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

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Little Taste of Along Came a Spider

Today I get to share a couple of excerpts from Kate SeRine's ALONG CAME A SPIDER.

I've said it before: I can't wait to read more about Nicky Blue. He's got the best qualities of my favorite thief characters, and he kicks ass. Yay!

Kate is also having a GIVEAWAY. Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


ALONG CAME A SPIDER (out August 1, 2013) pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Click on after the break for 2 excerpts from ALONG CAME A SPIDER.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Between Two Thorns

Between Two Thorns (The Split Worlds Book 1) by Emma Newman

This is a book that contains MANY THINGS. This can be tricky sometimes, because while covering all of the things, you can lose connection to characters or slow the momentum of the story. Luckily, that does not happen here. Newman managed to corral the different worlds, characters and machinations to deliver an engaging read that left me wanting more.

And you will want more. This is closer to a part 1 than book 1. However, we don't have to wait years to find out how it all comes together. Book 2 is out in late May/early June, and book 3 in September.

This is a split world story with Fae, Fae-touched humans, mundanes, sorcerers, and Arbiters (a kind of police force). There are also kidnappings, murders, corruptions, threats and betrayals.

Cathy has been living in the mundane world (world #1). She escaped from her Fae-touched family and has even fallen in love with a mundane human. Unfortunately, she is found and must return to her family's home in Aquae Sulis (Bath) in the Nether (world #2), where the social restrictions of the Victorian-era still reign. She also learns that she is betrothed to William Iris. She hasn't given up on her dreams of freedom, though, and she searches for a way out, even as she tries to withstand the unwanted attention of Lord Poppy of the Fae, who resides in the beautiful prison of Exilium (world #3).

William is just back from his last great adventure in the mundane world before settling down and accepting his duty to his family. He is chagrined that this means he must marry the social disaster that is Cathy, but he is determined to try to make the best of it. As he tries to get to know his surly fiancee, he is also drawn into the conspiracy threatening Aquae Sulis.

Max is an Arbiter on an off the books assignment in London. He quickly learns of internal corruption and the abduction of mundanes just before some one tries to kill him. He survives, in a way, has the addition of a gargoyle harboring his soul, and learns he is the last Arbiter left alive in the Bath chapter. This news must be shared with the Sorcerer responsible for Bath/Aquae Sulis. However, the sorcerer has another job for Max, to find the missing Master of Ceremonies of Aquae Sulis.

Sam is an ordinary mundane from Bath in a troubled marriage, in a job he dislikes, and has just gotten royally drunk. He also happens upon a couple of strange creatures removing what looks like a body from the local museum, and they caught him looking.

I liked that although the narrative is split between these characters, the story kept progressing and I felt that I got a good connection to almost all of them. We spend some time with Sam, but it didn't seem like I got as good a feel for him as I did to the others. However, that could just be because I was so interested in the uniqueness of the other characters.

Of course I bonded with Cathy. I really like her spirit, although I hope that her backbone gets a lot stronger. She has her moments, but when put up in front of her parents (I wanted to punch them) she wilts. Understandable, of course. I just hope that she is able to start fighting for the life she wants. She is resourceful.

I was most surprised by William. He is fully on board with how things are in the Nether society. This of course sets him at odds with his future bride (and this reader too). However, he is also a decent person who is not like Cathy's father. You can see him making decisions that show him to be more moderate and very compassionate. Whether he will be able to bend even more is left to be seen.

The gargoyle was fun. Actually, I liked the whole idea of the Arbiters - a police force without the emotional burdens of souls. I'm looking forward to more with Max.

Some parts of the mystery are solved, and the stage is set for the next book. The story moved and kept my attention to the end, when I might have uttered a few choice phrases that I have to wait to see what comes next. It's a bit of a cliffhanger, but like I said, we don't have a long time to wait.

[received review copy]

Review: Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by R.L. LaFevers

Potential spoilers, especially if you have not read book 1. I'm actually not going to go into a lot of detail on plot as I don't want to ruin anything for you. If you liked Grave Mercy, you should LOVE this. If you wanted more action, you will be very happy.

I enjoyed book 1 of this series very much: fascinating medieval world, intriguing mythology, assassin nuns who are the daughters of death, tender romance, great action. Book 2, Dark Triumph, contains all of the elements I enjoyed the first go round, but is a more gripping, engaging and personal read than the first one. Also, it stars Sybella. I knew from her first crazed, violent and at the same time heartbreaking entrance in book 1 that she was a character to watch. When I learned that she would be the narrator for Book 2, I was ecstatic. The Beast, Baron de Waroch, is also a favorite from book 1. The two of them together is magic.

The stakes were raised right at the start and never let up. Book 1 was a lot of political maneuvering. We have some of that here, but it comes from the POV of a character who has lived almost all of her life in a dangerous court, betrayed by almost everyone around her. It brought a heightened sense of urgency and increased the horror of life under the villainous Count d'Albret. She was easy to root for, taking her pain and transforming herself into an assassin who wants to use her talents to dole out justice, even if she feels conflicted. Sybella's emotions and reactions felt natural and believable. There is also a lot of action as Sybella and Waroch try to aid the young Duchess who is still besieged on many fronts. With Sybella I feel like we really get to see what an assassin from the convent of St. Mortain can do.The whole narrative kept going at a quick pace and I did not want to put it down.

The overall story arc continues and we get to see some familiar faces.

This is an older YA book, technically, I guess. However, although the main character is in her late teens, this is not an angsty, "does he love me" book. There are no triangles, and this does not feel like Medieval High School. There are some dark themes here. Not that I think teens can't handle it, but that it is a lot closer to what you would expect in an adult book.

For that matter, it is also recommended to adults who enjoy historical fantasy with some romance.

With this very solid entry in the trilogy, I can't wait for the third book.

Dark Triumph will be out April 2, 2013.

[received a review copy from Amazon Vine]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cover Reveal: Along Came a Spider and Giveaway!

I really enjoy Kate SeRine's Transplanted Tales series. Fairy tale characters living among the regular, mostly unknowing human populace = so much fun!

I quickly became a fan of Nicky Blue (as in Little Boy Blue) in book 1. His story was very tragic, so we needed some space before we could get to his Tale. Now he gets his own book with Trish (Little Miss Muffet). Awwww yeah!

We have to wait until August 1 to read about it, but in the meantime, here is a little cover love:

Blurbage: "Along came a spider...

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: Well, Hello Mr. Blue!  I'm expecting Book 3 to be heavy in the Romance department. So far I've really liked all of SeRine's heroines and heroes, and I'm already a fan of both Nicky and Trish (she is smart, strong and so very good at what she does). And Gideon is going to be in this book too, as well as Rumpelstiltskin. YES!

Now for the GIVEAWAY. Kate is giving away an awesome prize: An ebook of either RED or THE BETTER TO SEE YOU (winner's choice!) plus a $10 gift card to either or B&N. Just use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio:

Kate SeRine (pronounced "serene") faithfully watched weekend monster movie marathons while growing up, each week hoping that maybe this time the creature du jour would get the girl. But every week she was disappointed. So when she began writing her own stories, Kate vowed that her characters would always have a happily ever after. And, thus, her love for paranormal romance was born.

Kate lives in a smallish, quintessentially Midwestern town with her husband and two sons, who share her love of storytelling. She never tires of creating new worlds to share and is even now working on her next project.


ALONG CAME A SPIDER pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

RED (Book 1) $1.99 limited time! Amazon | B&N | Kobo

THE BETTER TO SEE YOU (Book 2) $1.99 limited time! Amazon | Kobo

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cover Reveal: Cold Blooded

Here it is, the cover of Amanda Carlson's Cold Blooded, book 3 in her Jessica McClain series, out October 8, 2013:

Oh the pretty! I love the model used for this series, and the colors. Very striking. I think all 3 covers go together very well.

Normally, I would give the blurbage, but since book 2 isn't out yet, that might be a bit spoilery. Instead I will say that Jess is in New Orleans, and there are vampires. And so much other action-packed goodness, of course, with one of my favorite werewolves.

Pre-order: Amazon

Book 2, Hot Blooded, will be out April 23.

"It hasn't been the best week for Jessica McClain.
Her newly found mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge, and Jessica is positive she can save him.

But being the only female werewolf in town comes with its own set of rules and powers... if only she understood them.

Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means.

The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties..."

Pre-order: Amazon | B&N

Links for Amanda Carlson:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some Steampunk Love

This week, I collaborated on a couple of steampunk posts with the fabulous Meghan B over at Stellar Four:

We chat about our favorite steampunk romances in The Joy of Steampunk.

We also review the wonderful Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger: Finishing "The Other Way"

Stop on by and share some of your favorite steampunk reads.

Night Blade Review and Do-Over Party

Night Blade (Colbana Files 2) by JC Daniels

First of all, if you tried to get this beauty on release day, you likely encountered some issues. This sucks so much. It's an annoyance for the reader, and I can only imagine how horrible this is for the author.

However ALL IS FIXED NOW so you can happily buy Night Blade.

Also, Shiloh Walker is having a "Do-Over Release Party". Let's try to make this a blow-out. Comment, bring funny GIFS, make this a release party to remember (and erase the bad Monday memories).

Head over here to join in:

Now, on to my review:

Oh. My. Damn.

The Kit Colbana series is written by JC Daniels, a pseudonym of Shiloh Walker. Walker is not known for giving her characters unicorns and rainbows. She puts them through hell and then brings them slowly back, though never the same. While sometimes it's a tough read, it also feels right, that recovery is never "too easy" just to get to the happily ever after.

So I know all this, but still, she shocks me.

I also still really want to keep reading. I will be there to read book 3. I MUST read book 3. I might embarrass myself pestering asking the author about it.

If you haven't read Book 1, Blade Song, this part of the review is spoilery. And seriously, go read book 1.

Kit's still getting used to her relationship with Damon. She hasn't seen him much because he has been "cleaning house" in the cat pack.

Then an ex-lover shows up with a job she can't refuse, and soon she is working a case that makes her lie to her loved ones and involves a past she can't bear to talk about.

I am stopping there with plot specifics. There is lots of action, and as usual, the dialogue is spot on.

Just be prepared to get your emotions flogged.

[received a review copy]

Sealed With a Curse Winner!

And the winner is...


Cecy has your e-mail. Congrats!

Thank you to Cecy for the giveaway and to everyone who entered.

Remember, A Cursed Embrace is out July 2.

Here's that cover one more time:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Pantomime

Pantomime by Laura Lam

It took me a little while to get my thoughts together on this. Not because I didn't like it. On the contrary, I liked it a lot and am looking forward to the next one. I'm trying not to be spoilery, but there is no way to talk about one of the most important aspects of the book with revealing some secrets, so you have been warned.

Pantomime takes place in a world where magical and strange beings called Chimaera and Alder once lived among people. In some places they were worshipped, in others feared. They had magnificent "Penglass" structures that people can only look at and wonder. The Alder left behind Vestige, artifacts that are collected and used in the circus our protagonist joins. It is a world that used to have magic, so during the course of book 1, there isn't a whole lot of the fantastical. We just get some glimpses of what Gene/Micah can do, and what the Chimaera and Alder left behind. However, now the stage has been set, so I am expecting a bit more magic in the next go round, as well as the investigation of some mysteries (like who is the powerful Dr. Pozzi?). There have been enough hints that the magic is returning.

The main story is of Micah Grey's apprenticeship with the circus. He has run away from home and his excellent climbing skills, balance, and strength earn him a job training for the trapeze. He endures hazing from the clowns, becomes romantically interested in Aenea, the girl on the flying trapeze, and becomes closer to Drystan, a clown with many secrets. Micah's story is interspersed with the tale of Iphigenia, Gene, Laurus. She is just about to make her debut in society, although she would much rather be climbing, playing, and in general, not pursuing the interests of a "proper young girl". She also has a secret, one that makes her mother take her to doctor after doctor. She is both male and female, a kedi, not seen since the disappearance of magic from the land. Micah and Gene are the same person.

I was really taken with the sensitive and honest portrayal of Gene/Micah's journey. I never felt that I was being pandered to, or that this was for shock purposes. It felt very real, the fear of discovery, that belief that acceptance by others is a fantasy. Very heartbreaking at times, and never overdone.

I wanted to punch Gene's parents many times, too, as well as some other characters. I also came to really like a lot of the supporting cast. There is a bit of a triangle, but it was very well done. Micah, and that is what I'll call hir, is attracted to both sexes. Again, this is not overdone or too angsty. I can't give Lam enough kudos for how she handled this.

So, is Pantomime "just" a circus fantasy - no, and I am so glad it isn't. I'll be reading book 2.

[received an ARC]

*I Googled transgender pronouns, and that's where I got hir. He/she didn't sound right and it is insulting. There are many different opinions on it, but hir felt best to me.