Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott

Title: Salt & Stone
Series: Fire & Flood, #2
Author: Victoria Scott
Category: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
What would you do to save someone you love?

In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't quit--she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left--and only one can win. 

My Review

Getting back into this world was so much fun. I adore and love the world that Scott created. To me, it was filled with great action, intense suspense, enthralling characters, and moments that left me on edge. Though I didn’t remember much of what happened in the first book, it wasn’t long before I was swept away.

The characters in the book are all intriguing. I felt that Scott really did create a wonderful and diverse set of characters. Each brimming with their own uniqueness. I love that they felt a part of the story. Truly feeling like a part of that world. From the minor characters to the main characters, even the ones that got on my nerves, I enjoyed them all.

Tella, well, I enjoy her character quite a bit. I love that she, even after everything she has gone through, still has been able to retain some of that girly girl. I mean, come on, deep down we all love glitter and makeup, even when trying to fight for our lives. I love that part of her, but what I loved more was this girl’s heart. Tella has a fierce, powerful, caring, and strong heart.  Watching her interact with every character and Pandora really showed how caring she was. But she's also fierce in her beliefs as well. How she was determined to help, to not let the game turn her or the people she got close to.  I admired that. 

Guy is silent, fierce, and a very strong character. His personality, his strength and stern nature seeped off the pages. The way the Scoot represented this character made me really love him. I loved that he wasn’t the talking kind of guy, he is an action kind of guy. But he had his moments that really melted my heart. What I loved about him so much was that in this book we got to see him grow, really be challenged and see him fumble at times. His growth really came through. Watching him learn to trust Tella, even step aside and let her take charge made me proud of him.

Tella and Guy are a great balance together. I couldn’t get over that while reading the book. Yes, they do struggle in this one, the world they are in leaves no time for lots of talking to figure each other out and where they stand, but despite everything they were able to find each other and understand each other. It was enjoyable watching them grow and develop through everything.

I also have to mention the Pandoras in this world. I love the idea of the animals, the strange things they can do and the connection they develop with their partner. It was an aspect I enjoyed so much. The worlds that I was also introduced into felt very much real and very scary. I loved the dire I felt while reading. I felt like I was racing for my life at times.

I’m a detail oriented reader, so the only thing I did want more of was more detail. More movement between the action of the characters and the changing of scenes.  I enjoyed the fast pace of the book and how everything unfolded. It was really gripping and intense. The character growth was so amazing and one of the best parts of the book as well. And there were a few twists I didn’t see coming either.

Salt & Stone was an intense, action-packed, and a heart-wrenching read.  And the ending left me craving and desperately wanting to know what is next for Tella and Guy. 




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT for Cora Carmack!

HERE’S THE SCOOP!

Fans of Cora Carmack’s Rusk University, we have a SUPER exciting announcement:

 ALL CLOSED OFF Coming 2016

ALL CLOSED OFF, Book 4 in the Rusk University Series, is coming!!!

 

Check out this message from Cora!

*WARNING: This letter contains spoilers for All Broke Down. If you haven't yet read that book, read at your own peril. SECOND WARNING: this letter talks about fictional characters as if they are real people. Sorry I'm not sorry. THIRD WARNING: The letter below broaches a serious topic that could be a trigger for some people*

 

Hello beloved readers! 

The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was "Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?" 

At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own storylines. I thought they were too much alike. They'd make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end... I couldn't envision anything serious for them. So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again). 

But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It's a wonderful experience, but in Stella's case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports. 

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said... Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, "Mine. This is my story." I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn't take crap from anyone. She was everything I always hope to be. And I didn't want her to go through that. Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella was vibrant and enjoyed a wild party. She was not afraid of her sexuality, and she had no problem with casual sex. She was the kind of girl that probably had a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn't mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, "Someone needs to tell this story. And I'm strong enough to do it. Let me." And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I'd been adamant wasn't right for her. Because as it turns out... Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren't so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before. 

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It's about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It's about the way that kind of event can change everything-- how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It's about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you're still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light. 



So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book… 


  ALL CLOSED OFF:
Stella Santos is fine. 

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

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

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

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

Vulnerable. 
***** 

ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don't have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I'll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I'll be able to ensure that I'm able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won't be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you'll add the book on goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links. 

Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella's story. When it's finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do. 

All my best, 

Cora Carmack 

*Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

   #WhenitHappened banner

And an opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s… 

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her.  Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance.

If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard….

If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through….

If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours…

I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. Use the hashtag #WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this google documentand tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself.

So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening.

#WhenItHappened Google Formhttp://goo.gl/forms/4VRjWgZYSW

About the Author:
Headshot

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.      


    z-InkSlinger Blogger

Waiting on Wednesday: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, it spotlights upcoming releases that we are dying to read.


Corrupt
Erika 

I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession. 

His name is Michael Crist. 

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me. 

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away. 

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore. 

Because he’s finally noticed me. 

Michael 

Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway. 

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college. 

In my city. 

Unprotected. 

The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out. 

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true. 

***Corrupt is a stand-alone dark erotica set to be released in 2015.

What are you waiting on?


  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: Damaged Goods by Nicole Williams

Title: Damaged Goods
Series: The Outsider Chronicles, #2
Author: Nicole Williams
Category: Contemporary Romance
Genre: New Adult
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When Liv Bennett said good-bye to her sinkhole of a hometown, she planned to leave that chapter of her life behind forever. But forever turned out to only be three years.

After her addict of a mother up and disappears, Liv returns to what she considers her own personal hell smack in the middle of nowhere Nevada to take care of her two younger sisters, and she promptly reinstitutes the golden rule that got her through her first nineteen years of life without getting knocked up, roughed up, or messed up: don’t date the local boys and, god forbid, don’t fall in love with one of them.

It isn’t long before that golden rule is put to the test.

Will Goods grew up in the next trailer over, but the wild, careless boy who used to tear up the town with his three brothers has morphed into someone else so completely, he’s almost unrecognizable. The quiet, contemplative man who works on cars every night and takes care of his mentally ill mother every day is nothing like the local boys Liv grew up avoiding.

But when Liv considers suspending her golden rule just this once, she finds out something about Will that will change everything.

Will Goods isn’t who he used to be—he’s not even the man Liv thinks she’s gotten to know over the summer. He’s become someone else entirely.

He’s become . . .

Damaged Goods.


My Review

This is the kind of New Adult reads that I want, that I crave, that I just can’t get enough of. Truly a book that took my heart made it happy dance, cry, break, and flail about.  I adored the characters, the world that Williams created, and the story that really pulled at my heartstrings.
I didn't remember anything. I lived that kiss. 
Will Goods totally melted my heart.  I seriously couldn’t get enough of his character. I loved that he isn’t the typical guy you read about in NA, which I loved. He definitely has that quiet demeanor that makes me instantly fall in love. He is a kind character as well, so I loved watching his story unfold, even if it was a bit heartbreaking.

Liv is a character I admired so much while reading this book.  This girl is strong, determined, stubborn, but willing to do anything (and I mean anything) for the people who she loves. Liv’s life definitely hasn’t been easy, but she stepped up and makes the most out of any situation. That’s what I loved and admired about her. I felt she’s the kind of girl I would want to be.

Watching Liv go through what she did, but making the most out of it was inspiring. I enjoyed that type of dynamic character. Will and Liv also have such a strong connection, so watching them evolve, go through everything that they did was very exhilarating. The connection they have was genuine. I loved that they taught each other about themselves and about the their lives. Though Liv’s stubborn personality does get the best of her in the book, watching her overcome that obstacle made me love her even more. I did figure out most of the major plot twist in the book (but of course it was still a shaker) because of personal experience. But that was just one major twist! It had my heart in knots. And again, I loved watching the characters overcome, grow, and find themselves.

The plot flowed nicely, and the pacing was fast and nicely done. The characters’ growth was so well done as well, honest and very realistic. Nicole really, in my opinion, knows how to write a romance that’ll tear at your heart and make you ridiculously happy.
I'd have been a lair to claim this revelation was something that had cropped up on its own. Will had been an integral, if not pivotal, part of getting me to remove the blindfold I'd been stumbling through life with. Actually, when I thought about a lot of the improvements in myself I'd notice lately, Will could be traced back to the beginning of them. 
What can I say, I loved this book! It was sexy, filled with characters I admired and adored, the story was filled with heart touching, inspiring moments, and it left me blissfully happy. 



Release Day Blitz: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (GIVEAWAY)


I am so excited that AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir releases today and that I get to share the news, along with a special introduction from Sabaa herself!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Sabaa Tahir, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed copies of the book and some of those awesome sword letter openers we’ve seen around courtesy of Sabaa, Penguin Teen, and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


A letter from Sabaa Tahir


Dear Readers,

Today, my “baby” AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is finally out in the world! From inception to pub date, this journey took eight years. And what a journey it was: writing, rewriting, revising, editing, querying, submitting; Meeting other debuts, bloggers, booksellers and librarians, and hearing their thoughts on EMBER. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the radness.

And now, the book is here! I am so excited to see it in the hands of readers. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. To celebrate release day, I’m giving away two signed, first-edition hardcovers of the book. Details below!

All my best,


Sabaa


Title: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 464
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.
 
Check out the book trailer!

About the Author:

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.




**Giveaway Details**

2 winners will receive a signed hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. US Only.

3 winners will receive a hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and a Sword Letter Opener! US Only.

Ends on May 9th at Midnight EST!






Monday, April 27, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4/27/15


Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

Hosted by Book Journey

Here's what I'm reading:


From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Bully, Until You, Rival, and Falling Away comes the sizzling conclusion to the Fall Away series. 

The tables have turned. Now I have the power—and it’s his turn to beg…

Everyone wants to be me.

Maybe it’s the sway of my skirt or the way I flip my hair, but I don’t care. Even though their attention is the last thing I crave, I just can’t stop. I dominate the track, the speed rattles my bones, and the wind and the crowd screams my name.

I’m her. The girl driver. The queen of the race. And I’m surviving—something he thought I’d never do.

They all still talk about him. Did you see Jared Trent on T.V? What did you think of his last race, Tate? When is he coming back to town, Tate?

But I refuse to care too much. Because when Jared does come home, I won’t be here.

Tatum Brandt is gone. I’m someone new. 

I cannot wait to start this one! I adore these two characters. 


What are you reading??



Friday, April 24, 2015

Quote of the Week: Ernest Hemingway


Quote of the week is a weekly bookish post.
Each Friday, I will pick one of my favorite quotes to share with you, my wonderful readers!! 

Quote of the Week:

Hero's Journey, wilderness time.
You are not your age,
Nor the size of the clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the color of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak,
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You are the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you’ve cried,
You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,
You’re the places you’ve been too,
And the one that you call home,
You’re the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of,
You’re made of so much beauty,
But it seems you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you’re not.
--Ernest Hemingway

Well, not really a quote, but I love this poem :)

COVER REVEAL: Eternal Sacrifice (Mortal Enchantment #3) by Stacey O'Neale (GIVEAWAY)

If you're new to the series, this is the BEST TIME to check it out!!!
THE SHADOW PRINCE & MORTAL ENCHANTMENT are currently available for FREE on Amazon from April 24th through April 28th. I promise, this the ONE AND ONLY TIME I will do this, so pick up your copies NOW!!!


And now, here is the cover of the last book in the series, ETERNAL SACRIFICE!!!
Drum roll, please...



Eternal Sacrifice is the last full-length book in the Mortal Enchantment series. 

It will be told from Rowan and Kalin's point of view.

Blurb will be added closer to the release date.




Displaying The Shadow Prince.jpg
Mortal Enchantment Novella 
Every sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he's capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?
(Mortal Enchantment #1)
Mortal Enchantment (Mortal Enchantment, #1)

In Kalin Matthew's world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she's built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she's attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past. 

Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.

To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.

As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more
(Mortal Enchantment #2)

Fragile Reign by Stacey O'Neale
It’s been a week since all hell broke loose…

Rumors of King Taron’s weakened powers have left the air court vulnerable. Kalin is desperate to awaken her akasha powers, except she doesn’t know how. Tension within the court is at an all-time high. Pressure is mounting for her to ascend to the throne, but a halfling has never ruled over any court. To solidify her position, the council has advised her to marry Sebastian—a high ranking air elemental she’s never met and her betrothed. 

Will Kalin sacrifice her relationship with Rowan to strengthen her court?

Rowan and Marcus return to a fire court in turmoil. Liana’s death has fueled the fire elementals’ distrust against the air and woodland courts. The unbalanced elements have set off natural disasters all over the mortal world. Rowan takes the throne to restore balance, promising to unite the fire court. But not all elementals are happy with his leadership. Many are secretly loyal to Valac, which means Rowan needs to find allies for his cause.

Can Rowan unify the court of fire before the elements destroy the world?
About the Author:

Award-winning author, Stacey O'Neale, lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she's not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter. 

Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult paranormal romance and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.
**GIVEAWAY**

a Rafflecopter giveaway