Friday, August 22, 2014

Blog Tour- Storms of Lazarus by Karen Kincy Review and Giveaway




stormstour
Welcome to my tour stop for Storms of Lazarus by Karen Kincy. This is the second book in the Shadows of Asphodel series. This is a new adult dieselpunk romance and is now available!  The tour runs August 11-22 with reviews, interviews & a few guest posts. Check out the tour page for the schedule and more information.


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Storms of Lazarus (Shadows of Asphodel #2)


Sometimes escape is impossible. Sometimes love isn't enough.


1913. Christmas Eve. Ardis hardly expects a quiet holiday with Wendel, between fleeing Constantinople and hiding from an ancient society of assassins. And they owe a debt to a certain archmage.


In K√∂nigsberg, Prussia, they work with Konstantin on the next evolution of Project Lazarus. Wendel once called K√∂nigsberg home, the city now besieged by the Russians and their clockwork engines of war. This may be Wendel’s last chance to save his family and find redemption, but he's tormented by nightmares and tempted by laudanum. Ardis fears her love isn’t enough to save Wendel. Her hands are full piloting the automatons, and she's terrified to tell him a secret of her own. Will they—and their love—survive the storms of war?

Goodreads | Amazon

REVIEW
*Spoilers if you haven't read the first novel

I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, THE SHADOWS OF ASPHODEL, so much so that I helped a tiny bit with Karen Kincy's Kickstarter for this novel, STORMS OF LAZARUS. While I think things were a little murky about archmages and the technomancy in the first novel, it is pretty straight forward in this novel. There is a war brewing and Wendel is needed for his necromancy powers to run the automaton army that the archmages have built. Several new characters are added to this novel but I really loved that we got to meet Wendel's family.

Wendel's family....I now understand why Wendel is so skittish and jokes about everything to do with them as if they mean nothing to him. Those scenes must have been so hard to write because they were very hard to read. I was choking people with my hands as I read. I wanted a weapon to knock someone out. And I felt like Ardis should have done so, but Ardis is much cooler headed than I am. Wendel is lucky to have her instead of me. He'd have no family left.

The funny thing about the war is that it is right on Wendel's ancestral home's doorstep. And he is asked to help the very people that have hurt him so much. But then his consolation is Ardis. The relationship is much more a forefront in this novel and a little more explicit. The banter back and forth between Ardis and Wendel is so frank during their lovemaking it makes me smirk and a little jealous at the same time. I wish I could be so direct and honest all the time. Though I am uncomfortable with love scenes with detail, I found these enjoyable because of the honesty and lack of drama. The banter continued out of the bedroom as well and made the relationship between Ardis and Wendel feel real rather than contrived for a plot device.

So now I will say, I loved this second novel in the series! I think it is completed though there is always room for more adventure. It has a definite ending which I need as a reader. The story moves quickly and happens over only a few days. The dieselpunk machines and magic are never over my head and really clever. I loved one in particular though I can't say. I highly recommend this novel if you read the first one and liked it, even it you thought it was so/so. If you are into steampunk, New Adult, (not too much explicit sex but some), alternate history, magic or just need to try something new, I highly recommend this series! And don't forget to enter to win a $25 Gift Card to Amazon! Then you can buy the series for yourself!







Karen - author photo2 (1)

About the Author:


Karen Kincy (Kirkland, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.

Find the author:
Website | Twitter | Facebook





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Monday, August 11, 2014

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve, Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
Available September 5th
Oxford University Press
To Buy- Amazon/Kindle / BN/ Book Depository
Hardback 195 pages
Middle Grade Fiction
Goodreads:  Oliver grew up in a family of explorers - but his biggest adventure is about to begin!

Along with his new friends, a grumpy old albatross, a short-sighted mermaid and a friendly island called Cliff, Oliver goes off in search of his missing parents. But before he can put his rescue plan into action there's the evil Stacey de Lacey and an army of greasy, green sea monkeys to contend with . . .







REVIEW

Oliver's parents love to explore, but finally they have come home and Oliver is very happy about that. As he gets reacquainted with a home he barely remembers, his parents take a short exploration of some islands that have appeared in the cove behind the house since they've been gone. Night comes and when Oliver discovers their dinghy without them, he goes off to find them. Oliver is a very well prepared explorer so no matter the emergency, he's got the right thing in his pack for it. Though he didn't expect to meet a traveling island holding his parents hostage or a nearsighted mermaid (girl) and a talking albatross.

