Monday 21 April 2014

Release Week Blog Hop for Before the Storm by Claire Ashgrove; Review, Excerpt Q&A+ INT Giveaway

21522445Posted by Melanie
Release Date: April 21st, 2014
Finished Date: March 21st, 2014
Publishers: Untamed Spirit
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: For Review 
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
Halle Rhoads has a terrifying gift--she can kill with the fury of the storm.

She should have known that kind of power wouldn't go unnoticed. Thrust into a world full of dark magic with a handsome stranger who claims he can teach her, she struggles to master her abilities and stumbles onto a dangerous truth. She's a windwalker, the chosen vessel of the ancient dragons who once ruled the world. Many will stop at nothing to possess the power in her blood, should they discover her secret. With necromancers hunting her and Halle's closest allies guarding secrets, mastering her magic becomes a matter of necessity.

But accepting her destiny is altogether different. For doing so means she must sacrifice everything.
The Review: 4.5 flowers! 
Before the Storm is the exciting new book in the new Windwalker series from Claire Ashgrove, many of you may know her for the equally awesome The Curse of the Templar series that I adore but now she takes a dip into the Urban Fantasy/PNR genre.
I really liked the story to this and it opens up a very promising world for the reader to discover. I definitely connected with our main character – Halle Rhoads- it’s hard not to when you get her story and you see a girl brimming with unbridled power, who has lost everything at a young age but covers her insecurities with her attitude…. she is driven, driven to protect the sister -who doesn’t even know she lives- from a tyrannical uncle and it’s whilst putting her plan into action that she is accosted by a mysterious man who knows far too much about her…considering she’s meant to be dead! He promises her lessons in controlling her erratic magic, if she will accompany him back to his home… but what does he want in return? Halle doesn’t trust anyone and has learned there is always a price to be paid. What ensues between the two will make you laugh, make you smile, make you gasp and definitely pull on those heart strings as a battle of wills turns into something deeper. I liked the pairing, I thought they complimented each other and I liked that Kale could see through Halle’s defence mechanisms, it gave their relationship that extra depth with him understanding her on all levels and how she should be treat & educated, she pretty much ‘gets’ him too and it has a fated feel to the blossoming relationship, I also love that through this we get a few glimpses into both of their insecurities & fears, endearing them more to me.
As I mentioned, the story line opens up a very promising world filled with magical people who can control elements, nature, power, illusions, the physical form & even the dead which is all displayed very well throughout the book and as all good fantasy style books should…. I want to see it, I can picture it in my head through the great descriptions but to actually see it visually would be amazing because the battles, the fights and even the training using the magic available would be stunning! The introduction into this world really got my interest and I loved learning it alongside Halle, we already know that there is a firm enemy and a lot of people share Halle’s goal but there is so much more to be explored through the different ‘clans’ and their areas of magic, so many secrets to uncover, magic to be unravelled and learnt, goals to be achieved, alliances to be made and battles to be won, even the hint of a prophecy…. But this is just the start and whilst it was great to get to know the basics, the next book promises so much more…. Can’t wait! 

Chapter One Continued – Read Previous at Under the Covers

“It—I—we…” Faye stammered.

“You what? You can’t deny it, can you?” Allen straightened. He threw Faye’s cell phone at her feet and whirled on his heel, his hands clenched at his thighs. In the dim grey twilight, his formidable expression took on deeper, darker shadows. “I should have known when I took you in, you’d disappoint me. Your own father wanted nothing to do with you.”

I ground my teeth together, choking down fury. Daddy dearest had wanted too much to do with Faye. Just as he had with me. Overhead, lightning crackled through the clouds.

“You’re nothing but a good for nothing tramp!” Allen bellowed. “You’re going to respect the privileges you’ve been given, if I have to beat it into you. I swear to God, girl, you won’t embarrass me. Not with my re-election in another month.” He whipped around to face her once more, his arm cocking to his shoulder in the same angry whirl.

I glanced up. Felt that rage, that helplessness, the same instinctual desperation to protect Faye fill my veins. A deep roll of thunder sounded in the heavens, as ominous and foreboding as the telltale way my fingertips prickled with power I didn’t quite know how to control. All I knew was it happened when I felt. And I’d come here because Allen could provoke feeling inside of me. Now he’d regret ever disturbing the perpetual numbness.

Closing my eyes, I breathed deeply. Now. Let the storm come now. Let it be as horrible and deadly as the wrath I unleashed years ago.

A feeling of disassociation slipped over me, and distantly I felt a strange smile pull at my mouth. I remembered that odd sensation. Recalled all too well how it veiled over me and offered me protection from the flying debris even as it created an emotional barrier.
This was it. It would happen now.

As another bellow of thunder echoed overhead and the darkening sky filtered out the sun, I sucked in a deep breath and opened my eyes. My gaze focused on Allen; the stirring winds churned more violently. He uncoiled his arm, the back of his knuckles arcing toward Faye’s delicate cheek.

Something heavy hit me from the left. I toppled with the force of impact, barreled sideways into the fallen leaves and thick carpet of weeds and overgrowth. Knocked senseless, I barely comprehended a boulder of a weight pinning me to the musty ground. Gasping, I pushed to my knees to crawl away.

“No, you don’t,” a masculine voice whispered near my ear. Strong arms wrapped around my torso, anchoring my arms to my side as he rolled off me.
Hop today to read more at Reading Between the Wines!
Claire AshgroveQuestions for Claire Ashgrove & Before the Storm
   Tell us how you came up with the idea behind this series?
Of all the times to ask me this, through all the books I’ve written, this would be probably the one time I don’t’ have an answer.  I heard a song, it gave me the root of an idea, (Blown Away, Carrie Underwood), and I started writing words.  I pantsed the whole thing.  About halfway through I said, “Oooh.  I could do this and it can become that and voila, I have a series that is going to do all this.”
   Why did you choose this topic/genre?
My roots are in fantasy and I absolutely love to world build.  I’ve piddled with several ideas, have a couple truly epic fantasy works in the pool, but this one is the one I’ve managed to finish.
   What was your biggest challenge in creating this series?
That I pantsed the whole thing.  Laugh!  I usually plot to minutia.  This required a lot of thinking on how I could tie in one thing to another and how I could go to the next stage with the least amount of cut words possible.  I despise cutting words.
   How long did it take you to write?
I had other deadlines and obligations, so it’s not a true reflection of length of time to write.  But almost a year. 
 How many books will be in the series?
The entire series will be told in trilogies.  Halle’s journey will have three components.  The next journey will have three components, and so forth.  That way it can somewhat continue indefinitely for my own pleasure of writing and enthusiastic fans, but readers can hop-on / hop-off as they desire. 
   Who would you cast in the movie version of this book? Or who do you see playing them?
Oh my gosh!  I’ve been doing some of this with my Monday Meet the Cast stuff on Facebook!  Eva Gardner for Halle.  Simon Baker for Kale.  I’m totally stumped on someone for Marcus, but he’d have to act like Viggo Mortensen in LOTR.  Alan Rickman for Gerard.  I’m equally stumped on the Yaksini leader, but I’m leaning toward Anthony 
Hopkins.  For Surana?  Famke Janssen with red hair.
Do you have any other books that you’re working on that you could tell us about?
I have a pile of stuff coming down the pipes that I’m working on.  Of course, book two in this series – Tempest Rising.  Two books as Tori St. Claire for Entangled Brazen (one will release this year definitely.)  Three blue-collar Romantic-Era historicals as Sophia Garrett for Entangled (I love, love this series!) and another Immortal Templar book this fall.  Anyone want to clone me?  Listing it out like that has me a little freaked out.
Who is your favourite character from the book?
Rafini – Bet you didn’t expect that, eh?  For those of you who haven’t read yet, Rafini is a mentor of types for Halle.
What can we expect from book two?
Well, Halle’s in a bit of a fix at the end of Before the Storm.  She has a lot to still learn, and book two will see her accomplishing a lot of that.  We’ll learn more about the Noita and the Jadukara, and with the Yaskini aware of her abilities now, there will be regular action as well.  Her personal quest deepens, with more trials and struggles there as well.  And I have a few surprises I am really dying to share, but for the sake of not spoiling the entire book two, will leave them tightly under wraps.  

About Claire Ashgrove.....
Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy--a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.
In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.  She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

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literaladdiction said...

Great book, thanks so much for hosting Claire today. Claire... HAPPY RELEASE DAY!!!!

Claire Ashgrove said...

Thanks for hosting me! And good morning everybody! Hope your holiday was wonderful and if you don't celebrate, hope you enjoyed some family time.

So why do you all like Urban Fantasy? If you'll let me know, the daily prize for communicating with me is a digital copy of any of my backlist titles. I'll be back periodically throughout the day.

jovial_1 said...

Somehow I missed that Claire was writing this -and a new genre too. It sounds great!

denise226 said...

the book sounds really good thanks so much denise smith

Anyna M. Bedell said...

I can't wait to read this. It seems like the character, Halle and I would get along and be great friends. Claire Ashgrove has a very special talent that I admire.

Claire Ashgrove said...

Thanks all for participating -- I hope you're enjoying the preview! For the daily prize, I asked the oldest demi-demon to pick a number between 1 and 5, and he chose 5. Anyna Bedell, you're the winner of a digital book of your choice from my backlist. Please either connect with me via Facebook, or email me (claire at claireashgrove dot com) and let me know which one you'd like!

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