Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: By Your Side

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Kasie West
Contemporary YA
Releases February 2017 from HarperTeen

From Goodreads:)

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Kasie West! Her contemporary books always make me smile, and the setup for this one has me especially excited. Sort of a mini Breakfast Club-style feel. I love a relationship that starts with a whole lot of antagonism before turning into something more, and it seems like Autumn and Dax are going to have to wade through quite a few differences before that surprising connection forms, which means this has earned itself a place at the top of my must-have 2017 list:)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Wild Embrace

Psy-Changeling 15.5
Nalini Singh
Paranormal Romance
400 pages
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The “alpha author of paranormal romance”* presents a stunningly sensual collection of four all-new Psy-Changeling novellas, in which taboos are broken, boundaries are crossed, and instincts prove irresistible...

Echo of Silence
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Nerif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander...

A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration—until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play...

Partners in Persuasion
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bite out of him…

Flirtation of Fate
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries...

Wild Embrace is an outstanding collection of four Psy-Changeling stories, perfect for those who have wanted to try this series but have been intimidated by the number of books, as well as a treat for longtime fans. These novellas highlight the romantic chemistry at which Ms. Singh so excels, three out of the four focusing on new couples (though some familiar names) and the emotional challenges they have to overcome in order to be together. 

Echo of Silence
A standout start to this collection, Echo of Silence brings us an incredibly tense relationship setup due both to the emotionless nature of the Psy as well as the fact that Stefan is Tazia's boss. Tazia's desire smacks solidly into the seemingly ice-cold wall that is Stefan time and again, and it's impossible not to turn the pages at unprecedented speed just to see how and when she'll finally break through. The happily ever after is a tiny bit rushed but to be expected in a novella-length romance, and certainly not something that detracts from the overall success of these two as a pair.

Our time with Dorian is brief given his story in full has already been published in this series (#5), but it's pure fun to get to revisit him and see slices of life from when he was younger, while also sharing in the moments when he's finally able to shift after a lifetime of being trapped solely in human form.

Partners in Persuasion
Felix and Dezi's story is utterly delightful in that it's a slightly different romantic setup from what we typically get in this series, with Felix being submissive to Dezi's dominant. Normally it's the Changeling men who are all alpha in their own way (though their women are always strong and go toe to toe with them perfectly), but it's Dezi who has to be careful to watch that she doesn't inadvertently use her dominance to influence Felix in a way he wouldn't naturally choose for himself. Felix is in no way weak however, his submissive nature simply part of the biological and psychological makeup of wolves within a pack hierarchy, and he more than shows his mettle when necessary.

Flirtation of Fate
This is the longest of the novellas, giving us a murder mystery to solve as the romance unfolds. There's an extra layer of tension between Kenji and Garnet given their rocky romantic history, but those like myself who love a second chance romance will smile the whole way through as these two butt heads (in a delicious foreplay kind of way) at every turn.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Nalini:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Reader Campaign + Giveaway

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I'm part of a promotional campaign for The Reader, the first book in the Sea of Ink and Gold series by Traci Chee. In this world society as a whole is illiterate and there are no books to be had – GASP!–, so as part of the campaign I've been asked to list for you a few of the books that I just couldn't survive or imagine life without.

As I'm sure is the case for so many of you, that list is a long one, but I've managed to narrow it down to three. If you don't count the fact that some are series, which I don't. Series = one book using Jenny Logic.

I am a huge fan of antihero characters, and Jericho Barrons might just be the antihero to end all antiheroes (to me anyway). He's absolutely infuriating, a complete a-hole, and a sadist, but damn if he's not attractive as all get out too. I've never loved, hated, and then loved a character again as much as I did Barrons throughout this series, and even just mentioning his name brings a smile to my face. Though this series went off the rails a bit for me after Iced and Mac in general could be trying at times, the first five books will forever have a special place in my heart. A place that likes to be tortured by enigmatic bastards named Barrons ;-)

Like Twilight, this series tends to have a pretty polarizing effect - readers either love it or loathe it. This was one of the first series I read when I started really getting back into reading after a long, long break during which I only read class-required books, and it truly made me see how much fun reading could be. It's not going to find its way onto the classics shelf anytime soon, but it's a series that changed my life as it, along with Twilight, was the catalyst for me starting this blog.

I remember the exact moment Throne of Glass hit my radar: BEA 2013. I added it to my "if I have time" list knowing very little about the author or series, and when the Moms and I showed up to stand in line about an hour ahead of time – we thought we'd be first – we found ourselves a solid hundred plus people back. We actually ended up being the last three people who were allowed to get our books signed as Sarah's signing hour was up, and seeing that reaction had me absurdly excited to dive in as soon as I got home.

To say I was underwhelmed by this book would be putting it politely. I had expected magic. A captivating world. A heroine made of wit and badassery. What I found instead was a young woman who did a lot of talking about how epic an assassin she was, but did very little to back it up. It wasn't until Bloomsbury published all five prequels in a single installment (which I devoured) that I truly fell in love with this series, and it's been a source of joy and tears for me ever since.

So there you have it, the books that have made a huge impact on me in one way or another, and those select few that find themselves with spines nearly worn through from re-reading:)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.

You can read the first two chapters HERE!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut. 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


In partnership with Penguin Random House, I have a fantastic giveaway to share with you today! One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Reader as well as a snazzy branded "I Am The Reader" tote bag. Win. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only, and all prizing is provided by Penguin Random House.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Been Here All Along

Sandy Hall
Contemporary Young Adult
224 pages
Swoon Reads
Available August 30th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…

Been Here All Along is a lightning-quick read, the adorkable-ness of both Gideon and Kyle making this story easy to fly through with a smile on our faces.

Gideon and Kyle have been neighbors and best friends since they were little, but as so many of us can relate, there's a moment between them where everything shifts, and suddenly this person they've known all their lives becomes something else entirely. Told in alternate point of views (as well as the point of views of Gideon's brother and Kyle's girlfriend), we get to see both Gideon and Kyle charmingly flail when their relationship heads into uncharted waters, though thankfully the one major misstep between them is righted easily toward the end with minimal angst.

Though Gideon and Kyle, with their love of Lord of the Rings and their penchant for writing notes in Elvish, couldn't be cuter, we stay largely on the surface of both the romance as well as larger issues like coming out and learning disabilities. Gideon has an epiphany relatively early on in which he realizes he's gay, and in the blink of an eye (and after a few lists to help him organize his thoughts) he's accepted it, blurted it out to his friends while drunk for the first time, and announced it to his family who are all so thrilled they throw him a coming out party of sorts. That's not to say there aren't a huge number of families who are unflinchingly supportive in such situations, but those looking for perhaps a more nuanced or layered story of sexual identity and coming out won't find it here.

Additionally, the viewpoints of Ezra (Gideon's brother) and Ruby (Kyle's girlfriend) seem largely unnecessary, with Ruby being unlikable for nearly the entire book until the last few chapters where she realizes she's been vindictive and tries to right all her wrongs. Those issues aside though, this is a story easily devoured in one sitting and is the perfect fluff read for those who love a good best friends to lovers romance.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Sandy:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Scythe

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Neal Shusterman
Young Adult/Dystopian
Releases November 22nd from Simon & Schuster

From Goodreads:

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

First, I really, really don't want to live in this world. I would one hundred percent be randomly killed for population control purposes, I know it. Second, while pitting two young people against one another in an epic battle to the death is not a new plotline, it's one that never fails to grab my attention and hold it. I can't help but want to know what happens (sidenote: I'll definitely be reading the end first)! The synopsis doesn't give us very much information about either Citra or Rowan, so I have no idea if I'll be rooting for one over the other or both:)   

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cathy Reviews: Serenity's Plain Secrets

My mother in law, and lately my co-blogger, Cathy is back today with her latest review!

Karen Ann Hopkins
Available Now

Lamb to the Slaughter (Book 1)
From Goodreads:

Lamb to the Slaughter is a story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely people in an Indiana Amish Community and the devastating results when a rebellious teenage girl is found shot to death in a corn field during the harvest. Serenity Adams is the newly elected young sheriff in the country town of Blood Rock and besides dealing with the threatening behavior of her predecessor, she now has a dead Amish girl on her plate. At first glance, the case seems obvious. The poor girl was probably accidently shot during hunting season, but when the elders of the Amish community and even the girl’s parents react with uncaring subdued behavior, Serenity becomes suspicious. As she delves deeper into the secretive community that she grew up beside, she discovers a gruesome crime from the past that may very well be related to the Amish girl’s shooting. Serenity enlists the help of the handsome bad-boy building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who left the Amish when he was nineteen and has his own dark reasons to help the spunky sheriff solve the crime that the family and friends who shunned him are trying desperately to cover up. Serenity’s persistence leads her to a stunning discovery that not only threatens to destroy her blossoming romance with Daniel, but may even take her life in the end.

The Serenity's Plain Secrets series first came to my attention because Jenny designed all their beautiful covers. Jenny did an amazing job setting the scene for each book. You can look at the covers and know exactly where these mysteries occur and with just the right amount sinister eeriness to draw you in. So the series was on my shelf and were so pretty that I didn't want to crack the spines, but you know how I love a good mystery. So I very carefully began turning to the first page of book one and before I knew it, I had finished three! I thought I would give you a mini review of the first three books so that you, too, can add them to your shelves.

Lamb to the Slaughter is the first in the series. We meet newly appointed sheriff Serenity Adams. She has returned to her hometown and her new territory which includes the nearby Amish community. She is a strong female character, which I love in a mystery. What also adds to the mystery is just the general mystic of the Amish culture. In this book we follow the story from several points of view, including that of the murdered Amish girl, Naomi. This really adds depth to the story. Serenity is a very by-the-book person and truly has a difficult time with the secretiveness of the Amish men. So, in an effort to understand and infiltrate the Amish she needs help. Meet Daniel - he used to be Amish but has left. He also becomes the love interest. Poor Serenity has to face a lot of frustration in this book, but for us it just adds to the suspense.

Whispers from the Dead is book two. Serenity's reputation at solving crimes, especially in the Amish community, finds her invited to another community having problems with arson. Then a body is found in one of the burned out barns. The intrigue in this story is intermingled with past crimes that had taken place in the town. She runs into that town's sheriff and definitely meets with not only resistance but outright animosity. The secretive nature of all the men in this book elevates the mystery and suspense. Daniel helps again with solving this case and putting himself closer to Serenity.

Secrets in the Grave is book three and it brings Serenity and Daniel back to the community Daniel grew up in. A new healer moves to the Amish community and a young pregnant woman bleeds to death. Checking into his past, it's found that this is not the first woman to die, even his wife had died. Is he a healer or a killer?  Even though Daniel has been shunned, his help with the case brings him closer to the community and his family.

All three books were pages turners. I think that the Amish overtones of secrecy add to the mystery and suspense. I like a little romance that is equally frustrating thrown in for good measure. I am so glad that Jenny did these covers so that they were put on my radar.


Find Karen:

Friday, August 19, 2016

The 5 Series Topping My Must-Read List

Happy Friday Everyone!

I've found that quite a bit recently I seem to be leaving comments along the lines of "I need to read this series!" on my favorite blogs, so I thought it would be fun to list for you the top 5 series that have had me leaving such a comment of late.

With the exception of Jessica Shirvington's Embrace series, YA angel novels have been largely misses for me. I can't pinpoint why exactly, they just don't seem to draw me in the same way other epic paranormal or fantasy titles do. I've heard nothing but outstanding things about this series though, particularly about one intriguingly sexy guy named Rafa. I must meet him.

This is probably the one series on this list that I've said I need to read most often, and dammit, this year I'm going to do it! I said it last year about The Others series by Anne Bishop, and with the help of Nick, I devoured it earlier in the year and loved every minute. I feel like this doesn't have quite as much romance as I might want, but I think Darrow and his journey will more than make up for it!

I've actually read this first book, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I didn't LOVE it the way I expected to given the hype, so I've delayed reading the rest of the series out of fear I'll be disappointed. And thus the black sheep of the Charley Davidson fandom. Boo. This might be a series that just gets better as it goes though (I'm looking at you Kate Daniels), so I'm thinking I need to give it another shot!

Ilona Andrews. The creators of Kate and Curran. WHAT AM I WAITING FOR? *runs off to Amazon*

Okay, so this isn't quite a series yet as there's only one book out, but the second is well in the works and due to release early next year, so it counts. I've been seeing this around a lot lately with all sorts of delicious talk about the chemistry between Cat and Griffin, and I know it's going to be a read that's right up my sexual tension alley.

Have a great weekend you guys!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: If I Only Had a Duke

The Disgraceful Dukes #2
Lenora Bell
Historical Romance
384 pages
Available August 30th
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After four failed seasons and a disastrous jilting, Lady Dorothea Beaumont has had more than enough of her family’s scheming. She won’t domesticate a duke, entangle an earl, or vie for a viscount. She will quietly exit to her aunt’s Irish estate for a life of blissful freedom. Until an arrogant, sinfully handsome duke singles her out for a waltz, making Thea the most popular belle of the season.

The duke ruined her plans and he’ll just have to fix them.

Dalton, Duke of Osborne, is far too heartless for debutantes or marriage—he uses dalliances and public spectacle to distract from his real purpose: finding the man who destroyed his family. When his search leads to Ireland, the last thing he needs is the determined, achingly innocent Thea, who arrives in the dead of night demanding he escort her to her aunt. His foolish agreement may prove his undoing. The road to the Emerald Isle is fraught with unforeseen dangers, but the greatest peril of all might just be discovering that he has a heart...and he’s losing it to Thea.

Lenora Bell wowed with her historical debut How the Duke Was Won, and has followed it up with an utterly delightful sequel.

Thea is the woman her half-sister Charlene was hired to impersonate in the first book, making a brief appearance toward the end before stepping into the limelight in this second installment. While she ticks every single box Society requires for young ladies of the Ton, she has absolutely no interest in being an accessory who toddles behind her husband when he makes public appearances. Instead, she desires a quieter life in Ireland, studying female painters relegated to obscurity due to their gender rather than their talent, but though she longs for quiet, she's not afraid to reveal a wicked sense of humor and a backbone of steel to ensure she gets it. She refuses to take no for an answer (in a shows-gumption rather than irritating kind of way), and proves herself to be a rescuer of dukes every bit as much as the Duke is a rescuer of damsels in distress.

Dalton is of course the perfect counterpoint to Thea, a touch more severe where she shows a bit of whimsy and an ability to adapt to various situations with a smile on her face, but he knows how to turn on the charm and send a girl's thoughts spiraling straight into the gutter. He's on a mission to avenge his younger brother's murder at the age of five, and though he has neither the time nor the inclination for a female companion on his quest for vengeance, he can't help but be amused by Thea's approach to life. Around the three quarter mark he is guilty of the classic "you're too good for me so I'm going to push you away" move, but Thea holds her own and the drama shifts from inside the relationship to outside quickly enough that we're swept up in the dangers a wayward journey holds before we can work up any frustration.

Overall, If I Only Had a Duke is every bit as enjoyable as its predecessor, and Ms. Bell is quickly becoming an auto-buy author for me in this genre.

Rating: 4/5

Find Lenora:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Hunted

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Meagan Spooner
Young Adult/Fantasy/Retelling
Releases March 2017 from HarperTeen

From Goodreads:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite fairy tale, so whenever a retelling pops up it takes absolutely no convincing to get me to add it to my must-have list. I'm also a huge fan of Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman's Starbound trilogy, so I'm hoping this one blows me away in much the same way. Curses, ruined castles, and a beauty vs. beast plotline? YES PLEASE!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review: Do You Want to Start a Scandal

Spindle Cove #5
Tessa Dare
Historical Romance
Available September 27th
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library.
•Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan?
•Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall?
•Perhaps the butler did it.

All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.

But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit … and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.

Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

The entire Spindle Cove series is a must-read for those who want a lot of humor with their heat, but this fifth installment is arguably the best yet. With the trademark sexual chemistry Ms. Dare does so well comes a number of laugh out loud moments that have us wanting to start from the beginning as soon as we read the last page.

Charlotte has been a secondary character from book one, her delightfully quirky sisters and completely outrageous matchmaking mother scene-stealers every time they appeared on page. Now sliding into the role of heroine Charolotte makes us fall in love with her all over again, somehow having emerged from her upbringing with the ability to find humor in her mother's desperate attempts to find advantageous marriages for her daughters. She knows people laugh at her family and keep their distance so that her reputation doesn't bleed from her person and stain theirs should they stand too close, and yet she still holds her head up high and approaches every situation with a joy for life we can only admire.

While Piers is everything a historical romance hero should be and certainly worthy of a full paragraph (and more, but I write relatively short reviews ;-) dedicated to his many delicious attributes, there are a couple scenes in this book that cannot go without mentioning. One involves a mother-daughter "what to expect on your wedding night" chat complete with fruit and vegetable visual aides, and another involves a too-truthful perfume shop owner and the many ingredients involved in the making of various fragrances. The entire book is sure to win readers over with ease, but those two moments are particular highlights, and should have you adding this book to your lists as soon as possible.

Though this is the fifth installment and the Highwoods have been players in the previous books, Charlotte's story does stand on its own in terms of the romance, and will certainly cause all who pick it up to trip over themselves in their haste to collect the whole series.

Rating: 5/5

Find Tessa:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Excerpt: Arcana Rising

Happy Monday Everyone!

Wait. No. Mondays are never fun, unless of course they're part of a holiday weekend and we don't have to work. Then they're definitely cause for celebration. Alas, today is not such a day, BUT I do have something fun for you guys to make it a little more bearable.

Arcana Rising, the 4th book in Kresley Cole's epic young adult series releases today, and I have the pleasure of bringing you an excerpt to get you guys excited for it. While I'm depressingly behind on this series (as is the case with so many series *shakes fist at work*), the opening chapter of the first book remains one of the most intriguing openings I've ever read, and I remember it clear as day even years later. A unique world definitely worth trying if you haven't had the chance!

For now though, enjoy a little sneak peak at book four, and then run and try book one if you haven't already!

Day 382 A.F.

Death kept taking me farther from Jack. I stretched my arms out, fingers splayed toward the heat. "He can't be dead." I sobbed. "Can't. NO, NO, NOOOO!"
    "You want to follow the mortal? Get your revenge first. The Emperor mocks your pain."
    I could hear that fiend in my head--laughing.
    The red witch exploded inside me, a force that could never be contained. I shrieked, "You will PAY!"
    As the Emperor laughed, Death murmured in my ear, "I have your grandmother, Sievā. That was the gift I spoke of. We'll teach you how to kill the Emperor. You'll avenge Deveaux."
    "Don't you understand? Jack's not DEAD!" I screamed that over and over. "He's alive!"
    With my mind teetering on the brink, I spied something in the skies above us. I gaped, disbelieving.
    Real? Unreal? Just before oblivion took me down, a mountain of water curled over our heads, racing toward that hell of flames. 
    Circe's towering wave. Taller than a skyscraper.
    -Quake before me!-
    -Terror from the abyss!-
    Richter and Circe's calls boomed in my mind, jolting me back from the blackness.
    "Come!" Aric snatched me into his arms and sprinted from the clash. "When they meet, the blast and then the flood..."
    I stopped fighting him; the need to turn Richter's laughter into screams clawed at me, which meant I had to survive.
    Aric gave a sharp whistle, and a horse's nickering answered. Thanatos. With me secure in his arms, Aric leapt into the saddle, and spurred the warhorse into a frenzied gallop.
    We all but dove down a slope, then charged up the next. 
    I gazed over Aric's shoulder as that tidal wave crested above Richter's lake of lava.
    Heaving breaths, riding faster than humanly possible, Aric kept Thanatos at a breakneck pace. Up another mountain face. Down its slope--
    Circle struck.
    A hiss like a giant beast's. A detonation like a nuclear bomb.
    The shock wave was so loud my ears bled. As loud as the roar preceding the Flash.
    The air grew hotter and hotter. The ground rocked as a blast of scalding steam chased us.
    BOOM! The force sheared the top off the mountain just behind us. Boulders crashed all around as we careened into yet another valley. Still we rode.
    Aric grated, "Surge comes next."
    The ground quaked from the weight of an ocean of water. I could hear the surge shooting toward us. "Aric!"
    He got as far as he dared, as high as he could. "Hold on." Clutching me tight, he dropped from Thanatos who kept running.
    Behind the cap of another mountain, Aric braced for impact. He wedged his metal gauntlet between boulders, wrapping his other arm around me.
    Gaze locked on mine, he yelled "I'll never let you go!" We each sucked in a breath.
    The searing water hit. The explosive impact ripped me from his chest, but he caught my arm, clenching his fingers above my elbow. 
    Death's grip. The ungodly force of the flood. My watery scream...
    Aric never did let me go--
    My arm...gave way.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestseller Kresley Cole.

When the battle is done . . .
The Emperor unleashed hell and annihilated an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind--but Circe struck back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . .
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter's reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future--and her chilling past--will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter's ashes, stronger than ever before?

AmazoniBooksKoboNookGoogle Play

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers Series, and five award-winning historical romances.

A master's grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.

Her books have been translated into twenty foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Fun

Happy Friday Everyone!

Instead of revealing a cover today, I wanted to instead share a few fun things that have been going on in both my reading world and my personal one:) I'm going to do kind of a mashup between Christina's Friday Five and Kim's Sunday Post, so thank you to both of them for the ideas!


The Olympics! Of course. I look forward to watching every day, appreciating all the athleticism I myself will never possess. I love the big events like gymnastics and swimming, but given I grew up on the competitive equestrian circuit, the showjumping events are what I most look forward to. Those start on Sunday I believe and you can bet I'll be sprawled on my couch avidly watching.

So. My husband and I got Netflix about 3 months ago and we have been binge-watching all 10 seasons of Supernatural ever since. We're about halfway through the final season (on Netflix anyway, I think the show is on season 11? 12?), and Sam and Dean have yet to get old for me. I liked the earlier seasons where we got more of the individual ghost/monster/paranormal creepiness episodes a bit better than the epic demon vs. angel showdown of the later seasons, but overall definitely a winner!


My attempt to keep my laughter silent while reading this shook the bed so hard I actually woke my husband up. Oops. Tessa Dare's books always have her trademark humor, but Charlotte's book was for me her most delightful yet. Historical romance lovers, add this to your lists immediately! My full review will be up in a couple weeks.


I'm on a historical romance kick as you can see, and so far I'm really enjoying this one. I adored the first book, How the Duke Was Won, so I jumped on this as soon as I saw it come up for review. I'm only a few chapters in, but there's already so much great chemistry between these two, and the synopsis promises a fun romp through Ireland, so I have little doubt it's going to end as strong as it's started.


It's been a little while since I've read a YA mystery/thriller so I'm looking forward to this! What do we think?:
A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.


Life with the girls has been really good lately, the adjustment after adding Mya to our family starting to smooth out and she's finally starting to really settle in. The past four months have been really challenging given Mya's abusive past and subsequent trust/fear issues (more a result of our inexperience with such issues than anything else), and there were more than a few times when we felt way out of our depth. I've done a ton of research on fear behaviors though, and have been working hard to build her confidence when she starts to struggle. She's an amazing dog though, and we're so proud of how far she's come! She and Gracie are getting along as beautifully as they have since the moment they met, and they make me smile every single day:)

Hope you guys have wonderful weekends!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cathy Reviews: The Nettle King

My mother in law Cathy is back today with her latest review! Thanks so much for being my co-blogger of late:) NETTLE KING
Night and Nothing #3
Katherine Harbour
320 pages
Harper Voyager
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When her beloved Jack disappears, Finn vows to find him—even if it means a daring odyssey into the land of the dead. But saving Jack comes at a terrible price: a dangerous fissure has opened, giving the dead access to the true world.

The lines between worlds are more blurred than ever. Finn’s sister, Lily, recently returned from the Ghostlands, seems to bear no scars from her time there. But then their friend Moth returns from Sombrus, the magical house once owned by Seth Lot, bearing shocking news. Something evil—a fearsome creature bearing a striking resemblance to Jack—has escaped Sombrus and is now stalking Fair Hollow, killing everyone it encounters, transforming them into terrifying Jacks and Jills and recruiting the Unseelie.

It will not stop until it gets what it wants . . .

The Nettle King by Katherine Harbour brings the eagerly anticipated conclusion of the Night and Nothing trilogy. This was a series that caught my attention and imagination, so I was thrilled when this final book released and couldn't wait to read it.

At the end of The Briar Queen, Jack has gone to the underworld in exchange for the release of Finn's sister Lily. The story begins with Finn trying a number of ways to get to the underworld to bring Jack back. Finn has become so solitary in her efforts to find a way to save Jack that she is unaware of how secretive her friends have become. She also has a blind eye to what is occurring with Lily now that she is back home.

Ms. Harbour's depiction of Hell was so well done and creepy. It was like a movie flashing through my mind. The gates of Hell were in a warped and deserted funhouse. It just was so appropriate for the style of the books. Finn's efforts to navigate the underworld was nothing less than a roller coaster of emotions and action. The place was a house of horrors filled with danger and the unknown at every turn.

There is an evil loose in the world and a war is brewing. Finn feels responsible because of her efforts to save Lily and Jack. She has thrown off the balance and Ms. Harbour keeps us off balance as we try to gather enough information to answer all our questions. There are twists and turns and many unexpected endings. I don't want to spoil any of the surprises because there are plenty.

I could not turn the pages fast enough in my efforts to see what happens to Finn and Jack. I was not disappointed, only sorry the trilogy was complete.

Rating: 4/5 

Find Katherine:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Silence Fallen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Mercy Thompson #10
Patricia Briggs
Releases March 2017 from Ace

From Goodreads:

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe...

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise...

MERCY AND ADAM! There will never be a time I'm not absurdly excited for a new installment in this series, as Mercy is one of my all time favorite heroines. I'm a little bummed because it sounds like she and Adam are going to be separated for most of the book and their interactions are one of the higlights of this series for me, but Mercy is more than strong enough to carry a book on her own and I'm looking forward to seeing her take Europe (and these ancient powers) by storm:)  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Review: Don't Let Go

Hope #6
Jaci Burton
Contemporary Romance
304 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Brady Conners is hardly the settling type, but when tragedy strikes in his family, he has no choice but to return home to Hope, Oklahoma. Setting up shop to work on custom motorcycles and pass the time, Brady has no intention of letting anyone get close—until he meets Megan.

Pastry shop owner Megan Lee is drawn to quiet, brooding Brady. Their connection is undeniable, and it quickly develops from physical attraction into something much stronger. But with Brady putting up barriers, Megan is afraid to truly open her heart—unless she can convince him to let go of the past…

Don't Let Go is an easy, sexy read as Ms. Burton's books always are, giving us an enjoyable lead couple along with a scene-stealing (and stuffed chicken-loving) canine companion.

Megan is the stronger of the two in terms of characterization; Brady embodying the classic brooding romance hero with absolutely no desire to fall in love while Megan makes herself a bit more memorable. Instead of waiting for Brady to show interest, or throwing herself in his path in the hopes that he'll take notice and ask her out, she puts herself out there and takes matters into her own hands by inviting him to dinner. When it looks like maybe things might not go the way she hopes despite some pretty strong signals from him, she neither gives up hope nor comes on too strong, instead giving him a little time before she she again takes the initiative.

Brady, while perhaps not stepping outside the romance hero box, is still smoldering in the way of all Ms. Burton's men, ensuring there is no shortage of swoon-worthy moments. His attachment to a tiny stray dog named Roxie only ratchets up his hotness level, bringing a smile to our faces every time he puts her on his motorcycle and trucks her around town. Though he makes us want to shake him when he decides things can't possibly work with Megan and behaves in predictable brooding bad-boyish fashion, Megan more than makes up for his actions by refusing to allow him to cut her down. She stands strong through his bluster, demanding respect when he lashes out in anger and remaining cool, collected and classy when met by his cruel words.

Overall, Don't Let Go is maybe not the strongest book in this series, but it does give us a highlight of a heroine, an adorable dog, and a romance with plenty of heat and heart.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Jaci:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Nevernight Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway

I'm absurdly excited today to be a part of the promotional tour for Nevernight, the newest release from author Jay Kristoff. I've been hearing great things about this one, mainly that it's dark and gritty and a bit unexpected, and I have to admit I am INTRIGUED. For those of you, like me, who are eagerly awaiting release day, I have the pleasure of bringing you a little special something to tide you over for the next few days. Below you'll find an extended excerpt from Nevernight, and be sure to check the bottom of the post as well for all the details on a fun giveaway. Enjoy, everyone!

The sky was crying.
Or so it had seemed to her. The little girl knew the water tumbling from the charcoal- colored smudge above was called rain— she’ d been barely ten years old, but she was old enough to know that. Yet she’ d still fancied tears falling from that gray sugar- floss face. So cold compared to her own. No salt or sting inside them.
But yes, the sky was certainly crying.
What else could it have done at a moment like this?
She’ d stood on the Spine above the forum, gleaming gravebone at her feet, cold wind in her hair. People were gathered in the piazza below, all open mouths and closed fists. They’d seethed against the scaffold in the forum’s heart, and the girl wondered if they pushed it over, would the prisoners standing atop it be allowed to go home again?
O, wouldn’t that be wonderful?
She’d never seen so many people. Men and women of different shapes and sizes, children not much older than she. They wore ugly clothes and their howls had made her frightened, and she’ d reached up and took her mother’s hand, squeezing tight.
Her mother didn’t seem to notice. Her eyes had been fixed on the scaffold, just like the rest. But Mother didn’t spit at the men standing before the nooses, didn’t throw rotten food or hiss “traitor” through clenched teeth. The Dona Corvere had simply stood, black gown sodden with the sky’s tears, like a statue above a tomb not yet filled.
Not yet. But soon.
The girl had wanted to ask why her mother didn’t weep. She didn’t know what “traitor” meant, and wanted to ask that, too. And yet, somehow she knew this was a place where words had no place. And so she’d stood in silence.
Watching instead.
Six men stood on the scaffold below. One in a hangman’s hood, black as truedark. Another in a priest’s gown, white as a dove’s feathers. The four others wore ropes at their wrists and rebellion in their eyes. But as the hooded man had slipped a noose around each neck, the girl saw the defiance draining from their cheeks along with the blood. In years to follow, she’ d be told time and again how brave her father was. But looking down on him then, at the end of the row of four, she knew
he was afraid.
Only a child of ten, and already she knew the color of fear.
The priest had stepped forward, beating his staff on the boards. He had a beard like a hedgerow and shoulders like an ox, looking more like a brigand who’d murdered a holy man and stolen his clothes than a holy man himself. The three suns hanging on a chain about his throat tried to gleam, but the clouds in the crying sky told them no.
His voice was thick as toffee, sweet and dark. But it spoke of crimes against the Itreyan Republic. Of treachery and treason. The holy brigand called upon the Light to bear witness (she wondered if It had a choice), naming each man in time.
Senator Claudius Valente.”
“Senator Marconius Albari.”
“General Gaius Maxinius Antonius.”
“Justicus Darius Corvere.”
Her father’s name, like the last note in the saddest song she’ d ever heard. Tears welled in her eyes, blurring the world shapeless. How small and pale he’d looked down there in that howling sea. How alone. She remembered him as he’d been, not so long ago; tall and proud and O, so very strong. His gravebone armor white as wintersdeep, his cloak spilling like crimson rivers over his shoulders. His eyes, blue and bright, creased at the corners when he smiled.
Armor and cloak were gone now, replaced by rags of dirty hessian and bruises like fat, purpling berries all over his face. His right eye was swollen shut, his other fixed at his feet. She’d wanted him to look at her so badly. She wanted him to come home.
“Traitor!” the mob called. “Make him dance!”
The girl didn’t know what they’d meant. She could hear no music.
The holy brigand had looked to the battlements, to the marrowborn and politicos gathered above. The entire Senate seemed to have turned out for the show, near a hundred men gathered in their purple-trimmed robes, staring down at the scaffold with pitiless eyes.
To the Senate’s right stood a cluster of men in white armor. Blood- red cloaks. Swords wreathed in rippling flame unsheathed in their hands. Luminatii, they were called, the girl knew that well. They’d been her father’s brothers-in-arms before the traitoring— such was, she’d presumed, what traitors did.
It’d all been so noisy.
In the midst of the senators stood a beautiful dark- haired man, with eyes of piercing black. He wore fine robes dyed with deepest purple—consul’s garb. And the girl who knew O, so little knew at least here was a man of station. Far above priests or soldiers or the mob bellowing for dancing when there was no tune. If he were to speak it, the crowd would let her father go. If he were to speak it, the Spine would shatter and the Ribs shiver into dust, and Aa, the God of Light himself, would close his three eyes and bring blessed dark to this awful parade.
The consul had stepped forward. The mob below fell silent. And as the beautiful man spoke, the girl squeezed her mother’s hand with the kind of hope only children know.
“Here in the city of Godsgrave, in the Light of Aa the Everseeing and by unanimous word of the Itreyan Senate, I, Consul Julius Scaeva, proclaim these accused guilty of insurrection against our glorious Republic. There can be but one sentence for those who betray the citizenry of Itreya. One sentence for those who would once more shackle this great nation beneath the yoke of kings.”
Her breath had stilled.
Heart fluttered.
“. . . Death.”
A roar. Washing over the girl like the rain. And she’d looked wide- eyed from the beautiful consul to the holy brigand to her mother— dearest Mother, make them stop— but Mother’s eyes were affixed on the man below. Only the tremor in her bottom lip betraying her agony. And the little girl could stand no more, and the scream roared up inside her and spilled over her lips
and the shadows all across the forum shivered at her fury. The black at every man’s feet, every maid and every child, the darkness cast by the light of the hidden suns, pale and thin though it was—make no mistake, O, gentlefriend.
Those shadows trembled.
But not one person noticed. Not one person cared.
The Dona Corvere’s eyes didn’t leave her husband as she took hold of the little girl, hugged her close. One arm across her breast. One hand at her neck. So tight the girl couldn’t move. Couldn’t turn. Couldn’t breathe.
You picture her now; a mother with her daughter’s face pressed to her skirts. The she- wolf with hackles raised, shielding her cub from the murder unfolding below. You’d be forgiven for imagining it so. Forgiven and mistaken. Because the dona held her daughter pinned looking outward. Outward so she could taste it all. Every morsel of this bitter meal. Every crumb.
The girl had watched as the hangman tested each noose, one by one by one. He’d limped to a lever at the scaffold’s edge and lifted his hood to spit. Th e girl glimpsed his face— yellow teeth gray stubble harelip gone. Something inside her screamed Don’t look, don’t look, and she’ d closed her eyes. And her mother’s grip had tightened, her whisper sharp as razors.
“Never flinch,” she breathed. “Never fear.”
The girl felt the words in her chest. In the deepest, darkest place, where the hope children breathe and adults mourn withered and fell away, floating like ashes on the wind.
And she’ d opened her eyes.
He’d looked up then. Her father. Just a glance through the rain. She’d often wonder what he was thinking at that moment, in nevernights to come. But there were no words to cross that hissing veil. Only tears. Only the crying sky. And the hangman pulled his lever, and the floor fell away. And to her horror, she finally understood. Finally heard it.
The dirge of the jeering crowd. The whip- crack of taut rope. The guh-guh-guh of throttled men cut through with the applause of the holy brigand and the beautiful consul and the world gone wrong and rotten. And to the swell of that horrid tune, legs kicking, face purpling, her father had begun dancing.
Daddy . . .
“Never flinch.” A cold whisper in her ear. “Never fear. And never, ever forget.”
The girl nodded slow.
Exhaled the hope inside.
And she’ d watched her father die.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Jay Kristoff is a New York Times and international bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. He grew up in the second most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books, or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.

His LOTUS WAR trilogy was critically acclaimed in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards and won the 2014 Aurealis Award. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller THE ILLUMINAE FILES, was co-authored with Amie Kaufman. Book 1, ILLUMINAE, became a New York Times and international bestseller, was named among the Kirkus, Amazon and YALSA Best Books of 2015 and won the 2016 Aurealis Award and an ABIA Book of the Year award. ILLUMINAE is currently slated to be published in twenty five countries, and film rights have been acquired by Brad Pitt and Plan B Entertainment.

Jay’s new fantasy series, THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, commences with book 1, NEVERNIGHT, from St Martins Press/Thomas Dunne Books and Harper Voyager in 2016. A new YA series, LIFEL1K3 has also been acquired by Knopf/Random House Kids, and commences publication in 2018. Jay is as surprised about all this as you are. He is represented by Josh Adams at Adams Literary.

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 13,030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Five lucky winners will each receive a finished copy of Nevernight! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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