Friday, January 30, 2015

Short Fiction Friday: The Three Sisters by Lisa Unger

Eloise's granddaughter, Finley, - her only relative who shares her ability - has moved in while attending college. But while it's nice to have another person who understands what Eloise experiences, she can't help but worry about how it all affects Finley. When an ominous woman in black begins to appear, Finley is somewhat unsettled. 

Eloise soon discovers that the woman may have some connection to her own family's ancestors, three Hollows sisters who were burned at the stake in the 1600s. Three sisters Finley seems to know an awful lot about in spite of not having grown up in The Hollows. But before Eloise can investigate the woman in black or Finley's connection to the three sisters, Jones Cooper has another case for her attention: a drowning victim whose father is convinced the killer has walked free. And Eloise understands all too well the desire to avenge a loved one taken too soon. 

This might be my favorite of the three Whispers stories. Getting to know more about where Eloise and Finley's power comes from and how their own history ties into The Hollows history was really great. Plus, the fact that Jones Cooper (from Fragile and Darkness, My Old Friend) makes an appearance made it that much more fun for me.

I know that these three Hollows shorts tie in with Unger's upcoming Crazy Love You but I honestly am not sure exactly how. I have to admit that the wondering is making me even more anxious to finally read it when it hits shelves on February 10. Until then, all three Whispers stories are available through etailers. And of course you can always revisit (or discover) The Hollows through the Jones Cooper stories and In the Blood.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chaos by Lanie Bross

Hi, everyone, it's sequel time! Yep, Lanie Bross's follow up to last year's Fates is out and that means poking through my terrible Swiss cheese brain to try and recall details from my reading a year ago. Fortunately this was one that stood out a bit for me and I did recall the basics.

Jas is home but Luc isn't so sure her safety is guaranteed. An attack by two Executors cements his concerns but he needs to find a way to try and save Corinthe before it's too late. Considering Jas has no memory of her time with the Blood Nymphs, Luc believes she'll be safe hidden away with their aunt until he can return. But as he travels again to the worlds accessed via Crossroad in search of a way to bring Corinthe back from the dead, Jas is searching for something too: the truth about what happened during the two days she seems to have completely forgotten. Jas's quest brings her straight to Ford and right back into the crosshairs of the Executors.

As with the first book, Bross's breathtaking world building is the true stand out here. All of the little details that bring these varying settings to life are so vivid and unique. And yet again I wished we could spend more time in them. In Chaos we travel to a library of the dead, where each tome is the story of someone's life; Aetern, a world made of glass; and Pyralis, both past and present.

What I didn't love in this second installment was the really heavy handed instalove. I'm not as down on instalove as some, but it does have to have SOME set up. The way Jas just falls for Ford just by laying eyes on him was a definite stretch for me.

That said, I loved Jas's part of this story. In fact, I found her to be somewhat more intriguing than Luc's bouncing around trying to figure out how to manipulate time. Jas has manifested powers thanks to drinking from the Flower of Life. She also finds out something very interesting about her and Luc that could have big repercussions down the line.

All in all, Chaos was a fun follow up to Fates, but a bit more development of the romance would have been nice.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer - Excerpt

Hello, everyone! Yesterday marked the release of Liza Palmer's latest, Girl Before a Mirror, and thanks to the publisher I get to share an excerpt here with you guys.

Here's a little bit about the book from Goodreads before we dive into the excerpt:

An account executive in a Mad Men world, Anna Wyatt is at a crossroads. Recently divorced, she’s done a lot of emotional housecleaning, including a self-imposed dating sabbatical. But now that she’s turned forty, she’s struggling to figure out what her life needs. Brainstorming to win over an important new client, she discovers a self-help book—Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero—that offers her unexpected insights and leads her to a most unlikely place: a romance writers’ conference. If she can sign the Romance Cover Model of the Year Pageant winner for her campaign—and meet the author who has inspired her to take control of her life—she’ll win the account. 

For Anna, taking control means taking chances, including getting to know Sasha, her pretty young colleague on the project, and indulging in a steamy elevator ride with Lincoln Mallory, a dashing financial consultant she meets in the hotel. When the conference ends, Anna and Lincoln must decide if their intense connection is strong enough to survive outside the romantic fantasy they’ve created. Yet Lincoln is only one of Anna’s dilemmas. Now that her campaign is off the ground, others in the office want to steal her success, and her alcoholic brother, Ferdie, is spiraling out of control. 

To have the life she wants-to be happy without guilt, to be accepted for herself, to love and to be loved, to just be—she has to put herself first, accept her imperfections, embrace her passions, and finally be the heroine of her own story.

Readers, I seriously love Liza Palmer's work. Total fangirl love! So of course I'm super excited to be able to share a bit of her new book with you, to hopefully entice you to go out and buy it and experience the fabulousness of her work for yourselves!

Girl Before A Mirror (Excerpt)
Liza Palmer

"I don't understand what Bruce Springsteen has to do with why you haven't been on a date in over a year," Hannah says. 

"You haven't heard the 'Thunder Road' story?" Michael laughs. 

"Everybody has a 'Thunder Road' story," I say, smiling at the approaching waiter as the single candle flickers in the scoop of very pink gelato. My friends sing me "Happy Birthday" and I can't help but smile. They're off-key and terrible. 

"Make a wish!" Allison says. 

A moment. I close my eyes and breathe in. 

You can wish for anything, Anna. You're forty now. Forty. 

My mind riffles through the wishes I have for this next year as if they're in a virtual photo album: me atop mountains, the breeze blowing my hair back. The pages flip and now we're in Paris, meandering through a farmer's market. Flip. Drinking a pint of Guinness overlooking all of Dublin. Flip. A red gingham tablecloth, a picnic, and the Jefferson Memorial. The flips are growing more manic. A gray-shingled cottage in a small beach town along the California coast. Flip. Fresh, lavendery linens, a perfect Sunday morning with nowhere to go, and a muscular chest beneath my cheek. Flip. I'm dressed to the nines and accepting the Clio. Flip. I'm lying on the grass and covered in squirming golden retriever puppies. 

I open my eyes. Everyone is staring at me. Concerned. 

"It's just a wish, not an exorcism," Ferdie says, taking a swig of his beer. My mind goes blank and I blow out the candle. I'm forty years old and I have no idea what to wish for. 

My friends clap as I pull the candle from the gelato and lick the end. Raspberry. The other desserts arrive and we all dig in. 

"So, the 'Thunder Road' story," Allison asks, pulling the chocolate monstrosity she and Michael ordered closer to her. 

"I went out to dinner with this guy who worked in my building. He seemed nice enough." 

"Seemed being the operative word," Nathan adds. 

"Never a good sign," Hannah says, taking Nathan's hand in hers. He makes no attempt to hold Hannah's hand back. She smiles and picks up her fork, digging into her tiramisu. We all let her think we didn't see. We've been not seeing Nathan's annoyance at Hannah for years now. 

"Dinner is fine. Not terrible. Worthy of a second date, anyway, and as we're driving home, 'Thunder Road' comes on the radio," I say, stopping to take a bite of my gelato. 

"That's such a great song," Ferdie says. 

"Somehow I don't think that's where the story is headed," Hannah says, laughing. Nathan rolls his eyes. 

"I just wanted to put it out there. It's not the song's fault," Ferdie says. 

"Always the protective brother," Hannah says. 

"He's being protective of the song, not me. So," I say, nudging Ferdie. "So this guy starts singing along—not really knowing the words, but enough. Enough for me to think better of him, you know?" 

"Knowing the lyrics to 'Thunder Road' is a definite plus on a first date," Michael adds. 

"Right? And it was one of those beautiful D.C. nights right before the summer turns evil and there we are: windows down and singing along with The Boss. Then we get to that part—" Allison pulls her cardigan over her face, attempting to shield herself from what's coming next. Michael barks out a laugh and she continues to cringe as if both I and the story I'm telling are some kind of horror film. "We get to that part, 'you ain't a beauty, but hey you're all right.'" The table gasps in unison. I continue, "And the bastard motions to me." I raise my eyebrows and hold my hand aloft. "You ain't a beauty, but hey you're all right." And then I just sit back and nod. 

"Your wedding vows are writing themselves," Michael says, cracking both of us up. 

"No. That . . . that didn't happen," Hannah says. 

"Oh, yes it did," I say, taking another bite of my gelato. "And he just . . . he just kept singing?" Hannah asks. 

"Like nothing had happened. Like he was just hilariously acting out the song," I say. 

"No no no no no," Hannah says, picking up her wineglass. 

"And it was right then—and you know I don't care about looks, but I sure as hell know that the person you're dating should think you're the most beautiful woman in the world," I say. I catch Michael gazing at Allison as she finishes off their chocolate cake. Hannah and Nathan can't make eye contact. 

Ferdie gives me that sheepish grin of his. I know he hates this story, but telling it helps. "I needed a break. Ever since the divorce, I'd been way too focused on moving on with the wrong kind of men. But in that moment, I knew enough to know I was nowhere near ready for the right one." 

"So you put yourself—" 

I interrupt Hannah. "On a Time-Out, yes." "Since when?" she asks. 

"It was just before summer last year, so—" 

"A year? You've been doing this for over a year?" she asks. "I needed to take some inventory," I say. 

"You needed a training montage. We get it," Michael says. "A training montage?" I ask, laughing. 

"Yeah, you needed to run through North and South Philly while being thrown oranges and then hit sides of beef," Michael says absently. We all just look at him. He finally notices our expressions. "Please tell me you know what I'm talking about." 

"Oh, we know," Ferdie says. "Oh, we got it," I say. 

"Thank God, I thought I had to get a new group of friends there for a minute. Who doesn't know about Rocky?" Michael asks. 

"The question is: Are you at the Philadelphia Museum of Art yet?" Allison asks, clearly more used to Michael's Rocky analogy than the rest of us. 

"That's the only question?" I ask. She laughs. 

"No, I get it. Are you ready for the fight? Ready to step into the ring?" Michael asks. 

"I think you're taking this whole Rocky thing a bit too far," I say.

I will be taking part in the TLC book tour for this title, so be sure to come back on February 3 to check out my review.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Happy US Book Birthday to Tina Seskis today!

Guys, this is one of the books I've been most looking forward to sharing with you and now that it's finally out on shelves, I can!

Emily has left her family. She's starting over - a new place, a new job, and even a new name. But just what would cause a happily married woman to abandon everything she's ever known? As the anniversary of the event that started it all grows closer, it becomes harder and harder for Emily to ignore the life she left behind. And just when she thinks she's made it, new life starts to crumble. 

It's true that in reading One Step Too Far a lot of energy is spent trying to figure out the puzzle behind Emily's choice. Seskis deftly weaves together past and present story lines until the two finally catch up and collide, revealing the horrible event that Emily has been hiding. I did have my suspicions, readers, but while I wasn't too far off the mark I definitely did not see it coming!

But the book is somewhat less about said event than you would think. Instead, the story is really about the various characters and how they deal with the various bad things they've each faced in their lives. Everyone from Emily and Ben to Caroline, the twins' parents, and Angel have things that they're trying to overcome. And each of them deals with it all in very different ways.

One Step Too Far has the definite pacing and tension of a thriller, but there's a human aspect to it that I'd typically ascribe to a heartfelt drama. It's a great mix, though, and an obvious testament to Seskis's talent as a storyteller.

Rating: 4/5

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club, If I Had a Book Club

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club. And while I don't actually belong to any official book clubs, these are a few titles I'd love to read with one if I was part of one.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Deviation by Heather Hildenbrand

Good morning, readers! Today I'm taking part in a review blitz for Heather Hildenbrand's latest, Deviation. This is the follow up to Imitation, so if you haven't read that one yet you may want to avoid this post as there could be spoilers. (You can jump over here if you want to check out my review of that first installment.)

Now that that's out of the way I have to tell you that I was really looking forward to this one. When we last left Ven, she was in a bit of a precarious situation having discovered that her Authentic's boyfriend was in fact working against RogenCorp and trying to free the rest of the Imitations. 

With Daniel under lock and key and Titus Rogen dead set on learning his secrets, Ven finds herself even worse off than before. Her Authentic's father is putting increased pressure on the Imitation to find out where the rest of the rogue clones are being held and Ven knows it's only a matter of time before he decides she's no longer of any use to him. Ven has no choice but to continue living as Raven and pretending to be on Titus's side - not only does her own life depend on it, but she's the only real hope for both the escaped clones and the ones still remaining at Twig City. 

Sooo, I kind of didn't realize that this one wasn't the last one. As I got closer and closer to the final page I kept thinking there was NO WAY things were going to be resolved and of course they weren't. Deviation had just as much - if not more - of a cliffhanger ending than its predecessor! And there's no release date listed for the next book as of yet. Argh!

Ok. I'm good. Seriously, though, with much of the early character introduction and world building/set up out of the way, Deviation is pretty much all action. Hildenbrand ratchets up the tension by revealing a few key pieces of information that increases the danger for Ven and the other clones, accelerating their plan timeline and really launching the pace of the story into the stratosphere. The way the plot develops in this sequel is really great. Her relationships with the characters around her continue to evolve and Ven also finds a few new allies, which makes her own situation a bit less bleak and gives both the characters and the reader hope for what might come next. 

And I'm dying to know what that might be!

I think I actually found Deviation to be a bit more satisfying than Imitation. While the first book left me interested in reading more, this second has left me completely on the edge of my seat in anticipation of future Clone Chronicles titles. This is definitely a fun series, one that seems to be getting better with each new book. 

Rating: 4/5

For more info on Heather and her work (including news about a potential TV show and a giveaway), be sure to head over to Heather's site here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Releases 1/27/15

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

The Kings of London by William Shaw

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac by Sharma Shields

Ourselves by S. G. Redling

War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen

Breaking Creed by Alex Kava

Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey

The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

New on DVD:
Before I Go To Sleep
The Judge
Book of Life