Monday, November 23, 2020

My Ticket Out by J.N. Marton Release Blitz

My Ticket Out by J.N. Marton Release Blitz

A senior basketball player. A mysterious new girl. A secret romance…

Charlie Baker wants out. She wants out of her small, southern hometown of BluHaven and she has her sights set on a basketball scholarship to a college as far away as her dreams can take her. Everything is going according to plan until she moves to town.

Aspen Sullivan is breathtaking. She is beautiful, smart, talented… She evokes feelings in Charlie that she hadn’t thought possible. When their friendship blossoms into something more, Charlie discovers a new truth about herself. But with Aspen’s mysterious past, they must keep their relationship a secret.

Will their love be strong enough to endure the trials of deceiving those closest to them?
Do they have what it takes to escape the constraints of the south and the closet together?

My Ticket Out is a Young Adult, LGBT story about love, and self-discovery. If you enjoy stories that include romance, heartbreak, and embracing who you are, then you will definitely love this book by author J.N. Marton.


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My Ticket Out by J.N. Marton

Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Also Available with KindleUnlimited  ~




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars

This is an emotionally charged read, full of impossibly heightened adolescent angst. It is the story of Charlie, a small town basketball star in her last year of high school. The book follows Charlie as she grows into herself, prepares for the future, and falls in love for the first time.

It is impossible not to fall hard for Charlie. Certain that she doesn’t belong in her small town, she devotes herself to her basketball – her ticket out. I love Charlie’s intense friendship with her friend and rival Riley, and I love her complicated relationship with her brother. Charlie’s background is complicated and her relationship with her grandparents is fragile. Charlie is a fighter, she’s a survivor, and she’s pretty fabulous.

I’m not entirely sure why this book is marketed as a romance. It is definitely a coming of age story and it is definitely a young adult, not a new adult read, but I’d argue that the focus of this book is the growth we see in Charlie herself over the school year. Without spoilers, there is a romance element to the book but it is a difficult, fractured romance for most of the book and the storyline doesn’t use a conventional romance novel structure.

My initial reaction to the dramatic storyline around Charlie’s coming out experience was disbelief – but sadly I’ve seen enough American news in 2020 to understand that small town America is quite possibly as hostile to LGBT teens as Charlie’s story suggests. However, I do feel like the book gets unnecessarily preachy in places – especially at the end where resolutions feel too easy and a bit trite. I’m not sure deep hurts can be healed quickly with pretty apologies. Charlie, Riley, and Matthew feel like complicated, fully developed characters. I didn’t quite know how to feel about Aspen in various parts of the story – but all of the other characters feel a little bit too simplistic. Either goodies or baddies, there isn’t much room for multifaceted humans in this book.

I recognise that as a teacher in my 40s, I’m definitely not the target audience for this book. I think the angst, the emotional turmoil, and the intense romantic scenes will resonate better with teen readers than they did with me. It’s all a little too much for me but it did make me smile – and cry.

My Ticket Out is a young adult angsty story.

Charlie is a senior in high school. She doesn't feel she belongs in her hometown. She has hopes to get a basketball scholarship to be her ticket out. When Aspen is a new student, Charlie immediately notices how beautiful she is. Together they form a friendship that grows into something more.

The pace was very slow for me in the beginning, it did seem to move better the further I got into the read. I didn't feel as though I connected with the characters as much as I wanted to. As a young adult read, this is a very high-angst book, but with teenagers that is pretty realistic. The ending seemed a bit too easy for me, with a few apologies it was wrapped up in a bow. I did like that it touched on very realistic issues affecting LGBTQ teens.



Author Bio

J.N. Marton graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor’s degree in education. Along with educating the future of our nation, she enjoys taking her daily morning run, reading any book she can get her hands on, and binge watching the latest shows on Netflix. Marton happily lives with her wife, Hollis, and their Lab/Basset Hound mix, Sam.

Connect with J.N.

Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Goodreads


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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of My Ticket Out by J.N. Marton to read and review for this tour.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

House of Dragons by K.A. Linde Blog Tour

House of Dragons by K.A. Linde Available Now

USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde introduces the Royal Houses series with House of Dragons: the story of Kerrigan Argon, a half-Fae, half-human as she seeks her place in an unforgiving world filled with magic, mayhem, and romance. Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, and V.E. Schwab.

Ten years ago, half-Fae, half human Kerrigan Argon was discreetly dropped off onto the steps of Draco Mountain with nothing but a note. Her life changes completely as she’s swept into the care of the House of Dragons—an elite training program for gifted Fae.

On the year of her seventeenth name day, each student will be chosen by one of the twelve tribes of Alandria to enter society.

Everyone is chosen, except Kerrigan.

So, she strikes a bargain with the Dragon Society: convince a tribe to select her or give up her birthright forever.

With the unlikeliest of allies—Fordham Ollivier, the cursed Fae prince, who escaped his dark throne—she has to chart her own destiny to reshape the world.


Add to Goodreads


House of Dragons by K.A. Linde

Book 1
Buy Links

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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo



“I’m a half-Fae, Helly. Half. You can’t possibly understand how everyone treats me because of who I am. I can’t tell people about my abilities. I can’t show who I truly am. And even if I could, no one would accept me for it.”



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I actually loved this book! There were so many ups and downs, it kept me intrigued all the way through.

I 100% had a girl crush on Kerrigan – she is the ultimate boss. Dealt with a rubbish hand from birth, she has found a way to make life work for her, even if that means hiding parts of herself away from others.

There was so much going on in this book, you just didn't know where the story was going to take you.

I will definitely be reading the next installment, I need to know what happens.

Word of advice, you should probably read the Ascension series prior to Royal Houses. House of Dragons is the debut in the Royal Houses series. I didn't find out until after I finished the novel that it is directly tied to another series, Ascension. Do I believe this affected my reading enjoyment? No. Do I believe you can read the two series independently of one another? Probably. I suffered no confusion, as the story unfolded as if it were new, without a ton of info-dumpage. As well, I feel as if there wasn't too much information given that it will ruin my reading experience for the Ascension series. However, I'll hold judgment on that until I read the previous series, though.

With a classic young adult epic fantasy vibe... Kerrigan has spent her entire life as a ward of the House of Dragons, after her royal father dumped her on their doorstep. Struggling with how the world views a halfling, half fae and half human, Kerrigan is seen as beneath the fae, equal with the humans. This has taught her another way to survive, given her tools her fellow fae haven't learned. Caught between two ways of life, Kerrigan is equipped to handle both worlds.

Strong, intelligent, and independent, Kerrigan is the rope in a tug-of-war, being pulled downward to join the humans, feeling a sense of loyalty to a dishonest man that saved her, while feeling a sense of duty and history with her father's people and the power that runs in her veins. All the while, she refuses to be put in her place by anyone around her, even if she feels abandoned by her father.

Hiding her powers, Kerrigan navigates the politics, the deception, and the rules of society as the royal houses converge for a tournament held every five years, the winners are rewarded with a bond with a dragon and entrance to the Society.

Intrigue, betrayals, mysteries, loyalty, love, loss, friendship, and honor, Kerrigan takes the reader on the beginning of an epic fantasy journey, where we're eager for the sequel as soon as we finish the last page.



One month until the end of the tournament to find a tribe to accept her… or she was bound to the society forever.


Author Bio

K.A. LINDE is the USA Today bestselling author of the Avoiding series, Wrights, and more than thirty other novels. She has a master’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia, was the head campaign worker for the 2012 presidential campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as the head coach of the Duke University dance team. She loves reading fantasy novels, binge-watching Supernatural, traveling, and dancing in her spare time.

She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband and two super-adorable puppies.

Connect with K.A.

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
K.A. Linde Books Facebook Group



Kerrigan has to chart her own destiny to reshape the world.


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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of House of Dragons (Royal Houses #1) by K.A. Linde to read and review for this tour.

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter

Welcome to the Forest of Good and Evil, where villains may be heroes and heroes may be villains… it all depends on who you ask. The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter.

Once Upon a Time meets Game of Thrones in book two of New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter’s magical, romantic dark fantasy series, in which the fairy tales we know and love are prophecies of the future. Welcome to the Forest of Good and Evil, where villains may be heroes and heroes may be villains… it all depends on who you ask.

Ashleigh Ansklelisa may be called the Glass Princess due to her weak heart, but Saxon, king of the Avian, knows she is more dangerous than broken glass, in this Cinderella retelling that sweeps readers into the magical land of Enchantia, filled with treacherous enemies, unexpected allies, forbidden love, and dangerous magic! Can destined lovers find their way to each other, or will evil win the day? Everything changes at the stroke of midnight as one determined princess fights for her legacy, her love, and the crown that is her destiny.



The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Inkyard Press—Harlequin




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The Glass Queen is the second book in the series The Forest of Good and Evil and can be read as a standalone with no issues. This was my first book in the fairy tale retelling series by Gena Showalter, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to grab The Evil Queen (book #1).

I was expecting a paranormally themed Cinderella. I didn't have high expectations as many Cinderella retellings have been disappointing, but this was an awesome departure from the norm! The Little Cinder Girl can be linked to anyone in the world of Enchantia. A world where trolls, shape shifters, witches & warlocks, dragons, mages, and everything in between lives. Magic is the norm, and oracles are sought after. As such, each kingdom has its own royal family and it just so happens that Ashleigh's father is the King of The Provence of Fleur. One would think this would make her a powerful princess; unfortunately, that title holds no power to the sickly, weak girl. A father who hates her, no friend outside of her mother, how is this girl supposed to survive?

Prince Saxon Skylair of the Avian Mountains hasn't had an easy life; exiled from his home at an early age, he was taken in by friends to make a life. Knowing his place in the family, he needs to prove himself to take his rightful place.

These are just simple summaries of the main characters, and in no way truly convey all that is going on. Enemies to the core, only one knows why. I loved the twists and turns, the constant questioning of the prophecies. I loved the way everything came together; I even loved the cheesiness as I am expecting it from a young adult novel. Above all, I want to read about the next retelling as I liked these characters!



Author Bio

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over seventy books, including the acclaimed Lords of the Underworld series, the Gods of War series, the White Rabbit Chronicles, and the Forest of Good and Evil series. She writes sizzling paranormal romance, heartwarming contemporary romance, and unputdownable young adult novels, and lives in Oklahoma City with her family and menagerie of dogs.

Connect with Gena

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Gena Showalter’s Legions Facebook Group



Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Glass Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil #2) by Gena Showalter to read and review.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Morning Flower by Amanda Hocking

New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to the magical world of the Trylle with The Morning Flower, the second book in the Omte Origins arc.

Welcome back to the kingdom of the Omte—a forest realm where secrets and danger, human nature and ancient mythology collide.

Where truth is stranger than fiction.

Searching for answers to her own shrouded origins, Ulla Tulin’s journey of exploration takes a sudden turn when Eliana is kidnapped. Turning toward the Omte capital instead of the institute where she hoped to learn the truth about her identity, Ulla must put Eliana’s welfare before her own—a sacrifice that will present all new dangers to them both.

When history is still unwritten.

Ulla never expected that once she arrived she’d discover the identity of a Skojare man who crossed paths with her mother—a man who could very well be her father. Given the man’s connections to the Älvolk, a secret society tasked with protecting the location of the First City, Ulla is soon dispatched to Sweden to find him.

One woman will dare to go wherever fate will take her…

Now Ulla, along with her maybe boyfriend Pan, finds herself on a desperate race against time to locate her kin—who could very well pose a danger to her kingdom. Nobody and nothing is as it seems as she penetrates the dark heart of the Älvolk… all the way to the secret Lost Bridge to the First City, where an unknown future awaits for Ulla and her kind.

Don’t miss book one in The Omte Origins Trilogy, The Lost City. For reviews & more info, click HERE.

Book 2
Buy Links

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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Wednesday Books

After finishing The Lost City (The Omte Origins #1), I had hoped that maybe book two, The Morning Flower, would hold more appeal, but I ended up feeling just as disenchanted with the sequel as I was with the first book. I just didn’t care for it.

I really wanted to like this series and I hoped that I might find myself more enchanted with The Morning Flower, but that just wasn’t the case. The Morning Flower picks up shortly after the ending of The Lost City, with Ulla and Pan on the road to the Omte capital. Much like the first book, the second book seemed to just drag itself out without anything of real interest happening for the majority of the book and then the only interesting tidbits seemed to happen in the last 20% of the book, only for it to end with another cliffhanger. At this point, I don’t even feel the desire to read the final book in The Omte Origins trilogy. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find myself interested enough in Ulla or even the spark of potential between her and Pan or any other potential love interest such as, Jem-kruk. I had hoped that I might feel more enamored with Hocking’s characters by the end of The Morning Flower, but that wasn’t the case.

All in all, three stars for The Morning Flower by Amanda Hocking.

AMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Connect with Amanda

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins #2) by Amanda Hocking to read and review.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Lost City by Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking, the New York Times bestselling author of The Kanin Chronicles, returns to the magical world of the Trylle Trilogy with The Lost City, the first novel in The Omte Origins—and the final story arc in her beloved series.

The storm and the orphan

Twenty years ago, a woman sought safety from the spinning ice and darkness that descended upon a small village. She was given shelter for the night by the local innkeepers but in the morning, she disappeared—leaving behind an infant. Now nineteen, Ulla Tulin is ready to find who abandoned her as a baby or why.

The institution and the quest

Ulla knows the answers to her identity and heritage may be found at the Mimirin where scholars dedicate themselves to chronicling troll history. Granted an internship translating old documents, Ulla starts researching her own family lineage with help from her handsome and charming colleague Pan Soriano.

The runaway and the mystery

But then Ulla meets Eliana, a young girl who no memory of who she is but who possesses otherworldly abilities. When Eliana is pursued and captured by bounty hunters, Ulla and Pan find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous game where folklore and myth become very real and very deadly—but one that could lead Ulla to the answers she’s been looking for.

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Wednesday Books

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have read several books by Amanda Hocking that take place in the same world as The Lost City, but it has been awhile since I’ve been back in Hocking’s world of Trylle. The Lost City is the final arc for Hocking’s Trylle world, but prior knowledge or reading of the previous arcs do not seem necessary to read prior to starting The Lost City.

The Lost City focuses on the secretive Omte tribe and follows the story of Ulla Tulin, who was abandoned as a baby. Now, 20 years later, Ulla has landed a prestigious internship at the Mimirim institute, where she will finally have an opportunity to search for her birth parents.

I have mixed feelings about The Lost City because I kind of expected it to be more attention grabbing, but I felt like it only got interesting the last 30% of the book and the first 70% just seemed to drag on forever without anything worthwhile actually happening. Normally I find Hocking’s books to be more alluring, but this one just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t dislike it, however, I just hoped I would have enjoyed it more than I did. That being said, I will of course give book two, The Morning Flower, a shot because I am just intrigued enough by the last 30% of The Lost City to think I might enjoy book two more.

In anticipation, I reread the Trylle Trilogy to remember Hocking's world building, hoping to pave the way for The Lost City.

Immediately diving straight into this novel, I was excited for whatever was to come my way... eight days of attempts, when I binge-read three entire books in a day... and it was a struggle to finish.

Fingers crossed The Lost City is the first book curse, where it spent every page building up to book two. The mystery behind Ulla's history is the only thing that kept the pages turning. The characters were all one-note, other than physical features, they didn't truly have any personality traits. The pacing was slower than molasses. I felt no realistic connection between the characters, which would have had me rooting for them, curious to see what the future had in store for them.

What was the worst impediment for the novel would be the info-dumpage. After reading the Trylle Trilogy to brush up on the mythology and world building, every page of this novel was a rundown with a confusing overabundance added. It flowed organically in the original trilogy, Wendy discovering the ins and outs with the reader, not too much so the reader couldn’t digest it and retain it. During The Lost City, Ulla was just as ignorant to the hows and whys, but since she was raised in a troll community, she understood what was being listed by the characters, while the reader didn't. Entire histories for each of the troll lines were written on the pages, but not in a storytelling fashion – a textbook.

I felt as if I needed to take notes, fearing I was missing something important. Just too much information at once, delivered on every page, before the reader could digest what they previously read. I just started winging it – if I missed something, I missed it, because there was no way I was going to remember a textbook of information chapters ago.

I needed more. I needed deeper character building to cause me to become invested in the story. I needed three-dimensional characters, who showed their personality traits, outside of mundane everyday events of going to work and going home. I needed an organic flow of information to keep my eyes from crossing. I needed faster pacing to keep my interests. I needed answers, since none of the mysteries presented in the novel were revealed by the end – I understand this is a series, but some progression forward would have kept my interests.

There was a plot and a story there, but it was used as a vehicle to give an entire history of the troll lines, as if the plot and story were secondary to creating the world building. But since the story itself wasn’t the focus, it wasn’t a rich universe created like in its predecessors, but just words on a page.

Honestly, if I didn't already have the second in the series, I'm not sure if I would continue reading. I'm just hoping upon hope that The Lost City was merely a heavy on the info introduction for the second in the series, where it will all pick up and keep me engaged.

The novel read exactly as a scholar in a city dedicated to recording history would...
I wanted to love it, and I wish I could recommend it.

AMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Connect with Amanda

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Lost City (The Omte Origins #1) by Amanda Hocking to read and review.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Dangerous secrets and forbidden desires lead to shocking consequences…
Don’t miss book two of the fantastical Harbinger trilogy from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Half-angel Trinity and her bonded gargoyle protector, Zayne, have been working with demons to stop the apocalypse while avoiding falling in love. The Harbinger is coming… but who or what is it? All of humankind may fall if Trinity and Zayne can’t win the race against time as dark forces gather.

As tensions rise, they must stay close together and patrol the DC streets at night, seeking signs of the Harbinger, an entity that is killing Wardens and demons with no seeming rhyme or reason. Forbidden to be with each other, Zayne and Trinity fight their feelings and turn to unusual sources for help—the demon Roth and his cohorts. But as deaths pile up and they uncover a sinister plot involving the local high school and endangering someone dear to Zayne, Trin realizes she is being led… herded… played for some unknown end. As anger builds and feelings spiral out of control, it becomes clear that rage may be the ruin of them all.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Inkyard Press @ Harlequin

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L. Armentrout (JLA) is the second book in her Harbinger series, which is a spin-off from The Dark Elements series. I personally read The Dark Elements series before starting Storm and Fury (book #1 in The Harbinger series) and I would encourage readers to start with The Dark Elements before diving into Rage and Ruin.

Rage and Ruin immediately picks up right where Storm and Fury ended. Zayne and Trinity are trying to work through their new roles as a bonded pair. For Zayne and Trinity this means patrolling the streets of DC together, trying to solve the mystery of the Harbinger’s identity, and avoid falling in love with each other because a Trueborn and their bonded Protector are forbidden from being together.

I absolutely love JLA and I have always found myself easily sucked into every story she weaves, and Rage and Ruin was no exception. I really enjoyed Zayne’s character when he was in The Dark Elements series, but I have found that now that I am reading his own story, I just love his character so much more! I was so ready to be diving back into Zayne and Trinity’s story. Having a Warden (gargoyle shifter) and Trueborn (half human/angel) is such a unique take on the normal shifter fantasy genre. Plus, getting some extra Roth and Layla scenes always bring a smile to my face!

After finishing Rage and Ruin, I was left reeling and I wish book three was already here. I can’t wait to read what JLA intends for the final installment in the Harbinger series! Five stars for Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Rage and Ruin.

Also Available in the Harbinger Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Inkyard Press @ Harlequin

For reviews & more info, check out our Storm and Fury post.

JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT is the #1 international and #1 New York Times bestselling author of over 40 books, including the Wait for You, Lux series, the Dark Elements series, and Til Death. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion, Harlequin Teen and writes steamy and fun New Adult and Adult romance under the pen name J. Lynn. Jennifer is also the founder of Apollycon, a yearly reader event that brings in over 1400 readers and authors together each year. She currently lives in West Virginia with her husband and two dogs, Loki and Diesel.

Connect with Jennifer

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Rage and Ruin (Harbinger #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout to read and review.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Hickville Crossroads by Mary Karlik Blog Tour

Frasier Anderson is one of the hottest teenage actors in the UK, but he’s virtually unknown in the US. Now he’s landed the leading role in a big-budget Hollywood film that could make him an international star.

So how do you prepare a Scot for a role as a Texas high school student? Embed him in a Texas high school. He only has to follow three rules:

No drama. No girls. And no telling who he really is.

Jenna Wiley is smart, funny, and has a few no-drama, no-dating rules of her own. Her friendship with new kid Ethan Smith is perfect and might even lead to something more. Except for a few things that don’t add up. Like his mom being afraid to have company. Or their house, which is more staged than lived in. Or his sister, whom nobody talks about.

It all comes to a boil when Frasier’s biggest secrets hit the tabloids and the paparazzi swarm Hillside with Jenna in their sights.

Can Frasier convince Jenna that shy, goofy Ethan Smith is closer to real than the image the tabloids have created?

And can she ever forgive him for breaking the most important rule of all? Because for Jenna, when it comes to love and science, the truth is all that matters.

Book 4
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Hickville Crossroads is the fourth installment in the Hickville High series, and can most definitely be read as a standalone with little to no confusion. There are slight mentions of events that happened in past installments, with the characters shown. I hadn't read the series in a few years, not entirely sure if I read book three, but I easily fell into the story from the start.

The premise of the book is an intriguing one. A Scottish actor comes to small-town Texas, to a place called Hickville no less, to practice for a role in an upcoming series. He's to go incognito, learn to speak the dialect, ditch his own accent and pick up a new one, and blend in as if he's a transplant from a few states North.

What I adored the most about this premise is how Ethan Smith (Frasier), his parents had to be in on the charade, Mom struggling the most with the accents and the way of small-town life. It was unexpectedly quirky, humorous, and lighthearted.

Jenna, after getting to know her in past installments, she felt different to me, having her own crosses to bear. Family issues, friends to support, insecurities to feel. Jenna was a well-rounded character who felt/acted/reacted like a real teenage girl. Easy to empathize with Jenna, especially as the novel evolved.

Burnt in the past by a boy, Jenna holds a lot of people at arm's length, so imagine the yummy angst as the boy she lets in isn't who she expected him to be. An impostor, using their town and the people inside it to study a role.

Hickville Crossroads was a solid young adult novel, a good addition to the series overall. I do believe the age demographic is was meant for would appreciate it the most. Young teens – a clean romance that isn't overly complicated for younger readers, filled with cute moments that aren't older than their years.

When reading this genre, it draws me back to when I was that age, but I'm not sure most adults read in the same way. Since this is YA, I judge it based on how a young adult would perceive it. I don't look for the same things a forty-year-old woman enjoys in a novel. I look for the butterflies a young teen feels during her first real crush.

A delightful, lighthearted, age-appropriate, warm and fuzzy novel that brought all the right feels. The shorter length perfect for the demographic, which ended up being a few hours of escapism for this adult who is young at heart.

Young Adult age-range: 12+. Drug-use handled in an age-appropriate, mature manner, which is more teaching moment than entertainment device.

Mary Karlik has always been a dreamer. When she was a teen, she read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and then sat in every wardrobe in her Nanna’s home, trying to open the door to Narnia. She didn’t find it, but she did discover her voice as an author: one filled with her young adult self, and grounded in her roots as a Texan and her Scottish heritage, nourished by obscure Scottish folklore.

You can find her Texas roots in her indie published, YA contemporary romance Hickville series, which has been described as “100% solid storytelling,” and begins with Welcome to Hickville High, a “lovely story about growing up.”

She digs deep into her Scottish roots – there is magic there, she just knows it – for her YA epic fantasy Fairy Trafficking series published by Ink Monster Publishing LLC. Her first book, Magic Harvest, debuted in September of 2018. It reached #1 in 3 categories of YA Fantasy on Amazon. Magic Heist, the second in the series has been described as “a fun twisty read which will never let you guess what will happen next.”

Mary recently moved from the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of Northern New Mexico where she was a certified professional ski instructor to Texas. She loves visiting Scotland where she is currently earning a degree in Gaelic Language Studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye—part of the University of Highlands and Islands system. Mary also earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, has a B.S. degree from Texas A&M University, and is a Registered Nurse.

Mary is an active member of Romance Writers of America and serves on a national committee of RWA. She formerly served on the board of the Young Adult Romance Writers of America. She is an active member of the Dallas Area Romance Authors and looks forward to raising a glass or two of gin and tonic with her fellow writers every year at RWA’s national convention.

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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza? by Andy V. Roamer Blog Tour

RV is a good kid, starting his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School. Though his genes didn’t give him a lot of good things, they did give him a decent brain. So he’s doing his best to keep up in high school, despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots and insist on other rules. Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His puny muscles. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all—that he might be gay.

Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher, who is gay and always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole. But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.

Warning: Homophobic bullying, homophobic slurs, physical abuse, mentions of gay bashing, racism within a character’s family.

Book 1
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Why can’t life be like pizza?

I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately. I love pizza. Pizza makes me feel good. Especially since I discovered Joe’s. Joe’s Pizza is quiet and out of the way and allows me to think. And Joe’s combinations are the best. Pepperoni and onions. Garlic and mushroom. Cheese and chicken. And if you really want that little kick in the old butt: the super jalapeno. Mmmm, good. Gets you going again. And lets you forget all your troubles.

What troubles can a fourteen-year-old guy have? Ha! First of all, I’m not a regular guy, as anyone can guess from my taste in pizza. My parents are immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves here in the United States. Besides the usual things American parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in school, my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics, communism, fascism, global warming, and the fact they and their parents survived violence and jail so I-better-be-grateful-I’m-not-miserable-like-kids-in-other-parts-of-the-world.

Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable already. Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around the corner might be building.

I don’t know why I worry about everything, but I do. It’s probably in my genes. Other guys have genes that gave them big muscles or hairy chests. I got nerves.

And then there’s my name. RV. Yeah, RV. No, I’m not a camper or anything. RV is short for Arvydas. That’s right. “Are-vee-duh-s.” Mom and Dad say it’s a common name in Lithuania, which is the country in Eastern Europe where my parents were born. A name like that might be fine for Lithuania, but what about the United States? Couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Joe, or Mike, or even Darryl? My brother, Ray, has a normal name. Why couldn’t they have given me one?

I even look a little weird, I think. Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that get in the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some zits lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty sight, is it? At least the glasses are not too thick. Mom and Dad don’t have a lot of money to spend, but they did fork up the money to get me thin lenses, so I don’t look like a complete zomboid.

What can I do? I try my best, despite it all. I’m lucky because I’ve done well in school, so at least my genes gave me a half-decent brain. Hey, I’m not bragging. It’s just nice to feel good about something when most days I feel pretty much a loser at so many things. When I was in grammar school, there were enough days when I came home from school and cried because some big oaf threatened me, or I got hit in the stomach during my pathetic attempts to play ball during recess…

Okay, okay, I’m getting off track. I want to write about my first day of school. Mom and Dad gave me this new—well, refurbished, but new to me anyway—computer for getting into Latin school, and they keep after me to make good use of it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my new life. My life away from cretins—Lith, American, or any other kind…

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

RV is 14 years old and in his first year of high school. We spend a year with him as he goes through life dealing with issues in his family life, problems with friendships, girl problems, and dealing with his sexuality. He thinks he may be gay, or bi, he isn't really sure.

Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza? was a little slow to start off but once it got going, I really enjoyed it. As someone in their 40s, you look at a 14-year-old as someone young with no worries. Really though, they are often dealing with a lot of serious problems just like us adults, they just have less life experience.

I particularly enjoyed seeing RV’s home life. He is the son of Lithuanian immigrants and I liked seeing what life was like for him as a member of that community and what being a child of an immigrant is like.

I'm looking forward to more installments of The Pizza Chronicles and seeing what happens with RV's love life, finding out what is going on with his little brother, and generally seeing what life will bring for him next. This is a good start to a new series.

Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books division and then wearing many other hats. This is his first novel about RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships. He has written an adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon, under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.

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The Pizza Chronicles Blog

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza? (The Pizza Chronicles #1) by Andy V. Roamer to read and review for this tour.