Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Blitz: Eternal Starling by Angela Corbett

Eternal Starling (Emblem of Eternity #1) 
by Angela Corbett

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
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A love so strong, even eternity can’t separate them. Evie Starling has lived a relatively uneventful life hanging out with friends, gossiping about boys, and driving her 1966 Mustang.

All of that changes when she moves to Gunnison, Colorado, to start college and meets two mysterious men. For centuries, Alex Night and Emil Stone have yearned for Evie but they each have their own reasons for wanting to be with her. When both men claim to be her soul mate and tell her about an unbelievable past, Evie learns that she s not the person she thought she was. Soon, Evie finds herself in the middle of an age-old battle between the Amaranthine Society the soul protectors, and the Daevos Resistance the soul destroyers. With a past she doesn t understand, and a future rife with danger, Evie has to decide who she can trust. But Alex and Emil aren t the only ones who want Evie, and her soul is about to become the rope in an eternal tug-of-war.


About the Author

As a child, Angela Corbett’s most prized possession was a set of read-along books. She used to follow along with the narrator on the stereo and dream of when she would be able to read by herself. Her childhood reading habit led her to consider her future career. However, after consulting with her parents, she realized she had already exceeded hobbit height and since fairies and dragon-slayers were tricky jobs to get, she decided she wanted to create worlds of her own. She started writing poetry in elementary school and worked as a journalist in high school and college, but could never leave her love for writing fiction behind.

She is a graduate of Westminster College where she double majored in communication and sociology. She has worked as a journalist, freelance writer, and director of communications and marketing. She loves classic cars, traveling, and escaping in a good book. She lives in Utah with her incredibly supportive husband and their five-pound Pomeranian, Pippin, whose following of fangirls could rival Justin Bieber’s.

Eternal Starling is her debut novel and the first book in the Emblem of Eternity trilogy.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Blitz: Courtlight Series by Terah Edun

Sworn to Raise (Courtlight #1) by Terah Edun

Release Date: April 10, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the kingdom. But beneath her kingdom’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.

But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.

Sworn to Transfer (Courtlight #2) by Terah Edun

Release Date: September 20, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Eighteen-year-old companion trainee Ciardis Weathervane has won the friendship of the royal heir and saved his claim to the throne. Yet her interference in the inheritance rights leaves more harm done than good. With the death of the Princess Heir, the Ameles forest - the home of the kith, is dying.

The inhabitants of the forest, magic-wielding non-humans, are defiant. They have not forgotten their long struggles nor are they content to watch as the last of their lands perish. As humans begin to die in gruesome deaths, the Emperor dispatches the royal heir to the forests with the solution to the kith concerns.

With enemies closing ranks in Sandrin, Ciardis can little afford to leave the city’s nest of vipers to take on a new task. But she’s given no choice when her loyalty to the crown and courts are called into question.

To keep the Companions’ Guild happy and the favor of the Imperial Court, Ciardis will be tested in frightening new ways, especially when she’s faced with an obstacle that could risk the lives of her friends and the family she never thought she had.

This second novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Raise.

Excerpts from Sworn to Transfer

A storm was rolling in off the coast of Sandrin. Heavy rains buffeted the docks and high winds whipped the ends of coiled loops of thick sailor’s rope up into the air across the deck of the large ship. Ciardis Weathervane huddled miserably as she felt the ice-cold wind and rain buffeting her every few minutes in steady waves. First the cold rain would slice into her face, and then a heavy stream of frosty air would strike, pushing her cloak back and soaking her front. Still, she stayed where she was, and she fought not to shiver under the thick blue cloak that she wore.

Prince Sebastian wasn’t far from her side. If you could call across the ship with dozens of soldiers between them “not far.” It was the closest he’d been to her in weeks, though. Ciardis felt her heart clench just a little when she thought about that. The distance that had seemed to have grown between the two of them wasn’t only physical. Shaking off her nerves and turning from the railing where she gazed pensively down into the gray, churning water of the ocean, she took in the gathering around her.

To her left stood a living hedge with hair, eyes, chattering teeth, and she was sure, frozen fingers. The guards stood at attention in neat rows with upright pikes in their right hands, their left hands gripping sheathed swords at their waists, and their golden armor dripping wet in the downpour. Staring stoically ahead to a man—and woman—the Prince Heir’s guard didn’t flinch at the monstrous sound of thunder and lightning cracking down over the ocean to the east of the ship.

•     •     •

“Where have you been?” said Ciardis, not looking up. The blood had already turned the bucket water red, though there were still spots to clean up. She didn’t see Stephanie watching her as she finished cleaning off the cross bolt that Stephanie had removed from the dead man’s chest with a handkerchief from Ciardis’s nightstand.

“Away,” the woman said. “Training.”

“With whom?”

“You ask a lot of questions.”

“And you evade all of my answers,” said Ciardis pointedly.

She put the clean crossbolt back into the bow and primed it to fire.

“Not unintentionally.”

Ciardis dropped the last rag in the bucket and raised an irritated eyebrow.

“Look, you come in here criticizing the way I handle things—”

“And saved your life.”

“And want me to do things your way,” Ciardis continued without pause. “But you won’t tell me what the way is or how you knew about the duke’s man.”

Standing up, Stephanie tossed her an irritated look. “The duke’s man was obvious—the Duke of Cinnis hasn’t been subtle in his loathing of you ever since you revealed that he cheated on his wife.”

