Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#Tuesday Review - Chaos by Sarah Fine (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Guards of the Shadowlands # 3
Format: Kindle, 385 pages
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape
Source: Amazon
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

With Juri in control and everything in absolute chaos, Lela plunges into the depths of hell to free Malachi from creatures that have waited decades to exact their revenge. But the Judge has her own way of doing things, and Lela must work with Ana, the new Captain, who has a very personal mission of her own. Together, they infiltrate the most horrifying realm either has yet encountered in the Shadowlands—the bitter landscape ruled by the Mazikin.

The stakes could not be higher, and Lela must accept the help—and love—of people she barely knows or trusts. As alliances and loyalties shift and she realizes the soul she came to save isn’t the only one in need of rescue, can Lela summon the strength to see the fight through to the very end?

Chaos is the final installment in the Guards of the Shadowlands trilogy by Sarah Fine. Chaos picks up right where Fractured left off, so if you haven't yet read Fractured, do so now. Lela Santos world has literally been turned on its side ever since her best friend Nadia committed suicide in Sanctum. She dove in without any hesitation to save her from the Shadowlands and found love and a second chance in the process with Malachi a Captain of the Guard who has spent 70 years hunting and killing Mazikin. Things were left in a major pickle at the end of Fractured, and now, Lela must put her own life on the line once again in order to bring Malachi back from the darkest place in the afterlife; Mazikin City. 

As if saving and bring back Malachi wasn't hard enough, Lela is given other tasks to complete as well. (1) Find the portal which is allowing the Mazikin to escape to Earth and destroy it. (2) Destroy the Queen of the Mazikin. Thankfully, the Judge doesn't send Lela to the Dome where Mazikin City is located alone. Ana returns and is sent along with Lela to complete these tasks and find the love of her life (Takeshi) who has been missing for years now. Lela and Ana realize that the Judge is playing a very dangerous game, and they, along with Malachi, and others, are just pawns in a much larger game. 

The Judge wants the Mazikin situation handled, and handled now. Lela's worries are validated when she and Ana arrive. Malachi's soul is in the Dome, and the Queen is keeping him all to herself. If you are squeamish in any way, I would advise you that things do get a bit brutal in this book. Ana and Lela are forced into alliances with brutal human leaders who have come to accept that the Mazikin are their masters. They see familiar faces, and know that one wrong move will be their last. 

I was a bit puzzled when the first two items on Ana and Lela's list were finally resolved and the reunions happened. Yet, I knew that there was more to come in this story. There was more to come because Lela hasn't completed her final mission in destroying any remaining Mazikin on Earth. One of the most heart breaking scenes is Lela's reunion with Malachi not once, but twice. I dare say that I reached for a Kleenex once or twice.

Chaos is a step up from Fractured in darkness and action. While the normal world was dangerous, and the Mazikin made things hard for Lela and her crew, Mazikin City is no joking matter. I love the fact that Fine writes about dark worlds, and broken characters, and doesn't hold anything back. I love that she has made Lela a hero, but doesn't leave her alone without any support system. I loved that Ana makes a return, and I love that we finally, finally get to meet the love of Ana's life Takeshi. I loved the reunion with Lela's own mother who I honestly felt heart broken for and the Mazikin who saved Lela in Fracture.  

Malachi is the real deal folks. He laid down his own life for Lela. He made Lela feel things she hasn't felt before while also making her realize that she was absolutely worth something and not just someone who was tossed away and spent years in and out of foster homes. Fine walks away from any dick measuring contests in this book. There is Lela's destined love for Malachi, and nobody else was going to measure up to what he has in his heart. I'm sad that this trilogy is over, but I am not sad that I had the pleasure of reading this entire trilogy back to back. 

Previous Installments:

Monday, October 5, 2015

#Blog Tour Review & Giveaway - Illusion by Lea Nolan (Young Adult, Paranormal)

Series: The Hoodoo Apprentice # 3
Format: E-Galley, 298 pages
Release Date: October 5, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

New school. Cross-country move. Broken heart. If only these were Emma Guthrie’s worst problems. Instead, she must battle a trio of enemies—human and spectral—who may or may not have joined forces against her and everyone she loves. All while pretending to be over Cooper Beaumont, her ex-boyfriend and true love, to shield him from her arch-nemesis’s revenge.

Worse, when the fight escalates, Emma is tempted to use black magic, which will endanger her soul. As her enemies close in, join forces, and fight with new and dark magic she’s never seen before, Emma must harness the power within her to fulfill an ancient prophecy, defeat a centuries-old evil, save her family, and reclaim the only boy she’s ever loved.

Set in the  South Carolina Low-country, Illusion is the final installment in The Hoodoo Apprentice trilogy. 14-year old protagonist Emmaline (Emma) Guthrie has been tested over and over again by various forces of evil ever since she became a hoodoo (root worker) apprentice to 97-year old Cordelia "Delia" Whittaker. She's saved her brother Jack from a 300-year old curse known as the Creep. She saved her best friend and romantic interest Cooper Beaumont from his families curse that was supposed to kick in when he turned Sixteen. She even saved her father Jed Guthrie from his own curse that was tied to the Beaumont family. 

Now Emma has to face her own demons in order to save the ones she loves. The question for Emma is whether or not she will face her adversaries with good magic, or fall to the darkside of Magic and lose not only her soul, but everyone she loves in the process. With Delia being set up by Emma's adversaries Claude Corbeau & Taneea Branson for something that apparently happened in the past, Emma needs to dig deeper into her bag of tricks to not only save Delia, but those she loves as well. If she can't do so, then her adversaries will win and she and others will be lost. 

With Cooper and her brother Jack alongside, Emma can finally put an end to the trio of evil which includes 300 year old spirit Sabina. I love Emma even with all her mistakes. I love that her character remains steadfast for such a young lady. At Fourteen, most girls are just finding their first romance and don't have the weight on an entire community on her shoulders. Emma has had to deal with family issues, her brother nearly being killed, and having to rise up to the occasion over and over again. Emma never once acted like a girl who was Fourteen. She's much more mature, much more capable of handling things without adult supervision, and has mostly kept to the good side of magic.  

In the end, I really liked how Nolan ended this trilogy. I didn't think the story needed any more action, or suspense, or danger, or even romance. She covered it perfectly. I didn't mind having to wait an extra year for the final installment. Sometimes things happen to publishers and authors and delays happen. As long as the reader is allowed to finish the series, then a little delay is nothing compared to not knowing what happens in the end. I love these new covers! (See below!) 

I loved that even though Emma tried hard to keep Cooper safe and away from her while she was fighting against the villains, he stood by her anyway, and didn't leave her side. Not even when Emma faced off for the final time against her archnemesis Sabina, Claude and Taneea. I loved that Jack found a happy ending all his own with a new character who was introduced and became fast friends with Emma. She never once believed any of the rumors that Taneea tried to pile on Emma's shoulders. Loved that Nolan gave readers an idea at how tempting the darkside really is, and hard it is to remain 100 percent good.

On a final note, I do appreciate an author who takes the time and researches the subject that she is writing about. Fantasy is fantasy, but it is nice to have some semblance of facts about being a Root Worker, and those who also practice voodoo. 

**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Previous Installments:

Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday. But when a strange girl appears bent on revenge, demon dogs become a threat, and Jack turns into a walking skeleton, Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever.

Worst. Summer. Ever.

Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper’s sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Low-country, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent, Emma discovers that both his heart and body are marked for possession by competing but equally powerful adversaries.
Desperate to save him, Emma and her twin brother, Jack, risk their lives to uncover the source of the black magic that has allured Cooper and holds him in its grip. Faced with the horror of a soul-eating boo-hag, Emma and Jack must fight to resist its fiendish power to free Cooper long enough to join their strengths and face it together, before it destroys them all.

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

About Lea
_MG_9498-2Lea Nolan is a USA Today bestselling author who writes books for young adults featuring bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She also pens smart, witty contemporary stories for adults filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance.
With a master’s degree in women’s studies and public policy, and an undergraduate degree in history, she spent twenty years as a health policy analyst and researcher, writing hundreds of fascinating reports and articles tens of people enjoyed. Today, she teaches graduate courses in health policy, law, and financing, and takes on the occasional consulting gig.
Born and raised on Long Island, New York, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, she resides in Maryland where she scarfs down crab cakes whenever she gets the chance.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

#Saturday Review & Excerpt - Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Goddess War # 2
Format: Paperback, 341 pages
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: ARC Trade
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Ares, God of War, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She's ready to wage a war of her own, and she's never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she'll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace.

Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can't have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite. 

The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra's hate will get them ALL killed. 

The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can't, fates far worse than death await.

Mortal Gods is the second installment in the Goddess War trilogy by author Kendare Blake. What you should know. Mortal Gods picks up 3 months after the heart breaking ending to Antigoddess which left prophetess and God Killer Cassandra Weaver in mourning over the loss of Apollo/Aidan. The Goddess War began with Gods from the Trojan War Era (Athena, Hermes, Demeter, Hera, Aphrodite, and Poseidon<--deceased) dying from various bizarre ailments which are graphically cataloged down to the owl feathers being pulled from Athena's mouth and Demeter's situation. Aphrodite has since collected the God of War, Ares, to her side while another God, Artemis, was last seen in one of Cassandra's dreams running for her life.

Let's talk about what's happening to the Gods for a moment. While the war itself is important, it pales to what is happening to these Gods and why and who is actually responsible for their predicaments. Athena while not as bad as others, continues to cough out feathers. Hermes eats as much as he pleases, yet can never be filled. Hermes is such a wonderful character. I definitely feel for him. Can you just imagine eating and eating and never being full? Ares and Aphrodite are also experiencing their own form of Hell on earth. Apparently, the only way to stop this suffering from happening, is to win the war which will presumably bring things back to normal to the winning side.

It is apparent that Athena and Hermes are up against some very powerful gods/goddesses who will do anything they can to remain prevalent without much, if any, support behind them. Nobody knows where Zeus is. What about Gods like Hades, Dionysus, and Hephaestus? Where are they? Whose side would they choose if they were found? Athena's or Aphrodite's?  It is also apparent that not everything is what readers have come to believe. Trust me, I am not going to spoil the SURPRISE that Blake tosses readers way or the stab me in the heart cliffhanger. Athena has searched for weapons that she could use to stop Hera's machinations in her tracks. These extraordinary humans/weapons are Odysseus, Hector (Henry), and Andromache (Andie). 

But, Cassandra (Cassandra of Troy) is the most valuable weapon since she has the ability to kill a God with her touch. Cassandra is angry, desperate, perhaps a bit out of control, and ready to take on the world whether Athena is ready or not. Her relationship with Athena is far from settled. I dare say that Cassandra would be happy killing every single god, regardless of what side they are on. Cassandra has gone from someone who had no clue about her previous life, to now planning on reigning down hell on Aphrodite for what she did to Aidan. I totally understand that she and Aiden were more than friends. They had a long history. But, her recklessness and anger issues does put her allies in some dangerous situations. 

Three more characters make their debut in this book. Persephone, Calypso, and Achilles. Achilles, like Cassandra, is considered a weapon of fate. Whomever has him, has a good chance of winning the war. Calypso has her moments, but I haven't come to like her or hate her at this time. Persephone is perhaps just a hiccup on Cassandra's road to find Aiden. If you think Blake is going to go easy on Athena and her allies, you haven't read any of Blake's previous novels. Mortal Gods takes our cast of characters from Kincaide, New York, to the Underground where Cass hopes to find Aidan and later onto Olympus where an actual face to face battle takes place. A battle that has a whole lot of implications for the final novel in this series.  

Previous Installment:

