Wednesday, May 28, 2014

BookExpo America 2014: Here I Come!

It's BEA time again, so I'm on my way to New York City at a completely absurd hour of the morning to surround myself with thousands of books and book-loving people. I could do without the ridiculously early flight, but other than that I couldn't be more excited! Since I'll be perfecting the art of standing in line this entire week, things on the blog are going to be a bit quiet, but I'll be back on Sunday and will have a full recap sometime next week.

I'm pretty miserable at taking pictures at BEA, but I'm going to make a concentrated effort to be better at it this year and will hopefully capture some of the fun moments on film (so to speak) to share with you guys. If I fail as I have pretty much every year prior to this, I'll just borrow photos from other people I've randomly photobombed and post them ;-)

Have a great rest of the week everyone!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Giveaway: City of Heavenly Fire

Today I'm super excited to be hosting a giveaway for one of my all-time favorite series, The Mortal Instruments. No one does snark quite like Jace, and I've loved him from the moment he opened that mouth of his to say completely ridiculous and hilarious things. The newest installment in this series, City of Heavenly Fire, releases today from Simon & Schuster, so I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks! Below is some information about the book and of course all the details on a fabulous giveaway:)


City of Heavenly Fire is the final book in the #1 Bestselling The Mortal Instruments series.

Shadowhunters and demons square off for the final showdown in the epic conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian—but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance…

Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change. Who will survive the explosive sixth and final installment of the Mortal Instruments series?

The Mortal Instruments Series:

• • • • • • • • • • •


Cassandra Clare is the author of the #1 New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Mortal Instruments series, the Infernal Devices trilogy, and the Bane Chronicles. Her books have more than 24 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. Cassandra lives in western Massachusetts.

• • • • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to the hugely generous team at Simon & Schuster, I have a pretty epic prize pack to give away on the blog today! One lucky winner will receive copies of the entire Mortal Instruments series as well as a super cool Mortal Instruments hoodie. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: The Dark World

Dark World #1
Cara Lynn Shultz
Paranormal Young Adult
384 pages
Available May 27th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Paige Kelly is used to weird--in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn't fazed by Paige's propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she'll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that's overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.

The Dark World is a quick read full of humor and romance despite the very serious paranormal happenings, and while it's undoubtedly an entertaining story, the characters do at times come across far younger than their seventeen years. It's not to say that at seventeen years-old Paige and Logan should be exuding maturity in waves because we can all remember being their age–when every emotion was heightened and the issues facing us were quite possibly the most difficult issues faced by anyone ever–but there are a myriad of moments as the romance between the two of them progresses that feel more on par with junior high rather than high school. As mentioned previously, Ms. Shultz has a cute sense of humor, but the meant-to-be witty banter between Paige and Logan, like the more tender romantic moments, will likely work far better for younger readers than older ones like myself.

Paige is a strong heroine for the most part, taking the revelation that she's a pivotal player in a demon-warlock battle for the Dark World throne surprisingly well, her experience talking to spirits no one else can see allowing her to keep a level head when others likely would have experienced a mild meltdown. She's mostly defenseless in the beginning, but she's not content to stay that way, asking Logan to teach her how to protect herself rather than simply relying on him to come to her rescue again and again. She doesn't magically become a badass overnight though, something that gives us a great deal of comfort because it makes her feel all the more real, and while she often does need Logan to step in when it comes to facing those who wish to claim Paige's talents for their side, it's not for lack of trying on her part.

She has a good head on her shoulders, doing her best to be vigilant once she learns of the threat to her person, and with one small exception, her interactions with Logan are low on angst. The two of them communicate well, Paige not the type of young woman to keep her feelings shrouded in mystery, but she does allow one revelation toward the end to get the better of her and overreacts to what she learns. Luckily for us though, it doesn't take long for her to realize her mistake and set about fixing it, and we're able to breath a sigh of relief that everything isn't going to completely derail before we reach the final page.

While things are definitely left open with a cliffhanger at the end of this first installment, we're not sobbing emotional messes upon closing the back cover, instead we find ourselves satisfied with how things currently stand for Paige and Logan emotionally and content with the knowledge that their circumstances will be further explored and their journey continued in the next book. Overall, The Dark World will probably be very successful with younger YA readers who are more likely to eat up the slightly theatrical nature of both the villains and the humor, but the impending war and the barely hinted-at intricacies of certain relationships hold a great deal of promise, giving us hope that subsequent installments might improve and build on the solid foundation established in this first book.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Cara:

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 23, 2014

Whisper To Me Blog Tour: Giveaway

Today I'm excited to help celebrate the release of Christina Lee's Whisper to Me by offering up a special tour-wide giveaway. Whisper to Me is a contemporary New Adult novel featuring an oh-so sexy pierced bass-playing musician named Kai, so get ready to do some swooning. Details on the giveaway and the book itself are below!

Hot and consuming, this is a New Adult romance about a wayward musician and the one girl who keeps him grounded…

At college, Rachel has a reputation for being a sarcastic flirt with a thing for ripped athletes. No one at college knows her heart was ripped to shreds by her high school boyfriend, who’d driven them both off the side of the road on a borrowed motorcycle. And then subsequently abandoned her. No one really knows Rachel Mattson at all, with one exception…

Ever since he helped nurse his sister’s feisty best friend back to health, pierced bass player Kai Nakos has been head over heels in love. But the supposed bad boy can’t risk letting Rachel know the truth—especially now that the two of them are back in their hometown for the summer, together for the first time since the months following that horrible night. Never mind that Rachel’s ex is also back, groveling for her forgiveness.

Shaken by her ex’s return, Rachel finds herself turning to the one guy she knows she can trust. Now that Kai has had a taste of Rachel, he’s willing to do anything just to have her touch him again, even hiding his true feelings. After all, she only wants a temporary fling. Until it becomes something more. But perhaps it had been more all along.


• • • • • • • • • • • 


Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son--her two favorite guys. She's addicted to lip gloss, salted caramel everything, and believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.

• • • • • • • • • • •


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: It Happened One Wedding

FBI/US Attorney #5
Julie James
304 pages
Adult Contemporary Romance
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)

After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, she’s thrown in to close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are…


Special Agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney’s refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can’t live without…

Reading a Julie James novel is like going to a best friend’s house for a simple night in: Warm, welcoming, and easy, leaving us with a satisfied smile on our faces as we return home at the end of the evening. It Happened One Wedding is no different from her previous novels in that regard, giving us a couple who starts out fairly high on the antagonistic charts only to be worn down by the other’s snark, charm, and persistence as the story continues. It’s a feel-good romance perfect for picking up on a dreary day or after an exhausting week, substance and fluff beautifully combining to guarantee we have nothing but a good time while reading.

Sidney is a woman who has little time for dating games, a cheating ex forcing her to learn the hard way that things aren’t always what they seem, so her new tactic is to be honest (sometimes brutally so) with the men who approach her and demand the same in return. She weighs and measures Vaughn instantaneously and puts zero effort into sugarcoating the fact that she finds him wanting, and given Vaughn has an inordinately healthy ego on him, we can’t help but smile when she knocks him down a peg or two. She’s not overbearing in her interactions though, her snark wielded precisely and with skill, and since Vaughn learns to take her hits on the chin after their first meeting and then return fire, their interactions have a fun and flirty quality to them rather than making us wince as they banter back and forth.

Vaughn is not quite as instantly likable as Sidney as a result of his aforementioned ego, his self confidence and his repeated admissions that he has no interest in anything other than fun and games leaving us little choice but to root for Sidney to give him hell. Over the course of the story however, while he clings desperately to his supposed disinterest in commitment, the heat of their hostility transforms into a different type of heat entirely, and he begins to see the value in having someone in his life for more than a single night. His romance with Sidney is free of games and low on drama, the two of them slowly progressing from belligerence to friendship to love in a way that’s both believable and oh-so gratifying in the end.

Overall, It Happened One Wedding is light and sweet, a classic contemporary romance that delights with every page and has us seeking out the entirety of Ms. James’s backlist if we haven’t devoured it already.

Rating: 4/5

Find Julie:

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, May 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Exquisite Captive

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!

Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Heather Demetrios
Young Adult/Fantasy
Releases October 7th from Balzer + Bray

From Goodreads:

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

Um. All I can really say about this book is YES PLEASE! I don't know much about the Arabian Nights story, so I'm really looking forward to that particular aspect of this book, and of course I'm always intrigued by the mention of a handsome, cruel man. I find myself sickly fascinated by such characters, spending majority of the book looking for the tiniest of hints to indicate they are more than they appear to be and will be redeemed in all their romantic glory by the end. Most of the time I'm simply delusional in my romantic idealism, but I have so much fun wishing for the bad guy to turn into a love interest that I don't even care. I embrace the delusion fully:)

Way to digress there, Jenny! Anyway, I can't wait to fixate on Malek and see if he turns out to be worthy of my affection or if Raif will prove to be the more appealing of the two:)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A look at TEASE: Trailer Reveal

The second book in Sophie Jordan's Ivy Chronicles series, Tease, is releasing next week (5/27) and to help celebrate it I get to share the book's trailer with you today!

For those of you who want to take Tease for a test drive before buying, you can do so now! From HarperCollins:

In case you didn’t know, in addition to being released in full in both print and digital formats on 5/27, TEASE will also be available digitally in 3 parts, starting on 5/13 with Part 1 (chapters 1-6) available for free wherever e-books are sold. Part 2 (Ch. 7-14) goes on sale on 5/20, too, for $.99 (with Part 3 (Ch. 15-end) coming out 5/27)! It’s a great way to sample an amazing book—and if you submit your proof of “purchase” of Part 1 (which is free) at the following link you could be entered to win 1 of 3 awesome prizes:


• • • • • • • • • • 



A born flirt and good-time party girl, Emerson has never had a problem finding a willing guy. She’s always chosen her hook-ups carefully, and she’s never broken her three cardinal rules:

·         Never let them see the real you.

·         Never fall in love.

·         Always leave them begging for more.

Then comes Shaw. A hottie from the wrong side of the tracks, he’s immune to her flirtatious banter and come-hither smile. After rescuing her from a disastrous night at a biker bar, he doesn’t even try to take her to bed-he calls her a tease and sends her home instead. Unable to resist a challenge, or forget the sexy dark-eyed bad-boy biker, she vows to bring him to his knees.

But instead of making Shaw beg, she finds herself craving him. For the first time in her life, she’s throwing out her rulebook. Suddenly, she’s the one panting for a guy she can’t control. A guy who won’t settle for anything less than the real Emerson, who forces her to do things she’s never imagined, including facing a past she thought she’d buried.

A guy who just might leave her wanting more . . .

Review: Grim Shadows

Roaring Twenties #2
Jenn Bennett
Adult Paranormal/Historical Romance
325 pages
Berkley Sensation
Available June 3rd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
It’s the Roaring Twenties in foggy San Francisco. Prohibition is on, inhibitions are low, and dark magic is rolling into town…

Archaeologist Lowe Magnusson is packing something everyone wants. The djed amulet, a priceless Egyptian artifact, will fetch Lowe a hefty paycheck from one of San Francisco’s wealthiest. But when the handsome Swede runs into his patron’s uptight daughter, what he once considered easy money becomes maddeningly complicated…

Cursed with deadly spirits as her constant companions, curator Hadley Bacall must keep calm to hold her dangerous specters at bay and prevent them from lashing out at anything—or anyone. Trouble is, Lowe is driving her crazy, but her father needs the artifact he’s transporting. While Hadley can feel the amulet’s power, she can’t fathom the destruction—or the desire—it’s about to stir up.

Grim Shadows is yet another story in which Ms. Bennett’s ability to write perfectly matched couples shines, the individual strength of both Hadley and Lowe extraordinarily high, but the two of them together prove to be nothing short of combustible. What’s perhaps most satisfying about Ms. Bennett’s romantic pairs is their ability to communicate, and though Lowe is a self-proclaimed liar and is upfront with Hadley on some things while keeping others to himself, their willingness to talk things out allows us to enjoy this story without fear of a massive blowup. That’s not to say their isn’t a climactic relationship moment because their certainly is, but through their highs and lows we know the two of them will use their words and their trust in one another to sort everything out.

Hadley is a striking combination of driven scholar and vulnerable woman, relatively alone in a field dominated by men with a tough outer shell in place as a result, but underneath her quick wit and sharp mind is a fear of being touched stemming from an incident in her youth. While her touch phobia can be debilitating and embarrassing for her at times, she’s perfectly honest about it with Lowe, explaining herself early on in their relationship before bruised pride and hurt feelings on his side can cripple something she wants desperately.

