Sunday, July 22, 2018

Book Review: Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews

When twenty-year-old Anna Carlson travels from America to a Korean orphanage to locate her birth mother, she’s devastated to learn the woman is already dead. But just when it seems her search is over, a stranger hands her a parcel containing an antique comb—and an address.

That scrap of paper leads Anna to the Seoul apartment of the poor yet elegant Hong Jae-hee. Jae-hee recounts an epic tale that begins with the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during World War II, when more than two hundred thousand Korean women were forced to serve the soldiers as “comfort women.” Jae-hee knows the story well—she was one of them.

As Jae-hee’s narrative unfolds, Anna discovers that the precious tortoiseshell comb, with its two-headed ivory dragon, has survived against all odds through generations of her family’s women. And as its origins become clearer, Anna realizes that along with the comb, she inherits a legacy—of resilience and courage, love and redemption—beyond her wildest imagination.

I have been interested in Korean culture for awhile. When I saw Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews, I knew I had to read it. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed. This book had so many feels!

The world building was done beautifully. Andrews did a fantastic job of recreating Korea from the past. It was easy to picture being right beside Jae-hee and Anna at all times. It's easy to see the author, William Andrews, put in a lot of time doing his research.

The pacing started off a little slow at the very beginning, but it soon picked up quickly. Before I knew it, I was immersed into the life of Jae-hee, and what a life she had led! I found myself always wanting to know what had happened to Jae-hee next. Because of that, Daughters of the Dragon was so easy to read and hard to put down!

The plot was very interesting and based on facts to a point. It speaks about comfort women for the Japanese (which I had never even known about until Daughters of the Dragon), the splitting of Korea, and more. I was interested to know more about that two headed dragon comb that seems to be the main focal point in Daughters of the Dragon. The story line around this is so interesting!

I loved the characters so much! I loved how strong Jae-hee was during and after everything she endured. I felt like I knew her throughout the book and as if she was speaking to me, telling me her story. I liked Anna and how open she was to everything. All the characters were beautifully written, even the minor characters. I definitely felt like I was right there in the book every step of the way along with each character.

There are themes of violence, rape, and death, but these are essential to the story line. Without them, there would be no book. As I've stated before, this book is based on somewhat on facts. History can be very ugly, and Daughters of the Dragon shows it. It is obvious the author tried to write these scenes as tastefully as he could.

I would recommend Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews to others. I'd say this is probably a book for those 17+ due to the violent themes throughout the book. However, it is written so beautifully. The whole story definitely comes alive as you're reading it. Because of Daughters of the Dragon, I will be researching Korean history and the comfort women.

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Book Tour and Giveaway: Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

Manipulated Lives
H.A. Leuschel

Psychological Fiction
Realistic, heart-breaking and utterly gripping!’ -

'A brilliant and important book ... I could barely put it down'-
Nerdish Mum Book Blog

You NEED to read this. Your family needs to read this, your friends need to read this, your children … NEED to read this’ -

Five fictional, compelling true-to-life stories about how people can be manipulated by others.

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual.

First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self worth. 

The moment I wake up, the dismay and desperation are back. The knot in my throat is so big that I am sure, soon enough, I will choke on it. I cannot understand why I am lying in this tiny room attached to an IV drip with only a glass of water as my companion.My heart is beating fast with anxiety and when I try to lift my head I can see my emaciated arms sticking out from under my hospital gown. I know, yet again, that my attempt to get up is futile.Why am I here, and why am I all alone? A strand of grey hair falls over my forehead and into my eyes, pricking at the outer edges, and it costs me great energy to brush it aside.

I faintly remember a voice now. She was reading something to me. Confusion and fear flood over me while my eyes move wildly around the room. I note that the small window is still there with its curtains drawn. Is it winter? Is it daytime or night time? I have no idea. A small radiator stands in the corner and once in a while emits gurgling noises. The sound is strangely reassuring, but what I really want is a human hand holding mine, a human voice talking to me with kindness, a small smile, anything to take the dread away. I remember my family and other faces come crowding into my head and then children. Oh children. Where on earth are they, now that I am helpless and desperate?

My throat is dry, and when I turn my head towards the bedside table I see the glass of water standing next to me. I yearn for it and decide that I have to try and reach for it. I lift my bony and unusually broad hand off the bedcover but my fingers instantly start to shake. The simplest of movements now seem almost impossible to be carried out. I remember the voice telling me that I am dying, and deep and utter anger rises in my weak chest. Me - dying?That is ludicrous, to say the least. I am maybe ill and weak from some terrible disease, but never in a million years am I dying.

My anger is escalating when I finally manage to reach for the glass, only to make it topple and fall. The sound of it shattering has alerted someone in this forsaken place because, before I can turn my head, the door is opened and a nurse comes into the room, heading straight for me.

‘Had a little accident, did you?’ he says, as he walks over to the wet patch glistening on the linoleum floor. Inspecting the area that he will have to clean up, he throws a small nod over his shoulder. ‘I will get you another one, OK?’ He does not wait for an answer, just carries on as if talking to himself. ‘I’ll be back shortly.’
Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a BA in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. 

Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. 

She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts,reviews and a giveaway!

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Book Tour and Giveaway: Dear You by Derra Nicole Sabo

Dear You
by Derra Nicole Sabo

Dear You is a lovely invitation into Derra Nicole Sabo's world.

A wonderful opportunity borne out of a complex and challenging experience, to recall the good times with loved ones, the chance to express the rarely spoken profound specifics of what binds friends and family together.

This is a heart-warming collection of letters to loved ones that explores the wonder, frailty and extraordinary qualities of friendship, family, love and life.

Dear You,

How y’all doin’? Perfectly imperfect I hope. Well, I come to you today because I have a favor to ask of you. I need you to do me a kindness. Don’t worry, it won’t take up much of your time and it doesn’t cost a single shiny Lincoln, however, it does require a few ounces of brain power and an open space in your heart. I have a story for you… Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh great, another book about a nobody’s life. A tale of how a nobody had a great childhood then hit a pot hole or two while growing up, but in the end found herself and had a happily ever after.” Well congrats, you are 50% correct.

This is indeed a tale of a nobody’s life, however, the bits about finding herself and having a happily ever are slightly off. My tale is about a young girl born with an unwanted label cemented onto her forehead, a label that cast a beautiful curse upon her heart. Do you know what it feels like to be a happy kid and then to have that rug pulled from under your feet? To go from feeling broken to damaged to completely worthless in one swift motion? How about wanting so much to fit in that it starts to break you down into a reflection that your 20/20 vision can no longer make out? To be marked as “different”?

I have a story to tell you, a story filled with happiness drowned out by brokenness, sprinkled with darkness and topped with a delicious suicide attempt. Served alongside is a refreshing shot of completely losing one’s self, ending in rebuilding an underdog to become an invincible version of a beautifully imperfect human.

So here we are; just you and I sitting in a cozy place getting ready for the story that I have to tell. Now whether you listen or not is your decision...
As someone with anxiety, writing is my way of speaking. When my verbal skills fail, my pen excels. I have always had something to say to the world and to the humans residing in it, I just could never get my mind and mouth to be on the same level. So, I picked up a pen and haven't looked back. I have a message for you. A message for my family, my friends and to all the beating hearts. Dear You is a letter personally written, from me to you.

What is your Writing process?
- Firstly, I grab a refreshing beverage (iced green tea with honey, Dr. Pepper, Bai Dragonfruit or a Caramel Macchiato) then I either grab my headphones or turn on the bluetooth soundbars and select whatever playlist is feeling good. Then it's just about juicin' up the laptop and typing away.

Do you believe in writer's block?

- Not only do I believe in it, I've been hit by it. When my thoughts are jammed up I set away from my laptop and go out for a coffee or lunch with a friend. Stepping away from the writing zone helps to distract my mind from the stress. Stepping away allows my thoughts to de-jam and I can get back at it.

How do you unwind/ relax?
- One word...Beach. The beach is where I feel calm, I can breathe, it is the place where my walls go down and I can simply be. Warm sand beneath my feet, a neon drenched sunset sinking into an endless ocean before me...yeah.

What is something quirky/unique about yourself?
- I breakout into random dancing or singing. And not just at home, but while out shopping, in the car. Not in an embarrassing way, I just can't help but get jiggy wit' it when my jam plays.

What's next in the works?
- Random thoughts that spin through the worlds of happiness, contentment, insomnia, depression, suicide, heartbreak, love and life. The thoughts that we're afraid to speak out loudly, the thoughts we keep buried deep down. I'm breaking Jack outta the box.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
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Book Tour and Giveaway: Woman Ex by Real Laplaine

Woman Ex
Real Laplaine

SciFi Thriller
The world in the very near future undergoes a radical shift in power - changes forced upon it by two global catastrophic events. Wars suddenly fade to nothing. Religious conflicts disappear. Crime is all but gone. Nuclear weapons are banned and peace reigns across the globe. The proverbial "new-age of man" has come, but not without a price. 

Woman EX is a thrilling ride into the near future, one where women must take over in a world where men have become an endangered species and are expendable. But, all is not well in the new utopia. Power, as always, corrupts some entrusted with it, and the vision of a society without men drives Lady V, the President of New America, a woman haunted and driven by her own demons, to do the unthinkable. She is about to introduce Woman EX - something that will change the human race forever. 

"An utterly captivating and quickly-paced thriller..."
Author, Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

"Here is another fascinating book from an author I came to enjoy so much."
A.G. Mogan, author of The Secret Journals of Adolf Hitler

She shook her head, a look of pure disgust now reflected in her eyes. “Tanner, Tanner, Tanner, don’t play that card with me. History is witness to the truth and you know it too.”

“What truth?”

“Men make war, not women. Men build war machines and weapons of mass destruction, not women. Men walk into schools and shoot kids up, not women. Men run the streets in gangs, killing and raping and pillaging – women don’t do that. Men run human trafficking rings, not women. Men kill. Men murder. Men rape. In fact, statistics across the world showed that men committed most of the brutal crimes throughout history – that’s indisputable fact.” She paused, her eyes now seething with a passion that betrayed some hidden pool of hatred.

“Do you recall any infamous NAZI figures who were women? Do you remember the names of any women who were shooting Jews in the back of the head or committing atrocities during the Holocaust? Name one woman that started and engaged a pogrom to wipe out a whole race of people?” She shook her head at him. “You can’t, can you? Because the infamous characters who screwed up the world were men, and while some women may have played a role in coaching them, or pandering to their power, or spreading their legs for them, they didn’t officiate the tragedies.”

She turned and walked to the far wall and then, leaning against it, folded her arms across her chest with a look of imperious authority on her face. “Men very nearly put us on the path of World War III, a war that would have destroyed the world.” She points a finger at him. “A handful of nuclear weapons caused that much destruction, so imagine what would have happened if Russia, China and the others had joined the party?”

“That’s conjecture.”

“Is it?” She approached. “We found transcripts, in the wake of the Cataclysm, as men were off dying by the millions and could no longer protect their secrets from public knowledge, both in the Pentagon and their equivalents in Russia, China and elsewhere, showing that their leaders were preparing for nuclear war. You think they gave a shit if millions or billions died, Tanner?” She shook her head. “They didn’t; because they knew they would survive it, and in the end, the minority, the rich, the entitled, the bankers and corporate moguls, the oligarchies that ruled the world, would swoop in and scoop up the property and the broken nations, just like they did in World War II, and start over again, only more powerful than before.”

She lingered with a wag of her head. “You just don’t get it, do you, Tanner. Why build tens of thousands of nuclear weapons if you’re not going to use them eventually? The Cold War wasn’t just a stand-off between global powers, held at bay by nuclear bombs, it was just foreplay for the inevitable theater, the day when some stupid f**k would press the little red button. And, unfortunately, the timing was right, we had two stupid-f**ks in power at the same time.”
I write existential thrillers in geopolitical, crime and sci-fi genres.
I don't strictly follow the rules of the genres - my books have an
existential weave to them. I invite the reader to step outside the
box of mediocrity and see different perspectives and possibly even,
to challenge the paradigms that have become our accepted  "norms."

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

Letting Go of Gravity
by Meg Leder
Published by: Simon Pulse
Publication date: July 17th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

“The anticipation and slow burn of Parker and Finn’s relationship is electric…[an] absorbing novel that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell.” —Booklist 
Parker struggles to reconnect with her twin brother, Charlie—who’s recovering from cancer—as she tries to deal with her anxiety about the future in this powerful new novel. 
Twins Parker and Charlie are polar opposites.

Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful.

Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please.

Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved.

And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got cancer. Parker didn’t. 
But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis. 
Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time. 
That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself.
In my new book Letting Go of Gravity, my main character Parker struggles with anxiety, even though she doesn’t quite know what’s going on until the end of the book. As someone who also has a hard time getting out of her own head, like Parker, I’ve discovered a few ways to help manage my busy mind. Here are some of the tricks Parker and I have used to calm ourselves:
  • Immerse yourself in the words of others. For Parker, it’s listening to Taylor Swift. For me, it’s finding a book that I can lose myself in. Sometimes, the mere act of letting yourself spend time with other voices is enough to give your worried mind a break.
  • Get busy. In my book, Parker starts helping out at a local ceramics shop, working with a group of old women while discovering the joy of making things with her own two hands. For me, it’s writing and being a reading buddy at a local elementary school. Creating and volunteering are both great ways of slowing the worry train, letting your mind focus on other avenues.
  • Be kind to yourself. It’s very easy to be mad at yourself when you’re anxious. You know that you’re not thinking rationally, but that doesn’t stop the anxious thoughts. But being mad at yourself doesn’t help you feel better—in fact, it makes Parker (and me) feel worse. Instead of being hard on yourself, be kind. You can’t always stop the thoughts, but you can at recognize that anxiety is hard and you’re doing the best you can.
  • Talk to your friends and family. Throughout the book, Parker’s new friends Ruby and Finn encourage her to talk about her feelings, and it’s only when she starts to tell people that she’s worried and scared that things start to get better. I’ve found that being open about my worried thoughts with people I trust—my family, my best friends, my therapist—is often the first step toward owning and overcoming my anxiety.
  • Know that it’s okay to seek help. It takes Parker a long time (a whole book!) to recognize she needs help in managing her worry. It took me twenty-plus years. More than anything, I hope that anyone who sees a little or a lot of themselves in Parker knows it’s okay to ask for help, whether it’s from a teacher, trusted adult, therapist, or good friend. Anxiety can be a hard road, but having someone on your side can make the journey a lot easier.
I hope you enjoy Letting Go of Gravity, and if you’re anxious too, please know you’re not alone—Parker and I are both with you.

Author Bio:
A former bookseller and teacher, Meg Leder currently works as a book editor in New York City. Her role models are Harriet the Spy and Anne Shirley. She is the coauthor of The Happy Book, and spends her free time reading, looking for street art, and people watching. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. 
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Friday, July 20, 2018

Cover Reveal: Sugar Spells (The Spellwork Syndicate #2) by Lola Dodge

Sugar Spells
by Lola Dodge
(The Spellwork Syndicate #2)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: October 30th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

After her run-in with a jealous warlock, apprentice baker Anise Wise can’t wait to get back into the kitchen where she belongs. But thanks to her brush with death, the land of the living isn’t all cupcakes and marshmallows. 
Anise’s magical mojo is way out of whack and her changed powers are stirring up trouble. The town’s abuzz with news that Anise can bake deathly spells, and unsavory characters start lining up for a taste. They’ll stop at nothing to use Anise and her witchcraft to further their own plots. 
She plans to hole up researching solutions until the attention dies down, but then she discovers the horrifying terms of her bodyguard’s contract. 
Wynn has saved her life so many times, she can’t leave him trapped. Doing the right thing will mean risking death or worse—losing her dream job. 
For this witch, justice might not be as sweet as advertised.

Author Bio:
Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University–and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Book Tour and Giveaway: Tales From the Forest by Johanna Sarah Aldridge

Tales From the Forest
Johanna Sarah Aldridge

YA Mystery
The Forest Realm is a magical world within our own. You cannot see it, nor can you hear it, and only very few might be able to feel it. The realm feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, and protects the hunted... so long as their hearts are pure.

Recently orphaned, two heartbroken brothers are at risk of separation by the government...

black Labrador leads a colony of rabbits away from danger...

destitute family of rats seek a new life away from the pollution of the big city...

All have been rescued by the realm of magic, and their lives are truly about to change.

Come and join us in The Forest where magic thrives, adventures are rife, and friendships last forever.  

Jo was born in Colchester, Essex, in 1974 and since an early age has always been accused of having a wild imagination. This didn't stop her from studying for an honours degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, training as a science teacher, then go on to train as a Biomedical Scientist. She eventually took a post in Clinical Chemistry at Jersey General Hospital in the Channel Islands.

Whilst holding down a full time job and working 28 hour emergency on call shifts, she has managed to find the time to share that wild imagination with the world by writing online fan fiction stories about the CW series Supernatural.

She enjoyed it so much that, with a lot of encouragement from her husband, she decided to write her own stories. Not an easy task for someone dogged by anxiety and depression, and since her diagnosis in 2013 she has also been battling with Ulcerative Colitis.

In spite of her struggles, Tales from the Forest, a series of short stories set in a magical realm, began to take physical form on her laptop screen, and her black Labrador, Nelson, is a valiant hero in some of the stories. As an avid animal lover, she has vowed that all proceeds from the sale of this book series will help to set up a forever home sanctuary for stray, elderly and abandoned dogs.

Although still working full time at the hospital, she has turned her thoughts to the future, and now holds a Diploma in Dog Training from the Centre of Excellence and is currently studying towards a Diploma in Canine Communication in order to prepare for a life of working with rescue dogs.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

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