Category Archives: Book Reviews
I thought I loved The Glass Man and Lila Gray … but that was before I read about Addison. Yes, Ms. Adams has grabbed hold of my imagination again with her new Mortal Machine series. Darkside Sun’s cover may look familiar, but I can tell you the story inside is different from anything else you’ve read.
The world building and descriptions are stellar, and Ms. Adams uncanny knack for creating interesting, diverse, likable characters really shines through in this piece. All of the characters come across as authentic and flawed, just as you would expect “real” people to be. I hate NA titles where everyone is perfect and perky. I like raw and real, and Addison really delivers in spades. There were some shades of the familiar with some of her personality, places where I almost thought I was reading about Lila Gray again, but as the story progresses, you get a much better feel for Addison, and by the middle of the novel, I had pretty much forgotten I’d ever read about another of Ms. Adams characters.
I don’t do spoilers in my reviews, so I will stay away from the plot and story points, but I will say if you are looking for a New Adult paranormal title to dig into, one that’s not only unique, but expertly written, then Darkside Sun is a MUST READ.
I can’t wait to read what’s coming next!
About the Author: Jocelyn is an office grunt by day and creator of romance and adventure by night. Born a farmer’s daughter with a vivid imagination, she spent her childhood dreaming up stories that remained untold until 2010.
With no formal training, she relied on the honest feedback of her writing group to take her from that first short story all the way to THE END of her first novel. She now has five published novels and has recently signed a 3-book deal with Entangled Publishing.
When she isn’t slinging words, you can find her shooting her bow or enjoying the serenity of family life in her little house in the woods.
4.5 Stars for this wonderful fantasy series debut!
I have to premise this review with a short statement of truth.
I’ve known the author for a few years, and have seen this story grow and flourish over the course of that time. I am baised in my joy for Terri in getting this tale published, and for all of you for getting the opportunity to enjoy it. That being wholeheartedly admitted to, here is my review.
I’m an epic fantasy geek, and this story really appealed to this part of my nature. While reading, I was often reminded of the epic adventures I would take with my fellow gamers in some RP world or another. (Yes, that much of a geek…) Beyond the fabulously described world, the diverse cast of characters came to life in a way that appealed to that sort of group quest mentality.
Hyla, the faithful, spiritual one. Set on her mission and the good of her people, despite all obstacle and self doubt. Her two male counterparts, Jadon and Conlin, each with their own set of enviable traits, and personality “drawbacks”. They’re the best of friends, both virile, handsome… Room for romantic tension in later novels, perhaps? This thought bounced around in the back of my head throughout the adventure.
But, every band of potential heroes needs a nemesis. A bad guy to fight against.
This is where a story either rocks of flops in my book. Yes, for me, a story is only as good as its bad guy character. And, this is where, Ms. Rochenski’s debut novel really shined for me. The High Priest, Belwig, is perfectly ruthless, deadly in his intentions, and ominous to get my attention and keep it. He gave me the creeps, and I just love when that happens. I don’t write any spoilers in my reviews as a rule, so I have to leave it there, but I really, really liked the Belwig character. I do like my bad guys…
Anyway, if you are a fan of fantasy with some romantic potential peppered in, I would give this one high marks, and make it a highly recommend novel to pick up. A stellar debut from Ms. Rochenski, and I am looking forward to more from her and her Pool of Souls series.
Welcome back. I know I have been a bit MIA lately, but I have good reason — writing. Can’t fault me there, right?
Anyway, before I get off on a tangent about my absence, let’s get to why I am posting today.
Fellow Inkspell author and friend, Annabelle Blume has a new release out — the newest installment of her Outlier Chronicles series, and I was lucky enough to score a review ARC. Here is what I thought about it. (From Goodreads)
I was really excited to get a chance to read and review this one, as I enjoyed the first story, Frozen Heart so much. In this one, we get to see what happens with Beckett and Cressie (and the dogs) after they decide to abscond from the Affinity together. I don’t do review spoilers, so I will stay away from the plot for the sake of this review. However, I will say that I really loved where the author took this follow-up tale, deciding to pick up on a mention in the first book of Cressie’s parents.
I really think it would make a nice novel, but the novella length matches nicely with the first installment of the tale, and the storyline didn’t feel rushed by the length, so I am content with the way it came off.
The descriptions are stellar and the characters strong and true to what I expected from them based on the first story. Even the dogs are perfectly portrayed and oh so lovable in their protectiveness. This is definitely one to pick up, especially if you read the first story in the series.
Would love to see more stories revolving around the Affinity and the “Collective”. Maybe something that goes more into the reasons for the strict rules and strange breeding laws they have adopted. The society that Cressie and Beckett survive in is one that has me infinitely curious.
A great tale for an evening of reading! I highly recommend this one.
Now that I’ve told you all what I think about it, let me give you all the juicy release details…
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Two lovers face off against a government determined to keep them apart. It’s only brave if it’s hard.
After a decade of being alone in the wilderness, Cressenda is still adjusting to life with the man of her dreams. When Beckett hatches a plan to break her parents out of The Affinity prison work camps, Cressenda must make the biggest sacrifice of her life; trading her freedom for her parents’. Cressenda’s fortitude is tested at every turn, from surviving the conditions of West Fallen work camp to believing in Beckett’s dedication to their plan and their love, even when it looks like all hope is lost. With the help of a unlikely ally, Cressenda learns to stop fighting against her fears and embrace the power of fighting for her dreams.
Will trusting Beckett to take down The Affinity be the ultimate show of faith or a fatal mistake?
Annabelle is a Science Fiction and Urban Fantasy Romance author, that is, when she’s not checking homework or begrudgingly cooking dinner. Wife, mother, and creator of alternate worlds, Annabelle has a penchant for that which is outside the norm.
Her Sociology degree has given her the ability to construct worlds that exist only in her head and translate them passionately to the page. The time spent studying individuals, interpersonal relationships, and particularly, women, within the constraints of our society led to Annabelle’s unabashed ability to talk about sex as it fits into our modern lives.
She’s also the author/personality of The Bombshell Mommy at Vitacost.com, where she expounds her knowledge of being a vixen clad in sweatpants.
A serial book monogamist, Annabelle is deeply devoted to the literary love of her life until the next amazing book falls into her clutches and she obsesses anew.
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To top it all off, Ms. Blume has been kind enough to offer a great giveway as part of the Release Tour. This is a rafflecopter giveaway, so I cant show it here (stupid WordPress) — but I can give you the link!
Make sure to enter to win one of 15 e-Copies of MELTED TEARS
Welcome to my stop on the Remember Me Blog Tour. I’m so excited to finally have a chance to lend my support to one of my favorite authors, as well as having an advanced look at her new release, REMEMBER ME so I could write the review. It’s really one of the best things about reviewing books. All that great literature (you hope) for free. What’s not to like?
I fell in love with Ms. Ison’s work with her first solo release, THE TROUBLE WITH NIGHTINGALE. If you haven’t read this one, folks, you really need to get on that right after you finish picking up this latest endeavor.
But, we aren’t talking about that story today. Today is ALL about the newest tale to spawn from Ms. Ison’s fanatically creative mind.
Before we get to my review of the tale, let’s have a closer look at the book beyond its spectacular cover.
by Amaleen Ison
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Cover Artist: Scott Carpenter
Blurb: Sera isn’t living. She’s existing—barely. Bedbound by illness, she has no memory of life before the freezing barn she now calls home. A mournful song haunts her dreams and hints at a past not completely buried—one she’s desperate to uncover. Yet Father’s whirlwind visits to draw blood and administer medication don’t provide answers. He only confirms the one thing she already knows; she’s dying.
A lonely death without ever knowing her past seems inevitable until a sudden, mystifying return to health coincides with the arrival of a boy in the opposite out-building. The inextricable pull to the stranger, and the broken memories that storm her mind when he’s near, warn of a history quite different to any she could have imagined. If she’s to uncover the truth she craves, she’ll have to decide whether knowledge of the past is worth forfeiting her second chance at life.
Father snatches the cover away and yanks my bare arm straight. Angry-looking bruises and red track marks riddle my paper-thin skin from wrist to elbow crease. He flicks a spidery-looking vein. “Dammit. Next.” My sluggish movements prove too slow for his liking, and he grabs my other arm. “We’ll give this one a try.”
I turn to Noah. Although younger than Father and not yet graying, his straggly black beard and tired-looking eyes make him appear older. He wears a worried expression and avoids my gaze. Perhaps he pities me, or my condition embarrasses him. Probably both.
The fog of medication descends in my mind and sends its glacial water surging through my veins. The barn wobbles, and my head lolls back on the pillow, giving me a view of the rafters. When it comes, the prick of the needle doesn’t hurt. Only the beautiful, melancholy song that plays constantly in my mind accompanies the odd sense of draining life.
Minutes, hours, days later—I can’t tell—Father holds up a full vial of blood to a shaft of sunlight streaming through the hole in the roof. “Thank you, my angel.” He kisses my forehead and squeezes my hand at the same time. I smile at the show of relief in his eyes, before my heavy lids close.
“She’s sleeping,” he says.
Footsteps draw near.
“She looks worse.” The disembodied comment comes from somewhere near the foot of the bed.
“Her blood isn’t working anymore.” Noah’s voice sounds tight.
“We ought to let her die peacefully.”
Yes, they ought to let me die peacefully.
“No!” Father’s breath comes in heavy gusts. “I won’t give up on her. We’ll capture the other one.”
“We’ll be damned.”
“Too late.” A loud clunk and something metallic skitters across the floor. “We’re already damned.”
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The descriptions are so vivid, as if Ms. Ison is painting a portait in your mind. So clear you can just sit back and watch the story unfold. I just love when a story can do that. Make the words disappear and you are left watching a film — a mental movie of the book you’re reading. I really felt IN the story beside Sera throughout her struggles to understand what is happening to her.
The characterizations are just as strong. Each of the characters in the story, from the more prevalent, Sim, Father and Noah, to the less seen, Martha and Angela — each one completely flesh out and three dimensional.
I don’t do spoilers in my reviews, so the excerpt and blurb will have to give you enough clues to go by. I’ll not be adding any. Sorry, folks. You will have to just content yourself with knowing how much I enjoyed the short read, and how highly I recommend it to all the YA fan out there, as well as anyone who just enjoys a great, well written story.
5 Enthusiastic Pirate Skulls for this well woven YA tale.
Amaleen Ison is offering a giveaway as part of the Blog Tour. You could snag yourself an eCopy of Remember Me as well as a $20 Amazon Gift Card. The giveaway is open to International entrants.
Since I can’t host Rafflecopter on a free wordpress blog, you will have to swing over there to enter. The link is below. Good luck!
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Author Bio: Amaleen Ison is a married mother of one. She lives with her family in Hertfordshire, England, along with her cats (Oscar and Winston), guinea pig ( LouLou), and gerbils (Blackberry and Pumpkinseed). She writes Young Adult fantasy stories that meander into a variety of sub-genres.
As a child, Amaleen lived most of her life in her head. She imagined herself in mystical lands populated by the weird and wonderful. She still spends way too much time daydreaming, but now she writes about her imaginings and weaves them into stories. The fantasy element is always important, but more so the hodgepodge of emotions that arise from her characters first time experiences.
Those of you who follow the blog regularly, know how much I have enjoyed the stories in Jocelyn Adams’ Lila Gray Urban Fantasy series. Well, today is the day I get to share my review of the last installment, RISE OF THE MAGI, which released from J. Taylor Publishing on June 4th.
It has been KILLING me to have to hold my tongue on what I thought about this final Lila Gray tale, but for all of us — the wait is finally over.
Excited, right? Yeah, me too!
Before I get to the actual review, here is a bit about the novel.
Rise of the Magi
by Jocelyn Adams
Series: Lila Gray, book #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Keywords: fae, faeries, elves, selkies, fantasy, urban fantasy, romance, romantic, dryads, paranormal.
Blurb: In a battle of wills, who is strongest? The one who hates or the one who loves?
In a test of faith, who will fight the hardest? The one who has everything to lose or the one who believes only in herself?
For Lila Gray, the answer is both. For the Magi, the questions are pointless since they can’t lose, and they’ve been waiting since before Lila’s birth for this one moment. Lila only needs to find them to understand her entire purpose in life. This time, though, instead of protecting her people, Lila may be leading them all, including her unborn child and the man she loves, to their deaths — and not by accident.
In the ultimate trial of heart and soul, and the conclusion to the Lila Gray series, Lila will learn that the greatest weapon of war is herself, with one ultimate unknown. For which side will she fight?
Rise of the Magi on Goodreads:
You want it now, don’tcha? Don’t even need to read my review now. Do ya? It’s okay, you can admit it. *grins* I left the links below for you — you know, just in case I’m right.
For those of you who are still with me and not over at one of the above sites buying your copy…
I’m going to start this review off by stating for the record, I consider the author, Jocelyn Adams a good friend. But, saying that, you should also understand she is one because I met her on a writing site and LOVED her stories, so started to post critiques of them on the site. We got to know each other and became friends, but I loved her stories first.
Now that we have that out of the way.
Rise of the Magi is the final installment of Ms. Adams’ Lila Gray stories, and while I have to say The Glass Man is still my favorite of the three novels in the series, Rise of the Magi comes a close second. The series’ main character, Lila Gray has become one of my favorite literary heroines. I’m just a sucker for a tough female lead. Lila started out spunky in The Glass Man and that spirit and sarcastic determination is evident in the second book, Shadowborn. It still exists in this story.
I make it a point to not give spoilers in my review, so I won’t discuss the plot itself — as much as I want to. I will say I cried in some places, and for a book to get me that way doesn’t happen often.
I also have to say I am completely impressed by the authors ability to carry the tale through three novels and tie things up so succinctly at the end of it all. So many twists and turns, things I never saw coming, clues missed in Book #1 or Book #2 that gave me such “A-ha” moments while reading Rise of the Magi. I love when that happens.
The story is character rich and the “voice” is stellar. I highly recommend the read, in fact, the whole Lila Gray series.
5 Pirate Skulls from me for this wonderful, urban fantasy tale.
Oh! I almost forgot… I promised you all a giveaway. I can’t actually host the giveaway here on my free wordpress blog, so I have just given you the link below. Good luck!
Jocelyn Adams grew up on a cattle farm in Lakefield and has remained a resident of Southern Ontario her entire life, most recently in Muskoka. She has worked as a computer geek, a stable hand, a secretary, and spent most of her childhood buried up to the waist in an old car or tractor engine with her mechanically inclined dad. But mostly, she’s a dreamer with a vivid imagination and a love for fantasy (and a closet romantic — shhh!). When she isn’t shooting her compound bow in competition or writing, she hangs out with her husband and young daughter at their little house in the woods.
The Watcher is a well written YA tale of eternal love, redemption and impossible romances. 17 yr old student, Mia Crawford is your typical HS senior until a trip to the park changes everything. The story features a love triangle, lots of tension, emotion, suspense, a rich history, and strong characterizations. While I think the main theme of the story has been done before, the author gives the tale enough twists and turns to keep the reader from feeling they have seen this all before — just with different characters.
I’m not one for spoilers in reviews, so I wont rehash the story or plot, but I will say I was drawn into the story from the beginning and Ms Voisin did an excellent job of keeping me there until reaching the end. I never felt the story line was predictable or felt I knew what was coming before it did — something that I come across a lot when reading YA stories. That was a nice change for me.
Even the secondary characters felt real and well defined. I would have like to “Like” Michael a bit better, but for me at least, he was a bit annoying in that he was forever sending Mia mixed signals that at some points made me want to reach into the book and throttle him. That being said, he did get me to react emotionally — which I can appreciate because it means despite his flaws, he was a nicely complex character.
I’m giving this 4 stars because of the Michael annoyance factor and because I would have liked to see some of the ancient lore referenced in the tale to be a bit more fleshed out and a bigger part of the overall story.
I would highly recommend this story to any YA romance fans and anyone who enjoys a good Angels and Demons tale. Looking forward to checking out more work by this author.
Blurb: Isaac Laroche is cursed. All he wants to do is hide out and feel sorry for himself. Never mind that he got caught sleeping with his seventeen-year-old piano student, or that he abandoned her when the truth was exposed.
Isaac’s feisty high school sweetheart has different plans. Heather Swann has returned to their hometown of Mobile, Alabama, to regroup after breaking up with her troll of a fiancé. She’s restless and looking for a diversion, but she bites off more than she can chew when she sets her sights on rehabilitating Isaac with her unorthodox sexual, mental, and physical plans.
The two quickly reconnect, but their happiness is threatened by family secrets, old vendettas and the death of a beloved father-figure.
Can Heather handle Isaac’s baggage, or will her own come back to haunt them both?
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars for this decidedly grown-up sequel.
My Review: After reading and enjoying the first book in this series, WANT, I wasn’t entirely sure how I would feel about a sequel featuring Issac after the events that closed the first novel. As someone who really rooted for Dave when it came to Julianne (yes, I like nice guys), I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to really relate to or sympathize with Issac as a main character.
I need not have worried. Ms. Lawton was able to draw me into Issac’s angst and really feel for him, despite what a cad I thought he had been. By the time he’d run into Heather again, the author had me squarely on his side and feeling badly enough for him to want to root for him to find happiness.
I don’t do spoilers in my reviews, so I will keep the plot points talk to a minimum, but I will say that this book is definitely more maturely written than WANT. There are some interesting “adult” oriented themes here that would appeal to a more mature audience. Saying that, I did feel the shift to an NA genre from the original’s YA stamp was warranted, and made sense for the story when you consider Issac was a great deal older than Julianne in the original story.
I really enjoyed getting another glimpse into Stephanie Lawton’s skewed deep south society. Being born and bred in Upstate New York, I’ve often wondered if life in the south is really that interestingly dysfunctional.
NEED earned 4.5 stars from me. Shy of five, mostly because despite my general “like” of Heather, I never really felt connected to her the way I was to Julianne in the first novel. I am, however, willing to concede that some of that is my own bias — having enjoyed WANT so much.
I would not hesitate to recommend this one, and if you read the first novel, it is a MUST READ.
View all my reviews (Goodreads)
Sacrificial Oath – Terri Rochenski (4 Stars)
After reading the entire anthology, I really feel this story is the perfect place to start out from. The story has a strong fable feel to it and I can definitely see where the cover image inspired the story. Some great references to the red so prevalent in the image throughout the tale. The well-written story follows the MC, Alesuela as she comes to grips with the sacrifice she has to make for the good of her father, the King, and their people. I don’t do spoilers in my reviews, so I wont give more plot detail than that, but I will say the internal conflict was well done, and Alesuela’s emotions really shine through. Overall, I would have preferred a bit more “action”, but this tale seemed to be more morality “fairy tale” based than most fantasy, which was a nice change of pace.
The Amulet of Ormisez – J. Keller Ford (4 Stars)
As most of you know, I am a huge fan of selkie tales, so I had a special place in my heart for this story. Like the opening tale, this one was set in a more traditional historical fantasy backdrop and focused on the story of two brothers, Elton and Cayden Fletcher. The author does a tremendous job with the characterizations of the two brothers, and as a reader, I felt drawn into the conflict unfolding and invested in the characters and their journey. The ending sweet and the potential relationship for Elton was a nice touch, though I did feel everything worked out a little too perfectly and fortuitously. Overall, a satisfying little story.
Birthright – Lynda R. Young (4 stars)
The third story in the anthology was decidedly different from the previous two, with a more “supernatural” feel to it, which was a nice surprise for me. The story held my attention and I was intrigued by the mystery of Christa’s heritage from beginning to end. I did feel some of the events in the story went a bit too quickly for me to really “believe” it, and I think I might have liked this one a little more had it been a bit longer and the story more drawn out. The author could have easily made this one into a satisfying novel, in my opinion.
Petrified – Kelly Said (4.5 Stars)
I really enjoyed this tale snuggled at the center of the anthology. Kelly Said does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the world of her main character, a young healer named Locklyn. Here is another story in the anthology I think could have easily been made longer, mostly because the world building was so strong, the intrigue so intense, I wanted to know more about the world the author introduced to us here. I also felt the romantic relationship progressed a bit swiftly for my tastes, but the way the rest of the story was weaved more than made up for that small shortcoming. Plus, I just love me a strong female lead 🙂
Last Winter Red – Jennifer M. Eaton (5 Stars)
I think this has to be my favorite story in the book. I really enjoyed the more dystopian feel to this one, and I found the twist up at the end to be just perfect for the tale. It is rare to find a good dystopian in short form as there is generally so much world building necessary to really pull it off well. In this instance, I found the back story to be just enough to keep me intrigued and wondering while not boring me with useless details for the sake of story length. I would be interested in reading more about this world Ms. Eaton creates for us in this one.
Escort To Insanity – J.A. Belfield (5 stars)
The final tale in this anthology comes from the author of the Holloway Pack series, J.A.Belfield, and the story contains all the things I have come to expect from Ms. Belfield’s writing. The main character, Cole (short for Nicole) decides to hire an escort to take her to a party she doesn’t really want to attend. While this short does not involved the famed Holloway pack, it does involve shifters. The action and suspense were nicely peppered throughout the story and the voice is spot on. I really enjoyed this one despite thinking I would miss the focus of the story being on Jem and Sean from the Pack. A great ending to the anthology!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I brought this novella on the plane with me when I flew to California and I have to say, reading it made the time fly by. Before I knew it, I was at the end of the story and looking for more.
Im not one to give spoilers in reviews, so I will stay away from anything too specific, but will say that I loved the descriptions and Ms, Blume really did a spectacular job of describing the dystopian world Cressenda lives in. I was hooked from the first page, and really enjoyed the interactions between her and Beckett as the story unfolded. The romance developed nicely and I never felt any lags in the story or action. A really stellar read.
I will definitely be looking for more from this author.