Friday, March 27, 2015

Armageddon Rules by J.C. Nelson

Title: Armageddon Rules
Author: J.C. Nelson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Grimm Agency #2

Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Publication: February 24, 2015 by Ace

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

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

Marissa is due for a little happily ever after. After all, she did kill the evil Fairy Godmother, end a war, and snag a sweet promotion within the Fairy Godfather's magical-problem-solving Agency. But between maintaining a relationship with someone whose amorous advances can cause third-degree burns, dealing with a killer-poodle infestation, and helping her best friend, Princess Ari, learn to wield spells more powerful than curing a hangover, she’s not getting as much peace and quiet as she hoped.

When an enemy from her past appears to exact a terrible revenge, Marissa’s life goes from hectic to hell on earth. With Grimm inexplicably gone and Ari trapped by a sleeping spell, Marissa decides to fight fire with hellfire—and accidentally begins a countdown to the apocalypse.

With the end of days extremely nigh, Marissa will have to master royal politics, demonic law, and biblical plagues in a hurry—because even the end of the world can’t keep the Agency from opening for business…
Armageddon Rules picks up a couple of years after the events of Free Agent. Marissa is no longer an agent as she was promoted to partner; but that doesn’t mean work at the agency is any mellower. Assassins are showing up every day, there’s a flesh-eating poodle infestation and oh yeah, Marissa accidently signed a demon contract promising to bring down the apocalypse. It’s just another day in Marissa Locke’s life.

Two things you can always expect from this series is that things will never be boring and it’s unpredictable. Readers literally will not know what to expect because like the world-building and characters, everything about the book/plot is unconventional, in a good way of course. In the latest installment, readers will learn more about Fairy Godfather’s past, the Black Queen, and the most interesting thing of all; why wishes are never granted anymore. While the usual gang is present, there’s a whole new group of villains, from nasty demons, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Princesses-Queens Serial Killer Rip Van Winkle, to the devil himself who happens to go by Nick!

You know how kids are when they had too much sugar and are so hyper that they’re practically bouncing off the walls…yeah this series is like that! Armageddon Rules is another crazy, hilarious, fun installment in the Grimm Agency series! I really enjoyed it, and can’t wait till the third book, Wish Bound, which comes out later this year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blog Tour: All Mascara is Not Created Equal by Jessica Landmon Q&A + Excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the All Mascara is not Created Equal Blog Tour! 

Q&A with Jessica Landmon, founder of Women Get Real and author of All Mascara is Not Created Equal

Q: Can you give us a brief summary of your book, All Mascara is Not Created Equal?
J: All Mascara is Not Created Equal is intended to present lighthearted, witty, and spiritually sound advice to young women and girls in “tweet-like” form to help them live a life God would approve of.

Q: Where did you get the idea to write this book?
J: I actually started writing the book specifically for my tween daughter and intended to give it her as she entered middle school. Those years can be tough. As a parent, I’m very concerned about the message culture is marketing to our youth. It contradicts the way God has called us to live.

Q: How did you come up with the playful title?

J: Anyone who knows me, knows that I love mascara. I had tried several brands over the years and finally discovered a fantastic mascara that I just loved. It was full of minerals and actually nourished your lashes. Plus, it created a very full lash. I would always joke with daughter, saying that if you remember anything I tell you remember that ‘All Mascara Is Not Created Equal.’

Q: How long did it take you to write the book? Do you have any stories you can share of how you gathered specific quotes or advice? 

J: You could say the book took most of my life to write, as my experiences growing up and parenting are what shaped it. But, in actuality, it only took about a year to record them and fine-tune them. Most of them wrote themselves. I would be having a conversation with my kids, and all of a sudden I would give some advice. If I liked it, I would later record it. In fact, as I was compiling the tips, my kids would remind me of the things I had told them through the years.

Some of the tips are just reflections of the advice my mother and father passed on to me. Of course, they needed a little tweaking. I didn’t have to deal with the pressures of social media and cell phones when I was growing up.

Q: Did you have any challenges when writing this book? If so, what were they?
J: The only challenge I really faced was stopping. At some point, I had to say, this is enough. I will most certainly continue to give my daughter (and son) advice as they continue to mature, but there definitely needed to be a stopping point for the book.

