Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Excerpt and Giveaway: Elemental by Emily White

Today I want to introduce a book on my to-be-read list,
  Elemental, by Emily White.
This book sounds soooooo incredible that I contacted the author and invited her out to visit us here on Known to Read.  Not only did she accept the invitation, but she has come bearing gifts!  Yay!!!  I love presents!  And these are for you, my besties of the cyber world!  
Today I share with you a sneak peak of Elemental 
and one lucky reader will win an ecopy of Elemetal!  
How freakin' awesome is that?!?!

Genre:  YA Sci-Fi

From the back of the book:

Just because Ella can burn someone to the ground with her mind doesn't mean she should.

But she wants to.

For ten years—ever since she was a small child—Ella has been held prisoner on an interstellar starship. Now that she has escaped, she needs answers.

Who is she? Why was she taken? And who is the boy with the beautiful green eyes who haunts her memories?

Is Ella the prophesied Destructor… or will she be the one who's destroyed?

Get to know our author:

Emily White lives in NY, wedged between two of the Great Lakes and a few feet of snow and ice. She's spent most of her life running away from the cold, and even spent a year in Iraq, but now contents herself with writing her characters into warm, exotic places in faraway galaxies. When not tapping away at her computer keys, she can be found reading, reading, and reading some more. And when she's not doing that, she's usually playing video games with her husband, peek-a-boo with her kids, or walking through her garden, wondering why the bugs insist on eating all her vegetables.  Emily writes Young Adult Science Fiction.  Her debut novel, Elemental, is available 
through AmazonB&N, and The Book Depository!

Get to know Emily better on  her blog or Elemental's Official Fan Page

So are you guys ready for the sneak peak?  Excited yet?  Woo hoo.... here we go...

Our sneak peak from the beginning of chapter one:

"I closed my eyes again and hovered in that empty world between sleep and waking. In sleep, I could ignore the silence and pretend it felt right. In the world of dreams, the darkness released me rather than tortured me, and I could be alone because I wanted to be and not because solitude had been forced upon me. Sleep was like a drug to my soul.

My dreams were mine, the place where I refused to be a prisoner. Sho'ful, the ship that floated through space carrying untold numbers of souls and sucking the life out of each and every one of us, failed to torment me in that one place alone.

"Get up." A voice in the darkness ripped me from the edge of slumber and pierced with its sudden harshness. I gasped, clawing at my ears as the itch of newness burned at the base of my jaw. "Open the door and leave."

The voice seeped away like a dream, or a memory of a dream. It'd been ten years since they'd forced me into cold darkness. Ten years. I'd stopped asking why a long time ago. Either they didn't know or they didn't want to deal with the fact they'd put a child in a locked cell.

Leave? I burst out laughing for a precious split second before I clamped my mouth shut. No one left Sho'ful, and only fools thought to try. No light gleamed at the end of this tunnel. I lay there, refusing to get up. The voice had been nothing but my imagination. It could be nothing more than that.

A creaking sound broke the silence. And then something large, cold, and hard pushed against me, sliding me across the rusty floor. When I stopped moving, I grabbed hold of the thing that had pushed me and ran my fingers along its exterior. Parts of it were rough and chipping away, and all of it was ice cold.

I lay there running over and over in my mind the probability that what I held in my hands was the open door. Impossible. Yet...maybe. Something had pushed me. It could've been the door.

I reached up and grasped the thing I was growing fairly certain was indeed the door, and pulled myself up. I moved my feet to find some purchase on the floor. They slid along its smooth surface, throbbing with pain. I groaned in frustration.

With my teeth clenched, I laid my feet flat against the floor and forced my shaking legs to lift me. It'd been twenty-three atmosphere cycles since the last time I'd eaten, and moving was a challenge. I leaned my weight against the door and let out the breath I didn't realize I'd been holding.

It was time to walk out of here and leave Sho'ful, so I clenched my right leg and prepared for my first step out of my cell.

And froze.

