Thursday, 30 June 2016

Movie Review - The Choice - Based on a Novel by Nicholas Sparks (+ UK Giveaway for 3 copies of the DVD!)


Out on Digital HD 27th June and on DVD 4th July
Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks


Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, the author who brought us the much-loved classic romance The Notebook, comes THE CHOICE - A story about an irresistible attraction that transforms the lives of an unlikely couple, out to own on DVD and Digital HD this summer.

Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker) is a young veterinarian committed only to meaningless flings that suit his carefree, solitary lifestyle. Convinced he doesn’t need a relationship, he prefers to flirt with exes and enjoy being a bit of a ladies man.

Meanwhile Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful and ambitious medical student, is preparing to settle down with her committed long-term boyfriend (Tom Welling). When fate intervenes, and Gabby and Travis find themselves living next door to one another, nothing could have prepared them for the powerful chemistry that will turn their lives upside down. As they are forced to acknowledge their developing bond, the seemingly mismatched couple must face up to the choices that will change everything…

THE CHOICE Disc Information: 

Certificate: 12
DVD RRP: £19.99
Extra Features: Deleted scenes / Cinematic choices: Making The Choice / Nicholas Sparks with… / Choosing Home: Nicholas Sparks and North Carolina / Molly & Moby: Choice Dogs / Natalia Safran’s “Daylight” Music Video / Audio Commentary with Director Ross Katz and Actor Benjamin Walker

The Choice Trailer:



Review:

The Choice is classic Nicholas Sparks so if you're already a fan of his books and movies you're sure to love this one just just as much. While many people will say his movies are formulaic you can't deny their appeal. This has all the elements you need for in a romantic drama and gets bonus points for the super cute puppies in a basket! While the lead might not be who I would have initially picked, by the end of the movie he had definitely won me over. The Notebook may still be my favourite Sparks movie but this one is certainly worth a watch.

Giveaway:

The Choice is out to download from 27th June and on DVD from 4th July. To celebrate the release I have three copies of the DVD to giveaway to some of my UK followers thanks to Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

Giveaway terms & conditions:
  • This giveaway is open to UK residents only.
  • The giveaway closes on the 8th of July at 23:59 GMT
  • You can enter using the Rafflecopter form below and the winners will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter and contacted soon after the giveaway ends for their contact information.
  • You will have 48 hours to respond to my email or new winners will be chosen.
  • The prize will be sent directly from my contact at Lions Gate Home Entertainment so by entering the giveaway you are giving me permission to share your contact details if you win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Review: Chaos Rises - Pippa DaCosta

'When the veil fell, any half-bloods not strong enough to withstand Chaos were torn apart. Some, like me and my brother, survived The Fall. Most did not.

That's the good news. The bad news saw a whole other world try and devour ours. Demons, we call them. They came in countless waves. Destroying. Killing. Many people thought it was the end...

The Fall lasted a week.

Tens of thousands died.

Hell almost claimed our world as its own.

And then, from one day to the next, it was over. The veil came back, stronger than ever. I'm not sure if anyone knows how it was put right. But I do know it's been six months since The Fall, me and my brother are on the run, and the leftover demons aren't the most dangerous things in LA.