Snow never gathered on Aidan’s headstone. Other grave markers stood half-buried, with ridges of ice packed across the tops even after family members brushed them off. But Aidan’s sat bare. Snow and ice shrank from it. Out of respect? Or out of horror, maybe, at something buried beneath the ground that had no business there.
A god. A god lay dead at the feet of that granite slab. Apollo. Aidan Baxter. God of the sun.
Cassandra Weaver stood off to the side, as she had on every Tuesday and Friday afternoon since they’d buried him. Sundays were too crowded, and she hated the sound of other mourners, the ones who knew how to mourn and what to say. How to cry softly into a handkerchief instead of screaming until their noses bled.
Her fingers reached out and traced the air in front of his name. Aidan Baxter, Beloved Son and Friend. Every day in the cemetery she thought she’d say something that needed to be said, but she never spoke.
High on Aidan’s grave marker, above his name, was a carving of an enflamed sun. No one had told his parents to put it there. They just had. One more strange thing, working its will on the world, placing symbols for dead gods and keeping the snow at bay.
Odysseus stepped up beside Cassandra and laced his fingers through her hair, drawing it over her shoulder like a brown curtain.
“It’s been an hour. Should we go?” His neck was tucked into his shoulders. Londoner. Unused to the cold.
She’d asked him to be her alarm clock. Time in the cemetery tended to stretch out, and she didn’t have hours to lose. Normally, the job fell to Athena. The goddess accompanied Cassandra practically everywhere she went. A faithful, and hated, hound dog. Looking past Odysseus, Cassandra could almost see her, standing quietly near the edge of the cemetery in the copse of bare winter trees. She’d used to lean against a monument of a weeping angel, looking bored, until Cassandra snapped at her and said she was being disrespectful. But Athena was hundreds of miles away, somewhere between New York and Utah, seeking another dying goddess, stretched out across the desert. Seeking word of Aphrodite.
Cassandra’s hands tingled and burned even at the thought of Aphrodite’s name. They’d spent two months looking, Athena and Hermes both. They threw lines out in all directions, and still Aphrodite was nowhere to be found.
Andie said it didn’t matter. That Aphrodite would die eventually anyway. But it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be enough, if it wasn’t at Cassandra’s own hands.
Odysseus sank deeper into his coat. His shaggy brown hair made for poor earmuffs. Cassandra flexed her fingers to drive the burn away, and to drive Aphrodite from her thoughts.
“Cold?” she asked.
“Of course I am. It’s beastly cold.” He stuffed his hands under his armpits. “But take your time. We’ve got a while before we need to nab Andie from practice.”
“We can go. Thanks for coming with me.”
“Anytime. But if we don’t go soon, I’m going to warm my feet on his gravestone. Think he’d mind?”
Cassandra looked at the marker. Aidan Baxter. She’d loved him from the minute she saw him, without ever knowing what he really was. Who was she to say what he’d do, or what he’d feel?
I knew him in two lives, and not at all.
She remembered what he’d done to her in Troy—driving her insane, cursing her to never be believed—and she hated him. But she also remembered the sound of his voice and the last look in his eyes. He was there, underneath the dirt, and she’d give anything to reach down and pull him out of it. Even if it was only to scream into his face.
Damn you, Aidan. You were never this infuriating when you were alive. Come back, so I can tell you so.
“‘Beloved son and friend,’” she read. “If they only knew. That it isn’t the half of it. That they’d have needed a gravestone a mile long to tell the whole story.” She shook her head. “Four words. It’s not enough.”
Odysseus put his arm around her and tugged her close. He took a deep breath, and kissed her head.
“I think he’d say it’s everything.”

Cassandra and Odysseus walked into the ice arena and found Andie waiting on the steps leading up from the locker room. Her hair stuck to her head, steaming with sweat from practice. It wasn’t that much warmer inside the arena than out, but Andie stretched her t-shirt-clad arms happily.
“First one done?” Cassandra asked, descending the stairs.
“As usual.” Andie cocked her head toward the locker room. Inside, the shouts and laughter of her teammates mingled with the noises of packing skates and pulling Velcro. She snorted. “I don’t know what they’re laughing about. They suck. We suck.”
“Still time to turn it around.”
But there wasn’t. February was upon them, and the hockey season neared its end. Andie waved at Odysseus as he talked to the girls running the concession stand. “Hey, heartbreaker! Get me a hot dog!”
The sheer booming volume of Andie’s shout made Cassandra squint. “You’re in a decent mood, considering how bad you suck.”
“Yeah. It’s funny, but I don’t really care that much. Did you know?” she asked Cassandra. “That the season was going to blow?”
Cassandra shrugged. Of course she had. The usual, runof-the-mill visions were still around.
“Well, anyway. What’s going on in the world of weird?” Andie asked. “Does Athena still want to look for Artemis?”
“So Odysseus says.”
“But you saw Artemis running to her death months ago.” Andie craned her neck and gestured for Odysseus to hurry up.
Had it really been so long? Standing in the hockey arena, it felt like minutes, not months. Cassandra’s eyes clouded with memories of overgrown jungle leaves streaked with blood. The slim girl with brown and silver hair, chased down by a pack of ravenous who knew what. She could almost smell the blood and the rich black dirt. “Yeah,” Cassandra said, taking a breath. “But it’s the only vision we have to go on. And you know Athena. Any chance for another soldier is a chance too good to pass up.”
“Don’t be unfair,” Odysseus said, sneaking up behind them. “It’s about saving her sister as much as it is finding a soldier. And Artemis was Aidan’s sister, too, you know. His twin.” He handed Andie a hot dog in a cardboard shell.
“Finally. What took so long?”
“Sorry. Got caught chatting up Mary and Allie.” He nodded to the girls in concession, who leaned so far over the counter they were about to fall out of it.
Andie batted her eyes. “Odysseus is so witty. Odysseus is so charming! Don’t you just loveOdysseus’ accent!” She took a huge bite of hot dog and talked through it. “Barf.”
Odysseus had enrolled at school a month earlier. An ancient Greek hero, matriculating at Kincade High so he could dog Cassandra’s footsteps. Athena’s idea, though she probably regretted it now, seeing how popular Odysseus had become with every girl in their grade. But no. Having him there served a purpose, and to a goddess that was the important thing.
“You headed to Athena’s place?” Andie asked, referring to Athena’s new house, a few streets over from Cassandra’s own, where she lived with Hermes and Odysseus. “I’ll come with you if you guys can stop off and let me shower.”
“When’s your car supposed to be fixed?” Cassandra asked.
“Dear god, soon,” Andie groaned.

Friday, October 2, 2015

*Stacking The Shelves & The Weekly Recap* 10/02/2015

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks!

Thanks for Stopping by!
I only received (1) book this week! WOOT!
It's for a blog tour stop later this month.

Happy Reading!
The Week in Reviews:

Monday - Fractured by Sarah Fine (YA, Fantasy)

Tuesday - The Summer Marked by Rebekah L. Purdy (YA, Fantasy)

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein (Young Adult) - Talk Supe Blog

Thursday - Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy)

Saturday - Mortal Gods by Kendaire Blake (YA, Fantasy)

Scheduled for Next Week:

Monday- (Book Tour/Review) - Illusion by Lea Nolan (Young Adult)

Tuesday - Chaos by Sarah Fine (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Forged by Erin Bowman (Young Adult)

Thursday - Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Brambles (Young Adult)

Friday - Ward Against Destruction by Melanie Card (Fantasy)

Saturday - Noir by Jacqueline Garlick (Fantasy)

*Received via Edelweiss*

Thank you Harper Voyager!

#Friday Review - Enchanted Revenge by Theresa M. Jones (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Empyrean Chronicles # 1
Format: E-Galley, 400 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Luftmensch Press
Source: Author
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

When seventeen year old Lily finds her parents brutally murdered, leaving her broken and alone, she is determined to bring justice to the fairies responsible. 

Her quest leads her to infiltrate The Empyrean, the land of the Fae where terrifying creatures lurk in every shadow. But with a political rebellion mounting, bloody battles and foreign enemies stand in her way. Alec, a mysterious fairy keeping his own secrets, gradually becomes her guide and dear friend in the unfamiliar world, and restores her faith in love.

Disturbing secrets about her parent’s true identity are revealed, causing her to be more involved with the devastating fairy war than she can afford. Her vengeful mission becomes compromised and her growing romance with Alec wavers. 

She must conquer her fear of the unknown, ignore her grief, and overcome her growing list of enemies if she is to succeed in avenging her parents’ death. Or ever make it out alive. 

It is a YOUNG ADULT urban fantasy, and has some mild sensuality and language.

Enchanted Revenge is the first of four planned books in the Empyrean Chronicles series by author/blogger Theresa M. Jones. The series features Lily, a pretty normal high school teenager who just happens to have white/blonde hair, orange eyes, and a small stature. Things change when she comes home and discovers that her parents have been brutally murdered by unknown killers. Things really wind up when Alec, a Sylph Realm Guard who is supposed to protect the human realm, senses a large release of magic, and offers a different view on who Lily really is. 

Lily is determined to see revenge bestowed on those who murdered her parents but obviously can't do it by herself even though she talks a good game. She and Alec travel from Kansas, via Texas, to Empyrean, the Fairy homeland, where she hopes to track down the killers, and exhort her own form or justice. Empyrean is a place where four species of Fae call home; Sylphs, Sprites, Nymphs, and Pixies. Fae are not immortal, but they are capable of living really long lives. They can also be killed with magic. Each species of Fae lives in a different part of Empyrean under the rule of megalomaniac King Mastich who demands that all Fae donate magic monthly to the cause. Mastich is said to be responsible for the disappearance of the previous King and Queen who were very popular.

Alec is a really good teacher, and probably the best support mechanism a person can hope for. He's very patient, kind, and supportive of Lily's questions and naivity about who and what she is. He guides Lily along the way while discovering that there is a rebellion brewing against the King. Alec also has a really dark secret that he ends up sharing with Lily. Kind of makes him even more likable knowing about his past, and what he had to deal with. Lily and Alex do find some help along the way, but also find that they need to be wary about who they trust. You never know who might pop up and try to kill you. 

The closer Lily gets to her seventeenth birthday, the hope is that she will come into her powers which means she will have wings like Alec. But, the most important part of this story is finding the mercenaries who killed her parents, discovering who her parents really were (SHOCKER!) and who sent the mercenaries to kill them. There is a pretty dark scene after Lily makes a huge blunder and ends up paying for it. Thankfully, the author didn't go to far with the brutality or suffering she faced. What's more, is that the author doesn't try to twist another character into a love triangle. I love Alex and Lily's romance just the way it is.  

**I received this book for free from Theresa M. Jones (author) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Next up in Series:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

#Thursday Review - Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Kate Daniels # 8
Format: Hardcover, 342 pages
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: ROC
Source: Library
Genre: Urban Fantasy

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Magic Shifts is the Eighth installment in the Kate Daniels series. Two months ago, Kate and her ever present lover, fiancĂ©, werelion, antagonist, and Beast Master Curran left the Shire behind after an ultimatum was given by her father, Roland. OK, it's not actually the Shire, it's the Pack, but you get my drift or humor attempt. Two months ago, Kate also claimed Atlanta to stop her father from going after those she loves. I do believe this is a filler book. Why you ask? Because Kate and Curran are in a transitionary phase of their lives. Do they continue to work at Cutting Edge now that Andrea has moved on, or do they take over the Guild? 

With Kate continually pressed and hated by certain pack members, including asshat Mahon, this move was necessary for both of their mindsets. Besides, Curran needs to be around Kate full time because she isn't one who is naturally concerned about her welfare or safety even though she has Julie to think about. It is now HER responsibility for the safety and welfare of everyone. This claiming hasn't come easy nor has it been exactly welcomed by everyone which should make for some interesting story material for future books. Then again, when has anything that Kate's done in the past gone over well? 

Right out of the starting gate Andrews gives readers a hint that this book isn't going to be about Kate and Curran sitting around breezing into their retirement. Nope. There are hordes of Ghouls showing up creating chaos. Were-buffalo Eduardo has gone missing after working for the Guild, and his fiancĂ© Georgetta asks Kate and Curran for help in finding him. Creatures straight out of Arabian mythology (which is a definite change) appear which leads to the discovery that there is a powerful djinn offering people their hearts desire. 

I am with other readers/reviewers in saying that this change away from the Pack is probably a positive for this series. It gives readers, and the authors time to explore other avenues for Kate, Curran, Julie and their supporters. Personally, I was getting sick of all the politics and hatred towards Kate and really miss those like Aunt B who is no longer around. Now she has the people she respects and loves around her, including Christopher who is brilliantly written, while also reuniting with Guild and Order members she's worked with for years.

I know that Kate and Curran are in a "good place" at the moment, but he still aggravates me with his chest thumping and over protectiveness. Naturally, Kate isn't perfect in any way, but she has to be who she is. Yes, she puts herself in dangerous situations, and there is always the need for some reinforcement by certain doctors that she isn't immortal. But, why try to restrain or mellow out Kate? I would totally abandon this series if she was just another Fantasy heroine with some skill and not the daughter of a freaking god! I'm curious as to the future. 

Could it be that SOMEONE actually gave Kate an idea about how to defeat her father? Positive! I'm definitely interested in the Kate/Roland merry-go-round coming to an end. I am definitely eager for Kate to find a way to rid the world of Roland and his henchmen once and for-all and if this character has any ideas, I am all in. It was a rather interesting scene with Kate, Roland, Julie, and Curran at Applebee's don't you think?  

Could it be that the Andrews are finally giving Julie a major role in this series? Positive! I adore the fact that Julie got some major scene time in this book. After everything she's been through and everything that Kate has done in order to her to protect her, this was definitely major move in the right direction. Kate is a badass, and so isn't Curran, but Julie has her own talents and abilities. Let's just hope that Julie doesn't figure out Kate's secret any time soon. 

Interesting vision Kate received. Wondering if the authors are going to go in that direction. I dare say that this vision is most likely to be resolved in the final novel. I can't see where Andrews would go down that road until they are totally sure the series is wrapped up. Perhaps this vision will come true. Perhaps not. Perhaps I need lots more patience before I start hopping around like I just stepped on a nail.

Will Kate and Curran be happy where they are? Or, will they be forced to return to the Pack? I guess we shall see what the authors do next.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#Wednesday Review - The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: The Remnant Chronicles # 2
Format: Hardcover, 470 pages
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

The Heart of Betrayal is the second installment in The Remnant Chronicles by author Mary E. Pearson. Betrayal picks up pretty much where The Kiss of Deception left off. After being dragged across an entire continent by Kaden and his ilk, Lia and Prince "Rafe" Rafferty arrive in Venda as prisoners. Kaden has kept Lia (aka Jezelia aka Princess Arabella of Morrighan) alive by claiming that she has the gift. Readers get their first look now only at the harsh conditions of Vendan, but also at their leader called the Komizar who ends up having more than a keen interest in Lia's so called gift.

I really struggled with writing this review, which is why it took me 6 days to get to it. I think Pearson definitely raised her game to the highest levels this time out. I am not hesitant in saying that THIS book was even more clever, more intense, and more entertaining that Kiss was. While the ever annoying triangle of love was present, we do get a better understanding of each of the characters while adding some interesting background to Lia's "gift" that is actually real. We also get several POV's switches which includes not only Lia, Rafe, and Kaden, but Pauline who was left behind by Lia, and now has her own challenges to deal with. 

I found the entire gift story very appealing and want to know where Pearson is heading with it. Readers now know that Lia's isn't just a special snow flake. She's the real deal. She actually has some talents including the ability to see into the future. I also felt as though Lia's relationship with Rafe was better expanded especially since he's gone all native in order to protect her. It's hard for me to deal with triangles, but if they are done correctly, and without malice towards either character, then I can bite my tongue and get over myself. I do think that both men love Lia in their own way. I do believe that I will stand by my assessment that Rafe is the better candidate for Lia, but Kaden's surprise announcement to Lia about their future, raises some doubts in my mind.

I definitely feel for Lia though. She's done the best that she could under difficult choices and still makes some mistakes. In fact, I absolutely agree now with her decision to flee her kingdom and seek her own future while also getting a bit of a backbone to her. Then again, she has watched as a loved ones were brutally murdered, and now her entire kingdom is blaming her for what happened. One might start asking themselves why anyone would want to go back to that environment unless it was to pay back her detractors and betrayers. I loved that the people of Vendan felt a connection to Lia. I loved that they came out to hear her story telling. I dare say that she was a bright light in an otherwise dark, dreary, and dangerous city.

One of my favorite characters in this book was Aster. I adored her, and her relationship with Lia. I absolutely felt heartbroken thanks to the Komizar's actions. Komizar is a character who is definitely a brilliant strategist and leader. He rules with an iron fist, but his people bear the brunt of his agenda which reminds me of some Middle East and African Henchmen who ride around in the lap of luxury, while their people are starving to death. Komizar has some interesting people surrounding him which just creep me out. I am definitely eager to see what Pearson does after leaving readers with a major cliffhanger.

I sound like a broken record at times, but I do recommend that you read Kiss of Deception before this book. I love when authors summarize the events that happened in previous books, but in this case, you would do yourself a favor by re-reading, or waiting until the entire trilogy is out in print. As for me, I make notes while reading books. Helps me remember key events and characters. I can also go back to said notes before proceeding with the next book. As a reader of 300 plus books a year, I just don't have time to re-read anything. Maybe when I'm sitting in a nursing home by myself, I'll re-read the books I enjoyed the best. 

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