Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Divine Descendant by Jenna Black (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Nikki Glass # 4
Format: Kindle, 228 pages
Release Date: May 16, 2016
Publisher: Pocket Star
Source: Amazon, Kindle
Genre: Urban Fantasy


For Immortal Huntress and cunning private investigator Nikki Glass, vengeance trumps all in the final novel in acclaimed author Jenna Black's addictive urban fantasy series!

What happens when fertility goddesses go on strike? Nothing much—except maybe the end of the human race.

When private investigator Nikki Glass became immortal as a descendant of Artemis, she never dreamed she’d find herself playing marriage counselor to the gods. But she doesn’t really have much of a choice when the crazed ex-wife of Anderson Kane—a god in disguise who just happens to be the son of a Fury—decides to enact revenge by wiping out all of humanity. Somehow, Nikki must convince the two to kiss and make up, but with Anderson now gone AWOL, she'll have to find him first. To top it all off, the cat’s out of the bag that Anderson killed Konstantin, the Olympians’ deposed leader. Now their new boss—Konstantin’s son—is out for blood.

With every mere mortal’s fate now resting in Nikki’s hands, can she outsmart the gods…or will she be doomed to spend the rest of eternity in a barren and desolate world?
 





Divine Descendant is apparently the final installment in author Jenna Black's Nikki Glass series. Things have been rather curious for Private Investigator Nikki Glass over the past three months. She found out that she was a Descendant of Artemis, the supposed goddess of the hunt, chastity, virginity, the moon, and the natural environment. Now, apparently immortal, she's a member of Anderson Kane's Liberi group which is heavily outmatched in numbers by the Olympians, lead by Cyrus Galanos, son of Konstantin who offered Nikki no amount of trouble and heartache. 

Even though Cyrus is the supposed enemy, she finds that perhaps they have common ground, especially when fertility goddesses fail to do their jobs, and Kane's ex-wife Niobe shows up with vengeance on her mind. The fact that Nikki isn't all that happy with what happened in Rogue Descendant, and Kane's very public revelation of who he really is, and then his abrupt disappearance, makes for an interesting temporary alliance with Cyrus. The one thing that is apparently clear right from the onset of this story, is that Nikki has taken the leadership role in Kane's group. Nikki's group of Liberi includes Logan (Ares Descendant), Jack (Loki), Maggie (Hercules), Blake (Eros), and Jamaal (Kali). 

Let me say that if I were a person new to this series, I would definitely be eager to start from the beginning with Dark Descendant. Nikki is a very developed character at this point. She's tried to keep her humanity in the face of major challenges in her life, and that of her families. She is far from a character who makes silly and stupid mistakes. She's also not entirely sure of her powers at this point, only that they are stronger at night and with the moon. Nikki has kept her bleeding heart sense of mortality almost from the beginning when she was shoved into her current position. 

What has made this series interesting for me, is that Black finds ways of twisting things until they actually make sense. Who could have imagined that the first descendants of the Gods were immortal, but subsequent generations of mortal descendants are able to take their places by killing them? You would think that only immortals can kill other immortals, but you would be wrong. Black's world is far from being black and white. The good guys are not necessarily all that good, but the bad guys are truly despicable and evil. Look no further than Konstantin's search and kill mission of all mortal descendants. 

Even though it has been three years since Rogue Descendant released, I am fully onboard with the way Black wraps up her series. Hell, I am damn happy that she was able to come back to this series after that gut wrenching ending to Rogue Descendant and not just abandon her readers to the darkness of feeling unsatisfied. I am more than happy with the romance that finally, yes, finally develops fully between Nikki and Jamaal who has absolutely grown from being the angry dude who wanted to kill her. I am extremely happy that Black didn't use rape as a weapon this time around. I can't ever support rape as a weapon under any circumstances. I am also happy with Black giving Nikki not only hope for the future, but someone she can spend her immortality with.




