Friday, August 30, 2013

Giveaway: Maggie's Man

Three siblings searching for the truth about their family are about to find more than they bargained for.

When shy and reserved Maggie Ferringer was called for jury duty, she never expected to be kidnapped by an escaped convict. But when Cain Cannon, disguised as a prison guard, pulls a gun, she has no choice but to be taken hostage. Cain claims that he’s innocent of killing his girlfriend six years ago and now he wants revenge on the people who put him behind bars.

Soon, Maggie becomes more than just a hostage to Cain. As they slowly begin to share the secrets of their respective pasts, Maggie discovers that she wants to fight for Cain’s freedom—because he just might be the kind of man she could love.

• • • • • • • • • •

Today, thanks to the fabulous team at Signet/Penguin I have 5 copies of Lisa Gardner's adult romantic suspense novel Maggie's Man to give away on the blog! From Signet:

About 15 years ago #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner began her writing career-under the name Alicia Scott.  She published thirteen novels of romantic suspense under this name including The Family Secrets Trilogy: Maggie's Man, McNamara's Woman and Brandon's Bride.

Signet is very excited to be putting The Family Secrets Trilogy back in print beginning this month with MAGGIE'S MAN! Complete with gorgeous new covers and an introduction from Lisa, it's a great opportunity for fans who know her later work to return to the beginning. And MCNAMARA'S WOMAN will follow in October and BRANDON'S BRIDE in December so there isn't too long to wait for the next installment.

Find Lisa:

To enter the giveaway, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only (no PO boxes), good luck!

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell
Contemporary New Adult
405 pages
St. Martin's Press
Available September 10th
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Fangirl is a story that instantly resonates, Cath's passion for a beloved book series and its characters something that makes us feel connected to her from page one, easily becoming members of her online community through our shared love of fiction and the worlds it paints word by word. Seeing our love and the very thing that makes us so happy reflected in someone else, even a fictional character, is like a glorious validation of our feelings, the acknowledgement from Cath that we're not alone in something that people outside a specific fandom – whether it be books, movies, games or comics – might not fully understand causing us to want to stop reading for a moment and just give Fangirl a monstrous hug for telling what feels like our own story.

Cath is a young women perched precariously on the threshold between stasis and change, scared to move forward when her life up until this point has been as she thinks she wants it, wrapped up in family, writing, and her unending love for the Simon Snow book series. What's so comforting and heartwarming about Cath's story is the way change happens for her; the new people and new experiences in her life are in no way indicators that her life before was less-than or in need of new direction, but rather they are the opposite, embracing the woman she is and showing her it's safe to expand her world outward without losing touch with what's she's already so painstakingly built. Change for Cath is a stunningly gradual process, and our faces simply can't help but break out into a giddy grin as she takes baby steps into uncharted territory even as she maintains a death grip on what's familiar to her.

The romance in this story is woven lovingly into the gradual change process, Cath's extreme hesitancy to explore any type of relationship with Levi after being burned initially a refreshing break from the insta-love and insta-lust of so many fictional relationships. Trust is of the utmost importance to her, and she makes both Levi and herself work long and hard at building a foundation that won't crumble at the slightest shake, opening herself up an inch at a time until she's absolutely sure Levi won't take up the slack in her rope and hang her with it. Their banter is adorable and so sweet we can hardly even stand it (in a good way, not an overly-saccharine way), and their romance shares the spotlight spectacularly well with Cath's writing and her various family challenges, ensuring her life feels utterly genuine in its highs and lows.

Those readers looking for an action-packed read or a grand, sweeping romance will not find it in Fangirl, instead we're all treated to four hundred pages of life – sometimes it's a bit slow, sometimes frustrating or painful, but it's also sometimes so magnificently satisfying and intense the warmth of our glow doesn't fade for days. In between the chapters of Cath's life we're also gifted with snippets of both Simon Snow canon as well as excerpts from Cath's Simon Snow fanfiction, as caught up in the Harry Potter-esque world as Cath is. We revel in the seriousness with which she approaches the fandom, pleased her dedication mirrors our own to whatever book series we love most, and we're simply grateful to see that love expressed so beautifully by Ms. Rowell.

Rating 4/5

Find Rainbow:

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Winner's Curse

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!

Marie Rutkoski
Young Adult
Releases March 4th from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music.Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Well, hello there gorgeous cover! Covers that feature a bold type treatment just make me happy. I'm absolutely obsessed with fonts and it's been really exciting for me lately to see cover designers experiment more with type on YA covers than I feel like they have in the past. Combine the stunning cover with a story that promises romance and dirty secrets (aren't those the best kind?) and consider me shamelessly drooling over this book!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Authors Are Rockstars: Ann Aguirre

Today I'm thrilled to be a part of the Authors Are Rockstars Tour which celebrates authors in all their creative and imaginative glory, and gives us readers a chance to gush over the people who continue to make us laugh, cry, love and hurt over and over again.

