Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Flourish: City of Shadows

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's a two-Flourish kind of week this week, and today I have a cover I've been sitting on for a little while now and it's nearly killed me. I'm absolutely that person who can't keep a gift-related secret–so excited to show it to whomever it's for that I can't buy any gifts until basically the day I'm allowed to give them. Otherwise it's a debacle of excitement, impatience, and a big reveal at the completely wrong time.

Trying to keep quiet about about the cover for the sequel to last year's City of Fae by Pippa DaCosta was test of the strength of my will, but I managed to keep everything under wraps until I was given the green light to share. City of Fae is one of my favorite covers I've done, so nothing made me happier than teaming up with Editor and Art Director Meredith Rich at Bloomsbury Spark and author Pippa DaCosta once again to see if we could top what we created for book one. I think we did, and hopefully you guys do too!

As I did with City of Fae, I'm planning on doing a cover evolution post for this new cover as well, so I'll go into more detail about our design process then. For now, a little reminder of City of Fae:

And here is City of Shadows, releasing July 7th from Bloomsbury Spark!

Alina knows she is not real – the fae queen spun an evil web to create her – but she wants more than to spend her days feeding off humans' energy to survive. She isn't content to lose herself in the dangerously attractive Reign. She wants a life of her own making.

Desperate to help the man who saved her life, Alina vows to find his missing sister. Alina is convinced that the general of the Fae Authority plays a part in her disappearance. She infiltrates the organisation and gets close to their strongest fighter. But while Samuel's tormented soul and masterful touch stirs in Alina a feeling of being human again, her loyalty to Reign makes her Samuel's enemy. Who should she trust?

This New Adult urban fantasy is packed with action and suspense and will have you yearning for more forbidden fae romance.

Alina knows she is not real – the fae queen spun an evil web to create her – but she wants more than to spend her days feeding off humans' energy to survive. She isn't content to lose herself in the dangerously attractive Reign. She wants a life of her own making.

Desperate to help the man who saved her life, Alina vows to find his missing sister. Alina is convinced that the general of the Fae Authority plays a part in her disappearance. She infiltrates the organisation and gets close to their strongest fighter. But while Samuel's tormented soul and masterful touch stirs in Alina a feeling of being human again, her loyalty to Reign makes her Samuel's enemy. Who should she trust?

This New Adult urban fantasy is packed with action and suspense and will have you yearning for more forbidden fae romance. - See more at:
Find City of Shadows:

Alina knows she is not real – the fae queen spun an evil web to create her – but she wants more than to spend her days feeding off humans' energy to survive. She isn't content to lose herself in the dangerously attractive Reign. She wants a life of her own making.

Desperate to help the man who saved her life, Alina vows to find his missing sister. Alina is convinced that the general of the Fae Authority plays a part in her disappearance. She infiltrates the organisation and gets close to their strongest fighter. But while Samuel's tormented soul and masterful touch stirs in Alina a feeling of being human again, her loyalty to Reign makes her Samuel's enemy. Who should she trust?

This New Adult urban fantasy is packed with action and suspense and will have you yearning for more forbidden fae romance. - See more at:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cathy Reviews: Nightbird

I'm so pleased today to welcome my mother-in-law Cathy back to the blog! She was nice enough to help me out since I've gotten a little behind on my reading lately:)

Alice Hoffman
Middle Grade/Fantasy
208 pages
Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin Random House
Available now
Source: BEA

THE STORY(from Goodreads)
An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: a charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.

"Some things could only be found in Sidwell it seemed: pink apples, black owls, and my brother, James."

Twelve-year-old Twig's town in the Berkshires is said to hide a winged beast, the Monster of Sidwell, and the rumors draw as many tourists as the town's famed pink apple orchards. Twig lives in the orchard with her mysterious brother James and her reclusive mother, a baker of irresistible apple pies. Because of a family secret, an ancient curse,Twig has had to isolate herself from other kids. Then a family with two girls, Julia and Agate, moves into the cottage next door. They are descendants of the witch who put the spell on Twig's family. But Julia turns out to be Twig's first true friend, and her ally in trying to undo the curse and smooth the path to true love for Agate and James.

Alice Hoffman is most known to me for her adult fiction novels. She always manages to write interesting characters with a twist, a notable example of which is her novel Practical Magic. When I spotted Nightbird, a Middle Grade book, in my stack I was intrigued and was not disappointed after I read it.

