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I Belong

Blog Tour & Giveaway: First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

July 21st, 2017 @ 12:08 am
Posted by Bridget under Blog Tour Tags: , , , ,

Alexandra SirowyPlease welcome author Alexandra Sirowy to the blog today! She has stopped by to answer a few questions about her most recently book First We Were IV! This is an intense YA thriller about a group of kids who create a secret society that leads to Revenge and Death! This novel will be released on July 25, 2017 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers!

At the end of this post, enter for your chance to win 1 signed hard cover copy of FIRST WE WERE IV, Fujuifilm instax mini 9 Polaroid camera in smoky white (& film) like the one in the book! Strand of gold stars FIRST WE WERE IV swag (temporary tattoos & bookmarks), and a Evie Set Designed Tote Bag!!!

About Alexandra:

Alexandra Sirowy is the author of the young adult thrillers THE CREEPING and THE TELLING. Alexandra attended a women’s college for her undergraduate work in International Relations and later received her graduate degree in International Studies with an emphasis on the Middle East. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, and exploring the foothills and woods near the Northern California home she and her husband share with their dog.

You can visit Alexandra around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Pinterest | Instagram

Want to read more from Alexandra Sirowy?

The CreepingThe Telling


Dark Faerie Tales: First up can you tell us about First We Were IV and where you got the inspiration to write it?

Alexandra: FIRST WE WERE IV is YA thriller in the vein of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS meets FIGHT CLUB. It’s about four best friends who invent a secret society and try to use it to get justice for an unsolved murder in their California coastal town, until justice turns to revenge, secrets unravel, others want in, a rebellion is sparked, and the secret society gets beyond out of control, ultimately costing one of the friends their life.

Opening with the arrival of the police, evidence of an accident or murder, and the statement “First we were four. Now we are three,” the story jumps back to relate how their secret society got so out of control, leaving the mystery of what happens to one of them (and to which one) to pull you through the book.

The inciting spark for FIRST WE WERE IV came from a few places, some easy to pinpoint and some just dark corners of my imagination that are hard to trace. Here’s one that’s easy to trace.

I was at an outdoor market in Vietnam a few years ago, and I came across this little wooden statue. It’s a carving of a woman, about eight inches tall, with her eyes closed and her palms tented. There’s a big starburst rising from her back, stars engraved on her cloak, and a few words in Latin scratched into her base just below a crescent moon. She’s a complete mystery – origins unknown. The woman selling her didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Vietnamese so I couldn’t even ask how she came to have such an unusual statue.

I brought her home with me and she sat on my writing desk for a couple of years, smiling this dangerous smile at me, daring me to tell her story. In FWWIV, Graham’s mom brings home a similar mysterious idol for him from the Mekong Delta, and she becomes a part of the four friends’ secret society and the history they invent.

Dark Faerie Tales: Out of the four main characters in the book who did you relate to the most?

Alexandra: Izzie, Viv, Graham, and Harry really came alive for me as I was writing FWWIV. They exist in my mind as real people do. I felt their heartbreak at the end of the book (and yep, I ugly cried while writing and editing it). Even though I think all four are relatable in the way they love one another, get caught up in something bigger than them, and want to belong, I will admit that I relate the most to Graham.

Graham doesn’t fit in with his peers in about a million different ways, and yet, in Izzie, Viv, and Harry, he found soul mates. He’s curious, a bookworm, mischievous, and cares deeply for his three best friends. He makes a lot of mistakes and tries to be brave and good but sometimes falls short.

I think we all have a little Izzie, Viv, Harry, and Graham in us.

Dark Faerie Tales: Are any of your characters based off real people from your life or are they all a figment of your imagination?

Alexandra: They are one hundred percent from my head. I wish I had an Izzie, Viv, Harry, and Graham in my life! With that said, their extremely close bond is a dynamic I’ve witnessed in real life. We moved around a ton when I was in school, so I always felt a bit like the odd-girl out. But there were a few groups of friends I remember in high school that were that tight-knit. The kind of kids who grew up next door and shared every adventure and memory.

Dark Faerie Tales: If First We Were IV was ever turned into a movie who do you imagine playing the roles of your characters?