I'm honored to have Ann Aguirre stopping by the blog to not only endure my enthusiastic fangirling, but also to talk a little bit about the third and final book in her young adult Razorland trilogy, Horde. Ann is one of my go-to authors whenever I need a book I know will impress me with its characterization, as I've yet to meet a hero, heroine or secondary character of hers who hasn't left a memorable impression. She writes individuals who are always rich and nuanced, forcing us to analyze the white space in between the lines just as much as we do the printed words in order to learn something about them. She leaves us little choice but to put in the time and effort to really look at each person in order to see what needs seeing, and in doing so we're rewarded with brilliantly flawed men and women with whom we leave a little piece of ourselves when we close the back cover of one of her books.

Clearly Ann is an author I would highly recommend to anyone and everyone, and if you've yet to try one of her titles I truly hope she's someone you make time for in the near future!


If I was to suddenly find myself in the middle of Salvation knowing nothing of this post-apocalyptic world, what is the first thing Deuce or Fade would tell me in order to keep me alive as long as possible?

Don’t leave the settlement unless you’re properly equipped and trained.

What aspect of our world do you think would fascinate Deuce most? Fade?

They’d be pretty amazed by our technology: video games, computers, music players, buses, trains, and planes. So many things had passed from reality into legend by the time they were born, that I think they’d be astonished and impressed by many of our modern conveniences. But I suspect Deuce would be wary too; she’d think relying on such devices makes you soft.

If you could explore the world of any one piece of fiction, what world would that be and which of your characters would you most like to take with you for companionship?

I think it would be pretty awesome to explore the Pac-Rim world, largely because… enormous sea monsters versus giant robots! There’s no way I would ever get to pilot a jaeger, but I can dream. As for who I’d take with me? Hm. That’s a good question. Jael, from my upcoming SF novel, Perdition, would be a huge asset because he fights like a ninja and he heals like Wolverine. Also, he’s pretty hot. But I would need a full party to make it a real adventuring campaign, so I’d add Vel and Jax as well. There’s no way that gets awkward.

Is there anything about Deuce’s character that has surprised you over the course of the series? Something she’s said or a decision she’s made that you didn’t see coming before you actually sat down and started writing?

Since I don’t outline, pretty much everything through the middle of the book surprises me. I know how books start and how they end, but all the action that carries us from point A to point B is a total mystery to me until I actually write it. So yeah, lots of things she did surprised me.

If you were to write yourself into Outpost and Horde as one of the townspeople in Salvation, what role would you play and what skills would you bring to the table that would help keep the town functioning?

I’m a good cook and I know how to make bread from scratch. So I would probably be the town baker. Otherwise, I have no useful skills, unless you count making up stories.

Given the Razorland series is written from Deuce’s point of view, we don’t spend any time in Fade’s head. In order to help us see Deuce a little bit through his eyes, what three words might he use to describe the Deuce at the beginning of Enclave versus the Deuce at the end of Horde?

Enclave Deuce: fierce, obedient, driven.

Horde Deuce: loyal, devoted, compassionate.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Ann Aguirre is a USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

• • • • • • • • • • 


The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

• • • • • • • • • • 


I'm hugely excited for Horde (releasing from Feiwel & Friends on October 29th), so in order to share my enthusiasm for this series as a whole and this book in particular, I'm giving away an ARC of Horde to one lucky winner. To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Pretty Girl-13

Liz Coley
Contemporary Young Adult
344 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
Pretty girl
13 when she
went missing

to her family
to her friends
to the world

but still missing
her self

In Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery, sixteen-year-old Angie Chapman must piece together the story of her kidnapping and abuse. Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing—and ultimately empowering—page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

Pretty Girl-13 is an immensely challenging story, not due to poor writing, unsatisfactory plot, or uninspiring characters, but simply because we read it as we might watch a horror film – fingers covering our eyes as though we can physically block out what’s happening on the pages and spare ourselves the haunting pain that comes with the knowledge of exactly what's happened to Angie. Our time with her is spent with what feels like a lead ball in the pit of our stomachs, and we're absolutely positive we can’t read another page and discover yet more abuse she’s endured, but at the same time we're driven to finish to provide Angie with companionship and another set of shoulders on which to unload her burden. This is a story we tackle with ice cold prickles teasing their way across our skin and shivers running down our backs, portents of gut-wrenching and soul-scarring things to come.

The setup of this book is truly brilliant, a chilling prologue written in second person setting us instantly on edge as we relive the moment of Angie’s disappearance at age thirteen, and then our unease only intensifies as we’re shifted into third person and arrive home with her three years later. Except three years haven’t passed for Angie, and it’s only yesterday to her that she wandered away from camp. What follows is a terrifyingly fascinating exploration of a mind both infinitely strong and yet broken at the same time, with Angie gamely trying to figure out how to fill in the enormous blanks and catch up mentally to where her body is physically. She’s understandably unsettled, having to deal not only with her amnesia and the subsequent revelations as to how and why she checked out for so long, but also with her changed family, the guilt and hurt her grieving parents don’t hide well causing new damage to an already wounded girl.

