blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Secret of Dartwood Manor – N.A Triptow*

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Witches. Ghosts. An ancient secret. Enter a world of myth and magic through this contemporary fantasy reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Sense and Sensibility.

The small New England town of Tarryville, Maine is steeped in history, having been settled by the Dartwood and Farris families who fled Salem during the witch trials. The Dartwood sisters, Eden, Mariah, and Melissa, unexpectedly return home after their parents are found murdered. Upon their arrival, the girls are plagued by dreams in which dark spectral beings haunt them. When the hellish creatures seem to be more than just nightmares, another mystery begins to unravel as they discover that the circumstances around the murder of their parents may be far more menacing than they appear. Frantic for answers, they must untangle the mystery of their parents’ murders and reconstruct the pieces of an ancient secret. With the help of the young assistant curator of their family museum, Baden Correia, and an estranged friend from their past, Evan Farris, the orphaned Dartwood sisters must uncover the truth before the darkness haunting their family descends upon them as well.

The ebook of The Secret of Dartwood Manor is currently ON SALE for $0.99! Don’t miss out on this epic deal, only for the duration of the blog tour! Grab a copy HERE. UK readers – Here.


And here’s a link to Wishing Well Publishing’s shop where you can find witchling and bookish swag The official shop of Wishing Well Publishing – Wishing Well Merch (wishing-well-merch.myshopify.com)

INTL Blog Tour Giveaway!

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This is open internationally & it ends on July 21st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST.

Author of young adult contemporary fantasy and retellings, from fairy tales to classics, N. A. Triptow graduated from The University of Utah with a Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching with minors in History Teaching, Theatre, and British Studies. She teaches high school English and Film Studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Strategic Communication and Advertising from Purdue University. In her free time, you can find her reading, watching and analyzing movies and television shows, attending the theatre, going on walks or hikes, and playing board or video games with family and friends. She lives in Utah.

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Listen to an audio excerpt of The Secret of Dartwood Manor!

Here’s a link to a playlist of audio excerpts from the book read by the author, N.A. Triptow.

Listen to The Secret of Dartwood Manor’s playlist!

Playlists – N. A. Triptow (natriptow.com)

Q&A with Author N.A. Triptow

  1. If you could interview one of your characters (or have some tea with), who would you pick?

This is difficult for me to answer! I just love all the characters for very different reasons. If I have to choose one though, I would have to say Baden Correia, the Brazilian assistant curator of the Dartwood’s family museum and Mariah’s best friend. He is just so loyal, caring, and brave. My mom was also born in Brazil so it would be so much fun to chat about all things Brazilian, especially the yummy food with him. 

  1. What songs were part of your playlist when writing The Secret of Dartwood Manor?

Music is a huge part of the writing process for me. As soon as I start developing a new book, I always put together a playlist to use while writing it. I actually have the full playlist that I used to write The Secret of Dartwood Manor on my website. It also includes the fabulous theme written specifically for the novel by the brilliant Beckee Davis! Here’s a link to the playlist: https://natriptow.com/playlists/

  1. Tell us your favorite quote and/or scene from your book!

I think one of my favorite scenes is probably between Baden and Mariah when they sneak into the crime scene after the murder. It’s actually one of the audio excerpts read by me that was released on my publisher’s YouTube channel on release day. Here’s a link to the scene if you’d like to listen to it.

  1. How did you come up with the title for your book?

I had a working title that I was using during the writing process, but the final title became clear after the book was finished. I kept jotting down various ideas that didn’t seem quite right and suddenly The Secret of Dartwood Manor came to me, and I knew that was it.

  1. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

I think it would be fun to see a prequel about the villains’ pasts. It’s always fun to try to understand what motivates a person and what makes them who they are. Knowing that can certainly humanize a villain even if it doesn’t actually make them technically good. It shows that they’re a person whose choices led them down a particular path. Plus, the villains in this story really have some crazy back stories. Whether I’ll eventually write that or not remains to be seen, but it certainly is a compelling idea.

  1. What is your kryptonite as a writer?

My kryptonite is time. There are just not enough hours in the day.

