Saturday, November 30, 2019

Crying Laughing, Lance Rubin

Crying Laughing, 2/5

Pages: 308
Book Number: 1 of 1
Genre: YA, Humour, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age

Summary by Author: Winnie Friedman has been waiting for the world to catch on to what she already knows: she's hilarious.

It might be a long wait, though. After bombing a stand-up set at her own bat mitzvah, Winnie has kept her jokes to herself. Well, to herself and her dad, a former comedian and her inspiration.
Then, on the second day of tenth grade, the funniest guy in school actually laughs at a comment she makes in the lunch line and asks her to join the improv troupe. Maybe he's even . . . flirting?
Just when Winnie's ready to say yes to comedy again, her father reveals that he's been diagnosed with ALS. That is . . . not funny. Her dad's still making jokes, though, which feels like a good thing. And Winnie's prepared to be his straight man if that's what he wants. But is it what he needs?
Caught up in a spiral of epically bad dates, bad news, and bad performances, Winnie's struggling to see the humor in it all. But finding a way to laugh is exactly what will see her through.

Initial Impressions: As soon as I read the summary on NetGalley, I knew I had to read Crying Laughing. It sounds humorous yet painfully realistic, a genre I adore and am naturally attracted to. Just a few pages in, I am already getting The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and We are All Made of Molecules vibes. I'm excited to continue reading!

Halfway-Through Notes: Unfortunately, I am not as impressed with Crying Laughing as I thought I would be. After a few pages, the fun, quirky writing style became irritating and repetitive. I am still unaware of Winnie's age, gender, and familial situation, a few things that would aid my understanding and enjoyment of the read. I am also struggling to connect with the characters because their situation is drastic, confusing, and unrealistic. The only question that has raised so far is "who treats their kid like this?"

Opinions: All in all, Crying Laughing was a thematic but undesirable read. Firstly, while the situation was realistic, the characters were not. Winnie's parents treat Winnie like a friend, chatting casually and apologising needlessly; two things most (but not all) parents do not do with their children. To add on to this, Winnie was also an anxious, forgetful, talentless American teenager who forgets the Pledge of Allegiance. Her lack of humour and decisiveness makes it difficult to connect to her. The plot and conflict was also unclear: Rubin was focusing on too many aspects, including sickness, parental relationships, history, romance, friendship, first love, humour, and even more. Because the author was attempting to insert so many positive themes and outlooks, the overall plot experienced a reverse-affect and I as a reader was left grasping for a storyline to hold on to. On the other hand, because most of the themes were evident, Crying Laughing will appeal to younger readers who don't analyse the writing style and situation as much. I suggest you give this book a try, because it may suit you!

My Favourite Thing: As I said in Opinions, I recognise and appreciate Rubin's attempts at creating a thematic, inspirational, educational read. There are evident themes regarding friendships, sickness, honesty, loyalty, and growing up that stick with the reader after finishing the book. Even if the characters were silly or the story wasn't compelling, Crying Laughing was worth the read because of what the reader learns!
My Least Favourite Thing: Overall, I did not enjoy reading Crying Laughing and I do not plan on reading it again. I found the characters expressionless and incompetent, the relationships unrealistic and awkward, and the writing style simplistic and inexperienced. As a whole, Crying Laughing covered too many topics but still did not take enough risks; we have a very basic and controllable ALS patient, a basic and controllable fifteen-year-old girl, a basic and controllable romantic interest, and more basic, controllable elements. Readers were lost trying to focus on too many things while not being excited with plot twists, drama, or actual conflict.