Q: We would love to know more about the woman behind the book. How would you describe yourself?
J: Practical. Organized. Planner. These are some words that my close circle of friends and family would use to describe me. And I can’t argue with that. But, when the Holy Spirit asks me to do something, all that goes out the door. Jesus’ love for me is the most important thing in my life. My goal is that everyone would experience this type of love, which is why I am so quick to abandon my plans and do what God wants me to do.

On a fun note, I am married to my high school sweetheart. I was only 16 when we started dating. He was a football player and I was a cheerleader. You don’t get any cuter than that! God has blessed us with two beautiful children who are my absolute joy.

Also, I just love Yorkies, which is why you see them all throughout the book. One day, when the timing is right, I will add one to our family.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from All Mascara is Not Created Equal?
J: I hope women learn that pop culture shouldn’t define the kind of women we become. I hope that they see that life is hard, but Jesus will be your comforter and strength. I hope that every woman sees her beauty, even before she puts on her mascara. Our inner beauty is so much more important than anything on the outside.

Q: Can you tell us more about the ministry behind the book, Women Get Real?
J: Women Get Real Ministries is all about “getting real” with other women. All too often, women put on the fa├žade that everything is just perfect. But, in reality, they are silently suffering with issues like fear, anxiety, depression, body image, and faith. We break the rules about what is and is not acceptable to talk about, to try and reach the hearts of women providing them with hope and healing.

Q: Where can we find you online and purchase the book?
J: Books are available through my website, and on Amazon. It is also being sold at many boutique stores in Connecticut.


Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media are sending mixed messages about the way we, as women, are to live our lives. Catch phrases like “YOLO” and “swag” are distorting the ideals that we should strive for. Women have more to contribute to society than being sexy, and we certainly shouldn’t attach our worth to how many likes we get on a selfie.

As a mother to a tween daughter and a teenage son, I have learned a few things about life along the way. This book is full of valuable tips or bits of wisdom that I have learned, or heard from my parents, while growing up.

Some of them are quite spiritual and have helped me through some difficult times. Some of them are practical and certainly would have helped me to avoid some major overreactions to the silliest of things. Some are just plain amusing. They stem from those eureka moments where I was like “That is so true!” Like, who knew that the thread count of sheets really does make a difference?

This is not just another book where a mother and her daughter walk hand-in-hand in the garden as the mom passes along life lessons. This book is more of a woman-to-woman guidebook for life.

Now about many of you look at celebrities and are like, there is no way their lashes can be that full! You’ve tried to layer coat after coat with your mascara and wonder why your lashes still look like, well, your lashes. You think, am I applying this wrong? Maybe I need a special brush? No.

All mascara is NOT created equal! This was news to me. I don’t care how much your current mascara costs, it still might not be good. There ARE mascaras that are superior to others. You just need to find the right one.

So, as you read through the pages of this book, grab a cup of tea, and let these tips sink in. Don’t get distracted by what society is trying to tell you to become; walk in the plan God has for you. You are God’s beautiful creation, and He has a wonderful plan for your life.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

Title: The Eterna Files
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication: February 10, 2015 by Tor 

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

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes.

Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped—and has a sample of Eterna. Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound—and the immortality it will convey—will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.
When President Lincoln gets assassinated his late wife, Mary Todd, in her grief seeks answers in the realm of the preternatural in hopes of preventing what happened to her husband from ever happening again to future presidents. Mary Todd believed that 8 year-old spiritualist Clara Templeton and her guardian Senator Bishop are the answers to her prayers. She tasks them with finding the antidote to immortality and thus is born the Eterna Compound. However, Lincoln’s widow isn’t the only one looking for the elixir. Fast-forward about 17 years and another group in London, Omega, headed by Detective Spire and Researcher Everhart is doing the exact same. What the Americans and Europeans don’t know is that there’s a mysterious third party looking to derail both groups as everyone races to find Eterna and the elixir of life.