My thoughts: I wasn’t sure about this book at first, I famously don’t get on with Jane Austen and am not a fan so the ‘inspired by’ had me a little worried at first. But this was actually a lot of fun. The three Dartwood sisters, Eden, Mariah and Melissa return home when their parents are brutally murdered but a lot of things don’t add up so they start to investigate.

Blending magic with the mundane, their quest leads them to discover some things about their family and themselves. I think headstrong Mariah was my favourite of the three, and I definitely felt for her best friend Baden, who’s hopelessly in love with her and she’s oblivious.

It was really interesting and I liked the premise of the villains (no spoilers here) and the way it set up the next book in the series – although it never ends well when decisions are being made for people who aren’t in the room where it happens!

🧙🏻🧙🏿‍♀️🧙🏾Top Five Witchy Movies (as picked by me!) As Mariah and Baden love watching films – here’s a few they could get some info from. 🧙🏼🧙🏻‍♀️🧙🏾

🧙🏻‍♀️Practical Magic – I yield to no one in my love of this gem, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sisters, who are also witches. I’ve loved this film since I was about 13. The Owens women are cursed, any man that loves them will die. It’s sad and romantic and creepy and amazing. I love their aunts, and the Midnight Margarita party. But also their bond, which saves them. Bonus – it’s based on a book of the same title and the sequel/prequel was published last year.

🧙🏼Hocus Pocus – more sister witches, more curses, more mayhem in this Disney classic. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are the Sandersons, brought back to life by Max entirely by accident in Salem. This is a Halloween must watch.

🧙🏾The Witches – based on Roald Dahl’s creepy book, the original 1990 film still gives me the willies. Creepy and sinister, Angelica Houston (still one of the most gorgeous women ever) becomes utterly terrifying. I don’t want to be turned into a mouse!

🧙🏿‍♀️The Craft – sometimes your witchy sisters are your found family, like in this teen classic (look, I grew up in the 90s, these are pretty much all 90s films and stone cold classics as far as I’m concerned!) has four teenage girls harnessing their powers to get some revenge. We are the weirdos mister!

🧙🏻Kiki’s Delivery Service – I had to include this cute as a button Studio Ghibli delight. Witch Kiki sets off on her adventures with talking cat Jiji (I love him so much) and opens a delivery business, on her broom. This is an adorable and lovely film that I’m always recommending.

Tell me your fave witchy films or books in the comments please!!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Instructions for Dancing – Nicola Yoon*

Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.

When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.

For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.

But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?

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Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Two of her novels have been made into major motion pictures. She’s also co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House young adult imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist David Yoon, and their daughter.

My thoughts: this was a lovely, sweet book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Love isn’t always easy, whatever form it comes in (romantic, family, friends) but that’s life as Evie finds out, navigating her way through her parents’ divorce, her friends’ romance and her own falling in love.

With a little magical gift from a mysterious old lady, Evie can see a love story unfold in people’s kisses, and it scares her, especially when she sees her own, with X, her dance partner and aspiring rock star. But sometimes you have to take a chance, risk your heart and let yourself enjoy life now. A delightful, bittersweet story.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Fatewreaker – M.K. Wiseman*

Read my posts on the first two books The Bookminder and The Kithseeker

The Fatewreaker (book 3 of the Bookminder series)
England, 1680 A. D.
Liara and Nagarath’s enemy has unexpectedly come to their aid, surrendering to the magick-
suppressing forces of the king of France so as to buy time for their escape. But that doesn’t
necessarily mean Anisthe is on their side. Vrsar’s war mage, Liara’s father-in-magick, has never been
a man do to things for others. And he has always has plans within plans.
In fleeing to England with his apprentice, the Wizard Nagarath realizes that Liara’s power is no
longer her own to command. With the shattering of Khariton’s magick mirror in the Palace of Versailles, the young woman has become trapped in an alliance with the ancient and evil mage.
What is more, at eighteen-years-old, her life remains tied to Anisthe’s for another two years per the Laws of Magick. Anisthe, who is now imprisoned for having helped them evade the king’s spellpiercers.
Forced to revisit his own past, Nagarath is finally learning that there are some histories you cannot
outrun. As for Liara, the darkness within her heart is greater than she ever could have imagined. This
after Dvigrad’s orphaned magpie having finally learned to love. For, in the words of Khariton himself, “In magick you can never have friends. Only rivals.”
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My thoughts: finally everything has come to this – a great showdown between the legendary Merlin and the wicked Khariton, who has tricked Liara into allowing him to occupy her body and mind.

But Nagarath will do his best to help her and even the formerly villainous Anisthe wants to prevent her death. But things aren’t as easy as they seem.

There is yet more hopping between countries – this time to England and to the strange realm Merlin has been imprisoned in for centuries. Liara needs to find a solution to the predicament she’s in, and Anisthe’s last words to her as they fled France “find the book” are haunting her.

Liara has grown hugely as the three books have gone along – from petulant orphan brat to great and clever mage, and she’s also had to deal with some affairs of the heart too. Her friend Kresimir makes a reappearance and she and Nagarath have grown closer, but she’s afraid of harm coming to anyone she loves.

Merlin isn’t like he is in more traditional, Arthurian, stories, he’s not very likeable at all. He just wants power and doesn’t seem to care if he harms anyone to get it. Only Nagarath seems to feel any guilt about the people he’s endangered as he tries to help Liara and keep her safe.

An interesting and fast paced ending to this smart trilogy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Kithseeker – M.K. Wiseman*

Read my post on book one in this series – The Bookminder

The Kithseeker (book 2 of the Bookminder series)
France, 1680 A.D.
Liara’s defense of the Wizard Nagarath has rendered Anisthe incantate—bereft of all magick—but
even this has failed to guarantee Liara’s safety. The death of the war mage would seal Liara’s own fate, and so the wizard and his bookminder must keep him in their sites and yet as far away from themselves as possible.
With nothing but a storybook and a hunch, Anisthe has set off on a journey across Europe, aided by
his half-fey manservant, in search of a legendary mirror that contains the most powerful magick ever known. Although the stuff of fairytales, the merest possibility of its truth embarks Nagarath and Liara on a race to discover the mirror before it falls into the hands of Nagarath’s lifelong foe. Both know should he lay claim to that power, Liara would be at the mercy of her father-in-magick and his
lust for power, and not even Nagarath could save her.
Thus, the pair find themselves at the court of the Sun King, a world hostile to magick users, hopelessly surrounded by agents whose sole purpose is destroy them. Uncertain whom is friend or foe, with Anisthe nipping at their heels, they must unearth the mirror before its evil is released, or worse, lays claim to Liara’s magick as well and brings doom upon them all.

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My thoughts: Liara and Nagarath are in hot pursuit of their enemy, the mage Anisthe across Europe, mostly by ship – cue sea sickness and storms. They meet a variety of people in their travels, some friendly and some less so, always wary of the risk of engaging with the soldiers of Rome hunting magick users. They need to beat Anisthe to a legendary magickal item – the mirror Snow White’s evil stepmother used, if it exists.

Along the way Liara does a lot of growing up and starts to learn how to use her powers to do more than a perimeter alarm. The character development is good and feels realistic, she’s not suddenly a hundred times more grown up and sensible, she still makes mistakes and struggles to trust people. It makes her all the more interesting.

We also learn more about Nagarath and why he and Anisthe parted company as young mages in training. This explains a lot of her concerns about Liara and why he feels they need to chase after his former friend.

This was really enjoyable and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on book three.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Bookminder – M.K. Wiseman*

The Bookminder (book 1 of the Bookminder series)
Istria, 1679 A.D.
Sired by magick and violence, sixteen-year-old Liara is found guilty of witchcraft and banished from
her tiny village by the very priest who raised, then betrayed her. However, a mysterious mage steps forward to assume custody of her: Nagarath, the Wizard of Parentino, whose secret spellwork has long protected both Liara and Dvigrad from the ravages of war.
Despite Liara’s best hopes, Nagarath refuses to apprentice her to his craft but tasks her instead with the restoration of his neglected library. Liara gleans magickal knowledge on the sly, but her stolen spells renew an evil wizard’s interest in the people of the Limska Draga valley.
Only by tapping Liara’s inherent magick and joining it with his own can Nagarath protect Parentino from suffering a horrible fate. However, her discovery of his secrets destroys their fragile trust and ignites the darker tendencies of her gift. Now, he must rescue her from the influence of his mortal enemy before their powerful new alliance destroys them all.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in Interarts & Technology and Library & Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her office, therefore, is a curious mix of
storyboards and reference materials. Both help immensely in the writing of historical novels. She currently resides in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

