Friday, September 12, 2014

Captured by S.J. Harper

Title: Captured
Author: S.J. Harper
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Fallen Siren 0.5 

Ebook, 171 pages 
Publication: June 10, 2014 

Source: Free download

*Still free as of today's post*

Emma Monroe is a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now she works for the FBI and is on temporary assignment in Charleston. Solving this next missing persons case could be the key to ending her ancient curse—unless the temptation that’s her new partner gets in the way.

Zack Armstrong is a Werewolf. Tall, dark, and dangerous, he currently works for one of the bureau’s elite Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. In many respects the man is every bit as mysterious as his secret and perilous past. But there are two things he’s certain about, that he’s going to get his man and his woman.

When Zack finds himself suddenly shy a partner and a third child goes missing in Charleston, Emma goes from consultant to CARD team member in the space of a few hours. The abductions of the first two boys ended in murder, an outcome that neither Zack nor Emma can abide. As they race against time to track down the kidnapper and rescue the latest victim, they find themselves fighting something just as treacherous—a growing attraction that can’t be ignored or denied.

I have Cursed sitting in my ever expanding TBR pile. I’ve been meaning to read it when it first came out but never found the time.Then a couple of months ago the authors released Captured, a free prequel to Cursed. Fast-forward 2 months, and still I haven’t pick-up either books…till now. Since many of the readers that read Captured already read and loved Cursed…I thought I’d go in order and at the same time see if I’d enjoy the writing/story as I haven’t read any of the authors’ work. Two birds, one stone. I’m so glad I read Captured, while it was a quick read, the authors packed a lot of action, suspense and chemistry in the 171 pages!

For a Novella, I thought the authors did an incredible job with introducing readers to FBI Agents Emma and Zack and writing such a detailed plot. I don’t read many novellas but from the ones I did read, nothing comes close to Captured. The main murder/missing child case was well thought-out and written. Everything had a beginning, middle and end, and I thought it all wrapped up nicely with the problem solved. While reading this, I momentarily forgot it was even a novella, it felt more like a short book…unlike most of the novellas I’ve read which usually feel like tiny snippets to the world/characters of a novel…but never a full book. 

I enjoyed Captured, and am looking forward to starting Cursed soon. I haven’t read many books with Sirens as the main sup, but what little I’ve seen of Emma, I know I’ll enjoy her snarkiness a lot more once I start the first book!  Bottom line, Captured had great characters, great plot, and great writing…it can’t get better than that.  

*Side note: The main characters did a lot of grubbing in the novella…did anyone else get hungry from reading about all the times they stopped to eat? LOL.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Title: The Midnight Queen
Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter
Genre: Fantasy-Historical Fiction
Series: N/A

Trade Paperback, 432 pages
Publication: September 2, 2014 by Ace Trade

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

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Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.
Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.
Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…
Once in awhile I like to mix up my reading, since I usually read YA and Urban Fantasy. So when I heard of The Midnight Queen, a Fantasy-Historical Fiction I knew right away I wanted to read it. Who doesn’t love a magical school setting (College! I usually read HS/Boarding school types) in Regency London?

The Midnight Queen had all the right ingredients for a captivating read; conspiracy theories, buried secrets, a lost princess, and a prophecy of the ‘chosen one’ but it wasn’t quite as I expected it to be. Hunter’s did a good job at setting the foundation of her magical world but she never really expanded on it further then the basis. For example, Merlin College is the most prestigious college around teaching magic to only the rich and talented prominent families yet we don’t learn much else of the college or what it looks like. Our main character Graham A.K.A Gray attends the college but within the first chapter he is already temporary sent away to his professor’s home; so we don’t see much of the college till the very end of the book but even then it was brief and not much detailed. As for the magical aspect, it seems that magic is something one must be born with. One can study as much as they want of magic, but that’s all they can do; only those with magic can cast spells and incantations. Again there isn’t much said about the overall magic system. Those with magic also have a main ability that they’re the greatest at like scrying or shape-shifting. I thought the characters’ abilities were all interesting but wished we knew more about it and how the characters got their specialized ability (scrying, shape-shifting, chameleon, siren call etc).

I am really picky when it comes to characters, I mean shouldn’t everyone be? When readers read a book, you want to feel and connect with the characters at all levels because frankly we are investing our time in the characters and their journey. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect with Gray or Sophie. It isn’t to say that I dislike their characters, far from the fact. Gray was a really sweet and shy guy and Sophie was intelligent as she was headstrong. But I never once felt invested in their story/journey. I’m not sure whether it was because the characters weren’t as fleshed out as I liked or because their dialogue felt forced and monotonous. I think if the author worked a bit more on character development, it would have been made all the difference.

