Monday, August 31, 2015

{Review} RIOT OF STORM AND SMOKE by Jennifer Ellision




Didn't read the first book, THREATS OF SKY AND SEA? 
Check out my review of that book instead!

Check out last week's interview with Jennifer Ellision!


Be sure to also visit Jen's guest post
on the Top Ten Things to Know About Elementals and the Elements from last year's tour stop!

 
O P E N I N G   H O O K:


***If you haven't read book one, this opening hook has spoilers!!!***
 
  WE LEAVE THE BODY in the tunnel, and I try not to imagine my father lying there, alone and rotting away.
  My hands skim the rough stone walls of the tunnel, and I dodge worried glances from Aleta and Tregle, flinching away from the flickering flames in their hands. Both of them Fire Torchers, they light our way through dust and dirt. I don't go too near them. I can't--not right now. The memory of fire consuming the room around me while trapped inside with a madwoman who wanted me dead is too fresh.
  The air is thick as we descend beneath the castle. We're quiet, partly to avoid detection by the guards, who are surely still tearing the halls apart in their quest to find us. Our footsteps echo softly in the dark, scritch-scratching along the smooth stone ground. I'm silent for a different reason: I don't trust that when my mouth opens, a sob won't escape. Dragging myself away from Da--leaving him behind like yesterday's trash, the knife wound in his chest caked with dried blood--it's the most difficult thing I've ever done. My eyes sting with the salt left behind by tears, but I force my mouth to settle into an emotionless line.
(page 6, US ebook edition)


If you love books brimming with elemental magic and kingdoms in distress, you're going to love the Threats of  Sky and Sea trilogy by Jennifer Ellision. If you have yet to read the first book, check out my review of THREATS OF SKY AND SEA instead, because the following review will have Book 1 spoilers. Sorry! But...you've been warned!

Breena has come far from her childhood of believing she was ordinary. She's now the sole Thrower in the Egrian Kingdom, and the King wants to use her to take over the Kingdom of Nereidium once and for all. Her father has sacrificed his life to keep Bree safe and get her out of his nefarious clutches, and Crown Prince Caden has risked his position in the underground movement in an attempt to overthrow the king. What nobody knows is that, right before his death, Bree found out that she was adopted and is the true heir of Nereidium. But does she even want a kingdom, especially when Princess Aleta, who has been brought up believing the kingdom to be her birthright, would be a competent ruler?  On top of that, Bree is pretty sure that her affinity with water is gone. She can't conjure it anymore or make it bend to her will. Some Elemental she turned out to be! When her group is captured to be sold into slavery, will their escape prove fruitless, or can Bree overcome everything in her way and learn to grasp the destiny awaiting her?

The second book is full of action and adventure, propelling the story along. It doesn't suffer from the "middle book syndrome that plagues so many trilogies, which is always an excellent thing in my opinion. The tense atmosphere is propelled along by Ellision's decision to split the perspective between Bree and Caden this time around. I know, I know. When I first saw that there would be two POVs, I was nervous, too. I was reminded of Ally Condie's Matched trilogy, where I had to keep flipping back to see whose head I was in. I was reminded of Veronica Roth's ALLEGIANT, which, among other things, changed the way many readers saw Four. Once bitten, twice shy. I hate when books that weren't multi-perspective initially become so later on. In Ellision's case, it worked, and worked well. Caden is dealing with a rebellion while Bree is fleeing for survival. This isn't the same story being regurgitated from two separate perspectives. My only hope is that the perspective split remains in the finale, because I'm also not a fan of series where only one book has a split. IDK, is it just me?

There's a lot of great character development in the new book, too, especially when it comes to Prince Caden. I also loved that Bree's journey of self-discovery wasn't easy. She had to work for it, she had to struggle. I can't wait to see who she becomes in next year's finale.

I'm really looking forward to reading the two novellas currently out as well as the third on the way. And, of course, the final book, FALL OF THRONES AND THORNS. Ellision is NOT nice about where she ends the second book and readers will be anxious to get the finale in their greedy hands as soon as possible!
~*~
C O N T E N T R A T I N G S

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( kissing and innuendo )
Language: --
Violence: PG12 ( a little bit of blood and gore mentioned. Enough to squick me out because I'm squeamish, but not most people, so...! )
Other: --
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I have a love/hate relationship with this cover, tbh. I love a lot about it and what it DOES. But the female herself is...off. There's something outputting about her image to me, but I can't put my finger on why.

