Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cover Reveal: Covering Kendall

Today I'm really excited to share with you the cover for Covering Kendall by Julie Brannagh, a contemporary romance releasing from Avon on October 21st. I'm a huge fan of sports-themed romances, I think mostly because I'm lacking even a single athletic bone in my body, so I look forward to meeting Drew and Kendall!!

Kendall Tracy, General Manager of the San Francisco Miners, is not one for rash decisions or one-night stands. But when she finds herself alone in a hotel room with a heart-stoppingly gorgeous man-who looks oddly familiar-Kendall throws her own rules out the window…and they blow right back into her face. Drew McCoy should look familiar, he’s a star player for her team’s archrival the Seattle Sharks. Which would basically make Drew and Kendall the Romeo and Juliet of professional football…well, without all the dying. Not that it’s an issue. They agree to pretend their encounter never happened. Nothing good can come from it anyway, right? Drew’s not so sure. Kendall may be all wrong, but he can’t stop thinking about her and he finds that some risks are worth taking. Because the stakes are always highest when you’re playing for keeps.

I like this cover well enough, it's perfectly cute, but I do have to wonder why there's nothing football related anywhere on it. Oh well, I still want to read it ;)

Waiting on Wednesday: Dreamfire

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Kit Alloway
Paranormal Young Adult
Releases February 24th, 2015 from St. Martin's Griffin

From Amazon:

Unlike most 17-year-olds, Joshlyn Weaver has a sacred duty. She's the celebrated daughter of the dream walkers, a secret society whose members enter the Dream universe we all share and battle nightmares. If they fail, the emotional turmoil in the Dream could boil over and release nightmares into the World.

Despite Josh's reputation as a dream walking prodigy, she's haunted by her mistakes. A lapse in judgment and the death of someone she loved have shaken her confidence. Now she's been assigned an apprentice, a boy whose steady gaze sees right through her, and she's almost as afraid of getting close to him as she is of getting him killed.

But when strangers with impossible powers begin appearing in the Dream, it isn't just Will that Josh has to protect–it's the whole World.

I've only read one other series that deals with dream walking (I think. I've read a lot of books so it's possible I've read more than one about this particular ability and just don't remember. Awesome.) and I absolutely loved both books so I'm hoping I'll have the same luck with Dreamfire. Maybe dream walkers are going to prove themselves to be young adult fail-safes for me. I have high hopes.

I just really like the sound of this one, I'm a sucker for characters who are emotionally or physically damaged in some way, and Josh, with weight of loved one's death on her shoulders, fits that bill pretty perfectly. Plus, romance. I'm easy to please, what can I say ;-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Heir of Fire

Throne of Glass #3
Sarah J. Maas
Young Adult/Fantasy
565 pages
Available September 2nd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

Heir of Fire returns us to beloved heroine Celaena Sardothien, but the girl we find in the opening third of this book is a very different girl from the one we've known thus far, stripped of her arrogance and torn from the anger and rage that have acted as the mooring line tethering her to the mortal coil. Without the beautiful ferocity of her vengeance driving her forward, we're left with a Celaena who embodies vulnerability, the number of times she's been beaten down finally totaling one more than she's seemingly equipped to handle. Where a Celaena who's lost a bit of her fight may sound like someone who would frustrate, instead we find we've never wanted to embrace her more, her gorgeous humanity proving that weakness is not in the simple needing of help, but rather in needing it and refusing to ask for it.

Celaena is well aware she's hit rock bottom in the wake of Nehemia's demise, and because she's cognizant of her emotional state, she takes the lifeline thrown to her by Rowan and begins to lift herself up out of the darkness. It's not to say she meets Rowan with open arms and a smiling face, oh no, even in a bad place she's still got a spark of her fire, and she and Rowan embark on an epic battle of wills that's as amusing as it is breathtaking. Ms. Maas could have taken an easier route with this story, the separation of Celaena and Chaol at the end of Crown of Midnight and the introduction of Rowan in this third installment acting as the opening notes of an all-too familiar melody, but thankfully she doesn't rob characters or readers of the tale they deserve. In place of romance, what grows between Rowan and Celaena is the type of friendship every single person who reads this book yearns for–absolute and unwavering when each of them needs an extra shoulder to carry some of their weight.

Some readers may find themselves a touch disappointed given the fact Chaol and Celaena are not reunited at any point despite the impressive length of Heir of Fire, but their separation is nothing if not necessary. Chaol's fear of who Celaena truly is would have only compounded her own reluctance to embrace her heritage, dragging her down rather than building her up as she so desperately needs in the wake of Nehemia's loss. Ms. Maas instead makes the brilliant decision to keep them apart, allowing each of them room to grow into who they need to be without the other's expectations or reservations limiting the scope of what they can achieve. We of course ache for the two of them to find their way back to one another and overcome the nearly insurmountable obstacles facing them as a couple, but we can only smile in anticipation as we read, knowing the wait will more than worth it in the end.

Overall, Heir of Fire is a stunning addition to this series, the slowness of it in parts granting readers the time to explore the fabric of each character, getting to know them in a way action sequence after action sequence wouldn't allow us, and then, when we've just been lulled into a sort of reflective quietness, we're smacked in the face with a reminder of how brutal the King of Adarlan can be. Our hatred for him burns brighter than ever before in the closing chapters, but through the blinding haze of our rage is the comfort that comes from knowing that Celaena, now ready to accept every part of herself, will never let his actions go unanswered. She will come at him with everything in her overwhelmingly impressive arsenal, and I simply cannot wait for the moment when she returns her every loss to those responsible tenfold.

Rating: 5/5

Find Sarah:
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Trial By Fire

The Worldwalker Trilogy #1
Josephine Angelini
Paranormal Young Adult
384 pages
Feiwel & Friends
Available September 2nd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

Trial by Fire has all the makings of a sprawling fantasy novel, sharing with us a world full of unfathomable creatures and witchcraft, but at its heart is a heroine who keeps us anchored at all times, fully invested in her emotional well being from beginning to end. Ms. Angelini ensures we don’t get weighed down by all the supernatural elements by introducing us to young Lily in our world, letting us bear witness to a heartbreaking moment where her romantic hopes go down in flames, and neither Lily nor we escape without feeling the burn. Only once we’re thoroughly connected to Lily thanks to a shared pain and disappointment does Ms. Angelini shift us to a completely different Salem, one full of monsters and magic where the lives of many are regulated by the tyrannical hands of few.

Lily is a true joy of a heroine, her hope that longtime friendship with best friend Tristan has finally reached the pivotal moment in which it becomes more in the opening chapters something that instantly resonates, causing us to wish for the best for her even when we know thanks to the synopsis that neither our wish nor hers will come true. After having a brutal dose of reality shoved down her throat, Lily could have easily wallowed in her misery and drawn no blame from us, but instead she picks herself up upon finding herself in an alternate Salem and does her best to make sense of it. This determined attitude continues throughout Trial by Fire, Lily fielding whatever is thrown at her with a joke at the ready and a willingness to do whatever it takes to learn, adapt, or fight when the need arises.

Many readers–like myself–who have read innumerable young adult novels over the past few years have developed a bit of a nervous tic whenever a young woman finds herself surrounded by several guys her age, dreading the moment where the mere presence of two men in her life ultimately results in the development of romantic feelings for both of them. Luckily for us however, Ms. Angelini doesn’t lead us down that well-worn path, Rowan and Tristan’s positions by Lily’s side staying blessedly free of frustrating romantic entanglements. What we get instead is an intriguingly complex relationship between Lily and Rowan, his former relationship with the other version of Lily, Lillian, an aspect of the story that has us riveted to the pages. The feelings between them are tangled threads of misplaced anger and distrust, and as the story progresses, the addition of hesitant affection and genuine friendship only serves to tangle those threads further until the two of them become a beautiful knot of romantic possibility.

The only small drawback to this first installment is the persistence of one vitally important question: why Lily? We know from the beginning that Lillian is responsible for bringing Lily to her world, and while we eventually get the first small inklings as to why Lillian began her campaign of blood and death, we’re left completely in the dark as to what Lillian needs Lily for in the first place. Granted, this is the first book in the series and the answer to that particular question is likely one that has layers upon layers that will be revealed in time. Overall though, Trial By Fire is action-packed, the death toll rising with every chapter, but where there is pain and suffering there is also warmth and hope in the form of young Lily, and I simply can’t wait to see the type of woman she becomes.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Josephine

This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cathy Reviews: Thorn Jack

I'm so pleased today to welcome my mother in law Cathy back to the blog to share her thoughts on Thorn Jack!

Night and Nothing #1
Katherine Harbour
Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
352 pages
Harper Voyager
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

Finn Sullivan has lost her older sister to suicide. Fleeing the memories left in San Francisco, she and her father move to an upstate New York town filled with socialities, hippies, movie and Theatre folk, where every corner holds possibilities and mysteries. As she settles in and begins college at the local university, HallowHeart, she discovers her sisters journal, filled with ominous musings on otherworldly beings.  She also meets the devastatingly handsome Jack Fata—and the rest of the enigmatic Fata family. 

As Finn’s fascination with Jack and his family deepens—and theirs for her does the same—she learns that they and the rest of the town denizens are far more than they seem, both for good and evil. Her sister’s journal suddenly seems much more menacing and realistic than she could ever have imagined.

Soon Finn learns that attention from the Fatas brings dangerous consequences. To free herself and save her friends and her love, Finn must confront the Fatas and unravel the secrets surrounding her sister’s death.

Most of us grew up hearing or reading fairy tales. Being Irish, I'd heard many stories about the fae but always thought of them as whimsical or benign. Not so true of the mystical characters that Katherine Harbour has created. Ms. Harbour has done a wonderful and titillating job of weaving a story where we can't distinguish good from evil until it's too late.

After the death of Finn's sister, Lily Rose, she and her father move back to the tiny town of Fair Hollow, her father's old home and hometown. This is a town filled with a sinister history. The description of the students at the college Finn attends reminds you of those you might see at a renaissance fair, complete with historical costumes. You can easily envision all of the students running around in velvet and lace.

Finn makes two immediate friends, Christie and Sylvia. The three of them soon discover that some of the residents of Fair Hollow are not exactly what they appear to be. Finn might not have delved deeper into the strange goings on in town if not for her sister's journal though. A journal filled with stories of faeries and other mythical creatures. And then there is Jack!!! Finn is captivated by Jack even after she realizes he is not what he seems and is missing something crucial.

Ms. Harbour does an excellent job of making our heroine the right combination of young woman with a savior complex and just plain frustrating. Like in any good horror story, Finn runs blindly ahead into danger, causing us to want to scream at her to STOP, but we're also glad that she's plunged ahead because we're hanging on to see what happens next.

Ms. Harbour uses literary references, such as Yeats and Shakespeare, to reaffirm the possibility that there may indeed be a faerie world and most of us just can't see it. There are a lot of Gaelic references as well, but don't be put off because there is a glossary at the back of the book. And thrown in for good measure is an old hotel that would rival the one in The Shining.

For me, Thorn Jack was a page turner, filled with mystery, dark thrills, and romance. As we read the epilogue, we hear soft voices that lead us to believe that we have not seen the last of the faerie world. I find that exciting and can't wait for the next book.

Rating: 4/5

Find Katherine:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my (or in this case, Cathy's) honest opinion.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: I Want It That Way

2B Trilogy #1
Ann Aguirre
Contemporary New Adult
352 pages
Available August 26th
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

I Want It That Way is everything there is to love about the New Adult genre with none of the overly familiar elements that make so many of this book’s contemporaries frustratingly repetitive. Over the top relationship drama is replaced with a believable obstacle for our couple to overcome, and we’re thankfully graced with two people who are mature and level-headed enough to both talk–and listen–to the other person on good days and bad. The romance between Nadia and Ty is one that feels beautifully genuine, the challenges they each face with school and life splashed across the pages, coating us in their accomplishments and struggles until we’re so invested in the outcome of their story that we can’t bring ourselves to set the book down before the last page is reached.

Nadia is gloriously real, someone who feels as though she could have easily lived down the hall from us at school, free of any kind of fictional exaggeration to make her more interesting to readers. She’s not running from a dark or sordid past and is free of trust issues courtesy of past relationships, instead she’s financially strapped but on a scholarship, determined to make her way through school but open to having fun while she’s at it. Despite her complete understanding that Ty doesn’t want a relationship because his first priority is his son, she stays endearingly calm and collected when affection turns into so much more, tucking her love for him away without any pity for herself or resentment toward Ty. Even as their romance reaches its breaking point, Nadia proves herself to be heads above the rest, nursing her hurt without doing anything stupid to deliberately hurt Ty before deciding to fight for what she wants.

Ty is as real as Nadia is, his romantic appeal stemming from his obvious love for his son and his desire to provide for him while working to make sure his own dreams come true as well. He’s tired, stressed, and on any given day in over his head, but we feel how every ache and pain he experiences is more than worth it when Sam smiles or laughs, and the caution he exercises with Nadia in order to protect Sam only serves to make us fall a little more in love with him. He doesn’t fight his feelings for Nadia or push her away, instead he makes it clear how much he wants her and a life with her even if it’s not a possibility for the two of them at that exact moment. His reaction to Nadia’s slight voyeurism kink is enough to make us break out a multitude of fans, waving frantically to reduce the blush in our cheeks as we root for their happily every after with every fiber of our being.

Overall, I Want it That Way is New Adult at its very best, Nadia and Ty on their own gorgeously layered and infinitely relatable, but they're also surrounded by an extraordinary cast of secondary characters in Nadia’s roommates. Up next is the romance between Nadia’s brother Rob and her best friend Lauren, and I couldn’t be more grateful that we have so short a wait in between books.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Ann:

This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.