eARC Review + Giveaway – Fall of Thrones and Thorns (Threats of Sky and Sea #3)

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Title: Fall of Thrones and ThornsDisplaying FallOfThronesAndThorns.jpg
Series: Threats of Sky and Sea (#3)
Author: Jennifer Ellision
Pages: 234
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

MY RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS. AN AMAZING CONCLUSION TO A LACKLUSTER SERIES. RECOMMENDED.

War hurtles in, a typhoon over the sea.

After Bree’s life was torn apart, Nereidium had represented a haven to her. A place that—if she could save it—was beyond the King’s reach.

And, at last, she’s arrived upon its shores. But things in Nereidium are not what they should be.

The land is plagued by a rash of mysterious earthquakes, the likes of which it’s never known. The governors are distracted by old traditions, while Bree and her friends grapple with changing identities and the sense that the longer they wait to take action… the greater the danger from Egria grows.

Bree is tired of living under the shadow of King Langdon’s power. And she’s tired of waiting for him to be the first to act.

In this final chapter of the Threats of Sky and Sea series, it all comes down to Nereidium or Egria. To Bree or the King. It’s kill… or be killed.

And not everyone will escape the battle unscathed.

~My Thoughts~

Fall of Thrones and Thorns was a lovely surprise; the action was intense, the plot was well-structured, the characters came alive, and the narrative was sharp, focused, and well-written. A vast improvement over the previous two books in the series, the world of Jennifer Ellision’s elementals finally shines, creating a story worth reading and maybe even worth waiting for.

Overall, I think the greatest aspect of this novel are the characters. Bree is feisty, determined, and finally sympathetic; Aleta is fierce and strong, but hopeful, and broken in all the right ways. Caden is a strong leader and a sweet love interest, while Tregle contrasts him with a darker side and a darker history, but as a more passionate lover. Meddie is snarky and surprisingly wicked; Liam is endearingly sweet while still being all-business, all-class. Lilia and Elena are left a little more in the background, but still stand apart as empowered female characters, unafraid to fight and absolutely unwilling to back down.

The battle scenes in this novel are also an impressive improvement over the last two books, adding tension and stakes to a series that always felt like it had none. There is finally a sense of real danger for the characters you’ve come to care for, and in a narrative carried almost exclusively by the main and supporting cast, it’s both refreshing and exhilarating to finally worry about who might actually die before the series is over.

As for the setting, the island city of Nereidium, introduced at last in this book, is a lush, Ancient Greek/Roman-inspired location, with togas and temples and an acropolis. It’s a country with its own history and religion, and feels more fleshed-out and immersive than any other place we’ve been introduced to throughout the series. It’s almost a pity we didn’t spend the entire book there, as it is easily the most beautiful and best described location in the entirety of this trilogy, but in the very least, your attachment to the island does heighten your sense of danger, as a loss for Bree and her friends will also mean a loss of Nereidium and its people.

All of that being said, there are, of course, a number of plot holes and inconsistencies with the novel, but for once, they do not overpower the story itself. I think Ms. Ellision could benefit from a sharp-eyed line editor, because many of the worst problems in the series are the result of a careless throwaway line, or a scenario that almost makes sense (save for some element of plain ridiculousness, like half the army somehow finding new clothes to disguise themselves with despite being in the middle of a desert, or Meddie being able to sneak through the city wall by moving loose rocks).

This series has been a bit of a bumpy ride, but if you enjoyed the first two books in the series, you will adore the last one. It is everything the other two books seemed to promise you: it’s explosive, dangerous, high-stakes, and emotional. It’s a story about empowered women leading a revolution and empowered men doing the same; it’s a story about friendship and forgiveness and love and determination. It’s a story as sweet as it is surprisingly devastating, with a setting that finally feels real and lush. You’ll actually laugh once or twice, and sweat for maybe half the book, worried about characters that finally transform from loose silhouettes to endearing, fully-fleshed people, with major and minor romances that are so adorable you don’t even care that it’s embarrassingly convenient. I can’t say the series is worth it if you didn’t like the first book, but if you stuck it out, your patience will be rewarded tenfold with a novel that is leagues better than its previous counterparts, and with an ending that does everything great about this book absolute justice.


