Friday, October 30, 2015

Shattered Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

Today I'm thrilled to have author Cynthia Eden stopping by the blog as part of the promotional tour for the third installment of her fantastic LOST series, Shattered. I loved the first two books in this series (each book features a new couple and a new mystery) and now can't wait to dive in to Sarah and Jax's story. I hope those of you who have yet to meet the members of LOST will do so after reading the interview, enjoy!

If the men and women of LOST could choose a character from any other piece of fiction to join their team, whose set of skills would they most want to utilize?

LOST would definitely recruit Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds. Her tech skills would be an amazing addition to the team. When it comes to computers, Penelope is a master, and she’d add both wit and tech value to the team.

This is a bit of a stretch, but if Jax were to play tour guide for someone who’s never been to New Orleans, what are three places he’d recommend they see?

I bet Jax would love to play tour guide! He’d start with Bourbon Street (a must for him), then he’d recommend a nice, long stroll through Jackson Square (with a pause for beignets). Jax would end the night with a haunted tour of the French Quarter. After all, he totally loves a good scare.

Sarah has very personal reasons for becoming a criminal psychologist. If she were to put together a file on her serial killer father, how would the first line of her notes read?

What a great question! And I bet Sarah does have a file on her father… probably quite a few.  The first line would be:

A monster who wears the skin of a man…Murphy should never be trusted and he should absolutely not be underestimated.

Despite the fact that each case widely varies, what would Sarah say are some recurring characteristics typically present in her profiles of serial killers?

Sarah would say that serial killers are highly intelligent and very methodical. After all, they’d have to be smart in order to get away with their crimes. Otherwise, they’d be captured after their first kill. The serial killers would also have very low empathy (or they’d feel no empathy at all). They don’t feel the pain of their victims—it’s all about the pleasure of the kill for the men and women Sarah profiles.

If Jax were to consider joining the LOST team, what’s the first question he’d ask founder Gabe before signing up?

Ah…Jax…well, he’d want to know, “Will Sarah be my partner? Because I’ll only work with her.”

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Thank YOU Cynthia!

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In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden's latest novel featuring the Last Option Search Team (LOST), one agent is forced to face her past as she uncovers secrets about the man who may be the key to her future.

Criminal psychologist Dr. Sarah Jacobs is all too familiar with the kind of bad boys who belong behind bars. But the dark, dangerous man she meets in the New Orleans underworld is a new kind of ruthless, and all too irresistible.

Jax Fontaine doesn't claim to be a good guy, but he's loyal to his own code and brutally honest about what he wants. He and Sarah may be worlds apart, but when they're skin to skin, nothing matters but the heat between them.

And when a deranged killer targets Sarah, Jax will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

AmazonB&NGoogle PlayiTunesKoboGoodreads

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Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.

Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Goodbye, Griffin

This afternoon my husband and I had to say goodbye to Griffin, who after battling cancer for 4 months finally decided he'd had enough. While I'm an absolute mess, there's comfort in knowing Gatsby (who we lost at Christmas last year) was waiting for him and they get to be the ridiculous boxers they always were together once again.

Adopting Gracie a few months ago gave me a new perspective on our boys as well, and I'm so grateful that neither of them experienced what Gracie has in her short life and instead spent every day of the 8 years we had with each of them warm, fed, and loved beyond measure. You will be missed my sweet boy.

Dead Lies Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

I'm excited today to welcome author Cybele Loening to the blog as part of the promotional tour for her newest mystery, Dead Lies. Cybele was nice enough to answer a few questions about murder mysteries, police investigation, and my personal favorite, villains, so I hope you guys enjoy the interview! Be sure and check the bottom of the post as well for all the details on a fantastic giveaway.

What’s one aspect of working her first homicide case Anna thought she was prepared for but, when she had to face it, found she wasn’t at all ready? 

How attached she would grow to the victims. When you see a dead body, it is just a physical form. You don’t see a personality there. But the moment you start delving into someone’s life, the personality starts being revealed. They become real people. Plus, you have to interact with the victim’s family, and it’s hard to ignore their pain. It moves you, and you get involved. On the up side this can make you more determined to get the bad guy. On the downside, your emotion about it can cloud your judgment.

If lead detective Jerry Kreeger was to teach a class to investigative newbies like Anna, what are a few things we might see on the syllabus he handed out? 

Do not get romantically involved with anyone involved in an active investigation, especially a member of the victim’s family. Not only could this get you fired, you could be putting yourself in danger. They are still suspects until they can be crossed off the list. Also, don’t make assumptions. A killer is more likely to be male than female, but that doesn’t mean a woman didn’t do it. Consider everyone. And someone who appears guilty (like a guy who beat his wife who turned up dead) may actually be innocent of the crime in question, so don’t jump to conclusions. It’s okay to use your instincts, but always be meticulous about looking at the evidence. This is what will tell the tale.

What’s one infamous case, real or fictional, that Anna would have loved to try her hand at solving? 

Jack the Ripper! Anna is fascinated by serial killers, and she wishes she could get into a time machine and solve the case using her knowledge of modern-day investigative techniques. But she has to give credit to crime author Patricia Cornwell, who possibly already solved the case in her book Portrait of a Killer.

One of my favorite parts of any murder mystery is the killer and trying to figure out either the who or why. Who are your top 3 fictional killers/villains? 

Is there anyone better than Hanibal Lecter? He is chillingly serene and cunning, a deadly combination. Michael Connelly’s killer in the The Poet is also incredible. I love the cat-and-mouse relationship between “the poet” and investigator. That is one of the best serial killer books ever and incidentally also stars one of the best detective characters around. I also love Harlan Coben’s “suburban thrillers” (check out Gone for Good, Promise Me) because he’s so good at making killers out of unlikely, even ordinary, people. Murder is sometimes just on the other side of “normal.”

What one word would Jerry use to describe Anna before the events of Dead Lies? Would that word change after everything that happened? 
Brash and humbled.
Thanks so much Cybele!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Former NYPD cop Anna Valentine just landed her first homicide case: the grisly double murder of a wealthy young couple. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Recovering from personal tragedies, the young police office just moved with her traumatized child to the suburbs where she hoped to pursue a quiet life and heal. To complicate matters, although she’s sworn off men until she and her son are happy and whole again, Anna feels the pull of attraction to the handsome twin brother of one of the murder victims, a man who has yet to be crossed off the suspect list. Teaming up with lead detective Jerry Kreeger, a 57-year-old veteran cop who’s lonely, broke and close to burnout, Anna chases a crafty killer and ultimately exposes a family’s shocking secrets that will rock a town.

• • • • • • • • • • • • •


Becoming a novelist was a dream come true for Cybele Loening, and one that was many years in the making. Like many aspiring writers and creative types, when she completed her education, she didn’t think she could make a living doing what she loved. So, she took a job that was related to writing but not actually writing: She became an editor. She loved editing but never gave up her dream of writing a novel someday.

It wasn’t until she was in her late thirties that she finally realized “someday” was right now. After many years of working in Corporate America, she was burned out of her job and exhausted by city living. She realized she was giving her best energy to a career and life that no longer fit. So, she took a huge leap of faith and quit her job to write full-time. The book she began writing eventually became Dead Lies.
Quitting her job was a scary step, but it changed her life. Tapping away at her keyboard, she realized she was happier than she had been in a while. She felt creative and energized again and was thrilled to have discovered her passion, her life’s work.

That one brave step into the unknown led to other wonderful changes in her life. For years she had dreamed of living in the country, so she began renting a cottage in Litchfield County, Connecticut, to see how it felt. She never looked back. And it was in this idyllic place that she met her soul mate and now husband, the life and business coach, Brooke Loening. They married a few years later, and together they renovated a home in which they now both live and work.

Spending her days writing and living in a place she loves, she has found bliss she never thought possible.
A spiritual seeker and lover of all of life’s mysteries, Cybele is hard at work on the next book in the Anna Valentine Detective Series and a memoir. She is also a blogger with a global mission: to help women achieve their dreams and live their very best lives.

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Up for grabs today is 5 audiobook copies of DEAD LIES (through Audible). To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Spotlight + Excerpt: Darkest Before Dawn

Today I have the pleasure of sharing an excerpt from Darkest Before Dawn, the latest installment in Maya Banks' KGI series. Most of you already know that I am a special kind of sucker for a military/Special Forces/elite badass hero, so the men of The Kelly Group International are right up my alley. *fans self* Despite the fact that this is book ten, it can be read entirely on its own, so those of you who haven't read the previous nine books can kick this series off with all things Hancock ;-) Enjoy the excerpt!

Anticipation licked through Hancock’s veins and his pulse sped up, the taste of victory in his mouth. If all it took was capturing a single woman who was running and hiding from a terrorist group to enable him to achieve his objective, then he’d do it without hesitation. He’d have to ensure that Maksimov took the bait because it did him no good for Bristow to turn to the terrorist cell to get what he wanted. It had to be Maksimov.

He glanced up at his men and saw answering resolve in their eyes. They wanted to take down Maksimov every bit as much as he did. And like him, they grew weary of their existence or rather nonexistence. To the world, they were dead. To their government they were traitors and had been given a death sentence. To their prey, they were angels of death, without mercy or compassion. They were feared by all and they mattered to no one. To even the strongest, unfeeling soul, such a life eventually wore on them. They were all ready to step down from their cause and allow others to do the work they’d done without thanks or regard for over a decade. And make whatever kind of life was left to them, knowing that even after they stood down, they’d always be hunted.
“Give me what intel you have,” Hancock said to Bristow, determination and resolve Bristow couldn’t possibly miss in his tone. And Bristow had seen him in action long enough to know he didn’t offer his assurances lightly. “I’ll find the woman and bring her to you.”


The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.

Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.

Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t...

The enigmatic Hancock has been both opponent and ally to the KGI teams for as long as they've known him. Always working a deep game, Hancock's true allegiance has never been apparent, but one thing is for certain—he never lets anything get in the way of duty.

But now, his absolute belief in the primacy of his ultimate goal is challenged by a captive he's been ordered to guard, no matter how much she suffers in her prison. She's the only woman who's ever managed to penetrate the rigid walls surrounding his icy heart, but will he allow his perplexing feelings for the beautiful victim to destroy a mission he's spent years working to complete or will he be forced to sacrifice her for “the greater good.”


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cathy Reviews: We All Looked Up

Today I'm so pleased to welcome my wonderful mother-in-law Cathy back to the blog to share her latest review!

Tommy Wallach
370 pages
Simon & Schuster BFYR
Available Now'
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels:
The athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever.

But then we all looked up and everything changed.

They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we'd been, something that would last even after the end.

Two months to really live.

Tommy Wallach's teen debut novel, We All Looked Up, reminded me of a combination of The Breakfast Club meets Armageddon! All the teenage angst of high school is combined with the impending disaster of being annihilated by an asteroid. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and each voice belongs to a teen from a different high school clique. Mr. Wallach does a good job of giving us insight into each of the main characters lives. Teen readers are sure to identify with one or more of the characters as well as how the dynamics of high school are stressful and demanding.

Then Mr. Wallach drops the bombshell–or more accurately an asteroid–on the world. The world learns that an asteroid may hit the earth in two short months. We begin to see what our characters made of as the world is ending. The teens are already struggling with their identities and now they are further challenged. Do they become better versions of themselves or give in to the chaos? Mr. Wallach continues to develop the story and the characters without becoming maudlin but does darken the plot as impending doom nears. The intensity deepens quickly because we are not given much time and are not sure what the ultimate outcome will be.

It is a teen tale that will allow the reader to question their own identity, fears, morality and mortality. It is a story not about endings but finding meaning in life. I am giving this book a split rating based on whether the reader is a young adult or an adult. This book could be a good conversation starter between parents and their teens.

Rating: 3.5-4/5

Find Tommy:

This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my, or in this case Cathy's, honest opinion.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: Best Worst Mistake

Brightwater #3 (can be read as a stand-alone)
Lia Riley
Contemporary Romance
235 pages
Avon Impulse
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sometimes the worst mistakes turn out to be the best…

Smoke jumper Wilder Kane once reveled in the rush from putting out dangerous wildfires. But after a tragic accident, he’s cut himself off from the world, refusing to leave his isolated cabin. When a headstrong beauty bursts in, Wilder finds himself craving the fire she ignites in him, but letting anyone near his darkness would be a mistake.

After her Hollywood life went up in smoke, Quinn Higsby decided to leave Tinseltown behind and return to Brightwater to care for her ailing father. She spends her days in a small bookstore, until her peaceful existence is up-ended by a fascinating but damaged man. Quinn is determined not to be scared off by Wilder, not once she’s experienced the heat of his passions.

But when an arsonist targets the community and Wilder is accused, he must confront the ghosts of his past. Will his desire for Quinn burn him up or will he be able to tame the wildness inside and rekindle a hope for their future?

Best Worst Mistake has the type of romantic setup sure to make us avid romance readers swoon and fall immediately in love: a damaged, lonely hero who finds a second chance at living in the arms of an utterly adorable woman. Ms. Riley leaves us with little choice but to become swept up in the free-flowing honesty, endearing awkwardness and heated moments between Wilder and Quinn, and we find ourselves with a dopey grin on our faces more often than not throughout.

Wilder has complete ownership of our hearts from page one as we bear witness to the tragic accident that robs him of his leg and leaves him with an extremely surly (but also charming) disposition. He understandably feel like less of a man in the aftermath, the physical loss combining with a lifelong emotional loss to turn him into a recluse with little other than sharp words to offer people. His initial interactions with Quinn are as cute as can be though, characterized by both the blurting of possibly the worst compliments ever and a series of weighted silences that Quinn feels a compulsion to fill. Quinn, for her part, is as thoroughly enjoyable as Wilder, taking his grumpiness in stride and returning nervous ramblings the likes of which he's never seen before. The two of them together are light and fun despite the seriousness of their life situations (Wilder's guilt over his role in his parents deaths and the possibility of Quinn developing early onset Alzheimer's like her father), and spending several hours with them is time more than well spent.

The only minor complaint with this contemporary romance is that it starts much stronger than it finishes, the hilarious interactions between a crabby Wilder and determinedly positive Quinn turning a bit sappy as their romance progresses in intensity. It's not enough to detract from the overall success of them as a couple, but their tendency to continuously compliment one another and share their ever-deepening feelings again and again does serve as a reminder that we're reading a romance novel. Overall however, Best Worst Mistake is a quick, feel-good read sure to bring a little warmth in preparation for cold winter months ahead.

Rating: 4/5

Find Lia:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Flourish: Rafe Ryder + The Well of Wisdom

Happy Friday Everyone!

I have another fun project to share with you this week, one I'm immensely proud of and sincerely hope you guys end up loving as much as I do.

Author L.L. Reynolds got in touch with me thanks to the amazing Katie Cross (who has been one of my biggest supporters), and as soon as I read the words "middle grade fantasy" in her inquiry email I hit reply with record speed. What followed was a collaboration full of laughs and over the top enthusiasm on both sides, and I can't thank L.L. enough for her unwavering trust as she handed me her book and simply said "do whatever you need to do to make this cover the best it can be".

Since this was middle grade, we both knew we wanted an illustrated design, something full of color, texture, and movement that would really draw the eye of readers young and old. I also wanted to design this first book with the entire series in mind, creating a Rafe Ryder brand that would be carried through each subsequent book, so I started with my core elements (which included the title treatment and a pair of wings) and then built out from there.

Since this first book is titled The Well Of Wisdom, I wanted to make sure the well itself appeared on the cover along with its very important counterpart, The Tree of All Knowledge, and I then completed the design with a few other small elements to try and bring this fantastical world to life.

For fun, I thought you guys might like to see the initial sketch I sent to L.L. for approval before I began putting the design together on the computer, if for no other reason than it will give you a good laugh. For all that I'm artistic, drawing on paper really isn't my strong suit ;-)

Glorious isn't it? *pats self on back*

I think the final version turned out a touch better...

Strange things happen when the place you call "home" is no longer your address.

Twelve-year-old Rafe Ryder's year couldn't get worse. His parents have shipped him off to live with his grandmother and he doesn't know if he'll ever see his sick father again. Arriving in Maine, Rafe plots his return to England, but the possibility of a homecoming slips further from his grasp when an adventure in a corn maze at his new school goes wrong, and he and twelve of his schoolmates are mysteriously transported to Mystfira—a realm of angels, leprechauns, gargoyles and fairies—and home to an elite angelic training school. Forced to co-exist with student angels and surrounded by more danger than he ever could have imagined, Rafe searches for a way home only to stumble upon a scheme to destroy the heavens. Can he find a way to save himself and his friends...or will they be lost forever?

Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom is set to release next month, so I hope you guys add this one to your lists. I've also done some interior artwork for this book, including a full map of the fantasy world of Mystfira, so I'd love for you all to check it out when release day comes around!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: The Immortal Heights

The Elemental Trilogy #3
Sherry Thomas
Young Adult/Fantasy
432 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort....

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

The Immortal Heights tosses us right back into the middle of the fight between the villainous Bane and those who oppose him, giving us barely enough time to catch our breath from one minute to the next as Titus and Iolanthe lead the fight to bring him down. Ms. Thomas does her readers an enormous favor in the beginning chapters, working in reminders whenever a lesser-known character or past event is mentioned on page, ensuring we have our feet firmly in place as she moves everything forward. Even so, however, there are still times when the sprawling nature of this world and the fact that its scope includes three worlds (ours, that of the Domain and Atlantis, and the book world of The Crucible) can be a touch overwhelming–especially when combined with the various prophecies, magical abilities and connections between characters–but the strong bond between Titus and Iolanthe and the fight against the Bane keep us riveted.

One of the highlights in this final installment, as has been the case with both previous books, is the relationship between Titus and Iolanthe. Even as the moment of Titus's prophesied death inches ever closer, the two of them keep a fighting spirit, determined to go down swinging if they can't find a way to thwart what Titus's mother saw happen years ago. Titus does attempt the tried and true–and frustrating–“I'm leaving you behind for your own good” maneuver, but Iolanthe thankfully doesn't stand for it, not only fighting to catch up with him and his group after their significant head start but also giving him a piece of her mind once she finds him. They're partners through and through despite a few well-meaning and desperate attempts to save one another along the way, their romance free of relationship angst and full to bursting with love and support.

Accompanying Titus and Iolanthe on their journey to find and kill the Bane are Kashkari and Amara, two young people who bring the emotional intensity to a new level in this final installment. Kashkari's unrequited love for Amara (who's engaged to his brother) is brutal in the second half of this book, the two of them causing us no shortage of stress and worry as life and death prophecies plague their every step. The only small complaint with this series as a whole is with regard to the Bane himself, the reason he's feared shown largely through the words and actions of others rather than directly from his person, and when he does finally face Titus and Iolanthe in all his monstrous glory we can't help but wish we'd seen more of him throughout.

Overall, the Elemental trilogy proves itself to be enormously entertaining; love, loss, friendship and sacrifice all combining with impressive world building and magical gifts to create a story that won't soon be forgotten.

Rating: 4/5

Find Sherry:


This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Ruined

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Amy Tintera
Young Adult/Fantasy
Releases May 3rd from HarperTeen

From Goodreads:

A revenge that will consume her.

A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Given that YA fantasy is my very favorite genre and I thoroughly enjoyed Amy's Reboot series, this book went on my list the minute Epic Reads revealed the cover. I have to admit to being deeply intrigued at the mention of Em's marriage to the prince as there aren't too many YA books out there that explore a married relationship. While this particular marriage is clearly a stepping stone in the path of a much larger plan, I still think the dynamics could be fascinating. Sign me up for a story of love and revenge!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interview: Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman + ILLUMINAE

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming authors Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman to the blog to answer a few questions about their highly anticipated new release (it comes out today!!!), Illuminae. The format of this book, essentially a dossier of various documents, has me more than a little intrigued so I can't wait to dive in and see what's illuminated by these files (see what I did there? Illuminated? Yes? No? No. I need a vacation.). I hope you guys enjoy the interview more than my failed attempt at cleverness ;-)

The format of Illuminae is complex and unique. What was the most challenging part of telling a story through so many individual documents? 

We thought the greatest challenge would be convincing our publisher to design hundreds of pages of documents, including company logos, computer interfaces, spaceship blueprints, the ramblings of a mad artificial intelligence, comic strips and movie posters. But it turned out they were even more insane than we were, and thought it was a great idea. In fact, the greatest challenge was probably picking exactly the right document for each moment, to make sure we told the story the best way possible. There’s a difference in the information conveyed and the mood and pacing created by a press release vs a journal entry vs an IM conversation. We wanted to make sure each document did exactly the right job—but we wanted to make sure they didn’t prop the story up. It had to stand on its own. Ultimately, we didn’t want the format to be a gimmick, we wanted it to be integral to the way the story was told, but we also wanted to make sure our plot, pacing and characterisation was spot-on.

If you were to compile pieces of your life and work into a digital dossier that Kady and Ezra will hack into hundreds of years into the future, what in that file do you think they’d find most interesting?

Hmmm. It’s hard not to mentally replace the word ‘interesting’ with ‘incriminating’. Because that’s the sort of stuff Kady and Ezra would want to dig up. The reality is that they’d mostly find ideas scrawled on scraps of paper and long email chains where we talk our way in circles about the most ridiculous things. As for what they’d find most interesting… for Amie, it would be be the stuff to do with the golf course sign incident, and for Jay, it would be the stuff to do with a particular gig his band played at a particular place. We’re not sharing any more than that. You want to know, you’ll have to start hacking!

If you could spend a week in the world of any sci-fi movie, TV show or book, what world(s) would top your list?

Firefly. Fiiiiiiiiirefly. If they won’t give us a season 2, we’ll make our own gorram season 2. Let’s move on, we’re becoming emotional.

Let’s say that tomorrow Earth has to be evacuated. What are three things you’d make sure you didn’t leave without (aside from friends and family)?
We would like to state for the record (and any family members reading this) that the question does specify family are safe. We’re assuming pets come under that heading. So basically, we’re down to stuff that we can’t live without. We’re going to choose a case of excellent bourbon (because Jay considers it required for basic existence, and if he dies in the evacuation, Amie can trade it for helpful stuff), a crate of chocolate (exactly the same reason, except switch our positions) and a bookshelf stuffed to the gills with as many books as we can fit on it. We’re assuming we can mug someone for a computer to write on (we’re on a spaceship after all, if we’re evacuating the planet, they’ll have computers) so we’re focusing on booze, chocolate and books.

If Kady and Ezra were to stumble across a document that hinted at what’s to come in this trilogy, what are a few of the words they might find in its content?

Oooh, tricky. Here are a few words that are going to matter a lot in the coming books… Heimdall, Operation Plainview, journal, dust, spider, corsage and tattoo. We’d love to tell you what they mean, but it’s way more fun to watch you find out!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Jay and Amie!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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Find Amie:

Find Jay:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Giveaway: Black Widow Prize Pack!

Mondays are always the worst, so in an effort to make this particular Monday a little more bearable, I'm bringing you a very special giveaway. Yay! I'm an ENORMOUS fan of all things Avengers-related (okay, it's possible I'm a fan of all things Chris Hemsworth-related, but that's neither here nor there), so I can't wait to dive into Margaret Stohl's exploration of infamous spy, Natasha Romanov. If you're not familiar with this part of the Marvel Universe, here's a little bit about the book:

Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy… Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

Black Widow: Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

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Margaret Stohl is the #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series. Her solo books include Icons and Idols. Before writing her first novel, Stohl was a veteran of the video-game industry, working with Activision (now Activision Blizzard) and Westwood Studios (now Electronic Arts). Margaret later became a cofounder of 7 Studios with her husband, Lewis Peterson. She has previously been nominated for Most Innovative Game Design at the Game Developers Conference. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and daughters.

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Thanks to Marvel Press, one lucky winner will receive a Black Widow Prize Pack including a copy of Black Widow: Forever Red as well as a branded tank top! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

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Want to meet Margaret? Then check to see if she's coming to a city near you!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Flourish: Bloomsbury Spark Edition

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's been a little while since I've done a Friday Flourish post, but since I've had a couple covers revealed recently I wanted to go ahead and share them on the blog! For the past year and a half I've had the rather surreal experience of working with Bloomsbury Spark, Bloomsbury Publishing's digital-first imprint, and though it's a little sappy, it truly has been a dream come true.

One of my favorite aspects of designing covers (aside from the artwork itself) is working with people who constantly challenge me to be a better designer than I was the day before. Meredith Rich, editor extraordinaire at Spark, is one such person, pushing me with her art direction and feedback to take my work to a new level. Designing for print books and designing for e-books are two entirely different things, the use of color and type critical in e-books in a way I hadn't considered previously given they're seen primarily at thumbnail size, and her insight has proven invaluable time and again.

Two of our recent collaborations were revealed in the past few weeks, a redesign of Hollywood Witch Hunter by Valerie Tejeda and The Trick to Landing by Jenny Kaczorowski, and I hope you guys love them as much as we do. Below those two titles are the other 5 covers I've done for Spark to date, and I've got two more in the works that I can't wait to share (though it's likely going to be a while yet)!


From the moment she first learned the truth about witches…she knew she was born to fight them.

Now, at sixteen, Iris is the lone girl on the Witch Hunters Special Ops Team.

But when Iris meets a boy named Arlo, he might just be the key to preventing an evil uprising in Southern California.

Together they're ready to protect the human race at all costs. Because that's what witch hunters do.

Welcome to Hollywood.

(releases 1/12/16)

When you wipe out in life, who helps you get back up again?

After a gnarly fall in competition, a DUI, and moving in with her mom dashed her hopes for a spot in this year's X Games, 16-year-old skateboarder Summer O'Neill is left with one last shot at redemption. But her fresh start is even harder than getting back on the half pipe: hours of community service, a party girl reputation she can't shake, and life with a mother she hardly knows leave Summer scrambling to keep her world stable.

The very last thing Summer is looking for is a boyfriend, at least until she meets Sebastian Vega. Steady, unassuming, and self-assured, he's everything she's not. Before long, she's sneaking out for midnight sandcastle building excursions and trading in her art class for private photography lessons with Bastian.

But Summer's past won't stay behind her and Bastian has problems of his own – including a bleeding disorder that seeps into every aspect his life. While he pushes against the limitations of his hemophilia, she is bound by the rules of her probation. When the ramifications of her past crimes collide with his frustration, it may be more than their budding relationship can bear.

With the next X Games qualifier rapidly approaching, Summer has to own up to her mistakes if she wants to soar again. If she can't, she'll lose more than her second chance. She'll lose her future-in skating, and with Bastian.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: Dark Heart of Magic

Black Blade #2
Jennifer Estep
Paranormal Young Adult
368 pages
Kensington Teen
Available October 27th
Source: ARC from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Something Wicked This Way Comes...

As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there's no escaping the spotlight—or the danger.

Even though he's my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what's supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious "accidents," it looks like someone will do anything to win—no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone's going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing's for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else...

Dark Heart of Magic returns us to the monster-infested town of Cloudburst Falls, a tourist hot spot ruled by magical families on the cusp of all-out war. For many of us voracious readers, second books in a series are often entered into with trepidation, common pitfalls and sequel plot formulas giving us a nervous tic as we crack the spine, but Ms. Estep never fails to deliver no matter the book order. Dark Heart of Magic is action-packed from beginning to end, giving us new insight into main character Lila while delving more deeply into Family politics until the rumbles of unease between the major players is so loud we can practically feel the vibration through the pages.

Lila is rough around the edges in the best possible way, used to being on her own before being conscripted into service by the Sinclairs and therefore loath to take orders from anyone but herself. She’s never obnoxious about it however, pushing boundaries here and there but at the same time adapting to having a group of people who care about where she goes and what she does. She’s always upfront with any information she gathers–somewhat of a rarity in YA heroines who so often keep things frustratingly to themselves–sharing with those in her social group as well as the head of the Family so they can all attack the problem at hand together. Lila ensures her world is delightfully secret-free, sparing us unnecessary stress as we wonder when various truths are going to come to light and wreak havoc on whatever emotional foundation has been built.

The romance between Lila and Devon is present but still very much on the back burner, this installment seeing Lila come to terms with a few things about herself before granting herself permission to take a risk on their relationship. The two of them make a memorable pair despite the action taking center stage, and it will undoubtedly be fun to see how things progress in future books. The only minor quibble with this second book is the villain is easily identifiable early on, but the why of their actions is much more important than the who, and we’re left thoroughly satisfied by the time we reach the last page.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jennifer:
This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ice Like Fire Blog Tour + Giveaway: The Kingdom of Winter

I'm a little giddy today to welcome author Sara Raasch back to the blog as part of the promotional tour for Ice Like Fire, the second book in her amazing YA fantasy series. I absolutely ADORED last year's Snow Like Ashes and can't wait for my copy of Ice Like Fire to arrive, but in the meantime I'm lucky enough to turn the blog over to Sara so she can give us a little more information on protagonist Meira's homeland, the Kingdom of Winter. Be sure and check the bottom of the post for the full list of participating blogs as well as all the details on a fun giveaway!

