Book Review ~ ‘Wintersong’ by S. Jae-Jones.

 

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
(Wintersong #1)
Genres: Romance, Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: 7th February 2017.

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SYNOPSIS

Dark, romantic and unforgettable, a fantastical coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Darkest Part of the Forest.

Deep in his terrifying realm underground, the cold and forbidding Goblin King casts a dark shadow over nineteen-year-old Liesl. Her grandmother has always warned her to follow the old laws, for every year on the longest night of winter, she claims, the Goblin King will emerge into the waking world in search of his eternal bride. Sensible and plain, Liesl knows it’s her duty to keep her beautiful sister Käthe safe from harm. But Liesl finds refuge only in her wild, captivating music, composed in secret in honor of the mysterious Goblin King.

When Käthe is stolen by the Goblin King, Liesl knows she must set aside her childish fantasies to journey to the Underground and save her. Drawn despite herself to the strange, beautiful world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she finds herself facing an impossible choice. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Set at the turn of the 19th century, when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music, S. Jae-Jones’ richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman’s search for self-actualization.

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Book Review ~ ‘Wintersong’ by S. Jae-Jones ~ 5+ Stars!

My God, this book. Just wow! I mean, just…umm. *speechless*

I may ramble incoherently, as I often do about the books I love, but this stunning book is so rich, sexy, magical that I feel I need to just scream about it from the roof-tops.

Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.

First off – That beginning. Oh my god! Fairy tales are a big favourite of mine, and from that first paragraph, I was enraptured, I could picture it in my head and was excited for the story to come. Music and magic coming together are a match-made in heaven for me, and as the story unfolds the sensual effect of music, magic and love left me breathless.

Secondly, the characters will stay with you for a long time after you finish reading. Liesl,  Käthe, the Goblin King – all were so well-developed and so extraordinary that they leapt off the page and I could see everything about them that I needed to to really believe in them.  I understood the battle of light and dark in the Goblin King, I felt Liesl’s reluctance to find herself, after years of helping her siblings find themselves, and Käthe, the girl who realises after it is too late how much she loves her sister.

Written in mind for the elder YA audience, this book has everything in it I wish I’d had to read as a teenager. Deeply, but not overtly, sensual, I would not recommend it for under sixteen years old, but there is something about this book that will trap you in its spell and let you recognise your own desires through Liesl’s experimentations with her music.

A stunningly written, sensual and fantastical romance, Wintersong is a must-read for fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Angela Carter.

5+ Stars!

*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Book Blitz ~ ‘More Than Exes’ by Elizabeth Briggs.

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More Than Exes by Elizabeth Briggs
(Chasing the Dream #0.5)
Publication date: October 28th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

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SYNOPSIS

Keyboardist Kyle Cross may look like a bad boy with his tattoos and piercings, but he’s really the good guy who’s always stuck fixing his band’s problems and never gets the girl. His band is competing in a college Battle of the Bands, but when their bassist doesn’t show, Kyle must track her down with the help of the person he least expects: his ex-girlfriend Alexis Monroe.

Kyle hasn’t seen Alexis since she dumped him in high school, and she’s dropped her preppy image for fiery red hair and a bold new attitude to match. With only hours before his band goes on stage, Kyle has to be a little bad if he wants to win both the Battle and the girl he’s never gotten over. But when their old problems resurface, the good guy might just get his heart broken all over again.

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“My car’s over here,” Alexis said, leading me to the other side of the parking lot.

“The same one as before?” We’d spent so much time in that old Mercedes back in high school. Truth be told, I was kind of excited to see it again.

“No, that one died a year ago. I have a MINI now.”

“Too bad. We had some good memories in that car.”

“We did.” She gave me a sly smile. “Some very good memories in the backseat.”

I coughed and tried to steer the conversation back to something less dangerous, but all I could think about was when we’d been together. “Remember that time we got lost on our way home from a concert in Pomona? And we ran out of gas in a shady part of LA and had to wait for Jared to come get us?”

“I remember. I was scared we were going to get carjacked, so you helped…distract me.” She met my eyes. “You were so very good at distracting me.”

Suddenly, all I could think about was how I’d like to distract her now. First, I’d tangle my fingers in that long, thick hair, getting a good hold of it. Then I’d tilt her head back so I could press my lips to her neck, to that spot just below her ear. She’d moan my name, and I’d work my way down, lower and lower, dipping inside the V of her shirt to taste every inch of skin I’d seen earlier. She’d reach for the front of my jeans and—

Whoa there. None of those things could happen. I could not get involved with Alexis again, and the only way I’d get through the night was to banish those thoughts entirely. Why was she even bringing all of that up again? Earlier she’d mentioned wanting to catch up, and now she was flat-out hitting on me. Did she want to get back together or something?

We stopped at a black MINI Cooper with white racing stripes across the hood. Not a car I’d ever picture her driving. Hmm, maybe she had changed.

“Nice car,” I said. “Not much room in the backseat, though.” Wait, why had I said that? It’s like I couldn’t stop myself from flirting with her, either.

“I bet we could still fit.”

Her eyes swept over me again, and it took all my energy not to press her back against the side of the car and devour her. I was so, so tempted to make a move, even though it was a terrible idea. Being around Alexis was causing my brain to not function properly. I wanted to blame my growing hard-on for rendering me stupid, but that wasn’t the entire reason. All the memories of being with Alexis, combined with seeing her again, were turning me into a sentimental fool.

I cleared my throat and tore my gaze away. “Let’s just find Becca, okay?”

“Sure,” she said, but she sounded disappointed. Hell, I was, too. I wished I was more like Jared and could do random, meaningless hook-ups, but that wasn’t me. If I got a taste of Alexis, I would only want more and more. I had to stop this now before it went any further.

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Elizabeth Briggs

Elizabeth Briggs

Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.

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Blog Stop ~ ‘More Than Music’ by Elizabeth Briggs.

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More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs
Chasing the Dream #1
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

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SYNOPSIS

Music major Maddie Taylor just finished her junior year of college and has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, yet every night she practices guitar and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don’t get to be rock stars. That is, until tattooed singer Jared Cross catches her playing guitar and invites her to join his band on The Sound, a reality TV show competition.

Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared than his flirty smile and bad boy reputation – and that he’s just as big a geek as she is. With each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore, but when the show pressures them to stay single they’re forced to keep their relationship secret.

As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.

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The crowd’s cheering took on more of a screaming sound, and one girl even yelled, “Jared, I love you!” I rolled my eyes. Not that I blamed the girl. With dark hair that always stuck up like he’d just gotten out of bed, a perpetual five o’clock shadow, and blue eyes that could charm any girl into giving him his phone number, Jared was impossible to resist. I wanted to, believe me, but every time he opened his mouth and sang it was all over.

Jared gave the audience a wicked grin while he grabbed his guitar, a black Fender Stratocaster almost identical to my own except for the color. Like Kyle, he had tattoos running up and down his toned arms, and I couldn’t help but wonder if they continued under his shirt.

The entire club buzzed with excitement, every one of us poised on the edge, holding our breaths and waiting for the plunge. In this moment, right before the music started, it felt like anything could happen—and I was ready.

Hector yelled out, “One, two, three, four,” and the band launched into their first song. Jared’s hard guitar riffs filled the small club, matched with the deep pulse of the bass, the fierce beat of the drums, and the eerie moan from Kyle’s keyboard. The music ripped through me, touching the wild, dark part of my soul I kept locked away. My fingers itched to form the chords myself and play along, but I kept my hands in fists at my sides. Instead I nodded my head to the music, picking out each note Jared played and feeling it in a way only another musician could.

When Jared leaned into the mic and sang, his smooth voice washed over me like a soft caress. It was like the last, decadent bite of a chocolate-covered strawberry. The smoky burn of whiskey as it slipped down your throat. The final night of passion before your lover left forever. I sang along to the words, feeling each line strike me deep inside. I understood exactly what he was saying, like he’d written every word just for me, like somehow he understood me in a way no one else did. Of course, every other girl in the club probably felt the same way I did. And a few guys, too.

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Book Review ~ ‘More Than Music’ by Elizabeth Briggs ~ 5 Stars!

To say I was excited at the prospect of reading ‘More than Music’ would be an understatement. The television show ‘The Voice’ had recently finished in the UK, and I was having serious withdrawal symptoms from having no decent music competitions on a Saturday night. ‘More Than Music’ more than fit the bill, and not only was it a brilliant escape from the real world, it was written in such a refreshingly honest way that I really connected with the characters, their hopes and desires in the music industry, and the price of pain and heartbreak that comes with having such big dreams.

Maddie was such a great heroine. Her dilemma of whether or not to sacrifice her dream for the opportunity to have a more stable occupation was something that I think many young readers will connect with. The way that her less than stellar relationship with her mother factored into this was really interesting to see, especially when their relationship developed slightly throughout the novel, and Maddie and her mother were able to see that there was more to life when you could take a risk. I really admired Maddie as a young girl for giving up something she’d worked for, not only to help her friends, but also to help her experience more of what life has to offer.

Jared was a character that I really empathised with. It was heartbreaking to see how much he was willing to give up to achieve his dream. I never felt angry with him, even when I probably should have, because it was always clear that Jared’s hopes for the future were one-directional, and that to succeed with his music, the strongest relationship he has with anything, was to show that he didn’t destroy everything he touched. It was a heartbreaking read to see how his drive and utmost focus on winning instead made him push away those closest to him.

The reality TV show aspect of the book was written to perfection. I felt every moment of fear, heart-palpitating nerves, celebration and loss as the bands battled for the win, and I loved reading about the inner workings with the mentors and how they differed in their approaches. It also highlighted the things that are hidden from the audiences eyes, such as how the contestants are treated, the favouritism, the vendettas and the masks that some of the famous mentors put on for the world, only to reveal a monster beneath when working behind the scenes.

This was a heart-pounding, romantic and rocking novel which just gripped me from start to finish. I will definitely be reading more in the ‘Chasing the Dream’ series.

5 Stars!

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Elizabeth Briggs

Elizabeth Briggs

Elizabeth Briggs is a Young Adult and New Adult author who lives in Los Angeles with her British husband and a bunch of fluffy white rescue dogs. She’s a guitar-playing geek who loves books, rock music, and video games, goes to Comic Con every year, and is still hoping to be a Jedi when she grows up.

Elizabeth currently works with WriteGirl to mentor at-risk or pregnant teen girls in writing, to help them get through high school and into college. She also volunteers with Bichon FurKids to help rescued dogs find a new, loving home. She previously worked as an intern for literary agent Jill Corcoran of Jill Corcoran Literary Agency, an intern for Entangled Publishing, and an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

Elizabeth is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary and is a member of SCBWI and RWA.

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Book Blitz ~ ‘More Than Music’ by Elizabeth Briggs.

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More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs
(Chasing The Dream #1)
Publication date: June 17th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

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SYNOPSIS

Music major Maddie Taylor seems to have her life all figured out. She’s just finished her junior year of college, has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, and plans to go to grad school to write movie scores. Only her roommates know she practices guitar every night and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don’t get to be rock stars.

Tattooed singer Jared Cross has a new girl every week, but when he catches Maddie playing one of his songs, she attracts his attention in an unexpected way. His band needs a fourth member for The Sound, a reality TV show competition—and he wants her. Though Maddie refuses to be another notch on Jared’s bedpost, she agrees to risk everything for the chance to be a rock star.

Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared behind his flirty smile, and with each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore. When the show pressures Jared to flaunt his player image, they’re forced to keep their relationship secret, but Maddie can’t help but want something real.

As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.

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Our ten minutes were up too soon, and we were directed down a brightly lit hallway and into the backstage area. The Sound used a special kind of rotating stage that I’d also seen at music festivals, with a platform on each side so bands could set up and break down their equipment while another band was performing. Then the stage rotated, and it began again. This saved a lot of time with so many bands playing back-to-back.

I couldn’t see the band currently on stage, but their music pounded under my feet as the crowd cheered for them. We were about to be in the exact same spot, in front of that same crowd, with our music blasting through the speakers. No, I couldn’t think about that or I’d run straight back to that waiting room.

We rushed onto the back side of the stage, which had already been cleared by the previous band. Our gear was waiting for us, and some roadies helped us get it unpacked quickly. After hours of waiting, everything was happening so fast. I didn’t have time to think; I just shoved my earpiece in and grabbed my guitar to check the tuning while the other guys handled their own instruments. I got my distortion pedal and mic set up just as the band on stage finished their song. I heard the mentors commenting but couldn’t tell if the band had done a good job or not. Either way, it meant we had to hurry.

Kyle got behind his keyboard, Hector sat at the drums, and that left me and Jared up front. My sweaty fingers dropped my guitar pick, and when I went to grab it, my knees nearly gave out from under me. When I straightened up, Jared stood right in front of me, his bass hanging from his neck.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Um, as ready as I’ll ever be.” Which was to say, hell no. I smoothed my hair and yanked the bottom of my dress down, wishing I had a mirror to check how I looked one last time.

“Just have fun. It’ll be over before you know it.” He brushed a finger against my cheek, making me shiver. “Stray eyelash,” he explained. “You look amazing, by the way.”

Our eyes locked, and for a second, it was only the two of us on stage, about to make music together. He offered me one of his heart-stopping smiles, and it gave me the strength I needed to go through with this.

The stage began to turn, ending the moment. Jared and I moved back to our positions in front of our mics as the roar of the crowd grew louder and spotlights flashed in our eyes. My heart pounded as an entire sea of faces stretched before me. And in front, the four musicians who would decide our fate.

This was our one shot to change our futures forever. Our one moment to lose ourselves in the music and hope we brought the audience along with us. Our one chance to turn our dreams into reality.

I was ready.

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*1 signed paperback of MORE THAN MUSIC + bookmarks*
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Elizabeth Briggs

Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.

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