Total Rating: PG-13
Language: PG-13
Adult Content: PG-12
Violence: PG-12

Recommended For and Similar Reads: Crying Laughing is a simple, honest, coming of age story for mature young readers who love first romances, familial problems, and friendship faults. While I disliked this book, you may not! I recommend Crying Laughing for lovers of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, We Are All Made of Molecules, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 

Top Goodreads Lists Including This Book:
- YA Novels 2019- Teen Content, Teen Characters
- Smiley Face Covers

Twitter: @lancerubinparty

Setting: United States of America
Publisher: Knopf
Edition: Kindle
Publication Date: 19 November, 2019
ISBN: 0525644687
Per FTC regulations, please know that I received this title for free for review from the original author, the publisher, publicist, or a third party. I am honest in my reviews, meaning the fact I received the book for free does not alter the rating I give it. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

BOOK BLITZ: Corners Untouched by Madness by N. Daniel

Book Blitz, Exciting Excerpt, and Giveaway: CORNERS UNTOUCHED BY MADNESS: A Personal Journey of Overcoming Mental Illness. Congratulations, N Daniel!

Publication Date: October 1st, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Inspired by True Events/ Mental Illness
Publisher: Between the Lines Publishing
Summary: A raw story of courage and redemption.
Daniel settles for a mundane office job in the suburbs but is haunted with guilt. When a beautiful woman from his past appears, it ignites a chain reaction, setting him on a journey to confront his troubled history. Based on actual events, this inspiring story attempts to enlighten its audience with humor, passion and a lesson in perseverance. Will Daniel be able to brave his trauma and put his inner demons to rest? Or will he be consumed by the most cunning adversary of all? The truth.
Goodreads: madness?ac=1&from_search=true

Purchase Links
Barnes and Noble: madness-n-daniel/1133915760?ean=9781950502127

About the Author:

N. Daniel currently resides in Downtown Minneapolis and works as a live-in caregiver for a quadriplegic individual. When he isn't writing or caring for his client you can find him wandering the city's skyways, music blasting in his headphones, or walking along the Mississippi river with family and friends. He frequently volunteers at outreach organizations in the Twin Cities community. His beliefs center strongly around charity, service to others and supporting causes that protect personal freedoms, especially for the disabled, the poor, those unfairly stigmatized by mental illness, and anyone who suffers. He is inspired by redemption stories, especially the character arc of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

Author Links:
Author Website:
Between the Lines Publishing:

As I navigated my way home through the darkened streets I could think only of Mei. I hadn't ever really known her in school. Shy, quiet and extremely brilliant, she was in a class of her own. With raven hair, caramel skin, a round face and wire-rim glasses, she was the quintessential brainiac. From those innocent days she had grown into a beautiful woman with a mind as sharp as an acute angle. She made me feel like I was someone valuable. To most women I wasn't worth the honesty of a rejection. They just ignored me. I was dying for Mei, but the fact that she lived in Baltimore was something of a problem. On lonely nights spent whittling away in my apartment I longed to know what she smelled like, what she tasted like, how her skin would feel against mine. It would have been heaven. I feared she would always remain an intangible muse, an archetype for the perfect female and, I suppose, to others, this would seem blown completely out of proportion. She was human after all, but the ideal of Mei was irresistible to me. 
In high school I was no one, just a pot-smoking art student who had no reservations about making a complete ass of himself. Someone like Mei had no reason to talk to me and vice versa. When I did see her in the hallway, she was usually carrying her books and smiling with her friends. I was like a little kid with no money and his face pressed up against a warmly lit shop window. She was so desirable. Even if I had realized it back then, I still couldn't compete with the other males in our class. So, I eventually gave up, taking harder drugs and letting my addictions lead me into an accidental overdose. I hit rock bottom. Piece by piece I rebuilt my life in an image more like hers. I got clean, went to college and graduated with distinction. Suddenly she had reappeared in my life, though up until now I seldom spoke of her. Who was she, really, and why had she made this entrance? 
It started raining a little and the pavement glistened. I looked down at my ragged tennis shoes splashing through the puddles. I was home late. My cat was there to greet me at the door, and I paused by the cutting board on my kitchen counter. Placing my hands on the edge I stared into the woodgrain. I could feel her arms around me. It was love. It was hurt. It felt real but I was all alone. I reveled in the stillness and knew I was powerless. Pursuing her felt criminal. To catch her would be like capturing a butterfly, putting it in a jar and screwing down the lid. It wouldn't survive for long. All I could do was stand there in silence, tracing the whorls in the wood, trapped by a figment of my imagination. Was she thinking of me too? Her virtual presence remained for several more sensual moments before fading into the small fissures that had formed around the edges of the board. 
Walking into the bathroom I returned to the mirror and stared hard at my lanky frame. In the corner of my eye I caught a flash of a dark image lurking behind me. Startled, I shook my head and rubbed my eyes with my open palms. Was my mind playing tricks on me? I groaned. 
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I wondered aloud. For some reason I felt as though I would never really know. I pulled some pills out from behind my reflection and swallowed them down. Burrowing under the covers, sleep came quickly.


Book Blitz Organized By:
R&R Book Tours

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Release Day Blitz: VEILED BY DESIRE, Candace Robinson

Release Day Blitz: VEILED BY DESIRE by Candace Robinson. 
Congratulations, Candace! A fantastic sequel that I can't wait to arrive!

Veiled by Desire is the second installment of the Laith series and will be available on November 19th! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, AND a digital copy of book #1, Clouded by Envy!

Title: Veiled by Desire: A Laith Novel
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: The Parliament House Press

Summary: In Laith, when the moons are high, Tavarra is allowed to walk the land as a human for one day, losing her seahorse-like tail. But should she remain out of the water, a curse will overtake her, turning her into a beast with sharp fangs and long claws. A beast that, on some nights, takes the shape of a rampaging, uncontrollable monster.
Rhona, along with her village, are under a sinister leader’s control. Their leader has taken Rhona from the boy she loves, stripped away her abilities and, under the threat of killing everyone she loves, forces her on a dangerous task to retrieve a dark prism that will increase his already massive powers.
When Tavarra and Rhona cross paths, they discover they need each other. Rhona knows how to help the cursed sea creature, while Tavarra knows where to find the dark prism. They embark on a mission that could help them break Tavarra’s spell and save Rhona’s family and village. But with an untamable beast inside Tavarra, nothing is certain..

Goodreads: desire?from_search=true
My Review (5/5 stars):

Exclusive Excerpt:
Seven years of this. Tavarra closed her eyes and gripped the chains around the tree that bound her wrists together. She howled with urgency, screamed, and bared her fangs. As she stared up at the twin moons in the darkening sky, she knew her fate was coming. A fire spread throughout her entire body with a wicked touch, and she shook violently.

“The chains will hold this time,” her friend Eza said, landing on Tavarra’s shoulder. If Tavarra killed the pesky bat, there would be nothing, no one, and she had grown to love Eza after all these years.

“Get out of here, Eza! Now!” Tavarra screamed.

“I’ll be right here,” the bat murmured and flew up into the tree above. Eza looked incredibly similar to a fairy except for the thin blackened wings, fangs, and sharper-pointed ears. She was a little taller than the size of Tavarra’s hand from wrist to the tip of the claw on her middle finger.

Tavarra was trying to fight the change. She would win this time. As she breathed in the scents of Laith, Tavarra knew it was a lie, and indeed, she knew she’d failed when her skin began to stretch. She could feel her face taking on a new shape, and that was when the terror came because the night would be unknown to her. That was what haunted her the most. Tavarra held back the tears, unwilling to break, unwilling to bend and show weakness.

All that remained in her soul, heart, and existence, was hunger. She yearned and thirsted for blood, meat, and bones.

Purchase through...
Amazon: keywords=veiled+by+desire&qid=1569105225&s=gateway&sr=8-2
B&N: robinson/1133731177?ean=2940163750061

Clouded by Envy (Laith #1) Summary:
Brenik has always been envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can.
Living in a tree trunk for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always remains in the back of her mind. When Bray reunites with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming between Bray and Wes.

My Review (4/5 stars):

Author Information: Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words and hoping to one day find her own DeLorean time machine. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, watching classic movies, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.

