February 23, 2017

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Hardcover, 372 pages
Expected publication: February 14th, 2017 by Razorbill

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.


The Valiant is an unexpected absolute GEM. If I decided I wanted to nitpick, I might be able to find a couple of things I would have liked to have seen done differently, but I’m not going to do that. Nope! Not this time!

The Valiant goes full speed from the first page, and while it does slow down slightly in the middle, it never really loses steam. There is a lot of action and I thought the fight scenes were handled brilliantly. It doesn’t get particularly gory, especially for the circumstances, but to be honest I think that’s perfectly okay.

The theme of sisterhood and girl power is strong in this one, but never in a sanctimonious way. It just…was. It’s who these characters were, and I loved that it didn’t feel forced. They are not perfect, and they don’t always get along. Friendship doesn’t have much of a place in their world, but they are fierce and loyal, with no shortage of character growth throughout the story.

There is a slight romance but it takes a backseat to the rest of the story, which is my favorite kind of romance!

Unfortunately, my gut feeling is this is one of those books I will have LOVED, and the rest of the world did not. Every time I walk past my bookshelf I will see it and just get sad about the fact that everyone on the planet didn’t love this book like I did. I sincerely hope I’m wrong!

Cover: 4 | Characters: 5 | Plot: 5 | Pace: 5 | Creativity: 5

February 21, 2017

Cover Reveal/Teaser Tuesday: BLOODBOUND by Amalie Howard!

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: March

Love or freedom…the choice is hers.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA, 1892. Lady Leandra Von Kurzberg is a hellion. Raised with seven older brothers, there is only one thing Lena fears: marriage. She has no desire to give up her freedom to be any lord’s broodmare.

When Lena meets the dangerously attractive Devereux twins, she is smitten. Inexplicably drawn to both men, the brothers are polar opposites—as much as Christian is every inch the debonair Duke of D’Avigny, his brother Lucian is a roguish scoundrel bent on hedonism.

But the captivating twins aren’t what they seem…

As frightening truths are unveiled and a one-of-a-kind offer is made, Lena will have to decide whether love is worth the loss of her freedom, or if freedom is worth the ultimate cost…her life.

     Lena bit her lip as Arabella shot her a naughty wink and ambled off to meet Fabian who had moved to the far side of the room. He handed his blades to the waiting footmen before receiving her. Lena stood, rooted to the spot as Lucian approached after greeting her brother. She half wished she wasn’t wearing a ratty pair of breeches that looked as if they’d been trampled by a herd of angry elephants. 
“Wagner said you would be down here,” Lucian said. “And Arabella who arrived at the same time offered to show me the way.” He paused, his eyes drifting closed for a scant second, a sublime look crossing his face. “You smell…delicious.”
Lena couldn’t help it—she laughed. “You do say the oddest things, my lord. And I assure you, I am as sweaty as a sheep on a hot summer day.”
“Do sheep get sweaty?” he asked without missing a beat. 
“One can imagine they would under all that wool.”
“I suppose,” he said and leaned in slightly as if to scent her. Her pulse soared and Lena fought the urge to move back a step, not because she was afraid, but out of some sudden desire for sheer self-preservation. While Christian had been reserved, she was certain that this brother did not hold himself to the same code. No, Lucian took. He was a man who sought pleasure wherever it was for the taking. It didn’t matter that her brother stood a few feet away, despite being distracted. “Sheep aside, your perfume is delightful.”
“Soap and sweat, my lord.” She expelled a shallow breath. “Nothing more.”
“The purest essence of woman.”
“Why are you here?” she asked, blushing. He made those five words sound like something dirty. She was grateful that Fabian and Arabella were both out of earshot.
Lucian bowed with a flourish. “Why, to prove myself, of course. And what better way than to allow a capable woman the chance to slit my throat.”
“You wish to die, Lord Devereux?”
An unfathomable expression crossed his face, but it was soon eclipsed by a brilliant smile. “Alas, my extraordinary skills preclude that very outcome.”
“Confident, are we?” Lena said and raised her blades. “You do realize that I could defeat you blindfolded.”
Lucian’s gray eyes widened. “Is that a challenge?”
“Only if you want it to be.”
Their clash of wills was interrupted by Fabian and Arabella who announced that they were going to take a stroll in the gardens. Lena rolled her eyes at the bright blush that covered Arabella’s cheeks. An evening stroll was just another way of saying that they were going to do what engaged couples did in secluded gardens. Kissing and whatnot. An unexpected spurt of envy curled through her. Perhaps Lord Devereux would also welcome such a stroll. She slid a glance to him, noting the dissolute turn of his mouth and revised her earlier desire. A stroll in the garden with this man would involve nothing less than complete and utter ruination.

