Monday, October 16, 2017

Blog Tour: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Review + Giveaway)


(Check out the full schedule of the Blog Tour HERE)


Series:
Berserker
Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date:October 10, 2017
Pages:288 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Feiwel & Friends
Website:Emmy Laybourne

Berserker on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher via Jean Book Nerd tours in exchange for my honest review

Where to get:

  



Are Hanne's powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?

Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It's not Stieg's fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn't commit.

No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous "gift"--she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.

Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.

Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.
(Goodreads)


All the gifts besides mine make something... A Berserker kills. A Berserker takes life and crushes it out.
The Nytte was an ancient blood-gift, a pagan, Viking gift, from Odin to his three kings, to be carried in their lineage. A child with the Nytte on both sides of his or her family might manifest one of six eerie powers at puberty - or might receive no Nytte at all.



 "Look at her," Sissel said. "She's an animal."
     Hanne is a Nytteson, which means she possess a special and unique gift (the Nytte) that was bestowed upon her ancestors by the Norse Gods in times of glorious Vikings. Her siblings - Knut, Sissel, and Stieg - also have their own special gifts (all except for young Sissel, who is yet to have her gift manifest itself), though they're very different from Hanne's, for Hanne is a Berserker and her gift means she will fight to death for those she loves. And what's worse, is that Hanne has no control over her ability. She turns into an unflinching, blood-thirsty killer the moment someone she loves is threatened. And she doesn't stop until the threat is obliterated.

     When one night Hanne's father is attacked by three man, she goes Berserker on the assailants, murdering them all. Her father dies from a gun shot, and the siblings have to flee their homeland to save their own lives. They escape to America, where they are determined to seek out their uncle. Only getting to him isn't going to be an easy task, and even with the help of a young cowboy, they'll face deathly dangers all throughout their journey. 

     To put it simply, Berserker is  a clash of Viking glory with Wild, Wild West; and it's a breath-taking, exhilarating, heart-pounding combination of these two worlds. I have read Emmy Laybourne's Monument 14 series and enjoyed it a lot, but I must say Berserker tops it in many ways. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - the adventure, the tension, the neck-breaking action, but also the human element at the center of it all. Hanne's struggles to accept and understand her gift/curse definitely made this story so much more interesting to follow. It was also fascinating to read about Hanne's relationships with her siblings. I love that, though they're so different from each other, when things got rough, they looked out for one another. 

      As for the Norse mythology aspects, I must say I really enjoyed this part of the story. It gave this fantasy novel a very interesting, unique flavor. At the same time, we didn't get too deep into the historical backdrop, so the story flow wasn't bogged down with too many detailed descriptions.

     The main characters - Hanne, Owen and Rolf (the guy hunting Hanne and her simblings) - were developed very well, especially Hanne. And while she didn't strike me as a particularly likeable character, she was certainly a realistically drawn one, with layers upon layers of character building. Shy, distanced, struggling to come to terms with her ability, weighed down by guilt and border-line self-hate, she often came across as difficult and off-putting (or, well, whiny), but all that was completely understandable, considering what she had to deal with in her life. I did see some character growth, though, and I feel that Hanne definitely shows a lot of promise. I can't wait to find out what will happen to her and Owen (and their brand new relationship) in the next installments. 

     Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a YA fantasy adventure that packs a strong punch and doesn't shy away from violence and exploring deeper subject (like self-acceptance and grief). Especially for those of you who also enjoy a nicely developed historical backdrop. 
Berserker is a high-octane, action-packed story from the beginning to the end. I am looking forward to reading the second book! 
      



About the Author:


Emmy Laybourne is a novelist, screenwriter and former character actress. She is the author of the upcoming release BERSERKER ("You will love Emmy Laybourne's vision of an American west studded with Viking glory." - Hypable.com), as well as the MONUMENT 14 trilogy ("Frighteningly real… riveting" - NYT Book Review, Editor’s Choice) and the novel SWEET (“A gripping action-adventure survival story” – VOYA, rated Perfect Ten).

Before her life as a novelist, Emmy performed original comedy on Comedy Central, MTV and VH1; and acted in the movies "Superstar," "The In-Laws" and "Nancy Drew," among others. Emmy lives outside New York City with her husband, two kids and a flock of 9 nifty chickens.
Photo credit: Kit Laybourne.


Giveaway:



--Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

4 Winners will receive a Copy of BERSERKER by Emmy Laybourne.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Top Five Books I've Read This Year

I've read over a 100 books this year and although that sounds like a lot, I wish I was able to read more. You know how it is, so many great books, so little time. I decided to do my own tag this time that might be fun for other readers in the blogging community. I love going on Goodreads and seeing what my friends are reading so I can get new ideas as to what others enjoy that might have similar interests. Finding new books to add to my to be read shelf is one of my favorite past times. Of course this shelf is over flowing and always will be.... But I have no regrets!! :) 

So here are the five best books I've read this year. Let me know in the comments below what you've been reading that you love. This list is in no particular order. 

1.

Synopsis:

After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.


I am very new to the suspense/thriller genre but this book was a great novel to dip my toes in. It hooks you from the very beginning and it is extremely hard to put down. Morgan is such an identifiable figure, a single mother trying to do the best for her children and now juggling a stressful job. A stressful job where she isn’t sure she’s doing the right thing. And then there’s Lance the PI assisting her with the case and a guy with some pressures of his own.

It was Morgan and her relationship with people, her blossoming romance with Lance, her devotion to her family, her dedication to helping Nick – the young man accused of murder – that kept me glued to the book. Morgan is such a likeable protagonist and any reader that picks up this book will find it very hard not to route for her. 

Say You're Sorry is a suspenseful addictive novel that kept me guessing from the very beginning right up to the last sentence. 

2. 

Synopsis:

Twelve years ago, tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a small number of students survived, a group the media dubbed as The Ones Who Got Away.

Now, web designer Liv Arias, along with the rest of the survivors, have returned to the small Texas town to tell their stories for a documentary. Which means Liv seeing former star-athlete and old flame Finn Dorsey. A lot happened between them that night and Liv is ready to end their decade-long riff and move on. But when her attempt at closure turns into a steamy kiss, moving on proves much more difficult than either of them thought...




Okay, so I'm not sure I could give this amazing book justice, but I'll give it a try. This was a second chance romance like no other, one that instead of the couple being ripped apart by some inconsequential rift, they are actually ripped apart by a very traumatic event. One that shaped their future. Just when these high school seniors should be ready to discover who they are, they are brought down by something so horrific it's still plaguing their nightmares to this day.

We fast forward to the present and the anniversary of their senior prom. The lone survivors of a bloody massacre. I could never even imagine this sort of ordeal. It's one you only hear of on the news. The survivors reconnect and learn they truly aren't alone. They relive the nightmare by doing interviews in their hometown. Liv goes into the weekend terrified of having to tell the story and face the survivors but then she sees Finn Dorsey and her world turns upside down.

It is obvious that these two have a huge attraction to each other that sizzles off the pages. When Finn and Liv start spending time together the book really heats up and leaves the reader wanting more and more of this love story.  This is one beautiful love story, I will not soon forget.

3. 

Synopsis:

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…


“I’ll love you forever. Even when I can’t”

Confess by Colleen Hoover offers a unique, emotional and artistic read, with likeable characters, original plot, beautiful artwork and a heartbreaking journey. The book focuses on the two characters, Auburn and Owen, who are both running from their past. As each take a strong liking in one another, secrets are revealed and the past is brought back. This love-story has the right amount of chemistry, fluff, cuteness and passion/sexiness. While I was reading it, I couldn't put it down; it made me want to reveal my inner confessions and paint them as well.

The story is first told 5 years earlier, with Auburn visiting Adam, who is about to die. They are fifteen, and have been together for a year. Their young and innocent love is proven to be strong and ever-lasting as seen in the rest of the book. Sadly, Adam dies and chapter two is five year forwarded. Now, Auburn is talking to a lawyer about a certain matter, but she doesn't have the money to pay. On her way home, she stumbles upon a studio: there are a box of confessions and the person who owns it desperately needs help.

This was my first book by Colleen Hoover and I finally get what all the fuss has been about. What an incredible writer! I was blown away by these characters and how Colleen is able to make the reader invest in the story and really care about the characters and what endings they might have. This was a definite win for me and I will be reading all the books I have by her soon. 



4. 


Synopsis: 

When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan's romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they're forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they'll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks



I've just read one of the most amazing books! What is it, you say? Bad Romeo by Leisa Raven. This book has seriously left me reeling and having some not so fictional feelings for a fictional man. Ethan Holt. He has HANDS DOWN crawled to the top of my fictional boyfriend list. What an amazing telling of a man all women everywhere will want to meet!

Cassie and Ethan meet during auditions for dramatic arts college. Their chemistry is instantaneous. Cassie doesn't want to fight it, but Ethan does. So begins their angsty song and dance. When they're cast as the leads in Romeo and Juliet and are forced to spend lots of time together, will Ethan finally give into their mutual attraction? Or will they end up like the tragic characters they're playing? Over before it really had a chance to begin.

I highly give this book a huge standing ovation! To say I loved it wouldn't even do it justice. This book is so unbelievably written. I couldn't put it down. In fact I stayed up so late reading, that I found myself late to work. Seriously, I had to tell my boss I was running late. Crazy good! You won't regret investing reading time in this winner! 

5. 

Synopsis:

From the NYT bestselling author comes a chilling new thriller about a ritualistic murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her.

Officer Miranda Rader of the Hammond PD in Louisiana is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from Jasper, just south of Hammond, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to leave the girl she used to be behind and earn respect in her position as an officer.

However, when Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the gruesomeness of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about a terrible night from her long-buried past. Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop, and not just any cop—Clint Wheeler, the cop who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda. 14 years ago.

And when her fingerprints turn up at the scene of the first murder, Miranda once again finds herself under the microscope, her honesty and integrity doubted, her motivations questioned. Alone again, the trust of her colleagues shattered, Miranda must try to trust the instincts she’s pushed down for so long, and decide what’s right—before it’s too late.

The Other Girl takes place in a small Louisiana college town (although nothing much distinguishes the town as Louisiana). Officer Miranda Rader is called to the scene of the gruesome murder of a college professor, whose father happens to be the dean of the school. If there is aristocracy in any small college town, regardless of location, it belongs to the administration and professors. The college dean will always be influential.

Right away it is apparent to Miranda that this case will receive special handling, but there are a number of things that disturb her immediately. As a matter of fact, there is an unpleasant blast from the past that alarms and unnerves her.

“You can never run away from your past, it always catches up to you…”

This quote pretty much sums up this book and the twists and turns it takes as Miranda investigates this murder that has the whole town in an uproar and Miranda is seeing too many things that are oddly familiar from her past. She ran but can she get away without dealing with what happened to her one night long ago?

This book was simply fascinating. I binge read it in a few days. The story was believable and the mystery surrounding all the main characters really gets under the skin from the beginning. The author left just enough detail to leave the reader guessing and thinking throughout the whole book .

You think you have it all figured out but do you? 




What are the best books you've read this year? Let's talk in the comments below.






Friday, September 8, 2017

Blog Tour: Two Last First Dates by Kate O'Keeffe {Review & Excerpt with Giveaway}


 



Genre:
Romantic, Comedy, Chick Lit, Fiction
Publication.Date:August 8th 2017


Published By:  Wild Lime Books

My review copy:
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

 Amazon 

                              

To Paige Miller, Two Last First Dates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

Paige is having a rough time. She's unhappy in her career and her One Last First Date ended in total disaster. Now, she has to figure out what to do professionally and personally. Life as a spinster with fifteen cats doesn't sound too bad, though.

Deciding to give up on love, Paige begrudgingly befriends Josh Bentley, the friendly coffee delivery guy, while helping out at the Cozy Cottage Café. His T-shirts make her eyes roll, but their runs have become an important part of her day and a blessing to her waistline, because Bailey's cakes are too good to pass up.

Meanwhile, her best friends offer to find Mr. Right for her, and all Paige has to do is let them. Then, the man of her dreams walks through the door. Marcus Hahn is as good-looking as he is charming, and any thoughts Paige had of being alone with those fifteen cats, fly out the window. Now, she just has to hope her friends choose him as her Last First Date.

But in the end, are Two Last First Dates enough to find The One?




“Look, Helena. I’ve got to do something. I’ll talk to you later, okay? I promise.”

She gave me a meaningful look. “Sure. You go, girl. I’ll back you up, no matter what.”

She hit her fist against her chest, like she was a centurion, pledging her allegiance to me.

I turned and walked through the line of cubicles to Portia’s office, nodding as people

said hello. This wasn’t the time to be social. I was on a mission, and I wasn’t going to allow

anything to get in my way.

I arrived at Portia’s office and stood, collecting my thoughts. I could see her sitting at

her desk, immaculate as always in a pale pink suit with black trim, tap-tapping on her

keyboard. I lifted my hand and knocked firmly on her door. Her head popped up, a look of

surprise on her face.

“Paige. What are you doing here?” she asked, pushing her chair back and standing up.

Did she look nervous?

I stepped into her office and closed the door behind myself, leaning up against it as my

heart raced. “I need to talk to you.”

“Okay,” she replied uncertainly. She gestured for me to take a seat. I shook my head in

refusal. I needed to be standing for this.

“I thought we’d said all we were going to say last night?”

“No, Portia. You said all you were going to say. I didn’t.”

She tilted her head. “Oh?”

I clenched my hands at my side, preparing to launch into the speech I’d practiced on the

way here this morning. My mind was made up; I had something to say.

I took a deep breath and looked directly at her. “Portia, I quit.”

Okay, so it wasn’t much of a speech, and practicing it hadn’t exactly taken very long

this morning, but I wanted to ensure I hit the right tone. And hadn’t I learned in my years in

marketing that a clear, simple message was the most effective?

To my unutterable surprise, Portia laughed. “I think you misunderstand, Paige. I fired

you.”

“No, you didn’t. Your exact words were, ‘I’m moving you on.’ I remember. You never

said I was fired.”

She shot me a condescending look, as though I was a three-year- old who needed to

have the difference between a hug and a punch explained to them. “Paige. We talked about

this. Your work has not been up to scratch for some time now. That’s why I am moving you

on.”

I jutted out my chin, defiant. “But you can’t. Because I quit.”


She put her manicured hands up in surrender. “Sure. If that’s the way you want to play

it, fine. Take your petty revenge over whatever it is you think I have or haven’t done.”

“I will. Thank you.” My voice dripped with sarcasm.

As I turned and put my hand on the doorknob, ready to leave, she added, “So, do I take

it you don’t want that job in Dwight’s division, then?”

I pursed me lips. It was true, Portia had fired me—or “moved me on,” as she’d insisted

on calling it—but she’d also offered me a role in her colleague Dwight Barlow’s team,

working in product development. She thought I’d be a better “fit” there as she didn’t think

email marketing campaigns were “quite my passion,” as she’d put it. I’d almost scoffed. Of

course, email marketing campaigns weren’t my passion! Was she insane?

My interest had been piqued by the chance to work for a different boss, someone

perhaps whose team wasn’t plotting to torture and kill him. That never makes for a

harmonious working environment, in my experience. So last night, I’d agreed. Getting away

from Portia and my yawn-inducing job had been the most important things to me.

And today? Things felt . . . different.

I narrowed my eyes at Portia, with the supercilious look she so often had on her face.

Although I’d never shared Helena’s Tarantino-inspired depth of hatred for her, this was the

last time I ever wanted to lay eyes on her again.

“You know what, Portia? I don’t want that job, or any job at AGD. Let’s agree I quit

and I’ll leave right now. I even brought my own box to clear my stuff.”

She pursed her lips and stared at me through her designer glasses.

I locked my jaw and squeezed my hands into fists at my sides once more. What was her

next move going to be?

Still staring at me, she let out a puff of air and nodded.

I’d won.

I smiled at her. “Good. We’re done here.”

I could almost hear that old nineties band, singing I’ve got the power! as I flung

Portia’s office door open and strode toward my desk, people popping their heads over the

tops of their cubicles to see what was going on as I passed by. My heart was racing,

adrenaline was pumping around my body at a rate of knots, and it felt good, oh so good!

Daa-da, da-da- daa-da . . . I’ve got the power!

I reached my desk and began to collect my things. Before I could say “wannabe

gangster,” Helena was at the entrance to my cubicle. “Oh, my god! What happened?” She

glanced at the box in my hands, half full of my personal paraphernalia. “Oh, hell. She fired

you, didn’t she? That nasty, conniving bitch!”

At Helena’s loud exclamation, several more of my colleagues arrived at my cubicle.

“Did you say Paige was fired?” one asked. “Oh, my god!” exclaimed another.

It's getting, it's getting, it's getting kinda hectic. Daa-da, da-da- daa-da.


“You cannot take this, Paige! This is wrong, so wrong. You must have your revenge!”

Helena exclaimed vehemently, her fist in the air, her face turning purple with rage.

I half expected her to launch into the Samuel L. Jackson Ezekiel vengeance speech I’d

enjoyed while watching Pulp Fiction. I admit, I’d rewound and watched that speech a few

times. But instead, I held my box against my body and smiled at them all. “Actually, I quit.”

There was a collective gasp.

“You did? Why?” someone asked as another said, “Good for you!” Helena gawped at

me.

“Yup. And . . . I have to go.” I collected my jacket and dropped it into the box and

slung my purse over my shoulder.

“But . . . don’t you have to work your month’s notice out?” Helena asked.

“I figured since The Princess doesn’t exactly want me around, we’d forget about that

whole notice thing.”

My—now ex—colleagues stepped aside like the parting of the Red Sea, and I walked

through them all. “Bye, everyone! It was great to work with you all. Good luck!”

“Hey,” Helena said, grabbing my arm. “Good for you.”

I grinned at her. “Thanks. It was nice working with you. And thanks for the tip on

Tarantino. I’m not sure I would have done this if it hadn’t been for him.”

She gave me a knowing nod. “Quentin changes lives.”

Usually, I would have thought she’d possibly taken her admiration for the guy a little

too far, but in this, I decided she was right.

Stay off my back, or I will attack and you don't want that. Daa-da da-da- daa-da.

As I left, I glanced up between the row of cubicles toward Portia’s office. She was

standing, watching me, her skinny arms crossed across her chest. I waved and smiled at her,

enjoying every moment of my minor triumph.

I was no longer an Email Marketing Assistant. I was out of here. And I was free.

 
I am definitely swooning right now and can barely catch my breath.

I went into this story expecting a sweet love novel and I came out with so much more.

Paige thought she met the love of her life when she met Will but soon got her heart broken when she came to realize, he wasn't hers to love. Bamn shot through the heart. Paige swore she was done with men and love was not something that was going to happen for her. She certainly wasn't going to play the game her two girlfriends wanted to. The Last First Date was a competition of sorts that her and her girlfriends thought up where the friends pick the guy you will have your last first date with. This will be the one you will marry. After her heartache over Will, Paige can't even imagine this happening for her.

In walks Marcus, who could be  Channing Tatum's double. He's gorgeous and definitely swoon material. Paige is convinced he is her last first date. 

The author does an amazing job at making this book stand on its own, even though this is the second book in the series. She also makes you fall in love with Paige easily and you find yourself routing for her to find herself and have her happily ever after.

I definitely think this author is one to watch and I will definitely be tearing into her books moving forward. Can't wait to read the first book in this series next.

This book is more than just an amazing romance. It's also about following your dreams and not letting others pigeon hole you into thinking you can't find a new career, a new life and a new guy all at the same time.




Kate O'Keeffe is an award-nominated author of fun, feel-good romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he's a scruffy dog too. He's not: he's a cat.

To date, Kate's written the chick lit series, the Wellywood Romantic Comedy Series, and the new Cozy Cottage Café Series.



Where to Find AUTHOR

Website: https://www.kateokeeffe.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8195990.Kate_O_Keeffe
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