In celebration of the release of the revamped edition of Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki on June 3rd, I made a story diary just for the book and blog tour! There are some graphic teasers, the seven deadly sins color codes, an excerpt, dream cast, my favorite quotes, book trailer, review and more.
Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home. Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain. Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win. The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.
“A twenty-foot cement wall ominously rising from the earth. Barbed wire wraps around the top like a snake.” (Loc 235)
“They escort all sinners to the same place–the Hole. [. . .] They say the Hole is a prison with no rules.” (Loc 87)
“…looks like an indoor dome. Different stations take up sections of the massive room. On the walls, I glimpse an arsenal of weapons compromised of numerous makes and models of guns and knives of all sizes and even unsuspecting weapons such as sticks and batons.”
“His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay away. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable.” (Loc 92-97)
“They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation.” (Loc 92)
“They make the arrests, enforce the laws, and even dictate education.” (Loc 214)
“Only sinners grind away doing the cleaning, bidding, and serving. They’re transported out of the Hole by train to work each day.” (Loc 210)
“…those that aren’t sinners or High Society…” (Loc 210)
Which sin would I be branded?
I have a feeling I would adorn the orange brand. I like to indulge, sometimes excessively.
Which brand would you most likely to be accused of?
The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi
“Keegan, it’s muffled but I can kinda hear you now.”
“Well, that’s a plus!”
“What?” I say. “Did you say something?”
He nods yes and I shrug my shoulders. “Okay, maybe not that great, yet.”
“Trust is the backbone of a relationship.”
“It’s not her anymore. It’s just a shell, which she had to leave in order to go to heaven.”
“And you believe all that?”
“I have to. It’s the only way I make it through each day. Knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel calms me.”
“I’m not afraid of dying anymore because I know you’ll be with me.”
Did I seriously just trip over the dog? Wow.
I’m not sure how this book escaped my radar for this long, but I’m glad that it finally appeared on it because Branded is intense and exciting, it feels like you’re in on the action with them. We are immediately thrust in the middle of their world from the very first line. Government systems like this and similar to The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Murder Complex, etc. are enforced to “keep the peace” so they say. But to what degree? And what lengths?
In Branded, there are several different classes. High society, the rich; commoners, regular citizens who live in poverty; and the sinners, the accused. To keep the peace, the sinners are separated from the others. The high society and commoners live on one side of the perimeter, while the sinners are assigned to live and work on the other side known as the Hole. Defiance and noncooperation result in death as punishment. The sinners are the ones who work to help keep the city flowing and the sinners in check. What I liked about Lexi was her strength as she was branded and thrust into her new world in the Hole. She carries the wise words her father had taught her as a child before he passed with her through it all that helps build her strength. Her father passed away years ago, her brother walked out of her life, leaving her with their mother who remarried and forced to accept her stepfather, the betrayal of her mother.
I like the idea of the world that Abi and Missy created for this story because it’s creative and not expected to be done. I wouldn’t want to live in it though. Their world is not pretty; it’s gruesome, chaotic, unforgiving, violent and terrifying. So you can already tell that this is not a light read. The world no longer goes by the judicial system. No trials; only the accused. They’re all branded according to their sins. The seven deadly sins. We’re all natural-born sinners whether we accept it or not, so to showcase the one you’re accused of is unfair. It would be embarrassing, however, because our sins would be exposed for all to know. It can easily be seen as to identify/judge a person by their sins this way unfortunately. Talk about baring yourself out there for everyone to see. No, thank you. The Commander is so set in his ways that he believes that the seven deadly sins will be the end of civilization, so he takes the reigns of accusing and “branding” to keep control. When Lexi is about to call The Hole home, what follows is a series of chaotic and fast-paced action-packed events that tests our heroine’s character and well-being. Right from the very first line, you can tell that Lexi hasn’t had it easy in life (hell, none of these people have), she’s been through a lot of hardships ever since she was young and not to mention the situation she was in at the start, and it only gets worse once she’s branded and meets Cole.
The forbidden love angle is a gut-kicker. It’s one of those “ships” (yes, I’m using a fangirl terminology) that you want to sail so badly that it’s painful every time someone or something tries to sink it. Lexi is innocent…until they wrongfully accused her of lust and branded her. Cole is a guard who becomes assigned to Lexi. Any form of relationship between the two different classes are prohibited, and that soon becomes a problem the closer they get. Without giving too much away, it’s suffice to say that Cole is definite book boyfriend material. He pushes his boundries of his duty to protect Lexi at all costs. All in uniform.
“Even if it was only for a day, an hour, or a minute — I would risk everything just so I could be with you.”
And a man in faith who says grace at the table gets major points in my book.
Branded is fast-paced, action-packed, full of tension, suffering, battles, corruption, love, strength, hope, and a forbidden romance that makes your heart ache and your adrenaline pumping. I am relieved that this one doesn’t leave us with a cliffhanger, but with a promising opening for the next installment that I cannot wait for!
I turn on the faucet for a long while only to discover ice-cold water rushing out. The water never warms and I begin to understand. The Commander thinks he can wash away my soul by freezing me to death. He thinks he can destroy me by stripping away my possessions. But he can’t and I won’t let him take my memories, my ambition, and my pride. He thinks I’m so easily broken. The Commander doesn’t know anything about me, what I grew up with, what I endured—the father I lost, the mother I hate, the brother who walked out of my life, and the stepfather I was forced to accept. He thinks since I was rich, making me poor will cause me to give up. What he doesn’t understand is that, after my father passed away, I grew up behind walls of hatred. I had nothing, but had everything at the same time. I owned expensive clothes, enjoyed good schooling, and lived in a nice home. But my body was just a shell protecting an empty, desperate heart. My life was a colorful façade. I had so much time to sit and think. I spent the majority of my life between four walls. I was abandoned, neglected, starved, betrayed, and abused. I’ve already been treated like the scum of the earth, so the Hole is nothing new. He wants to erase every sign of my existence on this earth, but I won’t let that happen. He can strip me naked, but he’ll never reach my soul. It’s personal, completely personal.
Excerpt provided by the blog tour host
Teasers provided by the blog tour host
Abi Ketner is a registered nurse with a passion for novels, the beaches of St. John, and her Philadelphia Phillies. A talented singer, Abi loves to go running and spend lots of time with her family. She currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, triplet daughters and two very spoiled dogs.
Melissa Kalicicki received her bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in 2003. She married, had two boys and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Aside from reading and writing, her interests include running and mixed martial arts. She also remains an avid Cleveland sports fan.
Branded blog tour organized by Mark My Words, and review copy provided by NetGalley.