The hounds.

The guards' precious pets kept watch over the halls to instill terror in the prisoners and dare us to come out. A chill ran up my spine as I thought about all the times I'd pressed myself against the back corner of my cell, getting as far away as I could from a hound that would come sniffing at my door. With perfect clarity, I could still recall the sound of his claws scraping against metal, sharp enough to gouge the hard exterior.

No one in their right mind would leave their cell, even if they could. That didn't stop the guards from dragging inmates out once in a while to feed to the beasts.

I shuddered. They'd done that to the man in the cell next to mine just a few feeding sessions ago. I could still hear his screams, the sound of his flesh being ripped from bone, and the crunch of the hounds' teeth gnawing him apart.


I shook my head, in part to get the memory out and partly in answer to my stupid plan. I couldn't go out there. My heart hammered against my chest in warning. The smartest, the safest, thing to do would be to close the door and go on living my life the way I'd been living it for the past ten years. A beating heart, safe inside my chest and drowning in depressive nothingness, trumped a beating heart spilling my blood onto the floor to be lapped up by those monsters.

Minutes passed slowly as I struggled to make up my mind. This glimmer, this phantom hope that warmed my chest was the first in living memory. I couldn't just disregard it and lock it away to die like everything else in my life.

The cold truth of what I needed to do hit me then. I'd been dying long enough.

I took my first step toward life.

Chill bumps!!! .....I know, right! .... so now you know why I want to read this one so bad.  
And, you, my dear reader get an opportunity right now!  
Yay!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below 
(click here if it's being shy) and cross your fingers!  
Just can't wait?  Buy your copy now
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

Eve Levine — half-demon, black witch and devoted mother — has been dead for three years. She has a great house, an interesting love life and can’t be killed again — which comes in handy when you’ve made as many enemies as Eve. Yes, the afterlife isn’t too bad — all she needs to do is find a way to communicate with her daughter, Savannah, and she’ll be happy.

But fate — or more exactly, the Fates — have other plans. Eve owes them a favor, and they’ve just called it in. An evil spirit called the Nix has escaped from hell. She feeds on chaos and death, and is very good at persuading people to kill for her. The Fates want Eve to hunt her down before she does any more damage, but the Nix is a dangerous enemy — previous hunters have been driven insane in the process. As if that’s not problem enough, the only way to stop her is with an angel’s sword. And Eve is no angel. . . .

Genre:  PNR/Thriller
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating:  *  *  *

My Review:
When an author you love writes a book you.. well, umm... don't, you get a lot of hot and cold points to chat about in your review.  So here I am, full of things I loved and hated in this book.

I was super excited to read Eve's and Kristof's story.  I already liked them immensely from previous encounters and was intrigued to see how their happily ever after would be achieved "on the other side."  The romance and character growth that brings them together is subtle and takes a back seat to the action, which is fine and dandy, but I definitely could've used more of the romantic in this book.

The action was indeed great: exciting adventures, great twists and lots of little snippets that lead to the final conflict resolution.  There's lots of action; actually too much of it.  It was constant in a way that slowed the tempo of the book.  I find it shocking to be complaining about too much action.  See, I'm the girl who LOVES action flicks and hates those long drawn out dramatic stories, but here it is: a steady pace of action can be just as long winded as those deep, emotional moments.

And then there's the overall darkness of the book.  This is more of a personal preference than an inherent error of the book and I tried to not let that personal preference affect my rating.  Nonetheless, this book falls deeply within the category of "too dark for Danielle."  The other books teetered on the edge of too dark, but this book feel deep into that cavern.  Honestly by page 25 I would've quit reading if this was a stand-alone book, but I was already invested in the characters and the series so I continued.  But, really, child torturing/murdering serial killers?!?  What the f#@# !?!?  I'm good with a dose of dark, but once we get into the ponderings of a serial killer, count me out.

On the upside, the world-building was amazing (this is Kelley Armstrong after all) and there was mad creativity infused in every moment.  The hell scene was especially well done.  What she found in the side room inside the cave ... well, it was gruesome but awesomely freaky... and the whole thing was very suspenseful.  And, as always, this book was chopped full of wonderful characters about whom you can't help but feel strongly.  I cried when Savannah mourned her friend's death and Eve couldn't even comfort her due to her ghostly limitations.  I cheered when Paige was there for Eve through that really difficult thing (no spoilers here) she had to do near the end.

But then there's the final battle and wrap-up.  This, along with the pacing, is really where the book took a nose-dive for me.  First off, much like the horror films I hate, our villain just wouldn't be vanquished.  Had the book's overall pacing been better, this probably wouldn't be such an issue, but, geez, this ending kept going on and on.  Then there were plot holes galore in this section (which I've never noticed in an Armstrong book before).  Here the ghosts of the Nix's previous hosts show up.  If these ghosts were locked up in hell, what are they doing floating around now?!?  Then the Nix does something at the very end that previously wasn't possible.  WTF?!?  Where'd that come from?  But the very worst offense for me was the disappointing conclusion.  Yes the central conflict was resolved, but the happily ever after for Eve and Kristof was just "ehh."  And the Fates solution just didn't make sense.  100% is impossible but 50% is negotiable?  Huh?  It just doesn't make sense.  Even the last scene with Savannah could have been more satisfying.  I read through over 400 pages of conflict (some of which was so dark I had to skip over) and was rewarded with a so-so ending!?!

So overall, no, I won't ever reread this one, but I will continue on with the series.  I've checked other reviews and it seems this is as dark as the series gets.  Thank goodness!

Cover Art:
When a popular book's been around for a bit, it ends up with various cover options; some I love and others not so much.  I'm not a huge fan of the orange cover (mine has this cover), but loved the feather and candle covers.  The feather cover has better lettering sizing and therefore wins my vote for best cover.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Double Review: Intuition and Intangible by J. Meyers

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher Type: Indie
My Rating: *  *  *  *

Luke and his twin sister Sera have unusual abilities. Hers is a gift—she can heal with a touch of her hand. His is a curse—he can see the future but he can’t do anything about it.

On a hike up the mountain, Luke has a vision unlike any other—one that leaves him terrified. Knowing that it will come true—and that he must do everything in his power to stop it—leaves his own future uncertain.

My Review:
This is a 51 page teaser that gives us a chance to get to know the characters and author's writing style.  I really enjoyed this sneak peak into the characters and world of Intangible.  Absolutely pick this one up's free... but beware, you will immediately want to get Intangible after reading it!  Links for purchase are listed below ;)

Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.

Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it.
My Review:
This is such fabulous read!  I keep teetering between 4 & 5 stars and, if I gave half stars, this would be a 4 1/2 for sure.

The writing is smooth, bringing you right into the story and into the minds of the characters.  I love Sera's pure heart (Luke's, too, but especially Sera).  And whereas I usually prefer stories with crazy character growth, I didn't miss it here.  Sera does learn to trust others (besides her twin) and accept their help, but overall she's a great gal from the get go and that was a really nice change of pace for me.

Not all the characters are perfectly developed, but overall each had good dimension.  I'm especially fond of Jonas (big surprise there ... the dark, mysterious & troubled ones always get my vote).  Fey was my least favorite character.  She just felt stiff to me and I didn't feel the chemistry between her and Luke.  I also had a hard time buying her excuse for not revealing the truth to Luke & Sera earlier.  If you have visions or heal people with the touch, chances are you'd be open to the idea of "otherworldly" people.

The ending was just right.  Enough closure to feel satisfied, but enough lose ends to make you yearn for book 2.

Favorite Quotes:
"He's wrong, you know."  Luke's warm arm wove around her shoulders, pulled tight into him.
"You're not," Jonas said, "a freak."
"Says the psychic and the vampire,"  Sera said.