“Why does everyone focus on that?” Ciardis said, her temper rising, “He was trying to assassinate Sebastian, but does anyone mention that? No! It’s always, ‘Oh, that evil Ciardis, she exposed him in bed with another woman.’”

•     •     •

A night wolf came barreling out of the forest, snarling and white teeth bared in the moonlight. It hit Meres—or, rather, it tried to. His sword gleamed as it arced through the air to slice into the night wolf’s chest. The wolf howled in pain and kept coming. Two others emerged from the trees and ranged around their small group, preparing to attack. Meres began to speak, not in the language of humans but in the language of beasts.

He was trying to reason with the wolves. It wasn’t working.

Vana edged forward. “Alexandra, take the one closest to you. I’ll take care of the other two.”

Vana gathered magic and shot the arrow in her bow. It split in two. Not when it hit its target, but before. The split arrow had reformed into two perfect arrows. One arrow angled left and the other angled right to target the two remaining night wolves. Ciardis was expecting the arrows to inflict a small wound on the large wolves. They were the size of horses, with heads as large as oxen’s heads. She didn’t think they’d go down easy. She was wrong.

The wolves were thrown back into the woods. Ciardis heard distinct thumps and yelps as they landed. Without pause, Vana knocked a second arrow as she waited for them to return.

•     •     •

The world folded and time stood still.

When Ciardis awoke, she was no longer in the clearing. She lay in a makeshift bed of vines. She twisted and turned, trying to see more. Her head was the only thing capable of movement, her body from her shoulders to her feet bound by the moving vines. The vines were twisting, never still, and a dark color that shifted like smoke. Stifling a scream, she saw that the vines were made of shadows.

The man must have brought her here, but where was here?

Looking up, she saw more trees, but they were different. The trees had huge trunks and red leaves falling to the ground. She looked around but couldn’t see much else. The shadow man walked out of the darkness of the surrounding forest.

“Ciardis Weathervane,” he said softly. “I’ve been waiting to meet you.”

“Who are you?” she said while trying to fight against the vines. But every movement just caused them to tighten, cutting into her blood circulation and making her feel faint.

“And can you call off your creepy vines?” she snapped.

He looked at her with unreadable eyes.

“It’s not like you’re going anywhere.”

She glared at him. “I’ll ask again: Who. Are. You?”

“I go by many names. None of which are important to you. Just know that I work in the service of the empire.”

“By killing kith?” she said sardonically.

“By doing whatever is necessary right the wrongs done against me,” he hissed back.


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About the Author

Terah Edun is an international development professional and author/lover of all things Young Adult Fantasy fiction. She is a native Georgian, adoptive Washingtonian, unrepentant expat currently living in South Sudan, brilliant dreamer, lover of dogs and not-so-closet geek. Her first novel, Red Madrassa, was released on November 8th and her second novel, Sworn to Raise, comes out in April 2013.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian
Pages: 525
Format: Print
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Goodreads • Amazon

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you.

But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

When we left Tris, (Oh, warning: Divergent spoilers! Avert thine virgin eyes!) the Abnegation faction had just been attacked by the Erudite controlled Dauntless. She stopped the simulation that was controlling her compatriots, but at a high cost: her mother, father, and friends were killed. The Dauntless and Erudite factions are fractured—families torn asunder.

As Tris and Tobias try to move on and fix what the Erudite have started, they discover more and more secrets. Secrets kept by faction leaders and secrets that they keep from each other. But at what cost?

Tris has never had an aptitude for Candor, but she is learning that the quest for the truth is sometimes the most important thing: the truth that started this war. The truth that her parents died for. The truth about the beginning of factions. The truth about what lies beyond the fence….

As Tris fights to discover what this terrible truth is she learns that others are not as keen to let this knowledge be shared. She learns that sometimes you must go against the grain to do what’s right. Sometimes you have to be Divergent.

The second novel in Roth’s Divergent series isn’t as action-packed, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong—there’s still plenty of chaotic, pee-your-pants kind of action, but this is more of a psychological novel. Tris never got the chance to really grow as an individual during her initiation, which is exactly what she gets to do now.

While I think it’s wonderful that Roth explored the psychological trauma that would probably have affected any normal sixteen-year-old girl who had just witnessed death and destruction on a first hand basis and had to kill quite a few people to stop it, I’m not going to lie: it was frustrating. Which makes me seem heartless. Which maybe I am. However, I couldn’t stop myself from screaming at Tris a couple of times. She takes on the role of damsel in distress a few times more than I’d like. But I’m also a control freak, so I’d probably just pick up the f*cking gun and kill whoever needed to be killed rather than wait for my oh-so-sexy boyfriend to rescue me.

Dear God, I’m a sociopath, aren’t I? Hopefully that will come in handy if I ever survive to see a post-apocalyptic society….

Self revelation aside, I really do appreciate that Roth decided to make Tris more three-dimensional in this novel… even if it did piss me off a couple of times.

Nonetheless, this book was great. It’s obvious that Roth has thought a lot about this plot and character development. The first-person present still irks me just a tad, but I’m adjusting. If you are currently reading Insurgent and you’re just not that into it—don’t worry, it really does pick up. Tris gets herself out of her PTSD rut and starts having way more balls than I ever will. (Disclaimer, I’m not a psychology major; I cannot verify that she suffers from PTSD, but that is my theory).

This novel will take you on an emotional roller-coaster and then dump you on a cliffhanger so high it leaves you saying: “Whoa, wtf just happened?”

Seriously, while you have a tentative idea about what the ending will be, you still won’t quite see it coming.

So hop to it, my avid readers! This trilogy awaits! …And if you time it right, you could finish Insurgent just in time for Allegiant to come out next month!

About the Author

Veronica Roth is a twenty-two-year-old debut author and a recent graduate of Northwestern University's creative writing program. While a student, she often chose to work on the story that would become Divergent instead of doing her homework. Now a full-time writer, she lives near Chicago.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Release by M.R. Merrick

Release (The Protector #3) by M.R. Merrick

Release Date: December 8, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased on Amazon
Amazon  Goodreads

***Warning: if you haven't read Exiled and Shift, there will be spoilers.***

After uniting the shifters and calling in reinforcements, Chase has to face his toughest challenge yet: learning to control his emotions. But as tensions rise and his powers grow, controlling his emotions becomes the least of his problems. 

Terrorized by a multi-shifter who is hell-bent on turning him, Chase questions just how far he’s willing to go to stop his father. Meanwhile, Tiki’s virtuous nature has placed him in the middle of Vincent’s past, leaving Chase to oppose a senate of vampires and defend a demon he hates. 

Trying to balance his friends, his enemies, and his inner demons, Chase is left searching for answers about the Mark, his destiny, and where he can find the next soul piece. Stopping Riley is his top priority, but as more obstacles arise, he finds himself doubting all the decisions he’s made - especially regarding Rayna. 

One thing is for certain: Chase has finally realized that he doesn’t know anything. The light doesn’t always quell the darkness, the monsters don’t always stay in the shadows, and the past doesn’t always stay in the past - sometimes, the demons inside are the hardest to fight.

Release, for me, felt a bit slower than the previous books. It's getting to the point in the series where shit's gonna get real, but you're not quite there yet and the anticipation is killer. That being said, there's still plenty of drama unfolding. Chase's powers seem to be, quite literally, trying to destroy him from the inside out. His father is still at large and getting closer and closer to what might be too powerful to beat. Not to mention the strain of seeing his friends risk themselves for him and their cause is wearing heavily. At times you want to shake him to snap him out of it, but you'd be wallowing too, if you were him.

That still doesn't mean I'm okay with his decisions regarding Rayna. It takes no time at all for Chase to run scared. And while I can kind of understand it, it's really just frustrating as all get out because they're good for each other and the last thing they both need is another reason to be sad. So I think they're dumb. But I believe it'll all be okay. I have to. 

Pacing and decision-making frustrations aside, when the book picks up, it really picks up. Chock full of more fantastic and action-packed dimension-hopping, the later part of the book doesn't quit and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You'll be confused, anxious, and eventually heartbroken. 

Which brings us to the ending. Guys. Prepare for all the feels. Anything you thought was sad or hard in the series before this, about to be blown to pieces. I cried. Granted, it's not that hard to make me cry in a book, but this was difficult to get through. Heading into Endure is going to be painful.

Probably my favorite part of this series overall is that it defies a lot of the stereotypes of this genre. Sure, there's an all-powerful, Chose One teen, but I'm not sure I've ever seen an author make that very power the Achilles's heel. It leaves the reader wondering if all this power really was meant for Chase and whether he's going to be able to save everyone. I definitely can't wait to find out!

The series remains enthralling and full of adventure, and I can't wait to see how it all ends. If you still haven't checked out this series, you should get on it! Now! It's a fantastic series written by an awesome author (who also follows me on Twitter and it makes me fangirl real hard! :P) and any YA paranormal fan should try it. 

About the Author

M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer and author of The Protector Series, a Young Adult mash-up between Urban and Epic Fantasy. Having never traveled, he adventures to far off lands through his imagination and in between cups of coffee. As a music lover and proud breakfast enthusiast, he’s usually found at the computer between a pair of headphones and in front of a large bowl of cereal.

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Book Blitz: Because of Lucy by Lisa Swallow

Because of Lucy by Lisa Swallow

Release Date: August 28, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
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*Recommended 17+ due to strong language and sexual content*

Ness’s parents are shocked when she turns down her place at Leeds University and takes on a full-time job in a call center. Determined to begin her adult life the way she wants, Ness moves to Leeds to live with her best friend Abby.

One night she meets Evan, who is everything she hates about guys. He may be hot but he’s also drunken, arrogant, and on top of that, he apparently has sex with girls and forgets about it. But Evan isn’t what he seems and Ness soon discovers they have more in common than she thought.

Evan is struggling to escape from his past too, and when Lucy appears she threatens his new relationship with Ness. Unsure if she can deal with the effect Lucy has on Evan, Ness makes a decision about her future which pulls them apart.

When their new lives don’t go as planned, Ness and Evan are both faced with difficult choices. All because of Lucy…

Excerpts from Because of Lucy

I side step the sink and turn. A guy leans against the doorframe, trying to appear nonchalant but his slackened stance indicates he’s attempting to keep himself upright. His brown hair is longer at the front and spills into his face, and unfocused brown eyes appear to be looking in my direction. He’s one of the regulars. I don’t pay a lot of attention, but he’s a good-looking guy and they never go unnoticed.

“Yes?” I snap. I’m so not in the mood.

His eyes sweep my figure. Unbelievable... I straighten my sleeves and look at him with an eyebrow raised.

“Are you Abby’s housemate?”

“Who are you?”

“Evan.” He rubs his nose. “You’re not a student?”

“Correct, I am the one not lying in a drunken haze on the floor contemplating my navel.”

Evan takes a step forward, steadying himself with one hand as my witty repartee sails over his head. “Why?”

“Why am I not on the floor pissed?”

“Why aren’t you a student?”

“Because I work instead.”

“Hmm.” He pauses and grasps onto the sink, searching for a glass. I pass him the spare one. “Did you fail?”

“Fail what?”

Evan fills the glass. “Or are you just not smart enough for uni? What is it you do?” He gulps the water in three mouthfuls then wipes his mouth with his hand.

Arrogant wanker.

“That’s right, I’m not smart enough. I’m living with Abby until I can find a nice man to marry then I can have 2.4 kids and a house in the suburbs. Because, as I’m not a student, I have no future.”

Evan leans against the sink. “Fair enough.”

Oh my god he believes me. How pissed is he exactly? “So, you think anyone who doesn’t go to university is inferior to you?” I demand.

I’ve seen her friends looking down their noses at me. Inverted snobbery. On top of that, the locals hate students and the students hate locals. I’m neither. I can’t win.

We’re close now and he stinks of alcohol and pot, a faint hint of deodorant lingering on his clothes. Evan’s T-shirt has come untucked and rides up as he leans against the sink. He’s toned, evidently works out. I can’t help myself, I check him out. Beneath his curls he has deep brown eyes. Incoherent eyes. I hate to admit, but something about him is seriously sexy.

Even if he is a dick.

“Well, if you’ll excuse me,” I say.

He sniggers.

“What’s funny?”

“You sound like the Queen.”

Not this again. I get enough crap at work. I move from Cheltenham to Yorkshire and suddenly I’m ‘stuck up home counties girl’.

I don’t dignify his comment with an answer and turn away from him, and walk out of the kitchen.

“Want me to get the guy out of your bed?” he calls after me.

I stop and look round. “You know him?”

“I could replace him.”

My mouth drops open at his arrogance. An attempt at a flirtatious smile plays around his lips but the unfocused eyes kill the effect he’s trying to achieve. He’s serious. I imagine he has a ready supply of eager girls. No surprise with a body and looks like his, such a shame he needs a personality transplant.

I step towards him. “Evan. I am not pissed. Nor are you getting into my bed. Good night.”

Feeling happy with my retort, I saunter towards the stairs. Behind me, Evan impersonates my sentence with an exaggerated posh accent.

It’s a good thing that I’m sober otherwise I’d go back there and punch him.

•     •     •

Evan’s mouth hovers close to mine, his warm breath on my skin. The effect on me is weird, different to before, with other guys. Abby once told me she met this guy who didn’t even need to touch her and she got aroused. At the time, I concluded Abby was exaggerating. Now I think maybe there is something primal, where that can happen between two people. Because the heat floods through my body towards the surface, searing where his hand touches my face.

Evan’s eyes focus on my mouth. “Sorry I left last time.”

“Who said I was inviting you to stay last time?”

“Okay, sorry. But I did kiss you goodbye.”

Is he teasing me again? Because Evan’s mouth remains a tantalizing distance from mine, and he’s not kissing me. I shift, trying to disguise my rapid breathing and realize he’s waiting for me to make the move. Fine. I place my mouth on his, wriggling into him. Evan winds his hand into my hair, and gently holds my head to his, kissing me lightly, lips sparking power across my skin.

Our position on the sofa allows me to lean against Evan, half on top of him and I push myself into him, not taking my mouth from his. Evan’s arms wind around my waist and pull me closer. Where I’m lying on him, I can feel his erection against my thigh. Wow. I’ve hardly touched him - maybe I do the same to him? I pull my head back and meet his eyes, the hungry look I expected is held in them.

“Are you pinning me down so I can’t leave this time?” he asks.

I smile. “No. You can go now.”

“I think I’ll wait for Matt to wake up.”

With strong, rough hands he holds my face again and his tongue darts into my mouth. He tastes less of beer than last time. Our teeth collide and I move away from him, holding my mouth. He watches as the dress rides up over my legs.

The short black dress isn’t very decorous when it comes to lying on top of a man. But I’m not behaving very decorously. Evan’s hand slides up my leg, stroking gently.

And I’ve definitely had too much vodka but screw it. He’s here and he’s fucking hot and it’s my choice. I’ll deal with the emotional fall out later. I don’t know if it’s the alcohol, or the sexual confidence I’ve found from tonight - guys watching me in the Union and Evan wanting me - but I make a snap decision.

“Do you want to make it two?” I ask.


“Girls. You’ve slept with in Leeds.”

I’ve seen the look on Evan’s face before, the night in the pub when his mask slipped a few seconds. He hesitates.


“You’re saying no?” I remove my hand from where I’m trailing fingers across his muscled stomach.

“Honestly, I don’t know what to say.”

I tug him towards me by his shirt. I’m a bit drunk and a lot reckless but what the hell, it’s about time I had some fun. “How about you hit me with some poetry, I hear the girls really…”

“Ness. Shut up.” He drags me onto him and crushes his mouth on mine, the breath sucked from my lungs as the urgency of his kiss overwhelms me. The tiniest amount of self-control I had just disappeared.


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About the Author

Lisa is originally from the UK but now lives in Perth, Western Australia. She splits her time between writing, raising a family and running a business. She even leaves the house occasionally.

Lisa writes romance and is currently working on a series of new adult paranormal romance novels, the first book, Soul Ties, was published in July 2013. She also writes new adult contemporary - Because of Lucy was released August 2013.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Blog Tour + Review: That First Kiss by J.C. Valentine

That First Kiss (Night Calls #2) by J.C. Valentine

Release Date: June 18, 2013
Genre: Adult, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Review Copy for Tour
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***Warning: This book contains adult content and may not be suitable for younger readers.***

Mercurial and charming, Tate Larson is a rising author and playboy who has a different woman on his arm every night of the week. Focused on his work, Tate has no plans to settle down any time soon. That is until he meets his pretty new assistant, Piper Donovan.

Desperate to escape the promise of backwater living, Piper ditched her Alabama hometown and never looked back. That was almost two years ago. Now that she is out of a job and her bank account is running on fumes, she’s desperate to find a job, fast. She finds the break she is searching for when she lands a position at Bookish Temptations. A little dancing and a lot of drinks with the girls seem the perfect way to celebrate. After a brief but explosive encounter with a man she was never supposed to see again turns out to be the same man she will be bending over backwards to please, her every instinct tells her to run. But when running means leaving the life she has struggled so hard to create, Piper decides her only option is to continue working for the devastatingly sexy Tate Larson...even if it kills her.

Unable to deny their growing attraction, they struggle to keep their distance in a relationship that requires anything but.

That First Kiss doesn't waste any time. We meet Piper Donovan, formerly down-on-her-luck, who just landed a new job and goes out with her friends to celebrate. There she encounters an enigmatic (and of course smokin') stranger and allows herself a little extra celebration in the form of a frenzied, anonymous hookup in the club's bathroom. All is well and good until she later learns said hookup's name... and meets her new boss. Because her one night stand and boss are the same person - none other than Tate Larson. And while she knows that's more than enough reason to walk away, she needs this job. So she's willing to stick it out. No matter what Tate throws at her.

The sexual tension between Tate and Piper was abundant and completely lacking in subtlety. If it weren't for the fact that Piper gave as good as she got, Tate's blunt propositions would have been borderline obsessive sexual harassment, but as it is they're just highly antagonistic towards each other. Inappropriately so at times, but at others it brings out the best in the other.

As characters, Piper was a very typical female protag for the genre while Tate fell squarely in the asshole-you-come-to-love category. The one thing I really did appreciate about Piper's character was that she didn't completely wilt to Tate's domineering nature, which can be really common in books like this. It made their courtship feel much more evenly matched, which is great because too much "vulnerability" in the female character generally just makes her seem weak next to her male counterpart, and who wants that?

There aren't a whole lot of surprises plot-wise, but it's exactly what you're looking for in a book like this. You get your circling around each other, rife with flirting and tension; the initial give-in, when everything seems hunky dory and the HEA is within sight; followed closely by the implosion of the burgeoning relationship; a quest for forgiveness; and then, finally, the actual HEA, bringing on the warm fuzzies like nobody's business. And also leave you wondering who in the world estimated that driving time (which makes absolutely no sense now, but it was a question that plagued me towards the end of the book).

That First Kiss was a steamy, fun read that'll make you laugh, love, and possibly contemplate murder. Because really, Tate? Really. If you're a fan of pretty douchebags (check), sexual tension (check), and eventual swoony romance (triple check), this will be a great read for you.


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About the Author

J.C. Valentine is the alter-ego of Brandi Salazar, whose enjoyment of erotic tales of romance spurred her to branch out and create her own.

Brandi Salazar lives in the Northwest with her husband, their wild children, and far too many pets. As a university student, she studies literature, which goes well with her dream to become an editor. Brandi entertains a number of hobbies including reading and photography, but her first love is writing fiction-in all its forms.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Release Date: April 25, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 487
Format: Print
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Roth’s Divergent series is usually compared to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, and it’s very easy to tell why. They have the same feeling to them. That may be a little vague, but basically what I’m trying to say is that if you like The Hunger Games you’ll probably enjoy Divergent.

Like Collins’s trilogy, the Divergent trilogy is written in first-person present tense. This is probably why it got a star off from me. I don’t know why, but I just have a personal prejudice against first-person present (Emily Interjection: I have no such problem, and would've given it 5 stars personally!). I understand the appeal: it’s more personal and it’s easier to get into the action, but it’s just grating for me to read…. Nonetheless, it’s still a riveting story.

I love dystopian novels. I especially love dystopians that highlight the dangers of the mob-mentality. In Roth’s post-apocalypse society, members are brought up in a faction and then given an Aptitude Test in their sixteenth year to help determine what faction they will belong in for the rest of their life. Maybe it’s because I don’t like being told how to think, but I find this characteristic terrifying. The Aptitude Test determines which faction the subject’s mind conforms most to… unless you’re a Divergent.

Roth presents a classic individual vs. society theme, but with a lemon-fresh twist. Sorry, I just happen to love lemon-scented things. Her protagonist, Tris (formerly Beatrice), takes her Aptitude Test only to discover that she’s Divergent. She doesn’t know what this means, or why it’s dangerous to be one, but she knows that she has to hide it.

Tris is a breath of fresh air. She’s a strong female protag (and we all know how that’s my thing), who loves pushing past her limitations. Tris isn’t one to quit—she will keep punching until she comes out on top. And that is what I admire about her. However, with that said, I would probably punch her if we were ever to meet in person. While I admire her, cheer for her, and cringe for her, I would probable slap the abrasiveness right out of her if we ever met in person. Yet, on paper, I am willing to accept and love her with all her socially challenged traits. I mean... she really does kick ass. Though, I suppose to be a member of the Dauntless faction you have to do your fair share of ass kicking.

