Thursday, April 30, 2015

Release Day Blitz: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I am so excited that AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir released on 4/28/2015 and that I get to share the news, along with a special introduction from Sabaa herself!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Sabaa Tahir, be sure to check out all the details below.  This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed copies of the book and some of those awesome sword letter openers we’ve seen around courtesy of Sabaa, Penguin Teen, and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

A letter from Sabaa Tahir:

Dear Readers,

Today, my “baby” AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is finally out in the world! From inception to pub date, this journey took eight years. And what a journey it was: writing, rewriting, revising, editing, querying, submitting; Meeting other debuts, bloggers, booksellers and librarians, and hearing their thoughts on EMBER. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the radness.

And now, the book is here! I am so excited to see it in the hands of readers. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. To celebrate release day, I’m giving away two signed, first-edition hardcovers of the book. Details below!

All my best,



Author: Sabaa Tahir
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 464
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Check out the book trailer!!


About Sabaa:
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California's Mojave Desert at her family's 18-room motel.  There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother's comic book stash and play guitar badly.  She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor.  She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd.  Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family.

Author Links

Giveaway Details:

  • 2 winners will receive a signed hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. US Only.
  • 3 winners will receive a hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and a Sword Letter Opener! US Only.
  • Ends on May 9th at Midnight EST!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: The Other Side of Envy by C.L. Stone

The Other Side of Envy (Ghost Bird Series #8) by C.L. Stone
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Arcato Publishing
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Sang Sorenson dreams of what life might be like for her in the Academy, but joining isn't as easy as simply writing an exam or passing an interview. She'll need to pull the team together to get them on her side in order for it to work, which is harder than it sounds. The boys will do anything to protect her, which, for some, means keeping her out.

But that’s not all that’s going on in Sang’s complicated life. After a shocking revelation, Gabriel Coleman splinters himself off from everyone, avoiding not just his Academy team, but even going so far as to avoid Sang. Desperate to bring him back and get him on her side, Sang digs deep into his past to try to discover a way to reach out to him.

His truth is riddled with tragic events, but with the help of Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Luke and North, she might be able to reach out to him before envy and despair drag him too far down to be saved.

I've been waiting very impatiently for this book to come out and was lucky enough to receive an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.  Well, honestly, I'm just as in love with this series now as I've ever been.  This latest installment was such a welcome addition to the series.  It was perfect!

This time around, the focus of the story is Sang and Gabriel.  I loved having an opportunity to get to know Gabriel on a deeper level, as I feel like he was one of the remaining guys that we know the least about at this point.  Most of the other guys have gotten a lot more screen time than he has, so to speak. So getting to spend time in his world, seeing what his deep feelings are, both about himself, and about Sang too, was wonderful.  He is sweet, smart, and so talented with just about everything, but like most people, he doesn't always see his own worth.  I'm so glad the author explored this with Sang and allowed her to get a deeper glimpse into him.

I was both shocked and gratified when Sang was able to discover, in this book, what's really going on. A lot of the guys have, throughout the last few books, been brought into the secret, and I really thought we would reach the end of the series before Sang would discover it.  Once again, C.L. Stone surprised me.  At first I was a little scared of what the implications of her knowing would mean for the story, but I need not have been concerned.  As shy and introverted as she may be, Sang does know what she wants, and discovering this secret was probably just the thing she needed at this point.  She can now be a more active participant.

This book also allowed more time for Sang with both Dr. Green and Mr. Blackbourne, which I absolutely LOVED!!  Dr. Sean Green is such a sweety, and every scene with Mr. Blackbourne just made me wiggle in my chair.

This book followed the continuing saga that the protagonists have been dealing with since book one. However, whereas the last couple to three books have been heavy on the external danger and conflict, this book focused almost exclusively on the relationship building, which I loved.  It was high time for that.  Significant progress was made in some relationships where it really needed to occur.

As always the writing was fast-paced, engrossing and altogether entertaining.  I've never been so happy and exciting for just kissing scenes as I am when I read these books.  Every little encounter is amazing and just gets you in the heart.  I love this series and am already beyond excited for the next book to come out.

Announcement by Cora Carmack!!


Fans of Cora Carmack’s Rusk University, we have a SUPER exciting announcement:

ALL CLOSED OFF Coming 2016

ALL CLOSED OFF, Book 4 in the Rusk University Series, is coming!!!

Check out this message from Cora!

*WARNING: This letter contains spoilers for All Broke Down. If you haven't yet read that book, read at your own peril. SECOND WARNING: this letter talks about fictional characters as if they are real people. Sorry I'm not sorry. THIRD WARNING: The letter below broaches a serious topic that could be a trigger for some people*

Hello beloved readers! The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was "Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?" At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own story lines. I thought they were too much alike. They'd make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end... I couldn't envision anything serious for them. 

So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again). But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It's a wonderful experience, but in Stella's case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. 

While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports. 

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said... Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, "Mine. This is my story." I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn't take crap from anyone. She was everything I always hope to be. And I didn't want her to go through that. 

Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella was vibrant and enjoyed a wild party. She was not afraid of her sexuality, and she had no problem with casual sex. She was the kind of girl that probably had a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn't mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, "Someone needs to tell this story. And I'm strong enough to do it. Let me." And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I'd been adamant wasn't right for her. Because as it turns out... Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren't so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before. 

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It's about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It's about the way that kind of event can change everything-- how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It's about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you're still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light. So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book… 

ALL CLOSED OFF: Stella Santos is fine. Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same. But none of that matters because she’s just fine

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t. When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again. Vulnerable. ***** 

ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don't have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I'll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I'll be able to ensure that I'm able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won't be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you'll add the book on goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links. Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella's story. When it's finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do. All my best, Cora Carmack   *Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)  

#WhenitHappened banner

And an opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s…

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her. Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. 

As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance. If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard…. If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through…. If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours… I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. 

Use the hashtag #WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this google document and tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself. So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening. #WhenItHappened Google Form.

ABOUT Cora Carmack: Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.      

Author Links
z-InkSlinger Blogger

Waiting on Wednesday: Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. WoW posts are about books that you can’t wait to get your hands on.

This is one of my favorite posts to read on the blogs that I follow because other bloggers have found so many wonderful books that I had no idea about! I get most of those from reading Waiting on Wednesday posts. :-) I urge you to visit other blogs and read theirs to find these great lists!

What's your lucky number?  Lyla Wilder is done being the shy, chemistry nerd extraordinaire. While every other college student is out having fun, Lyla is studying. With her cat. Well, she's played it "safe" quite enough, thank you. So she creates a "College Bucket List"―with item #7 being a night of uninhibited, mind-blowing sex...

But she needs some help from her man-whore best friend. Hockey player Beck Davenport thought Lyla's transformation would be subtle. Man, was he wrong. With every item she ticks off, Beck finds himself growing seriously hot for his sweet, brainiac best friend. And if he's not careful, he'll end up risking their friendship in order to convince Lyla that he might just be her lucky #7...

Release Date: April 28, 2015

Why I'm excited about it:
Sounds like a friends with
benefits story that becomes
something more.  Love it!!

Have you heard of this one?  Leave a comment and let me know what your WoWs are this week!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review and Blog Tour: Awoken by Sarah Noffke

I'm super excited to be taking part in the official Blog Tour for Awoken by Sarah Noffke, the first book in the new Lucidites series.  This tour is being coordinated by YA Bound Book Tours.  Check out my review and giveaway below.

Awoken by Sarah Noffke
Release Date: November 24, 2014
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six Press
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Around the world humans are hallucinating after sleepless nights. In a sterile, underground institute the forecasters keep reporting the same events. And in the backwoods of Texas, a sixteen-year-old girl is about to be caught up in a fierce, ethereal battle.

Meet Roya Stark. She drowns every night in her dreams, spends her hours reading classic literature to avoid her family’s ridicule, and is prone to premonitions—which are becoming more frequent. And now her dreams are filled with strangers offering to reveal what she has always wanted to know: Who is she? That’s the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. But will Roya live to regret learning the truth?

I had not previously heard of this book prior to signing up to be a tour host.  So I went into reading it with no expectations.  It doesn't take long before the "strangers" mentioned in the summary have Roya at a special institute where she's to receive training.  When I first started the book, I thought, "oh, great, yet another story where they train teenagers to be fighters a la Divergent, etc."  This book, however, turned out to be so much more.

The "training" that Roya and other kids her age must undergo isn't just about how to survive or how to fight.  It's focused on mental training for a very specific type of skill and task that awaits them. Plus, in a lot of other books, the authors may put in one training scene, and then just refer to having to "go to training" throughout the rest of the book.  In this book, however, we are privy to many sessions, watching the development of the characters' skills and progress.  It was a lot more detailed and focused.  This was an interesting new twist that made this book unique to others of its kind.  I completely forgot about any comparisons I might have made at the beginning and was immediately sucked into the story.

The author did an amazing job balancing story vs. character development.  It has a large cast, and while some of the secondary characters didn't need or require as much development for me to like them, the three to five main protagonists were very detailed and I felt for each of them. especially Roya.

I loved Roya immediately.  As the summary says, she's been through a rough time with her family, and although she does carry that with her, there is nothing weak or frightened about this girl.  She's strong, brave, and self-sacrificing.  I loved her determination, even if she didn't completely buy into what she was there for at first.  There were times when she worked so hard to keep her emotions in check, to prevent herself from showing her feelings, and it was heartbreaking.  She was so controlled but yet, she felt so much.  She had the ability to push back fear and use her passion.

The conflict, of course, was very exciting, but one of my favorite aspects of this story was the interactions between Roya and her team.  There is lots of emotion there, some very unexpected relationships, and some romance that was surprising and interesting, exhilarating in its sweetness and passion.

The last quarter of the book was so fast-paced and hard-hitting that I felt myself gasping more than once.  The author did an amazing job with her world building, the characterization, the action, and the pacing.  Not to mention the romance, which was slow-building and very gratifying.  I loved this book, and am definitely looking forward to the next installment to what has been an amazing new series.


Buy Links:

About the Author

Sarah Noffke writes YA sci-fi fantasy and is the author of The Lucidites Series.  She’s been
everything from a corporate manager to a hippie. Her taste for adventure has taken her all over the world. If you can’t find her at the gym, then she’s probably at the frozen yogurt shop. If you can’t find her there then she probably doesn’t want to be found. She is a self-proclaimed hermit, with spontaneous urges to socialize during full moons and when Mercury is in retrograde. Sarah lives in Southern California with her family.

Author Links

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: Awakening by Shannon Duffy

Awakening by Shannon Duffy
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Dystopian

Desiree Six (because she was born on a Friday) believes in everything the Protectorate stands for. She likes the safety and security of having her entire life planned out—her career, her mate, even the date of her death. She doesn't even think to question when Darian, her childhood friend and neighbor, is convicted of murdering his parents. They had seemed like such a loving family. But if he was convicted, then he must have done it.

Then Darian shows up in her room late one night. He has escaped from the Terrorscape—a nightmare machine used to punish all Noncompliants—and needs Desiree's help. What he tells her rocks her world to its core and makes her doubt everything she's ever been told. With this new information, will Desiree and Darian be able to escape the Protectorate before it's too late?

When I first started reading this book, I immediately drew comparisons to two other series I've read, and no, I don't mean The Hunger Games or Divergent... two other pretty well-known series.  I'm not going to tell you which ones though because I realized about ten pages in that this was not a fair comparison at all, and that Shannon Duffy had created something completely different than what I thought it was going to be at first.

This book caught me right away.  The characters were immediately likeable and sympathetic.  I loved Desiree, despite the fact that, at first, she seems like just another sheep in this dystopian environment. But that's not fair to her.  I kept thinking, how would you be if indoctrinated all your life to believe in something?  You'd be skeptical of other views too.  And therein lies my sympathy for her.  Who want to believe that what they've always known to be true is nothing but a lie?  But she doesn't spend time whining about it.  She's a strong character who can think for herself.

And Darian.  He was like a perfect mixture of everything I love in a hero.  He had the fighting, protective nature of an alpha male, but all the sweet, kind and loving temper of a great Beta as well. He was strong, sweet, determined, kind, protective... name a bunch of cool adjectives.  That's him.

Where the author takes this story was so unique to dystopians I've read.  The idea of the Dreamscape was so clever, so believable, and the world building was perfect.  There were some amazing action sequences in the story that had me on the edge of my seat.  There was drama, romance, danger, some excellent science fiction elements that were all the more terrifying because I think they could definitely happen in our world, and it all takes place only a few years ahead of the time we live in now... not hundreds of years into the future.  It gave the danger a more immediate eeriness to it.

Shannon Duffy created a wonderful, frightening new world in this series.  Her writing was fast-paced, thoughtful, and exciting.  I am definitely looking forward to what happens next.

Buy Link

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Discussion Post: Do you have to have an HEA?

Linking back to Feed Your Fiction Addiction, and to It Starts At Midnight who host the 2015 Discussion Post challenge.

My Discussion Topic This Week - Do you have to have a HEA (Happily Ever After)?

So this one's been on my mind this week because it seems like I've read quite a few books lately where there is no HEA.  When I say HEA, or happily ever after, I don't just mean the romantic kind. I'm also referring to the technical kind.  Some of the endings I've read lately include the following:

  • An enormous romantic buildup followed by a the death of one of the romantic characters
  • An enormous romantic buildup with one person, later to discover that the heroine will end up with the other guy instead
  • No romantic buildup at all, no romance at all
  • Big story build up with no HEA in terms of the conflict.  In other words, not a good enough resolution at the end

I hate endings like this.  I get completely invested into a story, I love the characters, or the romance, or the conflict.  It all seems to be building up to some wonderful conclusion either romantically or in terms of the story conflict, and then.....   Yeah.  I'm left feeling completely cheating.

Let's discuss....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Tempting New Tales

Tempting New Tales is my weekly post where I share what new books I managed to acquire this week.  Credit goes back to the Stacking the Shelves weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Here's what I got this week...

Have you read any of these yet?  What did you get this week?  Leave a comment!
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