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Sunday, July 31, 2016

REVIEW: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

*Thanks to Netgalley and Thomas Dunne Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Expected publication: August 9, 2016

The story: Imagine a land where three suns almost never set.  A young girl joins a school of assassins, determined to seek vengeance against those who decimated her family.

Mia Corvere is the daughter of an executed traitor.  Now orphaned, she is barely able to escape her father's failed rebellion with her own life. Utterly alone, she struggles to survive in an ancient city build upon the bones of a dead god. Hunted, her affinity to call shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer.


Never flinch. Never fear. Never, ever forget.

Years later, Mia is ready to seek out her vengeance.  Apprenticed to the Red Church, deadly assassins and enemies to the Republic, she must best the other acolytes in contests of steel, poisons, thievery and the subtle arts if she is to be named a Blade to the Lady of Blessed Murder. Nothing is as it seems when a killer is on the loose within the Church's walls and Mia's past continues to haunt her future.

This is one of those reviews that I find so difficult to write. No amount of thoughts and words will ever do Nevernight justice.  I loved each and every word from start to finish.  Fans of Kristoff are in for a treat.  You'll discover plenty of:

  • Bad-assery - Mia is a force to be reckoned with - she's beautiful, smart and deadly.  Not only can she wield weapons but she's adept at poisons and can manipulate shadows to her advantage. DO NOT MAKE HER ANGRY.
  • Humor - Notable for Kristoff's writing, characters throughout demonstrate biting wit and acid tongues.  Reader's will love the dialogue and how it sets the tone for the narrative.
  • Ill fated romance and sexy time - No happy romances here so beware. Sexy time and attachment leads to heartache.
  • Action, Violence & Gore - These sequences are breathtaking in their violence. So much so that any cinematographer would be squealing in glee to recreate these images for the screen.  I won't add spoilers but seriously these are awesome!!!!
  • Mr. Kindly - Mia's shadow not-cat. Oh, the attitude! Love him!!!  If you were a fan of Stormdancer and enjoyed the dynamic between Yukiko and Buruu then you'll love Mia and Mr. Kindly's relationship and banter. 
  • Shock & Awe - So many great plot twists and turns!  Rule #1 of the Red Church: Trust no one!
  • Tears - Kristoff doesn't believe in happy endings; he'll tell you so himself. So, prepare for it - the prologue/epilogue reminds you but don't let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security. It probably won't end well.
A friend asked me to describe the book and the best I could come up with is that Nevernight is like Hogwarts for Assassins meets V for Vendetta meets Assassin's Creed thrown together with a little Buffy and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. It's highly unique and entertaining :)

So, what's my rating for Nevernight?  Pretty much all the stars EVER!  For me, it was pretty much perfect from the beautifully orchestrated symphony of the first chapter to the final note of the last page.  Let me tell you from a writing standpoint what Kristoff does at the beginning with the perspective and language is genius! 

I can't wait for an audiobook release while I pine for the next book.

Final rating: All the Stars!

Follow the author on Twitter: @misterkristoff


#Nevernight #assassins #vengeance #fantasy #stabstabstab

Saturday, July 23, 2016

REVIEW: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Nearly 22 year old Ivy Morgan is far from the typical New Orleans college student. She works for the Order, a group of humans who tasks themselves with ridding the world of dangerous Fae, known for feeding off humans. Despite school and her job, Ivy's closed herself off from most people following the devastating losses of her family and boyfriend and the guild she feels over their deaths.

Something wicked is brewing in New Orleans and Ivy finds herself in the thick of it. Shot by a Fae who wasn't even maimed by iron, she meets devastatingly handsome and charming Ren Owens, 6'3'' of swoon-worthy hotness. Ivy quickly learns that his role within the Order is full of surprises and the war she thought she was fighting holds far more secrets. Now they must work together before time runs out but even on an apocalyptic deadline sometimes passion, lust and a new chance at love can't be denied.

This was my second read of Wicked in anticipation of the release of Torn.  I really enjoyed this book for a multitude of reasons.  I love a good Fae driven urban fantasy. The world building is good, blending just enough of the real NOLA with fantasy elements. NOLA is a character in and of itself.

I love the character dynamics too.  Ivy is a relatable female protagonist.  She certainly isn't perfect but she's kick butt, sassy, smart and vulnerable. Ren is one of those book boyfriends that you'll want to add to the seriously dateable list. The secondary characters are equally well developed. Overall, the plot is engaging and leaves readers wanting more of the action, the witty banter and the super sexy build up between Ivy and Ren.

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5

Follow the author on Twitter: @JLArmentrout





#Wicked #Torn #urbanfantasy #romance #Fae #audiobook # mystery


REVIEW: Jurassic Park & The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Some 23 years ago and change, Jurassic Park was one of the first adult oriented summer blockbusters I saw in my town's then fancy, new theater. I think we all know the story by now:

A multi-millionaire w/ a fantastical dream and investors with deep pockets sets out to use science to clone dinosaurs and create an exclusive themed amusement park that will fascinate visitors of all ages.  In order to get final approval to open, Hammond needs several experts in the field to sign off on the park.  They arrive and are flabbergasted and filled with awe; however, it all goes to hell in a handbasket when the park's computer guru sabotages the system to steal dino embryos and the park's main attractions get loose and start eating people.

Jurassic Park is an exciting narrative with a mix of science and adventure.  It reminds me a lot of Frankenstein and its theme: just because you can doesn't mean that you should. Sure dinosaurs are fascinating and we'll always have questions about their extinction. But......there's a reason why they died out in favor of other animals.

What surprised me the most was the novel's continued relevance. It doesn't read a overly dated and I really enjoyed the alternating POV. The ending is pretty open ended so I immediately decided to follow up with The Lost World.

It has been six years since the catastrophic events at Jurassic Park. Ian Malcolm is still haunted by that fateful trip to the island; however, he doesn't speak of what he saw and experienced.  But when rumor surface that something might have survived and a colleague seems driven to investigate the true at any cost, Malcolm once again undertakes an adventure to discover a lost world.

The Lost World is another treatise of even though you can, should you.  There is also a greater commentary into the man's manipulation of science and how that leads to destruction and sorrow. I find Crichton's characterization of the species themselves rather interesting and want to further my own research to learn more about the T-Rex and its supposed parenting instincts.

Velociraptors are a thing of nightmares.  They scared the crap out of me in 1993 and still do in 2016. It would be a terrible idea to clone those and let them out in the world! Yikes!

I really enjoyed the open endings of each novel since they are so thought provoking for readers.  At a point, I still root for the dinosaurs since they didn't ask for the situation and where just following instinct :)

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars


#dinosaurs #lostworld #jurassicpark #michaelcrichton #adventure #science #thriller

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

NEW RELEASE: Torn by Jennifer L. Armentrout

TORN - RDL banner    

The highly anticipated second book in New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Wicked Trilogy is available today! Be sure to grab your copy of TORN!

   

Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. After being betrayed and then nearly killed by the Prince of the Fae, she’s left bruised and devastated—and with an earth-shattering secret that she must keep at all costs. And if the Order finds out her secret, they’ll kill her.

Then there’s Ren Owens, the sexy, tattooed Elite member of the Order who has been sharing Ivy’s bed and claiming her heart. Their chemistry is smoking hot, but Ivy knows that Ren has always valued his duty to the Order above all else—he could never touch her if he knew the truth. That is, if he let her live at all. Yet how can she live with herself if she lies to him?

But as the Fae Prince begins to close in on Ivy, intent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld, Ivy is running out of options. If she doesn’t figure out who she can trust—and fast—it’s not only her heart that will be torn apart, but civilization itself.

iBooks ** Amazon ** Kobo

"You need this book. You need this series. It's paranormal at its best. It's New Adult at its best...Can I give this book more than 5 stars? I would if I could." ~Valerie, Stuck in Books

  TORN - RDL Teaser 1  

  EXCERPT: I lifted my right hand, reaching for my iron stake out of instinct, even though I knew it would do no good against the prince. “You shouldn’t do that.” His voice was deep with what reminded me of an English accent. “I know you want to, but it would be very, very unwise of you, Ivy.” My hand twitched. Creepy Prince smiled slightly. “Your friend has been very helpful.” That got my hackles up. I slid my sunglasses onto my forehead and forced my tone to stay calm and level. “I’m sure she has. Speaking of Val, happen to know where I can find her?” His lips curled in a semblance of a smile as he stepped closer. The prince was tall, taller than Ren, who was pushing six foot two. My entire back stiffened as I forced myself to hold my ground, even though every instinct demanded that I run and run super fast, because he had almost killed me once before. Correction. He would have definitely killed me if he hadn’t realized what I was and had, I guessed, healed me. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he said, instead of answering my question, his pale blue eyes fixed on mine. My hand curled into a useless fist. “That is extremely creepy to hear.” That cold smile returned. “Why don’t we talk? There are seats across the way.” “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.” The slow smile increased but never reached his eyes. “Oh, I know it is.” Fine hairs rose on my arms. “What exactly can you do right now?” he said in the same coldly polite voice. “Refuse me?” Creepy Prince laughed, and it wasn’t a bad sound. Again, it was something that was just cold, as if he were mimicking what a human would do. “You can’t.” “I can.” My palm itched to grab the thorn stake secured under my pant leg, but I held still. I might be reckless, but I wasn’t stupid. “Really? I will have to beg to differ on that. You see, humans surround us. So many of them, and I have an extraordinary appetite.” His eyes appeared to glimmer as his gaze slithered from the top of my curly head down to my toes. “A rather impressive appetite for many, many things.” “Okay. First off, ew.” My lip curled. “Secondly, I don’t want to hear about any of your appetites.” One dark eyebrow rose. “Oh, but you should know that I could kill twenty of these humans in less than five seconds and feed on the rest, leaving them to believe that it was this little red-headed girl who murdered these innocent people.” His voice dropped even lower as he leaned in and icy air brushed my cheek. “You deny me this, those lives will be on your hands, little bird.” Anger flushed hotly as my eyes met his. There wasn’t a single part of me that doubted anything he said. He had me. God, I hated to admit it, but he had me.  

"Drama! Action! Romance! Twists! Torn had it all...Torn was a perfect continuation of the Wicked Saga." ~Kim, Kimberlyfaye Reads

    TORN - RDL Teaser 2    

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans…

Don’t miss the first title in the series, WICKED!


Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iBooks ** Kobo

 

About Jennifer L. Armentrout: #1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.  

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Novel Goodreads ** Author Goodreads

    TORN - Available Now    

Sunday, July 17, 2016

REVIEW: Outtakes From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Oh Cat & Bones!  These two will probably forever be one of my favorite paranormal romance couples!

Outtakes from the Grave is a short story compilation by Frost feature deleted and some never before released scenes from her Night Huntress series.  Overall, I enjoyed the book and it is always nice to revisit Cat & Bones with their passionate relationship despite lots of ups and downs plus plenty of action, adventure and angst. The audiobook was once again narrated by Tavia Gilbert and she does a stellar job.

For fans of the series, this is a must read.  It is intriguing to see what storytelling might have been in certain instances; however, as a reader, I'm pleased with the narratives which Frost actually published as part of the series.  I miss Cat & Bones and certainly wish we'd get another book in the future but their cameos in the Vlad books keep me entertained.

One criticism of this anthology is the ending.  It felt too abrupt. I'm not sure what I could have wanted but as is it just wasn't there for me.  I felt like there needed to be more closure as a whole.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @Jeaniene_Frost


#outtakesfromthegrave #nighthuntress #Cat&Bones #anthology #paranormalromance

REVIEW: Roomhate by Penelope Ward

Amelia's grandmother has passed away, leaving her part ownership of a beach cottage on Aquidneck Island.  The other problem is that her former childhood best friend owns the other part of the house.  Whoever said time heals all wounds hadn't ever met Justin.  Although time has passed, he's still resentful toward Amelia and the fact that she disappeared from his life.

Stuck as roommates, Amelia can't get over the hurt or the escalating feelings of attraction for Justin who is even better looking now than he ever was as a teen.  As their relationship mends itself and heats up, they must weather a hurricane of emotions and obstacles before hate turns to love and a possible happy ending.

