BLOG TOUR: Death by the River by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor - Interview & Giveaway


Hello, and WELCOME to my stop on the Death by the River Blog Tour! I was SO honoured when I got picked to be on this blog tour and to do an interview with Alexandrea Weis, hosted by the amazing Jean Book Nerd. Scroll down for my interview and an International Giveaway!
Title: Death by the River
Author: Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor
Publication Date: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Jean Book Nerd (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links:  AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY
Blurb Description: Some truths are better kept secret. 
Some secrets are better off dead. 
Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.
And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux. 
The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Handsome. Charming. Intelligent. The star quarterback of the football team. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch. 
He is also a psychopath. 
A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the ruined St. Francis Abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize. 
As the victim toll mounts, it becomes crystal clear that someone has to stop Beau Devereaux. 
And that someone will pay with their life.
WARNING: Readers of Death by the River will encounter situations of violence and sexual abuse which could be upsetting.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here ...

1)      Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write Death By The River?  
Death by the River
was a collaboration with Lucas Astor who came up with the story. I added to the setting, developed the characters, and helped bring his vision to life.

2) What was it like, writing a book together? Were there certain characters that one of you wrote or did it work on a chapter by chapter basis?
It's so intriguing to understand more about the collaboration process and my readers and I would love to know.  Lucas had written the story out, but I developed  it. I added a new setting, reworked scenes, built characters, plus added more background and the psychological components.

3) What was your favourite scene to write in Death by the River?
The scenes between Gage and Beau. The underpinnings of their relationship is an integral part of the story.

4) If you could give one piece of advice to your main characters, what would it be?
To Dawn, open your eyes and pay more attention. Whoever you date should be someone that lifts you and doesn’t bring you down. Find a man who brings out your best.

5) Tell us what five of your favourite books of 2018 have been so far:
My agent keeps me too busy to read lately, but ISAN by Mary Ting, Beneath the Lighthouse by Julieanne Lynch, and It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington. The latter two were finalists for a Dragon Award in separate categories (Horror and Sci-fi), up against authors such as Stephen King and Andy Weir.

6) What are three of the most underrated books in all time, in your opinion?

Anything by Ian Fleming. Yes, the James Bond author. His books are a study in suspense.
 The Sun Also Rises Ernest by Hemingway
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 
Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, CRRN, ONC, PhD, is a multi award-winning author of over twenty-five novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured animals. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans. Weis writes paranormal, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, and romance.

Lucas Astor, Lucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central
America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight. He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche.

Weis and Astor’s first collaboration was the multi-award-winning Magnus Blackwell Series.



--Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
-  2 Winners will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.


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Essential Reading // REVIEW: Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Title: Fight Like A Girl
Author: Clementine Ford
Publication Date: July 2018
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Oneworld Publications (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: An incendiary debut taking the world by storm, Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be.Online sensation and fearless feminist heroine, Clementine Ford is a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of women and girls. In the wake of Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo campaign, Ford uses a mixture of memoir, opinion and investigative journalism to expose just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Personal, inspiring and courageous, Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be. The book is a call-to-arms for women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that, despite best efforts, still considers feminism to be a threat. Urgently needed, Fight Like a Girl is a passionate, rallying cry that will awaken readers to the fact they are not alone and there's a brighter future where men and women can flourish equally - and that's something worth fighting for. 
“An inspiring, unapologetic, feminist manifesto”Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage
Let me just start by shouting out loud: I’m a feminist. I found my inner feminist in my early teens, but because I’m probably the most awkward person in existence at social situations unless I’ve known the group of people for YEARS, I’m not usually very vocal about my feminism and I’ve always been an admirer of the women who can fearlessly put themselves out there and advocate for equality.

Let me also say: I believe, no matter what, that feminism is about EQUALITY, and nothing else. Individuals choose to express their feminism in different ways – out loud, within their own minds, with friends and loved ones – but none of that matter. If you believe that the world as is, is unequal, and want to fight for that equality, you’re a feminist.

CONGRATULATIONS.

Feminism, and what it meant to me, was a fairly simple concept in my head, and I didn’t think a book could teach me more. But when everyone you know on the internet is calling this book a ‘must read’ and a ‘wonderful experience,’ I kind of wanted to see what it was all about.

MY THOUGHTS ON FIGHT LIKE A GIRL:

1.       This is a hard book to review because:
A)      IT MADE ALL THE SENSE IN THE WORLD
B)      In trying to make a point, Clementine Ford repeated the same point again and again, over multiple chapters and so WHILE I LOVED WHAT THE BOOK WAS ABOUT, there’s only so many times I can read the same thing again before getting bored of it.
C)      At the same time, Clementine Ford QUESTIONED, ARGUED, PROVED AND BROUGHT TO LIGHT everything wrong with the way women are treated through situations that women experience everyday and have come to, wrongly, accept as the status quo and this book also BROKE ME with how real it was.

