My favorite thing about the Indie & Self-Published Author event going on this month has been getting a chance to talk to some authors I’m a HUGE fan of, as well as spreading the word about their amazing books! I’ve hosted E.L. Adams and A.K.Â HÃ¶st in previous weeks — for my last spotlight, I’m featuring the awesome Lindsay Buroker, author of the Emperor’s Edge series! Today I’m reviewing the first book, which was one of the first books I bought for my new eReader in 2011 and subsequently devoured in one sitting. By the way, it’s a FREE eBook so you have no excuse not to go grab it RIGHT NOW. Ahem.
TITLE: The Emperor’s Edge (The Emperor’s Edge, #1)
AUTHOR: Lindsay Buroker
GENRE: Fantasy (Steampunk!)
FORMAT: eBook, 324 pages
Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.
Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.
I don’t care if you don’t read very much steampunk — I don’t even really care if you’re not a fan of steampunk at all. This book is simply too much fun for you to miss. I’ve encountered few casts of characters with as much chemistry despite their very obvious differences in personality; I have a reason for loving and growing attached to each and every one. As someone who’s been following the series for almost two years now, I just really can’t recommend it more. (Actually, finally reviewing this first book is making me all nostalgic. *sniff*)
TITLE:Â The Chocolate Thief (Amour et Chocolat #1)
AUTHOR: Laura Florand
FORMAT: eBook, 320 pages (Kensington)
Cade Corey is heir to a huge American chocolate company. She lands in Paris, the city of her dreams, with the conviction that she will sign Paris’ number 1 chocolatier Sylvain Marquis to an exclusive contract to produce a high end line of artisan chocolates for her family’s discount chocolate company. Used to getting what she wants, Cade is shocked when SylvainÂ flippantlyÂ dismisses her proposition. But Cade doesn’t let Sylvain stop her from pursuing her dream and sets off into the city of love to make her dream come true yet everywhere she turns, there is handsome Sylvain. Cade and Sylvain might butt heads but their shared passion for chocolate and undeniable chemistry has them rethinking their first impressions of each other.
Chocolate! Paris! Romance! What more could a reader ask for? That’s what I thought when I first heard aboutÂ The Chocolate Thief. The book had good dialogue and really made me feel like I was in Paris. Unfortunately, the rest of it didn’t work for me.
My biggest issue was that I never grew to like Cade. I simply didn’t like her. All theÂ initialÂ reactions to her and all the French people calling her an “American self-centered capitalist” was exactly how I saw her from the start and she didn’t end up redeeming herself to me. Throughout the book, she keeps saying how she doesn’t understand why the French won’t let her buy what she wants, whether it’s Sylvain letting her buy his brand and recipes for her company or a cafÃ© not selling her milk because they serve espresso without milk. She is very materialistic and I never felt like she grew beyond out. She definitely grew as a character but not enough for me to enjoy her. At one point I was actually rooting and hoping she would be sent to jail for one of her actions! Not a good sign that youâre liking the characterâ¦ Â I did like seeing a strong, female lead. Cade is unapologetic about being hardworking and ambitious. I always like seeing a heroine who is a strong woman, being positivelyÂ portrayedÂ and not forced to sacrifice everything for love. Sylvain is a very sympathetic character and enjoyable romantic lead. I liked how they hinted at his awkward, nerdy teenage years and his passion for chocolate was wonderful to read.
The romance isÂ hot. There is no denying the chemistry between Cade and Sylvain. Their scenes together really did sizzle off the page. As for their romance, overall I could understand why they ended up together but it still lacked something. They suffered from “insta-love” (a huge pet peeve of mine)Â and while yes I understand “lust at first sight”, there wasn’t enough development in their relationship for me to believe that they are as deeply in love as they say they are by the end. Cade wants to own Sylvainâs company so badly, I felt like that blurred the line between if she truly desiredÂ him, Sylvain the man rather thenÂ Sylvain the chocolatier. I struggled to understand how Sylvain would want to be with a woman who wants to buy him. It didnât make sense to me.
TITLE: Ink (Paper Gods, #1)
AUTHOR: Amanda Sun
GENRE: YA Fantasy
SOURCE: Digital ARC via NetGalley, 388 Pages
RELEASE DATE: June 25, 2013 (Harlequin Teen)
Katie’s new life in Japan is worlds removed from how things used to be. Feeling like a fish out of water, she struggles to adapt to all the changes being thrown her way, from learning a new language to deciphering the local culture. It doesn’t help that she’s also grieving for her mother, whose death left Katie an orphan with nowhere to go except her aunt’s home in Shizuoka. Even more puzzling than Japanese customs, however, is the enigmatic Yuu Tomohiro — a leering bully one moment and incredibly charming the next. There’s something more to Tomohiro, something Katie is determined to understand. What is he hiding? And why do the beautiful ink drawings in his sketchbooks seem to be alive…?
Yes, why indeed?? And why is it that the ink drawings ended up taking a back seat in a story that was supposed to be about them? That’s one of my biggest questions regarding Ink, which had such huge potential to me but ended up falling short of my expectations. I love that it’s set in Japan, I love that reading it was so much like an anime playing in my head, but I do NOT love how swiftly such a promising idea was relegated to the background in favor of “romance.” Sadly, for me it became yet another book with a fascinating premise that eventually tanked under a mess of obsessive insta-love (among other things).
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TITLE:Â The Moon and More
AUTHOR: Sarah Dessen
GENRE: YA Contemporary
FORMAT: eBook, 303 Pages (2013)
It’s the summer before her first semester of university and Emaline is expecting to spend it working for her family’s summer rental company, hanging out with Luke, her long term boyfriend and best friends Daisy and Moris. But things take a turn when her relationship with Luke shifts, a cute film student from New York, Theo, arrives in town to work on a documentary about a local recluse artist and herÂ absenteeÂ father comes back into her life. Emaline must find a way to deal with these changes and find out for herself where her future lies.
IÂ reallyÂ enjoyedÂ The Moon and More. I haven’t read a Dessen novel in years and I’m so happy this was the one I ended up reading! Emaline is easily one of my favourite contemporary YA heroines. I could see my 18 year old self in her. She struggles with trying to decide for herself what she wants when it comes to her future, whether it’s with Luke and what university are all things that teenagers go through during that awkward time when you aren’t high school student anymore but not quite yet an adult.
I loved how Emaline and Luke’s storyline was done even with the hurt between them. I really enjoyed them as a couple and am still rooting for them! Even though The Moon and More has romance element to it, it isn’t the center of the story but rather a setting to which Emaline’s path is set to. The story is about Emaline falling back in love with her small town and realizing that what she wants and expected from her life is just as good as what others expect from her.Â I also found the portrayal between Emaline and her estranged father to be excellent. The struggle she has with how her father and Theo keep telling her that she should want more then her small town life, that she is better then that really worked for me. That conflict within her was my favourite aspect of the story. Her relationship with her fatherÂ rang true and showed that sometimes there isn’t always a happy ending but that’s OK. In fact, I would say that all the relationships between the characters was done beautifully. I understood why these people were friends, how their family dynamic works and what connects them all and to this small town. This is by far one of the best, well rounded YA books I’ve read character wise.