Monday, March 27, 2017

Geekerella- Ashley Poston

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

My Thoughts: I've always liked fairytale retellings and this was no exception. An ode to both fairytales and fandoms, Geekerella is a fun twist on a subgenre. I enjoyed most of the ways Poston incorporated the classic Cinderella elements and found it a cute read that was easy to get immersed in.

I particularly liked Darien, whose sense of humor was near my own. Though he could be arrogant at times, he was (almost) always sweet with Elle. She on the other hand... could be harsh.

Though I did really like the book, there were some problems I had with it. First, the last portion of the book was rushed. While most of the book took place over at least a month, the end rushed through in about two days. And rather than make the climax about the characters' affection for each other, Poston chose to make it about their love of fandom. While not terrible, it felt like somewhat of a let down to the previous romantic build up.

I also would say that this should not be labeled as a YA. Though the characters are teenagers, there were certain things said which I do not believe to be appropriate for this age group, particularly younger teens. There is plenty for an adult to love, for whom I do recommend this as a fun read.

I have provided an honest review after receiving a copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, March 20, 2017

King's Blood- Jill Williamson

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: In the second volume of Jill Williamson's Kinsman Chronicles, a remnant has escaped the destruction of the Five Realms and now lives on several hundred ships adrift at sea. As a flock, they sail north into the unknown in hopes of finding land that might become their new home.

As the king's illness worsens, Sar Wilek takes authority over the expedition and struggles to rule the disjointed people, while assassination attempts, vicious serpents, and dark magic endanger his life. 

One prophecy has come to pass, but another looms dauntingly in the future. Who is this Deliverer? And if the Magonians have him, what might that mean for the realm of Armania?

My Thoughts: The first portion of this book was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. A lot of the POV characters I had come to love from the first book were not given their own scenes in this and were instead replaced by other POV characters. This took some getting used to, as well as required me to comb my memory of the last book for who these new characters were. The second portion of the book did not have this same problem, as I had acclimated to the new characters. Yet it was in the final third of the book that the story truly interested me.

This is the part of the story where the connection between this series and the Blood of Kings started to make sense. Because the magic and cultures of the two stories are so different, I had struggled to reconcile them in my mind. Yet Jill does an amazing job of bringing about the connection and planting the seeds needed for Achan's world to exist.

Readers who had an issue with the many "romantic" conflicts in the first book should be warned. Those still exist in this portion of the book, though now Wilek and Trevn are fighting against them and advocating for a return to sole worship of Arman. The connections to the books of Kings and Chronicles are more apparent than ever, with phrases and scenarios pulled straight from the Bible. However these stories are ones of darkness, when Israel turned from God and the people of this fictional world are no different.

Though King's Blood is not everything I had hoped, it still has a lot of meat to it. The various characters and conflicts pull into question what we might have done in similar situations and remind us just how difficult it can be to serve God in an idolatrous world where so many offer up apposing answers. I think that is something we tend to forget in lives lured to complacence. And the last portion of the book, learning origins of Achan's history was worth read.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through the publisher.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Explore Leira Blog Tour: I is for Inali

The initial introduction of Dah Inali in Songkeeper will likely stay with me for a while. The description of him, a dark, desert warrior with dreadlocks and spectacles, is one of the most unique physical characterizations I can ever remember reading. So when I was able to chose a character to host for this tour, I immediately thought of him. That said, I'll let the author tell you a bit more about him...

I is for Dah Inali 

We first meet Dah Inali in Songkeeper. Dah Inali is the brother of Sa Itera and the brother-in-law of Matlal Quahtli, chief over the entire Saari nation of the Vituain Desert. Born heir to the Sigzal tribe, he lost his inheritance when Itera was made mahtem in his stead and the Sigzal tribe was aligned with Quahtli as her dowry. It is a loss that he bears bitterly … and one he will not soon allow her to forget.

With a flick of his hand, he adjusted the spectacles perching on the bridge of his nose and turned to Sa Itera. “What does the Mahtem of the Sigzal tribe require of her disinherited brother?” –Songkeeper

Inali is an artist. I have always been fascinated with those who possess a gift for art, because I do not. Drawing the map of Leira for Songkeeper was about as much as my talents permit. I do not have an eye for design, and the things that I think I see so clearly, I cannot translate onto the page. When I try … I am bitterly frustrated.

So of course, I have the highest respect for the amazing people who can.

And Inali is one of those. Even when traveling, he carries parchment and charcoals in his satchel and can be found frequently setting his thoughts into drawings. He has the sensitive soul of an artist. Often underestimated because of his quiet, unassuming nature, when the moment of pressure comes, he may surprise you with his strength.

When it comes to life, his perspective is a somewhat melancholy and fatalistic one. 

“Things come and things go. Such is life, is it not, little Songkeeper?” --Songkeeper

He typically goes about clad in fringed leggings and an open lion skin vest with a clay bead on a chain around his neck. As far as weapons go, he prefers the subtle art of a spear pipe and coated darts to the heavier spears preferred by the majority of the Saari. 

A young Saari warrior stood beside him, skin the dull bronze of the desert. He clutched the upright shaft of his spear in two hands, point buried in the sand, cheek pressed against the haft. Hair the color and consistency of dried earth hung in knotted strands to his shoulders, interwoven with clay beads. A pair of spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose. –Songkeeper

Inali was one of my favorite secondary characters to write in Songkeeper. (Although, admittedly, I say that about all the secondary characters … because they are all my favorite!) In my mind at least, he was very distinctive. His scenes came easily. His personality translated onto the page with little effort on my part. Both physical description and personal mannerisms quickly fell into place. This is when I wish I was an artist like Inali, so I could easily translate the image in my head into a picture on a page! With no skill as an artist, I am forced to resign myself to words. And oddly enough, many of Inali’s scenes went from first draft to final stage with few changes. 

Regardless, Inali himself intrigued me. With his spectacles, satchel, and sketching supplies, his character stood in stark contrast to the majority of the Saari characters who took center page. In a world of fierce warriors, deprived of his birthright and his dream, he struggles to find his place. Maybe I just like characters who have hit every unlucky break and hard knock you can imagine, because poor Inali has had to face many significant disappointments in his life.

Those who manage to rise above such circumstances become the heroes we remember. But those who are broken and crushed beneath such circumstances become the casualties we mourn.

Curious as to which way Dah Inali will swing? I guess you’ll just have to read Songkeeper!

Check out the links below for a place to purchase the books.

Barnes and Nobles: Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper

And before you leave, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! One lucky winner will take home a copy of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and a gorgeous handmade mug. Two lucky winners will take home copies of Songkeeper! Enter through the Rafflecopter below and be sure to visit to continue following the blog tour. You can earn new entries for each post that you visit along the way. Winners will be announced after April 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bio: GILLIAN BRONTE ADAMS is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist. She is the author of Orphan’s Song, book one of the Songkeeper Chronicles, and Out of Darkness Rising. Visit Gillian online at her blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.

Description: War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Unblemished- Sara Ella

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

My Thoughts: This book turned out to be some what of a guilty pleasure. Many of its elements were things that normally make me cringe, yet I somehow still liked it. I don't know that I can pinpoint why, but Eliyana's struggle captured my attention and held it throughout, refusing to let me go even through the end.

I'm not a fan of shapeshifters or strange and convoluted names for things in a story such as the Kiss of Accord or the verity and the void. I don't like when tension is built through secondary characters refusing to answer straight forward questions. And love triangles are a sure way to make me roll my eyes... and believe me when I say that I most definitely did that while reading this.

Yet there is a complexity to the conflict in Unblemished that drew me in and left me needing answers. Though I don't so much care for the story world, I did end up caring about the characters and the questions surrounding the verity and the void. I'd rather not give away anything, so I wont mention names, but the connection between the individuals in this story's love triangle is one that I am excited to see explored and I plan to pick up at least the next book in the series just so I can see where that goes.

I have provided an honest review after having received this book through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Wedding Shop- Rachel Hauck

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

My Thoughts: Once again I have found myself reading one of Hauck's books and I will say that I liked this one much better than the first in the series. The characters are far more likeable and the transition between time lines was not nearly as jarring. It helped that the two romances were completely separated by time instead of one leaping back and forth from childhood to adulthood and back.

I did not fully understand some of the character's reasoning. Haley's obsession with the wedding shop made little sense as she was hardly a romantic and had no experience with running a business or working sales. Cora also seemed rather naive and far more in love with the idea of passion than actually finding a steadfast love.

However, the tone and descriptions in this novel make some of the other flaws easy to overlook. The historical setting of the Great Depression was fantastic and Haley's unwavering loyalty to her newfound dream was admirable. I could have done without such a sappy point of commonality between the two romances, but I can genuinely see how someone more romantic at heart might fall in love with this story. It is one I might suggest to a friend.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through the Fiction Guild.