Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5) by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Library copy
Author Links: Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Discover where Celaena Sarthodien's thrilling saga began
Celaena Sarthodien is her kingdom's most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin's Guild, she yields for no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.
When Celaena's scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes--and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she discovers friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn's orders, Celaena riskes unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn's clutches--and if they fail, they'll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives....
A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers readers a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling--and deadly--world.
Included in this volume:
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
The Assassin and the Healer
The Assassin and the Desert
The Assassin and the Underworld
The Assassin and the Empire




Sure, you could purchase each of these novellas separately, but why would you?
Besides, how can you say no to that cover!

Most of the time, the novellas connected with a series tend to give you insight into side characters, and maybe provide a bit of filler while you wait for the real books to come out.
Not so with this collection.
When read all together like this, it acts as another full book in the series. A prequel book, but a book, nonetheless.
Also, sometimes novellas need to be read in a certain order, in conjunction with the regular books, or you might end up getting an unwanted spoiler. This collection doesn't function that way. You could read it like I did, after reading the other books, to get a better understanding of Celaena. Or you could read it before, as an introduction to the character and her world.

I'm not going to get all spoilery, so I'll just say that this tells the story of what happened to Celaena in the months leading up to her stint in the salt mines.
Her relationship with the mysterious character, Sam, who has been often mentioned in the previous books, is finally revealed.
Pull out the hankies, ladies!  You're about to have your heart broken.
Celaena's twisted mentor, Arobynn, features prominently in these stories, as well. At long last, he exact role he played in her fate is brought to light in The Assassin and the Empire. And, believe me, if you are a fan of these books, you're gonna wanna know what he did.

The weakest story was The Assassin and the Healer, because it was the only one that actually seemed like a filler novella. The others each uncovered a new layer of Celaena's backstory, and helped move the overall plot forward. It really made me want to go back and do a re-read of the other books, so I can prep for Heir of Fire!

If you're a Throne of Glass fanatic, you do not want to miss out on this little gem!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Waiting on The Vines & The Sin Eater's Daughter!



47North | October 21, 2014


The dark history of Spring House, a beautifully restored plantation mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans, has long been forgotten. But something sinister lurks beneath the soil of the old estate.

After heiress and current owner Caitlin Chaisson is witness to her husband’s stunning betrayal at her birthday party, she tries to take her own life in the mansion’s cherished gazebo. Instead, the blood she spills awakens dark forces in the ground below. Chaos ensues and by morning her husband has vanished without a trace and his mistress has gone mad.

Nova, daughter to Spring House’s groundskeeper, has always suspected that something malevolent haunts the old place, and in the aftermath of the birthday party she enlists Caitlin’s estranged best friend, Blake, to help her get to the bottom of it. The pair soon realizes that the vengeance enacted by this sinister and otherworldly force comes at a terrible price.


Feb. 24th 2015 | Scholastic Press

16-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner.

As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?




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Audio Book Review: Pines (The Wayward Pines Series #1) by Blake Crouch



Listening Length: 8 hours and 33 minutes
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: August 21, 2012
Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. Intense and gripping, Pines is another masterful thriller from the mind of bestselling novelist Blake Crouch.



Pines is a story that I normally wouldn't give a second glance to. It has a rather boring title, a cover that is less than eye-catching, and a synopsis that is only mildly interesting. So how did I end up writing this review? I got suckered in by this - Now a Major Television Event from FOX, debuting winter 2015. I don't usually pay much attention to books simply because they will be adapted into a movie or television show, but a quick trip over to Goodreads showed me that Pines was a story I needed to read. The reviews were fantastic.

The debut in the Wayward Pines series is a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat mystery that constantly kept me guessing. It was also chilling, but in a subtle way. I wasn't quite sure why I was creeped out by the town or the people living in it. The only thing I was certain of was that something was off and I found myself urging Agent Burke to get the hell out of there as soon as the opportunity arose. 

The narrator, Paul Michael Garcia, had a pleasant voice that was easy to listen to and he quickly drew me into the story. Not one time did I have an issue with his transitioning between characters or his female voices. He's a great narrator that I would highly recommend. 

Once I reached the conclusion of Pines I immediately began listening to Wayward. I'm well past the halfway point and can say that the sequel is just as enjoyable as the debut. I can't wait to get my hands on the conclusion, The Last Town, as soon as I'm done. If you love a truly suspenseful mystery, then Pines is a definite must-read.








Release Day Blitz - Five Weeks (A Seven Series Novel) by Dannika Dark!




Five Weeks
(Seven Series, Bk #3)
By Dannika Dark 

Blurb:
Izzy has always loved the freedom and adventure of life on the road, but she’s recently decided to settle down—as much as a rogue wolf can. When her boyfriend gets her a job working at a hot Shifter bar, she runs into the last person on earth she expected to see again.

Jericho isn't the famous rock star he once was, though he still plays in a local band and loves to party. Beautiful women come and go, but music is his only passion—until a sassy redhead named Isabelle Monroe shows up unexpectedly.

Fate reunites two former friends living with one foot in the present and the other in the past. But will they have a future when one of them is forced to choose between life and death? Old habits die hard, and sometimes the toughest addictions to shake are the ones that control our hearts.


      





Monday, July 28, 2014

Story Characters Don't Have to Be Human - Guest Post & Giveaway with Judith Ingram!









Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing, LLC 
Date of Publication: May 31, 2014
Cover Artist: Elaina Lee/For the Muse Designs

On the night of the new spring moon, a near-fatal accident propelled Victoria Reeves-Ashton over a century back in time to awaken in the body of Katherine Kamarov. 

Now, after three months of pretending to be Katherine and laboring to repair relationships damaged by Katherine's brash and selfish personality, quiet and gentle Victoria finds that her heart is putting down roots in Katherine's world, in her family relationships, and especially in a deepening friendship with Katherine's winsome cousin Michael. 

Hidden letters reveal the story of other moonseed-time travelers like herself-and Victoria realizes that she and Katherine will likely be returned to their own times the following spring. Tension mounts when a rich and handsome suitor applies to marry her, and Victoria must choose whether to accept him for Katherine's sake or to follow her own heart. 

Ryan Ashton, the husband Victoria left behind, is baffled by the woman his wife has suddenly become. Unwilling to believe her story about an exchange in time, Ryan struggles to understand the stark transformation of his timid, remote wife into a sexually aggressive and captivating siren. Against his better judgment, he falls hard for this new woman who is a perplexing mixture of cruelty, sensuality, and tenderness, a woman who he suspects has the power to either break his heart or heal the aching loneliness he has lived with all his life.


ISBN: 978-0-9890632-4-1 | ASIN: B00JD0H2ZE | 249 pages







Story Characters Don't Have To Be Human
by Judith Ingram

Yes, Moonseed is a paranormal romance trilogy, but no, we're not talking vampires or aliens here. The fantasy aspect is time travel—two women, Victoria and Katherine, escaping into each other's lives over a century of time—and the non-human characters we're highlighting are cats and cottages, clocks and cars. These elements rise above mere setting and become supporting characters because each is personified and in some way develops our understanding of the main characters.

The Cat
Henry the cat makes an appearance in the same scene that introduces Robbie, Katherine's shy younger brother. We learn that Henry is not only Robbie's self-appointed guardian but also a shrewd judge of character. Both Robbie and his cat disliked Katherine, but when Victoria takes Katherine's place and tries to make friends with Robbie, it's Henry who opens the door, as this excerpt from Book 1, Bridge to the Past, illustrates:
(Robbie is playing with a puzzle on the floor of the playroom. Victoria suggests moving the puzzle downstairs, where they will be warmer.)
Robbie watched uncertainly as I scooped the pieces into the wooden box. Neither of us spoke. I retrieved a piece that had strayed close to Henry, and the cat rose with a languorous yawn. After stretching each of his hind legs in turn, he sauntered over, heedless of the puzzle pieces he stepped on, and rubbed his body against my skirts. I held myself still, allowing the cat to show me this unexpected favor, and I glanced at Robbie. His expression of surprise bloomed into wonder as we both heard the unmistakable rumble of a friendly purr.
"He's never done that before," Robbie breathed. His eyes rounded as he looked at me with new respect. He hesitated a moment and then sank to his knees beside me. "Here, Katya," he said, and his smile was shy. "You missed a piece."

