Book Review: Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1) by Jill Archer

Book Review: Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1) by Jill ArcherDark Light of Day by Jill Archer
Series: Noon Onyx #1
Published by Ace on September 25, 2012
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
Goodreads
4 Stars
Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, and the world from slipping back into chaos.

Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, the daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret: She was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of, and some would consider her an abomination.

Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or to attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.

dark light of day book blitz

Today as part of the blitz (hosted by Bewitching Book Tours) for DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL by Jill Archer, I have a review of the first book, DARK LIGHT OF DAY. There’s a tour-wide giveaway after my review, and check back here in the next few days, because I’ll have reviews of FIERY EDGE OF STEEL and WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE.

Book Review:

The first in the Noon Onyx series, DARK LIGHT OF DAY is a paranormal/urban fantasy set at in a demon law school. Yup, you read that right. Noon is studying to be a Maegester, a demon peacekeeper/lawyer/executioner when necessary. Armageddon is over. The demons won, they rule Halja, and they love rules.

Women of the Host are Mederi healers, men are Maegester destroyers. But something went wrong with Noon and her twin brother, Night. She’s kept her waning magic a secret her entire life, but when her mother sends an application to St. Lucifer’s, the best demon law school, Noon can’t keep her secret any longer. Maegesters can feel each other’s magical signatures, and if she doesn’t admit what she is, she’ll die for not telling the truth. Demons don’t like waste.

Noon is an interesting character. She doesn’t want to destroy anything or work with demons, but because she has waning magic, she doesn’t have a choice about her future. Emotionally, she’s all over the place: sometimes strong, sometimes insecure. There were a few times I wanted to shake her, but overall, I found her realistic for a twenty-one year old. It was great to see her grow over the course of the book.

The beginning of DARK LIGHT OF DAY does dump a lot of information, but after I got past that, I didn’t put the book down until I finished it. I thought the setting was super creative — the world hasn’t ended with Armageddon. People pay taxes, work, go to school, and oh yeah, offer tribute to the appropriate demon. I also liked St. Lucifer’s; I tend to like books set at schools, so I liked the descriptions of Noon’s classes and student life.

The only part of the book that I didn’t like were the romantic interests, Peter and Ari. Peter is Noon’s best friend, an Angel who has promised to help her find a way to get rid of her waning magic. Ari is a fellow Maegester and student at St. Lucifer’s. Both like Noon for different reasons, and she likes them, but isn’t sure where her future lies. I thought they were both jerks in their own way, and didn’t see any chemistry between them and Noon.

Other than Peter and Ari, I really enjoyed DARK LIGHT OF DAY. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Noon next, and what other demons she’ll have to deal with.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author jill archerJill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.
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– leeanna

Blog Tour: Obsidian Eyes by A.W. Exley

obsidian eyes by a.w. exley tour

Welcome to my stop on the tour for OBSIDIAN EYES by A.W. Exley. I have an excerpt and tour-wide giveaway. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, and you can check out all the stops here.

obsidian eyes by a.w. exley

Info:

Title: Obsidian Eyes
Author: A.W. Exley
Release Date: March 24, 2014
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult
Page Count: 278

Summary:

1836, a world of light and dark, noble and guild. The two spheres intersect when seventeen-year-old Allie Donovan is placed at the aristocratic St Matthews Academy. More at ease with a blade than a needle, she finds herself ostracised by the girls and stalked by a Scottish lord intent on learning why she is among them.

She begins to suspect the underlying reasons when soldiers arrive to see her friend, Zeb, a mechanical genius. On the hunt for answers she breaks into his underground laboratory. There, Allie discovers he is not just constructing sentient mechanical creatures, he is building a devastating new weapon for the military.

The guilds want the weapon and Allie is trapped by ties of blood. She must obey the overlord of the guild and deliver up her friend, unless she can rely on bonds of friendship, to save both their lives. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

The sword sliced through invisible treacle. The deep green tassel hanging from the hilt swayed back and forth with the blade’s measured progress. The girl’s bare feet were silent on the dark wood floor. With eyes closed and breathing controlled, she appeared to slow time. A second stretched into twenty as she lost herself in the rhythm and balance of the ancient Chinese movements.