We are.' ~ Gem

~~~

This heart-pounding new urban fantasy series promises to bring action, suspense, and a hint of romance to the demon-torn streets of Los Angeles.

Chaos Rises Series:
(Spin off from the Veil series)
Chaos Rises
Chaos Unleashed

The Veil Series:
Wings of Hope (Novella)
Beyond the Veil
Devil May Care
Darkest Before Dawn
Drowning in the Dark
Ties That Bind
One for Sorrow (Novella)

Visit Pippa DaCosta's website for more information

Review:
I absolutely love Pippa DaCosta's Veil series so of course I was desperate to get my hands on the spin off and have the chance to revisit the world again. You know what? Even though I had incredibly high expectations for Chaos Rises I think it managed to surpass them and I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up loving the new characters even more than the original ones! And let me just tell you that is saying something because Muse, Stefan and Akil are right up there with my favourite characters EVER.


Anyway, we have a new cast for Chaos Rises, I did wonder if our previous favourites would make an appearance but I'm actually kind of glad that they didn't. I wouldn't mind catching a glimpse of them in the future but this book is all about Gem, her brother Delta, Torrent (another half-blood of questionable loyalty) and Gem's demon boss (aka the pain in the butt that she can't quite get away from) Allard. It's hard to know how much to say about the plot of this book because I really don't want to give anything away so I think I'm going to keep this deliberately vague and focus more on the new characters.

Let's start with Gem (short for Gamma), she is one kickass half-demon who is fiercely protective of her brother. The two of them have been to hell (literally) and back but their worst enemy by far is the very human Institute who made life so difficult for Muse in the previous series. You may even remember Gem and Del being mentioned briefly in the earlier books as the half-bloods that Akil rescued from the Institute just before things went completely crazy when the Veil fell. Gem and Del have very little experience of the human world since the Institute kept them so isolated so they were easy prey for Allard and he now keeps them on a tight reign. Gem definitely isn't a pushover though and she fights back at every possible opportunity. We don't get to know Del as well in this book but I'm very intrigued about him and definitely want to know more about his powers.

Torrent is another brilliant character, it's hard to tell whether he's completely trustworthy (Pippa DaCosta is excellent at writing morally ambiguous characters!) but I'm already half in love with him. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction between him and Gem and the way he constantly puts her on edge. She's never had anyone but Del show her even a small amount of kindness before so she's not quite sure how to react when Torrent helps her and she's definitely not sure if he can be trusted in the long run. Allard is the kind of character I love to hate, he's everything you'd expect from a powerful demon in this world and he uses every trick in the book to get the things he wants.

I'm not going to say anything more because I want readers to go in with no idea what to expect, I want you to experience the book the way I did so that you can appreciate the edge of your seat action, the brilliant characters and the fantastic world building for yourselves. I guess people who are new to Pippa DaCosta's writing (Who are you crazy people? You need to fix that issue IMMEDIATELY!) are probably wondering if they can pick up Chaos Rises without reading the Veil series. I guess my answer to that would technically be yes, this series is all about new characters that we know practically nothing about beforehand and it's the start of a definite new story arc, but the world building does continue closely from the previous story. Although you can start here personally I think you'd be crazy to skip the Veil books, purely because they are so fantastic! It is one of my favourite urban fantasy series and considering that I've read a lot of UF that's very high praise.

It's no secret that I'm a fan girl when it comes to this author, I've loved everything that she's written and Chaos Rises is no exception so I can't wait to see where she takes these characters next. It's going to feel like a very long wait for the next book but I'll be first in the queue to read it when it's published!

Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review (but I also purchased a copy since I love it so much and wanted to support the author)

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

Paperback / Kindle:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Favourite Romance Beach Reads


The Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge is hosted by Gone with the Words and Love at First Page. As part of the challenge they are setting a different topic every month that participants can choose to join in with which I think is a brilliant idea so you can expect a post like this to appear at random most months throughout the year.

The June Prompt is:
Favourite Romance Beach Reads
(Links below will take you to my reviews)

I tried to pick books that have a summery feel to them so most of them have a beach or holiday setting but there are a couple that are just really fun and lighthearted so make the perfect poolside read when you're on holiday!

Young Adult:


  1. Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry
  2. Better than Perfect - Simone Elkeles
  3. The Square Root of Summer - Harriet Reuter Hapgood
  4. Forever - Judy Blume
  5. Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen

New Adult:


  1. Inseverable - Cecy Robson
  2. Come Back to Me - Mila Gray
  3. Slammed - Colleen Hoover
  4. The Secret of Ella and Micha - Jessica Sorensen
  5. While it Lasts - Abbi Glines

Adult:


  1. Simply Irresistible - Jill Shalvis
  2. Roman Holiday - Ruthie Knox
  3. Hollywood Dirt - Alessandra Torre
  4. Sun Kissed - Amanda Abbott
  5. The Pact - Karina Halle

Monday, 27 June 2016

Review: The Fires of Heaven - Robert Jordan

The bonds and wards that hold the Great Lord of the Dark are slowly failing, but still his fragile prison holds. The Forsaken, immortal servants of the shadow, weave their snares and tighten their grip upon the realms of men, sure in the knowledge that their master will soon break free . . .

Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, knows that he must strike at the Enemy, but his forces are divided by treachery and by ambition. Even the Aes Sedai, ancient guardians of the Light, are riven by civil war.

Betrayed by his allies, pursued by his enemies and beset by the madness that comes to the male wielders of the One Power, Rand rides out to meet the foe.

And the Fires of Heaven scour the world.

Wheel of Time Series:
New Spring (Prequel Story but it's recommended to read after Crossroads of Twilight)
The Eye of the World
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising
The Fires of Heaven
Lord of Chaos
A Crown of Swords
The Path of Daggers
Winter's Heart
Crossroads of Twilight
Knife of Dreams
The Gathering Storm
Towers of Midnight
A Memory of Light

Visit the Wheel of Time series website for more information

Review:
I've found it really difficult to write a review of The Fires of Heaven, mainly because as much as I'm loving the Wheel of Time series as a whole I was actually a little disappointed with this instalment. It was much slower than the last couple of books, particularly in the first half, and it took me much longer to read than it should have.

I thought it was very weird that Perrin, Loial and Faile were completely absent for the entire book. They played such huge parts in the last one that perhaps it was time to let some of the other characters shine but I would have liked just a glimpse at what is going on with them, especially considering the way things were left with them at the end of The Shadow Rising.

I was also incredibly irritated by nearly all of the women in this book. Nynaeve has been a favourite character of mine since the beginning but it's like she's had a personality transplant and she's acting like such a brainless idiot that I wanted to smack some sense into her. It really says something when you have Egwene call you out for your behaviour and it was shocking to find that Egwene was actually the most sensible of the two for this book - she's definitely learning something from the Wise Ones but I think Nynaeve must have had a brain injury! I honestly don't know how Elayne has coped with the pair of them though, I would have murdered them both if I was in her position. Although she doesn't have much of a leg to stand on considering the way she behaved around Thom for most of the book, it was actually embarrassing to watch.

Min and Siuan's story was probably the most interesting part of this book for me but even that went downhill once they met up with more of the Aes Sedai and were relegated to the side lines. I'm also kind of fed up with Elayne, Min and Aviendha mooning around over Rand (and his constant thoughts about the three of them!), I hate to say it but Robert Jordan isn't very good at creating believable relationships and I don't really feel much of a connection between any of them yet. Let's hope that improves as the series continues. Moiraine spends much of this book distancing herself from everyone else and being just as secretive as ever which is still irritating and I think the only woman who didn't get on my nerves for at least part of the story was Birgitte.

On the positive side it was great to see Rand step up and take action as the Dragon Reborn, he's finally accepted his destiny and started making plans for the future. I love spending time with the Aiel too, especially the Maidens of the Spear, and they get a big chunk of page time in this book. Mat has continued to improve as a character too so I'm looking forward to seeing what he decides to do next.

The Fires of Heaven wasn't a bad book but it just didn't live up to my high expectations for this series. I'm still hugely invested in the world and want to spend more time with the characters (even the ones who irritate me!) so of course I'll be diving into the next book very soon.

Source: Purchased

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

Paperback / Kindle:

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Review: Secret of the Gargoyles - Rebecca Chastain

I place the lives of all gargoyles into your hands with what I am about to tell you…

In her brief career as a gargoyle healer, Mika Stillwater has faced some daunting challenges, but none have stumped her—until now. A strange sickness infects a handful of gargoyles in Terra Haven, rendering them comatose and paralyzed. Worse, the cure she seeks is shrouded in the gargoyles’ mysterious culture and the secret they guard with their lives.

Gaining the gargoyles’ trust is only the first step. To save the sick gargoyles, Mika must embark on a perilous mission into the heart of deadly wild magic to a place no human has ever survived...

The captivating conclusion to the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles trilogy, Secret of the Gargoyles will charm readers of all ages, especially those who love extraordinary magic and endearing gargoyles.

The Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles:
Magic of the Gargoyles
Curse of the Gargoyles
Secret of the Gargoyles
Lured (Free novella)

Visit Rebecca Chastain's website for more information

Review:
Mika has a very rare ability that makes her a perfect gargoyle healer and she has dedicated all her time to helping gargoyles in need ever since she discovered it. Unfortunately there is one problem she has so far been unable to resolve and that's healing the gargoyles who are lying dormant around the city. Mika knows there is something very wrong with them but none of the research she has carried out has helped her find answers. It's taken a long time but now she has finally gained the trust of an older gargoyle who knows what is causing the problem but it isn't something that she can solve on her own and she is forced to turn to the FPD for help. Since most of the squad is currently unavailable it is up to Marcus to help Mika and Oliver on their dangerous quest, the only question that remains is will they be fast enough to save the gargoyles currently in Mika's care?

Secret of the Gargoyle is a fantastic finale to the Gargoyle Guardian trilogy that's full of action, danger and magic. Rebecca Chastain has created such a bright and vivid world and it's one I love spending time in. The way she describes magic use is wonderful and it just got even better in this book as Mika manages to tap into a power that humans aren't even supposed to know exists. The gargoyle characters are brilliant, I've loved Oliver from the beginning and it's been wonderful watching him grow from the tiny hatchling Mika rescued in Curse of the Gargoyles to the courageous companion he has become. Oliver loves Mika beyond all reason and thinks nothing of putting himself in harm's way to protect her but that is something that definitely goes both ways and Mika would do anything to look after him and any other gargoyles that cross her path.

Mika is brilliant, she's smart, brave and incredibly caring. As the only known gargoyle healer she sees it as her responsibility to look after all of the gargoyles and she thinks nothing of putting herself at risk to save them. I admire how focused she is on her goal but I loved that Marcus calls her out when she gets in over her head. She doesn't always see the dangers to herself until it's almost too late and she needs someone to help her take a step back and look at the bigger picture sometimes. Marcus obviously cares deeply about her and I really enjoyed the slow build romance that has developed between them. There were hints of an attraction between them in the previous stories but this is the book that really moves things forward since they spend so much time working together. I think they make a great couple, their personalities fit well together and they both bring something different to the relationship.

I've loved every minute of this series so I'm incredibly sad that it's come to an end but I'm still kind of hoping that Rebecca Chastain will choose to revisit this world again in the future. I'd be very happy to read more books from Mika's point of view but there is also definitely story potential for Mika's friend Kylie and a certain Captain. No matter what she's writing about this author is on my auto-buy list though and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Source: Received from the author 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:

Spotlight: Secret of the Gargoyles - Rebecca Chastain (+ Giveaway)

I absolutely love Rebecca Chastain's Gargoyle Guardian's series so to celebrate the recent release of the final book in the trilogy I wanted to give Secret of the Gargoyles an extra shout out as well as share a fab giveaway that Rebecca is running offering you the chance to win copies of the entire series! I'll be posting my full review later today but in the meantime please check out the info below and make sure you enter the giveaway.

About Secret of the Gargoyles:

I place the lives of all gargoyles into your hands with what I am about to tell you…

In her brief career as a gargoyle healer, Mika Stillwater has faced some daunting challenges, but none have stumped her—until now. A strange sickness infects a handful of gargoyles in Terra Haven, rendering them comatose and paralyzed. Worse, the cure she seeks is shrouded in the gargoyles’ mysterious culture and the secret they guard with their lives.

Gaining the gargoyles’ trust is only the first step. To save the sick gargoyles, Mika must embark on a perilous mission into the heart of deadly wild magic to a place no human has ever survived...

The captivating conclusion to the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles trilogy, Secret of the Gargoyles will charm readers of all ages, especially those who love extraordinary magic and endearing gargoyles.

The Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles:
Magic of the Gargoyles
Curse of the Gargoyles
Secret of the Gargoyles

Buy Links:

Amazon, US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FPX3VYS
Amazon, Everywhere: http://smarturl.it/SecretGargoyles

About Rebecca Chastain:

Rebecca Chastain is the international bestselling author of the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles, among others works. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. Writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old. She lives in Northern California with her wonderful husband and three bossy cats.

Here are a few places you can find Rebecca on the Internet:

Website: http://www.rebeccachastain.com
Newsletter: http://www.rebeccachastain.com/fantasy-newsletter/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccachastainnovels
Twitter: @Author_Rebecca or https://twitter.com/Author_Rebecca
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5660379.Rebecca_Chastain

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of Secret of the Gargoyles Rebecca Chastain is giving away eBook copies of the entire trilogy (Magic of the Gargoyles, Curse of the Gargoyles and Secret of the Gargoyles) to FIVE lucky winners. You can enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter form below and the winners will be contacted directly by Rebecca so that she can arrange to send out the prizes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Review: Poison or Protect - Gail Carriger

Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a stand-alone romance novella set in her popular steampunk universe full of manners, spies, and dainty sandwiches.

Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Delightfully Deadly:
(A series of standalone adult novellas set in the Parasol Protectorate world featuring characters you may recognise from the other series, they fit into the timeline between the Finishing School and Parasol Protectorate books)
Poison or Protect
Future titles and release dates to be confirmed

Parasol Protectorate Series:
The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (Novella)
Soulless
Changeless
Blameless
Heartless
Timeless

Finishing School Series:
(This is a YA series set in the Parasol Protectorate world but set 25 years before the first book)
Etiquette & Espionage
Curtsies & Conspiracies
Waistcoats & Weaponry
Manners & Mutiny

Custard Protocol Series:
(This is another adult series set in the Parasol Protectorate world but set several decades after the last book)
Prudence
Imprudence

Supernatural Society Series:
(A series of standalone adult novellas set in the Parasol Protectorate world featuring popular LGBT characters you may recognise from the other series)
Romancing the Inventor
Romancing the Werewolf (2017)

Visit Gail Carriger's website for more information

Review:
Poison or Protect is a stand alone romance set in the Parasol Protectorate world and although you can pick this book up even if you've not read anything else by Gail Carriger fans of the series will love the chance to spot a few familiar faces. Who would have guessed that I'd come to like Preshea considering she was one of the bullies in the Finishing School books? I have to admit I was a little nervous when I realised that she was going to be the heroine but I ended up really enjoying seeing a different side to her character.

Preshea is kind of like a black widow, she's certainly put her finishing school training to good use since she's killed all of her previous husbands, but now she's nearly finished her time working for Lord Akeldama she has no intention of marrying again. If she can just carry out one final assignment then she'll finally be free to live life on her own terms and it's something she's really looking forward to. All she has to do is protect one Lord from assassination while also convincing his impressionable young daughter not to marry a fortune hunter. What she hadn't counted on was the fortune hunter's best friend and the rather shocking attraction she feels towards him.

I loved Gavin's character, he's the perfect kind of hero who is capable of fighting alongside his woman not just wrapping her in a protective bubble. He's also brilliant at taking things slow and encouraging Preshea to open up to him and he loves nothing more than making her smile. Preshea initially comes across just as cold hearted as you might expect an assassin to be but once you get to know her you'll start to see a softer side that she usually keeps very well hidden. She's never really had anyone care for her before so it takes her time to learn to let Gavin in but even though their relationship develops quite quickly it never feels rushed or forced.

Poison or Protect was everything I've come to expect from one of this Gail Carriger's stories, it had great characters, a brilliant setting, plenty of humour and a wonderful (and surprisingly steamy!) romance and I can't wait to read more of these Delightfully Deadly novellas.

Source: Received from the author 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:



Author Bio:

Gail Carriger writes steampunk comedies of manners mixed with urban fantasy. Her books include the Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in 18 different languages and has 13 NYT bestsellers via 7 different lists (including #1 in Manga). She was once an archaeologist and is overly fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea. A full bibliography of her work is available on her wiki.

Connect with the author online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Tumblr

Friday, 24 June 2016

Cover Reveal: Archangel's Heart - Nalini Singh

I'm a HUGE fan of Nalini Singh's writing and her Guild Hunter series is one of my favourites so I'm thrilled to be taking part in the US cover reveal for Archangel's Heart today. The UK cover hasn't been revealed yet but I really hope it's as beautiful as the US one (or I may just have to buy both versions LOL). So lets have a look at the cover:


Archangel’s Heart is the 9th book in the
Guild Hunter series

Archangel’s Heart releases November 1st!
Now Available for Pre-order HERE: http://bit.ly/28P4Qel


Blurb:

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Guild Hunter Series:

Arcangel's Heart is the 9th book in the amazing Guild Hunter series and it's a series I'd highly recommend to paranormal romance and urban fantasy fans. If you haven't read the series yet (or if you're not up to date) you can read my reviews for the previous books by clicking the links below. This is a series that you need to read in order but I promise you won't regret it!

Angels' Dance (ebook novella that is also included in Angels' Flight)
Angels' Judgment (novella included in Angels' Flight and the Must Love Hellhounds anthology)
Angels' Pawn (ebook novella that is also included in Angels' Flight)
Angel's Blood
Archangel's Kiss
Archangel's Consort
Angel's Wolf (novella included in Angels' Flight and the Angel's of Darkness anthology)
Archangel's Blade
Archangel's Storm
Archangel's Legion
Archangel's Shadows
Archangel's Enigma
Archangel's Heart (November 2016)

Author Information:


Nalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

STALK HER: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Review: Inseverable - Cecy Robson

How can you imagine forever with someone who's leaving everything behind?

Callahan, a former army sniper, wants to make an escape from his past and everything he experienced at war, but most of all, just not feel. Feeling leads to pain and he's suffered enough. When he inherits a house on South Carolina's Kiawah Island, he packs his bags, lured by the peace and seclusion he thinks it will bring. But, Callahan never counted on meeting anyone like Trinity . . .

Trinity has always been the cute, and funny one, who most guys overlook in pursuit of her "hot" friends. She became used to being everyone's pal, until the day the young man she was attracted to, was drawn to her in return. He became her first great love, and first crushing heartbreak when she found him in bed with one of her closest friends.

To move forward, and to carry out her commitment to helping those in need, Trinity enlists in the Peace Corps, but not before returning to Kiawah for one last memorable summer. She just never imagined it would be so unforgettable.

Callahan doesn't want to get close to anyone-let alone Trinity. He finds her perkiness insufferable and her attempts to entice a smile distracting. After all, he's in Kiawah to leave all feelings behind. But when it comes to Trinity, who feels everything, it's hard not to feel something.

Neither expected to fall in love. And no one could have predicted how inseverable they'd become.

Carolina Beach Series:
Inseverable
Eternal (release date to be confirmed)
Infinite (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Cecy Robson's website for more information.

Review:
If you've been following my blog for any length of time you'll already know I'm a huge fan of Cecy Robson's. I love her Weird Girls urban fantasy series as well as her emotional and hard hitting Shattered Pasts and O'Brien Family contemporary romances so of course I was excited about her new Carolina Beach series from the minute I heard about it. I couldn't wait to read Inseverable and it's right up there amongst my favourite of her books, it was lighter hearted and more humorous than her other contemporary series and such a fun story to read. That's not to say that the characters have it all easy but it definitely had a lighter tone and would make a perfect holiday read considering the beach setting.

Trinity and her friends have finished college and are spending one final summer together at the beach where they grew up before adult life has them all heading in different directions, some to further studies and Trinity to a two year tour with the Peace Corps. Callahan was an army sniper but has now left the forces and just needs some peace and quiet to try and recover in. He's suffering with PTSD after watching so many of his friends killed in combat and the last thing he wants is to let anyone close again.  Trinity knows she's not going to be around for long but she can see how much Callahan needs a friend and she's determined to bring him out of his shell, no matter how reluctant he is to let her.

These two were brilliant characters, in a lot of ways they're complete opposites - Trinity is bubbly and outgoing, the life and soul of the party who sees the good in everyone while Callahan is jaded, wary and just wants to be left in peace - but they bring out the best in each other. Callahan desperately needed Trinity to shake him out of his self imposed exile and Callahan makes Trinity feel like a beautiful and sexy young woman for the first time in her life. You could practically feel the chemistry they start throwing off the minute they meet but I loved the slow burn to their relationship, it takes time for Trinity to break through Callahan's barriers and get him to open up but oh boy is it worth the wait and when he finally gives in to his desire their connection is off the charts.

I did get a little frustrated that Trinity didn't open up to Callahan about her plans to join the Peace Corps a little sooner but I could understand why she did it and I loved the way things played out at the end so it's a very minor complaint. Alongside the main couple we also have a great set of side characters, Trinity's group of friends are brilliant and I love how they always look out for each other. The banter between the friends was fun and I enjoyed seeing them help Trinity tease Callahan. I'm excited that we're going to see more of these characters in future books, the epilogue gave us a lovely glimpse into this couple's future but also hinted at whose story is next and I'm definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the next book in the series.

Source: Received from the author 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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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Spotlight: Inseverable - Cecy Robson (Excerpt, Guest Post + Giveaway)


Don't Miss the first book in Cecy Robson's Brand New Series!!


INSEVERABLE
Carolina Beach #1
Cecy Robson
Releasing June 21st, 2016


How can you imagine forever with someone who's leaving everything behind?

Callahan, a former army sniper, wants to make an escape from his past and everything he experienced at war, but most of all, just not feel. Feeling leads to pain and he's suffered enough. When he inherits a house on South Carolina's Kiawah Island, he packs his bags, lured by the peace and seclusion he thinks it will bring. But, Callahan never counted on meeting anyone like Trinity . . .

Trinity has always been the cute, and funny one, who most guys overlook in pursuit of her "hot" friends. She became used to being everyone's pal, until the day the young man she was attracted to, was drawn to her in return. He became her first great love, and first crushing heartbreak when she found him in bed with one of her closest friends.

To move forward, and to carry out her commitment to helping those in need, Trinity enlists in the Peace Corps, but not before returning to Kiawah for one last memorable summer. She just never imagined it would be so unforgettable.

Callahan doesn't want to get close to anyone-let alone Trinity. He finds her perkiness insufferable and her attempts to entice a smile distracting. After all, he's in Kiawah to leave all feelings behind. But when it comes to Trinity, who feels everything, it's hard not to feel something.

Neither expected to fall in love. And no one could have predicted how inseverable they'd become.

Buy Now



Author Info:
Cecy Robson is a new adult and contemporary author of the Shattered Past series, the O’Brien Family novels and upcoming Carolina Beach novels, as well as the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A 2016 double nominated RITA®finalist for Once Pure and Once Kissed, Cecy is a recovering Jersey girl living in the South who enjoys carbs way too much, and exercise way too little. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, you can typically find her on her laptop silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Excerpt from Inseverable:

Prologue
Callahan

Three days.

That’s all I have left until this shit ends.

Three days shouldn’t feel like forever, not compared to the eight years I’ve bled to the Army. Thing is, good men have been killed in less time. In as quick as a blink, a squeeze of a trigger, or a small breath right before a grenade blows is all the time it takes to shove someone right out of life and well into death.

That’s what makes three days as long as it is. Three days is plenty of time to die.

My eyes tear when the wind picks up and shoots grime through the small hole of my lookout point. This blown out piece of cinderblock is only big enough to allow me a view of the street below, but not so small I don’t get smacked in the face with more filth. The tarp flaps above me as I spit out another layer of the dirt-sand mix spackling my teeth. Christ Almighty, I need a swig of the water resting near my elbow. But my thirst, like everything else has to wait.

I have a job to do.

I adjust my hips against the cracked cement of my bed, bathroom, and home all rolled into one, thankful that the agonizing ache stretching over the lower half of my body has settled into a now familiar numbness.

Out of all the points I’d scouted, and all the accumulated years spent in this position, I should be used to it. And in a strange way, it should almost be home. Yet nothing ever has been home.

But in three days, maybe something finally will be . . .

I shove my thoughts away and breathe as my fellow Rangers stalk along the street. It’s then I see them, a mother and daughter walking straight toward my team. Less than one city block separates them from the men counting on me to keep them alive.

The hell? How did they get past the other sniper unreported? Rogers is new on watch. But the quick paces these two are taking should have clued him in that something’s up. I train my scope on their faces; their expressions are blank, unreadable. ‘Cept that’s not what keeps my attention.

The little girl can’t be more than five. So why the fuck isn’t her mother holding her hand? I lift my radio and bark a warning, dropping it beside me as I lock my scope dead center on the woman’s head.

The radio crackles and Modreski chimes in, yelling at his team to hold their positions. He asks me what my plan is, knowing if something’s caused the short-hairs on my neck to rise, he and the boys damn well need to listen. But I don’t hear him, with a breath and a squeeze of the trigger, I leave a kid without a mother.

Just beneath the sleeve of her abayah―the dress completely covering her body―I see it, a detonator that would trigger the explosives likely strapped to her chest. A few Rangers I know―Simons and Boreman, rush forward. I start to mutter a curse, pissed at her for making me shoot her in front of her kid. But the curse lodges in my throat when I see the kid isn’t looking at her mother lying next to her dead.

She’s watching my advancing team as she lifts the detonator clasped tight in her hand.


Now please give a very warm welcome to Cecy who is going to talk about some of her favourite love songs today!

Romance Songs that Bring on Cecy’s Feels

We all have those songs—the ones that make us stop when we hear them, that bring on memories of special nights, or stir emotions you’ll never forget. Most of mine relate to gut-wrenching heartache or swoon-worthy kisses. Being a romance author, I know this *cough, cough*, probably shocks you. Below are just a few songs that have “touched” me. Some for the good, others for the not-so-good, and others, well, because a great deal of touching was the end result.

1. Photograph – Ed Sheeran
This totally makes me think of young love and I’ve listened to it to help me write YA.

2. A Thousand Years – Boyce Avenue
If you haven’t heard this version, head to YouTube now! It’s a song I based an entire upcoming series around.

3. Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad – Def Leppard
This song encompasses the emotions I experienced during a very bad breakup. Despite that the breakup led to better things, the feels return whenever I hear the song. Music is such a powerful memory trigger, and this song from one of my all-time favorite bands, is proof!

4. Secret – Heart
The lyrics “I watch you coming to me, walking in the pouring rain” paints such a vivid memory for me that I will never forget.

5. Uhh Ahh – Boys to Men
Um, yeah. This one deserves two spots.

6. Living in Sin – Bon Jovi
The sexiness behind this song, and the video, speak volumes of forbidden love, and two people who can’t keep their hands off each other.

7. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
Heartbreak and vulnerability in one amazing song.

8. Faithfully – Journey
Okay, children of the 80’s and 90’s, who hasn’t made out to this song?

9. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
This is the song that most reminds me of my husband, the one we’ve danced to too many times to count. Love you, babe.

10. Unchained Melody – Il Divo
Whenever I hear this version, my mind fills with images of proposals, weddings, and the start of many beautiful HEAs.

For fun, what song “touches” you?


Giveaway Details:

To celebrate the release of Inseverable Cecy Robson is giving away a Prize Pack including: Two Shattered Past T-Shirts, a Signed Copy of LET ME and Swag.

You can enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter form below, the winner will be contacted directly by the tour organiser so they can arrange to send out the prizes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Don't forget to pick up the newest release in
the O'Brien Family Series,
LET ME


Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Review: Wickedly Wonderful - Deborah Blake

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them . . .

Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet . . .

A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.

While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life . . .

Baba Yaga Series:
Wickedly Magical (Novella)
Wickedly Dangerous
Wickedly Wonderful
Wickedly Ever After (Novella)
Wickedly Powerful

Visit Deborah Blake's website for more information

Review:
Wickedly Wonderful is the story of Beka, the youngest of the three Baba Yaga witches currently residing in America. She has less experience than her fellow Babas and has much less confidence in her abilities thanks to the way she was treated by her predecessor but that doesn't stop her jumping in to help when the selkies and merpeople are forced to leave their homes due to a strange poison that is making them sick. The seafolk have been forced to leave everything behind in search of safe water and Beka is going to have her work cut out trying to figure out what is going on.

Marcus is an ex-Marine who has returned home and is helping his father run his fishing boat but the mysterious poison is affecting all sea life and all of the local fishermen are all struggling to make a living. Marcus is trying to convince his father to sell up so he can move away but the old man is stubborn and refuses to quit. Anyway, the last thing Marcus needs is a new age hippy like Beka hanging around but his father needs the money she is offering and agrees to take her out on the boat so she can carry out research.

In a lot of ways Beka and Marcus are complete opposites but they both have strong protective instincts and they're both prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the people they care about. Beka has to keep her true reason for being out on the boat a secret but it isn't long before Marcus gets suspicious and starts putting two and two together. Once he is onboard with the investigation things start to move a lot quicker but Beka has several people working against her trying to stop her getting to the bottom of things.

I had mixed feelings about the first book in this series, I love the way Deborah Blake has put her own spin on the Baba Yaga mythology and she's really brought the witches into the 21st century while still liking it through to the original stories but I felt a bit disappointed by the romance and think I'd have enjoyed the story more if there had been a bigger focus on the mystery. I'm happy to say I liked Wickedly Wonderful more, Beka was easier to relate to than her sister Barbara and I definitely felt more invested in the relationship between Beka and Marcus. They fit together really well and I liked how they started as enemies before becoming reluctant allies and eventually more. I also enjoyed the mystery side more in this book, it was a little too obvious who the bad guys were which is why this didn't quite hit 4 stars for me though. Either way this series is definitely improving and I'm looking forward to spending time with the third Baba, Bella, in the next book.

Source: Purchased

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

Paperback / Kindle:

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Review: The Loneliness of Distant Beings - Kate Ling

It is that quick, that strong, that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.

Even though she knows it's impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It's something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you're hurtling through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.

Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. He becomes the sun for her, and she can't help but stay in his orbit. To lose him would be like losing herself . . .

In the dark, can a heart still hope?

Visit Kate Ling's website for more information

Review:
Seren was born on a spaceship and, along with her entire family, she knows it is where she will die. Her ancestors volunteered to take part in a deep space mission expected to last over 700 years in order to investigate a signal received by earth and hopefully make first contact with a new alien species. Life on the spaceship is strictly regimented, jobs are assigned according to skills and even your future partner is selected by a computer program designed to ensure genetic diversity. Children aren't conceived naturally which enables them to control the number of boys and girls that will be born to each generation and life partners are expected to do their duty and procreate as required. It's not a life that many people would choose to live but it's all Seren has ever known and the only option she has.

Everything starts to change when Seren falls in love with Dom, a young man who isn't her assigned life partner. The couple fight back against the system that wants to keep them apart but they have no idea how much danger they are facing. Their attempts to be together start a chain of events that nobody could have predicted and nothing will be the same for the couple ever again.

I have really mixed feelings about The Loneliness of Distant Beings, on one hand it makes some really interesting observations about free will and being able to choose your own destiny but on the other it has one of the worst cases of insta-love I've come across in a long time. I wasn't the biggest fan of the relationship between Seren and Dom, it happened so quickly that I never fully believed in it and because of that I was never fully invested in them as a couple no matter how much they went through to be together. Seren can be quite childish at times and she was also quite selfish and uncaring about the effect her actions would have on the people around her. While I could understand her fight for the right to make her own choices I didn't like the way she was so negative about people who had managed to make peace with their path in life and find happiness where they could. She was particularly mean about her sister when as far as I could tell her sister had never done anything to deserve it.

Although I wasn't completely invested in the relationship side of things I did find this an incredibly quick and quite addictive read. I whizzed through it in no time and I did really like the way the author tackled issues like the lack of free will the citizens on board were given. It was such an interesting concept that your ancestors could have signed up for a deep space mission and given up all sense of freedom for many generations to come. They are on a mission following an unknown signal that they still haven't been able to decode over 90 years after first receiving it and they know it's going to take them at least 350 years to reach the source of the signal and can hope to get any answers. I'm really not sure what to make of that ending either. It wasn't the outcome I was expecting and if this turns out to be the first book in the series then I'm definitely going to have to buy the sequel to see what happens next.

The Loneliness of Distant Beings is an interesting read and I do think it has potential as the start of a series, I just wish the author had taken more time developing the relationship between Seren and Dom so I could give it a higher rating.

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:

Friday, 17 June 2016

Review: Owl and the City of Angels - Kristi Charish

The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels . . .

The Adventures of Owl:
Owl and the Japanese Circus
Owl and the City of Angels
Owl & the Electric Samurai (2016)

Visit Kristi Charish's website for more information

Review:
Working for red dragon Mr Kurosawa is keeping Owl rather busy as he sends her around the globe to find rare treasures for his collection. She's not averse to helping herself to a few extra items from the sites he sends her too so when she is accused of the theft of a collection of cursed items it's no surprise that even her friends have trouble believing her innocence. The IAA and her boss certainly think she's been up to no good and unless she manages to steal the items back along with some kind of evidence she wasn't the original thief then she's going to be in a whole heap of extra trouble.

If you enjoyed the first book in the Adventures of Owl series I'm sure you're going to enjoy Owl and the City of Angels even more. I love the tomb raiding Indiana Jones type feel to the story and it was great to see Owl exploring more ancient sites and finding all kinds of trouble to get herself into. Owl is an interesting character, she actually irritated me a bit in the first book but we definitely see some growth in this one and although she still isn't perfect she has started to learn from her mistakes. I do want to see her start taking more responsibility for her actions but she's definitely moving in the right direction on that front so I hope she continues making progress.

It's the side characters that make this series for me though, you have sexy and mysterious badass Rynn who has the unenviable job of trying to protect Owl from herself (and if Owl doesn't change the nickname she uses for him soon then so help me god I will strangle her myself!), then there's her fashion loving, sarcastic best friend Nadya who really helps to ground Owl and show her when she's being an idiot, and now we finally get to meet her online friend Carpe face to face. I'm not sure whether I trust him or not yet but he did add some humour to the story. My favourite character in the series has to be her Egyptian Mau, Captain though, trust me if you're ever in trouble with the vampires you need a cat like Captain on your side!

This is a fun series that doesn't take itself too seriously and is very easy to read. The way this story ended left me desperate to get my hands on the next one as one character has been left in a great deal of trouble so I'm glad I don't have to wait too much longer to find out what will happen there.

Source: Purchased

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

Paperback / Kindle:

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge - Paul Krueger

Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.

But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can only be hunted with the help of magically-mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and tequila lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all of these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?

This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

Visit Paul Krueger's website for more information

Review:
Have you ever wondered why there are so many pubs and bars? I bet you never considered it's because the bartenders who work in them also have a side job fighting demons that prey on drunk people! Well that's exactly the premise of Paul Krueger's debut novel Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge and what a fun and quirky story it is.

Bailey has just finished college and is supposed to be looking for a serious, grown up job like her parents have always expected her to but she's kind of having fun working at a bar run by her childhood best friend Zane and she's not quite ready to grow up and face the real world yet. The more she looks at sensible jobs the less they feel like the best choice for her and then when she finds out about Zane's sideline fighting demons she knows she's found her true calling.

I loved the premise for this story, the idea of magical mixologists who are able to give themselves superpowers by creating very special cocktails was a fun one and totally different to anything else I've read about. At the end of most chapters you get a little information about the history of the magical cocktails mentioned, the powers it gives the bartenders and how to mix the perfect version at home so if you enjoy cocktails I'm sure you'll love these little additional recipes. I really enjoyed these little snippets into the history of the bartenders and how they discovered the magical properties each ingredient adds to the drinks they make but what I really wanted was a little more information about the demons they fought. Where did they come from? Why did they only attack certain people? If they're drawn to alcohol why were they more prevalent at certain times of the month? I'm hoping that if we get a second book in this world we'll get answers to some of these questions.

I love that we have such a diverse range of characters but I did find the way Bailey acted was a little immature at times. This is a new adult urban fantasy so Bailey and most of the other characters are in their early 20s but they quite often came across as much younger than that which could be a little frustrating. I also got a bit fed up with Bailey mooning around after Zane and trying to make a move on him when she knew full well he was in a relationship with someone else but that's a personal bug of mine that probably won't bother everyone as much. I think my favourite character actually ended up being another bartender who was known as Bucket, he was a really fun guy and stole every scene he appeared in.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge was an entertaining and fairly quick read, it has such an unusual concept that I'm hoping it might end up being the start of a new series - there's definitely a lot of potential here for Paul Krueger to create something wonderful.

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:

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Guest Post: Strong Female Characters by Paul Krueger (Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge Blog Tour)

I'm thrilled to welcome Paul Krueger to the blog today to celebrate the release of his debut novel Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. I have a fab guest post from Paul to share with you about some of his favourite strong female characters and how they helped inspire the main character in his book Bailey Chen but first let me give you a little more information about the book.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a really fun new adult urban fantasy that I'm hoping is the introduction to a new series. What I love most was the unique idea of demon fighting bartenders who are able to mix special cocktails that give them superpowers! The book even includes a few recipes so if you're a cocktail fan you'll be able to make some of your own to drink while you're reading.

Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.

But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can only be hunted with the help of magically-mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and tequila lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all of these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?

This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

I'll be posting my full review later today but this was a really fun read and I really hope we're going to get more books about Bailey and her friends.

Now please give a very warm welcome to Paul Krueger!

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

If the term “Strong Female Character” makes your face cringe until it looks like a black hole collapsing in on itself, you’re not alone. There’ve been a great many thoughtful critiques of the archetype, though in my opinion the first and last word on the subject is Kate Beaton: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php/index.php?id=311.

The backlash against “Strong Female Character” has come from readers and critics examining the difference between what the term was coined to mean and what it’s become. What was supposed to be an expression for improved female agency in fiction has instead become derisive shorthand for the theme park version of that agency, often at the hands of male authors.

In a related story: hi. Paul Krueger, male author. Nice to meet you.

It’s difficult for a man to tackle this subject without sounding like Matt McGorry. So rather than repeat critiques that have been said elsewhere and more eloquently, I’d like to instead highlight some of my favorite examples of female agency done right, all of which I tried my best to emulate when I created Bailey Chen, the heroine of my debut novel, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge.

1) Nico Minoru, Runaways
Nico was one of the original members of Marvel’s Runaways, a comic series I found young and fell for hard. In it, six teens find out their parents are supervillains, then run away from home and set about trying to bring their parents down. I was particularly drawn to Nico right off the bat, because she’s my kind of messy: a leader who’s always mindful of her responsibilities to others, but still prone to making bad, selfish decisions in the moment. Minus the gothy, witchy bits of her character, she’s probably Bailey’s most direct forebear.

2) Rachel, Animorphs
Rachel spends most of the Animorphs series bearing (and living up to) the nickname “Xena, Warrior Princess,” because that’s what happens in book series that began in 1996. She’s a gymnast and a fashionista who, upon her recruitment into an interstellar war, discovers a flair for combat and an accompanying bloodlust. Like so many before her, Rachel does desire to be a normal girl. But unlike the rest of them, that desire stems from how disturbed she is by her enjoyment of killing, and her fear that there will be no place for her in a post-war world. The Animorphs had a rotation of six very interesting narrators, but Rachel’s internal struggles always made her my favorite.

3) Mako Mori, Pacific Rim
Though she joins a long line of Asian heroines with dye-streaked hair (https://twitter.com/heyjenbartel/status/700373253148315648), Mako is a special kind of cool. She approaches her job with competence and cockiness, and underneath her reserved exterior is a headstrong streak that Avatar Korra would envy. I find her to be a particularly satisfying subversion of the tropes Asian characters are often saddled with, and that was something I consciously tried to borrow from her when I was writing Bailey.

As the publication of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge approached, more than a few people asked me about the number of “strong female characters” in it. While I appreciate the compliment, the fact is that creating female characters with real narrative agency is very easy, and I don’t believe I deserve any great plaudits for bothering to include them in my work. Doing it was just something that mattered a lot to me, as was doing it right.

I hope I was successful.

Paul Krueger is the debut author of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, published by Quirk Books, and is available from all good books stores in paperback, priced $14.99 (US) and £11.99 (UK). For more information, please visit www.quirkbooks.com, or follow Paul on Twitter @notlikeFreddy or his website https://paulkrueger.net/

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