Monday, 21 April 2014

Review: A Breath of Frost

Title: A Breath of Frost (The Lovegrove Legacy #1)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Released: 7th January 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

1814 London sees Emma, Gretchen and Penelope discover that magic runs in the family and that the cousins are, in fact, witches.  This discovery, unfortunately, comes with something of a damper, as it seems they unwittingly opened up portals to the underworld.  Among the foul and dangerous things coming through these portals are the spirits of the Greymalkin Sisters, dark witches who are now murdering young witches in a quest for more power.  Somehow, it is Emma who stumbles upon each corpse.  The cousins need to locate and seal the gates as quickly as possible, but someone is working against them to help the Sisters.  It is only a matter of time before any hope or possibility of winning this fight becomes impossible.

This was a fairly solid read, although I admit this wasn't entirely what I'd hoped.  Having enjoyed Harvey's Drake Chronicles I came with certain expectations.  These were met in part and, with a little more work, it could have been even better.  The bones were definitely there, and very promising.  What seemed to be missing, however, were key points of explanation, parts of conversation; transitions were disjointed and causal points unclear.  This improved over the course of the book, with the second half being stronger than the opening, and this is where I started to get more involved in events.  The plot, such as it was, was not an overly complex one, but Harvey made it reasonably compelling nevertheless.  I quite liked the portrayal of the Graymalkin Sisters, each suitably villainous and distinct in their own way.  The worldbuilding in general, although in need of some improvement, was decent enough.
 
I'm not sure how attached I became to the characters.  Certainly I liked our three leads, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them.  Amusing and feisty, they kept me entertained - Emma in particular, who took the forefront in this instalment.  But it's hard to detect any deeper sentiment.  Possibly part of the problem was the frequent jump between perspectives, which was split not only between the cousins but others as well.  Even beyond that, though, I think there was something elusive that just prevented me from fully connecting.  Still, there's sufficient time left for me to feel differently.  What was good, beyond a doubt, was to see a good connection between these three girls.  As family, as friends, they had a strong relationship.  Romance was present in the book, but it was this relationship that took the focus more, I think, which was a nice change.

While not as promising as I might have hoped, A Breath of Frost was still a decent start to a new series by a well-established author.  I have hopes that there will be improvements as the series goes on and, if so, this should turn out to be something truly enjoyable.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Review: Of Darkness and Crowns

Title: Of Darkness and Crowns (Goddess Wars #2)
Author: Trisha Wolfe
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 20th March 2014
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spoilers for those who haven't read the first book.

It was a long wait for this book.  And when it finally came - imagine me staring in shock and then clapping manically when I saw Trisha Wolfe's name in my inbox at this point - I did a very silly thing.  Rather than spreading it out, savouring it, as I should have done, I devoured it in a matter of hours.

Totally worth it, though.

Bale, the dark moon goddess, is still in Prince Caben's body, and Kaliope, leader of the Nactue Guard, is even more determined to track him down and save him.  But it seems as if the odds are stacked against her.  Bale's influence on Caben is destructive, both in terms of the literal war he is now waging and on his mental state.  Kal is now a weakness to him.  On her side, she's struggling to bear the responsibility of the kingdom that Caben entrusted to her, and the traitor in their midst.  Her link to Bale is greater than she realised, and her determination to defeat the goddess through whatever means necessary is clouded by her feelings for Caben.  If she hopes to destroy Bale, she may have to destroy Caben, too.  It's a choice that may prove to be impossible, but either way it'll come with unbearable consequences.

As soon as you start this, you are plunged into war, with the sound of sword meeting sword and heads being chopped off.  Not a bad way to start.  This set the tone for the rest of the book, with armies and fighting and politics taking the focus.  Depending on your preference, this isn't actually bad.  Of course there were emotional moments interspersed throughout - this is Trisha Wolfe, after all - but I thought for this middle instalment, it was quite appropriate for these things to be only complementary, seeing as they were in the middle of a war.  Those emotional moments were further well placed, breaking up the tension at just the right times and creating tension of a different kind. I also quite liked that, because this is dual PoV, we get to see both sides of the war.  (Oh, hush.  I don't just mean that we get more of Caben.)  It was good to be afforded extra insight into how the kingdoms work, improving my feel for the world I became part of.  Not only that, it was interesting to see Kal and Caben actually fighting against each other.

The first book left me with the pain of Bale possessing Caben.  The pain increased here, where it was only too clear how much Bale's presence was destroying his mind.  The darkness was one thing.  Playing host to such a dark being was sure to have a corrosive effect, but to see him try and struggle with Bale, only to be severely punished for it, was not easy.  And having two minds in one head is never conducive to sanity.  This Caben, unlike the confident yet charming prince that we meet in the first book, is truly quite dark, his heart and mind filled with all sorts of shadows.  His battle with himself and with Bale was not easy, and I'm glad in this Wolfe made him a combination of weak and strong.

The same was with Kal, although her strength dominated, which I approved of.  She has different battles going on, not only with Caben and Bale, but also within the political structure she thought she knew and could handle.  I could appreciate her struggle to cope with all the responsibility that had been placed on her; I certainly wouldn't know what to do with it, being just as afraid as her of letting people down or making things worse.  She had to confront her relationship with her father, the empress...and herself.  Since Caben became part of her life and Bale was brought back, everything changed, and now, for her, everything is being challenged once again.

Of Darkness and Crowns was a highly satisfactory sequel.  Perhaps one of the things that might have made it better was if it was longer.  While the pace was good, I was expecting to be in for a longer haul.  Nevertheless, it didn't fail to elicit all those feelings that reading a Wolfe book usually creates.  Yet again, this author delivers, and it goes without saying that I'm front in line waiting for the next book.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Book Blitz (Excerpt & Giveaway): The Goddess Wars Series


Of Silver and Beasts (Goddess Wars #1)
Release Date:  April 19th 2013
New Adult Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads:
In the sand-covered queendom of Cavan, the goddess once saved a young Kaliope’s life, preventing the mercury her father attempted to hide in her blood from reaching her heart. Now, a cybernetic clamp filters it, but the silver streaks swirling faintly beneath her skin are a constant reminder that she’s different.

When nineteen-year-old Kaliope is chosen as head of the Nactue Guard, she becomes the sworn protector to her empress. In the midst of an invasion on a neighboring land, Kaliope is placed in charge of guarding Prince Caben, the last heir to his kingdom. But when they’re attacked by the feared Otherworlders, Caben and Kaliope are abducted and taken below to a realm where they must fight for their life in a caged arena.

Kaliope struggles to protect her princely charge, keeping him and herself alive while battling inhumanly opponents, and trying to save the stolen, sacred relic that will restore her empress’s life force and all of Cavan. And if she can somehow awaken the goddess within her, she may save what’s most important.

New Adult Dark Fantasy: Intended for readers 17 years of age and older.

