Tuesday, May 24, 2016

HAPPILY EVER AFTER Blog Tour!



Happily Ever After: The Write More Publications Fractured Fairy Tale Anthology
By: Various Authors
Release Date: April 17th 2016
Write More Publications

Summary from Goodreads:


From princesses and princes, to witches, ice queens, imaginary friends, and dorks, Happily Ever After: The Write More Publications Fractured Fairy Tale Anthology has it all! Seven unforgettable stories by seven talented authors! Some stories are fractured takes on classics, while others are originals that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page!

Featured Authors: Dana Piazzi, Jordan Hancock, Kim Stevens, Elaine White, Vanessa Hancock, Michelle Feury, and Stephanie Parke




Buy Links:



About the Authors
Dana Piazzi       Jordan Hancock       Kim Stevens       Elaine White


GIVEAWAY:

Blog Tour Organized by:

Monday, May 23, 2016

THE HUNT by Megan Shepherd

Rating: B+
Synopsis:
The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in the second novel in this gripping and romantic YA series about teens abducted from Earth by an otherworldly race—from Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of the Madman’s Daughter series.
They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.
After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.
The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.
My thoughts on the book:
I really enjoyed The Cage, and I was super excited to read The Hunt, but I was also apprehensive because so many second books are awful. However, Shepherd did not disappoint. This novel was better than I expected it to be, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The characters' grew throughout the book, the plot had a constant sense of urgency and alternated between sweet moments and dark moments, the pacing was spot on, and the writing was top notch. 
Cora grew up a lot in this installment, and I really enjoyed following her through the story. Mali and Leon developed a lot more, too, and I'm still a sucker for Cassian. I also gained some respect for Nok and Rolf this time around, and everyone really did their part. Lucky was another character who earned my respect. I liked some of the new introductions, but some of them, like Pika, annoyed me. I couldn't feel much sympathy for her, which kind of made me feel like a jerk.
The plot kept me engaged from the first page forward. The idea of the Hunt menagerie was horrific on many different levels than the menageries mentioned in the first book. What the animals and people went through in that menagerie broke my heart. I was engaged and sympathetic to everyone's plight, which isn't something I'm normally capable of in books with multiple viewpoints. Also, Nok and Rolf's situation was extremely twisted. I was concerned about everyone. Cassian managed to win me over again. I'm a sucker for aliens, apparently. The pacing was pretty fast, and I flew through the pages. Nothing felt rushed, though, except for the ending. It ended in a cliffhanger, and I really hate cliffhangers, hence the B+ instead of an A.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a unique and well-written sci-fi adventure. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

RUINED by Amy Tintera

Rating: B
Synopsis:
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.


My thoughts on the book:
I'd read mixed reviews about Ruined, so I was pleasantly surprised when I really enjoyed it. Both Em and Cas are easy to sympathize with. I really enjoyed getting to know them and watching them grow over the course of the book. The plot was fast-paced and full of suspense. The world-building was fantastic, and the writing was well-done. There were quite a few passages that really grabbed me. This book definitely stands out in the YA fantasy genre.

Em was a very angry character, for good reason. She was easy to sympathize with, even though her anger was sometimes a bit much. I could still relate to her, even though I thankfully haven't lived through what she did. As she evolved over the course of the novel, she became even easier to relate to, and I ended up liking her a lot. Cas was kind of gullible and self-absorbed at first, but he also grew throughout the novel and became quite likable. He had a good heart, and he was a really good hero. Both he and Em were flawed, but they were also very resilient. I'm looking forward to seeing more of both of them in the upcoming books. The side characters also stood out, though they weren't around enough for me to really get to know them. Galo seemed like a loyal friend, and Iria was also intriguing. I had mixed feelings about Aren, but he was also interesting, if also mysterious. None of the characters felt like filler. They each had their own personality. 

The novel started out quickly with action and suspense and did not slow down until the very last page. I flew through the pages and couldn't wait to see what happened next. There were some twists and turns, though there weren't any real big surprises. This book was still full of emotion and tension, though, which kept me reading. I really loved the writing. Some of Tintera's passages were absolutely beautiful. The world-building was clear and made sense. It wasn't overly described, but the author gave us a good understanding of how things worked. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it ended on a cliffhanger. That's what made me give it a B instead of an A. I really hate cliffhangers, and this one was a doozy.

Overall, I'd recommend this to people who are looking for something a bit different in fantasy books. It's just different enough to hold your interest while still holding onto the best parts of the genre. I can't wait for the next installment.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

WARRIOR WITCH by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: D
Synopsis:
The thrilling conclusion to the breakout Malediction Trilogy by Goodreads Choice finalist Danielle L. Jensen.

Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.
 


My thoughts on the book:
I was really looking forward to the third book in this trilogy. I absolutely loved the first two novels and had high hopes for this conclusion. However, I was left disappointed. The book seemed to drag on forever. The writing wasn't nearly as well done as the first two books; the characters seemed to somehow devolve instead of evolve, and the really depressing ending felt like a cop out. I wasn't blown away by this one, and reading it left me in a crappy mood. I hate when books do that. 

Cécile and Tristan both annoyed the crap out of me in this book. They just made one stupid mistake after another. The entire novel was more or less a stupid parade, thanks to them. They didn't grow at all, and I felt like they became mentally and emotionally weaker instead of stronger. The way things ended was completely out of character, too. Marc also devolved, which was sad to see, and none of the relationships in this installment felt like they mattered. They just seemed to exist to forward the plot. There was no feeling there at all. I didn't like that.

The plot was action-packed, but I was so disconnected from the characters that I'd once loved that I didn't really care what happened. It was just one stupid mess after another anyway, and it got old fast. It took me forever to finish this book because I kept getting sidetracked by other things that were more interesting. I've never seen a book with so much action be so freaking dull. There was just no heart in it. And the ending was gut wrenching and then instead of standing by the gut wrenching, the author had to go and cop out at the last minute. So the only real emotional piece in the book wasn't complete. 

Overall, I'd say skip this series unless you're running low on reading material. The first two books are good, but the letdown of the third book just isn't worth it. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Attention Authors: Red Empress Publishing is Seeking Submissions!!

Attention Authors!

Red Empress Publishing is currently seeking submissions in any genre of fiction but especially romance, mystery, fantasy and historical fiction. Authors can submit their books and request more information on their website http://redempresspublishing.com. For the company's latest news and updates, visit Red Empress on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RedEmpressPublishing and Twitter https://www.twitter.comredempresspub.

Red Empress Publishing, a full-service publishing company founded and run by an all-female team, has announced its open call for book submissions. The brand-new outfit is actively seeking submissions by women and people of color as part of the company's philosophy of diversity and inclusion.

"Publishing works by authors with diverse backgrounds is not only the right thing to do, but also smart business," said Red Empress founder Amanda Roberts. "The only way to stand out in a crowded industry such as publishing is to give a platform to stories that have not been told before."

Red Empress Publishing also provides a wide range of services from editing and cover design to multi-language translation and marketing, at no extra cost to authors. These services are managed by a core team of women of different nationalities and backgrounds. "Being based in China gives us an opportunity to meet and connect with women from different countries but with similar professional goals," Roberts continued. "It's a great hub of diversity and ideas, and we hope to reflect this with Red Empress."



Sunday, May 15, 2016

Recap: BEA and BookCon #BEA16 #BookCon

I'm back home in Tennessee today - I flew in this morning super early, and let me tell you, the security lines at O'Hare did suck. Anyway, as I sit here and pet Joey (the cat) and think back on the past few days, I think I can honestly say that BEA16 and BookCon were two of the best experiences of my life. I got to do a lot of things I hadn't done, and I met some amazing people (authors, TV stars, musicians, educators, "regular" people). Going to the events kind of renewed my faith in humanity, and while I did feel that the autograph ticketing process for BookCon could have been a bit more organized (8 lines all shoved on one side of the room when they had a whole other half of a room that wasn't being used and they could have easily put 4 over there and gotten rid of the congestion), the overall event was enjoyable. Also, even though I got off to a rough start at BEA, I figured out what I was supposed to do and ended up loving it.

BEA Recap:

  1. I got to meet and interview a musical legend, Whisperin' Bill Anderson, who ended up being one of the kindest and most inspirational people I've ever met. 
  2. I got to meet and have  The Raven King signed by one of my absolute favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater, and she was so adorable and sweet. I've wanted to meet her for years, and I'm so happy that I finally got to. 
  3. I got to interview JLA, who was also amazingly nice, and learn some good tips about writing. I figured who better to ask tips from than one of the hottest authors out there.
  4. I got a ton of books that I can't wait to read and review. I will be holding a giveaway for many of the books that I got at BEA, after I read and review them. I don't have room to store everything, haha. 
  5. I got to meet Sharon Cameron, who is one of my favorite historical fiction writers. I absolutely adore historical fiction, and her alternate realities and historical novels are just mindblowing. 
  6. I got to try out virtual reality for the first time at the Neoglyphics booth, and I was able to learn about some of the creative ideas they have for publishing fully immersive fictional worlds. I am really excited about the work they're doing, and I can't wait to read and review their book, Sunborn Rising
  7. I got to meet a lot of the people who work at my favorite publishing houses: Disney, Abrams, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster; Macmillan, Scholastic, Penguin, etc. Every single person I met (aside from the grumpy interns, haha) was so nice and helpful. It was obvious that they were happy to be there and so excited to get the books they're publishing out to people. I really liked that. It really humanized the publishing houses for me. Until now, I'd only interacted with everyone from behind computer screens, so it was nice to actually get to know some of the people in person as opposed to through email only. 
  8. I found some amazing new stores that sell bookish things. Litographs and Out of Print are two of my new favorite t-shirt and accessory shops. You should definitely check them out. 
BookCon Recap:
BookCon was more like the comic conventions that I'm used to, so it made a lot more sense to me in some ways. Security was tighter, lines were longer, and it was more fan-based than industry-professional based. That being said, I made some new friends while waiting in those long lines, and I got to meet some amazing authors there, too. It was also a lot of fun, and in addition to having the hottest authors out there doing panels and signing books, BookCon upped their awesomeness by chartering one of my favorite local bookstores, Anderson's Books in Naperville, to sell all of the books at the convention. I love it when people and events shop locally, and they could have chartered Barnes and Noble or Amazon or some other huge book supplier. The fact that they chose Anderson's made me have a whole new respect for the BookCon brand and the event planning company that manages the event. 
  1. I got to meet one of my absolute favorite authors, and a man whom I respect greatly: Sherman Alexie. Not only did I get to meet him, he was so nice to me. He asked me if I wrote, and I told him I was trying to. Then he said one of the nicest things ever to me: "You'll finish the book. I hope that one day I see you at one of these events signing your novel." That meant so much coming from someone who is a NYT Bestselling, award-winning author. Especially because he is bringing American Indian rights into the living rooms of people who never thought about the fact that our history is wrong and that large, important parts are omitted, and that is so important. He does this with a humor and grace that captivates all who read his work. He's one of the best storytellers of this generation. 
  2. I got to meet the Scott Brothers (Property Brothers). They were so nice. They came out and talked to the audience randomly so that people wouldn't get impatient. I know that this sounds dumb, but they actually are a lot like they are on TV. I know it's a reality show and scripted, but the show seems to be a decent representation of their personalities. 
  3. I bought way too many bookish things. Every place had a sale going that day, so I got tons of t-shirts and socks. 
  4. I got to learn a ton about historical fiction because of the panels. BookCon had some seriously good panels. I didn't get a chance to make many of them because I was in signing lines, but the Historical Fictions for Teens was a really good one. It made me rethink how I wanted to write a historical fiction idea I have. 
Overall, this was a really fantastic trip. I loved going to BEA and BookCon, and I can't wait to attend one or both again next year. Look for a giveaway coming up soon. I leave you with a couple of pictures.



Friday, May 13, 2016

My Second Day at BEA #BEA16

My second day at BEA went a lot better than my first. I managed to get my coffee this morning without dumping it everywhere, and even though I missed getting a Maggie Stiefvater ticket, I was lucky enough to get a copy of The Raven King signed anyway because they had some extra books. Overall, it was a great day.

This morning, I went early to get autograph tickets, but the ones for all of the authors I wanted were already gone. Clearly everyone else wanted to meet those authors, too. I wandered around for awhile and understood why everyone gets in line first thing in the morning: that's when all of the ARCs are out. I found the shipping area and started my own box of books, which I added to throughout the day. I still stuck to my policy to only get the novels that I intended to read and review, but I had so many more choices today since I got there early. I went to the Maggie autograph line in hopes of lucking out and being one of the few unticketed people to get a book signed, and I was! I tried and (barely) succeeded and not fangirling at her. I didn't squeal in her face or squeal at the guy who was handing out books. I was pretty proud of myself for that. She's one of my absolute favorite authors, so it was amazing getting to meet her.

I got a few more books signed randomly, and I'm really excited about a lot of the ARCs I got. I can't wait to review them. I'll do a little mini spotlight on all of them when I get home. Right now they're all in a box, on the way to my house, and I can't remember all of the titles.

This afternoon, I went back for round two and got some more books signed. I stood in line at the Hachette booth and rolled the dice for a free ARC and got the one I really wanted, which was awesome. Then I finished up my shipping box and got it ready to mail. After that, I went to the RWA booth for the JLA signing. I had an interview with her afterwards, and my feet were killing me, so I actually asked, "can I just park it over here until you're done?" I really hope that didn't come across as awkward and rude. I just am so bad at peopling. Sigh. Anyway, I sat there and waited on her to finish her signing, and she's so nice to her fans. It was really cool to see how she treated everyone like a long lost friend. Also, her hair is gorgeous. Totally jealous of it. Anyway,  I probably looked like a creeper/stalker sitting on the ground next to her autograph table, but that's fine. I didn't care. I'm pretty sure I'm part cat anyway, so creepy is in my nature. After she got done signing Forever with You, we went to one of the standing tables and did the interview. She was so nice and personable, and I learned a lot about writing from her answers. I can't wait to get the interview transcribed for all of you guys to see.

After my interview with JLA, I came back to my hotel room and put my feet up. I have to get an early start for Book Con tomorrow. I am determined to get a Sherman Alexie autograph ticket, AND an autograph ticket for the Scott Brothers! Once again, if any of you see me wandering around Book Con, please stop me and say hi.