Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Guest Post: Seleste deLaney

Today on the blog I have Seleste deLaney, a fabulous author and fantastic friend. I absolutely loved Badlands and was thrilled when I heard CLockwork Mafia was coming out soon. Next Tuesday, to be exact. If you haven't read Badands, now is the time!

Why Men Don’t Rule

All authors get questions about the worlds they create, and we often try to answer those either directly or in future installments in a series. One of the biggest questions I get about the Badlands is how the prison system works and how that feeds into the political situation. It was a question I answered in Clockwork Mafia (at least a little), but the scene slowed down the pacing too much and was cut from a page and a half to two paragraphs. (Please bear in mind that since this was cut, it has not been edited.)

However, since people want to know…I want to share. (WARNING: the snippet has a teeny-tiny spoiler in it, but nothing that will hamper your enjoyment of Clockwork Mafia when you read it later. Because you will, right? I’d really like it if you did…)


…Of course, when the guard unlocked his door in the morning, instead of rushing forward to get out, he stepped back, his mouth open.

The guard peered into his cell. “Are you coming out or not? The queen said I should take you to the room where Dr. Mason was storing her things.”

“B-b-but…” Tobias tugged on his shirt in an effort to compose himself. “But you’re a man.”

Chuckling, the guard smoothed his beard. “Last I checked. Don’t let that fool you though, women still rule here. Quite frankly, I don’t want it to be any different.” He waved a hand toward the corridor.

Tobias picked up his jacket and dusted it off before stepping from the cell. “Why? It would seem once prisoners are released they’d band together to take power.”

“That’s Union thinking.” He waved at another guard—a woman this time—who unlocked the door leading to an open area surrounded by guardrooms. Once they entered, she moved to the other door and unlocked it, releasing them into the fortress proper. “You see. The Union says a man needs to be locked up for five years, ten years—however long—then they let ‘em out. Time served.

“Ain’t like that here. Just getting to the prison means we want to reform. Those warriors that man the borders don’t force anyone to come here. You run; you die. You put up more than minimal fight after finding out the rules; you die.” They twisted and turned down more corridors than Tobias could track, but perhaps that was the plan. “The men in those cells are the ones who want to change. In the Union, we’d be treated the same as the ones who go right back to doing wrong. No jobs, no homes, no lives. Here? Once we get out of the cells here, we’re human.

“Since Queen Laurette took the throne, there’s more opportunities than ever. She believes in what’s right, not just what’s right for women.” The guard opened another door at last and waved him in. “Why the hell would we try to destroy a world that treats us better than the one we came from?”

Dust from the floor stirred as Tobias entered and he covered his mouth to keep from coughing. “But what about power? Surely you strive for more than being a guard.”

Scoffing, the man reached in and swept a hand gently over the dimly glowing lichen on the walls, making them flare to life. He pointed to the far corner. “Broom’s over there if the dust really bothers you. As for me? I had power as a criminal and look what it got me—one cell to another until they shipped me across the river to a cell here. Too many people can’t handle power, men or women. It’s the reason they treat everyone, including criminals, the way they do here. You aren’t born to position; you earn it. Some men come out to be stable hands because that’s what they decided to earn. There ain’t much I want more right now than to make sure the men inside understand what they can do.”


If you have any questions about the men and the prison system, now’s the time to ask! I’ll answer as many as I can between now and the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention next week (look me up if you’ll be there!)

Clockwork Mafia:

Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father's duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can't resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal.His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason's strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands.

With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He'll have to win over Henrietta's trust, and her heart, before it's too late...

Buy at:
Carina Press
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks

If you aren’t going to be able to see her next week at the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention—or even if you are—you can also find Seleste around the internet:
Facebook Page
Facebook Profile

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: Born Wicked

A gorgeous, witchy, romantic fantasy!

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

I feel so bad about leaving Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood on my shelf for so long. I bought it when it came out, which was over a year ago. I met Jessica on the Breathless Reads tour, and since she's local, I've met her several times since. She is so sweet and lovely. So I felt bad about having not read it. But at the same time I was afraid to read it. What if I didn't like it? I didn't want to give it a bad review. She'd probably see it. (panics)

But I finally read it, and... it was AMAZING! It's definitely one of my favorite books I've read so far this year. I loved everything about it. (suppresses the gushing)

Cate Cahill is the oldest of three. She has two younger sisters, Maura and Tess. And they're all witches. That wouldn't be such a problem except the time period. Born Wicked is set in the late 1800's. Witches were feared. They were killed or locked up. Women weren't allowed an education. We weren't treated as equals. Cate is running out of time on her intention ceremony. She can choose to join the Sisterhood (which is not what it seems) or a young man who proposes to her. Or the Brotherhood can choose for her.

I really enjoyed Cate. I don't have two sisters, but I definitely connected with her in her role as oldest. Growing up, my mother was sick. I took care of my brother a lot. I could understand why she did what she did and made the decisions she made. It's not easy being the oldest and shouldering all of the responsibility. Trying to protect her siblings and doing what's best. Maura reminded me a lot of my brother. Being rebellious and seeing the older sibling as bossy instead of someone who is taking the role of caregiver. Whether they were getting along or not, I enjoyed their relationship. It felt really genuine.

Cate has two suitors. Finn and... that other guy. Just kidding. His name is Paul. But I'm Team Finn all the way! He's working at his family's book store and in the Cahill's gardens. He's intelligent and funny and different from other guys. Cate can't help but fall for him. She knows it's a bad match for a number of reasons, but the heart wants what it wants. While Born Wicked does have something of a romantic triangle, it's not the typical triangle we see in YA paranormal fantasy. And I really appreciated that. Too often it's a girl torn between the good guy and the bad boy, while we all know she's going to pick the bad boy from page one.

The Brotherhood... there are not words to describe how much I hated them. I wanted to jump in the pages and rip them limb from limb. As a woman and a feminist, they did nothing but piss me off. Which was their point. The Brotherhood, the men who work in god's service, were the real monsters. Not the witches. These villains were very well written.

And lastly, another thing that I loved about this book was that it kept me guessing. I had some theories. Some of them played out. But even reading the final pages, I wasn't sure what Cate was going to do. And that was quite possibly the best part about the book. I just requested book two, Star Cursed, on NetGalley. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Oh! And while I can't read French, I need this book on my shelf! See that last cover? One of the best witchy covers ever!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

I don't read very many YA contemporary romances. I prefer when the romance is more of a subplot. But I had heard so many great things about The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith, that when I was offered a chance to review it, I couldn't say no. And I was not disappointed.

I really liked Hadley, our lead female character. I felt like I really knew where she was coming from. The way she felt about her father and his remarrying. Her conflicting emotions. It was really emotional for me because of this. Hadley is on her way to England to go to her father's wedding, but she misses her plane and ends up on a later flight, sitting right next to Oliver. Oliver is sweet, adorable, and British. He's returning home for another reason.

Throughout the book their paths cross, and they have their ups and downs. Despite the fast paced relationship, their closeness made sense. It didn't feel rushed or fake. And it definitely read more as love than just infatuation. I enjoyed every bit of this book, the story and the characters.

I know a lot of people who are not a fan of the YA contemporary romance, but I would definitely encourage them to give this one a shot. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to more from Jennifer E Smith in the future.