Ms. Hoffman's story of Twig, a young girl in a magical town with no friends thanks to a certain secret, piqued my interest. We easily slip into Twig's skin and experience all her emotions and want desperately to be her friend. When Julia and Agate move to town, Twig begins to know what having friends is really about. The three of them try to uncover a mystery that directly affects all their lives and reveals Twig's secret.

Ms. Hoffman's storytelling is both entertaining and engaging with an easy flow to the story. Nightbird has all the "magical" touches you would expect from an Alice Hoffman novel. It's a wonderful way to lose yourself for an afternoon.

Rating: 4/5

Find Alice:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Flourish: Hidden in Plain Sight

I always love sharing my design work with all of you, so I'm really excited today to reveal the cover for Hidden in Plain Sight, the fourth book in the Serenity's Plain Secrets series by Karen Ann Hopkins. Karen is one of my longtime clients, and we've worked together on so many projects now that we've become a bit of a well-oiled machine which is really fun.

Usually Karen shoots me an email before we start a cover with a few key things she's looking for, and then lets me run with those ideas as I collect various images and group them into basic concepts to submit for approval. With this cover though Karen didn't have the same kind of specific imagery in mind as she's had for previous designs, and I'm grateful that she trusted me enough to let me try and point us both in the right design direction.

Amish stock imagery is poor at best, so it's always a bit of a challenge for me to create a cover for this series that suggests an Amish country setting while still having that ominous murder mystery feel. With this newest cover Karen wanted the Amish element to be a bit more front and center than in previous books, so it took a little extra magic to help me find my way to the final cover and I couldn't be happier with the result.

I hope you guys love how it turned out!

When a cold case heats up, Serenity won’t stop until she discovers the truth.
In the fourth installment of the bestselling Serenity’s Plain Secrets’ series, Serenity must work with US marshals to uncover the truth behind a shockingly brutal fifteen-year-cold murder.
Desperate for answers, Serenity finds herself in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she unravels secrets that threaten to tear her and Daniel apart. But digging up the past is dangerous, and the quaint Amish settlement isn’t as safe as it seems.
If Serenity chooses to trust the man she’s come to love, it could mean a happily ever after… or her final act.

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Be sure and check out the previous books in the series!

Serenity's Plain Secrets #3

Just when Sheriff Serenity Adams thinks life is getting back to normal, the death of a young, pregnant Amish woman rocks the community. Is it circumstance…or murder? It’s up to Serenity and her ex-Amish boyfriend, Daniel Bachman, to discover the truth about the new shaman-type medicine man who’s brought his dark secrets to Blood Rock.

But Serenity has secrets of her own, and if she and Daniel don’t work it out, the reappearance of a woman from his past could threaten to ruin their relationship.

The deeper Serenity delves into the magical world of Amish herbal medicine, the phenomenon of laying of the hands and other cultural healing oddities, the more she wonders if miracles are real. What she witnesses with her own eyes may be too fantastical for her to believe.

In this riveting third installment of Serenity’s Plain Secrets, beliefs are challenged, a way of life is questioned and family skeletons are unearthed, leaving no one untouched.  

Serenity's Plain Secrets #2

Some Amish communities aren't so cozy.
Whispers From The Dead is the powerful and thrilling sequel to Lamb to the Slaughter, in the Amish mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets.

Sheriff Serenity Adams and Daniel Bachman are once again partnered up in a criminal investigation, when they travel to a northern Amish settlement that has been riddled by arsons for the past two decades. Serenity quickly discovers that there is much more going on than just barns being set on fire in the touristy community, and that the new group of Amish has their own secrets to hide. She begins to unravel an extensive criminal underworld that threatens to destroy everything that the simple people of Poplar Springs hold dear and once again puts her own life in jeopardy.

And even though Serenity tries desperately to avoid it, things begin heating up between her and Daniel, making her wonder if true love and happiness are really within her grasp.

Serenity's Plain Secrets #1

Lamb to the Slaughter is a story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely people in an Indiana Amish Community and the devastating results when a rebellious teenage girl is found shot to death in a corn field during the harvest.

Serenity Adams is the newly elected young sheriff in the country town of Blood Rock and besides dealing with the threatening behavior of her predecessor, she now has a dead Amish girl on her plate.  At first glance, the case seems obvious.  The poor girl was probably accidently shot during hunting season, but when the elders of the Amish community and even the girl’s parents react with uncaring subdued behavior, Serenity becomes suspicious.  As she delves deeper into the secretive community that she grew up beside, she discovers a gruesome crime from the past that may very well be related to the Amish girl’s shooting.

Serenity enlists the help of the handsome bad-boy building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who left the Amish when he was nineteen and has his own dark reasons to help the spunky sheriff solve the crime that the family and friends who shunned him are trying desperately to cover up.  Serenity’s persistence leads her to a stunning discovery that not only threatens to destroy her blossoming romance with Daniel, but may even take her life in the end.

Find Karen:

You can find more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price

Today is an exciting day, one where my two of my worlds are colliding and I couldn't be more excited for former client and now published author, Jen Maschari!

Some of you already know that for the ten years before I switched to designing book covers I was a wedding stationer. I thoroughly enjoyed my job and got to meet some truly fantastic people, many of whom I've been lucky enough to stay in touch with over the years. Once such person is Jen Maschari, one of my brides whose love of dogs immediately endeared her to me at our first meeting and led to the design of the save the date for her wedding. Jen had one bulldog at the time (she now has two - SO CUTE!), so we of course needed to include that face in her stationery suite:

Just a few months after Jen's wedding I started Supernatural Snark, and we stayed in touch on Twitter thanks to a shared love of books. Little did I know that Jen was writing a book of her own, one that sold to Balzer + Bray and releases today. GO JEN!!! WOO HOO!!

I'm so very thrilled for her and wanted to share her book on the blog today to help celebrate the birthday of her MG debut, The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price. I hope you guys all add this one to your lists!

Ever since twelve-year-old Charlie Price's mom died, he feels like his world has been split into two parts. Before included stargazing and Mathletes and Saturday scavenger hunts with his family. After means a dad who's completely checked out, comically bad dinners, and grief group that's anything but helpful. It seems like losing Mom meant losing everything else he loved, too.

Just when Charlie thinks things can't get any worse, his sister, Imogen, starts acting erratically—missing school and making up lies about their mother. But everything changes when one day he follows her down a secret passageway in the middle of her bedroom and sees for himself.

Imogen has found a parallel world where Mom is alive!

There's hot cocoa and Scrabble and scavenger hunts again and everything is perfect . . . at first. But something doesn't feel right. Whenever Charlie returns to the real world, things are different, and not in a good way. And Imogen wants to spend more and more time on the other side. It's almost as if she wants to leave the real world for good. If Charlie doesn't uncover the truth, he could lose himself, the true memory of their mother, and Imogen . . . forever.

Find Charlie Price:

Find Jen:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Review: Vision In Silver

The Others #3
Anne Bishop
Urban Fantasy
400 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The Others freed the  cassandra sangue  to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

The third book in this utterly refreshing urban fantasy series is every bit as outstanding as the previous two, the tensions between the Others and humans escalating at an alarming rate, which in turn makes the fragile relationships formed within Lakeside Courtyard increasingly tenuous. 

There's something perversely fascinating about a series that can make you hate the species to which you belong, but Ms. Bishop does an amazing job of showing us the dark side of humanity as seen through the eyes of the Others, and it's nearly impossible not to side with them against the narrow-minded, ego-driven Homo Sapiens. The Humans First and Last movement, an organization whose sole goal is to rip control of all land and industry from the Others and install humans at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid (as they inexplicably feel is their right), makes for a deliciously nebulous villain, earning our hate thanks to their prejudice against the Others and those who support them even though the person leading their charge remains ever-elusive.

Meg and Simon's relationship, an oh-so delicate thing that continues to slowly build with each installment, is a highlight as always in Vision In Silver. Meg is perhaps at her most confused and unsure since she arrived at Lakeside Courtyard months ago in this book, struggling to process the world around her as all her time in captivity finally catches up to her, and she makes just as many missteps as she does steps forward, endearing her to us all the more as she single-handedly ensures the temporary survival of humans everywhere. Without Meg's sweet nature and drive to help all those in need whether through simple assistance and comfort or through her visions, the Others of the Courtyard would undoubtedly have already unleashed their impressive wrath on those who threaten them, and we can't help but fall in love with her for nothing more than being who she is.

