Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blog Tour: Giveaway & Review: Letting Go (Surrender Trilogy #1) by Maya Banks

I am very happy to be participating in the Letting Go Blog Tour today! Letting Go is the first in the Surrender Trilogy from New York Times and USA Today #1 best selling author, Maya Banks. This was my first novel from Banks and I'm excited to share this giveaway and my thoughts on the book with you.

Letting Go (Surrender Trilogy #1) by Maya Banks
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Berkeley Trade
352 Pages

Josslyn found perfection once, and she knows she’ll never find it again. Now widowed, she seeks the one thing her beloved husband couldn’t give her. Dominance. Lonely and searching for an outlet for her grief and wanting only a brief taste of the perfection she once enjoyed, she seeks what she’s looking for at an exclusive club that caters to people indulging in their most hedonistic fantasies. She never imagined that what she’d find is the one man who’s long been a source of comfort—and secret longing. Her husband’s best friend.

Dash has lived in an untenable position for years. In love with his best friend’s wife and unwilling to act on that attraction. He’d never betray his best friend. And so he’s waited in the wings, offering Joss unconditional support and comfort as she works past her grief, hoping for the day when he can offer her more.

When he finds her in a club devoted to the darker edges of desire, he’s furious because he thinks she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Until she explains in detail what it is she wants. What she needs. As realization sets in, he is gripped by fierce, unwavering determination. If she wants dominance, he is the only man who will introduce her to that world. He is the only man who will touch her, cherish her…love her. And the only man she’ll ever submit to.


Thanks to the publisher, Berkeley Trade, I'm able to offer a paperback copy of Letting Go to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment below with your e-mail address and the answer to the following question:

How do you choose a new book series to start? Do you often find that you venture out of your comfort zone, or do you tend to stick to what you know you like?
This giveaway is open to US residents only. This giveaway will close February 6, 2014 at 11:59pm (PST). Winner will be notified by e-mail on February 7, 2014.

I had actually heard of Maya Banks before I picked up Letting Go, but I had never read any of her previous work. This review is going to be a little tough for me to write because while I liked the writing style and the characters ok, it was the overall theme of the book that didn't sit well with me.

Letting Go is the story of Josslyn who lost her husband, Carson, in an accident. Three years after his death, she decides it's time to stop mourning and get on with her life, more importantly, to explore her own sexuality and outlets that her husband couldn't give her. She decides to go to an exclusive club which caters to the dominant lifestyle, but while there she runs into her late husbands best friend and business partner, Dash. It seems Dash has been keeping secrets from Joss and not just his lifestyle, but also the fact that he's been in love with her since he met her.

I'm sure you can already tell where this is going. Dash convinces Joss to let him dominant her and introduce her to the world she craves, but in return, she will belong to him and only him. After thinking it over, Joss agrees and their whirlwind affair takes flight.

On one hand, this book is a good starting point for people who have never read any type of BDSM, D/s type books. Banks explains the lifestyle and the rules that go with it in an easy way, since Dash is explaining it to Joss it doesn't feel like information overload but more like you're learning with her. Also, the chemistry between Dash and Joss is obvious from the start. I liked them together and ultimately rooted for them, which is what I was supposed to do so that was well done.

But, on the other hand, there were things that bugged me. Joss' sister-in-law, Kylie, drove me absolutely up the wall. When Joss tells her that she wants to start moving on, Kylie freaks out like it's the worst idea in the world. Then when Dash states that he's bringing in a new partner to the firm to help him out, she throws a fit and starts screaming. Everyone coddled her and I found her to be extremely childish and selfish. 

Other things that rubbed me the wrong way were things like this book taking place three years after Carson's death and Joss states over and over that she's ready to move on, yet at every turn she's bringing up Carson and comparing Dash to him which I felt wasn't fair. Then there was Dash's pet name for Joss - honey. Everything was 'honey this' and 'honey that'. How many times can you possibly say honey in the same conversation? At some point, it becomes condescending and not sweet at all. Banks also felt the need to repeat the same information over and over and over and over again...sometimes only half a page apart. Please trust that your audience can remember important information. 

Unfortunately, after reading this (and a few other) erotica type book, I've realized that this genre is not my cup of tea. While I understand that some people are enticed and interested in this type of lifestyle, I'm not and that hindered my enjoyment of the material. So just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean that someone else won't. Basically, it just wasn't for me. 
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.
Big thanks to Berkeley Trade for allowing me partake in this tour.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Giveaway & Guest Post: Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen

I am very pleased to join in the Landry Park Blog Tour today! The tour is hosted by the lovely ladies at Merp Squad. You may find the other tour stops here!

Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 4, 2013
Publisher: Dial
374 Pages

Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.



Enter the tour-wide giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Mini-Playlist for Landry Park

Music is pretty indelible to my writing process.  For one thing, I'm usually writing in a public place and I always end up next to the couple on their first date or a guy trying to sell a pyramid scheme to some unsuspecting soul.  The music dampens most of the background noise, so that I don't accidentally start typing the awkward first date dialogue I'm hearing from the next table over.

"...so, uh, do you like stuff?"
"Um...some stuff, I guess."
"Yeah, I like some stuff too sometimes."

For another thing, I tend to see my scenes somewhat cinematically, with the music interwoven in, and so I hang around certain songs or albums if they reflect the mood of what I'm writing.  (I'm all about mood and atmosphere.)  Below is a brief sampling of some of the songs I used to write Landry Park:

Primavera by Ludovico Einaudi: This song almost more than any other conjures up Landry Park for me.  I feel like I can see dancers dancing in the ballroom, gowns being laced up, strolls through the expansive gardens.  The song is beautiful and sweeping and urgent.

A Postcard to Henry Purcell by Dario Marianelli: This is the song playing in the background when Lizzie Bennett and Mr. Darcy have That Dance in the Joe Wright version of the movie.  So obviously I stole that idea, and it's the song that plays in my head whenever Captain David Dana and Madeline Landry dance together.

Fair by Remy Zero: From the Most Depressing Slow Dance Songs collection, I listened to this when I was writing the Madeline Romantically Moping scenes.  And now that I've just listened to it, I'm going to go mope myself now.  *mope*

Three Wishes by the Pierces: Also from the Most Depressing Slow Dance Songs collection.  

Here Comes a Chopper by Strangeletter: This is my song for the Rootless.  I like that it has this sort of futuristic feel to it but also that I could be listening to it in a warehouse circa 1994.  Sample lyrics:
"seeds of malevolence, full grown, made one. 
all the decadence, wealth and machinery. 
won't stop the reckoning, blood is our energy."

Creep by Scala & Kolacny Brothers: This song is beautiful and haunting, made extra creepy by the female voices.  My main character is an outsider most of her life, despite belonging to the most prestigious family in her world, and there's almost something universal in the longing of this song.  Doesn't everybody wish they were special?

The Entire Little Women Soundtrack by Thomas Newman: I love this movie, I love this composer, I love this soundtrack.  Something about the world of Little Women speaks to education, dignity and something very American--and Newman managed to capture that feeling perfectly with his music.

And now that I've posted these all here, I think I need to go listen to them again.  If you'll excuse me...

---------------

Yeah... And I'll be with Bethany, checking out all of these amazing songs! I hope you listen and enjoy! If you did listen, which song is your favorite? Mine would have to be A Postcard to Henry Purcell, but that may just be because I adore the version of Pride and Prejudice in which it plays!
Big thanks to Bethany for the lovely guest post, and to Merp Squad for allowing me to participate in this great tour!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Disarm: The Complete Novel (DISARM #1-6) & The Nightmare Dilemma (The Arkwell Academy #2)


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading!
To participate, all you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can ad the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

-------------------

"I had foolishly thought that that was our time but even though I didn't see it then, I know now it was for the best. I don't know how we would have made it work; she was in L.A. and I was getting sent to Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio for training, and then after that, who knew." 
Part 4: Chapter 10, Page 187



"Something inside the trash can growled, and I realized too late that I'd forgotten to sort out my silverware. A moment later the fork came hurtling out of the can like a missile and whacked me in the forehead."
Chapter 4: Tragical History, ARC Page 38


What are you reading this week?

-------------------

ARC Review: Uninvited (Uninvited #1) by Sophie Jordan

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
384 Pages

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.



Uninvited tells the story of Davy Hamilton and her decline when it’s discovered that she possesses the HTS gene (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). In this future world that Jordan has created, the discovery that you possess this gene brands you a future killer and your entire life is taken from you. In Davy’s case, she’s uninvited from her private school, loses her acceptance to Julliard, and loses all of her friends. Her once perfect life with its perfect future has disappeared and what’s left is anybody’s guess. 


While I hate characters that are perfect, like Davy’s beginning, I loved reading how Jordan broke her down and over the course of the book Davy realizes that perfection doesn’t exist. Early on, Davy is a fairly easy target – she’s sweet, sensitive and has no idea how the world works outside of her private schools and gated community. And she was alone. She wasn’t exceptional, she didn’t save the world or start a rebellion, but she wasn’t weak and learned in her surroundings which I can get behind. 


Davy had help, in the form of Sean and Gil, two other carriers she meets while in school. I adored both of them instantly. Gil was the male version of Davy- sweet, meek, wouldn’t hurt anyone. And then there’s Sean – dark, quiet with a hint of something always stirring behind his eyes. Thank God she had them because her family, except her brother, pretty much abandoned her when she was revealed a carrier. (Side note: I absolutely loved how her brother wanted to run away with her to protect her.) And let’s not forget about her boyfriend and “best friend”. How quick they were to turn from her, it made me sick, especially the best friend.


This book was a very interesting read for me and I struggled with the ratings. I don’t like people getting hurt when they don’t deserve it, people being victimized by no fault of their own. The people who were branded carriers were instantly outcasts. Doesn’t matter if you’ve never raised your voice, never once showed any signs of hostility – if you have the gene, you’re a killer. The story follows the rise of government testing for the gene and outcome - think concentration camps.


I liked how the book showed different sides of carrying the gene. Since this was from Davy’s point of view, we got to see how someone who was so innocent has to face the harsh reality that she’s been labeled something she believes she’s not. But also throughout, we got to see glimpses of how other people dealt with this, and they went pretty extreme. While it looked like there were some carriers who fit the bill, I felt that most ended up committing crimes only because that’s was what was expected of them. As one boy said, if they were going to brand him a killer and treat him this way, he was going to prove them right. It was very interesting. 


Jordan has sucked me in with Uninvited and I look forward to the next installment to see where this all ends up because, while I have my predictions, I can’t actually figure out how this will end. 

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Elevated by Elana Johnson

Elana Johnson, author of the Possession series, is releasing the cover of her upcoming YA contemporary novel, Elevated and I am so happy to help her do so. I'm definitely in love with this cover, and wish I owned it in paperback so I could put it in my shelves!

Elevated by Elana Johnson
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
300 Pages

The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.


Elana is celebrating with a giveaway of 15 USD of Paypal cash!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think of the cover? I love it! It's super cute, and really draws my eye. The color scheme is just fantastically adorable. I can't wait to read this one!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ARC Review: Happy New Year, Baby Fortune! (The Fortunes of Texas: Welcome to Horeseback H #1) by Leanne Banks

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: January 1, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
224 Pages

Lullabies and cowboys? USA TODAY bestselling author Leanne Banks kicks off the new Fortunes of Texas continuity with a story of a single mom and the sexy rancher who sweeps her off her feet!

As she rings in the new year in Horseback Hollow, Texas, single mom Stacey Fortune Jones tries to count her blessings. She has an adorable baby girl, Piper; supportive parents; good friends. Best of them all is Colton Foster, her longtime neighbor from the ranch next door. He always seems to be around when she needs him. Trouble is, she may be starting to need him a bit too much.

She's off-limits, Colton keeps telling himself. The tall, muscular rancher turns to mush every time he sees Stacey. But falling for his little sister's best friend seems wrong on so many levels. She's on the rebound. She's got a baby. She's...complicated. What's a big-hearted cowboy to do?



Not going to lie, but this book drove me up the wall. I knew reading the description (and the fact that it was Harlequin) that it was going to be a cheesy romance, but sometimes you need that in your life. And there was a baby. Nothing I love more than a strong man with a baby, especially when said boy is a cowboy. But this…this was just hard to get through.

Stacey Fortune Jones is a single mom trying to raise her daughter is a small Texas town. Her ex ran off before she had the baby leaving Stacey to move back in with her parents as she tries to rebuild her life. Colton Foster is her neighbor and longtime friend, also used to be the best friend of Stacey’s ex. When he starts spending time with Stacey, he realizes he wants more but he’s hesitant because he doesn’t want to be a rebound and because of the baby.

The story itself wasn’t bad. There were cutesy parts, parts that made you go “aww”, but there were also parts that made you roll your eyes and want to bash your head against a wall. What killed me though was the writing. It was very inconsistent. There were parts where the writing was extremely choppy and very blunt. He drove. He knocked. She answered. Then other times, there were pointless additions to the sentences almost as if to make them longer and up her word count. “I’ll see you at the wedding and reception.” Nobody talks like that. Almost all of the dialogue seemed so forced and unnaturally that it was hard to read. “You can put your meetings with Piper on your schedule on your smartphone calendar. You put your other appointments on there, don’t ya?” There’s just so many better ways to say this. And this isn’t the only time, it happens constantly. Actions were also very inconsistent. Colton drives to Stacey’s house for a date and she decides to take her car because the car seat is in there, but in the next scene, Colton is pulling the car into the diner parking lot. I mean, I guess Stacey could have let Colton drive her car, but there was no mention of this and from the previous scene it sounded like Stacey was driving. 

But the main thing that bothered me was the overuse of full names and relations. This was a book set in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. While I get when setting up the characters you need to describe their relationships to each other, but why on earth would you say “my brother Liam” or “my mother Joanne” every time you talk about them, especially when the person you’re talking to knows them? They would know how you’re related, no need to point it out constantly! Also, why must you say everyone’s full names when discussing them? Jeanne Marie Fortune Jones. Stacey Fortune Jones. AHHHHHHHH! All of this just took me out of the book and made me extremely frustrated. 

All in all, definitely could have skipped this one.
I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Uninvited (Uninvited #1) & Fragile Spirits (Souls #2)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading!
To participate, all you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can ad the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

--------------------

"I had all these dreams to become something, someone. No one ever said I couldn't No one ever said killer."
Chapter 1, e-ARC 1%




"Her neon pink hair against her skin accentuated her paleness, and the thick  black eyeliner made her eyes appear the color of emeralds. She didn't fit my image of pretty, necessarily, but she was fascinating and striking... and certainly drew attention, which was obvious from the curious faces of people watching us from nearby tables."
Chapter 5, ARC Page 44 

What are you reading this week?

--------------------

ARC Review: Secret (Elemental #4) by Brigid Kemmerer

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Kensington Teen
352 Pages

EARTH. FIRE. AIR. WATER.

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He's trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won't get in to college. He's trying to keep his brother's business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He's trying to keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel - or he fears he'll lose his family. And he's trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his 'girlfriend's' partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR.



 
It’s not a secret how much I LOVE this series. These boys, these are my boys. All of them (including Hunter). When I received an ARC of Secret, I may or may not have danced around my kitchen clutching the book to my chest. Think Kristen Bell and the sloth excited.

Yes, I was that excited. 

Secret is Nick Merrick’s story. Nick is an Air Elemental, he’s the responsible one, always does the right thing…but he’s hiding a secret that is starting to destroy him from the inside. He enlists the help of Quinn to keep up his fa├žade but even that begins to crumble quickly as Quinn is dealing with her own troubles. 

What I adore about these books is the relationships and bonds between the brothers and Hunter. I look forward to their interactions more than anything and I love seeing how they grow from book to book. Nick and Gabe have always held a special interest because of the fact that they’re twins and feel almost everything that the other is feeling. They can sense when the other is in danger, etc. However, Nick is terrified to reveal to Gabe his true self. 

Gabriel knew how to cut to the quick, and this felt so fragile and untested that Nick was afraid to bare skin in the face of that blade. 

What’s worse is that Gabriel knows that Nick is hiding something. From past books we know that Gabe doesn’t always handle things correctly and the brothers come to blows here in a scene that just rips out my heart. I don’t like it when my boys fight with each other. 

Each book also has to have the female counterpart, and in Secret, that’s Quinn. Let me just start off by saying that Quinn is broken. So utterly and completely broken. There’s a line early on that describes her life perfectly:
It seemed fitting that the best relationship in her life would be just as dysfunctional as all her other ones.

Basically, every relationship Quinn has is a lie. She’s Nick’s fake girlfriend. She’s not talking to her best friend, Becca. Her mother is abusive and her brother is a druggie. In the beginning, I felt for her. Her situation is messed up. But as the book progressed, I really wanted her to grow up. She becomes this petulant child who pouts and moans about every little thing being unfair. She complains how nobody knows what she’s dealing with and they don’t care, but she never tells them anything. How are they supposed to know??? And her constant fishing for compliments was annoying. Honestly, she’s the reason why this book wasn’t 5 stars.

There are two additional characters added in this book: Adam (Quinn’s dance partner) and Tyler (who we’ve met in other books). They were both brilliant additions. Adam was gentle and kind, and balanced out Nick’s neurosis perfectly. Their relationship was a slow burn, but extremely worth it in the end. Nick’s confusion about what was going on was so real that you couldn’t help but root for them to make it. 

And then there’s Tyler. Tyler who we know from other books as always trying to hurt/kill the Merricks because of their pasts. Kemmerer really delved into his character and as we got to know more about him, I began to actually like him. Yeah, I know. I was shocked too. He was still a dick to the Merrick’s but I loved the way he dealt with Quinn. He called her out on her bullshit and made her face reality. 

Aside from all the drama in their everyday lives, there’s also the issue of the Guides. And believe me, they aren’t forgotten here. This ending had to be the most nail-biting, suspenseful and heartbreaking one yet. Not gonna lie, I legit screamed at one point. I cannot wait to see where Kemmerer takes it next, but I know that I won’t be disappointed. 

Brilliant. 

I received a copy of this book via the publisher in return for an honest review.
 
Blog design by Imagination Designs using papers from the Santa Monica paper pack by Mally Mac and Me