Tag: blog tour

Blog Tour and Review: Been There, Married That, by Gigi Levangie

been there
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Been There, Married That
Author: Gigi Levangie
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  2.5 out of 5

Agnes Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife—all the right clothes, all the right friends, all the right hobbies—and even has a job of her own, author, outside of her daughter and her producer husband. Life is good—until the day her credit cards are cancelled, and she comes home to find the locks changed and a guard with a taser. Agnus’s husband is determined she’ll get nothing, but Agnus isn’t giving up without a fight.

Okay, here’s the thing:  I didn’t finish this book. The writing was great:  good characterizations, on point description, cohesive plot…but I only made it about 20% of the way through, because this just wasn’t the right choice for me. The characters were narcissistic and mean, and, frankly, their concerns were so frivolous as to be ridiculous. It would probably have been a hilarious read, but I just can’t connect with such selfish people, making it a no-go for me.

Again:  this is just me and my reaction to the story. It might make a great read for other people, but I just couldn’t turn off my annoyance with the characters and their self-absorbed antics.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Blog Tour and Book Review: Cast in Wisdom, by Michelle Sagara

cast in wisdom
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Cast in Wisdom
AuthorMichelle Sagara
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

In the aftermath of the events in the High Halls, there are loose ends. One of those loose ends is the fieflord, Candallar. In an attempt to understand his involvement—with the Barrani, with the High Court, and with the much hated Arcanum—Kaylin has been sent to the fiefs.

 She has mixed feelings about this. There’s nothing mixed about her feelings when she discovers a very unusual building in the border zone between two fiefs, and far more questions are raised than are answered. Her attempt to get answers leads her back to the Imperial Palace and its resident Dragon librarian, the Arkon.

 Things that were lost in the dim past were not, perhaps, destroyed or obliterated—and what remains appears to be in the hands of a fieflord and his allies—allies who would like to destroy Kaylin’s friends, the Emperor, and possibly the Barrani High Court itself. This is bad.

 What’s worse: The librarian who hates to leave his library has a very strong interest in the things that might, just might, have been preserved, and—he is leaving his library to do in person research, no matter what Kaylin, the Hawks, or the Emperor think.

 He is not the only one. Other people are gathering in the border zone; people who believe knowledge is power. But power is also power, and it might be too late for the Empire’s most dedicated Historian—and Kaylin and her friends, who’ve been tasked with his safety.

As always, I love the books in this series! I feel like Kaylin, with her fierce desire to help others, tendency to speak—and act—without thinking, and ability to find trouble even when not looking for it, could be me. The relationships in this series grow deeper and more complex with every novel, and the world and cultures more vibrant. I was eager to see where this adventure led—and of course it did not disappoint! Highly recommended!

Michelle Sagara is the author of The Chronicles of Elantra. Cast in Wisdom is the newest—and fifteenth—book in the series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: A Beginning at the End, by Mike Chen

a beginning at the end
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  A Beginning at the End
AuthorMike Chen
Genre:  Dystopian
Rating:  4 out of 5

Six years after a global pandemic, it turns out that the End of the World was more like a big pause. Coming out of quarantine, 2 billion unsure survivors split between self-governing big cities, hippie communes, and wasteland gangs. When the father of a presumed-dead pop star announces a global search for his daughter, four lives collide: Krista, a cynical event planner; Moira, the ex-pop star in hiding; Rob, a widowed single father; and Sunny, his seven-year-old daughter.

As their lives begin to intertwine, reports of a new outbreak send the fragile society into a panic. And when the government enacts new rules in response to the threat, long-buried secrets surface, causing Sunny to run away seeking the truth behind her mother’s death. Now, Krista, Rob, and Moira must finally confront the demons of their past in order to hit the road and reunite with Sunny — before a coastal lockdown puts the world on pause again.

A Beginning at the End wasn’t your typical end-of-the-world dystopian novel. Apart from a few brief flashbacks, the story doesn’t spend a lot of time with the actual end of the world. Instead, it’s firmly grounded in the rebuilding phase of life after a global pandemic.

My heart went out to Rob. He’s been keeping a huge secret from hid daughter Sunny for years—and now it has caught up with him and he doesn’t know what to do, so he’s floundering. Moira has been running for so long she doesn’t know how to not run. And Krista…well, I didn’t like her for most of the book, as she’s selfish and a bit ugly to people around her, but she fortunately has an epiphany about herself that changes her. I loved that this novel left the large-scale view alone, and focused on a handful of individuals, their lives, and their emotions, as this made everything much more vivid and realistic.

Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. A Beginning at the End is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Good Girls Lie, by J.T. Ellison

good girls lie
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Good Girls Lie
AuthorJ.T. Ellison
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

The Goode School, known as a Silent Ivy, is a prestigious boarding school that accepts only the brightest young women—especially daughters of the rich and powerful. The Good School is known for its traditions, like the secret societies and the honor code—lying will get you expelled. But a new girl has come to The Goode School. And she has a secret.

No one at the school bats an eye when the hazing begins—it’s tradition, after all—it’s just girls being girls and the girls would never do things they aren’t supposed to. No matter how cruel or vicious the reality is, the teachers and the head of the school turn a blind eye—until a girl ends up dead and all the secrets of the school are on the verge of being revealed. Secrets have a way of coming to the light.

I finished reading Good Girls Lie…and I’m still not sure who the bad guy is. The author does an excellent job of getting the reader into the characters’ heads—while casting suspicion on basically everyone, which kept me completely off-balance. The creepy boarding school setting is so well-detected I could practically smell the old buildings. If you need a tidy resolution to make you a happy reader, this might be the best choice for you, but it was absolutely a compelling, engrossing read.

J.T. Ellison is a New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling author. Good Girls Lie is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA. via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Blog Tour: The Widow of Pale Harbor, by Hester Fox

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for Hester Fox’s The Widow of Pale Harbor.

 

widow of pale harbor
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author:    Hester Fox
Genre:  Gothic, romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Gabriel Stone is still mourning the loss of his wife, so he takes a job as minister in the small Maine village of Pale Harbor. Never mind that he’s not a minister, or that he doesn’t even know what his own beliefs are; he’s just glad to move out of Boston, haunted by memories of his wife.

Pale Harbor is not the sleepy village he expects. His very first day, he finds what appears to be an animal sacrifice, and hears tale of the widow who keeps to herself and  the castle on the edge of town, the widow who almost certainly killed her husband years ago. As the violence escalates, Gabriel gets to know Sophronia Carver, and soon realizes she’s the target of a deranged madman who’s obsessed with the works of the wildly popular new author, Edgar Allen Poe.

Can Gabriel figure out who’s behind the chilling and macabre acts before it’s too late?

I enjoyed Fox’s first novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, immensely, so I looked forward to reading this. This tale is dark and atmospheric—a fitting tribute to Poe’s works. Sophy is haunted by her regrets, but her loyalty tethers her even when it shouldn’t. Gabriel is loyal to his dead wife, but fascinated by Sophy, and soon realizes he’s the only one in the village who believes in her innocence.

Hester Fox has a background in museum work and historical archaeology. She is the author of The Witch of Willow Hall. Her newest novel is The Widow of Pale Harbor.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Excerpt from “The Widow of Pale Harbor” by Hester Fox

As part of the blog tour for Hester Fox’s The Widow of Pale Harbor, I’m pleased to present an excerpt for you to read today. This atmospheric read releases tomorrow, and I’ll have a review up then. For now, here’s an excerpt.

Widow of Pale Harbor Excerpt

Excerpt, THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR  by Hester Fox

Fanny put a plate piled high with buttered bread, sausage, and potatoes in front of Gabriel. “There we are, a proper meal. You haven’t been eating enough, Mr. Stone,” she said with a censorious frown. He gave her the most of a smile he could muster. “I’m lucky to have you to take care of me.”

This made her blush and duck her head. “It’s only sausage and potatoes, the easiest thing in the world to make.” That might have been the case, but good, homecooked food that was made with love, that was made for him, never ceased being something of a novelty.

She made up a plate for herself and joined him. Reaching for one of the magazines that Fanny kept in a stack on the rough wood table, Gabriel began to flick through it as he ate.

It was a copy of a Carver’s Monthly. Fanny had told him that Mrs. Carver always gave her the old issues to take home and read. She caught him looking at it and nodded toward the table of contents. “Mrs. Carver gave me this one because it’s got a Poe story in it. Have you ever read anything by him? He writes so beautifully, so full of pain and heartbreak. His stories are romantic beyond anything.”

“One or two, I think,” he said. They were a little overly sensational for Gabriel’s taste—he preferred adventure stories about men conquering mountains, or sketches of life in tiny tribal villages on the other side of the world—but they were entertaining and had a particular kind of dark appeal.

“Oh, well, you would like this one,” she said excitedly. “Mrs. Carver told me that Mr. Carver was proud beyond anything to get it in his magazine. It’s about a man who has a black cat and he kills it. First he gauges out the cat’s eye because it won’t stop staring at him. But then he can’t stand the guilt he feels and he kills it. Takes a rope and strangles it, he does. He—”

“Wait, what did you say?”

Frowning, Fanny pushed the paper closer toward him, tapping her finger at the illustration of a bedraggled, one-eyed cat. “The cat. The man hangs it from a tree.”

Gabriel stopped chewing, sausage curdling in his mouth. Reaching for the magazine, he hurriedly scanned the lines of the story. There it was, the scene he’d witnessed not an hour before, sketched out neatly in black and white.

When he looked up, he found Fanny studying him, her brow furrowed in puzzlement. “What is it?”

He hesitated. Should he tell her about what he’d seen that morning? It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing one shared with young ladies, even if the young lady in question seemed to be morbidly fascinated by ghoulish stories. But she would hear about it eventually, whether he told her or not. Pale Harbor was small and word traveled fast.

“There was a dummy of a cat found near the center of town today. Just like this one, with one eye and a rope around its neck.”

Her green eyes widened as she absorbed the significance of this. “What, just like in the story?”

“Just like in the story.”

She considered this. Then her face suddenly brightened. “Do you think any newspaper men will come to write about it? Just think of it, a Poe story come to life!”

Gabriel frowned. He hadn’t thought of that. “I’m not sure. I suppose if word gets around they might.”

“Wouldn’t that be something? It could put Pale Harbor on the map. Why, they might even print our names! Maybe Mrs. Carver can ask someone from the magazine to come up from Portland and write a piece on it.”

Gabriel wasn’t sure what was more disturbing: the crudely constructed cat, its eerie similarity to the story, or Fanny’s excitement at the press it might generate.

If you’d like to read the Edgar Allen Poe story mentioned in the excerpt, here’s a link.

Blog Tour for Jackson, by Emily March

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Jackson cover
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Jackson
Author:  Emily March
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Caroline doesn’t know what to do with herself after her much-older husband dies. Her life revolved around him, and now that he’s gone, she’s adrift. So she decides to move to Redemption, Texas, a small town that takes Caroline in as she gets ready to open her bookstore. She’s ready to start a new life in Redemption, but she’s not expecting to fall in love again.

Jackson comes to Redemption after an ugly custody battle with his famous ex-wife. He just wants peace and quiet—and maybe to start songwriting again, if he’s lucky. He’s not interested in love—look what happened last time—he just wants to make his new business venture a priority. Then he meets Caroline and wonders if maybe his life needs a little bit more than all work.

Jackson is a good place to start reading a new author. I’m from Texas, and the author does an excellent job in capturing the nuances of the culture and bringing the setting to life. I love the idea of Enchanted Canyon and look forward to reading more!

Emily March is a bestselling author. Jackson is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Blog Tour for Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Author Interview

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Today I am happy to be a part of the blog tour for Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan, which hits stores today! I have a quick interview with the author, then a review of Wicked Saints, which you should definitely go read if you enjoy dark, atmospheric books with complex mythology and magic systems.

Emily A. Duncan
Emily A. Duncan

Author Interview

Q: Tell me a little bit about Wicked Saints.

A:  Tired monastery girl who can talk to the gods! Anxious morally dubious blood mage boy! Exhausted traumatized prince! An assassination plan! A holy war! Eldritch gods! Lots and lots of blood!

Q: Where did your inspiration come for writing Wicked Saints?

A:  Video games and metal music! Specifically, Skyrim in regards to the video games, but it was also fueled by my deep love for metal.

Q:  What is your absolute favorite, read over-and-over again, book?

A:  I mean, I’m very vocal about how much I love the Grisha trilogy, but to answer this slightly differently, the book I’ve reread the most is Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.

Wicked Saints_Cover FINAL
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Wicked Saints
Author:   Emily A. Duncan
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Nadya is a cleric who can commune with all the gods—unheard of—living in a remote monastery. Kalyazin has been at war with Tranavia for a long time, but the war has never touched the monastery. Until it does, in the form of Tranavian soldiers led by Serefin, High Prince and blood mage. As her friends die around her, Nadya escapes into the wilderness.

She meets Malachiasz, a defector with dark secrets that Nadya isn’t sure she can trust. But Nadya’s powers may be the only thing standing in the way of destruction, so she heads to the seat of Tranavian power, desperate to find a way to stop it. Serefin, used to drinking and fighting, has been called home by his father, but Serefin finds the king in the midst of a horrifying scheme to gain immortality and ultimate power.

Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz will have to trust each other if they have any hope of stopping the coming darkness.

Wicked Saints is dark and atmospheric, with a creepy and cold setting reminiscent of Russia. The magic systems are dark and bloody, and there aren’t a lot of happy feelings in this book. I was fascinated from the first page, although I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you’re depressed at the time. Treachery, hatred, lies, deceit…all run through the pages of this novel like blood, until you can’t see what’s coming next.

Emily A. Duncan is a youth services librarian. Wicked Saints is her new novel, the first in the Something Dark and Holy series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)