{Review/Giveaway} THE ARTISANS by Julie Reece

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

&

Present...
THE PALADINS
by Julie Reece!

This month, Month9Books and Julie Reece released THE PALADINS, book two in The Artisans Duology. Today, I'm reviewing the first book, THE ARTISANS, as part of THE PALADINS Blog Tour and we're giving away an e-book copy of THE PALADINS (internationally!) to five readers!!!

B O O K   T R A I L E R:



 
O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  THE WINTER OF TWO THOUSAND nine brought influenza, taking twenty-seven souls from Colleton County, South Carolina. The good people of Sales Hollow deposited their corpses in the ground. The following spring, Hurricane Isaac hit the coast, and the earth gave them back.
  Scandal covered the news. It seemed the proprietors of Coffee Funeral Home took money from several grieving families to cremate their loved ones, including my late mother, Ida Elizabeth Weathersby. They buried the bodies in their own backyard. Granted, the Coffee family plantation consisted of sixty acres. Still, the urn filled with pasty white sand was a poor substitute for my mother’s actual remains, and the undoing of my stepfather, Ben.
  While the sheriff handcuffed Wade, Jerry, and Thomas Coffee and led them away, the deceased, who had resided up until that point in shallow graves behind the crumbling Coffee family tennis courts, were identified through their dental records.
  Some things you never see coming. Like Ben’s attempt to smuggle a gun into the courthouse at the Coffee brothers’ arraignment, his subsequent arrest, release, and emotional breakdown.
  Other things are glaringly obvious. Like the crippling pain of someone you care for. Dreams wither and waste away much the same as an apple core curls under the hot southern sun.
  What sacrifice is too great when you love someone?
  I decided there was none—the day I gave my freedom away.

(pg. 7, US e-book edition)


"Love is a fleeting dream that destroys your soul."

~THE ARTISANS


Like e-books? THE ARTISANS is on sale for only 99¢!!!
(The sequel, THE PALADINS, is currently on sale for $4.49!
Snap both up while you can save some money!!!)

I'm always up for a good Beauty and the Beast retelling, especially when things get changed up and switched around in new, unpredictable ways. I was really mad at myself for never getting around to reading THE ARTISANS by Julie Reece last year, even though I'd been coveting the book so long and even managed to interview her during Fairy Tale Fortnight. When I found out she was coming out with a sequel, THE PALADINS, I was determined to read both this year. THE ARTISANS is very different from any version of Beauty and the Beast that I've read, and isn't focused on the fairy tale the way other retellings are, which will appeal to readers who aren't fans of fairy tales. THE ARTISANS has a Gothic, suspenseful feel, a ghostly essence, and a mystery that will keep readers guessing. There's also no beast in the tale, so non-fans can all breathe in relief and dive into this one. Fairy tale lovers will also enjoy it, because the outward shape of the story is still very B&B, even though the interior is not.

Raven Weathersby hasn't had an easy life. Her mother died from influenza, leaving her and her beloved stepfather alone. Her stepfather Ben lost it and has been drinking and gambling and throwing his life away ever since. After a gambling night gone horribly wrong, Ben is in over his head with a debt that can never be re-paid. Raven journeys to Gideon Maddox and promises to work for him in order to pay off the debt. For one year, she will design a fashion line for his sinking company that he will use to revitalize it at a fashion show in Paris. She'll live under his roof while Gideon puts her stepfather through rehab. Raven resents the fact that he'll profit off her designs, but will do anything for Ben. The Maddox House isn't what she was expecting, however. She's haunted at night by ghosts who want her to save them...or just going crazy and hallucinating. She isn't sure which. As Raven begins to care about Gideon and his opinion, she realizes there's something seriously wrong lurking in the house. Can she figure out the mystery of the Maddox House before it destroys her?

One thing I really love about THE ARTISANS is how much Raven loves her stepfather Ben. Parental bonds aren't always present in YA, at least not favorably. Even less so when it is a stepparent. Raven loves Ben and will do anything for him, and he loves her equally, though he's lost himself in his misery. Raven will do anything to keep Ben from harm, even selling her own wishes and dreams and ideals. I also really liked the way Raven loves to design clothing. She spends a LOT of time talking about what everyone is wearing or what she's designing--and in most books, that would get to me after a while. But she's a designer, so of course that's what she notices and focuses on. Heck, there's even a scene with Gideon where she's idle enough to merely count the stitches on his shirt. That's something a designer would notice that the rest of us wouldn't. She's also a fast designer--she actually reminds me a lot of Kini from Project Runway in that regard. Super fast, always spot-on. If I didn't know it could be done, it might seem a little too perfect. Raven is a girl who will make great waves in the world of fashion and has a long career ahead of her.

It's hard to talk about the book and plot itself without giving the mystery away. There's a lot of darkness and suspense that will keep readers guessing. What's real, and what's false? Is there a curse, and how can it be broken? What is an Artisan, and what sway does being one have? What I can say is this is a retelling that will appeal to multiple demographics, not just fairy tale fans. Gothic suspense readers and mystery lovers will also snap this one up! It also reads as a stand-adone: The sequel will come as a welcome surprise to fans and bring them to a new story very different from the one found in the first book!
~*~
C O N T E N T R A T I N G S

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( A few making out scenes; nothing too adult)
Language: PG ( Gideon calls Raven sexy and talks about how he's wanted her, but in a context that will go over a kid's head, not overt. )
Violence: PG13 ( A few bloody moments and dreams for the Gothic suspense factor that are more "ew, gross" than they are violent. )
Other:  PG ( Ben drinks and gambles and winds up in rehab to detox while his stepdaughter pays his debts. There is a scene where one of Raven's friends smokes, but he puts out the cigarette after the girl he likes comments that she doesn't want to date a smoker or deal with his lung cancer in the future. )
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I like the new cover better than the old cover because there's a little more to visually look at, but it's ordinary enough that it wouldn't jump out at me from a shelf. The cover doesn't really tell me what the book might be about.



O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  THE ARTISANS
Author: Julie Reece
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
Received: For Review // Purchased
PURCHASE LINKS:


SUMMARY:

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?
~*~

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  THE PALADINS
Author: Julie Reece
Release Date: May 3, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
PURCHASE LINKS:

SUMMARY:

WARNING.....SPOILERS LIE AHEAD IF YOU DIDN'T READ THE ARTISANS!

The Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives...or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?

Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.

THE PALADINS completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts.
~*~

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!
~*~
****Giveaway*****

Enter to win...

•    Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of THE PALADINS (The Artisans #2) by Julie Reece 

(INT)

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