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28 April 2016

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Elementals: The Blood of the Hydra by Michelle Madow

A demigod who can kill with a touch. It’s an ability that must be kept secret from everyone, even from those trusted most.

Finding out that she was a witch was strange enough, but now Nicole must face the realization that she has the rare power to kill with just a touch. No one can know her secret—not even Blake, who she’s had undeniable chemistry with since first moving to town.

Now Nicole, Blake, and the three others with elemental powers must stop a series of monsters that they previously believed to be dead from rising once again and destroying the mortal world. The creatures they face on this journey will be more dangerous than anything they’ve encountered yet. Will they all survive the quest? And how long will it be until Nicole is forced to use her ability to kill in front of everyone, revealing the true darkness of her powers?

Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration | NetGalley Request

The adventure began in the first book in the series, Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows! To learn more about the first book, and to read the first four chapters for free, click here!

5 Words: Magic, elements, friendship, responsibility, heritage.

If you know me at all, then you'll know that I usually do not get on with books that blend contemporary America with ancient Greek mythology. But this series? I get on with it very, very well. I couldn't put the first one down (my review here!) and when I finished it I could barely wait for the next one.

So when I saw this, I jumped at the chance.

And I wasn't disappointed.

This book dove straight back into the fast paced story, but now with added tension and a changed group dynamic. The way that the relationships between the characters evolves and changes makes this so very, very real, even in the fantasy setting.

I liked that Nicole didn't jump straight on Blake, that there was this distance between them, some respect for Danielle and her feelings at the beginning. It was refreshing and something I'd like to read more of. That's not to say that there isn't any passion, because it's simmering along there, building slowly.

Out of all of the characters, I think I like Danielle the most. She doesn't take any crap, she says it as she sees it, she has some serious flaws, and there's just something about her that I totally love.

This series takes something that so many authors do badly, and it totally excels. It takes a well-written trope and makes it come alive. Michelle Madow has got something good here, and it's going from strength to strength.


26 April 2016

Interview and Excerpt: Dangerous Kisses by Alice Lake

Miss Lavinia Halls is a member of the Guild of Hybrids, a secret society dedicated to helping women in need. When faced with a terrified new client, Lavinia declares that her client’s fiancĂ© must pay for his sins. The fact that she can’t take her eyes off the man’s kissable lips only spurs her resolve to bring her assignment to a quick conclusion. 

Eric Yorke, Viscount Mathieson, wishes nothing more than to distance himself from his treacherous fiancĂ©e, but in his quest to do so, he finds himself trapped in the clutches of the unconventional Miss Halls. The delectable yet annoyingly persistent woman seems intent on ruining his life no matter how much he tries to thwart her attempts. 

Her efforts to seek and destroy meet their match in his determination to foil her plans, until their struggles collide in a scandal of enormous proportions. Fated together, they must overcome ruin, danger and heartbreak. Will they be able to survive their past or is their future together doomed? 


How did you come up with the character of Lavinia?
I enjoy writing about strong women but that’s more challenging in historical romance because they were so limited in what they could do back then. So when I decided to write a series, I came up with a secret female society that lets women's talents and skills shine. Lavinia was a trained rhetorician, which was inspired by my own rhetorical studies. I got my Masters degree in Rhetoric and Writing Studies, which my husband equates to me being able to BS really well. Once I figured out what Lavinia’s skill was going to be, the rest of her character just fell into place. She had to have backbone and not let anyone push her around. And given that she was orphaned and had a younger sister, she naturally emerged as a leader within her family and the Guild of Hybrids.

Do you believe in love at first sight, or is it all about the lust and that initial attraction?
Even though I write romance novels, I’m kind of a cynic, so I’ll say I believe in lust and attraction at first sight. Don’t know of anyone who actually fell in love at first sight.

Without too many spoilers, what was your own favourite scene from Dangerous Kisses?
Pretty much anytime the hero and heroine quarreled. They were a hoot to write and I enjoyed their banter. But a specific scene involves the children from the orphanage who require a temporary home. The hero, Eric, decided to give Lavinia a dose of her own medicine there, which implicated her entire family. I loved it.

Why did you write about this time period?
I love the glamor of the Victorian era and always enjoyed reading books set during that time. I felt comfortable with the culture back then and it made sense that I should attempt a Victorian story.

If your characters were in a modern setting, what would their jobs be?
I’d hope that they'd still have a society dedicated to helping women in need, because I think that’s important. So maybe they’d be bodyguards, interpreters, computer programmers, financial advisors, CPR instructors, social workers, physical and psychological therapists, doctors, and whatever else women escaping rough backgrounds would need. I’ve seen what abuse can do to a person, from the physical and mental breakdown, to the burdens it places on the family. Just as the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child,” so does the same mentality apply to a woman beaten down by her significant other. It takes a lot of care and nurture to bring her back to lead a normal life again. That was my inspiration for creating the Guild of Hybrids.

If you could sit down with any of the characters from Dangerous Kisses and have a cup of tea, who would you pick and why?
Aww, I’d love to talk to all of them, but even though Lavinia and I would have a lot in common, her younger, reckless sister Larissa would be a wild card. I’d love to hear the stuff coming out of her mouth.


He threw the contents of the glass down his throat and picked up a new set of cards.
A moment later, his gaze fixed on Miss Halls. Her eyes sparkled with mischief and he could swear she was flirting with him. Flirting with him! Had been doing so all evening, in fact. It was the most ridiculous thought he’d ever had.
“A man’s fortune is never more at risk than when he picks up a hand of cards,” Grossman said to his right.
Isn’t that the truth? Up until yesterday, Eric’s fortune had never been a matter of question when he gambled. Now he was treading in dangerous waters.
They went around the table, each placing his bets and requesting or exchanging cards as needed. Eric looked at Grossman to his left, the perspiration on his forehead speaking volumes. Hart to his right kept touching his eyebrows, a dead giveaway. Dunhill, who was sitting before Eric, was a skilled card player it turned out. Eric didn’t know him, but the man had proven himself a worthy opponent. He had no expression whatsoever and no particular movement or sign to give him away.
Eric set down two cards and picked up two new ones. He looked down, then up. Dunhill’s eyes were fixed on him. So were Miss Halls’s, Eric noticed.
Her black curls shimmered in the dim light behind Hart’s seat, and the swoosh of her gown planted itself annoyingly in Eric’s ear whenever she turned. Not that he wasn’t aware of her without those sounds. He’d noticed her all night, standing there, half illuminated by the light, half hidden in the shadows. Her coloring was complimented by the deep hue of her red gown, and the black, lace choker around her throat drew his eyes on more than one occasion. It all came together in a perfect unity that focused his attention higher, to the plump crimson lips which sometimes smiled provocatively at him.
Grossman grunted loudly, discarding and picking up cards. Hart had not said a word in at least half an hour. His eyes shifted from one player to the other, his handkerchief always by his side, ready to dab his brow. He didn’t need to exchange cards. Eric doubted the man’s hand was good enough to win this round.
Eric took another look at his own cards, a hopeful feeling stirring in his stomach.
Miss Halls stepped into the light surrounding the card table. His brows gathered into a frown. What was she doing?
She leaned over to pick up something, allowing Eric’s gaze to fall precisely to the valley between her breasts. Good Lord! The woman was going to fall out of her dress. Did nobody else notice? He looked around but all the bystanders had their eyes pinned on the card players.
A moment later, she held Hart’s handkerchief, which had fallen to the ground unnoticed. As she straightened, she offered it to the man with a dazzling smile and Hart nodded as his lecherous eyes darted appreciatively at the almost exposed bosom next to his face. Eric’s nostrils flared.
With the handkerchief safely back in Hart’s pocket, Eric watched with relief as she stepped back. Just as he resolved to focus on his cards, her eyes sparkled seductively at him and she ran a finger along the strip of lace around her throat in a gentle caress. The slow deliberate movement was tantalizing and his eyes couldn’t pry themselves from the path of the tip of her finger.
Hell and damnation. He felt an alarming stirring in his pants and coughed loudly in response. He shifted in his seat and looked pointedly down at his cards. The woman had lost her damn mind, he was sure of it.
After a few moments, it was time to show their hands. Dunhill was beaten by Grossman’s hand, which was beaten by Eric’s. When Hart set down his cards last, Eric’s heart plummeted. Damn, the man had beaten him after all. It was impossible! How was this amateur able to outplay him when he so clearly lacked the skills necessary to be a good gambler?
Eric threw his cards down, swearing under his breath. He rubbed his eyes with two fingers.
When the new hand was dealt, he picked up his cards. He discarded one and got a new one in turn. Disappointment washed over him. So much for his flush of three. His eyes shifted up, colliding with hers. She was part of the crowd gathered around the table, her arms crossed and her eyes looking down on him as if she was secretly pleased with something. For Lord knew what reason, it made his blood boil. It was bad enough losing like a damn idiot. Now he had to endure this woman looking down her nose at him? She had teased him all night. Fluttered her lashes, fanned herself enticingly, moistened those lips at the most important moments of the card game and he had been unable to tear his eyes from her. No wonder he lost.
Didn’t she have anywhere else to be? Anything else to do? Surely she didn’t wish to spend any more time in his company than absolutely necessary. After the way she had ridiculed him on several occasions, why on earth would she stand there watching him play cards? Why would she create such a spectacle especially for him? She hadn’t flirted with anyone else in the room, he was sure of it. And no other person had seemed to notice her outrageous behavior.
He glanced at her again before turning back to his cards and suddenly it all made perfect sense. She was enjoying this! She was enjoying watching him lose!

Top Ten Tuesday #60

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 weeks is Top Ten Bookworm Delights.

I love bookish stuff. Just give me all the book stuff ever. EVER. I can't get enough. I have purposely tried (and failed) to stay away from Etsy.

  • Book & a Brew - A monthly subscription box with a hardback book and packet of (delightful) tea. And all for less than an actual hardback book! It's wonderfully curated and I have never once received a book I already own.
  • Illumicrate - A quarterly subscription box crammed with a book and goodies and exclusive content from publishers and suppliers.
  • Lillytales Bookmarks - The most beautiful wooden bookmarks ever. They're cute and lightweight, but still large enough to really stand out.
  • Form & Flux Candles - Bookish candles that not only look gorgeous, but smell divine. You don't even have to burn then to get the scent, just open the jar!
  • The Sticker Alley Boomarks (now closed) - These are just so darn cute. I have a full set of princesses and a set of assassins. They are quite delicate so part of me doesn't want to use them.
  • Mauve Magpie Bookmarks - It was love at first site for me with these bookmarks! Hand stamped stainless steel, with custom orders anything is possible.
  • Coryographies Book Jewellery - Book. Jewellery. And it's absolutely gorgeous. So cute and colourful and unique.
  • The Literary Gift Company Tote Bags - I love my I Capture the Castle bag so much. I've had it for years, it's so durable and stylish.
  • Knock Knock Bookmark Pad - These are a reviewer's dream bookmark - there's space for notes, dates read and book information, and you never lose your page.
  • Alphabet Mugs - I bought my first one years ago and it still looks like new, so I bought another one to use at work. I am a huge typography fan, letters on homeware are my catnip - I also have a huge collection of candles and cushions.

19 April 2016

Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons - and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette - to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer - and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away. 

Source: NetGalley Request | Purchase

5 Words: Witness, family, murder, lies, secrets.

In my head, I bigged this up so, so much. This is one of my favourite authors and she was stepping away from her Prep School Confidential roots and going darker, more serious, more twisty and creepy... And it worked so well and I loved it. I was absolutely not disappointed.

The story was quite slow to start, it felt much more character driven than her previous books, and everything built up gradually until all of a sudden it was at break neck speed and I couldn't put it down. Add to that the twists and turns and by the end I was more than a little bit dumbstruck.

I didn't expect what was coming and that was insanely refreshing. This is unpredictable to the max. Everything I had guessed at, all of the theories I had, they were blown apart by the ending.

Everything you read in this book is for a reason. Nothing is superfluous to the plot. But you won't realise that this is the case until the end.

If you're a plot-reader, just stick with it. Because it does pick up and the pace is insane when it does. If you're a character-reader you're in for a real treat because this is all about the characters and the pace is just a bonus.

Before Reading


I can't wait.

I need this now.

Not in 4 months time.

11 April 2016

Book Review: Waiting For Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill

When I won Waiting For Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill in a Goodreads Giveaway, I kinda knew from the blurb that I would enjoy it. What I didn't know was how much I would absolutely love it. Waiting For Callback is wickedly funny and awkward and I couldn't put it down.

Waiting For Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill coverAdd to Goodreads button
When Elektra is discovered by an acting agent, she imagines Oscar glory can't be far away, but instead lurches from one cringe-worthy moment to the next! Just how many times can you be rejected for the part of 'Dead Girl Number Three' without losing hope? And who knew that actors were actually supposed to be multi-lingual, play seven instruments and be trained in a variety of circus skills?

Off-stage things aren't going well either - she's fallen out with her best friend, remains firmly in the friend-zone with her crush and her parents are driving her crazy. One way or another, Elektra's life is now spent waiting for the phone to ring - waiting for callback.

Can an average girl-next-door like Elektra really make it in the world of luvvies and starlets?

Source: Giveaway

5 Words: Acting, school friendship, family, pressure.

My first thoughts upon finishing this book:
When's the next one out? Because I need it now.

This book was so refreshingly funny. I've lost count of the amount of times I laughed out loud or snorted tea out of my nose (painful) or read passages out to my other half. This book is hilarious.

But it's more than just funny. Waiting for Callback tackles some pretty serious issues like friendship and bullying and first love and self-esteem and dreams and disappointment and school and family. And it does so wonderfully. The book is fantastically well written and honest, the characters are so believable and real, and I found it impossible to put down. I laughed and I cried as I read, and I absolutely loved Elektra.

This is one of the funniest books I've read and reread. It makes me laugh out loud and cackle on the bus and snort in public. I can't stop myself from reading parts out loud. I couldn't put this book down.

What's your favourite funny book?

07 April 2016

Review: Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler

Ashleigh Walker is in love.

You know the feeling - that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It's enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents' marriage troubles.

There's just one thing bothering her...

Shouldn't it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

Source: NetGalley Request

5 Words: family, school, friendship, growing-up, coming-out.

Aww man, I've got the warm fuzzies.

I have admit that I wasn't really feeling it at the beginning. I couldn't settle in to the story. But I stuck with it. And I'm so glad that I did. Because this book is amazing. It is so SO good.

I didn't like Ash very much in the beginning, and while I still didn't love her by the end, she'd definitely grown on me. She's one of the best written teenage characters I have read, and every action rang true. I could actually relate to her quite a bit.

I loved that the author wasn't afraid to have non-perfect A Level results. Social pressure to get AAA at A Level is soul destroying, especially when it just doesn't happen for most people. But this author tackled that, and what happens when you don't get the results that you wished for.

In fact, this author tackled a lot of different things in this relatively short book. There was a bit of everything, from fancying your teacher to tanking your exams, falling out with your best friend and trying to kiss another, thinking you're pregnant to realising you're gay... And she did it so wonderfully. The friendships were real and relatable, the misunderstandings totally understandable, and the prejudices left me feeling indignant with rage. It's difficult not to get caught up in this book, in Ash's story.

Overall this is a WONDERFUL book. The narrator is exceptional (even if not totally likeable for me) and the issues tackled are dealt with fantastically.