Book Blast: The Jinni's Last Wish by Zenobia Neil

Tuesday, September 4, 2018




by Zenobia Neil





As a eunuch in the Ottoman Imperial Harem, Olin has already lost his home, his freedom, and his manhood. Olin’s only wish is for a painless death, until he meets Dark Star, a beautiful odalisque who promises to give him his deepest desire. He scoffs at her offer, not believing her claim to possess a jinni in a bottle. But when Dark Star is accused of witchcraft, Olin rubs the bottle in desperation and is astonished to find she’s told the truth.

Olin becomes the jinni’s master to save Dark Star, but it's not enough. In the complex world of the Topkapi Palace, where silk pillows conceal knives, sherbets contain poison, and jewels buy loyalty, no one is safe. As each wish brings unintended consequences, Olin must risk his life, his body, and his sanity to break the bonds that tie them all.

 

Published: September 2018

Genre: historical fantasy

Pages: 283


AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | CHAPTERS

 

 

About the Author

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Zenobia spends her free time imagining interesting people and putting them in terrible situations.
She lives with her husband, two children, and dog in an overpriced hipster neighborhood of Los Angeles. Visit her at ZenobiaNeil.com.

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS



Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 27
Passages to the Past
Tuesday, August 28
Creating Herstory
Wednesday, August 29
Bookfever
Friday, August 31
A Chick Who Reads
Sunday, September 2
Clarissa Reads it All
Monday, September 3
Historical Fiction with Spirit
Tuesday, September 4
Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, September 5
Pursuing Stacie
Friday, September 7
Donna’s Book Blog









Cover Reveal: War King by Eric Schumacher

Saturday, August 25, 2018

 

 

 

 

WAR KING
 
BY ERIC SCHUMACHER




Publication Date:
October 15, 2018
Publisher: Creativia Publishing
Series: Hakon’s Saga #3
Genre: Historical Fiction
 



 It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norway’s throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erik’s family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erik’s former throne and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin. But they do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erik’s brood. Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in the thrilling finale of Hakon’s Saga, War King; and when they do, Hakon is left with no choice but to face the tempest and resist.








Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

Sunday, August 19, 2018
Title: The Clockmaker's Daughter
Author: Kate Morton
Genre: historical
Series: N/A
Pages: 608
Published: expected September 2018
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4.25/5

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.


In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter.



Kate Morton has long been a favorite, even amongst my top authors. As I have said before, her novels are masterpieces of narrative fiction.  They are intricate and executed with aplomb. I know an author is highly-prized to me when my reaction to their work is anything less than five-stars because it feels like both a surprise and just intrinsically wrong, somehow. But I have to admit that while The Clockmaker's Daughter contains nearly all the classic Morton hallmarks of a great read, this particular set of interwoven stories didn't resonate with me as much as almost all of her previous novels did. I still fell into her intricate style of storytelling eventually, but it wasn't as complete of an immersion; for once, this is a Morton that could stand to use a bit of editing down. In a six hundred page book, especially one so dependent on the slow reveal of authorial sleight of hand, the underdeveloped aspects of the story stand out in retrospect.

The tale of Birdie and Leonard and Elodie and Tip and all the others connected to the manor at Birchwood is by no means a "bad" book -- Morton isn't even capable of that with her weakest effort to date, 2015's The Lake House -- but the beginning of this lags, one of the POVs is rather dull and underdeveloped each time it's visited, and the addition of the supernatural elements detracted from the novel's other various strongpoints. Dense and slow-moving as is the author's usual style, the plot to The Clockmaker's Daughter takes a long time to engage the reader and even Kate's undeniable and present talents for atmosphere and mystery can't entirely compensate for it.

The cast is a myriad of characters with tangential connections to one another across time and distance. Their slowly revealed relationships make the pages spent interesting for the most part; Morton's quite adept at uncovering the hidden facets of people, this time those related to the mysterious photograph whose discovery incited all the ensuing revelations. Leonard is the exception to the rule; his chapters have emotional resonance but his voice is dull and the events he narrated aren't the most pivotal. Despite his relevance to both plot and other characters, he is a charisma void on the page. The supernatural additions of <spoiler>the 'Night of the Following' (maybe??) and even Birdie herself, charming as she was</spoiler> didn't work and also felt unnecessary. One could have been excised completely and the other could have featured in a more mundane sense. They felt like a rare misfire from an experienced author.

The Clockmaker's Daughter is the author's sixth to be so centered on dual timelines across history and connected to a mysterious house/manor/castle and each is unique gothic tale of secrets, family, and how the past lives on in the present.Though not the complete Morton experience possible and not without a few missteps in its hundreds of pages and several rotating POVs, The Clockmaker's Daughter is still a solidly good novel and with well-rendered characters, an enveloping atmosphere, a intriguing set of mysteries, and creative plotting tying it all together. It's a decent idea of what this author is capable of doing even if it left me craving a reread for the more polished The Distant Hours and The House at Riverton.







Review: The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani

Thursday, August 16, 2018
Title: The Storyteller's Secret
Author: Sejal Badani
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 411
Published: expected September 2018
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: 3.5/5

From the bestselling author of Trail of Broken Wings comes an epic story of the unrelenting force of love, the power of healing, and the invincible desire to dream.
 
Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past.

Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation. Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.



A finely-tuned dual timeline novel centered on memorable women, both modernish America and India in the 1930s - 1940s. A rather dense book and one that can move the plot rather slowly, The Storyteller's Secret is very much character-driven in both its past and the present timelines. The two seemingly-disparate plots are intricately linked to one another, and though the reveal of how that is so is easily guessed, Badani's talent for characterization compensates for any lost surprise later on. She is able to evince genuine interest in the people involved, from Jaya and her "modern" problems, to Amisha's quiet determination in the rigid culture of the past, and that makes reading this historical fiction a satisfying experience.

The characters and world of her novels are where this author truly shines. Some of the novel's plotting is a bit blunt and predictable for anyone paying attention, but her characters are well-wrought and realistic and her settings are vibrantly realized. It's easy to envision both sets of plotlines but especially so when set in the lively, colorfully described India of Badani's pen. Likewise, the American Jaya is a character easy to understand and care for but it is Amisha that truly captures the heart of the novel. She lives a far different life than her modern counterpart but it's easy to see the echoes of one another across the decades that divide them.

There is perhaps just a shade too much perspective changing in The Storyteller's Secret. Each plotline has its merits and its problems, but jumping between first-person to third, so rapidly can highlight the artificiality of fiction. That, combined with the easily-predicted reveal, detract slightly from the story's conclusion. The Storyteller's Secret is a comprehensive, detailed novel, that does a lot right when it comes to character and setting. But though the good points outnumber the negative by a fair margin, it must be noted that overall, it was weighed down by a few too many chapters and a rather overt plot resolution.








Blog Tour Review: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Monday, August 13, 2018
Title: Star-Touched Stories
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: fantasy
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2.5
Pages: 304
Published: August 7 2018
Source: ARC via publishers for review
Rating: 4/5

Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram's new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?
 

These three short stories, set in the same magical and dangerous world as the author's full-length novels The Star-Touched Queen and its successor A Court of Wishes, are another window into the fertile imagination of Roshani Chokshi. Each is replete with the vibrant imagery and vivid writing that readers have come to appreciate in Chokshi’s verbose style. The writing itself can approach purple prose at times, but without ever crossing over; this is a flowery book full of ornate writing and Chokshi has the talent to pull it off with aplomb.

Though all the additions to Star-Touched Stories are creative, well-written and plotted, it is the first,‘Death and Night’, that is the best, and the sole one rated at a full five stars. All three make for a solid selection but Chokshi's clever, and often darkly humorous or just plain silly, look at the courtship between the god of death and goddess of night is the standout. A familiar story, and a prequel for the first novel, played out in fresh hands and with fresh eyes, there's inventiveness from start to finish as Chokshi weaves her unlikely but impossible to resist love story. It doesn't follow the expected path or fall into overdone tropes; watching Amar and Maya is still genuinely fun and seeing them meet is satisfying.

The second, 'Poison and Gold', is another strong offering; one a bit shorter but focused on flawed and yet likeable characters, relatable despite their less-than-mundane situations and abilities. The writing itself remains a standout throughout the pages, but Aasha's struggle to control her gift, control her fate is vividly rendered and easily empathized. 'Rose and Sword' is a another good short story, but even with the talents of varied Roshani Chokshi, felt a bit shortchanged in comparison to the sweeping romance of the first and the heartfelt emotion of the second. It was too short, too rushed of an ending. The unexpected glimmers of humor, usually unexpected, were another highlight of the entire collection.

An anthology that further explores the world that Maya introduced us to and Gauri further expanded on her own adventures, Star-Touched Stories is a glimpse at smaller lives within a large world. Key figures are shown and feature into the plots, but even the newcomers and side characters make an impression. The author's vivid storytelling, which is often so descriptive it verges on tangible, is ably suited to short-form as well as full-length novels. It was fun to revisit such a fantastical and unique world, even for a short time.









Book Tour Review: The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner

Monday, July 30, 2018


Title: The Romanov Empress
Author: C.W. Gortner
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 448
Published: July 2018
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating:  4/5

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia's last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia's most compelling women who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage--as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria's eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie--now called Maria--must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

Her husband's death leaves their son Nicholas as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas's strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.
  


Covering decades in the doomed Romanov Court, veteran author C.W. Gortner uses his many strengths as a historical fiction writer to illuminate the life of Dagmar of Denmark, who became known to history by her adopted name of Empress Maria Feodorovna. Mother to the last Tsar of Russia, this kind and clever woman left an impact all her own both on her family and on the country she adopted as her own.

Dagmar, who usually answered to the name Minnie though she had a plethora of nicknames, led a fascinating life. The second daughter of an impoverished and unexpected king of Denmark, her story is full of both heartbreak and quiet determination. Fiancee first to Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, but the eventual wife of his brother Emperor Alexander III, her romantic life was unpredictable and tangled. Her many allegiances -- to her beloved home country, then to Nixa, then her autocratic husband, and finally to her children and grandchildren -- made the intersections of her identity relatable and recognizable to modern readers. She was a woman pulled in many directions who did the best she could for her country and for her descendants.

Life in the Romanov court is brought to vibrant reality under Gortner's pen, albeit with a few improvisations on the factual. Minnie's introduction to Russian culture and perspective is fresh and atmospheric; seeing Russia through the eyes of the tsars and their family is memorable. Some details and events have been adjusted, moved, or ignored to streamline the narrative and the authorial decisions make sense; Minnie's life was long and convoluted but the gist of her story is contained within The Romanov Empress. She's presented as a whole person; fallible and flawed, but one who no doubt tried to stave off the inevitable decline of her 400-year-old dynasty.

Large in scope but without sacrificing the finer details, The Romanov Empress paints a realistic and researched version of Dagmar. Her personality and opinions shine through, even when overruled by her more despotic spouse; a figure in the Russian court for most of her life, it's easy to get lost in the romanticized version of this period in history. But Maria was a real woman, who loved, lost and then tried to find her grand-daughter after the worst horror befell her extended family. Through all the stages of her public life -- impoverished princess to wary tsarevna to strong-willed tsarina -- Minnie never lost her quiet strength or her deeply-held beliefs. She was an impressive woman and Gortner shows her in all her imperfect humanity.









Waiting on Wednesday: The Ruin of Kings

Wednesday, July 4, 2018



Title: The Ruin of Kings (The Godslayer Cycle #1)
Author: Jenn Lyons
Expected Publication: Feb 2019






There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew upon storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn't what the storybooks promised.

Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it . . .

Uniting the worldbuilding of a Brandon Sanderson with the storytelling verve of a Patrick Rothfuss, debut author Jenn Lyons delivers an entirely new and captivating fantasy epic. Prepare to meet the genre’s next star.




I am excited about this. The first few chapters were released and while I am not normally one for a serving before the meal, I am v anxious to get my hands on a copy.















Review: Hullmetal Girls

Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Title: Hullmetal Girls
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Genre: science fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Published: 2018
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2.5/5

Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor's salary isn't enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she's from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha's and Key's paths collide, and the two must learn to work together--a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

While I remain a big fan of this author and her apparently boundless and horrific imagination (that's a compliment, trust me) I found Hullmetal Girls to be maybe 2.5 stars out of 5 if I am being lenient. Maybe. I have to admit that I am disappointed by the lackluster effort that is her third novel. I expect big things from the mind behind The Abyss Surrounds Us and while this book has more than a few good ideas and a few clever science fiction angles, the messy execution of them makes it hard to stick around, much less immerse myself in Key and Aisha's POVs. 

This is a standalone so I understand the author didn't have the time of say her earlier duology to frame and fill her imagined world/starships, but there are many questions left about how the districts work; some subplots are woven into the gaps of the information but overall it's a patchy framework from which to hang a story. The setup of this space-dystopia is also unfailingly familiar to anyone whose read even just the Hunger Games. Skrutskie is usually brimming with originality and flair -- and while the second talent is on display with things like the Scela system, the "rich and poor numbered district' left much to be desired.

The worldbuilding is sink or swim when it comes to the hard scifi (and then comes the body horror, be prepared), but without enough information provided and the POVs felt indistinguishable. There is a definite uptick after about 65% in -- the story makes up somewhat for lost time by the end but it's not enough to entirely compensate. It takes a long time for basic details of Key and Aisha's life to be understood -- how the Scela work, what their function is within the ships, what the General Body means and how it ties into the story. It's clumsily rendered and often too late; I finished the novel because I was intrigued in one of the plots, but not due to any attachment to the characters themselves.

A swing and a miss for Skrutskie's third at bat, but I'll definitely be checking out her fourth.







 

TBR Plans

Sunday, July 1, 2018




A new month and I am brimming with reading plans.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #3)

From the ground, we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope

The incredible new novel by Becky Chambers, author of the beloved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?



Becky writes such warm, creative scifi. I fall in love with characters and her words. This sounds weirdly excellent, aka her brand.



Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne -- two fantasy authors take on fantasy tropes and expectations with crude humor, puns, and cheese. Here for it.


Sea Witch by Sarah Henning -- The Little Mermaid but centered on Ursurla's version of events? Sign me all the way up.


Temper by Nicky Drayden -- brothers, vices, possession -- what could go wrong? I know this author can go super weird but this sounds intriguing.

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson


A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty's resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.


I really enjoyed Pearson's first series and my friend Gaby loved this spin-off. So. Signs are pointing to good things ahead!







Waiting on Wednesday: Record of a Spaceborn Few

Wednesday, June 20, 2018







Published: expected July 24 2018







From the ground, we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope

The incredible new novel by Becky Chambers, author of the beloved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?





Finally!











A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) 




Obviously I am a fan of the UK covers moreso than the US version :)



Two Minute Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Friday, June 8, 2018
Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: romance
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Published: June 5 2018
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 5/5

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

Wow -- a strong debut and a thoroughly wonderful surprise. This was just absolutely fun and one I didn't want to end though I gobbled it up in two great marathons of utter concentration. Nothing could divert me from Stella and Michael's slow-but-also-not courtship. From the start, it's authentic and engaging and focused on several often ignored perspectives with both sensitivity and care.  

The Kiss Quotient is romance done really well -- it's warm, funny, and the plot is driven by more than just superficial conflict. It's an impressive effort for a debut because the story hardly misses a step. The author may be new but she knows her way around a trope; how to use them, invert them (reverse Pretty Woman!) and how to create sexual tension.

The Kiss Quotient makes for a memorable and heartwarming read; one full of well-drawn characters in an engaging love story that brings the feels and the shipping. A promising debut and easily a full five-star read. It's just plain fun to read. This is one that will be visited again in the near future when I need a guaranteed winner.






Waiting on Wednesday: Dark of the West

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Title: Dark of the West (The Glass Alliance #1)
Expected Publication: Fen 5 2019




He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner's Curse in Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.



We actually did a cover reveal for this and while it wasn't bad this is such a lovely cover -- that blue! I am even more eager to get it in my hands.






Waiting on Wednesday: The Kiss Quotient

Wednesday, May 30, 2018





Author: Helen Hoang
Published: expected June 2018






A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
  




(to be published in 2019)














Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Naming a character isn't easy. Fortunately, I never have to do the thing because I just review the books. Today we're going to look at some of those great, classic names. Strong in meaning. Subtle.

8. Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein 

The man invented a language just to call his hidden king, "King".

Gandalf means "Wand Elf" in Norse, btw.

 7. Egwene al'Vere from The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan

She's Gwenevere.




 I was 30 before I got that.

 6. Mort from Discworld by Terry Pratchett 

Much subtle. Very latin. Wow.

5. Smite from Unraveled by Courtney Milan 

 He's a judge. Named Smite.

 Actually he's named 'The Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done.", from Genesis where God promises to never again bring the Flood which, like number four, belies a hidden depth to the character.

 4. Rock from The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson

Because he's big and dumb you see. That is until you get to know him and you realize he's insightful and sensitive. Then his full name, Nuhumukumakiaki'aialunamor, a full poem in his language about a rock his father found suddenly makes sense.

 3. Georgette "Buffy" Meissonier from Feed by Mira Grant 

It was a toss-up between Georgette and Georgia as tributes to George Romero in this zombified poli-horror, but Buffy edges the heroine out as her nickname of the famous teen monster slayer is a double whammy.

 2. Trebor Jordayne of House Tor from ASoIaF by George R.R. Martin 

 Trebor is Robert spelled backwards. Robert Jordan also published at Tor and there was a bit of a rivarly between the two fan camps.

 Martin also named a giant Wun Wun (the number of the NY Giant's quarterback at the time) and had him crush a knight with the Dallas Cowboy's logo on his arms. And he had a whole family of muppets. And knights named Lharys, Mohor, and Kurleket. I kind of love Martin.

1. Remus (raised by wolves) Lupin (wolf-like) from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling 

 Can we also discuss his father Lyall (Norse for WOLF)?

"We will call him 'Moony'," a bunch of wizards who somehow passed the OWLs.

 Yes there are only 8 because I ran out of jokes and also what's going to top Wolf McWolf born on the full moon with his wolf patronus?

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