Above her head on the mezzanine floor, two men watched through the slated office window: Jared McLaren, student at St Matthews, and Weapons Master Marshall.

The younger man’s gaze followed the intricate dance. His help had been requested to unravel a puzzle. A puzzle who wielded a sword so expertly on the floor below.

“Who is she?” He voiced his question without taking his eyes off the girl. He stood at ease, arms clasped behind his back. Even at seventeen years old, military training oozed from every pore. With an affinity for any weapon and a keen mind, he earned his place as top student in weapons training.

The older man ran a hand through short salt and pepper hair. He flicked his gaze from the girl to his favourite pupil. “Alessandra Donovan, although she prefers Allie. She will be in your classes this year. Her grandfather is the new history master and librarian. He came here from Egypt, six weeks ago, and brought his granddaughter with him.”

Jared frowned. “She’s a commoner?”

from Chapter 1

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author a.w. exley
Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita’s life. She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.
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Buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Blog Tour: Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn

third daughter

Today I have a stop on the tour for THIRD DAUGHTER by Susan Kaye Quinn. The tour is hosted by I Am A Reader and you can check out all the other stops.

third daughter by susan kaye quinnInfo:
Title: Third Daughter
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Series: The Dharian Affairs Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Page Count: 346

Summary:

kyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue… and, of course, kissing.

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

The day was coming: Aniri could almost taste its nearness like the mouth-watering scent of a long-hungered meal just outside of reach. Soon she would be free: free of the court, free to kiss in broad daylight, free to leave Dharia behind and find the vermin who killed her father. Devesh had promised to help her search his country until they found the men responsible. She ached for that day like she did for Devesh. Soon she would have both.

When the intensity of their kiss made her gasp for breath, she broke it and leaned against him. “Two weeks, Dev,” she whispered. “Just two. And I’ll be eighteen.”

“I’m counting the days, my love.”

His intense gaze made her suddenly shy. She turned her attention to toying with the collar that brushed his neck. “You will say yes, won’t you? When I ask?”

He gently pulled her face up to look at him. “When you are free to marry for love, Third Daughter of the Queen, you had better not ask anyone other than me. I’ll have to hang myself from the nearest tree or else die of a broken heart.”

Her shyness was banished in a stroke. “Aren’t courtesans supposed to be the ones breaking hearts?”

“Truly,” he said with mock despair. “There’s nothing more sad than a broken-hearted courtesan. I would have to commit suicide just out of professional courtesy.”

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author susan kaye quinnSusan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. The Dharian Affairs trilogy is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It’s possible she’s easily distracted. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!).
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– leeanna

Author Interview: Danielle L. Jensen

stolen songbird tour banner

As part of my stop on the tour for STOLEN SONGBIRD by Danielle L. Jensen, I have an interview with the author. I’ve also posted my review of STOLEN SONGBIRD, which includes pictures, so make sure to check that out.

Thanks, Danielle, for answering my questions!

author interview with danielle l. jensen

Interview with Danielle L. Jensen:

Where did the idea for STOLEN SONGBIRD come from? And why trolls? :D

The setting came first, the trolls came second. I had a dream about a city that had been buried by rubble, and it sort of stuck in my brain. The trolls came into being when I started thinking about what sort of creatures would inhabit such a place. I called them trolls and ended up using a bit of troll mythology because I wanted to name them something people would already have negative associations with.

I read in a guest post that you love villains as protagonists. Which made me cheer, because I like that too! Are there any villains in favorite books that you’d love to see as protagonists?

Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. I LOVE all things Sherlock Holmes. I watch both Elementary and Sherlock, I adore the recent film versions, and I’ve read most of the original literature. If I could have a superpower, it would be to possess extreme powers of deduction. In my opinion, Moriarty is exactly like Sherlock, but he/she (Natalie Dormer for the win!) uses his/her powers for evil. If I came across a television show/movie/book told from Moriarty’s point of view, I’d be all over it like nobody’s business. Especially if it stared Natalie Dormer.

Is there anything you really liked in STOLEN SONGBIRD that didn’t make the final book?

Once upon a time, STOLEN SONGBIRD had a prologue that I reluctantly had to give up. It was from Tristan’s POV, and it was the scene in which his aunt had the foretelling about how the curse would be broken. It was so awesome, but prologues are a bit of an anathema in YA, so it didn’t get to stay.

When you aren’t pounding away crazily at the keyboard, what do you do? Other than think of ways to torture Cécile and Tristan?

I think about ways to torture the other characters that everyone loves so much ;-)

I do have another job that pays my bills, so I spend lots of time at that. There are certain television programs I enjoy like Sherlock, Game of Thrones, Modern Family, and Big Bang Theory. I spend quite a bit of time with my family and friends, which often involves the consumption of food and cocktails. In the summer, I like hiking in the mountains, and in the winter… Well, I am a decent snowboarder and skier, but I hate the cold. This is problematic given I live in Canada.

What was the push that made you try writing a book? How did you stick with it?

Back when I was working in finance, a friend and co-worker of mine suggested we try writing a romance novel. I’d always been a big reader, so I thought maybe it would be fun. My first few attempts were TERRIBLE and unfinished, but once I switched over to writing fantasy, it got better. Once I switched to YA, I got even better. STOLEN SONGBIRD was the fourth novel I fully completed and edited, and the third I queried. I stuck with it mostly because I found I really enjoyed writing, and I wanted to pursue a career doing something I loved.

What are some of your recent favorite books? Do you have any “comfort books” or all time favorites that you turn to when you need a pick-me-up?

I recently read The Cuckoo’s Calling, which, as I’m sure you all know, is the novel JK Rowling wrote under a pen name. I actually enjoyed it as much as I did the Harry Potter books. As far as YA goes, I’ve recently read and loved The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. My to-read stack is massive, and mostly consists of 2014 YA debuts. I rarely reread books anymore. No time!

Any question you’ve wanted to answer in an interview, but you haven’t been asked yet… ?

Yup. Who is #1 on your YA Book Boyfriend List. Answer: Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices. When it comes to love triangles, I’m always on the bad boy’s team!

About the book:

Author Interview: Danielle L. JensenStolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 436
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

About the author:

author danielle l. jensenDanielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. JensenStolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 436
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

stolen songbird tour banner

The second I finished reading STOLEN SONGBIRD, I emailed Strange Chemistry and begged them to let me be on the tour for the book. I might have jumped around when they said yes. :D So today I’m super happy to share my review of the book, and an interview with author Danielle L. Jensen.

I wrote a super long review, so there’s a cookie for you if you make it through!

Book Review:

STOLEN SONGBIRD had me at trolls. Yes, there are TROLLS in this book. I’ve been waiting forever for a troll book, and STOLEN SONGBIRD was more than worth the wait. This is a book I savored, and I didn’t want to turn the last page because I didn’t want it to end!

Based on my years of World of Warcraft and other fantasy games/books/art/etc., I sort of expected the trolls to look like this:

troll for stolen songbird book review

But Danielle L. Jensen’s trolls look a bit more like this:

troll for stolen songbird book review

The trolls of the court, anyway. They’re inbred, creepy, and powerful beyond belief. The magic of the royal family keeps the city and its inhabitants from being crushed to death. Cursed by a witch five hundred years ago, Trollus is a city buried and forgotten beneath the world.

Cécile is a gifted singer, about to start her career when she is kidnapped and taken to Trollus. Before she knows it, she’s bonded to the troll prince Tristan; their bonding is supposed to undo the curse keeping the trolls caged away from the rest of the world. Plunged into a life she doesn’t want, Cécile doesn’t spend a lot of time crying. She doesn’t give up her hope of escape, but she bides her time, learning what she can of the trolls and their lives.

That’s how she becomes invested in the plight of the half-bloods. In Trollus, if you aren’t a full-blooded troll, you’re less than nothing. Half-bloods are property, bought and sold as slaves to the powerful, or sent to short lives in the mines.

And let’s not forget Cécile’s new husband, Tristan. Their relationship gets off to a rather rocky start, as neither want to be married, and trolls hate humans. There’s lot of fighting, but because they are bonded, they can sense each other’s feelings, and Cécile is surprised by a lot of what she senses from Tristan. For example, when their bonding fails to end the curse, Tristan is actually relieved, instead of upset.

Their relationship is one I really liked. I’m critical on relationships in YA books, because all too often they are based on insta-lust. Not so with these two. Tristan is horrible to Cécile in public, keeping up his cover of hating humans, but in private, he does nice things for her, like making a flashlight so she can see in Trollus. Over time, they develop real feelings for each other, aided by their bond.

The majority of STOLEN SONGBIRD is from Cécile’s POV, although there are a couple of chapters from Tristan’s perspective. I really loved both of their characters. Cécile and Tristan are complex, well-developed, and real. They both make mistakes, but learn from those mistakes. They both grow over the book, especially Cécile, as she learns more about Trollus and its politics. The few chapters from Tristan’s POV expanded his character and motivations; I liked his voice just as much as Cécile’s.

Aside from Cécile and Tristan, the other characters in the book are also awesome. Everyone, from villains to servants, has their own motivation and desire for wanting Cécile to fail or succeed at breaking the curse. The villains in STOLEN SONGBIRD are delightfully evil, and will stop at nothing to keep Tristan’s plans from succeeding. I love when villains have no apologies for being bad guys. I also want to mention Victor and Victoria, twin trolls who become Cécile’s friends. They constantly compete with each other to see who is the best, in everything from fishing to spear throwing. They provided some much needed humor, and also showed Cécile that not all trolls are bad.

The worldbuilding in STOLEN SONGBIRD is also super interesting. Trollus seems somewhat inspired by the French court, as the royalty and nobles reminded me of the decadence of Marie-Antoinette’s reign. So did their attitudes of being better than everyone, especially half-bloods. The politics of Trollus are extremely complex — nothing is what it seems at first glance, and that was great for me. It’s never fun when it’s easy to predict how a book will play out within the first couple of chapters. STOLEN SONGBIRD continually surprised me. I had NO idea what was going to happen, and that ending! Oh stones and sky, that ending. It’s going to be a long wait for the next book in the trilogy, because I have absolutely got to know what happens next to Cécile and Tristan and everyone else.

It’s really hard to pick what I liked most about the book, since I loved practically every single part of it! STOLEN SONGBIRD is one of those rare books where I was happy with every element as it was. Usually I critique something, or want something done differently… but I can’t think of anything I’d want changed in this book. So I’m going to take the easy route and say I liked EVERYTHING.

STOLEN SONGBIRD is a book that will stay with me for a long time. It’s a wonderful mix of smooth writing, nasty and nice trolls, complicated politics, intrigue, and even some well-done romance. It’s categorized as young adult, but I think it’d be a good crossover book for adults looking for a new fantasy series.

About the author:

author danielle l. jensenDanielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Super Villain by Richard Roberts

Book Review: Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Super Villain by Richard RobertsPlease Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Super Villain by Richard Roberts
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on February 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Super Hero, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
4 Stars
Penelope Akk wants to be a superhero. She's got superhero parents. She's got the ultimate mad science power, filling her life with crazy gadgets even she doesn't understand. She has two super powered best friends. In middle school, the line between good and evil looks clear.

In real life, nothing is that clear. All it takes is one hero's sidekick picking a fight, and Penny and her friends are labeled supervillains. In the process, Penny learns a hard lesson about villainy: She's good at it.

Criminal masterminds, heroes in power armor, bottles of dragon blood, alien war drones, shape shifters and ghosts, no matter what the super powered world throws at her, Penny and her friends come out on top. They have to. If she can keep winning, maybe she can clear her name before her mom and dad find out.

Book Review:

Penny Akk can’t wait for her superpower to show up. With a super genius for a father and a mother who can make villains cry with logic, Penny knows she’s going to be a superhero. She’s just too impatient to wait for her power to come on its own, so she helps it along…

…and ends up becoming a supervillain. Not on purpose — Penny’s always dreamed of being a hero. But once she and her friends Claire and Ray are accidentally labeled supervillains, they decide to go with it. They can always change sides later, when the opportunity comes up, so why shouldn’t they have some fun first?

“Fun” is the perfect word to describe PLEASE DON’T TELL MY PARENTS I’M A SUPER VILLAIN. Reading the book was like taking a romp through my fantasy of being a bad guy and being good at it. I had a really good time reading it, and enjoyed pretty much everything about it.

There’s a lot of good stuff, including:

♥The solid friendship between Penny, Claire, and Ray. Penny follows her friends into trouble, and sometimes they follow her. As the mad scientist, she’s their leader, but she doesn’t hold it over them.

♥The relationship between Penny and her parents. Penny’s dad is a tad absentminded, but what else would you expect from a genius inventor? As retired superheroes, Penny’s parents are fully supportive of Penny getting her power, and they’re present but away just enough for Penny to have plenty of adventures.

♥The creativity/hilarity. I think only a kid supervillain would think of creating a weapon out of candy. And only her sidekick would wear bear pajamas as part of her costume.

♥Penny’s smart. I love a smart girl who’s into science and math, one who likes being a mad scientist. She fesses up when she makes mistakes, but is also a thirteen-year-old who keeps some secrets from her parents. I also liked The Machine, Penny’s first invention. For a mechanical gadget, it sure was cute.

My only complaint with the book is that it is long. By the end of it, I felt as though I had read an entire trilogy instead of just one book. Now, that’s good in a way, because I got lots of detail about Penny’s power, her inventions, the other superheroes/supervillains, and everything did wrap up neatly. But I was wondering when the book would end. The chapters were long, which might have contributed to my feeling of the book being long.

Otherwise, though, it’s FUN! In the laughter of Penny herself: AH HA HA HA HA!

Giveaway:

There’s a Goodreads giveaway: Check it out!

And while you’re at it, make sure you check out the other stops on the publisher’s tour for PLEASE DON’T TELL MY PARENTS I’M A SUPER VILLAIN.

About the author:

author richard robertsRichard Roberts has fit into only one category in his entire life, and that is ‘writer’, but as a writer he’d throw himself out of his own books for being a cliche.

He’s had the classic wandering employment history – degree in entomology, worked in health care, been an administrator and labored for years in the front lines of fast food. He’s had the appropriate really weird jobs, like breeding tarantulas and translating English to English for Japanese television. He wears all black, all the time, is manic-depressive, and has a creepy laugh.

He’s also followed the classic writer’s path, the pink slips, the anthology submissions, the desperate scrounging to learn how an ever-changing system works. He’s been writing from childhood, and had the appropriate horrible relationships that damaged his self-confidence for years. Then out of nowhere Curiosity Quills Press demanded he give them his books, and here he is.

As for what he writes, Richard loves children and the gothic aesthetic. Most everything he writes will involve one or the other, and occasionally both. His fantasy is heavily influenced by folk tales, fairy tales, and mythology, and he likes to make the old new again. In particular, he loves to pull his readers into strange characters with strange lives, and his heroes are rarely heroic.
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Buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Blog Tour: The Polaris Uprising (Polaris #1) by Jennifer Ibarra

the polaris uprising

Today on the tour for THE POLARIS UPRISING by Jennifer Ibarra, I have a short excerpt and a tour-wide giveaway.

The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours and you can check out all the other stops here.

the polaris uprising by jennifer ibarraInfo:
Title: The Polaris Uprising
Author: Jennifer Ibarra
Release Date: October 30, 2013
Publisher: Tiwala Books
Series? Polaris #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Page Count: 328

Summary:

In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.

The only price they pay is their free will.

Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.

Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

Quin shook his head. “They’ll take care of you, you’ll see. That’s what’s supposed to happen. They’re supposed to take care of you. Just like they take care of everyone…”

“If they can’t fix me, I won’t be able to–”

“They’ll fix you,” Quin said. Wil was only nineteen. He has his whole life ahead of him. Surely the government would never let someone be cut down in his prime? They were the ones who had chosen this path for his son. They would have contingencies in place. Quin had to trust them now. They knew best. “A country like this, with all of the medical advancements we’ve got… They have to fix you.”

Quin watched as Wil’s Adam’s apple slid up and down his throat. Tears traced lines through the grime in his face.

“What am I going to do?” he said, his voice thick from the sedatives. “If I can’t work in the factory anymore, what’s going to happen to me?”

“Nothing’s going to happen to you, because they’ll make you all better.” Quin forced his voice to remain steady. Wil needed him to be strong now. He couldn’t let his son see his own fear. “No citizen shall be left behind, remember? We do what they tell us to do–we obey the rules–and they take care of us. That’s the deal, isn’t it?”

(from the prologue)

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author jennifer ibarraJennifer Ibarra grew up on a steady diet of books, Star Wars, and other fantastic feats of the imagination. Her debut novel, The Polaris Uprising, is the first book in a trilogy and mixes dystopia with family drama, romance, and political intrigue.

She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.
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THE POLARIS UPRISING buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Author Interview: Rachel Neumeier

Today I have a twofer: an interview with the author of BLACK DOG by Rachel Neumeier and a book review of BLACK DOG. Be sure to check out both posts!

Interview with Rachel Neumeier:

Where did the idea for BLACK DOG come from? You have a different spin on werewolves.

I really enjoy a lot of the werewolves that appear in current paranormals and urban fantasies, but obviously modern werewolves — and vampires and so on — have drifted far from the historical conception of monsters, becoming basically different styles of sexy, attractive, superpowered people. Which is fine! But I thought it would be interesting to step away from that tendency and make my monsters more monstrous. Historically, vampires were supposed to be demon-possessed corpses. Adding different kinds of demonic influence to my world was a way of shifting the tropes sharply back toward the darker, more horrific end of the spectrum.

Is BLACK DOG a standalone? Or can we expect more books set in this interesting world?

I just turned the sequel in to my publisher! If all goes well, I would expect there to be at least a third book, as well. Plus I am working on some shorter fiction set in the same world.

In the Acknowledgements, I read that BLACK DOG was originally an adult novel. What made you decide to change it to a Young Adult book?

The decision was first a tactical one — I wrote BLACK DOG because I wanted to, not because I had a contract for a paranormal. There are a whole lot more publishers looking for YA fantasy than adult fantasy, so it made sense to slant the book that way.

Second, Sarah Prineas convinced me that the story was actually better suited to the YA market anyway. Once I decided she was right, of course it was worth the trouble to revise the story in that direction.

Vampires are mentioned in the backstory for BLACK DOG, and there’s a term that came up, “blood kin.” What are they? You don’t have to answer if that spoils anything for the future :)

Oh, good question — you’re the first to ask about this! I actually didn’t know what the blood kin were until I wrote the second book. Now I do know!

I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler, so here goes: you know how someone who is bitten by a black dog does not become a black dog, right? Instead, they pick up a kind of demonic corruption and become a “moon-bound shifter”, more like a movie werewolf, unable to control their demonic shadows when the moon is full. In the same way, a vampire can — or could, before they all got killed off in the war — turn a normal person into one of the blood kin. Think “slaves of the vampire, ghouls who eat people” and you’ll be in the right ballpark.

In the world of BLACK DOG, you really do not want to be bitten by a monster!

Can you explain a little more about Natividad being Pure?

I have the genetics all worked out! But I doubt anyone would want all that explained. It’s actually genetics with a supernatural twist, anyway. The Pure have black dog bloodlines but have been magically born clean of any demonic taint. Their creation was the work of a St Walpurga, a real historical saint, and there are definite implications that their creation may have been due to an actual miracle and not “just” magic.

I created the Pure partly just to add an extra complication into the world and also because I thought my black dogs could use a boost when it comes to controlling their demonic shadows. I had no idea what a pivotal role Natividad would play in the plot until I wrote the book, though.

I saw on your website that you show Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Did you use any of them or their behavior as influence for how the black dogs acted?

Actually, no. I really enjoy werewolves that act like real wolves, but mine don’t act like any natural animal — they act more like real monsters. My Cavaliers helped me out with this book mainly by keeping me from turning into a hermit while writing it. They always keep me busy!

What are some of your recent favorite books? Any “comfort books” that you turn to when you need a pick me up?

I only just finished JINX and JINX’S MAGIC by Sage Blackwood — excellent books which I definitely recommend, with strong characterization and great writing.

Comfort books for me include Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife series, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, and Sharon Shinn’s Troubled Waters. Those are some I definitely reach for if I’m home with the flu!

About the book:

Author Interview: Rachel NeumeierBlack Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Series: Black Dog #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on February 6, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

About the author:

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.
Website
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I really want to thank Rachel for answering my last minute questions. Thanks Rachel, you were awesome!

– leeanna

Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel Neumeier

Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel NeumeierBlack Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Series: Black Dog #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on February 6, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

Today I have a twofer: a review of BLACK DOG by Rachel Neumeier and an interview with the author. Be sure to check out both posts, because I asked Rachel some questions about the book, including where the idea for BLACK DOG came from!

Book Review:

BLACK DOG is a werewolf book, albeit a very different type of werewolf book from the usual sort. Rachel Neumeier’s black dogs are more like hellhounds, the dog side constantly fighting the human side for control. Black dogs transform at will, whenever they need to fight, prove their dominance, or when emotions get too high. It takes great strength of will to control the black dog shadow. There also are the traditional werewolves that follow the call of the moon, but they aren’t as powerful as black dogs.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Alejandro, a black dog, and his sister, Natividad, a Pure, BLACK DOG is a book that unfolds slowly. Alejandro, Natividad, and her twin, Miguel, are Mexican, and it was great to see some diversity in a YA book. There are some Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout the book; most have context translations or are easy to figure out.

The siblings are on the run from a dangerous black dog, Vonhausel, who killed their parents and wants to kill them. Their only hope is the Dimilioc pack, the last remaining civilized group of black dogs. But with only Natividad being worth anything to the pack, Alejandro must prove his control of his black dog, and Miguel, a human, must also show he’s useful. When Vonhausel shows up and tries to wage war, the siblings must help Dimilioc, each in their own way, because the alternative is death. Or something worse than death, in some cases.

Some readers might be bothered by Natividad being fifteen and expected to mate with one of the black dogs. Natividad is Pure, able to wield magic that can calm the ferocity of the black dogs’ shadows. Usually I would have an issue with that sort of alpha behavior, but I thought the Master of the pack handled it very well — he said no one could touch Natividad until she turned sixteen, and she would have her choice. Natividad didn’t have an issue with it, either. So all the possible mates were respectful, and wanted to protect her. There’s not really any romance in BLACK DOG — Natividad’s future relationship is a side topic. I just wanted to mention it.

Like I said above, BLACK DOG is a slow book. It’s over 400 pages, and I do think it could have been shorter and tighter. There were a lot of phrases repeated in dialogue, over and over, such as “I think” or “you know,” and they did pull me out of the narrative. I’m picky about things like that, though.

In the author’s world, black dogs are known to the public, thanks to the disappearance of vampires and their mindclouding magic of anything supernatural. The vampires and their war with the black dogs happened before the book, and so is offstage, but does have some influence on the events of BLACK DOG. I had some questions that I would have liked answered, but they didn’t really affect my understanding of what was going on.

Aside from that, once I got into the book, I did enjoy piecing the story together and learning about the siblings’ pasts, Vonhausel, and Dimilioc. I really liked the pack dynamics, and watching the black dogs control their shadows. It was also interesting to see regular humans interact with the pack. Natividad’s interactions were the best of all, because she wasn’t afraid of any black dog, knowing they wouldn’t hurt her. So it was fun and different to see a fifteen-year-old be taken seriously, her opinion valued, by the much older pack master.

The end of BLACK DOG does neatly tie up the main story line. I’ll admit, when I got to what I thought was the end, I was like, “No! That’s it?!” But it wasn’t! It’s hard to say anything about the ending, because I don’t want to spoil it, but the real ending was good. Very insightful. And there will be a sequel to BLACK DOG, so the other things I wanted to see, such as who Natividad will choose, and what will happen to Dimilioc, will most likely be addressed in that.

About the author:

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Fighting for the Edge (Edge #3) by Jennifer Comeaux

Book Review: Fighting for the Edge (Edge #3) by Jennifer ComeauxFighting for the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux
Series: Edge #3
Published by Astraea Press on November 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Sports
Pages: 305
Format: eBook
Source: Author, Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Two friends. Two dreams. One night that changes everything…

Ice dancer Aubrey London scoffs at romance. She’s focused on winning a medal at the upcoming Olympics and uses that as her excuse to avoid serious relationships. But when she and longtime friend Chris Grayden are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances, Aubrey finds herself questioning everything she's ever known about love, complicating her life both on and off the ice.

Pairs skater Emily Petrov embraces romance. She and her husband Sergei still act like honeymooners two years after their wedding. As Emily’s coach, Sergei provides constant support while she prepares to challenge for gold at the Olympics. But Sergei’s support might not be enough to help Emily overcome the one challenge she never saw coming.

With the Games only weeks away, Emily and Aubrey are on the verge of realizing their dreams. But one snowy, stormy night sets in motion a series of events that will test them in ways they never imagined, giving them more to fight for than Olympic medals.

Today on the blog tour for FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE by Jennifer Comeaux. The tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours and you can check out all the stops here. There’s a tour-wide giveaway after my review.

Book Review:

FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE is the third and last book in the Edge trilogy. However, it stands alone quite well, and you don’t have to have read the other two for this one to make sense. It follows figure skaters Emily and Aubrey on their journey to the Olympics. There’s plenty of skating and romance, and I’d say it’s the perfect book to read if you’re looking for more figure skating or Olympic action.

Emily plans to retire after the Olympics, and so this is her and her partner Chris’s last chance for a gold medal in pairs figure skating. Guided by her coach and husband, Sergei, they’re ready to conquer the world … until the unexpected happens. I’m not going to say what happens, but I liked how Emily handled the challenge, refusing to give up something she had worked most of her life for. Her relationship with Sergei was portrayed realistically; it was good to see a couple after marriage without them fighting or ready to break up.

Aubrey also plans to retire from ice dancing after the Olympics. For the majority of her career, she’s sworn off romance, not wanting it to get in the way of her dreams. But when she and Chris end up sharing an apartment, she starts to question herself. Chris is such a great guy: sweet, caring, nerdy, athletic… really, the list goes on and on. I laughed when he asked who would win in a showdown: Tweety Bird or Chewbacca. Aubrey’s dislike of romance and relationships is strongly influenced by her parents’ relationship, and I thought she worked through that realistically. Not always in the most logical way, but that’s real.

The book does switch between Emily’s first person perspective and Aubrey’s third person, which is a tad confusing at the start. I liked Aubrey’s voice, and so I would have also liked her sections to be told from her POV, which would have made the switch between the two girls less jarring. I also would have liked more of Aubrey and her partner’s routines described, so I could have gotten a better feel for ice dancing. But those are my only complaints.

FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE was a feel good book for me. I had fun reading it, and was immersed in the characters and their quest for perfection on the ice. Although I haven’t read the rest of the series, I wasn’t lost at all, and now I want to go back and read Emily and Sergei’s story from the beginning. I felt like the author really knew what she was talking about with figure skating, and I really liked that there was so much of it in the book! Sometimes books that are about sports barely mention the sport, so I was happy to see skating actually have a lot of page time in the book.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is void where prohibited. Entrants must be 13 or else have parent or guardian’s permission to enter. Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner’s name will be selected. Winning entries will be verified for authenticity.

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

jennifer comeaux authorJennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night. There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a diehard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. One of her favorite pastimes is travelling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing. Jennifer loves to hear from readers! Visit jennifercomeaux.blogspot.com for contact information and to learn more about her books.
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FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE buy links: Amazon | B&N
LIFE ON THE EDGE: Amazon | Goodreads
EDGE OF THE PAST: Amazon | Goodreads

– leeanna