September 2, 2015

Wednesday Wishes

I went about my posts differently this time. Jumping around from Monday, to Thursday. Following up with Friday, and then creating Tuesday and Wednesday's posts.

Why do I mention that? Because my head hurts from trying to keep track as I right this final post!


Closer to Home by Mercedes Lackey

closer to homeGet it: Amazon | Goodreads
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Valdemar: The Herald Spy, book 1

Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King's Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds' Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.

Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds. The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags' mentor, King's Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King's Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time. Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?

So I’ve been posting my reviews for the Arrows of the Queen trilogy. I got curious as to whether or not Lackey was still cranking out the books in this world.

So yeah, my loyalty is my fault. This is the first book of her latest series. There’s going to be quite a few books to buy from when I left off the series and the ones that have come out.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

the aeronaut's windlassGet it: Amazon | Goodreads
Genre: Steampunk
Series: The Cinder Spires, book 1

Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

After reading the first Dresden book and not really falling in love I’ve been meaning to give those books another try. Or at the very least read Butcher’s epic fantasy series, that I own. Or something. I know I need to try the Dresden books again before trying this bad boy out.

September 1, 2015

Review: Alpha & Omega

On the Prowl Anthology
Alpha & Omega (Alpha & Omega, book 0.5) by Patricia Briggs

on the prowl

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Edition Reviewed: Paperback
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Kindle Single Short Story
Goodreads: On the Prowl (1)

 

Alpha and Omega 0.5 by Patricia Briggs
The werewolf Anna finds a new sense of self when the son of the werewolf king comes to town to quell unrest in the Chicago pack- and inspires a power in Anna that she's never felt before.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
Kai has a secret gift of sensing thoughts and desires. What she senses in her neighbor Nathan could be dangerous. Because he has a secret gift, too, and it's about to be let loose.

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
In a New York auction house, a Lord of the Fey crosses paths with a fiery redheaded mage named Claire. But in this strange underground society, the rarity up for sale is Claire herself.

Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
Among the children of the moon, Mona Lisa is of Mixed Blood- part Monere, part human, and destined to be alone. Then she meets a man who could be her salvation- or her downfall.


Review:

Wow!! I had forgotten how good this short was. It's set in the same world as Mercy Thompson's. Presenting a new character, Anna, and an old one, Charles. Charles is kind of old, but he's a blank slate. Readers first meet him in Moon Called and gets smatterings of mentions in Mercy's books. He's the son of the Marrok so it's bound to happen. He's also the executioner for the pack and a key in keeping it running. Charles is a character I've longed to know so it's exciting he'll be in his own spinoff.

Anna is another example of Briggs creating well realized female leads. They don't need to be bad asses wielding weapons. They can be strong in other ways. Personally I really loved her and it helped showing the other side of werewolf packs. Because it's been hinted at that not all packs are like Adam and Bran's.

It's also wonderful getting full on werewolf pack politics again! Especially from the point of view of a woman. Sure she's an Omega—no I won't ruin it for you—so the sexist rules of the other female members need not apply to her. Which is both cool and a bit of a shame that it won’t be explored. However, since she is a werewolf I have no doubt it will be brought up in future books.

Overall this is an excellent pre-series launch. It got my attention. Sadly it was so amazing it's probably why the first official book in the Alpha and Omega series was such a let down. (Who knows maybe I'll like it more on my reread. Because I can barely remember it!) It introduces an excellent power couple and I can't wait to see them actually fall in love. Because Mating in Briggs world isn’t like basic romance novel crap. Not to mention that Anna will be going up to the Marrok's territory. Oh. Yeah.

Sexual Content: Some sexual rumor, talk and mention of rape and sexual abuse. There’s a darker flavor to this book.

 
4/5- Great! Really enjoyed it.


Previous book(s) in series:
Reviewed on BW: Amazon: Goodreads:
Alpha & Omega (0.5)
Cry Wolf (1)
Hunting Ground (2)
Fair Game (3)
Dead Heat (4)
Untitled (5)
Alpha & Omega (0.5)
Cry Wolf (1)
Hunting Ground (2)
Fair Game (3)
Dead Heat (4)
Untitled (5)
Alpha & Omega (0.5)
Cry Wolf (1)
Hunting Ground (2)
Fair Game (3)
Dead Heat (4)
Untitled (5)

August 31, 2015

Cover Coveting (3)

 
Cover art is found from Wicked Scribes, ATUF, Goodreads, social networks, and other sources.
***All cover art may not be final.***

It’s a slow week! Sadly.


Circle of Jinn by Lori Goldstein

Previous book(s) in series:

Goodreads | Amazon


Circle of Jinn Series: Becoming Jinn, book 2

Add it: Goodreads | Amazon
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult

Shera’s thoughts:

Love the watermark design and the smoke. The rights are interesting, I’m going to guess that they mean something to the story.

The Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz

Previous book(s) in series:

Goodreads | Amazon


The Flux Series: ‘Mancer, book 2

Add it: Goodreads | Amazon
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult

Shera’s thoughts:

First off, that girls outfit looks bad. Her breasts look like they’re going to jump out and water boat someone. And her pants are freaky.

It keeps well with the first cover though.

Untaken by J.E. Anckorn

Previous book(s) in series:

Goodreads | Amazon


Untaken Series: N/A 

Add it: Goodreads | Amazon
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction (Dystopian)

Shera’s thoughts:

Oooooo! This cover is awesome! Just look at all the detail! And I love the burning typography.

This cover screams apocalyptic.

August 28, 2015

Review: Arrow’s Fall

Arrow’s Fall (Arrows of the Queen, book 3) by Mercedes Lackey

arrow's fall

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Edition Reviewed: eBook
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Goodreads: Arrow's Fall (3)

With Elspeth, the heir to the throne of Valdemar, come of marriageable age, Talia, the Queen's Own Herald returns to court to find Queen and heir beset by diplomatic intrigue as various forces vie for control of Elspeth's future.

But just as Talia is about to uncover the traitor behind all these intrigues, she is sent off on a mission to the neighboring kingdom, chosen by the Queen to investigate the worth of a marriage proposal from Prince Ancar.


Review:

This is the book that truly changed everything for me in the world of Valdemar.  The other two books clearly show how hard and trying the life a Herald is.  They emphasize how every Herald from 11-90 is ready to die for their country.  Lackey isn't afraid to kill off characters through the course of Arrows of the Queen and Arrow's Flight, but this one drives the knife home.

Talia is just coming back from her circuit run and will be joining the court as the official Queen's Own with her own vote and everything.  She still has to deal with the political drama that she had left behind, and the enemy in the dark who has been trying to chip away at her from the very first day she came to the Herald Collegium. Not only that but she has to deal with a proposal for the Princess (who still needs a little schooling in the sacrifices of being a Queen), her mentor Kris isn't happy with her, and her potential life-bonded partner is running away from her.  The drama is higher than ever, but Lackey handles it well.  Avoiding what could have been a cheesy soap opera.

Before long Talia and Kris have to go as ambassadors to a neighboring kingdom about the proposed proposal of marriage to the princess.  The events that unfold are clearly chilling as the truth behind everything comes stalking out of the dark.  Valdemar has been betrayed by one of it's very own, and dark power of the old Mages are coming out to threaten Valdemar.

The previous two books have brought me to silent tears, and many times watery eyes.  However this book will bring out sobs of loss as the true meaning and price of a Herald takes center stage.  Death isn't the hardest thing to deal with.  Talia is tortured mercilessly for the pleasure of sadists, raped, and left to the simple solution of suicide.  Even through it all her Herald duty keeps her alive. 

For fans of epic battles this last book in the Arrows series does a fine job of it.  There's resolve and hope at the end.  However, the new enemy of Valdemar is not done with them, and will clearly be popping up in Elspeth's(the Heir apparent) books.  From here I would highly suggest reading Vanyel's book in the Magic's Price series.  It may being going back in time, but it explains a lot of things about the loss of Herald-mages and the "protection" that Valdemar has.  It will also help greatly in Elpesth's Mage Wind series.

Sexual Content:

Rape, dirty humor, and violent torture.

 
5/5- Fabulous, a beautiful obsession!


Previous book(s) in series:
Reviewed on BW: Amazon: Goodreads:
Arrows of the Queen (1)
Arrow’s Flight (2)
Arrow’s Fall (3)
Arrows of the Queen (1)
Arrow’s Flight (2)
Arrow’s Fall (3)
Arrows of the Queen (1)
Arrow’s Flight (2)
Arrow’s Fall (3)

August 27, 2015

Review: Arrow’s Flight

Arrow’s Flight (Arrows of the Queen, book 2) by Mercedes Lackey

arrow's flight

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Edition Reviewed: eBook
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Goodreads: Arrow's Flight

Set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Valdemar, this unique and exciting novel continues the story of Talia. Having mastered the powers necessary to a guardian of the kingdom, she faces the final preparation for her initiation as adviser and protector of the Queen.


Review:

Talia's 4-5 years of Herald training has come to an end and she's finally getting into her whites.  Now all that's left is her 2 year circuit riding where she's partnered with a Senior Herald and learns to dispense justice.  As suits her upbringing she's put on a circuit that's right on the border of Valdemar near the Forest of Sorrow where the legendary Vanyel died and laid a curse upon the woods.

Talia's partnered with pretty boy Kris who is Talia's opposite.  He was born to a privileged elite family and is sheltered in the manners of border life and the hardships that the people have to deal with.  The two balance each other out nicely and Talia is good and knocking Kris off his pedestale of "women worship."  Kris has some inner depth that made me forget how conceded he could be at times.  Their relationship is put to the test as Kris tells Talia about some rumors about her misusing her Empath gift.  Spiraling her into a destructive state of mind that sends her emotions and powers against her.

It's definitely a good read dealing with the laws that need to be upheld in the rural areas.  Things as mundane as taxes to sadistic raping fathers.  Those scenes where thrilling and kept me guessing as the mundane and life threatening issues popped up to test Talia.  The thing that really slowed this read down—probably making it one of the less appreciated book in Talia's trilogy—is that a vast majority of the novel takes place in a Herald waystation where Talia and Kris are snowed in with their Companions and pack animals.  The two's relationship clearly grows and becomes something beautiful.  Looking back on my previous re-reads of this book I confess I never really appreciated the time spent with Talia getting retrained in her gift.  At times it can be a bit boring as they dig themselves out, survive getting snowed in, and the stress of Talia's out of control gifts and self-esteem.

Another thing that was fantastic about Arrow's Flight is the sexual relationship.  Lackey shows readers that love can develop between two people/characters with out it being some kind of huge "soulmate" thing.  They share something sweet and endearing, but still can manage to remain friends.  It was one of the first love scenes I had read, up until then male authors I had been reading had kisses then implied that the two had a slept together.  Even today I will say that the love scenes are nicely done.  They don't have the graphic detail that some of todays writers go into detail about, but it definitely gets the deed done.  Lackey doesn't gloss over the bits about Talia's lost virginity nor does she paint her ladies who enjoy a little bedroom time as sluts.  After all a little randiness among Heralds is quite fine.

Just like in the first book Lackey uses her page time wisely.  Characters from the previous book still get page time and their stories told even if they never make an appearance.  The plot may not be as complicated as the first book, but this one still manages perfectly with the political drama even though the two are out in the middle of no where.  Key things are still being setup even if there was some isolation time for the characters.

This may be the slowest book in the Arrows of the Queen trilogy, but it's still well worth the read.  Talia's journey to become Queen's Own is finally truly beginning, and the emotional growth helps to show Talia that she needs to accept help from other people.  The adventure clearly shows the tough decisions that Heralds have to deal with even if they aren't the Queen's Own.  It also emphasizes the different types of love that people can feel for friends with out turning into a soap fest.

Sexual Content: There is no mistaking what's going on, but it's clearly not as graphic as some of the newer books out there.  Again there are some homosexual themes, though not with the main character.

 
4/5- Great! Really enjoyed it.


Previous book(s) in series:
Reviewed on BW: Amazon: Goodreads:
Arrows of the Queen (1)
Arrow’s Flight (2)
Arrow’s Fall (3)
Arrows of the Queen (1)
Arrow’s Flight (2)
Arrow’s Fall (3)
Arrows of the Queen (1)
Arrow’s Flight (2)
Arrow’s Fall (3)

August 26, 2015

Wednesday Wishes

Well it’s time to wish for more books! Now to resist the temptation to not buy!


Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine

Of Dreams and RustGet it: Amazon | Goodreads
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Of Metal and Wishes, book 1

War erupts in this bittersweet sequel to "Of Metal and Wishes", inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and called “relentlessly engrossing” by The Romantic Times.

In the year since the collapse of the slaughterhouse where Wen worked as her father’s medical assistant, she’s held all her secrets close. She works in the clinic at the weapons factory and sneaks away to nurse Bo, once the Ghost, now a boy determined to transform himself into a living machine. Their strange, fragile friendship soothes some of the ache of missing Melik, the strong-willed Noor who walked away from Wen all those months ago—but it can’t quell her fears for him.

The Noor are waging a rebellion in the west. When she overhears plans to crush Melik’s people with the powerful war machines created at the factory, Wen makes the painful decision to leave behind all she has known—including Bo—to warn them. But the farther she journeys into the warzone, the more confusing things become. A year of brutality seems to have changed Melik, and Wen has a decision to make about him and his people: How much is she willing to sacrifice to save them from complete annihilation?

Oooo, it’s so pretty! And it comes out this month. I’ve been meaning to buy the first book. So with this release I want both of them even more!

Tether by Anna Jarzab

tetherGet it: Amazon | Goodreads
Genre: Many-Worlds Trilogy, book 2
Series: Young Adult Science Fiction

Tether, the sequel to Tandem, continues the captivating tale of rebellion and romance that spans parallel worlds.

Everything repeats.

Sasha expected things to go back to normal once she got back on Earth. But now that she knows parallel worlds are real, and that an alternate version of herself exists in a world called Aurora, her old life no longer seems to make sense . . . and her heart breaks daily for Thomas, the boy she left behind. Troubled by mysterious, often terrifying visions and the echoes of a self she was just beginning to discover, Sasha makes the difficult decision to journey once more through the tandem.

Thomas is waiting for her on the other side, and so is strange, otherworldly Selene, Sasha’s analog from a third universe. Sasha, Selene, and their other analog, Juliana, have a joint destiny, and a new remarkable power, one that could mean salvation for Selene’s dying planet. With Thomas’s help, Sasha and Selene search for the missing Juliana. But even if they can locate her, is Sasha willing to turn her back on love to pursue a fate she’s not sure she believes in?

I keep hearing amazing things about the first book, and the covers are so compelling.

August 25, 2015

Review: Shards of Hope

Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling, book 14) by Nalini Singh

shards-of-hope

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Edition Reviewed: eBook
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Goodreads: Shards of Hope (14)

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action” of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races…

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.


Review:

It's so surprising to find out that a romance between two Arrows can feel so sweet and innocent. While I found myself a hair's breath away from being all consumed with fiery passion, I found myself happy to be in the middle of an adorable romance. Which is funny because Zaira is is one tough cookie, and refers to herself as a monster throughout the book. She's intense, scary sometimes, and thinks a bit differently. But I stand by what I say. The romance between both Aden and Zaira is adorable.

Maybe that's because both never got to experience true childhoods and with both their personalities they can see their love—and one another—in childish wonder. Especially since they both see the dark side of the world. The terrors and horrors. Zaira's selfishness and fire balances out Aden's over protectiveness and care for others. That's not to say they’re not great people. Zaira is amazing and I have to be honest the way she kept saying she was a monster got old fast. Because it's clear that she is a wonderful person and she cares deeply about others. Maybe it's just the contrast of how Silence made her believe that by defending herself as a child she was evil. I liked that Aden pushed her and let her know that he wanted her. However, it was Zaira observing her own actions that made her think that maybe she wasn't a monster. That’s not to say she doesn’t get scary violent.

Shards of Hope excellently displays the world after Silence has fallen and the Psy are taking tentative steps into their new hope. With the Empaths at the center of it, and the Arrows finding there footing in the world. It's a beautiful thing to see Aden's dreams for his Arrows. How he wants them to be more. To be a family. Much how Snowdancer and DarkRiver are. It's haunting and touching to see how not only the children can find hope and a new life, but the senior Arrows. It was fabulous to see the children become children. And the adult Arrows start to thaw out. To see some romances spark up! To just see the joy. Even as some very dark events haunt the squad as Aden tries to lead them into the brighter future.

This book is definitely an intro into the new world that the Psy/Changeling books are going. As well as a stepping stone as a new enemy appears on the horizon, The Consortium. They're crafty, and while are heroes come out on top this round it's clear that the Consortium is quite the enemy. They have learned from the Pure Psy and the Council's mistakes. It's also really fun trying to guess who might be the mastermind behind it all. (Come on we all had fun speculating who the Ghost could be, even after knowing 100% who it was.) It was like watching a crazy, and more exciting, game of chess. There were some devastating moments.

Oh, and RainFire is introduced. A new group of cats who are trying to setup and build their own pack! I loved how they helped inspire Aden and became allies. The members presented are characters I hope to see in future books. I have my fingers crossed.

Overall Singh does it again. I know a lot of readers are complaining about how it's a basic romance story. You know the two characters involved are going to end up together by the end of the book. However, Singh puts so much emotion into it I never get tired. Each new couple stand out. No two characters can be mistaken for the other. Plus, the world building is so fantastic that it not only influences the characters, but is influenced by them. I love how intricate the world is. How dedicated Singh is to the story, right down to the politics! Not to mention the dynamics between humans, Psy, and Changelings. It's all so believable, and I'm invested. Shards of Hope is very much a book of hope. For those who believe they're damaged and can no longer be human, the hope for a brighter future, the hope that the three races can truly interact together, and hope itself. I enjoy how much attention and importance Singh's books are about family and friends. The different aspects of them. Those values and ideas definitely shine here. Bravo! This series, and the world, is not running out of steam.

(For me the amount of characters and all the cameos are a treat! I love seeing all my beloved characters come back. However, there are a lot of characters and sometimes the guide at the front is not enough. Check out Wicked Scribe's character guide if you need to brush up. I know sometimes my brain stalls out. Especially with a year in between installments.)

Sexual Content: Some sex scenes, not as naughty as other installments. Sexual humor as well.

 
4/5- Great! Really enjoyed it.


Previous book(s) in series:
Reviewed on BW: Amazon: Goodreads:

An Enchanted Season (.5)
Burning Up (.6)
Slave to Sensation (1)
The Cannibal Princess(1.5)
Visions of Heat (2)
Caressed by Ice (3)
Stroke of Enticement (3.5)
Mine to Possess (4) 
A Conversation (4.5)
Hostage to Pleasure (5)
A Gift for Kit (5.5)
Movie Night (5.6) 
Branded by Fire (6)
The Party (6.5) 
Blaze of Memory (7) 
Christmas in the Kitchen (7.5)
Bonds of Justice (8)
Play of Passion (9)
Wolf School (9.1)
Kiss of Snow (10)
Wild Invitation
(.5, 3.5, 9.5, 10.5)
Tangle of Need (11)
Poker Night (11.1)
Stalking Hawke (11.2)
Heart of Obsidian (12) 
Shield of Winter (13) 
Shards of Hope  (14) 

An Enchanted Season (.5)
Burning Up (.6)
Slave to Sensation (1)
The Cannibal Princess(1.5)
Visions of Heat (2)
Caressed by Ice (3)
Stroke of Enticement (3.5)
Mine to Possess (4)
A Conversation (4.5)
Hostage to Pleasure (5)
A Gift for Kit (5.5)
Movie Night (5.6)
Branded by Fire (6)
The Party (6.5)
Blaze of Memory (7)
Christmas in the Kitchen (7.5)
Bonds of Justice (8)
Play of Passion (9)
Wolf School (9.1)
Kiss of Snow (10)
Wild Invitation
(.5, 3.5, 9.5, 10.5)
Tangle of Need (11)
Poker Night (11.1)
Stalking Hawke (11.2)
Heart of Obsidian (12)
Shield of Winter (13) 
Shards of Hope (14)
An Enchanted Season (.5)
Burning Up (.6)
Slave to Sensation (1)
The Cannibal Princess(1.5)
Visions of Heat (2)
Caressed by Ice (3)
Stroke of Enticement (3.5)
Mine to Possess (4)
A Conversation (4.5)
Hostage to Pleasure (5)
A Gift for Kit (5.5)
Movie Night (5.6)
Branded by Fire (6)
The Party (6.5)
Blaze of Memory (7)
Christmas in the Kitchen (7.5)
Bonds of Justice (8) 
Play of Passion (9)
Wolf School (9.1)
Kiss of Snow (10)
Wild Invitation
(.5, 3.5, 9.5, 10.5)
Tangle of Need (11)
Poker Night (11.1)
Stalking Hawke (11.2)
Heart of Obsidian (12)
Shield of Winter (13)
Shards of Hope (14)
 

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