Review: The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

Title: The Empress [The Diabolic #2]
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
GoodReads

Synopsis:

It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

Review:

What the what did I just what? I don’t think any of you can comprehend how disappointed I was by this book. This isn’t simply second book syndrome, it’s more like why-did-you-force-this-into-a-series-cause-it-is-such-an-absolute-let-down, with a side of what-did-I-just-read kind of syndrome.

I loved The Diabolic. I felt like the first book wrapped up a little too easily in some areas, but the character development was good, the plot was interesting, and the story as a whole was like crack – I was addicted. I burned through The Diabolic twice with ease, and that shows that it’s not S.J. Kincaid, her writing, or her ability to write a good story.

The Empress though. Oof. The. Empress.

The best word to describe The Empress is political warfare. There’s scheming, false promises, betrayals, murder, and a lot of stupid decisions. Which, if you think about it, is interesting. In the first book, everyone is so calculating and careful, with the characters managing to overcome the biggest plot twists. However, in this one, we see how vulnerable people become when they fall in love. We see how this can lead to misplaced trust, broken hearts, and revenge plots.

I just made this book sound super interesting. I’m going to axe that right now and tell you that if you’re not interested in politics, this will be an impossible book for you to get through. Yes, it’s sci-fi, there’s some science and physics that are explained, some space travel, but there’s also internal dialogue that goes on for days, four months that just disappear from existence, and a lot of regular dialogue that just puts you right to sleep.

Now let’s talk about characters. Of the things Nemesis waffles over, being as human as possible isn’t really one of them. Despite what the synopsis says, she doesn’t really dwell on her choices for very long. She know who she wants dead and who she doesn’t and that’s that. Unfortunately, the insecurity of how to navigate through the system, as well as the license-to-kill attitude that she had in the last book really isn’t present in this one. That bothered me. She was almost a whole new person/character, and some of the things she didn’t just wasn’t consistent with what I thought she would do.

And Tyrus. Holy crumb cakes. I don’t know whether I want to hug him, slap him, or kill him. Tyrus’ character went in a direction I kind of didn’t expect from him, but I also saw it coming part way through this book. I can’t say I liked it.

Honestly, the most consistent character was Senator Pasus. Which depresses me a little.

This book had so much potential, but I honestly did not get what I wanted out of this book. The most infuriating thing is that the whole book bored me to death, in that it was slow moving, very political, dialogue heavy, and the characters made me want to rip my hair out, yet I want to read the next book. Know why? Cause the last chapter was everything, and I hate that it took the entire book for that last chapter to happen.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 4/5
Pacing: 2/5
Overall: 2/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.88

eARC obtained via Simon and Schuster Canada via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop

Title: She Regrets Nothing
Author: Andrea Dunlop
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
GoodReads

Synopsis:

In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth, the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.

Review:

I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed by a book. I have DNF’d books before, not because they were like this one, but because I knew I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy them. One day, I’ll get back to a lot of those books and I know they’ll be good.

This one though… Oh man. She Regrets Nothing made me regret requesting it on NetGalley. When I read the synopsis, I was getting a lot of Gossip Girl vibes, and yet I don’t think anyone in Gossip Girl was as entitled, selfish, and hypocritical as Laila. And that’s saying something, because the GG Upper East Side was fierce.

Laila is the perfect example of how wealth, or even aspiring to inherit wealth, can corrupt one’s character. While we begin the book sympathizing with Laila’s situation, that sympathy quickly dissipates as we see how she begins to treat people once she sees money.

There is gold digger and then there is Laila. She hopes to take New York by storm, and ride on the coattail of her rich and famous cousins. She gets into the good clubs, meets billionaires, and betrays basically everyone who is ever nice to her. Her cousins – Liberty, Nora, and Leo – take Laila under their wing. Nora and Leo let Laila live with them for free, Liberty gives Laila a job, and yet Laila remains the most ungrateful ingrate on earth. She continues to claw for more.

However, this is where the hypocrisy comes in – she faults the men that she meets for doing the exact same thing she is – trying to rise above their station and all that, and she looks down upon them from a high seat that no one ever gave her, and no one really thinks she deserves. Now this plot line goes on for about 80% of the book, and all I could do was sit there utterly exasperated by her. I stick by the rule of not quoting ARCs, but I’m fairly sure at least some of the quotes I have saved up are in the final version, and none of them make her look like a good person at all.

Then there’s the family scandal – no only is that plot line a stub as short as the TTC’s Sheppard line, but it’s not even acknowledged by the older people in the book until about 95% through the book. I was waiting for this huge revelation and I got nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Which leads me to the regret. I spent weeks trying to get through this book because I knew that I wasn’t turned off from it because of my mood, but because of Laila and her terrible character. In the end, I only liked Liberty and Reece, but at the same time, they were barely developed as characters and that drove me bonkers.

As a whole, I was left unimpressed by this book, not just for the terrible MC, but for the lack of plot, the poor execution, and the feeling of what-the-hell I was left with when I turned the last page. Definitely not a satisfying read for me.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
Writing: 2/5
World Building: 4/5
Pacing: 1/5
Overall: 1/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.65/5

eARC obtained via Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Books of 2017

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Alicia has completed her goal of 75 books.
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(B) – Bought // (L) – Library // (R) – Received from a Publisher/Author/Contest/NetGalley // (G) Gift // (F) Free

Bolded – Read // Not Bolded – To Read

January:
(B) Poison Study [Study #1] – Maria V. Snyder (5/5) *reread*
(B) Magic Study [Study #2] – Maria V. Snyder (4/5) *reread*
(B) Fire Study [Study #3] – Maria V. Snyder (4/5) *reread*
(B) Good Girl [Love Unexpectedly #2] – Lauren Layne (4/5)
(B) Crushed [Redemption #2] – Lauren Layne (5/5)
(B) Broken [Redemption #1] – Lauren Layne (4/5)
(B) Bossman – Vi Keeland (5/5)
(B) Cocky Bastard – Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland (3/5)

February:
(B) Opal [Lux #3] – Jennifer L. Armentrout (1/5)
(B) Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver (4/5)
(B) Long Way Home [Thunder Road #3] – Katie McGarry (5/5)

March:
(B) Forbidden Dance [Lover’s Dance #1] – Deanna Roy (4/5)
(B) A Court of Thorns and Roses [#1] – Sarah J. Maas (2/5)
(B) A Court of Mist and Fury [ACOTAR #2] – Sarah J. Maas (3/5)
(R) Groupie [Rock-Hard Beautiful #1] – C.M. Stunich (3/5)

April:
(B) Graceling [Graceling Realm #1] – Kristin Cashore (5/5) *reread*
(B) A Darker Shade of Magic [#1] – V.E. Schwab (5/5)
(B) A Gathering of Shadows [ADSOM #2] – V.E. Schwab (5/5)
(R) The Waterfall Traveler – S.J. Lem (4/5)
[Obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]

May:
(B) A Conjuring of Light [ADSOM #3] – V.E. Schwab (5/5)
(B) Court of Wings and Ruin [ACOTAR #3] – Sarah J. Maas (3.5/5)
(B) Shadow and Bone [Shadow and Bone #1] – Leigh Bardugo (4/5) *reread*
(R) Internet Famous – Danika Stone (4.5/5)
[Obtained via Xpresso Book Tours via NetGalley]
(B) Wintersong [Wintersong #1] – S. Jae-Jones (3/5)
(B) Playboy Pilot – Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward (4/5)

June:
(B) Five Ways to Fall [Ten Tiny Breaths #4] – K.A. Tucker
(B) Ten Tiny Breaths [Ten Tiny Breaths #1] – K.A. Tucker
(B) One Tiny Lie [Ten Tiny Breaths #2] – K.A. Tucker
(B) Four Seconds to Lose [Ten Tiny Breaths #3] – K.A. Tucker
(B) Gentleman’s Alliance [#1-7] – Arina Tanemura (4/5)
(B) The Tenderness of Thieves – Donna Freitas (1/5)
(B) Hunted – Meaghan Spooner (4/5)
(B) Magyk [Septimus Heap #1] – Angie Sage (4/5) *reread*
(B) The Red Queen [Red Queen #1] – Victoria Aveyard (3/5)
(B) The Wrong Side of Right – Jenn Marie Thorne (5/5)
(B) The Summoning [Darkest Powers #1] – Kelley Armstrong (5/5) *reread*
(B) The Awakening [Darkest Powers #2] – Kelley Armstrong (5/5) *reread*
(B) The Reckoning [Darkest Powers #3] – Kelley Armstrong (5/5) *reread*

July:
(R) Just Friends – Tiffany Pitcock (4/5)
[Obtained via Xpresso Book Tours via NetGalley]
(R) It Started with Goodbye – Christina June (5/5)
[Obtained via Blink via NetGalley]
(B) Until it Fades – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Burying Water [Burying Water #1] – K.A. Tucker (4/5)

August:
(B) Chasing River [Burying Water #3] – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Becoming Rain [Burying Water #2] – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Surviving Ice [Burying Water #4] – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Atheists Who Kneel and Pray – Tarryn Fisher (5/5)
(B) He Will Be My Ruin – K.A. Tucker (4/5)
(B) This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab (5/5)

September:
(L) Alex and Eliza – Melissa De La Cruz (2.5/5)
(B) Roadie [Rock-Hard Beautiful #2] – C.M. Stunich (4/5)
(B) Moxie [Rock-Hard Beautiful #3] – C.M. Stunich (4/5)
(B) Beautiful Survivors [Five Forgotten Souls #1] – C.M. Stunich (4/5)
(R) Zero Repeat Forever [The Nahx Invasion #1] – G.S. Prendergast (4/5)
[eBook received via Simon & Schuster via NetGalley]
(B) Black Swan Affair – K.L. Krieg (5/5)

October:
(B) Without Merit – Colleen Hoover (5/5)
(L) Passenger – Alexandra Bracken (3/5)
(B) Archer’s Voice – Mia Sheridan (5/5) *reread*
(R) Spell Book and Scandal [#1] – Jen McConnel (1/5)
[eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]

November:
(L) Sakura Hime [#1-3] – Arina Tanemura (4/5)
(R) Choosing Hope – Holly Kammier (3/5)
[eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]
(R) Exposure [Incandescent #3] – Sylvie Parizeau (4/5)
[eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]

December:
(B) Warcross [#1] – Marie Lu (3/5)
(R) She Regrets Nothing – Andrea Dunlop (1/5)

Book Blitz: The Upside of Falling Down

Welcome to The Upside of Falling Down Book Blitz, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: The Upside of Falling Down
Author: Rebekah Crane
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synospsis:

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

Buy Link:
Amazon

Excerpt:

I was born twice. The first time was on July 9 to Paul and Mimi Haas in Cleveland, Ohio. My mother died six years later. My parents hadn’t conceived another child, and my father never remarried. I was born with brown eyes and brown hair, and for eighteen years, I was, for the most part, healthy.

I was delivered again on June 18, just weeks before my nineteenth birthday. The nurses said I was born unconscious with ash tangled in the burned ends of my hair. Rescue workers pulled me from the belly of an airplane, where I was stuck between two seats, like a cushioned sandwich. There was no mother to gaze down at me in amazement or cradle me if I cried, but according to my nurse, Stephen, there were a plethora of camera crews and flashing lights.

Out of the wreckage of that day, which included thirty dead bodies, I was a miracle. Amid so much death and destruction, I was born.

For a day, I lay in the hospital, unconscious, before I opened my eyes to the world for the first time. I had bleached blonde hair and a nasty bump on my head.

When the doctor sat down gently on the chair next to my bed and asked me a question, I could only think to respond with these words, “There are four emergency exits on this plane—two at the front of the cabin and two at the back.”

A handful of nurses and other staff broke into laughter, but my doctor didn’t. She asked me another question, a puzzled expression on her face, to which I replied, “Please take a moment to locate your nearest emergency exit. In some cases, your exit may be behind you.”

That’s when the room went silent. All the laughter fell out of the air.

“Can you tell me where you are?” the doctor asked in an accent unlike my own. It took me a moment to understand her, partly because of the accent, but also because of the odd question.

“Where I am?” I said, feeling around. “Clearly, I’m in a bed.”

A perplexed expression crossed the doctor’s face as the others looked on at the miracle that I was. “Yes, but do you know where? Specifically, what country?” she asked.

I thought for a long while, touching the bump on my head. The bump was a flaw, and something told me that’s not how this was supposed to be. People are born perfect, right?

“What happened to my head?”

“You don’t remember how that happened?” When I shook my head and didn’t offer an answer, the doctor asked me another question. “Can you tell me your name?”

It was a simple question, but at that moment, the complexity of it weighed me down, so much so that I had a hard time breathing.

“Or better yet, can you tell me anything about yourself?” the doctor asked.

“About myself?” I thought long and hard. As if the people gaping at me weren’t clue enough, my confusion should have been. A person shouldn’t have to think so hard about that question. It should come naturally. It’s me. I know me, right? But concentrating so hard made my head start to ache, and I thought I might pass out. And for all that thinking, nothing happened.

Nothing.

The doctor glanced at the nurses, who stared at each other, but all the looking didn’t find them any answers. I started to think answers don’t come that easily.

I died and was reborn on June 18 in a plane crash in Ballycalla, less than eight kilometers from Shannon Airport, and I awoke to a new life a day later in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ireland, not far away. When the nurse called me by name, I didn’t respond.

He touched my arm. “Your name is Clementine, love.”

“Clementine.” I said the name over and over in my head, hoping one idea would stack on top of another and another and create something concrete. A person filled with a lifetime of memories.

But nothing happened. Instead, I said, “I have no idea who you’re talking about.”

About the Author:

Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win 1 of 10 copies of The Upside of Falling Down + stickers! Open to US/CAN. Ends Dec 14/17.

Blog Tour + Review: Exposure

Welcome to the Exposure Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Exposure [Incandescent #3]
Author: Sylvie Parizeau
Publication Date: Nov 22, 2017
Genre: New Adult Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

PHILIPPE-OLIVIER TISSEROT’s caffeine addiction is about to land him in uncharted territory and one hell of a ride. One that’s about to go viral.

Current status: Computer whiz to hacker to penpal.

Upgrade status: Lover.

Well, I’m still working on the lover part.

I’m just a computer geek studying at MIT. And now I’m in two places at once – the geek and the lover battling it out to get the girl.

The only problem is, my dream girl doesn’t know she knows me in either one of them.

Now I have to win her in both.

Please wait. Upgrade in progress.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Review:

If you haven’t started this series, don’t worry about it! This book is a lot richer if you’ve read the first part of the series, but it still works great as a stand alone (think K.A. Tucker Ten Tiny Breaths, it works, but read the others ’cause they’re great too).

I think my favourite part about this book is the true friendships that holds the guys together. P.O. is one of six super geeks who have lived together for over thirteen years (thanks boarding school!). Incandescently is Liam’s story, Apprehension is Zac’s, this one’s P.O., and the others are to come. Their friendship and banter made me laugh and smile throughout the entire novel and I appreciated all of P.O. one liner t-shirts boasting techy puns. P.O.’s letters with Aurele were also extremely cute, and I loved the easy banter they fell into. I found it interesting that the author actually made P.O. think in coding/techy terms. It was just simply what was happening, but everything was translated in his head to a language his character would understand better, and that added detail surprised me.

That begin said, at times I was a little overwhelmed by some of the complex language. Even my geeky friends wouldn’t use some of these words in sentences. I’m an English major and I wouldn’t use some of those words in a sentence that wasn’t for a term paper. As such, the whole 20 something getting their degree is a tad bit unrealistic to me.

Call me a sucker or a cliche, but I loved the letter idea – the writing was witty and they were well written in that, as a reader you knew what the words really meant, but the MC was clueless. I found this a good way to develop the character and allow the story unfold for itself. I did think that a couple of the aspects of the story were a little cliche (love at first sight, for one). However, I enjoyed the simplicity of the novel, as well as how adorable the characters and the writing was.

As a whole, it was a lovely, light read that really helped to cut through the stress of life. Definitely happy that I took the time to sit down with this one and am super excited to read the rest of the series as it comes out!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.25/5

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the Author:

A paralegal by day and incurable romantic by night, Sylvie is a cross-genre, and she takes Happily Ever After very seriously. The End just isn’t in her vocabulary.

An incorrigible daydreamer, she now feeds her obsession with epilogues by concocting stories in which heroes deal with the happy from the get-go. Ready, or not. And she confesses under oath to loving every minute of it.

Sylvie lives her own Happily Ever After in the beautiful mountains of Les Laurentides in Northern Quebec, alongside her whole set of characters.

In between treks in their backyard wilderness, you can find them hanging out at www.sylvieparizeau.com

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win a signed copy of Incandescently, Apprehension, and Exposure! Open internationally. Ends Nov 30/17.

Book Tour + Guest Post: Wheeler

Welcome to the Wheeler Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Wheeler
Author: Sara Butler Zalesky
Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Genre: Adult, Romance, Sports, Suspense
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Known as the Ice Queen of the peloton, pro cyclist Loren Mackenzie rarely shows emotion in the heat of competition; she leads her team with quiet strength and determination. But her successes have not come without suffering, and her tragic past is hidden inside tarnished armor.

While out on a training ride with her cycling team near Enfield, England, a chance meeting quickly develops into an unexpected whirlwind romance. But a relationship with an A-list celebrity brings with it the microscope of tabloid-media attention, which expose jealousy and rivalry that threaten to undermine Loren’s leadership of her team.

The new romance also reveals a dangerous obsession, culminating in a terrifying confrontation with someone from Loren’s past. Her injuries not only put her chances at the World Championship in jeopardy but also bring forth memories of a life she had long buried – for good reason.

Can Loren open her heart to the love she has held at a distance, or will her fear ultimately defeat her?

The follow up novel in the Wheeler series is coming soon.

Buy Link:
Amazon

Guest Post – Character Interview of Loren Mackenzie and Graham Atherton

An attractive couple is seated across from you, holding hands, their fingers laced together. They lean ever so slightly toward each other as they watch you prepare for the interview. You meet his bright blue eyes and he smiles.

“Take your time,” he says, his British accent smooth, with only a hint of Scottish brogue. His smile changes as he turns to her; softer, more intimate and he tightens his fingers around hers. She answers with a similar grin but showing her nerves. Her gaze meet yours for half a breath, then continues moving, settling on the digital recorder on the coffee table between you.

You clear your throat. “When I get nervous, I forget everything.”

She gives a soft laugh. “Me, too. We can be nervous together.” She has a softer Northeastern US accent, dropping the ‘r.’

You grin and give a nod, then turn on the recorder. “Loren, Graham, thank you for agreeing to this interview for Between the Pages. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”

“We’re happy to do it,” he says.

“Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?” It’s cute, the way they adjust how they’re seated to face you but still maintain contact with each other. “Loren, did he really pick you up off the side of the road?”

They glance at each other, her smile widening. “Yes, and no,” she replied. “I took a hard crash about 20 minutes before he found me sitting on a stone wall. I was trying to get the tire back on the rim when I hear a lorry horn and I looked up just in time to see a Jaguar narrowly avoiding a crash.”

“Yes, well, I admit, I was staring,” Graham says, chuckling. “I didn’t stop at first, mind you. I reckoned she might be right mad, but she couldn’t very well follow me home on a bicycle so I turned around. But don’t you know, she just about took my head off for trying to be a gentleman.”

“Oh, I was mad alright, but I let you help,” Loren countered.

“Hmm, let me help, eh?”

“But you knew who he was, yes?” you ask.

“Oh sure,” she laughed. “I went all fangirl for about a half a second, but I tried to play it cool. Then he held my hand, and I completely forgot my name.”

Graham’s brows go up. “You went fangirl over me?” Loren takes a breath to reply but just smiles and shrugs a shoulder. “After we got the tire on, I watched you ride off,” he continues, facing her. “And for the rest of the day, I couldn’t get you off my mind. I kept thinking of things I could have said to make you laugh, or I would see your smile as I was trying to read. That’s when I looked you up on the internet.”

“But if you didn’t know my name﹘.”

“I remembered the logo on your jersey.”

She gives him a smirk. “You mean the enormous light bulb on my chest?”

Graham clears his throat. “Yes. That one.” Loren giggles at him. “Then I called Ron, he’s my agent and best friend,” he tells you. “And the rest is still going on.”

“That’s very sweet,” you say as you pick up your notes. “Now we have some questions from our readers and the first one is for you, Loren.” She sits up and gives you her attention. “Did you have a favorite toy when you were growing up?”

She blinks, pressing her full lips together as her gray eyes slide away from you. “Hmm, favorite toy. I wasn’t into dolls much, but I remember having a Barbie RV with a horse carrier. I played with that all the time.”

You nod with a grin, then look to Graham. “What about you? Did you have a favorite toy?”

“I had a tricycle that I wouldn’t give up, even when I was much too tall for it.”

Loren bursts a laugh. “Like how you were behind me on the Harley!”

“Yes, it’s all very funny,” he says, pursing his lips to hold back his grin. “Anyroad, my stepfather Gerald purchased a true two-wheeler for me, but I rarely rode it. I was too afraid to fall off.”

“That is adorable, Graham,” Loren chuckles.

You continue with the next question. “Loren, is there one song that you can’t help but sing along when you hear it?”

“Oh, goodness,” she mutters, half smiling. “Happy by Pharrell Williams. I can’t help it.” Graham leans away from her, his brows up near his hairline.

“You didn’t know that about her?” you ask.

“I did not,” he replies, the corner of his mouth curling up. “Her playlists are full of heavy metal and post-rock instrumentals.”

“You’ve infected me with your eclectic taste in music,” Loren tells him.

“Who’s the better cook?” you inquire.

“No question, Graham,” Loren says. “I burn water.”

“Who eats the most junk food?”

They glanced at each other and respond at the same time. “Graham.” “Me.”

“Who has a bigger closet?”

“Me,” he says. “Graham.”

“Who takes longer getting ready to go out?”

Loren snorts a laugh as Graham shakes his head. “I take forever,” he replies.

“Everything has to match,” she adds, waving her hand. “Or go. Whatever it is.”

“Right,” he scoffs. “And you wear Lycra or your team’s apparel all the time.”

“Not all the time,” she laughs. “I’ve worn a skirt four times now.”

“Darling, your socks.” He reaches down and pulls up the leg of her jeans to show off her red and white IDC socks.

She scrunches her shoulders. “They were clean.”

You chuckle along with them. “Graham, what’s an item of Loren’s that you would love to get rid of?”

He huffs. “She had this pair of neon green trainers that were beyond grotty.” His humor evaporated as their eyes met. “They were ruined recently, but I got her a new pair because but she loves them.” Graham let go her hand to put his arm around her shoulders as Loren ducks her chin. You think you see a flash of distress in her expression but it’s gone when she faces you again.

You cough lightly. “What is your favorite place to relax in your house?”

Graham purses his lips. “Anywhere, really, but I rather enjoy lounging in the living room. The back wall of the house is all windows that overlook the farmlands.”

She nods. “Me too, but I like the garage, as well. I have my bike trainer set up out there. I think better when my legs are moving.”

“How is Graham at giving presents?”

“Each gift he’s given me, he’s put a lot of thought into it,” she replies, looking at him. “That means more than how much he’s spent.”

“But then you trump me and spend a small fortune on that copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets you gave me,” he grumbles.

She kisses his cheek. “You’re worth it.”

“What word describes Loren first thing in the morning?”

Graham throws his head back and laughs. “Right narked!”

“That’s not true!” she nudges him with her shoulder. “I’m a morning person. It’s only when I don’t get enough sleep that I’m cranky.”

“What is Graham like when he gets sick?”

She presses her lips together. “He’s doesn’t complain that much.”

“Graham, have you taken up cycling since being with Loren?”

He grimaces. “She purchased a gravel bicycle for me and we went out a few times together, but it’s been rather cold and rainy in England of late and I can only suffer riding in ankle-deep mud for so long.”

“Have you crossed over into riding motorcycles with her, as well?”

“I have a Kawasaki Vulcan,” he tells you, “but we haven’t gone out much, because of the weather.”

“You’ve made a few appearances at the podium when Loren’s won. How did you manage that?”

“The first time, I was volunteered by her teammate, Charlotte, at the Women’s Tour in England,” Graham replies. “The second was at La Course in Paris, before the final stage of the Tour de France. I didn’t present, I was just on the sideline, as I was for Stages 8 and 9 of the Giro Rosa and for the Championships in Richmond, Virginia.” He puts his hand to his chest. “I am humbled to have played such a small part of her celebrations.”

“You’re so shiny,” Loren tells him, a tiny smile playing on her lips.

You grin at the couple and gather up your notes. “Thank you both for sharing a bit of yourselves with our readers.”

Buy Link:
Amazon

About the Author:

Sara was born in the wee hours of a November night in New York City. When her family moved to a small borough in northwestern New Jersey, she had little choice but to move as well. Self-sufficiency is a tough thing for a toddler.

The dichotomy of being the middle child of three, but the only girl, was difficult, as typically no one really pays attention to a middle child. Mostly, Sara spent her time creating fanciful stories in her head when she should have been focused on other things, an issue that continues to this day.

Most of these stories have never been shared, let alone completed. This all changed in the spring of 2015, when Sara was encouraged by a friend to expand upon a short story she had accidentally emailed to him. The result is ‘Wheeler’, a romantic, women’s fiction/sport novel, which combines the author’s romantic inclinations and her passion for cycling.

Sara currently resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with her loving husband and their son. She is a paralegal for a boutique law firm in Chester County, Pa, an avid road cyclist and indoor cycling instructor at a national chain.

Follow the author’s blog at sarabutlerzalesky.wordpress.com or on Twitter @sarazalesky. She does a little dance every time someone ‘follows’ her on Twitter. Really.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of Wheeler. Open internationally. Ends Nov 23, 2017.

Book Tour + Guest Post: Year of the Knife

Welcome to The Year of the Knife Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: The Year of the Knife
Author: G.D. Penman
PublisherMeerkat Press
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Genre: Adult Thriller and Urban Fantasy
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Agent -Sully- Sullivan is one of the top cops in the Imperial Bureau of Investigation. A veteran witch of the British Empire who isn’t afraid to use her magical skills to crack a case. But Sully might need more than a good education and raw power to stop the string of grisly murders that have been springing up across the American Colonies. Every one of them marked by the same chilling calling card, a warning in the form of a legion of voices screaming out through the killers’ mouths: -It IS tHe YEAr oF the KNife.-

Sully’s investigation will drag her away from the comforts of home in New Amsterdam, the beautiful but useless hyacinth macaw that used to be her boss, and the loving arms of her undead girlfriend, in a thrilling race against time, demonic forces and a shadowy conspiracy that will do anything to keep its hold on power and ensure that Sully takes their secrets to her grave, as soon as possible.

G.D. Penman’s imaginative The Year of the Knife is a fun, fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with an engaging set of characters, most notably Agent Sully of the Imperial Bureau of Investigation.

Guest Post by G.D. Penman – A Few of our Favourite Things

I am not saying that every single one of these characters is an unrepentant liar, but they live in a slightly oppressive Empire and they aren’t always free to wear their hearts on their sleeves. Which is why instead of each character telling you their favourite thing, we are going to have to pry open their brains a little bit and steal the real answers.

Sully would tell you her favourite thing is: A nice Sloe Gin, a pub with wooden panels on the walls, something deep fried and nobody trying to kill her for five whole minutes.
But her favourite thing is actually: Marie.

Marie would tell you her favourite thing is: The unparalleled majesty and wonder of musical theatre.
But her favourite thing is actually: Sully.

Raavi would tell you his favourite thing is: Whatever magical monstrosity is on the table in front of him awaiting vivisection at any given moment.
But his favourite thing is actually: Bowling night.

Colcross would tell you his favourite thing is: Peace, quiet and order across the colony.
But his favourite thing is actually: Nobody calling him all day so that he can smoke his pipe without being disturbed.

Pratt would tell you his favourite thing is: Fine dining, fine wine, tasteful music and good company.
But his favourite thing is actually: The exact moment that he can see the spark of sedition planted in the mind of one of the students that he is lecturing.

Chloe would tell you her favourite thing is: The beautiful diamond engagement ring that her fiancé gave her.
But her favourite thing is actually: The seven seconds a week that she gets to stare at Sully as she walks across to the director’s office.

The Director would tell you his favourite thing is: Grapes
But his favourite thing is actually: Not being magically transformed into a Hyacinth Macaw.

Ceejay would tell you his favourite thing is: Rock and Roll.
But his favourite thing is actually: Mongolian Barbecue

Axis would tell you that their favourite thing is: Bluegrass
But their favourite thing is actually: Axis

Eugene would tell you its favourite thing is: TO WATCH THE PAINFUL DEATH OF ALL MANKIND, TO TEEACH THEM NEW WAYS TO PERCEIVE THE PAIN THAT THE WORLD WILL BE WRACKED WITH
But its favourite thing is actually: Pornography.

About the Author:

G D Penman writes Speculative Fiction. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. He is a firm believer in the axiom that any story is made better by dragons. His beard has won an award. If you have ever read a story with Kaiju and queer people, it was probably one of his. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he likes to watch cartoons, play video and tabletop games, read more books than are entirely feasible and continue his quest to eat the flesh of every living species.

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Open internationally. Ends Nov 23, 2017.