Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Spotlight: Moonlight Seduction by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Preorder Campaign + Excerpt)

Title: Moonlight Seduction
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: de Vincent, #2
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: June 26, 2018

Synopsis: The de Vincent brothers are back—and so is the intrigue that surrounds them—in New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s sizzling new novel...

Nicolette Bresson never thought she’d return to the de Vincents’ bayou compound. It’s where her parents work, where Nikki grew up... and where she got her heart broken by Gabriel de Vincent himself. Yet here she is, filling in for her sick mother. Avoiding Gabe should be easy, especially when so much of Nikki’s time is spent trying not to be stabbed in the back by the malicious hangers-on who frequent the mansion. But escaping memories of Gabe, much less his smoking-hot presence, is harder than expected—especially since he seems determined to be in Nikki’s space as much as possible.

Gabriel spent years beating himself up over his last encounter with Nikki. He’d wanted her then, but for reasons that were bad for both of them. Things have now changed. Gabe sees more than a girl he’s known forever; he sees a smart, talented, and heartbreakingly beautiful woman... one who’s being stalked from the shadows. Now, Gabe will do anything to keep Nikki safe—and to stop the de Vincent curse from striking again.


About the Author: # 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.


Preorder Campaign:
-Preorder an ebook or print copy of Moonlight Seduction by Jennifer L. Armentrout and get an exclusive de Vincent bonus story sent via email!
-Open Internationally
-You must upload a copy your preorder receipt to be eligible
-The de Vincent bonus story will be emailed after the release of Moonlight Seduction (6/26/18)

Enter your receipt HERE

Excerpt: Chapter 1

Six years later . . .

It took every ounce of self-control for Gabriel de Vincent to stand back and do nothing. Just stand there and watch him being led away, but that’swhat he had to do, because that’s what he’d promised and Gabe tried to be a man of his word.

Sometimes he failed at that. Failed at that in ways that haunted him late at night, but he wouldn’t go back on this.

He’d promised them three uninterrupted months. That’s what he was going to give them. His jaw ached from how hard he was clenching it as the Rothchilds walked back into the restaurant. He didn’t take his eyes off them, not until he couldn’t see them anymore. Only then did he look at the slip of paper.

Looking down at the drawing of puppy on a piece of blue construction paper, he felt the worst mix of emotions. Sadness. Pride. Helplessness. Hope. Fury that he’d never tasted before. He had no idea how one person could feel all of that at once, but he did.

A wry smile tugged at his lips. There was definitely talent in the drawing. Real skill. The de Vincent knack for the arts was still kicking around it seemed.

His gaze flickered over what was written in a blockish handwriting. He’d already read in three times, but couldn’t bear to read it a fourth time. Not right now. He didn’t want to fold the paper and created creasesin it, so he was careful as he carried it back to where he was parked.

“Gabriel de Vincent.”

Frowning at the vaguely familiar voice, he turned around. A man steppedout from behind a truck. Dark, square sunglasses shielded half the man’sface, but Gabe recognized him.

He sighed. “Ross Haid. To what do I owe the honor of seeing you in Baton Rouge?”

The reporter for the Advocate gave one of what Gabe assumed was a trademark half grin; the kind that probably got him into a places and events he sure as hell didn’t belong in. “Headquarters are here. You know that.”

“Yeah, but you work out of the New Orleans office, Ross.”

He shrugged a shoulder as he neared Gabe. “I had to come up to headquarters. Heard through the grapevine that a de Vincent was in town.”

“Uh-huh.” Not for one second did Gabe believe that. “And you just happen to hear that I was at this restaurant?”

The smile kicked up a notch as he ran a hand over his blond hair. “Nah. Seeing you here was just luck.”

Bullshit. Ross had been sniffing after his family for about two months now, trying to get to one of them when they were out at dinner or at an event, showing up at nearly every damn function one of them was attending. But back home, in New Orleans, Ross had trouble getting near them. Well, he had troubled getting to the one he really wanted to talk to which was Gabe’s older brother.

Didn’t require any leap of logic to figure out what was going on. Somehow Ross had heard that Gabe was here, and that’s why Ross conveniently ended up here. Normally he could tolerate Ross’ incessant questioning. Hell, he sort of liked the guy, appreciated his determination,but not when Ross was here and something he didn’t want a reporter finding out mere feet away.

Lowering his sunglasses, Ross eyed Gabe’s ride. “Nice car. Is it one of the new Porsche 911s?”

Gabe raised his brows.

“Family business must be going well. Then again, the family business is always going strong, isn’t it? The de Vincents are old money. The one percent of the one percent.” Gabe’s family was one of the oldest, linked all the way back to the days the great state of Louisiana was being created. Now they owned the most profitable oil refineries in the Gulf, coveted real estate all around the world, tech firms, and once his older brother married, they’d be in control of the one of the largest shipping industries in the world. So, yeah, the de Vincents were wealthy, but the car and nearly everything Gabe owned, he bought it with the money he worked for. Not the money he was born with.

“Some say that your family has so much money, that the de Vincents are above the law.” Ross straightened his sunglasses. “Seems that way.”

Gabe really didn’t have time for this. “Whatever you want to say, can you stop beating around the damn bush and get to it? I’m planning to head home sometime in the next year.”

The reporter’s smile faded. “Since you’re here and I’m here, and it’s damn hard to talk to you all any other time. I want to chat about your father’s death.”

“I’m sure you do.”

“I don’t believe it was a suicide,” Ross continued. “And I find it also convenient that Chief Cobbs, who openly and publicly wanted your father’s death investigated as a homicide ended up dead in a freak car accident.”

“Is that right?”

Frustration hummed off Ross about as loud as the damn locusts. “Is that all you got to say to me about this?”

“Pretty much.” Gabe grinned then. “That and you have an overactive imagination, but I’m sure you’ve heard that before.”

“I don’t think my imagination is nearly vast enough to compete with all the things the de Vincents have had their hands in.”

Probably not.

“Okay, I won’t ask you about your father or the chief.” Ross shifted his weight as Gabe opened his driver’s door. “Also heard some interesting rumors about some of the staff at the de Vincent compound.”

“I’m starting to feel like you might be stalking us.” Gabe placed the drawing facedown on the passenger’s seat. “If you want to talk about staffing, then you need to have a chat with Dev.”

“Devlin won’t make time to talk to me.”

“That doesn’t sound like my problem.”

“It seems like it is now.”Gabe laughed, but the sound was without humor as he reached inside, grabbing his sunglasses off the visor. “Trust me, Ross, this isn’t my problem.”

“You may not think so now, but that’ll change.” A muscle twitched alongthe man’s jaw. “I plan to blow the roof of every single damn secret the de Vincents have been keeping for years. I’m going to do a story that noteven your family can pay to keep quiet.”

Shaking his head, Gabe slipped his sunglasses on. “I like you, Ross. Youknow I’ve never had a problem with you. So, I just want to get that out of the way. But you have got to come up with some better material, because that was clichĂ© as shit.” He rested his hand on the frame of the car door. “You’ve got to know you’re not the first reporter to come around thinking they’re somehow going to dig some skeletons out of ourclosets and expose us for whatever the hell you think we are. You’re not going to be the last to fail.”

“I don’t fail,” Ross said. “Not ever.”

“Everyone fails.” Gabe climbed in behind the wheel.

“Except the de Vincents?”

“You said it, not me.” Gabe looked up at the reporter. “Some unasked for advice? I’d find another story to investigate.”

“Is there where you’re going to tell me to be careful?” He sounded oddly gleeful by the prospect. “Warn me off? Because people who mess with the de Vincents end up missing or worse?”

Gabe smirked as he hit the ignition key. “Doesn’t sound like I need to tell you that. Seems like you already know what happens.”

Nikki stood in the center of the quiet and sterile kitchen of the de Vincent mansion, telling herself that she was not the same little idiot thatalmost drowned herself out in the pool six years ago.

She sure as hell wasn’t the same idiot who had spent years making an utter fool out of herself, chasing after a grown man. An act, which resulted in one of the worst ideas she’d ever had in the history of bad ideas.

And Nikki had a remarkable history of making not the brightest of all decisions. Her dad said she had a bit of wild streak in her, taking after Pappy, but Nikki liked to blame the de Vincents for the recklessness. They had this really bizarre talent of making everyone around them stickone toe into Recklessville.

Her mother claimed that most of Nikki’s bad decisions came from having a good heart.

Nikki had the habit of picking up strays—stray cats, dogs, a lizard here and there, even a snake, and humans, too. She was a bleeding heart, hating to see anyone she cared about in pain and she was oftentimes a bitoverly affected by the troubles of strangers.

It was why she avoided the TV around the holidays, because they alwaysplayed those heart-wrenching videos of freezing animals or children left to starve in war-torn countries. She hated everything about New Year’s Eve because of that and spent the week between Christmas and the first of January moping around.

There was a lot of Nikki that was the same as she was the last time she walked through this house. She still got emotionally invested in animals that didn’t belong to her—that was why she volunteered at the local animal shelter. She still couldn’t turn away from someone who needed help, and she still found herself in weird situations but reckless? Wild?

Not anymore.

Not since the last time she’d been in the house, right before she left for college. That had been four years ago and now she was back, and nothing and everything had changed.

“You okay, hon?” her father asked.

Turning to find her father standing just inside the large kitchen, she pulled herself out of her thoughts and smiled widely for him. Goodness, her dad was starting to look his age, and that scared her—truly terrified her. Her parents had her late in life, but she was only twenty-two, and she wanted another fifty years or so with them.

Nikki knew that wasn’t going to happen. Especially now. She forced those thoughts from her head. “Yes. I’m just . . . it’s weird being in here after being gone so long. The kitchen is different.”“It was remodeled a few years back,” he replied. The mansion was constantly being remodeled it seemed. After all, how many times had this place caught fire since it was built? Nikki had lost count. Her father drew in a deep breath, and the lines around his mouth became more pronounced. He looked so tired. “I don’t know if I’ve said this to you or not, but thank you.”

She waved him off. “You don’t need to thank me, Dad.”

“Yeah, I do.” He walked over to where she stood. “You went away to college to do something better than this—better than cooking dinners and running a household. To become something better.”

Offended on his behalf, she crossed her arms and met his weary gaze. “There’s nothing wrong with cooking dinners and running a household. It’s good, honest work. Wok that put me through college. Right, Dad?”

“We take great pride in our job. Don’t get me wrong, but what your mother and I did all these years was so you could do something else.” He sighed. “So, it means a lot that you would come home to help us out, Nicolette.”

Only her dad and mom called her by her full name. Everyone else called her Nikki. Everyone except a certain de Vincent who shall remained nameless. He and only he called her Nic.

Her parents had worked for the de Vincents, one of the wealthiest families in the States and possibly the world, since long before she was born. It was weird growing up in this house, being privy to a lot of strange stuff—things the public has no idea about and would probably pay a large sum of money to learn. And personally? It was like she had afoot in two different worlds, one absurdly wealthy and the other middle working class.

Her father was basically a butler, except she always had a small suspicion that her father had . . . taken care of things for the de Vincents that no normal butler did. Her mother ran the day-to-day functions of thehouse and prepared the dinners. Both her parents loved working for the family and she knew both had planned to continue to the day they died, but her mom . . . .

Nikki’s chest squeezed painfully. Her mom was not well and it had happened so fast, coming out of nowhere. The dreaded C word.

“Honestly, this is perfect. I got my degree and this will give me time to figure things out.” In other words, figure out what the hell she wanted to really do with her life. Get to work or go for her master’s? She wasn’t sure yet. “And I want to be here while Mom is going through everything.”

“I know.” His smile wobbled a little as he brushed a strand of blondish- brown hair out of her face.

“We could’ve hired someone else to step in while your mother—”

“No, you couldn’t have.” She laughed at the mere thought of that. “I know how weird the de Vincents are. I know how protective you two areof them. I know how to keep my mouth shut and not see what I’m not supposed to. And you two don’t have to worry about someone new not keeping their mouth shut and not seeing what they’re not supposed to.”

Her dad arched a brow. “A lot of things have changed, honey.”

She snorted as she took in the white marble countertops with gray veining. Mom had filled her in on some of those changes during one of her chemo treatments. After all, what else did they have to talk about while she was being pumped full of poison that would hopefully kill only the cancer cells building in her lung?

Things in the de Vincent mansion that had changed.

For starters, the patriarch of the family, one Lawrence de Vincent, had hung himself a few months back. An act that had shocked her because she figured that man would’ve outlived a nuclear bomb. And Lucian de Vincent apparently had a live-in girlfriend and they were about to move into their own place. That was even more insane, the idea of Lucian settling down.

The Lucian she remembered put the play in player. He’d been an incorrigible flirt, leaving a string of broken hearts across the state of Louisiana and beyond.

She hadn’t met his girlfriend yet since they were away on some kind of trip; the rich rarely seemed to have much of a schedule. She just hoped whoever his girlfriend was, she was nice and nothing like Devlin’s fiancĂ©.

Nikki might not have been around the de Vincents in four years, but she remembered Sabrina Harrington and her brother Parker.

Sabrina had just begun seeing Devlin the year before Nikki had left for college and that had been a year’s worth of snide comments and rather impressive disdainful looks. Nikki could deal with Sabrina though. If she was the same woman as she was before, she could be as mean as a cornered rattlesnake, but Nikki normally didn’t even register on her scale of people to pay attention to.

Parker though?

Nikki suppressed a shudder, not wanting to worry her father who was watching her like a hawk.

Parker had often stared at her the way she’d wanted Gabe to look at her, especially when she had grown brave enough to move from a one-piece bathing suit to a two-piece.

And Parker . . . he had done more than look.

She drew in a deep breath. She wasn’t going to think about Parker. He wasn’t worth a single thought.

What happened to Lawrence, and Lucian’s new romance weren’t the only things her mom had told her. She filled Nikki in on the whole sister reappearing and then disappearing again thing. Something that she knewthe general public had no idea had even happened. She didn’t know the details around it, but Nikki knew that in typical de Vincent fashion, it had to the most drama-llama-est thing possible.

And she also knew better than to ask questions about it. Her father stepped back. “The boys are all out.” Thank God and baby Jesus. “Devlin should be back this evening for dinner. He likes dinner to be ready at six.I believe Ms. Harrington will be joining him.” Well, thanking God and baby Jesus lasted all of five seconds. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and make a gagging sound.

“Okay.”

“Gabriel is still in Baton Rouge, or at least, that’s the last I heard,” her father continued, ticking off the brothers’ schedules while she wondered what Gabe was doing in Baton Rouge. Not that she cared. She totally didn’t care whatsoever, but she wondered if it had anything to do with his woodworking business.

The man was talented with his hands. Really talented. Her cheeks flushed as an unwanted memory of how his calloused palms felt pierced her straight through the chest. Nope. Not going there. Absolutely not.There were examples of Gabe’s skill all around the house—the furniture, chair rails, and trim, even in the kitchen. All of the woodwork was designed and created by Gabe. As a little girl, she’d been fascinated with the idea of picking up a piece of wood and turning it into something that was truly a work of art. That fascination had turned into quite the hobby for Nikki.

It had started one long, fall afternoon when she was ten and she’d found Gabe outside, whittling away on a piece of wood. Out of boredom, she’dasked him to show her how he did it. Instead of shooing her off, Gabe had given her small scrapes of wood and showed her how to use a chisel.

She’d gotten pretty good at it, but she hadn’t picked up a chisel in over four years. Nikki refocused on what her dad was telling her.“We’re a little understaffed right now,” her dad continued. “So there’s a lot of dusting in your near future. Devlin is very much like his father.”

Great. 

That was not a compliment in her book.“Is it the ghosts?” She half joked. “Scaring off the staff?” Her father shot her a look, but she knew damn well that her parents believed this house was haunted. Hell, they wouldn’t even come here at night unless itwas a dire emergency. None of the staff would and everyone in town knew the legends about the land the de Vincent mansion sat on. And whohadn’t heard about the de Vincent curse more than a time or two?

Being in this house as much as she had been in the past, she had seen some weird things and heard some stuff that couldn’t be explained. Plus she grew up within minutes of New Orleans. She was a believer, but unlike her friend Rosie, whom she met in college, she wasn’t obsessed with all things paranormal. Nikki operated on the whole if- you-don’t-acknowledge-ghosts-they-can’t-bother-you theory and so far it had worked so far wonderfully.

Then again, Nikki had only come here at night once in her life, and that had not turned out well at all. So maybe ignoring ghosts didn’t work, because she liked to think she was possessed by one of ghosts that supposedly wandered the halls, and that was what provoked her to do what she’d done that night.

Nikki was well aware of how the house was run because she’d spent most of her summer vacations in the house watching her mom, so she got to work pretty quickly once her father left her.

First thing first was tracking down what staff they did have at the house. Understaffed her butt! The only staff they had left was her dad; the landscaper who was constantly mowing grass it seemed or re-mulching; the de Vincent driver; and Mrs. Kneely, an older woman who’d done the laundry services since Nikki was a little girl.

Beverly Kneely actually owed her own laundry business and only came to the house three times a week to take care of the linens and clothing.

According to Bev, whom she found in the large mudroom at the back of the house, packing up clothing that needed to be dry-cleaned, over the last couple of months, nearly everyone had quit.

“So, let me get this straight.” Nikki smoothed back a few strands that had escaped the knot she’d pulled her hair up in. “The waiters are gone, as are the maids?”

Bev’s buxom chest heaved as she nodded. “It’s just been your parents forthe last three months. I think all that work was wearing poor Livie down.”

Anger flashed through Nikki. Hadn’t the de Vincents noticed how thin and tired her mom had been getting? How quickly she got out of breath? “Why didn’t the de Vincents hire someone to help?”

“Your father tried, but no one around here wants to come close to this place, not after what happened.”

She frowned. “You’re talking about Lawrence? What he did?”

Bev tied up the bags. “Not like that wasn’t bad enough, but that wasn’t the straw the broke the camel’s back around here.”

Nikki had no idea what she was talking about. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I’ve been updated on all the crazy. What else happened?”

Looking around the room, Bev arched her brows as she headed toward the side door. “Walls got ears. You know that. You want to know what’s been going on here, you ask your father or one of the boys.”

Her lips pursed. She was so not asking the boys.

Bev stopped at the door and looked back. “I don’t think Devlin is going to be happy when he sees what you’re wearing.”

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” It was jeans and a black tee shirt. No way was she going to dress like her mom or her dad. Her willingness to help her parents did not extend to wearing uniforms.

She looked down at herself and saw the hole just below the knee.Nikki sighed. Devlin was probably going to have a problem with the hole, but what Nikki wanted to know was what the hell had happened in this house to drive almost all the staff away?It had to be something.Not just because the de Vincents paid extraordinarily well, but also because her father hadn’t told her.

And that meant it was something really bad.
______________________
-Kristen ♥

Monday, December 11, 2017

Trailer Reveal: Brave by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Giveaway)

Title: Brave
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: A Wicked Saga, #3
Publication Date: December 11, 2017

Synopsis: Ivy Morgan hasn't been feeling like herself lately. Not like anyone can blame her. After all, being held captive by a psychotic fae prince hell-bent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld is bound to leave some mental scars.

It’s more than that, though. Something dark and insidious is spreading throughout Ivy, more powerful than she could ever imagine... and it’s coming between her and the man she’s fallen deeply in love with, elite Order member Ren Owens.

Ren would do anything to keep Ivy safe. Anything. But when he makes a life altering choice for her, the fallout of his act has far reaching consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart.

If Ivy is going to have any hope of surviving this, she must put aside the hurt and betrayal she feels, and work with not only those she loves, but with an enemy she would rather kill than ever trust. War is coming, and it soon becomes clear that what Ivy and Ren thought they knew about the Order, themselves, and even their enemies, has been nothing but a cluster of dangerous, deadly lies. Ivy knows she must be more than just brave to save those she loves--and, ultimately, to save herself.

Because behind ever evil fae Prince, there’s a Queen

About the Author: # 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.


Trailer:

Talent: Justin Edwards (cover model)
Giveaway:
SURPRISE SIGNED PRIZE PACK (containing multiple signed books & swag)
Open Internationally | Ends 12/22/17

a Rafflecopter giveaway

-Kristen ♥

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cover Reveal: Brave by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Announcement + Giveaway)

Title: Brave
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: A Wicked Saga, #3
Publication Date: December 11, 2017

Synopsis: Ivy Morgan hasn't been feeling like herself lately. Not like anyone can blame her. After all, being held captive by a psychotic fae prince hell-bent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld is bound to leave some mental scars.

It’s more than that, though. Something dark and insidious is spreading throughout Ivy, more powerful than she could ever imagine... and it’s coming between her and the man she’s fallen deeply in love with, elite Order member Ren Owens.

Ren would do anything to keep Ivy safe. Anything. But when he makes a life altering choice for her, the fallout of his act has far reaching consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart. If Ivy is going to have any hope of surviving this, she must put aside the hurt and betrayal she feels, and work with not only those she loves, but with an enemy she would rather kill than ever trust. War is coming, and it soon becomes clear that what Ivy and Ren thought they knew about the Order, themselves, and even their enemies, has been nothing but a cluster of dangerous, deadly lies. Ivy knows she must be more than just brave to save those she loves--and, ultimately, to save herself.

Because behind ever evil fae Prince, there’s a Queen…

About the Author: # 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.


AND NOW, for the beautiful cover....


Announcement:

To celebrate the upcoming release of BRAVE (book 3 in the Wicked Saga), Jennifer is offering an exclusive virtual signing! Through this virtual signing, you will be able to order SIGNED & PERSONALIZED copies of WICKED, TORN, and BRAVE! 

And best of all -- This is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY! 

The Virtual Signing opens on 9/21/17 at 11 am ET & ends on 11/17/17.


Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

-Kristen ♥

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Trailer Reveal: If There's No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Giveaway)

Title: If There's No Tomorrow
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Synopsis: Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She's ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn't looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends' entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn't even guaranteed?


About the Author: # 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.


Book Trailer:



Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

-Kristen ♥

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Book Review: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Synopsis: "I would say it's a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness." 

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper's great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn't exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor's control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there's a lot Alastor isn't telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host. 

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

Review: I don’t often read Middle-Grade books, but the premise of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding had me so intrigued that I couldn’t resist picking it up. And Alexandra Bracken did not disappoint. This was a fun, dark read with wonderful characters and fascinating creatures. We follow twelve-year-old Prosperity Oceanus Redding as he learns he is the host of a demon/fiend prince named Alastor, who is determined to exact revenge on his family, and who Prosper is determined to get rid of. I absolutely adored Prosper! He comes from a very respectable family but has always felt like he wasn’t quite good enough, especially compared to his twin sister, Prudence Fidelia Redding. He is an artist, loyal, and kind-hearted and I really enjoyed his narration. But I also loved getting to be inside Alastor’s head! He’s old-fashioned, stubborn, and just a little cheeky and I am excited to see his relationship with Prosper develop more. Prosper also becomes friends with another favorite character, a witch named Nell, who is proud, resilient, and kicks butt. The twists and turns were great, the atmosphere was delicious, and that cliffhanger left me eagerly awaiting the sequel.

An ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

-Kristen ♥

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Synopsis: Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! 

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Review: Graphic novels are still a fairly new genre to me, but with each one I read I fall in love a little bit more and The Prince and the Dressmaker has got to be the sweetest one I’ve read yet! Jen Wang’s illustrations were fantastic, the characters lovely, and the dresses absolutely divine. I loved watching Prince Sebastian’s confidence grow as he transformed into Lady Crystallia and I adored Frances’ friendship and easy acceptance. This story is about two characters going after their dreams and my heart warmed as I watched them come true. The ending was my favorite part as love conquered the day and I cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy so I can read it all over again.

(I know there's a while to wait until the release of this book, BUT I WAS JUST TOO EXCITED NOT TO SHARE!!)

An ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Rating: 5/5 stars

-Kristen ♥

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Blog Tour: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Title: Antisocial
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publication Date: August 8, 2017

Synopsis: A single stroke can change your world. 

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

About the Author: Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime.


Guest Post: 

American Gods: Anime, Manga, and the West 

Thanks for having me! I’m here today to talk about my newest novel, Antisocial, a new adult gay and asexual romance set in a fictional college in upstate New York between a one-percenter fraternity boy and a highly antisocial artist. One encounter with Xander Fairchild’s artwork is enough to turn Skylar Stone’s carefully orchestrated life upside down, unlacing his secrets and inviting him into a secret anime-soaked world with a new set of friends. I’m also going to talk about anime and manga culture and how it interacts with western culture, specifically American, and my own personal reflections on it as a whole.

I can’t tell you how many years I’ve been reading manga and watching anime, but the answer is, “many.” I’ve become more aggressive about it since December, it’s true, but this is largely because Yuri on Ice ignited a long-smoldering fire and I wanted to learn more, consume more. I’ve also begun studying Japanese, in part so I can travel to Japan but also so I can read Japanese, not only manga but also Japanese literature. I am, to quote one of my favorite animes, curious. I’ve always enjoyed anime and manga, but the depth to which I responded to Yuri on Ice made me want to know more, to dig deeper and attempt to understand why I was responding so much and so passionately. Yes, some of the YOI phenomenon was simply YOI, but there was always something different about every bit of anime and manga, and I wanted to try to find out what was going on.

I’m here to tell you, I don’t have a full answer yet, but I'm getting closer. I can recommend to you a few places for you to try your hand as well: The Soul of Anime by Ian Condry and The Anime Machine by Thomas Lamarre are two good entry points. So is getting your hands on as much anime and manga as you can swallow and drawing your own conclusions. Developing even a remedial understanding of Japanese language and culture helps too—that may sound like you’re coming at it backwards, but I’ve found that’s a good place to start. Because the first thing I learned was every time I made an assumption about something cultural about anime and manga, I was missing all kinds of pieces. Make no mistake—eight months into my studies all I have is a better understanding of what I’m missing, but that helps too.

Speaking specifically as an American, even though I’ve traveled and read more widely than the average citizen, I’m still highly aware of how isolated my culture is and how little influence we have in our entertainment from the outside world. We take for granted that our cinema will be in our native language and not dubbed or containing subtitles. We assume movies in our native language will be produced by major studios because they are, and the same for television. We ignore foreign language work because we can, and because there’s no real pressure or movement for us to look outside our own borders for anything; when there is a cultural movement, we feel entitled to a translation and are annoyed if there isn’t one. So one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by anime and manga are because they’re such powerful industries that function terribly well without US participation. Don’t worry, they’re happy to have our participation, but no one is going to jump if we start throwing hissy fits either. I find that refreshing, and I suspect having to work to understand a medium I’m so interested in is good for me.

In The Soul of Anime, Cordry talks about how anime in particular is consumed not passively but discussed on social media and across cultures and discussed around the world on social media, that this energy is now part of commercial success. This is true of a lot of entertainment, though, and not unique to anime and manga alone. It is true that Japan produces more anime, old-school type animation than we do, and that most of their entertainment (certainly a greater percentage than ours) is in this format. But this still doesn’t inform how it influences the west. Except, still working backwards, it might. Because Cordry also talks about how these animators are often exported and even the top creators and directors work in incredibly humble environs the exact opposite of our Hollywood studios. This part I’m not entirely sure on, but my preliminary understanding also is that while their voice actors are treated as celebrities, they do not live quite the grand and insane life style that ours do. There seems to be a humility all around to the whole process, at least overall.

Something else which is markedly different is that we have censors and Japan doesn’t, not in the same way. Comics, movies, and television have censors and advisory boards which limit content—even standard books have recently begun to come under that cloud for fear of not getting into big box stores and retailers, though that seems to have gone by the wayside with Amazon and Fifty Shades of Grey. For all the United States’s love of free speech, we have a highly Puritan sensibility regarding content at times. It’s subtle, but it’s there, and you notice it when you watch foreign entertainment. 

We also have a rather mercenary sense about our entertainment. Especially in regards to anything in film or television, if it doesn’t make money, it won’t get produced. And when I say money, I mean money. There’s a lot of content we could be producing that has an audience ready, but unless it’s massive, we won’t do it. This is a stark contrast to Asia. Take a gander on YouTube sometime and you will find yourself awash in “BL drama” (boy’s love, Japanese for gay romance) from Japan and Thailand—yes, Thailand—whereas you will find almost nothing here in the US, where our laws regarding same-sex marriage and LGBT rights are far different. The audience is smaller, but their idea of what a “hit” needs to be is smaller as well.

The greatest thing I’ve noticed about Japanese anime and manga, though, is something Skylar mentions briefly in Antisocial. In Japanese stories, I have noticed a stark difference in how problems are solved and how heroes are perceived. There is far more importance placed on group dynamics than on the individual, and it is frankly refreshing. There is a greater import on the society and a sense of belonging to the group and getting along, of not knowing your place exactly but working with your community and having respect. It’s the kind of thing I was taught when I grew up, which I have watched erode all around me specifically in my state and generally in this country—I think right now this is why it is so attractive to me as lately the United States honestly looks like a civil war on its best day and a trash fire as a matter of course. Japan is all about order and norm in its storytelling, a sense of putting things as they should be and everyone joining together.

I’m quite, quite certain this is fantasy up, down, and sideways. Whenever I find myself too wistful, I think of when I was twenty-one, about to graduate college and traveling to Europe on a credit card with my choir, terrified of graduation and about to enter first a chaotic dark period and then meet my future husband, but at that moment things were just about to get really terrible and I could feel it—I was chain-smoking on the deck of a ferry from York to Rotterdam and a young man from Manchester who was travelling to Germany for work sat there and told me emphatically how great my life was because I was American. I blinked at him, thinking of my debt and terror and broken family and shitshow of a boyfriend and I said, “Um, no.” He got angry and told me, “Yes it is. I know how you live. I’ve seen The Brady Bunch.”

Honey. He was dead serious.

I think of that guy a lot these days. Because I’m pretty sure I’m watching Japanese Brady Bunch, but by God, I don’t want anybody to take it from me. I thought about that guy a lot as I wrote Antisocial too. Right now I feel like so many people have this yearning to escape to a better place, this deep craving for there to be somewhere better, somewhere magical where people are sane and smart and a land where everything is okay. It doesn’t, of course, exist, but we don’t like that answer. What we want are gods, deities to magically make things work out and to be our buffers for life.

I feel, sometimes, as if my culture has tried to whisper false gods to me. I think back to the election and all the build up and chaos before and after, and it makes me bananas, because everything feels like broken promises: gods who lied. I think seeping myself in a foreign culture feels like release because I’m just so grateful to not look at my own for a twenty-two minute episode or the span of a manga.

I do know the real answer is to be my own god—to find my own truths, to be a leader and helper and a light in my own way, and I do try. But I also enjoy my moments of respite, and I won’t be giving up my Crunchyroll or my RightStuff Anime membership anytime soon.

If you want to make an escape with me after reading Antisocial, I’m currently in the middle of a blogging streak about what I’m watching, but you can also keep up with me at MyAnimeList. I hope to see you there.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

-Kristen ♥
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