Review: Venice in the Moonlight

Venice in the MoonlightTitle: Venice in the Moonlight
Author: Elizabeth McKenna
Release Date: October 2013
Length: 194 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Romance
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Take a vacation from the London ton and visit Venice in the Moonlight!

A Story of Vengeance, Forgiveness, and Love 

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin—a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father’s last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead—and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

Review

Marietta Gatti is the daughter of an artist, and as such she is not in the upper echelon of the nobility in Venice. Not until, that is, her father forces her to marry into it. Marietta hates her husband, and I can’t say I blame her. She is an independent woman in a time when women were playthings, and this quote was my favorite:

The family money could buy almost anything – anything except a place in heaven. Her husband roasted in hell.

She also harbors hatred for her father, who not only left her to this terrible marriage, but forced her into it. (It really was for her own good.) She has shunned him and his letters, until the unfortunate (or fortunate for her) death of her husband. She now goes to seek her father out and uncovers something sinister hiding within the most noble families of Venice.

Marietta stared at her father’s painting. There were so many things she wanted to say when she saw him in a few days. She was still furious, but she was also thrilled that he had regained his inspiration.

After the death of her husband, Marietta sets off with her maid in search of her father. All of a sudden many characters are introduced and for a while I had a hard time keeping up with who was who, because they then separated out into groups. But eventually I got back on board and could place everybody.

Marietta’s first discovery in Venice is that a few noble families, the rulers of Venice, owe her father quite a bit of money for his paintings. Shortly after he made his rounds to collect, he was killed. Marietta sets off in the dark of night to uncover the truth behind these matters, and discovers even more. In her journey, she meets and befriends her father’s mistress and best friend. Both of the people who her father last saw try to help her.

“The rich no longer are so rich, yet they act rich.”

Marietta also is thrust into the world of nobility when Nico Foscari comes to the rescue of a traveling carriage and takes the ragtag group of vagabonds under his roof. Nico is a man of many things. He is partially blind, and wears darkened glasses always. He is one of the biggest rakes in Venice, and his father was one of a few who commissioned paintings from Marietta’s father and never paid up. Now, Nico has also commissioned a Gatti artist.

“How did you do that?” 

Nico shrugged. “I’ve learned a few things over the years. You’d be amazed at how many people think nothing of taking advantage of a blind man.”

“Were you following me?”

“Me? No, how could I do that?” he replied.

As Marietta puzzles through the nitty gritty of her father’s death and the craziness that she has uncovered, she is also spending much of her time painting Nico at his private townhouse.

Nico’s best friend is Casanova, who is an odd duck to say the least. In the debauchery sense he is Nico’s equal and they enjoy many a night out on the town…until Marietta comes along. Nico trusts Casanova because he has no intentions or motivations in his friendship with Nico…until Nico hears Marietta’s story. Then things start to change rapidly. He is left wondering who he can trust, and how to make things right.

As the book progressed, I saw a lot of character development in Nico. I was very pleasantly surprised with the inner workings of his mind, but it also made sense. It was just a little heartbreaking to spend your whole life thinking something like this:

Part of him hoped she was here to see him and not his father. But his father spoke the truth as harsh as it as. Only courtesans could love an almost blind man, so courtesans would have to do. 

I enjoyed this book immensely. The plot line centering around Marietta’s father’s death was very well planned out and implemented in the novel. Marietta’s social standing, tarnished in a way by her father’s habits, is something she has to strive to overcome – as well as the whisperings of why she is not with her late husband’s family. Nico is a man well accustomed to the privileged life – even as a blind man – and that in itself is what creates his very flawed character.

Venice in the Moonlight was a relatively quick read, and I enjoyed the historical aspect of this period of time in Venice. It also had a few scenes for the much celebrated Carnival!

About the Author

Elizabeth McKennaElizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel Cera’s Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her websitehttp://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: Storms of Lazarus

unnamed

Welcome to my tour stop for Storms of Lazarus by Karen Kincy. This is the second book in the Shadows of Asphodel series. This is a new adult dieselpunk romance and is now available!  The tour runs August 11-22 with reviews, interviews and a few guest posts. Check out the tour page for all of the schedule and more information.

Title: Storms of Lazarus
Author: Karen Kincy
cbbtourhostRelease Date: July 2014
Series?: Shadows of Asphodel #2
Genre: New Adult, Dieselpunk, Romance
Source: CBB Book Promotions

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon

*****Synopsis*****

Sometimes escape is impossible. Sometimes love isn’t enough.
Storms-of-Lazarus-ebook-cover-664x10241913. Christmas Eve. Ardis hardly expects a quiet holiday with Wendel, between fleeing Constantinople and hiding from an ancient society of assassins. And they owe a debt to a certain archmage.
In Königsberg, Prussia, they work with Konstantin on the next evolution of Project Lazarus. Wendel once called Königsberg home, the city now besieged by the Russians and their clockwork engines of war. This may be Wendel’s last chance to save his family and find redemption, but he’s tormented by nightmares and tempted by laudanum. Ardis fears her love isn’t enough to save Wendel. Her hands are full piloting the automatons, and she’s terrified to tell him a secret of her own. Will they—and their love—survive the storms of war?

*****Review*****

You can read my review of the first book in the Asphodel series, Shadows of Asphodel, here.

Vampires. Angry Hungarians. Zeppelins. Assassins. Clockwork. Strip poker. A raven. The automans. The castle. War.

“You have a lovely singing voice,” Ardis said, “but –“

“Why, thank you.”

“But be quiet. We’re escaping.”

“Escaping,” Wendel grinned like he couldn’t help himself. “Exactly.”

Karen Kincy did not disappoint in her followup to Shadows of Asphodel! Of course, it didn’t go anything how I planned it to, but Karen Kincy is a master of story weaving; it is much more than just storytelling. One difference between the first book and Storms of Lazarus is I noticed a distinctive difference in the pacing. Shadows of Asphodel was constant action and fast-paced. Storms of Lazarus allows readers to recognize the familiarity of the characters and their storyline continuation from the first book, unlike many books in series.

“Where are we going?”

“Not to our deaths, apparently,” Wendel said.

Konstantin shook his head. “Logic escapes you, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t trust you,” Wendel said, with more than a little insolence. “Do I need to explain the concept of revenge to you, archmage?”

Due to this magical trick of writing, Kincy built in moments of pause for readers. As I read I could clearly find the rises and the dips in the action of the plot, and the brief lulls in between gave insightful moments into the main characters’ interactions and character growth.

Ardis and Wendel are at it again, only this time the archmage who put his neck on the line comes calling after a very questionable run-in with some angry Hungarians. Wendel finds himself the center of attention from a raven, who Wendel takes as a pet. Konstantin played a smaller role in this book than in the first, but he brought the famous Nikola Tesla into the mix of his work, who helped the Vienna archmages in their work. A certain Captain Himmel is also among the ranks of Wendel and Ardis, captaining the zeppelin to take the two back to the very place they’re running from. And Ardis discovers something she is afraid to share with Wendel, a secret that she is keeping.

Himmel shook his head. His eyes looked hollow. “I’m not a captain,” he said. “Not without my ship. Not without my crew.”

That blonde bitch from the first book who screwed Ardis over also reappears. Natalya leads the command of the automan pilots.

“Why are all the pilots women, anyway?” Ardis said. 

Natalya grinned. “We’re some of the toughest bitches around.” 

Wendel, Ardis and the gang are also invited to Wendel’s castle. Ardis meets his entire family, and there are WORDS. It’s not too pretty. These scenes are tense and sarcastic, but hurtful all the same. I also found this is where Natalya experiences character growth, or perhaps my view of her was biased since it was told through Ardis. Natalya turned out to be an OK lady.

“I want asylum,” Wendel said. 

“Asylum?”

“I’m tired of everyone trying to kill me.”

“You belong in an asylum,” Konstantin muttered. 

Wendel laughed, then frowned as if he hadn’t meant to humor the archmage.

But war doesn’t care about family reunions, new relationships and friendships, reconciliation, destruction, death. At this point in the book, I was going a little crazy. Women, you know what I mean: imagining all manner of scenarios – the most horrible.

“Gentlemen!” the archmage said. “This is a hospital.” 

“He’s no gentleman,” Himmel said.

“True,” Wendel said. “Technically, I’m royalty.” 

“You won’t be anything when I’m done with you.”

Wendel laughed,and Himmel glared ferociously at him. The necromancer seemed glad that the captain was no longer melancholy. 

“My God,” Ardis said. “Everybody calm the hell down.” 

That’s it. That’s all I can tell you. You’ll just have to read the book. 😀

Well…I will tell you this: the third book will be an entirely new adventure. That’s all.

“I don’t want my only solution to be death.”

*****About the Author*****

Karen - author photo2 (1)Karen Kincy (Redmond, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There is a $25 Amazon giftcard up for grabs in the giveaway!

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review+ Giveaway: Becoming Lady Lockwood

Title: Becoming Lady Lockwood
Author: Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Covenant
Release Date: July 2014
Series?: no
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: e-book
Source: I Am A Reader

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | AmazonB&N

For all stops on the tour, please hop on over to the tour schedule.

*****Synopsis*****

Becoming Lady LockwoodAmelia Beckett is delighted to be a widow. Married by proxy to a man she’d never met, Amelia recognizes that a fortuitous entry into widowhood frees her from meddlesome chaperones and matchmakers. Heiress to her mother’s sugar plantation in Jamaica, she happily anticipates working in a man’s world, with the additional credibility of her new title: Lady Lockwood. But with the arrival of Captain Sir William Drake, her plans quickly go awry . . . William has traversed the Atlantic with one purpose. If he cannot prove that Amelia’s marriage to his brother was a fraud, she will be entitled to a sizeable portion of his family’s estate. He is determined to return this duplicitous Lady to London for an official hearing, and he carries with him a letter that will ensure her cooperation . . . Left with no choice, Amelia joins the captain on his return voyage to England, and the two quickly find that ship life does not allow for evasion. Amelia and William are ceaselessly thrown together, and amidst fierce storms and ocean battles, what began as antipathy seems to be evolving quite unexpectedly. But as they draw ever closer to their destination, will the impossibility of their circumstances shatter any hope of a future together?

*****Review*****

Amelia Becket has enjoyed the sun and relaxed social constricts of Jamaican society. She has put herself fully into making her late mother’s sugar plantation a success, engaged in all aspects of plantation life. She lives alone in her house, as her father is an admiral in the British Navy. Since her mother’s death when she was 10, her father has been to Jamaica only twice, the first time to fight to get rights to the plantation and the second time to have her marry an earl by proxy.

Within the first few pages, I had no love for Amelia’s father. He reminded me of someone I know: wants everything for himself, even if it is his, will contrive any way to obtain what he wants, and uses his power and title to belittle and threaten to help “sway” others decisions. In essence, as self-centered, greedy jerk masquerading as an upstanding man of the British Navy.

But Captain William Drake does not know any of this. He has been sent to Jamaica to collect Amelia and take her to London to settle the suit he has brought against her father regarding her marriage to his late brother. Awkward! Right from the start he is cold and rude, but his right hand man, Sidney, provides the warmth and civility that Drake is lacking. They develop a fast friendship after boarding, as Amelia does with all of the crew…all except one Captain William Drake.

Just as with her plantation, Amelia immerses herself into ship life. She helps out everywhere she can, and does everything but loading and firing cannons. She endears herself to all, and I thought there would come a moment when the crew would turn mutinous against the captain for some silly brained punishment to met out to Amelia, but that didn’t happen.

William Drake is a very astute man. Despite his personal feelings about Amelia’s marriage to his late brother, he does not let that blind him to some of the smaller details Amelia reveals about her life, and he quickly picks up on them and puzzles over them, trying to see the larger picture and understand her relationship with her father. He quickly comes to correct conclusions, and during all of his trying to figure it out, we see a different side of Captain William Drake, a man worthy of admiration, compassion and love.

That is all about to be ruined, as the Captain’s mission orders take his ship and crew of 800+ directly into French waters and danger. Soon they learn that his exact location and mission route was released to the French. There is a traitor somewhere in the British Navy that wants somebody aboard his ship dead, and Drake can’t help but wonder if Amelia is the target.

I loved Amelia Becket. She is the kind of woman who I would want to be friends with, and if I had lived during her time, I think I would be very much like her. She may not be as “refined” as some of the London ton, but she doesn’t need that kind of refinery. She is fine just the way she is, and Captain Drake soon realizes this, too.

There were several parts of the book that I loved. When Amelia takes her first meal with the officers of the ship, it is a dry, dull meal, until she makes a joke at the Captain’s expense. That was the first moment of her acceptance on the ship, which is an unusual thing since having a woman aboard is known wide and far to be bad luck.

Another of my favorite parts was Amelia’s birthday. The officers organized something for her birthday, and the men were very accommodating and sweet about the whole thing. It made me glad that she was surrounded by people who truly cared about her…until Captain Drake walks in because all the men are all late. After dismissing all but one of his crew, he requests something quite scandalous of Amelia for that time. That scene was wonderful to read about, and when Amelia returned to her cabin there was a gift for her. 🙂

This was a fast-paced, intriguing and wonderful read. I would like to see what happens to some of the characters after the conclusion of this book, but I don’t believe it will be a series.

*****About the Author*****

Jenny MooreJennifer Moore is a Passionate reader and writer of all things romance, helping her find balance with the rest of her world, which includes a perpetually traveling husband and four active sons, who create heaps of laundry that are anything but romantic. Jennifer has a BA in linguistics from the University of Utah and is a Guitar Hero champion. She lives in northern Utah with her family. You can learn more about her at authorjmoore.com. The author’s first book, Becoming Lady Lockwood, is a regency romance centered on the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There is a $25 Amazon gift card (or PayPal cash) up for grabs. Ends 8/7/14.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Review: Shadows of Asphodel

Title: Shadows of Asphodel
Author: Karen KincyDisplaying cbbtourhost.png
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: September 2013
Series?: Shadows of Asphodel #1
Genre: New Adult, Dieselpunk, Romance
Format: e-book
Source: CBB Book Promotions

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | AmazonB&N

*****Synopsis*****

When Ardis discovers a man bleeding to death on the battlefield, she knows she has to walk away.

1913. In her work as a mercenary for Austria-Hungary, Ardis has killed many men without hesitation. One more man shouldn’t matter, even if he manages to be a charming bastard while he stands dying in the snow.

But when he raises the dead to fight for him, she realizes she must save his life.

If a necromancer like Wendel dies, he will return as a monster—or so the rumors say. Ardis decides to play it safe and rescues him. What she doesn’t expect is Wendel falling to one knee and swearing fealty. Ardis never asked for the undying loyalty of a necromancer, but it’s too late now.

Ardis and Wendel forge an uneasy alliance underscored with sexual tension. Together, they confront rebels, assassins, and a conspiracy involving a military secret: robotically-enhanced soldiers for a world on the brink of war. But as Ardis starts to fall for Wendel, she realizes the scars from his past run more deeply than she ever imagined. Can Ardis stop Wendel before his thirst for revenge destroys him and everyone else around him?

*****Review*****

It’s 1913, and Ardis is a young female mercenary working for the archmages of Austira-Hungary. She left her mother behind in America after killing a man in self-defense, and she carries her father’s sword, Chun Yi. It is the only thing left of him that she has, along with a lifetime of questions about why he never stayed, why he wouldn’t be a father to her. All she knows of him is that he called himself Leo and he has a distinct tattoo on the back of his neck.

The archmages work together to keep the world at peace. They are trying to keep the world from a war, but they are on a limited track of time. They have created this barrier in certain parts of the world called the Hex. This part of the world building was not very developed, but from what I could grasp about the Hex is that he can become damaged and have “holes” in it, just like we have holes in the Ozone. The Hex is a magical protection, wherein some types of deaths cannot occur. If you try to shoot someone with a gun, the Hex impedes that from happening. A bullet will never leave the muzzle.

Ardis is just returning from a mission, and stumbles into Wendel, dying in the snow. When she realizes he is a necromancer and can raise the dead, which could cause monstrous proportions, she does everything she possibly can to save him. In turn, he grants fealty to her for saving his life…if only the short train ride to Vienna.

Wendel reached into his coat and drew the black dagger, With a hissing whisper, tendrils of smoke crawled from Amarant and curled around his arm, his body, his face. His outline faded to nothing more than a shadow. Ardis’s breath snagged in her throat.

Also on their train is an archmage, Konstantin. The archmages are known for their disgust and near-hatred of necromancers. Despite Ardis’s attempts to keep Wendel out of Konstantin’s sight, it all comes out eventually…and when they return to Vienna, Ardis must answer to an archmage about why she took on a necromancer. At that point, I thought Konstantin nothing but a snooty little tattletell with a stick up his butt impeding his brain from realizing he wasn’t as important ans he thought he was. But I was so very, very wrong, yet again.

On this journey, Ardis learns that Wendel is a member of the Order of the Asphodel, a secret society that operates in parallel to the archmages, who have vowed never to officially interfere in Asphodel business. Throughout the book I never got a clear distinction of how the Asphodel formed, or for what purpose, but I did clearly feel they were not to be messed with.

“The truth of my life,” he said, “will die with me, as it does with us all. And my memories will fade as my bones grow old, and I will live on only in the memories of those who cared that I should not be forgotten.”

That’s where Wendel sits in the big wide world of 1913 – running from the Asphodel, and now Ardis is swept up into his escape…but the Asphodel reach far and wide, and they are bent on sticking together.

The relationship that Wendel and Ardis form is one that at first is beyond comprehension but grows and develops as Ardis peels layers away and discovers more and more about Wendel and his past life. He is a man who is stuck in a very dangerous situation, between a rock and a hard spot. He knows exactly who Ardis is after she reveals what little she knows of her father, but Ardis knows so very little about Wendel, except that he will kill all of the Asphodel, even up to the head honcho the Grandmaster.

“Ardis,” he said, “somebody always has to die.”

Ardis learns that Wendel comes from a house of royalty, although he never divulges which house or family. Ardis and Wendel work with Konstantin and discover so much more about the archmages and the military plans that are developing. Konstantin send them on a mission to create a diversion at a ball and obtain the blueprints he needs, and things go horribly wrong. Arids discovers Wendel’s lineage (squee!) and must fight to save him…in a ballgown…with no sword.

No matter what happens, Ardis sticks by Wendel’s side, even if it is in detriment to her working relationship and friendship with Konstantin and puts them all in danger. It’s made clear over and over that she will follow him anywhere, and she will die for him from the situations she puts herself in.

This was bizarre — teatime at two o’clock in the morning, with a necromancer and an archmage.

At some point in the book, I had an epiphany. This book and the two main characters parallel one of my absolute favorite’s – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – in so many ways in the most basic sense. The plot, the time period, the magic, is different, of course, but these two characters – even the way they meet – and their journey together is so very similar to the journey that Claire and Jamie experience in Outlander. I was blown away by this realization, and even though they are similar in those regards – I LOVED this book.

What we crave to know as readers come bit by bit throughout Shadows of Asphodel, and we learn exactly what the Asphodel has done to Wendel, and who the Grandmaster is. It is a book filled with twists and turns as Ardis and Wendel fight to stay steps ahead of the Asphodel, and what they learn about the archmages and Wendel’s life as a necromancer.

The book ended with a perfect set-up for the next book, and I am so curious to see how that will play out. I am also imagining all manner of scenarios about Ardis and Wendel’s relationship in context of his royal lineage, and what role that will take in the next book.

To sum it all up: this will be a series that I purchase, and will go on the bookshelf with my most favorite books, to have to read and re-read for years to come. Ardis and Wendel are a journey that will never grow old or tiring.

*****About the Author*****

Karen - author photo2 (1)Karen Kincy (Redmond, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: Keeper

keeperbanner

Title: Keeper
Author: Ingrid Seymour
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: May 2014Displaying cbbtourhost.png
Series?: Morphid Chronicles #1-4
Genre: YA, romance, suspence
Format: e-book
Source: CBB Book Promotions

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon

For all stops on the tour, please hop on over to the tour schedule.

I received the Omnibus Edition of Keeper, which contains volumes 1-4, which otherwise are each a book on its own. Currently Volume 1 is only 99 cents! The last three volumes are currently free. Please check pricing prior to purchase.

*****Synopsis*****

Keeper_eBook_coverFor them, free will is a luxury . . .

Greg Papilio both wants and dreads his impending metamorphosis. He’s tired of being an ugly runt–always picked last on the basketball court–when he could be strong and what girls call “drop dead gorgeous.” But as much as he looks forward to the transformation, he also fears the caste it will inevitably assign to him. He doesn’t want a common caste. He wants a powerful one, a cool one.

Samantha Gibson is average. She’s short and a little full around the hips–a terribly cute look for a future chef. She’s two years away from culinary school, from her uncaring parents, and from carving a perfectly Human future. She wants independence, a career and a quiet life of her own.

Except fate couldn’t care less about what Greg and Samantha want and gives them exactly the opposite. Greg’s metamorphosis assigns him a caste that enslaves him, while Samantha’s chance to attend Le Cordon Bleu is taken away. But things are never as interesting as when Ashby–an intriguing blonde with a hidden identity–enters her life with a splash.

Greg’s fate is to be Samantha’s Keeper, to protect her at a time when someone wants her dead. He will stop at nothing to ensure her safety, even if her secret past proves deadly, even if he’s keeping her safe for someone else.

*****Review*****

This book is a little more than meets the Goodreads summary.

Greg is a Morphid, a species that looks and operates exactly like humans, rumored to have transcended from a different world. Most in America have gone silent about their existence, hiding in fear from the Morphid royal Regent and High Council. Those not registered are considered rebels with something to hide, and Greg’s family is one of them, anxiously awaiting his metamorphosis to change him. It is a process that takes a scrawny runt of a think like Greg and turns him into the next sexy Calvin Klein model, but the metamorphosis is more than just the looks. It also changes your mind, and for Greg, he inherits a voice – the Keeper side of him – that tells him what to do, where to go, warns him. This leads him to Sam.

Sam is your typical American girl, and she dreams of becoming a famous chef and feeding the homeless delicious food, not the slop she serves up at the soup kitchen she volunteers at. She is the daughter of two lawyers who both work at the Bureau of Doom, except…they’re never around – her or each other! She has a very hateful relationship with her mother, which reminded me of my own teenage years with my mom, and her dad is never around. One day, Sam discovers something about herself that rattles her whole world…on top of her parents’ news. Her whole life they’ve been hiding something from her…

Sam is like Greg’s true north, where his arrow points. His caste is that of a servant – to serve and protect Sam – and it is designated so by fate and marked with a symbol on the back, between the shoulder blades.

In the Morphid world there are Singulars and Companions (or Integrals). Singulars live their whole lives being single, there is no one for them. Companions have an Integral who they are destined to be with, and who they find, very similar to how Stephanie Meyers wrote about the imprinting phenomena in the Twilight series.Companions find their Integral, their mate, and continue the lineage of the Morphids, but that does not guarantee what your child’s caste will be. Even with two Companion parents, one could end up a … Sorcerer, or something else.

Greg locates Sam and she begins tutoring him in math, so that he can attend her school for the coming year and keep vigil. Initially, his phone call changes a decision that Sam, and most girls like her, face in life. After a few study sessions, a catastrophic event happens at a local gas station that changes everything for Sam and Greg, and is the first inkling that darkness is afoot in the Morphid world.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before Greg ever came into the picture, Ashby, the regent prince, sneaks out of the castle to visit Sam. He tries to warn her about her future without scaring her, but just comes off weird. Everything about Ashby’s journey went off marvelously…except his mother found out.

Eventually the Human and Morphid worlds collide, and Ashby swindles his way into Sam’s school. He’s a man on a mission, rebellious in the highest degree, and ready to piss his mother off. His arrogance is his downfall, though, and winds up getting Sam and Greg into a world and danger they know nothing about.

Throughout the novel, I had mixed emotions about the characters, who we as readers transition through from chapter to chapter. At times I thought Samantha was a pretty cautious girl realizing when she was in an odd and potentially dangerous situation, and at others I thought she was the most naive to be going along with Greg or Ashby (depending on the circumstances) like we admonish kids following candy into cars with strangers. She does, however, have a wonderful narrative voice that is very real, and even in those situations, we as readers get a deeper insight into how the gears are turning in her head. Greg I liked from the beginning, and that didn’t change. He seems a normal kid, and he is bent on protecting Sam and fulfilling his role as her Keeper…but he didn’t plan on falling for her. And that’s where things get tricky, because Same is not Greg’s Integral….Enter Ashby, who when he first appeared to try to warn Sam, was a sweet gentleman of a guy, and when he comes back he is this raging, self-centered, arrogant snob. He fully intends to leave Greg in the dust, despite his caste and his role as Sam’s Keeper, and for a while Greg just lays down and takes it from Ashby, knowing that most likely in a short while it would be inevitable to change the way Sam feels about both guys.

Ashby intends to whisk Sam off to his home, as if his mother will welcome her with open arms. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and Greg knows it. Unfortunately Ashby’s arrogance and seemingly lack of intelligence gets the better of him, and brings about several realizations about the Regent, secret castes, and the Morphid world.

I loved the intrigue and suspense building up to the gang’s travel to the castle, Ashby’s home. I knew eventually Greg and Ashby’s paths would cross, and I had an inkling I knew their connections to one another, and I gathered that Ashby’s mother, the Regent and ruler of the Morphids, was up to something nefarious and in cahoots with one of her councilmen, but I was not prepared for the magnitude of it all – and the worthy reason why Morphids went into hiding years ago.

However, I felt that the novel fell flat at the end. At the 80% mark they were barely starting out to the castle, and I knew things would end and wrap up quickly, thinking the book would be left on a cliffhanger, but I was wrong on both accounts. There was so much that happened in that last 20% of the book, but Greg and Sam’s return left a lot to be desired, with the barest hint that they might be temporarily in the clear, but probably not for long. I mean, who crosses a Regent and gets away with it?

*****About the Author*****

Ingrid_3Ingrid Seymour loves, loves, loves to write. She’s a young and new adult author. She writes in a variety of genres including romance, urban fantasy, paranormal and horror. She loves pizza and sushi, Sunkist and gum. She believes in vampires, witches, but not zombies (uh-uh, never!) She writes to loud music, daydreams constantly and spends too much time in twitter!! Find her there? ;) Ingrid has incredible fun doing what she does, but more than anything she enjoys hearing from her readers. It’s a dream come true.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Follow the Tour*****

Tour Schedule:
7/14
7/15
7/16
7/17
7/18
7/19
7/21
7/22
7/23
7/24
7/25

*****Giveaway*****

Ingrid Seymour is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card (INT) along with a signed paperback of Keeper with a bracelet (US).

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

 

Spotlight+ Giveaway: Becoming Lady Lockwood

Title: Becoming Lady Lockwood
Author: Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Covenant
Release Date: July 2014
Series?: no
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: e-book
Source: I Am A Reader

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | AmazonB&N

For all stops on the tour, please hop on over to the tour schedule.

*****Synopsis*****

Becoming Lady LockwoodAmelia Beckett is delighted to be a widow. Married by proxy to a man she’d never met, Amelia recognizes that a fortuitous entry into widowhood frees her from meddlesome chaperones and matchmakers. Heiress to her mother’s sugar plantation in Jamaica, she happily anticipates working in a man’s world, with the additional credibility of her new title: Lady Lockwood. But with the arrival of Captain Sir William Drake, her plans quickly go awry . . . William has traversed the Atlantic with one purpose. If he cannot prove that Amelia’s marriage to his brother was a fraud, she will be entitled to a sizeable portion of his family’s estate. He is determined to return this duplicitous Lady to London for an official hearing, and he carries with him a letter that will ensure her cooperation . . . Left with no choice, Amelia joins the captain on his return voyage to England, and the two quickly find that ship life does not allow for evasion. Amelia and William are ceaselessly thrown together, and amidst fierce storms and ocean battles, what began as antipathy seems to be evolving quite unexpectedly. But as they draw ever closer to their destination, will the impossibility of their circumstances shatter any hope of a future together?

*****Excerpt*****

The crew released more sails as the breeze quickened, and Amelia watched, craning her neck as her island home, Jamaica, the pearl of the Antilles, gradually became no more than a small green mound on the horizon. A wave of homesickness washed over her. The ship rolled on the larger ocean waves, and she realized that her discomfort was not strictly limited to nostalgia. She was growing increasingly seasick.
Just as she reached this realization, she heard steps coming toward her and turning saw Captain Drake approaching.
“Miss Becket, you are looking most unwell. I must insist you take to your quarters and lie down.”
Even though he was completely correct, and her stomach was threatening to empty itself, the lack of compassion in his demeanor put her on the defensive.
“Indeed, Captain Drake. While I am touched by your concern for my well-being, I have no intention to retire, as I am feeling quite well.” The ship pitched again, and Amelia’s stomach pitched along with it.
“I assure you, my concern is for the deck of my ship and for my crew charged with keeping her ­in shipshape condition.”
Did the man’s arrogance know no bounds? Amelia felt her head spin in a wave of dizziness, and the captain grabbed onto her elbow.
“Your face is green, Miss Becket. I insist you take to your berth.” He spoke sharply, turning to the marine next to her. “Corporal, fetch Dr. Spinner to Miss Becket’s quarters.”
She wrenched her arm from his grasp. “Captain, I am not in the least ill.” She spoke through clenched teeth, afraid that if she opened her mouth, the contents of her stomach would make a most unwelcome appearance. She rested her hand in a manner that she hoped appeared casual against the netting of hammocks lining the rail of the ship. But truthfully, besides her determination not to allow the captain to order her about, it was the only thing holding her up.
Amelia nearly swooned with relief as Sidney Fletcher hurried toward them. “Miss Becket, are you unwell?” He held her elbow in the same manner as had Captain Drake a moment before, and Amelia leaned against him. “Will you allow me to escort you to your quarters then?”
“Thank you, Mr. Fletcher. That would be most welcome. How very gentlemanly of you.” She looked toward Captain Drake and narrowed her eyes.
A slight smile tugged at the corner of the captain’s lips, and Amelia found that it infuriated her. But when she opened her mouth to tell him so, her stomach betrayed her, and she was horrified to see her breakfast splatter over Captain Drake’s shiny boots.
Amelia and Captain Drake stared at each other in disbelief for one mortifying instant before she felt her stomach clench again and pressed her gloved hands against her mouth.
“A bucket!” Captain Drake bellowed.

*****About the Author*****

Jenny MooreJennifer Moore is a Passionate reader and writer of all things romance, helping her find balance with the rest of her world, which includes a perpetually traveling husband and four active sons, who create heaps of laundry that are anything but romantic. Jennifer has a BA in linguistics from the University of Utah and is a Guitar Hero champion. She lives in northern Utah with her family. You can learn more about her at authorjmoore.com. The author’s first book, Becoming Lady Lockwood, is a regency romance centered on the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

Go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Review: Broken Branch Falls


Title:
 Broken Branch Falls
Author: Tara Tyler
Cover Artist: Ricky Gunawan
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: June 2014
Series?: no
Genre: Middle Grades, Fantasy
Format: e-book
Source: Curiosity Quills Press

Find the book: Website | Goodreads 

*****Synopsis*****

Doing homework for bully ogres and getting laughed at as the butt of pixie pranks, Gabe is tired of his goblin life. When he and his friends step out of their nerdy stereotype and pull a prank of their own on the dragons at the first football game, it literally backfires, bringing a High Council vote to dismantle not only Gingko High, but the whole town, too!

The Book of Ages–hidden handbook of the High Council, filled with knowledge and power–may be Gabe’s only hope. With the help of friends old and new, can Gabe complete his quest to find the Book in time to save Broken Branch Falls? Or will he remain an outcast forever?

 *****Review*****

This book was awesome! It was an incredible read, with such an important message. Despite the cover, it is a book for both boys and girls.

Gabe is a goblin, stuck in a high school with other creatures. Each species is regulated to certain aspects of life, activity and creativity. Ogres are the only ones who can play sports. Goblins are the only ones who can play instruments. And inter-species fraternization is heavily frowned upon. The First Law states that species need to remain pure…

After one seemingly harmless prank, Gabe is assigned to play on the football team to see what it is really like. Unfortunately for the principal, Gabe likes it. He’s good at it. And he makes up plans and the team actually wins some games…but that leads to Gabe and his ogre football buddies becoming friends…

When the High Council calls Gabe in for a special meeting, he and his friends are torn. Gabe wants to fight for Ginko High to stay together, but not all of his friends and schoolmates feel the same. It is up to the High Council to make all decisions, led by Gabe’s professor, who has it out for Gabe.

Gabe just can’t let the idea go of the town being split up. The last person he wants to talk to is his mother, but he finally does, and it ends up sending him on a journey with a mission all over the land, where Gabe meets a friend from each must sector – and each species! They must collect some particular items along the way, to aid in obtaining the book from which the High Council uses to set and follow the laws. Once they have the book, Gabe discovers a chilling reason why the species shouldn’t fraternize – one that the High Council had been hiding for centuries….as well as the truth about the destruction of the human race.

I loved Gabe. He is a pretty amazing kid, and he doesn’t just follow along with everything like sheep. In fact, he wants to think for himself, but in his world brainwashing is shoved downs students’ throats. Gabe doesn’t want to just follow the herd, and he doesn’t understand why the species are regulated in what they can do. It doesn’t make any sense.

Gabe’s voice in the novel could not be more perfect. He was very real, down to earth, and humble. There need to be more kids like him in the world.

This was a great read, with plenty of adventure and variety in Broken Branch Falls. I’d recommend for ages 8-14.

*****About the Author*****

Displaying Tara Tyler.jpgAfter having a hand in everything from waitressing to teaching math to rocket engineering, Tara Tyler now writes and teaches in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband.

This Lazy Housewife loves to share advice on organizing, time-saving, and multi-tasking, in addition to popping out her multi-genre adventure novels in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, and Chick Lit, all laced with Humor.

So many exciting stories to tell!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google Plus