Alexandra: Izzie: Haley Lu Richardson

Viv: Medalion Rahimi

Graham: Logan Miller

Harry: Tyler Posey

Dark Faerie Tales: The editing process can be pretty brutal at times and you generally have to cut a lot of scenes from your story. If you can without spoiling anything will you share a deleted scene/line with us?

Alexandra: I’m so glad you asked this question! After I’m done drafting and editing, I’m usually left with tens and tens of pages of cut scenes or orphan lines I never found a perfect home for. The lines below were a part of my favorite scene in the whole book, when Izzie and one of her best friends Graham begin to realize that their invention, their secret society, is truly powerful and is taking on a life of its own. So imagine: a dark night, a full moon, a bunch of high school seniors up on a giant boulder on the outskirts of an apple orchard, and two best friends, Izzie and Graham, with blood on their hands, down below, looking up.

“None of this is real,” I said, more to myself than anyone.

“They think it’s real,” Graham said. He pointed at the initiates. Radiant in white. Alive

against the landscape’s abyss. “Tell me the difference.”

I couldn’t. There was none. He was right. I frightened myself knowing it. There was a vanishing gap between pretend and reality. We’d made it disappear.

Dark Faerie Tales: All of your books so far have been thrillers/mysteries. Do you ever want to write a different genre or do you plan to stick to this one for the time being?

Alexandra: I’m currently writing a young adult dark fantasy. The inspiration for the book hit me a couple of years ago as I was writing my second thriller. I usually let an idea rattle around my head for a while until it becomes this undeniable urge, burning me at both ends, and then I know it’s a book ready to be written. On days when I need to work on something different, I’m writing a fourth thriller for young adults and am also playing around with a concept for an adult thriller.


Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

July 10:  Bookish Lifestyles – Review + Tote Design
July 11:  Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post
July 12:  Emily Reads Everything – Review
July 13:  Biscotto’s Books – Moodboard
July 14:  Forever Lost in Literature – Review

Week 2: 

July 17:  My Friends Are Fiction – Guest Post
July 18:  Literary Legionnaire – Review
July 19:  The Reader and the Chef – Review
July 20:  Novel Novice – Guest Post
July 21:  Dark Faerie Tales – Interview

Week 3:

July 24:  YA and Wine – Review + Guest Post
July 25:  YA Book Central – Spotlight
July 26:  Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Review
July 27:  A Perfection Called Books – Guest Post



This contest is provided by Alexandra Sirowy!!!

One lucky reader will win a signed hard cover copy of First We Were IV, Fujuifilm instax mini 9 Polaroid camera in smoky white (& film) like the one in the book! Strand of gold stars FIRST WE WERE IV swag (temporary tattoos & bookmarks), and a Evie Seo Designed Tote Bag
(US & Canada)


Available July 25, 2017 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

About this Book:

It started for pranks, fun, and forever memories.

A secret society – for the four of us.

The rules: Never lie. Never tell. Love each other.

We made the pledge and danced under the blood moon on the meteorite in the orchard. In the spot we found the dead girl five years earlier. And discovered the ancient drawings way before that.

Nothing could break the four of us apart – I thought.

But then, others wanted in. Our seaside town had secrets. History.

We wanted revenge.

We broke the rules. We lied. We told. We loved each other too much, not enough, and in ways we weren’t supposed to.

Our invention ratcheted out of control.

What started as a secret society, ended as justice. Revenge. Death. Rebellion.

Pre-Order from



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Early Review: Vanguard by Ann Aguirre

July 18th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Roxanne under Review Tags: , , , , ,

Title: Vanguard

Author: Ann Aguirre

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: Razorland (Book #4)

Publication Date: July 25, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250089824 (MacKids)

ISBN-13: 978-1250089823 (MacKids)

Reviewed by: Roxanne


The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship’s doctor, she can’t wait. It’s past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.

Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn’t allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew.

Quick & Dirty: Tegan goes on a strange journey.

Opening Sentence: Morning crept across the floor in buttery streaks, sunlight warming the wood of the cottage Tegan shared with Dr. Wilson.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Dr. Wilson barely gets out the words Rosemere and Catalina before dying from a heart attack most likely. Tegan isn’t sure what kind of mission he is sending her on, but she begins to pack up to travel away from the village. When Millie asks to join her, Tegan doesn’t think twice before accepting. Soon after they head out they end up running into Szarok the Vanguard of his people. Tegan welcomes him to join them and they all head out to Rosemere.

Once at Rosemere, Tegan is again faced with James’s feelings about her, and she attempts to come to terms with exactly what she feels for him. Plus, Millie has latched herself to James and things are going fine until the ship arrives. Tegan decides to join the ship and Millie and James follow suit, to everyone’s surprise Szarok does as well. Mostly because the negotiations for his people living near the human settlements aren’t going as well as he would like.

So he sets out to find land for his people. Along the way Tegan and Szarok will become closer than ever despite the fact that neither people’s is accepting of their relationship. But it will all change one night when Szarok goes overboard and Tegan jumps in after him. Will she be able to save him? Will they survive? Will James finally see what is in front of his face?

I am not sure this really adds anything to the Razorland trilogy story wise, but I am not hating. I enjoyed every minute of it. Although I did ponder near the end, if Ann was going to do a spin off, but I think she wanted to give closure to a few characters from the trilogy. I loved the focus being on Tegan and I really was on board with the romance that developed between Szarok and Tegan. I even found myself wanting to smack James for not seeing some things earlier.

All in all, this was a lovely read and I am quite sad that there will be no more books set in this world. I did miss seeing Deuce kick butt, but it was nice to see the happy ending with her and Fade! My only issue is I didn’t get to see the age thing fixed or addressed. I wanted that answer.

Notable Scene:

The Isle of the Dead was inhospitable but not impossible to survive. That was what Szarok privately called the place where they landed. Sometimes he wasn’t altogether sure they’d survived the swim but if not he’d ended up in a human afterlife instead of releasing his memories. And that could not be true. So he helped Tegan fashion a relatively comfortable nest.

Razorland Series:

1. Enclave

2. Outpost

3. Horde

4. Vanguard


FTC Advisory: Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Vanguard. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Warlords and Wastrels by Julia Knight

July 17th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Roxanne under Review Tags: , , , , ,

Title: Warlords and Wastrels

Author: Julia Knight

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Series: The Duelist Trilogy (Book #3)

Publication Date: December 15, 2015

Format: Paperback, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316375039 (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316375030 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Roxanne


The epic conclusion to the fast-paced new adventure fantasy series, the Duelists trilogy, from one of the most exciting new talents in fantasy. 

Vocho and Kacha may be known for the first swordplay in the city of Reyes, but they’ve found themselves backed into a corner too often for their liking.

Finally reinstated into the Duelist’s Guild for services rendered to the prelate, who has found himself back in charge, Vocho and Kacha are tasked with bringing a prisoner to justice. But this prisoner is none other than Kacha’s old flame Egimont. The prelate wants him alive, and on their side. However the more they discover of Egimont and his dark dealings with the magician, the more Kacha’s loyalties are divided. Soon she must choose a side — the prelate or the king, her brother or her ex-lover.

The fate of Reyes is balanced on a knife-edge…

Quick & Dirty: One last battle! Will Kacha be able to choose or will Vocho’s lies be her undoing?

Opening Sentence: Vocho took a crafty swig from his little bottle, wiped his lips and slid the jollop back into its hiding place in his tunic.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Vocho and Kacha are back in the guild, she is in charge and he is teaching. Although with his wound the dependence on the jollop is starting to get out of control. Meanwhile, Petri has found himself in the company of highwaymen. He is tasked with teaching them, and soon they begin to make more of a name for themselves and become even deadlier than before. Dom is searching for his daughter now that Alicia is dead.

His path leads him to Petri and the highwaymen he is with, but they just capture him and hold him. However, he does find his daughter soon enough. Kacha and Vocho are tasked with bringing an end to the highwaymen and to bring the new addition back to the guild.  So they set out with some of the guardsman and everyone’s path will soon be entertwined. Petri is bitter and angry and Kacha still has gotten over his “death”.

Vocho is additcted to the jollop and slowly begins to develop a relationship of his own. So when Dom, Petri, Vocho and Kacha collide it isn’t what any of them expected. Soon they are all faced with the impossible questions. What is the truth? What will happen to Petri and Kacha? Will Dom escape?

This one wasn’t as fast paced as the others, but I did love that the point of views was back down to Kacha, Vocho and Petri. I enjoyed that quite a bit. Kacha is struggling with Petri’s death, well Vocho told her he was dead and her reaction when she finds out the truth is worth waiting for. I found the conclusion of their relationship a bit unfullfilling, but I am not mad. I really liked how the author tied it all up and ended things.

I admit I felt a little let down by the Clockwork God ending. I thought it might play a bigger part, but I have to admit a little, I liked how the author played that out as well. I almost felt bad for Vocho in this book, but I was glad to see that he finally grew up a bit and actually kind of did the right thing. I thought he had the sweetest ending. I kind of feel like Petri, Dom and Kacha were all kind of left a bit open ended and it leaves me wanting a bit more.

Notable Scene:

He shut his eye, but that didn’t stop him seeing the hot knife, hearing Eneko tell him he was weakness, stop him hoping for Kass, that she’d come. She hadn’t, she never would; she’d look at him and turn away from what he’d become, at how weak he’d been. Eneko was dead, and Petri couldn’t get his revenge on the dead, but Kass… He’d started this all that time ago because he loved her, because she’d shown him things he’d never seen before.

The Duelist Trilogy:

1. Swords and Scoundrels

2. Legends and Liars

3. Warlords and Wastrels


FTC Advisory: Orbit provided me with a copy of Warlords and Wastrels. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

July 16th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Tara under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: The Fall of Butterflies

Author: Andrea Portes

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 10, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 386 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062313673 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062313676 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Tara


Willa Parker, 646th and least popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life.

Did she choose this new life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and it’s only the strength of her name that got Willa accepted in the first place.

But Willa has no intentions of fitting in at Pembroke. She’s not staying long, she decides. Not at this school—and not on this planet. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit.

When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel her spinning right out of her grasp.

In Willa’s secret heart, all she’s ever wanted is to belong. But if Remy, the girl who gave her this world, is slip-sliding away, is Willa meant to follow her down?

Andrea Portes’s incandescent, heartfelt novel explores the meaning of friendship, new beginnings, and the precarious joy and devastating pain of finding home in a place—a person—with wings.

Quick & Dirty: A YA contemporary about friendship and self-discovery that I never really connected with.

Opening Sentence: Bet you’d never thought you’d be sitting at the freak table.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This book chronicles the first semester after Willa Parker switches to an extremely exclusive private school. Up to this point, Willa had lived a regular and somewhat uneventful life with her father in a small-town in Iowa after her famous and wealthy mother ran away from them. Once at the new school, Willa meets and somehow befriends Remy, the girl everyone wants to be friends with. Both girls have their own private struggles and the story is ultimately about how these two broken girls create a life for themselves.

The Fall of Butterflies was told in a stream of thought narration that occassionally broke the fourth wall. I dislike both of these narration methods so that definitely colored my enjoyment of the novel. Willa is an energetic character and her thoughts kept switching topics, creating a story that was difficult to follow and overall disjointed. If you enjoy seeing exactly what goes on in the head of a character, you’ll probably like this narration style. Additionally, since Willa does directly address the reader, I was never quite sure if it was a diary or if we were supposed to be following the story as it unfolded. Both of those create different expectations in the reader and I think the story would have been better if that had been clarified.

There wasn’t much of a typical plot arc to this story, which some readers may enjoy. I was never sure where the story was going, it seemed to meander along and never really commit to a storyline. Important issues, such as Willa’s suicidal ideation at the beginning and Remy’s affair with a certain individual, aren’t given nearly the page space that they deserve. Both are mentioned but never really explored in depth. In general, the novel felt as if it was only skimming the surface of the story the author really wanted to tell.

The characters also never really came alive for me. I really wanted to like Willa but wasn’t able to emotionally connect with her. However, this could have been because my dislike of the narration style imposed a barrier for me. The romance was very blah, particularly because I never really understood the attraction between the two of them. Had the story focused on one subplot, such as Willa’s romance or Remy’s drug habit, I think it would have been better since none of the subplots are fully developed.

This book definitely wasn’t for me but I’m also not generally a fan of contemporary novels. I think that readers who enjoy that genre would probably find this book much more to their tastes than I did.

Notable Scene:

No, no. This story is about the “should.” As in, I “should” be more sophisticated by now, according to my mother. And I “should” be less of a total freak if I want to get anywhere at the Ivy League university I will no doubt be attending. Sending somebody to California to get sophisticated is like sending someone to the Krispy Kreme to lose weight.

Nope, to ensure this all-important sophistication I am headed to The Pembroke School back east. Oh, you’ve never heard of The Pembroke School? That’s because it’s basically a secret and nobody can get in unless their parents are in the Social Register or their great-great-great-great-great-grandparents came over on the Mayflower or their names are Sasha or Malia. Other than that, you’re out of luck. Don’t even think about it. It will just depress you.

So, how does a giant-mouthed, secondhand oddball from the sticks like yours truly get into a place that should obviously reject and scorn me before I even say its name? Well, here’s the good part.


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Fall of Butterflies. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller

July 15th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Tara under Review Tags: , , , , ,

Title: Shadow Run

AuthorAdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: Kaitan Chronicles (Book #1)

Publication Date: March 21, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 390 Pages

ISBN-10: 0399552537 (Delacorte Press)

ISBN-13: 978-0399552533 (Delacorte Press)

Reviewed by: Tara


Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

Quick & Dirty: A wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy that I didn’t know I needed in my life until now.

Opening SentenceThe first time I heard the captain’s voice was over the ship’s comm: “Hold on, it’s going to be a rough run.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Full disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Firefly, my cousin and I wore out the VHS tapes of Star Wars, and I love science fiction novels. So it may not come as a huge surprise that I absolutely loved Shadow Run. All that being said, I think that Shadow Run appeals to a much broader reader base than most YA science fiction novels. Also, if you liked Illuminae, you’ll probably like this one as well. While Shadow Run does take place in space, in a galaxy different than our own, it is a character-based novel that seamlessly blends fantasy into the classic science fiction aspects.

It’s rare for me to not be able to pick a favorite character in a book. I fell in love with all of the main characters, both individually and as a team. Qole was a wonderful character and I liked how the authors portrayed her struggles as a female captain over a mostly male crew. Her struggle with learning how to control Shadow and its side-effects felt like an origin story out of a fantasy novel but somehow wasn’t out of place here. Nev was so idealistic and adorable, I almost didn’t want to see him have to grow up as the story progressed. By the end of the book, he was added to my list of favorite book boyfriends. Basra was such a wonderful surprise. I won’t say much more because of spoilers but I loved the sneakiness and genius. I commend the authors for writing Basra’s gender-fluidity as only one aspect of the character, rather than having that be Basra’s defining characteristic.

Shadow Run was a fast-paced wild ride that went everywhere from the outermost limits of space to the palace in the capital city. We see the underbelly of sketchy trading ports and the inside of spaceships. It is a mad-cap intergalactic adventure that find its heart in the bonds between the characters. There’s a romance that will make you swoon and moments that will make you gasp. The first half was more science fiction while the second half had much more of a fantasy focus. I loved how the politics and commerce of the galaxies were explored. The world-building was excellent. There were hints throughout the book that made me excited to see where the story goes next.

I flew through Shadow Run and already know that the untitled sequel will be one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. This was a wonderful debut that I would recommend to any fans of YA science fiction and any YA fantasy fans who don’t mind the addition of a spaceship to the story.

Notable Scene:

Qole stepped closer to me, and for a second we were face to face as she stared up at me and yet stared me down. For the first time, I noticed something other than anger in her brown eyes—something dark that flickered at the corners.
Shadow. Literally, Shadow, flickering at the edges of her whites. Great Collapse, I’d heard the stories, but I hadn’t really believed it. This wasn’t Shadow poisoning—this was her affinity, active in her system.

I braced myself. For what, I didn’t know.

Then her eyes narrowed into normal anger, and she turned on her heel and disappeared from the hold.

Kaitan Chronicles:

1. Shadow Run

2. Shadow Call (April 17, 2018)


FTC Advisory: Delacorte Press/Penguin provided me with a copy of Shadow Run. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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