BLOG TOUR: “Between the Blade and the Heart” by Amanda Hocking

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

SUMMARY

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

AUTHOR BIO

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

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Q&A with Amanda Hocking

Q: What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart

A: I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies.

Q: What are the life lessons that you want readers to glean from your book? 

A: That love is a strength, not a weakness.

Q: If you were given the chance to go on a date with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do together? 

A: Oona. She doesn’t swing that way, but since I’m married anyway, it would be a friendship date. I think it would be fun to go to an apothecary with her and have her show me around the magic. Or maybe just veg out and watch bad movies.

Q: Would the essence of your novel change if the main protagonist were male?

A: Yes, it would be changed dramatically. For one, Valkyries are women. But I also think the book explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and friendships between young women.

Q: What is your definition of true love in YA literature? 

A: There has to be passion and desire – not necessarily anything physical, but so much of young love is about yearning. But I also think that true love is based on mutual respect and selflessness.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be an author/start writing?

A: My biggest piece of advice is to just write. It’s so easy to get caught up in self-doubt or procrastination. There are lot of great books and blogs about the art of writing, but the most important thing is really to just do it. The best way to get better at writing is by doing it.

Q: What’s one book you would have no trouble rereading for the rest of your life?

A: It would be a toss-up between Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve read both of those books a dozen times already, at least, and I never get sick of them.

Q: How did you name your characters? Are they based on people you know in real life?

A: It’s a combination of names I like and taking inspiration from the world itself. With Between the Blade and the Heart, the names were inspired both by the mythology they come from – many Valkyries have Norse names like Malin, Teodora, and Freya, for example – and the futuristic setting of the book, so I wanted names that seemed a bit cooler and just slightly different than the ones we use now.

Q: Alright, Amanda, I know you’re a movie buff. What are some movies your characters would pick as their all-time favorites?

A: That’s a tough one. Malin – The Crow, Oona – Pan’s Labyrinth, Quinn – Wonder Woman, Asher – Inception, and Marlow – Twelve Monkeys.

Q: Which mythological character is most like you?

A: Demeter, because she’s pretty dramatic – she basically kills all the plants in the world when her daughter goes missing – but she’s also determined, and will stop at nothing to protect those she cares about.

Q: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

A: Oona or Bowie. Oona because she’s so practical, supportive, and determined, and Bowie because he’s adorable.

Q: What is your favorite scene and why?

A: I don’t know if there is one particular scene that I loved more than the others, but I really enjoyed writing about the city that Malin lives in and all the creatures that inhabit it.

Q: What cities inspired the urban haven where the Valkyries live?

A: I was really obsessed with this idea of an overpopulated metropolis, and so I took a lot of inspiration from some of the biggest cities in the world, particularly Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Manila. The city itself is actually a sort of futuristic, alternate reality of Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world), and I wanted to incorporate that into it as well.

Q: What came first: The world, the mythology, or the characters?

A: I usually say the characters come first, and the world builds around it. But for this one, it really was the world that drew me into it. I knew I was writing about a young woman who was a Valkyrie, but that about all when I began building up the world and the mythology.

Q: I love that these characters are in college. What inspired this choice?

A: Because of the complex relationship Malin has with her mother, I knew I wanted some distance between them, so I thought to put her in college, living away from her mom, was a good way to do it. Plus, I thought it would be fun to explore the all the supernatural training that would be needed to do these specialized jobs that come up in a world where every mythological creature exists.

Q: What songs would you include if you were to make a soundtrack for the book?

A: This is my favorite question! I love creating soundtracks that I listen to while writing a book, and here are some of my favorite tracks from my Between the Blade and the Heart playlist: Annie Lennox – “I Put a Spell on You,” Daniel Johns – “Preach,” Halsey – “Trouble (stripped),” Meg Myers – “Sorry (EthniKids Remix),” and MYYRA – “Human Nature.”

Q: Was this book always planned as a series or did that develop afterward?

A: It was always planned as a duology. I don’t want to go into too much or risk spoiling the second book, but I had this idea that one book would be above, and the other below.

Q: Your novels and characters are so layered. How do you stay organized while plotting/writing? Do you outline, use post-it notes, make charts, or something else?

A: All of the above! This one was the most intensive as far as research and note taking goes, and I also had maps, glossaries, and extensive lists of various mythologies. I think I ended up with thirteen pages of just Places and Things. I do a lot of typed notes, but I also do handwritten scribbles (which can sometimes be confusing to me later on when I try to figure out what they mean. I once left myself a note that just said “What are jelly beans?”) For this one, I really did have to have lots of printouts on hand that I could look to when writing.

Q: You’ve said that pop culture and the paranormal both influence your writing. How do these things intersect for you? 

A: In a way, I think they’re both about how humans choose to interpret and define the world that surrounds us. So many mythologies come from humans trying to make sense of the seasons and the chaos of existence, and even though we’ve moved past a lot of the scientific questions, pop culture is still tackling our existence. Even when looking at shows made for kids, like Pixar, they handle a lot of difficult concepts, like what it means to love someone else, how to be a good friend, facing your fears, and overcoming loss. These are things that mythologies and stories have been going over for centuries.

Q: Did you choose the title first, or write the book then choose the title?

A: It depends on the book, but I will say with this one that it took a very, very long time to come up with a title. It was already written and edited, and we were still bouncing around different names.

Q: How many more books can we expect in “Between the Blade and the Heart” series?

A: One more! From the Earth to the Shadows will be out in April 2018.

Q: What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?

A: I don’t want to say too much or risk spoiling it, but there’s a scene near the end of the book where a confrontation leaves Malin reeling. I wrote it in an almost present tense, stream-of-consciousness way because I thought that was the best way to capture the raw intensity of her emotions.

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BOOK TOUR: Review: “Blackheath” by Gabriella Lepore

Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore

 A review by Maria.

I would like to thank author Gabriella Lepore for letting me be apart of her book tour for her gothic novel Blackheath.

Maggie Ellmes always seems to be burdened with bad luck, whether it’s missing her alarm clock or getting busted for tardiness and getting detention; it seems to follow her around. Bad boy Joel Tomlins both fascinates her as much as he repels her. At a carnival, Maggie finds out she doesn’t have just the odd case of bad luck, she’s actually cursed. She knows that there’s only one person with any hope of helping her: Joel.

I absolutely loved Maggie’s character. Her woe-is-me inner voice was hilarious, along with her sarcasm and wit. It was when she played a particularly brilliant prank on Joel to get out of detention that made me start to love her. She was smart, witty and not afraid to speak her mind to anyone or about anything.

Joel was harder to like and it wasn’t any fault of the writing of the character. His family dynamics were very bizarre and hard to keep track of. There were a whole host of brothers, a semi-present father, an absent mother, and scores of “possibly related” aunts in their family, aka a coven. So almost any scene with Joel featured a member of his family and I spent too much time trying to figure who it was rather than getting involved in the scene. Once I could separate him out in my mind from his brothers, his character started to grow on me. He was intelligent, brave, and selfless. He was fiercely protective of his brothers and his candor about his family dynamics was hilarious.

Blackheath was a very short and fast read. The strange family dynamics and the curse were the focus of this story but it was also supposed to be a romance. I never felt real chemistry between Joel and Maggie. They teased and tortured each other adorably, but I never really felt the characters fall in love.  It felt to fast and convenient to be real since they used to hate each other.
This book is appropriate for young adult readers and adult readers alike.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Book details:
Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore
Publication date: December 21st 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Ellmes is dogged by a case of chronic bad luck. She figures that’s just her lot in life—that is, until the psychic at Blackheath’s annual carnival reveals that Maggie’s problems are caused by more than just ordinary misfortune; she’s actually been cursed.

Desperate to shake the hex, Maggie has no choice but to seek out the help of Joel Tomlins, a rebellious classmate who’s descended from Blackheath’s most powerful line of witches. After breaking all of his coven’s conventions to help her, Joel discovers that the curse isn’t as bad as Maggie fears. In fact, it’s much, much worse.

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AUTHOR BIO:
Gabriella Lepore lives on the coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. She began writing at an early age and grew up with a passion for all things supernatural—especially witches! She currently has six Young Adult books in print: Evanescent, The Blackheath Witches, How I Found You, Secrets In Phoenix, and The Witches of the Glass Castle books 1 & 2.
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BOOK TOUR: Review: “You Can’t Get Blood Out Of Shag Carpet” by Juliette Harper

You Can't Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet by Juliette HarperA review by Maria.

I’d like to thank author Juliette Harper for letting me read and review her novel, You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet: A Study Club Cozy Murder Mystery.

Wanda Jean’s husband died on their shag carpet with a knife in his chest. Now local police are looking only at Wanda Jean as the killer. But not if her friends in the Study Club can help it. Club President Carla Wyler sets the club to work trying to find the real killer in their small town.

This book was a short read but it went slowly. There were was a huge cast of characters to keep straight, a different time period as the setting, and many, many different mysteries and secrets kept in town.

The novel was set in the 1960s and the differences in the time from then and now were amusing to read. I thought the author did a good job capturing that time period down to the smallest details from whispering about the Kennedy elections and cross-dressing, to perms and cat-eye glasses.

This was a southern mystery. The town seemed very backward, but it also could have been the time period. Carla and the club are very pro feminist rights and have quite a bit of futuristic ideas, but are also easily shocked by “bedroom activities” and the subject of homosexuality. It was interesting to watch these women uncover all of the mysteries in their small town.

Carla was a fascinating forward thinking character. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for her rights and the rights of other women. Even though her Study Club didn’t actually study anything, they still explored a vast range of political, social, and religious issues. I liked how much she educated other members, but never tried to change them, and applauded who they were – hairdressers, nurses, and housewives alike.

This book was very different from other Juliette Harper books I have read in the past. Where most of those were romantic suspense books, this was very much a novel for women and about women, with a mystery tying it all together.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to more mysteries in this series.Blog-Tour-You-Can-Get-Blood-out-of-Shag-Carpet

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

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Book & Author details:

Wanda Jean Milton discovers her husband, local exterminator Hilton Milton, dead on her new shag carpet with an Old Hickory carving knife sticking out of his chest. Beside herself over how she’ll remove the stain, and grief-stricken over Hilton’s demise, Wanda Jean finds herself the prime suspect in the case. But she is also a member of “the” local Study Club, a bastion of independent Texas feminism 1960s style. Club President Clara Wyler has no intention of allowing a member to be a murder suspect during her administration. Aided by her younger sister and County Clerk, Mae Ella Gormley; Sugar Watson, the proprietress of Sugar’s Style and Spray; and Wilma Schneider, Army MASH veteran and local RN, the Club women set out to clear Wanda Jean’s name — never guessing the local dirt they’ll uncover in the process.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Juliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson. You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet is the first installment of Harper’s debut cozy Study Club Mysteries, an hilariously funny look at the often absurd eccentricities of small town life. The second book, to be released in coming months, is called You Can’t Put a Corpse in a Parade.

The droll series, set in the 1960s, is a light-hearted spinoff of Harper’s Lockwood Legacy a nine-book chronicle of the lives of three sisters who inherit a ranch in Central Texas following their father’s suicide. Three of the novels are currently available: Langston’s Daughters, Baxter’s Draw, and Alice’s Portrait. The fourth book, Mandy’s Father, will appear in Summer 2015.

And don’t miss Harper’s first foray into the world of the supernatural, Descendants of the Rose, Book 1 in the Selby Jensen Paranormal Mystery series. The second Selby Jensen book, Lost in Room 636 is also scheduled for a Summer 2015 release.

Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan, worked as a journalist and university history instructor before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 2002.

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BLOG TOUR Review: “Red” by Alyxandra Harvey

"Red" by Alyxandra HarveyA review by Danielle.

Kia Alcott is sent to live with her absent grandmother after being expelled from her school in the city and being labeled a troubled teenager in a downward spiral. She didn’t mean to set that fire or hurt her best friend Riley but no one would believe her. After all, it’s not like people are used to hearing that someone can set fires with their mind. Being shipped off to live in the country, in a mansion that’s more like a castle, with an eccentric billionaire and his family is not Kia’s idea of a good time. Sure Ethan Blackwood is gorgeous and rich but he’s also rude and spoiled and so are his friends. Kia tries not to make waves or draw attention to herself at her new private school, a feat that is almost impossible with Ethan’s friend Justine and her unrequited crush constantly finding ways to make Kia’s life miserable. In fury, Kia accidentally sets multiple small fires and is almost expelled from the prestigious school, where only money and power buy you the option of screwing up.

Soon Kia begins to notice something strange going on at the Blackwood castle involving Ethan, his friends, his dad, and the woods surrounding the house. Strange noises in the middle of the night, secret meetings in the woods with Ethan and his friends smearing blood on each other while dressed in weird clothes.  Or Mr. Blackwood’s trophy room of dead animals and more exotic items on display of creatures that couldn’t exist, like the paw of a wolf with a plaque that reads “werewolf.”  A terrifying ice monster in the woods that would have killed Kia if not for her fire ability. Ice monsters don’t exist, rich privileged teenagers don’t hold secret bonfire meetings dressed in tunics, and girls shouldn’t be able to start fires with their minds, but somehow it all was real and happening at Blackwood castle. Will Kia find out Ethan’s secret? Will Ethan discover Kia’s? What is that monster in the woods and who is going to stop it from hurting anyone else?

Red by Alyxandra Harvey was an interesting read. I enjoyed the concepts in the book; not a lot of YA paranormal fiction cover these specific topics. As an avid lover of the horror genre, there were several familiar concepts that I appreciated reading about from a new perspective. The type of love triangle in this book is also very refreshing while still managing a twist at the end. I give author Alyxandra Harvey a big thumbs up for breaking out of the traditional love triangle archetype presented in almost all the YA fiction in the last couple of years. I actually found myself more drawn to Ethan’s character than Kia’s. Ethan wore many hats in Red and he seemed to have more depth than any of the other characters. I wish all the characters had a few more layers to them, and in general I would have liked to see more back story and dialogue in this book. While the book definitely tied up the loose ends and gave the reader closure, I wouldn’t mind reading another story about these characters, maybe a few years from where the first book left off.

 

 

Rating: 3/5 stars.

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Sing For Me” by Gracie Madison

Sing for Me by Gracie MadisonA review by Maria.

I received a copy of Sing For Me from author Gracie Madison to review for her book blog tour. I would like to thank the author for allowing me to review her book.

Madeline is a Choir, one of the highest and most sacred sects of angels. She and her guardian, the demon-hunter Damascus, are hiding on earth among the mortals. Madeline is a soprano for a theatre group and spends her time amidst costume alterations and one terrible prima donna. Her voice is intense when she sings, has the power to shatter glass and can even kill. She is forbidden to use her voice at full potential and must tamper her emotions to keep herself under control. This includes all emotions, even love, which is forbidden to those of the Choir.

This book was very well written and thought out from the steps of the angel hierarchy down to the demons. I enjoyed the different take on angel/demon mythology. When one of Madeline’s human friends, Natalie, encounters her secret, readers are introduced to Madeline’s world at the same time.

Natalie is a lovable character and her banter with demon hunters Shiloh and Tyre totally steals the show. I loved these three characters and their exchanges. I couldn’t decide who I liked more with Natalie since she had great chemistry with both Shiloh, who was funny, and Tyre, who was the serious one. I can only hope these three get more time in the next book!

But not everything was fun and games. Madeline fled heaven because it wasn’t safe, but then she and Damascus discover something is hunting down and killing members of the Choir and all five characters must race to save her life. Further complicating things are Madeline’s feelings for Damascus.

I enjoyed the fact that it is forbidden for demon-hunters and a member of the Choir to be in love. It made the romance very star-crossed and entertaining. Also, knowing that they would be killed if they touched each other added another level of thrill and excitement to the romance, making Damascus and Madeline’s passion for each other extremely hot.

This book had a ton of action, romance, and comic relief and was full of surprises. I couldn’t put it down from start to finish and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

Rating: 4/5 stars.

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Madeline Noel fled war-torn Heaven to hide within the mortal world, but the blessing that could protect her from evil is the holy realm’s forbidden power.

As a talented soprano for the Eden Theatre Company, Madeline hides among prima donnas and tone-deaf flutists. Her perfect voice may entertain audiences, but a careless laugh may shatter glass, and her greatest scream can kill. To control her unrestrained voice, the angels forbid Madeline from embracing the emotions that strengthen her song. Anger. Fear.

Love.

The demon-hunter Damascus vows to defend Madeline from Hell’s relentless evil, but he cannot protect her from her own feelings. Though they deny their dangerous attraction, her guardian becomes her greatest temptation.

Surrendering to desire may awaken the gift suppressed within Madeline’s soul, and neither Heaven nor Hell will allow such absolute power to exist.

About the Author:

Author Gracie Madison

Gracie Madison would spend every day, all day writing…if it were socially acceptable.  Ever since she was a little girl scribbling with a crayon, Gracie’s dedicated herself to her books and all the supernatural and paranormal, creepy and beautiful stories and characters born within the pages. Now Gracie is committed to finally sharing those books with the world.  When the laptop is pried from her hands, Gracie is probably working her day job, rooting on the Steelers, or out with her husband searching for Pittsburgh’s best sushi.

Twitter: @authorgracie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gracie-Madison/1531494023761655

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23314885-sing-for-me

Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/7zCnv

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Spark Rising: Progenitor Saga #1” by Kate Corcino

Spark Rising by Kate CorcinoA review by Amanda.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review, and I would like to thank author Kate Corcino for the opportunity to review Spark Rising.

This book begins two hundred years after a cataclysm rocked the world. Electricity went out all over the world and something called Dust seemed to be the cause, although no one really knew what Dust was. Citizens were moved to “temporary” relocation centers for their protection, the Council of Nine was formed, and everything changed.

Lena Gracey is a Spark; a human with the ability to communicate with Dust and manipulate electricity. Sparks are considered a valuable commodity to the Council, to be used for the betterment of mankind. Cities have grown from the original relocation centers and citizens are allowed electricity in rations, electricity that is provided by hard working Sparks. Children are tested at five years old for any Spark abilities and those who pass are sent to Council-run schools to be trained to serve the government. According to the men of the Council, powerful female Sparks do not exist – and they work hard to maintain that position. Girls who show the potential to be strong Sparks disappear under suspicious circumstances. Lena’s family fakes her death to protect her from this fate and she is raised in hiding. At fifteen, she is forced to run and fend for herself outside of the city walls. Nine years later, Lena is discovered by Alex Reyes, a double agent who wants to destroy the system from the inside.

Spark Rising intrigued me from the start. I am a fan of post-apocalyptic stories in general and this had a unique premise that kept me interested. Lena comes across as cynical and independent in the beginning, but subsequent emotional blows cause her to doubt herself and everything that she’s believed in. She doesn’t know who to trust and though she enjoys sex, she has a certain innocence when it comes to matters of the heart. At her core, Lena is lonely. It doesn’t diminish her strength but adds depth to her character. There is a love triangle in play, which is overdone, but the majority of focus stays on Lena, and her newfound mission to find out what happens to the girls taken by the Council. In addition to Lena, there are several well-rounded characters to adore. Alex plays a large role in recruiting Lena to the rebellion. He’s a serious man, older and sexy, dedicated to his work, and it is fun to see Lena bring out his softer side. Jackson is a soldier in the rebellion, closer to Lena’s age, with hopes of moving up in the ranks. He’s charming, adorable, and no less attractive for his youth.

My only issue with this book is that the pace of the story felt choppy in the beginning; the plot seemed rushed in places that caused some confusion and some spots dragged in longer than seemed necessary. The pace smoothed out eventually and the story found its groove. I am excited to continue this series!

Rating: 4/5 stars.

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All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.

Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.

Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.

Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.

The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it…a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, descriptive profanity, and cackling over wine with good friends. A recovering Dr. Pepper addict, she knows the only addiction worth feeding is the one that follows the “click-whooooosh” of a new story settling into her brain.

She also believes in the transformative power of screwing up and second chances. Cheers to works-in-progress of the literary and lifelong variety!

She is currently gearing up for publication of Ignition Point and Spark Rising , the first books in the Progenitor Saga, a near future dystopian adventure series with romantic elements, science, magic, and plenty of action.

 

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Shattered Dreams” by Brenda Kennedy

Shattered Dreams A review by Vanessa.

Emma and Max are a typical young American military couple. With the arrival of their new baby James, they are ecstatic with joy. Their lives seem almost perfect. But when Emma loses Max to an unexpected bomb in Afghanistan, making Max a beloved hero to all who know him and Emma a widow and single mother, she must learn to live without him. Four years later, Emma and James have moved back to their home state of Florida to be near all of James’s grandparents and to try and move on with their lives. Alec is a handsome, athletic, tae kwon do-instructing doctor, with some sadness in his past and a daughter of his own. When these two single parents meet and keep bumping into each other, life seems to be setting itself right again. Their large and supportive families who care for them are cautious but hopeful that these two may find something in each other that they really need. Emma and Alec are hoping the same…

Shattered Dreams can definitely be categorized as touching and at times heartwarming. The readers’ experience reading the book however will depend heavily on their personal experience. Enjoyment of the book and engagement with the characters will be much easier for those who have shared experiences with the characters. Though Kennedy’s writing obviously reflects a connection to the specific circumstances in the story, and a desire to share emotions such as loss, grief, love, and hope, there lacks a deeper connection to those emotions. The writing itself feels as though it mostly embraces the same cliché of what a reader might typically find in any similar story. This could be a facet of the writing itself, as the word choices and sentence complexity rarely stray past the most basic. That aspect makes this read very clear and it makes understanding the motivation of the characters, and the point of the author, very easy. It also, however, makes the reading rather tedious. The overly brief, simply structured sentences have a more procedural and less emotional feel, and can stunt the reader’s ability to emotionally connect with the characters.

For those readers who have specific knowledge of what Emma and Max are going through with the birth of their son, or know what it is really like to lose a husband to war, or have specific experiences with being a single parent, the experience may be more engaging. Even so, most readers will be able to see how the subject matter is both heartbreaking, and heartwarming. Family moments are frequent in the book and reflect a feeling of home, family, and love that any reader can certainly appreciate. And the ending of the book contains a twist which I probably should have, but did not see coming. It might just be enough to make me pick up book number two.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

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