Saturday, July 30, 2016

#Stacking the Shelves / Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged # 26

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!
As we close the month of July, and enter August, I do hope everyone is keeping up with their 2016 challenges. I've had to, once again, up my goal to 250, which will be more like 300 when all is said and done. I actually think I am behind last years eventual total and that is perfectly acceptable to me!
Have a great weekend! 

This Weeks Reviews: 

Wednesday - Red Right Hand by Levi Black (Urban Fantasy, Horror)

Thursday - Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson (Urban Fantasy)

Friday - Death of an Assassin by Ian Hiatt (Urban Fantasy)

Saturday - The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (YA, Mystery)

Scheduled for Next Week: 

Monday - Cape of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis (YA, Fantasy)

Tuesday - Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray (YA, Historical Fiction)

Wednesday - A Promise of Fire (Adult, Fantasy)

Thursday - Splinter by Sarah Fine (Urban Fantasy)

Friday - Illuminae by Amie Kaufman/Jay Kristoff (YA, Science Fiction)

Saturday - Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty (YA, Mystery)

*Received from Publishers, Edelweiss, & NetGalley*

*Borrowed from Library*

Friday, July 29, 2016

#Saturday Review - The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (YA, Mystery)

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

On the outside, there's Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.
On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there's Amber, locked up for so long she can't imagine freedom.
Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls' darkest mysteries…
What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?
In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

In a place called Aurora Hills Juvenile Detention Center, resides Amber Smith (prisoner #9188-38). Amber has been incarcerated in Aurora Hills for the past 3 years after being found guilty of manslaughter. Amber is one of 41 worst female juvenile offenders in New York State who have all been found guilty of one crime or another. As one of the longest serving inmates, Amber has the job of library cart. But, what makes Amber interesting, is her strange glimpses into what is coming to Aurora Hills, especially after the night when the power goes out.

On the outside, lives 18-year old Violet, a ballet dancer who is set to attend Julliard. But, for Violet, Orianna Speerling, her once best friend who has been dead now for 3 years, will always be the one who she has had to prove herself against. Suma really does paint an eerie picture of how ballet dancers are a bunch of vicious backstabbing perhaps childish characters who will go to great lengths to lessen the talents and accomplishments of others. Violet, to me, is an unlikable character. She is straight out of the movie Black Swan, and I ended up disliking that movie a whole lot. Can I say that I actually rooted against her? 

Suma alternates narratives between Amber and Violet, but the key to this entire story is what actually happened to Ori, and why she ended up at Aurora Hills. I will say that I ended up liking Amber a whole lot better than Violet, and Ori, well, her situation broke my heart. Amber, you see, isn't exactly innocent, but her actions were reason enough for me to want to give her a hug, and hope she will find a way out of her situation. This story is one of the most twisted stories that has been released in awhile. It walks the line between contemporary, and paranormal, then leaves such a holy crap did that just happen ending that will have your gasping like a fish out of water.

Nova Ren Suma's The Walls Around Us once again proves the depths the author has at creating fantastic and interesting characters while also giving readers a few chills to go along with your journey. Ever since the release of Imaginary Girls, Suma has been on my radar for the author to look for whenever a new book of hers is released. The Walls Around Us does not disappoint. It is a dark, insightful, dangerous, curious, and gets so into your head, that you need a few minutes to digest what the heck you just read. 

Do yourself a favor, and read this book ASAP!

#Friday Review - Death of an Assassin by Ian Hiatt (Urban Fantasy) @ihiatt @CuriosityQuills

Series: Saint Roch City, # 1
Format: E-Galley, 206 pages
Release Date: June 20, 2016
Publisher: Curiosity Quills 
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Technically, Layla hasn't killed anyone. Ask the witnesses. It was a misstep here, a trip-and-fall there—accidents happen.
And Layla is paid very well to ensure that they do.
Her mother once traced their lineage back to ancient times. Go flip through The Odyssey. Some great-great-great grandmother is in there beckoning sailors to rocky deaths. For eons her kind has made it their business to bring hapless men to quick and messy ends. Layla can't help it that Saint Roch City has job listings for someone who can cause blameless death. You go where the work is.
When the most difficult hit of her career goes sideways, Layla finds out that what she's been told about her own history may not be so accurate. And there is no forgiveness in the business of assassinations. When you're paid to kill someone, there better be a dead body.
Either the mark's—or yours.

Death of an Assassin is the first book in debut author Ian Hiatt's Saint Roch City series. The story is narrated by 19-year old protagonist Layla, who is not only a bounty hunter, but also a Siren. In case you are wondering, yes I did just finish another series that featured a Siren. But, Layla is so much better at what she does. Layla is paid very handsomely to rid the city of thieves, dealers, enforcers, and other not so pleasant people. She is an alpha, and not just hanging onto someone else's coat tails. She's been at the top of her game for years and has never failed at an assignment.

Saint Roch City is an interesting place. It is a place where Seven human families hold all the power, while the city itself has a menagerie of paranormal creatures like Layla, her neighbor and friend Cassie and her mother Sophia who are Naja, Bruce, the Crocodile, and of course, incubus Robert Nox. What makes Layla so good at her job, is that she can change her appearance in a blink of an eye. This makes getting away easier to accomplish. Right from the start, Hiatt gives readers a glimpse into what makes Layla good at her job, and doesn't let down from there.

After accepting a 2 for 1 job for twin brothers Andrew and Thomas Donahue, Layla's choice of saving one of the brothers lives come back to haunt her big time. Layla goes from being the hunter, to the hunted. She goes from the most wanted assassin in the city, to the assassin that everyone wants to see dead. Everyone wants a piece of the bounty placed on Layla's head. But, who was behind the original contract? Who wanted the brothers out of the way, and what does Layla have to do in order to survive what happens next?

Sometimes jumping into a new author's story is like going to Las Vegas and putting all your money on the Red to win and finding out you probably should have saved some in reserve. In this case, I am happy that Hiatt offers up plenty of action, mystery, and suspense and therefore I am all in for the sequel. I totally get Layla. She's definitely more mature than said previous Siren that I previously read. She's had a good run, while at the same time, not overly excited about the fact that her mother didn't actually tell her everything that she was capable of. Especially after meeting Thomas Donahue.

Yes, folks I dare you to pick up this book and read it! 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

#Thursday Review - Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Novella
Format: E-Galley, 208 pages
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations—the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.
Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.
Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.
Nightshades is a new gritty urban fantasy from Melissa F. Olson.

Melissa F. Olson (author of the Boundary Magic and Scarlett Bernard series) and, have put together a short story called Nightshades that has plenty of intrigue and action that focuses on what would happen if the Mortal world discovered that the paranormal world actually existed and has been there the entire time. In this case, Olson has created shades, or if you like, vampires who are unafraid of pushing their weight around. 

After a team from the FBI's Bureau of Preternatural Investigation Chicago branch is slaughtered, leaving only one survivor, FBI Special agent and legacy Alex McKenna chooses to ask for a promotion to Chicago to uncover what is really going on there. It is Alex's job to put together a new team that can uncover why the team was killed off, and if there is anything he and his team can do to stop it from spreading. 

Alex team starts with his best friend Special Agent Chase Eddy, and in a surprise move, tracks down a shade named Lindy (Siegland) who has been working alongside humans while keeping a low profile for many years. The surprise is that Lindy agrees to work with Alex's team while keeping her identity a secret. Lindy has a large role in this book. She has insights to what is happening and who is most likely responsible. Something Alex doesn't have access to.

In fact, Olson switches up narratives between Alex, Lindy, and Special Agent Gabriel Ruiz to keep things exciting and also interesting which is a key to a book this short. I won't go any further than this because the ending leaves a gigantic and stunning cliffhanger ending. I am hopeful that if this really is a new series from Olson, that it picks up right where this story left off. Nightshades is definitely worth the time to read it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Red Right Hand by Levi Black (Horror, Urban Fantasy)

Series: Red Right Hand # 1
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror

Charlie Tristan Moore isn't a hero. She's a survivor. On a night when her demons from the past are triggered, she arrives home to something even more harrowing-an attack by three monstrous skinhounds, creatures straight out of nightmares. She fights but is outmatched. Just as hope seems lost, in sweeps The Man In Black, a rescuer even more monstrous and unlikely, dressed in a long, dark coat that seems to have a life of its own and with a black-bladed sword held in his terrible, red right hand. 
Her rescue comes at a cost. She must become his new Acolyte and embrace a dark magick she never knew she had inside her. To ensure she gives it her all, he takes her friend and possible love, Daniel, in thrall as a hostage to her obedience. The Man in Black, a Lovecraftian chaos god, claims to be battling his brethren gods, other horrors who are staging an incipient apocalypse. But is he truly the lesser of all evils or merely killing off the competition? Either way, will Charlie be strong enough to save herself, Daniel, and possibly the entire world?

Red Right Hand is the first installment in author Levi Black's Red Right Hand series. Black, it seems, is influenced by the workings of author H.P Lovecraft, and that comes into play after Charlie (Charlotte Tristan Moore) comes home to find THREE skinhounds ready to pounce on her. She is rescued by a man who calls himself Nyarlathotep aka Crawling Chaos. He claims that they were sent to kill her because of what's in her blood. Nyarlathotep is the man with the Red Right Hand. He is also a bit on the scary side with his Red Hand, and Long Black Jacket, and knife that can cut a person in half.

The Elder God claims Charlie is H.P. Lovecraft's descendant on her mother's side and that she has the ability to SEE things that may help save her world from other Elder Gods who are eager to bring chaos to the mortal plane. Charlie, to say the least, isn't all that impressed by the Elder God with the Red Right Hand and isn't all that eager to be anyone's acolyte. In fact, she's downright antagonistic towards him until the God lures her ex-Daniel Langford into his web. Not only has Nyarlathotep chosen Charlie to become his acolyte, but he forces Daniel into becoming his puppet to control Charlie and to accept her new fate. 

Charlie not only can see things, but with certain talisman, she can use transdimensional teleportation to track down would be targets. Her new ability allows her to step through the void between time and space and take several people along for the ride. But, this is also Charlie learning a whole lot about herself, about the Elder Gods that are supposed to be terrorizing her world, and I dare say coming to terms with the fact that her past doesn't make her who she is now. Her past, no matter how traumatic, doesn't get to guide her when there are powerful monsters, and Gods just waiting to suck the lives out of mortals.

Red Right Hand is a combination of Urban Fantasy and Horror. There are some very dark situations that pop up in this book. They are graphic, and perhaps to young eyes, might be considered unsuitable. Charlie is an interesting character in that her past drove her to better herself so that it never happens to her again. She taught herself martial arts, she's closed herself off to having long lasting relationships, and she has an attitude to match the chip on her shoulder. She's a protagonist who I look forward to seeing how she grows as the series progresses. 

Levi is an author that I've known and met under the name of James R. Tuck in 2012. His previous series was called Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter. When he writes, he holds absolutely nothing back. There is violence, there is bloodshed, and there are action scenes that are vividly written so that you the reader, can put yourself in the protagonists shoes. His characters all have problems. None of them are Mary Sue's. None of them run away from trouble. All of them seem to carry a heavy load on their shoulders which gives them drive and desire to ensure those that they care about aren't innocent victims. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

#Tuesday 2 For 1 Reviews - The Bloody City/The Burning City by Megan Morgan (Paranormal Romance)

Series: Siren Song # 2
Format: E-Galley, 170 pages
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

On the run…

It’s been four months since the head of the Institute of Supernatural Research was murdered. But that doesn’t mean June Coffin is out of hiding yet. In a world where being different can get you killed, it’s best to keep a low profile. Especially for a Siren who can control other people with the call of her voice. That goes double if your powers might be inexplicably growing…

On the hunt…

But June isn’t the only one trying to clear her name. There’s Sam, the charismatic paranormal rights leader, and Micha, the first human on record to go paranormal. All of them must bargain with a mysterious vampire named Occam Reed if they want to stay alive.

Out of time…

As tensions increase between humans and paranormals, June must decide who to trust. If only she could hear the song inside her heart…

The Blood City is the second installment in author Megan Morgan's Siren Song Trilogy. The story actually picks up FOUR months after tattoo artist/Siren June Coffin escaped from the Institute of Supernatural Research in the Wicked City. As a Siren, June, like her twin brother Jason, has the ability to force people to obey their every command. Since arriving in Chicago to rescue Jason from the Institute, June has found herself under a microscope since her abilities are quite rare. June has found some allies in Sam Haain, Aaron Jenkins, and Micha, who was injected with an experimental drug that has give him paranormal abilities.

In this installment, Morgan introduces her brand of vampire and it is quite different from what you've read before. Vampires like Occam Reed have been infected with a virus. They also have dual paranormal abilities, which in Occam's case, means he can also shape shift. But, they are also dirty, and nasty, and well, let's stop there for fear of further grossing readers out. June is sent to meet with Occam in order to ask for his assistance in destroying the Institute once and for all. Occam has his own plans for not only Chicago, but Micha and June who is growing in another yet fantastical power as well. One that is actually pretty impressive.

I'll say this about this book, there are plenty of twists, and turns, and bad choices, especially by June. I have said this before, and I'll say it again, I don't understand why authors choose to allow a character to go through an entire book without washing themselves, brushing their teeth, or changing clothes on a regular basis. I can see if this was a post-apocalyptic, or Dystopian world, but it's not. It's set in modern age Chicago with all the conveniences of the 21st century. Not exactly happy with the way June jumps from one character to another in the romance side either. Perhaps that is why I have labeled this series as Paranormal Romance instead of Urban Fantasy.

Next Up: The Burning City 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Kobo

Series: Siren Song # 3
Format: E-Galley, 200 pages
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

When the smoke clears, who will be left standing?

Tattoo artist June Coffin has another, more hidden talent: she’s a Siren who can influence people with the sound of her voice. But in the wake of a murder and shake-up at the Institute of Supernatural Research, her own powers are starting to kill her. The only chance she has of saving herself—as well as her kidnapped brother and best friend—is to become a vampire. But joining the ranks of the vengeful vamp, Occam Reed, is the last thing June wants to do.

Occam isn’t the only danger June needs to worry about. Power hungry telepath Robbie Beecher will stop at nothing to gain control over Chicago. He’ll destroy anyone who gets in his way—and June’s lover, Sam, is high on the hit list since his bid for Mayor. With the city and June’s heart being pulled in different directions, it’s only a matter of time before the powder keg explodes…and time isn’t something June has much of left. With a city on fire, can she rise from its ashes?

The Burning City is the third and final installment in Megan Morgan's Siren Song Trilogy. For protagonist, tattoo artist, Siren, and budding Necromancer June Coffin, the past SIX months haven't exactly been a dream vacation. It has been filled with being shot, hunted, taken prisoner, and watching those she loves put in dire jeopardy. She's had to face her fair share of villains, including one very important one in Robbie Beecher who is still running loose in Chicago. She's also learned that her powers may in fact, be killing her.  

For Sam, and Aaron, they've gone from being villains to heroes after exposing what they've been through to the FBI and giving up all pertinent details about the Institute and Robbie. June, on the other hand, is just a footnote in history, and to be perfectly honest, that isn't even the worst thing that can happen to her. Her time in Chicago has come with some losses. Muse is gone. Brother Jason and June's friend Diego are hostages of vampire/shape shifter Occam Reed. Then there is Micha Bellevue who has been changed from truly human, into someone who has a variety of paranormal abilities, and now he gets to spend his days as a lab rat

June herself is desired by Occam because of her dual powers which leads to her having to make a choice in order to save those she loves. With June apparently dying from her powers, and Occam playing the long game to taking over Chicago, while killing off hundreds of weaker vampires, June will have to make one final choice before the entire city of Chicago becomes The Burning City

I have to walk away from the ending of this book and seriously just live and let live. There are choices. The first half of the book moves extremely slow. There are some outright earth shattering revelations, and then there is the whole fact that the author may or may not believe in happy endings. I am sad for Micha. I don't believe he got any chance to have any sort of life after what he's been put through. While June has been in the background most of the series, and not the focal point like Sam and Aaron, I still would have liked a bit of a different ending to this series.   

Monday, July 25, 2016

#Blog Tour/Excerpt/Giveaway- BLOOD OF THE EARTH by Faith Hunter (Urban Fantasy) @HunterFaith @AceRocBooks

Series: Soulwood, # 1
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: ROC
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, an all-new series starring Nell Ingram, who wields powers as old as the earth.
When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her.
Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville.
Nell has a team—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out.

Blood of the Earth is the first installment in Faith Hunter's new series called Soulwood. This is a spin-off series that features 23-year old Nell Nicholson Ingram. Readers first met Nell in Jane Yellowrock's short story called Black WaterNell is totally off the grid and that's exactly the way she likes it. The only identification she has, is a library card which she uses several times a week. When Jane first met her, she smelled like Earth-magic and home which would explain why everything Nell touches, seems to grow faster than other means. 

Nell is a character who is hyper-alert because of her continued run ins with the Church and certain players who want to drag her back to the church where they can have their way with her and take her 150 acres of land. Nell has a rather long conflict with the church that grows more antagonistic as the days go by. Thanks to her brief marriage to John Ingram, Nell own's a piece of property that shares a border with the church, which makes it easy for the Church to trespass on her property, and do damage to her crops, animals, and home. It didn't help that Nell helped Jane find a way on the Church's property to rescue children and a kidnapped vampire.

It also makes for a ideal base of operations for newly promoted Special Agent Rick LaFleur and his new PsyLed team which includes Paka (African Black Were-leopard), Occam (wereleopard), Tandy (Empath), T. Laine (Witch), and JoJo (human computer genesis). Rick, after consulting with Jane, believes that Nell would be a fine addition to this new team that consists of both humans and paranormals. Remember folks, even though Rick is the so called boss, this story is Nell's to tell. She also gets some righteous payback for readers who have had a hard time liking RickyBo in the past.

Nell is the narrator. She is the main focus. She is sassy, honest, hard-working, and doesn't like to be messed with by anyone. It is her life and history that we finally get a deeper understanding into. Hunter takes a step by step building block and puts together what makes Nell so intriguing that has already left me wanting to read the sequel. I loved the little surprise when we finally get to know what Nell is. Guess Jane was correct in Black Water. We also get a better look inside Nell's former church thanks to the fact that her family still lives on the land, and there are several missing girls who make have found their way on the churches land. 

I actually don't care for polygamy all that much, but I found Nell's family to be impressive nonetheless. I especially loved finding out a large secret that really lifted a whole lot of past anger off Nell's shoulders. I absolutely loved her little sister Mud. What intrigues me is the possible relationship between Nell and Occam. He is just adorable folks, and I love the way he treats Nell throughout the story. This is story that is filled with action, mystery, suspense, humor, and a whole lot of fun. Don't go into this assuming that you will get a whole lot of Jane and her crew. You won't. Yet, at the same time, Hunter did give a bit part to ONE character who is important to Jane. 

Excellent start to the series! I hope it is as successful as Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series. Love that Hunter has created yet another brilliant female heroine to follow and cheer for!

I checked out and drove sedately to the hotel. It was called the Hampton Inn and Suites, Knoxville North. And it was amazing. There was shiny stone on the floor and carpet all over—and not handmade rag rugs, but big carpets made on commercial looms. It wound through the lobby and down the halls, perfectly woven. When I finished goggling, I asked for directions to the room and gave my name. I was given a little plastic card, like a credit card. I had no idea what to do with it, but I accepted it and the directions that came with it. I had ridden in elevators before, at the hospital where Priss went when she had trouble birthing her baby. I went to see her baby boy, looking through the windows into the nursery. After hours. When no one from the church might catch me there. So I knew how to get to the fourth floor, and followed directions to the suite at the end, where I knocked to be let in.
Tandy opened the door, his reddish eyes perplexed, until he looked down, to see the plastic card in my hand. Smiling, he left room, closing the door behind him. “The room key works like this,” he said softly, taking the card in his red-lined hand and demonstrating the way it fit into the slot and the little green light that said go.
“Oh,” I said, embarrassed. They must think I was a little country bumpkin. Which I was, I realized. Face burning, I said, “My thanks for demonstrating the proper methodology.”
He pulled the door back closed.” “‘How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?’” he quoted.” “‘And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?’ Or a teacher.”
“You quoting Acts to me, Tandy?” I said with a small smile, feeling better, which had to be what the empath had intended. “You don’t look much like any preacher I ever saw.”
“The church where you grew up would burn me at the stake should I presume to preach to them,” he said, showing a disturbing knowledge of God’s Cloud’s politics and reaction to outsiders. Especially outsiders who looked so different.

Purchase links

About Faith Hunter:

Faith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. She writes three Urban Fantasy series: the Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires. The Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. And the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. (There is a role playing game based on the series, ROGUE MAGE.)

Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 30+ books in print in 29 countries.

Hunter writes full-time, tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their rescued Pomeranians to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.

Find Faith online at her website, her blog, on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

There’s also a tour-wide giveaway you can share! Faith is giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice), and 5 custom key chains. Open to US residents only.