Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chained by Night by Larissa Ione

Title: Chained by Night
Author: Larissa Ione
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: MoonBound Clan Vampires

Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Publication: September 30, 2014 by Pocket Books

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

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Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader's daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.

But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress's identical twin sister?
Chained by Night is my first Larissa Ione book, and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read the first MoonBound Clan book, but it was very easy to get swept up into Larissa’s incredible writing and world. I don’t read many paranormal romances but I’d say all PRs should be like this book… it was hot, hot, hot! Chained by Night was full of action and steamy romance that gave me chills and goosebumps (which rarely ever happens).

Some people feel that the whole vampire genre is a little played out, and while The MoonBound Clan series focuses on vampires; Ione brings a refreshing take on it incorporating Native-American lore/heritage into the story. I’m pretty sure having not read Bound by Night (book 1), I missed out on some important world building but again Ione did a great job in the world-building and describing it in a way that made it easy to follow and understand. There are two types of vampires, those that are born and those that are made. I also thought the vampire origin was interesting. Many of the tribes believed vampires derived from the battle between the raven and the crow with their blood seeping into the dead bodies of two chieftains but everything they believed was a lie. Vampires are the children of a demon named Samnult, which readers meet when Hunter and Aylin go on a quest (Samnult first appeared in book 1).

Hunter, the leader of the MoonBound clan and Aylin, Rasha’s identical twin sister were both exceptional leads. Hunter is a compassionate and fair leader, willing to do anything for his clan even if he has to agree to marry a rival clan’s daughter. And Aylin isn’t far off from Hunter. She too has the same characteristics, but she had a rough life growing up in Shadowspawn due to her deformed leg. However, Aylin never lets her slight disability get in the way of what she wants. It was great seeing Aylin’s transformation over the course of the book, it was realistic and believable. Hunter and Aylin’s chemistry was sizzling from the moment they laid eyes on each other (kind of funny as he despises Rasha). The romance was a slow, simmering burn that got hotter as the book went on, which is exactly how I like it.

All of the secondary characters were also awesome, and though readers only meet the clansmen/women briefly they all made lasting impression like Riker, Hunter’s 2nd in command, Baddon, Myne and Nicole. I even liked Rasha. She can be a malicious, conniving B-word sometimes…okay most time, but when she showed that rare moments of emotion and her sisterly side toward Aylin. It shows that deep beyond her hard exterior she has a heart.

Chained by Night was action-packed from start to finish. I devoured the book in one sitting, staying up till the early morning to finish. There was a lot going on in the book; tensions between the MoonBound and Shadowspawn clans, humans/poachers invading the territory, and the countdown till Hunter’s mating ceremony to the wrong girl. I really enjoyed Chained by Night and I can’t wait to read more books in the series. This is a great paranormal romance series. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Ione’s work.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

Title: Chimes at Midnight
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye # 7

Mass Market Paperback, 346 pages
Publication: September 3, 2013 by DAW

Source: Purchased for my own reading. 

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Things are starting to look up for October "Toby" Daye. She's raining her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down...at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby's efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets--and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there's the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne....

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists--and they'll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

Yah know I’m starting to run out of ways to describe how awesome the October Daye series is. Like seriously, this series is beyond amazing and it truly gets better with each installment...which leaves me a bit lost for words. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, or that surely the last book is the BEST, McGuire surprises me yet again. Chimes at Midnight, the 7th in the October Daye series answered many of the questions readers had since book 2 but unsurprisingly it also gave us a whole lot of new ones. Chimes at Midnight takes place approximately 3 months after the events of Ashes of Honor. With life going seemingly well October and the gang do the occasional stake out on the streets of San Francisco to monitor the distribution/movement of the Goblin Fruit after hearing of changelings going missing. Goblin Fruit is an addictive berry with drug-like qualities that are deadly to changelings and humans alike. After finding a dead changeling in an alley, October learns the hard truth that Changelings aren’t missing but they’re dead/or dying due to Goblin Fruit. And October only hope to stop the drug and protect the secrets of Faeries is to ask for help from the Queen in the Mist. But instead October learns that the Queen is the distributor and instead of helping, the Queen banishes October from the realm.

I really enjoyed the plot this time around, more than all the others. I’m a sucker for stories with lost prince/princess, a rebellion and political pandemonium…and Chimes at Midnight had all three!  Readers get to learn a lot more about the last king in the mist and will obviously meet his children that no one in Faerie knew about. Also we get to see first hand the affects of Goblin Fruit on a changeling. We’ve heard about Goblin Fruit since the beginning but never actually see it in effect; I thought that was pretty interesting (and crappy as heck).  And finally the big one, the mystery of Quentin’s fostering.  Many readers have speculated that Quentin comes from a rich-noble family but I was totally surprised at the big reveal. To be honest, I never thought much of his background…not till the last book at least lol.  His fostering is supposed to be hush-hush, but with the cat-out-of-the-bag, I’m excited how things will play out in subsequent books. There’s also a short-story at the end of the book that corresponds to a scene in the book, when Toby takes The Luidaeg’s blood pills and catches snippets of her memories (which involves Toby’s mom). Although it was a short-story, it left me wondering what did The Luidaeg know about Toby’s future that made her wait seven years to interfere with her sister and what IS Toby’s big destiny? I can’t wait to see where McGuire takes Toby’s new story arc! 

I highly recommend this series for those that haven’t read it yet, and to start at the beginning with Rosemary and Rue to see the full characters and world building development/growth (don’t recommend reading this series out of order). This series doesn’t disappoint, and if you’re looking for the best Urban Fantasy series out there, look no further because this is it! Now, on to the next October Daye novel, The Winter Long

Thursday, September 25, 2014

[Blog Tour] Splinter by FJR Titchenell & Matt Carter + Giveaway

Title: Splinters
Authors: FJR Titchenell, Matt Carter
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Sci-fi
Series: The Prospero Chronicles #1

Trade Paperback, 328 pages
Publication: September 23, 2014 by Jolly Fish Press

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

Under ordinary circumstances, Ben and Mina would never have had reason to speak to each other; he's an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal, and she's a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. But the small town of Prospero, California, has no ordinary circumstances to offer. In order to uncover a plot set by the seemingly innocent but definitely shapeshifting monsters-that-look-like-friends-family-and-neighbors, the two stark opposites must both find ways to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other.

Splinters is the first book in The Prospero Chronicles series following two teenagers in the small town of Prospero, California. Ben Pastors is in town with his mom for his childhood friend Haley’s funeral. Ben overwhelmed with the funeral procession steps outside for fresh air when all of a sudden the girl in which they’re at the funeral for bursts out of the forest dirty and naked. Ben who was in the right place, at the right time gets labeled as a hero as he helps Haley back on her feet. What’s strange is that Haley been missing for over two months and everyone thought she died. What’s stranger is a girl he doesn’t know passes him a message in secret with only three words: It isn’t Haley. Strange doesn’t even beginning to describe the people of Prospero, California…not even close. 

When I began this book I thought it’d be more paranormal but I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s a combination of paranormal and sci-fi. Splinters is very reminiscent of the old movie Invasion of the Body Snatcher, and the book The Host by Stephanie Meyers and American Elsewhere by Robert Bennett except that it’s lighter and aimed at a younger audience. The town of Prospero is slowly being overrun by Splinters, small centipede-like creatures either by latching on to the minds of animals or replicating/impersonating a member of the townspeople (a process in which the fake double splinter takes over a person life, and the real person is stowed away in a pod). Mina, our heroine has been dealing with splinters since she was eight-years-old, and now at sixteen she just takes the job more seriously making her a social outcast. Mina and her two friends make up her team of monster hunters. Mina has set her sight on newcomer Ben as a possible recruit, and does whatever it takes to convince him of aliens all while protecting him from getting snatched. Readers along with Ben learn all about the world of Splinters as Mina gives him 411 on a list of possible splinters, the best way to harm them, and where it all began/where they came from. For the majority of the book readers tag along with Ben and Mina as they try to find the Splinters’ secret location, in hopes of exposing them and saving whoever is trapped in the pods. Splinters was a pretty quick read, with plenty of action scenes and banter that kept me glued to the page till the very end. I enjoyed the duo narrative alternating each chapter between Ben and Mina, it gave a better perspective of the characters especially Mina who is somewhat socially awkward. 

Mina is not only shunned by her peers but pretty much the entire town. She is so enveloped with chasing down possible splinters that she has no semblance of a normal life. I actually loved Mina’s awkwardness, it made her more endearing. Mina is extremely smart, sensible, brave and totally kick-butt. It never mattered that people called her nasty name, or didn’t believe her about the Splinters…she would still go out of her way to protect her town even if meant endangering herself in the process. Then there’s Ben, an easy-going guy that’s charming and likeable; the total opposite of Mina. Ben was skeptical and a little more than freaked out when Mina first propositioned him to join her team, but in the end he was open-minded about the whole thing. I thought Ben was great for Mina. He helped her breakout of her shell and kind of just live a little. While they’re total opposite, they were perfect for each other and they help balance one another out. There isn’t any romance in this book (which I didn’t mind), but the end did promise a budding romance in the next book (I hope). 
Overall I enjoyed Splinters, it was full of action just the way I liked it and had an ending that was totally unexpected (in a good way). Splinters is a great start to a new series, and I believe adults and teens of all ages will enjoy this one…a book worth checking out!

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 J.R TITCHENELL and MATT CARTER met and fell in love in a musical theatre class at Pasadena City College and have been inseparable ever since. Though they have both dreamed of being writers from a very young age, they both truly hit their stride after they met, bouncing ideas off of one another, forcing each other to strive to be better writers, and mingling Matt's lifelong love of monsters with Fiona's equally disturbing inability to let go of high school. They were married in 2011 in a ceremony that involved kilts, Star Wars music, and a cake topped by figurines of them fighting a zombified wedding party.
Titchenell and Carter live in San Gabriel, California.

Connect with the authors!
  F.J.R. Titchenell   Facebook | Twitter  |  Website
Matt Carter  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Website


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

Title: Ashes of Honor
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye #6

Mass Market Paperback, 353 pages
Publication: September 4, 2012 by DAW

Source: Purchased for my own reading.

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It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

It’s been three years since I read the October Daye series. I always tell myself I’d start the next book, and next thing I know I’m three books behind. Although it’s been three years, jumping back into October’s world with Ashes of Honor felt effortless; like going back home after a long vacation. It was like I never even left. Ashes of Honor is the 6th book in the October Daye series, taking place approximately a year after the events of One Salt Sea. In this installment October is still in the midst of grieving over the death of her boyfriend Connor and losing her daughter Gillian (who took the changeling choice, and chose to be human). By losing two people October loves the most she has kept everyone at arm’s length while seeking solace in being reckless with life. But life doesn’t stop when you’re feeling down, and October is yet again on another case as fellow knight Etienne seeks her help in finding his missing changeling daughter.

The mystery plot this time around isn’t as intricate as the previous plot lines in the series; this was a pretty straightforward case. Even the villain wasn’t much of a mystery as I figured out who was behind Chelsea’s kidnapping early on in the book. Although it was a straightforward case, the twist midway and involvement of the court of cats was interesting. I didn’t expect the author to tie the upheaval situation to Chelsea’s kidnappers but it was well-done nonetheless.  Readers also got to see a deeper side of faerie, places that were supposedly locked away by Oberon and more of the duchy of Tamed Lighting (April O’ Leary’s domain). McGuire never ceases to amaze me with her world building, everything is so vividly detailed that I can imagine faerie alongside San Francisco; it’s beautiful and believable. 

As someone that has followed this series since the beginning, it is no surprise that October and danger come hand-in-hand.  October is a magnet for trouble. For the majority of the series October was use to doing things alone, feeling as if she can’t depend on anyone but herself. However, in this book readers see October re-evaluate her life and learn that although some people are gone that it doesn’t necessarily mean that she too should stop living; October realizes that there’s still a lot worth living for, people worth living for.  It was refreshing to see October embrace the people around her and accept the help offered to her. What I love most about October is that she’s a realistic character, dealing with real situations and emotions (well, you get what I mean). She has continuously grown with each book, still stubborn but she’s learning. October has such a big caring heart and a deep loyalty to her friends…which is why she always finds herself in sticky situation.

The usual cast of characters all gets equal page time and it makes me happy to immerse myself with October and her friends. But what is truly wonderful is we get a lot more of Tybalt…A LOT. October and Tybalt’s relationship takes a turn in this installment, and I was savoring every moment of it. I have been waiting for this book, for this moment in the series since the first book and it was definitely worth the wait. Reading Tybalt’s confession to October on how he feels about her and about his past left me heartbroken and breathless at the same time. They always had a complicated relationship from the beginning but seeing them then and now…is just wow, it’s been a long time coming. I’m very excited to see how their relationship develops in the future books. 

All in all, Ashes of Honor was another stellar addition to the series. This is one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series that just gets better and better with each book. The characters and the world building are amazing and there’s nothing like it on the market. No one does faeries like McGuire!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Title: Red Blooded
Author: Amanda Carlson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Jessica McClain #4

Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publication: September 9, 2014 by Orbit

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

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Jessica is on her way to Hell. After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn't have the power to stop.

Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast... new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be... or she will never make it out alive.

When opening a Jessica McClain book reader are always guaranteed two things, nonstop action and twists upon twists. And going into the fourth book in the series, Red Blooded isn’t short on either element. 

In the last book, Jessica’s brother Tyler was kidnapped by the Underworld Prince and the only way to retrieve him is to go into the Underworld herself.  Jesscia’s plan is to minimize detection by all means possible, which leaves her the only choice of bringing two allies with her, Ray the reaper vampire and the Vampire Queen Eudoxia. However, for anyone familiar with this series know that anything rarely goes accordingly for the gang. While prepping for her trip to the Underworld, Jessica accidently launches herself ahead of schedule, unprepared and alone!

The beginning of Red Blooded was slow, a lot slower than all of the previous books which was quite surprising. The action started once Jessica arrives in the Underworld dump site, being chased by hellhounds a.k.a chupacabras and unseen phantoms/Wyverns as she treks through the unknown in search of Tyler. However, these action scenes left me feeling disengaged. The scenes are nonstop action but it felt formulated. I was hoping to be ‘wowed’ by the Underworld but instead it had the opposite effect of being underwhelming, there wasn’t anything remotely interesting or scary about it. To be honest the entire time Jessica was in the Underworld (which was for 2/3 of the book) I was bored. Why? Because none of the usually gang was there (not till the end), and I missed that. What I enjoy most about this series are the characters and without them there, it showed me that Jessica’s character alone cannot hold an audience. There were two things that bothered me about Red Blooded, the first was the internal monologue Jessica had with her wolf (and later telepathically with Tyler/Rouke). I was never bothered by it before, but then again it wasn’t as pronounced in the previous books. It was just too much, and every time she spoke telepathically/Internally (which was A LOT) I found myself skipping over the scenes. The second thing is the repetition; my goodness was that in abundance. Jessica would say one thing and a couple of pages later she’d say the same thing again but somehow re-worded. Also the word ‘Horrid’ was used like every other page (Okay maybe not every other page) but enough that it caught my attention every couple of pages. It actually got distracting to the point that I would momentarily withdraw from the story. 

Since Jessica was without friends/backup for most of the book, readers were introduced to a new character, demoness Lili, a prisoner that Jessica inadvertently meets while escaping the hellhounds. I was intrigued with Lili right away and more so when I learned of her true origin. But that intrigued slowly diminished as I saw more of Lili. The addition of Lili as a subplot ended up feeling more like a page filler for drama. Lili didn’t support the main plot much and in my opinion didn’t push the story forward (I mean the book/series as a whole).  And it wasn’t the good kind of drama either…it was more soap opera drama because Lili is the Prince’s mistress. Enough said. 

Just when I felt like Red Blooded wasn’t going to get any better; the last 100 pages saved the book. Rouke, Danny, Eudoxia, Naomi and Ray make an appearance and the action scenes were actually engaging again. Unlike the first 2/3 of the books I found myself finally enjoying the story, because the last 100 pages are what a Jessica McClain book should be. Not only does the plot get exciting but readers finally learned the truth about the prophecy. Yay for answers, but the events at the end of Red Blooded opens another can of worms for Jessica and the gang. 

Overall I thought Red Blooded was a good book, okay at times. I had high expectations for Red Blooded as this is the fourth book in the series. What I’ve noticed over the course of the books is how far it has departed from the essence of the first book. While this is a fun and unique Urban Fantasy, I can’t help but wish for a more serious concrete story arc that connects the books together. So far the books’ plots are just a bunch of random things thrown together without rhyme or reason, it was fun but after awhile it becomes tiring and predictable. Also with this installment, I notice there hasn’t been any character growth nor do I see the end game of the series…which is a serious problem for me.  Jessica seems to always wing it, never taking anything seriously. She gains immense power, new powers (or discovered abilities she didn’t know she already had) each book and while it was cool in the beginning I now find it absurd. Bottom line, I liked how Red Blooded ended, and am curious to see what happens next but I don’t know if I’ll be out rushing to read the next book in the series, Pure Blooded or if I’ll continue with the series altogether.