The Top Five Things you should know about the Kingdom of Winter:
1. Their cultural style is very heavily influened by Grecian outfits—partly because I loved the juxtaposition of putting a traditionally “summery” outfit in a wintery setting and also because the colors and appearance of Grecian outfits reflected the exact type of feel I wanted for Winter: clean, simple, flowy. 
2. Similarly, the food in the Winter Kingdom is a mesh of things that are typically found in winter settings (sparse game, certain very determined plants, etc) and, again, a Greek-style influence (olives, lamb, yogurt). This aspect is never mentioned in the books, as it’s one of those “cool but serves no real purpose” details that got cut, like this description of the food that was served at the ceremony in Chapter 7:

My stomach gurgles in the cloud of aromas that emanate off the food. Things we shouldn’t have wasted our limited reserves on, but things my self-appointed chefs were adamant we serve. With Cordell’s rations and the wild game provided by the nearby forest, we have just enough to ease everyone into a normal diet—but hardly enough to splurge on party fare.  
Chicken roasted in a bed of rosemary; thick circles of bread baked in wood ovens then topped with dried cherries and crumbled cheese and sliced tomatoes. Even lamb rolls, a delicacy that made all Winterians at the celebration-meeting release small whimpers of delight at the prospect of eating again—seasoned lamb mixed with chunks of salty olives and currants, all rolled into a cabbage leaf, and boiled until tender and tart in a mix of lemon juice and water.  
I have to admit, hearing the chefs describe what dishes they planned for our celebration made my eyes glaze over with delight. But all I see when I look at the table now is the debt we acquired getting this and the wastefulness of baking so much food at once. The only thing before me that doesn’t make me flinch is the bowl of melted snow, or the fancy Winterian way of saying cold water. Won’t run out of that any time soon. 
(Okay, okay, the “melted snow” part was just me trying to be funny.)

3. One of the small details about the Winter Kingdom that did make it into ICE LIKE FIRE is the plants they use for decoration in Chapter 7: evergreen sprigs and snowdrops. That color combination, something vivid against white, carries throughout the Winter Kingdom—from the colors of their outfits (where everyone always tries to wear something white for formal events) to the color of their landscape (snow dotted with trees or cities). A continuing theme of providing a blank canvas for something vibrant and beautiful. 
4. The architecture of prominent Winterian buildings gets some descriptions in ICE LIKE FIRE, but as with most of things in Winter, it’s all very damaged and nothing like how it should be. But the original style of the Jannuari Palace, in particular, has lots of basis in, again, Greek style architecture, with a huge heaping portion of Baroque style too—lots of clean, distinct moldings; pretty carved details; lots of light; and stucco/marble details. 
5. In SNOW LIKE ASHES, Winterian phrases were introduced (“Sweet snow!” “Snow above!”)—and I tried, really really hard, to work the phrase “Chill out!” into ICE LIKE FIRE. But, alas, my editor didn’t go for it. I should really just stop trying to be funny.
*snort* Thanks so much Sara!

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It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.


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Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray, and the sequel, ICE LIKE FIRE, comes out October 13, 2015. Neither features her hand-drawn pictures.

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Two lucky winners will receive a set of ICE LIKE FIRE trading cards/mini bookmarks. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

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10/5/2015- A Dream Within A DreamReview  
10/6/2015- Mundie MomsInterview  
10/7/2015- Such a Novel IdeaReview  
10/8/2015- Dark Faerie TalesGuest Post  
10/9/2015- The Whimsical MamaReview
10/12/2015- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

10/13/2015- Bookish LifestyleReview
10/14/2015- Supernatural SnarkGuest Post
10/15/2015- FiktshunReview
10/16/2015- Once Upon a TwilightInterview

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Havoc Rising Blog Tour: Greek Mythology Trivia + A Giveaway!

Today I'm super excited to be a part of the blog tour for Havoc Rising, the latest release from author Brian S. Leon. Those of you who read this blog with any frequency know I've always been fascinated by Greek mythology and love learning new and fun things, so I asked Mr. Leon to share some interesting trivia tidbits he discovered during his research for Havoc Rising. You never know when you're going to need to blurt out a random fact about Diomedes, Achilles, or Medea at a social gathering (am I right?), so now you'll all be prepared!

  • There is a group of people in what is now Iran that trace their ancestral roots back to a race of people called the Medes. The Medes were said to have been historically founded by Medus, the sole surviving son of Medea, the powerful mythical witch and villain of Havoc Rising.
  • The greatest wars before Troy were the War of the Epigoni and the Seven Against Thebes before that. Little is known about them because almost everything written about them has been lost. We do know that Diomedes’ father, Tydeus, fought and died in the Seven Against Thebes campaign. And as an early teenager Diomedes and the other sons of the Seven avenged their fathers and won the war they began. Diomedes’ fame as a soldier began there.
  • Diomedes is the only mortal Greek hero to ever wound a God in combat. He wounded not just Ares, but also Aphrodite. He even went after Apollo but was blinded. He was helped by Athena who granted him the ability to distinguish Ares on the battlefield and gave him greater strength and agility as well.
  • Diomedes is the only mortal every to see Athena in her true form. Even Odysseus, whom she also favored, saw her as a young maid.
  • In the Iliad, Homer never says Achilles is immortal, or is anything other than a highly skilled but egotistical warrior. And he is killed by an arrow, likely to his torso. The legends about his immortality gained from being dipped in the River Styx or having Ambrosia burned from his body came about over 800 years after Homer.
  • Some of the oldest vampire myths come from Ancient Greece. Lamia and Empusas were both demons that feasted on human blood and predate the traditional Eastern European myths by centuries.
  • The titan Prometheus was sentenced to his fate of being chained up and having his liver eaten by a giant eagle every day only to have it regenerate as punishment for tricking Zeus and giving fire to mankind as a tool. Heracles (Hercules) broke the chain, which could only be broken by someone with truly altruistic intentions, and freed him.
  • Croesus, the King of Lydia was considered to be the wealthiest king in the world during his reign. When the Persians attacked, he prayed to Apollo for help and the god saved him. The God of the Sun also took the King’s fabled fortune, the Karun Treasure, and set it in perpetual motion so that it could never be found. The treasure is the origin of the phrase “Rich as Croesus.”
  • The witch Medea, and one time wife of Jason of Argonaut fame, was also a high priestess for Hecate. She used magic to influence one of the Argonauts to defeat the bronze giant Talos and also helped them beat the dragon toothed warriors called Spartoi when recovering the Golden Fleece by telling Jason how.
  • Because Diomedes injures Aphrodite and nearly kills her mortal son Aeneus, she curses him by having his wife turn against him. She convinces her many lovers to attack Diomedes every time he tries to return home, so he never sees his family again. Instead he heads to what is now Italy and disappears from history.
  • Achilles had a magical spear called the Pelian Spear that he inherited from his father (Peleus) and a mythical shield and cuirass, both made by Hephaestus. The spear was said to be able to penetrate anything.
  • Diomedes was said to have had a magical cuirass made by Hephaestus, the only other Achaean warrior other than Achilles to be so equipped.
  • Diomedes’ father, Tydeus, was considered the greatest warrior of his age (pre-Trojan War) and was highly favored by Athena. She was said to have offered him immortality because of his skills and honor but rescinded the offer upon finding him eating the brain of a victim. Tydeus was mortally wounded and Athena chose to let him die. Legend says Athena made the same offer to Diomedes after the Trojan War for the same reasons.
  • Strixes are gigantic flesh eating black owl-like creatures that guarded Tartarus. Legend says they were cursed to their form for cannibalism and had talons like steel.
  • As a suitor of Helen, like the other Greek kings involved in the Trojan War, Diomedes was honor bound by the Oath of Tynadareus to protect the man chosen by her in the event of any wrong done against him with regard to their marriage.

Thanks so much for sharing Brian!

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Eternal life. Eternal battle.

Steve—Diomedes Tydides to his Trojan War buddies—just had a bad day on his charter fishing boat in San Diego, but when the goddess Athena calls on her faithful warrior for another secret mission, he’s ready. The bomb that exploded inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t the crime American authorities think it is. Someone also stole the Cup of Jamshid, and Diomedes knows its fortune-telling abilities won’t be used for anything benign.

Though Diomedes recovers the Cup from a determined shaman holed up beneath Central Park, when he finds his allies slain and the Cup taken once more, he knows he’s up against a truly powerful enemy. Over a millennium has passed since Diomedes last contended with Medea of Colchis, deranged wife of Jason the Argonaut, but neither her madness nor her devotion to Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, has waned, and she intends to use the Cup of Jamshid to release across the world a dark brand of chaos unseen in human history.

Immortal since the Trojan War, Diomedes must once again fight for mortals he understands less and less, against a divine evil he may never truly defeat.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Brian S. Leon is truly a jack of all trades and a master of none. He writes just to do something with all the useless degrees and skills he’s accumulated over the years. Most of them have no practical application in civilized society, anyway. His interests include mythology and fishing, in pursuit of which he has explored jungles and museums, oceans and seas all over the world.

His credentials include an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree from San Diego State University, plus extensive postgraduate work in evolutionary biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied animals most people aren’t even aware exist and theories no one really cares about anyway.

Over his varied career, Brian’s articles have been published in academic journals and popular magazines that most normal people would never read. They can be found in The American Society of Primatologists, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Proceedings of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the like.

His more mainstream work came as an editor for Marlin and FlyFishing in Salt Waters magazines, where he published articles about fishing and fishing techniques around the world. He won a Charlie Award in 2004 from the Florida Magazine Association for Best Editorial, and several of his photographs have appeared on a number of magazine covers—almost an achievement of note, if they weren’t all fishing magazines.

Always a picky reader, Mr. Leon enjoys stories by classical masters like Homer and Jules Verne as well as modern writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, David Morrell and Jim Butcher. These books, in combination with an inordinate amount of free time, inspired him to come up with tales of his own.
Brian currently resides in San Diego, California.

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