Friday, May 26, 2017

Hearts Under Siege




 Alexandra awaits the brief return of her twin brother Jeffy, when a steamboat he is supposed to be on explodes and she fears he is dead.  Refusing to believe her brother to be dead she goes in search of him, bringing herself into the middle of the Civil War.  Her grandfather soon gets kidnapped and she is needed to deliver an important message to Confederate officers.  WHile she travels the lands she is stalked by an unknown man, and protected by a handsome man she believes to be a Yankee soldier.  Through their travels the mysterious stalker turns his sights onto Thomas.  Now they need to struggle to survive and make it through the war torn lands.  Will their affections for one another be strong enough to make it through?







Within the first few moments of this book I found myself gasping, you already find yourself feeling for Alexandra as she awaits her brother only to have the steamboat explode! Holy crap, I may have also audibly whispered "NO."  There were a few things that had me a little weary such as the events leading to Alexandra and Thomas's first meeting.  Thankful nothing too graphic was described and I like that about Kelly's writing, there isn't anything graphic or explicit in this novel.  I would be willing to allow a teenaged reader to read this novel.  It is a clean romance, by that I mean little to no sex scenes.  GASP what do I mean?  How can there be romance without sex right?  Kelly focuses on the build-up of their relationship almost in a courting like sense.




There were points when Alexandra would have memories or dreams about something and it flowed with the same text as when she was awake, it would have been easier to distinguish if the text was in italics to differentiate the state of consciousness.  There is a lot that happens throughout the story from Grand-pere being arrested, to Jackson being shot, Alexandra trying to deliver this message through war zones and the romance building between her and Thomas.  The time period is the 1800's so a few things don't fit, but at the same time would it be as interesting if the dialogue fit exactly to how a Southern Belle and gentleman solider would?  I actually liked the more modern way of speaking as it made it easier to understand their emotions and get a feel for the characters. 

There are some surprises and twists to the story and the characters are relatable.  They develop slowly and pretty much stay true to their original characteristics they had in the beginning.  I have read other reviews about the story jumping around a lot, but I honestly do not see that within this book.  It all remains pretty consistent and true to the original plot.  When George comes into the picture, I am unsure of how Thomas figures out who he is, I caught onto something that wasn't addressed during this point and doesn't makes much sense, but I may have missed something in my reading leading up to it.


That being said, I enjoyed reading this book, I pretty much finished it within a day. Hearts Under Siege was the perfect novel to read on a rainy spring day.  I do recommend this book for those who like clean romances, historical romances, and romance in general, even chick lit in general.  If an I am not mistaken this is the first book in a series and I look forward to reading other books in the series and other books from Kathryn Kelly.  As for a rating, I would give this a 3.5 because there did seem to be moments where things didn't add up for me, but it was still a great book to read to pass the day away.








Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Magic Queen

Baba Yaga has a reputation as a baby eating, ruthless badass witch.  Finding love has never been on her list of things to do with her life.  She was content with the way things were.  Until Calypso and Aphtodite decided to play a little matchmaking game.  Now Baba is psir with Freyr a god of sex and lust as they battle five other "couples".  The goal?  To fall in love and proclaim their love for one another before the deadline or they will be punished.  Will Freyr break through her tough exterior or will Baba be too stubborn to admit that to love doesn't mean weakness.

I got interested in this book based on the fact that it involved Baba Yaga.  For those unfamiliar, Bsba Yaga is a figure in Russian/Slovak folklore as a witch with iron teeth.  Many stories have her as having two sisters also named Baba Yaga, others have her having three forms.  It is said that she hold power over the elements and is the goddess of wisdom and death even though she isn't a goddess.  I find her to be a fascinating character and was happy to see her used in a story.  This story uses her in the form of having three forms to which Aphrodite and Calypso requests she be in maiden form for the "games."  We do see the crone form at another point in the story, but not the mother, which part of me wishes we had.  It would have added a different dimension to the story.

I enjoyed the romantic build up of their relationship even if it was far from romantic, but their banter back and forth was adorable.   There was a scene where Freyr was a frog in her bodice that made me laugh of loud.  The beginning of the stort takes a while to build up and really take off.  I almost wanted a little more of the battles, especially with the Pied Piper, but I understand why there wasn't more.  The dialog was well done, as I said the banter between them was funny and when theygot serious it was believable.

I  enjoyed the general concept of the story and the idea that love isn't a weakness, or allowing oneself to be vulnerable in order to allow love to enter into our lives.  I loved seeing her becoming soft and growing love in the beginning with Phlegm, and agreeing to the challenge that Freyr poses to her after their first battle.  There seems to be a lot happening in the story, but it all works well together and doing feel forced or unnatural.  When you read this book you not only get a story, but you get transplanted into different worlds as each battle takes place and have a front row seat to the love forming between Baba Yaga and Freyr.

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, I think anyone who enjoys fantasy, romance, and folklore would enjoy this book.  It was something different and unique to some of the other books I have read recently.  I give this a 4 out of 5 and hope others enjoy it as well.
 
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bowman's Inn

Bowman's Inn is a collection of short stories from several amazing authors. Anything can happen at Bowman's Inn you might even find your soul mate.  This anthology includes stories with magic, romance, even a little action and adventure.  There is definitely something for every reading tastes within this collection.
I normally am not one for collections or short stories, i always feel like I'm left wanting more, needing more from characters.  Not with this collection, sure i want a grander story with each of these characters, but i wasn't left feeling like the stories were only half told.  I was able to get fully interested in the characters and fall in love with them equally.

I am already familiar with RA Winter's writing and she didn't disappoint.  I absolutely loved her story.  The exchange between the two about babies made me giggle, and then tugged at my heart!  I loved this story and want more from Han and Ann.  Maybe something of them finding one another in this lifetime.

It was a pleasure getting to know some other authors througg their writi6like Bel Cosi and E.D. Vaughn.  Its hard with an anthology to talk about every author who contributed but everyone had a unique story that fit in with the feel and tone of the other stories.  Everything matched well and didn't feel like a jumble of different stories. It really did feel like Val was moving between people helping them  find their loves.

I would definitely suggest checking this book out, i had the honor of being able to read it.  I will give it a 4 out of 5 for a rating.   I am hoping to be able to read the next edition in the Bowman's Inn series.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Ninth Circle

Aiva has someone break into her house and steals the necklace off her neck.  The next day she collides with her sister who is missing her family necklace as well/  Tala informs Aiva that their third sister has been missing for several weeks and she needed her help to find Hartley.  Aiva has not been involved with the world of magic for years, and now she is thrown back into this world to save her younger sister from the mouth of Hell.  The clues they have lead them further and further into Dublin's criminal underground, where demons and other supernatural beings lie.  They are taken into the depths of the 9th Circle where a demon lord awaits their arrival. 


There were a few things that drew me into the book, and then a few things that kind of drew me away from it as well.  The cover and plot drew me in, but the pacing and character interaction somewhat drew me away. While there is a lot happening that moves the story along, it still feels like the plot moves slowly with things added into the story that don't pertain to the search of the missing sister such as a brothel using sirens to kidnap girls.  That felt like it could be a different story all on it's own. 


The take on the nine circles of Hell and twist on the Morrigan mythos was interesting and was one of the things that drew me into this story.  I haven't read too many books that address the Morrigan, but to get to that point seemed to drag on very slowly for me.  I can see how it would grasp the attention of other readers, it has a lot of action, suspense, thrills, but for some reason it'd didn't do it for me.  I have read other reviews linking it to shows like Supernatural and I can agree with those reviewers, but at the same time I can also see vast differences.  I don't think enough time is spend in each circle, I understand the need to get through each quickly to get to the Ninth Circle, but so more time in each would have helped keep my interest in this story.


At times the dialogue and character interaction felt forced and out of place, a little hard to believe. While the story didn't feel like a good fit for me, it could be that perfect story for someone else.  I do recommend the novel for others who enjoy the paranormal, fantasy genre.  I give this book a rating of 3 out of 5 and will return to it again in the future.


** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.  The opinions in this review is completely my own and not encouraged or influenced by anyone else.**

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dark Citadel

Darik is a young slave boy who happens to find himself in with a pair of spies while the city is attacked by the dark wizard.  Out west lies an army of wizards, griffin riders and a band of knights all of whom the companions work to encourage to come to aid of the falling city.  They need their help in order to defeat the dark wizard.  The dark wizard is not only interested in the city, he has his sights set on the beautiful queen, Kallia.  She struggles to keep her distance from the wizards embrace.

This was one of those books that came in my email as a daily free book, and it seemed interesting enough, and I did enjoy it, but it wasn't as satisfying as some of the other novels I have read in this genre.  Although any young adult, young reader would find the story engaging and interesting.  There are references to a past history that readers don't get an insight to, so there is a feeling of missing out on something important to the story. 

One thing that made it difficult to read and makes me lean on the fence about reading the next book in the series is that each chapter jumps time periods as well as perspectives.  While some readers may be able to follow the jumping around like that, other readers will find it difficult and be completely turned off by it. Most of the characters are develop except for the antagonist.  We know nothing about this dark wizard other than the fact that he wants to take over the world.  How can readers begin to hate a character they know nothing about?  There almost seems to be too much happening within the story and details that some of the character development suffers for it.  I hope this changes in the other books in the series.

With any genre there are books that excel and some books that seem to fall short, for me this was one of those books that fell short.  Not to say that it wasn't a good book to read which it was.  It just felt like it was trying to be more than it should be at this point.  Being the first novel, it felt like too much was pushed into the story to make room for what's to happen in the next novels at the expense of some background and character development.  As a rating...I give this a 2.5 out of 5 and as I stated before, I am not sure if I will read the other books in the series.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Getting Inside the Mind of Rita Stradling!

I could not be anymore excited about this post.  Recently I had read Ensnared by Rita Stradling, a sci-fi retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  It was beautifully written and a unique concept that I hadn't read in other re-telling with the use of AI units.  It can be describe as something akin to the movie Ex Machina. Why does this have me super excited?  I got to have an interview with the woman herself: Rita Stradling!  Complete fan-girling over here, so let's get right to it!


Falcor, Harley and Orion wanted me to get the most important question out of the way first…Do you have any “Literary Cats” or Literary Pup?

I have a literary dog named Stewie and two literary chickens named Katy and Boo (my son named them). They fight over territory on my lap as I read or write. However, at almost seventy pounds, Stewie, as cute as he is trying to sit on my lap, sometimes makes my legs fall asleep.

What inspired you to write “Ensnared”?

A combination of things, really. I love retellings of the original Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and I’ve always been tempted to write one. Also, I’ve been mesmerized and terrified by the new breakthroughs in humanoid robots and AI being developed right now, and the new world change that might be right on our doorstep. These two fascinations merged together to form this story.


What was the hardest thing about writing it?
The science. 

Hands down, the science. 

Even though I really tried to keep the technical elements of this book underplayed, I wanted every technological element to be both theoretically feasible and imaginably achievable. Basically, I wanted you to believe it without for a second going, ‘huh?’

I am no scientist. Actually, if there was an anti-scientist, that would be me. But, thankfully, I happen to know a scientific genius who summoned the patience to turn my abstract ideas into something that would theoretically work. I am leaving this science fiction experience with a new awe for hard science-fiction writers. I just dipped my toes in, and it was quite the experience!

What was the easiest?

I’d have to say that it was the romance. Lorccan and Alainn really just fell in love on their own. They wouldn’t be rushed; they had too much internal stuff to work out. 
What has been your reaction to the reviews you have gotten so far for Ensnared?

To be honest, the reviews for this book have been quite a bit more mixed than I’m used to, but such is life. Many readers seem to truly connect with the story, and that’s something I’m really excited about. Almost all of the reviews that are posted now are for the ARC version of the book, and I’m curious to see the change when the finished version is available – for good or ill. Two editors had their hands on the book since the ARC version. It’s almost exactly the same, but there were a couple cut sections (particularly one of the longer “sexy” passages) and some stylistic changes throughout. 

Truthfully, when I listed this book on NetGalley and it rose to #1 most requested in New Adult and #7 most requested in Sci-fi/Fantasy in less than a month, the experience was a little overwhelming. I’m used to about two hundred reviewer downloads, and with this book some days it was nearly two hundred a day. But, I have to say that I appreciate the time and interest so many have devoted to this book already!
Do you currently have anything in the works?
I actually just finished a book titled Colorless. 
Kind of a funny coincidence, the reason I wrote Colorless was because of another interview I did for Ensnared. A little over a month ago, I interviewed on the “This is Lit” blog, and the interviewer asked me if I had any never-published works. I told her that I wrote a book eight years ago that I loved, but it was my first book ever and it needed a lot of TLC. Unfortunately, I abandoned it and never planned to pick it up again. 
But . . . 
After the interview I just couldn’t stop thinking about how much I loved the story of Colorless, and how the world I had created had just passed into the ether, unread. 
It took me a month, but I rewrote the whole thing. And, I mean the WHOLE thing. It has the basics of the story, characters, and world but all of the words are freshly written. 
Did you publish anything prior to Ensnared?
Yes. I have eleven other books out, among them a young adult urban fantasy series, young adult/new adult paranormal series, women’s fiction serial, and a new adult romance.


When did your love of books/writing develop?
The answer to that is a little complicated. My passion for books came from, perhaps, infancy. My father would read aloud to my sister and me every night, from The Cat in the Hat to Bunnicula to The Hobbit. It was my favorite time of the day. I also created many stories of my own, some of which I wrote out to the best of my ability. However, I had an unusually hard time learning to read and write due to a myriad of learning disabilities (including dyslexia). Also, unfortunately, this was during a time (late 80s, early 90s) where there was this lingering attitude that you could humiliate a learning disability out of a kid by having them do things like struggle through long passages in front of their peers. So, while the passion and love of the written word remained, I truly thought it something that I was too incompetent to master. It wasn’t until my last years of High School when several of my teachers asked to read my essays aloud to the class or to save the essays for examples, that I started to think that maybe I wasn’t all that inferior to the rest of the world at writing. Fifteen years later, I write full time (and have an awesome editor).
What are some of the ways that you manage writer’s block?
It depends. If I have a deadline, I’ll usually just power through it. If I don’t have any sort of deadline, I’ll put the project away for a while and work on another book until inspiration hits.

How have you been able to handle rejection as a writer?

As Yann Martel says in the Life of Pi, “You can get used to anything”. I think rejection becomes just a part of the day-to-day life for artists of any profession, writers, actors, directors, chefs – as does acceptance. There are the small rejections and acceptances and then the really big ones, but they all pass quickly with more opportunities near on the horizon. 
 What are some of your ambitions and goals as a writer?
My biggest ambition would be to write a book worthy of becoming a movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

 **That answer made me squeal as I LOVE Miyazaki's work as well, and can almost picture "Ensnared" being told in his style.**
What is your go to feel good book?  Your guilty pleasure book?

My feel good book(s) would be anything by Ilona Andrews. Growing up my feel-good book(s) was anything by Isabel Allende. Their words are my safety blankets.
For guilty pleasure, hmmm, maybe books more of the Tijan, Penelope Douglas, and Erin Watt variety.

 What is a book you always recommend to other people?
Oh, that’s a hard one because it really depends on the person. However, if you’re looking for an amazing fairy tale retelling, I’d recommend The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Shannon Hale just has an amazing rhythm about her writing. I’ve recommended that book to several friends who loved it.
 If you could meet any author, who would it be?
Can I say two people who make up one author? Gordon and Ilona Andrews. I’m just a little bit of an obsessive fan-girl for this pair.
Who has been some of your biggest inspirations?
I have so many favorite authors that it’s really hard to pin down just a few. Definitely the ones I’ve mentioned thus far in the interview along with the movies by Hayao Miyazaki. I also really enjoy studying old folklore, myths, legends and parables – I always want to give even my contemporary stories an authentic, old-world feel.

What advice would you give young writers looking to begin somewhere?
Just write. Just write your first draft without stopping, and you can make the writing good on your many revisions. Fact is that you just need to get all of your ideas out first. Most books go unfinished, and I think that’s because people get so caught up in their individual sentences they lose all momentum. It’s way easier to fix something into becoming amazing than to invent it perfect the first time around.

How can your readers discover more about you and your work?
You can check me out at:

My Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Goodreads

Thank you Rita for taking the time out to answer my questions and making this girl's dream come true.  Be sure to check out Ensnared if you haven't yet.  I am going to run over to amazon and hunt for those 11 other books!  Also if you haven't read my review of Ensnared just click the link here.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tale of Two Kitties

Owen and Hercules are two special kitties, they have a keen scene of intuition and seem to have super powers.  Kathleen has learn to trust their instincts when something feels amiss.  When Owen leads her to the door of Leo Janes father, she discovers a murder.  The town of Mayville whisper about the rivalry and scandal between the Janes brothers as well as their arrival in town at the same time.  While it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, Leo's death may prove otherwise.  While police sights are on Simon, Leo's son, Kathleen knows something is missing and there is more to the story than everyone knows.

** I received a copy of this book from Netgally in exchange for an honest review**

My love for reading started at a young age with cozy mysteries like the Cat Who series, and lately I have been getting back into the habit of reading them.  This book is adorably cozy and reflects everything I loved when I was young reader.  Owen and Hercules remind me so much of my own literary cats Falcor and Orion (sometimes I think Orion has super powers to magically appear).  One thing I love about this book is while there is romance in the novel, there is no sexual content other than a kiss here and there, we see couples being just that couples sharing daily life together.  It was a nice refreshing change.  Perfect book for young readers.

The book does start out a little slow and has ALOT of description throughout, sometimes it felt a little overwhelming, but it does not take away from the book.  Sofie does a great job writing the story and making it interesting and have the readers get involved with not just the main characters but the whole town.  It starts off with a dead body and I had to chuckle as I realized what was being described.  What cat owner hasn't stepped on a freshly chewed cat toy?

This may be the 9th book in the series, but it really is a stand alone novel, you don't need to read the other books in the series to understand the characters or what is going on.  Sofie's writing is clear, concise.  Readers will not be confused when reading this book and may try to figure out the mystery themselves.  I highly enjoyed reading this novel and recommend it for anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery.  4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 1, 2017

30 Days of Hope For Dealing With Depression


**I received a copy of this book from Netgally in exchange for an honest review, thank you to the publisher, author and netgally for this opportunity.**


I haven't posted much for self help books, but there are a bunch that I have read and enjoyed and this is one of them.  There is a lot in this book that is super helpful and insightful.  You don't have to be diagnosed with Depression to read this book, I believe it is helpful for anyone.  Sometimes it is hard to remain hopeful all the time and this book brings out ways to remain optimistic and hopeful everyday.  There are Biblical references so if you are not into the Bible or those references then this might not be the book for you, though I do still recommend it.  You never know what might help through dark times. 


There were a lot of things in this book that spoke to me and hit close to home with how I feel and think.  One thing that Poinsett says is how stress can trigger depression, for some reason I never really thought about it in that sense, and works to help readers answer the question of Why am I stressed. I admit I finished this book in less than 30 days because I just couldn't stop reading it when I would start each day.  This is something I will continue to read periodically because no matter how many times you read it, there is seems to always be something you can take away from it.  I found this to be very uplifting and refreshing.  Perfect to read in the morning and then again at night.


I like how it was informative, but at the easy to follow and understand.  I've found many books on this topic tend to be too clinical or scientific that makes it hard for one to put things into practice.  This book is very practical when it comes to finding hope through the darkness of depression regardless of level.  I would highly recommend this book and give it a 4 out of 5 stars.