Monday, 15 July 2019

Review: Any Way the Wind Blows - Seanan McGuire

As Tor.com departs from its longtime home, the iconic Flatiron building, we present this sweet farewell from Seanan McGuire.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
Any Way the Wind Blows is a short story written by Seanan McGuire as a kind of goodbye to the Flatiron building as Tor move to new offices. Its available as a free ebook on Amazon (and presumably other ebook sites) or you can read it online at Tor's website here.

Seanan McGuire never fails to amaze me with the fantastic new story ideas that she keeps coming up with and this is no exception. I really loved her baklava take on the multiverse and like the idea of travellers breaking their way through the layers to explore new dimensions. It was such a fun idea and even though this is such a short story (around 20 pages) it already introduces us to some interesting new characters that I'd love to spend more time with.

As much as that's a positive it's also a negative because I think this world deserves so much more than a tiny short story. I'd love to revisit this in a full length book and go exploring with the crew. It could be such a fun universe to spend time in!

Also, let's just take a moment to appreciate that gorgeous cover artwork, isn't it stunning!


Source: Downloaded for free from Amazon but this can also be read on the Tor website here

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Sunday, 14 July 2019

Review: Kingdom of Exiles - Maxym Martineau

Assassin's Creed meets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in this gripping, epic fantasy romance trilogy.

My heart wasn't part of the deal when I bargained for my life, but assassins so rarely keep their word.

Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is running out of time. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts-an offense punishable by death-and now there's a price on her head. With the realm's most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes Noc an offer he can't refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.

Plagued by a curse that kills everyone he loves, Noc agrees to Leena's terms in hopes of finding a cure. Never mind that the dark magic binding the assassin's oath will eventually force him to choose between Leena's continued survival...and his own.

The Beast Charmer Series:
Kingdom of Exiles
The Frozen Prince (coming early 2020)
The Shattered Crown (coming late 2020)

Visit Maxym Martineau's website for more information

Review:
Kingdom of Exiles is the first book in Maxym Martineau's Beast Charmer series and I though it was a great debut novel. The hook in the blurb for this book is "Assassin's Creed meets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them" and it was that reference to Fantastic Beasts that totally made this a must read book (I have to confess to never having played Assassin's Creed but I am a HUGE fan of anything in the Wizarding World).

Leena is a Charmer with a collection of weird and wonderful magical beasts. She was exiled by her people after being betrayed by the man she loved and now she's surviving by slowly selling her beloved creatures even though that is something completely forbidden in her homeland. The punishment for her actions is death and now there is a price on her head, Leena's only choice for survival is to make a deal with the leader of the Assassins. Noc jumps at the chance of obtaining magical beasts for him and his closest allies but he is keeping huge secrets from Leena, one about a curse on his family and another about the nature of an assassin's oath. Both of these have huge potential to hurt Leena in the future so Noc has some big decisions to make.

There was a lot to love about this debut, firstly I have to talk about the different magical beasts we encountered and how much fun it was to learn about their abilities. If anything I'd have actually liked more of this side of the story, particularly about the bond between Charmers and beast and the magical realm that the beasts lived in after being captured. I have a few questions about how that all works that I'm sure will become clearer as the series continues but I could still have read about the bests all day long.

The story reminded me a little of Amanda Bouchet's Kingmaker Chronicles, it has a similar set up with a young woman with certain abilities and a group of men who are accompanying her on a journey because she can give them something no-one else can. I really liked the camaraderie of Noc and his closest team but I think it would have been nice if there had been at least one more girl included in the top tier of the assassin's guild, especially since there are so many further down the ladder. I liked both Leena and Noc but I do think the romance between them develops a little too quickly, it starts slow which was great and I thought we were going to get a slow build that develops across the entire series but by the end of the book it had taken things a little too far in my opinion, especially since they've only known each other a few days at that point.

I think we could have had slightly less of the romance and more of the world building and this would have felt like a more satisfying and well rounded read but don't let that put you off because it was still a really enjoyable story that left me eager to carry on with the series. It's definitely going to be fun to see where the story goes from here and I've already got books 2 and 3 at the top of my 2020 wish list.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley 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.

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Saturday, 13 July 2019

Review: The Second Time Around - Ella Quinn

Can a beautiful Worthington widow find love again? Depends on who’s asking . . .

Before he died, Patience was the Earl of Worthington’s second wife. So why shouldn’t Patience be allowed a second chance at marriage, too? Of course, finding a new husband was not something the mother of four had ever planned on. But a surprise encounter with her first love has suddenly made the impossible seem possible all over again . . .

It seems like a lifetime ago that Richard, Viscount Wolverton, was halfway around the world, looking for adventure . . . while Patience, at her coming-out, was left with no choice but to take old Worthington’s hand. Richard never forgot the woman whose heart he yearned for—and now that he’s back, he’s not going to let her slip away again . . .

The Worthingtons Series:
Three Weeks to Wed
When a Marquis Chooses a Bride
The Second Time Around (Novella)
It Started with a Kiss
The Marquis and I
You Never Forget Your First Earl
I'll Always Love You (Novella)
Believe in Me

Visit Ella Quinn's website for more information

Review:
Patience Worthington is Matt's stepmother, and the mother of the four younger sisters he's had custody of ever since his father died. Her marriage wasn't exactly a love match but it gave Patience her daughters and that's something she'll always be grateful for. When her old childhood sweetheart comes back to London he is determined to win back the only woman he ever loved, it was his fault she ended up in a loveless marriage and all he wants is to finally be able to claim her for himself. It's not quite that simple though, if Patience marries again she could lose her children, especially since the girls have become so close to Grace's siblings and the two families are living together so happily.

I really enjoyed this story, Patience was married young and although she has four daughters she's really not much older than her stepson Matt so she's far too young to be on her own forevermore. Richard missed his first chance with her because he was stupidly away travelling when she came out to society and he didn't return in time to stop her marriage to the old Duke. He never stopped loving her though so now that she's available again he will do whatever it takes to win her heart. Luckily Patience's children are on his side, they want their mother to be happy and along with the rest of their family they're willing to do a little plotting to help Richard win her hand.

It was really nice to see these two get a second chance at love, it would have been great to have had some flashbacks into their childhood together but for a novella we still had plenty of time to get invested in their relationship. It's always fun to spend time with the Worthington brood too and this was a great lighthearted read that I'm happy to recommend.

Source: Purchased

Other reviews of this book:
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Friday, 12 July 2019

Review: The Bride Test - Helen Hoang

From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart...

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions — like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better— that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme's lessons in love seem to be working... but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who's convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme's time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he's been wrong all along. And there's more than one way to love.

The Kiss Quotient Series:
The Kiss Quotient
The Bride Test
The Heart Principle (2020)

Visit Helen Hoang's website for more information

Review:
I seem to have a new favourite author when it comes to contemporary romance because I just can't get enough of Helen Hoang's writing. I was a little worried that The Bride Test wouldn't live up to my extremely high expectations because I adored The Kiss Quotient but I shouldn't have been because it was just as fun to read and I fell head over heels for Khai right alongside Esme.

We had already met Khai in the first book as he's Michael's cousin but don't worry if you're jumping into the series here because they're more companion novels than a direct series (I would HIGHLY recommend both books though so you're missing out if you've not read either of them!). Khai is autistic so he doesn't always react in the same way other people do, he didn't even cry when his best friend died and because of that he thinks he is incapable of love or any other strong emotion. His family know better though, they see that he is still grieving for his friend even if he doesn't show it in the same way other people do and his family want to see him happy. His mother in particular has decided that it's time for Khai to get married and start a family so she decided to travel to Vietnam and find him a bride.

This is where we meet Esme, she's a single mother who works hard every day to support her young daughter. She desperately wants to build a better life for her family but it's hard when you're living in the slums of Ho Chi Min City. When Khai's mother offers her the opportunity to travel to America for the summer and meet a potential husband it's an offer Esme can't refuse, especially when it might give her a chance to find her own American father too. Arriving in a country where everything is different and she barely speaks the language makes things really difficult for Esme but she is determined to make the best of things. As she sets about trying to seduce Khai it doesn't take long before she starts to fall in love herself but it looks as if she's the only one developing feelings and perhaps this adventure in America is going to end in disaster after all.

I can't even tell you how much I loved both of these characters, Khai thinks he doesn't know how to love but he's actually a really attentive and caring boyfriend, even when he's only doing it to keep his mother off his back. He's the type of guy who gives things his all so when he commits to a relationship he's all in. He makes a lot of mistakes along the way because he doesn't understand how Esme thinks but this leads to some hilarious misunderstandings and some brilliant conversations with his brother Quan and cousin Michael as they try to help him figure out sex and women. Esme works so hard to build a better life for herself, she gives her all to both her new job and her relationship but at the same time she also goes to college and takes classes to better herself. She wants to prove that she's worthy of Khai but along the way she starts to realise that she doesn't need a man to give her daughter a good life, she's actually strong and capable enough of doing it on her own and I really respected her for that.

On paper it doesn't look like these two fit but in reality they mesh really well. Esme doesn't understand Khai at first but she's willing to make allowances for him when she starts to realise how his autism affects him and they're both able to talk about things like adults when there is something bothering them. Khai is initially horrified at having his routine disrupted when Esme moves in but he quickly adapts as they start figuring out new routines together. I thought they made an adorable couple and I loved how innocent and awkward some of their interactions were, don't get me wrong they had great chemistry but it took time for them to figure out that side of things and get on the same page emotionally too. Quan has been a stand out side character since the beginning of the series so I'm ridiculously excited that he's going to be the hero of the next book and I definitely can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Thursday, 11 July 2019

Excerpt Reveal: Making Up - Helena Hunting

Today I'm taking part in a fabulous excerpt reveal for Helena Hunting's upcoming book, Making Up, which publishes in July. You can read the excerpt below but first let me give you a little more information about the book:

A new standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting.

Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

Excerpt:

We’re a couple of minutes away from my apartment, which also means we’re almost at the end of our date. End-of-date protocol often means a goodnight kiss.

And I’ve eaten onions. Lots of them. What the hell was I thinking? I feel around in my shorts pocket, hoping I have a random stick of gum. I find a tiny square packet and pull it out, along with an old tissue. I shove that back in my pocket and sigh with relief as I carefully open the Listerine Pocketpak. There’s one strip left. I pop it in my mouth, wishing I had water since my mouth is dry and I’m suddenly super nervous.

Griffin pulls up in front of my apartment building. I swallow a bunch of times, trying to get the strip to dissolve on my tongue and glance out the tinted window, seeing it from his perspective. I don’t live in a bad part of town, but I sure as hell wouldn’t leave this car sitting out here for any length of time unless I wanted it keyed or stripped down.

Griffin shifts into park and turns to me, one hand resting on the back of my seat near the headrest. “I had a great time, Cosy.”

“Me too, thanks for dinner.” I tried to fork over my share, but he was quick on the credit card draw.

“It was my pleasure.” He leans in the tiniest bit, a nonverbal cue that he’s going in for a kiss.

I mirror the movement, giving him the go ahead. My stomach flutters in anticipation. I exhale slowly through my nose. Even though the Listerine strip should be doing its job to mask the onions, I don’t want to ruin the moment by breathing that in his face.

His fingertips skim my jaw, and I close my eyes. And then his lips brush my cheek. I wait for them to move a couple of inches to the right, but after what feels like a lot of seconds—and is probably only a few—I crack a lid.

Griffin is still close, a wry smile on his lips and a smolder in his eyes.

“Seriously, that’s it? A kiss on the cheek?”

His smile widens, making his eyes crinkle at the corners. He’s nothing like the guys I usually end up on dates with. College boys don’t take things slow. If I were out with one of the guys from school, I’d be sitting in a beat-up Civic with some stupid music playing, and he’d be all over me with his tongue halfway down my throat, copping a feel.

“I thought all the onions you ate were the equivalent to garlic for vampires.” Griffin fingers my hair near my shoulder. I’d really like him to finger something else. Wait. I mean I’d like to feel his hands on me. Not in my pants. Okay, maybe I’d like them in my pants, but not after date number one.

“I wasn’t thinking, and I really like onions. A lot. In hindsight, it’s not a great date food. I feel kinda dumb. And I guess at first I wasn’t so sure about you. How was I supposed to know you’d actually be kind of normalish?”

“Normalish?”

“Well, you drink club soda on purpose, so you can’t be all there.” I tap his temple.

Griffin circles my wrist with his fingers and drops his head, lips brushing over my knuckle. “We can’t all be perfect, now, can we?”

“I suppose not, and perfect is boring.”

“That it is.” He hums against my skin, and I feel it through my entire body. “I would like to try that kiss again, if you’re still interested.”

From MAKING UP. Copyright © 2019 by Helena Hunting and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She's writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Social Media Links:
Author Web Site
Facebook
Twitter

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Book Trailer: For a Muse of Fire - Heidi Heilig

I know I'm not the only blogger who struggles to read all the books on their to read mountains, there are just so many amazing books out there and not enough hours in a day to actually read them all. Anyway, I want to continue highlighting a few that are on my radar but I haven't quite managed to get to yet.

Today I want to talk about For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig. I've been hearing fantastic things about Heidi's writing for ages now and this book sounds just my kind of read so I really want to try and fit it in before the second book in the series, A Kingdom for a Stage, publishes in October.

A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader.

The first book in a new trilogy from the acclaimed Heidi Heilig blends traditional storytelling with ephemera for a lush, page-turning tale of escape and rebellion. For a Muse of Fire will captivate fans of Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, and Renée Ahdieh.

Jetta's family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick--a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood.

But ever since the colonizing army conquered their country, the old ways are forbidden, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family's way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad Emperor has a spring that cures his ills--and could cure Jetta's, too. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues her.

But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined--and safety will never seem so far away.

Heidi Heilig creates a vivid, rich world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. Her characters are equally complex and nuanced, including the bipolar heroine. Told from Jetta's first-person point-of-view, as well as with chapters written as play scripts and ephemera such as telegrams and letters, For a Muse of Fire is an engrossing journey that weaves magic, simmering romance, and the deep bonds of family with the high stakes of epic adventure.

For a Muse of Fire Series:
For a Muse of Fire
A Kingdom for a Stage (October 2019)

Visit Heidi Heilig's website for more information



Isn't the cover just absolutely gorgeous! The orange fire with that dragon silhouette is so pretty that I really need a copy of this for my shelves. Have any of you read this book yet? If you have I'd love to know your thoughts so leave me a link to your review in the commends and I'll come and check it out.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Review: Bishop's Knight - Katie Reus

The Bishop siblings’ family is on the verge of collapse as all three find themselves embroiled in danger. Family bonds may keep them alive…but only love can give them something to live for. Read BISHOP’S KNIGHT, the first novel in this ALL NEW heart-pounding Endgame trilogy!

She needs his help…

Thanks to years of government training, Evie Bishop knows how to get into places she doesn’t belong—and she’s very good at it. But years of doing black ops work burned her out so she returns home—to unexpected chaos. One of her brothers is in a coma and the other is in hiding, wanted for murder. Then a fellow operative from her past shows up shot and bleeding with news that an assassin is gunning for everyone involved with a past op. She’s forced to turn to the one man she knows she can trust—the man whose heart she broke.

But it will come with a price…

When Dylan Blackwood proposed a year ago, Evie turned him down flat and walked out of his life. He’s stunned when he finds her on his doorstep covered in someone else’s blood, needing his help. He always knew there was more to her than met the eye—that Evie was never simply the pampered society princess she wanted people to believe she was. But he never expected this. If she needs help, he’ll give it. Even if he can’t forget her betrayal. Even if he isn’t sure he can trust her. But his protection will come with a price—her heart. Before they can have a chance at a future, they’ll have to work together to take down a faceless enemy who has Evie firmly in his crosshairs.

Endgame Trilogy:
Bishop's Knight
Bishop's Queen (October 2019)

Visit Katie Reus' website for more information.

Review:
Ex CIA Agent Evie Bishop has a lot on her plate, one of her brothers is in a coma after being caught in an explosion while the other has been accused of murder and is currently on the run from the police. The last thing she needs is any extra stress but when an old colleague turns up on her doorstep with a gunshot wound and tells her that members of an op they both worked on are being picked off one by one Evie has no choice but to dive back into a world she'd hoped to leave behind her. There is only one person with the resources she needs that Evie can trust to have her back but considering she broke Dylan's heart by walking out on him things are about to get even more complicated.

Bishop's Knight was a great start to the Endgame Trilogy, Evie is facing danger from all angles and the only person she can turn to is her ex Dylan. It's complicated further by the fact that she's still head over heels in love with Dylan but she's been keeping a huge secret from him, not only the fact that she was an agent for the CIA but also the fact that the reason they met was because she specifically targeted him on an op. She was never supposed to get too close to Dylan, he was only meant to be her introduction to the real target, but they had an instant connection that she found impossible to ignore and it ended up becoming serious. She only walked away because she felt that Dylan didn't know the real her and that he'd never forgive her for the secrets she'd been keeping but now they're thrown back together all her feelings come flooding back.

Dylan always thought there was more to Evie than met the eye but it isn't until she comes back into his life that he realises just how much she was hiding from him. He's more than a little intrigued by the strong and capable woman he sees before him and he's determined to get their relationship back on track. First they have to figure out who is targeting Evie and her team though, someone wants her dead and unless they find out who, and put a stop to them, Evie might not have a future at all.

I already said this was a great start to the series, just enough danger and action but still with a good hint of romance and great characters. Evie and Dylan worked really well together, it helps that he's ex military himself so he's more than capable of working alongside Evie to figure out what is really going on. I also really liked what we've seen of Evie's brothers and I'm looking forward to reading their books when they publish.

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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