For Lowe's part, he is equally candid with pieces of himself he hasn’t shared with anyone else, taking care with Hadley when her emotional fragility makes itself known, but also humorously battling her will with his own when the shadows of her past remain firmly in the background. He does withhold some hugely significant pieces of information regarding his role in their Egyptian artifact treasure hunt, but it’s hard to work up too much irritation at him when his charm and his clear affection for Hadley dance so beautifully across the pages. The sparks between them are given the utmost care and a great deal of time to grow into full-fledged flames thanks to Hadley’s aforementioned phobia, but when her fear can douse them no longer the two of them thoroughly impress with the incendiary nature of their chemistry.

Overall, Grim Shadows is a thoroughly enjoyable follow up to Bitter Spirits, delighting once again with another member of the Magnusson family and ensuring this is a series that easily stays on our list of favorites.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jenn:

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, May 19, 2014

Review: All Lined Up

Rusk University #1
Cora Carmack
Contemporary New Adult
320 pages
William Morrow
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

All Lined Up is another hugely entertaining romance from Ms. Carmack, her characters full of charm and wit, yet underneath their superficial appeal is emotional depth, making them well-rounded men and women who bring vibrance to the black and white of their medium. The appeal of Ms. Carmack’s romances–and what sets her books apart from so many of her contemporaries–is the lack of unnecessary drama between the characters, the angst level at an all-time low even though the relationships have their tense and emotionally heightened moments. All Lined Up features two people who have no desire to keep secrets or withhold feelings to the detriment of their relationship, instead they go so far as to make an honesty pact to ensure the lines of communication stay wide open.

Dallas is a young women easy to relate to from page one, her status as the head football coach’s daughter in a state where football is essentially a religion making it extraordinarily difficult to form meaningful connections with anyone. Everyone wants something from her the moment they learn who she is, whether that’s access to her father or bragging rights to carry back to friends like a trophy, and as a result she finds herself nearly isolated despite being surrounded by people. She’s refreshingly blunt in her dealings with Carson, establishing upfront that she’s not interested in being a notch in his bedpost, but her bluntness is always accompanied by humor to keep her from ever coming across as abrasive. She’s as honest with him at all times as he is with her, and we can’t help but read with a smile on our faces as they try and figure out a way over, under, or around the many obstacles in their path.

Carson is as keen on honesty as Dallas is and able to match her in wit, ensuring the nervous anticipation that typically accompanies a new adult romance as we wait for the moment the relationship will implode is thankfully absent. He’s respectful of Dallas but also driven in terms of what he wants to achieve as a quarterback, not giving up on his dreams in order to be with her and always encouraging her to pursue her own, the love growing between them something that becomes a part of their lives rather than the sole focus of them.

Overall, All Lined Up is a fantastic start to a new series, the game of football just present enough that we fully understand how it affects both of their lives, but not so prominent as to detract from the characters themselves. Dallas and Carson shine in this first installment, both of them beautifully without one singular fatal flaw (such as game playing), rather they are a lovely combination of minor flaws as we all are. The ending is of course predictable, but honestly would have been disappointing any other way, so we close the back cover fully satisfied and expectant, already looking forward to the characters through whom we’re going to live vicariously next.

Rating: 4/5

Find Cora:

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.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Zita the Spacegirl Blog Tour: My Favorite Thing + Artwork

I'm super excited today to be a part of the promotional tour for the newest release in Ben Hatke's best-selling graphic novel series, Zita the Spacegirl. I'm typically not a huge graphic novel reader for no other reason than I simply never think to pick them up, but I've recently discovered the error of my ways and couldn't be happier I was given the opportunity to read Zita.

The fabulous group at First Second Books asked tour participants to share their favorite thing about this series in either written or artistic form, and since graphics come far easier to me than words, I designed a special Zita the Spacegirl poster. Before I share that though, let me just say what a truly outstanding trilogy this is, humor and creativity combining with a standout young heroine to make an afternoon of reading fly by.

I have to admit the humor element was an unexpected delight, catching me off guard a number of times and forcing me to snort in public:)

My absolute favorite thing about this series though is Zita's unwavering loyalty to her many and varied friends. She meets a number of individuals–human and otherwise–on her travels, and whether she's known them minutes or months she's the first to come to their aid and the last one out of harm's way so as to make sure they all get out ahead of her.

Mr. Hatke's creativity is nothing short of remarkable; the creatures that inhabit the various worlds Zita visits an intriguing assortment of both organic and mechanized species, so it's this element I wanted to play with in my Zita design. There's a book Zita flips through in the first volume when searching for the entity that took one of her friends, so I tried to create something that might appear in this book right alongside the rest of Mr. Hatke's imaginings.

One thing I noticed while reading is that Zita's closest group of friends is predominantly male, so I thought it might be fun to add a girlfriend for her to the mix. With that idea in mind, I came up with with an owl/octopus hybrid creature concept and named her Maddie :) I hope you all like her, and I honestly can't recommend this series enough!

• • • • • • • • • • •

Zita the Spacegirl Volume 3

Ben Hatke brings back our intrepid space heroine for another delightful sci-fi/fantasy adventure in this New York Times‑Bestselling graphic novel trilogy for middle grade readers.

Zita the Spacegirl has saved planets, battled monsters, and wrestled with interplanetary fame. But she faces her biggest challenge yet in the third and final installment of the Zita adventures. Wrongfully imprisoned on a penitentiary planet, Zita has to plot the galaxy's greatest jailbreak before the evil prison warden can execute his plan of interstellar domination!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sekret Street Team: List of Favorites

Happy Friday Everyone! For those of you who don't know, this week I've been promoting Lindsay Smith's paranormal historical novel Sekret as a member of her street team. The fabulous folks at Fierce Reads have put several teams together to celebrate their recent and upcoming releases, assigning all of us fun challenges to complete over the course of a week.

Earlier in the week I posted a visual introduction to Russia as well as character profiles of main characters Yulia and Valentin, and today I'm going to share with you my list of Sekret favorites. First up: Favorite Scene.

The challenge actually asked for both a favorite scene and a favorite quote, but mine are pretty much one and the same so I've combined them. My favorite aspect of the story, aside from the Russian setting, is Yulia's relationship with her brother Zhenya. It's a very, very small element overall, but for me it's one of the more powerful ones because I can feel how much love there is between them. Zhenya is the type of person very much locked up inside his own head and who needs the comfort of routine to get through the day, but he has a gorgeous mind and thanks to Yulia's ability to see things through touch, she's able to relate to him on a different level than most people.

Below is my very favorite quote in artwork form, with a snippet of the full scene underneath to give you more context.

 I laugh bitterly to myself. He does remember me. "I promise this won't hurt. But will you let me see what you're thinking?"

My heart shatters in my chest when he answers. "I wish you always would."

Oh, Zhenya. I wish I only knew how to decipher your thoughts. I twist my fingers in his, and with a jolt, a fractured landscape unfolds. His thoughts are alive and vibrant, like a Kandinsky painting, with great slashes of color and heavy strokes of disparate thoughts. I find myself wanting to reach out and reorder the jumbled-up brush strokes, make sense of the chaos.

• • • • • • • • • • • 

Though there are a number of villains to choose from in this story, the most terrifying to me is General Rostov with his ability to punch through anyone's mental defenses and seize complete control of their minds. Other individuals in Sekret can see or hear thoughts, but Rostov doesn't simply listen in or observe, he makes his presence known in the most painful way possible and I can't help but shudder when I think about what that would feel like.

"You should be happy. You are helping the State. And you are paying your debt." Rostov reaches for my chin, and his touch is glass shattering inside my brain. Deeper, deeper–an icepick lobotomy, every note of my musical shield splitting apart like atoms."
• • • • • • • • • • 

Though there are two boys vying for Yulia's affection, there is only one clear choice for me personally, and in my opinion, one choice for Yulia as well. Sergei makes his interest known, but Yulia never seems overly connected to him (at least in my mind), and thus I don't feel he is a true romantic threat to Valentin. Valentin and Yulia have some really stunning moments, my favorite of which is this one:

He kisses like the dawn. My hands stroke his stomach, his arms, and he sets me on fire; he claims my hair for his own as his lips explore my neck. The music dripping off him like fervent sweat mingles with my own and we are protected, sealed, locked forever in this symphony, in the sounds of Yulia and Valentin.

• • • • • • • • • • •

The final piece of the challenge was to write our predictions for Skandal. I don't have any predictions per se, more things I'm hoping to see in the sequel :)

  • More Zhenya please! As you all saw above, he is my favorite part of the story but his role is minor, much to my dismay. He still obviously made quite the impression on me even with his short page time though, and I've got my fingers crossed he'll be a bigger player in book two.
  • I would like to see Yulia's ability put to use in a wider variety of situations. We get a taste of so many different gifts in Sekret that Yulia's doesn't stand out quite as much, so I would love for her to get a few more chances to really shine.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

Find Lindsay:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Interview: Aprilynne Pike + Sleep No More

I'm thrilled today to welcome young adult author Aprilynne Pike to the blog to answer a few questions about her recent paranormal release, Sleep No More. I just read this one recently and absolutely loved it (even though I may have needed to sleep with the lights on after reading it for a night or two. Or ten.), so I hope those of you who haven't had a chance to read it yet add it to your lists. It's dark and creepy and I need more of this world and Charlotte in my hands!

Charlotte is an Oracle, and as such often sees things she has absolutely no desire to see. If you had the same ability, what’s one thing you would actually wish to see?

It’s hard to choose, because in general, I would rather not see the future at all. But if I had to see the future, I’d like to see practical things, like if the car I buy this week is going to break down next month. If it’s going to rain on the day I have an outdoor party scheduled, that sort of thing. Boring, I know.

Charlotte’s Aunt Sierra isn’t as forthcoming with information about being an Oracle as Charlotte would like. If Sierra granted Charlotte five minutes in which she could ask any questions she wanted, what’s the first thing she would want to know? Is there any question she would be too afraid of the answer to ask?

I think that would depend on whether those five minutes were at the beginning of the book, or the end.;) Without getting too spoilery, I think that if it were at the start of the book, Charlotte would ask mostly about the Sisters. At the end of the book, Charlotte would want to know about discoveries Sierra made in her teen years.

We get to know the title of one of the books on Oracles that Sierra’s been keeping from Charlotte, but there are so many more Charlotte desperately wants access to. Can you share with us the titles of a couple of the other books in Sierra’s safekeeping?

Oooh! I admit, I generally think of the books in terms of content rather than titles, but I love this question, so here goes!

The Supernatural World and Its Inhabitants, The Rules and Ordinances of the Sisterhood of Delphi, and The Art of Foretelling.

We get to see early on what can happen when Charlotte attempts to prevent one of her visions from taking place, but sitting back and doing nothing with her knowledge weighs her down just as heavily as the consequences of past actions. Were you in her shoes, how hard would it be for you to adhere to Sierra’s teachings and let the future unfold as you saw it without interfering?

Excruciatingly hard!!! It’s been interesting writing about Charlotte because, like I said above, I would not take the opportunity to see the future even if it was granted to me! I don’t know that I would fight it if it were my “gift,” because I would assume I was given that ability for a reason. But we all think we know better, don’t we? I think it’s a very human way to feel. And it’s also so very human to want to fix bad things. It’s hard to see suffering and stand by.

Charlotte’s mom is unaware she’s an Oracle. If she were to find out, what advice–from an outsider’s perspective–would she likely have for her daughter?

Not to hide. To tell the people she trusts and get advice. From not only another Oracle, but simply someone else she trusts. I think Charlotte is often in need of that advice. More knowledge and opinions on what to do would be very helpful and maybe help her make fewer mistakes. On the other hand, she learns from her mistakes so . . . :D

A small gesture on Linden’s part years ago meant more to Charlotte than he’ll ever know. Now that he’s spent more time with her, what’s one small thing about her he’ll always remember?

The cinnamon rolls. It’s a gesture he’s never received from anyone else, simply because his family doesn’t work that way. And maybe what happens right after the cinnamon rolls.

After her experiences in Sleep No More, what three words might Charlotte choose to describe the future she now sees for herself?

Hopeful, responsibility, freedom.

But then, she rarely sees her own future, so she could be dead wrong. *evil cackle*

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Aprilynne!

• • • • • • • • • • 


Charlotte Westing has a gift. She is an Oracle and has the ability to tell the future. But it doesn't do her much good. Instead of using their miraculous power, modern-day Oracles are told to fight their visions—to refrain from interfering. And Charlotte knows the price of breaking the rules. She sees it every day in her wheelchair-bound mother and the absence of her father. But when a premonition of a classmate's death is too strong for her to ignore, Charlotte is forced to make an impossible decision: continue following the rules or risk everything—even her sanity—to stop the serial killer who is stalking her town.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Critically acclaimed, #1 New York Times best-selling author Aprilynne Pike has been spinning tales since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found out running; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne lives in Arizona with her husband and four kids; she is enjoying the sunshine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Beautiful Ashes

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!

Broken Destiny #1
Jeaniene Frost
Paranormal Romance/New Adult
Releases August 26th from Harlequin

From Goodreads:

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

JEANIENE FROST!!!! That's all I really need to know about this book to be honest. I adore Jeaniene Frost, her Night Huntress series was my first foray into the romance genre (though that series is as much urban fantasy as it is paranormal romance), and I fell madly in love with Cat and Bones the moment I met them. I could not be more excited to see what she's going to do with this new book (hell-o dangerously attractive Adrian), and it's definitely my #1 must-have at BEA in a couple weeks. If I could get in line for it now, I totally would:)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review: The Hunt

Project Paper Doll #2
Stacey Kade
Young Adult/Sci-Fi-ish
400 pages
Disney Hyperion
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life.

But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

The Hunt is a thrilling second installment, picking up immediately where book one left off as Ariane and Zane attempt to figure out their next steps following the spectacular showdown at the GTX facility. Ms. Kade wastes little time revisiting the events of The Rules, dropping a few key phrases in here and there to trigger our memories rather than providing a detailed account, thus allowing us to move forward quickly and smoothly with our main characters. Tension remains high throughout, Ariane and Zane’s physical situation not the only perilous one given the way their emotional entanglement deepens, and we're kept on edge wondering just what the next chapter has in store.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this series, and this installment in particular, is the dual perspective of Ariane and Zane. The two of them are heavily weighed down by insecurities borne of the conditions in which they were raised, conditions both drastically different but eerily similar in many ways, giving us the opportunity to study their individual reactions both to one another and to the situations they find themselves in. Ariane is arguably the stronger of the two emotionally, able to find logic and reason through her anger, hurt and pain without letting that turmoil spill out and affect those around her. While she keeps much of herself in a death grip clutched tight to her chest, she’s not so closed off that we can’t reach her, and she oh-so gradually as the story progresses unclenches her fists and extends a hand to Zane so that he might share responsibility for her mental, physical and emotional well being.

Due to Ariadne’s telepathic abilities, Zane is a bit more of an open book in their relationship, something we’re exceedingly grateful for as it forces their lines of communication wide open (at least one way). It’s not to say the two don’t have a variety of missteps as they navigate the increasingly complex waters of their relationship–Zane’s understandable inability to censor his thoughts before Ariane gets wind of them creating more than a few gut-wrenching moments–but the beauty of their relationship is that they’re not the type of people to let things fester. Instead, after a short period of time in which they both collect themselves, they sort through their issues before returning to their not-insignificant task of trying to escape GTX detection.

There are a few all-too common second book staples that try and rear their ugly heads in this story, with the main one being an aborted attempt by Ariane to leave Zane early on for his own good. Zane thankfully doesn’t allow that to happen, and rather than having our main couple completely tear down all that was established in book one as is so often the case, the pair of them continue to grow and strengthen together even when a few road blocks force them to reevaluate their path. We are left with Ariane and Zane both in extremely precarious positions however, so those who loathe cliffhangers should be prepared for the rug to be pulled from beneath them in the final chapters. Overall, The Hunt is a strong follow up to The Rules, things intensifying for our protagonists on a variety of levels until we reach an end that leaves us wishing this book was double the length.

Rating: 4/5

Find Stacey:

WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitter •  Goodreads  • Amazon

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, May 12, 2014

Sekret Street Team: Meet the Characters

Yesterday I announced my role as a proud member of the Sekret Street Team, one of many teams the amazingly creative group at Fierce Reads has put together to help promote both their recent and upcoming releases. Each team was issued a set of challenges to be completed over the course of a week, and today I get to give those of you who have yet to read the book a quick introduction to main characters Yulia and Valentin. I'm also going to share a few pieces of Sekret-related artwork that feature quotes from the book, so I hope you all enjoy!

On Friday I'll be sharing my list of Sekret favorites: Favorite scene, favorite quote, favorite villain, etc., so be sure to check back for more Sekret fun!


Name: Yulia Andreevna Chernina
Age: 17
Mother: Antonina
Father: Andre
Brother: Zhenya
Phsyical Traits: Dark hair and olive skin

Special Ability:

"Me, I've found how to focus thoughts and memories through touch, like steadying a radio antenna with your fingertips, the static sloughing off until a clear melody remains."

• • • • • • • • • • •


Name: Valentin or Valya
Physical Traits: Black curly hair, glasses, leanly muscled
Loves: Music; particularly The Beatles

"Music is very important to you," I say. Stupidly, I know. Music is his soul, and all those afternoons I basked in his piano playing–he shared more of himself with me then than he could ever speak.

He nods. "It's a language for things we can't put into words."

Special Ability: Can easily slip inside the minds of others and alter their memories or create new ones.

• • • • • • • • • • •

"An empty mind is a safe mind" is a phrase Yulia's father repeated to her over and over again before she even knew of her own ability, and it becomes one she wraps around her like a warm blanket when she suddenly finds herself surrounded by those who can see or hear her every thought. Though this book is more serious in nature, there are a few lighter moments, particularly in the beginning when Yulia realizes just how tricky thoughts can be when you're suddenly aware they're no longer solely yours.

Below is one of the cuter moments when Yulia's thoughts get away from her:

But the more I look at Sergei, the more I'm compelled to think everything about him that I wouldn't want him to hear me think. Horrible things that I wouldn't think otherwise, if I weren't worried about him overhearing–

"It's all right." He smiles at me, and it feels like the sun's rays slipping around dense clouds. The sun? I'm comparing some smug boy's grin to the sun? Bozhe moi, Yulia. "The less you want to think of something, the harder it becomes to think of anything else."

"Wonderful," I mutter.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

Find Lindsay:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sekret Street Team: A Look at Russia

To help celebrate some of their recent and upcoming releases, the amazing team at Fierce Reads has put together a number of street teams for each book, all tasked with a variety of interesting challenges to complete in whatever way they see fit. I'm a proud member of Team Sekret, so today and a couple of days next week I'll be posting character profiles, favorite quotes and scenes, and a few pieces of Sekret-related artwork to hopefully get those of you who have yet to read Sekret by Lindsay Smith excited to do so!

One of the interesting aspects of this story for me was the Russian setting, in part because I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Russia last fall. Even though I never made it to Moscow where the book takes place, it was still fascinating for me to picture the places where events unfolded having experienced the beauty and opulence of Russia firsthand.

I thought it might be fun to give you guys a quick taste of some of what Russia has to offer, so below are a few pictures from my trip that really show the old-world grandeur of it. All my pictures are from St. Petersburg rather than Moscow–forgive me for that, I'm a bit OCD about copyright issues so I didn't want to grab any pictures of Moscow that didn't belong to me–but I hope they give you a feel for bits and pieces of main character Yulia's world nonetheless!

(click to enlarge)

Russia was extraordinary, with some of the most beautiful artwork and architecture I've ever seen, so I hope you keep some of these images in your minds when you pick up Sekret!

One of street team challenges was to create a playlist for the book, but in all honesty, I'm absolutely miserable at that sort of thing, so despite the fact that music plays a huge role in the story and a playlist would probably be easy enough to put together, I'm just going to own up to this failure. One of my favorite moments of our time in St. Petersburg though was hearing a men's chorus utilize the astounding acoustics in one of the pavilions at Catherine's Palace to sing a traditional Russian folk song for the tourists.

The below video is courtesy of K Barber on You Tube and features the exact group we saw when we were there, so I wanted to share it. Please ignore all the people taking pictures and flapping their hands about, it's obviously not a professional video, but I thought the sound quality was pretty nice. I hope you all enjoy, and stay tuned for more Sekret goodies this week!

• • • • • • • • • • • 


An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

Find Lindsay: