Monday, 30 September 2013

Review: The Dining Club Part 2: Bound - Marina Anderson

For fans of New York Times bestselling authors E. L. James, Sylvia Day, and J. Kenner comes the second part of international bestselling author Marina Anderson's erotic series The Dining Club.

Part Two: Bound

Grace has surprised herself by falling hard for the breathtaking financier David. But now she knows that in order to keep this man, she will have to explore his darker side.

Grace is shocked by her body's instinctive response to the private club David has introduced her to: the Dining Club - a secret society where members can explore their most forbidden fantasies. David got her through the Club's exclusive doors - but to stay she must pass a series of erotic trials.

Wrapped in a luxurious dress of chiffon and lace that David gave her for her first challenge, Grace is anxious and excited to enter into the heart of the Dining Club. Little does she know that one of its members, the dazzling and domineering Amber, has every intention of keeping David all to herself...

The Dining Club Series:
Desire
Bound
Crave
Seduce
Touch
Caress
Submit
Surrender

Visit Marina Anderson's website for more information

Review:
Bound is the second instalment of an eight part serialized novel called The Dining Club. Each of these instalments are fairly short (around 30 pages) so don't expect to get a full story in any of them, you really are going to have to read all eight parts to reach what will hopefully be a satisfactory conclusion (I can't confirm that either way just yet because I've only read the first two parts!). The story will be released as a complete novel in January 2014 so if you might prefer to wait until then to read it if you don't like the idea of waiting between instalments.

I had a few issues with the the first instalment to this serialized novel but I hoped that I would enjoy the second part, Bound, more. Unfortunately I just find myself feeling more and more uncomfortable as I continue reading this story. I'm all for stories where couples or individuals experiment with the sexuality and try new things and I have nothing against the idea of the Dining Club. In fact I think it could have been a really fascinating story idea if I didn't feel that Grace was being pushed into something that she didn't want. David has been keeping a major part of his life a secret from her but rather than sitting her down and explaining the kind of things he enjoys and asking her if they can try out new things together he basically blackmails her into going to the club with him. She has no idea what happens at the club, she doesn't know what he wants from her and she is terrified of failing his "tests" because he's told her that their relationship is over if she does. This is not my idea of safe and consensual BDSM and that makes me extremely uncomfortable.

Let me share a couple of quotes to illustrate my point:

Grace's stomach tightened with fear. For a short time she'd forgotten what lay ahead, but now there was no way out. If she wanted to keep David, and after their conversation earlier she knew without doubt that she did, then she had to go through with this.

Grace began to tremble. “I don’t want either,” she whispered. “I don’t know what they mean. I don’t think I can do this.”
“Then you simply refuse the dessert, my darling, but of course you know what that will mean for us.”
“I’m scared; doesn’t that matter to you?”
“Don’t be scared. You don’t have to choose anything, you know that. If none of them appeal to you, then all you have to do is tell Laura. There’s no pressure on you, Gracie, it’s only that…”
Trembling, Grace looked at him, and saw the regret in his eyes.

These are not the thoughts of a woman who is enjoying herself and looking forward to a fun evening with the man she loves. These are the thoughts of a woman who is being forced into something unknown, something that terrifies her and that she has no experience of. Does David sound like a loving boyfriend? No, he doesn't. He sounds like a cold, unfeeling bastard who doesn't give a shit about Grace unless she does what he wants. We're led to believe that Grace ends up enjoying the things she experiences but I don't understand how anyone in that situation could. One minute she's scared out of her wits and the next she's orgasming on command the next - would that really happen?

Two instalments into this story and I can't stand David, I hate his attitude towards Grace and I can't see anything even slightly attractive about him. At this point I'm rooting for Grace to pass his damn tests and then when he claims he's madly in love with her I want her to kick him where it hurts and tell him to get stuffed while she waltzes off into the sunset with Andrew. Unfortunately I highly doubt that will happen. I'm just not sure if I can stomach reading any more of this story.

I also want to reiterate a point I made in my previous review about the cost of these instalments. I really like the idea of reading a serialized novel so you get a bite sized part of the story that is easy to read in a single sitting even if you don't have much time to spare. What I don't like about it is that it works out so much more expensive overall than it does if you wait for the full length novel. For example, the first part is currently £0.99 on Amazon.co.uk with the remaining seven parts being £1.49 each so you'll pay a total of £11.42 for the 8 ebooks that make up the whole story when the paperback version of the complete book can currently be pre-ordered for just £5.24. As a consumer that really upsets me and if I hadn't been given free review copies of the first four instalments from the publisher via Netgalley then I certainly wouldn't spend that kind of money on them.

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.

Kindle:

Review: The Dining Club Part 1: Desire - Marina Anderson

For fans of New York Times bestselling authors E. L. James, Sylvia Day, and J. Kenner comes the first part of international bestselling author Marina Anderson's erotic series The Dining Club.

Part One: Desire

Young, ambitious theatre director Grace has no time for distractions, but she just cannot resist enigmatic city financier, David. Alluring, charismatic and an incredible lover - David never lets Grace get too close. So when he invites her to a weekend at his private club, Grace is thrilled.

Arriving at the secluded location, and excited by her nerves, David reveals the truth behind the Dining Club: a place where guests are taught to open their minds, and their bodies to erotic challenges. If she passes the tests, she is promised ecstasy beyond her wildest fantasies. If she fails, she's forbidden to ever set foot in the exclusive club again. But even as David's seductive commands make Grace feel more daring than ever before, she begins to fear for their future. What if she fails one of the Club's tantalizing trials? Will David still want her or will she lose him forever?

The Dining Club Series:
Desire
Bound
Crave
Seduce
Touch
Caress
Submit
Surrender

Visit Marina Anderson's website for more information

Review:
Desire is the first instalment of an eight part serialized novel called The Dining Club. Each of these instalments are fairly short (around 30 pages) so don't expect to get a full story in any of them, you really are going to have to read all eight parts to reach what will hopefully be a satisfactory conclusion (I can't confirm that either way just yet because I've only read this first part!). The story will be released as a complete novel in January 2014 so if you might prefer to wait until then to read it if you don't like the idea of waiting between instalments.

I really like the idea of reading a serialized novel so you get a bite sized part of the story that is easy to read in a single sitting even if you don't have much time to spare. What I don't like about it is that it works out so much more expensive overall than it does if you wait for the full length novel. For example, the first part is currently £0.99 on Amazon.co.uk with the remaining seven parts being £1.49 each so you'll pay a total of £11.42 for the 8 ebooks that make up the whole story when the paperback version of the complete book can currently be pre-ordered for just £5.24. As a consumer that really upsets me and if I hadn't been given free review copies of the first four instalments from the publisher via Netgalley then I certainly wouldn't spend that kind of money on them.

Now, to look at this first instalment in a bit more detail I have to say that Desire was much better written than the other serialized novels I've tried. We are introduced to the main characters Grace and David who have been dating for six months. Grace is happy with the way things are going between them, they get on well, have fun together and their sex life is fantastic but although she is on the verge of falling in love with him she feels that David is holding himself back. When David offers to take her away for the weekend she thinks it is the next step for them becoming more serious about each other, little does she know that David is taking her to a sex club, one where she must pass a series of tests if she wishes to continue seeing him.

Now the idea of the club and the different challenges Grace will face intrigues me, I have to say that if they had discussed it in advance and it was something that they were both interested in trying together I would have felt much better about it though. What bothers me is that David pretty much gives Grace and ultimatum that if she doesn't pass the any of the tests or isn't willing to try whatever he wants her to do then their relationship is over. He has played the perfect boyfriend for six months, waited until she is in love with him and then he pushes her into something that isn't necessarily what she wants. I don't have a problem with him enjoying the club (we don't really know what is going to happen there yet - we'll have to wait for part two to get any details - but it's definitely some kind of BDSM club) but I do have a problem with his deception and the fact that he has been visiting the club on a monthly basis behind her back without telling her about it. I think it's important to be upfront in a relationship, if you have a kink that's fine but you should let the other person know about it and let them decide if it's something they're willing to participate in before they fall in love with you.

Issues aside I'm still curious enough to want to know what happens next. I'm sure Grace is going to find she enjoys things she never would have even considered before, I just wish she'd been given more of a choice about whether she wished to try them! I already have the next 3 parts so I'll be reading at least that far to see how things progress between them. Hopefully we'll get to know more about David's motivations and why he went behind Grace's back for so long before introducing her to his darker side.

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.

Kindle:

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Review: First Bite - Dani Harper

Geneva “Neva” Ross doesn't want to die. But now that she’s been turned into a werewolf against her will, she’ll do anything to protect her family and friends…even if that means taking her own life.

After witnessing Neva’s leap from a high ledge, Travis Williamson—a Changeling with a dark past—uses his powers to save her life. He feels a connection to the strong-willed woman whose eyes flash that familiar Changeling green. While Neva is hospitalized, Travis risks everything to kidnap her, knowing the approaching full moon will put everyone in jeopardy.

Bickering constantly to hide their growing attraction, Travis and Neva run from the authorities…and from Neva’s sinister sire, Meredith de la Ronde. Meredith delights in creating new shape-shifters and compelling them to do her dark bidding; now Neva must join Meredith’s murderous wolf pack…or die.

Intensely suspenseful with deliciously sexy twists, this paranormal romance—the first in the Dark Wolf series—intertwines sensual passion with an epic, thrilling battle between good and evil.

Dark Wolf Series:
First Bite
Ties that Bind (July 2014)
Kindred (2015)

Visit Dani Harper's website for more information

Review:
Neva was turned into a werewolf against her will and is terrified of turning into a viscous monster like her maker Meredith and the rest of her pack. She managed to escape and is determined to take her own life before the next full moon forces her to make her first change but she is saved by Travis, a natural born changeling. Travis wants to show her that not all changelings are evil and to help her embrace her new life but with Meredith hot on their trail they're going to have a fight on their hands just to survive.

First Bite is the first book I've read by Dani Harper but I loved the humour it contained and am definitely planning on checking out her Changeling series as soon as I get a chance. I think I picked up this book at the perfect time, I was looking for something fun that would be a quick and easy read and that is exactly what I got, the banter between Neva and Travis was fantastic and I really enjoyed spending time with them both. There was plenty of action and drama, particularly in the second half of the book, which made this a real page turner and it didn't take me long to devour the whole book.

I really liked Neva's character and I appreciated the fact that she had such horrified reaction to having been turned into a werewolf. All of her experiences of other werewolves have shown her how monstrous people become after the change and she wants no part of it. She clings to her hatred of her inner wolf to the point of being a little too stubborn about it but I could understand why she felt that way and her reaction was believable to me. With Travis's help she slowly realises that it doesn't have to be that way and starts to come to terms with her new abilities but it takes a long time for her to fully trust him which makes a nice change compared to a lot of paranormal romances.

Travis is a lone wolf who has spent years away from his pack but he is a caring guy who can't walk away from Neva when she needs his help. Changelings have a strong code of honour and Travis is horrified when he learns of the way Meredith has been breaking so many rules by turning people against their will and by killing humans to work her dark magic spells. He is protective of Neva and tries to show her the truth about changelings and how good her life can be if she accepts her inner wolf but he never pressurises her to do anything she doesn't want to. When Neva refuses to go with him he just quietly follows her and watches her back until she accepts that she needs his help. My heart broke for Travis when we learned about his past and discovered why he had exiled himself from his family and I'm really looking forward to (hopefully!) seeing him reconnect with his pack in the next book.

I did have a few minor issues with the story but they weren't enough to stop me enjoying it. I still have some confusion about how Neva was initially changed because she gave two different accounts throughout the book and there were times when I felt Meredith was almost too evil, her actions were so horrific she almost became a comic book villain and it was hard to take her seriously. I prefer my bad guys to have a few shades of grey in them and I found it very hard to relate to her desire for nothing but power. In spite of these problems I really enjoyed First Bite and am looking forward to continuing with the series. Although this is a paranormal romance series the ending suggests that Neva and Travis will continue to be the main characters in the next book and that is something I'm really pleased about, there is so much more to learn about Travis's background and I want to spend more time with them as a couple.

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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Review: Scorched - Mari Mancusi

Trinity
Don’t leave me here... It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it...

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Scorched Series:
Scorched
Shattered (2014)

Visit Mari Mancusi's website for more information

Review:
I've always been a little obsessed with dragons so of course one look at the cover of Scorched and I HAD to read it! Unfortunately, as excited as I was to read this story it didn't quite manage to live up to my expectations. It wasn't badly written but it didn't capture my attention in the way I thought it would and if I had to use one word to describe the book I'd have to say it was forgettable. It was a fairly quick and easy read that I enjoyed while I was reading it but looking back on it a couple of weeks later I just feel ambiguous about it and in spite of the many unanswered questions we were left with at the end of the book I don't think I care enough to want to pick up the sequel.

