Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#Sixtybooks in 2016 Reading Challenge

The #Sixtybooks Challenge is hosted by Laura@thebookjunkie (that’s me!) and Melissa@www.melissamorrisinoa.com.  We have also created a blog dedicated to the sixty books movement at www.sixtybooks.com. The goal is simple:

Read #Sixtybooks in 2016 and share your reading to motivate and inspire other people to make reading part of their daily routine.

Join us by clicking here! Then, decide how you will keep track of your books. You can log you reading however you like. Some options include: Joining Goodreads to track books, keeping a paper log, using a Google Map or your own Google Form, or whatever method you choose.

There will be updates and activities each month. To stay connected, you can:

  1. Join our #Sixtybooks group on Goodreads
  2. Use #Sixtybooks on Twitter
  3. Follow us on Twitter @lagnella and/or @mmorriswrite

We love comments!  Let us know you joined below and about any books you are excited about reading this year.  I already have quite a few books in my TBR pile ready to go.  
#Sixtybooks in 2016, here we come!

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: Fooling Around with Cinderella

Fooling Around with Cinderella was generously given to me in exchange for an honest review.  While I am not usually a romance fan unless there is an adventure involved, I do like a quick contemporary romance as long as it it light and fun.  This book was exactly what I wanted.

Synopsis from Amazon:
What happens when the glass slippers pinch Cinderella's toes? When Jaine Andersen proposes a new marketing role to the local amusement park, general manager Dylan Callahan charms her into filling Cinderella's glass slippers for the summer. Her reign transforms Jaine's ordinary life into chaos that would bewilder a fairy godmother. Secretly dating her bad boy boss, running wedding errands for her ungrateful sisters, and defending herself from the park's resident villain means Jaine needs lots more than a comfy pair of shoes to restore order in her kingdom. First in the Storybook Valley series, a blend of sweet romance, chick lit, and fairy tale fun.

I loved the main character, Jaine.  She is a girl many of us can connect to at one time or another in our lives, trying to start her career and create a path for her future while hitting a lot of bumps along the way to finding herself.  She was real.  She made mistakes.  She learned from them and moved forward, even when she wasn't sure about her decisions.  I liked her.  Dylan is her so-called Prince Charming but he has a past that isn't very princely.  He is trying to prove to his family that he has changed and can be a responsible adult.  The setting is an amusement park that reminds me a lot of a park in New Jersey and it fits the storyline perfectly.  There are even some characters in the story who very loosely fit into other roles from Cinderella.  The book was fun and I found myself smiling, laughing, and just generally feeling good as I was reading. This is a great, quick romance that isn't overdone or too deep.  I really enjoyed it and will most likely read the other books that will be added to this series in the future.

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Cover Reveal: Cogling by Jordan Mierek

A Steampunk Fairy Tale for Young Adults
who love a little Romance in their Adventures

When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother's neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.

Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags' swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors. 

Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family. 
COGLING has already gained advanced praise from NY Times Bestselling author Maria V. Snyder!
“This is a fun YA Steampunk novel. It's very different than many other Steampunk stories I've read. Basic plot is Edna's brother is kidnapped by hags and replaced with a "cogling" and she's on a mission to find and rescue her brother. The world is a Victorian-era with a strict class system for the humans and for those with magic. The woman with magic are called hags and the men with magic are orges and they're not nice and are planning to change the system. I really enjoyed learning about the world and the characters are well drawn and engaging.”
Check out COGLING on GoodReads and Curiosity Quills.  

Meet the author – Jordan Elizabeth Mierek lives in a dream world.  Sometimes she comes out to do her day job, but most of the time she is writing about her favorite people – her characters!  COGLING is her fourth book.  Her previous steampunk series, the Treasure Chronicles, include TREASURE DARKLY and BORN OF TREASURE.  Her debut novel, ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, is a young adult fantasy-horror.  You can find her short stories in numerous anthologies.  Check out her website, JordanElizabethMierek.com, for contests and bonus stories!