Tuesday, May 24, 2016

#Release Day Review - Struck by Amanda Carlson (Paranormal, Mythology, Romance)

Series: Phoebe Meadows # 1
Format: E-Galley, 271 pages
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Source: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy


When Phoebe Meadows gets struck by a strange light in the stockroom of Macy’s, life as she knows it flies out the window. As if being hit by lightning isn’t bad enough, she’s accosted in the subway by a man with a missing hand, arrives home to find a raven on her kitchen counter, and her neighbor, Ingrid, shows up dressed like a gladiator hell-bent on protecting her.

Before Ingrid can shuttle her to safety, Phoebe is kidnapped and tossed into one of the Nine Worlds where she’s quickly forced to come to terms with what she is: A valkyrie. The only problem is, she has no idea what that means.

After a narrow escape, she finds an unlikely ally in Loki’s son, Fenrir. Together the valkyrie and the wolf must battle their way back to New York City and reach the valkyrie stronghold where Ingrid is waiting for her. But with danger and obstacles at every turn, she might not live long enough to learn the full truth about who and what she really is





Struck is the first installment in author Amanda Carlson's Phoebe Meadows series. 24-year old Phoebe Meadows is working at work at a NYC Macy's department store when she is struck by a bolt of electricity that temporarily knocks her unconscious. By the time the day is over, Phoebe's world has been fundamentally changed. In sequential events, Phoebe becomes more energized, and then she encounters a strange man with scars on his face and no hand telling her that New York is no longer safe for her.

But the strangest things haven't even begun to happen yet! From her neighbor Ingrid showing up in her apartment wearing battle gear saying she's supposed to protect her, to being dragged into a strange world where Norms Vervandi, Skuld, and Ord want to see her dead and are mad as hell that she somehow escaped their radar all these years. To top things off, she ends up escaping to a demon infested world where the one and only Fenrir Wolf has been exiled to.

If you're a fan of Carlson's previous series featuring Jessica McClain, then you know she has a tendency to throw her characters into situations where they fight for their lives right up until the final page of the story. You should know that Phoebe is NOT Jessica. While Jessica grew up in a world where she knew that the paranormal existed before becoming who she is today, Phoebe grew up in Wisconsin unaware of the Norse Mythology which now includes her or who her real parents are.

Carlson continues her use of romantic situations to take away the levity and danger of what her characters are going through. With Fen, Phoebe finds someone who, even though he really hates Valkyries with a passion and wants to escape, ends up being more than a lover. He becomes her backbone, her bodyguard, and her guide into the new and strange world that she wakes up into. 

As for important characters outside of the Norns, and Ingrid, you should keep an eye open for Samantha (Sam) Reed, and Tyr, the God of War who just happens to be Phoebe's brother. Secondary characters are an important part of any story. In this case, Tyr and Sam are important cogs to Phoebe's chances at survival and ending up with her new sister
Valkyries and learning about who she really is. I especially loved Sam's reaction to Phoebe's new reality. She's a keeper! 

Struck is a story that you really can't skip over pages just because you might be bored with certain aspects of the story. (Like with me and the sex scenes which I am labeling New Adult-risque). Struck flows from one realm, to another pushing Phoebe into accepting who she has become now that she's been exposed as a Valkyrie. I am definitely eager to see if Phoebe travels to the other non-Midgard realms over the course of this series.

The second installment in Phoebe's series is called Freed. The book is set to release in the fall of this year. 





Monday, May 23, 2016

#Monday Review - Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis (YA, Fantasy) @AuthorJennifer @Month9Books

Series: The Order of the Krigers # 1
Format: E-Galley, 300 pages
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA, Fantasy


The people of Nelebek live in fear of persecution from the evil Morlet, who reigns with a dark and destructive magic. The kingdom’s only hope lies with the Order of the Krigers—twelve warriors with mysterious powers linked to magical weapons.

For over a century, Morlet has been annihilating the Order, picking them off one by one. Eleven Krigers have been hunted down, tortured, and imprisoned in his dungeon. Now, only one remains.

Sixteen-year-old Kaia survives by keeping her head down and minding her own business. But when she finds herself in the middle of a public execution where the mysterious Morlet is in attendance, an odd compulsion she can’t resist comes over her.

Kaia looks into Morlet’s eyes.

Soon, an ancient power awakens and Kaia can no more blend into the scenery. Will she heed the call of the Krigers or will Morlet’s dark magic destroy the last of the Order?





Rise is the first installment in author Jennifer Anne Davis' The Order of the Krigers trilogy. Davis creates a story that is set in a fictional country of Nelebek. Nelebek is ruled by a megalomaniac
King named Morlet who is obsessed with finding and killing all Twelve members of a group known as the Order of the Krigers. The problem is that he needs all Twelve together, but he is missing the Twelfth member who remains elusive to his attempts to capture them. 

16-year old Kaia is the series protagonist. Kaia knows that surviving is the one and only goal of living in Nelebek. Her father, who works as a guard, has trained Kaia to fight and survive while living in squalor. Thanks to his efforts, and Kaia's hard work, she is more than ready for what comes next. Kaia knows that King Morlet has an obsession with the warriors known as the Order of the Krigers, but couldn't for the life of her have imagined that she is the Twelfth
member of the Order.

But, after staring down Morlet who is tearing the country apart looking for the Twelfth Kriger, something awakens inside. She feels energy in her hands, and she knows that something has changed. She is forced to go on the run with an assassin named Anders who saves her life more than once, and becomes her staunchest supporter. It has been foretold that when all Twelve members are together, they will have the ability and magical powers to bring down the evil King who has ruled Nelebek for a century. 

In a quest to understand why she is apparently the Twelfth member of the Order, and why she may be the most important cog in defeating Morlet, she will also discover her strength, her courage, friendship with two men who are bound by a curse, and danger at every turn. She will be forced to face death in the face, loss at at an personal level, and begin to question if what is written about her is even half true. 

Even though Kaia is young, and idealistic at times in not liking when Anders kills to save her life, but she doesn't run and hide. She opens herself up to being swayed by Morlet, and in the end, questions how a man so evil, can have any feelings whatsoever for her. One could say that the line between good and evil is truly blurred in this story. Morlet is an evil man. He does sick and twisted things to get his way and find the Kriger's. He took to black magic like a fish out of water, but apparently hasn't gone full Sith Lord since he finds different ways to make the reader question his behavior.

Anders is another one who blurs the line. He is a blood thirsty assassin. He's done some really bad things since he was cursed, yet he finds a connection to Kaia. For me, Vidar remains a question mark. He is not truly bad, but I'm not sold on his being pure good either. Let's hope the sequel called Burn reveals even more.



Saturday, May 21, 2016

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 17 - Featuring Chloe Neill, Faith Hunter, Sarah J Maas


Bought Borrowed and Bagged is all about the latest additions to your library – virtual or actual, with books that are  bought, borrowed, won or ARCs  you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron’s Books and Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. 

Thanks for Shopping by! 
Have a great weekend!

~Shelley~

This Weeks Reviews: 

Monday - The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry (YA, Mystery)

Tuesday - Ruined by Amy Tintera (YA, Fantasy)

  Wednesday - Traitor Angels by Anne Bankman (YA, Historical)

Thursday - Dream On by Kerstin Gier (YA, Fantasy)


Saturday - Elixir by Ruth Vincent (Urban Fantasy)

Dissolution by Lee S. Hawke (Science Fiction, YA) - Talk Supe Blog



Scheduled for Next Week: 

Monday - Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis (YA, FANTASY)

Tuesday - Struck by Amanda Carlson (Urban Fantasy)

Wednesday - All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes (Urban Fantasy)

  Thursday - Divine Descendant by Jenna Black (Urban Fantasy)

Friday - Scintillate by Tracy Clark (YA, Fantasy) 

 Saturday - Deviate by Tracy Clark (YA, Fantasy)

*Received from Publisher/Authors*

 

*Granted approval via NetGalley/Edelweiss*

 

*Borrowed from Library*

   





Friday, May 20, 2016

#Saturday Review - Elixir by Ruth Vincent (Urban Fantasy)

Series: A Changeling PI Novel # 1
Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy


Mabily “Mab” Jones is just a twenty-something, over-educated, under-employed New Yorker trying to survive as a private eye’s unpaid intern . . . or is she? Once a powerful fairy, but tricked by the Fairy Queen into human form, Mab is forced to face her changeling past when investigating a missing person case at a modern speakeasy.

Obadiah Savage bootlegs fairy Elixir to human customers thirsting for a magical fix. But when Mab and Obadiah become joint suspects in a crime they didn’t commit, the only way to prove their innocence is to travel back to the fairy realm. And when Mab confronts the Fairy Queen and learns the depth of her betrayal, she must decide if the fate of the fey world is worth destroying the lives of the humans she’s come to love.





Elixir is the first installment in Ruth Vincent's A Changeling PI series. Elixir features Mabily Jones, a 22 year old recent college graduate who is looking for a job as a Private Investigator in New York City. "Mab" also has a bit of a secret as well. Mab is actually a Fae stuck in human form, or as author Vincent is calling her, a Changeling. She has no magic. She has no way of returning home to Fairyland aka The Vale, and she hasn't fulfilled her original duty of finding out what is causing the Elixir levels in The Vale to drop drastically.

Mab accepts an internship of sorts from Chief Investigator Reggie Ruggiero. Reggie has been searching for a missing girl who was last seen in a trendy bar where he isn't actually welcomed. Upon entering the bar where Reggie's missing girl was last seen, Mab encounters Obediah Savage who knows exactly what Mab is. Neither are any of the customers. To Mab's horror, she discovers that Obediah has been selling bootlegged Elixir from The Vale to human customers that cause some strange side-effects. 

Side effects that eventually hurt Mab's best friend and roommate Eva Morales. Caught between a rock and hard place with Eva's situation, Eva and Obediah agree to work together in order to travel back to The Vale where they hope to encounter the one person that betrayed Mab; The Fairy Queen. Mab and Obediah must find a way to save Eva, stop the Fairy Queen's plans of stealing more children to save her Fairies from dying off, and staying alive long enough to prove they had nothing to do with Eva's unfortunate situation. 

Will Mab find a way to outsmart the Fairy Queen and save Eva? Or, will the Fairy Queen get the best of Mab and ensure that she is forced to play by the Queen's rules to survive? With this being the first installment in a new series, there are a few hiccups that I tried to put behind me so that I didn't allow my feelings to get the best of me. Mab is an interesting character, but her character acts about 6 years younger than she really is. 

Her time as a Changeling has left her lacking of her former powers, and angry at the Fairy Queen who betrayed her so completely that she's basically human through and through. Her relationship with Obediah is an interesting one, and HIS background saved this book in more ways than you can imagine. I think that readers will find the plot enjoyable enough to get through the character flaws and continue onto the next installment. I really liked Mab's relationship with Eva as well. Of course, there is a surprise waiting for readers once you reach The Vale. Let's hope patience gets you to this point so that you can be as surprised as I was.



#Friday Review - The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokski (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: The Star-Touched Queen # 1
Format: Hardcover, 342 pages
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself






17-year old Princess Mayavati (Maya) of Bharata lives in a kingdom where horoscopes are taken literally, and in Maya's case, deadly seriously. Maya's horoscope claims that she is cursed with a promised marriage that will bring about death and destruction. Maya is blamed for every single instance of death that hits the Harem. It's also a fact that nearly every single member of the Harem wants to see her dead or married off quickly so they don't have to waste any more time dealing with her cursed presence. 

"This was the court of Bharata, a city like bone spur-tacked on like an afterthought. Its demons were different; harm wives with jewels in their hair and hate in their heart, courtiers with mouths full of lies, a father who knew me only as a colored stone around his neck. Those were the monsters I knew. My world didn't have room for more."

With the understanding that she is despised, Maya doesn't turn herself into a martyr by falling on her own sword. She is happy that she has the run of the court, she has private tutors, she has a solid relationship with the youngest daughter of the harem, Gauri, and she has been spying on her father's meetings with his counselors without being caught for years. She's more than capable of understanding what is happening to her kingdom, but is surprised when her father, the Raja, decides to make a compromise with the rebellious factions by marrying her off. 

The Star-Touched Queen is a very interesting and surprising read. It mixes Indian culture with a bit of mythology (Hades and Persephone anyone?) and characters who you will instantly connect to. You can't help but connect with Maya. She's an intelligent, and thoughtful young lady who has been treated with disrespect by nearly everyone, and ignored by her own father who only sees her maybe once a year. But, after agreeing to run away and marry Amar, the Raj of Akaran, Maya finds not only a new reality and freedoms, but a fondness for the man she barely knows but is enamored with her.

"My star-touched queen," he said softly, as if he was remembering something from long ago. "I would break the world to give you what you want."
Upon arriving in Akaran, Maya is greeted by a very strange place that I guessed would be similar to Hades underground. There are strange voices, doors that are locked at all times, and a tree with mirrors. There is also a danger just waiting for Maya to wake it up. But, once Maya opens the door to danger, there is no going back. She will either have to deal with the evil face to face, or give into the evil that will do anything to win.

One could say that The Star-Touched Queen is similar in nature to stories like Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty, or even books like A Court of Thorns and Roses which even though I read, I didn't fall head over heels with the story. I am also curious as to why this was labeled as the first book in the series. I was absolutely happy with the way this book ended, even though we had to get through another instance of Maya falling into a dangerous trap that nearly had devastating consequences.

I am OK with heroines who are anything but perfect. I just want them to grow by the time the story is over, or the series reaches its final chapter. Even though this book could be yet another example of instantaneous love, in the end it worked for me. Here are two characters in Maya and Amar who were truly made for each other. They are not special. They have been through hell and somehow managed to return with their character in tact.

As I said above, Maya had a pretty awesome relationship with Gauri. I also loved her relationship with the demon horse named Kamala. I love a horse that has a sense of humor, but is also faithful when promising to stand by Maya's side.

According to Goodreads, Roshani states that this book IS a standalone. She is working on a companion novel that will feature minor characters from this book. Dare I hope that character is Gauri who I absolutely loved, especially the parts when she was older? 



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

#Thursday Review - Dream on by Kerstin Gier (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: The Silver Trilogy # 2
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and CO (BYR)
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she’s adjusting to her new home in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who’s been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn’t last for long.

It seems that Liv’s troubles are far from over—in fact, suddenly they’re piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv’s most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?






Dream On is the second installment in Kerstin Gier's The Silver Trilogy. The story picks up two months after the ending of Dream a Little Dream. 16-year old Liv Silver exploits continue as she weaves her way through a dangerous dreamland just teaming with foreboding shadows that seem to be stalking her. While in real life, Liv, her sister Mia, and Au pair Lottie are learning how to live with her mother's new beau and his family which includes twins Florence and Grayson. 

While Liv has been spending a whole lot of time with Henry in their dreams. In fact, she's got even better at shape-shifting into other things not just owl's. What makes this story different from the first one, is that Liv's sister Mia is haunted to the point where she starts to sleepwalk. On top of Mia's distressing situation, and the fact that someone new is stalking the halls of dreams, someone is leaking personal information about Liv and Mia to Secrecy who runs the Tittle-Tattle Blog. 

At this point, I have given it my best guess and have narrowed down Secrecy's identity to two people. But, I won't make my guesses public. I'll wait until I read the third book to see if I was right or out in left field. Dream On has so many different issues going on at the same time, that you really need to put them in perspective and not ignore them. Liv and Mia's exploits against "The Boker", for instance, begged for more time. Personally, after the way she treats Liv's family, including own mother, I would have taken it even further. 

Henry's secrecy when it comes to his family issues gets even crazier. How can one have a relationship with someone who keeps dark secrets and refuses to speak about them? And, why is Henry being so secretive to the point where he has a highly unusual encounter with someone who isn't Liv. The last issue is the most important. Who is really behind Mia's distressing situation and why her of all people? Is is someone who Liv pissed off? If so, that really only leaves a few people right? 

Let's put the possible romance between Liv and Grayson to bed, shall we? Especially now that the parent units are supposed to be getting married. Why would anyone in their right minds root for these two to have a romantic nature? Not only is it not right for siblings to think of the other like that, but ick! I do like the fact that Grayson, Mia, and Liv have become friends. Friends! When the sisters do something funny, he doesn't seem to mind all that much.

I dare say that the last part of this story was the best. It also leaves an ending that pretty much guarantees that you will read the final novel in this series to see how Gier wraps things up.