"This sucks."
"You tried to warn me."
"You never listen."
Sera breathed.  It wasn't so bad.  "Maybe next time I will."
Luke shook his head.  "No you won't."
"No," Sera said, and laughed in the midst of her tears.  "I won't."

Cover Art:
True love here, true love ... especially the prequel's cover; it just gave me a clear image of Sera and Luke from which to work.  The coloring and the font on both are fabulous.  I would be drawn to these covers at a bookstore ... 'nuff said :)

Wanna buy the books?  Find them on ... AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and the AUTHOR'S SITE (and Intuition is FREE!).  Also add it to your GOODREADS here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Double Review: Seraphina & The Audition by Rachel Hartman

Just out this week!!!

Seraphina (Seraphina #1)

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

Genre: YA* Traditional Fantasy (strongly historical in feel)
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating: *  *  *  *  *

My Review:

This is a brilliant book!!!  The descriptive writing alights the imagination; the word choice is varied and intelligent; the story is complex and powerful.  Seraphina is both a classic fantasy and a beautiful "becoming" story of self acceptance while battling against prejudice and political intrigues.

Unlike a classical fantasy that is more quest centered and less character deep, this novel is chock full of thoroughly developed personas.  I immediately fell in love with our brave, yet unsure of herself, heroine; then we meet those surrounding her, including those living within her head.  Every character has texture and depth.  You can not help but love them or hate them, but never can you feel indifferent towards any of them.

The world building is stunning.  I love the dragons and their difference to human kind; Hartman's descriptions of the dragon experience are spine-tingling.  Seraphina's world feels so authentically historical and her garden within her head is amazingly artistic.

The story is layered with lots of mystery and surprises.  I never suspected the "guilty party" but upon reflection the signs were all there.  Then there's the drama.  I'm not a fan of most drama as it tends to be full of whininess and plot-stalling muck, but the dramatic elements of this story are neither.  I cried, I bit my knuckles and I hurt for Seraphina.  The entire story is so incredibly well told that the reader remains completely invested in the characters and events throughout.  The ending leaves one craving more and desperate to know what happens next, but provides enough closure to leave us with that all important contentedness of finishing a good book.

Much like LaFever's Grave Mercy, the historical essence of Seraphina makes it difficult to label it as young adult literature.  Sure the mc is a teen, but in a historical setting teens lead an adult life.  Truly there's not an age group who wouldn't love this book.  It's an amazing story and everyone should read it!!!

Cover Art:
Truthfully, this cover fell flat for me.  I fear it will hurt this book's sales as it just doesn't shine next to all the gorgeous covers filled with rich colors and beautiful girls in amazing dresses.  I can imagine seeing a partial profile of Seraphina in a beautiful historical dress with her sleeve pulled up revealing shimmering silver scales; perhaps she is reaching up toward a dragon snout.  Or perhaps we have a full view of Seraphina in an amazing dress, with some of her scaling showing, surrounded by flames.  This book deserves the dramatic.

Exclusive prequel to Seraphina.

Click on the link to read on Scribd:  The Audition

My Rating: *  *  *  *  *

My Review:
For an extremely short (19 pages) story, this is a real gem.  I suggest reading this after Seraphina only because you'll already be so in love with these characters at that point, you'll cherish this little peak all the more!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway of Julie Reece's Crux

**Happy Dance**
Yup!  It must be blog tour time if I'm doing my happy dance...
 so you know I'm super excited.
It is my extreme pleasure to introduce to you our guest author,

Julie Reece!

Yay!!!  Woo hoo!  **Claps Madly**
If you're a regular follower, you know how much I love Julie's writing.
If you're new here (or need a refresher), check out my reviews of Crux & Tidal Whispers :)
Yesterday was the big release day of Crux.  Julie's blog has lots of info about that, so click here and check it out ... but come back quickly because
not only do we have a chance to get to know Julie better through her guest post,
we also have **squeals excitedly** a two part giveaway!

Winner 1 wins CRUX in ebook form
and Winner 2 (US only) a  cool prize pack of swag!

Crazy wonderful, huh?!?

So, first let's have Julie tell us a bit about herself...
Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess... or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

In considering what to ask Julie to share with us today, I had read this bio and found that she, like my younger brother, has dyslexia.  Being a topic close to my heart, I asked Julie if she would kindly share more in depth about her experience.

Now onto an incredible and special post by Julie Reece.

Good morning everyone, how’s it going? :) I’m really happy to be here and pleased to talk about what’s on my mind today.

When the subject of my dyslexia was mentioned as a blog post topic, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I mean, school was a painful time in my life for a lot of reasons, but my learning disabilities played a major role. Am I over the memories, the pain and struggles of being labeled dumb or different from most of the students I went to school with? I think I’m getting there, and writing has helped more than I can say.

I’m no expert on learning disabilities, so I checked out some folks who are. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke gives the following definition for dyslexia:

"Dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person's ability to read.”

The World Federation of Neurology defines dyslexia as "a disorder manifested by difficulty in learning to read despite conventional instruction.”

Oookay. Fine for you, Mr. Fancypants, but back when I was in school, many disabilities weren’t identified or addressed. No one told me why I was different. Teachers in my class divided readers into three groups according to skill level. They unsuccessfully tried to cover the divisions with less than clever names like, ‘The Tigers’, ‘Wild horses’ and ‘Lions’ reading groups. It was years before I understood disabled doesn’t mean stupid. It took the kids in my group less than five minutes to realize, Lion stood for Leo, as in, “Leo the late Bloomer’ type Lion. Now it wasn’t the teachers fault, but our classmates promptly pronounced judgment on us which lasted the rest of the year. The emotional wounds for much longer.

Much later, as more came out about learning issues, I began to identify myself in things I’d hear adults say … things like: dyslexia symptoms include letter reversal or mirror writing. Hmm, check. Person is easily distracted by background noise. Yeppers, that’s me again. Child has difficulty segmenting words into individual sounds, or are seriously poor spellers. I’m waving my arms wildly, people. Me! That’s all me! Individual tends to omit or add letters or words when writing and reading, or by writing that does not seem to match their level of intelligence. Well, that clinched it. I harbor the same strong suspicion I am ADD and have one or two other learning issues as well.

So now what? Would I ever read? Well, I reasoned, I wasn’t dead. There are worse things and I loved stories and make believe and wanted to read. Oh, I wanted it so badly. I longed for the privilege of entering all the secret worlds closeted inside the pristine white pages of the books that lined my classroom shelves. Who cares if dialing a rotary phone gave me hives? So what if I couldn’t read a traditional clock face until the seventh grade? I was going to read, darn it. And I’ll do it myself, thank you.

I don’t know what they do to help dyslexic kids nowadays. When I was in school, one teacher, one, seemed to care. She plunked me in a chair, stuck headphones on my tiny head, put a book in my hands, and told me to read along with the narrator until I ‘got it, dummy’. I overlooked the name calling, grateful there was a way out—and I took it.

Hard as I try, I can’t remember the name of the teacher’s aide who helped me—the one who decided to care about a little girl who couldn’t read. Nor can I identify the melodramatic narrator of the books I devoured. He taught me literature was every bit as exciting as I’d dreamed it would be. My throat closes a little as I think of them. I owe them a debt. They started me on my way.

So where am I going with all of this? I guess I just want to say, if you’ve stuck out in a negative way, for any reason, learning issues or otherwise, you can probably relate. And despite the fact that I don’t know you, if you’ve been wounded or struggle, I care. I’d love to see you shake it off and get free. Be free of both the thing that hurts and the people who judge. For me, I decided not to carry a chip on my shoulder and turn bitter. There are better ways to live life. In the end, even when my situation seemed insurmountable, I chose hope. You can, too. I believe in you.

Wow.  Thanks so much for sharing your incredible story with us.  I've read this post a few times now and get teary-eyed each time.  As an avid reader, the idea of struggling to read is like struggling to breathe, the stuff of nightmares.  I appreciate the words of hope you've shared with us! 

So onto the giveaway ... You ready?
Just fill out the rafflecopter form below (click here if it's playing hide n seek)
and remember, while the ebook is an international giveaway,
the swag portion is US only
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review: The Scarlet Dagger by Krystle Jones

The strength of Sloane’s heart is about to be put to the ultimate test.

After the Eclipse – the night vampires began openly slaughtering human victims – everything changed. Out of fear, the government salvaged what remained of the human population and enclosed them in massive, security-laden cities called White Sectors, while marking the vampire infested territory as Red Sectors.

When seventeen-year-old Sloane McAllister’s twin brother disappears, she seems to be the only one who thinks he isn’t dead, and vows to stop at nothing to find him. Gathering her courage, she braves the Red Sector to search for clues to his whereabouts. By chance, she encounters Aden, a handsome, charismatic vampire with a hidden agenda. He turns Sloane against her will, and whisks her away to his underground city. Enemies quickly become friends as Sloane struggles against her attraction to Aden, and resists her growing loyalties to the creatures that ruined her life. But the vampires themselves are the least of her problems. The city is harboring a devastating secret, one that could change the tide of the war and threaten to destroy everything Sloane has come to believe in.

Heart-stopping action and scorching romance collide in this dystopian, urban fantasy thriller.

Genre:  YA Dystopian Urban Fantasy
Publisher Type:  Indie
My Rating:  *  *  *  *  * (Oh yeah, five stars, baby!!!)

My Review:
There are books that leave a girl almost speechless, muttering "wow" over and over.  Yup, this one did that to me.  It is just so so very well done!!! I want to do cartwheels it was that good!

So what do I love?  First, within mere paragraphs, we are immediately moved into the action, we know general setting details and our main character's motivation.  I dare say that takes some serious talent to impart so much, so quickly while still being engrossing.  As a former Pittsburgher, I did especially appreciate the setting.  The world Ms. Jones creates for us is bleak and frightening; perfect dystopia.  Then throw in some vampires, both the zombie-like monsters and the sophisticated, beautiful ones.  Complete awesome-sauce!  

There are definite similarities to Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules.  Published within 6 months of each other, there's definitely no plagiarism here but rather a sign of things to come in speculative fiction.  More and more blending of various fiction sub-genres to create new and amazingly creative works of fiction for this reader in which to sink her teeth.  Yay for that!  I definitely want more of this sort of speculative hybrid!!!

Another thing I love about this book are the great characters!  I've got to really care about the protagonists to love a book; I can really like a book based wholly on story line, but to truly love it, I've got to connect with the characters.  It was crazy easy for me to connect with Sloane.  The writing inhales you right into her emotions.  I cried for her; I laughed at her; I felt fearful alongside of her.

Sloane had no idea who she could really trust.  I love that in a story!  It thickens the suspense.  This plot has crazy twists and turns.  Then the ending ... wow, the ending.  I literally gasped and said aloud "I so did not see that coming" (I should note that luckily I was not in public talking to my kindle).

Sure, there's a few things I didn't love.  I wanted to understand Aden a bit better, I was confused at moments by him, especially when he suddenly asks Sloane out.  Since we don't know if Aden is trustworthy or not and the story is told in first person, I'm not sure the author has any options in clarifying Aden for me, but it doesn't stop me from wanting it. **giggles**

And then the conclusion is a suspenseful cliff hanger and I'm not sure how I feel about that.  On one hand, it makes me want to immediately grab book 2 (which sadly isn't out yet), but on the other hand, the character (and subsequently the reader) must continue in strife.  The initial conflict is mostly resolved and that's really the most important thing.

So will I continue with this series?  Heck yeah!!!  I'm likely to stalk the author, begging for book 2.  In the meantime, you really should start reading this book.  I read all of it's 300 pages in two days, but I'm not sure my kids got all their meals or bathed or anything.  At the time of this post, you can get it for 99 cents on Amazon.  How freaking cool is that?!?

Cover Art:
This cover screams "YOU WANT TO READ ME!"  It's sexy and exciting and I would never walk by it in a store without picking it up to check out the blurb.  Gotta give major props to Robin Ludwig Design for this one!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong

Meet the smart, sexy — supernatural — women of the otherworld. This is not your mother’s coven...

Kelley Armstrong returns with the eagerly awaited follow-up to Dime Store Magic. Paige Winterbourne, a headstrong young woman haunted by a dark legacy, is now put to the ultimate test as she fights to save innocents from the most insidious evil of all.. . .

In the aftermath of her mother’s murder, Paige broke with the elite, ultraconservative American Coven of Witches. Now her goal is to start a new Coven for a new generation. But while Paige pitches her vision to uptight thirty-something witches in business suits, a more urgent matter commands her attention.

Someone is murdering the teenage offspring of the underworld’s most influential Cabals — a circle of families that makes the mob look like amateurs. And none is more powerful than the Cortez Cabal, a faction Paige is intimately acquainted with. Lucas Cortez, the rebel son and unwilling heir, is none other than her boyfriend. But love isn’t blind, and Paige has her eyes wide open as she is drawn into a hunt for an unnatural-born killer. Pitted against shamans, demons, and goons, it’s a battle chilling enough to make a wild young woman grow up in a hurry. If she gets the chance.

Genre:  Urban Fantasy/PNR
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating:  *  *  *  *

My Review:
Simply put, this is a great book!  I find it amazing that Armstrong takes the very unlikable Paige (I HAAAATED her in book 2) and writes 2 books with her as a central character!!!  And now I love Paige!  Armstrong does an amazing job of growing Paige over 3 books and turning her into an amazing character I can not only like but respect.  And then there's Lucas.  Who couldn't love Lucas?  He's noble and kind and brave, despite his family problems, which endears him all the more to me (and I really grew to like his dad).

Industrial Magic is more of a mystery/thiller, with Paige & Lucas' developing relationship taking a back burner to a really good murder mystery.  There's lots of hints of the romances to come in further installments with most of the characters we've met (plus some new ones) making an appearance in this book (I'm totally stoked to see if the thing with Jeremy goes anywhere).

The only bit that bothered me was near the end where Paige and Lucas split up from the others when they were so careful not to at other times, knowing they were the main target.  Duh?!?  It's sort of like the buxom girl in the horror flick that goes see what that noise in the basement was all about, calling out "anyone down here?" and subsequently gets killed.

This is such a unique and fun series, with each book having it's own feel.  You wouldn't want to read these out of order, but you could definitely read them back to back without getting bored with all the drama being centered around one couple.

Cover Art:
I love this cover ... cool tights ... I want some! ... and then the hint with chess pieces is just perfect!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blog Tour: Character Interview and Giveaway for J. A. Belfield's Eternal

**much jumping madly around**
Yay!  Woo hoo!  Time to celebrate!
Yes, it's finally here ... it's my stop on J. A. Belfield's Eternal Blog Tour!
Ta da!!!!

Okay, it's no secret that I love me some Holloway Pack (find them on Goodreads) and the newest installment, Eternal, is TO DIE FOR!   Yup!  Click here to check out my review, but then come right back because we are going to get to chat with Jem's sister, Jessica!  I'm so excited to meet her!  We are so lucky to get a chance to dish with her in between the events of Instinct and Eternal.  

And then there's going to be a freaking awesome giveaway where you can win an ecopy of Eternal and some sweet swag!  How cool is that!?!

So as without further... allow me to introduce Jessica ...  

Hi, Jessica! Welcome to my blog. I’m so glad that you could stop by today and talk with us!

It is a pleasure to be here.

Now for anyone who may not be familiar, would you first tell us a little about yourself and your family?

Oh, well … I live with Mother. It is only the two of us now, since Father passed away some time ago, and my sister Jem lives elsewhere. Since Father’s death, we have had to be self-sufficient, but Mother’s … natural remedies she blends help out with that—especially when someone seeks her for treatment of ailments. Most of my week is spent helping her. Or visiting the marketplace. That is often fun. But then, that is often where the likes of Brenton Pollock spend their leisure time. *smiles*

Tell me more about Jem; what’s your relationship like? Have you always been close? Got any embarrassing stories to share?

Yes, Jem and I have always been close. Although, it was rather a love-hate relationship when we were younger, before we matured a little and came to appreciate one another more. 

As for those embarrassing stories? I fear my own secrets of inappropriate behaviour far outweigh anything Jem has ever done. Yet she never tells. Which is why I helped her out when she wished to see Sean against Mother’s wishes. She has disguised my antics for long enough that I was indebted to her in that department. 

As to those antics? Well, a true lady never tells.

What were your thoughts when Sean Holloway started showing interest in your sister?

Truthfully? My initial thought was: of all the men to woo my sister, it had to be the one with the worst reputation. However, Jem is no fool, and the very fact she wished to visit with him told me he had shown her a redeeming quality in himself.

What is your opinion of him now that he and Jem are together?

Much improved of my initial opinion of him. For the most part, he keeps Jem happy. That is all that matters. 

And I concede that he is rather handsome. In a somewhat roguish way.

Your mom made it clear she didn’t like Sean. How is she now? I’m sure she must be missing Jem, but is she still angry? Think she’ll curse Sean?

You make her sound like a witch. *laughs* This is a delicate question—one I am unsure I have an accurate answer for. Yes, she does miss Jem. And yes, she is very angry. However, Sean’s visit after Jem had decided to stay with him did go a very long way to earning him a fraction of forgiveness. And I have to admit, she is far less cold toward him than she was in the beginning when she brewed numerous batches of Wolfsbane Tea, which she then went on to deposit on the Holloway’s doorstep. That seems like rather a long time ago now, though.

Do people in your community treat you differently now with this scandal of Sean’s & Jem’s living together? Any “guilt by association” issues? How do you feel about that?

Oh, goodness, you would think I were the one to be living unwed with a family of men. The gossiping women of the village could slice fruit with the sharpness of their disapproving glowers. And as for the men, you would think I were a trophy worth procuring. Really, the entire attitude of the locals is ridiculous. 

Yet, it does come with benefits. Ones a lady would never divulge.

Do you miss Jem being around now that she is living there? Any jealousy of her being surrounded by all those very fine men? **Wink, wink**

I do miss Jem, of course. I no longer have my resident false witness to my whereabouts when Mother asks where I have been. 

However, as for Jem being constantly surrounded by men? Whilst it may seem on the surface to hold great appeal, I am sure not being able to so easily walk away when one grows bored of their company is a curse rather than a blessing.

Any of those aforementioned very fine men catch your eye? Any consideration to following in your sister’s footsteps?

*Laughs* Not at all. I mean, of course the men Jem associates with are very pleasing to the eyes.
But to be always looked after by them, to be coddled as though a younger sister, to always know they are watching you and willing to protect … hmmm, perhaps I am not building so strong a case for the against after all.

Now the big question (okay, questions), do you think that Jem and Sean will ever tie the knot? Do you think Jem wants to? Sean? How do you think your mom would react?

I think for them to continue as they are with Sean not doing right by Jem and proposing would be utterly preposterous. It is about time he realised as such. And I have no doubt Mother would agree with me on this topic wholeheartedly.

Well, you’ve given us a lot to ponder. Thanks again for coming by. It’s been enlightening!

Thank you for having me.
And now .... drum roll, please ... here's the giveaway...
it includes an ebook version of Eternal & swag...
This is an international giveaway and please remember this is NOT a YA book ;)
Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below (click here if it's playing hide n seek):

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