2.       This book is deeply personal AND the work of a genius, in that I don’t think I’m QUALIFIED TO RATE SOMEONE’S VIEWS AND WORLD EXPERIENCES ON A NUMERICAL SCALE BASED ON MY THOUGHTS like I would with a typical fiction book, and especially not one that handles a topic so close to my heart. So, I won’t.

3.       I will, however, say this: Fight like a Girl is an INSPIRING book that will make you THINK about everything you, as a woman, go through in this world. Fight like a Girl unapologetically tackles double standards, rape culture, sexuality, men, social media backlash and most of all, why it’s okay to be angry.


Would I recommend this book? Yes. Pick it up for yourself, all the women, and even the men in your life. It’s essentially a call-to-arms to make our society a more equal place and EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ IT. 

Clementine Ford
Clementine Ford is a freelance writer, broadcaster and public speaker based in Melbourne. She writes on feminism, pop culture and social issues.


 

Feminism Under the Ocean // REVIEW: The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill

Title: The Surface Breaks
Author: Louise O'Neill
Publication Date: May 3rd 2018
Publisher: Scholastic Inc
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Scholastic India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Google Books || 
Blurb Description: Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? 
Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding. 
I am a HUGE Louise O’Neill fan. I’ve read and then re-read two of her previous books, Asking for It and Only Ever Yours over and over because they were heartbreakingly beautiful and so SO real. So, naturally, with the only other books I’ve read of hers being five star reads that I recommend to EVERYONE, I had HIGH expectations for The Surface Breaks.

Also, if you don’t think that that cover is the PRETTIEST that 2018 has produced, I can’t talk to you anymore.

I binge read through The Surface Breaks in two days, not even realising that I was coming to the end of the book THAT FAST. All in all, while it was a good book, it didn’t make me FEEL nearly as much as Only Ever Yours or Asking For It.

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       I should begin by saying HOW MUCH I LOVE LOUISE O’NEILL’S UNFLINCHING, RAW AND HONEST style of writing. I really liked how she used brackets in this book, to contradict what mermaids, and women by extension, are told to be. It was a fun, almost sarcastic yet real way of writing and I truly enjoyed her fluid prose in this book.

2.       The last chapter in this book was ALL I WAS LIVING FOR. It was everything I wanted Gaia to say to everyone who tried to control her from page one, and I was cheering her on as she made her own decisions, faced off with the Sea King and understood what it meant to be a woman. I’ll probably pick the book up again just to read that chapter.

I had two main problems with this book:

3.       I think the biggest of the two was how much I struggled to connect with the circumstances of Gaia’s story. Both of Louise’s other books were set in a human world (although Only Ever Yours was sort of dystopian, the issues were all relevant and modern) but this one was set, for half the book, in the ocean. Gaia is obviously a mermaid and while the similarities to the human world were so similar, I just couldn’t relate Gaia and The Surface Breaks with the real, gritty and hypocritical world high school girls face like Louise portrayed in her previous books.

4.       The second was Gaia herself and ALL THE WOMEN IN THE BOOK. Although it might be real to some degree, how women let men and society dictate their every move, I HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT WOMEN ARE, IN REAL LIFE, STRONGER THAN THE ONES I JUST READ ABOUT. I get it, you know. I get that we all fall into the patriarchy’s traps from time to time, but the women in The Surface Breaks, mermaids included, were such one-dimensional characters, simply sitting back and accepting their fate when absolutely NONE of the women I know allow themselves to be treated like that all the time. I CANNOT EVEN GET STARTED ON GAIA’S HORRIBLE GRANDMOTHER WHO WAS HONESTLY, JUST LOOKING OUT FOR HERSELF AND NOT PROTECTING HER CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN AND I HATED HER.


Would I recommend this book? Definitely. It’s lighter than Asking for It and Only Ever Yours and it’s probably the Louise O’Neill YA you should start with. 
Louise O'NeillLouise O' Neill is from Clonakilty, in west Cork. After graduating with a BA in English Studies at Trinity College Dublin, she went on to complete a post-grad in Fashion Buying at DIT. Having spent a year in New York working for Kate Lanphear, the senior Style Director of ELLE magazine, she returned home to Ireland to write her first novel.

She went from hanging out on set with A-list celebrities to spending most of her days in pyjamas while she writes, and has never been happier.

What are some of your favourite feminist books?
Have you read any of Louise O'Neill's books? What do you think of them?
I'd love to hear from you!
 

Not Everything I Hoped It'd Be // REVIEW: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Title: Leah On The Offbeat (Creekwood #2)
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: April 30th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2/2 of the Creekwood Duology
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually right on the beat - but real life is a little harder to manage. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And she hasn't mustered the courage to tell her friends she's bisexual, not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn't know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high and it's hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting - especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended ...
Becky Albertalli returns to the world of her acclaimed debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, in this warm and humorous story of first love and senior-year angst. 
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR Love, Simon and Leah on the Offbeat.

I expected the WORLD from this book. I LOVED the previous Becky Albertalli book I read – The Upside of Unrequited and Love, Simon was ONLY THE MOST ADORABLE THING ON THE PLANET.

I was SO EXCITED for Leah’s story from the MINUTE I read the announcement – a fat bi girl in the Simonverse, who is also a drummer and is trying to find herself? I was already going to read this book after the first four words.

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking Leah as much as I thought I would – both the book and the character herself. I hated that she was the burn EVERYTHING to the ground type of girl when things got even a little hard and I honestly struggled to connect with her and her story. Let me explain more:

THINGS I REALLY LIKED:

1.       I’ve loved Bram, Simon, Abby, Nick and Leah from the very beginning. When I first started reading the book, I LOVED that we got to see the whole group back together again, especially with Bram and Simon an ACTUAL couple this time. It was all kinds of sickeningly adorable.


2.       I actually also really liked Garrett in this book. He was kind of cute, in an unassuming way. He apologized when he was insensitive and the scene where he messed up the prom dinner reservations was probably my FAVOURITE MOMENT IN THE BOOK AND I WAS ACTUALLY SMILING AND SHAKING MY HEAD IN AN ‘HE SO ADORABLE FRUSTRATING’ KIND OF WAY.

3.       I ALSO LOVED that Becky Albertalli touched upon that bittersweet feeling all high schoolers go through at the end of senior year. It’s probably what I remember thinking about and feeling the most at that time and I really liked that we were shown how each member of the group dealt with it differently.

THINGS I DID NOT LIKE:
Image result for leah on the offbeat
1.       Leah: As excited as I was to meet the group again, I was mostly excited about the fact that this was LEAH’S book and that a FAT BI GIRL was getting a voice. Which is why is pains me to say that Leah herself was the thing I liked least about Leah on the Offbeat. She was a surprisingly judgemental friend, exclusively when it came to her friends as couples, kept FORGETTING about the boy who she KNEW LIKED HER and LIED TO HIM (and I get that she didn’t like him back, but most of the time, she was so rude to him by FORGETTING HE EXISTED) and also, she just didn’t give people second chances. With Leah, it was if you messed up once, that’s it. I didn’t end up liking her and I AM SO SAD FOR IT.

2.       Leah and Abby: Honestly, Leah and Abby were too angsty and drama filled together for me to like them. I also wish that we’d seen Leah and Nick, who’d been friends for FOREVER talk it out because at the end of the day, this series revolves around friendship and acceptance.


And that’s it. I just didn’t like the MAIN STORY LINE and PROTAGONIST as much as I should have and desperately wanted to and for that reason, I can’t recommend this book as much as I recommend Becky Albertalli’s other two!

Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It's Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

Are you a Becky Albertalli fan?
Which book and character are your favourites?
What did you think about Leah on the Offbeat?
 

Not Bollywood Enough // REVIEW: Love, Take Two by Saranya Rai

Title: Love, Take Two
Author: Saranya Rai
Publication Date: August 13th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin Random House India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Google Books || Infibeam || Flipkart
Blurb Description: She's tall, beautiful and one of Bollywood's leading ladies.He's goofy, loves to wear outlandish clothes and is constantly getting into trouble with reporters.When Vicky Behl and Kritika Vadukut meet on the sets of the period drama Ranjha Ranjha, everyone agrees they have serious chemistry--not just on screen. But after her devastating breakup with Raunak Rajput, Kritika doesn't know if she can handle being with a Bollywood actor. If only Vicky wasn't so damn charming . . .Will the pressure and scrutiny of Bollywood allow them to live happily ever?
I typically LOVE Indian rom-coms. I thoroughly enjoyed almost every one I’ve picked up (there haven’t been that many) and especially ones that start off with a misunderstanding (like Nikita Deshpande’s It Must’ve Been Something He Wrote) or just general animosity between the protagonists (like The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan)

Which is why, when a lovely PRH India editor pitched me this book, I knew I HAD to read it. It sounded like so many books I’ve loved and I dove into it almost immediately after I received it!

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       Honestly, Love, Take Two was a CUTE ENOUGH book. It had some chemistry filled moments, some elements of family and friendship and, of course, Bollywood, but I didn’t find it exceptional.

2.       The romance between Kritika and Vicky seemed sort of insta-lovey. Like both of them found the other attractive, but Kritika was wary and then the wariness went away after she realised he was a genuine person. I mean, it was fine and believable, but I didn’t find it in me to ROOT for them
from the bottom of my heart. They just seemed like fictional characters on a page, not the realistic people filled with passion and hilarity and misunderstandings that I was expecting.

3.       I also really liked that there were OTHER romances happening simultaneously, and I hope we see spin-offs or sequels surrounding Arun and Sudarshana and Mini and Jahan. Especially Mini and Jahan, because they seem SO CUTE.

4.       In retrospect, I wish this book was more… Bollywood. There was not NEARLY enough drama happening, absolutely no taking on the drama that could have been brought by Kritika’s ex (who, really, why was he mentioned in the FIRST LINE on the synopsis if he doesn’t make an appearance at all?)


Would I recommend this book? It’s a book you’ll probably read only once, but if you love Indian romances, then you should pick it up. 
Saranya Rai spent most of her impressionable childhood binge-watching Hindi serials, reading romance novels despite her mother's warnings and absorbing everything Bollywood through film magazines, late-night talk shows, the radio and, later, the Internet. She is now a reasonably well-adjusted adult, still heavily invested in pop culture.
What are some of your favourite romance novels?
What are some of your favourite romance tropes? I'd absolutely love any rom-com recommendations you might have!
 

A Book I Didn't Enjoy // REVIEW: These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

Title: These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders #1)
Author: Sara Raasch
Publication Date: August 7th 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/3 of the Stream Raiders Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles ||Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books || Infibeam
Blurb Description: A thrilling new fantasy series—full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a dangerous quest in a new world—from Sara Raasch, the New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series.
Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Agrid, a country ruled by religion.
But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something dangerous is at work.
Devereux is a pirate. As one of the stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he scavenges the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.
Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.
As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.
ACTUAL RATING: 2.75 STARS

I’d been reading this book for WEEKS before the pace picked up and I kind of got into the book. And even after that, just like my experience with the other Sara Raasch book I read, Snow like Ashes, I ended up being confused amidst all the politics and descriptions and didn’t end up enjoying the book at all.

THINGS THAT CONFUSED ME/ I DIDN’T ENJOY MUCH:

1.       Adeluna: Honestly, I felt like I read the same line – ‘The Argridians are behind the capture of Milo Iberra and I intend to expose it to bring peace to the island’ – only about 800 times throughout this 400+ page book from Adeluna’s perspective. IT FELT SO LINEAR and REPETITIVE and honestly, it bored me.
There was also, through the book, so much mystery surrounding who exactly she was in the revolution and well, WHY? I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND HOW A TEN-YEAR-OLD BECAME AN ASSASSIN, and SUCH a good shot, AND WHY HER FATHER WOULD TURN HER INTO ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE. I understand the spying aspect, because WHO WOULD SUSPECT A 10-YEAR-OLD, but why an assassin?
ALSO, HOW DID HER MOTHER NOT KNOW ABOUT ANY OF THIS?
It seemed, honestly, incredulous and unbelievable.


2.       Magic: For so much talk of magic, the evils and the benefits consuming so much of the book, we learnt almost nothing of it in the book. The plants are so confusing, and if you ask me now, one day after I finished the book, I couldn’t name any of them for you.

3.        The Church and Royalty of Argrid: I absolutely hated the king and the poisonous environment he fostered in his country. I didn’t understand how people believed his with NO QUESTION, especially when he changed his mind on the very thing he used as an excuse to burn thousands at the stake, including his own brother and nephew. I also didn’t get his motivation or grand plan and I’M JUST CONFUSED ABOUT THE AMBIGUITY OF IT ALL. Where did a legion of super soldiers COME FROM INTO THE PLOT? What are they going to be used for?

Honestly, I had HIGH hopes for this book. It had been on my radar from early this year, and I was VERY much looking forward to reading it. Pirates and magic? WHAT COULD GO WRONG?


And yet, everything did. I didn’t enjoy myself reading this book, and I probably won’t be picking up the sequel. 

Sara Raasch
Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

Have you read Sara Raasch's Snow like Ashes series? What did you think of it?
What are your FAVOURITE pirate novels?
I'd love to hear from you!