Oliver's adventure is imaginative, a creative tale about standing up for yourself and doing what's right, hidden in a tale about moving islands that compete for the title of best seawig every seven years. As you can imagine, there are many things a moving island can decorate his/her shores with from the ocean and competition is fierce. But one particular island doesn't play fair and neither does the human that resides on it. 

There are some very interesting characters that add to this unique tale, sarcastic seaweed in...The Sarcastic Sea, of course. Slimy Sea Monkeys, real Monkeys, not those that you ordered through the mail when I was a kid. I think that the target audience for this tale will enjoy this novel more than I did. Nothing really reached out to make it special for me except the illustrations. It just didn't have anything that set it apart from other books in this genre. But it was cute and not hard to read at all. There were a lot of illustrations, very detailed pictures that add a lot to the story. 

I think the younger middle grade readers will enjoy this story, either read to them or stronger readers will enjoy reading it to themselves. It has some bigger words in it, something I like, to encourage young readers to expand their vocabulary without it seeming like a lesson or needing a dictionary.

**I received an e-arc of this novel from Oxford Press via NetGalley for review. This had no influence on my review. All opinions expressed are my own.***

Philip Reeve

Sarah McIntyre








Thursday, July 31, 2014

Blog Tour- Gone by Anna Bloom Review and Excerpt








Title: Gone

Author: Anna Bloom

Genre: Mature YA (intended for readers ages 16 plus)

Publication: July 28th, 2014

To Buy Links: Amazon Kindle / BN


Rebecca Walters harbours a dark secret, and as the fifty-three bangles she wears on her wrists as a self-imposed sentence of guilt remind her, she can’t even begin to consider moving on. Not after what happened on that night six months ago… a night which she can’t remember and yet managed to change her life forever.



When Rebecca comes across Joshua Adams, man equally haunted by past tragedies, on a moonlit beach, both of their lives are destined to change forever, and when the girl made out of the sun meets the boy made out of the moon and sea, anything can happen… but will the knowledge of their murky pasts bring them together or drive them apart?



Will Rebecca finally be able to claim her freedom? Will she stay and fight to be the girl she found on the sandy beaches of Cornwall or is she destined to keep running and hiding from a past that won’t stay Gone? One thing’s for certain: either way, nothing will ever be the same again.



REVIEW

I might have mentioned before, but in case you don't know, Anna Bloom is my favorite NA author. I love the British humor. The flawed yet, likable characters. I am particularly fond of Bex's mouth and attitude. The chances of me and this author meeting are slim, but I would love, love, love to meet her. I have a feeling I would love her sense of humor. Her characters are full of life, bad things have happened to them. Good things are happening to them. And they screw up because of the bad things. They are normal, but I want to know every detail about them until they become special, like my own friends. And I am so vested in what happens to them, in their happiness, in their overcoming the obstacles keeping them apart. I want to know their secrets and their dreams. And I want to laugh and be happy with them.

Anna Bloom writes all of those things. Rebecca, Bex for short, is an amazing character. She's so resilient and resistant at the same time. I love her snarky wit. The way she owns her past and is actually really hard on herself about her actions, her past, how what she has done has affected those she loves and cares about. Bex is very protective of her little sister. And her family is important to her, despite the way she acts. I love that family is big in this book. Family is a big part of the story in GONE.

I became a fan of Joshua immediately as I read the story. He is artistic, sensitive, funny (I love British humor, sharp and dry) and persistent. He's also a guy. What I mean is that he surfs and jokes around with the guys, he's not always just being artistic. And, he's also dealing with his past that he can't seem to forgive himself for or let go of. 

The story isn't drama filled and didn't earn an eye roll at all. I enjoyed the banter between Bex and Joshua. I loved watching them both grow and move beyond who they were separately and become someone better together. I thought Joshua's self confidence with Bex was amusing. Bex did not. But I think that's why Bex and Joshua worked, they threw each other off their game, the pretense of being tough enough to be able to handle their pain on their own. 

But don't let me mislead you, it's not all about dealing with painful pasts and making amends. There is a great romance in the novel, it's actually the forefront of the novel, but it isn't about jumping into bed and steamy sex on the page. Move along if that's what you want. This is, once again, a story first, with fully realized characters and a well developed story, a romance. The sex is almost an afterthought, but important to the story.

I hope you love GONE as much as I did. 




EXCERPT

When the morning rays started to lighten the furthest corners of her attic room I snuck back out forcing myself not to look back at her. I came straight back to the studio where I have been staring at my new work of art ever since.

I am just working on spreading the lightest bronze tone I can blend into her hair when the door bangs downstairs. Cursing to myself I take my time to place my paint brush back onto my palette before heading down to open it. The deep knot in the pit of my stomach makes me know that I want it to be the girl made of the sun.

It’s not.

Faye is leaning against the door, her dark hair swinging in her eyes and a laugh turning her lips into a smile. “And here I was thinking you were going to ignore me the full two weeks.”

“I’m not ignoring you.”

“Yeah I know, can I come up?”

I want to say yes but at the same time I don’t want to show her the image of Bex. I feel like it will reveal far more of me than it does of the picture’s subject.

“Nah, I am all done. Shall we go for a surf?”

“Ah, there is my Joshy Woshy,”

“Fuck, Faye, how many times have I told you not to call me that?”

“At least a million.”

“So how many more times are you going to say it?”

“At least a million.”

I pull the door closed behind us and nudge my oldest friend hard out of the way so I can double lock the door.

“Have you eaten?” Faye is eyeing me up and down with her critical shit detector.

“Nope.”

“Slept?”

“Nope.”

“Washed?”

“Nope.”

“How delightful, quite frankly, Josh you stink.” She crinkles her nose and leans in a little closer to give me a small sniff.

Well don’t stand so damn close then.”

“I’m guessing Bex doesn’t mind if you stink.”

I start to grin. Goddam it I can’t stop. “Guess she doesn’t.”

“Joshy loves Bexy.”

“Do not.”

“You keep telling yourself that, loser.”

I nudge her hard in the ribs which makes her give an “Ouch.” In response. “You know,” she continues, “I was just about to tell you how nice it is to have my best mate Josh around again, but now you can stick it.”

Faye links her arm through mine and we turn around the back of the building to the small outdoor space where I park Daisy. It doesn’t take us long to unload the boards and walk our way down to the lane to the beach. The sun is so hot and intense I can feel it burning on the back of my neck as we negotiate the sands and head towards the rock by the sea. At first I think there is a holiday maker sat there on the rock, as still as a statue, but the gleam of red gives away the stranger’s identity and I feel my steps falter a little bit, my board wobbling unbalanced beneath my arm. I keep thinking of the words I wanted to say to her last night and how she wouldn’t let me say them and I don’t really know what to do with that.

“You alright, Joshy?” Faye crinkles her eyebrows a little as she watches me hesitate on the sand.

“Yeah, sure, whatever.”

My feet walk along the warm sand towards the rock, and I watch as Bex’s shoulders stiffen as she spies our shadows stretch out on the sand beneath her.

“Hey,” I greet. My hand automatically stretches out to graze my fingertips along the sun warmed skin of her shoulder. 

“Hey.” She doesn’t take her eyes off the surf so Faye leans forward and shoves her face right into Bex’s.

“Hey, Rebecca, fancy a swim with Josh and I?” Faye asks.

Almost in slow motion Bex turns her gaze on us and I feel my mouth drop open. It’s Bex alright but not the girl I wrapped my arms tight around all night. This is the Bex I first saw stomping on the beach and along the high street. The make-up is back, as are the boots and the attitude.

I know Faye is standing right next to us but it feels in an instant like she has faded away and it is just Bex and I. The entire rest of the universe has dissolved around us.

“That make-up is going to run.” I state.

“Pardon?” Bex looks me up and down, and the ambers instead of looking like warm honey I want to swim in, are rock hard and unflinching.

It makes me want to fight her. It makes me want to get right into her space and lay my hands flat on her skin. It makes me want to move my body until her skin is meshed with mine and I can own her lips and make her knees give way with the intensity of just how much I want to do everything to her. All of it, everything, now.

“I said your make up is going to run in the water,” I cast my eyes down at her boots. “I hope that they are waterproof.” I incline my head towards her inappropriate footwear and wait for her reaction.

Bex grinds her boot into the sand, her fingers gripping the rock. Her shoulders are high and I can see the rise and fall of her chest through the transparent gauze of her shirt.

“It would be unchivalrous for you to dump me in the sea again,” she states, her eyes not making contact with mine.

“Yes, and we know I am all about being gentlemanly.” I take a step toward her so my bare leg is pushed up against her thigh, then I lower myself down and kneel on the sand in front of her.  “Look at me.” I place one hand on her knee sliding it ever so slightly up the smooth curve of her leg.

She does not react she just stares over my shoulder, her eyes still intent on the waves.

“Look at me,” I say again.

Bex slowly shifts her gaze to mine and for a moment we are both rock still. The liquid amber is back and I can feel it seep into my being.

“What’s wrong?” My voice is lowering of its own accord.

“Nothing.”

“Liar.”

To this Bex just shrugs offhandedly. 

“Is this because of last night?”

“No.” But her eyes dart over my face quickly and now I know she is lying.

“Is it because I was gone this morning?”

“No.”

“Is it because I am here with Faye.”

“No.” More forceful this time.

“What is it then?” I settle back onto my heels and clasp my hands over my knees waiting for her to say something, anything.

Finally after an age she reaches a hand forward and slides one of my dreads back over my shoulder, her fingers lingering just momentarily. “It’s because you make me want to be someone I’m not.”

I allow the breath I have been holding to exhale out of my mouth. “I don’t want you to be anyone other than who you are.” And this is the truth. Secrets out, worst bits whispered into my ear, I still only want her to be herself.

Bex leans forward and slides a finger along my jaw. “You make me want to be the sort of girl who can stay in a town like this, but I know I’m not, and you know I’m not.”

I laugh a little, I don’t mean to, it just escapes before I can hold it in. “Why you being so serious, for God’s sake, Bex just stay and have a surf with us then we can go and grab some breakfast or something?”

At the word “Us” Bex’s eyes flick over to Faye who is hovering nearby pretending not to listen.

“Forgive me, Josh, but I don’t really want to spend the morning hanging with you and your ex-girlfriend.” Her words make Faye’s head spin around. “And, Josh, I don’t think we should see each other again for the next few days. It’s just, it’s just, making everything too, complicated.” With her words she is up off the rock and striding her way back to the car park. I watch her long legs the whole way willing myself to chase after her.

I want to chase after her, but her words are echoing in my head, “Complicated.” The irony is apparent to me at once. Bex, who has complicated my life and woken me up with her meddling, stomping attitude and fiery resistance thinks I have complicated her life too much. Instead of chasing my toes dip further into the sand.



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Anna Bloom is a contemporary romance writer who writes about life as it happens. Combining a busy schedule of looking after two small children whilst working in a local school and completing The Uni Files series she also spends a lot of time imagining kissing hot guys – all in the name of her art.




                  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads  






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TOUR SCHEDULE

July 28th
Kimberlyfaye Reads (http://kimberlyfayereads.com) | Review
Flutters and Flails (http://fluttersandflails.blogspot.com/) | Review
Camisado Mind (http://camisadomind.blogspot.com) | Review

July 29th
Actin' Up with Books (http://actinupwithbooks.blogspot.com) | Review
The Phantom Paragrapher (www.thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com| Review
Stephanie's Book Reviews (http://stephaniesbookreviews.wordpress.com) | Review

July 30th
JRRichardson Fics (http://jrrichardsonfics.wordpress.com/) | Review
Holly's Hot Reads (http://hollyshotreads.wordpress.com) | Review

July 31st
The Book Lovers (http://thebooklovers.org) | Review
I’m Buried in Books (http://wwwburiedinbooks.blogspot.com/) | Promo
Books With Izzy (http://bookswithizzy.blogspot.com/) | Review

August 1st
Inside the Pages of a Book (www.insidethepagesofabook.com) | Review
Sleepless in Chicago (http://www.sleeplessinchi.com) | Review
Good Choice Reading (http://goodchoicereading.com) | Interview & Review








Monday, July 21, 2014

Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) 
by Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt BYR
Hardcover 489 pages
YA Fantasy
Reviewed e-ARC provided by publisher
AmazonKindleBN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo
Goodreads:  In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.



REVIEW

So as always, I chose the book a long time ago and get approved to read it. I don't read the summary again so I am totally blind going in to read the book. Best way to do it. I was thrilled with Lia! She is a fabulous princess because she is so unlike a princess! She doesn't have the haughty airs of a royal at all and I'm pretty sure, from reading accounts of her previous adventures, she never had any. She is a born rebel! I thought she was a little reckless with her safety in the beginning but I believe it just came from growing up in a palace surrounded by people that constantly protected her. She wasn't aware of danger. It just didn't register with her like it did everyone else. Her enjoyment of her freedom is addictive. She finds the smallest things bringing her the greatest joy, things the townspeople ( and I) would take for granted- the colors of the shops, the smell of the air, the pleasure of a bath even in a cold stream. Her character just continues to grow throughout the story and I continued to love her. Oh, she could dish out the coldness when it needed to be. And toying with suspicions, metting out revenge, stoicism. I could go on. My admiration for Lia just continued to grow throughout the book and it ends on a very high note.

This story, what a crafty weaver of tales Ms. Pearson is! I was so hooked leading me along the merry path, thinking one thing, something I really didn't like. I actually discussed it with my husband told him how much I liked the book and all, except for this one thing.  And then bam! Hit me right between the eyes and I had to go back and reread. I had assumed some things that were absolutely not true. Next day had to explain to my husband again about the book and how I was enjoying it so much more because of the same thing I hadn't liked the day before I had been wrong about it. A sharper reader might not have gotten fooled. I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer these days. But God did I love being wrong!!!
(And my husband didn't fall asleep either night when I explained the book to him, miracles).

So here's what I think, there are a lot of "songs" in the beginnings of each chapter that refer to religious texts and tales from the gods. Not a lot is explained, it sort of slowly unfolds, but I wasn't completely clear. Lia does tell the tale about The Remnant so it is more or less explained but much is left to be told. That didn't bother me.  Just skipped right over what I didn't know. I concentrated on what I did know. Lia, the people she knew, the countries that were allied, the "barbarians" and the action. There is so much going on that you really shouldn't get hung up or even have time to think about what you don't know. There are so many delicious little hints about what might be and I kept waiting for some things to happen that never did, but I just know they are coming. The only thing I hate is that it will be another year before the next book comes out. As excited as I am about Lia and this book, I hope I can remember my enthusiasm by the time the next book rolls out a year from now.

Recommended for lovers of fantasy, young adult, romance, strong female characters and a lot of action. I think I was tired after reading everything that happened. There is some violence and some crude sexual references, but nothing terrible. No sex, no bad words and no nudity.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Forgiven by Rachel Morgan

Forgiven (A Trouble Novella) by Rachel Morgan
Available Now
New Adult (without the explicit sex or major drama)
Amazon Digital Services 
E-book 76 pages
FREE on Kindle
FREE on Nook
FREE on Kobo

Goodreads:  Three hundred and six days ago, Julia ran away from home. Abandoning her family, friends, boyfriend, and university plans, she fled with no explanation. She can’t hide forever, though, and now it’s time to face the mess she left behind.







REVIEW

I know the first thing you're going to think, "I don't like novellas!" (some of you might not feel so strongly as the exclamation point, but you have let me know, not interested). But before you rush to judge, let me tell you why you should give this one a try. First it's a prequel to a new series by Rachel Morgan. I don't know if you remember me singing the praises of her Creepy Hollow series (The Faerie Guardian, The Faerie Prince,  The Faerie War) which started as monthly novellas and then turned into full length books. I LOVED that series. It was the perfect mix of adventure, disaster, faeries, unique magic, and romance. Rachel's voice is easy to connect with and I find myself easily slipping into the character's mind as soon as I start to read.

Second reason to give it a try, new setting, at least for me- South Africa! I haven't read any books set there. I got a small sense of what it was like to live there. Some of the settings and expectations. It was a very different setting for me. And at first I was thinking Florida. So hope I didn't ruin that for you, but it isn't completely central to the plot of the story. I don't think it's a spoiler or I wouldn't mention it. 

Third, this is a complete story packed into these pages. Rachel doesn't drag out the drama unnecessarily. She relieves us quickly of our questions and honestly, my mind did not go to where the answers were until the very end. The story is resolved and no, I don't think it happened too fast. I think once the beans were spilled, the rest just fell into place. Julia has had almost a year to process what has happened between what happened and the days she has to confront the thing that made her run. She is not a child of ten, she is almost an adult.
Her coming back to celebrate her parents' anniversary I think is just an excuse. Okay, I'll stop psychoanalyzing. 

I really enjoyed the character of Julia and her relationships with her sisters. I loved that she was  so connected to them, despite having left them so abruptly. Her parents were very much a part of her life and she had great friends. Even her boyfriend was likable, lovable. Not one that you would run away from without a very good reason. Even though they are no longer together, they are still able to speak amicably to each other which speaks volumes for the type of guy he is considering how Julia left without even a goodbye.

So, there are my reasons for reading this novella. It has some adult content, violence of a sexual nature so it is for the older YA to NA crowd. And yes these characters, have graduated and are going to college. Kinda. There is romance for everyone that needs that with there story. You will be happy with it.
AND AS OF RIGHT NOW IT'S FREE! 

Oh and there is a nice bit of the 1st actual full length book in the series, The Trouble with Flying, at the end of the novella. And it involves some of the characters from this novella. 

Go on now, read it. Squeeze it in between the pool and dinner. Or while you're waiting at the dentist office. Or just taking one more weekend trip before (shh) school starts.

Happy Summer!
Heather

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