It could just be that the cover doesn't really line up with the first cover, and I have SO MUCH love for the first cover.

But I love the background imagery, the return of the loopy title font, and the wisp of smoke in the air!
~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: RIOT OF STORM AND SMOKE
Author: Jennifer Ellision
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Jennifer Ellision
Received: For Review
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18755539-cutlass
SUMMARY:

War draws closer, like a tide to the shore.

Bree and her friends have escaped the clutches of the Egrian King, but their troubles are far from over. Still reeling from the secrets that drew new breath when her father took his last, Bree sets off for the safety of Nereidium-- the kingdom she's just learned is hers.

But with the King's ire at its peak and war a certainty, Nereidium is no longer safe. As Prince Caden rallies the Egrian people against his tyrant father, Bree, Princess Aleta, and Tregle race to the Nereid shore to warn them of the incoming danger—and to put the Nereid Princess on the throne.

The only trouble there: Bree can’t bring herself to reveal that the Princess is her.

It’s not a dilemma she can waste time pondering. With a new weapon in his arsenal, the King's strikes are sure to be bolder than ever before. And Bree may not be ready to wear a crown… but she won't let her kingdom down without a fight.

~*~
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Have you entered all EIGHT giveaways!? One ends TODAY, and three end TOMORROW!!!! (inc. hot new pre-orders and gift cards!)

You love giveaways, right? Well, of course, who doesn't!?

A Backwards Story is hosting EIGHT giveaways RIGHT NOW!!!

Have you entered them all?

Better hurry...

  1 ends TODAY, and 3 end TOMORROW!!!!


Need more info about how I run giveaways?
Check out my Giveaway Policy!

Friday, August 28, 2015

{Excerpt/Giveaway} THE VIPER AND THE URCHIN by Celine Jeanjean


The Viper and the Urchin
by Celine Jeanjean
Release Date: July 27th 2015

Summary from Goodreads:

Being Damsport's most elegant assassin is hard work. There's tailoring to consider, devilish poisons to concoct, secret identities to maintain... But most importantly, Longinus has to keep his fear of blood hidden or his reputation will be ruined. So, when a scrawny urchin girl threatens to expose his phobia unless he teaches her swordsmanship, he has no choice but to comply.

It doesn't take long for Rory to realise that her new trainer has more eccentricities than she has fleas. But she'll put up with anything, no matter how frustrating, to become a swordswoman like her childhood hero.

What she's not prepared for is a copycat assassin who seeks to replace Longinus, and who hires Rory's old partner in crime to do away with her, as well. Rory and Longinus must set their differences aside and try to work together if they're to stop the copycat. But darker forces than they realise are at play, and with time running out, the unlikely duo find themselves the last line of defence against a powerful enemy who seeks to bring Damsport to its knees.

Buy Links:


EXCERPT:





           


“Put on the gloves that I bought you,” Longinus ordered. “You should always wear gloves when handling blades,” he added. “You will notice that despite my profession my hands remain smooth, delicate, my fingers long and fine, and devoid of calluses. Of course, in your case your hands are already ruined.” He sighed. “We shall have to make do with what we have. An assassin’s hands are just as important as his clothing, you know. Both are the sign of a consummate professional. There is no greater insult than killing someone whilst inappropriately attired, and that extends to the state of one’s hands. You see, while these little people are beneath us, we can still grant them the small respect of being impeccably groomed as we witness their final moments.”





About the Author 

Celine Jeanjean is French, grew up in the UK and now lives in Hong Kong. That makes her a tad confused about where she is from. During her time in Asia she’s watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, lost her shoes in Vietnam, and fallen off a bamboo raft in China. Celine writes stories that feature quirky characters and misfits, and her books are a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and humour.
Author Links:
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GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Excerpt from SHATTERED FROST by Liz DeJesus


Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

&

Follow the tour for reviews, exclusive excerpts, author interviews, and so much more!


Hey everyone!

I'm so, so excited to be working with Liz DeJesus again! 

If you're a fan of fairy tales, she's an author you need to have on your TBR!
(Espcially because she created a museum made out of FAIRY TALE OBJECTS, and, um, why doesn't this place really exist!?!?! #notfair)

For those who haven't heard of The Frost Series before, I've previously reviewed FIRST FROST and GLASS FROST. I've also previously inteviewed Liz!

Today, I'm featuring an excerpt from her brand-new novel, SHATTERED FROST:


Are you ready for a sneak peek!? 


 


Tick.
Tock.
Tick.
Tock. 
            Bianca stared at the clock. She bit her nails until she broke the skin of her index finger. She hissed in pain when she tasted the bittersweet, metallic bite of blood. She forced herself to give her nails a break, only because she still wanted to have her fingernails intact by the time she went back home.
            She tapped her pencil against her desk. A few more minutes and she would be free from the imbeciles that surrounded her on a daily basis. She had tolerated them for five long months. She promised her mother, Rose, that she would be on her best behavior and not use magic in public. That was the hardest part. No magic. Especially when she was getting picked on by the head cheerleader, who seemed to hate everyone, including herself. Being ‘accidentally’ pushed against lockers. And the school jerk, Brandon Campion, was currently throwing spitballs at her.
            Even when she complained to the teacher, all anyone would get was a warning, and nothing else would ever come of it. So Bianca remained quiet and put up with it. All she wanted was to make it through the end of the day. Tiny droplets of sweat trickled down her temples, and she felt a single drop of sweat making its way down her lower back. Control was more difficult than she thought. Just thinking about everything she had endured so far made little white puffs of smoke flutter out of her fingertips.
            Crap.
            Bianca hid her hands underneath her armpits and closed her eyes. She did her best to meditate like Rose sometimes did. Her mom’s gentle instructions breezed through her mind.
            Clear your thoughts. Think of pleasant things like the rain, the ocean, flowers. Basically anything you like that makes you happy. You know, nice things.”
            “As long as it doesn’t make me fly off to Neverland,” Bianca muttered.
            “Neverland?” Rose asked.
            “You know that whole thing about pixie dust and happy thoughts and that’s how you can fly? Although I have it on good authority that Tinker Bell carried Peter Pan everywhere.”
            Rose arched an eyebrow. “Anyway, if you ever have trouble controlling your magic, just meditate and see if that works.”
            “All right.”
            All calming thoughts vanished the moment Bianca felt a saliva-covered piece of notebook paper land in her hair. Then another one immediately afterwards on the back of her shirt and several others that had struck her on the cheek. It took every ounce of willpower she possessed not to set the whole school on fire. She took a deep, steadying breath and made herself think happy thoughts all over again.
Fluffy kittens.
Cotton candy.
A quiet forest.
Terrance…
She glanced at her math teacher, Mrs. Carpenter. She sat at her desk and did nothing. Magic would’ve solved her problem. Bianca could already imagine herself setting Brandon’s notebooks on fire.
            Stop. Don’t go down that train of thought. I can’t do that. Just two more minutes. Almost done with this place. Think happy thoughts. Fluffy kittens. Cotton candy. Gummy bears. Sour Patch Kids. Terrance. Terrance’s dark brown eyes. His smile…
            Bianca sighed and wondered what Terrance would do if he were here right now. She was fairly certain that none of this nonsense would’ve happened in the first place. Her boyfriend would’ve stood up for Bianca and would’ve given Brandon a stern warning…since Terrance was a gentleman. And the second time around (because Brandon would’ve brushed off the first warning), Terrance’s wolf side would take over and Brandon would’ve learned the hard way not to mess with the grandson of the Big Bad Wolf. 
            It was a shame that her boyfriend lived in a different dimension.
            Bianca drummed her fingers against her desk and did everything she could to push the thought of fire away, to stop her hands from literally bursting into flames and melting Brandon’s stupid, smug face off. Bianca jumped when she felt yet another spitball stick to her cheek.
            That does it. I’m so sick of this crap. Stupid teachers not doing anything to stop jerks like him from bullying people for being different.
            Bianca took a deep breath, got up and walked to Brandon’s desk. He snorted and covered his mouth to keep himself from laughing. She gave him a fake smile and placed her hands on each side of his desk.
            “Miss Frost, I’m going to have to ask you to return to your seat,” Mrs. Carpenter said.
            Bianca took a deep breath, looked over her shoulder, and said, “In a minute.”
            She turned her attention back to Brandon. Her eyes locked with his muddy brown ones. Bianca felt the heat being generated by her hands. A fiery ocean rolled through her body. She needed to stop herself from setting stuff on fire. Little wisps of smoke fluttered from her fingertips.
            “Stop it,” Bianca said in a loud, clear voice.
            “Yeah, right.” Brandon leaned forward and narrowed his eyes at Bianca.
A dark shadow moved between them, and a cold breeze caressed her briefly…even though all of the windows in the classroom were closed. Bianca frowned. What was that?
He whispered, “Who’s gonna make me? I own this place, Freak.”
            Bianca hated that word. It made her stomach feel twisted and sick. She gave him a tight-lipped grin and pulled her hands away. It took a moment to free her hands; it was as though his desk had been covered with glue.
            “Whoa!” he cried.
            Brandon’s jaw dropped, and his eyes widened in shock. Bianca’s hands had molded the fiberglass desk. Every wrinkle, and fingerprint on her hands were visible on top of Brandon’s desk. It made her think of the clay with her handprints that Rose kept on the mantle above the fireplace in the living room. She waved her hands to repair the desk before anyone else noticed. She snatched the straw from behind his left ear as well as the notebook he used to make the spitballs and tossed them in the trash can by the door. 
© Liz DeJesus 2015





~*~

FIRST FROST
The Frost Series Book # 1
By-Liz DeJesus
Publication Date- June 22nd, 2015
Published By - Indie Gypsy

Fairytales aren’t real…yeah…that’s exactly what Bianca thought. She was wrong.

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.

She’s about to find out how wrong she is.



GLASS FROST
The Frost Series Book # 2
By- Liz DeJesus
Publication Date- June 22nd, 2015

When joined together, Cinderella's slippers grant the wearer her heart's desire. But whose wish will be granted?

When Cinderella’s glass slipper is stolen, Queen Felicia sends her faithful steward Terrance to the real world to retrieve his love and witch-in-training, Bianca Frost. The power of the glass slipper, when paired with its mate, and in the wrong hands, could ruin the peace of Everafter. Bianca must gather every bit of magic she has learned in the past few weeks to find the slipper and protect her new love. Together, Bianca, Ming, Prince Ferdinand, and Terrance venture deep into the heart of Everafter to seek clues as to who has stolen the slipper and why. Along the way, they uncover what happened to the Seven Dwarves after Snow White married the prince, but also learn the awful risk of tampering with black magic and the high price that must be paid for magic, even when used for good.

Bianca and Terrance’s relationship is put to the test. Through the pain of suffering and loss, Bianca must determine if following her gallant boyfriend into his faraway world is in fact her heart's desire.

  

SHATTERED FROST
The Frost Series # 3
By- Liz DeJesus
Publication Date- August 15th, 2015

Bianca Frost and her BFF Ming Lee return to Everafter to attend the Winter Ball with their boyfriends, Terrance and Prince Ferdinand. They were looking forward to a short vacation, especially Bianca, who is being bullied at school. She is looking forward to the day when she can finally graduate from high school. But all is not cute hair and fancy shoes as a mysterious count sets his sights on Bianca at the ball. When Count Jonathan Bleu kidnaps Bianca and Ming, the pair must do everything in their power to escape his clutches. In this amazing adventure, Bianca and Ming find themselves traveling down a rabbit hole, where they have to survive the madness of Wonderland in order to make it back home to the men they love.

Bianca and Ming must travel to the Queen of Hearts’ labyrinth, find Bluebeard’s key and save Jack of Hearts before Bianca loses everything she holds dear.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liz DeJesus was born on the tiny island of Puerto Rico.  She is a novelist and a poet. She has been writing for as long as she was capable of holding a pen. She is the author of the novel Nina (Blu Phi'er Publishing, October 2007), The Jackets (Arte Publico Press, March 2011) First Frost (Re-realeased through Indie Gypsy Summer 2015), Glass Frost (Re-released through Indie Gypsy Summer 2015), Shattered Frost (Indie Gypsy, Summer 2015) and Morgan (Indie Gypsy, July 2014). Her work has also appeared in Night Gypsy: Journey Into Darkness (Indie Gypsy, October 2012), Twice Upon a Time (Bearded Scribe Press, Winter 2015) and Someone Wicked (Smart Rhino Publications, Winter 2013).
Liz is currently working on a new novel and a comic book series titled Zombie Ever After (Emerald Star Comics, Fall 2014).
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS