Friday, February 27, 2015

Smexy Reads: The Master by Kresley Cole

Series: The Game Maker #2
448 p.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published; 2/17/15
Source: From publisher for review
Everyone fears the Master… 
Rich, irresistible politician/Mafiya boss Maksimilian Sevastyan prefers tall, obedient blondes to fulfill his…complicated desires. That is, until the icy Russian encounters a disobedient brunette whose exquisite little body threatens his legendary restraint. 
Except her. 
Catarina Marín was a well-off young wife until her world fell apart. Now she’s hiding out, forced to start working as an escort in Miami. Her very first client is beyond gorgeous, but when he tells her what he plans to do to her, Cat almost walks out of the door. 
If pleasure is a game, play to win. 
After their mind-blowing encounter burns out of control, the lovers crave more. If they escape the deadly threats surrounding them, can Maksim overcome his past—to offer Cat his future? Only then will she tempt him with what he really wants: her, all tied up with a bow.
My thoughts:

I have had a hard time writing this one. I have mixed feelings about it and I'm not sure how to star rate it. Hm... hopefully I'll figure that out when I write the rest of the review. :)

I had a few problems with the book and it all centers around Máxim (Maksimilian). Cat often called him pendejo (spanish if you need to look it up... lol) and I feel that the name is apt. I never warmed up to him, even in the end. Plus, he instigated a couple of scenes I really didn't like. One was when he "kidnapped" her. Even though she could have easily slipped out, I still didn't buy that a woman with her background would let him do something like that to her. The other scene is one I'm not sure how to mention. Some will see it the way I see it and not like it, and others will feel differently. I don't want to color your take on it too much but I fear I have already with what I have said. Let me just say it wasn't enough to make me stop the book.

Okay, with all that you might think I hated this book. No! My favorite character was Cat and it was she who kept me reading. When Máxim would anger me usually Cat would come around and tell him exactly what I was thinking. YES! This is exactly what I need in the other books that frustrate me in the same way. Usually the girl either sits quietly by or just ignores the behavior. UGH! I hate that. Cat doesn't and calls it like it is! She is a great character.

So, this is my problem. I still think that Máxim is a pendejo but Cat really does rule this book. It is an erotica book and in most of these books you have to overlook the ridiculous. I think I will give this book 3 1/2 stars because I got a character to root for. Those that don't enjoy BDSM, I would call it BDSM light. Not really that bad but it is very smexy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

512 p.
Publisher: Howard Books
Published: 2/17/15
Source: Kismet Book Tours for review
The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry. 
Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world. 
With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”

My thoughts:

While reading this book I became curious as to how close the history was to the real Empress of Austria. What I found by doing a quick search is that the book closely aligns itself to what was reported and what happened. She brings clarity to some aspects of the Empress Sisi's life with reasons that made perfect sense to me. Where some of the details just fantasy? No doubt, but yet it felt like reasonable assumptions.

While I did like Sisi I really didn't like the Emperor's mother Sophia. Ugh. I so wanted to see Sisi throw her out a turret window! I won't say why but when you read it, I have no doubt you would agree. I also didn't care for Franz, the Emperor when it came to being a husband and who still acted as a child when it came to his mother. These parts worked in the book, however, since I don't think we were supposed to praise either one highly.

I give this book 4 stars. I recommend it to those that have an interest in history. This follows her life well and gives potential insight to her behavior and the world this was set.

Bloggy Note:
Don't forget to visit the blog post by Allison Pataki describing how she researched the book! Also there is a great giveaway for $120 gift certificate to the ebook retailer of the winner's choice. Just click HERE to go to the post!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blog Tour with Giveaway: The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Retracing Sisi’s Footsteps: My Research for THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS

One of the greatest joys of reading Historical Fiction is, in my opinion, learning about another time and place. If done right, a great Historical Fiction novel will transport you to a new world. You have the opportunity to see this new and vivid world along with the compelling cast of characters who inhabit it.

It follows, then, that one of the most fun parts of writing Historical Fiction is that same thing—getting so deeply into another world that it becomes real and gripping and alive. And that all begins with the research.

As this is a novel set in the Habsburg Imperial Court, the drama and action unfolded primarily in Austria and Hungary. I really couldn’t learn about Sisi and her world without seeing it through my own eyes. I felt very strongly that, in order to bring Sisi to life, both in my imagination and on paper, I needed to first immerse myself into her world. I needed to visit her palaces, soak up her setting, and walk in her footsteps. This was all an integral part of the research process, and I was thrilled that that meant I would get to do some traveling. That’s not a bad part of the job, is it?!

It was in Vienna, years ago, that I first stumbled across the image of Sisi, so that was the first place I revisited. Vienna today still feels so grand and imperial. You can still feel Sisi and Franz Joseph and the stamp of imperial majesty on almost every boulevard of their capital. Their former homes, the Schönbrunn and Hofburg Palaces, are fantastic resources in which to learn about not only Sisi, but all of the Habsburgs. There, I spent time studying every detail of Sisi’s daily life. I studied the plates off of which she ate, the clothes in which she dressed, and the furniture on which she sat. I peeked at her journal entries to see her elegant cursive handwriting. I looked out over her grounds and gardens, staring through the same windows through which she took her own views of her land and her capital city. I walked down the same cathedral aisle by which she processed, as a girl of sixteen, on her way to marry Emperor Franz Joseph. In all of those places, Sisi came to life in my mind.

Next, it was off to Sisi’s other capital, the Hungarian city of Budapest. This is a place that, to me, feels more whimsical and unruly than grand and imperial Vienna. Walking around the Castle Hill and looking out over the Danube and the Chain Bridge, I could imagine why the romantic Sisi loved it there so much. I traveled the flat plains on which she loved to take off on horseback. I sat in her imperial box in Budapest’s cathedral. I visited the nearby imperial retreat, the country home to which she fled to when the pressures of public life overwhelmed her.

All of these places were hugely important locales in Sisi’s story, so I loved visiting them to learn about Sisi and, hopefully, to be able to recreate this world through my words.

Once I’d physically retraced her footsteps, it came time to take in as much information as possible. This involved reading…lots and lots of reading. And then some note-taking, and then some more reading. The names of the biographies and books I relied on are listed in the Acknowledgments Section at the back of my novel. I read not only about the characters but also about the world they inhabited and what their daily lives might have looked and felt like. I read about what food they would have eaten, what shows they might have seen at the Opera. I read about the weather and the clothing and the architecture. I hope that, in including these rich and evocative historical details, readers of The Accidental Empress will feel like Sisi and her world come to life. That is, after all, the true magic of reading—being transported to another world. And if I’ve done my job right, readers will feel not only like they’ve been to SIsi’s world, but that she’s become a dear friend in the process.

New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi,” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.
The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry. 
Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Intrigued by Sisi’s guileless charm and energetic spirit, not to mention her unrivaled beauty, Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead. 
Plucked from obscurity and thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi has no idea what struggles and dangers—and temptations—await her. Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world. 
With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, compelling characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into the bedrooms and staterooms of one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Habsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”

About Allison Pataki:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Allison Pataki is the author of the New York Times bestselling historical novel, The Traitor's Wife. She graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years writing for TV and online news outlets. The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write her second novel, The Accidental Empress, by her family’s deep roots in the former Habsburg empire of Austria-Hungary. Allison is the co-founder of the nonprofit organization, ReConnect Hungary. Allison is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and, as well as a member of The Historical Novel Society. Allison lives in Chicago with her husband. To learn more and connect with Allison visit or on Twitter.

Also by Allison Pataki:

Thanks to Allison Pataki and Simon & Schuster, one lucky winner will receive a $120 gift card to the ebook retailer of their choice (Amazon/B&N/iTunes)! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally.

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Tour Schedule:

Monday, February 9th - Reader Girls - Guest Post
Tuesday, February 10th - Sassy Book Lovers - Excerpt
Wednesday, February 11th - Fine Lines - Author Interview
Thursday, February 12th - Reading Reality - Guest Post
Friday, February 13th - Fiktshun - Author Interview

Monday, February 16th - The Maiden's Court - Guest Post
Tuesday, February 17th - Bewitched Bookworms - Author Interview
Wednesday, February 18th - Fire and Ice - Guest Post
Thursday, February 19th - Bookish - Author Interview
Friday, February 20th - Curling Up With A Good Book - Author Interview

Monday, February 23rd - Books and Things - Guest Post
Tuesday, February 24th - Books Glorious Books - Excerpt
Wednesday, February 25th - Sara In Bookland - Author Interview
Thursday, February 26th - Historical Fiction Obsession - Guest Post
Friday, February 27th - Library of a Book Witch - Author Interview

For more info about the tour visit the Tour Page

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cookbook Photography Review: In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti

Cookbook/ Photography Book
248 p.
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Published: 11/11/14
Source: Blogging for Books for review

Gabriele Galimberti's beautiful portraits of grandmothers from all over the world posing with their signature dishes remind us that sharing traditions through food is universal. 
As Gabriele Galimberti was preparing to set off on a trip around the world, his Italian grandmother was more concerned about how well he would eat than any risks or mishaps he might face on his travels. As a send-off, she prepared his favorite dish, Swiss Chard and Ricotta Ravioli with Meat Sauce. He then promised her that he would eat good food wherever he went, and while on his trip, persuaded grandmothers in 60 countries to cook a meal for him. At each grandmother's table, he became her curious and hungry grandson, tasting her dish and capturing her pride with his camera. The resulting book's stories, recipes, and loving photographs pay homage to all grandmothers and their cooking and provides a moving, anthropological glimpse into the national palates in faraway places. From a Swedish homemaker and her homemade lox and vegetables to a Zambian villager and her Roasted Spiced Chicken, this collection inspires great appreciation for our most cherished family members.
My thoughts:

As the blurb above tells the tell, Gabriele's grandmother gave him the idea for this book. In fact, she was the first grandma in the book. I just knew I had to check this book out from the fabulous cover! Each part of the book is a grandmother as varied as grandmothers can be. There are some that are surprisingly young and others with several great grandchildren. What they all have in common is their love of family and food. Each page has a picture of the grandmother and the ingredients (like the cover). The next picture is a full page of the dish. On the next pages there is a small paragraph or two about the woman and her meal with the recipe. The book is worth just the pictures and the small stories! Even dishes I would not want to try (caterpillar) still made me feel as if I would be happy to eat them because of the pride that went into cooking the food and why they made it. Other photographs made me wish I was there while they were cooking the food for the companionship and... well... the food! Some of the dishes were mouth watering.

I give this book 5 stars. It is a wonderful book if you just want it as a coffee table book, if you want some short stories about a grandmother's favorite dish or you want unique and interesting recipes. I know this book made me think of my grandma and her dish she made every Thanksgiving. Yes, it made me quite nostalgic. I highly recommend this book.
Photography by Gabirele Galimberti (his grandma's dish)
Other sneak peaks go HERE

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #4
320 p.
Publisher: Ace Books
Published: 2/3/09
Source: Library
Car mechanic and sometime shapeshifter Mercy Thompson has learned, the hard way, why her race was almost exterminated. When European vampires immigrated to North America, they found Mercy's people had a hidden talent - for vampire slaying. Unfortunately for Mercy, the queen of the local vampire seethe has discovered her true identity. She's also furious when she learns Mercy has crossed her and killed one of her vampires. Mercy may be protected from direct reprisals by the werewolf pack (and her interesting relationship with its Alpha), but that just means Marsilia will come after Mercy some other way. So Mercy had better prepare to watch her back.
My thoughts:
Briggs started this book a second after the last book left us. I am glad as I didn't quite buy the ending of Iron Kissed. To avoid spoilage I will not say what it was specifically but the problem encountered in the last book would have lasting repercussions. I'm glad that this was explored a bit more. I also could not love Adam more with how he handled Mercy.

No matter what is going on with Mercy, she always finds a way to continue on and do her best and help those that need helping. This is what I love about this character and this trait is in abundance in this story.

My only complaint might be the vampires. I say might as I don't know where this is exactly heading but I suspect we will find out more as the series progresses. Marsilia is one bad and devious vampire and a great potential big bad for Mercy and company but her deviousness and evilness just seemed to fizzle out in the end of the book. However, I have learned that it may be a ruse for more deviousness later in the series.

I give this book 4 stars. Another great addition to the series. Those that love kid characters will fall for Chad. He is one adorable and brave kid. I'd love to see more of him in the coming books. I recommend this series to those that enjoy UF.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Series: Shattered Sea #2
400 p.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 2/12/15
Source: From NetGalley and publisher for review
Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War. 
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill. 
Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior. 
She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit. 
Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon. 
Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption. 
And weapons are made for one purpose. 
Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?
My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the first book, Half a King, and so I couldn't wait to read this book. We follow a different set of characters because our last set has grown and now are teaching the newcomers. This is Thorn's book. A heroine who wants to become a warrior in a world where women are allowed technically but not encouraged to do so. The story isn't just about learning to fight but what to fight for as well.

While I loved Thorn and enjoyed following her from being mercilessly teased to a place of honor and respect, I have to say my favorite character was Brand. In some ways I felt that his courage in standing for what he believes and who he is as a person was far superior to those that faced a deadly enemy head on. I also found his journey to be the harder one because his rewards for staying true were private and not stuff of songs. He was a true hero in his own right without fanfare.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed coming back to this world and can't wait for the next book in this series. I highly recommend this series to those that enjoy a good fantasy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blog Tour: A Tangle of Fates by Leslie Ann Moore

Welcome to my tour stop for A Tangle of Fates by Leslie Ann Moore. This tour runs Feb. 2-13 with reviews, interviews, guest post & excerpts. Check out the tour page for more information.

About the Book:

tangle The fates of three women. The fates of two peoples. The fate of one planet.

On Nuetierra, four hundred years have passed since the Great War. A new society has arisen on the ashes of the old.

Deanna Hernaan, daughter of Eduard, the former Alcalde of Nue Bayona, spends her days attending university and caring for her mentally damaged sister, Ceilia. Six years ago, her stepmother Lourdessa deposed her father, and now, as Alcalde, rules the city through patronage and oppression. Deanna remains apolitical, fearing Lourdessa’s power. Threatened by Deanna’s popularity with the common people, the Alcalde arranges for her assassination. Deanna survives, but is cast adrift in a hostile wilderness. She is rescued by a band of diminutive hunters—the Tiqui—members of a slave race she has only read about in history books. The hunters bring Deanna to their village, where she meets the Tiqui chieftess Yellow Bird. A remarkable woman, the ithani possesses the shamanic gift of foresight. Her visions have revealed to her that a young woman of the tall folk would come, one whose fate is inextricably entwined with that of the Tiqui—one who would bring disaster or salvation for all of Nuetierra.

GoodreadsMuse Harbor | Amazon | B&N | iBooks


Series: The Vox Machina Trilogy
431 p.
Publisher: Muse Harbor Publishing
Published: 08/11/14
Source: CBB Book Promotions for review
My thoughts:

 The world building in this book is not only captivating but my favorite part of the book. The author really puts you in the scene, the world and makes you a part of it. Even the strange animals seem to really come alive. The language used by the people in this book were not so different that it pulled you out of the story. It enhanced it enough and was familiar enough to really bring the population to life. It is through the worldbuilding I found myself caring for the characters within.

I did have a few problems with the characterization of the heroine. While most of the characters were well drawn out and believable, I found that I was not quite sold on parts of the story. One was Deanna's romance. We do miss most of her friendship and were just told that they were fast friends but I saw no romantic behavior from either of them to convince me that they would fall for each other. It didn't help that they had so little time together in this book. That problem could easily be remedied as the trilogy progresses. My other problem was with Deanna as some sort of savior. While the reasoning seemed sound, it still didn't feel as if she was the only one who could come forward to saving everyone. Perhaps those things will solidify as the story progresses.

While I did have a couple of problems with Deanna, I loved the secondary characters in this book. They really helped flesh out the world here and also helped the 400+ pages go by quickly. I therefore give this book 3 1/2 stars. I recommend it to those that love a good worldbuilding. I also recommend it to those that enjoy sci-fi and fantasy. I want to read the next 2 books so I can find out what happens and where Deanna's story ends up. I have to know if she beats the Lourdessa.

Leslie Ann MooreAbout the Author:

Leslie Ann Moore was born in Los Angeles, California at the tail-end of the baby boom and fell in love with the works of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Andre Norton, and J.R.R. Tolkien at an early age. A practicing veterinarian since 1988, Leslie put her dreams of writing fiction aside until she attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 2000. There, bestselling fantasy author Terry Brooks told her, “Don’t ever give up. Keep writing, no matter what.” Those words changed her life. She published the first volume of her Griffin’s Daughter trilogy in 2012. A Tangle of Fates is the first volume of The Vox Machina trilogy, and will be published by Muse Harbor in August of 2014.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Series: Jane Yellowrock #2
321 p.
Publisher: Roc
Published: 1/5/10
Source: tbr pile
Jane Yellowrock is back on the prowl against the children of the night...
The vampire council has hired skinwalker Jane Yellowrock to hunt and kill one of their own who has broken sacred ancient rules — but Jane quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep... 
With the help of her witch best friend and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries — and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. But in a city of old grudges and dark magic, Jane will have to fight to protect both sides, even if no one will protect her.
My thoughts:
Doing my best to catch up on the series I've been wanting to continue I picked up Blood Cross the second book in the Jane Yellowrock series. I really enjoyed the first book and luckily things came back to me quickly. This is a series I would suggest starting from the beginning. The first book, Skinwalker, does a good job of setting up the world and the characters.

The characters are my favorite part of the book, but the one that steals the show is Beast. Beast is her cougar alter and seems to know more than Jane. Beast is more than willing to help Jane in her life to get her to where she needs to be... even if she gets frustrated with her frequently. My other favorite character is Angie. A small but powerful child that will steal your heart.

The plot was one that moved quickly but did not overwhelm. There is romance in a way but as with all UF it does not take precedence. And while I loved Jane there were times I could see how Beast would become so easily frustrated. However, Jane is still learning and there is a huge gap in her memories. Her path to discovery is one of the arcs in the storyline.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a good continuation of the series and I will be reading the next in this series. Yes, I am hooked and I recommend it to those that enjoy UF.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
320 p.
Publisher: Orion
Published: 2/10/15
Source: Edelweiss and Publisher for review
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. 
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. 
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. 
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

My thoughts:

This story is a dystopian fantasy which the strong rule and the perceived weak become the enslaved masses who are supposed to be grateful for every crumb they are allowed to get. There is an x-men vibe to the ruling class, the Silvers who bleed silver and have elemental powers. The reds beed red and have no elemental powers. They even have class warfare within the Silvers in which the more powerful rule the less powerful. Alliances made and won also increase their dominion over others.

While this kept me engaged, I did have a few problems with the execution. While I really liked Mare, the heroine, and rooted for her, I had a problem with her being so easily manipulated. I do get that she is inexperienced and that even the most attentive person can fall to manipulation, I would just like a story where on occasion the heroine was one step ahead... even if it wasn't exactly to plan. There were times when I wanted to yell at her about her naïveté. The other problem stemmed from the romance. Those that hate love triangles be warned. There is more than a triangle involved here and it isn't resolved by the end. However, it really didn't bother me so much to take me out of the story. Perhaps it is because I didn't really feel strongly in any direction the book pulled you. I feel that the romance may play a bigger part as the trilogy progresses.

I give this book 3 stars. While I was interested in how things were solved and I was pleasantly surprised in the end, I still had a few problems with the storyline. It wasn't enough to ruin the book for me and I suspect that many of these problems will be solved by the end of the trilogy. I recommend it to those that enjoy YA dystopians and fantasy.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Steampunk Giveaway!: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Tor has given me the opportunity to do another giveaway. This one is steampunk! I am very curious about this book and I should have a review of it soon. Don't ya just love that cover?

352 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 2/3/15
“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me.”

Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Bear was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005 and has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction along with a Sturgeon Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Now she returns after the conclusion her highly-praised Eternal Sky trilogy with a Western steampunk set in a reimagined 19th century Seattle in Karen Memory (A Tor Hardcover; $25.99; On sale February 3, 2015), the unforgettable story of a plucky heroine risking her life for friendship.

To enter just fill out the rafflecopter form below. The prize will be sent by Tor books. Entries are limited to US/CAN only.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blog Tour: Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht

320 p.
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published: 1/20/15
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Book Links: Goodreads, Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble
A powerful debut novel about a group of 30-somethings struggling for connection and belonging, Migratory Animals centers on a protagonist who finds herself torn between love and duty. 
When Flannery, a young scientist, is forced to return to Austin from five years of research in Nigeria, she becomes torn between her two homes. Having left behind her loving fiancé without knowing when she can return, Flan learns that her sister, Molly, has begun to show signs of the crippling genetic disease that slowly killed their mother.

As their close-knit circle of friends struggles with Molly’s diagnosis, Flannery must grapple with what her future will hold: an ambitious life of love and the pursuit of scientific discovery in West Africa, or the pull of a life surrounded by old friends, the comfort of an old flame, family obligations, and the home she’s always known. But she is not the only one wrestling with uncertainty. Since their college days, each of her friends has faced unexpected challenges that make them reevaluate the lives they’d always planned for themselves. 
A mesmerizing debut from an exciting young writer, Migratory Animals is a moving, thought-provoking novel, told from shifting viewpoints, about the meaning of home and what we owe each other—and ourselves.
My thoughts:

 This sounded like a character driven book and I was not disappointed. This is an exploration of a group of friends and how you cannot run away from your past, you can only deal with it. It's about life that will recycle old problems in new ways until you finally deal with what is in front of you. It deals with death, suicide, hard decisions, love, laughter and friendship. What I also loved about this novel is that the characters are a variety of those in the human race and not all are on the US continent. I really enjoyed characters with mixed heritage.

As you travel through this time period with the friends you only hope that good things come to them in the end. While that happens for some, it does not happen for all. However, it isn't a depressing book and all seem to be where they need to be for the next step in life. My only complaint is that we don't know what happens to Flannery (the person we both start and stop with in this book) in her love life but while I hate that, the ending did feel complete.

I give this book 4 stars. If you want something in character exploration with a cast that are as individual as the people you know, I recommend this book.

About the author:
Born and raised in Abilene, Texas, Mary Helen Specht has a B.A. in English from Rice University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College, where she won the department’s fiction award. Her writing has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and has appeared in numerous publications, including: The New York Times; The Colorado Review; Prairie Schooner; Michigan Quarterly Review; The Southwest Review; Florida Review; Southwestern American Literature; World Literature Today; Blue Mesa; Hunger Mountain; Bookslut; The Texas Observer; and Night Train, where she won the Richard Yates Short Story Award.

A past Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow, Specht teaches creative writing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

Author Mary Helen Specht's website, and Twitter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

Series:  Eterna Files #1
320 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: Feb, 3 2015
Source: From NetGalley and publisher for review
London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes. 
Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped—and has a sample of Eterna. 
Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound—and the immortality it will convey—will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.
My thoughts:
I love this author's writing. Very descriptive and it really puts you into the scene. I love how she made the alternate history come to life and the various characters within. However, I did have a had time really connecting to this story at times. I was also captivated at times. It was a very uneven experience.

In some ways the narration seemed to jump around a bit. You get various POVs which do not meld together and I was able to easily separate who was talking and what was going on. The problem seemed to come with adding characters that have no current importance and background information that felt the same. While I did believe that that information would come in perfect use, it just didn't materialize within the story here.

I give this book 3 stars. While I did drift while reading parts of the book, other parts (especially the magical/ paranormal parts) seemed to have my total attention. I want to continue this series as I have complete confidence that the author will give me all the tools to totally put together this mystery. I recommend it to those that are fans of the author and like mysteries.

Sunday, February 1, 2015