Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: The Reader by Traci Chee


The Reader by Traci Chee
Book One of the Sea of Ink and Gold series
Publisher: Putnam
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from First to Read

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible. 

What I Liked:

What a fascinating debut novel! This book was fun and entertaining, but not in a light way. There is plenty of bloodshed and violence, but also adventures and magic and pirates! In a tangential way, this book reminded me of another YA '16 debut, Rebel of the Sands. Completely different stories, but the feel of the stories (the tone?) are similar, and wonderful.

In this fantasy world, people no longer have the ability to read. Books have been forgotten and lost. Sefia's parents had one book hidden, and Sefia didn't know what it was. Both of her parents are dead, and she's with her Aunt Nin. But when Nin is captured, Sefia takes the book and goes after them. Months pass, and no luck. Sefia was well-taught by Nin to survive, but Sefia has no direction. The only thing that can help her is the book, which Sefia slowly begins to understand. But will the book help her figure out where Nin was taken, and more about her parents?

This book is written in third-person limited, and I loved that. Certain chapters are from Sefia's POV (most of them), but also Archer's (Sefia's companion whom she rescues/frees during her hunt for Nin), Tanin's (you could say she's the villain), Lon's (an Apprentice to becoming a secret Librarian), and Reed (pirate captain of the Current of Faith). At first, the POV switches threw me, even though all were in third person. But I really came to enjoy all of the POVs, especially when I finally began to understand how they connected with each other.

I loved the writing in general! I think that's one thing that you'll see reviewers say over and over - the writing of this book is brilliant. There is almost a lyrical quality to it. There were a few lines that made me roll my eyes, because they seemed out of place compared to the rest of the paragraph. BUT, for the vast majority of the book, the writing was amazing.

Another technical aspect of this book that I really liked was the physical marks of the book - there are finger smudges, ripped/burnt pages, words in the margin, and so on. It was pretty cool! I was reading an eARC, but I've heard that the ARC (and I'm sure the final hardcover copy) has these purposeful marks in it as well. So neat!

I liked Sefia a lot. You can clearly see her growth from start to finish. She's a little scared and unsure of herself in the beginning, but she gains confidence and capability as the story goes on. She's kind and intelligent, and she is pretty handy with knives or a bow and arrow. 

Archer is the boy that Sefia frees, fairly early on. He has been trained to kill all his life, and he had been dragged in a crate when Sefia saw him in the forest. She freed him, they escaped, and they were inseparable for the whole story. Archer has such a heartbreaking past, present, and future. He's a complex boy, and I liked seeing him and Sefia work together. Both of them have trauma in their pasts, and they both needed the companionship.

In terms of plot and story, this story follows Sefia and Archer trying to find Nin, as well as Captain Reed trying to find a certain treasure, and Tanin following Sefia and Archer. Lon is another important character, and his role is cleverly written. All paths merge around the halfway point in the book, and it's pretty cool how the author does that. Things get complicated as Sefia and Archer flee one enemy after the other.

Did I mention pirates? Captain Reed is somewhat of a pirate, though he's not really the plundering type. He's really more of just a captain, but he goes after treasure, so we can call him a pirate. He strikes a deal with another pirate. Yay for pirates!

There is a hint of subtle romance in this book, if you didn't pick up on that in this review! Sefia and Archer are fairly platonic throughout the book, but they grow close emotionally, and rely on each other a lot. They're each others anchors in more ways than one. But it's also sweet seeing them fall for each other. I liked seeing the trust build between them, as well as the feelings. No love triangle!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The ending had my heart racing and breaking and racing some more, but things worked out in a satisfying way (for now, I suppose). I'm a little scared of how much shenanigans the author could "cause" in the next books, because there is so much room for utter chaos! But the ending of this particular book was good.

What I Did Not Like:

This book is about 450 pages, and at some points, it really shows. Not each for me to stop reading, but enough for me to notice. There is a bit of drag midway through the story. I've seen some fellow reviewers stop reading at that point, because the story doesn't seem to go anywhere. But it goes somewhere, and it's really good! Especially in the last twenty-five percent.

Would I Recommend It:

If you like king/sword/pirate/magic kinds of fantasy, this is a book for you! I've been a little hit or miss with the YA '16 debuts, but this debut was definitely even better than I expected it to be. 

Rating:

4 stars. I'm looking forward to reading the next book! I almost wanted to save this series to binge-read the series all at once, but I'm glad I read this book now. It's such a great story!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Swoon Thursday (#187): The Reader by Traci Chee


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from The Reader by Traci Chee!


Sefia tensed, remembering the sensation of his arms around her, his bare skin, his heart drumming frantically in his chest. Then she lifted her chin and pulled him down to her, and their mouths met for the first time. 

The kiss wasn’t hard or passionate or even sweet the way she’d imagined it might be. But it was tender and strong, as if the pressure of his lips could communicate all the things he felt for her, all the things he still didn’t have the words in him to say.

It opened her up. Her emotions welled inside her and she could feel them washing against her insides: sadness and regret and anger and pain and confusion and relief and more she couldn’t name. Tears splashed onto their twined fingers.

- eARC, page 436



I really liked this book! I was a little nervous a first, but it proved to be very engrossing and entertaining. Definitely one of the better YA debuts I've read this year!

Excerpt Reveal: An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert


Welcome to the excerpt reveal for An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert! This is book three of one of my favorite adult romance series. Check out the yummy excerpt below!



About the book:


An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert
Book Three of the O'Malleys series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 30, 2016

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Greed. Ambition. Violence. Those are the "values" Olivia Rashidi learned from her Russian mob family-and the values she must leave behind for the sake of her daughter. When she meets Cillian O'Malley, she recognizes the red flag of his family name . . . yet she still can't stop herself from seeing the smoldering, tortured man. To save her family, Olivia sets out to discover Cillian's own secrets, but the real revelation is how fast-and how hard-she's falling for him.

Plagued by a violent past, Cillian is more vulnerable than anyone realizes. Anyone except Olivia, whose beauty, compassion, and pride have him at "hello," even if she's more inclined to say good-bye to an O'Malley. While his proposal of sex with no strings seems simple, what he feels for her isn't, especially after he learns that she belongs to a rival crime family. Cillian knows that there is no escape from the life, but Olivia may be worth trying-and dying-for.



Check out the series:

  


About the Author:


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.



The Excerpt:

“Thanks.” There it was again, that look that threatened to curl her toes. He reached out and took the washcloth from her and tossed it onto the nightstand. “I’m going to kiss you now.”

She should object, move away, do something other than rest her hands on the top of his thighs and tilt her head up. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Didn’t the last few years teach you anything? Apparently not, because she wanted Cillian to kiss her again, and she wanted him to kiss her now.

Truth be told, she wanted him to do a whole lot more than that.

Olivia licked her lips. “Okay.”

His lips quirked up at the edges. “I can see I’m blowing your socks off. Let’s see if I can do better.” He cupped her face with one hand and then his mouth was on hers, soft and teasing, testing—nothing like the forceful kiss that started everything last night. She opened for him immediately, driven by the lightning dancing just beneath her skin. She wished she could blame it on being skin-starved, but the truth was that this man was doing more with a near-innocent kiss than Sergei had ever done with his entire body and hours at his disposal. I am in so much trouble.

Then Cillian’s tongue stroked hers and she was lost. She gripped his thighs as he explored her mouth, giving herself permission to do some exploring of her own. He was all lean muscle, as if he’d been melted down and stuck in a forge, only to come out new. She ran her hands up his legs, stopping just short of his hips.

He took it from there. He ran his fingers through her hair and down her back, inching her closer until there was nothing more than a breath of distance between them. It would have been so damn easy to lean forward and touch him, pressing her body against his, but the separation was almost unbearably erotic. She shivered again, tilting her head back to give him better access.

She’d never been kissed like this, like she was something to be savored…valued. Like he had all the time in the world and he’d still never get enough.

Common sense tried to rear up and remind her that it was a goddamn kiss, not a lifetime commitment, but then his thumb feathered across the underside of her breast, and all rational reasoning flew right out the window.

He rested his forehead against hers, and groaned. “You’re making it hard to be good, sweetheart.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#191): Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Book Two of the Rebel of the Sands series
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she's fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. 

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan's palace—she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she's a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she's been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.




Who isn't waiting for this book? I can't wait! It's really cheap on Amazon right now. =)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Adult Romance Giveaway Extravaganza!

Good morning! And welcome to my adult romance giveaway extravaganza! I have a ton of adult romance novels that I'd like to share with others. Specifically...


Hard Rules by Lisa Renee Jones
Book One of the Dirty Money series
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: August 9, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in the smoldering, scorching first novel in the explosively sexy new Dirty Money series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones.

How bad do you want it?

The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family's business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.

Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both. 

Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble


In addition to this novel, I'm giving away the following:

    

    

  

(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!)


The Giveaway:

Win Hard Rules and eight other romance novels (pictured above)! Open internationally, ends September 8th. See the "Giveaways" page for full terms and conditions. Good luck!

(Huge thanks to the three publishers that made this giveaway possible!)


Bonus entries: follow & RT this tweet for extra entries! These entries are additional entries that are not logged in the Rafflecopter (I will keep track on a spreadsheet). 

Release Day Blitz: 1001 Dark Nights: Discovery Bundle Six


We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Release Day Launch for 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Six! 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Six is brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights. The Bundle contains 7 novellas, including 2 novellas from 1001 Dark Nights Discovery Authors, Rebecca Yarros and Kennedy Layne! This is one hot bundle. Grab your copy today!


From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors Jennifer L. Armentrout, Lorelei James, Alexandra Ivy, Laura Wright, Donna Grant, and introducing Rebecca Yarros and Kennedy Layne.
Seven Dark Tales. Seven Sensual Stories. Seven Page Turners.

Every Dark Nights tale is breathtakingly sexy and magically romantic.

DREAM OF YOU: Abby Erickson isn’t looking for a one-night stand, a relationship, or anything that involves any one-on-one time, but when she witnesses a shocking crime, she’s thrust into the hands of Colton Anders. His job is to protect her, but with every look, every touch, and every simmering kiss, she’s in danger of not only losing her life but her heart also.

STRIPPED DOWN: A flirty game of sexual truth or dare between best man, Wynton Grant, and maid of honor, Melissa Lockhart during their BFF’s wedding reception results in a steamy hookup. But their plans for a one and done change when a family crisis leaves Wyn shorthanded at the Grant Ranch. Mel volunteers to help and gets way more than she bargained for.

RAGE: Rage has never had a problem charming the females. All except Lucie Gaudet. The lovely Geek is a born troublemaker, and it was no surprise to Rage when she was kicked out of the Wildlands. Now the Pantera need a first-class hacker to stop the potential destruction of their people, and it’s up to Rage to convince Lucie to help.

KILLIAN: Gorgeous, brutal, aggressive, and human, Killian O’Roarke wants only two things: to get rid of the Pantera DNA he’s been infected with, and get back to the field. Rosalie lost her mate to a human, and now the Hunter despises them all. In a time of war between their species, isn’t any chance of love destined for destruction?

DRAGON KING: Grace Clark has found the perfect spot to break through her writer’s block. Until Arian, a Dragon King who has slept away centuries in his cave, appears and tries to force her away from the mountain. Unaware of the war she just stumbled into, Grace doesn’t just discover the perfect place to write, she finds Arian – the most gorgeous, enticing, mysterious man she’s ever met.

IGNITE: In Legacy, Colorado, I buried my father alongside his elite Hotshot team. Ten years later, I’ve followed in his footsteps—fighting fires in the mountains of Alaska with my brother.

Amid the flames, nothing ignites me like Avery Claire. She’s stubborn, strong, sexy as hell, and my best friend. She also has no idea that I’m in love with her.

FATED IDENTITY: Grady Kenton relishes the long seductive weekends with Brienne Chaylse, the beautiful CIA liaison who understands his boundaries and accepts things the way he needs them to be. When Brienne’s identity as a CIA special agent is leaked to the media, she and Grady must race to discover whose betrayal runs deep while their true feelings emerge.






About the 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Six Authors

About Jennifer L. Armentrout:

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.



About Lorelei James: 

Lorelei James is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of contemporary erotic western romances set in the modern day Wild West and also contemporary erotic romances. Lorelei’s books have been nominated for and won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s choice Award, as well as the CAPA Award. Lorelei lives in western South Dakota with her family…and a whole closet full of cow girl boots.

From Lorelei: “Why do I have a particular fondness for all things western? Well, I’m a fourth generation South Dakotan, living in the Black Hills, which is chock-full of interesting characters, including cowboys, Indians, ranchers, and bikers. The geographical diversity of the surrounding area showcases mountains, plains, and badlands. Living in and writing about rural settings gives me a unique perspective, especially since I’m not writing historical westerns. Through my fictional world, I can show the ideals and the cowboy way of life are still very much alive.”



About Alexandra Ivy:

Alexandra Ivy is a New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author. From Alexandra: “I’m not exactly sure when I fell in love with books. Probably on my mother’s knee listening to her read Dr. Seuss to me. I do remember that I was barely old enough to cross the street by myself when I discovered the delights of the local library.

Could anything be more wonderful than spending summer days surrounded by stacks of Nancy Drew mysteries? Over the years I fell in love with Victoria Holt, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and J.R.R. Tolkien just to name a few. I read poetry, essays, biographies, and plays. In fact, I read anything I could get my hands on.

Years later (no, I’m not admitting how many) I’m still an avid reader, and my tastes are still as varied as they were in my youth, which I suppose helps to explain why I enjoy writing regency historicals under the name of Deborah Raleigh, as well as my contemporary paranormals as Alexandra Ivy. For now that is enough to keep me busy, but who knows what the future might hold!

I do have a few other loves in my life besides reading and writing, the most important being my unbelievably patient husband, David, and my two sons, Chance and Alexander. Without their constant support and belief in me, I never could have been able to follow my dreams. They are truly my heroes.



About Laura Wright:

Laura Wright is a New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author. From Laura: “Unlike many of my peers in the writing world, I wasn’t a writer or a reader until I left high school. During my youth I was into theater, song and dance, commercials and boys. I loved romance surely, but I had never read a romance novel until my late teens. With that said, I remember the day I did like it was a moment ago – my aunt gave me the Jude Deveraux novel, Knight in Shining Armor and I couldn’t put it down until the very last word. Then I went straight to the library and got another – then another until I’d read everything she’d ever written. After that, it was McNaught, Howard, Schone, Kleypas, and the Silhouette line, Desire. I instantly loved those emotional, sexy reads, so much so that I began to carve out ideas for my own stories, themes that were unique to me and moved me. In 1997 I enrolled in UCLA extension writing classes, met my mentor and critique partners and since have never stopped writing. I was committed then and I still am now; the need to tell my own romantic stories a full on obsession. My first manuscript was rejected, and though the second one was as well the editor who’d rejected it wanted to see something else from me. I had something (note to authors; always keep working, even after you’ve sent in a proposal) and sent it right away. The day I got the call telling me Desire wanted to buy Cinderella and the Playboy was the best day of my life. That is until I married my husband, and had my two beautiful children. But I must say, writing is much like motherhood – tough, grueling, surprising, delicious and for me, a dream come true.”



About Donna Grant:

Donna Grant is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the sizzling Dark King series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

She was born and raised in Texas but loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her throughout the United States as well as to Jamaica, Mexico, and Scotland. Growing up on the Texas/Louisiana border, Donna’s Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding.

Despite deadlines and voracious reading, Donna still manages to keep up with her two children, four cats, and one long haired Chihuahua.



About Rebecca Yarros:

Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and lover of all things chocolate, coffee, and Paleo. In addition to being a mom, military wife, and blogger, she can never choose between Young Adult and New Adult fiction, so she writes both. She’s a graduate of Troy University, where she studied European history and English, but still holds out hope for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Her blog, The Only Girl Among Boys, has been voted the Top Military Mom Blog the last two years, and celebrates the complex issues surrounding the military life she adores.

When she’s not writing, she’s tying on hockey skates for her kids, or sneaking in some guitar time. She is madly in love with her army-aviator husband of eleven years. They finally can call Colorado home along with their gaggle of rambunctious kiddos and snoring English Bulldog.



About Kennedy Layne:

“First and foremost, I love life. I love that I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister…and a writer.

“I am one of the lucky women in this world who gets to do what makes them happy. As long as I have a cup of coffee (maybe two or three) and my laptop, the stories evolve themselves and I try to do them justice. I draw my inspiration from a retired Marine Master Sergeant that swept me off of my feet and has drawn me into a world that fulfills all of my deepest and darkest desires. Smoldering romance, military men, intrigue, with a little bit of kinky chili pepper (his recipe), fill my head and there is nothing more satisfying than making the hero and heroine fulfill their destinies.

“Thank you for having joined me on their journeys…”



Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens: August 23rd


Welcome to Week Thirty-Four of Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens! To see more details about Sweet Talk as well as previous posts, see the introduction post. Thanks to Charlene (Bookish Whimsy), for designing the banner and button for Sweet Talk.

Today, I'm featuring the authors and books publishing during the week of August 23rd!


The Questions:

1. Describe your debut novel in sixteen words.
2. Pitch your book! For fans of _____, _____ meets _____, etc.
3. What are you working on now – is it related to your debut novel?


The Authors:

Bridget Hodder, Author of The Rat Prince

1. The Prince of the Rats becomes Cinderella's coachman in a most magical, romantic, and unexpected adventure!

2. If you liked The Legend of Zelda; if you thrill (secretly or openly) at Disney movies; if you like reading the words "Happily Ever After"...you and your friends will find THE RAT PRINCE both delicious and nutritious. 

3. I have a couple of secret projects in the works-- one related to THE RAT PRINCE-- and the other one goes in a completely new direction!

Follow Bridget Hodder: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


Lygia Day Peñaflor, Author of Unscripted Joss Byrd

1. A critically acclaimed child star struggles with her demanding mother, a disturbing script, and impending puberty. 

2. For fans of behind-the-scenes stories, Unscripted Joss Byrd is the Natalie Portman movie Anywhere But Here meets Brooke Shield’s memoir, There Was a Little Girl.

3. I’m working on a brand new twisty YA told through multiple POVs. 

Follow Lygia Day Peñaflor: Website | Goodreads | Twitter
Find Unscripted Joss Byrd: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository


The Books:

  

(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!)


Other Sweet Sixteens Books Publishing This Week:

These two are the only ones!


The Giveaway:

- Finished copy of Enter Title Here
- The Last Cherry Blossom bookmarks
- Signed hardcover copy of The Rat Prince
- Signed hardcover copy of Unscripted Joss Byrd
- Girl in Pieces swag