Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Reign of Shadows Blog Tour (Review)




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About Reign of Shadows:

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

About Sophie:

Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she's also the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Avon historical romances. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she's not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows. Sophie also writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler.




Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon GC and signed copies of REIGN OF SHADOWS, FIRLELIGHT, & UNINVITED, US Only


Rafflecopter link:



Bel's Review:

* * * *


Step into a fantasy world that appears to begin somewhat peacefully but soon escalates into morbidity. The world has turned into a savage place that has been devoid of the sun for nearly two decades. People are forced to live in hiding, scrounging for what they can during the one hour of daylight, known as “midlight”. It’s miserable in this every-man-for-himself land where no one can be trusted lest you lose your food, your belongings or worse yet, your life.  

Luna lives in isolation in this bleak place with her two keepers. She’s being kept hidden from the tyrant who usurped the throne when he murdered her parents shortly after her birth. As the true heir to her kingdom, her heritage is kept a secret to protect her. But this quiet world they’ve carved out as a trio is interrupted when three strangers turn up needing help. Luna who has never met anyone else is fascinated by them, in particular Fowler, who’s not much older than she is. This gruff newcomer's priority is to get as far away from this terrible land as soon as possible, hopefully without any extra baggage. Unfortunately, his plans are thwarted. When Luna’s safety is under attack, they’re forced to escape together. The forest is a treacherous place because a fellow human is not the deadliest encounter out there.

Luna and Fowler are two opposites. She believes in kindness and helping people while he feels it’s a sure way to death. He refuses to trust anyone or get close, in part because he carries a heavy heart. Admittedly Luna is slightly na├»ve considering her sheltered upbringing but she’s hardly a weakling. She has been trained to be a skilled fighter and knows how to read her surroundings. Just when things seem grim, they arrive at a turning point.

This is some world that Jordan has created along with nightmarish creatures and desperate, skeptical humans doing anything they can just to stay alive.  I got a bit squeamish when she described these giant hellish bats. (Now I know what she was up to when she mentioned researching them in one of her Facebook posts. She did her research well, folks!) Jordan also elevated the risks by slipping in a vital detail at the beginning that I didn’t even catch until it was said out loud. Sneaky, sneaky! I love being surprised like that and it just made me that much more vested in the characters’ welfare. It also made me admire how Jordan raised the stakes.

Reign of Shadows is a rousing start to what looks to be a heart-pounding series set to a gruesome backdrop. I don’t think Luna and Fowler are going to get much rest. Their success in their quest depends on them remaining alert and quick-witted. It's been a while since I've read any fantasy. Reign of Shadows was a fun way back to it and with a doozy of a cliffhanger, I for one am beside myself to know what happens next!

~ Bel


To the Stars by Molly McAdams Release Week Blitz

To The Stars - Release Week Banner

We are so excited to bring you the Release Week Blitz for Molly McAdams’ TO THE STARS! TO THE STARS is a contemporary romance novel being published on February 9th by HarperCollins’ William Morrow Impulse imprint and is the second novel in Molly’s Thatch Series.

  To The Stars

Grab Your Copy Today!

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes ** Kobo ** GooglePlay

    To The Stars - RWB Teaser 1   About TO THE STARS: In the second standalone book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams’ Thatch series, Knox Alexander must convince his long-time love Harlow Evans that they’re meant to be together. He promised to wait for her. She told him he was wasting his time. Not waiting for him ended up being the biggest mistake of her life. When they were younger, Knox Alexander swore to Harlow Evans that he would wait for her to turn eighteen so they could be together. But that was two and a half years away, and Harlow couldn’t ask him to give up all the fun and thrills of going away to college for her. As the years passed, Knox remained a constant in her life but when her eighteenth birthday came around, Harlow’s heart belonged to someone else. Every day for the last four years, Harlow has been haunted by that fateful choice. And though he may appear unaffected by what happened in their past, Knox has always tried to fill the void Harlow left. But when he comes stumbling back into her life and refuses to leave, will Harlow finally let him into her heart…?   To The Stars - RWB Teaser 2  

EXCERPT:  

