Saturday, May 2, 2015

Giveaway - Where by Kit Reed (May 12, 2015) US/CA

Tor Books | May 12, 2015 | 238 pages

A spooky, unsettling speculative fiction in which everyone in a contemporary coastal town in the South disappears, taken to another time and place.

In a coastal town on the Outer Carolina Banks, David Ribault and Merrill Poulnot are trying to revive their stale relationship and commit to marriage, and a slick developer claiming to be related to a historic town hero, Rawson Steele, has come to town and is buying up property. Steele makes a romantic advance on Merrill and an unusual 5 a.m appointment outside of town with David. But Steele is a no-show, and at the time of the appointment everyone in the town disappears, removed entirely from our space and time to a featureless isolated village—including Merrill and her young son. David searches desperately but all seems lost for Steele is in the other village with Merrill. 


         



Kit Reed is the author of the Alex Award-winning Thinner Than Thou and many other novels, including The Night Children, her first young adult work. Reed has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and has been a James W. Tiptree Award finalist. Kit Reed lives in Middletown, CT, where she is Resident Writer at Wesleyan University.






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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms #2) by Morgan Rhodes

Release Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Author links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

The road to power...is paved with blood and magic.
Cleo is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people.
Magnus stands to eventually inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia.
Lucia is haunted by the outcome of the breathtaking display of magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms.
Jonas watched at the palace gates a troop of rebels behind him, waiting for him to tell them how he plans to overtake King Gaius.
After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over....
At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas's hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia's, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus's, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.
When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius's road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.


Well, I'm back for Round 2 of this series that my Pushy Librarian is making me read.
If you don't have a Pushy Librarian of your own, I highly recommend you get one. 
Mine is very sweet once you get to know her...


The first book, Falling Kingdoms, was a total bloodbath. Main characters that I thought would make it to the end of the series, weren't any safer than the minor characters who barely had time to say OUCH! before someone killed them off. So, I was kinda expecting the same thing to happen in Rebel Spring.
Ha!
The author changed it up on me, and I got lulled into a false sense of security. Not very many people bite it in this one, but when they did? I didn't see it coming. 
I would be all, La-la-la-la-la!, and then BOOM! CRACK! SNAP!
Wait. What?! Really? Did he just twist her head off?!



Did that really happen in the story? Eh. I may be exaggerating. A tad.
But, this one is a true story:
I had just read the part where a knife is sliding into the heart of one of the Main Characters, and all I needed to do was turn the page to see how it all turned out. And I swear, the alarm on my phone goes off to let me know it's time to get in the car & pick up the kids from school, or I'll be late.
I actually sat there for a few seconds thinking to myself...
Would it REALLY kill them to be the last kids picked up. I'm never late. Maybe the'd appreciate me more if they had to sweat it this one time? It could be a learning experience for them!
In the end, even a slack parent like myself couldn't rationalize it, but I came close. Real close.
Does that make me a bad mom?
Maybe. But you know what I tell my kids?



I really think this series may be perfect for me.
You have multiple POVs going on, with each story telling a different side to the main plot. And there are honestly too many for me to go into detail with each one. The main ones I'm riveted by are Magnus and Cleo. Especially Magnus. He's the son of the evil king who has just forcibly taken over two other kingdoms. This dude has serious issues going on in his personal life. Not the least of which are his unrequited feelings toward his adopted sister. 
Now, normally, I'd be all horrified and disgusted by this.
Because...



But Rhodes manages to keep him from feeling like a total scumbag. By the end of this book, I was actually rooting for him, because it seems like he may be on the verge of going in a different direction. In fact, almost every character is wildly different than they were when we first met them. That's not to say they all got personality transplants, but it seems like they are growing and changing in a natural way. Each one influenced by their own experiences during the course of the story. 
Very cool! 

Another thing I'm enjoying about this is the distinct lack of Twue Wuv as something that moves the plot. And now that I think about it, nobody in the entire book is having much luck in the love department. It's one long list that looks like this:
He-Loves-Her-But-She-Loves-Someone-Else-And-They-Ain't-Interested.



I'd like to go on and on about his one, but the truth is, I have the next book sitting on my coffee table right now. 
If you're looking for a YA Game of Thrones sort of tale, then check this out!



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee

Release Date: November 19, 2013
Publisher: Skyscape
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.
When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.
Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.
Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?


I loved this, I really did...just not as much as the first book.
I think the reason has to do with the lack of Raffe for the majority of the time. He's off doing stuff, and Penryn is on her own trying to save the day.
Which is cool. Really!
I think the story was more entertaining when they were all bickery with each other.
*shrugs*

For those of you who don't like to know anything before you read a book, there are mild spoilers in this review. Be warned!

Ok, so what happens in this book?
Crazy-Mom gets crazier, because the nutty gleam in her eyes and rotten egg fetish weren't bad enough. She's like an insane ninja sneaking around and taking out perceived threats.
Still.
Insane is the key word to remember here.


The What-Happened-To-Paige mystery is delved into a lot deeper, and we find out that she may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. *cough* Among other things.
Penryn has a hard time looking her little sister in the eyeballs, which causes some trust issues. Especially when villagers with the torches and pitchforks decide she ate a dude.
Did she?
Well, it's possible...



Remember the Scorpion things that the angels were cooking up in those incubating vats?
Guess what? Soylent Green is people!


Also, it looks like there's a HUGE Apocalypse conspiracy going on that most of the angels are unaware of, and Penryn has stepped right in the middle of it. I'm so crazy excited to see where exactly Susan Ee is going with this one! I have theories. Many theories.
One of them is bound to be right, I just know it...



There  were plenty of other fun tidbits sprinkled throughout the book that made up (somewhat) for the lack of Raffe.
Such as:
Pookie Bear! The most accessorized sword to be wielded by a archangel teenage girl...
And what kind of accessories does an ass-kickin' sword need, you ask?


And, of course, we finally get an answer to the age old question: Can angels swim?
Although, in the ocean, does it really matter?








Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: Pirate’s Alley by Suzanne Johnson & $50 #Giveaway!





From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the fourth book in the smart and sexy Sentinels of New Orleans series.

Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear. 

Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal. Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back. 

And that's before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest "death," returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ's assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that. 

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature. 

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won't be that easy.



Sentinels of New Orleans Book 4 | Urban Fantasy | Tor Books | April 21, 2015

Available at:   Amazon   BN   Book Depository



        


Pirate's Alley is filled with all of the magic and mayhem that I have come to expect from the Sentinels of New Orleans series. 

Johnson does a great job of weaving the plot details of book 3 throughout the beginning of the story. As someone who read Elysian Fields back in 2013, I greatly appreciated how quickly I was able to catch up on all of these key details. This was especially important because Pirate's Alley jumps right in to where Elysian Fields left off.

There is still tension and uncertainty in the supernatural world and the conspiracies, manipulations, and untruths continue. Along with the political drama, a lot of DJ's time is spent dealing with issues that arise because of her friend Eugenie and the complications this causes with Rand. It's an interesting new development that will continue to make waves throughout the next installment.

DJ must also deal with drama in her romantic life. She's trying to improve her relationship with Alex and is working on taking a more measured, mature approach in the way that she deals with conflict. I found this to be a bit irritating because it seemed to be one-sided. Alex continues to be a stubborn, overbearing ass. I said in my review of book 3 that DJ is awesome all by herself and I still stand by that statement. She's a great character and if she doesn't have a partner who can be her equal, then I would rather she just be alone. I'm sure there are plenty of readers who will agree that it may be time to give the old pirate a chance.

Pirate's Alley is another solid installment in Johnson's drama-filled, action-packed, magic-infused urban fantasy series. I can't wait to see what kind of trouble DJ gets in to next. I would recommend that any fans of UF give this series a try. ~Cat



PIRATE'S ALLEY EXCERPT
DJ, are you awake?
Freaking elf. “Go home, Rand.”
I am home. Where are you?
I frowned and burrowed my face into the soft down pillow. Which wasn’t my pillow. 
Holy crap. What had happened?
I sat up and took in several observations at once, none of which made sense and all of which sent my heart rate jack-rabbiting hard enough to send my blood pressure into the ozone.
First, I was lying beneath a heavy bedspread woven in a rich blue-and-cream print. The bed was an elaborate confection made to look like an antique half-tester, and a brass chandelier hung overhead. 
I recognized the Hotel Monteleone. I recognized Jean Lafitte’s bedroom in the posh Eudora Welty Suite in the Monteleone. I didn’t have a clue as to how I got here.
Second, I wore only underwear. My clothes were thrown across a chair in the corner. I had no recollection of removing them.
Third, the pillow next to mine still held the clear indentation of a head, and there was water running behind the closed bathroom door.
What in God’s name had I done?
Rand! Where are you? So help me, if that elf was behind this, I’d splay him open like a catfish and watch his guts fall on the floor. Then I’d batter and deep-fry him.
God, Dru. Stop shrieking like an elven shrew. I think you got too cold and went into a survival state.
Survival state? Then I remembered, and shame joined panic. I had gone into hibernation like a bear, right out on Royal Street in front of God and everyone. Quince Randolph, you sonofabitch! Why didn’t you warn me that would happen? 
Stop yelling. How did I know you’d be stupid enough to go traipsing through the snow to the point of unconsciousness? I can tell you’re in the Quarter, but where are you?
Catch you later.
I slammed shut every mental door I could imagine and then troweled imaginary caulk in any imaginary cracks around said doors. I was vaguely aware that, off in the distance of my mental stronghold, Rand was yelling at me. 
Had Jean hauled me back to the hotel like a sack of pommes de terres? How had he explained a hibernating blonde to the hotel management? At least my dark blue underwear matched. Had he taken advantage of me? No, it wasn’t his style. Which meant I’d consented.
Alex was going to kill me if I didn’t kill myself first. I wasn’t sure hibernation-brain was an adequate defense. 
The bathroom doorknob rattled and I dove under the covers, even though I realized it was like closing the barn door after the half-naked cows had escaped. 
From my hiding spot, I heard the door open and footsteps cross from tile to carpet before stopping with a rustle of fabric. “Hey, babe. You finally back from the dead? Whatcha doin’ under there?”
“Rene?” I poked my head out and frowned at my buddy the merman, fully dressed in jeans and a Saints sweatshirt. His feet were bare, and he walked around the bed and climbed in as if either one of us belonged here, much less at the same time.
“What are you doing here? What am I doing here? Who undressed me? Where’s Jean?” And, as an afterthought, “Why are we in bed?”
Now that I realize I hadn’t acted like my licentious great-aunt Dru and slept with the pirate, I transferred my anger to the proper place and it wasn’t to myself. I’d kill that sneaky Frenchman if he weren’t immortal. 
Rene was not immortal, however, and he was within reach. “You better start talking, fish boy.”
“Aiyeeee.” Rene cackled like the Cajun he was, and fluffed the pillow behind his head. “I told Jean you’d be spittin’ mad. Nothing happened, babe. Your clothes were wet and I was just trying to keep you warm. I’m a shifter, you know. We run hot.”
“Oh, do you now.” 
That made him laugh harder. 
I threw off the covers and stomped over to my clothes. He’d seen whatever I had and I knew he didn’t want it, so there was no point in hiding. I picked up three soggy layers of T-shirts and sweaters, and cords so wet they weighed about ten pounds.
My breath hitched. The staff; I’d lost the staff. I whirled to Rene, who sat propped against the lush draped fabric that covered the headboard, watching me with a grin. “Where’s my bag?”
“In the living room. Everything’s there, babe, even your magic stick. Jean, he took care of you.” 
Yeah, I just bet he did. It was hard to argue effectively in underwear I’d intended only Alex Warin to see, so I went into the living room, dug my room key out of my messenger bag, and stuck my head out the door, looking up and down the hallway. 
“I’ll be back. Don’t go anywhere,” I yelled at Rene, and made a run for it, jamming the keycard into my door lock and slipping inside before I was spotted. If hotel cameras caught my mad dash on security footage, well, I’m sure they’d seen stranger things. This was New Orleans, after all.




Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. 

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. 

AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook





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Monday, April 27, 2015

[Coffee Shop Talks] Cover Wars: Covers With the Same Model





I was surprised at how many covers featured this same model in this same pose. I only used 3 as an example here, but there were several more. Some had been redesigned because I think the authors realized how overused this image is.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things made the best use of beautiful-girl-in-lovely-dress-looking-over-her-shoulder. The flowers and softer colors make it more appealing. It really is a lovely cover.




Here is another image that is used far more than I realized. Again, I've narrowed it down to 3, but there are many more covers with this same model. I actually don't think any of these are bad, but I like the simplicity and the colors used in Cinderella Dream.




Do you notice when images are overused on cover designs? 





        

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Interview with Jennifer Estep & Cold Burn of Magic #Giveaway!



A2H: Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer our questions. Your new series sounds exciting and we can't wait to read it. 

JE: Thanks for hosting me on your blog. I appreciate it!
~
A2H: First, we have to ask about your heroine, Lila. The synopsis gives us a few clues about who she is, but we'd like to know more. What can you tell us about her personality? What are some of her best traits? 

JE: Lila Merriweather is a 17-year-old thief who lives in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, a town dubbed “the most magical place in America.” Tourists come from around the world to tour all the magic-themed shops and attractions, as well as see monsters like tree trolls, copper crushers, and more in their natural habitats.

Lila does her best to stay off the grid and avoid the Families — mobs — who control the town. But when she saves a member of the Sinclair Family during an attack, Lila finds herself caught in the middle of a brewing war between the Sinclairs and the Draconis, the two most powerful Families in town.

Lila is smart, sassy, and snarky. She might be a thief, but she’s loyal to the people that she cares about. Fun fact: her favorite food is bacon.
~
A2H: You have been blessed with many amazing book covers and this series is no exception. How much input do you have in the cover design process?

JE: Usually, my editor will ask me for some scenes in the book that might make a good cover and tie in with the book title. So I suggest a few scenes, and then the art department goes to work on the book cover.
~
A2H: With your new series releasing and Elemental Assassin still ongoing, I think it's safe to assume that most of your time is spent writing. What's your normal daily routine like?

JE: I’m usually on the computer by 9 a.m. every morning, checking e-mail, looking at social media, etc. Then I get started on whatever I need to work on that day, whether it’s writing a new book, revisions, copy edits, reading through page proofs, etc.

I work until lunchtime, take a break, and go back to work until dinner. Sometimes, I will take a couple of breaks in the afternoon and work on into the evening. It just depends on my deadlines. But writing is a job just like any other, and I usually work at least 40 hours a week, if not more. 
~
A2H: You have 2 Black Blade novels listed for this year and one scheduled for 2016. Will that be the end or do you have plans for more? 

JE: As of right now, I am planning to make the series a trilogy, so the third book (tentatively set to be released in 2016) would be the end of the series. But we’ll see what happens.
~
A2H: Who are some of your favorite fictional heroines?

JE: I like Beauty from the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale and how she is able to look past the Beast’s outward appearance to see the good person he really is inside. 
~
A2H: Thanks again, Jennifer. We're looking forward to meeting Lila Merriweather. 

JE: Thanks again. Hope everyone enjoys the book and getting to know Lila. Happy reading, everyone!


Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin adult urban fantasy series for Pocket. Books in the series are SPIDER'S BITE, WEB OF LIES, VENOM, TANGLED THREADS, SPIDER'S REVENGE, BY A THREAD, and WIDOW'S WEB. THREAD OF DEATH, an e-novella, is also available. 

HAINTS AND HOBWEBS: AN ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN SHORT STORY can be found in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE.

DEADLY STING, the eighth book, is set to be released on March 26, 2013.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. 

Books in the series are TOUCH OF FROST, KISS OF FROST, and DARK FROST. CRIMSON FROST, the fourth book, is set to be released on Dec. 24, 2012.

FIRST FROST, a prequel e-story to the series, is available as a download. HALLOWEEN FROST, an e-short story, is available in the ENTANGLED e-anthology.

Jennifer is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series. Books in the superhero-themed series are KARMA GIRL, HOT MAMA, JINX, and NIGHTINGALE. A KARMA GIRL CHRISTMAS, an e-story, is also available.

Excerpts, free short stories, and more information on Jennifer's books can be found at http://www.jenniferestep.com.

AUTHOR LINKS:



Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)
by Jennifer Estep
Publisher: K-Teen
Release Date: April 28th 2015


There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power. 

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick. 

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .




OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Dark Heart of Magic 


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Starts: April 22nd, 2015 | Ends: May 1st, 2015


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