#BlogTour Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody

Today is my turn on the BlogTour Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody. It is the third and final part in the Shadow Game series.

About the Author

Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After a double life as an accountant preparing taxes for multinational corporations, she now spends her free time brewing and fermenting foods much more easily obtained at her local grocery store. She lives in Boston, MA with a hoard of books guarded by the most vicious of feline companions, Jelly Bean.

She is the author of The Shadow Game series and more. Her middle grade debut, Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice, hits shelves March 30, 2021, and All of US Villains, co-written with Christine Lynn Herman, releases in September 2021.

Subscribe to Amanda’s newsletter here, Follow @AmandaFoody on Twitteron Goodreads, on Instagram, Visit amandafoody.comBuy Queen of Volts

About the book

Return to the City of Sin, where the final game is about to begin…and winning will demand the ultimate sacrifice.

Only days after a corrupt election and brutal street war, one last bloodthirsty game has begun. The players? The twenty-two most powerful, notorious people in New Reynes.

After realizing they have no choice but to play, Enne Scordata and Levi Glaisyer are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But while Levi offers false smiles and an even falser peace to the city’s politicians, Enne must face a world where her true Mizer identity has been revealed…and any misstep could turn deadly.

Meanwhile, a far more dangerous opponent has appeared on the board, one plucked right from the most gruesome legends of New Reynes. As the game takes its final, vicious turn, Levi and Enne must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies.

Because in a game for survival, there are only losers…and monsters.

Review

This is the third book in The Shadow Game series and also unfortunately the conclusion to this fantastic Young Adult fantasy trilogy. I would absolutely recommend reading the other two in the series just to get the whole gist of it and experience the pleasure of the entire story.

It was interesting and also important given the age group this is marketed to for the author to take the time to insert scenes with certain characters engaging in discussions about toxic relationships. You can love each other till the cows come home or be attracted to each other like a bee to pollen, but when your relationship is toxic you eventually have to realise that being apart is sometimes the best for both of you. Looking at you Enne and Levi, and Bryce and Henry. When the toxicity becomes abusive, which it is because Bryce is a lost soul with a lack of compassion – Henry needs to just find the strength to sever those really tight ties.

The Shadow Game takes on an even sinister feel, and every time the players think they have played and won – there is actually no winning when it comes to this game, just saying – then a knife is twisted and the cards are reshuffled once more.

A few pages in I remembered why I love this series so much, and why I need to go back and re-read the first two in the series. I absolutely adore the complexity of this plot, the writing, the world-building, the depth of the characters and just in general the story overall. Also the way Foody took the opportunity to address certain tropes in the Young Adult genre.

This has a bit of a Caraval vibe and is most certainly one of those series that has slipped under the radar a little bit – underrated. Foody needs to be right up there with the best. Not quite sure why her talent for storytelling, weaving a plot and writing doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. I’m hoping this isn’t her last venture into this genre, perhaps an off-shoot of this series or a step up beyond young adult. Either way she is an author to keep an eye on.

Buy Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Young Adult; pub date 1 Sept. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Waterstones.

Read my reviews of Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) and King of Fools (The Shadow Game #2) by Amanda Foody.

#BlogTour Game Changer by Lasairiona E. McMaster

Well hello, yesterday was my turn on the BlogTour Game Changer by Lasairiona E. McMaster, but I straight up forgot – so sorry for that!

About the Author

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation.

With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Follow Lasairiona @QueenofFireLas on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreads, Visit lasandcolgotexan.comBuy Game Changer

About the book

AJ Williams wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a girl on the internet. But he did.

Other than living over five thousand miles away in Northern Ireland, Lisa Millar is seemingly his perfect match. AJ can’t quite believe his luck, not only is she beautiful, but she has an appreciation for both music and hockey – two of his favorite things.

Surprised by Lisa turning up unannounced in Alabama, AJ is under pressure to deal with the issue at hand. Should he risk losing her, come clean and tell her the truth? Or should he try to keep his secret under wraps?

Will true love win out? Or will AJ’s secret be too much for Lisa to bear?

Review

When Jeremy sets his friend AJ up on a double-date it’s more about Jeremy wanting to get into someone’s knickers, as opposed to wanting his friend to meet a great girl.

The banter between AJ and Jeremy, and of course AJ’s worst enemy – his own brain and conscience, is typical locker room stuff. Misogyny is part and parcel of their relationship goals and daily interactions with the opposite gender. They aren’t exactly Prince Charming candidates, but they certainly think they are.

AJ is more than surprised when he finds himself attracted to Lisa, even if it is only via chat from one continent to another. They grow closer and a spark of attraction grows into something neither of them expects. Unfortunately there are bigger barriers than oceans between them.

Let me just warn you – AJ really likes to talk to himself. He has a constant internal dialogue with himself, to the point where I am not sure he is listening because he spends all of his time having internal conversations. At times he isn’t even sure whether he is saying it in his head or out loud.

It’s the first in a young adult romance. A story very much driven by heightened emotions and the emotional turmoil that is felt by the young with such strength that the world always appears to be coming to an end when things don’t go their way.

McMaster delivers a story full of passion, love and also one full of omissions, one that has potential for development.

Buy Game Changer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Drama Llama Publishing; pub date 14 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Bloom Where You’re Planted by Lasairiona E. McMaster.

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

Exposure by Brendan Reichs and Kathy Reichs

exposure reichsAlthough the name Kathy Reichs might conjure up images of bones, dead bodies and crime. This YA series by this mother and son writing team has nothing to do with any of those things. Virals is an entertaining young adult sci-fi infused fantasy.

Tory is a complex character in the sense that she appears to be a strong and independent, and yet when it comes to Whitney she is usually a bit of a sheep. Says one thing and does another. There is a small light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to her blossoming relationship with Ben though.

One of the positive aspects to this fourth book in the Virals series, is that Reichs doesn’t just concentrate on Tory this time. The reader gets to know the other characters a lot better.

We see them experience their powers in an entirely different way this time. Instead of the possibly life-enhancing mysterious often stagnant abilities, the powers take on a more menacing aspect. It’s one thing knowing they are there, but it is quite another to know they might not be able to control them.

I like the way Reichs filters all the information, which means there is always something new to bring to the table. Regardless of whether it is about their powers, their status in society or the secrets each character keeps hidden.

Kudos to the authors for the big plot reveal at the end. It puts an entirely different slant on everything.

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

Read The Bone CollectionThe Swamp BonesBones Never Lie, Bones of the Lost , Bones in her Pocket or Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs.

Read Swipe or Code by Kathy and Brendan Reichs.

Read Two Nights by Kathy Reichs.

Unrivalled by Alyson Noël

unrivalledThe feel of this book is an interesting mixture of Young Adult with a certain flair for the reality and cut-throat world of Hollywood. It reminded me of a Jackie Collins story without the huge dollop of sex she was known to incorporate into her books.

It’s the same kind of intimate and truthful look behind the golden curtains of Hollywood lifestyles, the the ruthless choices people will make to be famous, and just how hungry they are to be in the spotlight.

Obviously the fate of Madison is left as a cliffhanger to lead into another book. I couldn’t decide whether it was an intentional ploy by Noël. Was it thrown in there at random purely to hook readers, who will want to know where the girl is? A Gone Girl moment? Or did the glitzy reality TV show like competition just sink the second plot?

Tommy, Layla and Aster and just three of many when it comes to wanting a step up the ladder of fame and fortune. Taking part in a competition to become one of Ira’s shaker and movers seems like the perfect way to achieve their goals.

Layla chooses to chat, gossip and lie for her bread and butter. Tommy becomes too attached to Madison and Aster is suddenly famous in a way she really didn’t expect or want. I wonder if Noël will go back to what happened to Aster. It’s left a wee bit open-ended in this story. It needs to be addressed in some way.

In the end I think they all sacrifice a little bit of their soul to be a part of celebrity circle.

I think this will appeal to older teens and young adults. The whole ‘becoming famous’ via social media and the manipulations celebs pull off to stay on the front pages, and on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Of course the real question is what happened to Madison? I guess we will find out in the next book.

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

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

the art ofEssentially The Art of Not Breathing is about guilt, grief and loss. The focus is on Elsie and the way she deals with the death of her brother.

Everything revolves around water, because that is how Ethan disappeared. In the sea with plenty of people around, and yet he is still gone without a trace.

Elsie can’t really remember what happened that day. She is drawn to the water and the flashbacks she gets when she is at the last place Ethan was seen.

There is some element to being submerged, to diving under water and being unable to breathe, which initiates the flashbacks and memories. This realisation drives Elsie to push herself to the point of dangerous excursions and even beyond that.

The story is strangely compelling without being overly dramatic or too young adulty. It is interesting to note that the author hasn’t put much of an emphasis on the missing child. Instead it’s more about the family left behind and how grief can destroy relationships. Regardless of whether it is via neglect, anger, guilt or just overwhelming sadness.

I liked it, it was subtle and heartfelt without a lot of squee.

Buy The Art of Not Breathing at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Flawed by Cecilia Ahern

flawedThis really is quite spectacular. Subtle in its approach and with a lot of intricate layers, Flawed certainly deserves to be right up there with best reads of the year.

Ahern draws many a  historical, political and anthropological comparison, although they may not be the first things people or readers think of, especially because due to the confines of the sub-genre.

Let’s start with this particular society creating two layers of wrong-doing. You have the criminal or ‘normal’ crimes, which are dealt with by the police and then you have the moral and ethical crimes. Those are policed by a higher tier of Judges, laws or rules.

Any action, statement, behaviour judged to be flawed, ergo ethically or morally corrupt is punished. Depending on the crime the person receives a brand on a specific part of their body.

If accused and convicted you become part of the Flawed community. Not allowed to eat what they want, say or do as they wish and live by curfews and restrictive rules.

It is also a crime to help the Flawed in any way, which also incurs the punishment of becoming flawed. Including showing them compassion, understanding or any kind of humanity. When Celestine gets in trouble it’s because she reacts instinctively, despite knowing her actions will get her in trouble.

Suddenly she becomes the voice of the oppressed and the face of the uprising. By telling the truth she has shown the world the flaws in the actual system. Oh, the irony.

Ahern’s first venture into YA is an innovative one. The ethical layers  are intriguing, it has a lot of potential, and it will be interesting to see where she takes the series next.

Buy Flawed from Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.