Find Candace on her...

Enter below to win 
- $10 Amazon Gift Card & 
- Digital copy of Clouded by Envy (Book #1) 

Open to North America residents only. Link:

Book Blitz Organized By:
R&R Book Tours

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Call of Death, RJ Garcia

The Call of Death, 3.5/5

Pages: 268
Book Number: 1 of 1
Genre: YA/NA, Thriller, Suspense, Romance

Summary by Author: Fourteen-year-old Hannah Priestly crashes into a terrifying future. She wakes up in her dorm room now knowing the name of an infamous serial killer, Norman Biggs. He will attack her in the future unless she and her three male friends can change fate.

Hannah is a suntanned, obsessive-compulsive California girl dropped off at an English boarding school by her celebrity mother. Hannah has difficulty understanding algebra, let alone her increasingly dark visions. Rory Veer is Hannah’s smart, easy-going and romantically challenged friend and school crush. When Norman Biggs unexpectedly appears in Rory’s reality, terror is set in motion. It is Rory who must acknowledge a past he has denied if the mystery is to be unraveled.

Initial Impressions: For some reason, this book is giving me serious The Book Thief vibes. I am just a few pages in and am already captivated: the hook is exhilarating, terrifying, and thought-provoking, a perfect introduction to a book with 'death' in the title. The protagonists' personalities are quickly beginning to form and impress me as well. The first thing I look for in book is connection to the characters, and I feel like it is coming quickly. I can't wait to continue reading The Call of Death

Opinions: The beginning of The Call of Death lacked a defined plot but made up for it with fun, flowing, and tension-building scenes. The introduction was hooking and foreshadowing, making for an interesting and engaging read all the way through. As I previously anticipated, the characters were relatable and realistic (excluding the fantastical elements) which enhanced the reading experience. Hannah, the protagonist, was easy to sympathize with as she is a normal teenager living with a heartbreaking and terrifying conflict constantly looming over her. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Call of Death for its atmosphere, unique plotline, and suspenseful story arc. The ending was another element that I simply have no words for. All in all, a memorable and re-read worthy book. 

My Favourite Thing: I am impressed with the atmosphere Garcia created. The Call of Death is a suspenseful, intense, uncomfortable read full of mysterious characters and time-twisting events. I usually am not drawn to books with time travel or anything similar, but Hannah's visions and foreseeing the future is fabulously written and was easy to understand. Between the strong relationships, futuristic visions, and creepy man showing up in a fourteen-year-old girl's dreams, The Call of Death was a roller coaster of suspense and emotion. 
My Least Favourite Thing: This isn't necessarily a complaint, just a neutral comment that needs a place: it is obvious from the writing style that Garcia is not British. As an avid reader and expat writer myself, I immediately notice quirks that prove this, such as over-explaining cultural differences. If an English character called a girl fit, he would say so and move on. No explanation, no continuation, just on to the next scene. On the other hand, Garcia often took extra care of explaining these cultural/ethnic differences. I appreciate this as it gives reader obvious insight into the British vernacular, but I felt it made the writing forced and unnatural. I appreciate that Garcia was very aware of her audience, but I wonder if less information would be better, leaving readers to question the text and do their own research. 

Total Rating: PG-13
Language: PG-13+
Adult Content: PG-12
Violence: PG-13+

Recommended For and Similar Reads: The Call of Death is an thematic, suspenseful, uncanny novel for mature teenagers who love mystery and thrillers. Initially, I received The Book Thief vibes but am now seeing the relations between To Dream is to Die by Sarah Lampkin and One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus. I strongly suggest this book, and I will be rereading it!

Twitter: @rj_dreamer

Setting: UK
Publisher: The Parliament Press
Edition: Kindle
Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Two Worlds of Oblivion, Angelina J Steffort

Two Worlds of Oblivion, 5/5

Pages: 290
Book Number: 2 of 2 (ongoing)
Genre: YA/NA, Fantasy

Summary by Author: The blood that holds the power to change the fate of Allinan is the same blood that will destroy her.

