Genesis Blog Tour: Book Review — The Thrilling Sequel Filled with Danger, Death, and Destruction that Raises the Stakes to a Whole New Level

Hi guys! Today I am taking the first two of my five AP exams: US History and Computer Science Principles. I think I’ve prepared for them the best I could. My mind is currently filled with historical knowledge and computer facts, and I have three more to go! I will be really busy these next few days dealing with these exams and end-of-year activities, so if I’m very inactive, that’s why. Today I am reviewing one of my most anticipated sequels of 2018, and I hope you enjoy!

Genesis Tour Banner


About the BookGenesis

Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost.

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough.

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Book Depository


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free hardcover finished copy of this book from the author and the tour host in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

Once I had finished Nemesis last year, which I literally could not put down, I kne I had to read the sequel once I could get my hands on it. I needed to continue the story and know what happens next. Oh, that cliffhanger in book one! When I learned of this blog tour and the opportunity to read and review Genesis, I jumped at the opportunity — and was that such a great decision. Genesis, the second installment in Reichs’s masterfully crafted Project Nemesis series, does not disappoints fans of its predecessor. It raises the stakes of the conflict to a whole new level, transforming this post-apocalyptic, sci-fi thriller into a fast-paced story full of danger, death, and destruction at every turn. I was thrust onto the edge of my seat, and I felt as if I were actually a part of the Program.

As readers progress deeper and deeper into Reichs’s creepily surreal world — reminiscent of The Maze Runner and Lord of the Flies — they find themselves placed into the heart of an “every man for themselves” survival mode, ridden with twists and turns at every corner. With each page comes a new shocking revelation, many changing the entire course of the story. I could feel the impending sense of dread and fear and had even a bit of power-hungriness and craziness that almost everyone possessed, and the atmosphere was thick with chaos, leading to the degradation of the moral consciences of many characters. Genesis is one of those novels that makes you stay up, and either you are devouring the story or being haunted by it.

The story and actions of the characters make you question your morality at times. Often I felt drawn to justifying the killing of other classmates, blurring the lines between defense and murder. Is it every justifiable to kill a person, even if they could regenerate? What if it’s to protect your own self from elimination? Min examines this question along with many of the other major characters as the digital Fire Lake falls deeper into ruin and more classmates disappear. This is a true mark of a great book — for a book to be able to get readers to think more deeply on certain subjects and ultimately influence their viewpoints.

I fell in love with all — or most, really — of the characters. It is just so hard for me to resist not rooting for many of them to survive. The protagonists, especially Min, Tack, and Noah, are very dynamic and fully fleshed with their consciences and their flaws. You can see how conflicted they are between being moral and being murderous, between being good and being bad, between being meek and being powerful. The characters are truly human, and they are not fully devoted to being good or to being evil, and many times they believe what they are doing is right, regardless of whether it is or not. You can see their doubts and their fears. With 64 different students with an eclectic variety of personalities, characteristics, and motivations, Genesis thoroughly examines what it truly means to be human when faced with adversity, conflict, and challenges.

If you have not picked up Nemesis or Genesis, then you are missing out on a series that will blow your mind. Personally, I cannot state which one is better because both novels are so different yet so brilliant. They are very meritorious and possess a high literary quality in their own right. While I am sad that book two is over, there is going to be a third book in the series! I am so excited! I cannot spoil what it may possibly entail (since my speculation will give away the ending) but I can say that it is going to be EPIC! Genesis is the perfect read for thriller fans who love to become engrossed in an unpredictable plot full of suspense and action.


About the AuthorBrendan Reichs

Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2000 and The George Washington University School of Law in 2006. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to write full time. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, son, daughter, and a herd of animals that tear up everything.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


GiveawayGenesis Giveaway

12 winners will receive a copy of Genesis by Brendan Reichs!

Giveaway is open Int’l

Must be 13+ to enter

Ends June 1st, 2018

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule

WEEK ONE
MAY 7th MONDAY Insane About Books REVIEW
MAY 7th MONDAY Books A-Brewin’ EXCERPT
MAY 8th TUESDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW
MAY 8th TUESDAY Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews INTERVIEW
MAY 9th WEDNESDAY Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW
MAY 9th WEDNESDAY My Book Addiction EXCERPT
MAY 10th THURSDAY Here’s to Happy Endings REVIEW
MAY 10th THURSDAY The Book Enigma GUEST POST
MAY 11th FRIDAY RhythmicBooktrovert REVIEW
MAY 11th FRIDAY LILbooKlovers REVIEW
WEEK TWO
MAY 14th MONDAY JeanBookNerd VLOG & INTERVIEW
MAY 14th MONDAY TFAULC Book Reviews EXCERPT
MAY 15th TUESDAY Bibliobibuli YA REVIEW
MAY 15th TUESDAY Book Briefs REVIEW
MAY 16th WEDNESDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
MAY 16th WEDNESDAY Book Lovers Life EXCERPT
MAY 17th THURSDAY Jump Into Books REVIEW
MAY 17th THURSDAY The Cozy Reading Corner TENS LIST
MAY 18th FRIDAY A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
MAY 18th FRIDAY Bri’s Book Nook REVIEW

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read Genesis or Nemesis? Do you like YA sci-fi?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Exclusive Guest Post with Gia Cribbs, YA Debut of The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan: Plotting, Pantsing and the Art of Surprise

Hi guys! Today I am having my first ever guest post on the blog in a long time! Carrie Ann DiRisio and Brooding YA Hero introduced me to the wonderful Gia Cribbs and her main character Sloane Sullivan, and I am super excited to have Gia today to talk about “Plotting, Pantsing, and the Art of Surprise!” I love YA thriller novels and the feeling of being on the edge of your seat while your heart is pounding, so I very looking forward to The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan! I hope you enjoy this amazing guest post!


About the BookThe Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan

No one wants me to tell you about the disappearance of Sloane Sullivan.

Not the lawyers or the cops. Not her friends or family. Not even the boy who loved her more than anyone. And most certainly not the United States Marshals Service. You know, the people who run the witness protection program or, as it’s officially called, the Witness Security Program? Yeah, the WITSEC folks definitely don’t want me talking to you.

But I don’t care. I have to tell someone.

If I don’t, you’ll never know how completely wrong things can go. How a single decision can change everything. How, when it really comes down to it, you can’t trust anyone. Not even yourself. You have to understand, so it won’t happen to you next. Because you never know when the person sitting next to you isn’t who they claim to be…and because there are worse things than disappearing.

Goodreads


Gia Cribbs InterviewPlotting, Pantsing, and the Art of Surprise

I have a SLOANE bible.

It’s a black Moleskin notebook, one of the largest ones they make, filled to capacity with everything I’ve ever researched or thought of for this book. There’s a page for each main character, with pictures of what they look like and their favorite birthdays and backstories I knew would never actually make it into the book. There’s a list of every identity Sloane’s had while in witness protection, including where she lived, what she looked like, and who she was friends with. Calendars with dates of story events circled, hand-drawn maps of schools and towns, lists of popular 1990s alternative bands because one character is obsessed with them—they’re all in there. And, of course, a very detailed outline. Because if you haven’t guessed it: I’m a planner.

Continue reading “Exclusive Guest Post with Gia Cribbs, YA Debut of The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan: Plotting, Pantsing and the Art of Surprise”

January Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! January was definitely a crazy month for me. I got off for an entire week due to snow, but I did win first place in DECA regionals! I met and chatted with so many amazing authors over the past few weeks, and I am really excited to see the blog grow even more in 2018. Also, I’m beginning to Bookstagram, which is going to be fun yet a bit challenging. Somehow, I managed to squeeze in 11 books this month, which is a remarkable feat considering my schedule, and I’m hoping to finish many more soon!


5 Stars

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen

Goodreads

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tempests and Slaughter

Goodreads Continue reading “January Reading Re-Cap!”

E-ARC Review: Wicked Charm by Amber Hart

Hi guys! Can you believe January is almost over? Neither can I! Today I have for you a review of a YA thriller (although it’s more of a contemporary romance with a murder mystery backdrop). This is one of the first of many ARC reviews of 2018 releases that I will post throughout the year, and believe me, there are a lot. I hope you enjoy this book and give it a try! 😉


About the BookWicked Charm

Nothing good comes from living in the Devil’s swamp.

Willow Bell thinks moving to the Okefenokee area isn’t half bad, but nothing prepares her for what awaits in the shadows of the bog.

Girls are showing up dead in the swamp. And she could be next.

Everyone warns Willow to stay away from Beau Cadwell—the bad boy at the top of their suspect list as the serial killer tormenting the small town.

But beneath his wicked, depthless eyes, there’s something else that draws Willow to him.

When yet another girl he knew dies, though, Willow questions whether she can trust her instincts…or if they’re leading to her own death.

Goodreads


3 Stars

Disclaimer: Thanks so much to the author and publisher for providing me an electronic ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

I am a huge fan of YA thrillers. I love the feeling of exhilaration when you’re on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happens next or the sense of dread as you coil back in fear of something bad happening in the near future. I was highly looking forward to reading Wicked Charm, but unfortunately it didn’t meet my expectations. It fell short for me, and at times, I found myself more focused on trying to finish the novel than actually enjoying it. This novel did have a lot of promise and potential, though, but sadly it wasn’t exactly for me.

Continue reading “E-ARC Review: Wicked Charm by Amber Hart”

ARC Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

Hi guys! Man, September is halfway done! This is probably one of the busiest months of the entire school year, especially with so many things like auditions and tests going around at this time. Thankfully, I am able to finish a book or two every week or two, which is good compared to my busy schedule right now. Today I am so glad to be reviewing Mindy McGinnis’s This Darkness Mine, which I was jumping up and down when I received it in the mail from Harper Collins. I hope you enjoy!


About the Book30249925

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

Goodreads


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC copy of this book from Katherine Tegen Books and the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

This Darkness Mine is definitely one of the most chilling and creepiest (and strangest) stories I have ever read. I fell in love with McGinnis’s novel from the very beginning, and I found my eyes glued to the pages. It’s very unique, and I mean unique. My mind is still reeling from the aftereffects of this book as I write this review. The author definitely did not disappoint with her latest YA novel; I will easily remember This Darkness Mine as one of the most haunting and makes-your-heart-pound psychological thrillers I have ever read. I am in awe of McGinnis’s writing style and creative imagination in her stories, the first book of hers I read being The Female of the Species. Now I just want to read more of her books!

Continue reading “ARC Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis”

Summer of Authors #10: Exclusive Interview with Pintip Dunn!

Hi guys! Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity to read and review Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (in which you can find the review here!) and I loved it. Definitely one of the best thrillers I’ve read! I know have the amazing honor to welcome Pintip today on our blog, so I hope you’ll enjoy this special interview!


About Girl on the Verge31428017

From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.

In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

Goodreads

Learn more at http://www.pintipdunn.com/gotv/

Or buy it below!

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo   iTunes   Book Depository   Books-A-Million


Pintip Dunn

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because I feel like my truest self when I write. I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I was six years old, but I didn’t write my first book until the first year after college (which was many years ago!) 

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I love all books and will read anything, but I have a particular affinity for young adult and romance. I’m a big fan of Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, Gillian Flynn, Orson Scott Card, Kristan Higgins, and of course, JK Rowling. I could go on, but those authors have written my favorite books. Reading Suzanne Collins’ books taught me the most about the craft of writing, and Stephenie Meyer’s The Host showed me the kind of books I want to write. 

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I have three kids, which is the equivalent of a full-time job! I used to be a lawyer, but I no longer practice.  31428017

4. Your newest book Girl on the Verge just released on June 27th, and it revolves around Kan, a Thai-American girl living in a small town in Kansas, but she feels like she’s stuck between the worlds of her Thai ancestry and her surrounding American culture. Are there any parallels between you and Kan? Were any of her experiences and feelings based off of any you’ve had before?

Absolutely. I was a Thai-American girl who grew up in a small town in Kansas, so a lot of Kan’s feelings of not belonging were derived from my own experiences. At the same time, however, I want to emphasize that the feeling is where the similarity ends. Kan’s story is wholly fictional and was born entirely in my imagination! 

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #10: Exclusive Interview with Pintip Dunn!”

The Bakersville Dozen Blog Tour: ARC Review- I Was on the Edge of My Seat!

Hi guys! For the American audience here, Happy Fourth of July! Today marks a special day in US history, and I bet you’re planning to go to a big cookout and a big fireworks show. I don’t know what I’ll do since I’m writing this post three weeks before, but I do know what I’ll be celebrating in addition to Independence Day: the release of The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride!

Bakersville

 


About the Book31212885

Title: The Bakersville Dozen

Author: Kristina McBride

Publisher: Sky Pony

Release Date: July 4th 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis: You have four days to locate five treasured trophies. Break the rules and you all die. Happy hunting!

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Kristina

Kristina McBride has published three novels for young adults – THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES, ONE MOMENT, and A MILLION TIMES GOODNIGHT. Her fourth novel, THE BAKERSVILLE DOZEN, will be released July 2017. Kristina is a former high school English teacher and yearbook advisor, as well as an adjunct professor at Antioch University Midwest and Wright State University. Kristina has a thing for music, trees, purses, and chocolate. You might be surprised to learn that Kristina was almost kidnapped when she was a child. She also bookstalks people on a regular basis. Kristina lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children. You can learn more at www.kristinamcbride.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


A 3 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free physical ARC of this book in a giveaway and am reviewing this book as part of The Bakersville Dozen blog tour. This will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: I’m pretty neutral about the book. I really liked the premise and thought it had so much potential. I know because I read this all in two to three days when I had an overnight trip in Nashville. Did I couldn’t stop reading at times? Yes. But I’m having the same experience with books like Ballad of the Beanstalk: I didn’t enjoy it like a 4-star book. I’m just very neutral on it. It’s not really amazing to me, but it’s not bad. It’s in between, average.

Continue reading “The Bakersville Dozen Blog Tour: ARC Review- I Was on the Edge of My Seat!”

Summer of Authors Launch: Exclusive Interview with Mindy McGinnis!

Hi everyone! Today I’m am launching the Summer of Authors, a two-month event that last from the start of June to the end of July. We are showcasing and hosting many authors who have or are going to release their books in 2017, and we are holding some fun and awesome interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Now to start off the Summer of Authors, I had the honor to interview the wonderful and amazing Mindy McGinnis, author of books such as The Female of the Species, Not a Drop to Drink, and her latest fantasy Given to the Sea!


About Given to the Sea25314447

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.


Mindy McGinnis

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed? 

Honestly I think most authors will tell you we don’t necessarily love writing. It’s work, sometimes almost impossible work. We put it off, and find other things to do instead as often as possible. I wouldn’t say I love it – I’d say that I can’t not do it. I’ve always had stories in my head, but I didn’t write my first novel until I was in my 20s.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and you writing style the most? 

I don’t really have favorites. I read widely and write widely. If its good, I’ll read it. I don’t really know who has influenced me either, as I do read SO much, it would be hard to pin any one thing down.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job? 

Writing is the full time job! I was working full time AND writing full time up until about a year ago.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors Launch: Exclusive Interview with Mindy McGinnis!”

Girl on the Verge Blog Tour: Review – A Dark, Thrilling, and Shocking Surprise

Hi guys! I have another review for you all, and today it is part of the Girl on the Verge Blog Tour! I’m seriously now wanting to read Forget Tomorrow now (which is also by Pintip Dunn) because the author wowed me with this book! Go read my review below!


Girl on the Verge
Pintip Dunn
Published by: Kensington
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.

In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

Continue reading “Girl on the Verge Blog Tour: Review – A Dark, Thrilling, and Shocking Surprise”

Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano

 

Hi guys! So I just finished a really good book called Holding Smoke, and I am so glad to be hosting Elle Cosimano today in an exclusive interview with her! Also, she is giving away a hardcover copy of Holding Smoke in the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this page, so I urge you to check it out! Enough said, let’s get on with the interview and giveaway!

elle-cosimanoElle Cosimano grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs, the daughter of a maximum security prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rode a Harley. She spent summers working on a fishing boat in the Chesapeake Bay, baiting hooks, scrubbing decks, and lugging buckets of chum. A failed student of the hard sciences, she discovered her true calling in social and behavioral studies while majoring in psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Fifteen years later, Elle set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. She lives with her husband and two sons in Northern Virginia and Mexico.

Elle’s debut, Nearly Gone, was a 2015 Edgar Award finalist and winner of the International Thriller Award. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, and Sisters In Crime. She was selected for the 2012 Nevada SCBWI Agented & Published Authors’ Mentorship Program, where she worked under the guidance of Ellen Hopkins. She attended the Writers’ Police Academy at Guilford Technical Community College, Department of Public Safety, to conduct hands-on research for her books.

holding-smokeJohn “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders-but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

2017 Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in dark fantasy and horror writing

My Mini-Review (Full to Come Later!)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for a review. I also got some free signed swag- this is outside of the trade agreement. None of these factors will affect my review.

Rating: 9/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: I really liked this book! It was very well-written, and it definitely does leave an impact on you. I was creeped out at times because it was very haunting and chilling. This is one of those books that you’ll just go “Wow” at the end. I know, because that happened to me!

Pros

  • That ending. I never saw it coming! You’ll never predict it!
  • It will make an impact on you! There’s an article by the author at the end that have the potential to change your outlook on the world. I know I was just amazed by it- it links well with the ending!
  • Hooks you in emotionally, especially with the flashbacks and vivid imagery

Cons

  • I started to lose interest in the middle, but the ending hooked me back it.
  • Some details were a bit off to me. Sometimes I didn’t know if Smoke was in his body or not, and other times I wondered how these events stringed together.

Recommendation: Definitely!

elle

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love storytelling in all forms. I love reading stories, watching them, listening to them, and I enjoy creating stories of my own. I think it goes beyond the escapism. For me, the fascination is in the discovery process, both of the characters within the tale but also of my self. When I was a kid, I had an uncle who would read fables and fairy tales aloud to me when I came to visit. We would talk about the characters and their struggles–why they made the choices they made and how they felt about those choices. These were formative moments for me, and in hindsight, I can see how strongly they’ve influenced the kinds of stories I write today.

2. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?elle-cosimano

The first book I really, deeply connected with was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read her books over and over again. Her characters were so real to me, so alive and layered, each one unique. It was amazing to me, that she could achieve that kind of depth of character and richness of setting in such a short book, or that she could make me feel so much within so few pages. To this day, I still gravitate toward books that make me care the way this book did–stories and characters that make me laugh or cry or shout out in public places. When I write, my goal is to make a reader feel.

3. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I love thrillers and suspense of all kinds, and I appreciate a touch of mystery in anything I read. In adult fiction, I enjoy crime thrillers and psychological suspense. When it comes to YA, I also gravitate toward books with a touch of magic, paranormal, or fantasy in them. And I love a good atmospheric ghost story for any age! When mystery, thrills, and speculative elements are combined, that’s often the perfect combination for me.  

4. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I’m Mom to two very busy boys, ages 11 and 14, so my time is divided between writing and Mom-ing. I retired from a long career in real estate to write books, and writing has been my career every since. As for what I do when I’m not writing? I live on a beautiful stretch of beach, and it’s a great place to plot murder. . .  errr. . .  I mean to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

5. Would you want to have a power like Smoke’s, even with all the risks? Why or why not?

Smoke’s ability (astral projection) came at a pretty steep price–a near-death experience at the hands of someone who was supposed to care for him. I don’t envy any of the experiences Smoke endured in order to possess the ability to separate his spirit from his body. I can’t imagine anything more painful than suffering that, or feeling so broken you might never be whole again. So no, I don’t think I would ever want an ability like Smoke’s. 

6. How much research did you have to put into Holding Smoke since it takes place in a prison in Denver? What did you learn?

When I was growing up, my father was a warden of a maximum security prison just outside of Washington, DC. Over the years, he managed institutions which housed some of our nation’s most violent offenders, so I had a great resource for a lot of my questions, and have visited him at the prison, and also at a detention center (jail) before. I attended a special police academy for writers where I was able to take classes on cell searches and talk with corrections officers about their experiences, as well as do a ride-along with a deputy sheriff who answered a lot of questions about arrest procedures and responding to domestic violence calls for me. I interviewed EMS responders and ER physicians for answers to several medical questions. I interviewed a lawyer regarding some of my legal questions. And as for the setting, I lived in Denver for two years, so I was already familiar with the region. As for what I learned? Well, I wrote about that in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. But you can read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elle-cosimano/the-good-the-bad-and-the-_9_b_5922654.html

7. How does it feel like living in a tree house on a Caribbean island? I bet the view must be beautiful and breath-taking there!

I don’t live on an island, though that might be nice! I live in Mexico, on a stretch of the eastern coast called the Riviera Maya. My community is tucked between the Caribbean Sea and the jungle (but I can see the island of Cozumel on a very clear day from the beach across the street.) My house is mostly open-air, and the living spaces are under a palapa, a thatch roof made from dried grass or dried palm leaves. The support poles are made from trunks of very hard wood trees called zapote, giving it the look and feel of a tree house. It’s very peaceful. We live simply here, mostly outside, and it’s a great place to raise the kids. I also get very interesting critters in my kitchen sometimes. . .  scorpions, snakes, pumas, and spiders the size of my face. I post a lot of pics of my home on my Instagram. You can see a pic of me in my treehouse here: http://www.instagram.com/p/x4jF9rJnaz/

8. The title of your book Holding Smoke is a play on Smoke’s nickname. Why did you choose Smoke as the name of your protagonist, and how you did come up with the title?

Honestly, I can’t remember when his name came to me. I was doing a lot of research and reading about Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Lots of people described their experiences very similarly . . . seeing themselves from outside themselves, almost as if they were in ghost form looking down on their own bodies. Several reported that their NDEs left them with the ability to project their souls at will. So in my mind, Smoke’s astral form was very wispy and ghostlike. But word choice is important. It reflects the narrator’s voice and the lens through which they see their world. A “hardened” kid in a dangerous world probably wouldn’t call himself “Wispy”. But he might just be okay calling himself Smoke. It felt like a fit, both to his voice as well as within his setting.

9. What is your favorite quote from this book, and is there a message you want your readers to get from Holding Smoke?

“The way you look when you project yourself, the places you can go, the things you haven’t figured out how to do yet. . . it’s all in your head.” — Pink, Holding Smoke

This is my favorite quote from the book, and perfectly encapsulates the message I wanted readers to take away from Smoke’s story.

10.  Do you have any tips for any aspiring authors or writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Everything you need to become a writer? It’s all in your head.
Now onto the giveaway!!!
Click below to win a hardcover edition of Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano!
Just a few quick notes:
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I wish you the best, and happy reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester