Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Bloodsick by Melissa F. Olson + Promo

Title: Bloodsick
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: An Old World Novella #2

E-book, 175 pages
Publication: October 27th 2014 by SMP via Shifters After Dark Anthology. Available as a stand-alone December 26, 2014

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

Buy Shifters After Dark here!

All her life, Sashi’s mother warned her not to get involved with werewolf problems. But Sashi, a witch who uses healing magic on sick and injured bodies, has never made a habit of ignoring trauma. When she meets an abused shapeshifter that no one else seems willing to help, Sashi will risk everything –including her fledgling relationship – to save a woman who can’t save herself.

Bloodsick is Will Carling’s origin story, a character that readers met in the Scarlett Bernard series. Bloodsick is narrated by Sashi Noring, a twenty-something Thaumaturge witch (healing magic) living in Minnesota and occasionally Astrid, a female werewolf recently traded to the Minnesota pack to mate with their alpha Luke. There are two stories occurring simultaneously, one with Sashi discovering her place in the world, who wants to make her own path rather than follow in her mom’s footsteps using her magic as an oncologist; and Astrid a new werewolf and member to the Minnesota pack, being mistreated by her Alpha Luke who is determined to bond/mate their wolves together…regardless of their mutual dislike for one another.

I never read a short-story with duo narration, nor is it a preference of mine but I found myself wrapped up in both of these strong women voices and really enjoyed it. Sashi’s mother, Stephanie Noring is Luke’s go-to healer every time he or his wolves get injured. A few days before the full moon, Luke brings Astrid to Stephanie to heal a broken leg and this is where Sashi first meets Astrid and eventually discovers that Luke is not only physically and mentally abusing Astrid but he’s also forcing himself on her in hopes that their wolves bond, and that he will be cured of his madness. Sashi knows she shouldn't meddle in pack affairs, but she's not one to stand by and see another woman go through what Astrid is going through. Sashi's involvement has a snowball effect not only in her Old World business life but also her personal life. While this is supposed to be a story of Will’s origins, the two women are the ones mostly in the spotlight. However, the story still did a great job in painting an image of Will prior to his werewolf transformation and a life before he became the Alpha of the L.A. pack. It was interesting to see all the events that lead up to Will’s transformation, especially when he never had a say in it.

I loved Sashi and Astrid, they were very likeable leads. They are two very different woman but have the same qualities that make them the perfect heroines; both of them are strong, independent, smart, brave and headstrong. I also loved learning all about the witches and wolfs dynamic as well as more of the old world (term used when referring to all the hidden supernaturals). The two supernaturals are very complex in their rules and it was interesting to see how much they differ yet one thing is for certain; the sects cannot stand one another nor do they interact with each other much, which is exactly the way everyone wants it to be kept.

Another great novella from Olson! Bloodsick has all the elements that I love and come to associate with the Scarlett Bernard series packed into this short-story. Bloodsick clocks out at 175 pages, but it was jammed packed with action, a well-written plot, awesome characters and an intriguing world. Bloodsick is a great introduction to Olson’s writing style/story telling; fans of the Scarlett Bernard series will be delighted to jump back into the Old World, while new fans…let me just say ‘get ready to be hooked’! I absolutely loved Bloodsick and was so sad when it ended...I just didn’t want to leave Sashi, Astrid, Will, and the wolf pack! The ending/Epilogue was just crazy and bittersweet! I hope we find out what happens next for Sashi! I highly recommend Bloodsick, Olson’s spin on the supernaturals (Witches, Vamps, and Weres) is a breath of fresh air. Read it, you won’t be disappointed!

Bloodsick is available now in the Shifters After Dark Anthology!
Six authors, six books for only .99! For a limited time only! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

Title: The Accidental Highwayman
Author: Ben Tripp
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Series: The Accidental Highwayman #1

Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication: October 14, 2014 by Tor Teen 

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

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In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….
This is the most fun I had reading a historical fantasy young adult in a long time! The Accidental Highwayman is compared to be in the same vein as Star Dust and The Princess Bride and while I haven’t read either book I did see the movie, Star Dust; and I can definitely see some comparisons. The book is set in 18th Century England, and the dialogue/writing definitely reflects the time-period perfectly. The lingo might take a while to get used to, but I don’t think it detracts from the story. It instead gives an authentic feel to the characters and the setting. Tripp inhabits his world with fantastical creatures and beings that just leap off the pages, and enthralls the reader into a feel-good adventure with Kit and his misfit crew. What makes this book more charming is Tripp’s use of illustrations (full page and small pictures) throughout the book, I absolutely love it. 

The Accidental Highwayman is narrated in first person by 16-year-old Kit who is such an adorable and likeable character. Kit use to be part of a traveling circus before he was employed by Master Rattle as the sole servant of the manor. He lived quite a simple life and is very content with how things are but on one of Master Rattle’s usual nights, Kit finds his employer chased by bandits and injured at home. Kit dons his Master’s clothes to misdirect the intruders but instead he finds himself picking up Rattle’s task by a witch to save a lady who is none other then the Fairy King’s daughter and only heir. Kit is suddenly thrust into this magical world that he never knew existed and he took everything in better than I expected. Of course he was freaked out when he found out he had to complete his Master’s task, but I think how he handled it was very realistic…obviously scared and in awe at the same time. It was great to see Kit learn as he goes, and hilarious how he unintentionally out smart all his chasers from goblings, pixies, gryphons, Red Coats, The Rea Sea Duchess and even the Fairy King himself! Along his journey Kit picks up all sorts of wonderful unique friends such as the half human fairy princess who has unlimited powers yet to be discovered, tight-roper Lily (an old acquaintances when he was a kid), Lily’s eccentric Uncle Cornelius, a smart/ (non-talking?) baboon and two tiny fairies that pack a whole lot of attitude.

I love, love, love The Accidental Highwayman! It has everything one looks for in a book; great world building, likeable characters and an action-packed plot. In my opinion, It embodies everything that makes a classic fairy tale-fantasy adventure story. The book is geared toward the young ddult audience, but I think even a younger audience such as middle-grade or older audience (like myself lol) will very much enjoy this book as it offers a little something for everyone. I highly recommend The Accidental Highwayman, and think readers will have as much fun reading it as I did. I can’t wait for the sequel, The Accidental Giant! Be sure to check the Editor’s Note on how the author came up with the story from using old documents he found in his ancestor’s sea chest. How cool is that?!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Title: Rooms
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication: September 23, 2014 by Ecco

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

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Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
Rooms is the most unusual yet fascinating ghost story I’ve ever read. I have never read any of Ms. Oliver’s books, but I can see why she’s a bestseller; her writing is impeccable drawing me into the story right from the first page.
Rooms is a story about the Walker family returning to their father’s estate after his death to go over his belongings, the will, and his funeral and the two ghosts that still resides within the walls. Sandra and Alice are previous occupants of the house, but now in death they are trapped within the house bickering amongst themselves. The book explores the family’s past, their ups and down and how they’re coping with the lost of their father.

Rooms may be a ghost story but not in the sense of what most people refer to as ‘ghost stories’. It’s not scary, gruesome, nor spine-chilling. It’s a story about the living and the dead but mostly the living, exploring the lives of the Walker family. Rooms is narrated by six characters; The Walkers: Caroline (Mother, Ex-Wife), Minna (Daughter, Single mother), Trenton (Son) and Amy (Minna’s six-year-old daughter) and two ghosts: Alice and Sandra. The book alternates between all six characters, narrated in third-person with the Walkers and first-person with the ghosts.

I’m not usually a big fan of multiple narrations. Usually with this many narratives, authors sometimes lose some of the characters’ individuality/ uniqueness in trying to balance everything out. However, Oliver made it work and exceeded this challenge. She created a distinct voice for each of her characters. All of the characters were very realistic, beyond flawed but it was what made them and the story that much more riveting. It was very easy to follow each of the character’s story/narrative, even the two ghosts who at first seemed similar but as I got into the story it was easier to see that Sandra is more cynical and vulgar while Alice is laid back and conservative.

Rooms is a pretty dark and bleak book. The characters are all troubled, guilt-ridden and full of despair. And while these types of characters can usually be off-putting, Oliver writes tragic characters well…making readers want to get to know the characters and their history/past. I loved the ending, it was very bitter-sweet and Oliver wrapped up all the loose ends perfectly.

There are many negative reviews of this book. Many of them from readers following the author from her YA series to her new adult book…and while I haven’t read her YA series/book this is definitely not YA. Rooms deals with a lot of adult issues and has a lot of adult content that isn’t suitable for anyone under seventeen. With that being said, I really enjoyed Rooms and highly recommend it. Don’t let all the negative reviews dissuade you from reading this one; there is a lot to like. I’m really glad I read this book. Rooms is a beautifully written novel with unique and distinct characters and an engaging plot that will be with me long after I read it. Read it, you won’t be disappointed! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

[Blog Tour] The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts + Giveaway

Title: The Bodies We Wear
Author: Jeyn Roberts
Genre: Young Adult
Series: The Bodies We Wear #1

Hardcover, 368 pages
Publication: September 23, 2014 by Knopf  BFYR

Source: I received a review copy in exchange for a honest review/blog tour

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People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?
I really enjoyed Roberts alternative dark and gritty America, where the man-made drug Heam (Heaven’s Dream) is king. Heam is a cheap and addictive drug that’s readily available; popular because it is said that those who take it is able to glimpse a part of heaven and any beloved that died. But like everything in life there are consequences to taking Heam. There are two outcomes most associated with Heam, the first one is that the user would become so addicted after one try that it eventually leads them to take Heam till they overdose and die. The second outcome is the euphoria of Heam is so great, the user is in awe at how beautiful heaven is that they die and never wakes up. So basically, it’s likely that the users dies either way. The question then is will it be now or later? But in Faye’s case she not only survives but it made her stronger. I thought the world building was very well established, giving the readers a perfect image of Faye and the setting. For example, Faye lives in a place that’s always raining, dark, and dank…pretty much the worst part of town as you can imagine. The setting also fits Faye’s character/personality. She lives in an old rundown church with Gazer living on just the bare essentials. Unlike the kids Faye goes to school with (private school/wealthy families), Faye doesn’t have the luxuries or upbringing like they do making her an automatic outsider. Since everyone looks down on Heam users, Faye can't help but be closed off; believing she has no chance at life or happiness because she bares the Heam scars on her chest. She is full of anger at Russ for forcing her to take Heam, at society for condemning all Heam users (even though it wasn’t Faye’s fault) and the injustice in the city.

My first impression of The Bodies We Wear is that it’d be a tale of revenge; however the synopsis is a bit misleading. While there is plenty talk of revenge, there was very little in terms of action. The Bodies We Wear is more of Faye’s journey and character growth since the day she was saved and rehabilitated by Gazer. Faye is a strong and kick-butt (literally) heroine. Faye acts tough and invincible but underneath her hard exterior she is a still a fragile girl…a girl that wants a normal life with friends to talk to and have fun with. I love seeing Faye’s transformation over the course of the book as she broke down her walls and tried to learn to trust people. It was extremely hard for Faye to fathom a life without seeking vengeance; since she devoted the last six years of her life determine to avenge her friend’s death. Overall, I was happy with Faye’s choice at the end, because I know it wasn’t an easy decision. As a 17-year-old Faye was very mature and competent. Although Faye has a lot of flaws about herself, she wasn’t afraid to learn from her mistakes, and was willing to change for a better life…which is a 180 degree change from the beginning of the story. Faye is brave for everything that she’s been through and more so for the choices she made towards the end of the book.

The pacing of the book was good, and the action scenes were well spaced to keep the story from getting dull. About halfway through the book the author incorporated a paranormal twist to the plot which I did not expect. It was interesting but wasn’t fully explained. Even the character didn’t understand the gist of it. But don’t worry, the paranormal aspect only played a minor role in the overall plot. I read that some readers were confused but if readers read the author’s acknowledgement at the end of the book, it will make more sense on how the story came about and why she incorporated the twist. I hope we’ll get an explanation on the how/why of it in the next book as The Bodies We Wear is the start of a new series.

