Girl in blue ball gown stands over a 12-point compass embedded in a tile floor, by the words of the title: "The Conspiracy of Us" in white script

Book Review & Deal: Conspiracy of Us, A Fast-Paced Read

I walked into my local library a couple of weeks ago and saw a book on display–one of those “book of the week” displays–called Ends of the World. It had a beautiful  rich purple cover with a girl in a ball gown. I started reading the back blurb, and was instantly hooked…until I realized that it was the third in a trilogy. I was intrigued enough, though, that when I got home, I looked up the first book in the series, The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, to see if it sounded as appealing as the third book did, and if I could find a good deal on it. Although I suppose I could’ve probably checked the library’s database to see if they had all three books, where would the fun have been in that? The Conspiracy of Us, which I found for $6.98 on Amazon, turned out to similar in a lot of ways to Truth Seer, which I just reviewed, but more edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting, and emotional. It’s a YA DaVinci Code!

What is The Conspiracy of Us About?

Girl in blue ball gown stands over a 12-point compass embedded in a tile floor, by the words of the title: "The Conspiracy of Us" in white script

From Goodreads:

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.
To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle — beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family — but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

Who Would Like The Conspiracy of Us, And Why?

Anyone who likes mystery such as that found in Conjured by Sarah Durst, will love this book. If you liked the love triangle in Twilight, you’ll definitely like it, because it has one of those too. If you like fast-but-well-paced books with plots that build as inexorably and swiftly as pyroplastic clouds, as opposed to plots that constantly build and then slump over and over again, you’ll like Conspiracy of Us.

What’s The Deal?

There’s a site called BetterWorldBooks.com that sells both new and used copies of books, and there’s a used copy in very good condition (which basically means it’s pretty much new), for $3.98 with free shipping.  

A mysterious eye, set in a dark-skinned, painted face, over the title "Truth Seer"

Book Review & Deal: Truth Seer – an Adventure Read

How was your 4th of July? What did you do? We went to two family gatherings, one for my side of the family and one for my husband’s, and ate a ton at both. I feel like it was a mini-Thanksgiving. Of course, I spent a little bit of time reading and looking for deals, and I wanted to tell you about a book that just came out that’s only 99¢! It’s Truth Seer by Kay L. Moody, kind of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with superpowers.

What’s Truth Seer About?

From Amazon:

Egypt, 2121. Imara Kalu knows how she wants her future to go: become a police interrogator in Kenya and then graduate as a truth seer in her last semester of the summer training program. But her plans fall apart when a group of terrorists take over the school and carry out a desperate kidnapping. Devastated that her sister is among the victims, Imara leads a rescue team and descends into the dangerous catacombs where the hostages are rumored to be hidden. Although suspicious of others because of the truth she sees, Imara knows the rescue team will need her help as a truth seer to bypass the lethal illusions laid by the abductors. But as the terrorist traps escalate, Imara realizes how much truth she’s been ignoring and that holding back could get her sister killed. Throughout the journey, Imara confronts her past and amplifies her abilities as a truth seer only to discover that her sister’s kidnapping is just one piece of a much darker secret.

Who Would Like Truth Seer, And Why?

Aside from the Lara Croft movie, like I said, Truth Seer reminded me of two books: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, which I reviewed here, and The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, which I’m reading right now. All three are about people trying to work their way through a series of very obtuse clues to discover a mysterious but great boon in some kind of ancient structure or structures. In Unearthed, it’s a temple on an alien planet. In Conspiracy, which is sort of a YA Davinci Code, it’s places like the Cathedral of Notre Dame. In Truth Seer, it’s a catacomb in future Egypt.  Imara, the main character, can see people’s emotions, an ability that she hopes will help her find and rescue her sister from kidnappers but which also affects the dynamics between her and the other people who help her explore the catacombs. This book is adventure, emotion, and intrigue. I had a little bit of a hard time connecting with Imara, but can’t put my finger on why.

What’s The Deal?

If you buy Truth Seer on Amazon, where it was published, in the next 24 hours, you’ll only pay 99¢. After that, the ebook will go up to $4.99 (which is still a good deal) and the print book will be $12.95.  I’ve got a free physical copy to giveaway to a random winner selected by Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve got an exclusive interview with Kay Moody, the author, coming out tomorrow to all my subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed to be sent newsletters and notification of new posts, you should do so now, on the right sidebar of my main page!

Nutrition Facts?

Profanity (D*, S*, H*, F*): 0

Sex scenes: 0

Good stuff: lots

Visual?

via GIPHY

 

young woman in red sleeveless dress, under the title "Supernaturally"

Supernaturally Book Review & Deal: Fun Ghost Read & Super Cheap

Last week, I said that The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand reminded me of Supernaturally by Kiersten White, a book that I read quite a while ago and really liked, and realized I’d never reviewed it here. So, I decided to review it this week and when I started searching for deals on it, I immediately found a great one! If you’re looking for a light-hearted, fun paranormal read, you need to read not only Supernaturally, but its prequel Paranormalcy and sequel Endlessly as well. In the vein of the Men in Black movies, they’ll have you LOLing constantly while also, occasionally, pondering the meaning of “normal.”

What is Supernaturally About?

young woman in red sleeveless dress, under the title "Supernaturally"To tell you that, I’ve got to first tell you what the first book is about. Here goes (from Goodreads):

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through supernatural glamours. She’s also about to find out that she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal.

Fun, right? Here’s Goodread’s description of Supernaturally:

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be…kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees. But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.


Who Would Like Supernaturally, And Why?

Obviously, anyone who liked the aforementioned titles will like Supernaturally. Readers who enjoy YA reads like Echoes of Silence by Elana Johnson will like this book. Basically, anyone who likes to have fun.

What’s The Deal?

I’m so excited to tell you about this super good deal! I found Supernaturally on sale on Amazon for $2.97 for a new paperback copy! That is such a good deal! It’s 63% off what I bought it for originally. I love it when I find good deals like that! While searching for that deal, I came across another book by Kiersten White that I hadn’t read yet—Mind Games—for $2.74 for a Kindle copy. Done!

Nutrition Facts?

Profanity (D*, S*, F*, H*): 12 (all H* in reference to Hell itself)

Sex scenes: 0

Nudity: 0

Visual?

via GIPHY

Tune back in on Wednesday for a giveaway of a new book: Truth Seer by Kay L. Moody!

black, with the title "Afterlife of Holly Chase" in white letters, and the subtext: "Every Scrooge deserves a second chance."

Book Review: Afterlife of Holly Chase, So Fun & 10% Off!

You guys! I just finished such a fun read! And I found a good deal on it, so you should totally consider getting this book. It’s The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. Putting a modern, romantic spin on Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol, it’s full of sweetness and humor and snarkiness. It doesn’t seem like something fun could come out of The Christmas Carol, so you’ll have to trust me on this one.

black, with the title in white letters, and the subtext: "Every Scrooge deserves a second chance."What Is The Afterlife of Holly Chase About?

From Goodreads:

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t. And then she died. Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. This year, the grouch is the youngest ever besides her…and a handsome, rich boy her same age.

Who Would Like The Afterlife of Holly Chase?

Since this book is really a mash-up of The Christmas Carol and the Men In Black movies, anyone who likes either of those will like this book. It’s true enough to the Carol that I want to read that book again. Hand’s book is YA paranormal, like Supernaturally by Kiersten White and Beyond by Catina Haverlock and Angela Larkin, so if you liked either of those books, you’ll like this one. The romance is done well, but be warned that it might not turn out how you think it will, which is part of the charm of the story.

What’s The Deal?

If you order it from Barnes & Noble between 6/29 and 7/4, take 10% off your order with code FIREWORKS.

an old man staring into the distance, with a Newbery medal under the title

Book Review: The Giver, a Quick, Thinking Read

If you’re ever needing a quick but thought-provoking read, check out The Giver by Lois Lowry. You know those times when you’ve got maybe five minutes between picking one kid up from space camp and dropping another off at a friend’s house, or ten minutes after work, before you’ve got to fix dinner and/or clean the house, but you’re not in the mood for some silly beach romance? The Giver is what you should read.

What Is The Giver About?

From GoodReads:

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

Printed in 1993, this was the original dystopian novel. It came before Divergent, Matched, and Hunger Games, any of those. It’s fascinating to me that the central premise of this book, and of many others that have followed it in this sub-genre of science fiction, is that society has had to resort to strictly-regimented uniformity and almost-total if not complete separation from the freedom and excesses of the past. It’s like these authors are trying to tell us that there is only one way that the American love of freedom without regard to its attendant responsibility can end up–in ruins–and that, if we survive that ruin, we’ll have no choice but to give up our freedom and our memories of the past if we want to have any hope of surviving as a race. Maybe that’s extreme. What do you think?

Who Will Like The Giver, And Why?

Despite that heaviness, this book is meant for a middle-grade audience: kids between the ages of 8 and 12. Its main character was only 12, and the plot and settings are laid out only as a 12-year-old would describe them.  While there is some hinting at mature content, such as when Jonas, the main character, discovers that some people are purposely “released” (i.e., poisoned and dumped in the trash) if they’re not wanted or considered necessary by The Community (e.g. if they’re an identitical twin or aberrant in some way), there is no swearing, sex, or violence. As such, I would recommend it for middle-grade readers. I would also highly recommend it to those of you who liked the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, or Divergent by Veronica Roth, keeping in mind that, as adults, you’ll probably thirst for more detail. If that’s the case, just read the book’s sequels because they flesh things out nicely.

What’s The Deal?

You can get a good-condition used paperback from Thriftbooks.com for $3.79. That’s 50% off the original price! And the movie (HD version) is only $9.99 on Amazon. This is one of those classic books that should be in everbody’s libraries.

YA sci-fi book cover: black page with "POD" in big blue letters, the blue being a black orb

Book Review: Pod is a Tight Read, With A 20% Off Deal

Whew! My site was down temporarily, and I was stressing out! My apologies. My domain hosting company had somehow put my site on a different server, connected to a different account, but the problem has been fixed. I spent the time scouting for deals, though, because I get excited thinking about bringing them to you and helping you get better entertainment for less! I’ve got some good sales to tell you about tomorrow. In the meantime, let me tell you about POD by Stephen Wallenfels, a YA sci-fi. It was a tight read, one that’ll have you chewing your nails even if you’re not a nail-chewer.

What Is POD About?

From GoodReads:

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other? 

Sample:

Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-surviving humanity is another. I’m all cried out. I’m still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I’ve only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don’t have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

Who Would Like POD, And Why?

If you like tight plots, like those found in Glimmer by Phoebe Katanidis or A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, you’ll like POD. Its plot, which could’ve been boring in the wrong hands, since it’s about enduring an alien siege, is terse, interesting, and mentally challenging because of the intense emotions expertly shown. You’ll find yourself wanting a sequel.

What’s The Deal?

On Amazon, you can get a new paperback copy right now for $6.39, which is 20% off of the normal price. A Kindle copy is only $4.99! Dude! So worth it.

 

Book Review: If I Stay, An Emotional Read

What would you do if you were a teenage girl and the only survivor of a car wreck that killed the rest of your family? What if you survived the wreck, but just barely, and you’re somehow conscious, in an out-of-body way, and you have to choose between letting go, not being able to discern anything about what happens after that, or staying and living, exploring the potential of your gift for music and your relationship with your boyfriend, who you’re madly in love with? This is the choice faced by seventeen-year-old Mia, the main character of If I Stay by Gayle Forman. The book is a poignant, beautifully-rendered narrative about what is really a universal question: what would you do if you had that choice? It’s an emotional read.

What Is If I Stay About?

From Goodreads:

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. Stay, he says. Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

Who Would Like If I Stay, And Why?

If I could give this book more than ten stars, I would. It’s intense, in a life-and-death way, not an action-packed way, because of the emotions she goes through while trying to make her decision. Those emotions are very authentic and non-trite. It’s masterfully structured. I read it in one sitting. And the style…oh, the style: so beautiful. Mia was such a well-drawn character that I felt like she could jump off the page and I would recognize her instantly. The supporting characters were unique. Such a delight to read.

Anyone who likes emotional reads like Beyond by Catina Haverlock and Angela Larkin, or Between Shades of Gray by Rutya Sepetys, will like this book. If you want a book that will sweep you away, this one definitely will.

What’s The Deal?

When I bought this from Amazon three years ago, I paid $5.30 for it. You can get a like-new copy from Thriftbooks now for $4.59, which is a 13% decrease. You can get an even cheaper “acceptable-condition” copy for $3.79, which is a 28% decrease.

Book Review: Steelheart, A Steely Read

Challenges can be tough, y’know? Mine right now is hard to put into words, but I’m lightened by friends and family who reach out to me and let me know that they care. I read Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, and I think there are a lot of you that would enjoy this book and the deal I found for it!

What Is Steelheart About?

From Amazon:

How far would you go for revenge if someone killed your father? If someone destroyed your city? If everything you ever loved was taken from you? David Charleston will go to any lengths to stop Steelheart. But to exact revenge in Steelheart’s world, David will need the Reckoners—a shadowy group of rebels bent on maintaining justice. And it turns out that the Reckoners might just need David too.

The premise is that twelve years before the story begins, an object dubbed Calamity appeared near Earth and burst in the sky, emitting a strange radiation that gave a small group of humans super powers and near invincibility in apparent defiance of the known laws of physics. They all have different types of powers and weaknesses, with no apparent rhyme or reason. Dubbed Epics, these super-humans took to crime. Existing government proved absolutely incapable of controlling the Epics, the most powerful of which replaced government authority and enslaved the rest of humanity. there are a bunch of people with superpowers, but they’re all bad and have taken over the world. The Reckoners is truly intriguing and generates a good conflict for the main character. David, in witnessing his father being killed by Steelheart, the Epic who took over Chicago and enslaved everyone there, thinks he knows the Epic’s one weakness and bands together with the Rebels to defeat him.

Who Would Like Steelheart, And Why?

Fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time, Mistborn, Way of Kings, or Elantris books might be a little surprised by the YA superhero angle of this story, but it’s still an amazing story, and should be read by all of Sanderson’s fans. The characterization is thorough. Though the middle seemed to go really slow for me, the first third is action-packed and the last third, once it gets going, is super intense. I finished the book having thoroughly enjoyed how he tied all the threads together into a compelling tapestry. 

What’s The Deal?

The cheapest you can get the paperback of Steelheart on Amazon is $7.99, unless you get a used copy, and even then, the cheapest you can get it is $4.99. If you get it through Thriftbooks, however, you can get a used copy in good condition (I get these all the time) for $3.79. And, since I recently became a Thriftbooks affiliate, I’ll get a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Obviously, this doesn’t affect your cost. The commission will enable me to keep reviewing books and finding deals for you, my wonderful readers!

 

Book Review: Trail of Lightning, A Visceral Read

Because I’m trying to get published, and because I have this wonderful book blog on which I get to talk with you guys about cool books, I follow a lot of publishers, literary agents, and authors on Twitter. A few months ago, an agent I follow tweeted about a new book coming out from one of her clients: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. It’s post-apocalyptic, written by a Native American woman. How cool is that? I tweeted back to Sara that I had to have a copy of this because it sounded so awesome, and she sent me a galley copy! I just finished reading it, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a heart-in-your-throat, visceral read:

What’s Trail of Lightning About?

From Goodreads:

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Who Would Like This Book, and Why?

Anyone who likes

will like this book. It’s really intense, told in first-person present-tense from Maggie the Monsterslayer’s perspective. She’s convinced she’s a monster, a supernaturally gifted killer on the outside but on the inside a scared human who’s seen and caused way too much death. In that respect, she reminded me a little of Edward in Twilight. She goes around killing monsters, so there is ALOT of violence. She thought she’d found a redemption of sorts in her one-time mentor Neizghani, but spends most of the book mourning his abandonment of her a year before the book starts. The book’s plot is propelled forward more by the appearance of monsters and those who would either help her fight them or feed her to them than by decisions she and Kai make, as she’s trying to distance herself from her evilness and any reminders of it, the main one being Neizghani. Because of that, Maggie seemed a little hard to follow and even harder to empathize with, but I still dearly wanted her to find happiness…and romance, if possible.

The main reason I liked this book, other than the premise, was the writing. Amazing, techni-color writing.

Nutrition Facts?

Swear words (D*, F*, S*, H*, G*D*): 72

Sex scenes: 0

Violence (some extreme [i.e., references to cannibalism, etc.]): 8

positive messages/relationships (e.g., love + effort, charity, hard work, goals, etc.): 2

negative messages/relationships (e.g., no love, or love +(-effort), meanness, laziness, selfishness): 5

LGBTQ+ relationship(s): 1

Visual?

via GIPHY

Deal?

This book doesn’t come out until June 26th. It’s priced at $7.99 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for their respective ebook editions. If you preorder the ebook or paperback version from Barnes & Noble, using the code SUMMERFUN at checkout, you’ll get 15% off, which means the ebook would be $6.79 (USD) and the paperback would be $11.03, both of which are very good deals for a not-yet-released book.

Book Review: Glimmer, an Intense Read

To deal with the challenges of looking for a job, and while enjoying summer with my kids, I’ve been reading a lot, because that’s what I do! I recently finished Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis. It’s a YA amnesia book with a beginning similar to one of the books I’ve written. It’s a somewhat disjointed but very well-written, compelling read that kept me on the edge of my seat, scratching my head, sometimes gasping for air. I’d say it’s an intense read:

What Glimmer Is About

When Marshall King and Elyse Alton suddenly wake up tangled in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or even who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, Marshall and Elyse make a pact to work together to find the answers that could restore their missing memories. As they piece together clues about their lives, they discover that they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls. Everyone seems happy there, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden violence in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of being a high schooler.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marshall and Elyse fall into an intense relationship founded on their mutual quest for truth. But the secrets they’re trying to uncover could be the death of this budding love affair—and of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.

Who Might Like Glimmer, And Why

If you like intense reads, especially if they’re told in first-person dual POV present tense, like Claudia Gray’s Defy the Stars, which I reviewed here, you’ll like Glimmer. Because it follows Elyse’s and Marshall’s different but intertwining journeys to getting their memories back, and then, (spoiler alert) once they regain them, their efforts to hide them from themselves and a certain antagonist (end spoiler alert), it’s somewhat disjointed. It jumps from scene to scene for quite a while, with the only common thread being that everyone seems to collapse into what are called “heatnaps” any time anything unpleasant happens, and Elyse sees ghosts.

If you like teen romances, you’ll like this book for that aspect too. Kitanidis adeptly maneuvers her two main characters through the plot compelled by realistic and heartfelt thoughts and feelings that recognize the frailty and fear of adolescence, but also the yearning for independence and power that also comes with that stage of life.

One of the coolest, most unique features of this book is the fact that it combines paranormal elements with magic. In that respect, if you liked Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal, you’ll probably like Glimmer, although the magic systems are different. And if you liked Beyond, you’ll like this book.

I bought it on Amazon, but I found it for a much better price on ThriftBooks.com for $3.79 (used).

Visually, it’s this:

via GIPHY

plus this:

via GIPHY

Nutrition Facts:

Swear words (D**, S**, F**, H**): 66

Sex scenes: 0

Positive messages (e.g., love, charity or helping others, family, value of hard work): 2-3

Positive role models: 2

Violence: not really

Mentions of drinking alcohol, drugs, or smoking: 20