Friday, July 31, 2015

All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue: Review + Giveaway

The Debutante Files #2
Sophie Jordan
Historical Romance
384 pages
Available Now
Source: eARC from publisher for review

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sophie Jordan continues her new series, The Debutante Files, featuring debutantes on the hunt for Mr. Right.

First friends, then enemies...

Lady Aurelia hasn’t always hated Max, Viscount Camden, her brother’s best friend. In fact, as a besotted girl, she thrived under his kind attention—sure that he was the most noble and handsome man in the land. Until her young heart discovered what manner of rogue he really was. Now, though she enjoys nothing more than getting on his last nerve, she can’t deny Max drives her to distraction—even if she tries to pretend otherwise.

Now something more...

Max cannot recall a time when Aurelia did not vex him. If she was not his friend’s sister, he would stay far away from the infuriating vixen. Unfortunately, they are always thrown together. At parties and family gatherings…she is always there. Mocking him, tossing punch in his face, driving him mad ... until one night, she goes too far and he retaliates in the only way he can: with a kiss that changes everything.

All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue gives us a romance that's deliciously tense on a number of levels, Aurelia and Max not just a combination of little sister and big brother's best friend, but also enemies of sorts as inadvertent actions in their teen years brought their previous friendship to an abrupt halt. We're privy to the series of events that lead to the dissolution of their friendship (and Aurelia's crush on Max), our hearts reaching out to both of them as hurt and betrayal cut deep on both sides. We then catch up with them several years later, the pain they caused each other as teenagers having festered to the point that their wounds remain open, barely able to be in the other's company without poking at the sore spots they know so well. It's nearly impossible not to get caught up in the storm constantly raging between them, reading with a smile on our faces as we wait to see the tide of that storm slowly change into something more.

We meet Aurelia as a young woman of fifteen, having developed a crush on her brother's best friend at the tender age of nine and finally deciding it's time to make her feelings known. When she catches him in a compromising position, our hearts plummet right along with hers, recalling every moment in our own lives when a crush seemed larger than life and solely responsible for our entire happiness. Years later, she handles the barbs Max hurls at her as he attempts to keep their vicious cycle of anger and pain going with as much grace as she can muster, slowly attempting to change their interactions by not giving him the response he expects. She of course lashes out a time or two and makes things worse between them, but it's hard to wish for her to suffer in silence simply because that way lies the higher road, and quite frankly Max deserves what she dishes out on a number of occasions.

Max, for his part, is crueler in his verbal sparring than Aurelia, and while we might give her the favor of our female solidarity, his own hurt stemming from the aftermath of that disastrous day years ago is more than a little understandable. He also has a fear of love and marriage thanks to the tragic death of his parents, making his desire for Aurelia an epic internal battle between what he wants and what he thinks he isn't capable of. Though he takes far more than he gives emotionally for majority of the book, the two of them and their painful, stumbling dance to happily ever after is nothing short of enthralling, gluing us to the pages as we wait and see who will either deliver the next blow or make the next move toward intimacy.

The only very minor complaint with this story is the speed at which Max's views on marriage, love and children change in the concluding chapters, a sudden epiphany wrapping things up for the two of them with a pretty bow. That being said however, a happy ending is what we want most for these two, so Max's sudden change of heart is something easily overlooked. Overall, All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue is a hugely enjoyable historical romance, blending moments of heartache with moments of pure joy to ensure we immediately visit Ms. Jordan's website upon finishing to gorge ourselves on her backlist.

Rating: 4/5

Find All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue:

AmazonB&NiTunesGoogle PlayHarperCollins • Goodreads

• • • • • • • • • • • •


Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s the New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of more than twenty novels. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with anything that has a happily ever after. You can visit her online at

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Hard as it Gets

Hard Ink #1
Laura Kaye
Romantic Suspense
368 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Tall, dark, and lethal...

Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome--pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.

With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.

Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge..

Hard as it Gets is a fast-paced, low-angst romance, giving us a lead pair who handle everything thrown at them with maturity and make communication one of their top priorities. The result is a relationship that brings a smile to our faces, the perfect amount of heat and tension combining to give us more than a little swoon while sparing us frustration with either party as they start unraveling what's clearly going to be a series-long military-based mystery.

