Friday, February 22, 2019

Lone Star Book Blogger Tour: VORTEX by Kimberly Packard ***AUTHOR INTERVIEW & ENTER GIVEAWAY***

Genre: Women's Fiction / Psychological
Publisher: Abalos Publishing
Publication Date: January 31, 2019
Number of Pages: 308 pages


Constant spinning, round and round and round, temperatures rise and fall from stifling heat to chilling cold, emotions run high in anticipation of what will happen next… there’s a fine line between surviving a tornado and falling in love.
A close encounter with a tornado, during the final months of her doctoral studies, jogs a lost memory to the surface. Desperate to relive the vision and find answers, storm chaser Elaina Adams continually puts her safety at risk by placing herself in the path of dangerous storms.
When betrayal strikes, Elaina is forced to pair up with Robert Tucker. “Tuck” owns a storm chasing tour group and only cares about two things: chasing tornadoes and making his next buck.
Seth Maddux was climbing his way to the top as the star meteorologist for the Forecast channel, but an embarrassing outburst on camera sent his career on a downward spiral. Hoping to reignite his career with a promising field assignment, he meets Elaina and a different kind of flame sparks.
Family secrets surface and passions explode in this twister of a tale.
Vortex is a story of family, love, identity and determination set against the thrilling backdrop of Tornado Alley. 



How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Being a Texan has influenced my writing in a number of ways. First off, there’s that grit and determination all Texans are born with. Tell us something can’t be done, and we’ll do it. There’s also a rich texture of characters in Texas -- the people we grow up with and get to know. Texans are kind, diverse, smart, fierce, and loyal. And, there’s the landscape. A thousand worlds are right here in this beautiful state.

Where did your love of books come from?
My love of books came from my parents. As a kid, I didn’t get every toy I wanted, but I could have any book I wanted. And I think my love of storytelling has always been there. I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to be a writer. I even wrote to children’s author Beverly Cleary as a child to ask her how to become a writer. She wrote me back and her advice was read everything I can and write every day.

How do you decide if your main characters will be male or female?
In Vortex and my Phoenix trilogy, these main characters are women. For a few reasons, the genre I write in (women’s fiction) is mostly about a woman’s journey. But also, for these characters, it’s about finding their voice, their identity. But then, for my work-in-progress, when the story first came to me, I was certain the main character would be a man (because he was the first to speak to me). But while I was forming this story, I realized another character, a woman, had the most growth in this story, so she moved into the spotlight; but Jimmy is still there, just on the outer edges. And what I love about this story’s dueling POVs is these characters’ relationship is plutonic. Women and men can be friends; they don’t always have to be romantic partners.

What do your plans for future projects include?
I read a little bit of everything, so it makes sense that I want to write a little bit of everything. My next few women’s fiction ideas are stand-alone titles, but I’m toying with an urban fantasy, nine-book series that I’d like to do in the future. You know, in all my free time.

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like?
I’m actually in the process of completing my writing room, but it does have something I’ve wanted since I was a little girl – a window seat.

Do you have a mantra for writing?
My writing mantra, especially when I’m just starting a new story, is that I’m writing a first draft, not a final draft. It’s Ok to get a little messy with it; I can come back and clean it up later. Write with reckless abandon, and edit ruthlessly.

"Set in the heart of America’s Tornado Alley, Kimberly Packard’s latest psychological fiction swirls with discovery and betrayal. VORTEX may make you question who among those closest to you are really your friends." -- Addison Brae, author of Becker Circle "Vortex is a fast-paced story with a strong woman at its center. Readers will be in for a wild ride full of secrets, the labyrinth of memory, and the spark of romance. Definitely one to add to your reading list." -- Christine Brodersen, author of Lip Gloss, Shame and Murdered Tomatoes "Kimberly Packard is an accomplished author who writes strong women characters. She blew me away with her Phoenix series (three books you don’t want to miss) and now in Vortex, we meet Elaina Adams, who, like all of us, struggles with her past, her career, and her family secrets. Action, and emotion-packed, this page-turner is a different kind of love story." -- Vanessa Foster, author of More than Everything 

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of edgy women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found running, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in Texas with her husband Colby, a clever cat named Oliver and a yellow lab named Charlie. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. She is also the author of a Christmas novella, The Crazy Yates, and the sequels to Phoenix, Pardon Falls and Prospera Pass.


FIRST PRIZE: Signed Copy  +  $5 Amazon gift card + Bookmark
SECOND PRIZE: Signed Copy + Bookmark
TWO WINNERS: eBook copies

FEBRUARY 19-28, 2019
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BONUS post
Author Interview
Top Ten List
Deleted Scene
Scrapbook Page
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier

The Last Girl on Earth
By Alexandra Blogier
Published by Delacorte Press
January 23, 2018
256 pages

Plot: Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows--her family, her teachers, her friends--is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth.

A secret that could end her life.

The Abdoloreans hijacked the planet sixteen years ago, destroying all human life. Li's human-sympathizer father took her in as a baby and has trained her to pass as one of them. The Abdoloreans appear human. But they don't think with human minds or feel with human hearts. And they have special abilities no human could ever have.
Fit in or die.

When Li meets Ryn, she's swept up in a relationship that could have disastrous consequences. How far will Li go to stay alive? Will she save herself--and in turn, the human race--or will she be the final witness to humanity's destruction? (, 2019)

Review: In Blogier’s The Last Girl on Earth, an alien race called Abdoloreans decided that humans do not deserve to live on planet earth.  Humanity is destroyed, but Li is secretly adopted by an Abdolorean who befriended her parents. Sixteen years have passed and now Li is a teenager and living among the race that killed her parents and species. Her adopted father has helped her to blend in by giving her fake gills and training her to be smarter and stronger than your average human.   But one day, she meets a boy...and everything changes.

The premise of the story was very interesting.  Loved the cover too! However, there were too many things that didn’t make sense.  One thing that was strange to me was that Abdoloreans look and act exactly like humans, except for being stronger and having gills to breathe underwater. Li’s friends spoke and acted like your average human teenagers - jealousy, lust, loyalty, betrayal, etc... I had to keep reminding myself that this was a different species. The romance had potential; however, Ryn immediately fell for Li. He didn’t know her at all until he met her, and admitted he wanted to kiss her the moment he saw her.  For me, romances should be a little more drawn out.
The other thing that didn’t make sense to me was the militaristic society.  The young Abdoloreans in this world spend their adolescence training for a military rank that determines their assignment on other planets.  At the end of their assessment, they are given three different ranks: Officer, Squadron, and Infantry. Very similar to what the human military has. What was not made clear though, was why Abdoloreans are fighting on all these other planets? Are they enemies of so many different species? Why and what made them so superior? 

In addition, how would Li ever get away with fake gills? If this is a species that can
breathe underwater, why were none of the training exercises underwater? Even humans, who have no gills, have underwater military training exercises.  And wouldn't she be worried about a physical?

I really wanted to understand why Abdoloreans were so different from humans other than gills and physical strength.  The ending does indicate a sequel, so maybe many of these questions will be answered in book 2. Overall, the writing was very well done and I liked the POV from Li perspective throughout the book, but the alien race was too much like the human race and the story didn’t have the depth that I was hoping for.

*A DRC was given for an honest review

Rating:  3 Hearts

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara Larson

Dark Breaks the Dawn
by Sara Larson
Published by Scholastic Press
May 20, 2017
320 pages

Plot: On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price. (Goodreads
.com, 2019)
Review: Let me start off by saying that I loved Larson’s Defy series.  That was the main reason I picked up Dark Breaks the Dawn.  I definitely recommend that series if you haven’t read it! The cover for this book was very eye-catching and beautiful and was the second thing that caught my attention. That being said, I must admit I found it hard to get into this new series. Which was very disappointing for me since I loved Larson’s other books.  
The idea of light and dark kingdoms was interesting, but the fact that the queen would be fighting on the war front against the dark kingdom seemed unrealistic to me.  Especially since that if the queen was killed, the power of the light kingdom would also cease until the new queen got her powers. Which, by the way, was done by ritual and did not guarantee the heir would survive it.  This would leave the whole light kingdom very vulnerable because everyone was powerless when the queen died. So this was not something believable. It seemed too convenient a way for the queen to die and her daughter, Evelayn to take over.  
I do not remember the story of Swan Lake, but I believe that if you are going to build a romance throughout an entire book, than that romance needs to survive to the end of the series.  Especially, if a book is themed as part romance. Overall, the writing is good and the story was fine, but the characters and plot holes didn’t leave me anticipating the next book. In addition, the next book in the series, Bright Burns the Night, continues the story 10 years later.  That is quite a large gap in time from the end of one book to the next.  I still look forward to any new series that Sara Larson writes. This one just didn’t work for me.

Rating: 3 Hearts