Win a steampunk necklace!
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Author Interview: Louise Herman

Welcome all.

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Louise Herman author of The Orcus Games trilogy and The Split Blood series.

Hi Louise, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a teacher of Computing and a keen fantasy movie fan from the leafy suburbs of North London.
I absolutely adore any film from Guillermo del Toro (especially Pan’s Labyrinth, Devil’s Backbone and Cronos), love listening to music (I especially enjoy listening to Bjork, Daft Punk and Royal Blood)  and am a big 80s fantasy film fan (with my favourite’s including Labyrinth, Big Trouble in Little China and Blade Runner).
I also have a big passion for Anime and am slightly obsessed by the genius director, Hayao Miyazaki for his work on Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle.
From an early age I had always had a passion for writing stories, which would take the reader to different fantasy worlds and realms. With a little confidence and the ease of publishing novels on the internet, I have now self-published five fantasy stories to date.

What were you like at school?

It's funny because now I'm a teacher I can finally see how hard it is gaining a student's attention and maintaining it for an hour!

I was an average student at school, who prioritise social matters over education and with hindsight, that may not have been the best idea because although I obtained good grades in the three subjects I enjoyed (English, Spanish and Media Studies), I flunked the rest and had to retake Maths at college.

I finally realised that my education was more important when I left my peers at school (they stayed on for Sixth form) and went to college, where I gain invaluable experience and found my independence.

Were you good at English?

I loved literature and would often offer to read (and act out) the Shakespeare plays we were studying in class.

I found the old English language, the powerful stories and the way Shakespeare would set the scene, to make the reader feel like they were in the story, amazing.

One of my favourite plays by Shakespeare was, 'A Midsummer’s Night Dream' and it was the enchanting story, affairs of the heart and magical settings that ignited my passion for writing.

Unfortunately, although I had great ideas for storylines, characters and worlds, my grammar and punctuation has always been my 'Achilles heel' which is why I invest in a proof-reader and editor for all my published work.

 What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I have always had a vivid imagination and had written short fantasy stories, for my own pleasure, in my teenage years. However, it was not until my English teacher told me she enjoyed one of my stories that I started to take it more seriously.

I researched competitions and writing challenges but unfortunately, without the aid of the internet, it was a little harder, than it is now, to gain the information I needed, so my college and university work took presidency and I put my writing passion to one side until I had more time (and resources) to concentrate on it fully.

So, what have you written?

So far I have written five YA Fantasy books to date:

The Orcus Games: Blood Moon (Book 1)

Guilty until you survive all zones…The Orcus Games is ready to put you on trial…
The lives of a witch and wizard couple, a new vampire and a rogue Lycan intertwine in three magical tales of love, loss and revenge.
The Craft – When witch and wizard couple, Heather and Phoenix make that fatal mistake on that, ‘Blood Moon’ night, they never thought they would be forced to working with a loner Lycan but…is he the only one who saw the, ‘accidental’ fatal act?
The Clan – Ardan would do anything for his wife and daughter but he could not protect them from the new blood thirsty life that was about to be bestowed onto them but what happens when he risks his immortal life for them?
The Pack – Caleb was always the Lycan that wanted more! With constant schemes and risky deals, to increase the potential of a better lifestyle, he thought his latest underground deal was the perfect idea, until he loses more than just his money…
The first book in the prequel to the, ‘Split Blood’ series, this novella is a mind-blowing magical tale of belonging, sacrifice and revenge…The Orcus Games: Blood Moon will drag you, kicking and screaming, on this deadly journey with the ill-fated prisoners.

The Orcus Games: Mistress V (Book 2)

The Underworld as no fury like Mistress V scorned…
Mistress V had it all…looks, power within the vampire clan and men at her disposal but she wanted more.
She wanted Ardan, to be precise.
He was unlike any other vampire she had turned before and she wanted him, needed him and was determined to do anything to get him…
Frustrated by his lack of interest and constant rejection, Mistress V is dealt another blow as Ardan is accused of a crime and is thrown into The Orcus Games, leaving her to watch her obsession fight for his life, whilst witnessing a second by second account of his budding friendship with fellow vampire contestant, Luan.
Unable to admit defeat, Mistress V plots and plans ways of getting to her man before it was too late but with every minute he is in the show, he grows closer to Luan, enraging Mistress V, leaving her to become more erratic and mentally disturbed, which has disastrous results…
The Prequel to the, ‘Split Blood’ series, this novella is a deliciously dark tale of power, lust and obsession…The Orcus Games: Mistress V will leave you licking your lips, thirsty for more…

 The Orcus Games: New Awakening (Book 3)

You can run but you can’t hide…
Escaping The Orcus Games, each of the fugitive’s dreams of a happy reunion with loved ones are short lived as they each find out there is a bounty on each of their lives.
Ardan finally accepts his new life as a vampire and enlists the help of Cathal, the vampire leader of the district, to help him make a proposal to the Elders so he can live…but what ulterior motives does Cathal have?
Heather and Phoenix return to their coven, only to find they have moved. After much searching, they find their circle and are reunited with their daughters. They beg their coven to hide them but why is the Grand Witch so reluctant to agree with the plan?
And with Mistress V agreeing to marry Cathal, have the damned foursome finally found peace and safety? Or is there one more ‘hurricane’ coming to destroy all they hold dear?
The last book in the prequel to the, ‘Split Blood’ series, this novella is an enticing end to a tantalising fantasy trilogy…The Orcus Games: New Awakening gives you the electrifying conclusion, with a seductive surprise, to keep your blood flowing for another possible bite…

 Split Blood: The Ancient Codex – Part One (Book 1)

When Faith’s mother starts organising the second stage of her arranged marriage to wizard, Damien, Faith knew she needed to escape, so she used her school as a place to retreat. Throughout her after school duties, she meets the intense, alluring Rohan, who changes her life forever. With his ice cold skin, transfixing eyes and enchanting voice, Rohan took hold of Faith’s heart and soul as soon as they looked at each other.
She knew it was wrong.
They were from two different circles and if the Elder’s found out, the consequences would be catastrophic for all involved, but the more time they spent together, the stronger they’re love grew, until one day someone sees them and they are forced to go on the run together.
Will their love be strong enough to combat their conflicting mythical needs? And what will they do when Faith is dealt a life threatening blow that forces her to make a heart-breaking decision?

 Split Blood: Rise of the Wolf (Book 2)

‘You are the oil to my fire and no one will ever extinguish us’ Enya said as she stroked the scar, which reminds him of his horrific childhood.
Lowell was always the outcast in his pack. Coming from a poor, abusive background, the only attention he knew was when his father used him in illegal Lycan fights. He never knew what love was until he met werewolf, Enya.
Experiencing a similar, isolated upbringing, Enya was the glue that helped Lowell stick together. She was intoxicating to him and he was her addiction. With every second they spent together, they gave each other the rush they needed – Unfortunately, this union was not to last as the rules of the Aliis World clearly state that Lycan’s are forbidden to communicate, let alone be romantically involved with werewolves.
So what happens when Lycan, Lowell tries to fight his attraction for lower class werewolf, Enya? And can they escape the wrath of vengeful witch, Raven when she finds out Lowell is partly to blame for her sister, Faith’s disappearance?

What are you working on at the minute?

I am currently working on the third book in the 'Split Blood' series, which will be published on Amazon and Smashwords by April 2016.

What’s it about?

It concentrates on Raven (Faith's Wiccan sister) and her fight to get her family back.

Raven's character also changes due to the trials and tribulations she encounters on her journey and we also meet new magical beings and say goodbye to some favourites.

With lots more magic, lust and revenge, 'Split Blood 3' promises to continue the emotional rollercoaster ride further into the 'Split Blood' world.

Give us an insight into your main character.

In the previous two books, Raven has been a minor character, who has always been there for her older sister, Faith.

Happy to find out her new magically heritage, Raven tried to show her reluctant sister the benefits of their new life as she grew in power but Faith was not interested in the magic classes and her history as Raven was.

Unfortunately, Faith felt suffocated from the endless rules and her curiosity led to her running away, leaving the Coven to deal with the consequences of Faith's illegal choice.

This emotional departure left a scar on Raven, who struggles to cope with life without her sister and things get much worse when her parents are taken to the Underworld for questioning about their part in their daughter's detrimental rule breaking.

Alone, distraught and unable to deal with some members of her Coven turning against her, Raven becomes obsessed with finding her family, by any means necessary - with disastrous results...

What do you think the main character of your upcoming book would like for Christmas?

I think that if it was the Raven before her family was taken away, I think she would like a present that was more from the heart instead of something expensive. Maybe something handmade by one of her loved ones.

If it was the Raven who was full of rage and vengeance, I think she would prefer something that can eliminate her enemies and the Elders to give her satisfaction and control over her solo destiny.

Louise Herman Bio

Louise Herman is a North London Fantasy author obsessed with pear drops sweets and 80s Fantasy films.

In between reading James Herbert novels and drinking too much coffee, she writes Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels.

Louise Herman has currently written five YA Fantasy books to date (December 2015); The Orcus Games Prequel Trilogy and The Split Blood series, which take the reader on a journey of magic, mystery, obsession and forbidden love with seductively dark consequences.

For more information, please go to: www.louisehermanauthor.com

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Review: Enticing Violence

This is the second book in the Empyrean Chronicles and it was generously given to me in exchange for an honest review after my request to continue the series.  The first story, Enchanting Revenge, was quite engaging and I needed to find out what would happen to the characters next.

Synopsis from Amazon:
Lily and Alec are only pawns in a war much larger than they'd imagined. 
Lily still wants to complete her mission: Avenge her parents. But when Lynn- the leader of the Rebels in Muircadia- is captured, and Rita- daughter to the evil Lord Nettles- is sentenced to death, it's up to Lily, Alec, and the very select few Fae they trust, to try to save them all before it's too late.  When all you do is fight for your life, how do you find time to live? How do you love when hope is always slipping away? 

As I said in my review of the first book in the series, I often find it to be a turn off when a fantasy novel goes overboard. In many fantasy novels, I become bored with the extreme attention given to world building. I find however, that Theresa Jones makes the story the main focus and that's why I read a book.  Of course we learn about setting and history as the story moves forward but it isn't explained in pages and pages of intricate details.  Enticing Violence is a fast moving adventure with stops along the way to appreciate the scenery and learn more about this new realm that Lily is still adjusting to.

The story is hard to put down.  The pacing is fast as the characters desperately search for their friend. There is quite a bit of violence (hence the title) and fighting and some really creative characters, my favorite being the White Stag, who was not only written beautifully but could become invisible and travel to different places in seconds.  I loved how it spoke to Lily telepathically.  Lily and Alec are still the main focus and I also like how the author didn't follow the typical romance path of putting the couple together just to rip them apart over and over again.  While they certainly had a few bumps in the road, they stayed strong for the most part and weren't separated for long periods of time.  I liked the show of power they demonstrated together.

I'm not sure how many books are planned for the series but I will definitely keep reading them.  Lily is on a mission and will eventually take her rightful place on the throne.  I look forward to seeing how it all plays through and what final path each character chooses to take.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Top Reads

This Week's Topic
Top Ten Best Books We Read In 2015 (you can do it by only 2015 releases,  overall , by genre (top ten fantasy books I read in 2015), etc. however you choose to make your BEST list)

I'm choosing to list my top 10 favorite books of 2015.  Although my goal was 60 books, I came up short by about 10.  That's ok.  I'm still proud of, not only how many books I read, but about the fact that I set aside specific time to read almost every day, even if it was only for a few moments.  Some of the books I read will be remembered forever and others forgotten and that's ok too.  Here are my most cherished books from this year:

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