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Blog Tour: Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis for Ninja Girl (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary Standalone 2017
Author: Cookie O Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 30, 2017
Source & Format: YA Book Tours–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Cookie O’Gorman’s debut, Adorkable was just amazing! I loved every minute of that book and I was so excited to see what she would write next. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to see what she would do next and I was so stoked when I saw what Ninja Girl was all about. This book promised to be an entertaining, albeit touching, ride that I couldn’t wait to start!

The Concept:

I love the gender role reversal here! I love girls that can fend for themselves but the fact that Snow is hired to protect a boy just ups the ante for me. It defies stereotypes in that respect and I really appreciated that.

I feel like that is the whole point of this novel: to challenge stereotypes. The cast here is also very diverse ethnically speaking as well. Snow is Korean while Ash is from the Southern United States. Both have these ideas that they don’t have similar interests and personalities. But I think this book goes to show that you have to get to know a person for who they are and not just what you see on the outside.

The Plot:

This novel moves at a stellar pace. Honestly, there was never a dull moment! If you weren’t swooning over Ash and Snow together you were watching Snow kick some serious butt or having these great moments of individual character growth. I loved every page.

I also liked how the suspense of who was behind the attacks lurked throughout the pages. It just built itself up at a great pace and added to the big reveal.

The Characters:

Well, I obviously loved Snow. Her character growth was fantastic. While she is such a strong girl physically, her self-esteem is pretty low. It’s unfortunate that she is so susceptible to high school cattiness so early in the book because she is such a great girl. I’m glad that Ash brings out the stronger side in her.

Ash…swoon! He says all the right things but he is such a genuine guy as well. I would say his character growth takes a bit of a backseat to Snow’s but he really does evolve as well. Even though he is perceived as the “damsel in distress” at times, he doesn’t just sit around and let things happen to himself either.

The Romance:

These two are so adorable! I’ve added them to my favourite couples list ever. They just compliment each other so well. Not only do they make a great team but they also make each other stronger as individuals. Never did I feel like these two were losing who they were in order to appease the other–which can easily happen in this type of story where gender roles are more emphasized than usual. They just have fabulous chemistry together from the start.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I devoured this book in one sitting because I could not get enough of these two! Not only was this book a bucket of fun and completely swoon-worthy, it also teaches you to be yourself above all else. Whether that means you are a girl who can kick everyone’s bum or a guy who needs a girl to save him: never be ashamed of who you are! (cheesy but so true!)

Read if You Like:  diverse reads, kick butt heroines, “clean” YA
Avoid if You: dislike ya contemporary

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Cookie O’Gorman

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE is out now!

Author Links:

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Blog Tour: Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Duels & Deception (from Goodreads):

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Cindy Anstey’s debut, Love, Lies and Spies. It had everything I love in a novel: wit, fun and a swoon-worthy romance. As soon as I finished, I had to know what else she had written and that’s why I’ve spent the better part of the last year awaiting Duels & Deception.

The Plot:

Anstey has such a talent for writing entertaining stories. Should a kidnapping scene have you laughing out loud? Not likely but Anstey manages to do it. That whole event was super entertaining and it made me wish it lasted longer.

However, I did find the momentum of the novel slowed a bit after the kidnapping chapters. The mystery of who is after Lydia is enticing but unfortunately, I had a pretty good idea of the culprit before the big reveal. What I didn’t guess who how everything was going to be resolved so that had a few good twists for me to read.

The Characters:

Lydia was everything you like in a historical fiction leading lady. She’s as sharp as a whip, a compassionate daughter and definitely independent. If she was real, she would be my best friend.

And starring opposite her is Robert, pretty much the ideal hero. Again, he’s super smart but he is also adorably sweet and caring. He isn’t some over the top hero and I loved how grounded he was.

The rest of the cast is quirky and entertaining and adds to the story’s fun and lighter tone.

The Romance:

SWOON! Talk about two leads who are perfect for each other! Not only did they compliment each other in every way but they also had fantastic banter. I loved every scene with these two in it.

My favourite part was watching these two slowing coming to the realization that they were falling in love. The slow burn romance was so on point!

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a perfect read for fans of historical romance who love quirky, witty characters and a romance that has you swooning from the start!

Read if You Like: regency reads, witty leads, slow burn
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction
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Cindy Anstey

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Book Blitz + Giveaway: Between the Devil and the Duke


A Season for Scandal was one of my breakout series last year! I adored the first two books in the series and COULD NOT WAIT to read the final instalment in the series, Between the Devil and the Duke!

(It was amazing by the way!)

Below you will find a link to an exclusive excerpt as well as a giveaway for a signed copy of the book courtesy of Forever Books. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post!


Title: Between the Devil and the Duke

Author: Kelly Bowen
Pub. Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Find it: Goodreads | KoboAmazon

Their love was always in the cards.

He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he’s more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty-in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he’ll have to devise a proposition she can’t turn down.

Gossip said he was an assassin. Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie’s club offered a surefire way to make quick money-until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible . . .

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Read an Exclusive Excerpt Here!

 

Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: Daemoniac by Kat Ross

Synopsis for Daemoniac (from Goodreads):

It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.

But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.

From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?

Other books in the series:

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Series: A Dominion Mystery
Author: Kat Ross
# of Books: 1+ (Daemoniac, The Thirteenth Gate)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Thirteenth Gate, is to be published in 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 12, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a good mystery story–especially if it has anything to do remotely with Sherlock Holmes. I took a detective fiction course in my undergrad and LOVED it! But I’ve been a Holmes fan since I was a kid thanks to my father. Yes, I’m that person who gets excited for the latest re-imagining of the famous detective.

Image result for sherlock reaction gifs

So when I saw the premise for this novel–a young female detective hunting a murderer in 1888s New York–you would have had to tackle me to the ground and tie me up to stop me from joining this blog tour.

The Plot:

If you’ve ever read a Sherlock Holmes’ story, you’ll be right at home with this book. All the copious detail that is a staple of a Conan story is present from start to finish with this novel.

Which means it takes a while to get into the groove of the narration here. Especially for someone like me who isn’t overly fond of excessive detail. The first few chapters were tough to get through but definitely worth it in the end.

The last half of the book has faster chapters and a lot more action. Once everything starts to come together, this book is hard to put down. It does a great job of wrapping up the mystery of this novel while giving you enjoy loose ends to be curious about the sequel.

As for the mystery–it’s very Sherlock-ian and definitely worth uncovering.

The Characters:

If you are at all familiar with the basics of the Sherlock Holmes’ universe, it’s easy to see the parallels between the characters. Harrison is a smart and observant lead (Sherlock); her best friend and sidekick, Weston, is a doctor in training (Watson); and don’t forget the caring housekeeper Mrs Rivers (Mrs Hudson).

I could go on and on with the character parallels but I do want to emphasize that these characters aren’t carbon copies of their inspiration.

Harry in particular lacks the cocky persona of Holmes. She knows she can solve mysteries but she has always lacked the opportunity to do so because of her older sister. And don’t forget the social pressures she has as a female in New York City; that in itself adds a unique aspect to her character. So it was nice watching her come into herself as the story progressed.

The Romance:

There is no romance here but I do see the inklings of some potential romantic encounters later on in the series.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While this mystery is solved in this novel, the story is far from over. The teaser we get for The Thirteenth Gate has me excited to see how everything is going to come together. I’m also looking forward to learning more about these characters and uncovering more of their secrets.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

Daemoniac 4/5 | The Thirteenth Gate TBR

overall

This series is perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes and mysteries!

Read if You Like: Sherlock Holmes, mysteries
Avoid if You: dislike mystery stories, dislike stories with lots of detail

similarreads

  • The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (Bannon and Clare Series #1)
  • The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone (Paranormal Investigator Series #1)

Kat Ross

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

Author Links: Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Furious Rush (#1) by S C Stephens

Synopsis for Furious Rush (from Goodreads):
The first in an emotion-fueled, New Adult series from the #1 bestselling author of the Thoughtless novels!