Overall I liked it. It wasn’t what I expected but I like being surprised. The twist definitely brought something else to the story. The Bodies We Wear isn’t just a Dystopian YA as there are two underlying themes. The first addresses the overall effects of taking drugs and how society views junkies. And the second one focuses on life and death; asking the question where do we go when we die and what would you do/say if someone who died reappeared? I’m looking forward to seeing more of Faye and where the author takes this series. Be sure to check out  the cool extras at the end of the book; such as Faye's training schedule, a playlist and quotes Faye lives by.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Random House, I have a copy of The Bodies We Wear to give away! To enter fill out the Rafflecopter below!


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Jeyn Roberts grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and started writing at an early age, having her first story published when she was 16 in a middle-grade anthology called LET ME TELL YOJeyn Roberts grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and started writing at an early age, having her first story published when she was 16 in a middle-grade anthology called LET ME TELL YOU.

When she was 21, she moved to Vancouver with dreams of being a rock star, graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Writing and Psychology. For the next few years she played in an alternative/punk band called Missing Mile before moving to England where she received her MA from the prestigious Creative Writing graduate course at Bath Spa University. Jeyn is a former singer, songwriter, actress, bicycle courier and tree planter.

An avid traveler, she’s been around the world, most recently, teaching high school in South Korea.

A lover of animals, Jeyn volunteers regularly with helping abandoned and abused animals, especially cats.

Connect with Jeyn!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Reckoning by S.J. Harper

Title: Reckoning
Author: S.J. Harper
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Fallen Siren #2

Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Publication: October 7, 2014 by Roc

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

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Special Agent Emma Monroe has a secret. She’s a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. As an FBI agent she saves the lives of others believing redemption could be one rescue away.

Her partner Zack is a werewolf and former Black Ops sniper who once carried out a string of questionable assignments. Now he’s determined to atone for his past. Ironically, there’s a portion of his past Zack doesn’t remember—an affair with Emma. Giving into their attraction for one another almost led to their undoing. Now it’s back to business as usual.

While trying to unravel the mystery behind a series of kidnappings in Southern California, Emma and Zack become entangled with political tensions in the vampire and Were worlds. Not to mention the struggles they face in their relationship with one another. With so much uncertainty, they come to realize the only thing they can really count on is one another…or can they?
Reckoning is a great follow-up to last year’s debut Cursed, an Urban Fantasy with a perfect combination of mystery, romance, and paranormal. Reckoning picks up 5 months after the events of Cursed. Emma our heroine was cursed never to find love or happiness by the Goddess Demeter when she failed to save Demeter’s daughter from the clutches of Hades. As penance Emma must save those that are lost/or missing and bring them home safely; hence her working in the FBI’s missing unit. Like the first book Emma and her partner Zack are on another case, this time involving three missing girls all from the same academy. Unlike the first book, there is a big subplot interconnected with their current case that involves the weres and vampires.

As much as I enjoyed the first book, I thought Reckoning was even better especially since readers are seeing more of the paranormal side. In the first book besides knowing Emma was a siren and Zack a werewolf, readers didn’t see so much of the paranormal; at least not till the very end when it was revealed that vampires were being taken which in turn introduced readers to the Vampire King Kallistos. I was so happy that I got to see more of Kallistos, like I mentioned in my review of Cursed I was super intrigued by Kallistos even if he was only in 4 or 5 pages. So Emma is in a no-strings –attach relationship (but not a relationship) with Kallistos which is both fine by them. I really like Kallistos and seeing him with Emma. Of course I haven’t forgotten about Zack, even though his intimate memories of Emma are wiped; they still have plenty of banter and chemistry between them. I love both of the guys; they’re great in completely different ways and I’m torn on who Emma should be with now.

I know that Emma is still in love with Zack, but it really bugged me that for most of the book she kept prying and grumbling about what Zack did in his own time or if it involved his Ex Sarah. I mean there were also times where she’d sabotage her own plan to keep them apart. I honestly think if she’s spending the majority of the book regretting her choice and consciously trying to jump start Zack’s memories then she should have never given him the potion in the first place(yes, which mean I think they should of just taken a chance and try to find a way around Demeter). The more Emma thought about not being able to be with Zack, she started to direct that frustration out on Kallistos who has been nothing but caring and protective of her. Yes, he enchanted a tracking device on her without her knowedge but I think it was all within reasons as he is the Vampire King with lots of enemies (who would target what he cared for the most, which is Emma). Emma would accuse him of being unethical in some aspect of his life but he was always upfront about himself. Emma knew all of this of course but she was finding any/all reasons to end their current arrangement.

The ending was pretty horrible (in terms of what Demeter did) but not surprising. Did I feel bad for Emma? Not really. Demeter gave Emma a short reprieve in the love department, and of course she jumped on that ASAP. Any thoughts of Kallistos went straight out the door, I mean, wow you’ve been sleeping with the guy for 5 months…the least you can do is give the guy a heads-up right? Nope. Then the twist comes, the horrible thing I mentioned and who comes in to pick her up when her world is crashing down? Kallistos, of course. I know Emma said from the start that her arrangement with him is only physical but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

Overall I enjoyed Reckoning, the book grabbed me immediately from the first page and kept me glued to the very end. The plot was fast-paced and engaging, and I love that the authors expanded on the world. My only issue with this book is that I wasn’t happy with Emma and how she handled her relationship with Kallistos and Zack. My complaint about Emma in the first book about how she was a hypocrite (when she was mad Zack didn’t want to tell her he was a were even though she knew, and yet she wasn’t willing to tell him what she was) reared its ugly head again in this book. I would have rated this book a 5 but because of those two reasons I deducted a star. With how things ended, I am curious to see how everything will play out in the next book…I just hope Emma will give Kallistos a fair shot and not just use him.

Monday, October 06, 2014

[Early Review] Silverblind by Tina Connolly

Title: Silverblind
Author: Tina Connolly
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Ironskin #3

Hardcover, 272 pages
Publication: October 7, 2014 by Tor Books

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

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The final book in this series will jump forward 18 years and feature Dorie, Jane's young charge from Ironskin.

18 years later . . .
Dorie Rochart has been hiding her fey side for a long time. Now, finished with University, she plans to study magical creatures and plants in the wild, bringing long-forgotten cures to those in need. But when no one will hire a girl to fight basilisks, she releases her shapechanging fey powers--to disguise herself as a boy.

While hunting for wyvern eggs, she saves a young scientist who's about to get steamed by a silvertail-- and finds her childhood friend Tam Grimsby, to whom she hasn't spoken in seven years. Not since she traded him to the fey. She can't bear to tell him who she really is, but every day grows harder as he comes to trust her.

The wyverns are being hunted to extinction for the powerful compounds in their eggs. The fey are dying out as humans grow in power. Now Tam and Dorie will have to decide which side they will fight for. And if they end up on opposite sides, can their returning friendship survive?
Silverblind is the third and final installment in the Ironskin series following heroine Adora ‘Dorie’ Rochart who readers met as a child in the first book Ironskin. Fast-forward 18 years, readers finds Dorie who just graduated from college in search of her first job. Dorie has her heart set on The Queen’s Lab as a field researcher, one of the most prestigious government jobs around and the position is only intended for men. After going to three interviews and getting rejected from all three for her gender, Dorie best friend/roommate Jacqueline ‘Jack’ suggests that Dorie uses her Fey powers to impersonate a boy. Doors usually only available to men are suddenly open to Dorie as she becomes ‘Dorian’, finally doing what she loves which is researching in the woods where the fey lives. Through her disguise Dorie begins to hunt Wyverns for experiments, discovering that the Wyvern eggs’s abilities to kill the fey and cure those that are ironskin (humans touched by fey)…and that her cousin Tam whom she hasn’t seen for over a decade is working at the Queen’s Lab. Tam hasn’t spoke to Dorie or forgiven her for her betrayal all those years ago, and now that Dorie has a chance to seek forgiveness she can’t stuck as a boy.

I haven’t read the first two books in the series but Silverblind read perfectly as a standalone. After reading a few pages, I was able to follow along with the story with no problems. Connolly did a great job summarizing the previous books without bogging the readers with too much information, it was just enough to help readers understand what is going on and the history /background of the character were sprinkled and incorporated in a way without disrupting the flow of the story. Silverblind focuses on Dorie and Tam going against the Crown by using their knowledge of the Wyvern eggs and the tales of the legendary/Mythical Basilisk to help/cure the remaining ironskin (human touched by feys afflicted with a particular problem, ex: excruciating hunger, anger, fear or visions to name a few). Readers also learn more about the Feys and where they originated as well as other creatures that dwell in the woods.

I absolutely adored Dorie and Tam. Dorie is half human- half fey but she isn’t one that cares about power or fey beauty. Instead of using her powers, she kept it locked away since that fateful last day she saw Tam dulling her true appearance and abilities. It isn’t till 18 years later that she unlocked her other half, but even then it isn’t for selfish means. She uses her powers to turn herself into an average joe guy to get a job to help others, the Ironskins and the poor. Dorie was a very likeable and competent heroine. It was fun to see her switch from Dorie to Dorian, trying to play two characters (which was harder with a baby Wyvern practically attached to her like an extra limb) and all the craziness that ensue. Tam, Dorie Cousin (not by blood) was an excellent male lead…he is pretty much a male version of Dorie…which is probably why I liked him just as much. There were many flashbacks of Dorie and Tam as children, and while I’m not usually a fan of flashback…I must admit I enjoyed theirs. It gave readers a glimpse into their history and why they haven’t spoken for 18 years. When Dorie and Tam broach the subject about what Dorie did to Tam all those years ago it was so heart wrenching. I definitely felt the characters’ emotion as if I was living it myself.

I really enjoyed Silverblind. The whole masquerading as a boy felt very Mulan-esqe to me and made for a fun and engaging read. Silverblind is a fairly short and quick read but it was action packed from start to finish. I love the world building, Victorian setting, well developed plot and unique cast of characters. My only complaint is that I wished the book was longer! For fans of the Ironskin trilogy, I’m happy to report that both Jane and Helen make an appearance. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy or is looking for a different take of faeries/fey.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire

Title: The Winter Long
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye #8

Mass Market Paperback, 358 pages
Publication: September 2, 2014 by Daw

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

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Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It's time to learn the truth.
I am amazed yet again with the October Daye series. As a series with currently 8 books out and more to come it hasn’t lost its spark or charm since the first book. In my opinion when a series is this far along it usually gets dull, redundant, or unimaginative…or even all three. However, that’s not the case with this series. Instead McGuire expands more on her multifaceted world and rich characters, creating beautiful imagery and evoking emotions to keep readers coming back for more and more.

The Winter Long has the shortest synopsis I’ve ever seen with only three sentences. I guess it was a good thing because going into this book I didn’t know what to expect. Well, no it does mention Toby’s past, and boy did we learn a lot about her past. In this latest installment someone is out to get Toby, wanting her dead since the first book. Two people from Toby’s past reemerge causing mayhem all over the Kingdom of Mist putting everyone she loves in the path of danger. Readers also delve deeper into Toby’s past, learning precisely why she was turned into a fish for 14 years (three years ago), her connection with the Torquills (that goes deeper than the job) and her mother’s past all while trying to stay alive and figure out who’s trying to kill her.

This book was revelations upon revelations. McGuire ties up all the subplots and threads from previous books in The Winter Long, creating another satisfying and emotional read. I loved that we got to see more of Toby’s blood magic, it seems like her abilities are just endless doing things no regular blood worker can do…not even her mom who’s a First Born. Let’s just say she saved two people this time around who were on the brink of death. And mentioning of First Born, readers also learn more about Oberon, Maeve and Tatiana’s lines/descendents. The world of Faeries is so complex; I wonder how McGuire keeps everything straight!

I can’t recommend this series enough. This is a series every fantasy reader should have on their keeper shelf! I highly recommend readers starting with the first book in the series, Rosemary and Rue because…it just makes more sense that way lol. Toby and all the characters in this book grow immensely over the course of the books, and one of the reasons that make this series so great is watching that character development. Trust me; you’d appreciate the series more that way. I love this series so freaking much, it is definitely up there tied with the Kate Daniels series.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Cursed by S.J. Harper

Title: Cursed
Author: S.J. Harper
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Fallen Siren #1

Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Publication: October 1, 2013 by Roc

Source: I purchased this book for my own reading.

Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.

Special Agent Zack Armstrong just transferred into the San Diego Field Office. He’s a werewolf, doing his best to beat back the demons from his dark and dangerous past. As a former Black Ops sniper, he’s taken enough lives. Now he’s doing penance by saving them.

Emma and Zack’s very first case draws them deep into the realm of the paranormal, and forces them to use their own supernatural abilities. But that leaves each of them vulnerable, and there are lines partners should not cross. As secrets are revealed and more women go missing, one thing becomes clear: as they race to save the victims, Emma and Zack risk losing themselves.

I haven’t read many books that incorporate sirens as the main character, and so far I like what I see from reading the prequel and first book, Cursed in the Fallen Siren series. The authors did a great job balancing the supernatural and police procedural as well as the action and romance aspects of the novel. FBI agent Emma has been cursed by the Goddess Demeter for failing to retrieve her daughter Persephone when she was taken by Hades to the underworld. As punishment Emma must save/bring home all those that have gone missing until Demeter is satisfied. Until then she must live among the mortals. The incorporation of the Greek mythology was done through and through, making for a tight and believable world/setting. The curse affected every part of Emma’s life, from her appearance, her work/job and to her personal love life.The world building isn’t overly complex like most Urban Fantasy and it’s a closed world for supernaturals in this book living hidden amongst the humans; but it was simple enough to still be enjoyable and let readers focus on the case/plot.

While there were enough romantic tensions flying back and forth, the focus of the book was solely the missing person’s case. At the beginning of each chapter there is the day of the week, along with a number to show readers how long Emma and Zack been working on the case; which is cool as most people know the first 72 hours are always crucial, any longer then it means the person is less likely found/alive. The pacing of the book was quick with plenty of action and discovery of clues to keep readers engage. As the clues start to connect, it seemed like anyone can be a likely suspect. So it was quite surprisingly when the culprit was revealed because I’d never suspect said person. However, it isn’t to say that Emma and Zack didn’t have any down time. I loved the short moments that they found time to be alone, and the sexual tension brewing between the two. It is in these moments that we learn more of both characters background/past, and how alike the two are both looking for redemption by doing their job in helping others.

Emma is a great character, she strong and very level-headed. As a siren she can use her voice to get inside people’s head, and make them do whatever she says. She doesn’t use her powers often since Demeter is always watching, waiting for any opportunity to punish her more. The only times Emma does use her gift is when she comes to a dead-end in a case, using her voice like a lie-detector. I felt bad for Emma at times, unable to fall in love. When/and if Demeter finds out that she has fallen in love, Demeter punishes Emma by taking her lover away. So it makes sense that she wants to keep any love interest at bay, fearing for both their lives. The only thing that bugged me in this book about Emma was how she was giving Zack a hard time about keeping secrets (she knows he’s a werewolf but want him to tell her) yet she wasn’t willing to do that same. It was a bit annoying, like you can’t fault someone for keeping secrets, especially when the person barely knows you. It’s rare for people to go spout their deepest, darkest secrets to a stranger.

Zack use to be black ops, tormented by his past he seeks retribution by working on the FBI missing unit. I really like Zack; he knows when to be funny and when to be serious. He never once let his emotions get in the way of his current case. He kept personal business separate from the job, which was very mature…and unlike Emma at times. I also liked that he took Emma’s secrets and abilities in great stride. He respected her choices, and was patient when he waited for Emma to decide if she’s willing to take their relationship to the next level. However, the authors kind of threw in another potential love interest at the end of the book. While I like Zack and am rooting for him to be with Emma…I couldn’t help but get excited about the new guy. He’s intriguing and very persistent! I can’t wait to see how this new development transpires in the next book.

Cursed is a great debut to a new Urban Fantasy series and I am looking forward to seeing where this series go. If you love Greek Mythology, supernatural creatures, awesome police procedurals, and a forbidden romance then check this book out!

*Captured, the prequel to the Fallen Siren series is out and is currently free. Get a first look at how Emma and Zack met. (Please make sure to double check price before purchase.)