I thought Hieber did an amazing showcasing the plot alternating back and forth between the American and European perspective, especially with the large cast. Readers really get the feeling that they’re transported back to the 1800’s, with Hieber lush descriptions from the scenery down to minuscule detail of the characters’ clothing. It was interesting to see how each group went about their search, and techniques in accomplishing the same goals. While the American team comprised of spiritualists, an occultist and clairvoyant; the European team consisted of a detective, researcher and a couple of circus performers. The eclectic casts certainly shines with their personalities in an otherwise dreary and grim atmosphere of the time, and let’s not forget the abundances of ghosts surrounding them. But in my opinion the characters were the best part of the book, even when character development was lacking. Due to the myriad amount of characters vying for page time and multiple POVs, we didn’t get a lot of background information like other books that have 4-5 main characters.

Overall The Eterna Files was an enjoyable read, and has the potential to be an amazing series (I’m guessing there’s going to be subsequent books with how it ended). The pacing of the book is a bit slow as the author is setting the stage and foundation of her world, but it eventually picked up towards the end of the book with a shocking ending that will have readers begging for a sequel. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Blog Tour: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Seraphina Blog Tour! 
 Be sure to check out the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy of your very own!

Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Seraphina #1

Hardcover, 499 pages
Publication: July 10, 2012 by Random House BFYR

Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review and blog tour.

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
I vaguely remember hearing about Hartman’s Seraphina when it was first published in 2012, but with the torrent of books always releasing I forgot all about it. All I knew about the book was that it was about dragons and that it was a YA Fantasy novel. I don’t recall ever reading a book with dragons as the main creatures and I don’t read many YA fantasy novels. So when I was approached to read Seraphina, I thought why not give this book a chance? It sounded pretty good. I went in without much expectations but wow was I surprised! Seraphina turned out to be an amazing book and I was so glad I read it!

Many Young Adult novels these days are mediocre, then we have the few that are pretty good but it is rare to find books that blow you away or surprise you; and Seraphina did both! Hartman’s world-building was complex, meticulous, and well- developed. The world was so fully realized that I can literally picture Gorredd in my mind like it was a real, existing place with fantastical dragons flying in the sky! But Hartman didn’t stop there. Hartman's inhabited the world of Gorredd with realistic and likeable characters. Each and every single characters were unique from their appearance, background to their personalities. I love all of the characters, and can find no fault in anyone…even the villain of the story! I also liked that all of the women (including Seraphina and Princess Glisselda) were strong, independent and weren’t afraid to voice their opinions. While I have seen many strong heroines in the dystopian genre…it is rare to see this for majority of the female characters throughout a book….I usually find some problem in heroines of other books, but none was found here for these characters.

The pacing of the book was great. The author sprinkled details of the world and background information throughout the book so that readers can piece the clues together, so don’t worry about being overwhelm with too much information. I loved that the plot and characters were the main focus, with the romance taking the backseat. It is there but it didn’t dominate the story like usual YA books.

Ienjoyed this book immensely, and I can’t wait to read the sequel, Shadow Scale, when it comes out next week (March 10th)! This is a wonderful start to a series that will appeal to adults and teens alike. If you’re looking for something fresh, unique and well-written, look no further…Seraphina may be a YA Fantasy novel but it is above many books of its genre and is well worth the read. It’s more than a story about Dragons and Humans. It’s about a girl learning herself worth, acceptance, love and friendship; about prejudice, loss, political intrigue, forbidden love, and family. Read it, you won’t be disappointed, I promise!

Random House has generously offered to give one lucky reader a copy of SERAPHINA! To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter below!


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Rachel Hartman lives and writes in Vancouver, BC.
Her first YA fantasy novel, Seraphina, was published by Random House on July 10th, 2012. Here are some things that are already being said about Seraphina by some fabulous authors:

“A book worth hoarding, as glittering and silver-bright as dragon scales, with a heroine who insists on carving herself a place in your mind.” — Naomi Novik, New York Times bestselling author of the Temeraire series.

“Seraphina is strong, complex, talented — she makes mistakes and struggles to trust, with good reason, and she fights to survive in a world that would tear her apart. I love this book!” — Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author.

“Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about dragons, it turns out there is, and plenty! Rachel Hartman’s rich invention never fails to impress — and to convince. It’s smart and funny and original, and has characters I will follow to the ends of the earth.” — Ellen Kushner, World Fantasy Award-winning author.

To connect with Rachel:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Friday, February 13, 2015

Guest Post by Marshall Ryan Maresca + Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Marshall Maresca, author of THE THORN OF DENTONHILL to Short & Sweet Reviews Blog!

Check out my 5 star review here, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

By Marshall Ryan Maresca

Over the course of The Thorn of Dentonhill, our hero Veranix, the eponymous Thorn, gets noticed by far more than his intended target, Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of the Dentonhill neighborhood. That’s what happens when you sneak off campus to wage a one-man street war and steal rare magical artifacts. People tend to notice you. Assassins, Mages and Street Gangs all turn their sights onto him. 

Assassins: A trio of assassins collectively called “The Three Dogs” come after The Thorn: Pendall, Cole and Samael. Standing nearly seven feet tall and built like an ox, Pendall claims he’s “the strongest man in Maradaine”. Coarse and excitable, Cole is an expert with knives— thrown or at close quarters. Lean and greasy, Samael is a gifted crossbow sharpshooter. The three work together to flush out The Thorn and collect the price on his head. 

Mages: The Blue Hand Circle commissioned Fenmere to smuggle two magical artifacts into Maradaine, so they were quite put out when the Thorn not only stole them, but started using them. To a circle of mages convinced in their own righteous purity, this was an incredible violation. Their public face is Fenrich Kalas, a powerful mage with a groomed gentleman’s style, even if he does little to hide his disdain for almost everyone he deals with. The two younger members— Kent and Forden— are not only magical muscle but gifted trackers of numina (magical energy), useful for finding the stolen items. Finally there's their leader, Lord Sirath: the taciturn, emaciated figure brimming with magical power. He barely even acknowledges that non-mages are speaking to him, even when his self-appointed title of “Lord” is called into question. 

Street Gangs: While Fenmere has an iron fist on all the criminal activity in Dentonhill, the adjoining neighborhood of Aventil is a different story. Seven gangs control those streets, and despite their enmity for each other, they all agree that Fenmere cannot be allowed to cross Waterpath into their neighborhood. Members of each gang proudly show off their affiliation to anyone who can recognize it. The Rose Street Princes, who control the northern part of the neighborhood near the campus gates, including and especially Rose Street, tattoo their right arm with a symbol of a rose with a crown. Hallaran’s Boys hold the western part of the neighborhood, all wearing green page caps. The Waterpath Orphans are on the east side, holding much of the line between Aventil and Dentonhill, cutting scars on their face to demonstrate their loyalty. The Knights of Saint Julian are in the center of the neighborhood, controlling the blocks around Saint Julian’s church, and trying to push into Prince territory— recognizable in their tall hats and gray vests. The south side of Aventil is controlled by the Toothless Dogs with collars tattooed on their necks and the Kemper Street Kickers, decorating their boots with kerchiefs. Finally, the Red Rabbits, the smallest and weakest of the Aventil gangs, controls only a few blocks wedged between the Princes, the Orphans and Waterpath. They all wear coats lined with rabbit fur. 

With Veranix having to contend all this, it actually is amazing he makes it to class at all.

Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the deliveryof two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere's clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle. Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere's side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.


Thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin, I have a copy of  THE THORN OF DENTONHILL to give away!
To enter please fill out the Rafflecopter below!

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Monday, February 09, 2015

The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Title: The Thorn of Dentonhill
Author: Marshall Ryan Maresca
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Maradaine # 1

Paperback400 pages
Publication: February 3, 2015 by DAW

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

Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere's clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle. Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere's side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.
This book was so much fun! I love the idea of Veranix being a regular college student by day and a vigilante by night. The author did a great job giving Veranix a balance life between the two, which in turn made it easy for readers to follow and understand the world-building. There are a lot of different factions that make up Dentonhill like crime lord Fenmere who is just a regular mafia-guy, the street gangs that run different part of the cities and mages; like Veranix who are able to wield magic. Readers get an inside look on all the different street gangs (the other main players besides Fenmere). Fenmere controls one side of the area, while multiple street gangs control the other side. We also see a bit of the mages, and an influential mage group, The Blue Hand who is smuggling magical artifacts into Maradaine. The magical systems and Mage’s energy (Numina) was very interesting, and I can’t wait to learn more about it. While we saw some of the Blue Hand’s key players, we didn’t really learn much about them; so I hope that changes in future books too. Especially with how the book ended!

I love all of the characters. Everyone was well developed with their own distinct personality. While I liked Veranix, I was more smitten with another group of guys…the Rose Street Princes! They may be a gang but they’re not intrinsically bad or good; all they care about is protecting one another and the Waterpath people.

The Thorn of Dentonhill was a fast paced read with action from start to finish. I loved every minute of it. The world building is unique; even the street gang’s lingo is original! I don’t read many fantasy fictions, but this will appeal to audiences of all genres and age as there’s a little of everything. It definitely makes me want to read more fantasy novels. This was a great debut novel and I can’t wait to see more of Maresca’s work and what he has in store for Veranix and the gang.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Uriel's Fall by Loralie Hall

Title: Uriel's Fall
Author: Loralie Hall
Genre:Urban Fantasy
Series: Ubiquity #1

Trade paperback, 301 pages
Publication: July 25, 2014

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


What's a corporate demon to do when the voice in her head is devouring her sanity from the inside out, and the hosts of heaven and hell would rather see her destroyed than surrender a power they shouldn't possess?

Ronnie has the job any entry-level angel or demon would sell their soul for—she's a retrieval analyst for the largest search engine in the world. Ubiquity is a joint initiative between heaven and hell. Because what better way to track all of humanity's secrets, both good and bad, than direct access to their web browsing habits.

She might appreciate the position a little more if a) she could remember anything about her life before she started working at Ubiquity, b) the damn voice in her head would just shut up already, and c) her boss wasn't a complete dickhead.

As she searches for the solutions to the first two issues, and hopes the third will work itself out in performance reviews, she uncovers more petty backstabbing than an episode of Real Housewives, and a conspiracy as old as Lucifer's descent from heaven. On top of all that, if she forgets the cover sheet on her TPS report one more time, she's absolutely going on final written warning.

Now Ronnie’s struggling to keep her sanity and job, and stop the voice in her head from stealing her life. She almost misses the boredom of data analysis at Ubiquity. Almost.

Come to think of it, I read a lot of Urban Fantasies but books about angels are usually a miss for me. I don’t know why, they just are and I tend to pass them over in favor of other books. However, when Hall approached me to review Uriel’s Fall, my curiosity was definitely piqued. Angels and Demons working together in the corporate world, never heard of that before! I  am so happy I decided to read this book, the world and characters (the main 3 angels) are intriguing and the idea unique; which made it an enjoyable read.

Uriel a.k.a. Ronnie has been suffering from memory loss. The last thing she remembered was waking up in her boss, Lucifer’s office three months ago and starting work at Ubiquity, a search engine company run by angels and demons to find cherubs (angel/demon energy) that escaped to earth looking to take a host body and live a mortal life. Ronnie is doing everything she can to get her memory back, but things get a little complicated when she starts hearing a voice inside her head, a voice demanding Ronnie to give back her body.

I was sucked in from the first page. Hall’s take on angels and demon is unlike anything I’ve ever read and I loved her fresh take on Gabriel, Michael and Lucifer; angels/fallen angels most people are familiar with. For most of the book Ronnie is trying to figure out why she lost her memory and who/why is there a voice inside her head. The whole internal dialogue Ronnie had with the voice reminded me a lot of The Host by Stephanie Meyers. The voice was amusing at first, but I thought that it was eventually go away. However, the voice was the main plot of the story and was the driving force for the characters and their actions. As much as I liked the big reveal of the voice and how she is connected to everyone around Ronnie, I wish there was more to the story. More action. Ronnie basically goes from one guy to the next asking for help and answers and every single person gives her the round-about or they outright lie to her.

Character wise, I didn’t really connect with Ronnie, even though she was the narrator. I didn't hate her, but I didn’t really like her either. For a demon, she was too nice and very naive; whether it is from having the hots for both of the angels or blinded to the fact/truth right in front of her. I know she lost her memory and all, but she just came off really whinny. It wasn’t till a little over half way through the book that Ronnie started taking things more seriously and actively trying/forcing people to tell her the truth…because everyone around Ronnie knew exactly who the voice was and how it got there…except for her.

Overall, this was a good book and I enjoyed it regardless of my issue with Ronnie. My favorite aspects of the book were the world and the history of the angels. I also like that this book didn’t follow the whole good versus evil route, which was a nice change for once. Uriel’s Fall is a good start to a new series, and I am looking forward to seeing where the author takes it.