YA Mega Book Blitz

If YA is your jam, then I have good news! Today, we are celebrating four amazing YA books, and the talented authors behind them. There will be exclusive excerpts and wonderful prizes to win, so be sure to read on!

As an added bonus, all four books will be available to book reviewers in exchange for honest reviews. Contact Shannon @ R&R Book Tours to find out how you can get your hands on a review copy.

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the gemini connection coverThe Gemini Connection by Teri Polen

Publication Date: June 7th, 2018

Genre: YA Science Fiction/ Dystopian

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

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Excerpt

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Ugly. That was the first word that came to mind. Deadly was next.

The twisted creation was courtesy of a new client, a scientist. The nightmare had been tormenting him for the past couple of weeks.

The monster stood roughly fifteen feet tall, walked on two legs, and stretched two muscled arms in front of it, but its elongated head was a grotesque combination of goat and demon. Treacherous horns protruded from either side of its skull, torso, and upper thighs, making it difficult for anyone to get close to the beast. Not that we especially wanted to, but it was part of a Bender’s job requirement to eradicate nightmares. So, we took up battle positions—Syd to its right, me to its left—crouched in anticipation of this formidable creature’s attack.

“I’ll go high, you go low,” I called to Syd. Besides a hideous appearance, the goat thing screeched like a deranged bird, and we strained to hear each other, even with the com units.

“Got it, Evan.” She unsheathed a ten-inch dagger from her utility belt, the silver blade glinting in the eerie cast of yellow-green light in this nightmare-scape. Being somewhat vertically-challenged (she hated it when I said short), Syd might not look intimidating, but give the girl a knife and she was absolutely lethal. The creature’s leg tendons would be sliced to ribbons in seconds.

Syd dived to the creature’s right, spinning and coming up behind it, as she avoided an angry kick to her head. She carved into its left limb, and it let out an ear-piercing shriek.

I withdrew an iron mallet from my own belt and catapulted myself off the wall, soaring over the goat-demon and landing a blow to the left side of its skull. Its head jerked in my direction when I came down on its other side. The sharpened tip of the horn caught the left side of my rib cage, and a warm flow of blood seeped through my shirt. Wouldn’t be the first time I’d walked away from a nightmare with a permanent scar.

Syd scrambled around its legs, careful not to be trampled. Her dagger was a silver blur as she slashed the gray-haired appendages, the goat-demon staggering in its efforts to avoid her blade.

The ground was wet—possibly blood. But with dream or nightmare creations, you couldn’t be sure. Because this thing’s creator was a scientist, they tended to more detail-oriented. Odds leaned in the blood direction.

The light around us took on a red hue. Did the ambient illumination correlate to the creature’s anger level? If yellow-green meant annoyed, did red mean take no prisoners?

-The Gemini Connection

Available Now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Black Rose Writing

About the Author

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Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub

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dear janeDear Jane by Marina DelVecchio

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2019

Genre: YA/ Coming of Age

Kit Kat is a fifteen-year-old adoptee who writes letters to her favorite literary character, Jane Eyre, as a means of surviving a violent childhood in Greece and a harrowing adoption in New York that requires her to silence her memories and her voice. In writing letters to Jane, Kit Kat discovers a connection to literature that saves her life. Dear Jane is about family, love, forgiveness, and the power of a good book.

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Excerpt

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For the next two weeks that I was in possession of your story, it was as if someone had seen me, claimed me. I had a sister, a mother, an aunt, a place in which I was loved and understood and cared for. I was connected to something solid and real, for even if the story wasn’t real, a real woman had written it, had understood the pain that comes with being rejected and lonely; the angst that comes with being a girl severed from her roots and family.

-Dear Jane

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Marina DelVecchio is a college professor of literature and women’s studies and lives in North Carolina with her family. Her work can be found online at Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Tishman Review, Her Circle Ezine, and The New Agenda.

Marina DelVecchio | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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Version 3Till It Stops Beating (The Maddie Chronicles #4) by Hannah R. Goodman

Publication Date: July 5th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman has always coped with anxiety by immersing herself into the latest self-help book. Then her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer, and she spirals so far downward that she almost risks losing everything she holds dear.

From applying to college to solving the mystery of why she detests jelly doughnuts to writing a novel for her senior project and reconnecting with an old flame (or two), the ever-mounting stress leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers what she needs in order to really live.

If your heart has ever hurt from beating widely, whether from anxiety or love, this book is the one to read.

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Excerpt

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“I need to be with Bubbie. I want to be there every day. When she is sick or tired. When she needs help.” I take breath. “I will stay and take care of Bubbie and go to school in January.”

“I don’t like this idea,” Mom says.

Dad sips his coffee instead of gulps. “I don’t know if the deferment is a good idea or not,” he says. “But staying in California for that long? I think it’s sweet to want to stay and care of Bubbie, but what else will you be doing?” He looks at my mom.

Then Mom explodes. “Stan, she is not deferring.” Finally, she looks at me. “You are not deferring. I’m calling Emerson tomorrow to straighten this out.”

This is so ridiculous. When are they going to get it? I stand up. “You know what? This is crazy. I’ve been losing sleep and getting all panicky again over this for the past few weeks and for what? For what reason? Fear of disappointing you? And now here I am full-blown disappointing you both and I did not fall apart or die. I am still here. And so are you guys.” I think of Susan’s opening lines to her speech. Welcome to the last day of childhood. “I’m an adult now, Mom. You guys have to let me make my decisions, without trying to guilt me into doing what you want.” And with that, I walk my adult self out of the living room, and they don’t follow.

-Till It Stops Beating

About the Author

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Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreen, OC87 Recovery Diaries, Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, those were all were self-published. This time around, publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating in July, 2018. Literary Titan’s review praised Till It Stops Beating for “tackling a difficult issue like anxiety and making a story that was funny and sweet without making light of the issue.” Hannah is a member of ARIA (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe.

Hannah R Goodman | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

LinkedIn | Amazon | Email | Goodreads | BookBub

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a step away coverA Step Away by G. Randy Kasten

Publication Date: February 7th, 2019

Genre: YA Thriller

Three friends, Brianna, Sean, and Robert, happen across a body buried in their neighborhood.

Because a police investigation might reveal that the trio is connected to a stolen motor, and that Sean’s mother was having a relationship with a neighbor, the three friends decide they must solve the apparent murder before contacting authorities.

In the process, they sneak into a house, befriend a vigilant neighbor with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and develop a friendship with a kind, older man.

Brianna becomes convinced that clues point to Sean’s father and realizes their detective work is doing more harm than good.

She makes tough choices that affect families and friendships.

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Excerpt

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Right below the pipe, a human hand and wrist poked out from the dirt, its flesh partly rotted away. The fingers pointed at us.

I let out a panicked yell identical to Robert’s but stood frozen. A hot, prickly feeling crawled up my back as Sean as shouted to Robert. “You okay, Robber?” When Robert murmured a response, Sean scrambled down to the creek. “Cover it up!” he demanded as he went, pointing at me. “Cover it back up!”

“We can’t just…” I started.

“Cover it up!” Sean was bending over, one hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Just do it!”

I shoveled dirt and leaves at the void, breathing as little as possible and only glancing occasionally at the rotted appendage sticking out at me. Each scoop of crumbly soil slid back down, so finally I started stomping on it to get it to stay, right on top of the hand. I felt as if I was pressing down on something evil. Trying to keep it back. After a minute, Sean stood next to me working with Robert’s abandoned shovel. With his head turned away from the hole, he didn’t help much.

Robert sat where he was, letting out little wails every now and then. It wasn’t a sound like the pain of a sprained ankle or something. It was more like the desperate moans of someone who’d forgotten how to talk.

Once we managed to get the hand covered, we scrambled down the bank, grabbed Robert by his arms, then half carried him and the tools back to the workshop we’d taken over from Sean’s dad. After breathing the rotten stench of the creek, I barely noticed Robert’s smell and couldn’t get that image of the decaying hand out of my mind.

We set Robert down in one of the beaten-up old armchairs we’d dragged in there, then sank down ourselves, panting. The hot prickly feeling was still crawling all over me. Sean and I looked at each other for a few seconds, then away. Robert stared at the floor.

I’d never seen a real skeleton — or a dead body – before. The tuna sandwich I’d eaten an hour earlier seemed to be on a climb back up. I imagined the scene once we called the sheriff; Sean’s parents would arrive home to a flock of cop cars in the driveway. Maybe there’d be a coroner’s van. They’d love driving into that mess.

Then things went from bad to worse. Sean leaned forward and pointed one finger at me and one at Robert. “We can’t tell anyone about this.”

Robert peered out from under the layer of the coarse black hair fallen in front of his eyes. “But Sean, somebody buried a body.”

“We know that, Robert,” Sean snapped. His nasty scowl reminded me of his father. “But nobody else is going to know that.”

“Why not?” that high voice again. “That body where it is, it’s not by accident.”

Sean turned to me, “Brianna, you know why we can’t tell anyone.” Like he was pleading with me. “You know.”

-A Step Away

About the Author

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After some childhood acting and living in England for a year, I graduated from Reed College, then attended law school. As a litigator in California and Washington State for thirty years, I learned a great deal about what people really want, and also how humor helps in tough situations.

Writing remains my main interest. I am the author of Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in the World of Spin (Quest Books, 2011), a book about discerning truth from appearances. My young adult novel, A Step Away, will be published by Black Rose in 2019.

I have also written a couple of short plays, which were performed at a local theatre in Marin County, CA. The Ribbons Agency is a nearly completed satirical book about the arduous task of securing a literary agent. On a more serious note, I am working on a non fiction book that presents a unique, logical reason to believe that greater international peace is inevitable.

A resident of San Francisco’s east bay for most of my life, I have lived along Hood Canal (a fjord and part of Puget Sound) in Washington State for the past three years. I’m still adapting to the weather, though it keeps me inside and productive most of the year. When not writing, I’m enjoying the outdoors or playing improvisational piano.

G. Kasten

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Thank you for celebrating with us this week and best of luck on the giveaways!

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If you have children, there is a new book out by Carey Fessler called Foiled that would be right up their alley! You can buy it on Amazon!

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Make your special day sparkle with elegant sophistication.Send your guests home with favors that are tasteful and practical. They will forever remember your wedding thanks to these beautifully designed styles.

Blog Tour: Sentinels by L.C Conn

I’m happy to be able to share this 5 star rated book (not my rating but the blog tour’s rating) today! It’s called Sentinels and it’s book #1 in The One True Child series by L.C. Conn. 

There is also a giveaway for you to enter so please read on!

LC Conn - Sentinels front.pngBook Title: Sentinels

Publication Date: February 14th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines

The world is new, created from a great explosion caused by Chaos in a childish rage. Order is born from the intense light of the explosion, sent as a balance to the Dark One. As the world is created around It, Order realises that It cannot stand alone and creates the Sentinels. Extreme beings with amazing powers, they shape and mould the world, creating creatures and plants to inhabit it. A world of light and love.

Chaos cannot understand why these beings will not bend to his will and worship him. He tries to destroy their work and riles against them. In answer, Order forms a plan. A being; born of two of the Sentinels, with abilities stronger than their own. A child in human form, who must be raised by The People in order to understand their race. The One True Child.

Carling is that child. Raised in the sacred valley in secret, along with her four brothers. Raised by Tarl’a, the Keeper of the Stones and her husband, Mailcon. Her life is quiet and uneventful, until she turns thirteen. It is then she learns of her true identity and purpose on earth. Now she must come to terms with this great change and prospect of finally being able to leave the valley to be taught her skills by the Sentinels. She must do this before Chaos can find her and attack before she is ready.

This is a story of learning and growing, of making mistakes and building on them. It is good vs evil, light vs dark and love vs hate. Carling’s very life depends on the love of her family and her soul-mate. It is also a story about how the world will only survive if we can control hatred and learn to love.

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Purchase Sentinels Here!


About the Author

lc conn - author photo

L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyard encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

LC Conn Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Tour Schedule

Jan. 21st

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://www.readsandreels.com
The Ghastly Grimoire (Promo) http://theghastlygrimoire.com/
On the Shelf Reviews (Promo) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com/
Your Books, My Reviews (Review) https://yourbooksmyreview.wordpress.com

Jan. 22nd

Beware of the Reader (Promo) http://bewareofthereader.com/
Breakeven Books (Promo) https://breakevenbooks.com/
Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/

Jan. 23rd

The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com/
Love Books Group (Promo) https://lovebooksgroup.com/
I Smell Sheep (Promo) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Reading Nook (Promo) https://readingnook84.wordpress.com/
YA/ NA Book Divas (Promo) http://www.yabookdivas.com/
Rockabilly Spoonie (Interview) https://lauramorningstar.com/
Your Book, My Reviews (Review) https://yourbooksmyreview.wordpress.com

Jan. 24th

Mid West Ladies Who Lit (Promo) https://mwladieswholit.wordpress.com/
The Cozy Pages (Promo) https://thecozypages.wordpress.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Promo) http://bansheeirishhorrorblog.com/

Jan. 25th

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/
J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/
Book Mania (Review) https://bookmania176.wordpress.com/

They are also hosting a giveaway so make sure to take part in that to win some cool prizes.

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Book Review: OtherEarth by Jason Segel

Hey bookworms! We are starting off the year of 2019 strong with our third book done and coming your way. This one was called OtherEarth by Jason Segel and Kristin Miller and is the sequel to Otherworld which I reviewed not long ago. Needless to say, I loved the first book so much that I went out and bought the sequel immediately afterward.

Synopsis: Simon saved his best friend, Kat, from the clutches of the Company and their high-tech VR gaming experience, Otherworld. But it was at a steep price. Now he, Kat, and their friend Busara are on the run. They know too much. About the Company’s dark secrets. About the real-life consequences of playing Otherworld. And about Kat’s stepfather’s involvement in everything. The group is headed to New Mexico to find Simon’s old roommate, who is a tech genius and possibly the only person who can help them reveal the truth about the Company before it’s too late and the line between what’s real and what’s fantasy is erased… forever.

Dare I say that this book was better than the first one! Oh, I dare. I read this one in about a week because I had to set aside other time to work and get back into the routine of the daily grind.

We get right back into the story where it left off with Simon, Kat, and Busara as they are on the run from the Company. The effort to bring down this company is draining the characters as they struggle to keep ahead of getting caught while trying to hatch a masterplan to bring an end to this madness that they are caught up in.

There are so many new characters introduced in this book. My favorite being Simon’s friend Elvis. He is super techy/nerdy which is relatable. He is also very awkward at flirting and it makes for some very entertaining scenes.

I just love the unpredictability of this book. There were parts where I would think I knew what was coming but would be totally off and that makes for an even better read in my opinion because I couldn’t figure it out so easily. Once again, I will avoid saying any spoilers because I don’t want to ruin anything. That just means that you should read this series so we can talk about it!

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a little YA sci-fi action to keep you going through the weekend (or weekdays, really anytime you want).

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

We made a Patreon page if you wish to support us in our blogging efforts! You can check out our page at:

 https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and read/reviewed it because I wanted to.

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Book Review: Body Swap

Another day, another review! This book was called Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll and it was sent to us by Dundurn Press to read and give our honest review.

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Synopsis: A fatal collision — who’s to blame? Two bodies, two souls switch in search of justice.

When fifteen-year-old Hallie gets knocked flying by a Hurricane SUV, her life ends without her ever having kissed a boy. At an otherworldly carnival, she meets and argues with the eighty-two-year-old driver, Susan. Both return to life, only with one catch — they’ve swapped bodies.

Now Hallie has wrinkled skin and achy joints while Susan deals with a forehead zit and a crush on a guy who’s a player. Hallie faces a life in a long-term care residence. Susan gets picked up for shoplifting.

As they struggle with technology, medications, and each other’s fashion foibles, they start to understand and maybe even like each other. But can they work together to prove that a defect in the Hurricane caused the deadly crash? Or will their time run out?

This book was pretty good. It gave me huge Freaky Friday vibes except with older and younger characters. I think that Hallie and Susan were not fans of each other off the start and I mean who can blame them considering they both ended up in this purgatory-like place because of the accident they were in with each other. Also, it was set in Burlington, Ontario which is in Canada so that is a plus for me as a Canadian book blogger :).

As the story continues, they are forced to learn and grow together as they try and find a way to get their bodies back. Susan doesn’t always want to go back to her old, brittle body but wants what is best for Hallie because she is a kind and caring woman. Hallie learns what it is like to be an elderly person and how they can be treated with little to no respect at times.

A big part of this book is about spending more time with the people around you and less time on our devices. I can honestly say that when I was reading this book, I spent very little time on my phone as I couldn’t peel away from the book.

Hardeep’s character was great. He was the depiction of a young boy who is in love for the first time and will do anything for the girl of his dreams. It made me remember how it was like to feel that way at such a young age. He was such a gentleman compared to Chael (“the player”).

I would recommend this book to anyone who liked YA fiction and enjoyed the Freaky Friday movie.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon or Dundurn Press and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by Dundurn Press to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Otherworld by Jason Segel

Bookworms! I read a book from my own pile over the holidays! This one was for pure pleasure and it kept me engrossed for hours at a time. It was called Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller.

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Synopsis: The company says Otherworld is amazing — like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive — that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.

Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.

Guys, I loved this book! I read it over the Christmas break in 3 days. And that was between family visits and Christmas dinners. It has such a Ready Player One vibe and that kept me interested from start to finish.

My friend Neil got it for me and he knows what I like in a book. He is the one that got me to read the Red Rising trilogy which is my favorite series of all time as I am sure that you know if you have read my other posts.

But back to this book. It was set in New Jersey and involved this game called Otherworld which was essentially a crazy immersive VR game where you could be whatever you want to be and go out into this world and explore. Simon buds a friendship with this wild child named Kat and they find themselves trapped in a game much deeper than they could ever imagine.

The world that was displayed in Otherworld was fantastic and the way certain gamers were portrayed was pretty spot on. It is sad to see that some people leave their humanity behind when playing online games and completely disconnect from their moral codes.

I want to say more but I can’t say too much about the book because I don’t want to give it away. I am very excited about it and just want other people to read it so we can talk about it. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good YA Sci-Fi story with a bunch of twists and turns.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon (I recommend you do) or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me as a gift by a friend for Christmas. I read and reviewed it because I wanted to and for no other reason.

Buy Casual Vacancy Today

Book Review: The Apollo Illusion

Happy New year bookworms! It is 2019 :)!! How did everyone do on their reading challenges? Did you have a reading challenge? Mine was to read 30 books in 2018 and I managed to read 34 so that was fun. This year, my goal is to read 50 books so hopefully, I can pull it off.

Today I have a new book review from our external reviewer Chris Connors. He finished this one before the holidays started but I was busy with traveling and visiting with family and friends so this will be our first review of 2019.

This one is called The Apollo Illusion by Shari Lopatin and seems very interesting. I believe it is sci-fi but let’s see what Chris had to say about it!

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Published Date: May 19, 2018

Publisher: BookBooks Publishing LLC

Synopsis: The year is 2150 and bullied nineteen-year-old Flora can no longer ignore the burning curiosity to learn what’s behind the towering Wall surrounding her home state of Apollo. Citizens still read books, discuss philosophy, and send text messages, but questioning The Other Side is forbidden. 

When Flora’s naïveté accidentally reveals a dark secret about Apollo, she’s forced into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival. Fearing for her life, she leaves behind a clue for her childhood friend, Andrew, placing her last hope in their special bond.

The Apollo Illusion is a story for the hackers, the techies, the seekers, and the rebels of the world.

This is a Young Adult genre. I am not the target audience for that genre. I do not get lost in teen angst and burgeoning love stories so I tend to notice plot holes instead of overlooking them due to a flood of raging hormones. I do read YA though (Darkest Minds, Hunger Games, Newsfeed, all in recent months).

So, I dived into Shari Lopatin’s book, and found myself enjoying it more than I expected. The technical writing, grammar, and sentence structure are polished. Her bio says she’s worked as a freelance writer, and all that practice has paid off in terms of a solid technical skill set.

Then there’s the story itself. I started the book at bedtime thinking I’d read 20-30 minutes before sleep. At the 70% mark, I forced myself to put the book down and go to sleep. I have an almost religious devotion to maintaining the same sleep schedule to avoid chronic insomnia that plagues my siblings. Having me voluntarily disrupt my schedule for a book means the author has written a good yarn.

Initially, the story didn’t grab me. I’m still not sure why. Maybe the first part had been overly edited and now felt rehearsed, a bit sterile, too technically perfect? But in a short time, the story pulled me in as the questions began to build. I don’t know if the writing changed or if I adjusted to the style. Either way, the book wouldn’t let me go.

The chapters are narrated in first-person by the two main characters, a technique which greatly contributed to my sleep deprivation; I had to keep reading so I could find out what was happening to the other character when they were separated.

The story kept a strong pace with nicely timed slowdowns building to crescendos. The flow was almost classical in nature where fast and slow movements in a symphony build to a final satisfying finale (think Beethoven, Mozart). The ending did resolve many of the questions that Flora had raised, and it seems some of the things left unanswered would provide fertile ground for continuing with the Apollo saga (please continue!).

Some plot points puzzled me as they went against human nature. We’re told most citizens of Apollo haven’t seen the Wall that protects them. Why not? They were highly educated in arts and sciences yet seemed rather lacking in curiosity except for a small handful. Highly educated goes hand-in-hand with curiosity and pushing the boundaries, and even people who aren’t highly educated are curious and/or at least explore their own geographical location. These people are in the majority, whereas in the book they’re the minority despite the education levels. I had difficulty accepting that an almost ideal society would so easily let go of its urge to explore.

Also, the protagonists went outside the Wall using a tunnel and some elaborate methods to avoid detection from all the cameras. As we later find out others had left Apollo years ago. How they escaped could be for another novel, but it was strange that no-one in the community talked about the missing people with the one exception of Andrew’s dad who went missing 11 years ago. Even strangers commented on this after all these years. So why did no-one also mention other people who had also gone missing, some even more recent? Why didn’t Andrew know about others who had lost a parent or relative? If your dad mysteriously disappears when you’re 8 you’d eagerly search for similar stories in others, and others would share their stories with you.

As well I found the hackers on The Other Side lacking in certain skill sets. Maybe because the story is gripping, exciting, page-turning I shouldn’t have noticed this. Basically, one of the hackers wants to find Apollo, but can’t do so unless he gets the name of the community. My inner hacker objected to that: you do not need a name to figure out where Apollo is located especially if you’re a hacker group that is good enough to hide the people who will pay from the government itself.

They can infer Apollo is nearby. The community would leave a good-sized footprint. You can narrow down potential locations by looking at a map to figure out where you can hide a community. E.g., that nuclear waste dump next to a big abandoned city seems like a good candidate to check with a drone to see if it really is a waste dump and if the city is abandoned.

Even if the government had erased every bit of historical data about the formation and location of Apollo (that would include the name “Apollo” so getting the name doesn’t help anyway) the hackers still have access to data and communications from people so they would use pattern analyses. E.g., they could map the locations of those who send and receive messages (all people on The Other Side communicate solely by electronic means), overlay it with a map of population centers and look for spots where no communication occurs to see if those blank spots are large enough to hide a community.

And they could probably use power consumption records, census data, satellite and aerial photography (past and current), individuals’ journals, old photographs, even conspiracy theories from 75 years ago when a city population was displaced because someone “turned” it into a dump site for nuclear waste. Intelligence agencies have a vast array of pattern analyses tools, like changes in communication frequency and locations, to alert them to potential terror attacks.

If there are future books maybe they’ll deal with those issues, as well as go into more detail what the official story was on the return of the people. The sparse details given explain why the two main characters were back, but wouldn’t seem to fit the others who returned. Also, why isn’t medical technology as advanced in Apollo as it is in The Other Side? I understand avoiding some of the items that led to almost virtual enslavement in the past, but if you’re building a paradise wouldn’t you want advanced medicine? Again, that could be something for future books.

Regardless, these points didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story. If I had started this book earlier in the evening, I would have read it in one sitting. I hope Lopatin continues with the story of Apollo, Flora, and Andrew. I want to know what will happen next.

Book Rating: 4/5 stars.

You can buy the book on Amazon, find it on Goodreads and check out the author at her website!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: In the Dark

New review from Sara Mac hot off the press and available for your reading pleasure. Check out this review as she shares her thoughts on In The Dark by Becca Fox.


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Synopsis: How far would you go to save your family?

Movies and books have made being a monster sound cool.

Lindsay can’t wear silver jewelry or get drunk with her friends, but hey, she sprouts fur and fangs during the full moon. Totally rad, right? Not. Forget about exploring the beast within, Lindsay just wants to graduate from nursing school. When a stroll in the park ends with her and her little brother being surrounded by masked goons who want to sell them overseas, Lindsay has no choice but to change.

Despite her best efforts, these kidnappers know how to handle a werewolf inexperienced in hand-to-paw combat. She regains consciousness hours after the scuffle to find her brother gone. In a panic, she turns to the only werewolf she knows: Wayne, Mr. Werewolf Pride, the guy Lindsay rejected none-too-kindly several years ago. Being the forgiving kind of guy he is, Wayne agrees to help. . .so long as Lindsay joins his pack. Living among others of her kind is the last thing Lindsay wants, but for her brother’s sake, she bites her tongue and agrees.

Lindsay learns a few things while traveling through Europe in search of her brother. One: Being a werewolf can be pretty badass when you know how to use your abilities. Two: Being a freak isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by other freaks. And three: She might have misjudged Wayne.

When she and Wayne stumble onto the mastermind behind the kidnapping, this werewolf mafia king decides they know too much. Lindsay and Wayne should get out of dodge but, they know that unless this man is stopped, innocent people will die.

In this novel, Lindsay, a young adult werewolf, is kidnapped, along with her brother, her ex-boyfriend, and a few high-profile children. Though Lindsay eventually manages to escape, the rest are taken and flown across the world to be sold as slaves, and she must work with an old acquaintance in order to rescue them all. It is a story about coming to terms with who she is, with some romance, adventure, and action thrown into the mix.

The overall plot of the book was interesting, and the premise, though common, is entertaining enough.

Unfortunately, the book isn’t very detailed, and so often reads like a synopsis of itself. The characters are well developed, but unfortunately, they are developed into cliché, predictable archetypes of themselves. For example, Lindsay, a young werewolf, struggling with the beast inside, torn between loving two men who both aren’t capable of expressing their affections, and uncontrolled anger over saving her brother – well developed, but kind of boring.

I feel like this book is a good first draft of itself. I liked the story well enough to finish it quickly, but I just wanted MORE from it. I would have loved some more unique character development, more detail, and explanations throughout, and a little less predictability in the plot. Maybe I’m just getting pickier, but this book just doesn’t stand up well compared to other novels in the genre.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

Also, we are still pretty excited about it and if you haven’t seen, we are on the Top 100 Book Bloggers list of Canadian Book Bloggers! Check out that post to see all the other brilliant bloggers.


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Book Review – Mermaids Are Real

You get a book review! YOU get a book review. We have another one for you guys over here at Breakeven Books. This one is called Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu.

Synopsis: Benji Fisher has spent the first twelve years of his life growing up in a small fishing town, Topside. He’s gotten used to the gang of dolphins who follow him on his surfboard and the voices he hears under the water; odd things that have, in their repetition, become part of normal everyday life.

However, none of that prepares him for the recruitment speech he gets from an octopus named Octavius and three of the dolphins the night before his thirteenth birthday.

What would you do if your ‘calling’ in life required you to take a leap/dive of faith? Would you take the plunge?

This is a fantastic book. If I had to say a book that it was like, the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan comes to mind. This series was just magical and I had the same feeling of magic and adventure when reading this book. It was mainly set underwater which appealed to me as I love the water and was called a fish as a child.

The main character Benji is very lovable. He is just trying to figure out his life at 13 years old and is then thrown into an entirely new world that he now needs to adapt to and become a part of. He reminds me of a young Aquaman (DC Comics). There are so many interesting aspects of the underwater world that this author has created and it was a pleasure to explore and learn the history of the Aquari.

Once again, I quite enjoyed the antagonist of the story. For some reason, I always like them the most. He demonstrated a strong leadership and badass attitude towards leading his people and ruling over the Topsiders (the people on land).

There isn’t really anything bad I can say about the book. The author gets a little too descriptive at times about the surroundings or the process of an action being portrayed but other than this small detail, it is a great book. I would recommend it to YA readers and anyone who wants a good old classic adventure on the bottom of the ocean.

While reading this book, I found it rare that I actually wanted to put it down. And I was excitedly telling my coworker about it while on our lunch break. It is a book that sticks with you and leaves you wanting more.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads and the author on Facebook and Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


Book Review: Fat Girl On A Plane

Aloha fellow readers!

I just finished Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly DeVos and it was phenomenal! This book presented a very positive message in a fun and entertaining way.

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Synopsis: Fat.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush and put her life on track.

Skinny.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

So first off, props to Kelly for making a book that empowers people of all sizes. This is truly amazing. No one should ever be shamed or belittled because of the way they look or how big or small they are.

The main character, Cookie, is a strong female protagonist that doesn’t always have everything handed to her and she has to work hard for what she believes in. There are times when life becomes “unfair” to her but she always puts her best foot forward and strives on. She is very talented and a fashion guru. A lot of the clothes that she made in the book sounded very cool and the inner geek in me would hope that she would make some of these for men so I could wear some original Cookie Vonn.

I really enjoyed her best friend Piper. She was such a hoot! And she was from Australia which is epic because that is my dream destination to visit someday. Piper was the “giver of no f**ks” and I felt that she embodied that very well 🙂

Tommy kind of annoyed me a little bit because of how he would handle situations with Kennes being a complete asshole to the person he calls his “best friend” but that was just a minor detail.

This book is a rare one that will get a great rating from me! There are few out there that I would give 5/5 but I have to give it to this one! I am usually pretty generous with 4/5 but I found I couldn’t put this one down and would read it at every opportunity I had.

I would recommend this book to anyone out there who feels like they don’t like their body or are uncomfortable in their own skin. Let this book take you on a journey with Cookie to become empowered and feel positive about yourself because you are beautiful inside and out.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads. You can find the author Kelly DeVos on Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley to read and give an honest review.

PS. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my Giveaway Post where I am giving away a free book and some stickers!


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Book Review: Blood Will Out

New book review! This one is called Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari and it was a thrill ride. There were a lot of mixed reviews on this one which surprised me. I finished it about a month ago but just got around to posting it. I have been crazy busy.

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Synopsis: Ari Sullivan is alive–for now. She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous — and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

Told in alternating perspectives of predator and prey, Blood Will Out is a gripping and terrifying read.

I had an advanced ARC of this book which I finally read when I had some offtime. The book is published now and in stores all over. It was cool to see it on the shelf when I was taking a stroll through book heaven.

I really loved this book. It starts with the main character trapped in a cistern and just keeps the suspense coming. I pictured myself in this situation and I give props to Ari because she is a beast for everything that she goes through. It was easy to relate with her because she is a swimmer/lifeguard and we both love the smell of chlorine (I have so many lifeguard sweaters that I have lost count).

I don’t see how this book only got a mediocre rating on Goodreads. I thought it was so good. It was a story full of layers that kept slowly unraveling as you went. I thought I knew who the killer was and changed my mind 3 different times to still be surprised at the end.

Jesse was a character I related with. He was the creepy dude that was kind of just did his own thing and was just a blip in the main characters life. A shadow that is there but not seen. Lynn was really fun too. She just stood up for herself and what she believed in and didn’t let anyone tell her otherwise. She and Ari have a strong bond and a friendship that you know will last.

SPOILER (Skip this part if you intend to read it)

I can’t believe it was the librarian! I would never have guessed it would be her in a million years. I had a small inkling that it was going to be a woman because the flashbacks of the killer’s memories made it sound like it was a boy and I figured the author wanted to throw us off the trail. But the librarian?! I thought it was Stroud and then I thought it was Lynn up until the very end when the big reveal showed it was the librarian and then all the pieces fell into place and it all made sense. The fact that she got away and moved on to the next town added that extra level of creepy which is just too good! Unfinished business for the killer 😛 muahahaha

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a suspenseful, intense, action-packed adventure that will scare you to your core. It actually made me feel like I was watching a scary movie in my head when I was reading this masterpiece. Haters can hate but this book was phenomenal! Enjoy it bookworms. Seriously, buy this book! You will love it. Or get scared but it will be worth the thrill.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and in Chapters stores as you can see above 🙂


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