Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Flourish: Another Sneak Peek!

Happy Friday Everyone!

A few months back I featured a fun little teaser with small snippets of recent designs, and since it seemed to go over well I thought I'd go ahead and share another one!

As you guys have noticed by now, I've had to scale back a bit with the blog, taking Monday's off and calling in reinforcements in the form of my family to help me keep up with reviews. *sigh* Work has really taken off since January of this year which is hugely exciting, but it has definitely limited my reading time. I've also found that even when I do have time to read, I'm just not as motivated as I once was. Part of it is the fact that my work and this blog are now linked in that they're both book-related, so even though I absolutely LOVE my job and this blog, when I get time off, I want that time completely off from anything involving books. Also, Netflix has clutched me to its evil bosom and will not let me go until I've watched ALL THE THINGS. *wanders off to binge watch season 7 of The X Files*

I do love bringing my work life and blogging life together and sharing my covers on Fridays though, so I hope you guys won't mind me indulging in my shameless self-promotion once again:)

Artwork is hugely subjective, and it's always so interesting to me to see what kind of imagery or typography really jumps out at people, so please let me know in the comments which box most catches your eye. I hope to share all 6 of these in their entirety soon!

You can check out more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Traitor Angels Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway!

Anne Blankman
Young Adult/Historical
400 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available May 3rd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.

Traitor Angels is a fast-paced, enthralling read, sending us on a merry chase alongside heroine Elizabeth as we follow the clues–key pieces of information that could topple monarchies and religions alike–her brilliant father left tucked in the pages of Paradise Lost.

Elizabeth is a young woman ahead of her time thanks to her father largely raising her as a boy, teaching her foreign languages and sword-fighting in addition to reading and writing, and cherry-picking her as one of a pair of individuals tasked with protecting a secret uncovered decades ago. She's incredibly intelligent and fiercely loyal to her father, but she thankfully doesn't have blinders on when it comes to him, and as events unfold, allows her opinion on various things to change instead of clinging stubbornly to all she thought was true. She does on occasion get defeated when she and Antonio hit a roadblock in the Paradise Lost treasure hunt, despairing of her failure to save her father, but she only wallows for brief moments before she snaps herself out of it and restores her resolve.

Her romance with Antonio, while secondary to the epic search for a world-altering secret, is prominent enough to give us butterflies in between action sequences, bringing a smile to our faces before we're plunged once again into danger. The two of them together are a formidable couple, playing off each other's strengths to uncover the complex series of clues left by Mr. Milton, and we can do nothing but flip the pages with unprecedented speed to see what awaits them in the next chapter.

Overall, Traitor Angels will delight lovers of adventure, history and romance, guaranteeing its spot on many a shelf of favorites.

Rating: 4/5

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Up for grabs today are 3 finished copies of Traitor Angels! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Wintersong

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!

S. Jae-Jones
YA Fantasy
Releases February 2017 from Thomas Dunne (Macmillan)

From Goodreads:

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Um. A huge YES to everything about this one. Ever since I read and fell madly in love with Danielle Jensen's portrayal of trolls in Stolen Songbird, I've longed for more trolls, and Wintersong seems like it's going to deliver them to me in spectacular fashion. 

The romance sounds like it's going to be amazing, I love a setup like this where a relationship starts out as a transaction of sorts and then ever-so-slowly becomes love in truth. I'm not sure if this is going to be a series yet or not, but I've got all my fingers crossed that this will end well and Liesl will get an HEA with her Goblin King:)


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pam Reviews: Dragon Bound

It's a family affair on the blog of late! I always share books I love with my mom and mother-in-law, but my mom especially is a romance lover like me, so I always send my smutty favorites her way. She fell madly in love with one of my very favorite series, and is here today to share her thoughts on book one, Dragon Bound! *high five Mom*

Elder Races #1
Thea Harrison
Paranormal Romance
312 pages
Berkley Sensation
Available Now
Source: Bought!

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.

As most are aware, Dragon Bound is the first book of the Elder Races series written by the talented author, Thea Harrison. I know, I know it was written years ago, but it remains my all-time favorite go-to book when I reach for a reread that I truly loved. It let’s me escape for awhile to enjoy an amazing world with unforgettable characters that evoke a myriad of wonderful feelings. So when asked to write a review of a personal favorite in the paranormal genre, this was instantly chosen. 

The extreme popularity of Dragon Bound bespeaks of Harrison’s exceptional “gift of the written word” and is readily apparent in every component of the book: humorous and witty dialogue, non-stop action that is riveting at times, a plot with twists and turns that keeps the reader turning the pages, and world building that is creative, unique and uncomplicated. But she excels at character development and relationship building, and that sooo does it for me in any book.

Pia and Dragos. Did I mention unforgettable characters? They’re, simply put, magical, literally and figuratively. Dragos is the arrogant, controlling, incredibly powerful, strong-willed hero who demands total obedience and loyalty from all in his Wyr realm. And then there’s Pia, a no mess heroine, who is equally strong-willed, but with a soft, warm heart that melts the Great Beast with understanding, patience and eventually love. This constant push and pull in their relationship and the growth and change in both characters is fascinating and keeps me emotionally engaged. And culminates into a romance that’s as intense as it is entertaining.

The secondary characters are equally addictive. Who can forget the dynamic and petite faerie, Tricks, the skeptical Rune and the tender-hearted Graydon to name but a few. Their development was well constructed throughout, never overshadowing the main characters or detracting from the story. Not surprisingly, these characters now sport their own books.

And yep, with the l-o-n-g Michigan winters I experience, be assured I’ll grab this off my shelf to reread again. I repeat, I truly loved this book – it’s a fun and very good read.

Rating: 5/5 (of course!)

Find Thea:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Flourish: The Illuminator's Gift

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I'm sharing the cover for The Illuminator's Gift, the first book in a middle grade fantasy series by Alina Sayre. As you guys already know, fantasy is my very favorite genre to read, but it has also quickly become one of my very favorite genres to design as well since the sky is the limit creativity-wise. While I thoroughly enjoy the challenges each new project presents regardless of genre, fantasy tends to let my imagination run a little more wild than most, and I always have the best time trying to figure out how to bring a story's magical elements to life.

With illustrated covers, my design style tends to be more stylized, with the imagery existing as flat shapes, large planes of color, and lots of texture rather than realistic, painterly or true to life. My initial idea boards for Alina went in my more typical stylized direction, with the sea, sky and flying ship focal points she wanted highlighted shown with clean, crisp lines and clearly defined shapes. After reviewing the boards, Alina asked if we could change the feel of the imagery, taking the illustrations in a more realistic direction and softening the edges overall–a style that wasn't quite as familiar to me.

Having to step outside my design comfort zone is part of what makes this job so much fun though, and by the time I finished putting the initial comp of The Illuminator's Gift together I had learned a variety of new tricks, something that never fails to make me happy. After a few tweaks to the title font and accompanying flourishes, we had our final cover where sea meets sky and the Legend emerges from a wisp of cloud as she flies through the air.

Alina and I are currently working on the covers for books two and three, so stay tuned for those in the coming months!

Ellie is a twelve-year-old orphan who desperately wants a family. She just doesn’t expect to find one when she joins the crew of the Legend, a flying ship in a secret rescue fleet. On board, she meets a boy with a pet tarantula, a bully with eyes like mirrors, and a librarian who can read eighteen languages. Unexpectedly, Ellie also discovers a powerful gift that only she can wield. But when the Legend is called to a dangerous rescue mission, Ellie risks losing everyone she loves. Will her mysterious gift be enough to save her and her friends from a deadly enemy bent on destroying their world?
Find Alina & The Illuminator's Gift:
You can check out more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: Love, Lies and Spies

Cindy Anstey
YA Historical Romance
368 pages
Swoon Reads
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

Love, Lies and Spies is a sweet young adult historical romance, giving us a heroine more interested in insect research and publishing her findings than in the matrimonial games played by the Ton, and a dashing young hero who makes us swoon in the way only a gentleman in the time of strict courtship can.

Juliana is easy to love from the moment she steps on page and promptly falls off a cliff, denying an offer of help from Spencer in order to keep her reputation-conscious aunt from falling over in a dead faint. She's accident prone in an adorably oblivious way, stumbling into situations difficult for her to see her way out of gracefully, and we can't help but smile as she eschews polite society in favor of beating to her own drum. While she does on occasion need rescuing, she proves time and again that she's quite capable of handling herself when necessary–batting away the wandering hands of inappropriate suitors and staying true to her passion for scientific research even when everyone around her is only focused on making an advantageous romantic match.

Spencer is a charming smooth-talker, easily able to banter with Juliana and sooth any feathers that are ruffled as he weaves his tall tales in order to continue his undercover work. Though he has a way with words, he never comes across as disingenuous, and he easily earns our affections as he does Juliana's. Their romance is of the slow burn variety (though they do admit their feelings for one another to themselves relatively quickly) thanks to the rules governing social interactions in Society, and it's nothing short of smile-inducing to watch the two of them literally and figuratively dance around one another.

The only mild complaint with this tale is with regard to the espionage plot that unfolds alongside Spencer and Juliana's courtship. We stay largely on the surface of the spying element, small things relating to uncovering a traitor popping up here and there, but we don't delve into that mystery as deeply as we could have. That being said however, Juliana and Spencer are hugely entertaining characters, and their romance is perfect for those looking for something to bring them a little joy on a dreary day.

Rating: 4/5

Find Cindy:

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.