What’s so admirable about Angie is the way she copes with everything she learns as more and more about her time away is brought to light, taking each upsetting piece of information and accepting it for what it is: a part of her that can’t be changed. Though she doesn’t reveal everything to her parents (something we can’t even begin to hold against her), she is always open and honest with her therapist, seeking help at every opportunity without putting up a token struggle, and we can’t help but want to wrap our arms around her and praise her for the strength it takes to not only accept assistance, but also to face what memories that assistance unleashes.

While the occasional switch to second person after the prologue takes a little getting used to and the final reveal at the end happens with a series of jumbled thoughts and a time lapse that temporarily disorients, the story overall is stunningly tragic and beautifully hopeful at the same time, Angie’s brutal life one that will be nearly impossible to forget.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Liz:

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 23, 2013

Review: Heart of Venom

Elemental Assassin #9
Jennifer Estep
Adult Urban Fantasy
384 pages
Pocket Books
Available August 27th
Source: e-ARC vie Edelweiss for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
When I say you’re a dead man, take that literally.

To me, killing people is like a day at the salon: cut and dry. Well, more like rinse and repeat when you moonlight as the assassin the Spider. But my last spa day ended redder than my freshly painted nails after a twisted Fire elemental and his goons kidnapped my close friend Sophia Deveraux and nearly killed her sister Jo-Jo in the process.

Up Ashland’s most dangerous mountains, and deep into the heart of its blackest woods—I’ll track these thugs no matter where they take Sophia. It doesn’t matter what kinds of elemental magic they try to throw at me, my Ice and Stone powers can take the heat and then some. I will get Sophia back, over their dead bodies.

Because anybody that hurts Gin Blanco’s family becomes a body.

With the Elemental Assassin series we are always guaranteed a knock-down, drag-out fight between Gin and whatever villain is currently thinking of replacing Mab Monroe as Ashland's Biggest Bad, but what so often surprises us no matter how many books we read is the emotional intensity that accompanies the swinging of Gin's fists and the slashing of her knives. While the previous installment was a little lighter in tone overall (relatively speaking of course), Ms. Estep plunges us deep into the darkness of Gin's world in this newest book, a horror from Sophia's past emerging once again to grab hold of both characters' and readers' hearts alike, giving them a brutal twist and yank as family fights desperately to save family.

Gin has been a fighter from word one of book one, always the first to defend those she cares about even if they are undeserving of her loyalty and affection, but where she has always been nearly indestructible physically, her emotional armor has always been far softer. She's highly susceptible to rough words in a way she isn't to rough hands, the former cutting deep and drifting like a slow-working poison through her veins, while the latter simply glance off and then go limp, no longer a threat as the person attached to them is dead by her blade. Her stoicism and her cool, controlled demeanor are a point of contention for us as readers; we can't help but admire everything that makes her both woman and Spider, but at the same time, her constant internalizing of emotional pain can be frustrating, as it was in the previous book when things with Owen so rapidly deteriorated.

Luckily for us in this book however, Gin makes a few small efforts to voice her hurt when she has a quiet moment to actually talk to Owen amidst the fight to save Sophia, listening to his apologies and his reasoning for past behavior, but instead of simply accepting the way he treated her as her due given the life she leads as an assassin, she hesitates, taking the much-needed time to really think about what her heart can and cannot handle moving forward. She doesn't hold Owen's actions against him or try to make him hurt as she's been hurting, she simply takes stock of the wounds he's inflicted, lets him know he caused them, and then decides if she's up for the not-insignificant job of rebuilding her trust in him. Owen, for his part, acknowledges his role in how things turned out between them, and the ice we'd built up around our hearts when it came to him can't help but melt a little in the face of the warmth we can practically feel when he looks at Gin.

In addition to the tension crackling between Gin and Owen as they feel one another out, Heart of Venom also gives us perhaps the most violent and dark of Gin's battles thus far, a brother-sister team of fire elementals raising the bar when it comes to sadistic cruelty, their vile games made all the more horrifying given Sophia's involvement. The bits and pieces of her past alluded to in past books were enough to send shudders racing down our spines, but to bear witness as Sophia is forced to live her nightmares all over again is a special kind of torture, and we find ourselves appreciating Gin's ruthlessness more than we ever have before. All in all, this latest gritty adventure of Gin's is perhaps the most gripping one yet, overflowing with pain, love, family and more than a little blood to leave us even bigger fans of the series than we were when we started.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Jennifer:

If you didn't get a chance yesterday to check out my interview with Jennifer and enter for your chance to win a copy of Heart of Venom, you can do so here!

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 22, 2013

Interview and Giveaway: Jennifer Estep + Heart of Venom

Jennifer Estep is one of my auto-buy authors and I'm beyond excited to welcome her back to the blog today to talk about my very favorite elemental assassin, Gin Blanco. Gin is about as badass as they come, but she's also surprisingly insecure when it comes to friendships and relationships, making her an intriguing combination of soft and hard that I just can't get enough of. I'm reviewing Heart of Venom tomorrow, so be sure and check back as it was one of my favorites of the series thus far!

