29 November 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #74

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Festive Reads for December.

OK, so this week was supposed to be a top ten holiday gift guide, but to be honest that'd give away my whole Secret Santa shopping list (I'm signed up to about six). So I changed it to something a lot closer to my heart, something that I'm SO looking forward to. Every December, I drop what I was reading before and throw myself into season reading. Anything festive or with even the merest hint of winter or Christmas and I'm on it.

I have a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway starting on Thursday, twelve whole days of giveaways on my blog, Twitter and Instagram, so check them out
Top Five from Previous Years
  1. Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
  2. All I Want for Christmas by Esme Taylor
  3. Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews
  4. Christmas is Cancelled by Aurelia Rowl
  5. A Christmas to Remember by Katie Flynn
Top Five Most Anticipated

28 November 2016

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Not all will be saved.

One glorious summer, Luke's family is torn apart. He's expecting nothing more sinister than exams, while his sister Abi anticipates university. But they'll be separated to do their slavedays - a decade of labour demanded by law, enforced by a magically-skilled aristocracy.

Luke will dream of rebellion in a barbaric factory town. Abi will navigate the malice of a high-born estate, and find an unlikely love. But the siblings must choose sides as Britain moves from anger to defiance. They'll become entangled in acts of savagery and magic, as nobles vie for power. No one is safe and none will emerge unscathed. Is there a better way - or will a dangerous young aristocrat remake the world with his dark gifts?


Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, slavery, magic, rebellion, separation.

This book was horrifying in the best of ways.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started reading Gilded Cage. Perhaps something fun and a little vapid, and totally unbelievable.

What I actually read couldn't have been more different.

Gilded Cage is a challenging read. It is challenging in content and the way it explores the current definitions of words. Being set in an alternate universe the world is startlingly familiar, yet chillingly different. I loved how the word "equal" was redefined, and its use in this context was perhaps the most striking thing in the book. It made what happened all the more powerful.

This is a world of magic and power, slavery and abuse. Each of the characters seemed to be trapped in their own little cage in so many different ways.

Starting off, my own cover-judging (what are blurbs, anyway?) meant that I was expecting sunshine and a HEA. I didn't expect the hard-hitting subject. I wasn't ready for it, I was surprised.

There is one scene at the end of chapter three which chilled me to the bone. It was heart-stoppingly repellent. I couldn't believe what I had just read, and all of a sudden the book changed and was so much darker than I could have possibly imagined.

Read this book. But be prepared. Be prepared for horror and heartbreak, be prepared for your heart to race and to be broken. Because this book is one hell of a ride.

18 November 2016

Book Beginnings #25

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I am currently reading The Venetian Contract by Marina Fiorato.
Sebastiano Venier, Doge of Venice, gazed from the stone quatrefoil window, with eyes that were as troubled as the ocean.

Ever since I read Kit earlier this year, I have sought out this author. I'm already half way through this book and so far I have not been disappointed. Marina Fiorato writes fantastic historic fiction with strong, intelligent female protagonists, and the most delicious descriptions. As fantastic as some of her stories seem, there are always historical details anchoring the story to the real historical settings.

It is a pity about the cover - the main female protagonist is not white, she is described as having skin the colour of cinnamon, and it makes me quite sad to see that she isn't represented on the cover.

In terms of the first line, it doesn't give much away, but it does immediately spark my interest. what is troubling the Doge?

14 November 2016

Guestpost and Giveaway: Reimagining Happily Ever After By Laura Kenyon

Reimagining Happily Ever After

By Laura Kenyon

Like so many women today, I grew up on Disney movies and fairy tales. My mother says I saw “The Little Mermaid” in theaters at least a dozen times, and I know I made my family listen to every sing-along I could find during our four-hour drives to Cape Cod (sorry guys).

Even as late as high school, my friends and I often debated who among us was Sleeping Beauty, who was Jasmine, who was Ariel, who was Snow White, and so on. The arguments grew quite heated at times, and the verdicts were usually based purely on looks … but hey, isn’t that exactly how true love works in fairy tales? He’s handsome! She’s gorgeous! They kiss and their lives are going to be filled with butterflies and rainbows and infinite happiness forever after! It’s nauseating enough to make you root for the evil witch.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to launch a crusade against “happily ever after” or tell parents they shouldn’t let their daughters admire cartoon princesses. (I’ve actually laid out my opinion on that subject here, and it might surprise you.) But us adults know that real relationships take work. We know people fall in and out of love. We know life occasionally hurls giant boulders in our paths and we have to either turn back around or plot a way around them.

So where are our fairy tales?

For me, for example, I consider my husband to be better than any Prince Charming on record. But if you were to make a movie about our lives … well, let’s just say not all of it would be family friendly. There would be screaming matches, angry silences, and long, rainy walks with Snow Patrol crooning through the clouds. And for the most part, these moments would not be due to any evil witch or warlock. They would happen because someone’s tone of voice was a little bit off. Or someone kept checking their phone at dinner. Or someone was stressed about something else and just couldn’t put it aside at the door.

But at the same time, there would also be bright, colorful, wonderful scenes. There would be white lights and happy songs and nuzzling on a balcony in Tuscany. There would be a montage of tickling matches, snowball fights, babies being born, and puppies being cuddled. And in the long run, those happy scenes would far outnumber the others. But it would certainly be a different kind of fairy tale.

This is what I was thinking when I started writing Desperately Ever After, the first book in what grew into a three-novel series. I wanted to know what happened to these characters after the wedding bells. And more importantly, I wanted to know something that the original stories never told us—how they felt. What would they have said if they had the freedom to do so? If their choices weren’t marriage, poverty, or spinsterhood? If they had the luxury of deciding between the designated hero, someone else, or (gasp!) no man at all?

At the same time, I had no interest in doing the sort of modern fairy tale retelling where Cinderella has two evil roommates and works in the mailroom at Prince Charming’s Fortune 500 company. Nor did I want to take the jaded-artist route. In my opinion, there’s a difference between examining the characters Disney hid behind a rose-tinted lens, and leaping to the opposite extreme entirely. Making them more realistic is not the same as making them miserable. If that was the case, what does that say about us?

What I wanted to know was simple. Could Sleeping Beauty really have actually fallen for a complete stranger who found her in a bed and was presumptuous enough to kiss her? How did Rapunzel fare when she got out of her tower? Did Beast truly change when he was cursed or did he go back to his old ways after the honeymoon period wore off? Did Cinderella just jump from the frying pan into the fire when she traded indentured servitude for the confines of a royal life?

That’s why when it comes down to it, Desperately Ever After is about a group of women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They may be dealing with infidelity, temptation, aging, regret, stress, or the constant need to sacrifice their own dreams for the greater good. They may pretend they feel one way because they think it protects them, when really they feel the complete opposite. They may ignore problems that are right in front of their faces, or they may fabricate problems that don’t exist at all. Either way, it’s about real life and friendship and how one could never work without the other.


Pre-Order Giveaway!

Pre-order a copy of Skipping Midnight between now and November 15, and you could win one of two enchanting prize packages inspired by the Desperately Ever After series!

Prize Pack 1 (US only)


A signed paperback copy of all three novels in the series: Desperately Ever After (Book One), Damsels in Distress (Book Two), and Skipping Midnight (Book Three)

A stunning “Live like there’s no midnight” charm bracelet, custom made by My Initial Charm and inspired by the Desperately Ever After series

An assortment of treats for your next girls' night in (sorry, rampion not included!)

A snazzy memory box to ship it all in ;)

Prize Pack 2 (Worldwide!)

This fantastic set of six wine charms, handcrafted by Etsy artist Sarah VandenBrink (specifically for this giveaway!) and representing each of the six main characters: Belle, Rapunzel, Dawn, Penelopea, Snow White, and Cinderella.


To enter, please e-mail your proof of purchase (a screenshot will do) to laura (at) laurakenyon (dot) com by midnight November 15, 2016. Be sure to include your mailing address so you’re entered into the right contest(s). One winner will be selected via random drawing for each giveaway on November 16. Good luck!

Pre-order link: http://amzn.to/2dKeH5g

04 November 2016

Book Beginnings #24

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I am currently reading A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab.
Kell wore a very peculiar coat. 
It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.
Everyone I talk to who has read this book has hyped it up. Everyone. Not a single person with whom I'm a friend on Goodreads has given this a rating below 4 stars. Same with those who I follow. So I guess it's time to jump in and hope I'm not disappointed!

I always do my Book Beginning as I read the first lines, and these first lines don't really excite me so much. Yes, they're interesting, there's a spark of what? in my mind, but they don't immediately grab me.

01 November 2016

Cover Reveal: Skipping Midnight by Laura Kenyon


One part Sex and the City. Two parts Desperate Housewives. Three parts Brothers Grimm.

For the women of Marestam, “happily ever after" has always come with a grain of salt. Be it infidelity or aging, deferred dreams or lost love, or even the pressures of raising a family, they have always seen each other through life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a brand new take on old-fashioned chivalry. But when rage and treachery take over, everything they hold dear comes under attack.

Suddenly, the monarchies are crumbling, Cinderella is missing, Belle is harboring the secret of all secrets, Rapunzel is facing the one dilemma she spent her whole life trying to avoid, and Dawn could lose everything she’s finally learned to love. In order to save everyone and unmask the wolf in their midst, this iconic group of friends must follow a dogmatic fairy no one trusts, invoke a magic no one understands, and face a past they thought they had buried long ago.

Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the rest of Marestam’s favorite females return in this third and final novel in Laura Kenyon's Desperately Ever After series, which takes a whimsical look at our most beloved fairy tale princesses several years after true love’s kiss.

At heart, it’s a tale of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.
---

The final chapter in the Amazon #1 bestselling Desperately Ever After series (women’s fiction fantasy, women’s fiction humor, and paranormal fantasy). Says New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Evanovich: “Laura Kenyon makes happily ever after desperately delicious!".

About The Author

LAURA KENYON is an award-winning journalist and the author of three novels, Desperately Ever After, Damsels in Distress, and Skipping Midnight. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and online publications. The Boston College graduate does not live in a castle, but has been blessed with a heroic prince charming, two beautiful princesses, and a noble steed.

To learn more about Laura, visit her website at www.laurakenyon.com and sign up for exclusive updates. She also loves connecting with readers on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook. And for a peek at how she envisions Marestam, check out her Desperately Ever After board on Pinterest.

Buy The Books


Pre-Order Giveaway!

Pre-order a copy of Skipping Midnight between now and November 15, and you could win one of two enchanting prize packages inspired by the Desperately Ever After series!

Prize Pack 1 (US only)


A signed paperback copy of all three novels in the series: Desperately Ever After (Book One), Damsels in Distress (Book Two), and Skipping Midnight (Book Three)

A stunning “Live like there’s no midnight” charm bracelet, custom made by My Initial Charm and inspired by the Desperately Ever After series

An assortment of treats for your next girls' night in (sorry, rampion not included!)

A snazzy memory box to ship it all in ;)

Prize Pack 2 (Worldwide!)

This fantastic set of six wine charms, handcrafted by Etsy artist Sarah VandenBrink (specifically for this giveaway!) and representing each of the six main characters: Belle, Rapunzel, Dawn, Penelopea, Snow White, and Cinderella.


To enter, please e-mail your proof of purchase (a screenshot will do) to laura (at) laurakenyon (dot) com by midnight November 15, 2016. Be sure to include your mailing address so you’re entered into the right contest(s). One winner will be selected via random drawing for each giveaway on November 16. Good luck!

Pre-order link: http://amzn.to/2dKeH5g