#SpotlightTour The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Today it’s my pleasure to host the Spotlight Tour for The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé. Enjoy this subtle psychological venture into the pyche of a teenager, all under the guise of a ghostly story. Enter the Giveaway below to win 2 Copies of Dark Beneath the Ice (US & CANADA ONLY).

About the Author

Amelinda Bérubé has been a writer and editor with a small department in the Canadian public service. She holds a bachelor of humanities from Carleton University and a master of arts from McGill. Amelinda is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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About the book

Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity in this compelling ghost story about a former dancer whose grip on reality slips when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her.

Something is wrong with Marianne.

It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.


Although this is a YA with a flair of the paranormal, I do think how a reader experiences the read depends on the perspective you have on the story. If you completely eliminate the paranormal and ghostly element of the story ask yourself what you’re left with. You are left with the internal emotional turmoil of a teenager, which manifests itself in physical reactions, blackouts and auditory hallucinations.

The stress of feeling inadequate and not being able to live up to expectations in regards to her dancing. The fear of being rejected for her sexuality and not feeling as if she can be true to her inner desires, and the distress of being a pawn in the middle of a battle between her mother and father. All of those things throw Marianne into a tailspin and threaten to completely destroy her sanity.

Bérubé takes all of those elements and covers them with thin dark veil of a dangerous paranormal presence. Something waiting to consume Marianne when she lets her guard down. To drag her under the icy water and take the life she knows away from her.

Marianne and her new friend Ron set out to discover who or what is threatening both of them, and unfortunately they underestimate the power behind the mysterious presence. The truth is something neither of them can really comprehend.

It’s a tale of teenage distress, pain and fear. When you take the simple paranormal structure away – what remains is a heartbreaking story of a breakdown and a cry for help, albeit a subconscious one. The author writes it in a very lyrical and haunting way. The dark presence haunts, taunts and scares the girl, and ultimately tries to destroy her. It’s a fascinating combination of a psychological premise combined with a paranormal flair. It’s understated and yet extremely powerful at the same time.

Buy Dark Beneath the Ice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy at Amazon com Barnes & Noble BooksAMillion Indigo Indiebound

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire Release Date: August 7, 2018

Enter the Giveaway below to win 2 Copies of Dark Beneath the Ice (US & CANADA ONLY) Runs August 7th -31st

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

thirteenDespite what people may have heard or read this book doesn’t encourage teenage suicide nor does it romanticise the idea of suicide. I can’t speak for the popular Netflix series inspired by this book, simply because I haven’t watched it.

It’s important to bear in mind that teenage brains aren’t fully developed until they reach a certain age in adulthood. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, which isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. This is why a teen is more likely to make rash, illogical, dangerous and impulsive decisions. Everything is overly dramatic and every slight is the end of the world as we know it.

In the mind of  teenager every insult, imagined or real, is a reason to make a decision you can’t just undo.

The reader meets Hannah after she has made the decision to end her life. After she has convinced herself that there is no other way out of her situation other than killing herself.

Ultimately in the midst of all the drama and overhyped teenage interactions Asher is trying to deliver an important message. When someone reaches the end of their tether, and leans towards jumping off the nearest cliff, they will send out subconscious signals. The signals are there for us to see, hear and read, we just need to acknowledge them. Instead of ignoring the changes in behaviour, appearance or the almost indiscernible cries for help, we need to open our eyes and try to help.

The story starts with Clay Jensen receiving a box full of tapes, a spoken testimonial from a dead girl. A girl he knew, a girl he kissed, and a young girl who somehow thinks he belongs on a list of people who pushed her towards suicide. He has to deal with the emotional upheaval caused by this unexpected accusation and the experiences Hannah has been through. Clay also has to deal with the fact he will eventually come face to face with the other people on the list. The people who ignored her, turned her away, ridiculed and assaulted her.

Suicide brings an element of desperation with it, but also one of selfishness. Suicidal thoughts are all encompassing, especially when depression is part and parcel of the equation. There is no room for thoughts of what those left behind will have to deal with. The why, the who and the fact they didn’t see it coming and couldn’t stop it. Even when there is light at the end of the tunnel Hannah is already so enveloped by her own darkness that she chooses self destructive behaviour instead of choosing a path other than death.

I could go on and on about this book. It isn’t just a straightforward ‘everyone was mean to Hannah and that’s why she is dead’ scenario. Hannah isn’t exempt from criticism. She makes mistakes and some dodgy choices, especially in regards to Jessica and Bryce.

Hopefully this read will make someone reconsider their actions and behaviour towards their fellow humans. Teens really need to take on board that actions have consequences, rumours ruin lives, bullying is destructive and suicide is a one-way ticket with no return.

Buy Thirteen Reasons Why at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @jayasherguy @PenguinRHUK

Not if I see You First by Eric Lindstrom

not if i seeNow and again I felt like giving this book a hug. In the midst of all the teen drama there were some deeply emotional, eye-opening and heartfelt moments.

Lindstrom really is inside Parker’s head. The anger, the sarcasm, the huge defensive wall all around her, and the internal dialogue.

Parker is completely oblivious to her own selfishness. Her demanding nature threatens to swallow everyone around her whole. It takes quite a while for her to realise just how supportive everyone has been.

One of the things that does become abundantly clear is how many of us take the freedom of sight for granted. The way Lindstrom describes her running towards the end of the book gives an extraordinary insight into just how much of a barrier the darkness is.

Trust plays an enormous role in this book. Trust, observation and relying on someone other than yourself to scope out your environment and the actions of others. The betrayal of that trust can seem like an epic intrusion and unforgivable act, especially if you’re young and more vulnerable than others. A simple mistake can seem like so much more.

This story has the usual portion of overly dramatic teeny YA moments, which is why younger readers will probably enjoy this, however I do believe the more poignant moments outweigh the flightier ones.

I really enjoyed it, perhaps because Parker is such a realistic character. or maybe because Lindstrom just happened to hit the right notes. It is definitely a read I would recommend.

Buy Not if I see You First at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

nina.pngIt doesn’t get much grittier or realistic than this. I am sure this will echo with quite a few readers, especially the ones who can relate to Nina’s life on a more personal level.

The relationship between Nina and her mother is pivotal. She feels abandoned by her mother, is reluctant to accept the new father figure in her life, but clearly dotes on her baby sister. Their plans revolve around what is best for her step-father and her mother.

Apparently being 17 going on 18 also means you can throw someone out of the nest. Like an animal being cast out of the herd. Of course the truth is age is just a number and doesn’t necessarily mean maturity.

Perhaps if Mom had been less involved with herself and her future plans she might have been able to help Nina sooner. In fact she should have asked more questions and been more concerned the day Nina came home in that state in the taxi.

Khorsandi’s story is bold. Unfortunately it is a vivid and true image of our society at the moment. One would think that in the 21st century sexual assault would finally be perceived differently, and the reactions to it should be more about victim support and less about victim blaming. Unfortunately that still isn’t the case. Something which is painfully clear in this book.

Zoe’s reaction is shameful, deplorable and all too common. Instead of questioning the actions of her boyfriend, she sets out to shame her friend. There really is no excuse for putting images and videos of sexual assaults or indecent images of victims online. It should be punished by law and that includes sharing them. If Nina had been under 16 years of age it would be considered to be an illegal offence.

The most interesting part of the story is Nina’s reaction to the events. She is quite willing to accept the global view that as a girl she is just out of control. She is easy, she’s a slut, she’s a whore and hey she is totally up for it. Oh wait I forgot, it is her fault because she had a drink.

Not once does any man/boy say let’s not, because you have had a little too much to drink. No one questions why she is clearly out of control or losing the plot. The combination of a genetic disposition, her family history and the events in the alley are all contributing factors in her downwards spiral.

It takes Nina a long time to comprehend what happened to her. To acknowledge the ugly truth about the events in the alley. To take the blame placed firmly upon her shoulders by others and putting it where it belongs, on the shoulders of the abusers.

I wish I could say Nina’s situation is just fiction and a great idea for a book. It isn’t, this is the reality of sexual assault, rape and abuse in our day and age. A society of people who have no idea what No means, and certainly have no clue that if the woman/man you’re with has not given their consent then you’re committing rape. Unconscious does not mean yes. Being so drunk you have no idea what is going on does not mean yes.

Be prepared for bare truths and no attempt at candy floss cover-ups. It is a book I will be recommending because of the way Khorsandi doesn’t gloss over the truth.

Buy Nina is Not Ok at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Violent Ends

violentViolent Ends is an anthology written by over fifteen authors (see below for names and links to their Goodreads profiles).

Now they do say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but not in this case, in Violent Ends all those authors make the broth a thing of beauty, in a literary sense of course.

It’s been a while since I have been so impressed by a collaboration of this kind. Usually they tend to be disconnected because of the variety voices and writing styles.

Violent Ends is completely seamless and if I hadn’t known any better I would have assumed it had been written by just a few or even one author. It is a spectacular way to approach the topic of a mass shooting, especially one committed by a teenager.

Each author gives a voice to a victim, a friend, an acquaintance, the killer, the sister, a neighbour, heck even the gun has its own voice. They tell their own story from their subjective point of view,  be it their experience with Kirby before, during or after the tragic event.

I liked the way none of them focused on the actual event or the gory details. There was no need to do so, because the emotions and descriptions leading up to it sufficed to create the imagery. Each person knows a different facet of Kirby’s personality, which is an important aspect, because the perpetrator of a mass shooting isn’t just a killer.

Even Kirby has his moments of friendship, the times when he became the saviour for certain individuals. The writers clearly show how he saved people from bullies, had intimate relationships, was the reason some people in his vicinity decided not to give up. Kirby the friend, Kirby the boyfriend and even Kirby the confidante.

violent endsThey also haven’t taken the obvious stereotypical route and described him as an outsider, a moody teenager clad head to toe in black attire with a gun obsession. Instead Kirby is just a normal young man with a happy family. He plays an instrument and marches in the school marching band. There is no apparent reason for his actions.

One of the most intriguing stories is that of Nate. The question of guilt arises, however it isn’t necessarily that of Kirby. Was there a reason Kirby became an outsider and filled with enough anger to kill? Could a singular incident have determined his path at a very young age? Nate sees evidence of Kirby’s later behaviour, as opposed to viewing the incident as a catalyst to said future behaviour. In fact it places the question of the why, and whether it all could have been avoided, firmly on the shoulders of society.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s a great read and one I highly recommend. It gives the reader a different perspective on such an inexplicable tragedy.

This anthology is by the following authors Shaun David Hutchinson (Editor), Kendare Blake, Steve Brezenoff, Delilah S. Dawson, Trish Doller, Margie Gelbwasser, E.M. Kokie, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Tom Leveen, Hannah Moskowitz, Elisa Nader, Beth Revis, Mindi Scott, Neal Shusterman, Brandon Shusterman, Courtney Summers, Blythe Woolston, Christine Johnson.

Buy Violent Ends at AmazonUK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijamp

this is where.jpgI think it would have put things into a clearer perspective if some of the info from the last page had been at the beginning, then again perhaps that was intentional. I am talking specifically about the duration of the event.

Time seems to wander by in drip drop moments throughout the story, so much so that I started to wonder why no-one was rushing to their aid.

Surely the world outside isn’t ignoring the tragedy unfolding in the high school?

Then in the information about the book and promotion of said book it states a specific time-frame, 54 minutes, and it all made much more sense. So I wondered why the time-frame wasn’t mentioned as part of the foreword.

Perhaps the author wants the reader to comprehend how time stands still during such an event. Each second and minute seems like an eternity. It also puts the emphasis on how quickly such a tragedy can occur. Lives are lost within mere seconds. Time cannot be stopped nor can it be wound back.

The beginning was a little confusing. Hopping from one person to the other seemed a little arbitrary, until the doors closed on the auditorium.

One thing these events always have in common in hindsight is the why. Why did he or they do it? Why my child, son, daughter or spouse and not someone else? Were there any signs? Could someone have stopped it?

Unfortunately none of us possess the power of being able to see into the future. All we can do is be vigilante and try to pick up on the subtle and not so subtle signs. It is hard to comprehend the kind of anger that festers deep inside and takes over someone, who ends up killing innocent, men, women and children.

Tyler isn’t the nice boy next door. He is a troubled young man, with violent tendencies and a penchant for abusing others. Perhaps not such a surprise that he is capable of killing.

It is a powerful story, a frightening one and a nightmare for every parent. There isn’t really a moral to the story, but rather a shock of reality for readers. It is more a story about loyalty, love and compassion for others. In times of great fear and need we humans can do the one thing nobody would ever expect us to do. To protect and save others. A selfless and yet such a brave act.

Nijkamp is definitely an author to watch out for.

Buy This is Where it Ends at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

dark heart

I am really warming to this new series of Estep’s, Black Blade. The first part, Cold Burn of Magic, started with a bang and ended with tentacled terror, and now the second part is making an even firmer mark in the world of YA Urban Fantasy.

Once again Jennifer Estep has created a strong female main character. albeit a younger one this time. Lila is streetwise, grounded and willing to do anything to get revenge.

Lila spends a lot of her time hiding her magic from everyone or at least from the ones who would like to do her harm. Not everyone needs to know just how strong she really is.

Not such an easy feat when the Sinclair family enters Lila into the Tournament of Blades. She has to make a choice between winning and showing her talents or losing and staying under the radar.

On top of all that Lila and Co. are trying to find the monster, who is viciously murdering tree trolls. The search for the killer leads Lila to secrets she might regret discovering. In fact it changes everything.

The Black Blade series offers plenty of magic, strong characters, a world full of conflict and monsters.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of Dark Heart of Magic.

Buy Dark Heart of Magic at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Cold Burn of Magic and Bright Blaze of Magic.

More of the Estep’s Elemental Assassin series here: Spider’s Trap, Poison PromiseThe SpiderThe Black Widow and Heart of Venom.

It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt

its a wonderfulPoor RJ is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up in the middle of a Grim Reaper and gypsy, who isn’t ready to depart from this world. Oops you’re dead.

Instead of being shocked, dismayed or upset RJ is angry and indignant. How dare the Reaper make a mistake and interrupt her busy teenage schedule.

She insists on being sent back pronto.

Essentially this story is about having the chance to rectify mistakes, to take the right path instead of the wrong one and being given a second chance.

Each interaction we have with another human being moves a cog in life. Depending on which direction it moves it sets different things in motion. So it goes without saying that changing one movement or direction in one cog can change a life.

The powers that be, and there are quite a few in the Heaven/Hell/In-between station, finally decide RJ at least deserves a try at being a better person. So she gets placed back into certain situations in the hope that she will make better choices for herself and for her fellow human beings.

Schmitt lays at lot of emphasis on bullying, peer pressure and taking responsibility for your actions. The underlying message being; how each of us and our decisions can impact others.

If our interactions with others are negative then perhaps we are leaving a trail of destruction behind us. Instead of ignoring the bullied kid in the corner maybe you should talk to them. If being with the popular kids means you have to be mean to others then maybe you need to find new friends. Do you ignore it when others are being picked on? Stand up and speak out.

A strong message to young people, but wrapped within a story, which is both witty and serious at the same time.

Thank you to Edelweiss for my copy of It’s a Wonderful Death.
Buy It’s a Wonderful Death at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Need by Joelle Charbonneau

needFascinating premise and perhaps not quite as unrealistic as one might think. Given the power of social media and how vulnerable and easily influenced young people are, it isn’t really that far-fetched.

Imagine a social media site that will fulfil any need you might have. Not your wants or your wishes, but your needs. An Ipad, a phone, a trip to Disneyland or perhaps you need a car.

It all starts out with simple invitations and the fledgling members have the ability to invite a specific number of other users. (Reminds me of the way the social media platform Ello started out, and how coveted the invitations were at the beginning.)

Each user has to request a need, which is then submitted only when invites have been sent out. At least that’s the way it starts out. All innocence and fun until the Need site starts asking their members for more than just extra members.

Things quickly become insidious and dangerous. Teenagers are manipulated into doing seemingly innocent deeds, all of which are connected in some way.

In the midst of all this is Kaylee, a young girl living with the an enormous burden on her shoulders. She has been looking for a solution to her problems and has lied, stolen and deceived to do it. Her mother no longer trusts her and everyone else thinks she is desperate and crazy.

Charbonneau has a fresh voice with innovative ideas. I think she let the story run away with her a little towards the end, because it wasn’t as tight as in the beginning, but other than that it was an interesting idea and read.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of Need.

Buy Need at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Awake by Natasha Preston


Scarlett seems like a normal happy 16 year old with a very normal family. She finds herself falling falling for new boy Noah, who appears to just be your everyday 16 year old, except he isn’t.

He is in fact part of a religious group, who have come to reclaim their sacrificial lamb. In a nutshell that is the plot, which is surrounded by a lot of teenage angst and romantic anxiety.

It is definitely more on the teen side of YA. The language is simplistic, and a lot of the scenes seem to suffer from hop skip and jumps in the thinking.

What could possibly have been an interesting psychological thriller with a religious cult twist is unfortunately a very placid teen story, which lacks any kind of oomph or twist.

The characters need more depth and the plot could have done with being a bit more fleshed out. Less haste and more time to develop the story.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.