Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Blog Tour and Giveaway: West (East #2) by Edith Pattou

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the YA Fantasy novel West (East #2) by Edith Pattou organized by Rockstar Book Tours. Be sure to check out the rest of the stops here or at the very bottom of this post.

On my stop, I have an excerpt for you. There's also a giveaway at the bottom of this post, so be sure to check that out! Enjoy!
Title: WEST (East #2)
Author: Edith Pattou
Pub. Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 528
In the sequel to the beloved high fantasy East, Rose sets off on a perilous journey to find her true love when he goes missing in a thrilling tale of danger, magic, adventure, and revenge.

When Rose first met Charles, he was trapped in the form of a white bear. To rescue him, Rose traveled to the land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon to defeat the evil Troll Queen. Now Rose has found her happily-ever-after with Charles—until a sudden storm destroys his ship and he is presumed dead. But Rose doesn’t believe the shipwreck was an act of nature, nor does she believe Charles is truly dead. Something much more sinister is at work. With mysterious and unstoppable forces threatening the lives of the people she loves, Rose must once again set off on a perilous journey. And this time, the fate of the entire world is at stake.

“’Tis a north wind,” came a voice beside me.

“Is it?” I said.

“Yes,” said Sib, “with a bit of west mixed in.”

I turned to smile at Sib, who had come to stand beside me at the ship’s railing. Sib was one of the so‐called “softskin” servants who had escaped Niflheim after the destruction of the Troll Queen’s ice palace. Three years had passed since she came to live with Charles and me in Fransk.

We had become fast friends, and in many ways, I was closer to her than to any of my siblings, except my brother Neddy, of course. Her true name was Sibhoirdeas, but she said that most who had known her called her Sib.

“That’s Neddy’s direction,” I said with a smile. “Northwest.”

Sib returned my smile, for she knew all about the unusual birth direction superstition of my mother’s family that had been so much a part of my growing up in Njord, that the direction a woman faced when giving birth shaped the personality of the child. My mother never wanted a north‐facing bairn, who would be wild and headstrong with a love for adventuring, but that’s exactly what I had been. Mother, however, had refused to accept this and was determined that I should be an east‐born child. I didn’t learn of my true north nature until I was older.

“This northwest wind suits you,” Sib said. “Though perhaps not as well as a pure north wind.

But you look happy, Rose.”

I nodded. It was our sixth day on the ship called Guillemot, which was taking us to Trondheim. It was my first visit home since Winn’s birth and only the second since Charles and I had been married.

“I will be seeing my family soon,” I said. “And Winn will meet his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.”

I smiled down on the sleeping face of my bairn, who was swaddled in a sling over my shoulders. It still made me catch my breath, looking at those almost translucent eyelids lined with golden lashes.

I gazed out over the expanse of Njordsjoen again. It was choppy, a deep blue almost to blackness, but this too made me catch my breath. The open sea. How I had missed it, the salty wind in my face, the call of the gulls.

These past three years had been happy ones for my white bear and me, carving out a life for ourselves in Fransk. Yet there were moments now and then when that old restlessness would overtake me, and I would be driven to strap on my boots and go wandering through the countryside.

Charles understood. “If it wasn’t for your wild nature, I would still be a white bear. Or worse,” he once said to me, when I had finished apologizing for being gone overlong.

Even after the birth of Winn, my white bear accepted my wanderlust. He would just brush my forehead with his lips and say, “Off with you.”

I loved our bairn with all my heart, knew from the moment I kissed that wrinkled, damp face for the first time that I would have given my life for him. But at the same time, it was perhaps the hardest test I had ever faced, balancing my wild, northern nature with that love. Because that is the truth of a bairn, that they need you, body and soul, and I was tethered to him in a way I had never known.

Charles felt the same way, but for him being tethered was exactly what he wanted. Having roots, a home he could call his own, after almost one hundred and fifty years of roaming the world as a white bear, was all the happiness he desired.

It was odd, I suppose, that I still sometimes called him White Bear, but I did. Charles didn’t come easily to my tongue. It was as if that person taken from his life by the Troll Queen so long ago was something of a stranger to me, and in some deep down way, I would always think of him as a white bear.

I would occasionally slip. The first time I actually called him White Bear after we were wed, he flinched. But then he smiled.

“So be it,” he said, pulling me to him. “After all, it was as a white bear that I first loved you.”

“And I you,” I whispered into his shoulder.

I’m embarrassed to say, however, that most often I called him such things as “my love” and “dear.” Hardly words I would ever have imagined myself saying back when I was young and wild, climbing trees and falling into ponds.

Sib broke into my thoughts, telling me that she had just checked on Estelle and that the herbal remedies Sib had given her had done nothing to relieve the girl’s seasickness.

“Poor Estelle,” I said. And indeed Estelle had had a rough time this past year. When her mother, Sofi, had died unexpectedly of a wasting sickness, there were no relatives left to care for her, her uncle Serge having emigrated to Spania. Charles and I were happy to bring her into our family. We loved her dearly, and she was a resilient girl. Still, the loss of her mother had been hard.

We thought a journey to Njord would be a welcome distraction, and because she had always longed to see the world, Estelle was thrilled at the prospect. Until we boarded the Guillemot. With the first roll of the ship, she had been laid low by seasickness.
Title: EAST (East #1)
Author: Edith Pattou
Pub. Date: May 1, 2005
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 507
Rose has always been different.

Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose's birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home... but she can't suppress Rose's true nature forever.

So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it--in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family--she readily agrees.

Rose travels on the bear's broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart-- and finds her purpose--and realizes her journey has only just begun.

About the Author:
Edith Pattou is the author of Ghosting, a contemporary novel for young adults, told in free verse. She also wrote three award-winning fantasy novels for young adults – East, a retelling of the Norwegian folk tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," and the two Songs of Eirren, Hero’s Song and Fire Arrow. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling picture book, Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden.

She was born in Evanston, Illinois, grew up in Winnetka, and was a teenager in the city of Chicago where she attended Francis W. Parker School. She completed her B.A. at Scripps College in Claremont, California where she won the Crombie Allen Award for creative writing. She later completed a Masters degree in English Literature at Claremont Graduate School, followed by a Masters of Library and Information Science at UCLA.

She has worked for a medical association, a clothing boutique, a recording studio, the Playboy Foundation, a public television station, a school library, two public libraries, two advertising agencies, and two bookstores.

She has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Durham, NC, Cambridge, England, Stockholm, Sweden, and currently resides with her husband, Charles, in Columbus, Ohio.

3 Winners will receive a finished copy of WEST. US Only.
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Book Tour and Giveaway: Yeast of Eden (A Pancake House Mystery #4) by Sarah Fox

Yeast of Eden
A Pancake House Mystery #4
Sarah Fox

Cozy Mystery
In USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox’s delicious new Pancake House Mystery, it’s up to Marley McKinney to discover the waffle truth behind a rival’s murder . . . 

Winter has come to Wildwood Cove, and riding in on the chill is Wally Fowler. Although he’s been away for years, establishing his reputation as the self-proclaimed Waffle King, the wealthy blowhard has returned to the coastal community to make money, not friends—by pitting his hot and trendy Waffle Kingdom against Marley McKinney’s cozy pancake house, The Flip Side. Wally doesn’t see anything wrong in a little healthy competition, until he’s murdered in his own state-of-the art kitchen. 

Marley isn’t surprised when the authorities sniff around The Flip Side for a motive, but it’s her best friend Lisa who gets grilled, given her sticky history with the victim. When a second murder rocks the town, it makes it harder than ever for Marley to clear Lisa’s name. Marley’s afraid that she’s next in line to die—and the way things are looking, the odds of surviving her investigation could be stacked against her. 

Book Trailer:
Chapter 1

My car’s headlights cut through the darkness, illuminating the driving rain. The windshield wipers swished back and forth in a rapid rhythm as I carefully navigated my way along the deserted streets of Wildwood Cove. Normally I preferred to walk to work each morning, trekking along the beach so I could listen to the crashing waves and smell the salty air. Lately, however, I’d been making more use of my blue hatchback. Over the past several days the weather had been less than inviting, drizzling with rain if not outright pouring, and chilly enough that the occasional glob of slush splattered against my windshield along with the pelting raindrops.

The rain was supposed to let up in the next day or so, according to the weather forecast, so I hoped it wouldn’t be much longer before I could get back to enjoying my early morning walks along the shoreline. For the moment, though, I was grateful for the warmth and shelter of my car.

When I turned into the small parking lot behind The Flip Side pancake house, I pulled up next to the only other car in the lot—a baby-blue classic Volkswagen bug belonging to The Flip Side’s chef, Ivan Kaminski. He arrived even earlier than I did each morning, as did his assistant, Tommy Park. It was barely six o’clock, but I knew the two of them would have been working for a good while already.

I shut off my car’s engine and grabbed my tote bag off the passenger seat, steeling myself for the upcoming dash through the pouring rain to the back door of the pancake house. As soon as I climbed out into the rain, I slammed the car door, ducked my head, and made a beeline for the slim bit of shelter provided by the recessed doorway.

Despite having spent mere seconds exposed to the elements, I had damp hair and droplets of water running down my face. I wiped them away with my sleeve and jiggled my ring of keys until I found the right one. As I put the key into the door, I caught sight of something white from the corner of my eye. A flyer lay plastered against the pavement, waterlogged and with a muddy footprint stamped across it.

I darted out of the shelter of the doorway and peeled the soggy paper off the ground. When I was once again out of the rain, I peered at the flyer, the exterior light above my head providing me with enough illumination to read by.

When I took in the bold black words printed across the saturated paper, my former good mood did a nosedive. I’d seen the flyer before. I’d seen several them, in fact, plastered all over town on utility poles, signposts, and community notice boards. I’d also received one in the mail. That one had gone straight into the recycling bin. This one I crumpled up in my hand as I unlocked the door, the words Wally’s Waffle Kingdom disappearing from sight as the paper scrunched up into a soggy ball.

Once inside, I unlocked the door to my office and tossed the scrunched flyer into the wastepaper basket. If I never saw another one, I’d be happy, although I knew the advertisement wasn’t the real problem. That was the Waffle Kingdom itself. The Flip Side had become a fixture in the small seaside town of Wildwood Cove, with many faithful customers who returned again and again to enjoy Ivan’s scrumptious breakfast creations. There were other restaurants and caf├ęs around town, but none of them specialized in breakfast foods like The Flip Side did.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I’d never really worried about competition. Then Wally Fowler had moved to town—moved back to town actually, since he’d grown up here—and my mind had remained unsettled ever since. I wasn’t about to roll over and give up on the pancake house just because of some competition, but I couldn’t keep my niggling concern at bay. If the Waffle Kingdom’s fare was as good as the flyer proclaimed (the best waffles EVER!) it wasn’t unrealistic to think that The Flip Side would lose some of its business to the new establishment. In the summertime, when tourists flocked to the small town, that might not be such a problem. There would probably be enough business for both restaurants during those weeks. But during the rest of the year? That could be a definite issue.

I’d been hoping to give each of my three full-time employees a raise in the near future. Now I was keeping that plan to myself, unsure if I’d be able to follow through. I’d have to wait and see what happened once the waffle house opened. As Wally and his flyers had been announcing to the whole town for several days, the grand opening of the Waffle Kingdom would take place next week.

It would take time to know the full extent of the effect on The Flip Side, so I was determined to carry on as usual. I just wished I could get rid of that ever-present worry lingering at the back of my mind.

With the wet flyer in the trash and my jacket hung on the coat stand, I ran a hand through my damp curls and made my way into the dining area. I flipped on the lights, and immediately some of the tension that had crept into my shoulders fizzled away. There was something so comforting about the cozy pancake house. Like the beach and the charming town, The Flip Side had easily worked its way into my heart, becoming a second home away from my blue-and-white beachfront Victorian.

Smiling, I glanced out the large front windows, seeing nothing but inky darkness and rivulets of water running down the panes.

Well, almost nothing else.

I walked quickly across the room to the front door, bone-chilling damp air hitting me as soon as I pushed it open. Staying beneath the awning so I wouldn’t get soaked, I approached the two white rectangles taped to one of the windows, spaced a couple of feet apart. When I got close enough to recognize them as two more Waffle Kingdom flyers, I let out a growl of annoyance.

Ripping the flyers off the glass, I stormed back into the pancake house.

“Of all the nerve!”

Twenty-one-year-old Tommy Park poked his head out the pass-through window to the kitchen. “What’s up?” he asked.

I waved the crumpled flyers. “Wally the Waffle King strikes again.”

The kitchen door swung open and Ivan appeared. Tommy ducked away from the window and came through the door a second later.

“These were taped to the front window,” I said, waving the flyers again. Ivan grabbed one and glowered at the piece of paper. While an intimidating scowl was the chef’s typical expression, this one was far darker than usual.

“He’s rubbing your nose in it,” he declared, crumpling the flyer as his large hand closed into a fist.

Tommy took the other flyer from me. “Totally not cool.”

“It’s one thing to open up a waffle house that will compete directly with us,” I said, “but it’s hitting a new low by plastering the ads all over the front of this place.”

“He’s trying to get under your skin.” Ivan tossed the crumpled flyer toward the wastepaper basket, making a perfect shot. “But why? Does he really think annoying us will get us to close up shop so all our business goes his way?”

“Not going to happen,” Tommy said.

“Definitely not,” I agreed. “But why else try to aggravate us?”

“Probably for fun,” Ivan said. “Some people enjoy riling others up.”

“That’s true.” I’d learned that firsthand several months back when a bitter and vengeful woman had tried to make my life miserable.

“And I hear Wally Fowler’s a slimeball,” Tommy said. “I’m not sure anyone in town actually likes him.”

Ivan nodded his agreement. “Wildwood Cove would be better off without him.”

If enough people believed that, maybe I had nothing to worry about. The townsfolk weren’t likely to give the self-proclaimed Waffle King their business if they despised him.

“I guess it’s best to ignore him and focus on keeping our customers happy, like we always do,” I decided.

“Sounds like a plan.” With a flick of his wrist, Tommy sent the second flyer arcing into the trash can.

He returned to the kitchen and Ivan followed after him, his scowl as dark as ever. Was he more worried about the new waffle house than he was letting on? With his bulging muscles, numerous tattoos, and dark, intense eyes, Ivan wasn’t one to be easily fazed. But something in his face led me to believe he was taking the potential problem posed by Wally and his waffle house very seriously.

My worries tried to resurface, but I forced them back down, focusing on starting a fire in the stone fireplace to keep myself busy. The Flip Side would be fine, I told myself. It was a well-established restaurant, with a solid and loyal customer base that loved Ivan’s cooking and the cozy atmosphere.

Surely it would take more than Wally the Waffle King to destroy what we had here. After all, how much damage could one man cause?

Sarah Fox is the author of the Music Lover's Mystery series and the USA Today bestselling Pancake House Mystery series. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer, she can often be found reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel. Sarah lives in British Columbia and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada. 

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Book Review: You May Now Kill the Bride (Return to Fear Street #1) by R.L. Stine

NEW Fear Street stories with a retro look, perfect for fans of Stranger Things!

Two sisters, divided by time. Each with a terrible resentment she can barely contain.

Two Fear family weddings, decades apart... Each bride will find that the ancient curse that haunts the Fears LIVES ON. It feeds off the evil that courses through their blood. It takes its toll in unexpected ways, and allows dark history to repeat itself.

In this all-new Fear Street story, family ties bind sisters together—till DEATH do they part.

I was a huge R.L. Stine fan back when I was in school. I was constantly reading every book I could read by R.L. Stine. I credit him with my love of horror books. Anyway, when I heard R.L. Stine was writing new Fear Street books, I had to read them! The first in this series is You May Now Kill the Bride. I absolutely loved it!

The pacing for You May Now Kill the Bride is fantastic! This book really was a page turner. I found myself not wanting to put it down. Each page had me hungry for me.

I really enjoyed the plot of You May Now Kill the Bride. Part of this story takes places in 1924 where we learn about the Fear/Goode curse. A Fear wedding takes place, but it really doesn't good as planned and tragedy ensues. The other part of the story takes place in present day. Another Fear wedding is about to take place, but it doesn't happen because the bride has gone missing. Will this Fear wedding end in tragedy as well? There were a few plot twists which I really enjoyed even if a couple of the plot twists were somewhat predictable. Even though You May Now Kill the Bride is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone. There were no cliffhangers at the end of the book, and all of my questions were answered.

R.L. Stine did an amazing job with the world building like always. I always felt like I was part of the story. Even though this is a work of fiction, everything felt real. I found myself even holding my breath at the most climactic parts of You May Now Kill the Bride.

I felt that all the characters in You May Now Kill the Bride were fleshed out very well. I enjoyed all the characters very much. My favorite character was Ruth-Ann. It was hard not to like her as I could really relate to her on a personal level. However, all the characters were interesting to read about even the minor characters. Most of the story is told in first person from Harmony's point of view. While I did find Harmony annoying right at first, I quickly ended up liking her.

Trigger warnings for You May Now Kill the Bride include magic, the occult, murder/death, and minor violence. There's also one scene where a character hurts their hand which isn't overly graphic, but those who are a bit squeamish may not like it too much. There's also another scene about a body being found after being found at the bottom of a cliff. The description isn't very graphic, but some may find it unsettling.

Overall, You May Now Kill the Bride was such a really good and quick read. The plot is fantastic, and the characters are written very well. Fans of R.L. Stine will truly love this story especially those that loved the original Fear Street series. I would definitely recommend You May Now Kill the Bride by R.L. Stine to everyone aged 15+. It was so good!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Sunscorched (Subterranean Series Book 1) by Jen Crane

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the YA sci-fi/dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel Sunscorched by Jen Crane organised by YA Bound Book Tours. I've got an exciting excerpt for you. There's also a giveaway at the bottom of this post. Be sure to check out the rest of the stops here for reviews, guest posts, interviews, and excerpts.
Death in daylight. Danger at dark.

Life can’t possibly get more treacherous than a violent sun allergy in a solar-blighted world. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Nori Chisholm thought before news of an impending sunscorch delivered her death sentence.

Desperate to survive the scorch, she’s forced to shelter underground and discovers a secret subterranean world where life is hard, and so are the people. Betrayed and left for dead by the man who pledged to help her, Nori is sold to a gritty pit fighting ring. There she makes a friend—and plenty of enemies.

Sam Cooper’s motives are at times impenetrable, but speeding through the underground world on the back of his motorcycle is a dark freedom Nori can’t live without. On the run from a group of cutthroat rogues, their escape takes an unexpected twist. A shocking discovery shatters everything they thought they knew. Can they use the knowledge to save what’s left of the world?

Winner of the Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction, Sunscorched is a tale of survival and self-discovery at breakneck speed. Fans of Bella Forrest and Marie Lu, who crave dangerous heroes and dark secrets, will love the Sunscorched world.

“La-dies and gen-tle-men.” The three words of Hank’s welcome rang out over five full seconds.

Nori searched the crowd and, sure enough, several women had come out of the woodwork to watch the fights.

“Tonight’s final bout is a title match for the current heavyweight champion,” Hank said. “The Killer from Canyon City, a rebel you don’t want to reckon with, Rennnnn-egade.”

The fighter’s name, which Hank had called like revving a motorcycle engine, produced cheers and whistles across the Pit. Hundreds of people she’d never seen stood from their folding chairs, fists in the air. Some held dark-colored beer that sloshed over the sides of their cups onto the floor. Nori growled low in her throat—she’d be the one cleaning it up later.

“Challenging for the title of heavyweight champ: the fighting pride of Trogtown, a giant of a man, the quickest, the deadliest ever made, Kaaaaade.”

Kade was obviously the hometown boy. Shouts and stomps shook chunks of earth from the rafters, and from the top of the Pit, Nori screamed support for her friend. She was the loudest of them all.

When she finally lowered her fists, emotions high and throat sore, she found Hank looking pointedly between her and two chairs near Kade’s corner.

“Me?” she mouthed.

Hank nodded.

Nori made her way down the steps to the bottom of the Pit and approached Kade’s corner as if she knew what she was doing. As if she wasn’t a girl who, last week, was desperate for even one friend. Nori strutted to the chair and, head high and back straight, started to take a seat.

Kade, inside the ring, waved her over. She cleared her throat and rushed to him.

The man she knew to be a gentle giant looked dangerous as hell. Greased to a high sheen, his massive muscles bulged and glinted in the overhead lights. Her friend wasn’t wearing the face she knew. Kade’s kind and handsome face was replaced with one of focused, evil menace.

“‘Deadliest ever made,’ huh?” She snickered, despite the three-hundred-pound pit fighter before her.

Kade’s face maintained its intimating glower. “Hank’s idea.”

“Need anything?”

“Not to get killed.”

“Oh, you got this,” she said, clenching her jaw with the force of her confidence. “Renegade,” she scoffed in an attempt to calm her friend, whose eyes had gone wild again. “Where’d he get those shorts, anyway? Ladies’ lingerie? I’ve seen thongs with more fabric.”

Kade’s eyes were the only thing on his face that changed, the bulging whites of them lessening as he calmed down.

“Remember your training,” Hank squawked behind her. “Jabs and leg kicks. Wear him down first.”

Kade nodded and thumped his gloves together.

As Hank pulled her away, the bell to signal the first round expected any second, Nori put every ounce of encouragement she had into her face. “Let’s do this,” she said.
About the Author:
Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, it's fantasy and sci-fi that shine Jen Crane's saddle. Her newest novel, Sunscorched, received the 2017 Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction.

Book 2 in Jen's fantasy romance series, Descended of Dragons, was selected by iTunes/iBooks as "Our Pick" in fantasy/sci-fi.

Jen has a master’s degree and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. But just in the nick of time she pronounced life *too real* for nonfiction. She now creates endearing characters and alternate realms filled with adventure, magic, and love. She lives in The South with her family and too many pets.

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