Simon is just as adorably confused as Meg as they stumble forward, on edge thanks to the Humans First and Last movement and unclear on how to give or ask for the comfort they both need from one another. The anticipation of the moment when the two of them finally figure out they want to be more than friends is a driving force in these books, and all the romantics at heart are likely to hold their breath throughout wondering if this is the book where it might happen. Overall, another brilliant addition to this series!

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Anne:


Friday, February 19, 2016

Giveaway: The Immortals

Happy Friday Everyone!

In celebration of the fact that this week is over (who's ready for a couple days off? *raises both hands*), I have a fantastic giveaway to share with you all today! One of my very favorite things to read about is Greek mythology, so I of course pounce on on any and every book I come across that features it. As soon as I saw The Immortals I knew instantly that it was a "me" kind of book.

Tell me you aren't intrigued after reading this synopsis:
Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone—just the way she likes it. She doesn't believe in friends, and she doesn't speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous.

In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago—when her name was Artemis.

ARTEMIS! I can't wait to read Ms. Brodsky's version of this particular goddess and find out how Artemis deals with whomever killed and mutilated the young woman. Ancient vengeance unleashed in Manhattan? Yes please!

If you want to read more, you can check out an excerpt from chapter one here!

Find The Immortals:

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photo courtesy of Ben Arons

Jordanna Max Brodsky hails from Virginia, where she spent four years at a science and technology high school pretending it was a theater conservatory. She holds a degree in History and Literature from Harvard University.  When she's not wandering the forests of Maine, she lives in Manhattan with her husband. She often sees goddesses in Central Park and wishes she were one.

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In partnership with Orbit Books who has so generously provided goodies, I have a fantastic goddess-themed prize pack (includes a copy of The Immortals and a "Goddess" sweatshirt!) to give away today. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Waiting on Thursday (?)

Okay, clearly I'm a day late with the Waiting on Wednesday meme, but I so love highlighting books I'm really excited about and since I was on a tour yesterday, I decided to do a Waiting on Thursday post instead. Well done me:)

If you haven't checked out Epic Reads lately, be sure and hop over to their blog because they've been revealing their Fall 2016 covers over the past couple days and Of Fire and Stars jumped out at me immediately!

Audrey Coulthurst
Young Adult/Fantasy/LGBTQ
Release November 2016 from Balzer + Bray

From Goodreads:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Well hello there gorgeous gold typography! As soon as I get my hands on a copy of this beauty I'm going to clutch it to my bosom and call it My Preciousssss. SO PRETTY. 

I think there's a lot to like about this one aside from the illustrated and typographic mastery that is the cover - we've got magic, warhorses, and a f/f antagonistic romance that has me indescribably excited. WHY DOES THIS BOOK NOT RELEASE IN MARCH?! The only drawback for me is the fact that I can't pronounce Denna's full name (Denna-lee-a? Denna-lay-a? Dennal-ia?) and I keep wanting to call the prince's kingdom Narnia instead of Mynaria. It's in my head now, so Denna will forever be the future princess of Narnia according to Jenny:)

Can't wait for this though!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review + Giveaway: The Shadow Queen

Ravenspire #1
C.J. Redwine
Young Adult/Fantasy
400 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

The Shadow Queen is a hugely entertaining reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale, giving us a power hungry villain we can love to hate and an underdog heroine to really root for as she gathers the courage to pit her strength against that of the woman who destroyed her family.

Lorelai is a beautiful blend of characteristics, someone who thinks quick on her feet and can hold her own in any number of situations, but who isn't overconfident and recognizes her own limitations. She's understandably scared of facing Irina before she feels she's ready, but when Irina forces her hand, she throws herself into reclaiming her kingdom with every bit of her heart and soul. Though reeling from a very personal loss, Lorelai doesn't storm the palace in search of vengeance, instead she grieves the loss and lets her mind guide her while her heart heals, proving time and again that she's even stronger than she gives herself credit for.

Our time is split primarily between Lorelai and Kol, a dragon prince from a neighboring kingdom, a young man who is a fascinating complement to our heroine. Where Lorelai has always lived knowing the weight of the kingdom would one day rest on her shoulders, Kol has blustered his way through life safe with the knowledge that his father and older brother would ensure his head never bears a crown, and it's interesting to watch how each of them handles their newfound responsibilities. The romance between them is quiet and slow building, the needs of their respective kingdoms first and foremost in their minds, but a big enough spark exists to warm our hearts (and cheeks) as they gear up to bring Irina down.

One other highlight that must be mentioned is Lorelai's Gyrfalcon Sasha, whose thoughts Lorelai can read thanks to the magic she used to heal the bird long ago. Sasha's occasional confusion over the fact that Lorelai doesn't wish to have dead squirrels dropped in her lap for lunch is the perfect dash of humor to bring a smile to our faces and balance Irina's darkness. Overall, The Shadow Queen is an outstanding first installment, and highly recommended for all fantasy and fairy tale lovers.

Rating: 4/5

Find The Shadow Queen:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. To learn more about C.J., visit her website at 

Where you can find C. J.:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

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One lucky winner will receive a finished copy of The Shadow Queen as well as swag! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

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Be sure and check out all the stops on the tour for more reviews, interviews and guest posts!

2/8/2016- Adventures of a Book Junkie- Interview 
2/9/2016- The Irish Banana ReviewReview  
2/10/2016- Once Upon a TwilightGuest Post 
2/11/2016- A Backwards StoryReview 
2/12/2016- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
2/15/2016- The Young Folks- Review

2/16/2016- Mundie Moms- Interview

2/17/2016- Supernatural Snark- Review

2/18/2016- Maria V. SnyderInterview
2/19/2016- FiktshunGuest Post

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review: Kings Rising

Captive Prince Trilogy #3
C.S. Pacat
M/M Fantasy Romance
368 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity – can it stand against the Regent’s final, deadly play for the throne?

The Captive Prince Trilogy is a brutal ride, taking us from a master and slave relationship in a kingdom where beatings and rape are common occurrences, to a fragile friendship where the balance of power is still heavily one-sided, and finally to a meeting of equals and the culmination of all the tension and chemistry bubbling under the surface throughout. 

One of the highlights of this series and this final book in particular is Laurent, one of our princely heroes. Our time in this trilogy is spent with our other prince and hero Damen, his thoughts and feelings made known to us where Laurent's remain hidden, and Laurent never fails to use the fact that we're in the dark to his advantage. In the first two books he's calm and calculating, seemingly unruffled by anyone or anything, and remaining coolly detached for the most part even as his relationship with Damen begins to ever-so slowly change. This final book then feels like a gift to all Laurent fans, moments of levity and humor showing us a side to his character we weren't sure he had given all he's endured, and it's nothing short of immensely satisfying to watch as the emotional armor he's kept immaculately pristine all along finally finds itself with a Damen-shaped chink.

Damen for his part is as steadfast as he has been from the beginning, finally on equal footing with Laurent as his identity is revealed to both their kingdoms, but struggling still with yet another shift in their relationship now that he's reclaimed the mantle of King. His feelings for Laurent grew steadily through the previous two installments, making the first half of this third book downright painful as all the forward progress they made at the end of book two is reversed and Laurent reverts to his coolly detached state. The two of them are both men of few words, and when Laurent speaks it's often with layers of meaning assigned to every phrase, making their romance both beautifully hopeful and heart-wrenching at the same time.

Those who would pick this up thinking it falls under the category of romance should be aware that the first book is in no way a romance, more a character-driven political fantasy, and rape is prevalent both on page and off. The romance between Laurent in Damen picks up steam in book two, though politics and impending war are still what guides the plot, and and it's not truly until this last book that the romance really shines as a focal point. Though hard to read at times in the beginning, this series has my highest recommendation, and is one that will forever sit atop my list of favorites.

Series Rating: 5/5

Find C.S.:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Blogger Fail

Hi Everyone!

I hope you guys had a fantastic Valentine's Day/President's Day weekend!

Given the title of this post I'm sure you can guess what I'm about to say. I fail at blogging. Work absolutely exploded for me last week (a great problem to have, don't get me wrong) and a new–very exciting!!!!– project with a tight deadline came up so I've been working furiously what feels like every hour of every day for the past week and a half. As a result, I've fallen into bed at night and only been able to swing a chapter or two before my eyes have fallen shut without my permission. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EYES, I HAVE BOOKS TO READ! Long story short, I have no review to post today, but I promise this isn't the beginning of the end for me with blogging, just a little hiccup!

*hangs head* 

My missing review will be up tomorrow:)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Flourish: Much of Madness

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I'm crazy excited to share with you another of the covers from my teaser grid a little while back, and it's one that many of you tagged in the comments as being the one you were most curious about.

One of my very favorite parts of cover design is the wide variety of genres I get work within as well as the style of artwork I get to create and manipulate in order to suit the story. As a wedding stationer for 10 years, I did a lot of repetitive artwork like monograms and floral patterns, and it was the rare client who really wanted something outside the box (not an insult to my clients, just the nature of wedding stationery in general). Now, however, every project presents a new and unique challenge for me, and as soon as I saw author S.E. Summa's Pinterest inspiration board for her Southern Gothic Horror novel Much of Madness, I knew I was in for a treat.

For this cover S.E. really wanted the gothic feel to shine through, with rich colors and textures accentuating a skull focal point (a design element that will be carried through to each book in the series - YAY!). The choice of type, while always a vital aspect of any cover, was even more important with Much of Madness to reinforce the overall aesthetic and really create a brand identity for the series as a whole.

S.E. was able to beautifully articulate what she was looking for with this design from the beginning, something that is far harder than it sounds, and together I think we created something striking. I hope you guys think so as well!

Releases 2/29

Seraphina Pearce doesn't know what's more frustrating: her magic's affinity for death, her best friend's transformation into an albino Sin Eater, or that simply touching a guy she loves means someone's headed to the morgue.
After a sin-eating job goes awry, she casts a risky spell and butts heads with a handsome stranger in order to win an infamous grimoire.
Marceau L'Argent is the last person she should confide in because the occult cat burglar has a mysterious past, and he's made it no secret he also wants the grimoire. He recognizes her dark magic and offers his unique help as a rare curse breaker. If all that weren't enough, Marceau causes butterflies in her stomach—a feeling she'd long thought dead.
Seraphina was only trying to break her curse—not piss off Death himself.
MUCH OF MADNESS is a Southern Gothic Horror story about loyalty, sacrifice, and maintaining hope no matter the odds.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: Murder of Crows

The Others #2
Anne Bishop
Urban Fantasy
369 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside's shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

I'm going to keep in the more casual vein for the reviews of this series because I'm having so much fun reading them that it's hard for me to write in the more structured way I usually do. I'm taking a short break after this book though, so I'll return to my more formal reviews next week before I gush over book three.

I dove straight into this book the minute I finished Written in Red, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be aside from one small drawback. A quick confession: I tend to obsess over certain characters when I read, especially characters between whom there is the potential for romance. Once my fixation is jump-started, it becomes all-consuming and I can hardly deal with any kind of interruption–in the real world or the fictional one–that tries to rob me of the my quality obsession time. This second book was the tiniest bit guilty of denying me a little extra Meg and Simon time, expanding the boundaries of the world outside the Courtyard's walls and into other towns where tensions between humans and the Others are rapidly rising. While logically I know this entire series couldn't be written within the confines of the Lakeside Courtyard, getting bounced around to a few new characters instead of staying tucked in a little closer to home with Simon and Meg did make me ever-so slightly twitchy.

That is an extremely specific and very minor complaint though, I just can't help but want all the Meg and Simon time possible. Their friendship progresses delightfully in this second book, though I know we're still a long way from developing any kind of physical relationship. The slow, slow, slow burn between them is a highlight for me, and all the small, casual touches and the confusion on both sides about certain aspects of their friendship brings a smile to my face every time they're together.

Some of my favorite Others – Tess, Sam, and the Elementals and their ponies – were sadly absent for most of this book as the focus shifted to the blood prophets still in captivity, but fantastic new characters were introduced (Skippy! Jean!) which kept me from missing them too much. Overall, this second installment further cemented my love for this series, and I will be continuing on my binge read with nothing short of the kind of fangirl joy that comes from discovering a series destined for a top spot on the shelf of favorites.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Winner's Kiss Blog Tour: The Winning Kiss

Today is a very exciting day everyone! Not only do I get to be a part of the promotional tour for The Winner's Kiss, the final book in Mariet Rutkoski's outstanding young adult series, but I also get to swoon and gush and wax poetic about fictional kisses and the couples who share them. *happy dance*

The enormously creative team at Fierce Reads has asked each participating blog on this tour to share the book in which our favorite literary kiss occurs along with a little explanation as to why that particular kiss is so special. KISSING FOR THE WIN! As all of you probably know by now, I'm a romance lover at heart and it's not often that I pick up a book, YA or adult, that doesn't have some kind of romantic relationship in it, so this is my kind of tour.

Okay, let's get to the good stuff! Juicy questions and answers coming right up:)


I think you can all probably guess that this was a very hard question for me to answer. Very. Hard. I decided to go with not necessarily my all time favorite kiss, but rather the kiss that kickstarted my love of romance. We'll call it the Kiss That Launched An Obsession, and it took place in a little book called Frostbite by Richelle Mead, the second book in her monstrously popular Vampire Academy series.


Rose and Dimitri. Of course! Instead of telling you all about it though, I thought I'd just let Ms. Mead do my talking for me and share a brief excerpt of the Kiss That Launched An Obsession:

The hand I'd hoped would touch my hair suddenly reached out and grabbed my pointing hand. He pinned it to the wall, and I was surprised to see a flare of emotion in his eyes. It wasn't exactly anger...but it was frustration of another kind.

"Don't tell me what I'm feeling," he growled.


I could see his labored breathing and knew his heart was beating as quickly as mine. And he wasn't pulling away. I knew this was wrong–knew all the logical reasons for us staying apart. But right then, I didn't care. I didn't want to control myself. I didn't want to be good.

Before he realized what was happening, I kissed him. Our lips met, and when I felt him kiss me back, I knew I was right. He pressed himself closer, trapping me between him and the wall. He kept holding my hand, but his other one snaked behind my head, sliding into my hair. The kiss was filled with so much intensity; it held anger, passion, release...

He was the one who broke it. He jerked away from me and took several steps back, looking shaken.

"Do not do that again, " he said stiffly.


I think what I love so much about this scene is that it shows a tiny crack in Dimitri's emotional armor. After the events of the first book it became clear to both Rose and Dimitri that a relationship between them posed so many challenges as to make it nearly impossible to be together, so in the build up to this moment they've both been angry and hurt, wanting what they can't have and taking that frustration out on one another. Dimitri is the more buttoned up of the two, holding his feelings close to his vest and hiding them so well that he makes not only Rose doubt his attraction to her, but us as well. This brief interaction is the perfect swoony reminder that despite all his strength and his legendary control, Dimitri is still flesh and blood. And struggling just as much as Rose to keep distance between them:)


If Kestrel and Arin aren't madly in love and together at the end of this book I will curl into the fetal position and start sobbing. I say this with absolutely no exaggeration:)

I'd love to know what book has your favorite kiss or couple, so please share in the comments! There's no such thing as too many romantic recommendations:)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Releases March 29th

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: Written In Red

The Others #1
Anne Bishop
Urban Fantasy
433 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

This review is going to be a little less formal than my standard reviews (I can't help the formality usually, writing reviews brings me back to all my essay-writing classes in school!), mostly because I'm enormously late to The Others party and I kind of want to punch myself in the face a little for it.

For the past year I've been in a pretty impressive reading slump. I've picked up a few winners here and there, but by and large the desire to stay up late and give myself a book hangover has been missing. Written in Red broke me out of my slump in spectacular fashion, reminding me what it's like to invent reasons for taking a break from work throughout the day so I can sneak a chapter or two in, and keeping me up all hours of night just so I can find out what happens next.

While plot-wise this first book is largely Meg's day to day life in the Courtyard as she finds a place for herself among the others, there's absolutely nothing slow or boring about it thanks to a brilliant cast of characters from Ms. Bishop. The Others themselves fit their label to a T, their human skin exactly that – a thin veneer hiding something else entirely underneath. From the Crows obsessed with all things shiny to the sugar-obsessed Ponies to the Elementals with city-annihilating tempers, the inhabitants of this utterly refreshing paranormal world are a joy with whom to spend time.

Meg's relationship with Wolf and Courtyard leader Simon is just one of the many fascinating friendships established in this first installment, the potential for romance between them there but buried beneath layers and layers of things they both need to learn about one another as well as themselves. Watching as they attempt to figure one another is out is surely going to be a highlight of this series overall, and I can't wait to start book two (already loaded on my Kindle) and see how Meg's connections to all the extraordinary Others in the Courtyard continue to strengthen and grow.

Rating: 5/5

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