotch.”

Faye remembered the moment vividly. First it had started with a small blemish on the skin. Then it spread all over her body, leaving a putrid stench that even her acute sense of smell couldn’t take. “But I don’t want to kill anyone.”

“It’s a little too late to be the pacifist,” she growled. “We all do it, even Dusk. How do you think he was able to survive after all these years? We have to eat, Faye. If we don’t, we die.”

Faye started to follow her but stopped. As she thought it over, she realized Maddy was right. Sucking away the essence from unsuspecting people was part of her new life, a life she hadn’t asked for. It wasn’t easy to accept and fit in with the rest of them. How could they expect her to only after two years? They were much older and had more experience. They had time to adjust while she was just learning how to work with her newfound abilities. And what kind of wraith didn’t enjoy leeching, knowing full well they had to in order to survive? 

She hated it and the stereotypes that came with being what she was.

“You already did it once. You took too much and the guy became one of us,” Maddy added. 
 “And it felt damn good, didn’t it?”

Faye nodded.

“So, stop fighting your stupid emotions and do it again.”

“Well, why didn’t you want to kill that boy back at our old home?” Faye asked.

Maddy stopped abruptly. “That was different.”

Faye walked around Maddy and faced her. “Was it because you liked him?”

She folded her arms. “Dusk told you that, didn’t he? As usual, he likes to keep out the important details, make himself look like our leader who can do no wrong. You think he’s squeaky clean, don’t you? You think he has all the answers, but he doesn’t. He’s just as dark and evil as any wraith. We all are.”

Faye felt something sharp jab into her shoulder, followed by a burning sensation. She hadn’t felt that much pain since she’d been turned. She screamed before Maddy took hold of her and whisked her down the street.

They stopped and hid behind a parked car. Faye reached up and gripped her shoulder, finding a wooden stake embedded in her skin. Cold, thick blood oozed from a puncture wound. “What did you do that for?” Her blood was as dark as hematite. Wraith blood usually was.

“Shhh.” Maddy’s eyes revealed confusion and fear. “That wasn’t me, you idiot.”

A tall figure loomed across the street, wearing olive cargo shorts and a black tank top that exposed pale, muscled arms underneath. A belt wrapped around his waist held sharpened stakes of varying sizes, and he held a machete in his left hand and a crossbow in the other. However, it was the oval-shaped black mask covering his face that made Faye melt with slight fear. With narrow, vertical slits across a long slit in place of their mouth, the individual looked more beast than man. She also saw a weird mark, the Roman numeral three etched just between the eyes.

“Hold still.” Maddy grabbed the stake and yanked it from Faye’s shoulder.

The pain was excruciating, but immediately dissipated.

“Who is he?” she whispered to Maddy.

“Whoever he is, he’ll be sorry for attacking us.” She stood from behind the parked car. “Stay here. I’ll take care of this idiot.”

“But why would he throw a stake at—” Faye didn’t get the chance to finish her question as Maddy rushed across the street. Faye immediately thought back to what Carter had said about vampires and vampire hunters, but they didn’t exist. Even if they did, they didn’t hunt wraiths.

She stumbled to her feet and watched as Maddy’s fist whipped at incredible speed at the man. He ducked under her arm, and with the machete, he sliced at her right arm.

She screamed as it fell useless at her side. She leapt backward when the man kicked her in the stomach and sent her backward onto the pavement. He aimed the crossbow at her chest and pulled the trigger.
Isaiyan Morrison was born and raised in Minneapolis, but her heart is in the impressive magical worlds she dreams up. She hopes to share her love for world-building with her readers and help guide them through the extraordinary settings she creates.

Her other passions include reading, and researching historical events. She also enjoys gardening, gaming, and spending quality time with her three cherished cats and beloved pitbull.

Be sure to sign up for her Newsletter to be notified of Isaiyan's newest releases!


January 21, 2020

Echoes Between Us Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Echoes Between Us

Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Tor Teen
Hardcover: 384 pages


Echoes Between Us is bestselling author Katie McGarry’s breakout teen contemporary novel about a girl with everything to lose and the boy who will do anything to save her.

Veronica sees ghosts. More specifically, her mother's ghost. The afterimages of blinding migraines caused by the brain tumor that keeps her on the fringes and consumes her whole life haunt her, even as she wonders if it's something more...

Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but his adrenaline addiction draws him to Veronica.

A girl with nothing to live for and a boy with everything to lose--can they conquer their demons together?


"One of my favorites she’s ever written. SO INCREDIBLE.” ―Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series

“Katie McGarry knows what YA is, how it works, and what it can do better than anyone, but she always takes it one step further.” ―Hypable

"Fair warning: Picture-perfect Scarlett and misunderstood Jesse will have you in your feels." ―Girls' Life Magazine

“Beyond a haunted teen romance is a beautiful, moving exploration of domestic violence, forgiveness, and self-love. ...Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming.” ―Kirkus, starred review

“McGarry ably captures the feeling of desperately wanting to come home to a friendship that has radically changed. The novel manages to tackle domestic violence in a way that never feels clich├ęd, and the romance is sure to win over even the most cynical reader. This is a story you’ll want to read slowly, just to be able to stay with the characters for a moment longer.” ―Booklist

“A gorgeous, heartfelt journey of redemption and love.” ―Wendy Higgins, New York Times bestselling author

“Powerful, emotional, and ultimately hopeful. An unforgettable story that will leave its mark on your heart.” ―C. J. Redwine, New York Times bestselling author

“Gritty and real, Only a Breath Apart is a story of hope conjured from pain, strength drawn from innocence, and love earned from self-respect. Beautiful, poignant, and fierce.” ―Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series

“Meticulously weaves a fragile love story through a minefield of loss, broken trust, and familial curses both real and imagined. Haunting, authentic, and ultimately hopeful.” ―Tammara Webber, New York Times bestselling author

“A painful, beautiful, and utterly magical story about the family you’re born into versus the family you choose.” ―Trish Doller, author of In a Perfect World

“A touching tale of love and fate straight from the heartland.” ―Mindy McGinnis, author of The Female of the Species

“Scarlett and Jesse’s story will stay in your heart long after you finish the book.” ―Simone Elkeles, New York Times bestselling author

“Southern Gothic at its finest, this is Katie McGarry’s best book to date!” ―Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan and Breathe, Annie, Breathe

You can purchase Echoes Between Us at the following Retailers:
Echoes Between Us is an amazing new young adult contemporary novel that readers are sure to love. I personally don't usually read YA contemporary because it's just not my thing, but the paranormal/ghost aspect drew me in. I've also read the author's work before and really enjoyed it, so I knew this was bound to be a great read. I'm incredibly glad that I took a chance with this one. It was everything I hoped for and more.

After reading the description, it becomes obvious what the major plot of the story is. Sick teenage outcast girl plus golden boy who feels caged in his own life come together for one reason or another. It sounds like a redundant theme in the genre, which is part of the reason I don't read it, but it ended up being so much more than that. The general plot is there but the author adds in these complex main characters with so much happening in their lives. I got drawn into their lives and the story - but the author talks about some serious topics throughout the book as well. Things like accepting and loving yourself, grief, loss, love, friendship and family, dysfunction, and a lot more. The author subtly adds these topics into the heart of the story so easily that it feels natural and the author doesn't even realize they're thinking about these topics while they're reading. 

The two main characters, Veronica and Sawyer, were both very well rounded and realistic. I immediately connected with Veronica at the beginning of the story. She is who she is and she's proud of it. Other kids think that she's weird and avoid her, but she tries not to let it bother her. She doesn't hide her eccentricities but displays them proudly. She doesn't pretend to be someone that she's not and she won't put up with that crap with other people. She's sick - she's had a brain tumor since she was eleven - so her life tries to revolve around it. But she refuses to let it. She's strong, smart, brave, compassionate, fiercely loyal to her friends and her Dad, and loving. She can also be a bit odd, cold towards others, and standoffish, which only makes her more realistic to the reader. I loved getting to know Veronica throughout the book. The author's writing style allowed for me to really connect with her.

Sawyer is the golden boy with the seemingly perfect life, but who's secretly ashamed of his learning disability, his family situation, and feels caged in by everyone's expectations of him and plans for his future. He's also an adrenaline junkie - which seems to be the only thing that allows him to feel alive and in control. He took a bit to warm up to for me, but I eventually got to know his character and liked seeing his story play out. He was realistic too with good personality traits and flaws, which made him easier to empathize with throughout the book.

The author's writing style is a huge deal for me with this book. If you've read any of my other reviews, you know that this incredibly important and can seriously make or break a book for  me. The author chose to write this story in the first person (my favorite!) with alternating chapters between Veronica and Sawyer. So we get to form a deeply personal connection with each of the main characters throughout the book. We see everything from their perspective and with the added bonus of knowing their innermost thoughts, hopes and fears, dreams, memories, and everything in between. I absolutely love that the author used this writing style for the story! I think it's a perfect fit and perfectly allows the reader to know both Veronica and Sawyer personally and see their stories (both alone and together) through the characters' own eyes. It was the icing on the cake for me and what really made me love this book as much as I did. Very highly recommended for fans of YA contemporary fiction, paranormal/ghosts, and romance.
 Photo Content from Katie McGarry

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. She is the author of the Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road series.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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