Those guys scare me. And they need to stop jumping from multi-storied heights—it’s giving me heart palpitations!

Anyway, tensions between the factions are at an all-time high, thanks to Erudite’s Anti-Abnegation Propaganda. The society in which Tris lives in is on the brink of collapse, and somehow the Divergent are the key to understanding why. Tris, now a member of Dauntless is on a mission: to survive initiation and to remain unnoticed. She will soon realize that the two aren’t necessarily reconcilable….

So, if you want to a story about a girl who overcomes adversity to become a leader during a time of war—this book is for you.

Extra Incentive: There is the customary Young Adult love interest. Oh yes, he’s angsty, he’s sexy, he’s kind-of-but-it’s-not-as-creepy-as-it-sounds her mentor. It’s kind of weird, kind of cheesy, but you’ll get over it and grow to love it. (Emily Interjection: Oh, Four... How I love you so...)

So go ahead, read this series. I’m working on the second installment: Insurgent, but life (and by life I mean school) keeps getting in the way. Expect a review in the somewhat near future!

About the Author

Veronica Roth is a twenty-two-year-old debut author and a recent graduate of Northwestern University's creative writing program. While a student, she often chose to work on the story that would become Divergent instead of doing her homework. Now a full-time writer, she lives near Chicago.

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Book Blitz: Reckless Longing by Gina Robinson

Reckless Longing (Reckless #1) by Gina Robinson

Release Date: September 23, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
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Ellie Martin hates her beautiful, man-crazy mother. Her mother’s wild and wanton behavior has left Ellie with a deep longing. To escape. To belong. To know who her real dad is. To really be loved. Her mother finally crosses a line that sends Ellie running, escaping to college with one, focused goal–to find and confront her bio dad, who doesn’t even know she exists. Then she meets Logan. Hot, charming, and troubled. He turns her world upside down and puts all her plans in jeopardy.

Logan Walker is hiding a shameful and painful secret. One that nearly cost him everything. When he meets the beautiful and mysterious Ellie at a Week of Welcome event, something inside him awakens and he finds himself drawn to her.

But the attraction they both feel for each other is as delicate as the web of secrets they each hide behind. And as the truths are revealed, their reckless longing may not survive the fallout.

Excerpt from Reckless Longing

The evening was going about as well as I expected. How likely is it in any given mating-game situation that the wingman will fall for the girl's moral support sidekick? In this case, given my mindset, the odds were exactly zero. With the pounding music, even trying to make idle conversation was pointless.

We got our subs and energy drinks and found an empty patch of lawn to sit on. Bre cooed to Dan. Jake and I were awkward and ate mostly in silence. My gaze landed on an Up All Night sign advertising the events of the evening.


My heart pounded in my ears. I'd read enough. I knew what I wanted, what I had wanted for a couple of years now but was too rebellious to do—pierce my navel. To understand how not piercing my bellybutton is rebellious, you have to know my mom. It was what she wanted me to do, so it was exactly what I refused to do. But now I didn't care what she thought. I could pierce or not pierce at my pleasure. I was of age and didn't need her permission. She'd never know unless I wanted her to. And even then, she wouldn't be around to gloat and enjoy her triumph.

Anyway, that wasn't the way I saw it. Doing what I wanted without regard to her was my victory. I looked around at the party atmosphere that I should have been enjoying and found myself almost smiling.

Dan and Jake wolfed down their sandwiches and were ready to party. Bre wrapped the remains of hers, ready to toss it so she could get on with the evening. I'd barely touched mine, but that wasn't unusual. Since the breakup I'd lost my appetite for just about everything in life and ten pounds along with it. And I hadn't been overweight to begin with.

Dan offered Bre a hand up. "Dance or take in the magic show?"

"Dance!" Bre laughed and took his arm, smiling up at him coyly.

"Body piercing!" I said in unison with Bre as I stood and dusted the grass off my butt.

Three pairs of eyes turned on me. I kept smiling. "What? It'll be fun. It's not something you do every day. What better way to remember the start of our illustrious college careers here than with a new piercing?"

I spoke boldly for someone who only had her ears pierced.

Beside me, Jake shook his head. "Guys don't get pierced. Not at Up All Night." He spoke like an expert.

I ignored him and appealed to Bre. She shook her head. "The line will be too long by now. We'll miss everything else. You can get pierced any time. I'll go with you whenever you want."

"But not for half price," I said.

"Ellie, come on." Bre's eyes begged me to be reasonable.

I waved her off. "You guys go ahead. I'm off to get my bellybutton pierced. I'll text you when I'm done and catch up with you later. Have fun!"

Without waiting for an answer, I spun and ran off through the crowd toward the SUB, feeling free and exhilarated for the first time all summer.

My exhilaration lasted as I wound through the crowded first floor of the SUB, following the signs to Precision Piercing's station. Up the stairs to the second floor toward the ballroom, right until I saw the long line and my courage failed.

Jake had been an ass about things, but he was right about one thing—there were no guys in line for piercing. Bre was right, too. There was a good chance I was already too late. Any minute they'd be shutting off the line, saying they'd reached their maximum.

I stood there, not quite in line, staring and debating with myself. I'd just ditched my roommate and she was going to be pissed about it, especially if I came back without another hole in my body. On the other hand, I could claim I'd been turned away because the line was too long and she'd have gloating rights for the rest of the semester. Maybe even the rest of the time we knew each other. At homecoming twenty years from now, I still wouldn't hear the end of it.

"You'd better get in line before it's too late."

It took me a second to realize the sexy male voice was speaking to me. Startled, I looked around for the source. What was a guy doing here, anyway?

When I found it, my heart did an odd little flip. Sitting on a bench with an instant icepack pressed to his right eye was a guy that was too gorgeous to be benched. How could I have missed him? He had a wicked smile calculated to make girls melt, and his left eye danced with amusement as he watched me. He sat with his legs spread wide, just inviting a girl to stand between them and coo condolences on his injury. Touch his cheek. Offer him any comfort he wanted. He looked dangerous with one eye covered and the way a lock of dark hair fell against the icepack. Yet sympathetic at the same time, like you just wanted to take care of him.

Even though he was sitting, it was obvious he was tall and athletically built beneath the T-shirt and shorts he wore. "Well?"

I blinked. "I'm thinking."

"The window of opportunity is closing." He stood and walked over to stand next to me, so close I could smell the delicious scent of his cologne.

"Yes," I said. "I know."

He ignored any sarcasm that had slipped into my tone. "What do you want to have pierced?"

"My bellybutton." I just blurted it out, wondering why this complete stranger inspired my confidence. And why he cared.

He nodded. "Good choice. Bellybutton rings are hot. Every woman should have one."


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About the Author

Gina Robinson loves a good love story and always has. She writes romance of all kinds--new adult, contemporary romance, historical romance, and romantic suspense.

Currently she's best known for her Agent Ex series-- contemporary romance featuring sexy spies and plenty of adventure and humor. License to Love, the latest book in the series is available now.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Blitz: Eramane by Frankie Ash

Eramane (Eramane #1) by Frankie Ash

Release Date: 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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In the village of Eludwid, seventeen-year-old Eramane Fahnestock goes about her life, cheerfully disregarding a prophecy made to her parents that she would have a great gift. Not yet wed and beset with boredom, Eramane cannot shake the feeling that something exciting awaits her beyond Eludwid. But when she is invited to picnic with a handsome young suitor, Eramane has no idea that her life will soon change forever.

As Eramane prepares for her date, she is suddenly hypnotized by a strange voice that tells her he will be coming for her that night. Unsettled but determined to press forward, Eramane and her suitor, Lebis, head to the woods to enjoy their picnic. As darkness falls on the forest, however, a beast emerges, transforming their beautiful outing into a terrifying scene. Taken captive and carried away to a mountain hideaway, Eramane finds her memories are soon clouded, even as her family frantically searches for her back home.

In this gripping fantasy tale, evil is summoned to the mountaintop, forcing a young woman to discover her magical gifts and exact revenge against a beast determined to destroy everything she has ever loved.

Excerpts from Eramane

We ride slowly up the hill that leads to the river. Once we top the hill, I lean up to Lebis’s ear. “Let her go!”

Turning his head slightly, he asks, “Are you sure?”

“Yes!” I confirm.

“She is really fast,” he shouts proudly.

“Yes! Yes! I am sure! Let her go!” My excitement reassures him, and he gives his beautiful horse the command. Kelwyn does not hesitate. She lunges and we gallop down the hillside into the meadow. The mare runs so fast that the wind whistles as it passes my ears. The flowers part as we trample through them. Insects fly in all directions to avoid our sudden and unstoppable intrusion. The moment engulfs me, and I let go of Lebis to put my hands out. I lift my head to the sky and inhale all of the smells from the earth. I feel the sun trying to kiss my skin, but it cannot keep up with us. I squeeze Kelwyn tightly with my legs; her slender physique enables me to hold on tight. I wish that this moment of freedom will last forever.

My moment of enjoyment is short-lived, as the image of the beautiful man I saw earlier revisits me. But I decide immediately that I want to dwell on this moment, my moment with Lebis, his magnificent mare, and the beautiful meadow. I open my eyes and in an instant the image is gone, replaced by my beautiful surroundings. I lean forward and put my arms around Lebis’s waist, gently latching on to him. He looks back to me, and I see a smile come over him before he can turn away.

“There it is!” Lebis shouts. “Just beyond the tree line!” Kelwyn slows her run to a trot, then to a walk. “We will have to walk her in. She gets a little spooked by the shadows. Once we are in, she will be all right,” Lebis says, pulling back on her reins. He dismounts, drops the reins, and offers his hand to me. I slide down the side of the horse and land on the softest, greenest grass I have ever seen. As I look around, I realize that I have never been to this part of the river before. Usually my family goes to the waterfall by the cliffs. Here, though, the river runs through the forest, very secluded and peaceful.

•     •     •

Crackling flames from the oversized hearth touch my face with their heat and wake me from my void. I feel as though I have been asleep for days, without having dreams or any other reassurance of existence. I am lying on a white fur on the floor of a chamber. The bright fur stuns my vision momentarily; I have had my eyes closed or too long. I move my fingers through the fur; it is soft and smells like wood and smoke. Where am I? I blink my eyes to adjust my vision, and it begins to clear. Then my mind clears. Lebis! I sit up, and fright surges through me. My eyes search the room for my abductor. Where is it? It is dark in the corners of the chamber; does it lurk there? The chamber is a large stone room with no outside openings, and the ceiling is so high that I cannot see where it ends. I rise from the soft fur bedding and put my feet onto the cold floor. It is not until I stand on the chamber floor that I notice my foot has been re-bandaged. I look around the room, desperately trying to see into the darkness. If that thing is in here with me, I would rather discover it now than wait in wonder of my fate. I make my way to the shadowed corners. I see nothing, for now I am alone.

The rock walls have pieces of crystal that catch the reflection from the fire, causing them to twinkle like the night sky. I feel as if I am atop a mountain, surrounded only by the starlit skies. I walk slowly toward one of the walls, touching one of the sparkling crystals. The warmth of the large fire does not reach the walls, so I go back to it for comfort. I stand in front of the hearth feeling the flame’s heat begin to lightly toast my skin. I stare into the flames, and their color reminds me of what brought me here, those fire-colored eyes! Images of Lebis flash inside of the flames, like a reflection in a mirror replaying that horrible event. Tears fill my eyes and blur the flames. I lie down on the white fur again and weep until I lose myself again to the bliss of sleep.

My breath is taken by a swift, musky draft. I am aware that I am still in the room with the twinkling walls and golden fire pit, but when I wake this time I can sense the presence of someone else in the chamber. However, my eyes cannot find anyone. I had hoped that death would find me in my slumber; instead it passed me over, left me alive, in the captivity of a monster. I am at the mercy of the beast that murdered Lebis, robbed me of an innocent life, and confiscated my future. Only where is this murderer? I do not believe that I can bear to gaze upon that creature again. The horrid memories spin through my head, and I wonder if I will go mad harboring all of them.

Creak, the door to my chamber opens. Hinges squeak and rattle, taking me away from my thoughts. I am suddenly keenly aware of my vulnerability, not having the safety of a closed door. “Come, Eramane,” a raspy, cracking voice says. I stand and listen for the voice to speak again. “Do not be afraid; you are safe here,” it says. My eyes dart around intently, not finding the source of these words.

“What do you want from me? Why have you brought me here?” I shout. My voice carries around the chamber, echoing off the stone. The door closes, leaving me alone once more, alone with my thoughts.

I do not know how long I have been held captive—hours, days? It could be either, for I have battled exhaustion the entire time, sleeping most of it. I am certain that my brother is searching for me by now. I imagine him and his Riders invading this stone prison and saving me. I have dreamt that scenario several times.It is a hope that keeps me from walking into the fire that continuously burns, hot and strong. My daydream of rescue is intruded on as the creaking of hinges and jarring of metal accompany the opening of my chamber door. There is no dark, odorous cloud this time. Again a voice, seeming to radiate from the walls themselves, offers a meal to me. Taking the offer as a cue, my stomach rumbles and gnaws at me, as if trying to claw its way out, hoping to find food on its own, in the belief that I have given up on its need of sustenance. I am starving but afraid to leave the chamber. I stare at the open door, wondering what fate awaits me if I walk through it. The door begins to close, but this time my fear of the unknown is second to my need of nourishment. “Wait, please,” I say, choking back my words, afraid to actually say them. The door pauses. I walk toward it, and it waits for me.

I cannot see anything outside of the door, but I am compelled to continue through the opening anyway. I look to my right, into the darkness, and there is nothing. I look left, and it offers the same. My body is numb with fear, but I cannot seem to control its will to find food. My body moves me forward while my mind pleads for me to turn around and run back to the warm fur next to the hearth; it is desperately trying to fight against going into the dark hallway.

As I proceed down the dark corridor, torches hanging from the walls begin to ignite with my every step. The walkway appears to be endless, yet with each grumble from my belly, I am compelled to proceed. I turn to look behind me; there is nothing there, not even the torches that burned a moment ago. Complete darkness backs me. All I can navigate is the way in front of me. I follow the torches until I come to another door, an oversized, wooden double door, with black iron rings the size of wagon wheels hanging from the center. The doors are so big that it seems like I will need a team of plow horses to open them. I stand in front of the wooden barriers and watch with intense curiosity as they slowly open on their own. Finally, the enormous doors cease to move, and my eyes take in a beautiful sight.


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About the Author

Frankie Ash is the author of the YA novel Eramane, COMING SOON! She holds a B.A. in English and resides on the east-coast somewhere between “Will it ever be warm again?” and “The summers here are too short!” She is currently writing book #2 of the Eramane trilogy, to be published in 2014.

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Book Blitz: The Violet Hour by Whitney A. Miller

The Violet Hour by Whitney A. Miller

The voice inside me is breaking free. I can’t stop her.

Harlow Wintergreen, daughter of the leader of a powerful religious organization called VisionCrest, has a dark and dangerous secret. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with visions of a violent and bloody alternate reality. And even worse, Harlow fears that this terrifying voice could take control of her.

Traveling with the VisionCrest elite on a PR expedition through Asia, Harlow struggles to keep her mind under control. But the more she resists, the more her mental state deteriorates, making her visions bleed into reality. When people start dying, Harlow must expose her secret to the boy she loves and face the monster within her . . . or else be consumed by it.


About the Author

Whitney A. Miller lives in San Francisco with her husband and a struggling houseplant. She’s summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, ridden the Trans-Siberian rails, bicycled through Vietnam, done the splits on the Great Wall of China, and evaded the boat police in Venice, but her best international adventures take place on the page!