Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stacking the Shelves (#265)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, January 14th to Saturday, January 20th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:

A Scandal By Any Other Name  The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan


Thank you, Entangled and HarperCollins! Both were unsolicited but appreciated!


From NetGalley:



Thank you, Loveswept! I really liked Blood Guard and can't wait to start this one.


Reviews from this week:

  
(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)


Favorite Instagram post from this week:

A post shared by Alyssa (@theeaterofbooks) on


That was my week! I went to the gym four days this week (win!), and I feel great. Just tired, but a good kind of tired. I had a fairly good work week, so life is okay!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Robert


Welcome to the first look celebration for The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Robert! I'm a day late in posting this, but I wanted to share this juicy excerpt with you regardless. This is the final novel in the series, and it will be the best (I'm sure)!


About the Book:


The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Robert
Book Six of the O'Malleys series
Publisher: Forever Romance
Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Official Summary:

Married to the enemy

When Keira O'Malley was a child, she used to picture her perfect wedding. The flowers. The dress. Her husband. But nothing could have prepared her for saying "I do" to Dmitri Romanov-cold, domineering, and always one step ahead of everyone else in the ever-shifting power plays of New York City. She agreed to his bargain to secure peace for her family, and she may want the bastard more than she'd ever admit, but she'll be damned if she'll make this marriage easy for him.

Dmitri knows better than to underestimate Keira for one second. Molten desire smolders between them, a dangerous addiction neither can resist. But his enemies are already on the move, and he needs every ounce of his legendary focus and control to keep them alive. Keira could just be his secret weapon-if she doesn't bring him to his knees first.



Check out the series:

(Click on the image to go to Goodreads!)


About the Author:


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension." When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.



The Excerpt:

It wasn’t until the front door closed behind Ivan that the reality of her situation sank in. Dmitri was furious. He might have faked it for his friend, but he stood next to her, a pillar of stone with anger coming off him in waves. His grip on her elbow didn’t hurt, but if she’d tried to leave, he would have restrained her.

She should be afraid. She should be terrified.

Keira’s heartbeat picked up, adrenaline kicking in. She swung to face him with a fierce smile on her face. “You didn’t compliment me on my dress.” It was a work of fucking art. She smoothed her free hand over her hip and up her side. “Actually, you called me a high-class sex worker. Is that any way to speak to your beloved wife?”

His gray eyes followed the movement, a muscle ticking in his jaw when she cupped her breast. “I meant it when I said you’re playing with fire.”

That wasn’t just anger on his face now. No, it was rapidly being overtaken by sheer lust. An answering feeling sent a bolt straight to her core. She stepped back, and he released her instantly. A strange feeling coursed through her, straightening her spine and making her want to laugh out loud. Power. This is what power feels like.

He wanted her. He wanted her so badly, he had his hands clenched at his sides to keep from touching her again. But he wouldn’t until she gave the green light. Keira took another step back. “I have a hypothetical question.”

“Ask.” His voice was rough. The way he watched her made her feel like prey, and she liked it far more than she should—because she wasn’t prey. Keira had her own teeth and claws, and Dmitri would learn that as time went on.

“Hypothetical, if I said yes tonight…how do you imagine that would go?”

He stared at her a long moment. “Nyet. I’m not playing this game with you.” She blinked and he was on her, one hand snaking around to press against the exposed small of her back, the other tangling in her hair. “We are not children, moya koroleva. These games don’t become us.”

He kissed her. There was no cautious exploration or easing into it. Dmitri kissed her like a conquering warlord who was sure of his welcome because he owned everything in the room—including her. There was no fighting this. She didn’t even want to try. Keira slid her arms around his neck and pressed herself more firmly against him. His cock was a hard length with too many layers between them. She rolled her hips, an invitation she wasn’t sure she was ready to follow through on.

Dmitri slid his hand down to cup her ass, guiding her movements. Long slides up the length of his cock and back down again. The stupid goddamn dress kept her from spreading her legs wider, from getting him exactly where she needed him. Her nipples rubbed against his shirt, the silk incredibly decadent across her sensitized skin.

“Keira. Moya koroleva.” He kissed down her jawline, tilting her head back until she had to arch her spine to accommodate the position. “Did you enjoy their eyes on you? Ivan’s. The men who owe allegiance to me. Anyone who cared to look.”

It took her desire-drugged brain a beat to catch up, but by then he was already growling out more words against her skin. “Did it make you feel powerful to know they were imagining stroking the nipples you flash with such impunity?” He moved his hand from her ass to do exactly that, dragging a finger over her puckered nipple. “They wanted the body you so proudly put on display.” His voice roughened. “They wanted what’s mine.”

Say something. If you don’t say something right now, you’re going to give in tonight and then it will all be over.

He moved his hand to her back and bent her until she relied solely on his strength to keep her off the ground. And then Dmitri’s wicked, wicked mouth closed around her nipple. The weight of the beaded design seemed heavier with his tongue flicking the engorged bud, making his touch that much hotter. She couldn’t hold back a moan as he moved to her other breast.

Dmitri dragged his mouth up the center of her chest, the only part of her not caged in the dress, stopping at the thick collar. He flicked the hollow of her throat with his tongue. “This is my favorite part of the dress.” He ran his thumb over it. “This, more than anything else, marks you as mine.”

A collar for a kept pet.

It was as if he’d doused her in icy water. Keira went rigid and shoved Dmitri away. She almost fell when he released her, but she regained her balance at the last second. They stood mere feet apart, breathing hard and staring at each other. I am no one’s pet. She slashed her hand through the air. “I might be your wife, Russian, but I’m not yours. I’ll never be yours.”

Copyright © 2018 Katee Robert


The Giveaway: 

Enter to win a grand prize $25 Amazon Gift Card, plus 3 runner-ups will win an eBook from Katee’s backlist (winner’s choice)!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Swoon Thursday (#260): Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk!


Attia reached for his hand, and he took it immediately, wrapping his fingers around hers in a tight grasp. The simple touch wasn't so much a show of affection as it was an expression of solidarity, of mutual comfort. For the first time in months, she didn't feel so completely alone. Maybe, in spite of whatever else was forced upon her in this new life, whatever else might become of her, she could choose this one thing. Make this one single choice.

She raised her free hand to his cheek before passing her thumb lightly over his lips. Xanthus drew a shuddering breath. This time, when he reached for her, she didn't pull away. She let the heat of him warm her skin, and she smiled at the expression of wonder on his face. Closing her eyes, she leaned her forehead against his.

They barely moved, just a slight shifting of warm skin on skin. Then they lips touched, and everything beyond them disappeared.

Attia's head felt light, and then the tips of her fingers tingled. If Xanthus weren't holding her, she thought she might just float away, lost in the flood of so much feeling. Driven by instinct and need, she parted her lips to deepen the kiss.

Xanthus responded immediately, tightening his arms around her with almost crushing force. A part of Attia realized that this new thing was incredibly fragile. But as heat coursed through her body, she thought it was probably the first time in her life that she'd ever felt something so right. Nothing else mattered but this one touch, this one shared breath.

- eARC, pages 97-98



I loooooooovved this book! Xanthus and Attia are the sweetest and swooniest! I need Ash and Fire like yesterday.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday (#264): Sea Witch by Sarah Henning


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: July 31, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everyone knows what happens in the end.
A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss.
But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends.
One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch. 

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain. 

The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic villainess is a heart-wrenching story of friendship, betrayal, and a girl pushed beyond her limits—to become a monster.



This book is easily one of the few YA debut novels I can't wait to read. It sounds amazing and I absolutely love the cover! I got a review copy from Edelweiss but will definitely be adding a hardcover copy to my shelf in the future!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Promo and Giveaway: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Good morning, friends! Today I'm so excited to share a fun post about The Cruel Prince, Holly Black's latest masterpiece. I had the chance to read this book early thanks to Little, Brown/The Novl, and I loved it! Today you can win your own copy of the book, plus some other goodies, courtesy of the lovely folks at The Novl. Don't miss out!


About the Book:


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Book One of the Folk of the Air series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.




About the Author:


Holly Black is the bestselling author of contemporary fantasy novels, including Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale and the #1 New York Times bestselling Spiderwick series. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and the Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award. Holly lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.



Check out the tour:



Check out the body paint tutorial:



Favorite fantasy novels:

(If you like The Cruel Prince, you'll enjoy these! And vice versa... if you like any of these, you'll love The Cruel Prince!)

The Darkest Part of the Forest    
  Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress, #1)  


The Giveaway:

Look your most bewitching at the revel! One (1) winner receives:

Copy of The Cruel Prince
Acorn necklace
Twig of thorns ring

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by NOVL.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

***PREVIOUSLY I GAVE THIS BOOK A 4-STAR RATING. I have since revised my rating to 5 stars. I really enjoyed this book and hope you consider picking it up! ***


Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
Book One of an untitled series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 16, 2018
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

FORGED IN BATTLE...
FROM THE DUST OF THE ARENA...
A LEGEND WILL RISE

The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus...

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus...

What I Liked:

Oh my oh my oh my. Blood and Sand, what a debut. I have been eagerly awaiting this book for months, likely close to a year, and I was almost too excited to actually read it when I got a review copy. In the last few weeks, I've been in a terrible reading slump, the worst I've experienced in years. But I think Blood and Sand yanked down and pulled me out of the slump. It is easily a favorite of 2018 already, and I will definitely be rereading it in the future.

This is the fictional story of the rise of Spartacus. Traditionally, Spartacus is known to be a Thracian male warrior, but in this story, Spartacus begins with Attia, the Thracian princess and last of her people. She has been captured and sold to a rich Roman named Timeus, who has gifted her to his Champion of Rome, as a sign of favor. The Champion of Rome, Xanthas, is not what Attia expects; he isn't cruel or forceful, and he's a great deal younger despite his ten years as Champion. Attia should be fighting for every opportunity to escape, to run, to exact her revenge on the man that destroyed her people. But she finds that she cannot leave the Champion, who she finds out is just as much a slave as she is. This is the story of two warriors, brought together under bloody circumstances, but united under the same drive for vengeance.

One thing that was a delightful surprise was the fact that this book is told in dual narrative! There are two third-person POVs - Attia's, and Xanthas's. I adore dual POV and especially when the two characters are each other's love interests. This story is not Attia's; it's not Xanthas's. It's Attia's and Xanthas's.

The story starts with Attia being dragged in chains and sold to the highest bidder. From the start, I liked Attia. She is cold and hardened, undefeated even in chains and branded like livestock. She is a Maedi princess and warrior, and she lets her birthright and training stiffen her spine. She never breaks, she never gives up, and she never loses herself. I love how strong she is, even when she isn't in battle. (Which, let's be real, is like 5% of the book. She isn't fighting much in this one, which was fine by me, given how the story is set up.) And in battle, she is fierce and formidable. I really admire Attia, for her strength and willpower, her determination and her persistence. 

Xanthas, I liked just as much or even more. He is the Champion of Rome and has been for years. He has been a gladiator ever since he was a young boy, a slave under the rich man Timeus. He is unbeatable in any arena, against any opponent, or any number of opponents. But he hates how he must kill and how many he must kill. He carries the guilt and pain of every kill, which the author makes very clear, based on his words and actions after a match. He's young, likely around 19 or 20 years old, but he is old beyond his years. He is a good man with a kind heart, despite his warrior status. Not once is he cruel to Attia, or any person (even those he is set against to kill). I really respected and adored Xanthas. Did I mention that he's all sorts of swoony? I mean. Muscles, tall, scruffy facial hair, skills with swords and other weapons, sweet and silent and broody, considerate and thoughtful... he's my type of guy.

Yes, there is romance, and it's so sweet. Attia is given to Xanthas as his prize, so she's supposed to be his concubine or something of that nature. But he never makes her do anything and for that, she begins to trust and like him. They commiserate (they're both slaves who lost their people to Rome), and they're both warriors. The romance is slow-burn and so sweet, and I loved seeing it unfold. I didn't mind how quickly "love" was thrown around because I could see the passage of time even if it wasn't shown directly on the page. There were so many little tender moments (like forehead kisses!) and other more intense swoony moments, and honestly my heart was so invested and so here for it.

The romance is really subtle and barely there, so don't think that the story is entirely about the romance. Xanthas, being the Champion of Rome, is constantly in action, and there is a match coming that he can't wait for. He has been waiting his entire gladiator life for it, and he won't let anything get in his way. Attia is healing from terrible wounds she received in the beginning of the book, but that doesn't mean that she is sitting back, waiting for things to happen. No, she is constantly looking for information on the man that slaughtered her people. And looking for ways to get her revenge.

There are a lot of different parts of the story that change the landscape of the plot, but I won't talk about any of that because that would get into spoiler territory. I will say that the author does such an excellent job with the world-building and history. This is supposed to be loosely based on the story of Spartacus, and of course there are definitely some large inaccuracies present, but I really felt the history of the setting and the characters and the story in general, when reading the book. Based on what I know about ancient Rome, Pompeii, etc., of course.

I wanted to mention some of the secondary characters! I loved the other five gladiators who train with Xanthas. They are his blood-brothers and fellow warriors-in-arms, and they are hilarious. The six of them are a quite a bunch! I love their antics. I also love how, towards the end, the other five develop a sort of kinship with Attia. There was one scene when they were all standing behind her and I swear my face turned into the heart-eyes emoji.

For the record, there is nooooooo love triangle in this book. Or anything non-Xanthas/Attia. Just thought I'd mention that. The other five gladiators - and any other males - are not interested in Attia.

The ending of this book is bananas! On so many different levels! It picks up really quickly and all of a sudden there is an explosion of chaos. I can't even begin to tell you how frantic my brain was working to keep up with everything, because so many bombshells were being dropped. One event in particular is literally the only reason why this book isn't getting five stars from me at this time. Until I know more, that event is sinking this book's rating from me. BUT the ending is wide-open for book two (yes, there is a book two!), which is good! I'm very excited to see where Attia's story goes next, because Spartacus has only just been introduced into the story.

What I Did Not Like:

Okay that ONE event is the reason why I waffled with my rating. You'll see what I mean. You all know how I feel about these things. I'm hoping it won't stick, and I have a good feeling that it won't. Cross your fingers!

Would I Recommend It:


I highly recommend this book, regardless of if you're a historical fiction fan or not. This book is intense, action-packed, riveting, romantic, and jaw-dropping, in the end. I will say that there is some abuse and suicidal thoughts though not involving Attia or Xanthas (but a secondary character). So be aware of that. But this book is such a powerful one, with a feminist story that isn't loud and obnoxious and over-the-top.

Rating:

4.5 stars. I've decided to round up to 5 stars! Despite the really painful part of the ending, I loved this book so much and I have a good feeling about the next book. I am so so so excited about Fire and Ash and need that book in my hands now! Or yesterday! This debut is stunning and powerful, and I need more.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Review: Zero Hour by Megan Erickson


Zero Hour by Megan Erickson
Book One of the Wired & Dangerous series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Hacker extraordinaire Roarke Brennan lives each hour - each breath - to avenge his brother's murder. His first move: put together a team of the best coders he knows. They're all brilliant, specialized, and every one an epic pain in his ass. Only now Wren Lee wants in too, threatening to upset their delicate balance. The girl Roarke never allowed himself to want is all grown up with sexy confidence and a dark past ... and she's the wild card he can't control.

Roarke might still think she's a kid, but Wren's been to hell and back. Nothing and nobody can stop her - especially the tatted-up, cocky-as-all-hell hacker. But when years of longing and chemistry collide, Wren and Roarke discover that revenge may be a dish best served blazing hot.

What I Liked:

Megan Erickson has quickly become one of my favorite romance authors. I've been reading her books for years, and I can't say I've ever really been disappointed. She produces so many stories and at such great quality, and I am always looking for more. This new series of hers is a thrilling romantic suspense series, with a little more action and blood than her other books, but no less swoony and sexy in terms of the romance. I enjoyed Zero Hour and I am definitely looking forward to reading Darkest Night.

Roarke Brennan wants revenge for his little brother's murder, and he will stop at nothing to get it. So he rounds up a crew of fellow hackers, the best of the bunch: his best friend Erick, who he has known since childhood; Marisol, Jock, Dade Kelly... and Erick's little sister Wren, who pushes herself into the mission, against Roarke's wishes. He wants her safe, but he hasn't known her in ten years, and doesn't know what she is capable of. Wren has her own reasons for wanting to take down the man that had Flynn Brennan murdered, reasons that have nothing to do with Flynn or Roarke or the crew. She has been in love with Roarke for most of her life, but his protectiveness won't stop her from helping the crew. Roarke and Wren are bound to collide, as sparks fly and the stakes intensify.

No one writes a grumpy but lovable hero like Megan Erickson. I adored Roarke from page one and wanted to hug him throughout the book. He is stuck in pain and repressed grief, with a permanent scowl and bags under his eyes. He is a good guy with good intentions, but he is intent on getting revenge. He's a genius hacker and sometimes more robot than human, and sometimes he needs to be reminded of his feelings and emotions. I adore grumpy, protective heroes, and Roarke was not hard to love. He is respectful of boundaries and he doesn't try to control Wren, even though he doesn't want her on the mission.

Wren is a tough lady with a lot to lose and a lot to prove. She knows she is capable of helping the crew, which is why she doesn't back down even when Roarke tells her no. She has been through so much in the past, and she has her own reasons for wanting revenge. I love how open and direct Wren is - especially when it came to Roarke. She saw through his walls and armor and pushed him to communicate and help her understand what was going through his head. I thought it was great to see a heroine who wouldn't take the hero's BS, but also didn't run away or push him away indefinitely.

As a couple, Roarke and Wren really fit together. Roarke is a leader and a great hacker, stoic and aloof and cool. Wren is a risk-taker and she's direct and blunt. There are so many moments of bickering and tension between the pair, and I love some good back-and-forth banter! They had fierce chemistry too, both subtle and obvious. Things heated up between them quickly, though not from page one.

I liked the "best friend's little sister" trope in this book! Roarke had liked Wren since they were kids, and Wren had liked Roarke since then as well, but then Wren went off to college and ten years passed and only now are they seeing each other. There is a smidgen of the whole "forbidden" aspect of their relationship initially, because that's how they each thought of it, when they dreamed of being with the other in high school. BUT I liked that Erick wasn't the reason why they didn't get together in this present time. And when Roarke decided to talk to Erick about things, Erick didn't flip out. This trope actually worked for me!

This is a romantic suspense novel and I really enjoyed the action! Trying to take down the man - or men - that killed Roarke's younger brother comes with its obstacles, that's for sure. It's clear from the ending of the book that that plot isn't quite over, though certain things are resolved. This book is the first of a companion series, so catch Jock's book next!

Overall I am pleased with this book and will be reading Jock's book! I can't wait for his, because I loooove the strong silent types (and Jock is definitely both of those things).

What I Did Not Like:

Nothing really specific! I would have loved to meet Fiona (Wren's best friend) in this book, but that's okay. I also wouldn't have minded more steamy interactions from Roarke and Wren. *wink*

Would I Recommend It:

If you like romantic suspense, or any of Megan Erickson's previous novels, I highly recommend giving this book a chance! The "hacking" aspect of the book is really light (like, suuuuuper light in terms of terminology), but very important for the plot, but not overwhelming. There is no romance drama (thank you, Megan!), and the ending is fairly wrapped up though you'll be wanting to read book two to catch up with other characters. I know I want book two now!

Rating:

4 stars. Erickson hasn't disappointed me yet and I'm sure she won't! I hope book two will be just as good or even better. I trust her and I always know what I can expect from her books in terms of romance - very little unnecessary drama! My favorite.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!