The book started out extremely slow. It isn’t until I got to the middle that I felt the story pick up and the plot put into motion. I love the whole lost princess and prophecy ideas but it played more as a background story to the main plot. Overall The Midnight Queen was a good book, but just one I didn’t personally connect with.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

[Blog Tour] Stolen Dreams by Christine Amsden + Giveaway

Title: Stolen Dreams
Author: Christine Amsden
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal
Series: Cassie Scot #4

Trade Paperback, 272 pages
Publication: November 15, 2014 (Paperback)

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.


Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood's grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie's father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own? Conclusion to the Cassie Scot series.

Stolen Dreams is the fourth and final book in the Cassie Scot series, and what an amazing journey it’s been.

The Blackwood and Scots have been in a feud with each other for years, but it isn’t till the final installment that we see the two families’ feud final boil over…with causalities on both sides. Like the previous books, Amsden works a multi-plot story interwoven with a main case in which both Cassie and Evan have to work together to solve. The only difference now is that it relates to their immediate family…specifically their fathers. 

Cassie has definitely done a lot of growing over the course of the series. When readers first met Cassie, she was still figuring life out. Trying to find her place in the world, society (both human/magical community) and her family. Cassie was always trying to fit in with her magical family; believing she wasn’t anyone unless she had magic. It has taken awhile for Cassie to come to the realization that she didn’t need magic to understand herself worth and but in the end she loved herself for exactly who she is, someone without magic. I love seeing that transformation. Cassie’s character has grown stronger and stronger over the novels, and she can do anything she puts her mind to as best as the next person with magic.  

Readers also finally got to learn more about the background/history of the secondary characters like Madison, Jason, Aunt Sherri (Jason’s mom), Edward and Victor which brought a lot into perspective and answered questions I had throughout the series. I thought the final installment was well done, and am happy how everything ended. Although, I am sad that series has come to an end, like others readers I’m not ready to say good-bye to Cassie and the gang. However, it won’t be good-bye forever as the author mentioned that a spin-off of sorts is in the work, this time focusing on the secondary characters as lead like Kaitlin and Madison. 

All in all, Stolen Dreams was an amazing end to an incredible series. I highly recommend this series to all NA/Paranormal lovers and those that enjoy character driven novels. Cassie is one of the realist and most relatable heroine I’ve read and I guarantee you’ll love her as much as I do. It is best to start at the beginning with Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (book 1) as the story arc and character development progresses along all four books. I can’t wait to read Amsden’s spin-off series; I’m dying to know what happens to Kaitlin, Jason and their baby! 


 Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

 Other books by Christine Amsden

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

Title: Cursed Moon
Author: Jaye Wells
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Series: Prospero's War

Trade Paperback, 370 pages
Publication: August  12, 2014 by Orbit

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|B&N|Book Depo| 

When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magical Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and everyone's emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon's impact is especially strong for Kate who's wrestling with guilt over falling off the magic wagon.

After a rogue wizard steals dangerous potions from the local covens, Kate worries their suspect is building a dirty magic bomb. Her team must find the anarchist rogue before the covens catch him, and make sure they defuse the bomb before the Blue Moon deadline. Failure is never an option, but success will require Kate to come clean about her secrets.

Hi my name is Van, and I’m an addict.  

Addicted to the Prospero’s War series that is! 

Wells hits another homerun with Cursed Moon, her sequel to Speculative Fiction police procedural Dirty Magic that debuted earlier this year. I love, love Dirty Magic, so it comes as no surprise that I ended up loving the sequel just as much. Wells expands on her world of wizards, potions, and adepts with another case dealing with one of The Cauldron’s most powerful wizard, and a manic Raven (rouge wizard) running loose in Babylon hell-bent on causing destruction during the Blue Moon which also happens to be Halloween. There’s a whole lotta snark, nonstop action, secrets and sexual tensions that will have readers begging for the next book! 

In Dirty Magic, we were introduced to Ramses Bane leader of the Sanguinarian coven who specializes in blood magic. Since the main case of book 1 involved the Sanguinarian Coven, readers got an in-depth look at the key players and all potions/dealing with blood and what-not. In Cursed Moon, readers are finally introduced to Aphrodite, The Hierophant and leader of the Sacred O coven (specializes in sex magic). S/he is by far the most interesting new player that we meet. Aphrodite’ sexes are present at all time, with one side classically handsome and the other drop-dead-gorgeous. Although, one side of Aphrodite’s sexes is usually more dominant than the other, but it all depends on the situation and who s/he is talking to. I also thought Aphrodite’s revenge garden was cool…imagine a garden where every single plant/flower is poison. They may look lovely like Aphrodite but they’re just as deadly. But don’t fret, the usual gang is all back from the MEA crew, BFF Pen, Danny boy, witchy Baba to Little Man/Mary…yeah, no one can forget that duo. :)

In my review of Dirty Magic, I mentioned a potential for a love triangle. But this time around I think it’s pretty clear where each relationship is going…while one is definitely going somewhere, the other one is more one-sided. John doesn’t appear in as many scenes as the first book, and when he does make an appearance he brings only problems and bad tensions. As anyone can see he still has it bad for Kate, saying he never really stopped loving/caring even if it’s been 10 years. Kate seems to be drawn to John but every time she sees him she reminds herself of their past, making it easy to withdraw from any notions of the two of them getting back together. I kind of liked John in book one, but not so much in the sequel. John comes off all manipulative and seems like he has too many ulterior motives in everything he does. Then there is Kate’s partner Drew, there is so much sexual tension between the two that their team has a pool going on when they’d do the deed! LOL. I love their banter with one another, and think they complement each other perfectly. I am dying to see them take things to the next level, the sizzling chemistry between the two been brewing since the first book (but I don’t mind, it makes for a fun read) and it’s about to explode!

For those who haven’t started this series yet, pick it up immediately! You are seriously missing out on some amazing characters and world building, that I promise doesn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed Cursed Moon; it was everything I expected and more. I am already dying to get my hands on Deadly Spells especially with how things ended as revelations came to light. Deadly Spells is the third book in the Prospero’s War series and it can’t come soon enough…sadly we’ll have to wait till March 2015 to get our hands on it. 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Title: Libriomancer
Author: Jim C. Hines
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Magic Ex Libris #1

Hardcover, 308 pages
Publication: August 7, 2012 by Daw

Source: Purchased for my own reading.

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Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

Libriomancer is a book lovers’ and kid’s dream. Libriomancy is the ability to reach inside any book and pull out an object (the caveat, it must be small). Imagine pulling the golden snitch from Harry Potter or taking a peek inside Elizabeth Bennet’s diary from Jane Austen. Hines crafted such a unique idea that ensures it will be endless fun as readers spot some of their beloved novels in play. 

The beginning of the book started off with a bang as Isaac is attacked by a group of vampires at work (a library). It was fun to see familiar titles being used as Isaac constantly pulls item after item from books to defeat the vampires (like a special laser gun from a sci-fi novel). I was so enchanted with the idea but slowly lost interest halfway in. The book magic could only distract me so long from the poor plot and monotonous and unlikeable characters. And man, did I want to love this book.  I still stand by my opinion that the idea is fun and unique but everything else wasn’t enough to save the book from going downhill. 

Let me start off with the plot. The main plot is both Isaac and Lena on a mission to find and stop whoever is responsible for unleashing automation robots and mind-jacking the vampires. There isn’t anything complicated about it nor did I feel like there was sufficient background/world-building involved. I mean, you can only use so much of other authors’ books to build the foundation of your world before it becomes repetitive and boring…and honestly that was what happened. Then there were the characters. Isaac is the plainest character I’ve ever read. There wasn’t anything special about him besides him being a libriomancer.  He has zero confidence and seems to always be the damsel in distress. In comes Lena Greenwood, she is the product of someone pulling her from a book (born from a seed). Her main purpose in her fictional book and outside in Issac’s world is to adapt to whoever her lover is. The ‘lover’ shapes Lena into their idea of the perfect woman. In other words she’s like a sex slave. But she isn’t some dainty helpless lady; she’s overly strong, protective borderline possessive, and aggressive. I have no problem with a strong and confident woman, but Lena didn’t come across as such. Imagine everything you dislike about jerks (arrogant guys) and there you have Lena. The majority of the book we had Issac having an internal battle with himself, trying to rationalize if Lena counted as a person or if she’s just like all the other objects he pulls from books. It was pretty much ‘should I sleep with her or be a decent guy and don’t?’ We all know how it’ll end. And in the end, it didn’t help any of the characters involved in this lovers’ triangle but Lena. I thought it was ridiculous and unrealistic (I know it’s a fantasy, but yeah no). 

Overall, Libriomancer wasn’t what I expected. While it started out fun, it slowly lost steam along the way and never gain back its momentum. I really wished I enjoyed this book more…I mean there are ton of great reviews for it but sadly I’m in the minority. Would I still recommend this book? Definitely not.