Looking back at all the books in the Elemental Assassin series, is there any particular one that gave you more trouble than the others above and beyond the challenges that come with writing any story?

In some ways, SPIDER’S REVENGE was the most challenging for me. I really wanted to deliver on the Gin-Mab arc in that one for readers, especially when it came to the final Gin-Mab battle in the book. So I really tried to think about how I could write those scenes and the overall book in a way that would be most satisfying for readers. Hopefully, folks enjoyed how that arc ended and the adventures that Gin has had since then.

If you were to join Gin, Bria and Roslyn’s book club and it was your month to choose a book and host, what book would you pick for the group to read and what snacks would you make when you all got together?

Good question! I sort of do this in every book when I’m deciding what Gin is reading at the time. I always try to pick something that ties in with the plot or what Gin is going through in some way.

At the end of DEADLY STING, Gin and Bria are talking about the book club, and Bria mentions that she wants to read THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett because of the events that happened in DEADLY STING. Since Ashland is such a corrupt city, and Gin spends so much time dealing with the underworld bosses, I think a book like that would be right up her alley.

But if I were choosing, I would probably pick something like REDWALL by Brian Jacques, which is about a mouse who becomes a hero and saves his friends. I think that sort of story would also appeal to Gin.

For the snacks, I like to bake, so I’d probably make lots of desserts, like some chocolate brownies, that would satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. That’s sort of what Gin does in a scene in HEART OF VENOM for a day at the beauty salon with Bria, Roslyn, Sophia, and Jo-Jo.

Gin hasn’t had an easy time of it in the love department. If she wanted to take a break from her own sometimes-troubled romance and experience the sweetness or drama of another couple, what book or movie might she treat herself to?

Gin’s love life has definitely had its ups and downs, so I think that Gin would choose a movie that would be a fun escape for a few hours. So I could see her watching something with a lot of action and adventure, like THE PRINCESS BRIDE or PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL. I could also see her watching something a little darker and grittier and with a little more angst, like CASINO ROYALE or THE BOURNE IDENTITY.

Sophia has always been a personal favorite of mine from the very beginning. What new or surprising things did you learn about her character given her more prominent role in Heart of Venom?

As I’ve been writing the books, I always knew that Sophia had been through something really traumatic that shaped her into the character that readers meet in the series. I can’t give out spoilers, but I will say that as I was writing HEART OF VENOM and really exploring Sophia’s backstory, that it definitely got a lot darker than I anticipated, as did some of the scenes in the book.

If Fletcher could see the woman and fighter Gin has become since his death, as her mentor and teacher, what advice, criticism/compliment, or instruction would he have for her?

I think that Fletcher would be proud of how Gin always manages to survive, no matter how much danger she finds herself in. But I think he would be even prouder of how she’s slowly lowered her own emotional defenses and opened herself up to people like Bria and Owen.

Back in the beginning of the series, Fletcher told Gin that he wanted a normal life for her, part of which included letting herself care about other people. So I think that he would be really happy with the circle of friends and loved ones that she’s slowly built for herself as the series has gone along.

Happy reading, everyone!

• • • • • • • • • •


I’m a Southern gal through and through. Sassy, sarcastic, and just a tad crazy.

I spent my formative years doing the usual kid things – playing, hanging out with my friends, and making up wild stories in my head.

It’s the last one that’s gotten me into trouble.

I don’t remember the first book I read. Or the second. Or even the third. But somewhere along the way, I fell in love with books and reading. Fairy tales, fantasies, adventure stories, mysteries, romances, westerns. As a kid, I read every book that I could get my hands on.

My mom, bless her, encouraged this obsession by taking me to the library every week. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories. Most folks think penicillin, indoor plumbing, and the Internet are the world’s best inventions. Not me. The greatest thing ever created was a library. Indoor plumbing is a close second, though.

The more I read, the more I thought about writing my own stories. I penned a few poems and short stories over the years, mainly for class assignments. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I wanted to write books for a living.

In college, I majored in English because of my love of books. But what can you do with an English degree? I didn’t know. One semester, I got a job with the college newspaper and discovered you could write stories and make a respectable living. Since that light-bulb moment, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism, and a master’s degree in professional communications. Currently, I’m an award-winning features page designer for a daily newspaper.

Now, after many, many years of toil and trouble, I’ve achieved my dream of being a bona fide, published, fiction author. I plan to keep on keeping on – writing, dreaming, making up wild stories in my head.

And getting myself into trouble.

• • • • • • • • • •


When I say you’re a dead man, take that literally.

To me, killing people is like a day at the salon: cut and dry. Well, more like rinse and repeat when you moonlight as the assassin the Spider. But my last spa day ended redder than my freshly painted nails after a twisted Fire elemental and his goons kidnapped my close friend Sophia Deveraux and nearly killed her sister Jo-Jo in the process.

Up Ashland’s most dangerous mountains, and deep into the heart of its blackest woods—I’ll track these thugs no matter where they take Sophia. It doesn’t matter what kinds of elemental magic they try to throw at me, my Ice and Stone powers can take the heat and then some. I will get Sophia back, over their dead bodies.

Because anybody that hurts Gin Blanco’s family becomes a body.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Thanks to Jennifer, I have one print copy of Heart of Venom to give away on the blog today. To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Good luck everyone! 
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Haven

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!

Carol Lynch Williams
Paranormal Young Adult/Dystopian
Releases March 4th, 2014 from St. Martin's Griffin

From Goodreads:

For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

Though the premise doesn't sound completely new or different and the YA market is certainly saturated with dystopians at the moment, I still find myself intrigued by this one. The cover is gorgeous, clean and simple, and I can't help but be drawn to a book that just begs me to ask all sorts of "what if" questions. I'm a questioner to the nth degree when reading, and The Haven is simply taunting to me with its mysteries, so all I have left to say about this book is yes, please:)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: The Bitter Kingdom

Fire and Thorns #3
Rae Carson
Young Adult/Fantasy
448 pages
Greenwillow Books
Available August 27th
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
The champion must not waver.
The champion must not fear.
The gate of darkness closes.

Elisa is a fugitive.

Her enemies have stolen the man she loves, and they await her at the gate of darkness. Her country is on the brink of civil war, with her own soldiers ordered to kill her on sight.

Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lucero-Elisa née Riqueza de Vega, bearer of the Godstone, will lead her three loyal companions deep into the enemy's kingdom, a land of ice and snow and brutal magic, to rescue Hector and win back her throne. Her power grows with every step, and the shocking secrets she will uncover on this, her final journey, could change the course of history.

But that is not all. She has a larger destiny. She must become the champion the world has been waiting for.

Even of those who hate her most.

The Bitter Kingdom is everything the conclusion of a sprawling, epic fantasy should be – a long and exhausting journey fraught with challenges mental, emotional and physical that brings us around full circle from where we began with Elisa so many pages ago. Ms. Carson dives straight back into Elisa’s story with little to no recap of previous events – and very few hints to help us identify some of the secondary characters who don’t feature as prominently in our memories as Elisa and Hector do – so a quick review of some of the events of The Crown of Embers is recommended. That being said however, though we don’t necessarily recall all the finer details of characters and places, it’s easy to get immediately swept up in Elisa’s search for Hector, the foggy specifics of books past becoming ultimately irrelevant in the face of her desperate search for a way to save the man and the country she loves.

Elisa is the type of character about whom it’s an absolute pleasure to read, starting her time with us off a touch whiny and completely unsure of herself as she’s thrust into an arranged marriage, but ending up a fighter, a champion, a leader, and someone whose strength never fails to be awe-inspiring. In this final installment we get to see the many varieties of Elisa’s strength, the augmented power of her Godstone combining with her growing skill in hand to hand combat to show us just how formidable she’s becoming physically, but it’s her strength as a ruler that truly shines. Her Godstone is what guaranteed her ascension to the throne, but it’s her intuition, her ability to think on her feet, and her compassion that keep her there, leaving a trail of unwavering loyalty in her wake as she risks everything for a chance at a better life for her people.

While secondary to the many challenges Elisa faces as both Queen and living bearer of a Godstone, the romance with Hector has been a highlight in the past and continues to be one in The Bitter Kingdom, providing a comforting warmth just when her journey is at its darkest. We are treated to a few select chapters from Hector’s point of view, something that deeply satisfies in the first part of the story when he and Elisa are separated and things between them are a touch up in the air, but even with the uncertainty we know neither Elisa nor Hector are the type to play games or hide feelings. They are nothing short of truthful with one another at all times, expressing fears and concerns on an emotional level as well as a professional one given Hector is Lord-Commander to Elisa’s Queen, and the two of them together simply delight with the upfront nature of their relationship.

The only minor drawback to this final installment is with regard to Elisa’s act of service, something that’s part and parcel with being a bearer and something that’s weighed heavily on her throughout the series. We do find out what her act of service is, but it’s unclear as to why this particular act is so important in the grand scheme of things. Granted, we’re reminded again and again that God’s plan isn’t necessarily going to be readily apparent and that Elisa’s act of service may not be something significant for years to come, but a small hint or clue as to its role down the line would have been nice. Overall though, The Bitter Kingdom is rich of character and story, and I can’t wait to see what Rae Carson comes up with next.

Rating: 4/5

Find Rae:

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 19, 2013

Review: Scorched

Mari Mancusi
Paranormal Young Adult
352 pages
Sourcebooks Fire
Available September 3rd
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Don’t leave me here... It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it...

He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Scorched is a story that has our undivided attention from the beginning thanks its dragon-focused premise, dragons being a mythological creature that hasn’t quite yet taken the young adult fiction market by storm. As a result, an air of mystery is created for us readers before we even get to the first page, wondering how Ms. Mancusi is going to bring her beasts to life. Part of the appeal of this story aside from the creatures themselves is that Trinity’s world is in fact ours, no acclimation period necessary as we are instantly at home and comfortable with our surroundings, and we simply get to watch, riveted, as something out of myth and legend finds a new home and begins to thread together a story that doesn’t begin with “once upon a time”.

Trinity is a young women we have a few concerns about after reading the synopsis, worrying and questioning whether or not she’s going to be one of those girls who waffles between two boys, dragging us deeper into her romantic drama when what we want most is to learn about her role in the birth of a dragon and the subsequent end of the world. Luckily for us, Trinity has a good head on her shoulders, though she can be a bit quick at times to dismiss Connor when he tries to explain how he came to be in her time, but honestly, it would be far stranger if she simply accepted what he told her at face value and then jumped in with both feet, especially given her precarious family situation and difficult history.

It doesn’t take her long to be persuaded however, and when she is she proves again and again that in her story there’s no tower in which she idly waits for someone to arrive and set her world to turning, instead she beats all the men in her life to the punch, kicking a new life into gear and fighting tooth and nail to protect what’s most important to her. While she does have romantic moments with both brothers at different points in the story, it makes sense in the context of this tale specifically, with each brother on opposite sides of the battle for the life of Trinity’s dragon and each approaching her with very plausible and equally horrifying versions of the future if she doesn’t listen to their advice. There’s none of the game playing that so often accompanies a love triangle, and there’s no pitting one brother against the other, in fact there’s no declaration of love (or anything even remotely close) of any kind, removing any irritation we might feel at the setup before it can really take root.

There’s certainly potential for the situation between Trinity, Caleb and Connor to turn into a true triangle in future books, but in this first installment the relationships between the three of them are handled beautifully, our allegiance to each brother shifting back and forth along with Trinity’s as more and more about both of them is revealed. While the romantic element is certainly present, it remains secondary to the dragons and the role they are to play in the future from which both Caleb and Connor hail, and we find ourselves easily swept up in trying to figure out if it will be life or death that saves the world, all the while knowing the decision is not quite as black and white as it seems.

Rating: 4/5

Find Mari:

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Super Six Sunday: Bad Bookish Boyfriends

Inspired by Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and The Bookish, Super Six Sunday, a new feature from the fabulous ladies at Bewitched Bookworms, has different book-related topics each week and asks participants to address each one in the form of a list of six. Obviously.

This week's topic is bad bookish boyfriends, something those of you who read this blog with any frequency know is all-too perfect a topic for me. The hard part of course comes in narrowing this list down to only six–rather than say, one hundred–bad bookish boyfriends. *shakes fist at the Bookworms for limiting me so!* MY LOVE FOR FICTIONAL MEN CANNOT BE CONTAINED IN SUCH A MANNER! I have so very much to give you see, but I endeavored to adhere to the rules of this feature and picked only a handful. *exasperated sigh*

In order to help me compile this list, I narrowed the topic further and chose men who walk a fine line between hero and anti-hero, often saying or doing things that make me want to revoke their candidacy for Fictional Love of Jenny's Life, but yet I find them all the more interesting for their deep, and sometimes very dark, flaws.

The Fever Series (adult urban fantasy)

I know. I talk about him a lot. There's just so much to say! He has layers, my friends, LAYERS UPON LAYERS and I adore him. I'll spare you my fawning all over him because I already did that in a previous post, but suffice to say he pretty much owns the term badass and skates the line between someone I love and someone I could easily hate so very, very expertly. I need Burned in my hands as soon as physically possible.

First book in the entire series: Darkfever
First book in Dani's series in which Ryodan is a major player: Iced

The Sweet Trilogy (paranormal YA)

Okay, like Ryodan, I may have mentioned Kaidan a time or two on this blog. Or possibly 23849203394 times, but that's completely beside the point. The point is Kaidan is the son of the Duke (think demon) of Lust, and he won me over the minute he came on page in Sweet Evil. He's more than just a bad boy who happens to ooze sex appeal; underneath the sharp wit, the British accent, and the devil-may-care attitude lies a young man stuck in a situation he's powerless to change, and he has perhaps more fear in him than he does cocky swagger if you take the time to really look, something very few actually do. If you couldn't tell already, I'll let you in on a little secret: I love him.

First book in the series: Sweet Evil

The Everneath Series (paranormal YA)

Oh, Cole. What a tangled web you weave my friend. Though Cole plays second fiddle to primary love interest Jack in this series, he remains the far more intriguing of the two (but my love for Jack is still epic!), his motivations for every action always shrouded in an untold number of mysteries, and just when I think I have a handle on the man he is, he cracks a sinister smile and laughs right in my face for being so dense. He is both kind and cruel, genuine and devious, and I simply cannot wait to see where things go with him in the third installment of this series.

First book in the series: Everneath

Vampire Empire Series (adult urban fantasy/steampunk)

This trilogy completely and unexpectedly blew me away when I first picked it up a couple years ago, the world a welcome yet devastating return to a time when vampires were not the stuff of romance novels, but rather the monstrous killing machines of legend. The Greyfriar is one who hunts them, but as things unfolded in the first book I quickly realized the mask he wears hides far more than just his features from the world, and once I got a peek at what was underneath, I had to know everything there was to know. Like the others on this list he sometimes straddles the line between black and white, though he proves again and again that gray is a far more attractive and addictive color.

First book in the series: The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire)

The Violet Eden Chapters (paranormal YA)

Phoenix has led me on a merry dance through this series (though like Cole, he is not the primary love interest, that honor falls to Lincoln). In one book I despise him and everything he is, but then in the next book he shows a completely new side to himself that has my fingers turning from claws that would slice him open to clutching digits that would pull him closer and never let him go. He can be brutal and plays a mean emotional game with Violet and Lincoln, but in the rare moments when his guard drops he shines brighter than any other character, and the glutton for punishment in me never fails to rejoice when he makes an appearance on page.

First book in the series: Embrace

The Guild Hunter Series (adult paranormal Romance)

Ooooo Raphael, you are a sexy bastard. I am an enormous fan of all things Nalini Singh, and though you've probably seen me gush most often about my love of alpha wolf Hawke from her Psy-Changeling series (YOU'RE STILL MY FIRST LOVE HAWKE!), I absolutely adore her Guild Hunter series as well. In these books we get to spend time with Raphael, the archangel of New York, a man who is all power and steel and immortality, and who time has hardened and shaped into someone unyielding and unrelenting. He is perhaps the most alpha of all Nalini's many alpha men, but when Elena enters his life we have the pleasure of watching the rigidity of him start to ever-so-slightly relax (though not much mind you), giving but the barest of inches before his archangel superiority snaps back into place. He's infuriating and intoxicating and if you've yet to meet him, you're missing out.

First book in the series: Angels' Blood

Friday, August 16, 2013

Damsel Distressed: Cover Design Contest

I'm absolutely giddy today to share with you an exciting opportunity the fabulous team over at Spencer Hill Press is putting forth for anyone artistically inclined: the chance to design the cover for Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke, a 2014 release. All the details about the book and the contest are below, and I hope many of you are as excited to enter as I am!

Kelsey Macke’s DAMSEL DISTRESSED Cover Design Contest

Kelsey Macke’s DAMSEL DISTRESSED (Spencer Hill Contemporary, 2014) is the story of Imogen Keegan, a seventeen-year old girl who has been stuck in a cycle of clinical depression, self-harm, and baked-goods-addiction since her mom died seven years ago.

The book, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, is equal parts hurt and heart, and is held together by Imogen’s journal entries of poems, doodles, lyrics, and the “back stage” musings of a theatre-loving girl who is so much more than the sum of her parts.

Imogen’s journal is part of the prose, but the line between fiction and reality blurs when readers have the ability to use their computer or mobile device to access all kinds of interactive online content.

The cornerstone of this supplemental content is the album of real life songs, written and performed by the author as part of the band, Wedding Day Rain called IMOGEN UNLOCKED.

The inside of the book is highly interactive and driven by the readers’ experience.

The creative team wants nothing less for the outside of the book as well!

So, in the spirit of community and collaboration, we’re having a cover contest!

The DAMSEL DISTRESSED cover contest will be open from August 16th until September 22nd, 2014.

We’re so excited to see all of the incredible ideas you have that will tap into Imogen’s story.

There will be three rounds, each narrowing the entries, and culminating in a public vote for one of three top slots! Additionally, ten semi-finalists will win a $10 itunes gift card and a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card. The grand prize winner will not only earn the design commission and a copy of the book once printed, but will also have the opportunity to design the album artwork and swag!

If you or someone you know is eager to dive into the world of publishing design, this is a great opportunity to grow a portfolio and get paid!

For full details on the contest, including all terms, conditions, and instructions for submitting your design, visit!

Kelsey Macke is a twitterphile, (@KelsNotChels) and enthusiastic Nerdfighter. DAMSEL DISTRESSED is her first novel.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Trust In Me by Jennifer Armentrout/J.Lynn

I'm thrilled today to be a part of the cover reveal for Jennifer Armentrout's upcoming novella, Trust in Me, which gives us Cam's side of the story from Wait For You. Ahhhh! YES! I'm a huge fan of Jennifer's books so I of course will be devouring this one the minute I get my hands on it in October, so without more rambling from me, check out the cover and synopsis!

It’s Wait for You as you’ve never seen it. Trust in Me lets you in on Cam’s side of the #1 New York Times Bestselling story.

Cameron Hamilton is used to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to women. But when Avery Morgansten comes crashing into his life – literally – he finally meets the one person who can resist his soulful baby blues. But Cam’s not ready to give up. He can’t get the feisty and intriguing girl out of his head.