Even though Maray has returned to the world she grew up in, she isn’t safe. Grasping for power, Rhia seeks her blood to claim its magic. To prevent this, the rogue revolutionaries intend to kill Maray first.

This time, running isn't an option. She must return to Allinan, where she belongs and where she has the best shots of learning to control her magic. But who can she trust when half of the court is loyal to her evil grandmother?

In this sequel to Two Worlds of Provenance Maray must accept that as a Princess of Allinan she has more to lose than just her own life.

Initial Impressions: I gave the first book of the series, Two Worlds of Provenance, 5/5 stars with no hesitation for its magic, fluidity, and tension. I am looking forward to seeing these features and motifs in Two Worlds of Provenance and hope to continue picking out things that I enjoyed about Steffort's style. Reading the summary, I see lots of potential and am excited to make a start!

Halfway-Through Notes: With no surprise, Two Worlds of Oblivion is just as amazing as Two Worlds of Provenance. I always struggle writing reviews for YA fantasy novels because they are very similar, but complimenting the plot and Steffort's writing style is a piece of cake. I am finding it very easy to stay engaged and care about the character's fates because the author shows her passion through the descriptions, consistency, and realism in the text. As far as I can tell, Two Worlds of Oblivion does not suffer from sequel syndrome and tells another excellent, entertaining, meaningful story. Apologies for the short Initial Impressions and Halfway-Through Notes, but I am going to continue reading!

Opinions: In five words: the epitome of YA fantasy. Steffort's Two Worlds of Provenance and Two Worlds of Oblivion contain all of the elements necessary towards creating a thoughtful, engaging, thrilling fantastical read for teenagers (according to Writer's Edit) and even more. Magic system? Check. Well-developed setting? Check. Cast of complex characters? Check. A central conflict? Check, check, and check. A system of government? Check! Thanks to Claire Bradshaw at Writer's Edit and my own opinions, I can attest that Two Worlds of Oblivion is a well-written, thrilling, emotional book that deserves to be read. This series is definitely on my reread list, and I look forward to the next book!

My Favourite Thing: I hate to repeat My Favourite Things, but this time, it's true: I simply adore Steffort's world-building -- it's "out of this world." Both realms were creative, consistent, and engaging: the human world was comfortable and familiar to readers and the supernatural realm was unique, dynamic, and lively. Normally, the setting is "just the location," but in Two Worlds of Provenance and Two Worlds of Oblivion, the setting is part of what makes the story so rich and meaningful. 
My Least Favourite Thing: And again... I must repeat my Least Favourite Things: As a whole, Two Worlds of Oblivion was fast-paced and intense. While this made for page-turning, late-night reads, there wasn't much difference between the rising-action and climax. Because the book is quite short, this element doesn't alter the rating I give it, but if the book were longer and continued at this pace, it would become bothersome and trite. 

Total Rating: PG-13
Language: PG
Adult Content: PG-12
Violence: PG-13

Recommended For and Similar Reads: Two Worlds of Oblivion is a classic YA supernatural story. If you have read and enjoyed Die for Me by Amy Plum, The Power and the Fury by James Erith, or City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, you will love Two Worlds of Provenance and Two Worlds of Oblivion! Stay tuned for the to-come series!

Top Goodreads Lists Including This Book:
- YA and NA Royalty
- Best Multidimensional
- Best "Strong Female" Fantasy Novels

Twitter: @ajsteffort

Publisher: MK
Edition: Kindle
Publication Date: 15 October, 2019
Per FTC regulations, please know that I received this title for free for review from the original author, the publisher, publicist, or a third party. I am honest in my reviews, meaning the fact I received the book for free does not alter the rating I give it. 

The "five necessary elements of fantasy" are written by Claire Bradshaw at Writer's Edit, not me. Here is the link to the post: 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Siren Song, Alex Hayes

Siren Song, 2/5

Author Information: Alex Hayes grew up in America and England with a storytelling mother and a love for writing. Hayes wrote her first story when she was twelve-years-old and published her first novel, Ice Cracks, when she was eighteen. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Creative Writing and developed a career as an IT specialist in database engineering. Currently, Hayes is continuing to write and helping her partner restore a 450-year-old hacienda. 

Pages: 312
Book Number: 3 of 3
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Summary by Author: Connell KurÄ“n doesn’t love being a paparazzo…

He’s a member of the most scorned profession in Hollywood, but he’s good at it, and a hard-ass to boot.

He might also be called an ambulance chaser, though not for the disreputable reason he chases celebrities. Connell has the ability to heal, and at the sound of a siren, he is drawn to those in need. Life is just fine until his pushy paparazzi nature almost gets someone killed.

Rowan Bren suffers post-traumatic stress and a permanent headache following a near-death experience at the hands of her mortal enemy. After months, she still isn’t right, but she won’t be held back from seeking her bond mate, Con, any longer.

She travels to Los Angeles motivated to help her friend, Idris, with his brilliant plan to locate their missing people. But Rowan’s top priority in the City of Angels is to find Con. She doesn’t know where he lives, but she’s not worried, because her crystal will lead her straight to him.

When she trips into his world, she finds a man so different from the person she expects, she fears he might not be Con at all. That he might be possessed by an evil force like the one that almost killed her.

Opinions: Siren Song was very, very similar to Silken Scales and Perfect Pitch in all ways: writing style, themes, and my opinions. This series by Alex Hayes has amazing reviews from other readers, but unfortunately, it's not my cup of tea. I was still unable to enjoy the read, stay engaged, or appreciate any of the positive elements (such as the themes) because I found the creatures to be odd, the writing style to lack fluidity, and the characters, although different, to be archetypical and overused in YA. I do see the positive elements and take conscious note of them, but the good quickly balances out with the bad. I truly hope you enjoy this series more than I do, because, like, I said, there is good. 

My Favourite Thing: One big improvement of Siren Song were the protagonists: Rowan and Connell, two previously minor characters, took the place of Idris and Cadi. Personally, I am glad that Idris and Cadi are still active characters but took a step back. This allowed the plot to vary and resist repeating the events of the first two books. Hayes made a great choice changing things up a bit!
My Least Favourite Thing: Although the change of protagonists did help, Siren Song dragged on the series. Perhaps there were no repeated scenes, but each book had the same feel, same themes, same supernatural features. Besides my disliking of the actual story, I was bored reading 950+ pages of these similar elements over and over and over. 

Overall Rating: PG-13 to 18
Language: PG-13
Adult Content: PG-13 to 18
Violence: PG-13

Recommended For and Similar Reads: Siren Song is for teenagers who love supernatural and are not afraid of straying from the classic vampire/angel/wizard category. There are a few scenes mentioning sex/sexual attraction, meaning this book is for mature teenagers. Similar YA books are Hush, Hush and Die for Me (for supernatural with romance). Make sure you read the first two books of the series first, Silken Scales and Perfect Pitch!

Publisher: Shaking the Tree Press
Edition: Kindle
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
ISBN: 9781595730084
Everything stated within the "My Opinions" and "My Least/Favourite Thing" is my personal opinion.
Per FTC regulations, please know that I received this title for free for review from the original author, the publisher, publicist, or a third party. I am honest in my reviews, meaning the fact I received the book for free does not alter the rating I give it. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Ink in the Blood, Kim Smejkal

Ink in the Blood, 5/5

This review was written primarily by me (Emma Katherine) but with the help of Juliette L and Lucy M, two friends who also read Ink in the Blood. Thank you for the help!

Pages: 448
Book Number: 1 of 2
Genre: YA/NA, Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy, LGBTQ

Summary by Author: Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.

Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.

To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself.

Initial Impressions: I am very lucky and thankful I received an ARC from Kim Smejkal because I was dying to read Ink in the Blood. After receiving an advanced preview of the prologue, I fell in love with the protagonist, then young and gentle, and the idea of magical tattoos and Goddesses. I have always loved dark magic, and just a few pages past the prologue, I can tell Ink in the Blood is going to be sinister and malevolent. I am excited to continue reading! 

Halfway-Through Notes: Juliette, Lucy, and I have all agreed that Ink in the Blood is simply amazing. Smejkal has created an atmospheric world of tension, dark magic, and conspiracy that is just unfamiliar enough to keep the reader comfortable but nearing the edge of their seat. The beginning was a bit slow, just introducing the reader to the world and situation, but the plot picked up quickly and we were introduced to the Rabble Mob (nod to Smejkal's Street Team), Kitty Kay, and the antagonist, Diavala. All three of us have given the first half of Ink in the Blood an outstanding thumbs-up and we're ready to read the final half!

Opinions: My friends and I had lots of fun discussing Ink in the Blood together, considering the characters, themes, settings, and other key features. All in all, we all loved Ink in the Blood and will add it to the top of our Most-Anticipated lists. I was especially enamored by the characters - Diavala is an estranged, powerful, misunderstood character that makes up the plot, indirectly giving the readers a reason to love sweet, magic-wielding Celia. I always look for connection to the characters when reading, and because Smejkal did a fabulous job giving each character their own backstory, motives, and personality, connection was immediate. We were also impressed with the magical air of the story - it was as if the magic escaped the pages and wrapped around the reader, drawing us into the world. I found the magic to be mesmerizing and almost realistic the way Smejkal describes and uses it, as if it were an everyday object or idea. I will definitely be rereading Ink in the Blood and hope it gets as much love from other readers as it deserves. 

Our Favourite Thing: I loved the plague doctors, Lucy loved the cover, and Juliette loved the DnD similarities, but we all agreed on one thing: the craft of Ink in the Blood was very special. Kim Smejkal has a talent for writing fluid, engaging, descriptive text that the readers can appreciate and understand. I was never confused, lost, or bored while reading because Smejkal was always ahead of the game when it came to knowing her audience's needs, such as a brawl or cliffhanger or death. I am, above all, impressed with the themes of Ink in the Blood: YA fantasy's only restriction is that themes are all either nonexistent or very similar, but Smejkal was able to conjure up new, exciting, valuable lessons for her readers to pick up easily and learn. Some motifs revolve around death, power, respect, freedom, loyalty, and promises, things that all teenagers and young adults can bare to learn a little about. Kim Smejkal didn't just share a fairytale with us, she created a novel of craft, passion, and care.
Our Least Favourite Thing: Finding an Our Least Favourite Thing was very difficult. Not because there were so many problems we couldn't choose one, but because there were no problems. We thought that between the three of us, we would've found something off-putting, but we remain complaint-free besides a few small "I wish that character didn't do that" and "I wish they dated" jokes. With as much sincerity as we can muster, we loved Ink in the Blood front to back, all and through. I will be adding it to 2020's Most Anticipated and my All-Time Favourites list. 

Total Rating: PG-13+
Language: PG-13
Adult Content: PG-12
Violence: PG-13+ to R (abuse towards children, off-page torture)

Recommended For and Similar Reads: Ink in the Blood is a thrilling, atmospheric, dark read for teenagers who can handle a bit of horror. Similar reads are Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl for its magic/atmosphere, "The Theater of the Absurd" for its mood and atmosphere, and pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman. I adored Ink in the Blood, so I suggest you give it a try!

Top Goodreads Lists Including This Book:
- YA 2020 Books With (Possible) LGBTQ Themes
- Most Exciting Upcoming YA Books
- Can't Wait Books of 2020

Twitter: @kimsmejkal

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Edition: English
Publication Date: Expected: 11 February, 2020
ISBN: 1328557057
Per FTC regulations, please know that I received this title for free for review from the original author, the publisher, publicist, or a third party. I am honest in my reviews, meaning the fact I received the book for free does not alter the rating I give it.