May 29, 2014

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Pages: 432
Series: Age of X
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

The #1
New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.
My Thoughts:
I can easily say that The Immortal Crown is even better than the first book, Gameboard of the Gods, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Gameboard is a great book, but it had the huge task of introducing readers to a new world. Richelle Mead did a great job with that, but this book was still more enjoyable because of how easy it was to fall back into the world, already knowing how everything worked and how it was all set up.

I feel like the first thing about this book that I have to mention is the major UST (unresolved sexual tension!) continuing between Mae and Justin. I just adore how close they became in this book. There’s sexual chemistry dancing around the edges, sure, but it’s so much more. Them together is just this natural thing, and seeing how much they began to care for one another? So. much. swoon.

The Immortal Crown features even more influence from the gods. There are so many things changing and going on in regards to them. There’s definitely more pressure toward Justin and Mae from deities to commit and work with them. Another huge aspect of this book is the diplomatic mission to Arcadia. Senator Darling has a campaign for peace talks and to work out agreements, but of course many other things happen because of this.

There really is something for everyone in this series and in this book. There’s action, there’s serious romance-y feelings and affection, there’s mysterious things happening with the gods, and there’s a CRAZY TWIST. Seriously, that ending? Oh my word. I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger, per se, but it’s a definite twist. It’s something I didn’t see coming, even though there were some hints. It was a gasp out loud moment, and it totally changes everything -- or at least a lot of things.

Basically I just think this series is flawless. It is filled with amazinggggg characters who you care about, and it takes place in a very interesting society that Richelle has build up. Absolutely recommended.

The Cover:
Good but not great? Hmm..


Purchase Links:
Kobo | | | Chapters-Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

May 27, 2014

Tease by Sophie Jordan

Tease by Sophie Jordan
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 320
Series: The Ivy Chronicles
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

What happens when a girl who always calls the shots meets a guy who's too wild for even her?

A born flirt and good-time party girl, Emerson has never had a problem finding a willing guy. She's always chosen her hookups carefully, and she's never broken her three cardinal rules:

Never let them see the real you.
Never fall in love.
Always leave them begging for more.

Then Shaw comes along. A hottie from the wrong side of the tracks, he's immune to her flirtatious banter and come-hither smile. After rescuing her from a disastrous night at a biker bar, he doesn't even try to take her to bed—he calls her a tease and sends her home instead. Unable to resist a challenge, or forget the sexy, dark-eyed, bad-boy biker, she vows to bring him to his knees.

But instead of making Shaw beg, Emerson finds herself craving him. For the first time in her life, she's throwing out her rule book. Suddenly, she's the one panting for a guy she can't control—a guy who won't settle for anything less than the real Emerson and who forces her to do things she's never imagined, including facing a past she thought she'd buried.

A guy who just might leave her wanting more. . . .
My Thoughts:
One of my favourite things is when an author can take a secondary character from a previous novel, make them the lead character, show a completely different side to them, and have it feel realistic. And that is exactly what Sophie Jordan accomplishes in Tease. Emerson is such a different person from the girl we experienced from Pepper’s POV in Foreplay. Emerson’s wild child persona is an act to stop her from getting close to anyone, so that no one can hurt her.

The relationship between Emerson and Shaw definitely goes from zero to serious pretty quickly. Usually this would bug me, but I really liked these two together. They both have flaws and issues they need to work out, but somehow they work well together.

What I like about Sophie Jordan’s New Adult books is that it’s not all about the romance. There’s definitely a romance focus, but there’s always a good balance in the book between family, friends, and school. The storyline in Tease isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, but what I love about this book (and what I like about Foreplay as well), is that the characters feel like real people who you care about. Emotionally, this was a very satisfying book.

The Cover:
The beige is super boring, but I like the overall composition of it.


Purchase Links:
Kobo | | | Chapters-Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

May 26, 2014

One Broke Girl by Rhonda Helms

One Broke Girl by Rhonda Helms
Release Date: April 3, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 117
Series: Edgewood Falls
Review Source: ARC for review through Xpresso Book Tours

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

Anna Parker’s life disintegrates with one phone call. Her dad’s selling their ritzy New York City condo because her Wall Street banker mom emptied their bank account and ran off with another man. Which means Anna has to drop out of her elite college and move with Dad back to their small Ohio hometown. Anna’s determined to reclaim her life ASAP, so she’ll use the next few months to save money, help Dad get back on his feet, and find and confront her mom.

But Anna doesn’t anticipate things going so wrong. The only job she can get is working as a lunch lady in an elementary school. Their money-pit duplex is falling apart around their feet. And her dad is depressed without her mom, who's proving hard to find.

One bright spot in the chaos is Gavin Metcalf, a kindergarten teacher she dated when they were young teens. With his easy wit and sexy smiles, he makes her forget her stresses—and the fact that her boyfriend Steven back in New York doesn’t know the truth yet about her dire circumstances. When past and present collide, Anna has to decide where her future lies...
My Thoughts:
Overall One Broke Girl is a sweet story. I definitely rooted for Anna and Gavin to be together. I also liked the overall message of the book, that sometimes the life you end up with isn’t what you planned, but it might be the perfect one for you. I also liked how Anna learned about the satisfaction of hard work, something she previously had no experience with. I also enjoyed the scenes of Anna with her new friends. Anything with supportive female friendship automatically makes a book better, in my opinion.

The main reason why I did love this book is because of its length. I fully believe that you can tell a well-rounded story in the length of a novella, but in One Broke Girl things felt rushed. The character development, the new romance, and resolving the situation with Anna’s mom all happened so quickly. All of these things could have been more meaningful if there was a gradual change in the situations.

Overall? Not a favourite, but a decent read. If you're looking for a short New Adult book that you can read in one sitting, this one would likely satisfy.

The Cover:


Purchase Links:
Kobo | | | Barnes & Noble

May 23, 2014

A Matter of Forever by Heather Lyons (Tour Review & Giveaway)

A Matter of Forever by Heather Lyons
Release Date: May 15, 2014
Publisher: Cerulean Books
Pages: 278
Series: Fate
Review Source: eARC for review through Ink Slinger PR

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

It all comes down to this . . .

Chloe Lilywhite has struggled for years to find her footing in a series of dangerous and demanding worlds. Creator, first tier Council member, and one of the most powerful Magicals in existence, she was little more than one of Fate’s pawns. But now, Chloe is back home and ready to call the shots. She knows what she wants and who she wants to be.

Except the Elders never got the memo.

Annar and Magical-kind are under attack. The lives of Chloe’s loved ones, and life as they know it, are at stake. Chloe's the key to taking the Elders down, but they won't go quietly into the night.

This time, neither will Chloe.

*This is a New Adult title, suitable for readers 18+.
My Thoughts:
Looking at my review notes for A Matter of Forever, my first response was “wow wow wow!” That alone says a lot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I believe that Heather Lyons gets better with every book she writes. While this isn’t my favourite book of hers (The Deep End of the Sea holds that honour), I absolutely enjoyed it.

I think the theme word for the Fate series, but especially for A Matter of Forever, should be "intense". This book features intense action, intense emotions, and intense decisions. There are some seriously swoony scenes in this book, and a few lighter moments, but mostly I would say that this book features emotional upheaval. The journey comes to an end in this book, which means there are a lot of things happening. I thought it was pretty much the perfect conclusion, although I think the ending will be contentious to some. It’s a painful ending, but a beautiful one too. As much as it hurt to read, I understand why Heather ended things this way, and I do believe that it was the only way that any type of Happily Ever After could be achieved.

There are a lot of things about the Fate series that I really enjoy. I loved the continued role of surrogate parents in this book, that you can have a family of your choosing. I also enjoyed the platonic love between Will and Chloe. In terms of world building, I think that Heather Lyons has created something that’s easily on par with what the big New York publishers put out. If you haven’t read this series, I definitely recommend it. These books are very addictive, and I almost guarantee that they will have you emotionally involved from the very beginning.

The Cover:


Purchase Links:
Kobo | | | Barnes & Noble

And don’t miss the first books in the Fate Series!

A MATTER OF FATE (Fate Series #1) Just $.99 right now!
BEYOND FATE (Fate Series #1.5) Just $.99 right now!
A MATTER OF HEART (Fate Series #2)
A MATTER OF TRUTH (Fate Series #3)

About Heather:
Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

Where to find Heather:
Website | Author Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

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May 22, 2014

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 449
Series: n/a
Review Source: ARC from S&S Canada

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um...
My Thoughts:
If you're a fan of contemporary YA and you haven't read Morgan Matson's books, your next task in life is to race to the bookstore and pick them up. Seriously. They are that good. Her books so, so charming and relatable, and Since You’ve Been Gone is no exception. Morgan’s books have a Sarah Dessen quality to them, which, in my opinion, is a huge compliment.

Since You’ve Been Gone is a great story of friendship, most of all, but it’s also a book about discovering yourself, about romance, and about family. The book intrigues readers from the beginning with the mystery of where Sloane and her family went, but it very quickly focuses on Emily as a character. It’s a book about who Emily was, who she is, and who she wants to be. It’s a summer of dares, of Emily stepping outside her comfort zone.

I love how Morgan Matson writes relationships, romantic and otherwise. The romance here is a total slow burn, but it’s completely epic. Emily’s summer is spent with Frank, and their friendship is so lovely. They have such a rapport, a complete understanding of one another. Their conversations were amazing, and their chemistry leapt off the page. All the secondary characters were fabulous too. I loved Dawn. I smiled at Collins and his wannabe pimp attitude that covered insecurity. Emily's brother Beckett and his need to climb everything was adorable. Em and Beck's parents were a bit clueless and obsessed with their play, but you could tell they loved their kids all the same.

Since You’ve Been Gone is a story about hidden layers. It’s about surprising yourself and others surprising you; who people seem to be isn’t always who they are. I loved the characters and how the story was told. I adored both of Morgan Matson’s previous books, so it was no surprise to me that I loved this one as well. Morgan Matson is absolutely an auto-buy author for me, a must read for all lovers of contemp YA. I highly recommend her books to fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Leila Sales.

The Cover:


Purchase Links:
Kobo | | | Chapters-Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

May 21, 2014

Event Recap: Moira Young in Brampton

Last Monday (the 12th) I had the great pleasure of attending the launch event for Moira Young's North American tour, celebrating the finale to her Dust Lands trilogy. I'm such a huge fan of Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart, and I can't wait to dig in to Raging Star.

I went to the signing with my Mom, as per usual. We got there plenty early, since we never know what traffic is going to be like on the highway. I purchased my copy of Raging Star and we looked around the whole Chapters store before they even put chairs out. ;) Once they did set up, we grabbed some front row seats. By the time the event rolled around there wasn't quite a full house, but definitely an enthusiastic grouping of fans.

Moira came out and did a talk about her publishing journey and the growth of Blood Red Road from the conception of the idea to what it became. After her talk she answered questions from the audience before beginning to sign books.

I was a speedy typist and I believe I managed to get just about everything down that Moira spoke about. Here's a recap, in point form...

  • She started writing Blood Red Road in 2006; it started off as a very different book: she had a 1 book plan and it took place in an ice world
  • She worked for 3.5 years on the first drafts of Blood Red Road, and it ended up being unusable
  • Was discouraged and got advice from her friend Julia Green; Julia told Moira that she was now ready for revision, that she could start over; with encouragement from her husband, she began to do so
  • At first there were discouraging voices saying she was a failure etc, but then Saba's voice appeared
  • With Saba's voice everything changed: the landscape and everything fell into place
  • When she wrote Blood Red Road she had two ideas for how it would end. The first closed things off, and the second brought about a larger plot, an overall arc -- she chose that second option because she thought there would be enough for trilogy, even though she didn't know where it would be going
  • The biggest influence for her storytelling was probably the movies and books that she grew up with; her father always showed her "big, adult movies" -- epic stories like Gone With the Wind and westerns; there were no limits on what she read and watched -- all these stories went into her "imaginative well"
  • As mentioned, she didn't plan a trilogy, and writing one was difficult because she was a very inexperienced writer: she had to learn how to structure a big story
  • The whole plot of the trilogy grows from Saba: her choices, who she becomes, how she changes
  • Rebel Heart was, again, re-written and she used almost nothing from the first draft
  • Because she's a self-proclaimed slow writer she was coming up against deadlines, so she decided she needed a new way to write Raging Star; she began to taking 2 months to plot & structure, which she hadn't done before
  • At 10,000 words into Raging Star she reached a point where it would have fallen apart if she kept going
  • She stopped and began writing character studies; the book is so much about what each of the characters want; they each have their own agendas and goals, and the story comes from their interactions
  • Moira was able to hand in a first draft of Raging Star to publishers, even though she missed deadlines; when the page proofs came along, she was still making a lot of changes to language and poetry, which usually isn't done; it came pretty close, as by the time the book was completely final it went to the printers 3 or 4 weeks later
  • An audience member asked about Cormac McCarthy and whether No Country for Old Men was an influence; it wasn't, but The Road was a huge influence: the bare bones, stripped down style of it taught her that she could do a lot with a little; that you can leave space for the reader to fill in
  • Saba is the reader's camera; we only ever see what she experiences, and know what she knows: therefore we don't have details (about things like larger world building) until Saba knows something; the POV is very biased from her experiences
  • The setting of the book was influenced by the prairie views from Winnipeg and the mountains and rivers from the West Coast; she took places that she knows and transformed them a bit
  • She uses dialogue to move things along: this writing style comes very natural to her, probably coming from her life as an actor; it's the descriptions that she struggles with, and she always has to go back and fill out more details (just because she sees it, doesn't mean the reader can)
  • What's going on with the movie: they're in the 3rd round of script development right now; Moira has a lot of input on how the characters are portrayed and she'll have input into lead casting if it gets to that stage (they're looking for unknowns, really want to "break out" an actress)
  • She's learned that movies aren't books, and what works well on page doesn't always work on film
  • Belives that it's almost better not to have huge input on the movie process, because she's not a movie expert: thinks that it would be silly to control a process she doesn't know much about
  • Was asked a question about why the book is about Saba going after Lugh; Moira responded that you have to make stakes very high for your character if it's going to power a whole book; it has to be something that if your main character can't fix it, it would be a disaster -- therefore, the plot is based around Saba losing the person who means the most to her, who she sees as the best part of herself
  • Was asked about why she doesn't use quotes for dialogue; basically the answer was that when you insert dialogue tags it's an automatic step back from Saba's POV; for that particular character it would be an artificial construct to do that

Thanks to Moira and Chapters Brampton for a great event!

May 19, 2014

An Interview with Linda Kage + Giveaway

I'm so pleased to be part of the To Professor, With Love blog tour for the lovely Linda Kage. Here's a little bit about her latest release:

To Professor, With Love by Linda Kage
Release Date: April 26, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 396
Series: Forbidden Men
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

Junior in college. Star athlete. Constant attention from the opposite sex.

On this campus, I’m worshiped. While seven hundred miles away, back in my hometown, I’m still trailer park trash, child of the town tramp, and older sibling to three kids who are counting on me to keep my shit together so I can take them away from the same crappy life I grew up in.

These two opposing sides of myself never mix until one person gets a glimpse of the true me. I never expected to connect with anyone like this or want more beyond one night. This may be the real deal.

Problem is, Dr. Kavanagh’s my literature professor.

If I start anything with a teacher and we’re caught together, I might as well kiss my entire future goodbye, as well as my family’s, and especially Dr. Kavanagh’s. Except sometimes love is worth risking everything. Or at least, it damn well better be because I can only resist so much.
Buy the book: | | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | All Romance

Find more buy links (including signed paperbacks!) on Linda's site.

An Interview with Linda Kage:

Me: What comes first: character or plot?

Linda: It depends on the idea that comes to me. Sometimes, I think up a plot and have to come up with a certain kind of character to fit it, and sometimes a character will pop into my head and I have to develop a plot for that person. It seems to vary with every story!

Is there a specific character type or trope you're dying to write about, but haven't fit into a book yet?

I love reading about alpha males, but I've never really been able to write one.

How do you decide which book to write next?

I am usually working on about half a dozen books at any given time. It's always a toss-up which one will form the most developed idea first. But whichever one does, is the one I focus most of my attention on next.

Do you have ideas about where your characters are going after the book ends, or do you tend to leave them "as is"?

I'm always giving my characters new scenes in my head and developing more plots and subplots, long after a story is published. I don’t always write them down, but they’re still in my head.

What three words would you use to describe Aspen and Noel? How would they describe each other?

Yeesh, this will be hard to do. But, okay, let's give it a shot.
Noel - Student, Athlete, Big-brother.
Aspen - Professor, Strict, Day-dreamer.
Noel Describing Aspen - Prim and proper yet sexy, a hard-ass hiding her hopeless romantic side.
Aspen Describing Noel - Layered, Surprising, Stubborn, Dedicated.

What do you think draws writers and readers into books with forbidden romances?

Reading about characters always doing the right thing is boring. Put them in a situation where they start breaking rules, and people start to notice!

What are your favourite books and/or who are your favourite authors in the genres you write?

There is no possible way to list all my favorites. This year, I'm fan-girling over Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan. But there are so many--SO many--more amazing authors and books out there, you don't have enough blog space to rave about them all!

What can readers expect from you next?

Loving Lies, the next book after Fighting Fate, should release some time this year! Then, I'll get to work on Pick and Eva's story for book three in the Forbidden Men series.

About Linda:
Linda grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest as the youngest of eight children. Now she lives in Kansas with her husband, toddler daughter, and their nine cuckoo clocks. She works a day job in the acquisitions department of a university library and feels her life has been blessed with lots of people to learn from and love. Writing's always been a major part her world, and she's thrilled to finally share some of her stories with other romance lovers.

Where to find Linda:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can follow along with the rest of the tour here (lots of reviews and some excerpts!)


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