Becca is everything we could want in a heroine, a young woman who's out of her depth when it comes to her missing brother and knows it, leading her to ask for the help she do desperately needs instead of going off half-cocked and trying to fix things on her own. Given Nick is ex-Special Forces, Becca could have easily fallen into one of two categories of heroine: One, she could have played a damsel in distress to the fullest, completely relying on him to save both her and her brother; or two, she could have been bound and determined to be the exact opposite, wanting to prove her mettle by tossing herself into the middle of everything dangerous. Thankfully, Becca creates her very own category, fully recognizing that Nick has skills she doesn't, but at the same time refusing to allow him to run roughshod over her and dictate her every move. She's honest at all times, both with feelings and with any information she has that might help the investigation, and even when she learns what a binding non-disclosure agreement keeps Nick from telling her, she handles it in a way that has us wanting to reach out and hug her for being awesome.

Nick, for his part, is as enjoyable as Becca, possessing an excess of alpha qualities but never once coming across as bossy or overbearing. He has every reason to bear a grudge against Becca's family, but after their initial meeting, he never once holds the sins of the father against either Becca or her brother Charlie, throwing himself wholeheartedly into helping them both. He respects what Becca brings to the table regarding her brother's disappearance, never once disregarding her opinion or relegating her to the sidelines because she doesn't have his training. They're partners every step of the way, and the two of them together delight from first to last page.

Overall, Hard as it Gets is an outstanding first installment to the Hard Ink series, introducing us to a military cover up that will span multiple books, but ensuring we turn the last page fully satisfied with a complete story in this first installment. We also find ourselves acquainted with the remaining living members of Nick's Special Forces team, a group of men who bring a sense of humor and camaraderie to the story, deepening our emotional investment as we look forward to seeing each of them find their own slice of happiness in future books.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Laura:

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: Love & Gelato

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!

Jenna Evans Welch
Contemporary Young Adult
Releases April 2016 from Simon &Schuster

From Goodreads:

A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and ever herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more. 

You guys. THIS BOOK! It's like it was written just for me. Italy? Romance? GELATO?!!!!! *falls down dead of want* I've been lucky enough to visit Italy a couple times, and I may or may not have eaten my weight in gelato on both occasions. It's made of magnificence. This whole post could be an ode to my love of gelato, but I won't force that misery upon you, so instead I'll just reiterate that I cannot wait for this book. I want to know all about these secret romances and hidden bakeries, and of course I want to met the charming Ren. Yes to Tuscany. Yes to family secrets uncovered. And of course an enormous YES to gelato.

Plus, that cover is too cute for words.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Secret Sister Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

I'm so pleased today to have author Brenda Novak stopping by the blog to answer a few questions about her upcoming release, The Secret Sister. Brenda was a new-to-me author until a couple months ago (FAIL!) when I participated in a tour for This Heart of Mine, the latest in her Whiskey Creek series. I fell madly (madly!!!!!) in love with that book, so I'm super excited to be a part of the promotional tour for The Secret Sister as Brenda now has another adoring fan in me. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Brenda!

To help us get to know Maisey a bit better, let’s take a look at her bookshelves. What are 3 books that sit on her shelf of favorites?

Maisey writes children's book, so she would have a collection of the children's books that've inspired her the most: LOVE YOU FOREVER, THE GIVING TREE, THE POLAR EXPRESS, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, GOODNIGHT MOON, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, the Harry Potter series and HOLES.

If Maisey could ask you one question about why you wrote her family the way you did, what do you think she would most want to know?

Hmm...this is tough because I didn't write the story; Maisey did. This is all coming from her, so it's her thoughts, her feelings, her perspective. She's the one who struggles with her controlling mother and her substance-abusing brother. She also misses the father that was so nurturing to her growing up and provided her with a firm foundation amidst the confusion and pain.

Let’s say that tomorrow you find a box of photographs that hints at a family secret as Maisey does, which one character (aside from Sherlock Holmes) from a piece of fiction would you most like to recruit to help you unravel the mystery?

If I had a mystery to solve, I think I'll have to go with Thomas Magnum from Magnum P.I. Why? Tom Selleck is still hot. LOL (And Maisey has her own hot guy living next door, so why shouldn't I have one to help me, too?)

If you were to create a time capsule for future generations of your family, what are a few of the items you would include to help them get a feel for who you were?

In a time capsule, I would put pictures of my family. They mean the most to me (I have five kids). I would also put my favorite books--JANE EYRE, PRIDE & PREJUDICE, THE SECRET GARDEN, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE THORNBIRDS, OUTLANDER, EYE OF THE NEEDLE, SHOGUN, FOREVER AMBER, THE ALIENIST, A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE, the early books by Kathleen Woodiwiss, several Susan Elizabeth Phillips titles, several of Sandra Brown's titles and many of the Stephanie Plum series (I would add more but you didn't say how big this time capsule could be--LOL). I would then probably include the awards I'm most proud to have received--like the Silver Bullet Award from the International Thriller's Association, which I was awarded for my efforts to raise money for diabetes research over the years. After that, I'd put in a few things that mean a lot to me because they represent milestones in a career I have thoroughly enjoyed (like the pin I will receive this summer for having written 50 books for Harlequin). And last, but not least, I would include some of my journals to show my thoughts and feelings and what I have learned as I progress through life.

If The Secret Sister was to be made into a movie, how would the tagline on the promotional poster read?

Tagline: Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?

Thanks so much for answering my questions Brenda!

• • • • • • • • • • • • 


After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who's asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she'd prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He's back on the island, and to her surprise, he's raising a young daughter alone. Maisey's still attracted to him, but her heart's too broken to risk…

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must've been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.

Maisey's convinced that child existed. So where is she now?

• • • • • • • • • • • • 


New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

• • • • • • • • • • • • •


Up for grabs today are 5 copies of The Secret Sister! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US/CA only.

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July 27
Supernatural Snark – Interview
July 28
Savings in Seconds – Review
July 29
Her Book Thoughts – Review
All Romance Reader – Review
July 30
Maine Book Momma – Review
Jael’s Reviews – Review
July 31
Aug. 3
Maureen’s Books – Review
Rainy Day Ramblings – Review
Aug. 4
Paperrdolls – Review
Remember the Books – Review
Aug. 5
Aug. 6
Talk Supe – Review & Guest Post
Aug. 7
Brooke Blogs – Review
Every Free Chance – Review

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Flourish: The Box of Souls

Happy Friday Everyone!

I have one more cover to share with all of you before I take a little break from flourish posts, and I really couldn't be more excited to show you because...DRAGONS. As much as I love reading about dragons, I might love designing with them even more, so when author Tanya Miranda sent in her artwork form my eyes immediately zeroed in on the word dragons and I might have flailed.

Tanya and I went through a few initial comps for The Box of Souls, playing with a scale texture and blending it with imagery of the Golden Gate Bridge to give a sense of place while keeping a dragon symbol as the focal point, but ultimately we decided that simplicity was the way to go. We eliminated both the scale texture and the bridge image, adding a subtle lighting effect to the background but otherwise allowing the triple dragon symbol to speak for itself. We also kept the typeface clean and easy to read, letting it have just a single flourish for personality and movement.

The Box of Souls releases next month, so I hope if you're intrigued you'll add it to your lists!


18-year-old Jasmyn secretly resents her family's preference for her 8-year-old sister Katarina. Her jealousy grows when her grandmother, a dying witch, overlooks Jasmyn and chooses Katarina to inherit her magic powers.  Although being second-place to her sister is something Jasmyn has grown accustomed to, this rejection wounds her like no other.

Little does Jasmyn know, she too has inherited some of her grandmother's powers. Resentment and envy are a dangerous pair, but when doused with magic, the chaos it creates is unimaginable.


You can find more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio!   

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Spider's Trap

Elemental Assassin #13
Jennifer Estep
Urban Fantasy
400 Pages
Pocket Books
Available July 28th
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Keep your friends close but your enemies within stabbing distance.

One important lesson I’ve learned in the assassination business is that to be the best you have to roll with the punches. Now that I’m queen of Ashland’s underworld—by default, not by choice—a lot more punches are being thrown my way. But I suppose that’s the price of victory for taking down some of the underworld’s top dogs. Good thing I have my Ice and Stone magic to help me survive my volatile new position. Just when I think things are finally settling down, someone tries to murder me during a hush-hush underworld meeting. But the real surprise is how strangely familiar my shadowy assailant seems to be.

My job is to maintain order among killers, crooks, and thieves, and soon I’m embroiled in a bloody game where the ability to keep secrets could be the greatest superpower of all. My enemies have all sharpened their knives and laid their traps, waiting for me to fall. But this Spider weaves her own webs of death…

Ms. Estep never fails to impress with the Elemental Assassin series, pitting Gin against foes with varying levels of villainy that test her on all levels, forcing her to never rely too heavily on any one of her innumerable assets. While Spider's Trap feels a bit like an in-between installment–the epic showdown with Madeline Monroe in the previous book a tough act to follow on an emotional and physical level–Gin's world is never anything other than hugely entertaining.

With her takedown of Madeline, Gin is now the reluctant head of Ashland's criminal underworld, required to put her knives aside, much to her chagrin, and practice the art of mediating disputes between the more humorous of her city's bad guys. Thanks to their antics and Gin's attempt to be a more hands-off boss of bosses, this installment has a lighter overall feel, even when a shadow of Gin's past finds his way out of the dark corners of her memory and into the light. It's more of a quick, light (light being a relative term of course) read than some of its predecessors as a result, Gin's general badassery on a lower setting as her team and a couple of newcomers help her solve a new metallic problem, our emotional investment in this particular tale perhaps not quite as strong as when Madeline targeted everything Gin holds most dear.

That being said however, we find ourselves catching a sneak peek in the concluding chapters at what the next installment promises, a beloved secondary character clearly going to have a long awaited moment in the spotlight (not that he needs one, Finnegan Lane shines brightly whether he appears on two pages or two hundred). As always, Ms. Estep makes our time with Gin and company fly by, leaving us satisfied with a complete story while hinting at things to come, and this series continues to deliver action, humor and a touch of romance in every installment.

Rating: 3.5/5
Find Jennifer:
This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The "Is It Time Yet?" Edition

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!

I decided to do 2 picks this week, books that I've been dying to read for what feels like 293482023948023 years but in fact has been less than one. How slow time goes when I'm desperate to return to beloved characters! I don't have to wait much longer though, and sometimes even re-reading the synopsis for the hundredth time is enough to tide me over for another week (or day, whichever), so today I'm going to stare at the beautiful covers and pretend that tomorrow is release day for these two ;-)

All that I need to say about these is YES.

Snow Like Ashes #2
Sara Raasch
Young Adult/Fantasy
Releases October 13th from Balzer + Bray

From Goodreads:
It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

Throne of Glass #4
Sarah J. Maas
Young Adult/Fantasy
Releases September 1st from Bloomsbury

From Goodreads:
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

All We Have Is Now Blog Tour + Giveaway

Today I'm thrilled to be a part of the promotional tour for Lisa Schroeder's All We Have Is Now, an upcoming release that sees all of humanity on the edge of extinction as an asteroid speeds toward Earth. Yikes. In that vein, the participating bloggers have been asked to answer the following question:

Make-A-Wish-for-the-Apocalypse- There’s just a little over 24 hours until a meteor is scheduled to hit the US. What do you wish for?

Let me just start out by saying this is a super depressing topic to have to think about. If I only had 24 hours I would probably spend the first five, okay twenty, crying like a little girl. I'm not ashamed to admit it. THERE'S SO MUCH I STILL WANT TO DO, 24 HOURS IS NOT ENOUGH TIME!!!

I would of course pounce on my family and profess my undying love for them, that's a given, so I'm going to focus on a bookish wish. Like the top 3 books I would squeeze to my bosom in a literal death grip wishing and willing them to make it through to the other side with me.

The below are books I've read an embarrassing number of times because they just make me happy for one reason or another. And if I'm facing my imminent demise, then I definitely want to go down with a smile on my face.

Confession: I used to buy into the stigma attached to romance novels, believing they were all heavy on the smut and light on the plot and character development. Then I met Cat. And Bones. AND HOW WRONG I WAS EVERYONE! *smacks self upside the head* Though Jeaniene Frost straddles the paranormal romance/urban fantasy line, she knows how to write a swoon-worthy hero, and she wrote such a memorable sex scene in book two of this series that the chapter number containing that scene actually became it's own verb. Everyone wants to be Chapter 32'd by Bones ;-)

I've read this book so many times I had to buy a second physical copy of it because the spine of the first one finally gave out. *pats self on back for being a reading machine*

Oh look, another romance novel ;-) Romance, whether adult or YA, is my favorite thing ever, so when Bones introduced me to the genre I went a little crazy and devoured everything I could get my hands on. Shifter romances quickly became a favorite, and Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series will forever sit atop that list. We first meet Hawke and Sienna in book one (Kiss of Snow is book 10), and while they don't appear in every book in the series, we do get to follow them as their relationship gradually increases in tension over the course of several books. I nearly gave myself an ulcer waiting for this book to come out so I could finally glory in them as an actual couple. Love them.

This was one of those books I steadfastly avoided for months and months because the hype surrounding it was so huge, and it's always a little depressing when you're the one person who doesn't fall madly in love with a book everyone else seems to cherish. I finally gave in and decided to take my chances, and of course ended up fangirling all over this story and wandering around for days after reading it with a big, dopey grin on my face. It's just so darn cute, and dammit, when I'm facing the end of the world there's nothing I want more than a cute romance to accompany my shuffle off the mortal coil!

• • • • • • • • • • •


From the author of THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU, a groundbreaking novel about what matters most — when time is running out.

What do you do with your last day on earth?

There are 27 hours and fifteen minutes left until an asteroid strikes North America, and, for Emerson and everyone else who didn’t leave, the world will end. But Emerson’s world already ended when she ran away from home last year. Since then she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city’s quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them that he has been granting people’s wishes. He gave his car away so a woman could take her son to see the ocean for the first time, and he gives Emerson and Vince all the money he has in his wallet.

Suddenly this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in 27 hours — maybe even their own.

• • • • • • • • • • •


 Lisa Schroeder is the author of over a dozen books for kids and teens, including the YA novels I Heart You, You Haunt Me and The Bridge From Me to You. She loves tea and cookies, flowers, family hikes, books and movies that make her laugh and cry, and sunshine. Living in Oregon, she doesn’t get nearly enough sunshine, but the hikes are amazing. You can visit her online at on Twitter at @lisa_schroeder.


How did the idea for ALL WE HAVE IS NOW come about?

When I was in high school, I had a leadership class where we did lots of different activities and exercises. One of the most memorable ones was when we all sat in a circle and our teacher, Mrs. Smith, said something like: “Imagine the world is going to end in 24 hours. I’d like you to share with us how you would spend those last 24 hours.” What made it so memorable was how emotional people got as they spoke of the ones they love the most, or relatives they hadn’t seen in a while and wouldn’t be able to see again. It wasn’t long before almost everyone was crying. It was strange and kind of eerie, but also wonderful, because it was such a great reminder of what matters most. Of course, the class clown, a kid named Eric, gave us all a break from our tears when it was his turn and he said something like, “I’d find a girl and we would have a fun 24 hours, and that’s all I’m gonna say.”

I’ve always been fascinated with meteors and asteroids. The one that happened over Russia in 2013 was slightly terrifying, seeming to come out of nowhere and creating a huge blast in the sky, injuring over 130 people. As I thought about writing a book that dealt with that question of – how would you spend the last 24 hours – this seemed like a unique premise to play with.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Lisa is generously giving away $40 Powells e-gift card (US) OR a signed copy of All We Have Is Now (INT) to the winner of the below Rafflecopter.  Giveaway ends August 5th.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: The Veil

The Devil's Isle #1
Chloe Neill
Urban Fantasy
336 pages
Available August 4th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Seven years ago, the Veil that separates humanity from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil's Isle.

Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil’s Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused.

Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack—in full view of the French Quarter—Liam decides to bring her to Devil’s Isle and the teacher she needs, even though getting her out of his way isn’t the same as keeping her out of his head.

But when the Veil threatens to shatter completely, Claire and Liam must work together to stop it, or else New Orleans will burn…

The Veil is an intriguing start to a new series, starting out a bit slow as we're introduced to a post-paranormal invasion New Orleans but gradually picking up speed until we're looking to the next book with more than a little anticipation. Ms. Neill nicely sets up rising tensions between humans and Paras–with Sensitives like Claire smack dab in the middle–and while things aren't quite as explosive either physically or emotionally in this first installment as we might have hoped going in, it's clear the potential for both is there moving forward.

Claire is someone easy to follow for several hundred chapters, perhaps not quite making the same memorable impression as Merit right out of the gate, but she's got fight and fire in her along with a healthy dose of common sense, and that makes for a young woman we can't help but want to get to know better. Liam, while again not quite outshining Ethan in terms of memorability, is perfectly enjoyable, the mounting tension between he and Claire something that keeps us turning the pages. It's clear that the romantic journey for the two of them is going to be a long one, but one that will undoubtedly be worth the wait as the battle to keep the Veil firmly closed begins.

As mentioned previously, it takes this story a little while to get going, a bit of history as to how the world came to be as well as backstory on Claire and Liam individually keeping things at a rather sedate pace until we finally get to understand what's happening with the sudden increase in wraith attacks. Once we reach that point however, the final third of the story flies by, giving us a peek of what's to come should the Veil ever be opened again before leaving us satisfied with our stopping point for this first installment.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Chloe:

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, July 17, 2015

Friday Flourish: The Lemorian Crest

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's a cover reveal kind of week this week, so today I'm bringing you (forcing on you?) another cover I've had the pleasure of working on recently. The process of designing the cover for a sequel without having worked on the first book is always a fun challenge for me, the goal to make it stand on its own while still incorporating recognizable elements of the first cover to ensure they have a similar feel.

Uncovering Cobbogoth is the first book in Hannah L. Clark's young adult fantasy series and the foundation off which I needed to base The Lemorian Crest. Both Hannah and I loved the star graphic with the jewels behind the title, so we wanted to make sure the new design had a similar line art element as a focal point. We also wanted to simplify, playing up color and texture as is highlighted on Uncovering Cobbogoth while allowing the title and background graphics to be a bit more easily decipherable. I hope you guys like what we've done with The Lemorian Crest!

After being raised from infancy in Boston, Mass., Noria (a.k.a Norah Lukens) has no idea what to expect upon entering New Cobbogoth, where she never would have guessed that paths of light can make you vanish; doors can lead to realms both near and far; myths and legends are actual history; a mere kiss can seal two souls as one; and, of course, a stone is never “just a stone.” Her Uncle Jack’s stories never could have prepared her for the magical and dangerous place her native realm is turning out to be.

When the Gihara’s promises begin to crumble, her best friend and soul-mate Jamus (a.k.a. James Riley) is in more danger than ever. Then when his father Lylend abandons her to search for an ancient relic called The Lemorian Crest and she is taken captive by the very people she’s risked everything to save, Noria begins to lose faith in the Cobbogothian gods and the mission they sent her home to accomplish.

Only when a series of new friendships and loyalties are forged in the most peculiar of places, does Noria dare hope again. Hope for Jamus’ safety, for their future together, and for the survival of the entire Cobbogothian race.

Find Hannah:

You can find more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio!   

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review: Siren's Fury

Storm Siren Trilogy #2
Mary Weber
Young Adult/Fantasy
352 pages
Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins
Available Now
Source: Wunderkind PR for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?

There's something oddly comforting about entering into a second installment when a terrible fate has already befallen a beloved character at the end of the previous one, knowing that what awaits us is not the typical middle book arc where everything built in the first book falls apart, but rather a journey to regain what was lost. There's always a certain amount of stress to be had for a reader with a sequel, watching and waiting for the moment when everything we hold dear crumbles before our eyes so that the third and final book of the trilogy can see joy restored. Ms. Weber takes a different tack with the Storm Siren series however, focusing on deepening the political (and supernatural) complexities of this world and building our heroine up as a way of showing personal growth rather than tearing her down.

Nym shows both how far she's come from the cursed slave girl of book one as well as how much further she has to go in this second book, her utter devotion to Eogan forcing her to make dangerous choices with far-reaching consequences. As is so often the case, good intentions are the stepping stones that merrily line the road to hell, and Nym's desperation to right the wrong in the final pages of Storm Siren forces her to become a darker version of herself. This sequel isn't all doom and gloom however, Ms. Weber's trademark humor present and accounted for in Nym's sharp wit and banter with pseudo-villain Myles, ensuring we have a smile on our faces even as our hearts hurt for all that Nym must go through before she can come out the other side.

Given the extenuating circumstances with Eogan, the romance between them is nearly nonexistent physically in this tale, but emotionally it's front and center, driving us to root for Nym as she does everything in her power to get him back. Thankfully no new romantic entanglements enter the picture to test Nym's loyalties while Eogan is effectively sidelined, just a young woman with grit, determination, and more than a few vulnerabilities fighting for all she holds dear. We're left with a clear understanding of Draewulf's endgame as we look forward to book three, and with Nym having learned a great deal about herself and the way she wants to wield the power she possesses, we can't help but start the countdown until she and her enemy come face to face once again.

Rating: 4/5

Find Mary:

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, July 15, 2015

Wednesday Flourish: Gaia Cover Reveal + Giveaway

Today I'm more than a little excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Gaia by Karen Ann Hopkins, the second book in her paranormal YA Wings of War series. I've had the pleasure of working on several projects with Karen, and I have more and more fun each time.

I've found that designing for sequels is far trickier than designing for book one (much as writing them would be I'm sure) because I have to create something new but still make sure it fits within the aesthetic established in the previous design. I absolutely adored the cover for Embers, so I spent a long time staring at a blank page trying to figure out how to make Gaia equally successful (to me) while ensuring it checked all the Wings of War design boxes.

Karen is someone who always has a clear idea of what she's looking for in her covers, pointing me in the right direction and then letting me take her must-have imagery and run with it. Since protagonist Ember's control over one of the elements is a focal point of each book (fire for Embers and earth for Gaia), I wanted to make sure that element was prominent and instantly recognizable in the design. It's possible I love the cover for Gaia even more than Embers, and I hope you guys love it as well!


Watchers and Angels are at war. Which side will Ember choose?

As the apocalypse draws near, Demons are becoming bolder and Watchers are joining forces to fight them. But the Watchers have their own agenda, one that defies Biblical scripture. They don’t want the rapture to happen, making them enemies of the Celestial Host.

Against her own better judgment and an impassioned plea from a higher being, Embers stays true to her first mentor, seeking out a powerful earth Watcher to continue her supernatural lessons. Ember has had a glimpse into the future and knows what’s coming. She is being forced to develop her powers as quickly as possible, to fight the dark forces that are spreading across the earth. Heaven’s sentinels have abandoned their posts to prepare for war. And the walls between the planes of existence are weakening. But who can Ember trust? Her guardian and lover is a Demon. Her best friend is a growler. And her mentor is a psychopath. Humankind is on the precipice; at the end of times. As Ember struggles with morality, she soon discovers that there’s something more frightening than anything she’s faced before.

Excited about Gaia? Then be sure and sign up to be a part of the blog tour in August! 


There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them. And she may be the only hope mankind has as the rapture approaches and evil rises.

Embers is an epic paranormal adventure about an eighteen year old girl who discovers that she's immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt's boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember's exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she finds out that she's a Watcher, a descendant of angels. While Ember learns about her heritage and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two young men who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicitly drawn to one of the men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it is cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war—one that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil—and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She also might be one of the few champions who will make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.

Embers is a dark and gritty YA novel that’s the first book in the series, The Wings of War.

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Karen Ann Hopkins resides in northern Kentucky with her family on a farm that boasts a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Karen's main job is home schooling the kids, but she finds time to give riding lessons, coach a youth equestrian drill team, and of course, write. She was inspired to create her first book, Temptation, by the Amish community she lived in. The experiential knowledge she gained through her interactions with her neighbors drove her to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Noah.

Karen grew up about a mile from Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. She was bitten by the horse bug at the age of five, and after diligently taking riding lessons for several years, was rewarded with her first horse when she turned eleven. The feisty horse's name was Lady, a Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, who became Karen's steadfast companion. Through the years, the constant force in her life was horses. Eventually, she found her place as a riding instructor herself. Before accepting her fate in the barnyard, she worked a short stint as a paralegal, traveled abroad, and guided tourists on horseback riding tours in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Karen is currently working on her Amish mystery series, Serenity's Plain Secrets, along with the YA paranormal/fantasy series, The Wings of War.  Karen is also excited to announce the Temptation series has been optioned for TV by Pilgrim Studios and is available on Audible. More books in the Temptation series are in the works.

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One lucky winner will receive a $25 gift card (Amazon, B&N, iTunes), and three winners will each receive a paperback copy of EMBERS (book one)! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally.

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