“Relationship,” Knox huffed. “Low, I’ve told you, you could hardly call it that. Besides, I told her about you before whatever she and I were ever started,” he said. “It’s not my fault she thought I was joking.”
“Well, it’s kind of weird, don’t you think? Telling her, ‘hey, sure I’ll be your date for this group thing, but there’s this girl I’m waiting for, and she’s my priority’, seems like a way to say you don’t want to get too attached at the beginning.”
“But I told her,” he reasoned.
“You’re horrible.”
“Not horrible. I’m just in love with you, and I have a year and a half left until I can have you.”
I gripped at my warming chest and tried to ignore it as I sighed. “I’m going to stop answering your calls whenever you get a new girlfriend.”
“There won’t be a new one, and I know you wouldn’t.”
My eyebrows rose even though he couldn’t see me. “And how do you know that?”
“Because you love me too. Through all this bullshit, you love me, and you need these calls as bad as I do.”
“I do love you, Knox,” I whispered into the phone. It wasn’t the first time I’d told him, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. “I love you to the moon and back.” My eyes fell to my dresser where my monthly bouquet of red poppies sat. These had come just a few days ago. The card, as always, had read: I’m still waiting for you.
“To the moon?” A deep, husky laugh filled the other end of the phone. “The moon isn’t that far, Harlow.”
“Isn’t it?”
“No. Not far enough.” There were a few beats of silence before he confessed, “I want to love you to the stars.”
My mouth parted and a soft huff slipped past my lips. I closed my eyes and let his words replay in my mind and move through my body as I agreed, “Then to the stars.”

And don’t miss the first book in the Thatch Series…

  Letting Go - cover

LETTING GO

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iTunes ** Kobo ** GooglePlay ** Audio

    Author Photo
About Molly McAdams: Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornados. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.      

Website ** Tumblr ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Google+

TO THE STARS Goodreads ** Molly McAdams Goodreads

    To The Stars - Available Now  
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The Two of Us by Andy Jones

* * * 1/2


Falling in love is the easy part. What matters most is what happens next...

Fisher and Ivy have been an item for a whole nineteen days. And they just know they are meant to be together. The fact that they know little else about each other is a minor detail. Over the course of twelve months, in which their lives will change forever, Fisher and Ivy discover that falling in love is one thing, but staying there is an entirely different story.

The Two of Us is a charming, honest and heart-breaking novel about life, love, and the importance of taking neither one for granted.


Ever encounter a situation where it seems that things are happening backwards? That's he jist of The Two of Us with two adults meeting, having crazy, intense “magic time”, and then trying to figure out if there's a relationship to salvage there. And then something occurs that changes their dynamics.

Fisher and Ivy have enjoyed that sweet honeymoon period when a couple first meets and are so hopelessly attracted to each other that they simply can’t get enough. Then something shifts and Fisher can’t put his finger on it. He’s unsure if he’s done something wrong, or if Ivy’s having second thoughts or if he’s imagining things. Fisher’s worries are understandable being that their relationship started with physical intimacy first and not much else. They hardly know anything about each other making him unsure if Ivy wants a commitment as much as he does.

What’s most appealing about the story is that all the questions that come with the newness of a relationship are very much relatable. The fact that both Fisher and Ivy are in their forties though gives them the benefit of being more forthcoming in their approach to their unique situation. It’s their awkwardness with each other that makes them endearing. As they go about with the business of being a brand new couple – learning to read their personalities, getting used to the other’s habits – Fisher remarks on the things that matter to him and how he wants to share the important parts of him with Ivy. The story isn’t short of amusement thanks to the abundance of entertaining family and friends. They love ribbing on Fisher and it’s easy to see what a good and decent guy he is. There just aren’t enough of those around. 

The Two of Us is a delightful read all around. I feel that anyone can commiserate with the characters over the agony of building something new on slightly shaky ground. What’s refreshing to see is that this isn’t played out in a vacuum but rather in the presence of their friends and family, who bring perspective and depth to Fisher and Ivy’s personalities. There’s no unnecessary angst; just two people falling in love with a future ahead of them.

~ Bel


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How We Began by Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryder, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert and Geonn Cannon

How We Began

* * * * *

How does love begin? 



A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance. 

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project's work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.





Review

When we started our blog, I was skeptical of short stories and novellas.  With the exception of the stories forced on me in high school and college, I had never read one that was very good.  And yes, I did read a lot of them.  Mostly of the romance variety.  But since we started blogging?  Every single book of short stories I have read has been absolutely stellar.  How We Began might be tied with The Curiosities as an all-time favorite.  The stories are sweet and the writing is spectacular.  But that shouldn’t be a surprise when you have contributing authors like Alexis Hall, Annabeth Albert and Amy Jo Cousins. Just to name a few.  I was familiar with these authors within the adult romance genre.  They blew me away with these Young Adult stories and I can only hope that I might see full length YA novels from some of them in the future.  

Since these are short stories I am limiting myself to just a few sentences on each story in an effort to not spoil any of it for you.  In the end I hope you guys give this one a try.  It’s a book full of beautiful and diverse stories that include characters from all over the LGBT spectrum.  And to top it off, proceeds from the sale of this book go to The Trevor Project.  So you not only get a great book but you also contribute to a wonderful organization.

TruNorth by Alexis Hall – This is the story of Noah, the least visible member of the boy band TruNorth.  In a future world where management tracks members every movement, it’s impossible for Noah to explore and be who he really is.  When he spies fellow bandmate and crush, Callum, sneaking out, he follows him to discover a secret club where no one has to hide their secrets.  Alexis Hall never fails to write characters that are hyper-realistic and draw you in emotionally.

Unexpected Dragons by Delphine Dryder – Zev is afraid that he will never figure out how to shift to his dragon form.  But when it finally and unexpectedly happens he has to face a future of still being different and a possible future without his friend Rook.  Because Rook hasn’t changed form yet either. I rarely pick up fantasy anymore and I have never read a dragon-shifter story (please don’t hurt me, Bel and Shel) but this story was simply amazing and visually beautiful that I’ll probably add some dragon-shifter amazing-ness to my TBR this year.

A Song for a Sweater-boy by Vanessa North – Jamie lives with autism and is known as the Sweater-boy at school because he knits during class to help keep him focused and to control his ticks.  When Jamie’s classmate, Ash, shows up at his aunt’s yarn shop as part of his probation (it’s a long story), they form an unexpected friendship that Jamie hopes might grow into something more.  Gah!  This story was so darn adorable I could barely stand it.

A Taste of Coffee and Cream by Amy Jo Cousins – Saturday’s are the best day of Jude’s week.  Those are the days she can escape town and be who she really is.  Owen is the barista at the coffee shop where Jude changes her clothes for the day.  Jude doesn’t necessarily want any connections but Owen not only wants to be her friend but also might have access to the resources that could allow Jude to be who she is all the time and not just on Saturdays.  She’ll have to decide if she can take the necessary leap to trust Owen chase after her future.  Amy’s combination of empathy and reality always works for me.  Perfection is overrated when you are handed honest characters like the ones in this story.

First in Line by Annabeth Albert – Ethaniel has finally arrived at school and he can finally step out of the closet.  But something that he thought would be easy once he was away from home is extremely difficult.  It would seem, even across country, his parents’ opinion on things can affect him. But, as he navigates campus, he finds allies in the most important places, including campus GSA member, Nesto.  Annabeth Albert writes the best geek romances and this one is no exception.

Extinction Level Events by Geonn Cannon – Cassandra’s list of things to do before she leaves for college include, having a garage sale, putting in her two weeks’ notice, telling her parent’s she’s gay and telling her best friend, Natalie, that she’s in love with her.  Yeah, those last two are eating her up a bit.  But she won’t be a coward and she will get it done.  I really loved this story.  Cassandra is one of those rare girls that has really taken advantage of her teen years to discover who she is.  This story contains a now favorite book quote of mine.  Cassandra’s mom tells her, “High school is your fitting room stage.  Try on everything and see what fits.  Otherwise how will you know who you really are?” And Cassandra really takes that advice to heart.  I’ve never read anything by Geonn Cannon before but, based on this story, I will definitely  be reading her books in the near future.




Nat

Monday, February 8, 2016

Until September by Chris Sully

Until September*** 1/2

As a teenager, Archie Noblesse clawed his way out of the poverty, heartache, and abuse of the reservation and left his family behind. Desperate to shake the shadow of his past, he reinvents himself as Archer Noble, an outspoken blogger and controversial author who lives only for himself. But when his beloved sister dies, Archer is saddled with guardianship of his niece and nephew.

Elementary school teacher Ryan Eriksson is devastated when his best friend Marguerite is killed, leaving her two young children orphaned. Helping Archer with his new responsibilities eases his grief, but when Archer offers him custody of the children, Ryan’s left with an impossible choice: get the family he’s always wanted, or respect Margie’s wishes and convince Archer to give parenting—and his heritage—a chance.

To buy time, Ryan promises to stay for the summer, hoping that Archer will change his mind and fall for the kids. But Archer’s reluctant, and the growing attraction between him and Ryan complicates matters. Legal decisions must be made, and soon, before Ryan returns to school. But with hearts involved, more than just the children’s future is on the line.


Review:

Archie Noblesse had a nightmare childhood.  Between watching his mother sell her body to pay for the drugs that were destroying her, his mother’s eventual disappearance and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his uncle as his grandmother looked the other way, it’s a miracle he survived.  But his desire to protect his sister was all the motivation he needed.  He ran away, he worked and scrimped and did unimaginable things so his sister could have a future.  Sounds like an amazing guy, right?  Not exactly.  Don’t get me wrong.  Archie is dedicated but his moral compass is a little out of whack – he makes his money on creating controversy. Enmeshed in that controversy is his inability to form relationships and his somewhat misdirected anger at Indian Reservation is which he grew up.  Having grown up without being able to depend on anyone (other than his younger sister) has made him into a man that lacks trust and has no desire to put his heart on the line for anyone.  Not even his niece and nephew.

Ryan Eriksson is, quite simply, adorable.   A sweet grade school teacher that wants nothing more than to have a family.   You know me.  I love a forever boy.  Any hero that just wants to take care of people immediately wins me over and Ryan was no exception.  The family that he wants so badly is being handed to Ryan on a silver platter when his late best friend’s brother (the famous Archer Noble) tries to sign custody of her children over to him.  But he made a promise that he would convince Archer to stick around (Margie had Archer’s number from the get go) so he does just that. 

The compromise is that Ryan move in for the summer and help Archer because Archer has no idea how to deal with two children let alone two grieving children.  As the summer progresses Archer finds himself falling for his niece and nephew and in turn faces the impossible hurdle of dealing with his own grief and anger about his childhood.  And, of course, he falls for Ryan too.  Until September is, first and foremost, a romance.  But the growing relationship between Archer and his niece and nephew are in no way overshadowed and are significant part of this story.

I found Archie’s character to be quite fascinating.  He’s not a kind or naturally empathetic person.  He’s super focused and ruthless.  What I loved most about this story was that even though his character grows, he never changes the core of who he is.  He was/is never abusive or cruel but in the end, Archer Noble is still an extremely driven man that will do anything he needs to in order to care for the people he loves.    

Before I close this review I have to commend Chris Sully for her in depth research on First Nations Cree and the history and politics of reservation life in Canada.  That research was evident throughout the book which was both informative and compassionate.  Archer Noble’s heritage and history were a significant part of who he was and Sully did not minimize that.

If you are looking for a m/m romance with plenty of angst and a promise of a happy ever after I highly recommend this one.  I definitely enjoyed Until September and I plan on reading more books by Chris Sully in the future.  


Nat

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Peek In The BiblioBin #186


Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.


Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.


For Review:


Never Let You Go (Never Tear Us Apart #2) by Monica Murphy

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Bend or Break #6-7) by Amy Jo Cousins


Borrowed:


A Taste of Honey: Stories by Jabari Asim

Drift by Sharon Carter Rogers


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Romance is in the Air Blog Hop Giveaway!


It's my birthday and I want to give stuff away!  We are thrilled to participate in the Romance is in the Air Blog Hop and offer a big thank you to Bookhounds for hosting.  We love a good romance, so this time, we are giving you any romance you want up to $15.  Really, who doesn't?  Hot boys, kissing, strong women...  I could go on, but really, we're all there for the hot boys!  

Check out the fine print in the Rafflecopter below and thank you all for stopping by!  

Don't forget to check out the other blogs participating in the Hop.  We are experiencing technical difficulties with the list of participating blogs, so here is the link to the Bookhounds giveaway post and their list is working.  Sorry for having to take the long way around; we are working on it. 


Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway