#CoverReveal Rivals by Sam Michaels @SamMichaelsGG @aria_fiction

Earlier this year I took part in the blog tour for Trickster by Sam Michaels, and today I am delighted to be tacking part in the cover reveal for what is sure to be an amazing sequel – Rivals.

I can’t wait until we have something more than (a rather lovely) cover to sink my teeth into. Alas, I must be patient until this fall.

ARIA_MICHAELS_RIVALS_E

About the book

Georgina Garrett is back and more daring than ever!

Follow Georgina as she builds up her own empire in the second thrilling installment of the Georgina Garrett series.

About the author

Sam MichaelsSam Michaels lives in Spain with her family and plethora of animals. Having been writing for years Trickster is her debut novel.

Follow Sam:

Facebook: @SamMichaelsAuthor

Twitter: @SamMichaelsGG

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2w0sZKr

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2Q5U7ku

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2W66O4g

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

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#BlogTour #Review: Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson #CrimeFiction #Thriller #YourDeepestFear @Author_Dave @BonnierZaffre @Tr4cyF3nt0n

David Jackson Blogtour Poster 2

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for David Jackson’s latest crime thriller Your Deepest Fear. Dark and twisty with a healthy dose of ‘don’t read this book alone or at night’, DS Nathan Cody will take you down the rabbit hole and there’s no guarantee that you’re coming back again.


Your Deepest Fear.jpgTitle: Your Deepest Fear

Author: David Jackson

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

Publication Date: May 16, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

Themes: Friendship, Relationships, Crime, Serial Killers

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife.

When Sara decides to take the investigation into her own hands, she is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected.

For DS Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted way imaginable . . .

Your Deepest Fear is a dark, shocking and relentlessly gripping thriller that will keep you up all night, until the very final page has been turned.


My Review

Okay, if you are someone (like me) who is petrified of clowns, this may not be the book for you. Here I am happily reading a delightful police procedural about a mildly stalker-ish woman who finds her husband murdered by way of being nailed to the floor and BAM! In come the clowns. Of course, I would have known this well in advance if I’d read the first book in the DS Nathan Cody series, but yeesh! The first time our friend Waldo made an in-the-flesh appearance I legit screamed, threw my book across the room, my heart-rate monitor indicated that I was at peak cardio activity sat on the couch, and my poor pooch started checking all of the doors in a rare guarding moment.

Seriously not cool.

But also, so damn good.

Once I got over the shock of Waldo’s presence in the story I ending up loving this book. DS Nathan Cody was just the right level of functionally dysfunctional and Sara Prior was seriously bad-ass. Supported by a dynamic cast of secondary characters including underworld scum who surprisingly enjoy watching cat video’s between beat-downs, sweet but socially awkward computer techs who are probably never going to invite a man over ever again, and a psychologist who apparently doesn’t have a clue what her client is genuinely going through there is never a dull moment.

Waldo’s game is one I would certainly never like to play, and it’s easy to see why DS Cody was starting to loose sleep over his interactions with this psychopath. The thought of someone coming into my house on the regular and breathing down the phone a all hours of the night seriously gave me the heebie-jeebies, and that’s just the kid stuff my friends – no spoilers here! The torture Waldo doles out is diabolic and sadistic, so much so that I couldn’t keep track of all the layers of manipulation or where the story going. I got so wrapped up in rooting for Cody’s success that I was utterly dismayed with every setback and twist in the plot. I love a book where I can’t guess the ending, and this one certainly hit that mark.

But it was Sara’s approach to solving her husband’s murder that truly kept me entranced.  Her straight forward hit first and ask questions later approach had me in stitches more times than I can remember. I adored how she gave zero shits about which pot she was stirring, and somehow managed to create chaos in the criminal underworld with maximum efficiency. No one puts baby in the corner, but Sara Prior puts little boys playing at being thugs precisely where there belong.

The intertwined plots created a dynamic and gripping read. The mirrored scavenger hunts and mutual refusal to accept or ask for assistance created a sense of camaraderie and an overwhelming sense of vigilante justice at it’s finest. I was constantly on my toes and there were far more ups than down leading to a somewhat frenetic, but ultimately exhilarating pace.

I loved the writing style, with realistic language and human interactions. But with that being said, it’s certainly not simple – in fact there are numerous plays on words, intentional misunderstandings, and double entendres. There’s as much humour as there is thrill, which I really appreciated as these moments were tactfully delivered follow the darker and more heady passages. Ultimately, Your Deepest Fear is dynamic, engaging, and horrifying all at the same time.

Would I recommend this book? Hells yes – even with the clowns.


About The Author

davidjacksonDavid Jackson is the bestselling author of Cry Baby and Don’t Make A Sound. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Daggers Awards. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.

Follow David on twitter @Author_Dave.

To join in the conversation use the hashtag #YourDeepestFear


Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

#Book #Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen #YALit #Fantasy @torteen @dljensen

Today I am so overjoyed to be sharing my review for Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen that I am breaking my only rule of book blogging: never review books written by people you know, love, or hate. In two years I have never before been tempted to toe this line, and yet here I am. I do hope that you enjoy this beauty as much as I did, because it is an absolute must read!


dark shoresTitle: Dark Shores

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Genre: Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Adventure

Themes: Survival, Magic, Conquest, Romance

Features: Glossary, Author’s Note


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.


My Review

Every now and then you come across the first book in a new series and you just know that it’s going to be something big. Dark Shores is that book. Imagine this – a powerful empire that has conquered all the nations in their known world and is ruled by a corrupt elite that will stop at nothing to take it’s taxes in coin, or children forced into servitude, discovers that there is a whole new world connected to their own through a nation of free and seafaring traders known as the Maarin. They have legions of career soldiers at their disposal, unlimited funds, and an insatiable desire to bring everything and everyone under their control. In light of these circumstances it seems only natural that the Celendor Empire would kidnap, torture, and murder hundreds of the Maarin traders until one of them begrudgingly agrees to lead two legions across the seas and aid them in their conquests. 

Unfortunately for Celendor, the Maarin that they torture in talking is seventeen-year-old Teriana – a sarcastic, quick-witted, spitfire of a girl who is as intent on subterfuge and disruption as she is on saving the lives of her crew and the rest of the Maarin that are being held by the Empire as collateral. What makes matters worse is that this mission is not merely a matter of crossing the Endless Seas into unknown lands populated by warrior nations and setting up a new regime. That would be far too simple. Instead this quest requires a touch of magic and permission from the gods. Gods who just so happen to be at odds as to whether or not the Cels should be permitted to cross the seas, if East should be allowed to meet West, and who may or may not have forsaken Teriana for breaking her most sacred of vows.

Can you say drama?

Written in split narrative between Teriana’s and Marcus’ point of view, the tension between their perspectives can seriously be cut with a knife. Their conversations and introspections provide the perfect avenue for character development and world building without being onerous, while their arguments and escapades deliver the excitement and adventure that make this an epic read.

Marcus is everything that you would expect from a legion commander – heady, calculating, and utterly ruthless. His every move plays into a larger strategy making it impossible to determine what’s genuine and what’s manipulation. And yet, he’s not the monster that the Empire wants him to be. He has a soft heart and a reverence for human life that leaves him constantly at odds with his orders. With Marcus, nothing is ever as it first appears as there are endless layers of motives, planning, and deceit making it impossible to gauge his true intentions. As a result, there is a tactful balance between the construction of a fearsome reputation and the pursuit of softer, much more personal desires. It helps too that he is a fatally flawed character, that he carries the kinds of secrets that could destroy lives and nations, and that he is deeply touched by all of the horrible things that he has done in the name of the Empire. It makes him human, relatable, and incredibly enigmatic.

Teriana on the other hand is brash, impulsive, and completely irreverent. Her stubbornness, the frequency with which she puts her foot in her mouth as the result of her sass, and her unwavering loyalty to the Maarin that makes her the perfect counter to Marcus’ disciplined and calculating nature. She wears her heart on her sleeve, embraces her emotions, and lives life to the fullest no matter the risk. She’s the kind of person that I’d happily loose all of my spare change to gambling with because because she’s the life of the party and instantly likeable, and of course, almost all of the men in the Thirty-Seventh feel the same way.

It’s always a pleasure to read characters with depth and complexity, especially in YA and fantasy, where it seems that so many can fall into stereotypes and tropes. It’s even better when you can watch these characters change and grow as the story progresses, and in this regard Dark Shores does not disappoint. Teriana, Marcus, and even the varied cast of secondary characters are full of revelations and change, and yet it’s clear that there is still so much more to come.

And we can’t forget to mention the fantastic world that Jensen has created. The contrast between East and West couldn’t be more stark with the Cels being godless, oppressed, and regimented to a tee while the people of the West are deeply spiritual and relish freedom in a way that the Cels can never comprehend. With the Celendor Empire inspired by Ancient Rome, there is just enough history to make this work of fantasy feel deeply rooted and real. Everything from the structure of the political system to the organization of the legions rings true, and yet enough liberties have been taken to keep everything fresh and original. Throw into the mix the Seven gods of the West with their realms, powers, and god-touched individuals and you truly have a war between worlds. The reverence for the Six and the fear of the Seventh creates a dynamic and magical experience that is easy to get swept up in. It’s detailed, magical, and so entrancing that it leaves you wanting more.

I can’t wait to see where this series goes, what the Six and the Corrupter have in mind for the Dark Shores, and the Thirty-Seventh and Forty-First legions will succeed in their mission of establishing a route through which they can conquer the West. There are so many sub-plots to be explored, battles to be fought, and questions to be resolved that  next book can’t help but be even better than the first. I loved every second of Dark Shores and my only regret is that I bought my copy on publication day and that I will now have to wait (impatiently) for the next instalment to be released.


Many thanks to Danielle L. Jensen, Tor Teen, and NetGalley for providing a galley in exchange for an honest review – even if I *may* have bought a hardcopy before finishing my ARC galley!

#Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill #WWIIFiction #HistoricalFiction

I seem to be reading more WWII fiction than normal these days, and I always try to read a variety of experiences and perspectives. So you can imagine my joy when when I came across Within These Lines which features the internment of Japanese Americans in the San Fransisco area. It’s brutal without shedding a drop of blood, cruel without employing force to gain complaisance, and utterly heartbreaking despite the prevalence of endearing love. Get ready for a gut punch, Morrill will leave you absolutely devastated.


lines.jpgTitle: Within These Lines

Author: Stephanie Morrill

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Genre: WWII Fiction, Historical Fiction

Themes: WWII, Romance, Japanese Internment in America


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.


My Review

Being a Canadian, especially one who lives rather proximal to the Canadian internment camps in the prairies and the rockies, I’ve always had an interest in the internment of Canadian (and American) citizens, emigres, and foreign nationals during WWII. In large part, this interest is born out of the fact that our capital ‘H’ History tries so hard to erase these deplorable actions from the record. I live just 45 minutes from where the Kananaskis internment camp once stood, and I can tell you first hand that the history of this place is overshadowed by a nearby national park, the ’88 Olympics, and a booming tourist industry. The history from 1942 – 1949 is marked with nothing more than a few lines on a hard to find plaque, a fading memory of injustice, and the power of shame and willful ignorance.

And so, when Within These Lines – the riveting love story of Evelina and Taichi  set in 1941 San Fransisco and later the Manzanar Relocation Centre – became available on NetGalley I simply couldn’t resist. It’s equal parts hopeful and horrifying, which made it impossible not to feel deeply as our two narrators undertook their journeys through the societal landscape of California following the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

Told in split narrative, we’re able to catch glimpses of two sides of the dividing lines. This hard hitting topic was carried tactfully by a sweet and passionate love story of two teens caught in the thick of it all. It helped that Evalina came from an Italian family, and that she was not completely free from the stigma and prejudice that was rampant at the time, as this helped to bridge the chasm between her and Taichi. And the fact that Evalina stayed committed to Taichi even when she had other options or when it would have been easier to walk away makes this story just that much better.

It was painful to see the quiet acquiescence with which many families went to the Manzanar camp simply because they were asked to, the cruelness with which the Japanese were treated even when they were clearly causing no harm, and the ways in which the citizens who were willing to speak out against these injustices were treated in turn. It made perfect sense that Evalina connected with the church group, that she decided to take up a male-dominated field of study at university, and that her advocacy efforts continued on campus.

Taichi showed a different kind of strength and offered the perfect balance to Evalina’s stubborn and headstrong ways. He is quiet and contemplative, worried about disappointing his family, and always careful not to make waves. And though it broke my heart to read, I appreciated how he tried to protect Evalina from the reality of what he and his family were enduring. Also, I was completely undone by lengths he went through to protect and support his sister, provide for his mother, and eventually the steps that he took to keep the peace within the camp when tensions began to rise.

While there is a small amount of action, Within These Lines is driven by string characters, flawless research, and an exquisite attention to detail which brings all of the pieces together. Not only are Taichi and Evelina sweet and relatable, they are supported by a cast of excellent secondary characters. It’s beautifully written, highly emotive, and absolutely breathtaking.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!

But be warned, this one will require a box of tissues close at hand.


Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.