Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Ruined

Ruined #1
Amy Tintera
Young Adult/Fantasy
368 pages
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Ruined is a tale strong in story, with an easy flow that allows for the rapid turning of pages as we follow Em's journey to find her sister and unleash vengeance on those who murdered her parents.

Em, despite the need for revenge driving her initially and the ease with which she murders the young woman whose place she's taking, is a young woman with whom it's easy to settle in. She despises the royal family for systematically executing the Ruined and kidnapping her sister, but she easily keeps her rage in check and uses her time in the castle and with Cas wisely. She's also not so blinded by her hatred that she refuses to see the differences between Cas and his father, nor is she unable to acknowledge that neither side of their war has hands clean of blood. Her romance with Cas is thankfully insta-love free, an arranged marriage slowly shifting into a begrudging friendship and then finally genuine feelings, but we're spared the bold declarations of love that can often read as disingenuous.

While there's much to enjoy about this first installment, especially for those who just want to be entertained, many will likely take issue with the overall lack of world-building and history of the Ruined. We're given almost no backstory on Em's people other than fleeting glimpses here and there of an all-powerful queen who was a monster in the truest sense, and very little information on how the Ruined magic came to be, why no other race of people in this world possess any kind of magical abilities, or how the war between kingdoms started. Hopefully book two will delve deeper into Ruined history and highlight Em's mom in particular, as she was a special kind of nightmare who has the potential to be hugely memorable should we get to take a closer look at her.

Even with a distinct lack of history in this first book, there's still something deeply intriguing about Ruined, the crowns on both sides of the battle equally deserving of the title of villain, thereby ensuring we question who is and is not deserving of our loyalty throughout.

Story/Characters: 4/5
World-building/History: 3/5

Find Amy:

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, May 20, 2016

Friday Flourish: Elemental Assassin Coloring Bookmarks!

Happy Friday Everyone!

I don't know about you guys, but I'm very, very ready for the weekend. BEA last week was its usual whirlwind of awesome (a recap will be coming at some point), but it's exhausting, and because I have the worst luck ever when it comes to air travel, we were of course delayed in getting home. We got home late Saturday, and then on Sunday drove 6 hours to pick up Mya, the newest pit bull addition to our family. The drive was more than worth it as she and Gracie are becoming fast friends, but all this week I've had trouble staying up past 9. *blinks wearily*

But enough about being tired! It's Friday and I have a very different kind of Flourish post to share with you today. While book covers are my primary focus, I do occasionally get design requests for related things like bookmarks, teaser quotes and the like, so when Jennifer Estep (one of my longtime favorite authors) got in touch about doing a coloring bookmark for her outstanding Elemental Assassin series, I jumped at the chance to do something entirely new to me.

Adult coloring books are all the rage at the moment (I need more in my life!), so I loved the idea of a coloring bookmark. Heroine and all-around badass Gin runs a restaurant called the Pork Pit when she's not putting her silverstone knives to good use, so Jennifer thought it might be fun to design something around all the mouthwatering comfort foods Gin dishes up in each book. On the back we brought in some of the Elemental Assassin branding elements, with Gin's spider rune and her classic tagline as the focal points. I hope you guys love how they turned out!



Want an Elemental Assassin coloring bookmark of your very own? Here's how you can get one:
Get your swag on! For 2-3 stamps, Let's Talk Promotions will stuff an envelope full of Jennifer Estep swag so you can keep some swag and give away some to interested parties. Just send a self-address stamped envelope with two stamps on it to Let's Talk Promotions, P.O. Box 241721, Milwaukee, WI 53224 and mark "Jennifer Estep" on your envelope. Currently, LTP has swag for Gin Blanco and the Elemental Assassin series.

Let's Talk Promotions also offers swag for fantasy author Faith Hunter. If you want some of Faith's swag, follow the instructions above and mark "Faith Hunter" on your envelope. Cheers!

Find Jennifer:

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Crown's Game Blog Tour: Playlist + Giveaway!


I'm absurdly excited today to be a part of the promotional tour for The Crown's Game, the debut novel from author Evelyn Skye! I feel like you guys might be tired of me going on and on about my love for YA Fantasy, but I can't help it. This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and I can't wait to dive in. To help you guys get in the right mood for this tale of magic, secrets and of course thrones, Evelyn was so nice as to put together a playlist. I hope you guys enjoy, and be sure and check out the bottom of the post for all the details on a fantastic giveaway!


“All or Nothing” – audiomachine

“Centuries” – FallOut Boy

“What You Want” – Evanescence

“Long Way Down” – Robert DeLong

“Nightlight” – Silversun Pickups

“The Rat” – The Walkmen

“All the Right Places” – OneRepublic

“All of the Stars” – Ed Sheeran

“Paralyzed” – Against the Current

“Black Sun” – Death Cab for Cutie

“I Don’t Love You” – My Chemical Romance

“In the End” – Linkin Park

“The Only Exception” – Paramore

“Just Watch the Fireworks” – Jimmy Eat World

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so- secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn't writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


One lucky winner will receive a custom THE CROWN'S GAME necklace (similar to the photo above) made by Tales of a Ravenous Reader. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway is open to US addresses only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5/9/2016- Dark Faerie TalesGuest Post 
5/10/2016- Owl Always Be ReadingGuest Post 
5/11/2016- 125PagesReview 
5/12/2016- A Backwards StoryReview 
5/13/2016- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
5/16/2016- The Reader LinesReview
5/17/2016- Once Upon a TwilightGuest Post
5/18/2016- That Artsy Reader GirlReview
5/19/2016- Supernatural SnarkGuest Post
5/20/2016- Mundie MomsReview

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Frostblood

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!

Frostblood Saga #1
Elly Blake
Young Adult/Fantasy
Releases January 2017 from Little, Brown

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

You guys already know how much I love YA fantasy, so desperately wanting this one is pretty much a given. I really like how this has a paranormal gladiator-type quality to it, I'm always a sucker for stories that pit one supernatural gift against another. It makes me think long and hard about which gift I would want if I lived in that world. Right now I'm leaning toward ice because I feel like I would do less damage day to day with that ability, but I'd still be plenty badass when necessary. Definitely looking forward to seeing how Ruby handles her fire though!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cathy Reviews: No Comfort for the Lost

My mother-law-Cathy is back with another review today! With BEA all last week, I'm of course behind on my reading, so she stepped up once again. I fail. :( Thanks so much Cathy!

Mystery of Old San Francisco #1
Nancy Herriman
384 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
In this historical mystery series, a courageous nurse and a war-scarred police detective in 1860s San Francisco champion the down-trodden and fight for justice …

After serving as a nurse in the Crimea, British-born Celia Davies left her privileged family for an impulsive marriage to a handsome Irishman. Patrick brought her to San Francisco’s bustling shores but then disappeared and is now presumed dead.  Determined to carry on, Celia partnered with her half-Chinese cousin Barbara and her opinionated housekeeper Addie to open a free medical clinic for women who have nowhere else to turn. But Celia’s carefully constructed peace crumbles when one of her Chinese patients is found brutally murdered…and Celia’s hotheaded brother-in-law stands accused of the crime.

A veteran of America’s civil war, detective Nicholas Greaves is intent on discovering the killer of the girl, whose ethnicity and gender render her as powerless in death as they did in life. Nicholas’s efforts are complicated by Celia, who has a knack for walking into dangerous situations that may lead to answers…or get them both killed.  For as their inquiries take them from Chinatown’s squalid back alleys to the Barbary Coast’s violent shipping docks to the city’s gilded parlors, Celia and Nicholas begin to suspect that someone very close to them holds the key to a murderous conspiracy…

My reading weaknesses are mysteries and historical fiction, so No Comfort for the Lost does a marvelous job of sating both of these loves. This is the first in a series and is set in the late 1800's in San Francisco. Ms. Herriman has a gift for painting an accurate and descriptive picture of the era. We can easily place ourselves into this setting.

Celia is a nurse and active in bettering the lives of Chinese prostitutes. A very courageous and forward-thinking venture in those times. When a friend is murdered, Celia is compelled to investigate. She steps on lots of toes including those of Detective Nick Greaves. At first the duo are not on the best of terms, but there is a warming up and a collaboration becomes apparent.

This is a well-conceived mystery because of the extensive research that must have been done to make the plot so convincing. Much of the mystery and investigation touches on actual events of the times.  The characters are fully fleshed out and we are drawn to them and care about their well being. We are rewarded in embracing the characters because we know we will meet them again in the next mystery.

On a personal side note, Ms. Herriman lives in our hometown and she attended our book club the evening we were discussing this novel. It was so much fun and interesting to get an inside look into this story and the author.

Rating: 4/5

Find Nancy:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

BEA 2016!

Hey Everyone!

I'm on my way to Chicago to attend BookExpo America, so posts will be light this week. This is my 6th year attending, but the first year it's been in the Windy City, so I'm looking forward to exploring a new place. I know I said this last week when I listed my top 3 BEA picks, but I'm really, REALLY excited about the fact that the hotel and convention center are connected. No walking (and sweating) down dirty NYC streets with my rolling suitcase. WOO HOO!

Also? Room service. It's calling to me. Our normal hotel in NYC is closer to Times Square than the Javits Center, so we almost always go out to dinner. Since the Hyatt is connected to the convention center, it's a little more out of the way and there aren't as many restaurants within in walking distance, which means room service is likely. Yessssssssss. It's already been established that I'm lazy you guys, so room service is basically heaven to me. My mom and mother in law are accompanying me once again, so it's going to be books, family, and room service all the way. Best. Trip. Ever:)

Talk to you next week!