About the Author

Displaying Jennifer.jpgJennifer Ellision was born and raised in South Florida and lives in perpetual fear of temperatures below 60F. She spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She has an OTP, loves character analysis, and is a master of the fangirl flail, with a particular soft spot for fanfiction. She frequently bursts into song (and they are often of a Disney persuasion). Sailor Moon is one of her favorite things on this planet.

Threats of Sky and Sea is her first novel.

She also blogs at The Bevy Bibliotheque, where she talks about books, TV, movies, and other things that she goes fangirl over. For review requests or blog inquiries, please visit http://www.thebevybibliotheque.net to contact the blogger who best suits your request.


Buy it from: amazon.ca | amazon.com | B&N | KoboiTunes | Smashwords


Giveaway!

[click here to enter to win 1 of 3 complete sets of the series!]

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Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Crystal Caverns (Air Awakens #5)

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In an absolutely unsurprising turn of events, the last cover in the Air Awakens series is EPIC.


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Title: Crystal Crowned
Series: Air Awakens (#5)
Author: Elise Kova
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

Long live Solaris.

One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N


About the Author

View More: http://radred.pass.us/joseph-wedding-2015-jpeg Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook. Visit her website, EliseKova.com, for news and extras about her books!


New to the Air Awakens series?

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Check out Air Awakens (#1) on Goodreads!

Buy Air Awakens from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

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Check out Fire Falling (#2) on Goodreads!

Buy Fire Falling from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

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Check out Earth’s End (#3) on Goodreads!

Buy Earth’s End from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

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Check out Water’s Wrath (#4) on Goodreads!

Pre-order Water’s Wrath from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo


Giveaway!

[click here for a chance to win a cover print from the Air Awakens series, a swag pack, and a paperback of Crystal Crowned]

eArc Review + Giveaway – Water’s Wrath (Air Awakens #4)

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Title: Water’s WrathWaters-Wrath-Cover-Only-635x1024
Series: Air Awakens (#4)
Author: Elise Kova
Pages: 350
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

MY RATING: 2 OUT OF 5 STARS. A ROLLER-COASTER OF QUALITY. RECOMMENDED, FOR THE SAKE OF THE OVERALL SERIES.

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.

The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

~ My Thoughts (+Minor Spoilers)~

I don’t know how to write this review without being overly critical, so I’m just going to have to ask fans of the series to forgive me instead.

I found the first third of Water’s Wrath incredibly clunky. The tension felt forced, the plot arc was rushed and poorly executed, and Jax’s presence felt kind of ridiculous. I appreciated the first few chapters, and I like that I can see Elise Kova’s writing style improving with each novel she writes. Unfortunately, that is not enough to save the beginning of Water’s Wrath. I didn’t like it, I didn’t understand it, it didn’t feel compelling, the stakes didn’t feel real, and I found it’s conclusion utterly unsatisfying in almost every way.

The second third of the narrative  was the saving grace of the book. Without it, I honestly don’t know what the story would have been. I loved the return of Aldrick as the dark prince, and I loved the intimacy between him and Vhalla while they were both forced to keep each other at arm’s length. And I will always love Baldair and Daniel, regardless of what they do.

As for the last third, it started strong but quickly fell apart. The death was actually unexpected, for once, but as always, it functioned only as a plot device and lost all relevance in about three chapters. The surprise villain of this book was also not a surprise in any way, and I honestly think it really (dare I say it?) lazy that the series makes absolutely no effort to hide Vhalla’s antagonists. For once, it would be nice to see someone Vhalla completely trusts reveal themselves as a villain, as opposed to it always being someone the reader is very aware either ‘looks evil’ or ‘acts suspiciously’. As a plus, I did appreciated the epic atmosphere of the only battle in the book between Vhalla and the surprise villain, but it was greatly overshadowed by my confusion, disbelief, and my complete lack of surprise. For the book with the highest stakes thus far (and easily the worst villain?), it lacked any tension or suspense whatsoever. And don’t even get me started on how difficult it is not to laugh when  the evil villain takes the time to explain his evil plan to Vhalla rather than just killing her (both of the main villains in the book do this).

Also, the magic system of Air Awakens has finally stopped making sense. Either I don’t understand the magic of crystals very well, or it wasn’t explained very well–either way, things just started happening that didn’t make any sense with the previously defined magic system, and even the elemental magic started doing things I didn’t find plausible or believable at all. In a nutshell, I just feel like sorcerers have been reduced to nothing but deus-ex-machinas (and the crystals are literally this anyway), as they can do pretty much whatever the plot needs them to do, regardless of how loose the ties are with their actual elemental power.

The character development in this novel was also really spotty, which is surprising, since the strongest aspect of this series has always been the characters. Aldrick makes a wickedly strong return, and Baldair and Daniel are always amazing, but everyone else–including Vhalla–feels lackluster, and I am repeatedly disappointed by the characterization of Elecia, who literally serves exactly two purposes: she either heals people, or causes Vhalla unnecessary drama.

The biggest disappointment of this book, however, is the ending. For one thing, Vhalla is literally never in any real danger. Maybe that’s because the story is narrated by her; maybe it’s because the series literally depends on her. I don’t know. The point is, why should I be afraid for Vhalla if I know, full well, that she will always be fine? This doesn’t even have to relate to this book in particular–it’s just a comment about the series in general. There’s no sense of fear, so Vhalla’s pain always packs very little emotional punch. Also, I cannot express the deep, deep disappointment I felt with the deaths hurriedly shoved into literally the last 1% of this book. Not only did these deaths feel cheap, they were also so incredibly convenient that it took my breath away. Don’t worry Vhalla, you don’t know how you’re going to solve the biggest overarching problem of the series? Surprise, you don’t have to, because everything was conveniently solved for you in three lines of off-hand dialogue. And even if these deaths turn out to be a lie, for believing they’re real, Vhalla (and friends) are (forgive me) idiots. There’s no way to win here: either they’re really dead and it’s horrible, or they’re not and it’s horrible.

It’s just a mess.


Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo


Giveaway!

[click here for a chance to have your name in Crystal Crowned]

Ebook Review – Earth’s End (Air Awakens #3)

Title: Earth’s EndEarths-End-Cover-Only
Series: Air Awakens (#3)
Author: Elise Kova
Pages: 350
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: February 11, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

MY RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS. A WICKEDLY STRONG COMEBACK IN A FANTASTIC SERIES. 100% RECOMMENDED.

A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

~ My Thoughts (+Minor Spoilers)~

While I admit to having mixed feelings about Fire FallingEarth’s End is undeniably strong in nearly every place its predecessor is lacking. The story is fantastically paced, the secondary characters absolutely come life, the tension is electric, and the romance promises to triple your heartbeat.

Evidently, there’s a lot to love about this sequel. Fans of the series will be cheered to discover Vhalla as kick-ass as she’s always been, but with a refreshing degree of vulnerability as well. She may be hurting–pretty much constantly–but she always forces herself to keep moving, and her resilience, more than anything else, defines her in this book. She’s become quite the efficient killer, but she still retains a great ability to emphasize with those around her; she’s a weapon for the Empire, undeniably so, but she experiences more than one moment of doubt, revealing the tenderness in Vhalla’s heart that the Emperor has yet to completely destroy.

Aldrick, on the other hand, has lost most (if not all) of his previously broody personality, but the sweet, dedicated, and passionate man that’s slipped into his place still demands your attention. At last, readers get to see an Aldrick willing to hope against all odds that things will work out for him and Vhalla, and that hope empowers him to challenge his father again and again and again. This transformation may even feel a little out of character for our dark prince–and it is, I think–but the change adds incredible depth to Aldrick’s personality, and more so, it fuels a powerful change in Vhalla at the end of the novel, one that forces her to realize something that’s always been broken about her love for the prince.

But the real gem of this story, in my opinion, is neither Vhalla nor Aldrick–instead, it’s Daniel and Baldair. The secondary characters make an incredible comeback in this novel, which is beyond fantastic to see, read, and experience, especially after their backseat role in Fire Falling. Daniel is amazing, and I love him a little more every time he appears in the narrative. He’s endearing, reliable, supportive, and loving, which I find makes him a powerful foil for Aldrick, who is the same but in a completely different way. They are contrasts, the light and dark of Vhalla’s capacity to love, and I deeply appreciate that both men have a foot in either camp, serving as reflections of what Vhalla needs, not in a partner, but in herself.

And do not even get me started on Baldair! I was always on the fence about my feelings for the younger prince, but damn, he is everything this series has ever needed. His friendship with Vhalla is incredible, and I cannot tell you how many times I laughed or smiled when these two interacted. And the naked scene has got to be one of my favourite moments in the entire series thus far–you’ll just have to take my word for it. Moreover, Baldair and Aldrick also get a lot of character development as brothers, and it’s great to finally see the two try to mend the rift that has opened between them, even if it’s a bumpy rode with more pain than payoff.

Even Elecia gets a gold star in this book. She may have nearly completely disappeared after the first quarter of the story, but her friendship with Fritz humanizes her in a way that the entirety of Fire Falling failed to manage. Her truce with Vhalla feels real, and the way it slowly develops into a friendship born of mutual trust and admiration is fantastic to see between the two strongest women in the series thus introduced.

As always, then, I am happy to say that the characters are still the best and strongest part of these books. The magic is still exciting and new, the plot is still interesting, the tension is still great, but whether or not you love the characters is what will make or break this series for you.

All of that being said, I do still have several critiques of Earth’s End. My biggest is in terms of the book’s structure; like both Air Awakens and Fire Falling, this novel suffered from having an obvious false ending, only for the last four chapters to end in the same way the other two books have–with all the shit hitting the fan in the worst way imaginable. That is to say: nothing good ever happens in the last few chapters of these books, and knowing that robs the ending of a lot of its suspense, because readers can predict the disaster from miles away. The false ending is always kind of cheesy as well, with sentiments like, “we did it, things will get better now, hurrah!” which always turns out to be a lie; then, by the end of the book, there’s a cliffhanger of varying intensity, with a problem that divides Vhalla and Aldrick in way that is usually pretty predictable based on the set-up of the rest of the novel. Without giving it away, I saw the plot twist of Earth’s End coming for at least half of the book, and while that did not ruin how much I still enjoyed it, it was the biggest reason I had to knock half a star off my rating, because really, both Aldrick and Vhalla were incredibly naive not to foresee this obviously upcoming disaster.

Additionally, I feel the best chapters for Aldrick were the last few. That isn’t to void what I said earlier, but seeing him get angry and unstable was incredible, and it reminded me of all the reasons I first fell in the love with his character. It was at that same point, however, that I realized what this book had always been missing: the dark side to the dark prince. I hope we see more of that Aldrick return in Water’s Wrath.

Speaking of characterization, the Emperor could really use some more fleshing out. What he says is rather scary, I suppose, but the man himself feels a little bland and cliche on the whole, lacking a lot of motivation and that ‘fear factor’ which would make me as afraid for Vhalla as she is for herself while around him. Also, I have to agree with the Emperor about his confusion in regards to why Vhalla’s word is so accepted and appreciated at counsel meetings. While I think it’s great that she gets to use her library knowledge to its fullest potential, I struggle to understand how a room full of highly-trained, heavily-experienced generals could even take her seriously, let alone value her word at her word. Also, are there no other scholars in the entire camp? Is there no other learned individual in the entirety of the Emperor’s inner circle? Because I just find it hard to accept that Vhalla is the first and only one to propose so many realistic and important battle tactics when all she has is book knowledge, as opposed to any real practical experience.

My final critique is the novel’s unfortunate way of making important and powerful moments and revelations last for no more than a single chapter. The high speed action of the first quarter of the book, for example, ends abruptly and quickly, even before the real excitement and danger could kick in. Then, when Vhalla first slips into the Northern capital, her devastation is short-lived and pretty much never mentioned again, even after the little breakdown she suffers and the promises she extracts from Aldrick. This is especially bad in reference to the conclusion of the novel, as Vhalla’s heartbreaking revelation is equally short-lived, not to mention drastically undermined by a lack of build-up or follow-up. Even Aldrick himself falls into this trap when he makes an effort to change one of his bad habits, as he is only shown training with the other sorcerers exactly once, making his character flaw feel cheap and instantly curable with only a little (slightly necessary) tough love from Vhalla (needless to say, that’s incredibly unrealistic, and I hope this also gets followed up on in the next book).

All in all, Earth’s End is a great read. I had a lot of fun with it, and everything stitches itself together quite nicely, from the plot to the action to the tension to the dialogue to the cliffhanger. The secondary characters are definitely the best part of this book, without a doubt, but that is not to say that Vhalla and Aldrick weren’t fun to follow around, as their relationship deepens and broadens in wonderful ways no reader of the series will want to miss. I’m excited for Water’s Wrath, but I’m sad about it too, because it means I’m more than halfway done this series and I’ve enjoyed my time in Vhalla’s world more than I can say. I’m sad to see the ending on the horizon, but I hope the books only continue to get better from here.


Buy it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | BookDepository | Chapters/Indigo

Book Blitz + Giveaway – The Queen’s Poisoner (Kingfountain #1)

Title: The Queen’s Poisoner29103028
Series: Kingfountain (#1)
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: 47 North
Release Date: April 1, 2016 (today!)
Find it on Goodreads!

King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.

Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.

Buy it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | BookDepositoryChapters/Indigo


About the Author

Wheeler-Photo-KimBillsJeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to become a full-time author. He is, most importantly, a husband and father, and a devout member of his church. He is occasionally spotted roaming among the oak trees and granite boulders in the hills of California or in any number of the state’s majestic redwood groves. He is the author of The Covenant of Muirwood Trilogy, The Legends of Muirwood Trilogy, the Whispers from Mirrowen Trilogy, and the Landmoor Series.

To learn more about Jeff Wheeler visit his website: www.jeff-wheeler.com. You can follow him @muirwoodwheeler.


Exclusive Excerpt

A sound whispered from the corridor behind him. It was a footfall. Not the sound of a boot in the corridor beyond the wall. The sound of someone approaching within the tunnel. It was coming from behind him.

The queasiness blossomed inside Owen and a cold sweat started on his brow. Going back was no longer an option. The tunnel was narrow and there was no place to hide, so Owen hurried forward, hoping to find an escape into the main palace corridor. It would be infinitely better to be punished for wandering the hall at night than to be caught in the Espion corridor. His little heart started to hammer wildly in his chest and the blackness in front of him became even darker somehow.

He heard the footfalls again, coming closer.

The boy was starting to panic. Ankarette had warned him this could happen. She had told him it was dangerous to wander the tunnels alone and that he needed to be very cautious and always listen for sounds that were out of place. Such as the footfalls behind him.

The narrow pinch of the corridor suddenly filled in ahead of Owen, the walls closing like an arrowhead. It ended abruptly and finally. It was a dead-end.


Giveaway!

[click here for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of THE QUEEN’S POISONER!]

 

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Sun and Moon

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Are you looking to start a new YA fantasy series? Because Sun and Moon, with a stunning new cover and a wickedly exciting synopsis, may just be your ticket!


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Ready?


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Title: Sun and Moon
Author: Desiree Williams
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: April 28, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

There is nothing in life that eighteen year old Zara craves more than her freedom. Stolen from her home in Cadrebia at the age of eight, Zara has spent more years than she cared to admit as a slave to the Tankadesh courts. Her days are filled with protecting the princess, while she spends nights entertaining the king and his officials with her mastery of weapons. Any spare moment in between, she plots escape.

Yet her hopes for freedom come to a crashing halt when a stranger arrives bearing the mark of her assigned lifemate, and he threatens war if she isn’t turned over into his care. But a lifemate is not part of the plan. Her dreams, of choosing her own path and being the master of her own will, weaken as her Moon seeks to claim his Sun.

Is it possible that this stranger, with gentle blue eyes and a ready smile, didn’t come to be her new master? That there could be more to his tale?

Zara soon finds that neither her captivity nor her parents’ deaths were mere random attacks. And by returning to Cadrebia, she may have put the future of the royal line—and her Moon—in jeopardy. While Zara breathes in her first taste of freedom, her enemies move in, seeking to rob Cadrebia of its blessed prophecy.

To keep what she holds dear, Zara must rise above the pain and uncertainty to claim the lifemate assigned to her, or more than her freedom will be stolen this time.

Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | iTunes


About the Author

49540b79-5969-4bb0-bef3-c2d4acf661d4Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at  www.desireewilliamsbooks.blogspot.com


Exclusive Excerpt

“What’s going on here?” Dareh dismounted from his horse and with long purposeful strides worked his way toward them. His green eyes blazed. His jaw was set. Zara would hear about this later, but for now she would welcome his rescue.

The captain of the guard surveyed the scene. He closed his eyes briefly—probably praying for patience not to strangle her—and clamped a hand on her shoulder.

“I swear, Zara,” Dareh whispered low into her ear. “You attract trouble like a siren.”

She opened her mouth with a rebuttal, but Dareh narrowed his eyes, silencing her on the spot.

“Get to the palace before you’re recognized by my men. If Melchior learns you’ve been outside the palace walls you’ll spend the night in the flogging yard. Go. Take Essie with you. I’ll sort things out here.”

Zara opened her mouth once more, but a prickling over her palm stopped the words from flowing. Heat traced the lines of her mark. Goosebumps dotted her flesh. She shivered despite the heat from the desert sun. Oh, no. Please, no.

“May I be of some assistance?”

She jerked at the rich baritone that came from behind her. The world fell away in that moment. The merchants cursing over their loss were gone. Dareh’s men waving or shouting at the crowd gathered around them—gone. Even poor Essie, standing with her jaw dangling like a loon, faded.

Zara’s senses zoned in on the man behind her. She curled her fingers to close over the crescent shaped mark that had begun to throb. Her mind screamed for her to run. Her heart was all but having a seizure.

But her feet somehow managed to turn her stunned body.

Pale blue eyes were the first thing she noticed. They reminded her of the moon with a ring of dark night around them. Sun-kissed skin followed with a splash of scruff along a strong jaw. Deep brown locks fell over his forehead and touched the tips of his ears.

“Hello, my Sun.” Full lips curved into a smile, revealing perfect teeth. And just like that, all their hopeful plans for escape blew away like grains of sand on the desert floor.

Her heart crumpled.

Would she ever be free?


Giveaway!

[click here to enter for a chance to win two bracelets and a $15 Amazon giftcard!]

Book Tour + GIVEAWAY: The Crown’s Game

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I am so excited that THE CROWN’S GAME by Evelyn Skye is releasing in May 2016 that I wanted to help spread the love!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Evelyn Skye, be sure to check out all the details below.

The Tsar’s Guard Parade also includes a giveaway for an ARC of the book. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post!


Title: The Crown’s Game26156203
Series: The Crown’s Game (#1)
Author: Evelyn Skye
Pages: 416
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo


And as a special little something for my tour stop, check out this beautiful outfit put together by Katie Ferreira, inspired by the cover of THE CROWN’S GAME!

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About the AuthorEvelyn-Skye-head-shot-high-res.jpg
Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodreadsTumblr | Instagram


GIVEAWAY!

One winner will receive an ARC of THE CROWN’S GAME. Open internationally.

[Click here to enter!]


Find the complete Tsar’s Guard Parade Schedule at Evelyn Skye’s website!

 

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Water’s Wrath (Air Awakens #4)

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As always, the cover for the newest installment in Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series does not disappoint!


Are


You


Ready?


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Title: Water’s Wrath
Series: Air Awakens (#4)
Author: Elise Kova
Pages: 350
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.

The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N


About the Author

View More: http://radred.pass.us/joseph-wedding-2015-jpegElise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook. Visit her website, EliseKova.com, for news and extras about her books!


Cover Reveal Exclusive: Elise Kova’s Thoughts on the Covers’ Symbolism So Far

Six months ago, almost to the day, Air Awakens came out. It was my debut novel as an independent author, no publisher and no agent behind me, and I had no idea what would come of it. Now, six months later, I can’t believe I’m revealing the cover on the fourth book of the Air Awakens series.

I say every cover is my favorite, because it gets harder and harder to pick. Each of the covers, in their own way, has been perfect for the book they belong with. My cover artist, Merilliza Chan, is amazing at taking direction and incorporating my suggestions.

Part of why each cover is perfect is because there are little hints, teasers, and call-outs to the story within. Without giving too many spoilers, here’s a couple notes on each of the Air Awakens covers so far!

Air Awakens

First off, notice how Vhalla’s sash is black. In the book, the sash that goes with her apprentice robes is cerulean. This, combined with her robes slowly turning black around the back of the cover is indicative of sorcery making a mark on her. But she hasn’t yet committed, she has yet to don all-black robes. The wind in her hair and sense of movement is a call-out to her affinity. The book in her hands, is representative of three things: her work in the library, the book she exchanges notes in, and the book she brings to the garden. Which, speaking of, the roses around her… well, if you’ve read the book you know what, or who, those are meant to symbolize. But I told Meril I wanted something ominous, something wicked about them. And the thorns going through them were perfect!

Fire Falling

Here is the first cover we see our dark prince on. Fire Falling is named after three incidents in the book… When Aldrik falls to his knees before Vhalla in the Crossroads, the Rites of the FALLen in the Crossroads for another, and the end of the book. Since two of the three aspects of the title of the book related to Aldrik it was only natural that he had to be on the cover. In Fire Falling, Aldrik is beginning to function as a guiding force for Vhalla and, on the cover, he’s looking over his shoulder at her. He can’t openly admit to their association. Vhalla’s eyes are glowing orange and she’s alight, immersed in flame. This was done to symbolize their Bond and Joining. That not only can his flames not harm her, but that he is connected on a mental and magical level. She is also wearing the armor Aldrik crafted for her.

Earth’s End

Now, the symbolism is beginning to get heavy. Vhalla is alone again on the cover, venturing into the wilderness. She’s almost facing the camera, symbolizing how she is growing into her own and becoming a more realized person. In the sky above her is a fire bird. We literally see this formed in the book, but it also is symbolic of a phoenix, rising from its own ashes. I think this works for Vhalla and Aldrik in their own ways through Earth’s End. The cloak she’s wearing is the one she receives from Tim with slash marks. The watch in her hand was gifted to her. And, in her other hand, we see a special sort of magic… Finally, one other note… Carved into a tree that’s on the back of printed books is a symbol – that is actually the symbol of Shaldan!


New to the Air Awakens series?

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Check out Air Awakens (#1) on Goodreads!

Buy Air Awakens from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

Check out Fire Falling (#2) on Goodreads!

Buy Fire Falling from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

Check out Earth’s End (#3) on Goodreads!

Buy Earth’s End from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo


Giveaway!

[click here to enter!]

 

Book Blitz + GIVEAWAY: Earth’s End (Air Awakens #3)

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Title: Earth’s EndEarths-End-Cover-Only
Series: Air Awakens (#3)
Author: Elise Kova
Pages: 350
Published by: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: February 11, 2016 (today!)
Find it on Goodreads!

A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

Buy it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo


~EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM EARTH’S END~

Vhalla snapped the reins and dug her heels into Baston’s sides, forcing him into an all-out run. From above, she heard the shouts of her waking enemy.

Thick and melodic calls erupted in the night, a language completely foreign to Vhalla’s ears. She didn’t have to know the words to know they weren’t friendly, so Vhalla pushed harder, pressing herself to Baston. Vhalla took a breath as she heard arrows being knocked overhead.

The sound of bowstrings being drawn in mass made gooseflesh dot her arms. Another shout, a single word and arrows cut through the air, determined to rain death around her. Even if Vhalla was certain her chainmail would shield her, the horse was completely unarmored; if Baston died, she was as good as dead. Vhalla twisted in her saddle, sweeping a hand through the air. The curtain of wind sent the arrow scattering harmlessly.

They shouted in protest, angst-ridden that she continued on unscathed.

The second assault came faster and hastened Vhalla’s mounting frustration. She had to be out of their range soon. More lights began to blaze above and behind her, casting the ground below in a faint flow. The light illuminated the edge of the city, and Vhalla was forced to stake her life on the hope that once she was out they wouldn’t catch her.

The arrows soared through the air once more and Vhalla twisted, knocking them away in mass. She expected to hear a cry for a third assault, but instead what she heard was even more disheartening. Two words that someone said in a thick Southern Common.

“Wind Demon!”

She became their prey. The sound of thundering hooves came from the direction of where the city first began.

Vhalla crossed under the edge of the city, plunging into the welcoming darkness. Had it been a day ago, Vhalla would not have given those riders a moment’s worry. Baston would outrun any normal horse, plus with her wind he was faster than thunder across the sky. But Baston had been ridden hard with only a brief rest.

Vhalla shifted her vision and peered over her shoulder. Int he distance she saw them, riding relentlessly after her.

Sweating, panting, clutching the reins with white knuckles, Vhalla pushed ll her energy into the wind at Baston’s and her back. More–they both had to give more. In her blind determinations he almost missed the whiz of an arrow through the air.

Vhalla thrust out her arm and stopped the arrow midflight. She closed her fist and threw her arm backwards. The arrow turned and sped back to it’s original owner. Vhalla watched it soar straight into the Northerner’s eyes, the one she pointed a finger at. The man slumped, and then fell off his saddle. She swallowed hard, looked away as the others’ cries grew louder.

Eyes, she would always go for the eyes. Whether someone was or wasn’t a Groundbreaker with stone-like skin was a risk she couldn’t take; she wouldn’t have many shots. Another archer held his bow, waiting for an opportunity to take his chance.

Baston was already breathing heavy, and Vhalla knew she had to get them off her tail. The four riders behind her rode on fresh mounts and had the advantage of their night’s worth of sleep. Vhalla turned and pointed a finger. Sweeping her hand upward, an arrow freed itself from the other archer’s quiver. With a twist of her wrist, and the keen focus of a killer, Vhalla sent it into the unsuspecting Northerner’s eye.

One of the remaining two riders fell as they swerved through the trees, his companion pushing forward. As the man swung wide, Vhalla realized they were trying to flank her. Vhalla grabbed for the dagger strapped to her wrist, sending it straight for his eye.

In the process, the woman rider had caught up with Baston, raising a wickedly curved blade towards his haunches. Vhalla threw out her arm, sending the rider toppling head over heels. It wasn’t chance that the assailant’s blade slit her wielder’s throat in the fall.

Vhalla held out an expectant palm, her own dagger returning to it after a moment.

Wiping the blood on her thigh, she quickly sheathed it against her waist before grabbing the reins once more. Vhalla swallowed a cry for speed; shouting at the horse would not make it go faster. It would further compromise her position.

Vhalla pressed her lips together, forcing herself to keep her composure. It was not the first person she had killed. She had skilled on the Night of Fire and Wind, she had killed the man who had murdered Larel, and she had killed with her bare hands at the Pass. What had sunk deep into her bones was the acceptance of what she must do. It was knowing she had become a killer. It was how easy it was for her to slay her does without even thinking of each of them as a whole person that showed Vhalla she’s gone far down a path she’d never wanted. They were entities, enemies, barriers, but they weren’t human.

Distracted by her inner conflict, Vhalla was caught completely off-guard by the first assault coming from the trees. A Groundbreaker swung down from the air, bringing his sword against the back of her head. Vhalla attempted to dodge at the last second, but it was too late. The blade slipped off her chainmail but it left her vision blurred and her ears ringing.

She blinked, trying to sort her senses as she pushed Baston onward, putting thr assailant behind them. Groundbreakers jumped from limb to limb in the trees above her–free and fearless.  Vines came to life to meet their extended hands, allowing them to soar through the air. With a twist or a tug, their lifeline shrunk back, curling around branches to pull them upward.

She wanted to feel amazed; perhaps she would have, if these people weren’t out to kill her. Another swung low, and Vhalla dropped off to the side of the saddle to dodge. Righting herself, Vhalla redrew her dagger in one quick motion as a third swung forward to attack. She sent the black soaring through the vine the Groundbreaker held.

The man fell through the sky; Vhalla’s mind betrayed her, showing a different body plummeting through the air.

With a growl, she turned her blade to the next Northerner she saw, relying on the same tactic. She would show them why one did not hang above the head of a Windwalker. The other body fell with a sickening thud, and Vhalla left them behind her. With a twitch of her wrist, her blade returned to her hand.

Baston’s pace had slowed, and Vhalla snapped his reins again. This was the first time the beast did not heed her command, and she felt uneasiness settle across her.

Five Northerners still jumped from tree to tree overhead as dawn began to fade into early morning. Vhalla wondered if they were biding their time for rider and mount to tire. If she were they, she’d do the same thing. Baston’s sides were heaved with exhaustion.

Their presence began to wear on Vhalla, and she watched them with bated breath, waiting for the next assault. Another hour passed and Baston slowed to a trot; she expected this to be the moment they attacked. But the Northerners held fast, following from welcoming branch to welcoming branch, each bent to meet their feet and hands.

They were toying with her, like cats with a mouse.


~EXCLUSIVE EARTH’S END PLAYLIST — MADE BY ELISE KOVA~

[Listen to it here!]


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

View More: http://radred.pass.us/joseph-wedding-2015-jpeg

Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom”. She loves talking with her fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook (/AuthorEliseKova). Visit her website, EliseKova.com, for news and extras about her books!


GIVEAWAY!

[Click here to enter!]

Waiting on Wednesday – Traitor Angels

Title: Traitor Angels25862970
Author: Anne Blankman
Pages: 400
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Find it on Goodreads!

Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.

Pre-order it from: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | Chapters/Indigo