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My thoughts: this new YA fantasy series starts strong and as the book pages turn the characters become more interesting and the plot starts to become very interesting and sets up the rest of the series.

I liked Liara, she reminded me of so many teenage girls, frustrated with their lives, annoyed at the adults around them who don’t tell them the things they believe they need to know. She’s headstrong and slow to trust, but because of her past she’s hurt and vulnerable.

I’m looking forward to sharing the next two books with you over the coming weeks!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Technopaladin – Elizabeth Corrigan*

Clarity’s paladin order forbids her from entering the Azure District, the one location in her high tech city that refuses paladin rule and technology. When she receives an illicit invitation to violate the prohibition, spurred on by rumors of suffering in the district, she passes through the crumbling brick entryway into no-man’s land. Within, she finds the residents lack not only the ocular implants and three dimensional computers she takes for granted, but also medicine to fight a disease infecting the children.

Clarity knows her order isn’t perfect—after all, they stole her from her parents when she was a small child to raise her with their values—but she cannot believe they know what’s going on in the Azure District. When she confronts the head of the order, he refuses to aid people who have rejected his help in the past, even the children. Unwilling to take no for an answer, Clarity enlists the help of the leader’s son Cass and takes matters into her own hands.

Clarity engages in increasingly questionable behavior—deleting official records, lying to her friends, and manipulating people who can help her. As the nefarious nature of her actions tarnishes the purity of her cause, she must determine what it truly means to be a paladin, in both name and action.

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Extract

“Come on, Clarity!” Hope grabbed Clarity’s hand and dragged her down Londigium’s main thoroughfare. The bright glare of the morning sun glinted off the silver skyscrapers and made some of the light-up signs in the storefronts difficult to read. Nonetheless, Clarity could make out the image of a dress on the digital placard of Hope’s destination.

    Clarity dodged to avoid running into some people going in the opposite direction from her. She tried to wrench her hand free of Hope’s grasp to give herself better maneuverability, figuring she could follow her friend’s gleaming, red-gold hair through the crowd, but Hope held tight. “Remind me again why we’re doing this? I don’t care about going to the gala, and I don’t see why I can’t just wear my official paladin armor.”

    “I swear, for someone so invested in her career, you can be dense about the things you need to do to advance it.” Clarity’s other friend Zeal tossed her black braids over her shoulder as she gave Clarity a scathing glance. “You have two weeks left until the gala, and Hope has convinced Steady Threads to make an exception to their usual deadlines and take an order for your dress. Try to be a little grateful.”

    “I’m a warrior.” Clarity cringed at the petulant tone in her voice but continued her line of argument anyway. “My job at the moment is just conducting training for the non-warrior paladins, but if and when I get promoted, I’m going to be a Citadel guard or a peacekeeper in the city. None of this has anything to do with looking pretty at a gala.”

    “Do I have to remind you why you put that ‘if’ in there?” Zeal asked. “You beat out the Grand Conductor’s son during graduation trials for a position at the Citadel.” Zeal was right. Steadfastness Hughes ran the Order of the Amethyst Star, and he hated Clarity. “You need to go to the gala and do some networking among the other warriors to make yourself popular in other circles. Or at least look appropriate so as not give him an excuse to send you off to the boondocks and install his son in your place.”

    “I know, I know. You’re right.” Clarity stumbled as Hope came to a sudden stop in front of the tailor’s shop. “I just feel more comfortable in my armor. The paladins already spent a lot of money getting us high-tech, retractable armor. I don’t see why they’re bothering to pay for dresses and tuxedos as well.”