AMALIE HOWARD grew up in Trinidad & Tobago where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees, and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks, and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie’s poem “The Candle,” written at age twelve, was published by the University of Warwick press. At fifteen, she was  a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Award (a global youth writing competition). A Colby College graduate, she completed dual Honors Theses in both French and International Studies, and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Colby, she was cited for her research contribution to Raffael Scheck’s article, “German Conservatism and Female Political Activism in the Early Weimar Republic,” and his subsequent book, Mothers of the Nation. She also received a distinction in English Literature from the University of Cambridge (A-levels) as well as a postgraduate certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale SupĂ©rieure in Paris, France. Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, account executive, and global channel sales director for a Fortune 500 company.

She is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, SLJ, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national silver IPPY medalist and a silver Moonbeam award winner. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children.

Find Amalie Howard: WebsiteTwitterFacebook † Instagram

Amalie Howard is giving 4 lucky readers (U.S. & INT) a $5 Amazon Gift card. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins

The Dragon's Price
Bethany Wiggins
Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 21st 2017
by Crown Books for Young Readers

Add to GoodReads

Fans of Julie Kagawa’s Talon and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn will devour this action-packed fantasy adventure about a girl who chooses to surrender herself to a deadly dragon rather than marry an enemy prince.

When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.

Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.

As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .

If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?

There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

There really isn't much that THE DRAGON'S PRICE is lacking. I love the main character, Sorrowlynn. After so many years of being kept hidden and treated horribly by her mother and father, it took one ceremony/special event to help her break free from her hell. She was so brave. Instead of letting her past break her down, she chose freedom at all cost. Even if it meant her dying. Golmarr, Golmarr, Golmarr... phew! Talk about book boyfriends! This is one book boyfriend that I think all readers will fall in love with. I loved everything about him and his family.

The Dragon's Price is a unique read filled with plenty of surprises, non-stop action, and lots of magic!

My only issue with the story is that it was very predictable. I predicted the ending from the middle of the book. I wish it would have ended differently, but in the end I am happy that we get another story with these kick-ass characters!!

4 Stars!


February 20, 2017

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Title: The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Published: July 19, 2016
Hardcover: 340 pgs

GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong… With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

This is one of the first books I've read that was not recommended to me by someone I know and trust. I was in the library one day, saw this novel on one of their "Read Now!" shelves, and was hooked by the description. Who doesn't love a good mystery? Who wouldn't love an intriguing story with a cast of characters stuck on a cruise ship?

The only problem: there wasn't a great cast of characters. Now, don't get me wrong, there were a bunch of folks on the ship, but I feel like they weren't given any justice. When you're reading a great mystery (especially one that some reviews have compared to Agatha Christie's), you want to feel like every single person is a suspect. You want to get thrown off your game time and time again. Unfortunately, that's not what happened here. We met all of the characters, but there were really only two or three that stood out as actual suspects. I wish the author would have taken the time to flesh out the characters' stories more -- to make me believe they were the guilty ones.

Overall, the book had a good concept, but I don't think it was executed well. The mystery's resolution (which I won't tell you) was just unbelievable to me. I didn't actually believe that what happened in this book could actually occur in real life.

And finally, I'm all for flawed protagonists, but come on. Our main character, Lo, is jam packed with flaws. There are just so many that I feel like, in real life, if everything that happened in the book happened to her in real life, she'd be huddled in a corner crying. Not the kind of heroine I'm looking for.

This book has gotten rave reviews, and I'm sorry to be one of the few dissenters. But did you read the book? What did you think?

2 out of 5 stars.

Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway: TRAVELER by L.E. DeLano!

Traveler by L.E. DeLano
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publication: February 7, 2017 by Swoon Reads

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.


About the Author

L.E. DeLano is a YA novelist rep’d by Barry Goldblatt Literary, author of the upcoming Traveler (Swoon Reads/MacMillan 2017) and lifelong writer.

Probably best known under her alternate moniker, Ellie DeLano, she has blogged for both Woman’s Day and Mom’s Magazine, and runs her own blog on parenting and autism at SingleMomtism.com.

