Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards (Tour Stop)

Gone Too Far
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: January 6th 2015

Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.

Piper Woods can't wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She's sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone's sure it's suicide, but Piper remembers Stella's name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse.

Drowning in secrets she doesn't want to keep, Piper's fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished...

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At seven, Natalie D. Richards wrote about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn't dare do the dishes.) Now she writes about awesome girls, broody boys, and all things dark and creepy. Natalie lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her techno-wiz husband, three amazing kids, and a seventy pound dust-mop who swears he's the family dog. Her psychological thriller, Six Months Later, will be released in October 1, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire. Until then, you'll probably find her writing her next book or trying to wade through the towers of dog-eared paperbacks that have taken over her bedroom.

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Gone Too Far is the kind of book that pulls you in from the very beginning and refuses to let you go until that final page. I was unable to put it down for a second, and was completely engrossed the entire time reading.

The concept of Gone Too Far is interesting enough. It isn't always that a YA contemporary thriller is able to have me sold on plot alone, but that was definitely the case here. From the journal of "sins" to the heart-stopping text messages, there wasn't a single slow moment. As Piper falls deeper and deeper into the revenge partnership, I fell deeper and deeper into the story myself, eager to know what would happen next.

But, along with the great use of suspense, I loved the realism of the novel. All of the teenagers felt like actual teenagers, and the entire atmosphere of the high school was incredibly believable. Given, something like this doesn't normally occur every day, but the possibility didn't feel far off. Piper's voice was strong, and I really enjoyed that she had a strong passion for photography. When characters have something they are passionate about, it always makes it easier for me to relate to them. 

In addition, the relationship between Nick and Piper was incredibly sweet. (When can I resist pointing out such a swoon-worthy male?) Sure, the whole idea of the hot jock "suddenly" falling for the quirky, artsy girl isn't exactly new, but that doesn't make it much less enjoyable. Plus, the whole idea of high school stereotypes is definitely brought up, leading to important themes of the novel.

Although the ending didn't completely shock me, the level of suspense and action made for a great climatic moment, and just the right amount of closure. Gone Too Far is a wonderful YA that will keep readers on edge. Definitely recommend.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Cover Reveal: Queen of Tomorrow by Sherry D. Ficklin

QUEEN OF TOMORROW by Sherry D. Ficklin

A Stolen Empire Novel, Book 2
The Queen Arrives on July 14, 2015
Sophie—now Catherine, Grand Duchess of Russia—had a tough first year at Imperial Court. Married at sixteen to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the throne, and settled in their own palace, things start to look up. As a new day dawns, Catherine thinks only of securing her future, and the future of their country, during one of the greatest political upheavals of her time. Fighting desperately against forces that try to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Catherine soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia and her new empire. While navigating the fragile political landscape, she quickly realizes that she has only begun to discover the tangled web of deceit and infidelity woven over the lavish court of Oranienbaum Palace.
When a strange and delicate alliance forms between the young couple, Catherine glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it vanish at the hands of those who still seek to end her life—and prevent her reign. Out of favor with the empress and running out of options, Catherine must sacrifice her own innocence on the altar of Russia if she is to save the nation and herself. To survive, she will have to do the unthinkable, betray those closest to her and become something greater and more dangerous than she ever imagined she could be… a queen.



Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophia will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.
Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.
Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.
In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?



Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
She is the author of The Gods of Fate Trilogy now available from Dragonfly Publishing. Her previously self-published novel After Burn: Military Brats has been acquired by Harlequin and will be released in 2015 with a second book in that series to follow. Her newest YA steampunk novel, EXTRACTED: The Lost Imperials book 1, co-written with Tyler H. Jolley is now available everywhere books are sold and her newest YA novel, Losing Logan, is due for release in 2014 from Clean Teen Publishing.

Want to READ MORE from Clean Teen Publishing? Check out our huge selection of amazing reads! There's sure to be something for every reader!


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Sham by Ellen Allen Excerpt (Tour Stop)

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as "The Sham", with her boyfriend, Jack, but he's very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He's also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months' ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily's classmates washed up in the local floods. 

Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they're pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn’t need another dead body.    

**This book is unsuitable for younger teenage readers. It depicts adult situations, murder & profanity.


          Terrorising ten-year-olds was clearly a well-rehearsed routine and the four of them got busy: Becky yanked off his coat, gloves, shoes and trousers; Cath pulled out string; Kitty grabbed Charlie’s hands; and Rebecca tied them behind his back. They seemed to plug into each other, becoming connected, operating in rhythm. But it was Becky that seemed to pollute them for the worse, like a fucked up blood transfusion. All the time, she was goading me. Daring me to stop them.
          I did try. Pathetically. “Come on, guys,” I said. “Let him go.” They began to circle Charlie, me and the pram. “Give him his coat and shoes back at least.” He was shivering uncontrollably in his sweater and pants.
          I scanned the common above us, and the river path below, but a rush of people desperate to use the climbing frame seemed unlikely. Jim definitely wasn’t coming. Even so, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that we were being watched. Every bush or tree seemed to convey some sort of threatening shape.
          Rebecca opened the cardboard box and pulled an animal out as Charlie began to cower, trying to dissolve into the sludge beneath him. In the darkness, it took me a while to make out the shape of a bird, about the size of her palm.
          “What are you doing?” I asked.
          “We’re ‘Muzzling the Sparrow’,” she said, as she passed the bird to Kitty.
          “It’s an old local custom, a sport,” said Kitty.
          “For who?” I mumbled, well out of earshot. “The mentally retarded?”
          Kitty knelt down. “Charlie,” she said. “Meet Mister Sparrow here. His wings have been clipped so he can’t fly away. We’re going to put its wing in your mouth...”
          “– You need to use your teeth to turn it around –”
          “– Get its head in your mouth before it pecks you to hell –”
          “– When you’ve ripped its head off, then you get to go home.”
          Holy crap.
          I responded in the only way I knew how. The only way I could cope since last year, since Gracie died. “A pure qubit state is a linear superposition of the basis states,” I mumbled.
Becky gave me a what-the-fuck-are-you-saying kind of look but I was forgotten as Charlie began to make shrill shrieking noises, terrified to have the bird in his mouth, terrified of what they would do to him if he didn’t.
“This means the qubit can be represented as a linear combination of 0 and 1,” I stuttered.
To the four of them, Charlie’s reaction was better than telly. He couldn’t balance with his hands tied behind him and was shuffling around on the muddy grass. Kitty was moving towards him trying to put the bird in his mouth but he was refusing, darting back, moving his face from side to side. The other three were skipping around us, egging him on, chanting his name, “CHARLIE, CHARLIE, CHARLIE”, euphoric in their malevolence. They seemed to blur into each other with their curly hair and black clothes. In the dark, it was hard to tell them apart.
I mumbled louder. “Multiple qubits can exhibit quantum entanglement.”
Kitty looked to Becky – she couldn’t get Charlie to acquiesce – and Becky moved in, kneeling down, pinning him to the ground. Rebecca cut off his air by holding his nose. He had no choice but open his mouth as Kitty rammed it in.
          Charlie gagged and threw up the bird.
          Becky picked it up from where it lay in fits on the floor and poked it back in his mouth, speaking slowly as if he were a four year old.  “T–h–a–t’–s            c–h–e–a–t–i–n–g.   B–i–t–e    i–t–s    h–e–a–d    o–f–f    a–n–d     y–o–u    g–e–t      t–o       g–o      h–o–m–e.” She sounded deranged.
One of Charlie’s socks came off as he thrashed on the ground. He was desperate, beginning to realise he might have to do what they asked before he’d be released. A greeny-black paste was spreading over his face and body as the bird was splattering him with its poo. It was mixing with his tears and the rain.
          I couldn’t stop with the equations, “entanglement is a nonlocal property allowing a set of qubits to express higher correlation than is possible in classical systems,” as I retched from the smell. Bird poo, sweat, tears, mud and then wee. Charlie had wet himself.
          The bird had fallen out again, or Charlie couldn’t keep it in, and Cath ran forward to stuff it back. But Charlie couldn’t bear to open his mouth. She lunged at him, screaming, “OPEN UP!” shoving him towards the frame of the swing. He fell on it hard. We heard a bone crack. Then a long wail came out of Charlie like he was about to be put down.
          Becky picked him up and manhandled him back into position; on his knees, in the centre, bird in mouth. I saw a bone poking out of his skin, jutting through his collar. I could smell what I thought was poo. Human shit. But Charlie didn’t notice that he’d soiled his pants because the only thing he could focus on was the bird; the sparrow was fighting to live, gouging out his cheeks, pecking at his eyes.
          It was too much. I once saw two men fighting outside a bar, really kicking and punching the crap out of each other, blood everywhere, and I couldn’t move then either. It was surreal to see that much nastiness up close and it sort of transfixes you, glues you to the spot. I couldn’t leave Charlie but I couldn’t save him either. I was relegated to my role as impotent bystander.
          Just like when Grace died.
          You have to stop,” I cried, tears rolling down my cheeks. 

About Ellen Allen

In a previous life, Ellen Allen was an Associate Director in a small consultancy firm (focusing on Sustainable Development and Climate Change) running research projects and writing client reports. She doesn’t find fiction writing too dissimilar in process but she gets to use her imagination considerably more! She now lives in the south of France with her small daughter.

You can contact Ellen Allen on twitter @EllenWritesAll or on facebook

Alternatively, find her on Amazon or read her writing blog here: