Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Very Exciting Surprise Announcement from Cora Carmack!


From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack, comes the highly anticipated fourth standalone title in her Rusk University Series, ALL CLOSED OFF! A passionate story and journey, get ready to be mesmerized with Stella’s story! ALL CLOSED OFF is coming your way May 1, 2017!


Cover Design and Photography by Kelsey Kukal-Keeton at K. Keeton Designs

ABOUT ALL CLOSED OFF (Releasing May 1, 2017):

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.







Don’t Miss All of Cora’s Standalone Rusk University Series Titles!

ALL LINED UP


ALL BROKE DOWN


ALL PLAYED OUT


About Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twentysomething New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twentysomething characters. Raised in a small Texas town, she now lives in New York City and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various TV shows on Netflix. She lives by one rule: embrace whatever the world throws at you and run with it (just not with scissors).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Cora Carmack Goodreads

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review: Wanderlust - Ann Aguirre

Sirantha Jax doesn't take chances . . . she jumps at them.

Sirantha Jax is a "jumper," a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate the faster-than-light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now word's out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and its stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled - which means Jax is out of a job.

She's also broke due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax agrees to do it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithis-Tor and convince its inhabitants to join the Conglomerate.

But Jax's payday is light-years away. First she'll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She'll be lucky just to make it to Ithis-Tor alive . . .

Sirantha Jax Series:
Grimspace
Wanderlust
Doublebind
Killbox
Aftermath
Endgame

Dred Chronicles:
Perdition
Havoc
Breakout

Visit Ann Aguirre's website for more information

Review:
After absolutely falling in love with this world and these characters when I read Grimspace I couldn't wait to dive into Wanderlust. It's not often I find a series as addictive as this one and I'm happy that the second book continued that trend, I wouldn't say this was quite as good as the first book but it wasn't far off it and I'm still incredibly excited about reading the rest of the series. Where Grimspace was full of action and humour Wanderlust takes a darker turn, it still had it's humorous moments but there was some relationship drama that made it a little more angsty. The side characters and the amount of action pulled me through that though, there was enough going on that I could easily ignore the things that irritated me and I still love this world.

I love some of the changes we've seen in Jax, the way she wants to be a better person and how she tries to do the right thing is great but I do find it annoying that she tries to do everything on her own and doesn't ask her friends and crew for assistance even when she really needs their help. I also didn't like the way she tried to push Marsh away "for his own good", you don't get to make that kind of decision on someone else's behalf - especially not when you're hurting them in the process! I guess it was more realistic that their relationship wouldn't be plain sailing though, they both have difficult pasts and thats bound to effect the way they deal with things and lets face it they've not really had much time to get to know each other yet. I actually respected Marsh for his decision to stay behind to help Keri with her battle, she obviously needed his help and she's like a little sister to him so I think it's important that he didn't just abandon his family for Jax. It was still disappointing to see Jax and Marsh separated for so much of the story though and it's going to be interesting to see how their relationship proceeds now he's such a different man.

The side characters continue to be one of my favourite things about this series. I love that Ann Aguirre is happy to surround Jax with strong women as well as men, that's something we don't always see enough of. Dina and 245 remain favourites but we also have a new addition to the kickass women of the crew in Hit, a lethal assassin who luckily is on Jax's side (well for now anyway, let's hope she remains there!). The boys are still represented too and Vel is definitely one of my favourite characters in the series, for a shapeshifting giant praying mantis he's actually a pretty sweet character but he's always full of surprises and definitely a good person to be near in a fight. I love new addition Jael, what we've learned about his background is intriguing and definitely left me wanting more, he's a fun character but I'm a little nervous about the apology he made towards the end of the book so I'm going to be keeping a close eye on him in the future.

This series has quickly become one of my favourites and I can't wait to continue reading it.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Monday, 27 March 2017

Review: Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: Quidditch: Deluxe Book and Model Set - Jody Revenson

A magical sport played high up in the air with quaffles, bludgers and broomsticks. With this deluxe book get a behind-the-scenes look at how Quidditch was imagined and brought to life for the Harry Potter films - complete with film-making secrets, insights from the actors and thrilling artwork. This deluxe book and model set includes everything you need to create your own wooden Golden Snitch model. Features easy-to-assemble laser-cut wood pieces, step-by-step instructions, colouring and crafting ideas, and a character guide book featuring interviews from cast and crew of the Harry Potter films, plus film-making and special effects secrets.

Harry Potter Series:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Illustrated Edition (Illustrated by Jim Kay)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Illustrated Edition (Illustrated by Jim Kay)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (with John Tiffany & Jack Thorne)

Pottermore Presents:
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Short Story Collection)
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists (Short Story Collection)
Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Short Story Collection)

Harry Potter Products:
Harry Potter: Winter at Hogwarts: A Magical Colouring Set (Colouring Book, Gift Tags & a build your own 3D Firebolt in a Keepsake Box)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: House-Elves (Deluxe Book and Model Set)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: Buckbeak (Deluxe Book and Model Set)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: Quidditch (Deluxe Book and Model Set)

Visit J.K. Rowling's website or the Pottermore website for more information

Review:
I've really enjoyed building these Incredibuilds model kits, they're pretty easy to put together but it's a satisfying way to spend half and hour and I love having the finished models to decorate my bookcases with. I think the Golden Snitch was probably the most awkward of the models to put together, most of it is very straightforward and super easy but when you get to step 11 you'll probably have to gently use a hammer to get that spike to go through the rest of the model so younger builders may need assistance at that point.


This is probably the model that would be easiest to paint after building, the others I'd recommend decorating the pieces before together but there aren't so many awkward angles here so you can easily add paint to the finished model if you want to. I still think they look fine without any decoration though so I'm not going to be in a rush to paint mine. The Snitch model stands about 11cm tall at the highest point and the wingspan is 23cm tip to tip so it's not too large but looks nice on display.



As with all of these kits the hardback book is only about 30 pages long but it includes lots of information about they filmed the Quidditch matches for the movies. Everything from how they designed the costumes and decided on the shape of the brooms to how they filmed the actors against blue screens so they could add the CGI background later on. There are lots of pictures from all different production stages and even though it's only a quick read Harry Potter fans are sure to find it interesting.

The only Harry Potter model set I'm missing now is the Aragog one which I'm actually a little reluctant about buying - do I really need a giant spider on my bookshelves? I definitely want to start collecting the Fantastic Beasts ones though, the only two available right now are a Niffler and the Swooping Evil which both look like pretty cool sets to build and I wouldn't be surprised if more are released later down the line.

Source: Purchased

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Review: The Mills & Boon Modern Girl's Guide to Turning into Your Mother - Ada Adverse

Have you ever…?

A) Opened your mouth and heard your mother come out?

B) Wondered whether a bunch of flowers and breakfast in bed once a year really makes up for the 37 hours your mum spent in St Agnes’ Maternity Ward?

C) Voiced a heartfelt opinion on the weather?

If so, the Mills & Boon Modern Girl’s Guide to Turning Into Your Mother is for you: a guide to the joys of motherhood – with a feminist twist.

The Mills & Boon Modern Girls Guide Series:
Turning into Your Mother
Working 9 to 5
Happy Hour
Helping Yourself
Happy Endings

Visit the Mills & Boon website for more information

Review:
Firstly let me just wish all the mums out there a very happy Mother's Day! This book isn't so much a guide showing you how to turn into your mother (or how to avoid it!) but more likely a book that shows you that it's too late - it's already happened! This book is along similar lines to Penguin's Ladybird books for grownups collection where you have a vintage picture on one side of the page and an amusing caption to accompany it on the opposite. That makes it a very quick book to read cover to cover or you can dip in and out of it as the mood strikes you.

I'm not a mother myself so I think some of the anecdotes missed the mark a little because of that but there were definitely things I was still able to relate to and I'm sure my Mum will find it even funnier. This is the kind of book that makes a great Mother's Day gift (I know my Mum will be receiving a copy today!) to any mums or grandmothers in your life and I'm looking forward to checking out more from the series.

Of course I have to end this review with a picture so here's one of my favourite pages:


Source: Received from Mills & Boon Insiders in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here

Hardback / Kindle:

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Review: A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab

The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise. Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry.

Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery and the Night Spire crew are attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible, as an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown and a fallen hero is desperate to save a decaying world...

Shades of Magic Series:
A Darker Shade of Magic
A Gathering of Shadows
A Conjuring of Light

Visit V.E. Schwab's website for more information

Review:
A Conjuring of Light was exactly what I wanted from the finale of the Shades of Magic series and I love it when a series goes out on a high note! At 666 pages this is a whopper of a book but there is just so much going on that it honestly doesn't feel like it and I flew through it in a couple of days. The action is pretty much non-stop from the first few pages and there is twist after twist as you follow all of our favourite characters to the end. This story isn't all sunshine and roses, there are heartbreaking moments and I'll warn you right now that not everyone survives the book but there are also fantastic friendships and some incredibly sweet and romantic moments to lighten the mood just when you need them.

First let me talk about how much I adore the brotherly bond between Kell and Rhy, these two are brothers by choice even if not by blood and their friendship never fails to make me smile. One of my favourite moments in the book was a conversation Rhy had with his mother near the beginning of the story about the bond he shares with Kell and I think this quote sums up their relationship perfectly:
Rhy shook his head, exasperated. “Kell isn’t the only one you fail to understand. My bond with him didn’t start with this curse. You wanted him to kill for me, die for me, protect me at all costs. Well, Mother, you got your wish. You simply failed to realize that that kind of love, that bond, it goes both ways. I would kill for him, and I would die for him, and I will protect him however I am able, from Faro and Vesk, from White London, and Black London, and from you.”
I also love the relationship between Kell and Lila, they have a lot in common and now that Lila has grown up a bit (she irritated me a bit in the last book but showed a massive character growth in this one!) I think they make a really cute couple. I like that Lila has learnt to accept that she doesn't know everything and that she's willing to take Kell's advice and learn from her mistakes. She's still a very proactive character who doesn't sit around waiting to be saved and is much more likely to be right in the middle of any trouble rather than watching from the sidelines but she's lost a bit of that cocky edge that made her annoying rather than just confident. Kell has changed a lot too, he has the weight of his whole world on his shoulders and that's a lot of stress for anyone to deal with but he is determined to fix the mistakes he made and resolve things. I was shipping Rhy and Alucard so hard from the middle of the last book and that didn't change here. They have a lot of history between them and not all of it is good but I was rooting for them to find a way back to each other.

I think the most surprising character award would have to go to Holland. I never expected to end up liking him after what he did in A Gathering of Shadows but we get to see some really interesting glimpses into his past that showed exactly how he ended up making the choices he did. I still don't agree with his actions but it wasn't too hard to imagine Kell or even Lila making similar choices if they were in his position to begin with. He also works really hard to try and fix the mess he made and I enjoyed the grudging respect that slowly builds between him, Kell and Lila.

A Conjuring of Light was a fantastic end to this story arc but I'm kind of hoping that V.E. Schwab isn't done with this world yet. I think things were definitely left open enough that we could have more adventures in this world but don't worry you're not left with a horrible cliffhanger so it won't matter if there are no more books to come. I'm going to miss Kell, Rhy and the rest though so I hope we'll see more of them in the future.

Source: Received from Titan Books in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Friday, 24 March 2017

Release Day Blitz: Exiled - Amanda Carlson

Today is the release day of Exiled, the third book in Amanda Carlson's fabulous Phoebe Meadows series. I've been looking forward to this book for ages so I'm happy to have an excerpt and fab giveaway to share with you today to celebrate the release. This book is jumping right to the top of my to read pile so watch out for a review as soon as I've had a chance to read it :o)

About Exiled:

Phoebe Meadows is on trial for her life.

After freeing her half-brother, Baldur, Phoebe is set to stand before the Council in Asgard to answer for her actions. The threat of exile if she’s found guilty looms, not to mention the added stress of meeting her real father for the first time.

Upon entering Asgard, Phoebe discovers new allies in a half-brother she’s never met as well as an oracle who is in possession of valuable information. A little added help couldn’t have come at a better time, because when Phoebe is tossed into an unknown realm, she’s armed only with Gundren, a jewel, and her wits.

When Loki shows up, all bets are off. The trickster god throws a wrench in Phoebe’s plans and kidnaps Fen, her only ally. And just when she thinks she sees the light at the end of the tunnel, Phoebe finds she has to defeat one last obstacle: The Norns.

And they aren't planning to go down without a fight…

********************

EXILED: Phoebe Meadows Book Three

Excerpt
Copyright © 2017 Amanda Carlson. All rights reserved. None of the below can be reprinted without permission from the author

1

“Sweet mother of all that’s holy.” Sam coughed violently into the bucket positioned in front of her. “Please tell me we’re here. My body can’t take much more of this.” She lifted her head, dragging the back of her sleeve over her mouth, wheezing. “I’m pretty sure my tank is finally dry, but bile is a tricky thing, as my body is making more of the hot, searing liquid as we speak.” Tyr stood next to her holding a clean pail, his face a mask of concern.

“Aye, we’re here,” Tyr answered solemnly, bending down to place the new container in front of Sam, who was promptly in need of it.

We all stood on the deck of Ringhorn, my half brother Baldur’s boat, which had been gifted to Tyr upon Baldur’s untimely death. We’d arrived in Asgard less than five minutes prior, so I could face the Council and Frigg, Baldur’s powerful goddess mother, to receive punishment for freeing her beloved son.

I’d broken Baldur out of a dark elf prison—the very place his mother had placed him for protection—only to watch him die a short time later at Verdandi’s hand.

It had been awful and heartbreaking.

The boat had just taken us through an insane vortex. One that had hauled us up in the air at breakneck speed, only to drop us the next instant. I’d lost count of how many times my stomach had hit my knees.
But I’d fared better than poor Sam, who was now huddled on the deck spilling her guts.

“Are we really here? In Asgard?” I asked, squinting into the darkness, trying to discern a single shape on the horizon, but coming up empty. The boat had lurched to a full stop in what looked to be a solid void. “I was expecting it to be a little more…vibrant?”

“We’ve landed in a holding bay,” Fen answered, his frame tense beside mine, his arm tight around my waist. This was the first time he’d been back to his home in many years, and he was poised for any threat that might come our way, his nostrils flaring, his sword at the ready.

My mother came up beside us. “There are various ways in, but if you take magical transportation, like Ringhorn, you must wait to be inspected before accessing the city.”

“Yep,” Ingrid added, moving toward a gated opening that would lead us off the boat. “Lots of nooks and crannies on a big boat like this. We might be harboring unknown aliens. We’ll have to wait for the inspectors to clear us.”

“Why is it so dark?” I asked. The only illumination we had came from the boat itself.

Before anyone could answer, a loud grating noise filled the air. All at once, the scene before us began to change as bright light pierced the space like a dazzling spotlight.

We were in a large cylinder of some kind.

As light penetrated the tunnel, my eyes adjusted, and I began to get my first glimpses of Asgard beyond the tunnel. I noticed blue sky right away. It was cobalt, a deep, resplendent tone that seemed impossibly rich for a sky.

“Brace yourself, kiddo,” Ingrid said as she removed her spear from her waistband. “Along with the inspectors, there will be guards.”

“Why are you drawing your weapon?” I asked, alarmed. “Isn’t this your home?”

“Because I’m getting ready to argue, and I do it best with Betsy at the ready.” She shook her trusty spear, and it seamlessly morphed into an eight-foot killer with a razor-sharp edge.

“Betsy?” Ingrid had never shared her weapon’s pet name before. “You named your spear Betsy?”

“Yep, she was christened my ‘Best Bet’ when I first got her. Found her in a pile of discarded old weapons and never looked back. If these guards try to separate us, Betsy will have her say. And I can guaran-damn-tee”—she waved her spear in the air—“there is no argument we can’t win.”

********************

About Amanda Carlson:

Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, with a BA in both Speech and Hearing Science & Child Development. She went on to get an A.A.S in Sign Language Interpreting and worked as an interpreter until her first child was born. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three kids.

Website: http://www.amandacarlson.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authoramandacarlson
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amandaccarlson
Instagram: http://instagram.com/author_amanda

Giveaway:

To celebrate Amanda Carlson is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. You can enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter form below and the winner will be contacted directly by Amanda or her assistant so they can arrange to send out the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Review: The Fisherman's Net - Laura Lam

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Fisherman’s Net

A humble fisherman in a village of the coast of the island of Linde buys a trinket at the market, which he discovers is Vestige. The poor man soon becomes the best fisherman in the village and marvels at his newfound wealth. One day, he ensnares a most unusual catch: a Chimaera sea maiden that isn’t meant to exist. And he’s not sure if he can let her go.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

Micha Grey Series:
Pantomime
Shadowplay
Masquerade

Vestigial Tales:
(Series of short stories set in the same world as the Micha Grey series)
The Snake Charm
The Fisherman's Net
The Tarot Reader
The Card Sharp
The Mechanical Minotaur

Visit Laura Lam's website for more information.

Review:
Laura Lam's Vestigial Tales are short stories set in the same world as her Micha Grey trilogy and give us some insight into some of the Vestige artefacts that were left behind when the Alder vanished. The Fisherman's Net doesn't feature any characters from the other series so works well as a standalone and can be read at any point wether you've read the Micha Grey books or not.

This was a much shorter story than The Snake Charm but as it's told more like an original fable the shorter length worked really well. The Fisherman's Net is the story of a man who finds a magic net that helps him become the wealthiest fisherman in his village. You'll have to read it for yourself to find out whether he puts that wealth to good use or if greed takes him down a dangerous path.

This is the kind of story that Micha and Dustin would have had read to them as children and I really enjoyed getting a further glimpse into their world.

Source: Received as part of a preorder giveaway from the author

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Kindle:

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