Review: WINNER TAKE ALL by Laurie Devore

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Title: WINNER TAKE ALL
Author: Laurie Devore
Release date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Descripton…

For Nell Becker, life is a competition she needs to win.
For Jackson Hart, everyone is a pawn in his own game.
They both have everything to lose.

Nell wants to succeed at everything—school, sports, life. And victory is sweeter when it means beating Jackson Hart, the rich, privileged, undisputed king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy. Yet no matter how hard she tries, Jackson is somehow one step ahead. They’re a match made in hell, but opposites do attract.

Drawn to each other by their rivalry, Nell and Jackson fall into a whirlwind romance that consumes everything in their lives. But when a devastating secret exposes their relationship as just another game, how far will Nell go to win?

Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


The Review

There is a lot to love about Laurie Devore’s WINNER TAKE ALL. It is an exciting, emotional roller coaster of a read. It sheds light on a number of issues – the disparity between the rich and those less fortunate and between women and men, boys and girls. It shows how striving to be the best is not always a good thing, and can cause one to lose sight of who they are and what’s really important. It has a strong, if flawed, heroine. And it has romance, and humor, and drama, and heartbreak.

Nell Becker wants to be the best. And she would be if Jackson Hart weren’t standing in her way. With his looks, his charm, his money, and his gender, everything comes easy to him. Which only makes Nell want to beat him all the more.

But in order to win she will have to do whatever it takes. Even if it means playing dirty and becoming someone she never thought she could be. And she will have to decide whether her reputation, her friendships, her health and her heart are worth destroying if that’s what it means to defeat her nemesis.

Author Laurie Devore packed a lot into her novel of rivalry gone awry. It wasn’t just a fiery but toxic romance. It wasn’t simply a story of secrets, lies, betrayal. There was much food for thought about economic and gender inequality, hypocrisy, infidelity, alcoholism, obsession, competition.

And while many of these issues were woven seamlessly into the story, there were a few instances where they felt inorganic or heavy-handed and it became more about the issue than the characters or the story itself.

The most interesting, intriguing, maddening, fascinating part of the story was the author’s choice of heroine. Nell is not the most likable of characters – to put it mildly – and isn’t the most obvious choice to be a paragon. At times her behavior is downright appalling. She’s driven, ultra competitive, judgmental, selfish, stubborn, reckless and arrogant. But she is strong – her mistakes and failures do not make her pitiable or turn her into a victim. She goes after what she wants – even if a bit too ruthlessly. She’s a fighter. And she does, eventually, learn from her mistakes – which, for some, might be too late for her to earn her redemption.

Whether you champion Nell or despise her, WINNER TAKE ALL is a compelling, thoroughly entertaining, and emotionally-charged read that sparks and sizzles and will keep readers riveted.

The Rating

A note about the cover: I have some major cover love for WINNER TAKE ALL – and not just because I did notice exactly which match is raised.


About Laurie Devore

Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. She now lives and works in Chicago, where she misses the charms and contradictions of the south every day. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV, and works a “y’all” into every conversation. She is the author of How to Break a Boy.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART Blog Tour: Review, Excerpt + #Giveaway

As a huge fan of Author Amanda Hocking, I was thrilled to learn of her new book BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART and am stoked to be a part of the tour!

I also happen to love Norse mythology and think Valkyries are seriously awesome, so I couldn’t wait to read this first book in Amanda Hocking’s Valkyrie duology. And it was amazing. One of my favorites by the author. And I’m so glad the second book’s release isn’t too far away, because that ending…

So if you’d like to know what I think, my review follows below. I’m also sharing an excerpt from Chapter One if you want to meet Malin and get a peek into this incredible new world of mortals and immortals.

And if you’re in the U.S. and would like the chance to win a copy, check out the Rafflecopter below for details and to enter.


About BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART

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Title & Series: BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART (Valkyrie #1)
Author: Amanda Hocking
Release date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books (Macmillan)
Pages: 336
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Description

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNESINDIEBOUND | BOOKS-A-MILLION | POWELL’S | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS

Note: This review is based on an eARC received by the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A finished copy was purchased for my Kindle.


The Review

BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART draws you in from its very first sentence and will keep you riveted until the story’s end. With an original and exciting world of mortals, immortals, and those somewhere in between, an interesting take on Norse myth, a fierce, flawed but immensely likable heroine, a dangerous pursuit, a question of fate versus free will, and an ending that will leave you desperately wishing for book two, it is a lightning-fast read that promises to be unputdownable.

Malin knew that the life of a Valkyrie wasn’t an easy one. Returning immortals to the underworld was challenging more often than not and even dangerous on occasion. It was also a lonely existence – the job didn’t allow for much time for friends, being hated or feared by immortals meant there weren’t many options for friends even if there was time, and not being able to fall in love made for a lot of empty and pointless relationships.

But still she couldn’t imagine becoming anything but a Valkyrie. It was in her blood. It was her destiny. She never felt more alive than when she was wielding her sword and sending the chosen immortal back to where they belonged.

She never questioned her orders. She never wondered how her assignments were chosen. She never hesitated to do her job and keep the balance. Not until things start to go wrong and she discovers that the person she trusts most has been keeping a dark secret that could change everything she believes in.

Amanda Hocking created a world that is imaginative, dark and dangerous, and utterly fascinating – where mortals and immortals live side-by-side, in a fragile balance enforced by the Valkyries. She chose a setting for the bulk of her story that is gritty and decaying and seedy and a little bit sexy. She introduced a wide variety of beings from Norse – and other – mythology and folklore.  And she gave readers characters who are captivating and intriguing and unusual and appealing.

BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART has action and romance and mystery and suspense. It has drama and heartbreak and humor and intrigue. It has heat. It has adventure. It has battles aplenty. And it has one adorable wolpertinger named Bowie. All of which make for an absolutely gripping and wildly entertaining must-read.

The Rating


About Amanda Hocking

Photo credit: Mariah Paaverud with Chimera Photography

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.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | BLOG |TUMBLR | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | YOUTUBE | PINTERESTGOODREADS


The Excerpt

Download (PDF, 64KB)


The Giveaway

Courtesy of the publisher…

A finished paperback copy of BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART – to ONE (1) winner – US only

  • Prizing provided by the publisher.
  • Giveaway is US only.
  • Must be 13 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway ends January 9th at 11:59 p.m.
  • Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and contacted by email.
  • Winner has 72 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Enter in the Rafflecopter

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A Few Other Stops on the Tour

Top 10 of 2017: Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2018


Welcome to Day Five of the Top 10 of 2017

A WEEK OF LOOKING BACK…

…AND LOOKING FORWARD

And thank you to everyone who participated, followed along, or shared their favorite reads in the comments on each of the hosts’ blogs and instagrams. Here’s to a great reading year. The books coming out in 2018 are going to be awesome!

As mentioned previously…

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since I began co-hosting the event with Jaime of Two Chicks on Books. Over the years the event has changed a bit, as have the hosts, and I’m so thrilled that this year in addition to the incredible Jaime of Two Chicks on Books, Nancy and Christy of Tales of the Ravenous Reader, and Bridget of Dark Faerie Tales, we are joined by Fallon of Seeing Double in Neverland and the lovely ladies at Take Me Away To A Great Read!

And, for the first time ever, we’re stoked to have an Instagram component, headed up by Bridget @DarkFaerieTales_.

I haven’t been blogging very much during the last half of the year, but nearly every book I have read this year has been amazing. So I have a few favorites from the year to share.

If you haven’t yet heard of the Top 10 of 2017 week-long event, in a nutshell it’s where we share our favorite bookish lists and invite you to share yours over the next five days by leaving your post links in the daily Linky Lists.

Yet again, we’re each hosting our own giveaways on each of the five days of this challenge – Head over to Two Chicks on Books for the Day One giveaway, I hosted Day Two’s giveaway, Tales of the Ravenous Reader hosted Day Three’s giveaway, Day Four’s giveaway is at Take Me Away to a Great Read, and Day Five’s giveaway is at Seeing Double in Neverland. So be sure be to visit each of our blogs this week to share your post links and enter the giveaways!

AND, if you head over to Bridget @ DarkFaerieTales’ Instagram, she’ll be hosting an event-long giveaway,

The Books I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2018

Okay, so for today’s list I have so many books I can’t wait to read that are coming out in 2018. (And one that I had on last year’s list that had a bit of a delay but now has an official release date.) So there is an honorable mentions list, because I just couldn’t stop at 10, especially since most of my top anticipated reads are continuations of series and there are quite a few standalones and new series that I’m excited about.

#1

THE DARK CALLING (The Arcana Chronicles #5) by Kresley Cole


#2

THE DARKEST LEGACY (The Darkest Minds #4) By Alexandra Bracken


#3

THE TRAITOR’S RUIN (The Traitor’s Circle #2) by Erin Beatty


#4

BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART (Valkyrie #1) by Amanda Hocking


#5

UNEARTHED (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


#6

NIGHTBLOOD (Frostblood Saga #3) by Elly Blake


#7

99 LIES (100 Hours #2) by Rachel Vincent


#8

DEFY THE WORLDS (Constellation #2) by Claudia Gray


#9

GENESIS (Project Nemesis #2) by Brendan Reichs


#10

LOST CROW CONSPIRACY (Blood Rose Rebellion #2) by Rosalyn Eves


Honorable Mentions

I have so many books I’m excited for in 2018 that I couldn’t stop at listing just the 10 above. And while this honorable mentions list doesn’t include every book I can’t wait to read, it does include just 10 more of them that I would have included above if “10” wasn’t quite so specific a number.

And I also can’t wait to hear more about Marie Rutkoski’s upcoming series, the first book rumored to be slated for release this year.


Link up

Leave a link to your Books You’re Most Looking Forward to in 2018 posts in the Linky List below…



Top 10 of 2017: Best Book Boyfriends


Welcome to Day Four of the Top 10 of 2017

A WEEK OF LOOKING BACK…

…AND LOOKING FORWARD

As mentioned previously…

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since I began co-hosting the event with Jaime of Two Chicks on Books. Over the years the event has changed a bit, as have the hosts, and I’m so thrilled that this year in addition to the incredible Jaime of Two Chicks on Books, Nancy and Christy of Tales of the Ravenous Reader, and Bridget of Dark Faerie Tales, we are joined by Fallon of Seeing Double in Neverland and the lovely ladies at Take Me Away To A Great Read!

And, for the first time ever, we’re stoked to have an Instagram component, headed up by Bridget @DarkFaerieTales_.

I haven’t been blogging very much during the last half of the year, but nearly every book I have read this year has been amazing. So I have a few favorites from the year to share.

If you haven’t yet heard of the Top 10 of 2017 week-long event, in a nutshell it’s where we share our favorite bookish lists and invite you to share yours over the next five days by leaving your post links in the daily Linky Lists.

Yet again, we’re each hosting our own giveaways on each of the five days of this challenge – Head over to Two Chicks on Books for the Day One giveaway, I hosted Day Two’s giveaway, Tales of the Ravenous Reader hosted Day Three’s giveaway, Day Four’s giveaway is at Take Me Away to a Great Read, and Day Five’s giveaway will be at Seeing Double in Neverland. So be sure be to visit each of our blogs this week to share your post links and enter the giveaways!

AND, if you head over to Bridget @ DarkFaerieTales’ Instagram, she’ll be hosting an event-long giveaway,

The Best Book Boyfriends of 2017

I haven’t read too many YA books this year where it was all about the swoon-worthy guy. So most of my book boyfriends are of the non-ya variety. But I did read (if not always review) a few fantastic reads where it was all about the swooning.

#1

Who: Vlad Tepesh. Why? Because it’s Vlad.

INTO THE FIRE (Night Prince #4) by Jeaniene Frost – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | AVONGOODREADS


#2

Who: Edward “Teach” Drummond. Why? Because Nicole Castroman turned the ruthless pirate Blackbeard into a swoon-worthy hero.

BLACKSOULS (Blackhearts #2) by Nicole Castroman – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | SIMON & SCHUSTER | GOODREADS


#3

Who: Titus Alexander. Why? Because oooh the chemistry.

BLIND TIGER (Wildcats #2) by Rachel Vincent – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | GOODREADS


#4

Who: Abyssian “Sian” Infernas. Why? Because who doesn’t love the King of Hell?

WICKED ABYSS (Immortals After Dark #18) by Kresley Cole – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


#5

Who: Lazarus the Cruel and Unusual. Why? Mmmm… sizzling romance.

THE DARKEST PROMISE (Lords of the Underworld #13) by Gena Showalter – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | HARLEQUINGOODREADS


#6

Who: Abel. Why? Okay, so he’s not exactly human. Or even living in the “normal” sense of the word. So, he’s definitely not a typical book boyfriend. But he’s amazing and adorable and funny and swoon-worthy. So I had to include him here. After all, I’ve swooned over vamps and demons, so why not…

DEFY THE STARS (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia Gray – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUNDWEBSITE | GOODREADS


#7

Who: Max Holden. Why? Ahhh the angst!!!!

KISSING MAX HOLDEN by Katy Upperman – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLANFIERCE READS | GOODREADS


#8

Who: Porter Roth. Why? Read it and you’ll know why… *grins*

ALEX, APPROXIMATELY by Jenn Bennett – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | SIMON & SCHUSTER | RIVETED LIT | GOODREADS


#9

Who: Alexander Hamilton. Why? Okay, so maybe he’s not particularly swoon-worthy. And in reality he did not sound like such a great catch. But the fictional version was just so delightfully romantic and played the underdog well. And this is all about book boyfriends… so I couldn’t resist choosing him.

ALEX & ELIZA by Melissa de la Cruz – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE | GOODREADS


#10

Who: Leo – the Beast of Benwick. Why? He’s lethal. Oh, and not to forget…. the slow-burn romance of it all.

HOW TO TAME A BEAST IN SEVEN DAYS (The Embraced #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS


I don’t have any honorable mentions, as most of the books I’ve read were about tragedies, strong heroines, life experiences. And while it’s entirely possible I forgot a few reads where I swooned a bit over the “hero” I’m perfectly happy with my ten choices.


Link up

Leave a link to your Best Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends of 2017 posts in the Linky List below…



Top 10 of 2017: Best Surprise Reads of 2017


Welcome to Day Three of the Top 10 of 2017

A WEEK OF LOOKING BACK…

…AND LOOKING FORWARD

As mentioned previously…

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since I began co-hosting the event with Jaime of Two Chicks on Books. Over the years the event has changed a bit, as have the hosts, and I’m so thrilled that this year in addition to the incredible Jaime of Two Chicks on Books, Nancy and Christy of Tales of the Ravenous Reader, and Bridget of Dark Faerie Tales, we are joined by Fallon of Seeing Double in Neverland and the lovely ladies at Take Me Away To A Great Read!

And, for the first time ever, we’re stoked to have an Instagram component, headed up by Bridget @DarkFaerieTales_.

I haven’t been blogging very much during the last half of the year, but nearly every book I have read this year has been amazing. So I have a few favorites from the year to share.

If you haven’t yet heard of the Top 10 of 2017 week-long event, in a nutshell it’s where we share our favorite bookish lists and invite you to share yours over the next five days by leaving your post links in the daily Linky Lists.

Yet again, we’re each hosting our own giveaways on each of the five days of this challenge – Head over to Two Chicks on Books for the Day One giveaway, I hosted yesterday’s Day Two giveaway, Tales of the Ravenous Reader will be hosting today’s Day Three’s giveaway, Day Four’s giveaway will be at Take Me Away to a Great Read, and Day Five’s giveaway will be at Seeing Double in Neverland. So be sure be to visit each of our blogs this week to share your post links and enter the giveaways!

AND, if you head over to Bridget @ DarkFaerieTales’ Instagram, she’ll be hosting an event-long giveaway,

The Best Surprise Reads of 2017

So it’s not one of the official topics for the challenge, and I would have gone with Contemporaries as I have so many favorites in that particular category, but I chose to pick “surprise reads” as there were so many wonderful and amazing and unexpected books that completely took me by surprise this past year.

#1

I expected this book to be sweet and sad but I never expected it to be as much of an emotional wringer as it was. I could not stop crying. It was written so incredibly well. It made me ache for the characters and their loss and guilt.


THE LAST THING YOU SAID by Sara Biren – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


#2

I thought this was going to be a funny and lighthearted read because I was judging it by its cover and its title – which was why I’d added it to the TBR pile. And while I must have skimmed the description, I clearly missed the mention of “horrifying tragedy” which might have made this less of a surprise. But even still, I would have been surprised at just how sad and gorgeous and devastating a read this was.

THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH by Candace Ganger – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS 


#3

I was expecting a story akin to the film 50 First Dates, so this definitely caught me by surprise. And it has stuck with me long after the read. It was sad and hopeful and inspiring. And until I read this story I’d never heard of Svalbard, but ever since, I can’t stop hearing about it. And now I want to borrow some of Flora’s adventurous spirit and visit there myself.

THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS by Emily Barr – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE | GOODREADS


#4

I’ll admit that I was intrigued by this story with its unassuming cover that actually says quite a bit. But I did not expect it to be as unique, beautifully written, or riveting as it was. It was such a surprise read and a very memorable tale.

THE WOOD by Chelsea Bobulski – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLAN | GOODREADS


#5

I did not expect this book. At all. I made some very wrong assumptions that this would be well-written but unemotional. It would have that voice that makes it an interesting read but not one that I would relate to or connect with. I was so, so wrong. It was brilliantly done. It is memorable and sweet and so very, very sad and beautiful. Such a unexpected surprise.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jared Reck – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE | GOODREADS


#6

I expected certain things from this book – and those expectations were surpassed. But there were so many surprises that made this book a standout. I never expected it to make me think about the possibility that a windfall may not always be a great thing. I never expected the depth and complexity. It was a wonderful and sad and awesome surprise.

WINDFALL by Jennifer E. Smith – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSEGOODREADS


#7

I expected a road trip story. About a boy who was rethinking his choices in life, just before college. I also assumed it would be a man vs. nature tale. But this was so different and completely unexpected. Thought-provoking, haunting, bittersweet were never terms I would have used to describe this story until I read it. For lack of better words it was unusual and unique in all the best ways.

WILDMAN by J.C. Geiger – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | DISNEY BOOKS | GOODREADS


#8

I loved the title so had made the assumption that this was going to be a (hopefully) captivating horror story. And that assumption was correct. But I did not expect so much of what happened. I did not expect the myth, the science, the religion. I did not expect the depth. I did not expect the mystery. I did not expect to be so impressed or surprised.

HELLWORLD by Tom Leveen – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


#9

I incorrectly assumed that this was not my type of read but I wanted to try something new – “vibrant, fresh, edgy” books were not usually topping the TBR. But I did love the idea of the female graffiti artist and that this story would include illustrations. And I was totally wowed by it. Instantly caught up in the story. I could not put it down. I adored the main character. I fell madly in love with her story. Which was completely unexpected.


YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE – Whitney Gardner – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE | GOODREADS


#10

I was very curious about this story, as it seemed to be so different from any book I’ve read format-wise. I’ve never read a graphic memoir, and haven’t read very many (if any) graphic novels that weren’t about super heroes and villains. I was so surprised that a story that was mostly told visually could say so much. I was so surprised at just how much emotion I could feel for the author’s plight as a young figure skater. I was not surprised that I loved the illustrations, but was so surprised at just how expressive they were. It was an emotional and beautiful and humorous and unexpected read.

SPINNING by Tillie Walden – AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | MACMILLANGOODREADS


There were a few other books I’ve read this year that had elements that surprised me, but as I expected to be wowed or amazed or even surprised, I have not included them here. And as I’m more than happy with the ten I chose, I’ve decided not to list any honorable mentions.


Link up

Leave a link to your Best _______ of 2017 posts in the Linky List below…



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