Trinity has been living with her grandfather ever since the death of her mother but as much as he loves her he isn't exactly able to provide her with a stable home. He is incredibly scatterbrained and easily fooled so Trinity is the one who has had to take over the running of his museum and making sure that the bills get paid. When he comes home one day having spent all of their money on what he claims is a dragon egg Trinity is exasperated and at the end of her wits. That is until she catches a strange boy trying to steal the egg and suddenly finds herself on the run with Connor, a mysterious boy from the future, who needs her help to save the world. It's not only Connor who wants Trinity's help though, there is also his twin brother Caleb who has very different ideas about how to save the future. How can Trinity decide who to trust when both boys have such opposite views on what needs to be done?

Connor has come back in time to kill Trinity and destroy the dragon egg before it can be hatched, he has good reasons to believe that would be the best outcome but once he gets to meet Trinity he begins to question his orders. On the other hand Caleb has come back to protect the dragons and to make sure Trinity is able to form a bond with the dragon Emmy when she hatches. He is part of an organisation that will do anything to make sure the dragons continue to exist even though they have destroyed most of the world in the future. Both sides are extremists and it is quite obvious to the reader that there has to be some kind of middle ground that would work out best for everyone.

I quite liked Trinity in the beginning, she seemed intelligent and I expected her to use her brain and think things through. Unfortunately she has that annoying habit a lot of heroines do in that as soon as a hot guy comes along her brain gets a bit frazzled and she just goes along with whatever they tell her. I found it very hard to believe that she accepted Connor's explanation that he was from the future quite so easily and I wanted her to push for more answers from him. Then when Caleb comes along within minutes she goes from trusting Connor with her life to believing he was out to betray her and even though Caleb effectively kidnapped her she trusts him without question. It just didn't make any sense to me that she could flit between the two of them so quickly and without putting any real thought into it.

On that point (I've said it before but I have to say it again) I am sick to death of love triangles and I really wish we could stop seeing so many of them in YA books! They're bad enough normally but when you make the two guys involved twin brothers that just makes me even more uncomfortable. For once I'd like to see a story where the main characters were just good friends or where there is only one hot guy vying for the girls attention. I found myself frustrated with Trinity because she went back and forth between the two of them when neither of them had really given her much reason to trust them. This is one of the few instances where I don't have a clear cut favourite out of the two boys though, they both had things about them that made me like them but they both annoyed me at times too. I don't feel invested in either outcome which is probably why it irritated me as much as it did.

Scorched isn't all bad though, I really liked Emmy's character and I was very curious about the world Mari Mancusi has created. The idea of being able to visit the Nether, a separate realm where the dragons that are yet to be born or the ones who have already lived and then died can be found, was fantastic and I would have loved to have spent more time exploring it. The story moves at a relatively fast pace and did include a few interesting twists and turns that I hadn't seen coming so it definitely makes for a quick read. If you don't mind love triangles then you'll probably enjoy this one a lot more than I did.

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.

Hardback:

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 12 - How do you fight blogger fatigue?


I stumbled across the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge hosted by April from Good Books Good Wine and it looks like so much fun that I have to take part. You can find out all about the challenge and how to join in HERE. Obviously the idea of the challenge is to take part 15 days in a row but I don't have enough time for that and since April is so relaxed over the rules I've decided  dedicate one day a week to the challenge.

The Day 12 topic is: How do you fight blogger fatigue?

This is actually a really relevant topic today because I've been really struggling to blog all of this week. Well it's not so much my blog that I'm struggling with more that the drama on Goodreads has made me want to do anything but write reviews and spend time chatting about books like I usually do. I'm not going to get into that whole sorry mess here though or I'll just end up raising my blood pressure again! What I'll do instead is talk about ways I usually fight blogger fatigue and hope that something clicks and helps me start reviewing again :o)

I think the most important thing to remember about blogging is that it's supposed to be fun, it isn't something I'm paid to do so if I'm not enjoying my hobby then there is something seriously wrong. I tend to put too much pressure on myself, I feel like I should have something going up on the blog every day but in reality I don't think anyone else is going to worry if I miss a few days or even a few weeks here and there. Once I finally figured that out I felt a bit more relaxed about things and if I need to take a break then I do. Sometimes it does us good to walk away from the computer and do something different for a change.

Another thing I try to do is schedule the blog in advance so that if I need to take a break I can do it easily without worrying. When I'm organised I can have posts scheduled for the next couple of weeks but it's been a LONG time since I've managed that. Recently it seems like every time I get a few days ahead something happens and I end up behind again! I currently have 15 reviews that I need to write so it's a good job I take a lot of notes when I'm reading or I'd never be able to write them.

Since I'm really struggling at the moment I'm obviously in dire need of some tips here so if you have any please do share them! How do you keep your enthusiasm for blogging?

Review: Heat of the Moment - Elle Kennedy

In this heat wave, anything and everything goes. A Red-Hot Summer story. Shelby Harper has lusted over Navy SEAL John Garrett for over a year, but no matter how many sexy signals she sends out, the man shows a complete lack of interest in getting naked. Then she overhears Garrett talking to his SEAL teammate--a discussion in which they conclude she's vanilla. Stung, Shelby sets out to show them exactly how un-vanilla she is.

Garrett can't believe it when sweet, sexy Shelby suggests a wild and sweaty menage. He's been trying to figure out how to ask her out without coming off as a guy who only wants to get in her pants--her friendship is too valuable to him to risk it. But if a crazy, heat-wave three-way is what Shelby wants, then he's ready and willing to give it to her.

Once she gets it out of her system, however...well, then he'll let her know he wants her all to himself.

Warning: This title contains two dangerously hot Navy SEALS and a heroine determined to get it on with both of them. Be prepared to take a cold shower (or maybe two) after reading this heat-wave menage.

Out of Uniform Series:
Heat of the Moment
Heat of Passion
Heat of the Storm
Heat It Up
Heat of the Night
The Heat is On
Feeling Hot
Getting Hotter
Hotter than Ever

Visit Elle Kennedy's website for more information

Review:
Heat of the Moment may be short but it certainly packs a punch and is a very hot introduction to Elle Kennedy's Out of Uniform series. Shelby has been crushing on Garrett for over a year but no matter how hard she tries to flirt with him he just doesn't seem to pick up on her signals. Then when she overhears him discussing her with a friend and talking about how tame she is she decides to prove him wrong by suggesting a ménage. What she doesn't realise is that Garrett has been fantasizing about her forever and that while he's happy to help her fulfil her fantasy he has every intention of claiming her afterwards.

This is a fairly short novella so you can't expect a huge amount of characterisation but if you're looking for something fast to read staring two incredibly hot Navy SEALS then you can't go wrong. Garrett and Carson sure know how to show a girl a good time and I wouldn't have minded stepping into Shelby's shoes for the night! Although we don't get to know a great deal about the characters there was enough of a back story for me to believe that Shelby and Garrett would make a good couple. Garrett's actions did irritate me for a few minutes towards the end but I forgave him quite quickly and it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story. I'm also very excited to spend more time with Carson who I believe he's the hero of the second book in the series.

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.

Kindle:

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Vote for your #MrSeptember for the chance to win fabulous prizes!


The six heroes from this month’s BRAZENS are battling it out to be your Mr. September. Who gets your vote?

Each day this week the six heroes are stopping by some awesome blogs to answer both sexy and sweet personal questions, so you can really get a taste of what they’re like ;) Each day you get to cast your vote, and at the end of the week one sexy hero will be crowned the winner of the #MrSeptember Throwdown!

Remember, each vote also counts as an entry for one of SIX prizes so be sure to follow along and vote every day to increase your chances of winning! Visit Entangled in Romance for a recap on the awesome prizes!

Now, to meet the men competing in the #MrSeptember Throwdown!


Whew! Hot, hot, hot - these men have definitely turned up the heat!

Ian: Wicked Games by Samanthe Beck (part of the anthology)
Grayson: Seducing Mr. Right by Katee Robert (part of the anthology)
Landon: Tempted by His Best Friend by Cari Quinn (part of the anthology)
Derek: Protecting What's Theirs by Tessa Bailey (part of the anthology)
Jett: Wicked Heat by Nicola Marsh
Trick: Dirty Trick by Christine Bell

Here are today’s questions for the men

Question #7: What’s the sexiest fantasy you’ve had about your leading lady?

Ian: Well, there was the shower thing, but we’ve done that. And then there was the Halloween, incognito thing, but we’ve done that too. Then, of course, there was the bondage thing, and, yep…you guessed it…

Grayson: It involved bending her over my desk...

Trick: How much time do you have? Not a lot? I’ll just tell you the dream I had last night, then. We were at a little Italian restaurant tucked into a dark corner. Right when the waiter came over, I ducked my hand under the table and slipped it between Gracie’s legs. She was wearing a skirt but no underwear, and as soon as I touched her, her face went all pink and her eyes got glassy. She was so hot and…*clears throat* anyway, when it was her turn to order, her voice did that sexy little hitch it does? She didn’t move away though. She just sucked in a shuddery breath and asked for a glass of wine. When the waiter left, she looked me dead in the eyes and said “You better be prepared to finish this, buddy. And remember, payback is a bitch.” That was a lie. Because payback? Was fucking mind-blowing.

Derek: I'm working late and she comes into the police station. Dripping wet from the rain. I can tell she's feeling a little desperate for me. Which is perfect, since I'm always desperate for her. As usual, I've been growing restless…I always do when I've been deprived of her too long. Without a word, I walk her to my office and tell her to strip while I look my fill. Then I put her on my desk, where she's been inhabiting my head for hours. Then I make her ask nicely for every thrust of my hips.

Jett: The moment I saw that Kink Kit in Allegra’s hotel suite, I imagined exploring what was in that box with her. Tying her up, teasing her mercilessly…oh yeah, frigging hot.

Landon: Refer to the law firm encounter mentioned above. Steff bent over the counter, her firm, supple body bared to my touch, her moans echoing off the walls... *clears throat* Next question, please.

Question #8: Favorite comfort food?

Ian: Bourbon or whiskey

Grayson: Breakfast food--eggs, French toast, bacon, hash browns.

Trick: Rib-eye steak, medium rare, baked potato with sour cream and butter, creamed spinach on the side, followed by Apple pie with caramel sauce.

Derek: Ginger's chicken pot pie. The way she keeps trying to improve the recipe…she doesn't realize I love it just because she made it.

Jett: Pav. Nothing beats the perfect Aussie pavlova. Meringue base, lashings of whipped cream, topped with strawberries and passionfruit. Best comfort food ever. Plus there’s always whipped cream left over and I can think of many sensual uses for that…

Landon: Pizza at Mama Leone's, with optional garlic enhancements. Ah, the memories.

Giveaway Details:

You can vote once a day for your Mr September using the rafflecopter form below. Each vote will give you a chance to win one of the following fantastic prizes:

Prize #1: Victoria Secrets Gift Card
Prize #2: a tote of Halloween-themed goodies and swag, plus a $10 iTunes gift card.
Prize #3: Aussie gift pack including handmade soaps, candy, stuffed koala, calendar, and more.
Prize #4: $25 GC at Amazon or B&N
Prize #5: Cliffside Chardonnay Halloween Assortment Basket
Prize #6: Halloween basket of treat including a $25 Visa card

a Rafflecopter giveaway


So who is going to get your vote?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Visit Holly Black's website for more information

Review:
Holly Black is an incredibly popular YA author so I'm embarrassed to admit that this is the first of her books that I've read. Unfortunately I don't think I picked a very good place to start because I found The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a very difficult book to get through. I really expected to love this book, I've heard so many good things about the author that I was sure it would be fantastic but I'm afraid it just missed for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high when I started it but I had to force myself to carry on reading and it took me five days to get to the end. I think I'd have given up about halfway through if I'd bought this myself but because I received the book from Amazon Vine I have to write a review for it and I hate to review a book I didn't finish.

Tana wakes up in the bathroom the morning after a party with her classmates, she is hung over, tired and can't remember much about what happened the night before. As she gets up and goes in search of breakfast she realises that all of the other party guests have been killed by vampires, the only survivors are herself, her ex-boyfriend Aidan and a mysterious boy called Gavriel. They only just escape with their lives but Aidan and Tana both suspect they have been infected with the vampire virus. Rather than risk spreading the virus or hurting their families they decide to hand themselves in at one of the quarantined Coldtowns.

Unfortunately after the fast paced start the story really slowed down and I found myself struggling to carry on reading. The idea of the Coldtowns was fascinating, I loved the fact that Holly Black has brought back the dark and dangerous vampires who wouldn't think twice about draining someone dry and killing them and I really liked the idea of the vampires becoming like celebrities. They rule the Coldtowns and the parties they host are broadcast to the general population via live feed like some kind of Big Brother experiment. I could understand why so many hangers on were hooked on the idea of living forever and getting to live the glamorous high life as a vampire, they travelled to the Coldtowns in droves looking for salvation. I couldn't imagine myself doing the same thing but I was interested in the idea of it. I was pleased that the author didn't shy away from showing the darker side to the life as well as the fun side though. The problem was that there was just so much world building going on. It really slowed the pace of the story and it felt like you had to slog through page after page where nothing actually happens.

I think my main problem was that I didn't connect to any of the main characters though. I didn't particularly like or care about any of them. Tana felt so alien, she hardly shows any emotions and even waking up in a house full of her murdered friends she seemed very blasé about it all. I couldn't understand the relationship she had with Aidan and I really wasn't a fan of his character, he was so shallow and selfish that I wanted to punch him and I lost respect for Tana because of the way she let him treat her. I also didn't believe the attraction between her and Gavriel, I saw it coming a mile away but hoped I'd be proved wrong because it just didn't make sense to me. We did meet a couple of interesting side characters in the Coldtown and I would have loved for Valentina and Jameson to have been given more page time. If they'd been the main characters I think I would have enjoyed the story much more because they seemed so much more human than everyone else.

Unfortunately The Coldest Girl in Coldtown just didn't end up being the right book for me. I've seen a lot of positive reviews for it so I'm obviously in the minority and I would recommend reading through some of those reviews before you make up your mind about buying it. I will say that Holly Black has a great imagination and she writes some great descriptive scenes so I'm definitely planning on trying some of her other books. Hopefully I'll enjoy them a lot more than this one!

Source: Received from Amazon Vine 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:

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Review: Wicked Heat - Nicola Marsh

Competitors by day, lovers by night…

Allegra Wilks has had the worst month of her personal and professional life. To save her company, she must go on her would-be honeymoon and land the luxury eco-island resort’s lucrative advertising account. But when a lingerie mishap leads her into the arms of a wickedly distracting Australian, Allegra’s tempted to skip the trip and explore the most sensual kiss she’s ever experienced. Too bad their chance encounter at the airport is just that.

Having recently lost his company to his former best friend’s shady business tactics, Jett Halcott is headed to a South Pacific resort to secure an advertising account that will resurrect his reputation and career. Realizing the tantalizing Allegra Wilks is on his flight, Jett envisions a week filled with business and pleasure. But Jett doesn’t know Allegra’s fighting for the same account, or that there’s more at stake than his heart.

Feel the Heat Series:
Wicked Heat
Further titles & release dates to be confirmed

Visit Nicola Marsh's website for more information

Review:
Wicked Heat is the first book I've read by Nicola Marsh but if all of her stories are both as funny and as sexy as this one then it definitely won't be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this and am definitely adding future books in the series to the top of my wish list! If you like your romances spicy and with great characters then this is a book you're going to love.

Allegra's world has just fallen down around her, her fiancé dumped her days before their wedding and her company is going to go out of business if she doesn't land some big new clients fast. When she hears that the luxury resort where she was supposed to take her honeymoon is looking for a new advertising company she decides to continue with her trip just to try and clinch the deal. She meets Jett at the airport but she has no idea that he's heading to the island for exactly the same reason, what she does know is that she is extremely attracted to him and when he proposes a hot holiday fling she's more than willing to take him up on it. With both of them relying on winning the contract to secure their jobs one of them is bound to get hurt unless they decide that it's worth risking it all for love.

I have to say that the meeting between Allegra and Jett at the airport was one of the funniest first encounters I've come across and you could tell instantly how much chemistry they had. Their banter continues throughout the story and I loved the way Jett pushes past Allegra's cold outer shell and brings out the passionate woman she keeps locked inside. They fit together really well but you just know it is all going to go horribly wrong when they realise that they're both after the same contract. I'll admit that I was a bit frustrated with Allegra for not coming clean with Jett sooner and I could understand why he reacted as badly as he did to her deception but thankfully things all worked out OK in the long run. I loved Jett from the beginning, he's cocky, arrogant and sure of himself but I found his confidence attractive and he lived up to his self built hype. He was also a lot nicer than he let on and he really cared about Allegra's feelings and wanted to help her build her confidence.

The sex scenes were incredibly hot (anyone with mile high club fantasies will enjoy this one!) and I think Wicked Heat makes a perfect holiday read with the wonderful tropical island setting. Along with the main characters I also really liked Allegra's best friend Zoe and am hopeful that the next book might be her story. If you've not read anything by Nicola Marsh before then I'd urge you to give this a try, especially if you're looking for a super HOT story that will make you laugh and swoon at the same time.

Source: Received from Entangled Publishing 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.

Kindle:

Monday, 23 September 2013

Read Truly by Ruthie Knox for FREE on Wattpad (for a limited time only)

If you've ever seen any of my reviews for Ruthie Knox's books you'll already know what a huge fan I am of her work. She is without a doubt one of my favourite contemporary romance authors and her stories are full of fantastic easy to relate to characters, a lot of humour and some of the sexiest heroes you'll ever come across. I would happily recommend any of her stories (in fact I think you should go out and grab them all immediately!) but I know how hard it is to decide what books to spend your hard earned money on so I thought you might like to know about the chance to try one of her novels for FREE.

Ruthie and her publisher Random House Loveswept are having a fantastic promotion for her newest novel Truly and it is currently available for fans to read for free on Wattpad. Ruthie is adding new chapters every Monday until the whole book is up and it will only remain there for a limited time before being removed so if you want to read it you need to get started ASAP. Don't worry too much if you miss out though because the book will be published as an ebook in 2014 (I'm going to be buying my copy as soon as it's available because even though I've only read the first 16 chapters I'm LOVING this story and I need it on my kindle so I can re-read it to my hearts content!).

Here is a bit more information about the book:

May Fredericks hates New York. Which is fair enough, since New York seems to hate her back. Just weeks after moving from Wisconsin to Manhattan, she receives the world’s worst marriage proposal, stabs her boyfriend with a shrimp fork in a very public venue, and accidentally becomes notorious. And that’s before she gets mugged.

At her wit’s end, May washes up at a Packers bar in Greenwich Village, where she meets a surly, unhelpful guy who hates her shoes and calls her ex a douche.

His name is Ben. He used to be a chef. Now he’s a rooftop beekeeper with anger management issues. She wouldn't even like him, but he reminds her of home … and he knows where to find all the best food in the Village.

She makes him laugh. He buys her tacos and cowboy boots. The longer they’re stuck together, the better May and Ben get along … and the harder they fall.

TRULY is a quirky, modern New York love story unlike any you've read before.

New York Series:
Truly (full version will be published in 2014)
Madly (release date to be confirmed)
Completely (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Ruthie Knox's website for more information.

Now I'm sure the bit you've all been waiting for is the link so you can actually start reading the story!

CLICK HERE TO READ TRULY ON WATTPAD NOW

Just in case you're not already curious here is a short teaser from the book:


Don't forget that Truly is only going to be available online for a limited time so don't miss out on your chance to read it.

If you've already started it then I'd love to know what you think of it. If you're already a fan of Ruthie's let me know which of her books is your favourite. I think I'd have to say mine is Ride With Me closely followed by Flirting With Disaster!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Review: Her Wicked Angel - Felicity Heaton

The King of Demons and the Devil’s right hand man, Asmodeus is a dark angel born of evil and created for destruction. When his master orders him to venture into the mortal world and retrieve a female for him, he seizes the chance to leave Hell for the first time, uncaring of what the Devil has planned for her… until he sets eyes on the most beautiful woman he has ever seen—a female who awakens new feelings within his black heart, unleashing passion so intense that it controls him and desire he cannot resist.

He will not let his wretched master have her. She will belong to him.

Liora is a witch with a bad reputation and an obsession with fighting demons. A mission gone wrong sees her sent to Paris to cool off, but when a dark and deadly warrior with a gaze of golden fire lands in her life, she ends up burning hotter than Hell for the wicked angel. Nothing will stand between her and the immense, forbidding male. Not her cousin. Not Asmodeus’s sworn enemy and twin, Apollyon. And certainly not the Devil.

Caught up in a tempest of danger and soul-searing passion, can they survive against the odds and seize their forever after?

Her Angel Series:
Her Dark Angel
Her Fallen Angel
Her Warrior Angel
Her Guardian Angel
Her Demonic Angel
Her Wicked Angel
Her Avenging Angel
Her Sinful Angel

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

Review:
I'm a huge fan of Felicity Heaton's Her Angel series so the last year has been a very long wait for Her Wicked Angel. The revelations in Her Demonic Angel were sure to have a larger impact on the series so it shouldn't come as any surprise to hear that most of the previous couples have an important role to play in this story. It was great to catch up with some of my favourites and see how they're getting on now and I was pleased with the way they stood by Liora when she needed their help and that they were eventually able to trust and accept Asmodeus.

We have briefly come across Asmodeus before - he's Apollyon's evil twin - and I was a little worried about how the author would be able to redeem someone who has done such horrific things but I have to say it didn't take long for me to fall for him and I think he's now taken the top spot as my favourite hero in the series! Asmodeus is unapologetically a badass, known as the King of Demons he has done terrible things as the devil's right hand man and he doesn't try to hide that fact. He isn't completely evil though, there is a tiny spark of good deep inside him but he has been raised in an environment where any sign of good is a sign of weakness so he has spent thousands of years trying to suppress his conscience. Liora is the first person to see through that tough man persona he puts on and she is the only person who has ever tried to encourage his good side. She makes him want to be a better man and although he'll always have a dark side when he's with her he is sweet, caring and very protective. I loved how we're shown that the good has always been there though and I enjoyed watching him learn how to interact with others after he has spent so much of his life alone.

Liora was the perfect heroine for Asmodeus, she is a kind and loving woman but she also has a bit of a wicked side. She is able to understand his darker moods because she hasn't always led a perfect life and she knows all about making mistakes and the lengths that revenge will take you to. There was one moment towards the end of the book where I found myself really annoyed with her for judging Asmodeus when she'd been so willing to accept him for who he was before that but I was able to forgive her for that because of how bad she felt when she realised how much she'd hurt him. Together they make a great couple and they had superb chemistry. Without a doubt Her Wicked Angel contains some of the hottest sex scenes in the series! For someone who was so shy in the beginning of the book Asmodeus is certainly a fast learner.

Alongside the incredibly hot romance this story is packed with action and some fantastic twists and turns. You'll see appearances from unexpected friends and old enemies and the build up to what is sure to be an epic battle in the next book. I have a suspicion that Nevar might be the next hero and if he is it'll be really interesting to see if he can come to terms with the changes that have taken place in himself over the last couple of books. Whoever the next couple turns out to be the next book will definitely be at the top of my wish list though and I can't wait to continue with this series!

Source: Received free from the author in exchange for an honest review

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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Review: Take Me - Diane Alberts

Married in the morning…

Professional heartbreaker Mike Worth thrived on the chase—and dancer Morgan Collins represented the ultimate prize. But there was no way he was going to throw away his single-man status…not even for an elusive redhead with sparkling eyes and mile-long legs. So how did he let one drunken Vegas night end with I do instead of hell no?

Morgan’s life revolved around her career and she had no intention of letting a man interfere—even if Mike made her question all her rules about love. At his urging, she reluctantly agreed to give their spur-of–moment marriage a chance. But once their trial-honeymoon ended, would she choose to follow the dance and leave her unforgettable husband behind?

Take A Chance Series:
Try Me
Love Me
Play Me
Take Me

Visit Diane Alberts' website for more information

Review:
I've mentioned before how much I love Diane Albert's contemporary romances, she always writes such realistic characters who have fantastic chemistry and Take Me is no exception to that. Although this is the fourth book in the Take A Chance series it can easily be read as a stand alone story, I would happily recommend all of the books though because they've all been great reads.

If you have read any of the previous stories you'll already know Mike through his sisters Brianna and Kiersten. While he has always been a protective big brother who wants nothing but the best for his sisters he has always been a huge commitmentphobe who balks at the idea of a long term relationship, let alone marriage. I've always liked Mike so I've been looking forward to his story for quite a while now. As we get to know him we realise that he isn't quite the womaniser he pretends he is, as much as he isn't interested in commitment he doesn't go home with a different woman every night either. In fact it's been quite a while since he last went home with anyone. Morgan catches his eye when he is out celebrating his best friend Garrett's bachelor party, the chemistry between them is undeniable but for the first time in his life Mike finds the woman is the one to send him packing while he is hoping for more.

Morgan is determined to focus on her dancing career and the last thing she needs is a man in her life who will stop her following her dreams. She wants to be free to travel for her job and only agrees to see Mike again because he is so adamant that he isn't looking for a relationship. She might as well enjoy the no strings incredible sex before she moves on. When a drunken night out ends with the two of them married they are both horrified but Mike is sure there must be a reason that they went along with something so impulsive - he just needs to convince Morgan to give them a chance.

I really loved seeing the tables turned on Mike, he is so used to being the one who walks away that it comes as a shock to his system when Morgan is the first to run. He isn't afraid of a challenge though and he knows when something is worth fighting for. I though they made a great couple and I loved the fact that he was supportive of her career even when it meant she would be away from him for months at a time. Theirs was a really sweet story and I absolutely loved the epilogue that gives us a glimpse of how all 4 couples from the series are doing five years later. Although I'm sad that the series has come to an end that was the perfect finale.

Source: Received from Entangled Publishing 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.

Kindle:

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 11 - Show off 5 of your best blog posts!


I stumbled across the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge hosted by April from Good Books Good Wine and it looks like so much fun that I have to take part. You can find out all about the challenge and how to join in HERE. Obviously the idea of the challenge is to take part 15 days in a row but I don't have enough time for that and since April is so relaxed over the rules I've decided  dedicate one day a week to the challenge.

The Day 11 topic is: Show off 5 of your best blog posts!

This has been a really hard topic for me, it's so difficult to choose five blog posts that I'm most proud of! Obviously we all like to think our posts are interesting but I don't particularly consider myself good at writing reviews. I've been incredibly lucky to attend some amazing events since I started blogging though, (I've actually been incredibly slack at writing event reports recently - it's something I really need to start doing again) so I thought this would be a good way of spotlighting some of my favourites. So in no particular order here they are:

Terry Pratchett

1. Going to the midnight signing of I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, I've been a huge fan of Terry's for years now and I can't tell you how excited I was to meet him! You can read all about it HERE.

Lara Adrian, me & Larissa Ione

2. Meeting some of my favourite authors (including Lara Adrian, Larissa Ione, Meljean Brook, Kristen Painter, Jess Haines, Jennifer Estep, Nicole Peeler and many more) at the Authors After Dark Convention in Philadelphia. It really was an amazing few days and I would love to do something like that again! Read my write up HERE.

Maggie Stiefvater

3. Afternoon tea with Maggie Stiefvater at what has to be one of the strangest restaurants in London (egg shaped toilet pods people - EGG SHAPED TOILET PODS!). The whole afternoon was completely surreal and absolutely unforgettable! My write up is HERE.

Jean M. Auel

4. I have been a fan of Jean M. Auel and her Earth's Children series since I was a teenager so getting the chance to meet her was a dream come true. Going to a special event to help design the main character Ayla for the virtual reality cover of The Land of Painted Caves was a lot of fun and a once in a lifetime event. Read about it HERE.

Bloggers outside Alnwick Castle

5. Last but by no means least was getting to spend the night at Alnwick Castle (the castle where they filmed Hogwarts in some of the Harry Potter films!!) to celebrate the release of Nightshade by Maryrose Wood and the Duchess of Northumberland. We got to tour the castle and abbey, visit the poison gardens, have afternoon tea with the Duchess and dinner in a treetop restaurant. An unforgettable, money can't buy trip that I shared with some fabulous friends. Read my write up HERE.

So those are some of my favourite blog posts! What are your favourites? If you have a review, event report or any other type of post you're particularly proud of leave me a link in the comments and I'll come and check it out!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Review: Out of Line - Jen McLaughlin

Desperate to break free…

I've spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I'm finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.

Trying to play by the rules...

I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She's a rule I know I shouldn't break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…

The truth will cost me everything.

Out of Line Series:
Out of Line
Out of Time (Novella)

Visit Diane Alberts / Jen McLaughlin's website for more information.

Review:
I love Diane Alberts' adult contemporary romances so as soon as I found out she was releasing her first new adult romance under the pen name of Jen McLaughlin I knew I had to read it. And that was before I found out that the hero Finn was a sexy, tattooed Marine who loves to surf in his spare time! I'm happy to say that Out of Line lived up to my high expectations and was a fantastic story.

As the daughter of a rich politician Carrie's life has been spent living under a spotlight. She has the best that money can buy but she pays for that with the over the top security measures her father insists on and in the way that she never knows if her friends like her for who she really is or because of her family connections. Going to university is supposed to give her a new start, for the first time she'll be somewhere that nobody knows who she is and where she'll be able to stand on her own two feet. She is happy to be away from having around the clock bodyguards and enjoying the chance to just be a regular student. Carrie was an easy character to like, considering her upbringing I expected her to be a bit of a spoilt brat but she was the complete opposite and was an incredibly down to earth, generous and giving person. She donated not just money but also her time and did so with no expectation of getting anything in return which made me really respect her.

Finn was sexy as hell, I've already mentioned he's a Marine who loves to surf so you won't be surprised to know he has a body to die for but I loved his personality even more. He was very sweet and caring towards Carrie and I loved the way he looked out for her but at the same time encouraged her to take risks and do the things she's always wanted to do. He has a very big secret and I'll admit that I was worried what Carrie's reaction would be when she found out. I can't say too much without spoilers but I did find myself slightly annoyed that he didn't come clean with her sooner than he did. Luckily because the story is told from both of their points of view you can see exactly what's going on in his head and you understand how much he struggles with his conscience.

I loved the way the romance between Carrie and Finn develops so slowly, they are instantly attracted to each other but they take time to get to know each other and become friends before they even hint at falling in love which is something I appreciated. They just fit so well together and I enjoyed seeing them spend time just hanging out and having fun. Carrie's reaction when she finds out Finn's secret was realistic and I'm pleased that she didn't instantly forgive him, he had to work at earning her trust back and I liked her even more for standing her ground after he'd hurt her so much. If you've read any of the author's adult romances you'll know how good she is at writing steamy scenes and creating scorching hot connections between her characters - that is no different with Out of Line and Carrie and Finn certainly know how to turn up the heat. This is a fabulous start to the series and I can't wait to read more from Jen McLaughlin (and of course from her Diane Alberts pen name too!).

Source: Received from Entangled Publishing 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:

Blog Tour: Extract from Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin (+ International Giveaway) #OUTOFLINE

To find a full list of the Out of Line Tour Stops click here

I love, love, LOVE Diane Alberts' adult contemporary romances so I couldn't wait to get my hands on her first new adult story Out of Line that was published under the pen name Jen McLaughlin. I've already read this story and trust me it's one you are NOT going to want to miss out on! I'll be posting my full review later today but Finn is one sexy, surfing Marine you are going to fall head over heels for. I'm excited to be taking part in the Out of Line blog tour today and I have a fabulous extract to share with you that shows Carrie's first meeting with Finn and might give you just a hint at why I like him so much but before that let me give you a bit more information about the book:

Desperate to break free…

I've spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I'm finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.

Trying to play by the rules...

I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She's a rule I know I shouldn't break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…

The truth will cost me everything.

Out of Line Series:
Out of Line
Out of Time (Novella)

Visit Diane Alberts / Jen McLaughlin's website for more information.

About the Author:
Jen McLaughlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She writes steamy New Adult books for the young and young at heart. Her first release, Out of Line, came out September 2013. She also writes bestselling Contemporary Romance under the pen name Diane Alberts. Since receiving her first contract offer under the pen name Diane Alberts, she has yet to stop writing. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, a cat, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she’s not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another. Her goal is too write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

Website: http://dianealberts.com/
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DianeAlberts6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianeAlberts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6921962.Jen_McLaughlin

Extract from Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin
(Posted with permission from Entangled Publishing)

Nothing but the waves crashing. I hesitated. Someone was there. I knew it. “I know you’re out there. You might as well come out. If you don’t, I’ll...I’ll call the cops.”

I held my breath, waiting to see if the hidden person would call my bluff and come out. After a few seconds, a shadowed form stepped forward. As the shadow grew closer, I realized it was a man. A guy who stood at least six feet tall and had muscles that I thought only existed in the romance books I read.

He had to be a couple years older than me, maybe a senior, and he had on a pair of cargo shorts and nothing else. Hot damn, he obviously worked out. A lot. He had short, curly brown hair, and he looked harmless enough. But those muscles...

Okay, when I goaded the guy out of hiding, I hadn’t been expecting a freaking bodybuilder to walk out of the shadows. I backed up a step, biting down on my lower lip. “Who are you, and why are you hiding in the shadows?”

He had a black tattoo of some sort on his flexed bicep. Wait. Scratch that. He had tattoos pretty much from his elbows up and all across his shoulders and pecs. Hot. Really hot. This was the type of guy Dad kept me away from. He had bad boy written all over him. In numerous ways.

He rubbed the back of his neck and stepped closer, towering over me. “Who are you, and why are you hiding in shadows?”

I blinked and forced my eyes away from his ink. “I wasn’t. I was sitting on the bench.”

“Maybe I was too, before you came out.” He grinned at me. “Maybe you stole my seat.”

“Did I?”

“Maybe.”

I shook my head and tried not to smile, but it was hard. For some reason, I liked this guy. “You like that word, don’t you?” I held my hand up when he opened his mouth to answer. “Let me guess. Maybe?”

He laughed, loud and clear. I liked the sound of it. “Perhaps.”

“Oh my God, he says something else.” I held a hand to my forehead. “I might be imagining things.”

“Hm. You do look a little flushed.”

Probably because an off-the-radar hot guy was talking to me. Maybe even flirting? Crap. I had no idea. The last time a normal boy had flirted with me, Dad had his security team drag him out of the mall by both arms. I had no doubt this guy would get the same treatment if he ever crossed paths with Dad. “I do?”

He stepped closer and bent down, his eyes at level with mine. They were blue. Really, really blue, with little specks of darker blue around the pupil. People were always telling me that I had the prettiest blue eyes in the world. They were wrong. This guy did.

“Yep. Definitely flushed.”

Giveaway Details:

Even though the book was just released, it is already zooming up the charts on Amazon and B&N. To celebrate this, Jen is offering a one-of-a-kind prize for a lucky reader! Anyone who helps spread the word about OUT OF LINE (through tweets, facebook messages, leaving a review, etc.) gets entered to win 30 pages of the manuscript, which include editing marks and special never-before-seen notes from Jen! You will have all the deets on what Jen changed, deleted scenes, and special extras.

You can enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below, the winner will be contacted directly by Jen so she can arrange to send out your prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

This review was previously posted on my blog in 2012 when the book was published in the UK with the title The Gathering Dark. It has now been re-released with the US title Shadow and Bone so I'm re-posting my original review with the new cover image. You can read the previous version of this review here. I've actually recently finished re-reading this book before picking up the sequel, Siege and Storm, and I loved it just as much the second time around so I stand by my review 100%!

"I've been waiting for you a long time, Alina," he said. "You and I are going to change the world."

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a man of seductive charm and terrifying power. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?

The Grisha Trilogy:
The Witch of Duva (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Shadow and Bone (Originally published in the UK as The Gathering Dark but now re-released as Shadow and Bone as per the US)
The Tailor (Short Story) (Can be read online on Leigh Bardugo's Facebook page here)
Siege and Storm
The Too-Clever Fox (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Little Knife (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Ruin and Rising
The Language of Thorns (anthology of fairytales set in the Grishaverse)

Six of Crows Duology:
(spin off series set in the same world but featuring different characters)
Six of Crows
Crooked Kingdom

Visit Leigh Bardugo's website for more information

You can also watch the UK Shadow and Bone book trailer:



Original Review:
I read The Gathering Dark (otherwise known as Shadow and Bone if you're in the US) a month ago and I still can't get the story out of my head. Leigh Bardugo's debut novel had me captivated from the very first page and I didn't want to put it down for a second. This is without a doubt one of my favourite books of the year and bearing in mind that I've read over 300 books since January that is high praise indeed. I loved the world that the author has created, the Russian influence to the story adds depth to the world building and I loved the magical abilities of the Grisha.

Alina was the kind of heroine I found it easy to relate to, raised in an orphanage with only her best friend Mal to rely on she has never fully felt like she fitted in anywhere. All she really wants is to find a place where she belongs but when it is discovered she has a rare magical ability she finds herself taken away from everyone and everything she knows. Thrust into a new life amongst the Grisha Alina feels lost and alone, she doesn't understand the rules and is struggling to make sense of her power and how to harness it. Thankfully she makes a new friend in Genya but she misses Mal more than anything and is hurt when he doesn't reply to her letters. Her powers have drawn the attentions of the Darkling, the enigmatic leader of the Grisha and most powerful magic user in the kingdom of Ravka. Their country is torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a dark and desolate place where monsters rule and no human is safe, and the Darkling thinks that Alina could be the one person who can save them all.

I don't want to say too much more about the story line because I would hate to give you spoilers, this is the kind of book that you're best of picking up without knowing too much about so that you can thoroughly enjoy the journey you are taken on. I'm going to tell you that I loved Alina, the way she grows up as the story progresses and the strong young woman she has become by the end. I loved her friendship with Mal, the history they had together and the way they always look out for each other. I adored Mal, he has a quiet strength about him and proves himself a wonderful support to Alina. I also loved the Darkling, he was mysterious and secretive and I never knew quite what was going to happen around him but he has an appeal that is hard to resist.

The Gathering Dark is the kind of book that I wish I could wipe from my memory just so I could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time. The pacing was perfect - a fast paced beginning to get you hooked, a beautifully written middle with layers of world building and character development followed by an explosive ending with plot twists that will make your jaw drop. I honestly can't recommend this book highly enough to fantasy fans so please ignore my gushing and read the book for yourself to discover just how amazing it is. I can't wait to read the next instalment - I'm just gutted that I have to wait a whole year to find out what happens next!

Source: Received from Orion 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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