Available from:
(FREE for a limited time! Get your copy below!)
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Excerpt from Book 1 - I couldn't decide between two awesome ones, so I hope you guys love this one as much as I do!
I don't know if I've been asleep for hours or minutes, but the adrenaline rushing system to act makes it impossible to sleep.  Nudging Caben's slumbering body, I say, "Wake up."
    He's still lying on his side, his lefgs curled up where they had been tangles with mine while we slept.  His arms reach out, searching for something as his eyes crack open.  "It's not morning," he deadpans.
    "I don't know if it is or not, but we've slept enough."  I prod him once more, rousing him fully awake.  "Get-"
    "Don't make me bark another order," he snaps.  "Climb back into bed."
    He rolls over.
    Annoyed, and having had just about enough of his chauvinistic arrogance, I lift my bare foot to kick his backside.  Before my heel meets his rump, his arm reaches behind and he grabs my ankle.  I swallow my yelp as he pulls me onto the cot.  Landing on my back, I bite my lip, holding in my cry as the bar beneath the mattress gouges into my spine.  But all thoughts of aches and revenge flee my mind as Caben pulls my ankle and slides my body underneath his.  Hovering above me - half his weight on the cot, half on top of me - he presses me into the bedding.
    His hand lowers my foot to the bed, then slowly slides up the side of my leg until it reaches my stomach.  Lifting the bottom of my tunic, he rests his palm on my waist, on the small curve above my hip.  His eyes never waver, his heated gaze holding mine.
    "Before we begin nefariously plotting," he says, low and husky, his breath skimming my cheek.  "I want to know - I'll only ask this once."
    Unsure of what he's demanding, I squint, and my breath halts as his eyes drop to my chest.  I swallow.  My eyes close.
    "Kaliope."  He says my name with the hint of accent I now know I only hear when he's taken off-guard.  When he drops his barriers, either in anger, urgency, or fear.  I wonder what emotion is causing him to lose control now.  And will his lilt deepen out of alarm or revulsion when he sees my chest?
    I open my eyes.
    The steady thump of his heart beats against my arm.  It speeds as the tension thickens the slight span of air between us.
    No matter what happens later, whether we live or die, I at least have control over this moment.  Even if we survive, and he goes off to rule his kingdom and I to lead the Nactue, I can keep this one moment.
    One stolen moment out of a lifetime of duty.
    Taking a breath and releasing it in tiny clips that make my breastbone ache, I cover his hand with mine.  The metal cuffs on our wrists clank together.  I force his hand slowly upward - onto my belly...my rib cage...around the swell of my breast - to the hard glass covering.
    I fight the urge to shut my eyes and close myself off from the many, sudden emotions that cross his face.  His eyes enlarge, and a crease forms between his brows as his features shift to confusion.  And when I think my body will die from tremors, he finally breathes, his full lips pressing together in discernment.
    Attempting to remove his hand and rise, I shift sideways, but he holds his place, firmly pressed against me.  The rough pad of his fingertip traces the scar tissue around the casing.  His deep, stormy eyes follow the hollow of my neck until they land on my collarbone.  And with a movement so subtle, he turns his hand over and pulls my tunic down, exposing the clamp.
    My insides threaten to combust.  Every nerve in my body is ready to set the mercury aflame - my dread is complete.  I have to force some word from his mouth, some action from him, to end this torment.
    Only when he begins to lower his mouth toward mine, I freeze, wondering if he's merely accepting me because again, we could die, and I'm the last chance he'll have to be with a woman before then.
    But his lip pass mine, brush over my chin and jawline, and instead find the sensitive, scarred skin of my chest.  He plants a soft kiss, and then another.  My throat thickens.  My nostrils flare as a burning sensation blazes behind my sinuses.  It quickly subsides when the unshed tears I'm holding back release.  I blink, and they quietly trail down the sides of my temples.


Of Darkness and Crowns (Goddess Wars #2)
Release Date: September 1, 2013
New Adult Fantasy

***WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOK ONE***

Summary from Goodreads:
The moon goddess has taken up residency within Prince Caben, darkening his mind and soul. Now he hunts the very women he sacrificed his life to save, his conflicting desires for love and power raging a battle within him. Kaliope possesses the key to setting Bale free, and Caben will stop at nothing to see his goddess restored. Even if that means destroying the kingdom he’s sworn to protect, and the infuriating woman who torments his thoughts.
Kaliope, now the leader to the newly formed Nactue Guard, has vowed to save Caben. But with a traitor lurking among her people, and powers she’s unable to fully control, Kaliope’s mission becomes shrouded with doubt. Her new role as watcher over Caben’s kingdom brings a burden she’s unable to bear alone, and appointing the right person in charge of the prince’s affairs has turned a kingdom against the Nactue leader. Saving her stubborn, willful prince from the darkness overtaking him will be the battle of her life, and she needs people she can trust by her side. But bad blood between members of the Nactue obscure Kaliope’s journey, while her feelings for Caben cloud her judgment.

When the time comes to do what she must to destroy the goddess of chaos, will she be able to if it means losing Caben forever?

Book two of the Goddess Wars is told in dual point of view from Kaliope and Caben. New Adult Dark Fantasy, intended for readers 17 years of age and older. 


Available from:
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About the Author
From an early age, Trisha Wolfe dreamed up fantasy worlds and characters and was accused of talking to herself. Today, she lives in South Carolina with her family and writes full time, using her fantasy worlds as an excuse to continue talking to herself. For more information on Trisha Wolfe and her works, please visit: www.TrishaWolfe.com

***Author Links***
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***GIVEAWAY***
1 Caben Flask Necklace (US only)

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Book Blitz Organized by:

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Blog Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway: Flawed Perfection

Title: Flawed Perfection (Beautifully Flawed #1)
Author: Cassandra Giovanni
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 7th March 2014
Purchase: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | Google Play | Signed Paperback

Bobby Beckerson was the American All-Star hockey player--he was the spitting image of perfection to his family. Goofy, sweet and undeniably gorgeous, he had everything but the one girl he wanted: River Ahlers.

River Ahlers is successful in everything but love. She's been in love with Adam Beckerson since they were kids. Worst of all she's stuck right in the middle of the brother's dueling over everything and anything, and she doesn't even know she's the ultimate prize.

Adam Beckerson was a boy with a guitar, a smile that sunk girl's hearts and a stone wall around his own. He was anything but perfect, and no matter how hard he tried he was nothing compared to Bobby. Sweet, damaged, with boyish good-looks, nobody thought Adam loved anyone but himself.

Bobby loved River, River loved Adam and Adam only loved himself--or so everyone thought. Then one night everything changes, and as it threatens to destroy everyone involved a tragedy strikes that will break them all...

 Excerpt:
I nodded my head and watched as Adam's hand lingered on the neck of the Ibanez™ before he picked it back up and slipped the strap over his shoulder.
    I sat on the edge of the bed as he began to play without an amplifier.
    The noise was tinny without the electric part hooked up but that didn't matter.  Adam's fingers moved effortlessly from fret to fret as he strummed the guitar.  His headed nodded ever so slightly to the beat and his bare foot tapped the floor as he closed his eyes and a smile formed on his lips.
    I stood and placed my hands around his neck, yet he continued to play, nod his head and tap his foot with his eyes closed.  The only change was on his lips as they crept into the seductive grin.
    I leaned into him, letting my hands comb through the hair on the back of his head as my breath washed over his lips.
    Still nothing.  The guitar continued to hum with his talent.
    I let my lips hover over his, then let them wander over the soft skin of his neck and up the stubble of his chin.  The beat remained smooth, undisturbed as the strings squealed and he deepened the riff.
    I paused as my lips reached his again, lingering at the corner of his mouth where the cold metal of his lip ring teased me just as much as his fingers on the guitar.
    I let my mouth run over the metal until it caught in my teeth and I sucked it in.
    Finally, his body reacted tensing as he groaned - but his playing didn't cease, didn't change.  He still resisted, hand strumming a tease over the strings next to the skin of my belly.
    His mouth responded to mine as I let the ring and his lip slowly slip away from me.  That was it - the guitar spun to his back and he yanked my hips to his own.
    "I need you to play me like that guitar," I gasped as his hand tilted my head and his tongue ran over my trembling neck.
    His other hand drifted down my torso.
    "Good, because I wasn't done with my song," he growled into my ear.
 
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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Review: 'Til Death

Title: 'Til Death (Fractured Souls #1)
Author: Kate Evangelista
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Released: 4th March 2014
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Selena Fallon has visions of the future.  She's not sure why, and sometimes it makes it hard for her to have an entirely normal life, but it's something she can deal with.  The fact that her best friends and grandparents know also helps.  Except when she has a vision of her death - and it's not a particularly nice one at that - things start to get out of control.  Dillan Sloan is the new boy at school and, not only do they not get along, but weird electricity zaps through them every time they happen to touch.  Missing dogs and undead creatures compound the situation, until Selena discovers that she is part of the Illumenari, the secret society that Dillan also belongs to.  What she also discovers is that she is a target.  So far her visions have never failed to come true, but she has no intention of going down without a fight.

Although by no means her first novel, this is my first experience of Kate Evangelista's work, and I have to say she left a very good impression.  With a solid writing style that improved over the course of the book, and fresh ideas that were also well-executed, this wasn't a difficult one to like.  Realising that we have both the view of Selena and Dillan made me happy, but what I also liked was that the selection of supernatural creatures presented here was pleasantly different, even within the context of the usual secret society types.  Certainly as far as Selena goes, we have not seen everything.  And while a couple of things were predictable, a couple were not, and it is these things that have the most impact on the overall story.  I thought one surprise in particular could have been smoothed over, but there was nothing that truly hindered my enjoyment.  Evangelista almost takes her time, letting you get comfortable with the novel and the pacing, until it really kicks off towards the end and all manner of things fly at you and hit you in the face.

As far as heroines go, Selena falls happily somewhere in the middle.  While I doubt we could label her as badass, she can hold her own; she forces herself to keep it together and, if need be, fight.  She comes across as real, and as such I was able to relate to her.  Of course there were the usual secrets surrounding her, some obvious to me as a reader and some not, but none of it prevented me from feeling sympathy for her.  Nor has it stopped.  Dramatic irony being what it is, I'm impatient for that moment later in the series when she finally knows what I do.  Dillan, too, has his own emotional battles to overcome, and there is a change in him in terms of his approach towards these which was good to see.  I appreciated the different dynamics between him and Selena, and I also liked the established partner relationship he had with Sebastian.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting when I first met him, but it's definitely something that adds to the book.

Overall, then, I was left quite happy with this one.  (Actually, I was also left in disbelief and had to quickly search for the sequel's release date, only to stare in more disbelief, but you get my point.)  As an author new to me Kate Evangelista has made her mark and I will certainly have to go back.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Review: The Collector

Title: The Collector (Dante Walker #1)
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Released: 2nd April 2013
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Collector could very easily have been a miss for me.  Dante was, by all accounts, rude, unfair and arrogant.  I was prepared for this to go into the cluttered vault at the back of my mind labelled 'Meh'.  What I was not prepared for was for it to creep past my walls and insist upon my liking it.
 
Dante is a collector.  Not like stamp collector, but soul collector.  His new assignment is Charlie Cooper.  He's not sure exactly why his boss wants her, but whatever.  This assignment is his chance to escape hell and he has ten days to complete it.  He probably won't even need ten days, since no-one can do the job like him.  But when he meets Charlie and unwillingly gets to know her, he finds himself putting off his task.  It's problematic to say the least, but her can't stop emotions he hasn't felt in ages from rising to the surface.  Looks like this won't be such a simple assignment, after all.
 
First of all, Dante is rude, unfair and arrogant.  I spent a good deal of time marvelling at his attitude, especially when it came to Charlie.  I have never come across another protagonist so sure of themselves and if the poor girl knew what was running through his head when he met her I'm not sure she'd have been so happy to have him around.  But she didn't and things progressed and Dante actually turned out to be a redeemable character.  His growth was very gradual yet pleasant to see, and I think I preferred the second half because of the added depth that came with connecting with him more.  With his emotions came an entirely different side to him, one not so cocky, and that was nice.  What might have been even better would be to see more of his work and get a greater feel for that.
 
Charlie was the complete opposite of Dante.  Bubbly, friendly, always seeing the good in other people, she made for a genuinely nice character.  Admittedly I found her a little too gullible - surely her past experiences would teach her to be more wary? - but perhaps that's just the cynic in me.  Either way she was a fresh character, and I have to commend Scott for bringing to life two characters different from the norm.  Actually, 'different' and 'unpredictable' appear to be themes that run through this book, as I was not entirely expecting the level of humour that there was, and there were a couple of twists that had me blink in surprise.  As soon as there was one revelation I made the mistake of getting comfortable with it, only to find myself having to readjust to what was actually the truth.  This one certainly keeps you on your toes.  The mythology isn't just recycled material, either.  A fresh spin was put on it to renew my interest, and the ending in particular had me sitting up straight.
 
There were areas of doubt with this one, but if I overlooked the problems - which wasn't too hard to do - I did find myself enjoying it.  If nothing else there was the humour, but there were some genuinely good attributes, all of which makes me sure I'll be coming back to this author.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Cover Reveal: Flawed Perfection

Brown paper package with torn section

Hey, guys!  I'm so excited to be working with Cassandra Giovanni again, this time for the cover reveal of her new novel, Flawed Perfection!  I think this is her best cover yet - it's simple, yet everything comes together nicely.  I like that, although there's a model, it doesn't entirely fall into the NA cover trend of couples kissing/holding hands/gazing at each other.  It's thoughtful, plus there's greater meaning added with the flaw cutting across the corner and up the side.  I'm also a fan of the colour scheme and fonts used.

Okay, here it is.  What are your thoughts?  Let me know!
 
 
 
Flawed Perfection Cover
Flawed Perfection Paperback Wrap
Goodreads-badge-add-plus
Flawed Perfection
Beautifully Flawed, #1

Author: Cassandra Giovanni
Publisher: Show N'ot Tell Publishing
Cover Designer: Gio Design Studios
Released: 7th March, 2014
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
 
Bobby Beckerson was the American All-Star hockey player--he was the spitting image of perfection to his family.  Goofy, sweet and undeniably gorgeous, he had everything but the one girl he wanted: River Ahlers.
River Ahlers is successful in everything but love.  She's been in love with Adam Beckerson since they were kids.  Worst of all she's stuck right in the middle of the brothers' duelling over everything and anything, and she doesn't even know she's the ultimate prize.
Adam Beckerson was a boy with a guitar, a smile that sunk girls' hearts and a stone wall around his own.  He was anything but perfect, and no matter how hard he tried he was nothing compared to Bobby.  Sweet, damages, with boyish good looks, nobody thought Adam loved anyone but himself.
Bobby loved River, River loved Adam and Adam only loved himself--or so everyone thought.  Then one night everything changes, and as it threatens to destroy everyone involved a tragedy strikes that will break them all...

About The Author

Cassandra doesn't remember a time when she wasn't writing. In fact, the first time she was published was when she was seven years old and won a contest to be published in an American Girl Doll novel. Since then Cassandra has written more novels than she can count and put just as many in the circular bin. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character's stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. In 2012 she became a published Young Adult author, releasing In Between Seasons (The Fall, #1) and the Amazon bestselling thriller, Walking in the Shadows. In 2013 she branched out by using her artistic illustrating talents to publish her first Children's novel, The Adventures of Skippy Von Flippy: Tales of Friendship (Skippy Tales, #1). Cassandra released her first New Adult novel, Love Exactly, which became an Amazon Bestseller overnight in June of 2013. She's currently working on her new New Adult Contemporary Romance, Beautifully Flawed. The first novel in the series, Flawed Perfection is scheduled to be published on March 7, 2014.
Besides being a writer, Cassandra is a professional photographer known for her automotive, nature and architectural shots. She is the owner of Gio Design Studios Photography and Gio Design Studios Publication Marketing . She is currently studying to receive a degree in Marketing. Cassandra is happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England with the other loves of her life their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.

Cassandra can be found on: