Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton

UFI welcomes Tessa Gratton  Author of The United States of Asgard series. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview?
I love to box! It’s a great way to exercise and have fun – about two years ago I hung a heavy bag in the garage and go out to punch it when I need a break from writing.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time?
Besides reading and watching TV (and boxing of course)? I enjoy coffee shops and hanging with friends in our neighborhood pubs. My dog and I have great walks, and I’m a fan of soccer. Go Sporting KC!

What is your Favorite part of writing? 
That’s hard! I love so many things about it, and manage to find joy (or at least satisfaction in every part). If I had to pick a favorite, it would be writing the climax. I love the thrill of a plot and emotional arc coming together, even when it’s frustrating or there are surprises that ruin everything and I have to rethink and re-strategize, or even sometimes burn it all to the ground.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write?
I’ve worked hard to make sure I can write anywhere if I have to – in friends’ houses or my parents, in airplanes or coffee shops or crowded writing retreats. I prefer to be in my office at home, with big windows and my lovely prairie backyard, with some music that feels like the story I’m telling.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres?
To be honest I read more fantasy than anything. It’s my most beloved genre. But for UF and paranormal I love Anne Rice and Rachel Caine and Holly Black for their great vampires, and Brenna Yovanoff for creepy, atmospheric writing, and Maggie Stiefvater for amazing characters and doing fascinating things with the blurred lines between the magical and mundane.

How would you pitch The United Stated of Asgard Series to someone who has not heard of it before?
The US of Asgard is a United States much like our own, but it was founded by Vikings and their gods. You have high school and road trips, Congress and reality TV, but there are also Valkyrie advising the president and mountain trolls and gods making movies and interfering with professional sports.

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that The United Stated of Asgard Series is set in? 
I wrote it because I wanted to play with the similarities between American warrior culture and Viking and Anglo-Saxon epic poetry. So the world is focused on the ways that violence and religion intersects with how we grow up, and how teens have to choose who they are in a very complicated, very violent modern world.

Do you have a favorite scene in The Strange Maid?
I do! It’s a scene that existed in every draft (and there were about 13 of them over the course of 5 years). It sometimes took place on the deck of a ship, sometimes in a Gulf casino, almost always on a cold northern beach surrounded by ancient standing stones in the shape of ships, and finally on the balcony of a run-down lighthouse. Only Signy and her friend Ned Unferth are in it, and all they do is talk. But it’s pretty complicated and mysterious and sexy.

Which character was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?
I have a love-hate relationship with Signy Valborn, the narrator. She is so intense and I needed to know her so well to write this hard book about passion and violence and heroism, that sometimes I just couldn’t take it. So although I love her so much as a character, my favorite to write was probably Unferth. He talks like an old man – a very old man – and in riddles and poetry. Plus he’s kind of obnoxious and tragic. A great combo.

How many books are planned for The United Stated of Asgard Series?
Three novels – the third comes out next summer, and I can’t tell you the title quite yet. I’m also going to put out a few novellas in the next year about other important characters.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?
You probably know I can only talk about this in vague, secretive ways! I’m working on selling my next books now, and can tell you everything I write is fantasy of some kind, probably YA, too. I love YA fantasy! All my current projects are stand-alone novels, too, though in a few years I’m going to focus on a Giant Fat Epic Fantasy Trilogy just to see if I can!
Thanks for having me!

TESSA GRATTON has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. She was too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in gender studies, and then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog.

Find Tessa and her books

The Strange Maid
The United States of Asgard #2
 Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.
US/Canada Only

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Witchlight by Sonya Clark

Author:Sonya Clark
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Magic Born Book #2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: NetGalley

In 2066, the Magic Born are segregated in urban reservations. The laws do not protect them, or their allies.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Marsden is a powerful player in New Corinth politics, but a closely guarded secret could destroy her life—she's a hidden Magic Born. Her family has gone to great lengths to erase all her magic-related records, until a trancehacking outlaw discovers the last remaining one…

Vadim Bazarov smuggles Magic Borns through the underground railroad and threatens to reveal Elizabeth's secret unless she helps him access blank ID cards. Elizabeth wants to hate him for having a stranglehold on her life, but can't help being attracted to someone so sure of who and what he is.

Vadim initially sees her as a political ice queen, but is intrigued by her suppressed magical abilities. He trains Elizabeth to use her magic, and before long finds himself falling for her. But their newfound love may be shortlived; an anti-magic ordinance forces one of them to make a choice that will change both their lives for good.

Vadim played a pretty big roll in TRANCEHACK and we got to know him a bit more than other secondary characters so I was glad to see he was being featured in WITCHLIGHT. He comes off as a pretty big bad boy and even though he is one, we get to witness his softer sides throughout WITCHLIGHT. Elizabeth (Lizzy) is new to us but we quickly get a feel of her personality and struggles as a Councilwoman and Magic Born in hiding. She has a lot of struggles in book 2 of the Magic Born series. She has to put her trust in someone that knows her secrets, learn to control her out of control magic and make some tough choices along the way.

The relationship between the two starts off pretty hot, takes a turn to luke warm when Vadim blackmails Lizzy and gets right back in the hot zone as they work together and get to know each other. By the end of the book they are of course in love and both of their lives are changed forever (Lizzy has the biggest change though).

They make a few appearances but I wish we would have seen more of Nathan and Calla together in WITCHLIGHT. I always like to have previous characters more involved in each book where different couples are featured. I really didn't get a feel for who might be featured next but I have a few characters I would like to see featured. Either way I hope that Clark gives us a nice glimpse into how Nathan, Calla, Vadim and Elizabeth are doing as their story is told.

I also would love to see more world building. We have a feel for the world the characters live in but it feels like we should know so much more by now. Even with my small complaints the Magic Born series has lots of promise on its side and I will continue it into book 3.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

New Releases: 7/20-7/26

Tue July 22

 Dissonance (Dissonance #1) by Erica O'Rourke
 Extraction (Extraction #1) by Stephanie Diaz
 The Stolen by Bishop O'Connell
 Veiled Target (Veilers #1) by Robin Bielman

Happy Reading

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Dark Secrets by Madeline Pryce

Dark Secrets
Release Date: July 11, 2014
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Dark Book #2
ISBN:   141999137X
ISBN13: 9781419991370
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: Publisher

The worst moment of Micah’s life was when Ella nearly died in his arms. Her miraculous recovery should have been the start of their future. Unfortunately, a new demonic heritage, the Shadow Agency’s corruption and Julian, the vampire who turned Ella, are testing their relationship. Despite hotter-than-ever sex and a variety of new places and positions to explore, Micah begins to wonder if a relationship based on lust can survive for more than a few scorching-hot months.

Ella has forgiven, but not forgotten, the fact that Micah once plunged a dagger through her heart. Everything with Micah is passion, excitement and an uncontrollable desire to explore his body in a variety of very satisfying ways. But as buried secrets, ongoing lies and murderous deceptions pile up, Ella is reminded that she and Micah’s relationship was based on a curse. In order to forge a future together, Ella and Micah will have to face down their personal demons—and prove that love and trust are more than just words.
I fell in love with Pryce's world and characters in DARK CRAVINGS when it was originally published a few years ago under a different name. I was so happy when I saw that Madeline brought it back and continued the series and I was even happier when I found out that the series would continue with Micah and Ella's story.

The blurb does a really good job of giving the reader an idea of what goes on in DARK SECRETS. Ella and Micah's relationship has hit a bit of a bump in the road and they aren't sure where things stand at some points in the book. On top of that they have to deal with Ella being the Vampire Queen and also staying ahead of Micah's Dad's antics in trying to get Ella in more trouble before her upcoming trial.

Quite a bit happens but I got really mad at one point when something significant happened to Ella. I was about to throw the book at the wall but figured Madeline couldn't possibly let this happen for long and kept on reading. Thankfully things worked themselves out quickly and by the end of DARK SECRETS I felt like things were as it should be with not only Ella and Micah's relationship but with the track they were on going into book 3. 

Everything that I have read so far from Madeline Pryce has been really enjoyable and I look forward to not only continuing the Dark Series but also seeing what she comes up with next.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Series Reading Order
Dark Cravings (#1 Ella/Micah – 85k)
Dark Innocence (#1.5 Hannah – 45k)
Dark Secrets (#2 Ella/Micah – 85k)
Dark Vengeance (#2.5 Castro – 45k) – release date coming soon!
Dark Promises (#3 Ella/Micah) – Spring 2015

About Madeline Pryce
Madeline Pryce wrote her first novel when she was ten, penned with neon-pink ink in a loose-leaf binder. Captivated by romantic literature, yet intrigued by the paranormal, she continues to develop her own voice, writing the kinds of stories that inspired her as a teen.

Find Madeline and her books

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week in Review: 7/13-7/19

Books I've Bought/received

- Soulfire by Juliette Cross- eARC- Author

- Dangerous Calling by A.J. Larrieu - eARC- NetGalley

- Summer Moon by Jan DeLima- ARC- Publisher

Books I've Read

Stone Cold Lover by Christine Warren
Death's Awakening by Sarra Cannon
Tempting Fate by April White
The Winter People by Rebekah L. Purdy
Soulfire by Juliette Cross

Reviews Posted

Fire Rising by Donna Grant
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Black Rook by Kelly Meade


* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Wednesday- Guest Blog & Giveaway for Death Warmed Over by T. Michelle Nelson

* Friday- Interview for Tethered by Pippa Jay


* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Interview: Tethered by Pippa Jay

UFI welcomes Pippa Jay Author of Tethered. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview? 

I keep chickens, I had a huge crush on Luke Skywalker, and my current favorite vice is Lucozade Cherry.
What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

I do freestyle street dance to keep fit, I like to sew and often make cosplay outfits, I draw a little, read, listen to music, watch a lot of SF films and series, and mock up book covers. Weekends are family time, and we spend a lot of it at the beach, weather permitting.
What is your Favorite part of writing? 

World building. Nothing I like more than creating new worlds and settings, and throwing my characters into it.
Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write? 

Sit. Write. Repeat.
What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres? 

Elle Hill's Hunted series, stories by Chantal Halpin, and The Neon Court by Kate Griffin.
How would you pitch Tethered to someone who has not heard of it before? Think Orphan Black but set in the future—cloned assassins, ferocious feline warriors, and a sexy but scarred hero who has the heroine tied up in knots trying to figure him out.
Can you tell us a little bit about the world that is set in? 

It's the far future, and humanity has moved beyond Earth and diversified, as well as meeting other alien races. Tyree's people have human ancestry, but years of genetic alteration and cloning have given them abilities true humans don't have, and a scary reputation as assassins who cannot be evaded. Humans are at a pivotal point, negotiating a peace treaty with a ferocious feline race who don't much like anyone else, and someone seems determined to sabotage it and send the populated worlds into a war they are unlikely to win. Space travel, psychic powers and alien races abound, but you won't have to be afraid of long, scientific explanations for it all. Promise!
Do you have a favorite scene in Tethered

One of my favorites is when Tyree challenges Zander to a sparring match. It's a bit of an unfair fight as Tyree has advantages over a human male, but he surprises her and I think they both enjoyed it far more than they let on.
Which character was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about? 

I adored writing about Tyree, because she was very different to other characters I'd done. She's strong, confident, easily provoked, and yet in a way very naive and vulnerable, because she's not used to living around humans and she finds them generally confusing. Zander was harder because I didn't want to give too much away and yet convey some of the things that were going on in his head. It was tough to get the balance so that we are as confused about him as Tyree, and yet we can probably pick up some of the things about him that Tyree was completely blind to.
What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you? 

Releasing this year, I have a YA supernatural novella (Restless In Peaceville), a paranormal short set around Halloween releasing in October (title is a secret, shhh!), and a superhero story (When Dark Falls) set in an alternative 1920s that has yet to be given a release date. I'm also working on a bad angel story for the Christmas holiday season, a kind of futuristic urban fantasy (think angels appearing in Bladerunner, lol).

A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the SFR Brigade, a community of science fiction romance authors and publishing professionals committed to writing and promoting the very best in the genre.

Find Pippa and her books

Buy Link
She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man's grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war? 

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn't simply something she was trained for. It's the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she's about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless. 

For Zander D'joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way. 

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there's more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Fire Rising by Donna Grant

Fire Rising
Author:Donna Grant
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: St. Martins
Dark Kings Book #2
ISBN:  1250041376
ISBN13: 9781250041371
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: NetGalley

Tristan, the newest Dragon King, is having a tough time fitting in. Despite his ability to transform into a proud, strong dragon at will, no one knows where he came from or how he became a Dragon King, including himself. When trouble arises in the form of the mob, Tristan is going to have to put aside his questions and band with the other Dragon Kings to protect Dreagan. As if things weren’t complicated enough, he is about to find something worth fighting for more important than the Dragon Kings…

Sammie Miller, pub owner in Oban, has been scorned by her business partner—and former lover. Used as a front for money laundering with the mob, Sammie is in great danger once she realizes what has happened. Barely escaping, she plans to rest at Dreagan for only a day before going back on the run. When Tristan swears to protect her, Sammie thinks his efforts will be in vain—the mob is too powerful, and it will take more than the average man’s devotion to keep her safe. But the closer she gets to Tristan, and the more he learns his secrets, Sammie can’t deny that having a Dragon King who worships you, body and soul, isn’t such a bad thing…

Pub owner Sammie Miller finds herself running for her life when her business partner steals money from the mob and comes after them. Her partner never made it out of the bar before it was blown up. After some time on the run and nowhere else to go she finds herself visiting her sister Jane for some much needed rest. To try to keep Jane safe she keeps her troubles to herself and vows to get away from Dreagan as soon as she can. Tristan still can't remember his life as Duncan. He fits into his new life as a Dragon King and really doesn't want to remember his supposed past. As soon as he lays eyes on Sammie he is immediately protective of her and shortly after that he starts having flashes of his past life as Duncan. With all the emotions running through him all he wants to do is keep Sammie safe but she doesn't make it easy.

I have to admit that Sammie and Tristan were not my favorite couple so far but they still fit together nicely, their story was still fantastic and I like how they tie the Dragon Kings together with the Dark Warriors. It's nice to see most of the crew together in FIRE RISING. I could not imagine being in Tristan's position and I really felt like he handled everything as best he could. I am glad that he has a better understanding of who he is but the end and that he has Sammie by his side as he worked everything out.

On the romance side of things FIRE RISING was still hot hot hot. There is a normal amount of fighting feelings at times on both sides but both Sammie and Tristan know that they are falling fast for each other and sparks fly from pretty much the beginning.

I really like how the series is a continuous story conflict with their own plot lines drawn in. I have found that each story in the series is full of action and danger. I really love all the dragons and look forward to watching them each find their match as the series continues.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.