Avery has secrets, secrets that keep her from admitting the feelings Cam knows she has for him. Will persistence (and some delicious homemade cookies) help him break down her barriers and gain her trust? Or will he be shut out of Avery's life, losing his first real shot at the kind of love that lasts forever?

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Cathy Reviews: Terminated + Possession

I'm excited today to welcome back yet again my fabulous mother in law Cathy to share with us her thoughts on a couple more of the books she so graciously agreed to read and review for the blog (even though these are both later books in series she's never read). As always, a huge thank you to her for sharing in this blogging experience with me!

Revivalist #3
Rachel Caine
Urban Fantasy
304 pages
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Already addicted to the pharmaceutical drug that keeps her body from decomposing, Bryn has to stop a secretive group of rich and powerful investors from eliminating the existing Returné addicts altogether. To ensure their plan to launch a new, military-grade strain of nanotech, the investors’ undead assassin—who just happens to be the ex-wife of Bryn’s lover Patrick—is on the hunt for anyone that stands in their way.

And while Bryn’s allies aren’t about to go down without a fight, the secret she’s been keeping threatens to put those closest to her in even more danger. Poised to become a monster that her own side—and her own lover—will have to trap and kill, Bryn needs to find the cure to have any hope of preserving the lives of her friends, and her own dwindling humanity…

Terminated is the third book in the Revivalist Series, but I have not read the previous two books. If you want a deeper understanding of how the characters came to be in their current circumstances, I'd recommend starting with the first novel, though I will say Ms. Caine does a good job catching us up on the plot even while dropping us into the middle of the continuing saga.

Bryn is ex-military, part of an experiment that turned her into "Dead Girl Walking"(her words). She is basically an engineered zombie. This is not usually a genre I read because of all the eating people and things, but Bryn has a lot of heart. She realizes that her humanity is slowly waning, so she and her friends try to find the cure that will stop this from happening to others. 

Ms. Caine has well-developed characters and you can feel their angst as they try to make some moral and ethical decisions. The way in which the characters are written is almost enough make you forget they are zombies and concentrate solely on the storyline.

This book has something for everyone: Villains, spies, lots of action and even some romance. While I was reading, I could picture this story as blockbuster action movie as it has all the elements needed for the big screen. I don't want to give anything away but in the end, there are tough decisions, sacrifices and a small twist. Everything you need to keep you turning the pages and leaving you a little sad when the story is over.

Rating: 3.5/5

Greywalker #8
Kat Richardson
Urban Fantasy
368 pages
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When a comatose woman suddenly wakes up and starts painting scenes she’s never witnessed, with a skill she’s never had, medical science has no explanation. As more bizarre phenomena manifest, even her doctors start to wonder if the woman may be possessed. Frustrated and frightened, the patient’s sister reluctantly turns to Greywalker Harper Blaine to discover who—or what—is occupying her sister’s body.

As Harper digs into the case of apparent possession, she discovers other patients struck with the same mystifying afflictions and a disturbing connection to one of the most gruesome stories in Washington’s history…

Possession is part of the well-established Greywalker series which follows Blaine Harper, a private investigator, as she travels between the normal and the paranormal worlds. This is a stand-alone case, but Ms. Richardson does make the (logical) assumption that we've read the other books in the series and are completely up to date on the characters and backstory. I have to admit this is the first book in the series that I've read, so I naturally felt there could have been a few more details earlier in the story to help me connect sooner.

Ms. Richardson does have great character development though, not with just the main characters but also with the many quirky acquaintances she introduces us to who are highly amusing. She also has clearly done in-depth research into the Seattle area, making me want to pack up and visit as soon as possible (except for the weather!). Ms. Richardson's plotline is well-developed and rooted in some true and haunting Seattle mysteries. She had me looking up these murders and murderers online.

This book has ghosts, mystery, spies and yes, romance. Because it's a continuing series though, there is a plot thread that is left hanging so as to carry on to the next book. I would recommend at least reading the first book, which I intend to do, to get a fuller picture of how Blaine started on this career path.

Rating: 3.5/5

* I found a common thread between these two books. Both had strong and compelling heroines who both just happen to have died and been brought back. Though "dead" they both maintained their humanity and were trying to help those around them, and I really enjoyed that about both books. Hopefully you will enjoy these women as well.

 These books were 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 (or in this case, Cathy's) honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Lady Thief

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!

A.C. Gaughen
Young Adult/Fantasy-ish
Releases February 11th from Walker Childrens

From Goodreads:

Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

So. I read Scarlet earlier in the year thinking it would just be a quick, fun read that played around with the Robin Hood myth and replaced the Will Scarlet character with a woman. Wrong. While it of course did do those things, it also unexpectedly–and delightfully–ended up being so much more. I fell madly in love with Scarlet and Rob (you can read my full review here), and I may or may not have done a spastic happy dance when I learned there would be more books in this series. The first book conceivably could have been left as a standalone, but these characters have legs galore and I can't wait to see where they take me in this installment!