    “Because it would be ridiculous to try dancing at a ball with your armor clanking everywhere, and the purple microfiber bodysuits underneath are not nearly as flattering as you all think they are,” Hope said, her voice containing an uncharacteristic tartness. “Besides, don’t you want to look amazing enough that Valor regrets breaking up with you just because you beat him in that silly contest?”

    “Don’t say that so loud.” Clarity glanced up and down the street, but no one she knew was nearby. “You guys are the only ones who know we broke up. Besides, I don’t think—”

    Before Clarity could finish her sentence, a man ran into her, practically shoving her into the store’s forcefield window. She and her friends turned in sync to watch a man in a fine suit run past them, knocking the crowd aside to get through. Behind him came a pair of men in armor as shiny as Clarity’s own, sufficiently far behind that the recovering throng on the street would be an impediment. By the time the paladin peacekeeper she recognized as Diligence noticed her and called, “Stop that man!” Clarity was already racing after him as best she could.

    The pursuant looked behind him and noticed a much closer paladin. With a curse, he tried to pick up speed, and when that failed, he turned a corner into what looked like a small alley. He must not know the city very well, Clarity thought. There’s an open air market on the other side of that building. He’s going to be easy to spot there.

    Indeed, as she chased him between the skyscrapers, she could easily see his head bobbing amid the stalls. Realizing his mistake, he pushed over a table full of crates of apples, sending the green fruit rolling across the ground. Clarity didn’t miss a beat, leaping into the air above the overturned boxes and landing on her quarry in a tackle. 

    The crowd had erupted into shocked gasps at the chase, but as Clarity pulled the man to his feet and twisted his arms behind his back, the crowd burst into applause. She heard the word “Azurite” murmured a few times, so she glanced down at his chest and saw that he in fact wore the telltale diamond-shaped, blue patch that marked him as a resident of the city’s Azure District. Everyone knew the Azurites hated paladins and the order they represented so much that they refused paladin technology rather than follow paladin laws. Clarity had heard rumors that people in the walled-off part of the city lived in abject poverty, but the man standing in front of her looked well-fed and clothed.

    Diligence and his partner jogged up behind Clarity. “Thanks for the assist,” Diligence said as he handcuffed the criminal. “We caught him trying to buy a slew of weapons on the black market. The dealer was smart enough to try to make a deal, but this idiot ran.” 

    Wow. Clarity had known she was chasing down a criminal, but she’d had no idea he was such a dangerous one. 

    “If you want paladin tech, all you have to do is submit to the laws of the city,” Diligence said to his prisoner. Then he turned to the farmer whose apple crates remained upside down on the ground. “If you file a report with the Citadel, the order will reimburse you for your damaged merchandise. We apologize for interfering with your business.”

Elizabeth Corrigan has degrees in English and psychology and has spent several years working as a data analyst in various branches of the healthcare industry. When she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Elizabeth enjoys playing tabletop role-playing games and cooperative card games. She refuses to watch most internet videos and is pathologically afraid of bees. She lives in Maryland with two cats and a very active iphone.

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My thoughts: this was a fun sci-fi read with a serious and timely message. Clarity discovers that the history she’s been taught isn’t exactly accurate and that the people of the neighbouring Azure District are suffering, without basic things such as medicine to stop their children dying of a disease eradicated elsewhere.

She chooses to try to help, which puts her in conflict with the paladin leaders and laws. But sometimes doing the right thing can look like doing the wrong thing.

The characters are interesting and there’s world building fascinating, the writing is engaging and enjoyable. I can think of plenty of readers who will love this and hopefully embrace the point – we should help others even when they’re different to us.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Things to do Before the End of the World – Emily Barr*

A timely and powerful coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.

What would you do when you hear the news that humans have done such damage to the earth that there might only be a limited amount of safe air left – a year’s worth at most?
You’d work through your bucket list, heal rifts, do everything you’ve never been brave enough to do before?

Olivia is struggling to do any of this. What it is she truly wants to do? Who do she wants to be?

Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know existed. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for a long, hot last summer, Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having an effect on her.

But Natasha definitely isn’t everything she first appears to be . . .

My thoughts: this was an interesting take on all the apocalypse fiction around at the moment – instead of a plague, the permafrost has melted releasing tons of carbon dioxide into the air, basically suffocating the world. But before that happens, people are going all out.

Libby heads to Spain with her mum and stepdad for a once in a lifetime (literally, the world ends in a month) holiday. Where they’re joined by her estranged cousin Natasha. Who isn’t entirely who she claims to be.

Hijinks ensue and Libby winds up in Paris, where things start to unravel. Can she make it home before the air runs out?

I liked Libby, I liked her determination to do things “one day”, I recognised that feeling. She was a lot stronger and more able than she felt, and as her confidence grew and she started to come out of her shell, she became more interesting and 3D.

Natasha was an interesting foil to Libby’s innocence and book smarts, with her street hustler skills and devil may care attitude, but she’s definitely not likeable. Her “take what you can” ways are cruel and manipulative, I like to think she gets her comeuppance at some point for the way she tricks people.

As someone who would die quite early in this world ending scenario (hello asthma!) I was intrigued by the idea of everyone being smothered. What about the carbon sinks? I was reading about the peat moors the other day and how they can hold an insane amount of carbon. Wouldn’t a lot of it escape into the outer atmosphere? I wish the science had been a little clearer but I suppose that like Libby and her family I wouldn’t necessarily want all the gory details about how we’re all going to die.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Lycanthropy & Other Chronic Illnesses – Kristen O’Neal*

Teen Wolf meets Emergency Contact in this sharply observed, hilarious, and heartwarming debut young adult novel about friendship and the hairy side of chronic illness.

Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were.

Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.

When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that’s shut in the basement.

With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid’s unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal.

My thoughts: as someone with several chronic illnesses (so much fun guessing what’s trying to kill me today) I totally related to Priya and her friends, life is no fun when everything hurts.

The book is laugh out loud hilarious as Priya and Brigid, with the assistance of their Discord server pals and hot animal control guy Spencer, attempt to cure Brigid’s lycanthropy, and help her stop wolfing out. I loved the scientific approach they tried to take and then abandoned for slightly mad “cures” from old folkloric books in the antique shop Brigid works in.

I also loved their friendship, the way that they bonded over old TV shows and stupid internet jokes and being let down constantly by your own body – cos hard same.

I can’t believe this is a first novel, it’s so strong and well written and enjoyable, can’t wait to see what the author does next.

And now I have to go take my meds. Fun.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.
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Blog Tour: Jukebox Hero – Jason Stuart*

It’s Back to the ’80’s like never before!

Things aren’t all rainbows and cupcakes at the corner of Elm and E streets. Molly Slater just wants to forget everything she can’t remember and play heavy metal with her best friend in the garage. And maybe get a date for prom if he’s not a skeeze.

But someone in this ‘burb has been killing redheads, and Molly has the reddest hair of them all.

When a night of babysitting gone wrong gets her in the crosshairs of the local gang scene, Molly discovers fabulous secrets about herself.

The hunted becomes the hunter as she prowls the darkness that has crept into her sleepy town. But a far more sinister force, some thing from another world, has other plans in store for her…

Excerpt

“Sister Christian” 

—Night Ranger, 1983

Three standing grandfather clocks gazed down at her that morning, ten years to the day since they found her wandering alone with no memory—not even a name.

There, at the corner of Elm and E Street, Molly Slater (the name they’d given her) gripped her Fender Stratocaster like it were a weapon forged for her hands. Her fingerless gloves whispered at the strings, ready to saw down some serious noise. Jordache jacket with the sleeves ripped off at the shoulder. Purple lipstick and double-earrings. Corvette red hair. Bette Davis Eyes. 

The garage smelled like the early morning—no other sound but her Cons slapping the dewy concrete. She kicked away shorted out gizmos and various half-finished contraptions littering the cold slab floor. Hoyt, her foster dad, fancied himself the inventor. Any day now he’d invent their way into riches untold. Any day now.

Those grandfather clocks ticked at her as she plugged into the Peavey. More of Hoyt’s tinkering, thinking he could set his machines by them. Each triggered a different chain reaction every morning. One fed the dog. Another opened the garage to the day. A third…well it never worked anyway. She stared at them, as did they her in return. They held no judgment, only the looming doom of the impending hour. 

