A Match Made in Heaven: Red-Hot Reads

It’s midweek, it’s windy and cold, and all I can think of is how much I need a little reading break.

You too? Then here’s a great new initiative that’ll be sure to float the boat of you raunchy romance readers out there…

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Cosmopolitan Magazine & Harlequin Australia join forces to bring you the publication of number one bestselling author Sylvia Day’s newest work, launching Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin eBooks.

Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin is a new eBook program published by Harlequin in association with Cosmopolitan, the world’s largest women’s magazine.

“Cosmopolitan and Harlequin is a match made in dating heaven. Cosmo readers love a sexy read and they don’t come better than those penned by #1 bestselling author Sylvia Day. We’re excited to introduce this sexy collaboration to the Australian market and we know our readers will devour this fun, fearless fiction,” said Bronwyn McCahon, Editor of Cosmopolitan.

afterburnSylvia Day, a multi-award winning novelist whose titles have been bestsellers in Australia and  New Zealand as well as around the globe, will launch the first Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin eBook, Afterburn, tomorrow, 15 August 2013. The follow-up title, Aftershock, will be released on 12 November 2013.

You can find out more about getting your hands on this book, here…

Both titles will feature characters newly created for the Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin program. Afterburn and Aftershock will also be released as a two-in-one paperback in November 2013, the first Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin title to be published in print format.

“I’m thrilled to be launching theCosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin series of fresh and sexy contemporary romances,” said Day. “My stories are known for featuring fun, fearless and Cosmopolitan-type heroines as well as delicious, dangerous heroes synonymous with Harlequin. Afterburn and Aftershock will be no exception. I’m excited to share these sizzling new romances with readers and to do so hand in hand with Harlequin andCosmopolitan, beloved brands known for giving women exactly what they want.”

So if you’re looking for something fun and sexy to read, a perfect way to wind down at the end of the day or help you take a moment out of your busy week, just for you, why not check out this great new partnership?!

Find out more on the Harlequin website.

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Saturday Catch-up Part 2

Today I bring you Part 2 of the big catch-up. These five titles have been sitting on my reading pile for a little while now and although I hope to still read them properly, I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about them in the meantime.

First up, some top class action writing…

ghost reconTom Clancy’s Ghost Recon – Choke Point by Peter Telep (Penguin) is an original novel based on the bestselling game of the same name. It promises all the fast-paced action that has made the game so popular…

Special Forces operators are renowned for their highly specialized training and courage behind enemy lines. But there’s a group that’s even more stealthy and deadly. It’s composed of the most feared operators on the face of the earth – the soldiers of Ghost Recon.

When a CIA agent operating in Colombia is kidnapped, the Ghosts battle their way through rebels to rescue the man. But during the operation, they discover evidence of a new terrorist group that’s being backed by South American drug cartels and rebel groups.

The Ghosts follow a trail that leads them around the world in a struggle to uncover the group’s true purpose, one that could mean billions to the South Americans, aid terrorists seeking to wreak havoc on US soil, and cause economic chaos all over the world.

But as the team chases down their quarry, they soon realize that their true foes have yet to reveal themselves . . .

Perhaps this book might be a good way to encourage that reluctant male reader in your life to put down the controller and pick up a book? You can find out more here.

Next is another title from Tom Clancy, written in conjunction Mark Greaney. Threat Vector (Penguin) is a hard-hitting, hardcover novel that’ll keep any Clancy fan thoroughly entertained…

threat vectorJack Ryan has only just moved back into  the Oval Office when he is faced with a new international threat. An aborted  coup in the People’s Republic of China has left President Wei Zhen Lin  with no choice but to agree with the expansionist policies of General Su Ke  Quiang. They have declared the South China Sea a protectorate and are planning  an invasion of Taiwan. 

The  Ryan administration is determined to thwart these Chinese ambitions, but the  stakes are dangerously high as hundreds of Chinese anti-ship missiles thwart the  US Navy’s plans to protect the island. Meanwhile, Chinese cyber warfare experts  have launched a devastating attack on American infrastructure. It’s a new combat  arena, but it’s every bit as deadly as any that has gone before.  

Jack Ryan, Jr. and his colleagues at the Campus may be  just the wild card that his father needs to stack the deck. There’s just one  problem: someone knows about the off-the-books intelligence agency and may be  ready to blow their cover sky high.

And if hardcover books aren’t your thing, it’s being released in paperback in September this year. Find out more here.

If you’re after something a little more lady-like, how about The Forbidden Queen, by Anne O’Brien (Harlequin). I read the first couple of chapters of this book, but got called away (more’s the pity, I was really enjoying it) and even in that short read, I could tell that this story promised to be an absolutely luxurious period-piece full of romance, betrayal and royal intrigue…

forbidden queen1415: The jewel in the French crown, Katherine de Valois, is waiting under lock and key for King Henry V. While he’s been slaughtering her kinsmen in Agincourt, Katherine has been praying for marriage to save her from her misery. But the brutal King is one of war. It is her crown he wants not her innocent love.

For Katherine, a pawn in a ruthless political game, England is a lion’s den of greed, avarice and mistrust. And when the magnificent King leaves her widowed at twenty-one she is a prize ripe for the taking. Her heart is on her sleeve, her young son the future monarch, and her hand in marriage worth a kingdom.

This is a deadly game; one the Dowager Queen must learn fast. The players — Duke of Gloucester, Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor — are circling. Who will have her? Who will stop her? Who will ruin her?

This title, and many more stories from Anne O’Brien are available here.

Next is something a little more modern. I’ve had Too Hot To Handle by Victoria Dahl (Harlequin) on the Reading Pile for a few months, and although it’d be fun to go along for this romantic ride, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet…

too hot to handleMerry Kade has always been the good girl. The best friend. The one who patiently waits for the guy to notice her. Well, no more. Merry has just scored her dream job, and it’s time for her life to change. As the new curator of a museum in Wyoming, she’ll supervise some — okay, a lot of — restoration work. Luckily she’s found the perfect contractor for the job, and even better, he lives right next door.

Shane Harcourt can’t believe that someone wants to turn a beat-up ghost town into a museum attraction. After all, the last thing he needs is the site of his dream ranch turning into a tourist trap. He’ll work on the project, if only to hasten its failure…until the beautiful, quirky woman in charge starts to change his mind.

For the first time ever, Merry has a gorgeous stud hot on her heels. But can she trust this strong, silent man — even if he is a force of nature in bed? When Shane’s ulterior motives come out, he’ll need to prove to Merry that a love like theirs may be too hot to handle…but it’s impossible to resist!

A perfect will-she-won’t-she story, I’ll just have to keep wondering whether Merry will give into that hot stud ‘on her heels’! You can find out more about Victoria’s latest title here.

Finally, I’ve one more Harlequin Teen title that I’d like to mention. I’m still hoping to read and review this book properly, as it only came out in June, but in case I don’t get to I’ll mention it now. The book is Dare You To, by Katie McGarry and it promises to be steamy, secretive and pretty dramatic…

dare you toIf anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail. And who knows where they’d send seventeen-year-old Beth. So she protects her mum at all costs — until the day her uncle swoops in, and Beth finds herself starting over at a school where no one understands her. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her…but does

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular jock with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him! But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction.

Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image is risking everything for the girl he loves. And the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…

I’m sure that you’d agree that there’s no shortage of romance in the air with these four titles. I hope that something here tickles your fancy, but if not, never fear, I’ll have a catch-up full of adult fiction next Saturday.

I reviewed Katie’s Pushing the Limits last year (you can read the review here) and really enjoyed it, it was a great mystery and really multifaceted. I’m looking forward to taking a look at her most recent novel, but in the meantime you can find out more about it here.

Five new titles, five books closer to caught up! Anything tickle your fancy?

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Phew! The Look of Love

On my journey to read differently, I’ve experienced all kinds of stories – adventures and suspense, drama and biography, chick lit of all shapes and forms – and out of all of these genres, it’s romance that continues to surprise me.

I like a good love story as much as the next girl, but until TBYL I’d never read a ‘romance novel’ as such, especially the type that feel like a one night stand, lusty, exaggerated and alway happy ending.

lookofloveThe Look of Love by Belle Andre (Harlequin) is one such book. It’s the first of Belle’s books that I’ve read, although I’ve it on good authority that her Sullivan’s series are staples of the romance genre, and the Sullivan famiy are super stars of the digital publishing revolution.

This instalment, the first in printed format, focuses on Chase Sullivan (what a name!) a talented and handsome photographer. After a chapter of introductions, bringing the reader up to speed as to where the rest of the Sullivan clan are at, we join Chase on a bitterly cold, stormy night on the road. Travelling to his brother’s boutique winery for a fashion shoot (of course) Chase comes across Chloe Peterson, forlorn, drenched, battered and bruised, her wrecked car useless in a ditch by the side of the road.

As you might expect, Chase rescues Chloe, and after only a moderate degree of resistance, their hot tryst begins.

This steamy tale, taking place in luxurious bedrooms, inviting spas and spring grapevines will have your heart beating a faster, and I’m sure it’ll make you a little breathless. Sure, it’s formulaic and a little bit predictable, but it’s saucy, and hot as hell. If you’re a fan of romance literature, this will be just your thing.

“Chase took her hand, hurried up the front steps and kicked open the front door, not stopping in the living room even though it meant waiting another few seconds for the pleasure he’d been craving. He wanted her in a bed, the way he’d been picturing her for forty-eight straight hours, naked and flushed with desire – and pleasure – for him.”

Phew!

As you know, I’m always interested in the process of writing, almost as much as the story itself, in particular when an author is as prolific as Belle Andre is. I was fortunate enough to find out a little more about how she puts her steamy stories together…

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What made you decide to pursue writing as a career?
I’ve been a huge romance reader all my life, devouring a book-a-day whenever I can. I was a professional musician for ten years (I played guitar and piano and also sang and wrote songs) until one day two fictional characters started having a conversation in my head. I wrote it down and then the next day when their conversation continued, I wrote that down, too! Before I knew it, I’d written my first romance. Two years later, I realized I needed to decide between playing/writing music and writing romance. It was an easy choice to pick books and every day I give thanks for having the most fantastic job in the world.


Your success in self-publishing has been extraordinary. Could you tell us a bit about your publishing journey and how you ended up pursuing self-publishing?
Thank you! It’s been a very exciting journey. When I first began to self-publish in the middle of 2010, ebooks and digital readers were still fairly new. I was excited about the opportunity to write the books my readers had been asking for – and as soon as I self-published my first book, I was stunned by how much fun the process was. I had always wanted to write a big series of connected books about a family, so I decided in the summer of 2011 to launch my Sullivan series with 8 books about the San Francisco based family, The response from contemporary romance readers for these sexy, emotional stories blew my mind.

Once my Sullivan series took off in a huge way and sold more than a million copies as self-published ebooks – because of my awesome fans around the world! – I was thrilled to have the chance to work with Harlequin on the print launch of the Sullivans, starting with THE LOOK OF LOVE, FROM THIS MOMENT ON and CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE this summer.


Have you got a favourite place or time of day to write?
I can – and do – write at any time of day or night, and I will write absolutely anywhere, as well. When the weather is good, I write outside. If it’s cold outside, I’ll curl up on the couch with my laptop. I write in airports and on planes and in the car while waiting for my kids to finish soccer and ballet practice.

I listen to music when I write and all I need to get into the zone is to pop in my ear buds. Within seconds, I can usually be right back in the thick of the emotions of my characters.


Can you tell us a little about your writing process, are you a plotter or a let the characters take the story where they will author?
I’ve always thought of my self as a writer who let the characters take me where they want to go! But then, by the time I get to the end of each book, I realize I’ve written a 50-100 page outline along the way. So I guess that means I’m a hybrid of both styles – I outline as ideas come to me, but I’m always open to my characters and scenes changing direction when they need to. I write between 10 to 25 pages a day in a fairly quick first draft and then I revise each book at least a half-dozen times before publication.

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If you’d like to find out more about The Look of Love by Belle Andres, you can visit the Harlequin website here…

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Pen pals: I’ll Be Seeing You

I didn’t know that I was giving TBYL Reviewer Kate Barber such a uniquely constructed book when I handed over I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan (Harlequin) but by all accounts this novel is something new – both in its subject matter and in how it was put together – and it certainly seems to have won Kate over…

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It’s January 1943 and the war is in full swing… normally a book that started that way would have sent me running, but from the first page of I’ll Be Seeing You I was completely hooked, so much so that I had it finished it in two sittings!

I'll be seeing youSuzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan share with us the story of two women, complete strangers, living on opposite sides of America, who, by a twist of fate begin to correspond with one another through letters. In the beginning, the only thing they have in common is that their loved ones are fighting in the war.

Rita Vincenzo – the ‘Garden Witch’ – lives in Iowa and has been married for 21 years to Sal, a professor. She has a wicked sense of humour, a love of gardening and abundant generosity. Both her 18 year old son and husband have gone to fight in the war. In contrast, on the other side of the country, in Massachusetts, lives high-society Gloria, aged 23, 7 months pregnant and mother to a 2 year old boy. With her husband also at war, she is bored and lonely. To ‘pass the time’ Gloria attends a ladies group on Wednesday afternoons in which, on one occasion, they are  asked to choose a name of a stranger out of a hat to correspond with if they began to ‘feel lonely or desperate’.

Over the next three years the two women regularly write, forging a true and beautiful friendship. Fighting their own separate battles of loneliness, temptation and desperation, their humour , honesty and in the end, deep affection for one another helps them get through the toughest time in both their lives. They share gossip, recipes, remedies for ailments, gardening tips and their histories, passions, fears and worries in the time of war.

Their journey sees them both facing incredible hardships and loneliness but through their bond and a bit of ‘girl power’, their friendship grows and is unwavering.

This book is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the two authors themselves have never met. Suzanne was blogging and connecting with other writers (no ladies group on a Wednesday here) and came across Loretta. They started writing to each other, a friendship was forged, a year later they talked on the phone. By writing emails back and forth to each other the book was formed. The method of of construction of course mirrored the story of Rita and Gloria, as their friendship grew despite never having met.

I have to say, I loved this book. It is beautifully written and outlines two very different characters and different styles of writing. The humour and honesty is lovely, the characters engaging. Get this book, make yourself a cuppa and nestle into your favourite reading chair…

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You can find out more about I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan here…

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Victorian raunch: Tangled Reins

This week TBYL Reviewer Carolyn Jones has been enjoying a bit of raunch in high society, with Tangled Reins, by Stephanie Laurens (Harlequin)…

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I love a bit a raunch in the books I read. I also love Victorian Literature so when I picked up Tangled Reins by Stephanie Laurens, I was more than a little bit excited  – I was pretty sure this book would deliver both. However, to my surprise, I found that there was much more to this story than ripped bodices and beautifully spoken English, and I was very happy to sit back and let Stephanie Laurens take the reins and lead me on a journey through high society of Regency England.

Tangled ReinsMiss Dorothea Darent had no intention of ever getting married – until a dashing stranger with hazel eyes kissed her under a blackberry tree.

Haunted by their kiss, the Marquis of Hazelmere – a notorious scoundrel – was determined to win Dorothea’s heart while she dazzled London socialites. Amidst shocked whispers, he swept Dorothea into her first waltz and sparked the jealous plots of lesser suitors.

Now Dorothea had a choice to make: stick with her plan to stay a respectable spinster, or run into the arms of her dashing stranger…

Nineteenth century England was a time of excess for the aristocracy.  Ruled by the Prince Regent (the future George IV) the young upper class society wiled away the season in high fashion, attending extravagant balls all while trying to attract their most suitable match to prepare them for the rest of their lives.

Tangled Reins is a romance novel and as you might expect, when we meet the two main characters their instant attraction can be felt immediately. The female lead Dorothea, an independent heiress who has reached the ripe old age of 22, is considered to be too old to find a husband (a fact which she doesn’t seem to mind too much).  From the beginning of the novel we understand that Dorothea is an intelligent woman and is perfectly happy in her spinsterhood.  That is until she is literally swept into a blackberry bush and into the seductive arms of the Marquis de Hazelmere.

“Horrified, she felt a sudden warmth rush through her, followed by an almost overwhelming urge to lean into that embrace, clearly poised to become even more passionate if she succumbed. No country admirer had dared kiss her like this!”

regencyInterestingly this novel lacks a strong male competitor for Dorothea’s affection, a character that we would find in most romance literature.  Instead the author drives the romance forward by painting a picture of the mystery and intrigue of why Dorothea and Hazelmere cannot be together.  While I was reading, I kept wondering why they were holding back and then, had to remind myself that although Stephanie Laurens romance is racier than traditional Victorian literature, her story is still set about 200 years ago when single folk had rules to follow in order to maintain their reputation.  The mere idea of pre-marital sex would cause scandal and alarm for readers of the period. For us though, reading about such scandalous behaviour actually happening in Regency England adds a little bit of spice to the novel.

“His response was all she could have wished.  Turning her slightly, Hazelmere swiftly bent his head to drop the most delicate of kisses on her lips.  As he raised his head her eyes opened wide. For one long moment they remained perfectly still, the hazel and green gazes fusing in the moonlight…With infinite care he started her sensual education, his caresses deepening in imperceptible degrees so that her sense were never overwhelmed, but taught, step by steady step, to savour the exquisite delight he created.  His control was absolute and Dorothea, enfolded in his care, for the first time in her life, willingly let go of the reins.”

Stephanie Laurens is a modern day author who has chosen to become an historical romantic novelist.  In her story, Regent England has become Stephanie’s third main character to great effect.  If I could travel back in time, this is where I would program the time machine to take me.  Of course I would need to have the money and status to attend some of these spectacular parties. I would love the elaborate gowns and I’m sure that from all the period dramas I have read and seen on the television I would speak as eloquently as the English – I’d fit in quite well!  The parties, the rides in the park and the fashions are so wonderful to read about that it’s easy to lose oneself in the frivolous ways of the rich. Reading Tangled Reins I was imagining a life of endless money, parties to attend, dreaming to be as attractive as Dorothea. I’d like to think how great I could be if only I could get the time machine working!

Dorothea, our heroine is a very likeable character.  From the outset she claims the only reason she would change her present state would be love… she is content without a ring on her finger.  She is a very strong woman and can master her composure with ease.  She plays hard to get because she wants to be sure that her suitor’s feelings are real. She is independent both in persona and financial status and so is in the fortunate position where she doesn’t have to find a husband to maintain her standard of living.  These attributes only add to her likeability, she’s a character who proves that you don’t need a man to be happy.

Stephanie’s other main character, Hazelmere, is also very agreeable.  The author tells the story through his eyes at times, an unusual choice for a romance novel such as this, especially one set in Victorian England where the male protagonists are typically dark and mysterious.

The attraction between Hazelmere and Dorothea is intense and Laurens illustrates this by describing their eyes; Dorothea’s oversized green eyes and the Marquis’ twinkling hazel set.  I’d have to say that this is one of the areas that could have been improved on – it seemed that both characters’ physical attributes paled in comparison to their orbs.  There are only so may ways in which a writer can describe two people looking at each other and Laurens captures this over and over again and in the same way, perhaps a few too many times!

Tangled Reins is a very easy read, light and romantic, and laden with sexual innuendos.  Rest assured, there are more explicit scenes than other novels written in the time that this book was set, making it more relevant for the modern day reader whilst still capturing the period nicely. The love-struck couple are very well matched both intellectually and physically and so the reader embarks on a time in history where romance is made all the more exciting when one has to compete with other suitors, handle abduction scares and deal with gossip about the sizzling chemistry between the two main characters.  Stephanie Laurens has written several novels set in this time and I think she has done her research well.  I don’t think I will race back to read all of her books, however, if I was on holiday and one of her books came my way, I wouldn’t pass it up.  If historical romances are your favourite genre then I think you will find Tangled Reins well worth a read.

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You can find out more about Tangled Reins, by Stephanie Laurens here…

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Tam loved it! Saving Grace

I think TBYL Reviewer Tam J might have liked Saving Grace, by Fiona McCallum (Harlequin) just a little bit…

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Well, I have to start by saying I loved this book!! I loved the characters, the friendships and the intrigue, the imagery of the beautiful countryside and of course, the touch of romance.

saving-graceWhen Emily Oliphant married John Stratten, she thought it was the beginning of an exciting new adventure — standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most eligible farmer in the district and pitching in to build a thriving agricultural business. Three years later, however, Emily sees her marriage for what it is — a loveless tie to a callous man.

When John’s cruelty reaches new heights, Emily is forced to move out, braving both her husband’s wrath and her mother’s glaring disapproval. With the encouragement of her new friend Barbara, Emily moves into an abandoned property and takes on the mammoth task of turning the unloved house into a home. In the process she discovers a new business venture, meets new friends and finds an inner strength she never knew she had.

Emily’s fragile confidence is soon tested, though, when the owners of the property make her a tempting offer. Will she risk everything and invest in the ramshackle house that has finally given her a sense of purpose? Or will Emily listen to the views of the community — and the voice of her mother — and go back to her life with John?

Emily is the leading lady in this beautiful book of great sadness and great courage. After discovering that she has made a terrible mistake marrying John Stratten she endures the abuse for three long years, until one day she can bear no more and raises the courage to finally stand on her own and leave him.

Emily adopts a dog of her own, Grace, who becomes her greatest companion. Grace was Emily’s attempt at comfort, in the hope of helping her cope with the cruelty of John and the long hours that she was forced to spend alone in the house while her husband worked on the land (which he forbid Emily from helping with) or while he drank at the pub and did God knows what else.

It’s through Grace that Emily comes to meet Barbara, a woman who has married a local but who was originally from out of town. Barbara is looking for friendship just as much as Emily, and as such, develop a fast friendship. It’s wonderful to watch the bond between them grow, and see just how must they help each other through life’s challenges.

This novel is very relatable and the pictures that Fiona McCallum paints with her words are just stunning. I felt as though I was living right alongside Emily in the old abandoned house which she moves into and does up. I was right alongside her as she picked apricots for her jam, I felt like I was alongside her as she spent dinners with her cold and disapproving mother, and I felt her grief as she mourned her Gran, a much-loved Grandmother who passes away at the beginning of the story.

This was a book I found difficult to put down and as it become obvious toward the end of the novel that this story was far from over, I became even more immersed. As the book draws to a close, Emily is only just starting to develop a new relationship with the handsome Jake from Melbourne, her jam is starting to sell at the markets and perhaps the most intriguing story left unfinished – what is left to find out about Gran and Prince Ali and what happened to the gift of “seven of Golconda’s finest”. Will Emily accept the offer to own the property she has moved into? Will she make her dreams of a B&B come true? Will she see Jake again? And will she solve Gran’s mystery?

I can barely wait for the conclusion of this story as I have been left feeling like Emily was a dear friend and want to see what her next moves will be! Hoping that the sequel to this story is not too long a wait!!

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So I guess if the next instalment comes my way, I’d better send it on to Tam, don’t you think?

If you’d like to find out more about Saving Grace, by Fiona McCallum you can do so here…

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Fifteen Realms: Scent of Magic

Today’s review is from TBYL Reviewer, Kathy P. She’s been visiting the Fifteen Realms…

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At my age, I don’t read a lot of books aimed at the teen market.  After my most recent read, Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder (Harlequin) this is something I’d like to change.

Scent of MagicScent of Magic is the second book in a trilogy.  It follows two main characters – Avry of Kazan, a healer with magical healing powers who is thought to have died, and her boyfriend (for want of a better term) Kerrick, a Prince who has yet to accept his father’s legacy as King of Alga but has forest magic.

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists.

Despite her need to prevent the megalomaniacal King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. 

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to oppose King Tohon. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and stopping Tohon’s most horrible creations; and army of the walking dead – human and amimal alike.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible… again.”

The world of the Fifteen Realms is well laid out.  It is complicated but well explained.  Maria V. Snyder has thought about distance and travelling time, as well as the layout of the landscape.

The use of magic is very interesting.  People who have magical ability develop the ability close to puberty, but it is an intensification of the world around them.  Healers heal by removing the injury or disease from the patient and drawing it into themselves.  This leaves the Healer with the scars of the injury or illness and the recipient of magic without mark.  The Healers heal much faster than ordinary people, but still it is fascinating to see how Snyder has given the use of magic unique consequences.

The characters are very complex and their relationships are even more complex.  As this is the second book in the series and because I have not read the first book, Touch of Power, I found the complexity of the relationships and characters a little difficult to catch up on, and as a result I had a little trouble getting into the story in the beginning.  There was no short explanation as to what has come before this book – it started at the next moment after conclusion of Touch of Power.  Some explanation of the intricacies of the story were  provided later in the book but to begin with I found myself looking for a bit more information, and unfortunately even at the end I was left wondering how some characters really fitted in. I think this would have been different had I read the first book.

In saying that – what a read!  An edge-of-seat ending and I absolutely did not want to leave the book alone to do anything else while I was reading. It well and truly delivered.  I’d like to back track a little and read the first book to fill in a few gaps, but I also can’t wait for the sequel to be released.

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You can find out more about Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder here…

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More Blood: The Eternity Cure

Last year, I read the first instalment in the ‘Blood of Eden’ series by Julie Kagawa. Full of blood-thirsty vampires, zombie-like rabids and surprisingly resilient humans, The Immortal Rules was exciting to the last (you can read my review here) and I was very much looking forward to the next instalment.

The eternity cureThis month, it arrived, and as I dived head first into the action of The Eternity Cure (Harlequin) I was greeted by starving vampires, territorial mole men and a new, horrifying and bloody plague…

Allison Sekemoto has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from a psychotic vampire. But there’s a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago — and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike.

Allison thought that immortality was forever. But with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further as Allie faces another choice she could never have imagined having to make…

Allison is on a quest, katana in hand and a pillar of strength while all of those around her fall victim to violence and plague. The Eternity Cure is action-packed and full of unlikely allegiances…

“Why was Jackal here now? The last I’d seen of him, he had been shoved out of a thirty-story window – after, I remembered quite clearly, he’d jammed a wooden stake into my stomach. I didn’t have fond memories of the raider king, and I knew Jackal wasn’t terribly happy with me either. 

Then the implication hit me like a brick in the chest, and I stared at him in horror. Kanin was our sire, having Turned the both of us. The raider king was my “blood brother” and blood called to blood. No wonder there had been two pulls. If Jackal was here, then he was the presence I’d been following. Not Kanin. Not Sarren. I’d chosen to track the wrong lead.”

This volatile partnership keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, wondering if it is in any way workable… surely it’s only a matter of time before Jackal and Allie turn their weapons on each other?

This novel is a fantastic follow up to The Immortal Rules, with just the right amount of narrative, horror, action and romance…

“He froze for a second, before his arms came up to pull me closer. I leaned into him, feeling the Hunger rise up, feeling his lips on mine, his hands sliding over my back. I let myself feel all these things, including the urge to drop my head to his neck and plunge my fangs into his throat. I could control it, I would control it. Because there was no way I was letting Zeke go now.”

I can’t wait for part three.

To find out a little more about what makes this series tick, I asked a few questions of the author Julie Kagawa…

This latest instalment in the Blood of Eden series kicks off at a cracking pace… was it fun to be able to immerse yourself again in Allie’s world?
Yes, and I actually liked writing this book a little more than The Immortal Rules, because Allie’s character has been established, and all the other major characters have been introduced.  I don’t need to spend time setting everything up, I can jump right into the story.

There’s a real horror element to this installment, the new plague is vicious and bloody. Do you like the idea of scaring your readers?
Scaring them, infuriating them, making them laugh, making them sob.  The worst feeling is reading a book and liking it okay, but that’s it.  It becomes forgettable, and I don’t want my books to become forgettable.  I want readers to be terrified, horrified, hysterical and grief stricken.  If a book can bring out such intense emotion, then I’ve done my job as an author.

 Julie 3Allison is an absolute pillar of strength, seemingly unbeatable but still maintaining some of her human vulnerabilities. What do you like most about her character?
I love her extreme stubbornness, which can, at times, get her into trouble, but also becomes her saving grace, as well.  She is completely determined not to become a monster, and she clings to her humanity as tightly as she can.  She also possesses a “never back down” quality which, like her stubbornness, can get her into trouble, but she’s more than willing to fight for what she believes in and usually comes out on top.

You’ve assembled a fantastic cast in ‘The Eternity Cure’; rabids, vampires, humans, pets and mole men… do you have a favourite?
I have to say I like the vampires, because they are savage yet refined, civilized yet monstrous.  They’re not friendly; they’re predators and humans are their food source.  I’ve always enjoyed the darker aspects of vampires, and I wanted to bring back a little of the fear humans once had for the Children of the Night.

I have to ask… what’s next?
Well, the second book of the spin-off Iron Fey series, Call of the Forgotten: The Iron Traitor, is set to be released sometime in the fall, and after that, the third and final book of Allie’s story, The Forever Song.  Beyond that, anything is possible.

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If you’d like to find out more about The Eternity Cure, you can do so here…

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True Adventures: Red Carpet Burns

Today’s book had TBYL Reviewer, Tam Jenkin galavanting around Los Angeles. Red Carpet Burns by Georgia Cassimatis (Harlequin) is Georgia’s memoir, full of famous names and famous faces, complete with ups and downs and beautiful scoundrels. Here’s what Tam thought of the book…

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red carpet burnsRed Carpet Burns is the very busy memoir of Georgia Cassimatis’s seven years in Los Angeles. It’s packed full of stories, many that are fascinating, some that are infuriating and others that are simply mind boggling!

After meeting the gorgeous and charismatic Simon, Georgia Cassimatis swaps her fabulous life in Sydney for Los Angeles, risking it all for a chance at love. Georgia soon finds out, however, that Simon is not the man he seemed to be, and she has left her entire world behind for a loveless marriage with a man who is intent on making her miserable.

LA is a tough town – especially for a girl with no friends, no money and no job – but Georgia finds her way through the liars, fakes and cheats to become a successful celebrity journalist and soon realises she’s fallen in love again – this time with her new home town… LA.

Georgia begins this book by recounting every girl’s nightmare… thinking she had found ‘The One’ she gives up her life in Australia to move to a new country with him, only to find out that Prince Charming is in fact anything but! Much to her dismay, once she moves to Los Angeles to be with him, Simon quickly turns into an extremely mean and abusive man – the promises that he had made to her were very different from reality, leaving her heart-broken and a long way from home.

As it turns out, Georgia seems to have a lot of bad luck with men, always finding herself attracted to the wrong guy. Throughout her book, she actually paints a pretty bleak picture of the guys of Lis Angeles. Men that on the outside appear wonderful, with expensive cars, who are well groomed and have impressive jobs, but all of whom seem to end up so flaky and with far too much baggage. It’s fascinating to read her descriptions of how different the ‘dating’ scene is in LA compared to Australia.

Despite being ‘unlucky in love’, Georgia does have some very impressive stories to tell of the life she begins to live once she’s a little more settled in her new home. Although it takes her a long time to find work, when she does finds her feet, she meets a lot of famous stars and becomes deeply embroiled in a life of freelance interviews, parties and ‘background artists’ (otherwise known as Extras on movies).

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One aspect that I found the most interesting about Red Carpet Burns were the stories of the friends that she makes during her time in LA. Her ‘Angels’ as she calls them, were quite often fellow Aussies who had set up home in LA. They seemed to find a sense of comfort in each other, they became one another’s family.

Red Carpet Burns is a very well told story. There’s a lot of information and many short stories in this novel, but it is well put together and I found it very easy to follow. I found it quite a fascinating read, but also a frustrating read – I found myself wanting to just shake Georgia and warn her of the next bad decision she was about to make!

At the time of reading this book, I was personally researching a trip to America and found it fascinating to hear an insider’s view on all the glitz and glamour. She on one hand made it sound as though you would be sitting next to someone famous at every cafe you visited, but then on the other hand she also described some places rather bleakly. It did however, only feed my desire to visit the States as it really does sound like a world completely different to the one we reside in.

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You can find out more about Red Carpet Burns here…

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Five More Things

Monday again, and I’m tapping away like crazy, working on lots of reviews and interviews for the TBYL blog. Here’s an update on what’s going on and coming up for TBYL…

Firstly, you might have already noticed, but the TBYL Reading Pile is busting at the seams with exciting new titles. If you’ve not already, can I suggest that you take a look at the Reading Pile for some great reading ideas? I’d love to know what you like the look of… 

all that isSecondly, I’m reading in a few different directions this week – there’s just too much to choose from to just pick one book! I’ve got three titles on the go at the moment; All That Is, by James Salter, Shooting Star, by Clayton Zane and  Dark Matter, by Brett Adams. All I can say at this stage is that I wish there were (many) more hours in the day!

Thirdly, for this month’s TBYL Book Club we’re going to be talking about our favourite literary mums! You can find out more here, but essentially, it’ll give us a chance to think about our favourite bookish mothers and the books that our mums (and other lovely ladies) love the most. Plus, for something a little different, we’re going to be holding our club discussions on the Facebook page in May. To get involved, just join our Facebook community.

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And fourth, there are still a handful of tickets left for the TBYL Event The Next Step. As well as being a fantastic chance to chat with publishers and authors from Escape Publishing, the event will be held 22 May 2013 (7pm) at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne. Book your tickets now!

Rules of ConceptionFinally fifth, I wanted to make sure that you knew that there are two copies of Angela Lawrence’s The Rules of Conception from Harlequin up for grabs at the moment. It’s super quick to enter, you’ll find full details in this month’s edition of TBYL News: All Things Bookish… Don’t miss out, this is a really funny book on a fascinating topic.

So that’s a little of what’s going on with TBYL at the moment, so much fun, and lots of goodies coming up for all you lovely bookish people!

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Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Subscribe to TBYL News: All Things Bookish… out monthly!

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