Too fast, too furious—and way too hot to handle…

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense—and strictly forbidden—attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

Other books in the series:

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Series: Furious Rush
Author: S C Stephens
# of Books: 1+ (Furious Rush, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Forever Publishing

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance and this one seemed to fit the bill perfectly when I read the synopsis. Rivals falling in love? It doesn’t get much better than this folks!

The world also grabbed my attention. Racing stories are few and far better–or they are for me–and the premise of a young women trying to break into a male-dominated world fascinated me. I dunno how many people remember the Disney Original Movie Motorcrossed, but it was a favourite of mine growing up.

The World:

I know nothing about professional racing but Stephens provides you enough to get easily understand the world. You aren’t bombarded with information nor are you left hanging wondering what the heck is happening.

It was great entering this world and a nice change in pace from the endless Football heroes…

The Plot:

This one started on the slower side for me. While the sexual tension was brimming from the get-go, I found the drama took awhile to reach its peak. In hindsight, it’s a great set-up for the rest of the series but I just felt like there were too many open-ended questions left.

The Characters:

Kenzie was a strong heroine. She sticks to her convictions even when the world is telling her not too. Her love and loyalty for her family is commendable and two of her best attributes. It made it easy for me to root for and empathize with her as the story progressed.

Hayden is the bad boy with a heart of gold that you can’t help to fall for. One of the nice things about not getting his POV is the mystery of who he is and why. I loved uncovering more about him as Kenzie did. I forget how nice only having a single POV can be in terms of suspense.

The Romance:

These two are perfect for each other and I love how obvious that is early on. If it is a forbidden romance, you need to convince me that these two belong together–and Stephens does that excellently! It was great watching these two fall in love, fighting every obstacle in their way!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I felt a lot of things were left open-ended so I’m very curious to see what is going to happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Furious Rush 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBA

overall
It was super refreshing to have a sports novel set in a non-traditional sport like racing. The forbidden love aspect provides the perfect slow burn romance to keep you eager for more. Plus, the drama promises lots of fallout in the novels to come!

Read if You Like: sport-based novels, drama, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike slow burn romance

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About S C Stephens:
S. C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest.

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Series Review: Season for Scandal by Kelly Bowen

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Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Duke of My Heart (from Goodreads):
Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl—quite inconveniently deceased—tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals.

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected—yet absolutely true.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author; Fave Historical Romance Series
Series: Season for Scandal Trilogy
Author: Kelly Bowen
# of Books: 3 (Duke of my Heart, A Duke to Remember, Between the Devil and the Duke)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance, Regency, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Duke of my Heart); Netgalley–eARC (A Duke to Remember)

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Forever asked if I was interested in reading A Duke to Remember, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. While most of the series on my blog are YA or NA, I do LOVE a good historical romance; especially of the regency kind. So while I had never read Duke of my Heart (which was easily rectified thanks to my public library), the synopsis for both novels sounded great and I couldn’t wait to get started with them.

Oh, and Kelly Bowen is Canadian and I love supporting my fellow Canadian authors in any way that I can!

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of a connected romance series is an overarching plot or theme throughout all the novels, even though the leads change for each. Here, we get Victorian era “Olivia Popes” (Scandal TV series) who fix people’s messes like nobody’s business. It give these characters a unique flare that provides fantastic entertainment base for the readers besides a corset busting romance (which it does have in the right amounts as well).

The Plot:

While these are romances at their core, you do have the mystery/suspense elements. These aspects gave each book a flare for entertaining dramatics that kept me interested and pressing forward. What I also loved was their twists–they weren’t easily predictable which was great. Because I have encountered some of these tropes before and I was worried they were going to be carbon copies—NOT THE CASE AT ALL!

These books were fun, fresh and equally sweet as they were sexy! Simply what I love in a good regency series.

The Characters:

These characters were a blast to read about! I loved their unique quirks and character history. I find in the historical romance genres, characters tend to be crafted from the same mold: a stoic or playboy duke who gets schooled in his ways and a rebellious heroine. And while those serve as the basis for these characters, there is so much more to them! Getting to know each one with their rich histories was fantastic. And you are left with enough teasers about the next set of leads to make you want more.

The Romance:

Sweet yet sexy! Gahhh the romance here is just so well done! While they seem a little insta-connection, these characters compliment each other so well and have such great sexual tension that you jut want them to get together faster! The couple from A Duke to Remember easily made my Fave Couple list.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Between the Devil and the Duke looks like its going to be the most dangerous one yet! I cannot wait to read it and am so sad I have to wait for January 🙁 I want it now!!!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #3: Between the Devil and the Duke

Kelly Bowen as the fantastic ability to make me fall in love with the leads by the end of the first chapter.

These two as leads had me swooning and rooting for them from the start. I loved Angelique right away and found her refreshing as a heroine. She has a big heart and an even bigger brain–and that was what stood out for me. Her intelligence in math and numbers is something you don’t often see in a romance of this genre. Yes, you have those heroines who read books and are smart in their own way; but her mathematics skills was a nice touch for her character.

And Alex…swoon! I was a big fan of his from the previous novels and he did not disappoint. He’s smart, protective (but not overly so) and just a great lead. His partnership with Angelique–both in the romantic and in the practical–is EXACTLY what I want for my couples. Perfection.

The plot itself was fantastic! The suspense never stopped building throughout this novel. And there were so many twists I didn’t see coming! I loved the unpredictability of this story.

Just a well crafted novel from start to finish and a fabulous way to end this AMAZING series!

Series Rating: 5/5

Duke of My Heart 5/5 | A Duke to Remember 5/5 | Between the Devil and the Duke 5/5

overall

Definitely a new favourite for me! I just loved the blend of fun, danger and romance!

Read if You Like: Tessa Dare novels; Suspenseful historical romance
Avoid if You: want a “sweeter” than sexier romance

similarreads

Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: The Broken Crown (Narrow Gate #1) by Amyrn Cross

Synopsis for The Broken Crown (from Goodreads):
Princess Emilia Aurelius was only seven when she watched her mother die at the hands of her father—martyred for believing in the God of the Atlas Empire’s Insurgo rebels. At seventeen, exiled to a military outpost where no one knows her true identity, she’s vowed to leave her royalty behind and explore the truth of the Insurgo rebels her mother loved.

When the Emperor of Atlas summons the princesses from each of the provinces to the imperial city to choose a wife for the crown prince, Emilia must leave her military life behind to join a royal court rife with cunning and intrigue. Navigating the waters of court politics and budding love are treacherous on their own, but Emilia fears for her life should anyone learn of her Insurgo sympathies.

With an unlikely ally in the captain of the emperor’s guard, Emilia must uncover the truth of the Insurgos, start a revolution, and learn to become the princess she’s vowed never to be, all while protecting her heart from a prince who could sign her death warrant.

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave 2016, Fave Heroine
Author: Amryn Cross
# of Books: 2+ (The Broken Crown, The Desolate Reign)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Desolate Reign , will be published in 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, I will admit that I was first drawn to this title thanks to its cover. The colours, the title itself and the artwork seemed to promise me great things. And then I read the synopsis and was immediately sold. This story seemed to be what I wanted The Selection to be: a romantic yet politically intriguing novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Emilia seemed like she’d be a kick-ass heroine thanks to her military past and I couldn’t wait to see if she would be the next great heroine for me.

This book literally had everything I love about YA fantasy and I couldn’t wait to start it!

The World:

What I really loved about this world is the use of religion as the main political source for tension. Most High YA Fantasy novels use magic/powers or a caste system to entice conflict; but here, it all stems from religion. How realistic is that? Very if you ask me. I enjoyed reading about a world that wasn’t flowing with magic but instead looked at something we have in our own world and something everyone has had a brush with at one point or another.

Now, don’t let that scare you into thinking this book is all about religion. It doesn’t push some agenda other than the characters’ own motivations within the context of the story. I thought it was a great tool and really added depth to this story.

The Plot:


The balance between Emilia’s character development, romance and the political world was perfect. The plot moves at a fast, but constant pace throughout the story. I never got bored thanks to the various twists that happen and the way it shifted seamless from one plot aspect to the next. Amryn Cross has a great talent for writing and it shines in this novel.

The premise of Emilia competing amongst other princesses for the princes hand was very a la The Selection for me–but this was what I wanted the The Selection to be. Instead of a whinny girl who resists the opportunity to change the system, Emilia sees the opportunity for what it is and makes the best of it. Her trying to navigate this new world was such a thrill to watch. It made the story just as dangerous as it could be and that won major points with me.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed Emilia as a character. I loved that she learned from her mistakes and that she wasn’t this flawless princess nor was she so flawed that she was jaded and hard to like. She’s strong and independent but knows that she can’t do this alone and she doesn’t resist change. She’s a fighter and a thinker and she easily makes my list of favourite heroines ever. Emilia seemed so real to me and I just really loved that.

As for the rest of the characters, they are fabulous. Well crafted and well developed even if Emilia takes centre focus. Everyone complimented the story so well that I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Romance:

While I feel like I predicted the romance situation pretty early on, I can’t say that I know how it is all going to end. I LOVED the romance here. I swooned, I sighed and I really got absorbed into it all. I liked that is shined when it needed to but took a step back to let the other parts of the story develop.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! I can’t wait! Honestly, I feel like everything is just getting started! There are so many promising story lines to work with in The Desolate Reign that I cannot wait to see what happens next!

My Rating: 5/5

overall
If you want a great fantasy novel that shies away from magic and instead focuses on the politics of a kingdom and how one princess tries to change it all, you NEED to read this book!

Read if You Like: stories dealing with politics, kingdoms, strong heroines
Avoid if You: want magic, more romance focused

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Amryn Cross
A tomboy with southern belle roots, Amryn Cross was born and raised in Tennessee where she learned the importance of God, family, Southern hospitality, and football. She’s loved the written word from the time she was a child, convinced the squiggly lines on top of the Hostess cupcake really spelled out a secret message.

Amryn is a proud momma to two adorable puppies–Argo and Luna–who provide lots of laughs and kisses. She is also an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and My Book Therapy (MBT) and answers writers’ forensic questions at Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Single Sundays: The Recipient by Dean Mayes

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Recipient (from the Publisher):
Casey Schillinge is a vivacious young woman on the verge of making her mark on the world. While backpacking, she is struck down by a tropical disease and suffers cardiac failure. But at the eleventh hour, Casey receives a life-saving heart transplant – and a rare second chance to begin again.

Three years later, Casey has become a withdrawn shell of her former self: she is estranged from her loved ones, afraid of open spaces and rides the line between legitimate and criminal work. The worst of her troubles come in the form of violent night terrors; so frightening that she resorts to extreme measures to keep herself from sleeping. When she can take no more, she embarks on a desperate search for the source of her dreams. In so doing, she makes a shocking discovery surrounding the tragic fate of the donor whose heart now beats inside her chest. As she delves deeper into the mystery of her donor, she realizes her dreams are not a figment of her imagination, but a real life nightmare.

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Author: Dean Mayes
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Psychological, Mystery
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 1, 2016
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC | Thanks so much Central Avenue Publishing!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t usually read a lot of adult thrillers but when asked if I would be interested in reading this one, I jumped on the chance. As you may or may not know, I’m studying to be a part of the health care field as a Medical Laboratory Technologist. What’s that? Basically, I’m the person who does all the lab tests when you are at the hospital (it actually is much more complex than that but I’m keeping it simple!). So I think it goes without saying that I’m really intrigued by stories that focus on health-care or science–and organ donation is one of those very interesting topics.

The media package for this release claims this book is perfect for fans of The Girl on The Train–a novel I enjoyed though found very predictable. I was hoping The Recipient would be a strong suspense story with a mystery I couldn’t solve only a couple chapters in and be able to keep my attention. I also didn’t want it to be super creepy (ie I could sleep at night).

The Concept:

Dean Mayes is actually a pediatric nurse and it definitely shows in his writing that he is knowledgeable about the topics at hand (he definitely did his research). Not only was everything super accurate but it was also explained in a way that anyone–regardless of their medical knowledge–would understand. There is a great balance between the medical, the suspense and the character development so don’t think you are going to be reading endless pages about Casey’s organ transplant.

As for the concept itself–what a really cool idea! While organ transplantation is one of science and medicine’s greatest achievements, there is still a lot that is unknown (to a certain extent). In society we equate the heart with so many things, like life and love–so the idea that a donor’s heart could possible transfer a part of that person into the new recipient? Who knows? And I love how this novel plays with that idea.

The Plot:

You might think the plot revolves around Casey coping with the random memories of her donor and that is the “thrilling” part–like a scary movie. But it actually reads more like a mystery once the concept is unraveled a bit. I found the first part (less than 25%) a little dry because it’s establishing Casey as her character and her situation–but once the plot starts going, it really keeps going at an accelerated pace.

The mystery was great! I truly wasn’t able to figure it out until the big reveal and that always gets bonus points in my eyes. It’s high level suspense and danger that really kept me on my toes and engaged as a reader. It’s a well crafted story that makes a seemingly unrealistic idea (the idea a person’s memories are transferred during an organ donation) but makes it entirely plausible.

The Characters:

Casey kinda reminded me of Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They have similar personality traits and interests and so I got very comfortable with Casey’s character quickly. She was intriguing and even if I didn’t agree with all her actions, I definitely understood her motivation. She’s a smart girl who is a little misunderstood and isn’t afraid to take big risks.

I almost want a sequel with Casey just because I loved her amateur sleuth style and I want to read more books about female protagonists that give it their all when it comes to solving crimes.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Simply put: I really enjoyed reading this book. Once everything was established, it was a fast and dangerous read that had me on the edge of my seat. Dean Mayes has definitely picked up a fan after this book!

Read if You Like: thrillers, high-stakes/dangerous reads
Avoid if You: dislike thrillers, psychological reads

similarreads

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Millennium Series #1)
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Dean Mayes
Dean Mayes is a Pediatric Intensive Care nurse who is fascinated by
the paranormal, so his stories weave an element of magical realism
with deep humanism. He grew up near Melbourne, Australia, the
setting for his new novel The Recipient, but now lives in Adelaide with
his family and dog, whom he loves with great passion along with
cooking, Star Wars and a good joke.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Love, Lies and Spies (from Publisher):
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

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SERIESous’ Top PicksFav YA Standalone 2016, New Must Watch Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Mystery, Espionage, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC via NetGalley

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book when I was browsing NetGalley and the cover piqued my interest. The concept sounded like a lot of fun but I was bogged down with other reviews so I didn’t put it on hold right away. Until, the opportunity came along to be a Blog Tour Host and I knew I had to sign-up!

Not only is Cindy Anstey a fellow Canadian 🍁 (woot!) and I love supporting my fellow Canadians, but this book sounded like so much fun! It’s been a long time since I’ve read an historical YA novel so I was eager to dive into that world again. 

The Concept:

This book is a great homage to Jane Austen’s work. You can definitely see where Austen’s influence lies in the not-your-everyday-beau-monde heroine Juliana and the scheming of family members. It also has all the “season-drama” as well. But don’t think the writing reads like a classical novel. The writing has a great, fast and often quirky flow to it that makes it such a joy to read. So if you didn’t enjoy Pride and Prejudice (maybe read the Zombie version 😉 ), don’t think you won’t enjoy this one because you totally will (if you like historical espionage romances that is).

The Plot:

I found that there was never a dull moment with this book! If I wasn’t absorbed into the romance, I was trying to figure out the political espionage or enjoying the antics of the other characters during the season. I knew right from the start given the situation Juliana immediately finds herself in and how she meets Spencer that this was going to be a fabulous and fun read.

There are plenty of twists along the way and there is always something to keep your attention. The best way I can describe this book is as the perfect hybrid between Meg Cabot’s YA historical reads and Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove Series. You have the stronger, independent heroines, the dashing but intriguing heroes and a splash of humour that makes reading the story so entertaining!

The Characters:

I loved Juliana from the start. I thought she was a quirky character and I like how she handled herself throughout the novel. Maybe it’s just the novels I read that are historical romances but most of the time, the heroine is one that breaks all of societies rules so it can get a little monotonous. However, I never really felt that way with Juliana. She was very unique and had a great aura about her that drew me to love her.

Spencer was also completely swoon-worthy. He was just as entertaining as Juliana so when they were together, it was magical. He was everything I wanted a cute dashing spy to be and perhaps a little more <3

The Romance:

While I normally read romances that are a little spicier than this, there was something so sweet and completely addicting about the romance here. I think it was because I knew what a great match these two were for each other right from the get-go. Their interactions together were a blast to read and I know I giggled like a little school-girl at some of the things they said. Definitely my favourite aspect of the novel for sure.

My Rating: 5/5

overall
This is definitely at new personal favourite for me! I don’t reread books often simply for the sake of rereading them but this one I will be picking up again. I just loved the plot, the antics and the romance. It has a comforting feel about it, like Victoria and The Rogue (one of the only books I have reread multiple times).  I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and I cannot wait to read Cindy Anstey’s next novel!
Read if You Like: historical YA, witty characters, historical espionage
Avoid if You: want a steamier read, dislike historical stories

similarreads

  • Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot
  • A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare (Spindle Cove Series #2)

Cindy Anstey
She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links:
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Book Blitz + Giveaway: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

If you know my reading preferences or have viewed my Top Picks Page, you will know that Richelle Mead is one of my all time favourite authors. To be honest: I am still suffering a bit of a book hangover from the Bloodlines Series finishing last year. Which is why I am so excited to be a part of the release of The Glittering Court today as well as share a special giveaway!

Below you will find a link to an exclusive excerpt as well as a giveaway for a signed copy of the book and a $25 Sephora Gift Card courtesy of Richelle, Penguin Teen, and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post!

The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)Title: THE GLITTERING COURT

Author: Richelle Mead
Pub. Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook
Find it: Amazon Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads | Kobo

The Selection meets Reign in this dazzling trilogy of interwoven novels about three girls on a quest for freedom and true love from #1 internationally bestselling author Richelle Mead.

“Brilliant and original, Mead’s new series starts off with a bang and will leave readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.”
—School Library Journal

For a select group of girls, the Glittering Court offers a shot at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. To high-born Adelaide, whose wealthy family is forcing her into a loveless marriage, the Glittering Court represents something else: the chance to chart her own destiny, and adventure in an unspoiled, prosperous new land across the sea.

After a chance meeting with the dazzling Cedric Thorn, Adelaide poses as a servant to join the crop of impoverished girls he promises to transform into proper ladies. But her familiarity with upper class life comes with a price: she must hide her identity from her new friends, mysterious refugee Mira and fiery former laundress Tamsin, and most importantly, from Cedric himself—even though she’s falling in love with him.

Everything begins to crumble when Cedric discovers Adelaide’s ruse, and she catches the eye of a powerful young governor, who wants her for a wife. She didn’t leave the gilded cage of her old life behind just to become someone else’s property. But nothing is as daunting—or as wonderful—as the potent, forbidden attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. One that, if acted on, would make them both outcasts in a wild, dangerous, uncharted world, and possibly lead them to their deaths.

Read an Exclusive Excerpt Here!

Richelle-Mead-2009-300x200About Richelle:
Richelle Mead has written over twenty-five novels for teens and adults. She is the author of the international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series and its spinoff series, Bloodlines. Her recent standalone novel, Soundless, draws upon Chinese mythology and history, and her forthcoming series, The Glittering Court, follows the adventures of girls destined for arranged marriages in a fantasy world inspired by colonial America. A lifelong reader, Richelle has always had a particular fascination with mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses to wear on tour. She is a self-professed coffee addict, works in her pajamas, and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington, where she is hard at work on her next novel.

Website| Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads 

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Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a hardcover of THE GLITTERING COURT & a $25 Sephora Gift Card. US Only.
Ends on April 15th at Midnight EST!

I know I can’t wait to start this one!

What about you? Are you excited?

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