As the garage doors groaned, opening to the dim autumn light outside, she cranked up and twist-tuned her axe. She gave it a gooseneck and sliced right in. Mötley. Halen. Bowie. Duran. Whitesnake. Saxon. Maiden! Fluidly, she moved from one riff to another. She was totally, epically zoned. 

She lived in that fifteen minutes. 

Those granddads thundered their terrible news. 

The parentals shouted. 

“Shut that racket off! You’re gonna be late, I swear to every god,” the mother said. As if there were gods. Molly just shook her head, put up the guitar and grabbed her bag. “And put on a hat on that red hair. I don’t want you getting murdered by that maniac!” 

So dramatic. Like anything that interesting could ever happen. 

She always knew it would be like this.

Available on Amazon

Jason Stuart is from the ’80’s. He came through that cocaine-fueled fever dream and lived to tell this story. Find him on Twitter: @raiseaholler on IG @80sinsane and Facebook.com/raiseaholler. This is his 4th book. And, no, that’s not his real hair. 
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My thoughts:

This was a fun read, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but between the 80s setting (and fashions), the music references, and Molly being absolutely kickass, whether fighting bad guys or rocking out hard, I really enjoyed it. Probably helps that I love 80s teen movies – especially John Hughes’ classics.

Molly’s friends, and her brother (and his friends) are a pretty cool bunch, I loved Lydia in her Goth get up driving her brother’s monster truck, that image really amused me.

Win a signed copy of the book plus two 80s movie nox sets (International) Enter by following the image link.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Heir to the Darkmage – Lisa Cassidy*

Ambition drives her. Danger thrills her. But magic always has a price.
Twenty years have passed since the Darkmage was destroyed and the war between mages ended.

For Lira Astor, the single living heir to the Darkmage, escaping her name is impossible.

People still fear what is long dead, and they see in her the rise of another dangerous mage with deadly ambition. Desperate to claw her way free of her grandfather’s shadow, to make her own name amongst the world of mages, Lira is willing to do whatever it takes. Even if that means
joining the secretive rebel group looking to restore his vision.

Survival is a lesson Lira learned early and often, yet when she is abducted and held prisoner in a deadly game of cat and mouse, she finds herself facing a nemesis she may be no match for.

Forced to band together with unlikely allies who challenge everything she believes about what it means to be a mage, she will have to rely on every bit of ruthlessness she possesses.
Because the war may only just be beginning…

…and Lira Astor intends to come out on top.

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Lisa is a self-published fantasy author by day and book nerd in every other spare moment she has.

She’s a self-confessed coffee snob (don’t try coming near her with any of that instant coffee rubbish)
but is willing to accept all other hot drink aficionados, even tea drinkers.

She lives in the Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and like all Australians, is pretty much in constant danger from highly poisonous spiders, crocodiles, sharks, and drop bears, to name a few. As you can see, she is also pro-Oxford comma.

A 2019 SPFBO finalist, Lisa has published the YA fantasy series The Mage Chronicles, and is currently
working on her latest epic fantasy series A Tale of Stars and Shadow. She has also partnered up with One Girl, an Australian charity working to build a world where all girls have access to quality education. A world where all girls — no matter where they are born or how much money they have — enjoy the same rights and opportunities as boys. A percentage of all Lisa’s royalties go to One Girl.

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My thoughts:

A lot happens in this quite short novel, we meet Lira, the granddaughter of the notorious Darkmage, a man she’s never even met, but whose reputation causes her fellow students to cower away from her.

Her story, the death of her mother, a childhood spent first in an orphanage, then on the streets, joining a criminal gang just to stay alive, before becoming a student and learning how to control her magic.

When she and several other students are kidnapped, supposedly her supporters of her grandfather, she must escape and save her newfound friends, without looking too suspicious – she is a spy after all.

Fast paced, intelligent and darkly comic, this is a smart and engaging YA fantasy novel, with more to follow as Lira works to bring down the enemies of the state, without revealing her beliefs or becoming too much like her grandfather.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.