She lives in Pennsylvania with two very adventurous kids and two very ridiculous cats. In her spare time, she writes (of course) and binge-watches way too much Netflix.

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Interview with the Author

1.       Tell us a little about yourself and your latest/upcoming release.
I’m a lifelong writer and nerdgirl, an autism advocate, mother of two hilarious kids and I binge watch Netflix wayyyy too much. My debut YA fantasy novel is TRAVELER, the story of a girl who can step through mirrors into alternate realities, and into alternate versions of herself.

2.       When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer? What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
Whenever someone asks me how long I’ve been writing I always answer “I’ve never not.” That’s the truth – I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. As for the first thing I wrote – I do recall writing plays for my stuffed animals to act in, and I even wrote Star Trek fanfiction before fanfiction was even a thing.

3.      Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
Of course I read my reviews! And everyone gets a bad review every now and then. I’ve been lucky so far – nothing really scathing – but I always try to see where my readers are coming from and learn what I can from every bit of criticism in a review. It’s really easy to get blind to your own writer faults and miss the common traps you’re falling into. Reading your criticism helps you see a broader picture.

4.      Do you have a book in your house that's just destroyed because you've read it so much?
For me, that would be a paperback copy of The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. I’ve had it since I was eight (I stole it from my older brother) and I still love it and reread it to this day. No one could paint with words like Ray Bradbury.

5.      What was your inspiration for the book?
I once watched an old version of “Alice Through The Looking Glass” on TV as a kid (it was the 1974 version, which was really creepy). I happened to pass a mirror afterward and thought it would be cool if there was another ‘me’ on the other side. I stared at my reflection for a long time until - I swear to you - I saw the other me blink. Scared me a lot to the point that I still get the creeps if I catch my reflection out of the corner of my eye.

6.      What do you normally like to read when not writing?
Young adult, Sci-Fi and steamy romance. I am a sucker for flirting and attraction and any kind of magical element or world.

7.      How much of the characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
Jessa (my protagonist) is an odd mix of me and my daughter. She’s nerdy and a writer like me, but fierce as hell and protective of her sibling like my daughter. She’s like the best of us both. Danny (Jessa’s brother) is my son, all grown up. Every bit of him, including his autism. Finn is a conglomeration of lots of people, but Pirate Finn (from another reality) was somewhat influenced by a certain TV pirate on a certain primetime fairytale show that I’ve been obsessing over. He’s a real chip off the old block.

8.      What scene was your favorite to write?
The steampunk ball that Jessa attends in another reality. It was such fun to write, and involved one of the more intense romantic scenes – I just love how it came out.

9.      How different would you say the final version of TRAVELER is from the first draft?
Hmmm. Very. And not. There were a lot of changes – the removal of two major subplots and one smaller, but very hard to relinquish subplot, and an overall change to how the entire series would end that had some ramifications on the rewrites of TRAVELER. But all in all, the characters stayed true to who they were, almost all my dialogue survived intact, and all the major scenes that were the “meat” of the story stayed. My book emerged as a much more cohesive, much more dynamic story for it, too.

10.   If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? And why?
Pirate Finn, in a heartbeat. Who doesn’t love a dashing, flirty pirate with an Irish accent?

This is or That 
Cat or Dog?  Grew up with dogs, now have cats, so both.
Ice cream or Sorbet?  Both!
Heels or flats?  Flats. Life’s too short to walk in painful shoes.
Knives or sword?  Sword.
Coffee or Tea?  Tea. Most definitely.
Iced tea or hot tea? Yes to both!
Snow or rain? You don’t have to shovel rain. And it’s romantic.
Movies at home or Movie Theater? Both! And in the same day!
Soda or Juice? I am a Diet Dr. Pepper addict.
Twitter or Facebook? I do both but I love Twitter.
Actual book or eReader? Both.
Actual book or Audiobook? Actual book.
Spring or Summer? Summer! Get me to a beach!
Fall or winter? Fall – my favorite season of all!
Long Sleeves or Short Sleeves? Depends on the season
Young Adult or New Adult? Both!
Vampires or Werewolves? Werewolves
Ghost or Zombies? Ghosts. History is always romantic.
Action movies or Chick flicks? Action.
Horror movies or Mystery movies? Horror.
Mountain views or Ocean views? Ocean views – for the rest of my life, if I could work it.

We would like to thank L.E. for stopping by an answering our questions! :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway