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 


Win a $20 Amazon gift card and a print copy of COLD BURN OF MAGIC by Jennifer Estep (US Only)
Win (1) of (4) print copies of COLD BURN OF MAGIC by Jennifer Estep (US Only)

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


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch

Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Author Links: Website | Twitter |

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.


I probably would have rated this a tad lower, but (and I can't BELIEVE I'm saying this) I adored the love triangle.
I KNOW, RIGHT?!
No one is as surprised by that statement as I am.
And it is a love triangle. There's the boy she's loved all of her life, and then there's the boy she's forcibly engaged to. Guess which one I picked?
The new guy!
Again, no one is as surprised as I am. I'm a HUGE sucker for the We've-Been-Friends-Forever sort of love. Plus, there's no easy winner in this triangle. Like, it doesn't turn out that Mr. Boy Next Door is hiding nefarious plans for world domination or anything. He's awesome, and he really loves her.
However, in the immortal words of the philosopher Beyonce...
If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.

Nice world building in this one, as well.The concept of the world and it's brand of magic, while not new-new, had a nice flavor to it.
Ok. I'm going to be honest. I can't for the life of me figure out a way to describe the plot that sounds even remotely interesting. I've been staring at this page for several hours (read: minutes), and I'm coning up with a blank. Sorry.
There's magical relics, quests, a tough heroine, honorable princes, an evil villain, secrets, and dreams from a dead queen.
Read it for yourself if you want to know more.

I will say that at times my mind did wander a bit between action scenes, but that's typical for me because I have the attention span of a squirrel, and doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the book.
My only quasi-complaint?
The Big Twist was something I guessed fairly early on, but that didn't really lessen my enjoyment of the story all that much. So, yeah...tiny annoyance.
This was (on the whole) an interesting book, and I had very few issues with it. If you've been sitting on the fence, go ahead and give it a shot.



Monday, April 20, 2015

[Coffee Shop Talks] - Do Bloggers Have Too Much Power?




Q: Do Bloggers have too much power? We've seen many bloggers and authors talking about this as of late. What is your take?

A: I think that bloggers have a bit of power, but only to an extent. Some of the well established, long running, influential bloggers do have some power. How many authors have become widely read because of Maryse? Or because of Aestas? New authors, and authors that are just reaching their audience, can be made by being featured on a big blog. Independent authors also rely on blogs to spread word of their new books. Bloggers like these have built a huge following and have integrity with their readers.

On the other hand, when it comes to mainstream authors, I don't think that blogs wield too much power. For example, I might be absolutely giddy to receive an ARC for a Jeanine Frost, Ilona Andrews or Patricia Briggs book, but is my opinion as a blogger going to make or break the book? Absolutely not. Why? Because established authors don't need blogs to drive their books' sales.

As a reader, I find that I follow bloggers that I know like the same types of books that I like. Bloggers that share the same interests as I do do have a certain power over which books I buy. If it wasn't for Aestas' review of Bad Romeo, I would have never bought it.

But let's face it - there are a million book blogs out there. They all have some readership and influence some people. Although blogs are obviously helpful to many authors, I think that some authors give too much credit to blogs and not enough to their writing.




         

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Giveaway - Day Shift (Midnight, Texas 2) by Charlaine Harris! (US/CA)

Series: Midnight, Texas
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Ace 
Release Date: May 5, 2015


There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous.

Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular—and very wealthy—clients dies during a reading.

Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…


We're giving away one hardcover copy of Day Shift by Charlaine Harris, 
courtesy of Ace / Penguin Group. This giveaway is for US/CA residents only.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Early Review: City of Fae by Pippa DaCosta

Release Date: May 7, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter

From the moment Alina touches London's hottest fae superstar, breaking one of the laws founded to protect all of her kind, her fate – and the fae – close in.

Below ground, the fae High Queen plots to claim the city as her own and places her pawns, ready for the battle to come. A battle she cannot lose, but for one small problem – Alina. There are four ancient keepers powerful enough to keep the queen in her prison. Three are dead. One remains … And to fight back, Alina risks sacrificing everything she has come to love.

This New Adult urban fantasy is packed with action and suspense and will have you yearning for more forbidden fae romance.



This is (yet another) book that I didn't really like all that much, but I think it may just be not my particular taste, and not that the book itself was bad.
I mean, New Adult is an iffy genre for me at the best of times. However, urban fantasy is normally a winner, which is what prompted me to snag this one.
Unfortunately, this just...eh...I wasn't feeling it.

The fae have come out of hiding and live among humans, but there rules that must be followed.
If you touch them, they take part of your essence. This is what sustains the fae, but it also bespells the human they touch. Not right away, but after a few Touches, the person getting Touched becomes an addict.

The story revolves around Alina & a tousled Rockstar fae that she meets (and helps) when the book opens. 
Confession: Musicians are not my thing. 
So. I'm betting that tainted my feelings on the somewhat do-they-don't-they romance that was running in the background. 
Then there was the Other Woman that (maybe) still had a hold on Rockstar's heart.
Love Triangles are not something I typically enjoy, either.
Oops. The Detective that is assigned to Alana and Rockstar's case, (maybe) feels something for her.
Love Quadrangles are even worse...
There are supernatural REASONS that Alana & Rockstar can't be together.
Reallyreallyreally not fond of that sort of thing in books.
And, last but not least, I guessed Alana's SECRET waaaaay before the big reveal.
Which kind of sucked a bit of the life out of the story for me.

I'll give the author this, the story didn't feel regurgitated. There were a few things about the fae that I found familiar, but the plot itself felt mostly fresh. I haven't seen this story told in this way before, and that counts for something. Also, it wasn't a hard book to read, if you know what I mean. 
Even without particularly loving the characters, I still found it easy to finish it out.

If you think this looks like something you'd enjoy, then just take my review with a grain of salt.
'Cause, you know...I could be wrong.




Monday, April 13, 2015

[Coffee Shop Talks] Best Blogger Resources





When I first started blogging, the best place to go for information when I had any questions or needed to learn something new was other bloggers. I had a great group of very supportive book bloggers who didn't mind my many, many questions. I would also use Google for information and would usually find what I needed in various forums. 

If someone new to blogging were looking for a good source of information now, I would suggest visiting Parajunkee's Tips & Tricks. She has posted a lot of helpful, useful stuff, especially for newbies.


Every blogger needs a good editing program. Mine is GIMP. It's easy to use, does lots of cool stuff, and it's free. I also frequently visit dafont.com when I want to pretty up my posts. DeviantArt is also a good place to go if you want to find an artist to make something original for your blog. That's how we have the lovely header that you see here today =)


What are your best blogging resources?




    

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

Release Date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Website

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.
As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.
The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.
Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.
Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.
Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....


I had no idea this book even existed until my librarian gently pointed me toward this series. And by gently, I mean she flapped in front of my face, and told me it was a great series. And by flapped it in front of my face, I mean she threatened to revoke my (PRECIOUS!) card unless I read it.
She's shady.



So I check it out, and the next thing you know I'm all involved in a prince with incestuous thoughts, a princess being forced to marry a drunk, a young man from a poor village who dreams of revenge, a soon to be queen who is dying from a broken heart, a palace guard that may have fallen for his charge, a man masquerading as a hawk,  and another princess might have the power to restore the balance...or destroy the world.


Oh, and dead people. Because every time you turn around somebody is getting shanked! 


I think at least 3 people bit it in the prologue. You know, just to set the tone.
I'm guessing that's where the Game of Thrones references are coming from in all the other reviews. 
Keep some booze handy, because nobody is safe in this sucker. 
Nobody!



Overall, this was really good, but with so many characters in play, it was hard to get a good flow going in the story. But that was really the only thing that kept this from being a solid 4 star read for me. With a little more momentum behind the plot, I think this bird will fly.
Now, I've been told by a reliable source (above mentioned crazy librarian) that this one gets better and better. And since she has the power to screw with all of my precious Pending Requests, I choose to believe her. In other words, I'll keep you guys updated on my progress with this series.