I had mixed feelings about this one.  Justin is pretty much a dick and while he does redeem himself by the end, it is hard to put his attitude and treatment of Amelia behind as the romance blooms. That being said, I'm not a huge fan of Amelia either.  Roomhate is a pretty good representation of the New Adult genre - angst, relationships, identity and some sexy times.

One downside for me was definitely the audiobook.  It was pretty awful actually. I didn't care at all for the narrator who didn't do much for Amelia or authenticity of voice.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @PenelopeAuthor



#roomhate #penelopeward #newadultromance #erotic #angst #friendship

REVIEW: Unbreak My Heart by Lorelei James

Long time fans of Lorelei James and her Rough Riders series have been waiting for this book a long time.  Back in Gone Country, readers met Sierra McKay and Boone West. At 16, she adored her newfound best friend but didn't tell him.  Determined to make something of himself and leave town, Boone enlisted in the army, only telling Sierra his own feelings minutes before his departure.

In Unbreak My Heart, seven years have passed and both have grown up.  Sierra is a successful businesswoman in Phoenix, Arizona, working her way up in her father's company.  She isn't prepared when an older, hotter, Boone walks back into her life. The army has been good for Boone, strong, mature and successful in medical training, he's determined to make things right with Sierra and to give their relationship the chance it didn't have before.

This is another character driven, steamy romance.  Highlights are the super sexy banter between the main characters.  Both Sierra and Boone have significant obstacles to work through if their relationship is going to work but that adds a realness to the writing and the narrative. Boone is one of those book boyfriends who will break your heart and leave you melted in a puddle at the same time. He's had such a hard life that you can't help but want to love him just like Sierra.  I appreciated that he's open with her about not knowing how to love since he hasn't ever felt loved in his life---SWOON!

I'm excited about this new series and to see the next generation of Wests and McKays branch out in the world and find love!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @loreleijames


#unbreakmyheart #roughriderslegacy #loreleijames #romance #erotic #realisticfiction #secondchances

REVIEW: Cowboy Take Me Away by Lorelei James

Cowboy Take Me Away is the final Rough Riders book. Balancing a narrative in the present and a retrospective of the past, the novel focuses on the romance and lives of Carson McKay and Carolyn West McKay.  Beginning with a sudden accident more than 50 years into their marriage, Carson reflects on their life together.

Readers finally get a view into how it all started.  Carson is a sexy cowboy with a bit of a wild streak.  From the moment he sees Carolyn, an innocent yet sexy blonde, from across the room, he knew he had to have her and that their lives would never be the same.  He's shocked to learn that she's a West, but he doesn't care about the long standing feud between their families.

Carolyn throws caution to the wind and embraces her growing relationship with Carson.  The more time they spend together, the more she discovers that he is far more than the handsome bad boy others would have her believe. While their life together is filled with ups and downs, it is a relationship built soundly on love and can prove that even lust can last the test of time.

This was a great way to end the series. Readers have only seen glimpses of Carolyn and Carson as they relate to their own grown children and grandchildren.  It is fitting to wrap up this epic and sexy series of the McKay's with their story.  Characteristic of James, reader's won't be disappointed with the erotic romps nor the character driven plot.  There are plenty of cameos from many other series favorites. As this era comes to an end, readers can get ready for a new spin off series, Rough Rider Legacy.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @loreleijames



#cowboytakemeaway #roughriders #erotic #romance #cowboys #family #loreleijames

REVIEW: Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler

In Uganda Be Kidding Me, comic and television personality shares ridiculous events surrounding some of her world travels. Starting on safari in Africa, she relays her missed seduction of a travel guide, wearing a bathrobe into the bush and the humiliation of not knowing where tigers live. (I almost lost my mind listening to her reaction to seeing a very large snake--sooo funny!)

Next, she travels to the Bahamas where there is a very unfortunate defiling of a kayak and then an a harrowing, albeit sweaty, escape from a German hospital after a skiing mishap. Perhaps my favorite was yet another skiing misadventure, where Chelsea gets lost and pretty much has the worst romantic weekend ever.

Having read all her previous titles, Uganda be Kidding Me perhaps wasn't my favorite but it sure had me in stitches more times than not.  Definitely not for the feint of heart nor for those who don't enjoy her or her brand of humor. Check out the audiobook since she's the narrator as well.

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @chelseahandler



#ugandabekiddingme  #humor #travel #nonfiction #ChelseaHandler

REVIEW: The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson and the gang are back. She's got her memory but more problems than ever.  Tensions are high between her and super hot husband and son of Satan, Reyes.  While Charley considers how to tackle this and process some very earth-shattering news about her lover, she is back in the game solving missing persons cases and generally getting into trouble in ways only our beloved Grim Reaper can.

Fans of the series won't be disappointed. There's plenty of humor and mystery to go around plus smoldering sexy time and more than Charley's fair share of angst.  Reader's finally get a chance to see her grapple more with having to give her daughter up in order to protect her and the fierce she-beast that emerges when Charley's family is threatened.

I enjoyed the general mystery elements: Charley helping out a homeless girl afraid to go back to the children's home for fear of being the next to die and an innocent man who has been charged with his girlfriend's murder.  However, I was blown away as Charley researches the god glass and what to do to protect her daughter but also the weight of the ramifications for Reyes.

The ending is heart-wrenching and thrilling at the same time.  I felt actual physical pain at the revelation but am excited for the next story in this series!  The audiobook is another brilliant performance by Lorelei King.

Cheers!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Follow the author on Twitter: @Darynda



#TheCurseOfTenthGrave #CharleyDavidson #humor #romance #mystery #paranormal #audiobook

Friday, July 8, 2016

REVIEW: Dark of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Please excuse my squeals of excitement after finishing another amazing tale by Maberry in which he has paired with debut author Rachael Lavin!

I'm an uber fan of Maberry's writing with special love of the Joe Ledger and Rot & Ruin books.  I've thought the Dead of Night series particularly captivating since they bridge the gap between Ledger and Ruin, providing the important details into the outbreak and pretty much the why and how all hell broke loose leading to the 15 years later in which we meet Benny Imura and friends in Rot & Ruin.

Dark of Night is story 2.5 in this series following the intensely painful end of Fall of Night.  In this story, readers follow the perspectives of three key players as the novella brings together all three series.  Captain Joe Ledger (Joe Ledger), former cop Desdemona Fox (Dead of Night), and Rachael Elle (Bits & Pieces) have all been doing everything they can to survive fighting an endless onslaught of living dead until their stories unexpected converge.

This novella is an in your face adventure full of heart pounding action, compelling characterization and some pretty terrifying zombie action plus the struggle for survival in a chaotic world where the survivors much face not only undead monsters but also those who while still human have embraced the evil, dark side of human nature.

The audiobook narrated by doesn't disappoint and adds a whole new facet for how to experience the story. For me, it was pretty much perfect in every way except that I am always left wanting MORE, MORE MORE!

Bravo to Maberry and Lavin! Now, please go write more :)

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author and narrator on Twitter: @jonathanmaberry @Ray_Porter



#darkofnight #joeledger #deadofnight #rot&ruin #zombies #horror #books #audiobook

REVIEW: Big Vamp on Campus by Molly Harper

This is a delightfully funny story featuring Ophelia and Jamie from Half Moon Hollow fame.  Ophelia's punishment by Jane and the Council for misappropriating funds is to go to college. Beautiful, intelligent and scary, she isn't the friendliest vamp on her best of days. Now she must navigate college life including classes, group projects and a messy and annoying roommate.

What ensues is a hilarious adventure captured in Harper's characteristic charm full of laugh out loud antics, witty dialogue, engaging characters and just enough sweet, spicy romance. I've been waiting with others fans for an Ophelia-centric story for some time and this certainly didn't disappoint.  Readers get a bit more depth to her character and see her adapt and accept her new role in her un-life which is much more fulfilling.

The audiobook is another brilliantly performed by narrator Amanda Ronconi.  Check out this story and all the others in the series!

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @mollyharperauth



#bigvamponcampus #halfmoonhollow #collegelife #vampires #humor #romance #books