Blog Tour: Vanquished by S.E. Green

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for Vanquished by S.E. Green. I’ll share my review of this book and there’s a giveaway.

Vanquished-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalTitle: Vanquished
Author: S.E. Green
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ Mystery
Links:

Blurb:
For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

My Review:
Valoria (not her real name) and her sister Lena are kidnapped and taken to a mysterious island where the rich and powerful rule supreme. If you are not one of the elite you are either a slave or a recruit/warrior. Valoria doesn’t know where her sister is so she makes a deal with her captor Dominus and becomes his most prized warrior possession.

I was intrigued when I read the premise and couldn’t resist requesting a review copy, even though I hoped it wouldn’t be too gruesome. The themes are dark and twisted but not too graphic, thank God; I would not have had the disposition to read it otherwise. The elite are disgustingly depraved and most of their actions were totally deplorable. Valoria was a great MC. She had to make some very tough choices, but her sole motivation was her desire to find and rescue her little sister. She tried hard to hold onto her sanity, her conscience, and her humanity. Not an easy task in a world without morality.

At first I struggled to visualize the world and I was a little confused as to what was going on – was it all a fantasy or an actual real place? As the story progressed, it was made clear that it was an actual place, hidden from society at large, where the rich could indulge their sick fantasies. The scary thing is I don’t think this is beyond the realm of plausibility. (Shivering profusely.)

The author keeps us guessing over Alexior and his real agenda – was he a friend or a foe? Initially, I thought Camille had a dual agenda as she told Valoria that Dominus had bought her sister when that wasn’t the case. But it all made sense in the end. Character development is strong and there are some very decent secondary characters.

The first half of the book dragged a little in parts and I found myself skimming but the second half more than made up for that, and I really enjoyed the last few chapters in particular. The very end felt rushed and I would have liked more of a glimpse into the future – I can’t imagine the trauma and stress of having lived through an experience like that and I wonder how the characters adjusted.

The writing was very good and overall this was an enjoyable read.

S.E. GreenAbout the Author:
S. E. Green (aka Shannon Greenland) is the award winning author of the teen thriller, Killer Instinct, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; the teen spy series, The Specialists, an ALA Popular Paperback and a National Reader’s Choice recipient; and the YA romance, The Summer My Life Began, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award. Her books have been translated into several languages and are currently on numerous state reading lists. Vanquished is her debut novel for adults.

Shannon grew up in Tennessee where she dreaded all things reading and writing. She didn’t even read her first book for enjoyment until she was twenty-five. After that she was hooked! When she’s not writing, she works as an adjunct math professor and lives on the coast in Florida with her very grouchy dog. Find her online everywhere @segreenauthor.

Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway, for a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
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Review: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

dont look backTitle: Don’t Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Mystery/ Suspense/ Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

My Review:
Sammy wakes up bloodied and battered with no recollection of where she is, or how she got there. This is further confounded when she can’t even remember her name, or who she is. Her family arrive at the hospital to reclaim her and that doesn’t jog her memory. Her brother Scott, his girlfriend Julie and Carson the sorta-boy-next-door all try and help her to piece back the memories of her life. She discovers that she wasn’t a very likable person and quickly realizes this is a ‘second chance’ that most don’t get.

Her best friend Cassie is still missing and her body is subsequently discovered prompting the police to begin a murder investigation, with Sammy prime suspect.

Her parents have a non-existent relationship and the family atmosphere is tense, heightened by Sammy’s obvious distaste towards long-term boyfriend Del and some serious crushing on Carson.She quickly discards the majority of her so-called friends, who are in the main nasty and bitchy.

Sammy’s mind is playing tricks on her as she suffers hallucinations/visions, surges of memory/recollections, eerie images of dead Cassie, and mysterious warning notes that are left in close proximity.

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of JLA’s writing and I adore the Lux, Covenent and Dark Elements series. This is the first contemporary novel I’ve read from JLA and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it didn’t hook me as much as the other books did. The romance is quite muted compared to her other novels, and I missed that. Because boy can JLA write great romance scenes.

However, she has deftly developed the mystery/suspense theme within this novel and as a reader, you constantly wonder whether Sammy is being told the truth by those around her, and continuously ponder who is trustworthy. I did guess the culprit pretty early on – the clues are subtly embedded throughout the story – but I constantly questioned myself, and switched my mind a few times.

The writing was sublime, and the pacing bang-on, as usual. I don’t think the dialogue was as engaging as normal, lacking the humorous/satirical element that is regularly found in her fantasy books, however I felt the characters were a bit more unique and individual as a result.
I finished this book in less than 24 hours, and that says it all really.

Another epic read from writing power-house Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Blog Tour: Impossible Promise by Sybil Bartel

Impossible Promise bt banner
Today I am part of the blog tour for Impossible Promise by Sybil Bartel.

Impossible PromisesTitle: Impossible Promise
Author: Sybil Bartel
Series: Unchecked #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/ Romantic Suspense
Links:

Blurb:
Three years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.

Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.

Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.

Book one of two

Some Teasers for this book are below:
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Author Bio:
I grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but really, any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.

I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you really want to know about me.

I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband

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