Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: The Vikings Captive by Quinn Loftis

Title: The Viking’s Captive
Author: Quinn Loftis
Series: (Clan Hakon #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: November 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Prophecy spoken.
Alliances broken.
Will duty come before love?
The Viking’s Captive is the exciting sequel toThe Viking’s Chosen by USA Today Bestseller Quinn Loftis.
Two worlds collide in this epic historical fiction centered on an undeniable chemistry that smolders against the odds. Richly written and injected with moments of humor, this action-packed romantic tale will leave you breathless.
Novels in The Clan Hakon Series Include:
The Viking’s Chosen (February 12, 2018)
The Viking’s Captive (November 27, 2018)
The Viking’s Consort (Fall 2019)

“I’m going to cut off his fingers one at a time, and then I’ll cut off his hands, and—”

“You’ve had lots of practice at cutting off appendages. Perhaps while you’re cutting on the jarl, you could thank him for giving you the experience,” Brant said, interrupting my tirade.

“He won’t be able to respond because I’m going to cut out his tongue, so I don’t have to listen to his lunacy,” I snarled. Leaning down, I cupped some water from a small stream into my hand and slurped it into my mouth. We’d pushed the horses hard all night and late into the day. Both the animals and my men needed a break, no matter how badly I wanted to keep riding.

“So, what I hear you saying is there will be a lot of cutting,” Brant chuckled. “Is this before or after you torture him and make him wish he’d never been jarl of Clan Hakon?”

I narrowed my eyes on him. “He has your woman, too, ya know?” I saw the way Brant’s jaw tightened even though he tried to appear nonchalant.

“Yes, I know,” he responded. “But she can probably kick his arse. I should be more worried about the poor, unsuspecting men who are going to be dealing with her. The lass has quite a temper.”

I snorted. “Wicked temper,” I muttered under my breath, though I wasn’t talking about Dayna. My thoughts were on another princess whose temper could be quite as volatile as her sister’s, though Allete would be more likely to set traps for her enemies and watch silently as they fell. Dayna would simply run them through with a sword, laughing all the while.

Quinn is an award winning author who lives in beautiful Western Arkansas with her husband, two sons, Nora the Doberman, and Chewy the Cat who thinks he's a dog. She is the author of 17 novels, and 2 novellas, including the USA Today bestseller, Fate and Fury. Quinn is beyond thankful that she has been blessed to be able to write full time and hopes the readers know how much all of their support means to her. Some of her hobbies include reading, exercising, crochet, and spending time with family and friends. She gives all credit of her success to God because he gave her the creative spirit and vivid imagination it takes to write.


Book Review: Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Fountain Dead
Author: Theresa Braun
Publisher: Unnerving
Pages: Kindle; 187
Release Date: November 20, 2018
Source: Author
Content Screening: Mild Violence, Adult Language

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy horror in a YA setting.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon
Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past.
Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house's dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.
If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that horror is one of my preferred genres. You also probably know that I'm well aware of how rough it is to fit this genre into the YA spectrum. Authors who write YA horror have to walk a very fine line, and that's not an easy feat. So, I have to start this review with kudos to Theresa Braun for mastering that. This book may be on the upper spectrum of the YA group, but it's still firmly there.

This is a dual timeline book, with Mark settled in the 1980's and and Emma in the 1860's. I'll admit, it took me a little time to get comfortable with this situation. The story takes off without a lot of fanfare, and I had to rush to catch up with what was actually happening to both of these characters in their respective times. On top of that, the first 3/4 of the book is a little slow because of the need for the two timelines to merge. Although there was a decent amount of tension as Mark uncovered the mysteries of his new home, it still felt slower than I would have liked. I can say, however, that the horror aspect of this book is actually really intriguing. There's an element of history there, that really drew me into all of the madness that Mark's family was experiencing.

Honestly, this is a rough book to rate. Overall, I thought it was a solid read. There was just enough tension and scares to make things interesting, without the story ever becoming too much. However this book could use a little polishing. Some portions needed a little more excitement, some needed a little more clarity, and the whole plot could probably use a little tweaking. Still, the concept of Mark and Emma finding one another across time and space, and the addition of ghostly happenings, made this a book I did enjoy reading.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, November 26, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (11/25/18)

Apologies for the radio silence all. It's been a rough last two weeks, and I've been trying to dig myself out of a funk that was so deep that I've actually barely been reading at all. I love the holidays, I really do. Family, friends, and food. All good things. However they also bring with them memories of loss, and this year we've added another loss to that list. It's hard to separate the feelings I have right now, but I've been doing the best I can to keep on keeping on.

So, I took a blogging break to let things go, and I'm slinking back in. Here's what I've been up to while I've been gone.

I finished up The Color of Lies for a blog tour, and actually ended up enjoying it more than I expected. Then I picked up The Little Shop of Found Things on a whim and, as it turns out, absolutely fell in love with it! It's a really charming historical fiction book, and it was exactly what I needed to escape into for a while.

Speaking of things that I absolutely need to read right now, I've started The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and I'm head over heels in love. This book is everything I wanted from Felicity's story. It's girl power to the max, passion to the brim, and full of all sorts of adventures to get lost in. I'm smitten, and I don't care who knows it.

I honestly have no idea! We'll see where the wind takes me.
What are you reading this week? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Book Review: The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Color Of Lies
Author: CJ Lyons
Publisher: Blink
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Source: FFBC Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy YA mysteries with diverse characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons comes The Color of Lies, a world drenched in color and mystery.

High school senior Ella Cleary has always been good at reading people. Her family has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses—her Gram Helen sees every sound, and her uncle Joe can literally taste words. Ella’s own synesthesia manifests itself as the ability to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions…until she meets a guy she just can’t read.

Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life. That is, until he reveals the real reason why he sought her out—he wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths, the parents that Ella had always been told died in a fire. Alec turns Ella’s world upside down when he tells her their deaths were definitely not an accident.

After learning her entire life has been a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she really is. With her adoptive family keeping secrets and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

Perfect for fans of Caroline B. Cooney, Ally Carter, and Jennifer Brown, The Color of Lies blurs the lines between black-and-white facts and the kaleidoscope of reality.
YA mysteries and thrillers are still relatively new territory for me, mainly because I still always seem to gravitate towards my safe fantasy territory. Which is why, when the opportunity to review a book like The Color of Lies presents itself, I'll happily oblige. This story in particular caught my attention because our protagonist had synesthesia. How CJ Lyons planned to incorporate that into Ella's story intrigued me, because it seemed to me that the ability to read auras would really come in handy in the event of a thriller. Ah, how right I was.

It should be noted that I don't have a lot of background knowledge of synesthesia, and I always assumed that it revolved around colors. So it was so fascinating to me to meet Ella's family members, each with their own unique way of experiencing the world. In particular, Ella's uncle Joe had the ability to taste words. How cool is that? I just kept imagining what that would be like, to be able to taste the things that you say. Absolutely fascinating, if I do say so myself.

I also really enjoyed Ella as a main character. She was enough of an adult to keep the teen angst to a minimum, but enough of sheltered child to make this whole mystery really flow. Her love for her family and friends made me fall for her pretty quickly, but her love of art really sealed the deal. Had this book only been from Ella's point of view, I think I would have been completely smitten.

Unfortunately, this is a dual POV book. I normally am not a fan of dual POV anyway, but I really felt Alec's portion took away from some of the growth that we could have seen from Ella. I'll admit, Ella does get a fair bit more time in the limelight than Alec does. However since Alec starts out the story holding all the cards, and Ella has to play catch up, it makes her seem a little weak. I knew she wasn't. CJ Lyons has written a strong character who, despite her whole life being turned upside down multiple times, pushes through. I just wanted more of that, and more of her.

As for the plot line, I'm of the opinion that it was actually pretty easy to unravel. My inkling about how the book was going to end started around the 1/3 mark, and the further the read the more I knew that I was absolutely right. I know that Lyons was trying to lay a trail of breadcrumbs. In fact, I think that some of that actually was done well. However there is a lot in the first half of the book that all but lights a neon sign pointing to what will happen at the end. As I said, I don't read a ton of mystery and I was able to unravel it. I'm not sure how die hard readers of this genre will feel.

All in all, this was a pretty solid read. The Color of Lies drew me in with its premise, and kept me reading because I fell in love with the characters. Although the plot wasn't quite as twisty as I hoped for, that didn't stop this from being a book I all but flew through. I know this will be a satisfying read for a lot of you out there, and so I'll happily recommend you adding it to your reading list.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Book Hoarder? Who, me?

So, one of my promises to myself this year was that I was going to scale down. In every aspect. Scale down on the things I buy, scale down on the things I own, and also try to keep our house from turning into a storage unit. Oh, trust me. It's not been easy. My book dragon tendencies keep urging me to look at book sale emails, and it takes all of my willpower to ignore them. *sigh* Being a bookworm is a hard, hard job.

My rule lately has been composed of two separate parts:

1. If I don't love a book after I've finished reading it, I give it away.
2. I'm not allowed to buy any new books, unless they're some I've already read and loved.

The bright side of all of this is that I've been using my local library like mad! I've also been deep into audio book territory, which has been a nice way to pass the work hours while attacking multi-page spreadsheets. The other excellent part of it is that my bookshelves have stopped being cluttered stacks, and are going back to their pretty, presentable selves. I'm kind of in awe of it all.

I still have the itch ALL THE TIME, but I've been good!

How do you deal with your book dragon tendencies?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: When Stars Come Out by Scarlett St. Clair

Happy Friday dear friends! I hope you're all surviving your candy hangovers and enjoying the lovely fall weather. This fabulous new urban fantasy sounds like a perfect way to kick off a relaxing weekend. Who cares about losing an hour of sleep when you have a great book to curl up with. 

Title: When Stars Come Out
Author: Scarlett St. Clair
Publication date: October 31st 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Anora Silby can see the dead and turn spirits into gold coins, two things she would prefer to keep secret as she tries to lead a normal life at her new school. After all, she didn’t change her identity for nothing.
As it turns out, hiding her weirdness is just one of many challenges. By the end of her first day, she’s claimed the soul of a dead girl on campus and lost the coin. Turns out, the coin gives others the ability to steal souls, and when a classmate ends up dead, there’s no mistaking the murder weapon.
Navigating the loss of her Poppa, her mother’s unpredictable behavior, and Roundtable, an anonymous student gossip app threatening to expose her, are hard enough. Now she must find the person who stole her coin before more lives are lost, but that means making herself a target for the Order, an organization that governs the dead on Earth–and they want Anora and her powers for themselves.
Add it: Goodreads / Amazon

A woman with blond hair and a pink blazer smiles at me.
“Can I help you?” Her voice sounds robotic, filtered through the round metal intercom.
“I’m new. I don’t have my schedule—”
“Oh! You must be Anora Silby!” She retrieves a folder from her desk and hands it to me via a small opening at the bottom of the glass barrier. “Inside you will find your schedule and your student handbook.”
I open the folder and stare at the materials. My schedule sits on top. I have already zoned in on my first hour: trigonometry…a.k.a. Hell.
“Be sure you are aware of curfew.”
“Oh, I don’t live on campus.”
“Curfew is countywide,” she advises. “No one’s to be outside after midnight.”
It takes the lady a moment to realize I’ve asked her a question. She blinks.
“It’s always been like that. Since the twenties. You know, after the murders.”
“No, actually…I don’t know,” I wave my folder around to remind her I’m the new girl.
“It’s nothing to be worried about,” the lady assures me. “There haven’t been any murders since then. The curfew’s just in place as…a precaution. It’s best if it’s obeyed.”
She says it like a warning, like she thinks I’m one to break the rules. I can understand curfew for campus, but why is it countywide?
“Would you like a guide to help you find your classes?” Her voice brightens, her smile intensifies. It looks fake, and I get the sense I’m not welcome anymore.
“Uh, sure.”
It’ll be nice to have a map of this place in case I get lost trying to avoid the dead. The lady disappears from view and I take a closer look at the pictures on the wall. I’m partly hopeful I’ll see a picture of the girl outside in one of the photos, but I don’t find her. The images are mostly of buildings on campus in their prime. Gold plates beneath the frames indicate the year they were built. My favorite is Rosewater—that sounds calming.
I run my fingers over the cold metal, tracing the name.
“You must be Anora Silby.” The voice is energetic and warm, but it startles me. I tear my hand away from the plate as if I’ve been caught stealing and yelp, twisting to find a boy standing beside me. He has striking blue eyes and sharp features. My gaze drops to his lips, which are initially pulled into a smile until I face him, then it falters.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I study him for a moment—lively eyes, faint color in his cheeks, and…warmth. He’s definitely alive. I guess I stare too long because he clears his throat and says, “Can I help you find your classes?”
“Oh…um…the lady was getting me a map.”
A smile stretches across his face again, brightening his expression. “I’m your map.” He extends his hand to me, keeping the other in his pocket. “Shy.”
I stare at his hand, confused—did he just call me shy?
“Excuse me?”
He chuckles under his breath. “It’s my name—Shy Savior.”
“Oh.” My cheeks flame and I want to hide. I fumble as I cradle my folder in my arm and reach for his hand. “Anora Silby…er…I guess you knew that.”
“Yeah,” he breathes, and then quickly adds, “But that’s okay. You have a nice name.”
He doesn’t move his gaze from mine as he shakes my hand firmly, and it is a little unnerving, especially since the pigment of his eyes is so concentrated—seriously, he has to be wearing contacts.
“Um, are you going to let go of my hand?”
“Sorry.” He drops my hand and snakes his behind his neck. “It’s just…have we met?”
I laugh. “No. I think I would remember you, Blue Eyes.”
Shy smiles and turns the faintest shade of pink. “You just feel so familiar.”
“I hope I’m familiar in a good way.”
God. I’d have to say that, wouldn’t I?
I’m breaking my second rule: Absolutely no boys.
“Yes.” He narrows those gorgeous eyes and my resolve weakens. “Yes, only in a good way.”
I inhale and hug myself, feeling self-conscious.
“Mr. Savior, I think it’s about time Miss Silby made it to class,” the lady in the pink blazer advises from the counter.
Shy turns and smiles at her. “Yes. Sorry, Mrs. Cole.” He looks at me, clearing his throat. “So, what’s your first class?”
I’m glad the distraction gives me a reason to look away from him because my cheeks are on fire. I open my folder to look at my schedule. I’d seen it a few minutes ago but now, I can’t remember anything.
“Um, Mr. Val, trig … in Walcourt?”
Shy laughs.
“What?” I lean away to get a good look at his face, but he just shakes his head, eyes focused on my schedule.
“Nothing—what’s your locker number?”
Shy directs me out of the lobby, down a hallway flanked with a large trophy case and a couple bulletin boards covered with flyers for homecoming.
“The lockers, dorms, and cafeteria are all located here in Emerson,” he explains. “It’s a little inconvenient, but you just have to make sure you have everything you need for your first four classes before lunch,” he pauses and nods to my locker, then the one next to it. “That one’s mine.”
I smile at him and it feels like I’m falling into a trap. “I guess I’ll see more of you, then?”
“Yeah.” He grins, showing his teeth, and runs a hand through his blond hair. I like the way his eyes crinkle at the sides when he smiles, all things I shouldn’t notice about him, considering my rules. “Yeah, you will.”

Scarlett St. Clair lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She has a Master's degree in Library Science and Information Studies and spends a lot of time researching reincarnation, unsolved murders and Greek mythology-all of which made it into her debut novel, When Stars Come Out.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Book Review: Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Girl at the Grave
Author: Teri Bailey Black
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Source: FFBC Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy slow moving, but well executed mixes of historical fiction and fantasy.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.

Where to start with thoughts on Girl at the Grave? It might seem a little macabre, but I definitely picked this book up because of the promised blend of murder and romance. When those two things are well combined in a historical fiction novel, that's my perfect storm. I hoped for a dark and atmospheric story line, since Valentine's past was so riddled with mystery. For the most part, I was definitely given what I hoped for! I just had a few qualms, and I'll outline them below.

Before I say anything else, I should disclose that I am not a fan of love triangles. That's not to say that I don't think they're occasionally necessary for story movement, or acknowledge that others out there love them. It's simply my own personal preference that characters don't beat around the bush when it comes to love interests. So, take my opinions on the romance portion of this book with a grain of salt.

For the most part, I loved everything about our characters. Black does a superb job of fleshing out each one them, and making them feel as realistic as possible. They have real human emotions and, equally valid, evoked the same emotions in me while I read. Valentine's whole persona had me enraptured, and I honestly felt like she did a lot of growing as the story went on. Character growth, for the win! Which is why I was so annoyed by the whole whole love triangle aspect of her romantic life. It was pretty obvious to me who she would end up with, so it felt unnecessary and bogged down the story line. Again though, that's just me. You might love it!

While the plot here is admittedly slow moving, sometimes to a frustrating degree, I can say that it definitely allows the Gothic atmosphere to shine. It weaves an eerie aura around Valentine and her two love interests, and creates ample opportunity for what felt like realistic conversations between them. I would have loved a little more forward movement, but I can't fault the story for what it accomplished. This book is heavy on the tension, and that is enticing in itself. In fact, depending on what you tend to pick up books for, this story might actually appeal to a lot of historical fiction readers out there. The setting is vivid, and the characters are too. If only the plot had picked up a bit, it would have been perfection for me.

Overall, this was a really solid read. I enjoyed my time spent with Valentine, and unraveling the secrets of her past. I loved the atmosphere that Black created, and the character development that she so expertly executed. I give this story a solid three stars, and I'd definitely recommend it.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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