Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BLACK WIDOW by Jennifer Estep

Rating: A
Synopsis:
There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan.

With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.


The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.

My thoughts on the book:
Black Widow reignited the magic in this series. I was really bored with the past couple of books, and I was about to break up with this series, but this novel changed my mind. Gin got put through a lot in this installment, and she really showed her strength. Gone were the weak and easily remedied problems from the previous two installments, where there were either no problems at all and the entire book was a memory, or the problems were too easily solved, in my opinion. Gin really had to fight to survive again, and I loved that.

Gin really grew quite a bit in this series and showed her good side along with her bad ass side. I really loved how she evolved, and the ending made me really proud of her. This was very much a Gin-focused book, and I enjoyed that. I'm not a fan of Bria and Finn's relationship, and it was nice that I didn't have to see that forced on me (and them) any this time. Owen was present some, and everything he did just reaffirmed the fact that he's perfect for Gin. Her friends supported her from afar, but they were still there for her. I liked the balance in this novel and how it focused on Gin's growth instead of her dependence on others. I felt like it took her back to her roots a bit.

The plot was fast moving and full of action and suspense. More than once, Gin defied odds and survived. There were some tense moments, for sure, but I had faith she'd pull through. She kind of has to, since she's the narrator. The big reveal at the end completely blindsided me. I did not see that coming, and I loved how Gin handled it and set herself apart from the Monroes. This plot was much more complex, in my opinion, than the last novel. Estep's writing was top notch, and the only weird thing I noticed was that Gin kept telling the reader when she went to the bathroom. That was just odd to me. Oh well, whatever. The ending tied things up nicely and left me dying for the next book.

Overall, I'd recommend this novel and series to anyone who enjoys tough urban fantasy female leads. This is one of my favorite series, and Gin is one of my favorite characters.

Order Black Widow!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

CAPTIVE by Aimée Carter

Rating: B- 
Release Date: 11/25/14
Synopsis: 
For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever. 

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape. 

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?


My thoughts on the book:
I have always been an Aimée Carter fan. I loved her Goddess Test series, and I absolutely adored the first book in this trilogy. The story in Captive did not disappoint, but Kitty was one of the most annoying protagonists I've read lately. I spent the majority of the book wanting to beat her over the head with a shoe. And I don't feel like she grew as much as she should have. Hopefully that'll be rectified in the final installment. The plot itself was fast-paced and had me hooked instantly. Carter's world-building was top notch, and I felt like I was in the new America she created. The romance was obnoxious and lukewarm at best, though. While this book didn't exactly fall flat for me, I'm a big character person, and disliking two of the main characters really made it hard for me to enjoy this novel as much as I could have had they not been so unlikable. 

Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, why are you such a selfish and ignorant brat? It blew my mind that anyone in this book thought she was brave or inspirational because she was anything but. Maybe if you couldn't read her inner thoughts, she didn't seem like such a little bitch, but my lord she was terrible. All she cared about was herself, her own comfort, and Benjy. The entire country is suffering as badly, if not worse than you once did? Oh well, let's go screw Benjy. That's all that matters. Also, let's ruin all of the plans for the revolution and tell random strangers about what's going on. That sounds super smart. Agh! The revolution would have been better off if Kitty had gotten killed, and so would the book. She was a useless idiot for the entire novel. Benjy was weak and pathetic as ever, and I really wanted him to go away. Even if he wasn't around, he was still there, because apparently Kitty has an obsession problem. Knox was the only redeeming character in the novel. I absolutely adored him, and I really hope to see more of him in the next installment. I also hope Kitty grows the hell up and stops being such a whiny, self-centered brat. She came very close to ruining a really well-written novel. 

The plot was amazing, and I really loved all of the secondary characters who were willing to give up their lives for a chance at freedom. The thing I love about dystopian novels is the revolution, and this novel had plenty of that. Also, Carter completely messed with me a few times while I was reading this. Something would happen, and I'd be like, "no... that can't be what actually happened. Surely the author is messing with me right now because wow. wtf." I really love when writers do that, and it kept me reading, even when I wanted to strangle Kitty for being such a stubborn idiot. The events in this novel were heart-wrenching and beautiful and everything a revolution should be. The world-building was spectacular. I felt like I was in every place that Kitty was, and everything was believable and made sense. I was able to willingly suspend my disbelief and completely immerse myself in the world that Carter created. I love when that happens. The twist at the very end shocked me, and I can't wait to see what happens next. This book ended on a tiny bit of a cliffhanger, though a lot of things were resolved as well, so I wasn't annoyed at the ending. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and trilogy to anyone who enjoys a good dystopian plot. If you're looking for likable characters, it may not be for you (though I'm trying to reserve judgment until the final book comes out. Characters do change, and I didn't absolutely hate Kitty in the first novel). If you read and enjoyed Pawn, like I did, then this book is a must-read. 

Order Captive today!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A DARKER PAST by Jus Accardo Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway!

Rating: A
Synopsis:
The past is Darker than they thought…

Between helping her mother with the Darker Agency and laying the smack down on monster baddies, Jessie Darker puts the “normal” in paranormal. But lately, things have gotten a little crazy…even for a smart-assed half-demon teenage girl.

For starters, Jessie’s been contracted into fifty-five years of annoying servitude. To a demon. Then there’s Lukas Scott, her sexy new boyfriend. Once the former incarnation of Wrath, he’s been going through some…uh, changes. Like residual anger. And trading chaste hangouts for lusty make-out sessions.


But it’s when Lukas and Jessie accidentally release a Very Nasty Demon that things get really bad, setting into motion a chain of death and mayhem that threatens both Earth and the Shadow Realm. Jessie has exactly four days to fix it…before all of Hell breaks loose.

My thoughts on the book:
I absolutely adored Darker Days, and I had been looking forward to the sequel for some time. A Darker Past did not disappoint. Accardo's lovely and captivating writing combined with Jessie's sense of humor and Lukas' depth made for a terrific novel. Everything I loved about the first book was present in the second installment as well. I can't wait to see what's in store for Jessie and company next!

The characters in these books really make the stories what they are. Each character has depth and is extremely unique. I absolutely love Valefar. I know he's supposed to be a horrific demon, but he just cracks me up. Lukas' adjustment to the 21st Century is also endearing and funny. Jessie's sarcasm makes me love her, and Kendra's flirty nature is a nice offset to Jessie, who had sworn off boys until she met Lukas. I also enjoy reading about Jessie's parents. Her demon father and human mother make for an interesting couple. I'm so glad that the parents aren't conveniently MIA for the novel and that Accardo has included them in the story. Jessie and Lukas both evolve over the course of this novel, and every change felt organic. It seems as if Accardo lets the characters tell their own stories instead of manipulating them to fit her plot. I really love books like that.

The plot itself is packed full of suspense, not only because of Lukas' changes (showing a darkness that his character lacked in the first installment), but also because of the fact that they have four days to fix their mistake before they have apocalyptic repercussions. Between my interest in the characters and the suspense of this novel, I was flying through the pages. However, Accardo's exquisite world-building can't be ignored. I really love she gives us more history about the Darkers and Belfairs and talks about the ancestry in this novel. I'm a big history dork, so seeing more history made me understand the world that much more. Also, the author paints vivid pictures of both Hell and the Earth-bound settings. My only complaint about this novel is the ending, which I felt was a little bit too clean cut. I'm still looking forward to the next installment, though!

If you're looking for a lighthearted, fast-paced read, look no farther than this series. It's a great escape from your everyday life, and Accardo is a fantastic author.

About the Author:
JUS ACCARDO  spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food.

Jus is the bestselling author of the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing, as well as the Darker Agency series, and the New Adult series, The Eternal Balance. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.

Author Links:

GIVEAWAY:



Friday, November 14, 2014

OTHERWORLD NIGHTS by Kelley Armstrong

Rating: B+
Synopsis:
This short story collection will include many brand-new tales and others only previously available on Kelley Armstrong's website. Most of the stories will feature the werewolves of the Otherworld, Elena and Clay, Jeremy, Karl and other members of the American Pack. These are some of Kelley Armstrong's best-loved and most enduring characters, from bestselling books such as Bitten, Stolen and Frostbitten.

1) Demonology - Adam's mother discovers what he is
2) Stalked - Clay/Elena honeymoon story from "My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon"
3) Hidden - SubPress 2012 Elena/Clay novella
4) Twilight - a Cass story from "Many Bloody Returns"
5) Chivalrous - Reese's backstory from SubPress's long sold-out "Tales of Dark Fantasy 2" (the Dec'14 SubPress graphic novella picks up this storyline)
6) Lucifer's Daughter - Hope/Karl story from "Blood Lite II: Overbite"
7) From Russia with Love - Elena bonus story included with hardcover of "Thirteen"

8) Vanishing Act - brand-new Savannah/Adam novella set after "Thirteen"

My thoughts on the book:
I'm normally not a huge fan of short stories, but I always love everything Kelley Armstrong writes. This collection was no exception. I didn't absolutely love "Twilight," "Lucifer's Daughter," and "Chivalrous" wasn't my favorite, but I adored "Stalked," "Demonology," "Hidden," "From Russia with Love," and "Vanishing Act." Elena and Clay are my favorite fictional couple ever, so I'm glad that this book had 3 stories about them. Getting to know Adam's mom a bit and seeing her reaction when she learned about his abilities was interesting. Adam is one of my favorite characters, so I always like anything to do with him. I never really cared for Cass, which is probably why I didn't like "Twilight" that much. I also never really liked Hope and Karl, so "Lucifer's Daughter" was lukewarm for me. I liked Reese okay, but I wasn't invested enough in his character to really care about "Chivalrous" one way or the other.

Overall, I'd recommend this anthology if you're a huge Kelley Armstrong fan like me. It's a great book to add to your collection.

Buy Otherworld Nights

Thursday, November 13, 2014

BREAKING THE RULES by Katie McGarry Media Blitz!


Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits #1.5)
Release Date: 12/08/14
Harlequin Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
A summer road trip changes everything in this unforgettable new tale from acclaimed author Katie McGarry.

For new high school graduate Echo Emerson, a summer road trip out west with her boyfriend means getting away and forgetting what makes her so... different. It means seeing cool sights while selling her art at galleries along the way. And most of all, it means almost three months alone with Noah Hutchins, the hot, smart, soul-battered guy who’s never judged her. Echo and Noah share everything — except the one thing Echo’s just not ready for.

But when the source of Echo’s constant nightmares comes back into her life, she has to make some tough decisions about what she really wants — even as foster kid Noah’s search for his last remaining relatives forces them both to confront some serious truths about life, love, and themselves.

Now, with one week left before college orientation, jobs and real life, Echo must decide if Noah's more than the bad-boy fling everyone warned her he'd be. And the last leg of an amazing road trip will turn... seriously epic.


Available for Pre-Order:
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Books in the series:
(covers linked to Goodreads)
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About the Author
KATIE MCGARRY was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie would love to hear from her readers. Contact her via her website, katielmcgarry.com, follow her on Twitter @KatieMcGarry, or become a fan on Facebook and Goodreads.

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png

EXCERPT:

From Echo’s Point of View
I smile, amazed by the roses, by his faith in me and by the fact that he’s absolutely fantastic. “Thanks.”
Noah gently pulls one of the curls. “Damn, baby, don’t look at me like that.”
“Like what?”
“Like you want me to kiss you.”
But I do want him to kiss me. Instead, I shove at his wall of a chest, and he winks at me before he grabs the keys to the car and walks out the door. The air conditioner kicks off, and I lean against the headboard, staring at Noah’s roses on the bedside table. I pick one up, inhale the sweet scent and wonder, when it comes to it, why I’m waiting.

GIVEAWAY:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SKY PIRATES by Liesel Schwarz

Rating: B-
Synopsis:
Following A Conspiracy of Alchemists and A Clockwork Heart, Sky Pirates is the third book of the Chronicles of Light and Shadow series, starring the spunky dirigible pilot Elle Chance and the handsome warlock Marsh. For urban fantasy fans and readers of Gail Carriger's Changeless and Cherie Priest's Boneshaker, a fun, fast-paced, action-packed new historical fantasy adventure series starring vampires, fairies, and the unforgettable heroine, Elle Chance.

Set during the Belle Epoque, Sky Pirates is a thrilling and inventive historical fantasy novel, where the myths and legends of Old Europe live side by side with the wondrous creations of modern scientists and aviators. It's also set in a world haunted by vampires, fairies, and other supernatural creatures. And it mixes a thrill-a-minute page-turning plot with a genuinely moving love story. In Sky Pirates, Elle and Marsh escape to the jungles of Cambodia in search of a sacred temple that holds the key to erasing the barrier between Shadow and Light.


My thoughts on the book:
Sky Pirates got off to an incredibly slow start for me. Elle's obsession with bringing back Marsh was a bit annoying at times, though I can't say that I wouldn't have been the same way in her position. Once the ball got rolling and we were able to get to know some of the new characters, though, things started to pick up. I really loved Dashwood, and Schwarz's writing was much better this time around, in my opinion. The last half of the book flew by, and I liked the ending. I hate love triangles, though, so that detracted from the book's rating. 

Elle was a bit stagnant for the first half of this installment, but by the 50% mark, she started growing. She was incredibly selfish during the first part, and I didn't like that very much. I liked her as the book progressed, though. Patrice was a good villain, and he's all kinds of messed up. It was interesting to see things from his perspective, showing how awful he was. Dashwood was a fantastic hero. I loved him very much, and I'm totally shipping him and Elle now. Marsh bored me. A lot of the pirates were fun, and they each had their own personalities. 

The plot was slow to start with, but picked up and was fast-paced toward the end. Elle being stuck in the jungle was a fun change, and I enjoyed the setting very much. The monastery was also interesting. As I previously stated, the writing was well-done. The romance and chemistry between Elle and Dashwood was fantastic. I just wish Marsh hadn't come back, honestly. I was sad he went away in the last installment, but since he was gone, I wish he'd stayed gone. The ending tied things up nicely.

Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone who loves steampunk. You'll enjoy this series. 

Order Sky Pirates

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nano Update

Hey guys, sorry for not posting reviews lately, but I've been writing like a maniac for my first ever NaNoWriMo! I'm up to over 13,800 words and still going strong! Today is double up day, so I doubled up on my word count, and I'm about to double up on a donation as well. Why don't you do the same?!