Monday, April 17, 2017

ARC Review: Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

SummaryToday, he’s a high school dropout with no future. 
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.
 (Via Goodreads.com)

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Expected Release Date: May 2nd, 2017

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review:

I was fortunate enough to read an advanced digital copy of Cold Summer from the publisher through Edelweiss. I had originally heard about Cold Summer from emmmabooks on her Youtube video about 2017 YA Mental Health Fiction Releases. Whenever she mentioned the plot of Cold Summer, I was extremely intrigued and I could not wait to get my hands on a copy of it. Cold Summer did not disappoint me.

Essentially, Cold Summer follows Kale Jackson, a time-traveler, who uncontrollably travels throughout time. Recently he has been coming back to a specific battle during World War II and he develops PTSD as a result. An old friend, Harper, moves permanently next door and Kale has to face his PTSD, family issues, and rekindle his friendship with Harper. Harper is also facing her own crisis and wonders if she made the right decision moving in with her uncle. The novel takes place in alternating points of view between Kale and Harper. The summary that comes with the book spoils events that occur over halfway throughout the book. So, if you happened to skip the end of the summary or decided against reading it, I would recommend not rereading the summary if you have already read it or not reading the summary if you have not read it. I would recommend deciding if you want to read the novel based on the small blurb I just provided and the remainder of my review. 

Recently, I have been extremely annoyed with the romances I have been reading in YA novels. Many of them have featured a romance that was too prevalent in the story or characters that fell in love too fast. However, Cold Summer featured the perfect YA romance. Kale and Harper's romance was prevalent enough in the story to be considered a romance, but the problems plaguing Kale and Harper were the foremost issues. Their relationship developed as the story progressed, but it never overshadowed the problems plaguing either character, which I absolutely loved.

Neither character also 'fixed' each other. A common theme throughout YA and NA literature is the fact that the main two characters dissolve each others problems. Kale and Harper were supportive of each other, but they did not 'fix' each other. They were the only ones who could appropriately deal with the issues plaguing them. It was so refreshing to see them dealing with their own issues, not trying to fix the other. 

I have never suffered from PTSD or known anyone who has suffered from it so I cannot say whether the representation was accurate or not; however, PTSD and other mental illnesses are extremely important topics and I am glad that mental health is being portrayed in YA fiction. If you have read any reviews addressing the portrayal of PTSD in Cold Summer or have read the novel and suffered from the illness, please comment below or feel free to contact me about the representation. I would really like to be informed about the topic and know if PTSD was portrayed correctly in the novel.

One of the problems I had with Cold Summer was the foundation of the novel. While the foundation of Kale's time-traveling ability was explained and made sense, the foundation for the story itself was lacking. The novel took place over the course of a summer, but it seemed to go on forever. While I rarely know what day it is during summer vacation, it seemed as though months went on but summer never ended. They never mentioned that school was only a matter of days or weeks away, only that it was coming. The novel starts at the beginning of July and after Independence Day. The novel has no grasp in time. At first I thought that the no grasp in time would make sense in Kale's point of view since he is constantly time-traveling and losing himself to PTSD; however, the same timelessness was occurring during Harper's characters and she did not suffer from either of his problems. Many readers might not have a problem with the timelessness, but it made the novel seem to be going on forever without any real end point. 

My second problem with Cold Summer ties in with my first issue: The length of the novel. While reading Cold Summer I had no idea how long the novel was, due to the fact I was reading a digital copy; however, according to Edelweiss, the novel is going to be 334 pages. It is relatively short in comparison to an average book I read, which is 500 pages, but the timelessness of the book made it drag on and a couple of the chapters were rather unnecessary. Aside from a few action scenes when Kale is back in time, there is very little action to the story. It is mainly a character driven novel, which I appreciate at times, but it dragged in a couple areas and made it a likable novel for me, not a lovable one. My issues with the novel could be fixed with another revision of the novel. These changes could have easily been changed from the version I read of the story to the finished one.

The story, the characters, the romance, and Gwen Cole's writing was intriguing enough that I finished Cold Summer in a matter of days. It was a short, yet powerful novel that deserves to have a place in bookstores across the world. I highly recommend purchasing your own copy of Cold Summer on May 2nd or borrowing a copy from a local library. Cold Summer was Gwen Cole's powerful and stunning YA debut. I cannot wait to see what she will be publishing next.



Friday, April 14, 2017

ARC Review: Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

Summary: In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master. (Via Goodreads.com)

Pages: 378

Release Date: June 17th, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Review

I am extremely thankful that I received an ARC of Roar from Cora Carmack and Tor Teen as an incentive for being a member of the Street Team for Roar. Roar was one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2017. Not only has Cora's most recent release been a couple years ago, but Roar is also her YA Fantasy debut. Unfortunately, Roar did not live up to the hype that I had made it out to be. While Roar did feature a brilliant magic system, nothing was that extraordinary about its characters. 

It was rather difficult separating Cora's previous works from Roar. While her typical New Adult contemporaries are most certainly different from YA Fantasy, I still assumed both would feature Cora's uncanny ability to write raw and real characters. In her NA novels, she is able to completely develop characters in one book, but she did very little of that in Roar. Understandably, Roar is the first novel in a series so she cannot use everything she has in-store for these characters; however, the characters of Roar were not unique or compelling like her typical characters are. I also found the romance and friendships lackluster. While Cora threw in a line or two of funny dialogue, nothing separated the characters. They simply existed in the story, they were not leaping off the page at me or following me after I put the book down.

Like Cora's other novels, Roar's writing swept me off my feet. Although the characters were not holding me within the story, the world and the story itself were compelling me to stay and ride the waves of the storms. Cora effortlessly compels her readers to continue flipping the pages until the very last one. Although I did not love the characters of Roar, by no means,  was I unhappy with the book. The story and the world intrigued me and allowed me to enjoy the novel. I had a great time reading the novel; however, it was most certainly not my favorite of the year or of Cora's other novels.

The magic system of Roar was fascinating. The world of Roar, Caelira, is built around storms that ravage the world. Those who can defeat the storms rule the world. As the main character, Roar, uncovers new additions to the fantasy world, it creates a fantastical and brilliant world that is terrifyingly beautiful yet dangerous. I cannot wait to learn more about the world and hopefully see more of the beautiful landscape in the rest of the series. The only critique I have about the world is the inclusion of witches. The abilities of the witches are explained; however, I do not understand how they tie into a world of storms. It was an odd addition that I hope will be explained in the remainder of the series.

While Roar was not as stunning as I had hoped, I am excited to see where the story continues. Roar's sequel will most certainly be going onto my to be read list for 2018. I recommend trying Roar for yourself, especially if your are a fan of YA Fantasy series or of Cora's other novels. My complaints can easily be fixed with another revision of the novel or as more is explained and divulged as the series continues. I will definitely be giving Roar a reread when it is released on June 13th and I hope you do, too. 










Monday, April 3, 2017

My Favorite Signed Books



  (Click the Title of Each Novel for More Information)





The first time I met Jennifer L. Armentrout was at Celebrate the Book in October of 2013. It was the second time I had ever been to a bookish event; however, this was the first time I had ever attended a multi-author event.

I was extremely nervous because Jen is one of my all-time favorite authors who I deeply admire. When it was my turn to met Jen during her signing, she immediately asked me if I had ever attended a book event before. I hesitantly answered yes because I assumed I had done something wrong to prompt that question. However, she asked me that because she thought she had seen me before at one of her events. At that point, I was already extremely embarrassed and did not correct how I answered her question.

I got several books signed by her at Celebrate the Book, but Cursed contains my favorite inscription, "So nice to see you again!" Since October of 2013, I have met Jen six times and it is truly a delight to meet her every single time! While her inscription of Cursed was was not true at the time, I absolutely love it! Little did we both know that I would see her numerous times in the years to come. 






When I originally met Cora Carmack at ApollyCon in 2015, I got a bookplate signed by her because I did not own any of her books and had never read any of them. Flash forward a few months later and I owned all of her books and read nearly all of them. In addition, I was absolutely in love with her writing and storytelling.

Later that year, I was able to interview her at San Diego Comic-Con, which you can read here. Having the opportunity to interview Cora was a dream come true! It is always amazing to interact with authors at signings and various events, but interviews are very personal and one-on-one. I vividly remember us sitting outside of a panel room that was in session. People were coming in and out of the room and we had to periodically move or make our presence known so we would not get hit by the door. Following the interview, I asked her to sign my copy of All Played Out, which is my favorite book by her. 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to meet Cora since then and this is the only personalized novel I have of hers. While All Played Out is one of my favorite novels and means a lot to me, having the chance to interview Cora is an opportunity I will be forever thankful for. My interview with her was the second in-person author interview I had ever done and one of my absolute favorites. I still have the audio recording and it makes me smile just thinking about it. All Played Out is so valuable to me because of its content and the memories attached to it.






I was fortunate enough to be chosen for Susan Dennard's Street Team for her YA Fantasy series, The Witchlands. I have been a part of the Street Team for almost two years and it has been a dream. I have grown closer to Susan and made some amazing friendships along the way.

My signed copy of Truthwitch is one of my favorite signed books, not only because of the sweet inscription Susan wrote, but also the connection I have with the novel. Having promoted Truthwitch and its sequel, Windwitch, I have an attachment to the novels and having the physical versions make me extremely happy. While I did not write either of the novels, I feel an attachment to them because I have spent a large chunk of time promoting and raving about them. I actually have an entire shelf dedicated to both of Susan's series. I cannot wait to see it expand as the series continues and as she writes more novels.

I cannot wait to see Susan sometime in the future and have Windwitch and my other unsigned novels of hers signed. It is always a joy to met Susan and I was extremely saddened when I was unable to go to her Pennsylvania book signing on her Windwitch tour.







It is always amazing when an author or follower recognizes me outside of the internet. While I have had authors remember me, it is rare for them to remember my name as well. That is not saying that it is bad for an author to not recognize a reader because they have met countless readers, it would be difficult for anyone to remember all those faces. When I met Wendy Higgins in 2015 for the third time, I was shocked when she began personalizing  my book before I had even given her my name. 

I have been in love with Wendy's stories since 2013 and it was a dream come true that she easily recognized me. While my height and hair does distinguish me from most readers, it was shocking that she was able to remember my first and middle name, which I go by on the internet. It was also amazing that she personalized The Great Hunt with Casey Marie because this duology follows a strawberry-blond lead and one of the side characters is a red-head. My hair is what I named my blog and my social media handles after, it was touching that of all the novels she personalized as such was one with a red-head on the cover.

Wendy is such a sweetheart and it has been an amazing few years growing up with her books! I am excited to see what she writes next and I hope to see her soon, too. There are still a couple books in my collection unsigned by her.





One of my favorite series is Kresely Cole's The Arcana Chronicles. It is one of the most under-hyped series that I have read. I have met very few readers that have read the series, but those that have read it are as in love and dedicated to the series as I am. 

Endless Knight is my favorite novel from the series and one of my favorite novels of all-time. Having had the opportunity to met Kresley Cole at San Diego Comic-Con in 2014 was one of the highlights of the convention. She is a sweetheart and her YA series deserves more praise. The novels in this series are rather short, which is perfect for marathoning, but she is able to capture emotion, character development, and action into such a short amount of pages. It is truly magical.

I treasure this signed copy of Endless Knight. The book itself is a masterpiece, but the inscription and the memories surrounding it are just as wonderful. I cannot wait for the next novel in the series and to eventually have my entire collection of The Arcana Chronicles signed. If you have taken anything from this post, it is the fact that you should check out the first novel in The Arcana Chronicles, Poison Princess. I promise you will not regret it.





It is hard to truly describe the attachment I have to each of these books. They might seem like an average book to most, but many of you should understand how precious signed and even unsigned books can be. Books are able to capture memories a way that a camera never can. I have several other signed books that I love and treasure, but these are a few of my absolute favorite signed books. 

Let me know in the comments if you would like to see another post with more of my favorite books. Also let me know in the comments if you have any favorite signed books and why you treasure them so much.



















Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. The potential of a commission by no means influences my opinion on the item, the link is simply there to assist my readers if they are interested in purchasing or knowing more about the item.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Special Announcement from Cora Carmack!

AllClosedOff_AnnouncementBanner

From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack, comes the highly anticipated fourth standalone title in her Rusk University Series, ALL CLOSED OFF! A passionate story and journey, get ready to be mesmerized with Stella’s story! ALL CLOSED OFF is coming your way May 1, 2017!


ALL CLOSED OFF - cover
Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.


Cover Design and Photography by Kelsey Kukal-Keeton at K. Keeton Designs

     


ALL CLOSED OFF - full cover wrap


Add it to your Goodreads




ALL CLOSED OFF - Announcement Teaser

     

Don’t Miss All of Cora’s Standalone Rusk University Series Titles!

 

ALL LINED UP

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes


ALL BROKE DOWN

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes


ALL PLAYED OUT

  Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes




Cora Carmack - author pic

Cora Carmack is a twentysomething New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twentysomething characters. Raised in a small Texas town, she now lives in New York City and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various TV shows on Netflix. She lives by one rule: embrace whatever the world throws at you and run with it (just not with scissors).        



Website | Facebook | Twitter | Cora Carmack Goodreads




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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ARC Review: Silenced by Leddy Harper

SummaryAs a young child, Killian Foster survives the unimaginable. Silenced and scarred, he keeps to himself, spending his time with his notebook in the woods behind his aunt’s house. 

Until Rylee Anderson…

When Rylee spots Killian hopping over a fence next door, she follows him, unprepared for the boy she’d find—or the relationship that would unfold over the next seven years.

Or the silence that would follow.

Fighting between the hate of his past and the promise of his future, Killian must make choices—ones that would affect more than himself. Choices that would test the lines of right and wrong. Decisions that could break the bond of the only love Killian knew.

Hate or love.
Revenge or forgiveness.
Silence or his voice. (Via Goodreads.com)

Release Date: February 22nd, 2017

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Review:
  
I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of Silenced from Social Butterfly PR. I knew nothing about Silenced prior to starting it; however, the beginning of the novel completely captured my attention. I fell in love with the characters and their story until half way through the novel. The second half of the novel felt completely different from the first half in an unpleasant way. The characters were completely different and none of their actions were justifiable. It felt as though the author had started one story and halfway through she decided to write a new story with characters that shared very few similarities with the characters from the original novel. 

I could easily rate the first half of Silenced a four point five or higher star rating out of five. The novel captured the development of friendship and the struggles of growing up perfectly. The beginning of Silenced also wove together a beautiful love story and a couple that was one of my absolute favorites. The second half of Silenced completely wrecked my love for the first half. As I stated previously, none of the characters were remotely similar to their characters in the first half. Normally that could be understandable due to development and age, but the growth of the characters was not in a positive direction. Some of the actions they made were despicable and unjustifiable under any circumstances, yet the characters never showed any remorse or reviewed those choices later on. The characters were not meant to be antiheroes, yet the choices they made were disgusting and never apologized for. These were characters who started out as fantastic individuals who I would love to befriend to individuals I would never want to associate with.

The development of new characters and plot lines also lacked. One new character was unnecessarily made out to be a villain even though poor decisions in their past could have been a one time ordeal. While I do not want to name this character or dive into spoilers, the past actions of this character are horrendous and should not be viewed any other way; however, his overall character should have been incorporated into the story another way. I disliked the way the characters were brought into the story and the character was unnecessarily developed into a completely horrible person. While their actions should never be condoned, it was unnecessary to develop them with certain issues. Some people are just horrible, there are not always explanations or 'root' problems that made them the way they are. Also, numerous plot lines in the second half were so clear that it was laughable. They were so easy to discern. 

I felt so betrayed by Silenced. I absolutely loved the first half of the novel. I felt countless emotions for the characters as they grew and developed only to have those characters demolished by the second half of the novel. I thought I had discovered a new favorite author, but I cannot overlook the second half of Silenced. At the moment I have no desire to try another novel by Leddy Harper. 

The beginning of Silenced gave me so much hope that I had found a new favorite novel. I felt so many emotions and such a close connection with the character, but the second half just left me angry and unsatisfied. I wish I could forget the second half existed and just pretend the novel ended there or that the second half was completely cut out except for the last two chapters. 

