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BOOK REVIEW – Stepping Stones (The Stone Series #1) by Kacey Vanderkarr

BOOK REVIEW – Stepping Stones (The Stone Series #1) by Kacey VanderkarrStepping Stones (The Stone Series #1)
by Kacey Vanderkarr
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Onnaleigh Moore is part of a plan—and it isn’t hers. When her brother dies in a car accident, Onna is desperate to preserve the tatters of her family. Any hope of finding normalcy vanishes when her mother runs off and her dad turns to booze to numb his pain. Onna’s grief is crippling, but the boy who showed up just when she needed him is helping her cope.

Everett’s presence is comforting, though he knows things—Onna’s name just before they met, where she lives, and sometimes he comments on thoughts she doesn’t say aloud. She pegs him for a stalker, or maybe psychic, but the truth is deadlier than she imagines. As their feelings for one another deepen, Everett confesses a horrifying secret: Onna’s brother is only the beginning of the plan, and some fates are worse than death.

Review:

I felt utterly conflicted while reading this book.  On one hand, I found Stepping Stones fascinating.  The storyline was incredibly unique and while I can’t say why, since that would be a spoiler, just know that it was a lot of fun.  I quickly consumed what I learned, and I wanted to know more.  But on the other hand, I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters.  I couldn’t find anything to bridge the gap between us, and I never cared for them deeply.  And with all of the doom and gloom that happened in the first part of the book, I needed to feel connected.  To feel Onna’s pain.  I hate being an outsider just watching the story go by.  But that’s where I stood, and it made me sad.

“And your parents?”
Onna shrugged.  Her mom hadn’t spoken to her at the funeral.  Like she didn’t exist anymore.  Emotion burned her throat and Onna pressed her forehead to the passenger window, fighting it down.  “We’re all okay,” she said, but it tasted like a lie.

Onna is in the midst of her parents announcing that they are getting a divorce.  And from there, her world spirals down and crashes into the ground.  Her dad succumbs to being an alcoholic, her mother abandons them, and her brother dies in a car crash.  Did you just read that last line?  To have that much happen to you is beyond horrific.  It felt as though Onna was drowning.  Again and again.  And I hated having to watch her struggle that intensely.

But thankfully Onna does have someone that loves her with their whole heart.  Her best friend Parker.  She would scoop Onna up and try to help her when she was struggling.  Parker was a true a friend that Onna could always count on.  But despite Parker being there for Onna, she could be such a bitch to people.  She claimed to love her boyfriend, but would cheat on him multiple times.  She was rude to people, ridiculously  rude.  And at times, I just wanted to shake common sense into her.  Parker gave me serious whiplash throughout Stepping Stones, but hopefully she’ll grow up as the series progresses.

“……I’ll be whatever you want me to be.  You choose.” – Everett

But what I enjoyed the most, besides the unique part of this book that I can’t mention, was Everett. He was sexy, smooth, caring and mysterious.  His words could be so raw and perfect.  I just wish that I enjoyed this book more because he was amazing.  He walked into Onna’s life just when she needed hope and he gave it to her.  Well kind of.  You see Everett has a lot of secrets.  Of course he does when he knows things that he shouldn’t.  And one of those things is that Onna’s life is part of a plan.

There’s a silence that death leaves.  It’s more absolute than the absence of sound.

So in the end, Stepping Stones was definitely an enjoyable book!  It had depth, an insanely hot mysterious male, and was without a doubt unique.  Plus, we had a heroine who was cautious at times, yay!  Onna wasn’t always trusting and had no problem pushing people away when she couldn’t decipher what was going on.  I loved that about her!  But even with all of those wonderful things floating throughout the story, I struggled to find a connection to any of the characters.  And for me, I desperately need that to enjoy a story and to want to continue on.  But everyone can have a different take on a book sometimes, so hopefully you can connect to Onna and the story better than I did.

***ARC was kindly provided by the author, via YA Bound Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review***

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY – Stepping Stones (The Stone Series #1) by Kacey Vanderkarr

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY - Stepping Stones (The Stone Series #1) by Kacey Vanderkarr

Kacey Vanderkarr’s latest release is out! Take a look at what Stepping Stones is all about, read an excerpt where Onna and Everett first meet, and then enter a great giveaway! Enjoy!

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY – Stepping Stones (The Stone Series #1) by Kacey VanderkarrStepping Stones (The Stone Series #1)
by Kacey Vanderkarr
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis:

Onnaleigh Moore is part of a plan—and it isn’t hers. When her brother dies in a car accident, Onna is desperate to preserve the tatters of her family. Any hope of finding normalcy vanishes when her mother runs off and her dad turns to booze to numb his pain. Onna’s grief is crippling, but the boy who showed up just when she needed him is helping her cope.

Everett’s presence is comforting, though he knows things—Onna’s name just before they met, where she lives, and sometimes he comments on thoughts she doesn’t say aloud. She pegs him for a stalker, or maybe psychic, but the truth is deadlier than she imagines. As their feelings for one another deepen, Everett confesses a horrifying secret: Onna’s brother is only the beginning of the plan, and some fates are worse than death.

Excerpt:
Divorce. The word burrowed deep in Onna’s chest, barbed like the sharp quills of a porcupine. The sting radiated from her heart into her lungs, her head, her hands. She knew she should stick around and listen to her parents’ stumbling apologies and paper-thin explanations, but she couldn’t.

She burst through the front door into dazzling sunshine. The sky hung endless above her from horizon to horizon—perfect, crisp blue. She glanced back at the windows, rooms hidden by curtains and blinds. Houses were facades, masks to cover pain and heartbreak. She could stare at the glass all day, where cheery vines and flowers spilled from window boxes, and never see past the guise. Even now, her parents were probably sitting in cruel silence, debating how to avoid each other until one of them moved out.

It made her sick.

Sliding into the driver seat of her Grand Am felt like stepping into a sauna. End-of-summer heat collected in the car and made the interior stifling. Onna cranked the windows and cursed her parents for not buying her a car with automatic anything, and the air conditioner was broken. Her dad promised to fix it four months ago. Guess he was too busy planning the divorce to get around to it.

Onna pressed her phone to her ear before she backed out of the driveway. Caleb answered on the first ring.

“Baby sister,” he said, a smile in his voice. The knot around Onna’s heart eased. “What’s shakin’?”

She pictured him on the balcony of his apartment in Traverse City, feet propped on the banister, staring out over Lake Michigan. She stayed with him for two weeks in July, spending her days sprawled on the beach with a book in her hands while Caleb studied for medical boards. At night, they prowled the town and sampled swanky restaurants, and Cora, Caleb’s girlfriend, took Onna dancing at a beachside club.

“Caleb—” Onna said, wondering how to break the news.

“They finally told you.”

Onna nearly dropped the phone. An angry honk sounded from behind her, and she realized she’d stopped at a green light. Muttering, she passed through the intersection and pulled into a parking lot. The convenience store was dead, the lot deserted. The relentless heat drove everyone indoors where there was air conditioning and iced-tea and Saturday afternoon movie marathons. Neon signs advertising beer and cigarettes flickered in the window. The attendant inside leaned over the counter, watching her.

Returning to her conversation with Caleb, she hissed, “You knew?” The pause was long enough to serve as Caleb’s confession.

“Don’t be upset, Leelee.” He fell back on her childhood nickname, even though she’d asked him to stop. Onnie, Leelee, Leigha—her name, Onnaleigh Evelyn Moore, was too easily shortened. “They fell out of love,” Caleb continued. “We can’t expect them to stay together if they’re unhappy.”

“Easy for you to say, you don’t live with them. You didn’t see how Dad looked at Mom. You didn’t see him cry.” Onna closed her eyes. Tears burned behind her lids. She wished she were with Caleb now. He’d tell her a dirty joke or let her drink half his six-pack. He’d make it bearable.

Her parents always laughed about Onna’s devotion to her older brother. Whenever she hurt herself as a child, she ran to Caleb. From the time she could walk, Caleb was the one who kissed her scrapes and chased the boogeyman from beneath her bed. Even now, she called him with breakups and bad grades and for advice about everything. He was the only twenty-five-year-old male Onna knew who would listen to her ramble about boys, makeup, and what color dress she wanted for prom.

During Caleb’s drawn out silence, a vintage, kelly green Mustang pulled into the convenience store lot, all sleek lines and muscle. Onna groaned as the driver, instead of choosing a space near the entrance, pulled in next to her at the far corner. She wiped her eyes and debated rolling up the windows. There was nothing worse than crying in public, except having a witness. In the end, she settled for glowering at the driver as he emerged.

Much like his car, which was a sex-machine with four wheels, the guy was hard lines and hotness. He wore board shorts and a blue t-shirt over dark, olive skin. A longish crop of unruly brown hair hung to his eyebrows. Black aviators perched on a straight nose.

Onna swore she felt his gaze on her face. She sank lower into the seat and her cheeks heated. The guy nodded in her direction before crossing the lot and disappearing into the store. The doorbell’s jangle reached her ears, followed by Caleb’s worried voice.

“Onna? Hello?”

She swallowed, heart thudding against her ribs in a frantic dash to be free. The Grand Am’s vents blew hot against damp cheeks. She propped her door open and gulped fresh air. Who is that guy?

“I’m here,” she said, peeking over the seat back. She lost sight of the guy between the shelves.

“Cora and I are coming home next weekend. Can you survive until then? I have some time off saved for a special occasion, but I wouldn’t mind spending it on you.” In the background, the excited tone of Cora’s voice rose, and Caleb mumbled, “It’s Onna.”

There was a moment of deafening static, and then Cora was on the line. “We’re engaged!” she yelled.

Onna squealed. “You’vegottabekiddingme!”

“Not kidding. He got me a rock. I can hardly hold my hand up.”

“Lies,” Caleb said, voice far away. Another rumble of static and Caleb spoke again. “She was supposed to wait until next weekend.” His voice distorted as if he covered the mouthpiece with his palm. “You were supposed to wait… You know, wait. Should I spell it for you?”

Cora giggled and Caleb’s voice lifted to full strength. “Keep it to yourself. With everything going on…” he trailed off and suddenly Onna was back in the living room, seeing her mom glare at her dad while tension churned around them.

“Right,” she said, forcing brightness into her words. “Congratulations, Caleb.”

“Thanks. Hang in there. At least school starts soon. Senior year.” He faked a sob. “My baby sister’s growing up. Anyways, call me if you want to talk. Cora and I are headed out to tell her parents. She thinks her dad will chase me with a shovel.”

Onna was horrified. “He wouldn’t.”

“That’s what I said,” Caleb agreed, laughing.

“He’s got a shotgun,” Cora yelled.

She’d just hung up when the guy came out of the store carrying two jumbo blue slushes. Prickles crawled up Onna’s neck. She tossed her phone onto the passenger seat and closed her driver door. When she looked up, he was outside her window, dripping plastic cup held through the opening. A red swirly straw sat atop the melting blue drink.

“You looked like you could use this,” he said, leaning down so his face filled her open window. His mouth curled in a sexy smile that made Onna lose conscious thought. She wished she could see his eyes, but the lenses of his glasses were so opaque she couldn’t guess the color behind them.

“Uh—thanks?” she said, hoping he’d go away.

He pushed the drink closer. The sharp sting of cold condensation falling onto her bare legs jolted her from the stupor. She took the slippery cup, burning fingers brushing his freezing ones. Her stomach tickled.

“See you around, Onna,” he said, standing.

She watched him climb into his car. He rolled down the windows—also manual—giving her a view of an all leather interior and shiny four-speed shifter on the floor. The guy put the straw of his slush—also red swirly—to his lips and drank deeply. Onna thought she would die before that sip ended. Then he smiled, backed neatly around her car, and tore out of the parking lot.

**(Just so you know – she didn’t keep the slush! She threw it in the garbage! YAY Onna for not just blindly accepting a gift by a sexy guys!)**

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Kacey Vanderkarr

Kacey Vanderkarr is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel. When she’s not writing, she coaches winterguard and works as a sonographer. Kacey lives in Michigan, with her husband, son, and crazy cats. Along with her novels, Reflection Pond and Antithesis, Kacey’s short fiction can be found in Sucker Literary Vol 3, and the upcoming Spark Vol 7, Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things, and Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 

Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours
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You can follow the rest of the tour here.

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Reflection Pond (Reflection Pond #1) by Kacey Vanderkarr

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY - Reflection Pond (Reflection Pond #1) by Kacey Vanderkarr

I am so excited to be a part of Reflection Pond's Blog Tour because this was such a fun book to devour! Below you will find my Review, a Giveaway and go grab a copy of the book today, because it is free on Amazon. Enjoy!

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Reflection Pond (Reflection Pond #1) by Kacey VanderkarrReflection Pond (Reflection Pond #1)
by Kacey Vanderkarr
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sometimes you find home, sometimes it comes looking for you.

Callie knows a lot more about pain than she does about family. She’s never belonged, at least, not until she falls through a portal into her true home. The beautiful faerie city of Eirensae doesn’t come free. Callie must find her amulet and bind herself to the city, and most importantly, avoid the Fallen fae who seek her life. Seems like a small price to pay for the family she’s always wanted.

Then she meets cynical and gorgeous Rowan, who reads the darkness of her past in her eyes. He becomes Callie’s part-time protector and full-time pain in the ass. He has secrets of his own for Callie to unravel. What they don’t know is that the future of Eirensae lies with them, and the once peaceful city is about to become a battleground for power.

Book One - Reflection Pond (FREE on Amazon):
AmazonBarnes & Noble

Book Two – Poison Tree:
GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

Review:
Reflection Pond was such a fun book to devour.  It twinkled with excitement, mystery and a possibility for a beautiful relationship between two broken people.  Err Faeries.  What started out as journey to find ones true home, slowly morphed into a landscape built to incite a war.  And Callie and Rowan are smack dab in the middle of it.
Faeries, murder, magic.  How  the hell did she end up in the middle of it?
Callie is running away from the horrors of having her boyfriend touch her.  She doesn’t want him touching her body, she doesn’t care how crazy looks, she just needs to escape.  Lost in her rash decision and being caught up in the moment, she dodges an oncoming vehicle and falls into a pond.  The pond is a portal for her kind, and it leads her to Eirensae and two boys, Ash and Rowan.  Callie is now on a path to discover who she is and what the future already has in store for her.
And maybe she was crazy, but was it so wrong of her to be curious?  To ask, what if? She glanced again at her reflection.  They’d pinned flowers in her hair and covered her eyelids with glitter.  
Maybe she wanted this.
Maybe this was the most excited she’d been.
Ever.

Callie has the most beautiful heart, but sometimes she struggled seeing what was in front of her.  Her innocence made me laugh, but some of the decisions she choose made me so proud.  I was so happy that she wanted to learn to physically defend herself.  There are Faeries and other beings that will want to hurt her for the powers and the possibilities she holds, so a big round of applause to Callie for learning to protect herself!  But at times, I wanted to shake her.  I desperately needed her to make up her mind for who to trust and be with, because I had already decided that in the first chapter of the book (a little obsessed with Rowan over here).  So it didn’t sit well with me when she View Spoiler », but keep in mind that two of my favorite Heroines did similar actions, and I still completely love them.  Thankfully, by the end of the book she was closer to the Callie I knew she deserved and wanted to be!  Sometimes it takes a little while to get your footing and grow up, so I can’t wait to see how her actions in the next books will play out.

I always choose debauchery over death.  It’s my basic nature.  Remember that. – Ash

Rowan is a Faerie that Callie meets when she lands in Eirensae, and let it be known that I love Rowan!  He is dark, sarcastic, and dangerously addicting.  He is everything I love all wrapped up in a sexy body!  Ohhh and add the fact that when he is angry and frustrated he trains his body while using weapons, you have a recipe for a truly amazing man.  Every time he graced a page, I had a smile on my face.  He liked to mess with Callie, and it constantly made me laugh.  I know it’s obvious, but I loved everything about him.

 
This book was such a wonderful surprise!  It was light enough, yet the mystery of amulets, immortals and a prophecy made for an interesting book.  And I love that we got to alternate between being in Callie and Rowan’s mind.  It was refreshing knowing where both of them stood and what they each thought of not only each other but also of the events that took place.  After that ending, I look forward to following Callie and Rowan on their journey and finding out what the future has in store for them.

Reading Order:

  

About The Author:
Kacey VanderkarrKacey Vanderkarr is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel. When she’s not writing, she coaches winterguard and works as a sonographer. Kacey lives in Michigan, with her husband, son, and crazy cats. Along with her novels, Reflection Pond and Antithesis, Kacey’s short fiction can be found in Sucker Literary Vol 3, and the upcoming Spark Vol 7, Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things, and Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland. Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 
 
Giveaway:

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Book Tour Organized By:

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