Release Day Blitz: Rosemarked by Livia Blackburn

Hi Everyone!

This is Livia Blackburne, and I’m thrilled to share ROSEMARKED with you at long last. There are a lot of elements to this book, including a love story, a spy story, reflections on trauma and mortality, medical ethics, and political intrigue.  Perhaps because of this, my research for the book was equally eclectic, from archery and stick fighting lessons, to chats with memory researchers and soldiers, and lots and lots of reading, including books about leper colonies, hospice care, and PTSD. Hopefully, I wove it all into an entertaining and thought-provoking story!

This story centers on Zivah, a talented healer with an incurable illness, and Dineas, a traumatized soldier. The two couldn’t be more different, and I had a lot of fun writing their unlikely love story.  In order to work together, they both have to let go of their own prejudices and preconceptions. It’s a painful process, with fights and misunderstandings, anger, laughter and tears, but in the end, they both come out as stronger people.

To celebrate the ROSEMARKED release, I’m offering 3 lucky winners a ROSEMARKED swag pack, which includes a copy of ROSEMARKED and a signed bookplate! Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate. Best of luck, and happy reading!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/275761fc8/

The first in a duology, ROSEMARKED (Hyperion | On Sale November 7, 2017) by New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne follows a healer and a solider on a high-stakes mission to spy on the Empire to uncover a deadly secret. With sizzling chemistry and a heartrending ethical dilemma, this thrilling fantasy with nuanced characters will capture fans of An Ember in the Ashes and The Lumatere Chronicles.

A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

New York Times best-selling author LIVIA BLACKBURNE has a PhD in neuroscience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted research on the neural correlates of reading. She still blogs on the intersection of writing and brain science, and she now lives in Los Angeles with her family. Livia is also the author of Midnight Thief, an Indies Introduce New Voices selection, and its sequel, Daughter of Dusk.

ROSEMARKED by Livia Blackburne 

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Wattpad | Add it on Goodreads

Hardcover: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository
Ebook: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

Also by this author…

MIDNIGHT THIEF

New York Times Bestseller 2014
Indies Introduce New Voices Pick
2015 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee

Hardcover: Indiebound | Amazon Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
Ebook:  Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

DAUGHTER OF DUSK

Hardcover: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
Ebook: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Kobo

 

 

 

Book Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

Holy. Cow.

Let me start by saying, that I love time travel. However, time travel gives me a headache because it makes me think too much and ask too many questions. That being said, that only happened like three times over the course of these two books. This sequel is incredible. There’s always so much that’s going on but it never feels like too much. And at the same time, it’s at a pace where you can grasp how the mechanics of traveling work, without questioning it too much because you’re too invested in what’s going to happen next.

I was lucky enough to meet Alex Bracken (and Susan Dennard) on the WayWitch tour, and something that Alex said about how she constructs her characters really stuck out to me, “what about your world has caused you to be this way?” She does an excellent job of portraying that on the page, and for me, the biggest example of that is Nicholas. Not only in his motivations for independence and freedom from the Ironwoods, but in how Etta, and later Sophia and Julian, see him and how the recognize their privilege (the word privilege is actually used multiple times and it’s glorious).

I was so excited to get more of Sophia’s story in this book. Honestly, I loved her in the first one, even though she was always getting in the way. To me, it definitely always felt like there was more to her, and I am so so so glad that Bracken decided to expand on her character. And I’m even MORE glad that she explicitly says that she prefers women and always has. Nicholas’s response was also amazing. I love that they grudgingly come to rely on each other and even care about each other. Their journey and friendship is one of my favorite parts of the book.

In a book about time travel with ruthless people taking the idea of “the ends justify the means” a little too far, for me, this book was more about family. Every single character is on a journey that connects them with family, whether it is blood or found. But at the same time, it shows that family is messy and not perfect and sometimes you have to confront the fact that your parents can make mistakes.

I could talk about this book all day, honestly, I loved it a lot, 4.5 bards.

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

20983366

Release Date: January 3, 2017

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: February 2, 2016

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world–and each other–the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

Preorder this book: Starflight

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Book Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

*kicks self*

Why yes, I am kicking my own ass for not reading this sooner.  Sure, I chastised myself fairly well in my review of These Broken Stars (which you can check out by clicking on the title), but I just have to keep reminding myself that I made a huge mistake by putting these off (Gob Bluth agrees).

This Shattered World picks up roughly a year after These Broken Stars, to be more accurate I think it is around 8-9 months after based on a comment in the novel, and we are introduced to two new characters immediately.  Now, I knew going into this that Lilac and Tarver were not going to be involved in this narrative, which was a bit disappointing, but it didn’t really deter me much considering I legitimately put down These Broken Stars and immediately walked to my bookshelf to pull This Shattered World.

Spooner and Kaufman waste no time putting the reader into the hostile environment on Avon and both of the narrators are introduced in the first chapter.  I found it to be interesting that the first novel started with the male perspective, Tarver, and this installment started will Jubilee’s point of view.  Jubilee and Flynn share a large amount of the point of view switches, where in the first novel it seemed that Tarver’s narrative voice really dominated the story.  I found that I was really wishing for more from Lilac after finishing This Shattered World, because I realized how strong the female perspective was and how much I wanted from her in retrospect.

Jubilee isn’t necessarily the most likable character at first considering she prides herself on being emotionless, dreamless, and unable to be corrupted by Avon.  However, she is headstrong and determined and is supremely skilled, which makes her respectable before she is likable.  Flynn, on the other hand, was immediately relatable.  I saw Spooner at a book event once and she revealed that she and Kaufman would do the female and male point of views, respectively.  I love how different their narration was but how they came together as characters.

I like that the POV shifts still included the one page inserts from an outside source.  The first novel had interview questions between an unknown and Tarver, and this novel had the details of dreams.  I think that the stories tied together extremely well and I was very glad to see a few familiar faces toward the end of This Shattered World. 

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I swear that I need to have someone else come behind me and help me choose which books to read as soon as I get them and which ones to put aside until later.  I mistakenly left this novel (and it’s sequel) sitting on my shelf too long.

These Broken Stars is a lot of things rolled into one: it is science fiction, it is romance, it is kind-of dystopian, and it is just a bit magical.  I’ve read some reviews of this novel that says that it was originally hyped as a big science fiction novel by the publisher.  I’m here to tell you that I don’t remember it being hyped as that.  I remember that it was a romance set in space.  Sure, the romance is a HUGE aspect of the novel (and I loved it) but I don’t understand why some reviewers were taken aback by that.  Anyway, I really like that there isn’t a time period stated in the novel or really anything that dates the story.  This means that the narrative will be able to stand on it’s own without being dragged down by cultural references or anything like that.  I absolutely adore novels that can not be dated.  It is obviously futuristic but we don’t know if it is 5 years in the future or a 100,000 years in the future.

The story starts quickly and the action never stops.  I love Kaufman and Spooner’s use of the Journey trope in this novel because it applies not only to the physical journey that Lilac and Tarver take, but also their emotional journeys as individuals and their journey in relation to one another.  I also really enjoyed the rotating narration in These Broken Stars.  I saw Meagan Spooner at a book event not long ago and she mentioned that Kaufman will typically write the male narration and that she will write the female narration.  It works so well!  Lilac and Tarver have such individual voices, but they slowly begin to come together toward the end of the novel, just as they do emotionally.

Lilac became such a strong character over the course of the novel.  She was strong in her own right at the beginning, but she really became so much more relatable and realistic as she struggled to survive without complaint in the strange terrain of the unknown planet.  It is obvious from the beginning that there will be a romantic relationship developing between Tarver and Lilac, but I think that Kaufman and Spooner provided excellent backstories that caused many obstacles to their romance–on top of them being unlikely partners in survival.  Where Lilac became much stronger as a result of her friendship with Tarver, I really liked how she softened him.  He was so closed off through a good part of the novel, but I think that his focus on keeping Lilac alive really showed his true colors.  Two amazing characters.

I loved the concept of the whispers, and I won’t give away anything else about them. Their existence was very thought provoking.  I’ve said too much!S

I really enjoyed this novel and could not put it down. I’ve already started the second installment and I am so glad I finally picked these up.

If you haven’t read these books I highly recommend it.

BUY THIS BOOK

Amazon| Flyleaf Books| Barnes & Noble

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Book Review: Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

“Don’t believe anything they say.”

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her–and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn’t a kid anymore, and this time she won’t let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets–and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars–if Alice can find her first. And she isn’t the only one looking.

Release Date: March 3, 2015

The most I really know about post World War II hollywood can really be summed up in a few movie titles and one famous murder, The Black Dahlia. McCoy was definitely influenced by the Noir era heavily, and this novel has almost every aspect of a film noir.  McCoy’s novel actually mentions the Black Dahlia murder and references it as “a few years go,” which means that Dead to Me should be set somewhere in 1949 – 1950.

The man character, Alice, is the quintessential younger sister character that idolizes her talented, beautiful, and intelligent older sister for all that she does and everything that Alice believes she is capable of.  Much like Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, Annie has a bit of a wild streak and would be caught drinking and sneaking out during her teen year flashbacks in the narrative.  I really enjoyed that the novel was interspersed with flashbacks to Annie and Alice’s childhood and their friendship in their younger years, because it really juxtaposed how violently their later years are and the circumstances that bring them back together.

There is something to be said about the end of the 40s and the early 50s, and how glamorous it all seems from our point of view now.  The fashion was somewhat seductive but still conservative, the women coy, gentle, but sassy, and the men were supposed to be dashing, passionate, and respectful.  Dead to Me kind of breaks down a lot of those ideals.  All but one of the men are pretty nefarious characters that are self serving, womanizing, and untrustworthy.  I can argue that the one character that I exempted from that description is still somewhat dubious and the main character waffles a bit on weather or not to trust him.  Hollywood itself is described as a pretty trashy town during that time, and the description of the derelict Hollywoodland sign that McCoy gives really sets the tone.

grace kellyEven the women go against type in this book, with most of them still being sassy, but gentle is not a word that describes most of them.  I would argue that Alice is about the gentlest female in the novel, and the rest are pretty wrapped up in some dangerous activities.  I really enjoyed McCoy breaking down these ideals, because it just made the book more fun and believeable for me.  The fashion still sounded pretty fabulous, but it was just details given in passing, nothing too extravagant.

But, just for kicks, here’s a gorgeous picture of Grace Kelly.

There are some pretty overt references to rape in this novel, and I think that the secrecy surrounding the topic really mirror how some survivors feel when they try to tell the truth in today’s society as well.

 

I really enjoyed this, and I think you should pick up a copy!

4 Bards

fourbards

Book Review: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

This book was an unexpected pick up at Book Expo America this year, and I did major fangirl flailing when I got my hands on a copy of it, because The Naturals was one of my favorite reads from early 2014 (click on the title to see my review!).

It was absolutely wonderful to get back into the lives of the kids in the special FBI program, and it was a little bit harrowing as well (I wouldn’t have it any other way).  Cassie is still reeling from the betrayal of their previous FBI handler, when a new character is introduced and is going to be taking over the training and responsibility of these talented teens.  Now, when this happens, it irritated not only the characters, but also me as a reader.  Why? Well, she basically limits any of the cool story aspects for the characters to do in the first few chapters before the narrative really picks up.  While I do appreciate that she is determined that the kids need to finish high school, is there really any way that these characters WOULDN’T immediately get a job at the FBI once they are 18?  I mean they already have clearance, work experience, natural talent…. but anyway.

Once the story really gets going the novel is hard to put down.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was better than the first installment, but it is definitely close.  There is a large amount of suspense and misdirection that happens when the teens get too caught up in the case, and there is definitely some scary moments where some lives are held in the balance. I can’t imagine how painful this novel would have been had the narrator been Dean instead of Cassie, but again, he isn’t a character who would really provide a lot of clarity in narration, as he tends to be a little hard to crack.

The love triangle, of course, makes an appearance–but I honestly don’t know who I would want Cassie to choose between Dean and Mike.  They both have a lot of flaws and emotional baggage, not to mention Cassie’s own issues with what happened to her in the first novel and how she was raised.  I think this is one of the reasons I love these characters and their story so much, because they are flawed and realistic.  Also: that twist! (I can’t say anymore!)

4 Bards!

fourbards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: December 23, 2014

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

 

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