Silenced received numerous four and five stars on Goodreads, so you might enjoy the novel; however, I would not recommend it. I cannot truly convey how betrayed I feel. I became so attached to these characters only for them to be ripped away and ruined. I considered putting down Silenced and never returning to it, but I had to finish it and I regret not putting it down. The love I had for the beginning of this novel is gone, it is overshadowed by the second half of the novel. I was kind enough to give Silenced a two out of five stars because I still cannot forget that I loved the first half of the novel. 


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Release Blitz: Dear Agony by Georgia Cates




Dear-Agony-eBook-Cover-Square-1

            Dear Agony,

You've been my shadow, following me through childhood—filling my days and nights with terror and uncertainty. You cleverly disguised yourself as some form of pain or suffering as I grew into a young woman. We were unwavering companions … until I severed our ties.

I traded homelessness on the streets of New Orleans for a luxurious bed covered by the finest linens.
I traded dumpster diving for dinner in the finest restaurants.
I traded myself to a stranger—Bastien Pascal.

I have a good life within my platonic and mutually beneficial companionship with Bash.
He’s my friend. My mentor. My roommate.
Until everything changes.

I’m not supposed to get goosebumps when his hand brushes my skin.
I’m not supposed to be eager for his soothing touch following one of my nightmares.
I’m not supposed to think about what might happen if I reached out to him in the darkness.

Falling in love with him? Preposterous . . . unavoidable.

Agony, why are you back with a vengeance to rob me of this life I’ve come to love so dearly?

I’m finally happy. Don’t ruin this for me.

Always yours,
Rose


In this epic love story, Dear Agony forges a connection between an unlikely pair—a beautiful rose entwined in barbed wire and a shipwreck sinking into the darkest depths of the ocean. This agonizing romantic novel poses some gut-wrenching questions: What does a woman do when the man she loves is planning his own demise? And how far will she go to give him something to live for?


  

AMAZON

         
Dear Agony Teaser 6




Chapter 14

Bastien’s POV

Bringing Rose on at PPI has proven to be one of my best decisions ever. Not only is she the best assistant I could have hired, I get to have her near me all of the time. Win-win.

But not everyone is happy about Rose’s employment at the firm. Wendy is less than thrilled, but I’m proud of the way Rose handles herself. Kill her with kindness. That’s Rose’s MO where Wendy is concerned, yet she has this clever way of putting the woman in her place.

Rose is sitting on my office sofa. She’s in deep concentration reading the paperwork for PPI’s newest property so she doesn’t notice me looking over to steal glances at her.

That red dress fits her like a glove, showing just the right amount of leg. And those mile-high leopard-print heels . . . hot, hot, hot. I love having her at the office with me, but damn, she makes it hard to concentrate, especially when she’s working in my office instead of hers.

She looks up from the paperwork and opens her mouth to speak but stops when she catches me ogling her. She smiles and her brow wrinkles. “What?”

I shake my head. “I didn’t say anything.”

“I know. Why are you looking at me like that?”

I’m curious to hear how she perceives the way I watch her. “What kind of way am I looking at you?”

Her smile deepens and she glances away. “Never mind.” 

“I want to know. How am I looking at you?”

She glances over at me and then down again. “Like you want something.” 

The woman couldn’t be more right. I do want something. Her. “What do you think I want?”

She tilts her head to the side and grins as she nibbles her bottom lip. That lip I want to suck into my mouth and then bite and kiss at the same time because I can’t decide which I’d rather do. 

“Tell me. What do you think I want?” I’m curious to see how far I can take this conversation. How much I can get her to admit about the way she interprets my gaze. She might be inexperienced, but surely she can see I want her. 

Rose is so different from any other woman I’ve ever wanted. She’s delicate. Fragile. Innocent. She doesn’t know how to play the seduction game, yet she has seduced my heart, body, and soul. 

I need her. 

 I want her. 

 I love her.





Dear Agony Teaser 13









IMG_4677Georgia resides in rural Mississippi with her wonderful husband, Jeff, and their two beautiful daughters. She spent fourteen years as a labor and delivery nurse before she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an author and hasn’t looked back yet.

When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. When she’s being domestic, she’s listening to her iPod and visualizing scenes for her current work in progress. Every story coming from her always has a song to inspire it. 

Representation: All questions regarding subsidiary rights for any of my books, inquiries regarding foreign translation and film rights should be directed to Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich.


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