Friday, July 21, 2017

Sneak Peek: The Shield by CJ Bentley

The Finder Series, Book One
by C.J. Bentley
Clink Street Publishing
Middle Grade Time Travel
101 pages

People lose their belongings. That is a fact of life. It can happen by accident, but sometimes it can happen when you put them in a very safe place and forget where that safe place is. Not many people are good at finding them again.
A young, gutsy girl with a kind heart, who's searching for her own identity growing up in the 1960s, just happens to be very good at finding things. Can she be the one to help return whatever is lost - anywhere and at any time - to its original owner?
With the help of a beautiful yet mysterious wise woman and a chivalrous knight she does just that. She finds and returns his shield, lost in battle, which unbeknown to her holds a secret that is important to his King, the safety of the Kingdom and the life of the daughter of his best friend.
The Shield is the first story in The Finder Series, taking our heroine on extraordinary journeys back in time. Her first adventure takes place in Medieval England in 1340 where she meets King Edward III, his wife Philippa and their son, who will later become the Black Prince.

Cover Reveal: Taming the Rebel by Dawn Klehr

Taming the Rebel 
by Dawn Klehr
Endless Summer
Entangled Crush
YA Romance

AUGUSt 14th, 2017!!!

Rebel Hart should be at home taking care of her father after his breakup with his boyfriend, not tromping through the woods at summer camp. He’s had his heart broken beyond repair, and the way she sees it, there’s only one person to blame—the boyfriend’s son. So when that infuriatingly gorgeous quarterback turns up at the same camp, she plans to make him pay.
Justice Brody isn’t happy about trading training camp for actual summer camp. But if he wants to stay on the football team, he has to show that he can be drama-free. He welcomes the anonymity that comes with summer camp…until he realizes the one girl who knows him better than anyone is there, too. Rebel is off-limits, impossibly beautiful…and trouble with a capital T. Still, he can’t stay away. And even as Rebel exacts her revenge, in several very embarrassing and painful ways, neither can she.

And here she is. . .

Dawn Klehr is the author of the young adult thrillers: The Cutting Room Floor and If You Wrong Us.
She began her career in TV news and though she’s been on both sides of the camera, she prefers to lurk behind the lens. Mostly, she loves to get lost in stories –in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book.
Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog.


Sale: Sunder by Tara Brown


by Tara Brown
 YA Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Reviews & PR

Every town has its secrets. Secrets that hold it, and the people who live there, together.
When Liv Daniels moves to Wolfville, Maine with her father, she discovers the small town has more than its fair share.
But the quaint, coastal townsfolk aren't the only ones with secrets.
Liv has one too.
Hers is buried deep inside of her, where even she doesn't know it exists.
But someone does, and he's not going to give up until he breaks it free from her.
But how do you free someone from a secret they don't know they have?
What do you do when the person you're supposed to destroy becomes the one thing you can't live without?
Don't miss this suspenseful standalone YA romance!

I believe growing up in a really small town gives a person a little advantage when it comes to the imagination. You need one or you go mad.
Needless to say, mine saved me. After it got me into trouble first, that is. That's the problem with a vivid imagination, all the lies you tell.
I am happily married with two daughters.
I have two giant dogs, two savage cats, and a penchant for a glass of red.
Also, I drag my bread through the sauce. I can't help myself, bread is life.
According to my age, I am meant to be a responsible adult, but it isn't going well at all. I would still head off to Hogwarts tomorrow and I suspect there isn't a single wardrobe I haven't crept into, hoping to find the door to Narnia. And don't even get me started on the King's Road, I get lost.
Fortunately, I am an international bestseller so I have wormed my way into a quirky or eccentric category.
Thank God for that.
I am represented by Natalie Lakosil from the Bradford Literary Agency and am published traditionally with Montlake Romance.

 Buy Link:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review and Interview: Mango Delight by Fracaswell Hyman

by Fracaswell Hyman
Sterling Children's Books
June 6th, 2017
Middle Grade Contemporary
ages 9 to 13
224 pages

Mango is as delightful as her middle name indicates, and middle-grade readers will easily recognize their own experiences in her friendship struggles.

What happens when your BFF becomes your EFF . . . EX-Friend-Forever? When seventh-grader Mango Delight Fuller accidentally breaks her BFF Brooklyn’s new cell phone, her life falls apart. She loses her friends and her spot on the track team, and even costs her father his job as a chef. But Brooklyn’s planned revenge—sneakily signing up Mango to audition for the school musical—backfires when Mango not only wins the lead role, but becomes a YouTube sensation and attracts the attention of the school’s queen bee, Hailey Jo. Hailey Jo is from a VERY wealthy family, and expects everyone to do her bidding. Soon Mango finds herself forced to make tough choices about the kind of friend she wants to have . . . and, just as important, the kind of friend she wants to be.


This book hits the life of a twelve-year-old girl square on, letting friendship, betrayal, jealousy, first love and all other curves of life's roller coaster fly free in a lovely tale with a delightful girl.

Mango and her BFF, Brooklyn, are inseparable and fated to be. . .or so Mango believes. When, for the first time ever, Mango beats Brooklyn in the 400 yard dash and comes in 1st place, Brooklyn doesn't cheer for her. Instead, she convinces her mother to buy her a cell phone and slides her way into the snobby Hailey Jo crowd. Bad luck hits when Mango accidentally breaks Brook's cell phone, but this luck is about to turn around.

 Fracaswell Hyman does a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life. They are as natural as if they were walking down any middle school's hallways. Mango is sweet and has all the worries girls that age do, but she takes them on with a wonderful finesse. Not always without mistakes, but her attitude is an inspiration. Much of this also comes from her family, which is constantly supporting her even though they don't always agree with everything she does. Mango's parents listen and offer words of wisdom, and these words aren't only good for Mango to hear, but make the reader stop and think as well. It was refreshing to see such a healthy family balance, and how harmonizing doesn't always mean seeing things eye to eye.

A lot happens in this story, keeping the pace steady the entire way through. It was no problem to sit down with this and read it from beginning to end without once having the urge to set it down. There are serious moments, sad ones, shocking ones and a dash of humor and attitude to spice it up too. It's the kind of book readers (especially girls) ages 9 and up will be able relate with and see themselves in similar situations as they root for Mango the whole way through. And readers might even grab a bit of wisdom for their own lives along the way.


I'm so excited to share this with you! Fracaswell Hyman was kind enough to answer a few questions surrounding his book, his life and all sorts of good things in between. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his answers and hope you will too.

Thanks again, Fracaswell!
So, here we go. . .

I did a little bit of internet stalking and found a statement you wrote on your blog: "Writing was never meant to be a way of life for me." What did you hope would be your way of life, and how did you fall into writing?

I grew up dreaming of become an actor. As a child, television was my window on the world.The lives characters were living on my favorite shows were much more colorful, fun and exciting than mine. I studied theatre in college and spent many years on the road in regional productions, a few television and movie spots and working with improvising groups that dealt with kids. This is where my writing began. After years of studying and analyzing scripts, I found that I understood characters and story structure by osmosis. A producer saw a one act play I wrote to act in with a kid for The 52nd Street Project in New York City. She thought I had a good ear for dialogue and the way kids speak and that is how the door to writing opened for me.

Your career shot off in several directions; you've worked in television with a variety of shows and, now, as a novel writer. Is there one story/project that has been a bit more special to you than others?

I had a great time as head writer/executive producer of the live-action Nickelodeon sitcom, TAINA, which was created by my good friend, Maria Perez-Brown. I’ve always loved live action work, because it’s not lonely. Yes, you write alone, but then every week you gather with the cast and crew and put on a show. When you are lucky enough to work with people you love and you get to laugh all day, even in the midst of facing crushing deadlines and network notes, well…there is nothing better. Working on Taina is the experience I remember the fondest.

    It does sound like fun and a blessing to get to work like that! But you're right, the writing part is done alone. Or maybe not, if we count the characters in our heads. In your latest book, Mango Delight, you placed a cast of many delightful characters. I especially loved Mango's father's occasional words of wisdom - great stuff! Did you have someone like that in your life?

In most of the television shows I’ve written there has been an ideal dad. The dad that I’ve always dreamt of having. Not to put my dad down at all, but I realize that the dads in my shows and books take the time to really talk to their kids, play with them and enjoy being around them. That’s the kind of dad I aspire to be, the kind I wish I had. Don’t get me wrong, my father and I are fine now and over the years he has become the dad I wished I had in a lot of ways. The dads I create have huge shoes to fill for any man, but the dads in Mango Delight, Gullah Gullah Island, Jett Jackson and Little Bill are the ideal fathers in my mind.

What is your favorite part about writing? And what would you rather eat worms than do?

My favorite part of writing is when the story just flows and I follow the characters lead and get surprised by what they say or do. It’s incredible. My heartaches at times from the things I have to put my characters through, but that’s the job. Sometimes I leave my office elated, or in despair depending on what just happened while I was writing. I laugh along with my characters and cry along with them, too. It’s a very intense and wonderful process when it all comes together like that.

What would I rather eat worms than do? I’d rather eat worms than write non-fiction. That’s not fun for me at all. So…worms with a little salt & pepper and a glass of Merlot, I’ll take that.

Merlot. . .I hadn't thought of that, but it would fit. I've always wondered if deep frying might help them go down better. There would probably be nothing left but breading.
Many authors were avid readers during their childhood. What were you favorite books while growing up?

I believe I read all of The Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes. But above them all, there is a book called, The Learning Tree by writer/photographer/film director Gordon Parks that really spoke to me. It was about an African-American boy coming of age. I think it was the first book I read where the main character looked like me. It had a huge impact. It is the reason I believe we must have diverse books, so that children from all cultures can read about characters that look like them, speak like them, and share their specific experiences. I also believe we must encourage kids to read books about characters and cultures that are not their own, because it gives us an understanding of the “other” and how similar we all really are.

And that's exactly what you in Mango Delight. Loved it!
What book are you reading right now?

I’m performing in a play this summer, Two Trains Running, by August Wilson. So, I’m reading all ten of the plays he wrote. I’m loving “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer. My audiobook of the summer is, Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah, it’s fascinating, funny and heart wrenching.

I'm going to have to check those out, especially the audiobook.
When you aren’t writing or acting or script writing, what do you like to do (as if you could have much free time left)? 

I believe we are in the Platinum Age of television, so when I’m not writing, I am bingeing on Netflix, HBO and all the great shows that are coming at us so fast and furiously. From Game of Thrones to House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Orphan Black, I mean there are so many great shows out there it’s hard to keep up. So, yeah, I become quite the couch potato when I’m not writing. But don’t get me wrong, I go to the gym, too! While I’m on the elliptical for an hour and five minutes, I’m watching the shows I’ve downloaded to my iPad!

I balance my kindle on my treadmill...sometimes with books, other times with I understand that one.
What was your biggest wish as a child?

As a child, my biggest wish was to be able to fly. Of course, I’m deathly afraid of heights, but I always wanted to just be able to lift off from the ground to escape bullies, or stray dogs or avoid the NYC transit and get home where it was safe. You know, I think I should write about that…

I could see that. Maybe as a picture book? The crazy situations and amazing illustration possibilities will be following me for days now. So thumbs up on that idea!

Anyway, thanks a bunch for stopping by, and good luck with all everything you're up to and still have underway!

Who is Facaswell Hyman? 

Fracaswell "Cas" Hyman is an award-winning television writer (Humanitas Prize, Alma Award, Peabody Award) and screenwriter (UCLA extension best screenplay winner.) He is also a playwright, theater and television director, and producer who has created and executive produced successful live-action (The Famous Jett, Jackson, Romeo, Taina) and animated (Little Bill) television series for Disney and Nickelodeon. Cas lives in NC, and Mango Delight is his first novel. You can connect with Cas on Twitter @fracaswellhyman.

Happy Book Birthday, The Crossroads Official Coloring Book by Mary Ting

 Crossroads Saga
by Mary Ting
YA Fantasy
Illustrated by Arnild C. Aldepolla
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
***Based on a dream the author had in high school-chapter 1 & 2***

Protecting her from the Fallen was his duty. Falling in love was never part of his plan. Loving her was forbidden. Being with her was all that mattered, even if it meant he would be exiled for all eternity. Claudia Emerson's life is about to change when her good friend, who coincidentally shares the same first and last name, dies in a tragic accident. Distraught at the loss of her friend, Claudia's dreams become tumultuous, and through them she mysteriously travels to another world called Crossroads. There, she unexpectedly meets Michael, a nephilim--half angel, half human. Now that she's been there, Fallen and demons are after her, suspecting she must be special, and it is up to Michael and the other nephilim to protect her. Her dream becomes a nightmare as more secrets are revealed about who she really is, and the true identities of the people she loves most. Between (Book 2) Beyond (Book 3) Eternity (Book 4) Halo City (Novella Michael's Journey) Spin-off The Angel Knights (Prequel) The Chosen Knights (Book 1) The Blessed Knights (Book 2) The Sacred Knights (Book 3) Other YA books. From Gods From Deities From Origins From Titans

Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

Author Links:
Buy Link: Amazon:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: Where's Rodney? by Carmen Bogan

by Carmen Bogan
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Yosemite Conservancy
Picture Book 
ages 4 to 8

AUGUST 7th, 2017!!!

Rodney is that kid who just can't sit still. He's inside, but he wants to be outside. Outside is where Rodney always wants to be. Between school and home, there is a park. He knows all about that park. It's that triangle-shaped place with the yellow grass and two benches where grown-ups sit around all day. Besides, his momma said to stay away from that park. When Rodney finally gets a chance to go to a real park, with plenty of room to run and climb and shout, and to just be, he will never be the same. This is a story of the power of nature to transform every child. -Scientific research now confirms what we already know: We become more relaxed, more open and friendly, and more creative, with better memory and concentration, after being in nature. Nature lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and bolsters our immune system. In fact, the benefits from contact with nature are now so well documented that they're showing up on the health care industry's agenda, and protecting nature can be seen as a public health strategy.- Bay Nature, January 1, 2017



Combine an energetic city kid with the great outdoors, and out comes an amazing tale.

Rodney can't sit still. He'd rather be outside watching bugs or birds or whatever else might be moving. When the teacher threatens him with not allowing him to go on a field trip to the park, he figures it's no big deal. Until he gets to the park. Then, a whole new world opens up.

This book takes a kid who's grown up between streets, buildings and a few city parks and introduces him up to the wonders of the freedom of nature. The illustrations by Floyd Cooper are perfect for bringing across true inner-city scenes as well as the fresh air of the great outdoors. Kids will recognize themselves in Rodney and feel his excitement and wonder as he explores the various yet simple activities nature has to offer.

The story itself is well written. The first pages present Rodney and his troubles in a way kids ages four and up will be able to sympathize with. Then, when Rodney hits the park, the words skim down to only a simple phrase or two. And that's all that is needed. The fun Rodney has is as easy as these few words, yet wondrous and full of adventure. By the end, the reader wants to head out and explore forest, rocks and streams to experience the fun themselves.

And here they are. . .

CARMEN BOGAN is a member of the Oakland Literacy Coalition and is a writing coach for children and youth. she has two daughters, Erin Danielle and Natalie Quinn, and lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, Willie.

FLOYD COOPER has illustrated more than one hundred books for children. He received the Coretta Scott King award for his illustrations in The blacker the Berry and three Coretta Scott King Honors for his illustrations in Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, I Have Heard of a Land, and Meet Danitra Brown. He lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, with his growing family: Velma, Kai, Dayton, Melissa, and grandson, Niko.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Happy Book Birthday, Withhold by Andrea Pearson with Giveaway !

Withhold banner

Mosaic Chronicles #9

By Andrea Pearson
YA/NA Urban Fantasy, Fantasy

Release Date: 18 July, 2017

Blitz organized by Lola's Blog Tours

With the lives of everyone she holds dear at stake, will Nicole be able to do what it takes to stop the evil surrounding her?

In the ultimate battle between good and evil, Nicole is in a race to stop Keitus before he achieves his plans. If he succeeds, he will crush everyone who has opposed him and enslave Earth and countless other planets. Unfortunately, he is only minutes away from his goal.

With so much at stake, Nicole and her friends must approach Helen, a volatile and dangerous spirit who will probably destroy them regardless of whether she gives them what they want. And the chances of her helping them are slim.

Fast-paced and epic magical fights, exciting plot twists, and non-stop action and adventure await. So sit down, buckle up, and hold on for the explosive, much-anticipated conclusion to the award-winning and bestselling Mosaic Chronicles.

You can find Withhold on Goodreads

Withhold is only $0.99 on release day!

You can buy your copy of Withhold for only $0.99 today only! Buy your copy here:
- Amazon
- Nook
- Kobo
- iBooks

Download Bonuses!

If you pre-order or buy a copy of Withhold you can receive some download bonuses! Here is how it works: buy your copy of Withhold and forward proof of purchase (a confirmation email or a screenshot) to
You’ll receive 7 books (two books from Andrea Pearson and 5 from other authors) and some other goodies, including a bachelor of science degree from Katon University, coloring pages, word search, fantasy illustration by Andrea's husband (James E. Curwen, professional illustrator) and more. Read all the details about the download bonuses here.

Earlier books in the series:
Discern (Mosaic Chronicles #1)
He's dark and powerful, a magical anomaly. She's inexperienced and untrained. Can they set aside their differences in time to save themselves?

- Amazon
- Nook
- Kobo
- iTunes
- Goodreads

Praxis (Mosaic Chronicles #2)
- Amazon
- Nook
- Kobo
- iBooks
- Goodreads

Free books!
You can get both Discern and Praxis for free when you sign-up for Andrea’s newsletter! You can sign-up for her newsletter here.

Find the whole Mosaic series on Amazon

And here she is. . .
Andrea Pearson

Andrea Pearson is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who plays several instruments, not including the banjo, and loves putting together musical arrangements. Her favorite sports are basketball and football, though several knee surgeries and incurably awful coordination prevent her from playing them.

Andrea graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor of science degree in Communications Disorders. She is the author of many full-length novels (the Kilenya Series and Mosaic Chronicles) and several novellas. Writing is the chocolate of her life - it is, in fact, the only thing she ever craves. Being with her family and close friends is where she's happiest, and she loves thunderstorms, the ocean, hiking, public speaking, painting, and traveling.

You can find and contact Andrea here:
- Website
- Blog
- Facebook page
- Facebook profile
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Amazon
- Pinterest
- Newsletter

See the list of participating bloggers here.

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Withhold. This giveaway is US Only. One winner will win a $50 Amazon gift card!

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: The Children Under the Ice by R. A. Douthitt

by R. A Douthitt
Middle Grade Mystery
270 pages
ages 10 and up

Twelve year old Mikey hates hockey, but loves newspaper reporting, he’s quirky that way. One night, Mikey discovers the newspaper story of a lifetime when he falls through the ice of the Sherman Oaks Pond and sees the ghosts of children with a secret. And that’s when everything falls apart. No one believes Mikey’s story, not even his dad, the town Sheriff. 

Now Mikey has to let go and trust a ghost to help him solve a crime...can you trust a ghost to solve a crime?


This is one of those books, which demands a flashlight under the blanket and will be read until all hours of the night.

Mikey really isn't wild about his dad's obsession with making him into a hockey star. He'd rather write for a newspaper. When a weird accident causes Mikey to fall through the pond's ice and be declared dead for a few seconds before he's revived, he sees the ghosts of the children who died in the pond around 15 years before. And one of them looks just like him.

This book packs a punch and is not for the more gentle reader. Right away on the first page, the author pulls into a goose bump raising scene--a murder is witnessed by four boys. The second they're caught, it's clear what will happen next. It isn't gruesome, but there is a no nonsense feel to the story. It's dark, it's a mystery and it does send chills up and down the spine. But it holds even more than that. 

Mikey is a normal kid, fighting normal problems. He has friends, some truer than others. He has a loving family, in which the parents are divorced, but he is loved despite the stumbling blocks. And he has a little trouble trying to figure out who he is, especially in relationship to his father and the dreams that the two don't share. The dialogue and relationships with the other characters comes across naturally and realistically. 

Not a single, boring moment seeps in as Mikey is thrown into a mystery. The clues are carefully placed, not too obvious and always with a slight twist. It's hard to see where the whole thing is going and how it will end. It keeps the readers on their toes, while maintaining a lovely sense of tension the entire time. The paranormal aspect weaves in seamlessly, just enough and never too much. It's a bit spooky at times, so there might be the need to check those closets and under the bed, but with Mikey and his friends, it never goes too far into the horror end. In other words, great for kids ten and above who seek a little thrill and chilling moments.

The ending wraps up all loose ends and prods on to continue the series as another eerie moment hints at the next mystery to come.

And here she is. . .

As an artist, R. A. Douthitt had always wanted to illustrate books for children, but never thought about actually writing books. But, with the help of self-publishing tools, she's doing just that. In 2008, her first book, The Dragon Forest, was published. Fast forward to 2017, she has now completed two series for middle grade readers. Her latest series, The Children Under the IceThe Children in the Garden, and The Children of Manor House, is now available and is receiving excellent reviews from readers of all ages. Next on the agenda? R. A. Douthitt is currently writing and illustrating a Dragon Forest spin-off series called The Elves of Vulgaard to be released this summer. Her dream of illustrating books for children is finally coming true! Author-Ruth-Douthitt- 245592525512882/

You can find her other books here!

Mommy Monday: Deathbringer by Tamara Grantham with Giveaway

This is a series I've devoured over the last year and wanted to share with all parents out there (because they need to read too!).
The Olive Kennedy, Fairy World MD series is packed with magic, faeries, trolls, other worlds, dragons. . .and all with non-stop action. There is a romance, but it runs along as a side-story and never over powers the main plot. Although this is written for adults, I believe older YAers would love it too. There's a bit of violence/sex but nothing extreme. Definitely not more than is to be found in many YA reads.


Seeing is believing! Not only is this an amazing read, but this gorgeous cover will look amazing on your shelf. Today is the official print release day of DEATHBRINGER by Tamara Grantham. Grab your copy and then tag us on Instagram (@CrimsonTreePub), Twitter (@CrimsonTreePub), or Facebook (@CrimsonTreePublishing) with your Shelfie featuring one of Tamara's books and you might just be chosen as a random winner for a secret prize.


Read more about DEATHBRINGER here. (Fantasy Romance)

Don't miss out on this series!

Therapist Olive treats patients who've returned from Faythander with strange side effects. But when her worlds are threatened by the monstrous Dreamthief, she's forced to embark on a dazzling adventure…

Find out more about Tamara Grantham here.

Tamara Grantham, Author of DREAMTHIEF: I read about 40 books this year, which was actually a good number for me. In 2015, with a newborn in tow, the number was about five. What reading means to me... I'll give my answer in story format, because, you know, I like to tell stories. I was ten when my mom started reading THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE to my siblings and me. At first, I resisted the idea of an imaginary world, somehow thinking it wasn't cool. But then I started getting into the book, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it. I had to know more. After she finished, I read the rest of the series on my own. Since then, I've treasured books, especially those that transport me to another world. There is no other form of storytelling that has the ability to utilize your imagination the way reading does. Movies are visual and auditory, but they lack the ability to get inside a character's mind and show you how they feel, which is why books will always have the advantage.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

by Linsey Miller
Sourcebooks Fire
YA Fantasy
384 pages

AUGUST 29th, 2017!!!

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.


This is a complete on-the-fence read for me. There were some things which were very well done and others which fell more than flat.

Sal, a thief, discovers a chance to jump in on the audition for the queen's new assassin. Being that the queen is Sal's idol, Sal soon makes sure to be a part of the audition. The catch, kill or be killed and don't get caught.

This is a fast-paced novel with tons of tension, fight scenes, secrets and ninja like movements. There are a vast variety of characters, all with different personalities and agendas, and the layers of intrigue surrounding historic wars and this world's current politics are heavy. There is good, there is evil and there is a ton of grey in between. 

The world building was fantastic on the surface. The scenes came to life, and I easily sunk into Sal's surroundings. The sequences were cleverly thought out and offered some surprises in how the contestants attempted to make their way through the process. The story grips and offers new twists all the way through with a promise of evil schemes still ahead in the rest of the series. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I wondered who would die next or what problems Sal would run into next.

That was the good side. Now, for the negatives.

The plot isn't as deep as it seems. While there is a hidden, political agenda that Sal is being drawn into, this book focuses on the audition and Sal's attempts to get through. There is mention of more underlying evils, and Sal uncovers some of this with a promise of so much more to come. But the it's exactly this hidden intrigue where the the problem begins.

The general political unrest wasn't solidly laid out. Sal's got some vengeance issues, which are pretty clear, but what the leading families were really after during the war and what set it off (who was to win, lose or why it was even there) isn't clear. There's simply a lot of explanation and foundation missing, which could have brought more sense to what was going on in the world that Sal would soon be apart of (Sal's plan of revenge aside). This is especially true of the magic. It disappeared due to the horrible happenings of the war, but that's all that's said. And yet, magic was one of the moving factors behind the war and runes cover multiple characters. There are deep running scars, but the reasoning behind these is skimmed over with quick dabs of information which fail to hit the core they need to.

The gender fluid character didn't thread into the story as much as the blurb suggested, and actually brought more confusion than good. Sal never commits to one gender but flows between the two (awesome for an assassin, btw), but this also madeit hard to grasp the character. Not only does Sal's rough past lack Sal felt as a Sal could maintain gender fluidity among such harsh thieves (no mention of this whatsoever)...or even the lack of reaction by other contestants or court members. If Sal's gender fluidity was a norm in the book's society, this wouldn't be an issue, but it's not. Sal stands apart in his world in this aspect, and although it's hinted at that this might be difficult for some in the society to swallow, this intolerance never happens...not even knee-jerk or twitch. In other words, the gender fluidity comes across more as an added characteristic to fit publishing desires than an actual depth to a character. Too bad.

Although there was a lot to like in this book, there were other aspects which left much to be desired. 

I received a complimentary copy from Netgalley and wanted to leave my honest thoughts.

The Woodlands Box Set by Lauren Nicolle Taylor



Sixteen-year-old Rosa lives in one of the eight enclosed cities of The Woodlands, where the lone survivors of a devastating race war have settled in the Russian wilderness—the only habitable land left on the planet. The Superiors are ruthless in their control of the concrete cities, striving to create a 'raceless' society where everyone is the same. But Rosa has always been different—and that makes her a liability. She finds her counterpoint in Joseph and as the two grow closer, it becomes clear that if they want to be together, they will have to escape the tightly controlled Woodlands—and leave behind the only life they've ever known.
A dystopian page-turner with over 1,000 five-star ratings on Goodreads, The Woodlands Series is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth, and The Jewel Series by Amy Ewing. Readers can purchase this boxed set at a significant discount over the cost to purchase each novel individually. This is a complete-series boxed set.

The Woodlands is an Award-Winning Finalist in the "Fiction: Young Adult" category of the USA Best Book Awards, as well as a Semifinalist in The Kindle Book Awards by the Kindle Book Review.

Compared to the cost of purchasing each individual novel in this exciting YA series, readers can save $5.98 when they buy THE WOODLANDS BOX SET by Lauren Nicolle Taylor. That's a great cost benefit for those who are ready to binge read a complete series! Pre-order your set today!


Praise for The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor:
"Lauren Taylor's writing is powerfully descriptive; she is a master of words and similes." - Author Erica Kiefer
"It seems so rare these days to find a dystopian with an original vein in it. The Woodlands Succeeds." - Author Pauline Creeden
"I went into this story with my own ideas, but they were obliterated by what I found instead. I was so happy to be wrong because this story touched my heart deeply in a way that I never expected." Reviewer Amber Douglas Mcallister
"This book was fantastic! Spectacular! It had everything I look for in a book: Action, Adventure, and even romance!" Reviewer Jocelyn Sanchez
"Great storyline. Love the characters. I started with the first in the series then slammed through all 4. I couldn't put it down." Amazon Reviewer


This whole series got a new look! Check out the new covers for THE WOODLANDS series today and be sure to leave a comment letting us know if you like the update. We look forward to hearing your opinions.


Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology. She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.
She is a 2017 IPPY Award Winner, 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist, and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.