Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

CURSED Winner!

The winner of the CURSED BY DESTINY giveaway is Kristen Heyl!

Congrats and thank you to Cecy Robson for the giveaway and to everyone who entered.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: Cursed by Destiny & a GIVEAWAY

 The Wird sisters are back in the third Weird Girls book, CURSED BY DESTINY by Cecy Robson.

The Blurbage: "Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird…

Celia’s a girl in trouble. Her heart is bound to Aric, but he is a pureblood were who must deny her or risk condemning his species to extinction. And that’s just her love life. She’s also been called to take down a group of demon terrorists looking to overthrow the paranormal world. (No pressure.)

In order to bring them down, Celia must ally herself to Misha, the master vampire who has made no secret of his desire for her.

And if that weren’t enough misfortune for one girl, a clairvoyant’s prediction could destroy Celia and Aric’s love for good. The only way to protect the world from unbridled supernatural terrorism is for Celia to bind herself to her destined mate. And that doesn’t appear to be Aric…"

CURSED BY DESTINY is out January 7, 2014  Amazon | B&N

Signed copies of SEALED WITH A CURSE and A CURSED EMBRACE from University Bookstore:

My take: I am trying to be as spoiler free as possible, but damn, Celia's life is in the crapper. I really, really hate the whole werewolf pack and the Elders. I'm thinking Bren had the right idea of going lone. Yada, yada, save the earth, blah, blah, they still overall are such sanctimonious jerks.

OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest, we can go back to the rest of the review. The action was awesome, as always. That has been a hallmark of this series from the prequel novella and I was not disappointed. Nasty adversaries and there are prices to be paid. You can't fight a war without casualties. I'm still reeling from everything that happened.

I love Celia and her sisters - that has consistently been my other favorite part about this series. Their relationship has changed a bit, but is still strong as ever. Now that we've gotten a Bren novella, I'm hoping we'll get a story or two featuring one of the other sisters.

Misha is much the same, but would you want him any other way? I liked how Celia had to train. Her powers are growing but she has to work for it. 

Now, the other "destined" mate? Not on my happy list, but that's OK. I like how things were handled with him.

I'm really, REALLY wondering where this is going to go next. It's not necessarily a total cliffhanger, but there is a solid punch of a reveal at the end. Some of it I expected, true, but to end on it, just WHEW!

I will most definitely be reading book 4.

[received a review copy]

Now to the GIVEAWAY! Cecy is giving away a signed copy of CURSED BY DESTINY, a magnet, lip balm, and bookmark. US only for US bloggers (sorry, but postage is through the roof!). What animal would you want to shift into? Just leave a comment to enter. If you follow Cecy on Twitter or like her facebook you get another entry. If you tweet about the giveaway, you get another entry too (just be sure you @kindleaholic). If you win on another blog, another winner will be chosen (it's just fair, ya know). Winner will be announced December 14.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A "Weird" Novella - A CURSED MOON

Cecy Robson's Wird sisters are back in a new novella out today, A CURSED MOON, but this time lone wolf Bren is in the cockpit.

The blurbage: "Meet the furry big brother that the Wird sisters never had…

Bren is a cocky, brash hound of a werewolf who loathes the idea of belonging to Aric’s pack—much less finding a mate. But Bren’s hotheaded behavior lands him in the doghouse when he defies Aric’s authority in front of his pack, bringing up a sore subject that’s bound to make the Alpha wolf’s blood boil…

Luckily for him, no one can stay mad at Bren and his wild charm for long. And when some frightening ghosts launch a hostile paranormal takeover, Bren will team up with Celia Wird to take down the evil ghouls before they hurt someone they both love…

Includes a preview of the upcoming Weird Girls novel Cursed by Destiny!"

My take: I had fun reading this one. When there is a 1st-person series, I do enjoy the occasional dip into a side-character's head, especially when said character is as brash as Bren. His mouth gets him into trouble more often than not, but he is loyal, and funny, and I liked seeing his different take on pack dynamics. We also learn more about turning someone and mates, which I enjoyed. Very fast-paced and good action too. I was surprised by the end, and I like the new doors that are opening up in this world. If you haven't read the first two books in the series, you will be spoiled and perhaps a bit confused.

[received a review copy]

A CURSED MOON (Weird Girls 2.5): B&N | Amazon

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is a full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest. A member of Romance Writers of America, she attributes her passion for storytelling to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing in May 2009. Her Weird Girls Urban Fantasy Romance series is published with Penguin Random House’s Signet Eclipse and released to stellar praise from multiple reviewers including: Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today, and Romantic Times. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella, SEALED WITH A CURSE, and A CURSED EMBRACE are now available. A CURSED MOON: A Novella, releases December 3, 2013, followed by CURSED BY DESTINY, January 7, 2014.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

More Transplanted Tales & a Giveaway

Kate SeRine has unveiled the newest cover in her Transplanted Tales series, and she has a giveaway too!

This time we have a novella, GRIMM CONSEQUENCES, a companion/sequel to the very awesome RED.

Here is the cover:

The blurbage:

"You reap what you sow…

Saying Nate Grimm has a dark past is an understatement. Fortunately, no one’s bothered to look too closely at the Fairytale Management Authority’s lead detective and part-time Reaper. And that’s the way Nate wants to keep it. For after centuries of torment and loneliness, he’s finally found happiness with the hot and hard-charging love of his life, Tess “Red” Little.

Of course, his love for Tess is the reason there’s a posse of Reaper judges after him, led by a sadistic bastard acquainted with Nate from once upon a time. Now, Tess will pay the price for Nate’s transgressions unless Nate severs his ties to the transplanted Tales—and Tess—forever. His enemy has the advantage in speed, malice and brutality. But the Reapers have underestimated the depth of Nate’s love and devotion. And the fury of his wrath…"

I adore this series and am very much looking forward to seeing what happened to Tess and Nate after RED. We have to wait until April to read it, but the cover gives us a little taste of what's to come. I am so looking forward to finding out more about the Reapers (you know I have a thing for Death characters) and seeing two of my favorites in the spotlight again.

Now to the international GIVEAWAY from Kate SeRine. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.
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Kate SeRine links

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bloodlines Review: Demons of Oblivion Tour

Today the Book Pile is a stop on Skyla Dawn Cameron's Demons of Oblivion tour.

I should have listened to Melissa (from My words & pages) and gotten into this series earlier. She said I would like it and she was right. Snarky, kickass heroine, loads of action, some romance, and a very interesting world, I got sucked in and enjoyed the whole ride.

The blurb for the series:

"A diverse cast of characters come together in classic urban fantasy about monsters, the people who hunt them, and the occasional apocalypse. Snarky humor, magic with bite, nonstop action, a
dose of romance, and at its core: broken people finding family in one another.

Also, there’s a saber-tooth cat named Sir Rodney Ballsgalore. Because reasons."

Yes, Cameron is very good at the snarky asides. Here is the blurbage for book 1, BLOODLINES:

"If you're in her way, it sucks to be you.

After three hundred years of unlife, narcissistic vampire Zara Lain has seemingly done it all, and she's now making a living as a successful thief-turned-assassin. Her newest assignment seems simple enough: kill the aging leader of the O'Connor coven and his only heir, and she'll have another ten million in the bank.

But in the dangerous world of the supernatural, few things are ever “simple.”

When a massive assault decimates the continent's population of powerful witches and warlocks, and its orchestrator has vampires being hunted down and captured, Zara realizes the tables have turned and now she'll be playing the hero. Forced to join with a smart-mouthed fellow vampire, a demonologist who's also a fan of hers, a recently widowed—and frequently brooding—warlock, and her best friend's mom, Zara's grudgingly willing to do what she can to save the day.

If only people would stop ruining all her outfits..."

First off, the action junkie is appeased. Loads of action, explosions, fights, quick pace. Oh yeah.

I liked the world building. It is a huge world and there is lots that can be done with it. There is a huge shakeup that happens very close to the start. This will have lots of consequences down the line. I also liked the mythology.

Zara's vampire is a hunter and is fairly pragmatic about what that entails. I felt Cameron balanced Zara's snark and selfishness with the realities of an immortal "un"life as well as the events from her past to make her a well-rounded character you can sympathize with (but never pity) and root for til the end. I liked the other characters as well, but this is Zara's show all the way.

Lots of betrayals, Zara learns more about her world, and there is some steam too, but it fit with the character and the story. This tale is definitely not done and I want to know what happens next. It is a UF series with different protags (although Zara gets her turn in the spotlight again), so that is a little different. I'm looking forward to the next one.

BLOODLINES is free until November 1 for Kindle, so go grab it now!

The other books in the series are half-price until November 1 too.

Skyla Dawn Cameron:

[received a review copy]

Friday, October 11, 2013

It's Gettin' COLD in Here

Amanda Carlson's latest Jessica McClain book, COLD BLOODED, released this week and it is filled to the brim with action of every kind.

Yes you Romance fans, you'll be happy here. And you non-Romance fans, hey, it's book 3, it's time.

There is quite a bit of setup for things that need to happen later in the series, but it didn't feel like a "middle book" to me. More like the continuation of the runaway train that has been Jess' life since she first shifted in book 1.

The action is back in the city, with Jess returning to her hometown just as her friend Marcy has been kidnapped by sorcerers. Marcy's aunt, Tally, is willing to feed Jess to them to get Marcy back, and as one of the most powerful witches in the country, she would be a formidable opponent. Jess has to make new alliances quickly, outrun sorcerers and demons, and keep running for her life. This takes her to New Orleans and the queen of the vampires who has her own designs on Jess.

I've said action a couple of times, but I should add more: action, action, ACTION! It really doesn't stop, and Jess barely has time to think, something that is going to bite her in more ways than one, I'm afraid. She has her mate, her family, her friends and some new allies, all of whom she will need.

I really liked what is happening with Ray. His character arc keeps getting more interesting. Naomi and Danny are still among my favs. I also like Jess and Rourke together, especially that while he is protective, he also gets that she is strong.

I also love the broader view of the various supernaturals we get here, in particular the witches and vamps. The world is expanding, the stakes are rising, and I have a feeling in book 4 the action will be explosive.

We definitely need book 4 (thank you recent book deal where we get at 2 more books in this series), because we are left with a big problem at the end. I can't wait to read how Jess claws and bites her way out of it.

Now on to the GIVEAWAY! Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win. Thanks, Amanda!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

COLD BLOODED  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

Amanda Carlson

Friday, September 27, 2013

Must Read: Ash Mistry Books

Sarwat Chadda does not write easy books.

Oh yes, it is easy to get into the books, the worlds are full of adventure and danger, and you quickly find yourself rooting for our heroes to win.

But that is where "easy" stops. This is not a sugar-coated fantasy world. There are costs to living battle to battle, to having power, to becoming a warrior. Chadda exhibited this in the Billi Sangreal books, one of my favorite YA Urban Fantasy series. The Ash Mistry trilogy is more a middle school series, think along the lines of the Percy Jackson books, but the action, mythology and characters kept this reader enthralled.

Note: If you haven't been reading books aimed at the middle school crowd, I think you are missing out.

Like Percy, you have mythological beings come to life and a young teen's journey to protect himself, his family and his friends. However, that is where the similarities end - Ash is it's own story. Chadda weaves elements from Indian mythology to create a world with rakshasas (demons), an evil sorcerer, unexpected allies, and the warriors who fight evil, reborn age after age.

The female characters are also tremendous. Parvati is my favorite, of course, a rakshasa with a past closely tied to Ash and skills that make this action-junkie happy.

Ash doesn't just wake up able to kick demon butt. He has to work, train, get beat up many times, and be prepared to sacrifice what he loves. Watching him progress from the couch potato-ish teen on vacation with his uncle in India to a warrior was a great, bittersweet ride, but thankfully not without mishap and mistakes. There are real, horrible consequences. Ash has a lot to learn. That he does learn is what makes this a series that you should be reading.

I recently read the third book, Ash Mistry and the World of Darkness, and it was epic, involving time, Ash's past and other lives, and a fantastic final battle. I am afraid to spoil it for you, so I'm stopping there. If you are caught up on the series and ready for that third installment, I think you are going to be very happy.

If you haven't read Ash yet, this is the perfect day to start. Right now, book 1, Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress, is $1.99 on Kindle.

In the US, book 2 The City of Death, will be out October 29. You'll have to wait a bit for book 3, but it is worth it!

If you are in the UK, you can get all 3 books now. Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3

Sarwat Chadda's Ash Mistry website:

[received an ARC to review]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Getting Away From It All with the Transplanted Tales

Today the wonderful Kate SeRine is back as part of the ALONG CAME A SPIDER blog tour. We'll talk a little about the book, Kate will let us know what our favorite Tales would do for a romantic getaway, and there is a GIVEAWAY.

Along Came a Spider is the third book in the very fun Transplanted Tales series. This time we have Trish Muffet and Nicky Blue battling vampires and the menacing Agency.

The blurb: When Trish Muffet is attacked at a grisly crime scene, the last person she expects to come to her rescue is Nicky “Little Boy” Blue. But since walking away from everything two years before, Nicky’s been doling out vigilante justice as “The Spider,” taking on the vicious predators of the night in hopes it’ll lead him to his ultimate target – Vlad Dracula. And he needs Trish’s help.

Although Nicky’s renegade style goes against everything Trish stands for, she’ll do what she must to bring Dracula down. With danger stalking her, Trish knows the only person she can count on is the one man who has the power to leave her breathless. There’s no way she’s letting this spider frighten her away…

My take: Again, SeRine delivers a very fun, romantic, action-packed romp full of fairytale, nursery rhyme and literary characters. Our couple is wonderful. As the FMA's medical examiner, Trish has her own way of reading the final thoughts of the dead. Nicky was one of my favs from Red, and I was so happy for him to have his chance at Happily Ever After. These two came into the Ordinary world at the same time, but while Nicky pursued a life of crime, Trish used her talents to serve in the FMA. I loved watching them together. Nicky is charming and Trish is a lot tougher than she first appears. They work so very well.

The action was good and there is a furthering of the dangers of living side by side with an unknowing Ordinary world. It seems as though some ends are tied up, but we'll see. There is so much that can happen in this world. It will be interesting to discover where this goes in future stories.

We get to see Red and Nate as well as Lavender and Seth. Gideon also plays a part, and I can't wait for his story in book 4. SeRine knows how to craft a fantastic romantic hero - just the right amount of charm, swagger and power without going full neanderthal. I love the heroines too - smart, capable, imperfect, and very easy to root for.

And now, here is Kate with the romantic getaways of our three couples. She's also having a GIVEAWAY so be sure to use the Rafflecopter below.

Everyone needs a vacation now and then — especially if they spend their time tracking down paranormal serial killers, psychotic sorceresses, blood-thirsty vampires, and freaky phantoms who’ve been chucked out of Make Believe and are causing a ruckus in the Here and Now. Yes, folks, I’m talking about my Transplanted Tales, specifically my heroes and heroines.

All three couples have been through one helluva lot lately and could use a little downtime to recharge and spend some quality time together without the intrusion of misbehaving Tales who need a series ass-kicking. But where do fairy tales go for a romantic getaway? Well, it depends on the couple:

Tess “Red” Little and Nate Grimm – Let’s face it, there’s no way Red could chill on a beach for a week. She’s far too much of an action junky to go for that. You’d be more likely to find her dragging Nate to Australia to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, white water rafting on the North Johnstone River, exploring the Outback… Her vacations would have adventure written all over them. And Nate would never try to change her ’cause her spirit is what he loves most about her. But, to keep things fair for Nate, Tess would insist they also hit the Sydney Opera House and make a day of it picnicking in the wine regions of Yarra Valley (she’d just need to take it easy on the wine tastings as she and wine have a love/hate relationship…).

Lavender Seelie and Seth “Big Bad” Wolf – Every day with Seth Wolf is a romantic getaway — he makes sure of that. But even though Seth and Lavender live in a log cabin in the Cascades and are surrounded by tranquil beauty, they still need to get away from their responsibilities at The Refuge now and then. And when they’re not exploring the beautiful landscape of the Pacific Northwest together or traveling back to Chicago to visit with friends and family, you’ll find them taking off to one of their favorite destinations: the Canadian Rockies. For these two, it’s all about communing with nature and with each other.

Trish Muffet and Nicky Blue – Nicky is a “big city” kind of guy and Trish never tires of soaking up knowledge about anything and everything. You’ll find these two traipsing all over the place, visiting the most celebrated museums and historic sites around the world. But they also know how to kick back and take it easy. Snuggling up together in a dark corner to enjoy a little jazz in a Paris nightclub is right up their alley. But, honestly, Nicky doesn’t care where he is as long as Trish is at his side and she’s having a good time. Nothing brings him more joy than seeing the woman he loves glowing with happiness.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ALONG CAME A SPIDER is out now! Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

Thank you so much, Kate, for stopping by!

Kate SeRine website:

[received an ARC]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A "Peculiar" Cover Reveal & Ministry Giveaway!

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is a fun, action-packed steampunk series. With novels, short stories and podcasts, there is much to explore in the universe that Philippa Ballantine, Tee Morris and their legion of fellow writers have created. Of course, when the call came out for bloggers to join the cover reveal, I had to join in. And away we go!

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels are a multi-award winning steampunk series, which tells the story of the government agency committed to keeping citizens safe from the strange, the unusual, and the bizarre.

In a very successful Kickstarter in July, the Ministry Initiative was funded, allowing the creation of both a roleplaying game and a brand new anthology.

Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is a collection of short stories that will take readers across the Empire and all over the world, revealing new facets of familiar characters and introducing new agents, allies, and enemies from the Ministry’s colourful history. The authors of this globe-spanning anthology include Delilah S. Dawson, Leanna Renee Hieber, Alex White, Jared Axelrod, Tiffany Trent, Peter Woodworth, Jack Mangan, JR Blackwell, Dan Rabarts, Lauren Harris, Karina Cooper, and Glenn Freund from The League of S.T.E.A.M. And one of the Ministry’s creators, Tee Morris, presents the origin story of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences itself.

Look for the ebook coming in August, with signed print editions to follow.

Feast your eyes on the cover art from the Ministry renaissance man, Alex White, and spread the word about the anthology by entering the giveaway.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Under the Empyrean Sky

Under the Empyrean Sky (The Heartland Trilogy #1) by Chuck Wendig

I've read and enjoyed several of Wendig's adult books, so when I learned about this YA trilogy, I knew it would be on my list. I expected good action, interesting characters, and the author's unique approach to dialogue. Yes, Virginia, there are swears in these pages, but honestly, there were stronger words in Goonies (my earliest recollection of children swearing in film). There is violence, some graphic, and a sexual relationship that is not described in any graphic detail. Now that the housekeeping is attended to, on to the real big question: Did I like the book?

Yes, this was a good read. This action-junkie was happy, the story's pace was quick, the characters were multi-dimensional, the adults were not idiots (or at least, not all of them), and the main character, Cael, was believable. Imperfect, loyal, cocky, at first glance you might think that he is a trouble-maker with little care for his family, but that is not the case. He is driven by the constant warring between what he truly wants from life and his responsibility to his family and their place in the rather horrible Heartland.

The world is fascinating. Rampant genetic engineering of corn has decimated almost all other crops, taxed the land to the breaking point, and made everyone who lives on land lower than the dirt they stand upon. Meanwhile, the elite Empyreans float through the sky in their flotillas, living lives of luxury. The Heartlanders lives are heavily regulated. Your spouse is chosen by chance; you have no say in it.

Cael and his friends are the number 2 scavenging team in their town. The mayor's son is on top and will use any means to stay there. Cael wants to marry Gwennie, but he only has a slight chance that it will happen. His sister has run away again, his mother is deathly ill, and his father seems to have given up on caring for anything. Of course, there are plenty of secrets awaiting discovery, mistakes to be made, friendships to be tested, lives to fight for, and Cael's existence will never be the same.

I enjoyed the ride and will get my ticket for book 2.

[received ARC to review]

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Galaxy Shirts and Camp

Hi all!

Grab your flashlight, get your scariest stories ready, and get on the bus for CAMP STELLAR FOUR!

There is a giveaway and lots of camp-y fun.

On a personal note, I made galaxy shirts with the kiddos. It was so much fun. We're going to galaxy-everything: skirts, bags, etc.

Keep checking Stellar Four for how-tos for this and other fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Transplanted Tales News & GIVEAWAY!

Kate SeRine has announced that we are getting more Tales!!!!

One is a short novel, "GRIMM CONSEQUENCES, is a sequel to RED and is the story of what happens to Nate and Tess a couple of months after the end of the first novel but before events in THE BETTER TO SEE YOU." It will be out around February 2014.

The other, the 4th book in the Transplanted Tales, will feature Gideon. Oh hells yes!

You can read all about the news at Kate's site:

Kate is having a GIVEAWAY to celebrate. You can enter at her site or use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kate will be here at the Book Pile August 13. ALONG CAME A SPIDER (Transplanted Tales 3) is out August 1!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kate Giveaway at Stellar Four

Today I am sharing my sorry attempt at vampire cookies over at Stellar Four. You can share your kitchen or crafty mishaps for a chance to win Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews (click on the link to go to the giveaway, no entries here on the Book Pile):

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Free Story from Maria Schneider!

Today, the wonderful Maria Schneider is here with a free short story from her Moon Shadow series. If you haven't tried the adventures of Adriel, White Feather, and my favorite sidekick Lynx, you are in luck. Book 1 is on sale for 99 cents through July 20.

Under Witch Moon - 99 cents through July 20!
Under Witch Aura
Under Witch Shadow

If you would like this page sent to your Kindle, click on the Send to Kindle button below.

Enjoy, and thank you Maria!

Send to Kindle

Under Witch Ghost

Maria E. Schneider
Copyright 2013

A Moon Shadow Short Story

Despite all the magic we had embedded into White Feather’s
house when we rebuilt it, the perimeter of his property—now our
property—was sadly lacking in earth wards. Transplanting desert
sage and sweet grasses in specific spots would not only keep us
safer, it would be a ready supply of ingredients for many a spell.
Old Granny had also offered to provide us with some kick-ass spiders.
Thinking of the spiders sent a creepy chill down my back, but I
wasn’t about to turn down her offer. They wouldn’t be
delivered until after I had finished my share of the protection magic
anyway. I remained knee deep in sand and sage, working in the dimming
evening light. As I lowered the largest sage into the hole, a voice
from behind me hissed, “Adriel.”
The unexpected interruption sent the desert herb sailing behind me
as I twisted to meet the threat. Still on my knees, I spun around,
fell backwards into the hole I had just dug, and raised my silver. My
fingers were wrapped around a lame hand shovel, which was no
protection at all.

My heart sputtered and a disgruntled sigh puffed out as I realized
the threat was Lynx. “Must you sneak up on me?” Even
though Mother Earth communicated with me almost as well as the
breezes did with White Feather, Lynx was a special cat. He was more
an extension of earth magic than a foreign entity. Mother Earth felt
no need to mention when he was skulking about.

“How was I to know you weren’t paying attention to
things around you? I came over to tell you that Roberto needs a
meet.” He offered me a hand up.

Since my bottom was squarely planted in the hole, I had no choice
but to accept his help. He was strong enough to nearly lift me to my
feet with just one skinny arm. I’d known Lynx since he was a
hungry alley cat scrounging food from garbage cans. All muscles and
sinew then, he was even stronger now that he was better fed and about
to leave his teen years behind him. While he might look like a piece
of scrap blown in with the tumbleweeds, his eyes flashed intelligence
and his lithe movements were faster and smoother than those of a
normal human.
“Roberto, the deaf kid, wants a meet?” I stuffed
strands of my long dark hair into the ponytail that had failed to
contain it all.
Lynx handed me the sage that had missed him completely when I
threw it in defense. “You know any other Roberto?”
This was Santa Fe, New Mexico. I could think of four without
trying. “Not that are deaf.”
“He’s not deaf when he’s in a graveyard, which
is why he needs a meet. He has a message from Martin.”
The evening just got better and better. “Martin? Martin
isn’t in a graveyard!”

Lynx shrugged. “He’s dead so it’s the same
thing. I mentioned Martin to Roberto after our little visit to
Fairview cemetery a few weeks ago. Some of the dudes hanging at that
place are flakes. The kid could use better company, you know?”
My eyes bulged. If Lynx thought Martin was better company than the
ghosts Roberto had been communicating with in Fairview Cemetery, the
kid was in more trouble than I could help with. Of course, Roberto
talked to dead people, so how much assistance could I possibly be on
my best day? His ears were deaf to the sounds of this world, but not
to those communicating from the other side. He spent a lot of time in
cemeteries, which was where I had met him. “Little visit to the
cemetery?” I repeated, my eyes narrowing. Leave it to Lynx to
act like almost being swallowed out of existence without the benefit
of dying was nothing more than a bit of social happenstance.

“Tonight, midnight. Tent Rock,” he said.
“What is it with you and night meets! Martin can talk to me
during the day. We’d be insane to hike around those rocks at

And I’d been avoiding Tent Rock because I knew Martin was
haunting the place. Sure, the magic was strong there. But who wanted
to have Martin looking over your shoulder when practicing a spell or
gathering magic? He’d been a drunk, flirtatious,
covered-in-dirt old man in life. He hadn’t bothered to leave
most of his bad habits behind when he died.
“Martin’s in some kind of trouble. Roberto says he can
only appear at night and even that is getting harder for him.”
My mouth gaped open, and I stared at Lynx in disbelief.

He shrugged. “I know, but who else was he gonna ask?”
* * *
Earth witches do not have any power over the dead, for the dead or
even talking to the dead, not that I knew of. There was no earthly
reason that I should have ever seen a ghost, but it had happened more
than once. The first one hadn’t really communicated with me;
she’d either been in too much pain or too far gone.

Martin had been an earth witch in life, and I’d always
assumed that the reason he’d been able to give me a ghostly
message once before was because we shared a level of common magic.
That was more than I had wanted to share with Martin. My feelings on
the matter hadn’t changed much just because he was dead.
If Lynx thought I was leaving White Feather behind on this insane
adventure, he had another think coming.
“I wonder what Martin wants to talk to me about,” I
muttered at White Feather as we climbed the beginning of the trail
into Tent Rock. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy about the
full moon or not. The moon would call more magic into any situation,
but it also lent more light. With ghosts, it could be a help, a
hindrance or not matter a whit. “Couldn’t Martin have
just asked Roberto to ask me whatever he needed to know?”
“Apparently not. And since you’ve been avoiding Tent
Rock, Martin had to get an intermediary to reach you.”
“Hmph.” White Feather was probably correct about that

I knew where Martin would appear because I’d had more than
my fair share of trouble in the bowl-shaped indention halfway up the
trail. The magic was so strong there, a normal could have felt it. It
wasn’t any problem for someone like Lynx to sense it, and it
was a natural spot for Roberto to have found Martin.

I heard them talking as we ducked under the overhanging rock and
rounded the bend. As I edged slowly around the walled canyon into the
side clearing, it took me a second to realize I was hearing Roberto
clearly as he asked Martin a question. Roberto, being deaf, never
enunciated perfectly because he’d never heard the words spoken.
Martin had never slurred his words, even when drunk, but tonight, it
was Martin’s voice that sounded as though he were talking under
I stopped so suddenly that White Feather nearly knocked me down.

Roberto was a dark shadow four feet off the side of the trail.
Lynx stood more in the open, but he’d promised to be in plain
sight if the meet was on and safe. The glowing wisp of fog between
the two of them was not shaped like a human.

This meet didn’t look safe to me. When I had seen Martin
before, his features were clearly defined, albeit transparent.

If Roberto hadn’t been talking to the wisp of fog and it
answering, I’d not have believed it was Martin at all.
“He’s in trouble.” Lynx kept his attention on
the ghost as he addressed us.
“Roberto or Martin?” I asked.
Lynx cut his eyes to me. The only reason I could tell was because
his pupils glowed yellow. He had changed to cat eyes either because
he was nervous or so he could see better in the dark.

“Martin, not me,” Roberto answered my question. “He
can’t cross here properly anymore. It’s been getting
worse over the last week.” His hands flew as he signed what he
was saying.
Lynx started to repeat what Roberto had just said, but I cut him
off. “Got it.”

White Feather touched my arm. “I didn’t.”
Well, now, that was…disturbing. Since White Feather wasn’t
a threat, I kept my gaze on Martin. He was talking again or trying

“Stooorms. Bloocks.” The rest of what he said was too
garbled for me, but Roberto had been at this longer, and it was his
“There are energy storms,” he translated. “Some
of them block the natural energy that allowed him to visit. Mostly
though, he says he has to stay away because there’s another
thing crossing. He doesn’t want to be destroyed by it, and it’s
the only thing that seems able to force its way back and forth now.
It brings energy from—” He stopped and rubbed his
forehead. “I can’t get that part. He’s tried to
tell me before, but I don’t know what he’s saying.
Something about the dark where magic doesn’t exist.” His
hands went up in the universal shrug.

The mist swirled closer to me. I held my ground, but only because
White Feather was at my back. As it was, I leaned against him, trying
to stay out of reach of the unearthly glowing strands of fog.

Martin’s eyes were not really recognizable; they were pits
of emotion. There was no pupil, no face around them, just sparks that
somehow translated to panic. “Soooleessheeell.”
“Shoeless?” Being without shoes hadn’t bothered
Martin when he was alive. At this point, he didn’t even have
feet! From a barely discernible waist on down, there was nothing but
gray mist.

Then I got it. “Soulless. Hell. Okay, Martin, but what do
you want me to do about it? I’m not dying just to pull your ass
out of the fire!”
For a second, I think the eyes laughed at me. The spark went from
lightning white to a swirl of fog.

Roberto watched me as he talked rapidly and signed at the same
time. Lynx followed his hands, but I had no trouble with his words.
“Martin says he is safe, but the girl is trapped there
in-between with him, and she doesn’t belong there. He thought
he could help her back over, but with the energy wrong, he’s
worried she will get stuck there.”
“What girl?” I struggled to stay focused on the
problem rather than screech at Martin for dragging me into a mess,
one that I didn’t understand and might not even be able to fix.
“Does she have a soul?” I was not about to bring anyone
back here without a soul. Wouldn’t that be like rescuing a
vampire? Or was that like creating one? No…
Thankfully Martin interrupted before my mind walked off any deeper
into crazy. Roberto translated Martin’s blur of words. “Soul,
yes, she has one. She’s still alive. She can see the—”
Roberto shrugged again. “She can see something that comes
through. But she needs to get back through to this side.”
There were a million questions, but from the way the wisps were
starting to separate, I didn’t need to be told we were out of
time. “Martin, we can look for the girl and maybe we can help,
but why did you call me here?”
“The bloodstone.” It was Roberto who answered since
Martin was now nothing more than an arm attached to a fast-fading
light that might have been his chest. “He thinks he can use it
to help her.”
I didn’t generally carry the green and red stone around, but
the last time I had talked to Martin, he had felt me using the
bloodstone here. In short, I wasn’t likely to ever come to Tent
Rock without it.
Bloodstone, or heliotrope, carried natural powers for healing,
especially of blood or circulation, but it also aligned and healed a
person’s energy. Its lesser known use included an ability to
call storms and hold the power of the wind. Wind magic had the power
to carry messages into the past or future because wind had been there
before and could go anywhere without the check of time. Maybe
heliotrope had some power in the realm of the dead.
The particular stone Martin asked for was one he had harvested
from Mother Earth when he was still living. It held Martin’s
magic, my magic, White Feather’s magic and my best friend’s
water witching magic.

Only a fool would give up an object of such power, but it was out
of my backpack and on my palm without hesitation. Martin may have
been an obnoxious drunk while alive and a pest after he died, but he
had given me the stone without strings attached, and later he had
given his life to save us.

“I give this without restraint, freely—”
His shriek split my oath. I nearly dropped the stone to cover my
ears. White Feather shifted the breeze in an instinctive reaction to
save us from danger even though the peril seemed to be limited to a
caterwauling meant to serenade a banshee. My ears rang in protest.
Roberto said, “He says I can give him the stone because I
can reach across. But it needs your earth magic to push through the
“Since I have no idea how to give it to him, I’m glad
you do.” I turned over the stone. White Feather moved from
behind to beside me, barely restraining himself from elbowing me
protectively out of the way. I saw his mouth move, but couldn’t
hear the words.

Maybe my sudden deafness was due to the ringing in my ears, but
that made no sense because I had no trouble hearing Roberto when he
yelled, “Hey, wait!”
Martin yelled back. They both had a hand on the stone. The energy
that was feeding Martin might be weak, but it wasn’t dead yet.
Where he touched the stone, his hand was gray and nearly solid.
“Leggo!” Roberto screamed. His fingers turned an odd
gray color, drained of blood.

Martin wailed in response, a horrific sound that not only echoed,
it knocked rocks loose.

Roberto bellowed back, jerking his hand.

Lynx grabbed Roberto’s free arm and pulled, but the mist
snaked up Roberto’s other arm like a giant glow worm intent on
devouring dinner. Inch by inch, it sucked Roberto into Martin’s
world. He was turning into a corpse before our eyes.
“Uh, Martin…”

Eyes rolled across the fog. “Eneergy…feed earth.”
“Unless you want someone else who doesn’t belong
there, let him go,” I shouted.

White Feather sent a stiff breeze into the fog that was Martin,
but the wind just crossed through him as though he weren’t

I reached for the stone, anchoring myself to Mother Earth. White
Feather knew the second I grounded, and he grabbed me around the
waist. If he yelled instructions, I couldn’t hear them. In this
strange place, warped with the magic that Roberto used, I could hear
and see Martin better than my living friends.

As soon as my magic touched the stone, I could see Martin clearly.
He was gray. Everything was gray except the pulsing green and red of
the bloodstone. His dead fingers were wrapped around it, but
Roberto’s hand still stuck to part of it instead of sliding
“Let it go,” I said.
“I can’t,” Martin replied. His eyes were no
longer sparks. They were just transparent gray that held a human
panic and a sadness that hadn’t been there when I saw him last.

My magic pulsed against the bloodstone. No way would I physically
touch it. I could feel White Feather, his strong arms holding onto
me. Could I call the bloodstone back? Martin had called it across.
His earth magic was stronger than mine…well, it might have
been in life. Mine would be the stronger now.
There were no tools to use here. I could feel the magic, but
Martin was right. This place pulled at the stone, at me, at Roberto.
It pulled at Life.

It could have the stone and what it held, freely given, but it
couldn’t have Roberto. He didn’t belong here and neither
did I.
I had learned to manipulate pieces of Mother Earth, but I wasn’t
very good at it and had only practiced with silver. “Bloodstone.”
I called the stone anyway. Blood was the tie to human life. There was
no need for blood in this colorless place, especially Roberto’s.

The red specks answered, responding to my pull, shifting forward,
like to like. The drops of bright red swelled under Roberto’s
fingers. I reached out and touched his shoulder, a part of him that
hadn’t yet turned gray.
With a sucking, popping crack, the red separated from the green. I
pulled harder, trying to draw them to us, to Roberto, to earth.

A gray blob rose from behind Martin, a bump I had thought was a
rock or just another shade of gray. As I pulled, Martin came forward
too, half in his world and half in mine. With the draw of magic, his
arm glowed and that light drifted ever closer to Roberto’s
shoulder and my hand.
The gray shape darted forward. My grunt of warning was too late.
The shape hit Martin. As it touched his shoulder, it turned into a
hand. The blob resolved itself into a woman. She was as colorless as
he was, but there was an odd shimmer about her. If gray could be
iridescent, she was it. A snippet of energy occasionally burst across
parts of her, keeping her from unrelenting gray.

When she touched Martin, he stepped back towards her and yanked
harder on the stone.
The force of his pull would have forced me forward if not for
White Feather’s grasp. With a muffled plea, I reached my free
hand to White Feather’s arm across my waist. Our rings touched
and sparked. I clung to him and kept my grounding to earth, dragging
at Roberto and the bloodstone with everything I had in me.
The woman’s eyes burned straight through me, a flash of
blue, just before a maelstrom of colors burst across the dead
landscape, blinding me. I lost my hold on Roberto and flew backwards
so fast, there was no time to brace myself for the impact.

I didn’t know if I’d been sucked in or pushed out
until White Feather groaned underneath me.
“What the hell was that?” he muttered, spitting sand.
I blinked, wondering just how hard I’d hit my head.
Everything around me was a mix of dark shapes looming, waiting to

No, wait. Like fools we were running around Tent Rock at midnight.
I tried rubbing my eyes, but other than grinding sand into my skin,
it didn’t help.
“Dead witches are the worst,” Lynx said right before
dropping a whimpering Roberto next to us.
“Do you have a light?” I demanded.
“What for?”
“Lynx, not everyone can see as well as you do.”
“Light will just draw attention to this mess.”
White Feather turned on his flashlight. Roberto shook like a leaf
and stared at me as though the situation were all my fault.
“You okay?” I sat up and felt for my own head. Sand
coated me from head to foot. Being washed in desert must be part of
the requirement of the magic here.
Roberto stared down at his hand. I turned it to face the light. He
said something, but the magic had shut down, whatever kind it was he
wielded. I could no longer make out his words.
Lynx tilted his head, and asked, “What happened to the rest
of the stone?”
I picked up the piece of rock from Roberto’s palm. “Martin
has it. Only the red part crossed back with us.” There wasn’t
a hint of green in the piece.
Roberto nodded. He found the strength to stand and began signing
frantically at Lynx.

White Feather said to me, “Can you hear me at all?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Martin’s gone. I couldn’t hear
you while Roberto was holding open the link. He included me somehow.”
“That must be why you ignored my suggestion that you not go
after the bloodstone.”
“Probably,” I hedged.
“And the reason you ignored me when I told you to stop
pulling on the stone.”
“How did you know I was pulling on it?” We both stood
and brushed uselessly at the sand.
He grunted. “I could push wind into it, but not pull it
back. I could feel you there as if I were pushing wind at you. You
weren’t listening to me.”

I leaned over and picked up my backpack. “Thanks for holding
on to me.”
He reeled me in close. His lips against mine, he said, “Always.”
Lynx said, “Roberto wants to know if you can find the girl.”
White Feather sighed.
“Good question,” I replied. “I don’t think
it will be tonight.” Since I hadn’t recognized her
washed-out features, and had no idea how to bring her back across if
we found her, I had a bad premonition that locating her was only
going to be the start of our problems. “Maybe now that Martin
has the stone, she’ll be fine.”
Roberto signed something.

Lynx said, “He says we’ll need to find her to be
certain.” Then he shook his head. “Roberto has the same
problem you do. It’s like you both think you can make Pandora’s
box safe if you sneak up on it and dismantle it one spell at a time.”
Completely unfair comparison. Either way, we had solved a large
enough problem for the night. It was time to go home. I might just
sleep with the lights on.
For more adventures with Adriel and crew, check out the novels:
Under Witch Moon
Under Witch Aura
Under Witch Curse
Visit Maria at her blog:
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
in any form without prior written permission from the author. This is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either
the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any to any person, living or dead is entirely

Cover Art: Copyright of individual shots: various artists via


Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: Playing Tyler

Playing Tyler by TL Costa

YA Sci fi with gamers and a simulator that is more than it appears.

You know I love the YA books, and the vast majority of my YA reads have been female-lead. Ani, half of the narrating duo in this one, is fantastic - super smart, isolated, lonely, with a lot to learn about the "real world". In most of my reads, the lead male character is the bad boy, the almost too perfect crush, etc. In this one, Tyler is so perfectly imperfect. I found him to be very believable and likable.

Struggling with ADHD, Tyler is a swirling mix of thoughts and emotions. So much is going wrong in his life: his brother is in rehab, his mother is emotionally distant, he is struggling with school.  Then his mentor, Rick, gives him a chance to beta a new flight simulator. If he does well, it might lead to flight school. It also introduces him to legendary gamer, Ani.

For Ani, Tyler is both the person who beat her champion score, but also the only other gamer who was polite to her. They aren't supposed to see each other past Ani's initial set up of his system, but these two, of course, are perfect for each other.

This is a fast-paced read, and a YA with romance that is low on the angst-o-meter. Yes, it feels very inevitable, but honestly so do 99% of the romances I've read. I accept that.

I liked how the author introduced aspects of a longterm war overseas, the use of drones, how war effects the children of soldiers, PTSD, and the sometimes shadier aspects of businesses that profit from war. Tyler and Ani have both lost their fathers. Tyler's was killed by a drunk driver shortly before he shipped out. He looks to follow in his father's footsteps, to join the Air Force and serve his country. Ani's father is still alive, but suffers from PTSD. His actions after returning home landed him in jail, basically taking him out of her life. She has seen a negative effect that war can have on the human psyche and that influences her reactions.

As far as the supporting characters, Rick is a very interesting character. I liked that we got to see him from two different perspectives. Brandon, Tyler's drug-addicted brother, is tragic and you feel Tyler's frustration and despair in every scene the two share.

I will be looking for more from Costa.

[received an ARC to review]

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: Gwynneth Ever After

Gwynneth Ever After by Linda Poitevin

This was a quick, cute read. Contemporary romance, no monsters, no I haven't been abducted by aliens.

I've actually read Poitevin's monsters before, and she writes them well.

This time, however, we are in Ottawa with an architect who is raising three kids alone after her ex walked out, and a famous movie star in town for mysterious reasons.

Gwyneth (with 2 n's) or Gwyn was easy to identify with. She is a bit harried, but has built up a strong support system. She is afraid of getting into a relationship again and is always conscious of the welfare of her kids.

Gareth is the wonderful hero who is rich, an actor, washes the dishes and even helps out with the kids. Not perfect, but pretty close. The not perfect part comes in the rather large secret he has been carrying around with him.

There was a bit of believability stretching with how fast Gareth starting helping out with the whole family, but it's a Romance so it was easy to get past it. It helped that Gwyn and Gareth were just so cute together and very sweet.

Yes, there are adorable moppets. I didn't find them annoying.

There is some angst, but this is a fast-paced read so we were past it quickly. Gareth's secret is a doozy, but like I said, the quick pace sped through it. Also, I liked the two of them together. They worked for me.

[received ARC to review]

Review: Meridian Six

Meridian Six by Jaye Wells

A dark, gritty UF novella with no romance. I did ask Wells if there would be more, and there will be. She does have lots of projects she is working on, but eventually we will get further stories in this world. This makes me happy.

Not that Meridian's world is full of sunshine and rainbows. Nope. This place is hell on earth. Vampires rule, humans are food, and it all sucks (every pun intended).

In this world, the Troika, vampires, have taken over. They did it slowly, using the humans fear to cement their hold. Humans are now in work camps, if their blood type isn't desirable, or little more than blood slaves.

The setup felt very believable. It's not unthinkable that a group could turn fear into a mobilizing force, stripping away freedoms before anyone realizes what is happening.

Meridian Six is the daughter of a famous human resistance fighter. Since her mother's death she has been a vamp PR guy's dream, paraded about before the conquered humans. She also has a very desirable blood type.

However, when we start our story, Meridian is running, trying to reach sanctuary. She assaulted the head of the Troika and his goons are after her. With no plan and no friends, Meridian isn't thinking much past the next second. Soon she finds herself with the Resistance, people who have little reason to trust her. Of course, Meridian has information that will change their fight.

There is a lot of darkness here. While it might look like Meridian has had a privileged life, she has more scars than anyone could count. What finally sent her over the edge was heartbreaking. She has also been used her whole life, and now, when she is free of the Troika, she is being used by the Resistance. Meridian is a complex character and since this is a novella, we only get a tiny snapshot of who she is. It was enough to make me want more.

Of course, Rabbit is my fav supporting character. A kid who has had to grow up too fast. My heart stopped a few times with that little guy.

I'm not quite sure what to expect with the next installment. There is a ton of danger in this world and things are tense. I will be reading it, though. Maybe with a blankie.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


And the winner is...

Ryan Snyder

Congrats! I'm sending your info to Cecy.

Thank you so much to Cecy for the giveaway, and everyone for entering.

Be sure to check back in July - I'll be having a little "Christmas in July" celebration for the blog's 2nd birthday. US + International - hooray!

Note: Sorry for the delay. The kids ran me a little ragged this week. Gotta love summer vacay.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Club Monstrosity

Club Monstrosity by Jesse Petersen

When I saw "monster support group" I was so in. Natalie, the last of Dr. Frankenstein's creations, Alec the Wolfman, Dracula, Linda, a Swamp Thing, Kai, a Mummy, Bob the Blob, the Invisible Man - they all meet for their weekly support group as they try to live undiscovered in a dangerous human world.

Then members start dying the same way they did in their stories and soon these monsters who barely can stand spending one session together must join forces to stop the murderer before another monster goes down.

This short novel was a very quick read, but so much fun. It is a bit lighter than my usual UF reads and has some romance. There is some action, especially at the end.

I really liked our two leads, Natalie and Alec. Natalie works at the morgue, fitting since she was put together from leftover body parts, is very conscious about trying to fit in to the normal world, and tries so hard not to "monster out." Alec puts on the appearance that he is coasting through life, but he is more than he appears and has his eye on a certain monster.

I already pre-ordered the next one, out in July, The Monsters in Your Neighborhood.

Note: If you are looking for a quick read that is also easy on the wallet, check out Pocket Star's selection of other books. I've found some good reads there.

Club Monstrosity Amazon | B&N | Kobo  

Jesse Petersen:

Review: Dead Things

Dead Things (Eric Carter #1) by Stephen Blackmoore

I knew after reading the first chapter that it was time to strap myself in and enjoy the ride. Excellent world and magic system, tortured lead character, lots of danger and action - hells yes.

First off, the setting: Los Angeles. LA has always been hellish for me, so  a story set there with a rampaging, ravenous ghost, the personification of Death, gangsters, a magical hitman, it all worked.

Eric is our hitman. His magical talent is control of the dead. He left LA after avenging the death of his parents, but his sister's murder brings him back. He is looking for payback and finds way more than he was expecting.

I am a sucker for any story where Death is a character. I love it, and I always want to see where the author will go with it. Here we get  Death across different belief systems, in particular the Loa and Santa Muerte.  Santa Muerte is so creepy. 

The magic system worked for me. I got plenty of show versus tell and it made sense. I liked Eric's attitude to his power. Control over the dead is one that would make most squeamish. 

This isn't a book with romance. There are lots of relationship issues. Eric spent years trying to keep a distance from anyone who mattered to him. He also left without a goodbye. I liked his interactions with Alex, his childhood friend, and Vivian, his ex. There is so much give and take, issues of trust and anger on all sides.

A fast-paced, action-packed read that solved our main issue but left room for more, I will be eagerly awaiting the next Eric Carter adventure.

Review: The Pirate's Wish

The Pirate's Wish (Assassin's Curse #2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Note: This is a book 2. Some parts of this review will be spoilery if you haven't read book 1, The Assassin's Curse (link goes to my review). That book was fantastic, so go read it if you love YA, action adventure, and fairytales.

Once again, I devoured this book, world and characters. Right away, as we get back into the mind of Ananna, our strong, clever pirate princess, I was enthralled. Her voice is unique and it was easy to get back into this world and our continuing adventure.

Ananna and Naji are still pretty much where we left them. They are stuck on a dangerous island with no way off, and they have three impossible tasks to accomplish to break the curse that binds them together (or at least binds Naji to Ananna; luckily for him she didn't cut and run). Or at least Naji thinks he has three impossible tasks. Ananna knows the third task, receive a kiss from a true love is not impossible because she loves him. Of course, she thinks it is impossible that he could love her...

Add in a dangerous manticore, more pirates, new friends, old enemies, tons of danger, battles, treacherous enemies from the Mists and you have a rollicking adventure.

Ananna makes this story for me. I absolutely love her. She might not be book smart, but she is clever, brave,  well-balanced, and she can weather any storm. I have read many stories containing unrequited love. When I know that the character will not dissolve into a puddle of goo nor cast herself from a cliff if her love isn't returned, I am a much more satisfied reader. I never felt that everything about Ananna was tied into her romantic feelings. Yes if he doesn't love her back, she will grieve, be upset, but she will live and find her own happiness. She is more than just the other half of a relationship. And that makes any ending or HEA that comes all the sweeter.

Clarke is not done with this world, The Wizard's Promise will be out in 2014. It involves other characters and I believe deals with the next generation.

If you love action, adventure, fantasy and fairytales, you might want to give this one a try. I would put it in an older YA fantasy category.

[received a review copy]

The Pirate's Wish  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound

Cassandra Rose Clarke:

Strange Chemistry

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A "Cursed" Interview & Giveaway!

I really dig the covers for this series.
The wonderful Cecy Robson is back for a little summertime interview and GIVEAWAY to celebrate the upcoming release of A CURSED EMBRACE (book 2 of the Weird Girls series), out July 2!

The blurbage: Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twentysomething girls—with one tiny exception: They are the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that made them, well, a little weird.…

After Celia Wird and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome.

To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.

My take: After I read this book, and was preparing for this post, I sent Cecy an e-mail that started, "Holy shit!" So much happens in this book that I can't talk to you about. But I will be here for you after if you need to share.

The story starts with a dead wereraccoon, Taran's prophetic nightmares, lots of killings, demons, and of course action. The fight scenes were intense and very well done. There were a couple of scenes that gave me trippy-assed dreams/nightmares. Two words: demon babies. And they ain't cute and cuddly. The danger level has gotten higher since book 1. There is a lot that comes together in the beginning, but then the story smoothed out for me. 

This series also has a lot of romance, not just with Celia, but her 3 sisters as well. I would caution that although it is a UF with romance, it is not a Romance. I liked how the usual mate tropes were mucked around with and twisted. 

You get a better feel for the sisters, especially Taran (I really loved her in this book). The males in the book, let's just say I wanted to drop-kick a few. I feel for Celia, but she is still so very insecure when it comes to relationships. I did like her decision in the end. I wish we could talk about it. Maybe after the book is out.

I will be reading book 3.

 Read on for the interview and GIVEAWAY.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: Tin Swift

Tin Swift (Age of Steam #2) by Devon Monk

The continuing adventures of Cedar Hunt, a man cursed to hunt the Strange, beings who prey on humans in this alternate late 1800s America, his brother Wil, also cursed, Mae Lindstrom, a witch being driven insane by her coven, Rose Small, a young woman eager for adventure with an eye for glim, and the Madder brothers, three eccentric men who are more than they appear and who have made a deal with Cedar. We also have some new characters, most notably Hink Cage, the captain of the titular airship. Of course, I can't forget the horrific villains. 

We have a journey to take Mae to her coven interrupted by Strange happenings, a dangerous injury, old enemies and new allies. 

I liked it by the end. It took me about 100 pages to get into it. It did help to read the short Hang Fire first. I was so used to our main cast of characters that it threw me off a bit when Hink was brought into the mix. The pacing is different than book 1 and the middle part has quite a bit of romance with not one but two pairings. 

This one felt like a middle book. I think there is some really good setup for book 3, with some new allies and a reorganization of the group. 

Review: The Sword-Edged Blonde

The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse #1) by Alex Bledsoe

I really liked the mashup of noir PI with sword & sorcery fantasy. Eddie LaCrosse is a complex character. He has been around, he has friends in high and low places, he has a tragic past, and he manages to stay a step ahead even when it looks like he is falling faster behind. Does he piece together all the twists with relative ease, of course, he's f'ing Eddie Lacrosse. 

Lots of action, some magic. The side characters were interesting and there is a lot that could happen in this world.

I liked the interweaving of past events with the current timeline and how it all fell together. Will be interesting to see the structure of the next book.

A good, quick read, especially if you are looking for something a little different in your fantasy reads.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: The Blue Blazes

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

I remember when I held my eldest daughter for the first time. Tons of emotions. You are tired and here is this little person. A part of you with so many possibilities ahead of her. I had, and still have, so many wishes for each of my kiddos. To be healthy, happy, safe, and there in the background is that wish for me: please, please, please do not let me fuck this up.

That feeling, that fear came back to me as I read Wendig's Blue Blazes. Sure, there are monsters from deep below the earth, goblins, human monsters, the walking dead, snake-like assassins, addicts, criminals, killers, but underneath it all is a father who was a horrible parent. And that comes back to bite him in the ass. It also gives him a chance to do better, if he can beat the odds.

Mookie Pearl is a thug. He runs a few crews who harvest the Blue Blazes, a drug dug out of the earth that has mystical properties, allowing humans to see past glamour and have increased senses and strength. It is also addictive as hell and not without side effects. Mookie beats, maims, and kills when necessary. He is also getting old, but still kicks ass.

Then his daughter, who he ran out on years before, shows up, betrays him, and tries to carve out her own territory. Nora is pissed, flush with money, and screams her hate through every action. When it looks like Nora killed someone very high up in Mookie's organization, he is sent out to take her down. But can he do it?

Wendig has a gift for creating these characters who do such horrible things, but who are so easy to root for. Maybe it helps that pretty much all of his victims are horrible people or creatures themselves. Mookie also has more layers than are visible at first glance. He has his reasons for why he left. Not great ones, but he has them. He also has fists that can carve a goblin's head in, so if you have to face down an inhuman horde, he's a good bet.

There are lots of different little relationships here, besides Mookie and Nora. The side characters help to peel back the layers of the big guy's personality. Kelly was fantastic as the leader of a gang who has no reason to trust Mookie. Burnsy is memorable as well and has more in common with Mookie than he would ever want to admit. We also have Werth, Mookie's boss, who has his own reasons for hating Nora.

And Nora. She is terrifying, petulant, screaming for attention, and just so screwed up. We don't get to see a whole lot that isn't the destructive force of nature that is Mookie's daughter. I spent most of the story hoping a karmic clue-by-four would knock some sense into her. We get to see a few of her layers peeled back, but not a lot, and Mookie is not the only one with sins resting on his soul.

Tons of action, lots of fight scenes, this is a fast-paced, thrilling read. The world was quite vivid. Dangerous and scary, the human gangs topside and the inhuman monsters underneath mean that danger is never far away. The mythology was very interesting, from the goblin temples to the walking dead of Daisypusher to the bottom of the Great Below.

This redemptive journey of Mookie Pearl has started, but he is not finished yet. There are more stories here. I will be reading the next one.

[received an ARC to review]

Chuck Wendig links:
website: I highly recommend you check out his blog.

Angry Robot:

The Blue Blazes: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Powell's | IndieBound