Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Withering Rose" by Kaitlyn Davis

Withering Rose
(Once Upon A Curse Book 2)
by Kaitlyn Davis

Withering Rose is the second book in the Once Upon A Curse series by Kaitlyn Davis. Also available: Gathering Frost (read my blog post).

Withering Rose is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

More books by this author: The Shadow Soul (read my blog post), The Spirit Heir (read my blog post), and The Phoenix Born (read my blog post).

A USA Today Recommended Series!
What if Beauty was cursed, and the Beast was the only one who could save her? Don't miss Withering Rose, a dystopian romance from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis that reimagines the classic fairy tale of Beauty & The Beast. This is the second book in Once Upon A Curse, a series of interconnected stand-alone novels all set in the same fantasy universe.
"As the heat finally disappeared, I felt the bloom blossom in the very core of my soul, a rose just like my name - a ticking clock hidden behind a fa├žade of beauty. From that moment on, my life would become a countdown, and all I could do was wait and watch as the petals of time slowly started to fall."
Omorose Bouchene has a secret - magic. There's only one problem. At the age of seven, an earthquake struck, catapulting her into a new world. A land made of skyscrapers and cell phones. Fast cars and fluorescent lights. A land where magic isn't supposed to exist and anyone who wields it is the enemy.
But after ten years of hiding, she's desperate to find a place where she can be free. Because all magic comes with a curse, and her curse is time - every ounce of power she uses strips days off of her life. The clock is winding down, and the only option left is to escape to the realm ruled by a man known only as the Beast. But the king of monsters isn’t what he seems. And the more Omorose opens her heart, the more she comes to realize that the only person she may need to fear is herself.

Click below to read an excerpt.

Praise for the Book
"Kaitlyn Davis knows how to write a good fairytale. This has a good intricate plot. It isn't quite clear how the protagonists will find their happy ever after. The characters are well developed as is the build of their relationship. The heroes of the first book (and hints of the third) are well-incorporated. You could read this book alone without missing anything (but the first book is great too & quite different from this one, so you would be missing out on a good read). I am so happy I read this book." ~ E L-G
"Overall I found this an easy, enjoyable read. [...] If you’re new to this series, this stands alone perfectly well, but there are a few recurring characters to connect the tales together, and the link to the next book definitely has me intrigued. If you liked the last book, you should certainly enjoy this one, or if you’re a fan of retold fairytales that put intriguing twists on old tropes, then give this a try. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next." ~ Book Gannet
"I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fairy tales! It was a wonderful retelling, and it appears to be leading to more books in the series. Very excited to read them." ~ Lady with a Quill
"I really, really enjoyed this twist that Kaitlyn Davis made on Beauty & the Beast. [...] this book had the perfect balance of similarities with the original story and completely new elements that made it modern and fast-paced." ~ Amazon Customer
"Reading Withering Rose was a blast. Not only is it funny, the romance between Omorose and Cole is just so adorable. This is a book I can describe as unputdownable, The world building is fantastic and the adaptation of Beauty and The Beast is portrayed in a delightful manner. This book is worth your time." ~ Cassie James

Interview with the Author
Kaitlyn Davis joins me today for an interview all about Withering Rose and the world of Once Upon A Curse!
Okay, elevator pitch time! If you had to tell someone about your new book, Withering Rose, in thirty seconds or less, what would you say?
Yikes! This is always so tough! Here goes … Withering Rose is a post-apocalyptic fantasy reimagining of Beauty & The Beast - only this time, beauty is cursed and the beast is the one who needs to save her!
And if you had to describe the book in three words, what would they be?
Romantic, mystical, and … adventurous!
This book is part dystopian, and part inspired by Beauty & The Beast. Can you tell us what this crazy world is like and how you came up with it?
As always, my imagination ran away with me - for this book and for the first book in the series, Gathering Frost! Originally, the idea for Once Upon ACurse began from an idea I got while watching a Disney movie - a fairy tale apocalypse in which different classic characters came alive and took over our world. Somehow, my creativity ran amok - because, you know, that never happens ... ;) The idea shifted into a creation of two parallel worlds, our earth and a fairy tale land, that smashed together in a massive earthquake, leaving a patchwork universe behind.
Gathering Frost was set in New York City - but not the one we know and love! This New York was broken down, filled with decaying skyscrapers and abandoned apartments. But for Withering Rose, I decided to venture into a whole new part of the world of Once Upon A Curse! The novel is set on the lands surrounding a misty snow-capped mountain range rumored to be the realm of the Beast.
So, what idea came first? Did you set out to retell Beauty & The Beast or did you come up with the story first and then rework the fairy tale aspect into it?
I'll be honest, after the first book, Gathering Frost, which retells Sleeping Beauty, I was dying to retell one of my favorite fairy tales - Beauty & The Beast! If you've read Gathering Frost, you know that the end set up Withering Rose and teased a little glimpse of the twisted take on the classic. And using that as a jumping off point, I outlined Withering Rose. While Gathering Frost was a looser interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, Withering Rose definitely ties into the original tale closely. All the characters play a part - our beauty, the famed beast, the loving father, the witch, and even the rose.
This is the second book in the Once Upon A Curse series. What are you planning next?
One of my favorite things about this series is that there is no limit! With most of my series, I follow a central set of characters through a story arc that I pre-plan. So once the first book is out, I already have a general idea of how many books will follow and what will happen in each.
But with Once Upon A Curse, each novel is a standalone story twisting a different fairy tale. And more and more ideas keep coming to me! The world is vast and I love fairy tales, so I think I will just ride this wave of inspiration and see where it takes me. Currently, I'm planning on at least two to three more books! The third will retell Cinderella, and it is teased a bit at the end of Withering Rose. And I have an idea for the fourth that would be based on The Little Mermaid, and after that I might go into some lesser known tales like The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Each tale will tease out the universe of Once Upon A Curse more and more, and by the end I want there to be a sense of closure that all the upheaval and hardships faced by the characters weren't faced in vain!
Do you have a favorite fairy tale princess?
Well, growing up I was obsessed with Belle and Ariel! Belle because she was the uber book nerd like me, and Ariel cause, well, mermaids are just really cool! Withering Rose tells the story of my new version of Belle, and I have a feeling I won't be able to resist writing my own Ariel in the future!
Is there a message in this series that you want readers to grasp?
As cheesy as it might sound, the moral of the series is fairly similar to that of every fairy tale (it just takes a much more convoluted path to get there!) - love wins! It can conquer any obstacle, overcome any hurdle, surprise you, give you a reason to live, give you the heart and strength to keep fighting. In the end, if you have real love, you can handle anything. Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic, but I truly believe that. 
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Ooh, I love this question even though I hate playing favorites! One of my favorite parts of writing any romance is the build up - the little glances, the lingering touches, the blossoming friendship. But my absolute favorite is when that build up explodes! And that doesn't always happen with the first kiss. Sometimes it’s a just a raw moment, pure understanding, when the characters bare their souls to each other. And Withering Rose has this moment - I think you'll recognize it when you read it! 
Thank you for answering all of these questions, Kaitlyn!
Thank you so much for hosting me, Lynda!! :)

About the Author
Bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name KayMarie.
Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she's not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found indulging in some puppy videos, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or one of two $5 Amazon gift cards.


Monday, May 30, 2016

"Dragons are Real" by Valarie Budayr

Dragons are Real
by Valarie Budayr

Dragons are Real is a children's picture book written by Valarie Budayr and illustrated by Michael Welply. This book tour is brought to you by BeachBoundBooks and stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

What if I told you that all of the fairy tales, myths and legends that have been told about dragons over the years are WRONG? What if I told you that Dragons are indeed REAL and that they are different than you've ever imagined? Did you know that Dragons are the master of disguises? Did you know that they love sugar and sweets (at unacceptable levels) and will do anything for treats?
Award winning author Valarie Budayr brings us this fairly true story based on her childhood friendship with a REAL live Dragon.


Praise for the Book
"I cannot praise this book more highly and I feel really privileged to have read it. I wish it could be animated, so as to enjoy these amazing dragons and the beautiful details even more. Congratulations to the author and illustrator for a work of art. I spent time on each page and I’d encourage parents to do the same when reading this with their kids. An excellent message, besides all the lovely ones about the good and noble qualities of dragons, is that reading is something to bring enjoyment; it’s a doorway to a magical world, as this stunning book amply proves." ~ Fiona Ingram
"Dragons Are Real is full of detailed, beautiful dragons. The pictures are so real, life like and the illustrations absolutely remarkable! Michael is super talented!! It is a delight to read and to just see the pictures which help us understand the book and enjoy it. A must have this summer for a wonderful addition to our library. An outstanding book indeed." ~ Indywrites
"I think children of all ages will love to read this book the pictures of the dragons are not scary at all but it is just a well done book." ~ Autumn Fallen Over Book Reviews
"Who wouldn't want to believe they are real? The illustrator did a scrumptious job with color and glorious detail portraying each dragon's personality. It's a gorgeous book with a playful storyline. The dragons ARE out there ... just waiting to be your next very best friend. I believe." ~ CLMurphy
" ... it's a book as great as it looks. The pictures and text are simple enough for young listeners to grasp, but complex enough to have them coming back time and again. Even parents (who happen to be dragon lovers) will get a kick out of reading it out loud." ~ Tonja Drecker

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The author and illustrator take us on a journey to discover just what real dragons are really like. And it's not what you may have heard before. Dragons are actually very sophisticated creatures who love poetry and reading, but especially sweets! So watch out next time you're sucking on a lollipop while reading your book. A dragon may just want to become your new best friend!
This is an absolutely delightful book, with a whimsical old storybook look and feel. The illustrations by Michael Welply are captivating, colorful, and full of rich detail. This is a book to be explored over and over again and it's sure to become a favorite of both children and their adult reading friends alike.

About the Author
Award Winning and Bestselling author, Valarie Budayr inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure via engaging extension activities on her popular website, Jump into a Book.
Valarie is co-founder of Multicultural Children's Book Day, #ReadYourWorld, a celebration of diverse and cultural kid-lit shared with over 98 million people on 27 January each year. Her foundation puts hundreds of books into the hands of children in rural and intercity areas.
Valarie's other best-selling and award winning titles are: The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden, The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and A Year in the Secret Garden (read my blog post).

About the Illustrator
Michael Welply was born in London in 1948. The family moved to Winnipeg, Canada, in 1950. He studied art in Winnipeg and then in Paris, but his idea of living from the sales of his paintings is somewhat compromised by the lack of buyers. He started his career as an illustrator in 1977 in London. In 1981 he returned to live in France with his American wife and their two children. Since then he has worked for publishers in both Europe and North America. To date he has illustrated over 80 books and more than 100 covers, in a wide range of subjects extending from detailed non-fiction to juvenile and adult fiction in the realms of fantasy, mythology, science fiction and fairy tales.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.

Book Links

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"A Million Different Ways" by P. Dangelico

A Million Different Ways
(A Horn Novel Book 1)
by P. Dangelico

Author P. Dangelico stops by to share an excerpt from A Million Different Ways, the first book in the Horn Novel series. You can also read my review. Coming soon: A Million Different Ways to Lose You.

Set against the elegant backdrop of Geneva, Switzerland, worlds collide when a medical student finds herself working for a wealthy American financier. Escaping a scandal that threatens to land her in prison, Vera Sava flees to a new country and reinvents herself in hopes of pursuing a career in medicine. Her plans derailed, she finds employment as a housekeeper, in the one place that will offer her a job without legal documents.
She thought her life fell apart when she found her father hanging from the exposed pipes in his office. That was only the beginning. Six long years later, hiding in shadows and fake identities have taken a toll on her. But she has to keep moving. She doesn’t know what lengths the Albanian authorities will go to find her. Homeless and practically destitute after her Swiss visa expires, the only employment she can find is working as a housekeeper on a country estate.
Sebastian Horn may be the heir to a legendary banking fortune, and currently the most eligible bachelor in the western hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t wrestling with his own demons. After having lost his beautiful, young wife in a terrible car accident, he’s pretty much decided that life is best lived under the comforting influence of booze and pills. Crippled spiritually and physically, he’s almost relieved when he discovers that someone is trying to kill him.
An unlikely, sensual love story between two people that vowed to never love again when life decides otherwise. Transcending class and culture, Vera and Sebastian must heal their past for their future to have any hope.

I flipped open my book with every intention of reading a couple of chapters as a refresher. But as I lay down, with my knees hitched up and my feet on the ground, a lazy feeling stole over me. The wind whispered a lullaby in my ear, and sunlight broke through the canopy of flowers, dappling my face. Swaddled in a deep sense of serenity, I closed my eyes and floated somewhere between fantasy and reality.
I’m not sure if I heard him or felt his presence. Nevertheless, my eyes crept open to find him a few paces away, standing rigid, his face taut with apprehension. Even from afar I could tell he was struggling with something. My stomach sank with a thud as all hope for a peaceful afternoon fled.
He was wearing a white v neck t-shit that outlined the power of his broad shoulders, the width of his chest. However galling, I had to admit his beauty seemed to increase exponentially every time I saw him…and his virility. My newly resurrected libido snuck that one in.
When he stepped forward, I scrambled to sit up and banged my leg against the trunk, flopping around as graceless as a fish out of water. He came close enough that I was forced to look up. Shoring up my defenses, I pressed my back up against the tree and wrapped my arms around my bent legs.“I didn’t mean to wake you,” he said looking up at the tree, his eyes narrowing at the sunlight. His silky hair rustled in the wind and fell over his eye. Deep in the back of my mind, where the dark, shameful part of me lived, I saw myself pushing it aside with my fingers. I looked away, a flash of heat tickling my neck.
“You didn’t. I was only resting my eyes.”
“Is that what you call it?”
He was exceedingly good at obliterating my self-control. Good sense would dictate that I did not get into yet another argument with the man that paid my salary, but why start using good sense now––that train left the station the minute I met him.
“Shouldn’t you be at the office? What are you doing skulking around the property? Or are you so obsessed with provoking me that you walked all the way out here to get your daily quota in.”
The side of his sensual mouth curved up briefly before he trained it back into a firm line. “I do own the property, so I’m not sure you can call it skulking. I’m working from home today…and I didn’t have to come all the way out here to provoke you, I could’ve just waited ‘til you came back to the house.”
The silence stretched on. Neither one of us hurried to fill it. Instead of it being awkward, it felt––strangely comfortable. I noticed he was leaning a little more heavily than usual on his cane. He tipped his beautiful face up towards the sun and closed his eyes. There was an extra tightness around them indicating his injury was causing him pain. An overwhelming urge came over me. I wanted to take his pain away, soothe him.
“Did you leave an Apple laptop in my room? I can’t keep it.” I kept my eyes on my bare flexing toes as I spoke.
“Why not?”
“Because it’s beyond inappropriate. I’m not in the habit of accepting expensive gifts from strangers.” I gathered my hair and tied it back in a ponytail, readying myself for battle.
“I’m not a stranger, I’m your employer.” His voice was unusually bland. I didn’t let that fool me.
“Or employers.”
“Well that would be stupid,” his anger percolated quickly, “those books are outdated…you need a computer.”
“You make perfect sense, but I still can’t accept it. It’ll be in your office tonight.”
I doubted anyone ever dared to disagree with him, not if they valued their welfare. His eyes assessed me shrewdly. His jaw tightened and he raked his fingers through his hair. He was working up another argument, as apparent on his face as if he had shouted “pistols or rapiers?” Surprisingly, though, he pivoted and walked away with ground eating strides. Needless to say, I was relieved, although unsure if the issue had been settled.
The cane must have sunk into a soft patch of grass because I watched him lose his balance and crumple to the ground. Instinct thrust me forward, towards him. He was clutching his knee when I reached his side. I knelt down closer and discovered his face twisted in pain.
“Should I go to the house and get somebody?”
“No!” he barked out. “Give me a minute.” Reaching into the pocket of his athletic pants, he pulled out a prescription bottle. I snatched it out of his hand and read the label.
“These are very strong. When was the last time you took one?”
His eyes darted away from me briefly, then returned weary and cautious. “Four hours ago.”
“You’re not due for another hour,” I said as gently as possible. Unlike him, I gathered no pleasure seeing him brought low.
He stared at his leg and didn’t respond. When he finally did look up, the mask was gone. His eyes were two deep pools of emotion, allowing me a glimpse of his pain and frustration, beseeching me to understand.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Sexy, intriguing, suspenseful and heartwarming, A Million Different Ways will grab hold of readers’ emotions and leave them wanting more. Sebastian is a broody, swoon-worthy alpha male, and Vera is a beautiful, courageous heroine. These two characters will pull at your heartstrings in this emotional and dangerous tale.” ~ RT Book Reviews
"This is probably the best book I ever read in my life. It had me up all night searching for book 2 and I literally cry because all I see is COMING SOON and no date. P. Dangelico you really need to release book two because I can't stop reading book 1 and everytime I do, the wait gets me more and more excited." ~ Amazon Customer
"You won't be able to put this book down!" ~ Leslie Ward
"A must read for anyone who enjoys a good romance novel." ~ AMB 18

My Review

The book starts with Sebastian's childhood letters to Santa detailing the breakdown of his parents' marriage. They serve to show us that the gruff man we are about to meet was once a sweet little boy, however, I found them an unnecessary gimmick. Flash forward 24 years to Geneva, Switzerland, where our narrator, Vera Sava, has just lost her job. Desperate, and under the threat of deportation to her native Albania, Vera takes a housekeeping position at the Horn estate, even though she is a fully trained doctor. Vera's first encounter with Sebastian Horn, the master of the house, is anything but idyllic, but we all know they're going to end up together! The question is, how? She'll undoubtedly have some competition along the way from the rest of the young female staff and numerous wealthy socialites. But what secret is Vera hiding from her past that has led her to where she is now? And when will it catch up with her?
This book is a described as a contemporary romance, but it should be labelled as an erotic romance, and the cover should be changed to reflect this genre. There is not much to the story, which mostly consists of graphic sex scenes. My major complaints: I would have liked to have seen more of Sebastian's high flying business dealings and less of Vera's domestic dramas; there are way too many misunderstandings and incidences of lack of communication between Vera and Sebastian; Vera is a trained doctor but can't even work out what's causing her illness; French words are not in italics which can lead to some confusion (e.g., French diner means "dinner" but looks like a spelling error); there are numerous editing errors, mostly incorrect word usage not picked up by spell-check; the title doesn't come into the story until 80% of the way through the book, then it is repeated four more times; the story ends on a massive cliffhanger, leaving a plethora of loose ends.
Warnings: coarse language, prescription drug abuse, numerous graphic sex scenes (including BDSM and voyeurism, and even bestiality in a dream sequence), ends on a cliffhanger.

About the Author
I make up stories, that's what I do. In the shower, while I'm driving, when I'm at the movies. It only seemed sensible that I should put them down on paper ... or computer screen. You could say romance is in the blood, I grew up watching my father paint the book covers of best selling romantic authors of the 80's and 90's such as Daniel Steele's Palomino. And after writing film scripts for years that never reached the screen, I finally made the switch to novels.
When I'm not writing, I'm usually painting, cleaning horse poo at the barn, or watching the NY Jets lose ... although I'm cautiously optimistic about the new season.