The Cottage and the Clock
In the therapeutic world of dream analysis, a house symbolizes a life. For example, when we dream of discovering unused rooms in our house, it can mean we have opportunities or potential that we have not yet explored. For Victoria, Summerwood Cottage—the abandoned house she decides to restore—represents her underdeveloped personality that begins to flourish in Katherine's world. Read how she describes the cottage as a knowledgeable companion in this excerpt from Book 2, Borrowed Promises:
It seemed as though Summerwood and I stood together outside of time and shared secret knowledge of what was to come in later years. We knew what was important to preserve—the roses, the dogwood tree, the oak in back presently grown to only half its future size, the pinewood sideboard collecting dust in the dark hallway, the beautiful banisters.…In my entire life, I had never had a place of my own. Always I had lived under the forbearance of others, dependent upon them, needing to please in order to ensure their goodwill toward me. But at Summerwood I was my own mistress. I knew what had to be done, and I gave the orders or accomplished the work myself. It was as if Summerwood had always existed, in my mind or in my dreams, and I had simply—inevitably—come home to it.
In like manner, Victoria describes as "a quiet sentry" the tall grandfather clock, which has measured time for over a hundred years in Rosswood House and silently observed the lives and events in Katherine's family. Both the cottage and the clock help Victoria to feel anchored in reality as the three of them bear witness to two different centuries.

The Car
Lastly, Ryan's Jaguar features as a character who gives us insight into Ryan's personality. The car is a metaphor for the sort of woman Ryan wants when the novel begins—elegant and expensive eye candy. This shallow attachment to his wife—the beautiful Victoria—changes over the course of the story as he falls deeply and hopelessly in love with Katherine, the woman who takes her place. Because the Jaguar so closely personifies that old, self-serving attachment, it will be no surprise when the car figures significantly in the climax revealed in Book 3, Into the Mist (to be released in 2015).


 About the Author: 
Judith Ingram weaves together her love of romance and her training as a counselor to create stories and characters for her novels. She also writes Christian nonfiction books and enjoys speaking to groups on a variety of inspirational topics. She lives with her husband in the San Francisco East Bay and makes frequent trips to California's beautiful Sonoma County, where most of her fiction characters reside. She confesses a love for chocolate, cheesecake, romantic suspense novels, and all things feline.

Website, blog & free weekly devotional: http://JudithIngram.com







EXCERPT
I bit my lip, wanting to avoid any subject that could ruin the easy camaraderie of our afternoons together. Michael had been friendly and funny, teasing me gently, treating me with the easy affection of an older brother. Once or twice I'd caught him watching me with a fierce intentness that made my heart skip. But then he'd grin or offer a quip that made us both laugh, and the uncomfortable moment would pass.
I enjoyed the lightness of our friendship, grateful for the reprieve. In the rose garden at Summerwood and later on the trip to San Francisco, I had felt the slow but persistent budding of a new feeling that both thrilled and frightened me. The lightest touch of Michael's hand pricked up hairs along my skin like electricity; his boyish grin twisted a slow, sweet pain deep into my body. His clean, male scent in close proximity could stun me with unexpected waves of need, often forcing me to look away so he wouldn't see the flame in my eyes.
I couldn't allow Michael to guess where my heart was taking me—because of Raymond.
Although many things were unclear to me, one fact seemed certain—Katherine must marry Raymond Delacroix and have at least one child with him. If I gave in to my new feelings for Michael, and if I were cruel enough to let him see them, then I risked both hurting him and ruining Katherine's chances with Raymond when she came back to her own time.
And Katherine would come back. I was convinced of it, all my desperate wishes to the contrary. She would marry Raymond, give birth to Elise, and secure a future that would eventually lead to her daughter painting a picture of Katherine and me at the bridge over Two Trees Creek. By the same token, I would return to life as a lingerie model and a cold marriage with Ryan Ashton. Ryan.
"What?" Michael's voice made me jump and turn my head.
"What?"
"You said 'Ryan' again."
"I did?"
Michael had removed his glasses, and he blinked at me from only a foot away. God, he has beautiful eyes, I thought. Soft gray-green depths that held me breathless, fighting a slow, aching pull to be in his arms.
"He's…nobody," I said.
Michael was studying me, his eyes so solemn and searching that I couldn't look away. He didn't speak, but in that moment my heart yearned toward him, and he saw it. His expression changed. His gaze moved slowly from my eyes to my mouth.
I turned my face away and shut my eyes over a sudden sting of tears.
"Kat?" he said softly.
His voice held a new, cautious note of intimacy. A moment later his thumb brushed my wet cheek, and the tenderness of his touch wrenched a low cry from me. I pushed his hand away and struggled to sit upright.
"Don't touch me!" Pain made my voice sharp. "You can't touch me, Michael!"
But his hand was already under my elbow, helping me to sit. He pushed a handkerchief into my hand.
"Here. Take it." He sounded bewildered and hurt. "Seems you'd rather do the job yourself."
He watched me wipe my eyes and blow my nose with his handkerchief. I couldn't look at him, and after a moment he reached for his glasses and slipped them on.
In a tight voice he asked, "Do you still want to visit Union Square?"
I pressed the soggy handkerchief to my lips and nodded.
Michael pushed himself to his feet and thrust out a hand to help me up. We folded the blanket between us, careful not to touch each other's fingers, and he picked up the hamper. As we crossed the grass in uneasy silence, a fresh roll of tears made me reach into my handbag for a clean handkerchief. A flash of copper tumbled into the grass.
I stopped quickly, but Michael was quicker. He scooped up the coin, examined it briefly, and gave it back to me.
"You still carrying that thing around?"
I looked up at him, my handkerchief arrested halfway to my face. "My coin? What do you know about my coin?"
He squinted at me and frowned. "You're kidding, right? I was with you when you paid a nickel for that worthless thing at the county fair. You said it was good luck, and you carried it around in your pocket for years." He stopped at my look. "What is it?"
"Michael, are you certain this is the same coin?"
I handed it back to him. His gaze lingered on my face, puzzled, before he examined the coin. He weighed it briefly on his palm, flipped it over, and gave it back to me.
"Of course I'm certain." He pointed his finger at the familiar nick in the rim. "There's where the wagon wheel ran over it, and you were so furious because you thought the magic was ruined." He screwed up his eyes against the sun and studied me. "What's the matter with you, Kat? You're looking at me like I've got two heads."

I shook my head in dazed wonder, suspended once again in that universe where Katherine's world and mine overlapped and where it made perfect sense that her lucky coin should have somehow come to me—twice.


Tour Wide Giveaway

4 signed paperback copies of Borrowed Promises with bookmarks.

4 ebook copies (.pdf or .epub) of Borrowed Promises.

4 sets of Moonseed notecards; each set of six cards features scenes from the story, sketched by artist Amy Wong.

4 Amazon gift cards at $25 each.

4 coffee mugs featuring the book cover for Borrowed Promises along with tagline, "The past isn't always behind you…".

Sunday, July 27, 2014

[Coffee Shop Talks] My Favorite Book Read in July!


MY FAVORITE JULY READ

Pines isn't really an eye-catching novel. The title is a little boring, the cover isn't impressive, and the synopsis isn't all that exciting. But I'm so glad I took a chance on it because it was fantastic! I loved it! Pines was creepy, suspenseful, and I immediately started listening to book 2 once I was finished. As an added bonus I'll get to watch the story when it airs in 2015.



What's been your favorite read this month?




Our guest this week is the lovely Viviana @ Enchantress of Books!
Viviana, Enchantress of Books

           


Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Supergirl, Vol. 3: Sanctuary by Mike Johnson

Release Date: February 18, 2014
Publisher: DC Comics
Source: Library Copy
Author Links: Goodreads


Completing the H'EL ON EARTH crossover event that had made its way through Superman, Superboy and finally Supergirl.
When a mysterious Kryptonian arrives on Earth and convinces Kara that he intends on returning them to Krypton, prior to its destruction, in an effort to save the planet. When presented with the opportunity to return home, the young and sometimes foolish Kara fails to see H'el's whole plan, a plan that will leave the Earth in ruins. Wonder Woman and The Flash must facedown Kara in an effort to make her see the truth and save Earth before it's too late!
Collects issues #13-20.



I'd already read most of this in the crossover comic Superman: H'el on Earth. Not only read it, but was fairly unimpressed by it.
So when I started reading this, and it turned out to be the Supergirl story that I'd already seen? 
Yeah. Not so much with the Happy.
Supergirl: Sanctuary. I mean, it doesn't have H'el anywhere in the title! And it's not like I'm smart enough to look at the back of a comic before I pick it up, you know?!

Ok, ok. I'm big enough to admit that maybe that little misunderstanding was partially a teeny bit my fault.
Sort of.
So Supergirl is still all depressed, because she's alone on a planet full of ruffians, and Clark isn't the baby she remembers. 
Then along comes (yet another) miraculous survivor of Krypton, who goes by the name H'el. Supposedly, he was Jor-El's assistant, who was sent off into space to try to find some way to save Krypton. He's been traveling the universe for...I don't know...a really long time. Somehow, he crashed on Earth.
Of course he did. Earth is a magnet for Kryptonians! If there's a random alien whose planet has been destroyed, you can bet your ass they'll somehow find their way here.
And speaking of Krypton and random aliens?
How many fucking survivors does this planet have?! 
Superman: The Last Survivor of Krypton!
Last survivor, my ass. Those fuckers are continually coming out of the woodwork. 
It should say, Superman: One of Many Survivors...With Probably More on the Way Right Now!
Anyhoo, now that he's here, H'el's got a plan. A plan to save Krypton from certain doom! It involves time-travel, and he needs Kara's help to pull it off.
M'kay. Superman's father, Jor-El, already KNEW that Krypton was going to go BOOM, and he STILL couldn't do anything to stop it. So, I'm not really sure what these two idiots were planning on doing with the time-travel scheme. Was there a plan beyond that? Did they have some new form of technology that they were going to tote with them that would, perhaps, to keep the planet from exploding?
Something smells fishy.
And it ain't Aquaman.
Now, obviously, with a name like H'el, he's definitely going to be the villain in the story. And once he gains Kara's trust (which isn't hard to do, because she's evidently very stupid), he enlists her help to get all the stuff together that they're gonna need to pull this off. They've almost got the machine up and running when the Justice League attacks them.
Ok. That might sound kinda random. And it is, if you've only read this book, so let me explain.
Remember what I said about this being a big crossover event that I'd already read? Well, turns out this doesn't make much sense on it's own. There are whole hunks of information that you're missing, like how Superman finds out about H'el's plan, how he recruits the Justice League, and what the hell Superboy is doing there. The answers are there, just not in this title.
Alright. BIG BATTLE time! Supergirl takes on the Flash and Wonder Woman, as both of them try to convince her that H'el is a psycho.
Lalalalalalalala! I'm. Not. Listening.
Finally, Wonder Woman is able to whip her ass hard enough to get her attention. And then it's all, Oh my God! What the hell is H'el doing?! 
Come on...you knew that pun was coming.
Fight, fight, fight. Good guys win. The end.

So, don't read this for the lackluster H'el storyline. Read it for the issues that come after that. 
Read it for Powergirl! These issues were AWESOME!
For those of you who don't know, Powergirl is actually Supergirl from Earth 2. During a battle with Apokolips (that killed off their Justice League) she and Earth 2's Robin were sucked into a Boom Tube and ended up on our Earth. And they can't get home.
Robin was the daughter of Batman and Selena Kyle, and now goes by the name Huntress. Powergirl is several years older than our Earth's Supergirl, which explains why she has ginormous boobs, whilst our little Kara still has normal(ish) sized knockers. Cool backstory, no? 
You're right, it is. However, the actual comic for these two sorta sucks.
Now you're up to speed!
At any rate, Powergirl knows about Kara, but she's been actively avoiding her. It's simply too weird, and she's got other shit to do with Huntress. But because of her battle with H'el, Kara's got kryptonite poisoning, and somehow it's also affecting Powergirl. 
It's time for a Kara/Kara team-up!
The Sanctuary storyline was just about as good as they come. In fact, it was so flat-out funny that I ended up going back and reading it again! Good stuff!
Now go read it.