REVIEW: “Driven” by Kelley Armstrong

Review of A review by Amanda.

Driven is a new story in the author’s popular Otherworld series. This book stars the infamous werewolf Pack of Elena Michael and Clayton Danvers. Former Pack leader Jeremy has avoided confronting his abusive, manipulating father for decades. Malcolm is requesting permission to rejoin the Pack and as Pack Alpha, Elena has to make the difficult decision. No one trusts him, and for good reason. Malcolm terrified those who were close to him, and found far too much pleasure in torturing those who crossed him. Elena walks a fine line, and ultimately must allow Malcolm into the Pack as an enforcer, albeit with several strict conditions. He is given an opportunity to prove himself when they are called to investigate members of a clan of mutts – werewolves who are not part of a Pack – who are being murdered in horrific ways.

Davis Cain is not like the rest of the Cain werewolf clan. He wants to attend college and looks for ways to better himself. He enjoys learning, even when his thirst for knowledge earns him nothing but ridicule from his cruel, ignorant family. He may not have much in common with them, but he still feels horror and sadness at the deaths of his family members. He makes the decision to call the Pack and ask for their help in finding out who is hunting Cains, hopefully before Davis ends up dead.

As a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, I enjoyed this peek into Elena and Clayton’s lives. It isn’t a long story; lengthwise it is between a novella and a full novel. Readers do not need to be caught up with the rest of the series, but knowledge of Elena and Clay’s relationship is helpful. The author does an excellent job of providing any relevant information necessary to help the reader make sense of the story. The book focuses more on the interactions between characters than the mystery. This doesn’t detract from the story at all. It managed to hook me back into the universe that the author has built, and I plan on tracking down the previous stories to catch up. There is a minor crossover to her YA series, Darkest Powers, which is set in the same world. I recommend the Otherworld series to anyone who enjoys the urban fantasy genre. Fans of Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, J.R. Ward, and Charlaine Harris might want to give these books a try.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review of “The Consequence of Revenge” by Rachel Van Dyken

Review of "The Consequence of Revenge" by Rachel Van Dyken A review by Maria.

Max Emory was my favorite character in the first book of author Rachel Van Dyken’s Consequence series, The Consequence of Loving Colton. I fell in love with him even more in his own story: The Consequence of Revenge.

Max is treading water in the pool of life. He loved and lost his best friend to another man. He has no plans to take a job and start living his life again. He’s been considering taking up permanent residence on his couch. He even stops acting out his womanizing ways. His closest friends decide he needs a push back into the real world and secretly sign him up to be the next bachelor on the reality show Love Island. Max is furious and tries to find a way out of the contract they’d forged on his behalf. Seeing no way out of the show, Max heads to paradise with twenty-four possibly insane women to try to survive and possibly fall in love. He never counted on finding Becca, a barista who had spurned his advances in the past.

As I’ve stated, Max continues to be my favorite character from Van Dyken’s incredible cast of characters. He is smart, wealthy, devastatingly handsome and incredibly laugh-until-it-hurts funny. In this 2nd Consequence book, he is finally allowed to bring his A-game. He brings nothing but laughter as he navigates through a handsy doctor, a brother hell-bent on revenge, a demanding director, twenty-four crazy women, overcoming his intense fear of goats, and having every second of his life filmed for national television.

I must give a shout out to the hilarious cast of side characters from book one that were heavily featured in this book as well. Reid continues to be a pain for his brother Max, and even becomes part of the television crew to try and get revenge on him for a hilarious incident with some gas inducing gummy bears. Best gal pal, Milo with her new husband Colt make appearances, along with Milo’s brother and Max’s new closest friend, Jason. These four characters complete what Max fondly calls his gang. All of their interactions with him whether they involve gummy bears, prostate exams, pick-up contests, or vetting the women on reality television are down right rib-cracking funny.

The Consequence of Revenge was a very fast paced book for the most part. It began to drag a little bit during the scenes on the island but more characters arrived so it picked up the pace again. Van Dyken was continued to keep the novel witty, funny, and full of surprises.

So many scenes in this book literally had me falling out of my chair laughing, that before I was even a hundred pages through the novel I was already recommending it to all my friends! This romantic comedy is appropriate for adult readers.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review: “A Mad Zombie Party (White Rabbit Chronicles #4)” By Gena Showalter

"A Mad Zombie Party (White Rabbit Chronicles #4)" By Gena Showalter

 A review by Domoni.

Ali Bell and the slayers put everything into defeating Anima, losing people they loved and constantly facing injury or death. They thought they had finally won, even though that victory cost them more than they thought they could pay. Frosty has lost his way. The formidable slayer doesn’t know how to go on after losing the one thing that meant everything to him.  His friends are all worried but nothing they say or do makes a difference. When Kat comes to him he thinks he may be able to pick up the pieces after all. He would do anything for her, anything for her time and smile. When she tells him to save Camilla Marks, the woman he blames for everything, he has to push through the anger to let go of the pain.

This is the fourth novel in the White Rabbit Chronicles. If you haven’t read them, they are an interesting take on zombies. The first three books focus more on Ali Bell and Cole Holland. Their relationship and Ali’s special abilities are the main focus of the stories.  This book’s focus on Frosty was not what I was expecting.  Frosty is a strong character though, and after his loss I knew that there would be a need to focus on how he dealt with that loss. Though for me, this book felt strange. I really feel like it would have served better as a first story in a secondary series.  In a few ways it felt like it was written by a different author all together, one that was not as familiar with the first three books.

To start with, Ali Bell’s personality was vastly different in this book. It was like she had become Kat. She was more quick on the ball with vain sarcasm. Perhaps this could be attributed to the evolution of the character, but it seems to have happened at some point between books. Only a few months passed between books and suddenly Reeve is filling the role of doctor and scientist in the place of her father, yet these kids haven’t finished high school. Then we bring in Camilla Marks; this is the part that made it hard for me to finish the book. Ali used her ability to remove Camilla’s memories in the third book. Readers have been shown previously how the memories can be recovered, however the author never addresses it. She mentions River banished Camilla for what she did, but never mentions how she has recovered her memories. I really felt like I was reading a confused fanfic. Which made me sad because I loved the three previous books.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “Black Widow Volume 1: A Finely Woven Thread” by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto

 

Review of Black Widow Volume 1: A Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. A review by Courtney.

This volume has been sitting on my shelf for a while, and for some reason I just kept putting off reading it. I picked it up because of the hype of the Avengers, and Black Widow’s story has always been really intriguing to me. Black Widow is the most human of the Avengers in that she doesn’t have any superpowers, she isn’t a god and she doesn’t have a super suit. I was very curious about what a solo Black Widow story would entail. I was also initially concerned with the art in the this book; under the wrong hand Natasha could have been turned into just a boring sex symbol and I was really hoping that would not be the case.

Black Widow starts off full of action and with a bang. We quickly learn though that her driving purpose in life is not revenge but redemption, which is refreshing in light of the expanse of super heroes motivated by revenge stories currently circulating. Natasha (Black Widow) does not let anyone decide her moral compass as she rights the wrongs she can. We learn that she is supporting a number of people financially which is part of why she takes her assassin jobs. This volume also explored an interesting idea of what “home” is and how you end up caring even when you try hard not to.

One of my favorite things about this book is the art. I don’t think I’ve ever really raved about art in a comic book as much as I do about the art in this book. The pages look like they’ve been painted and it gives Natasha a much more down-to-earth-real-vibe. I also enjoyed that in this volume there are no love interests, it’s very much a redemption, figuring your sh*t out story. I liked that she was flawed and had trouble trusting her own instincts sometimes even when she knew better. Natasha kicks a lot of butt as well and there is plenty of action for those that need it. I was surprised at how much I related to Natasha, but her unrealized search for home and belonging really resonated with me.

I really enjoyed Volume 1 and will try to get my hands on Volume 2 when I can because I am intrigued about her journey and look forward to seeing where Natasha goes next. I would recommend this book to ages 14 and up because of the level of violence. If you enjoyed Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, I would consider picking this up because there were Hawkeye vibes periodically.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR: Review: “Running In The Dark” by Inger Iversen

RunningInTheDark

 A review by Maria.

I would first like to thank author Inger Iversen for letting me be a part of her book tour and review her novel Running In The Dark.

Trace is a dhampir, the offspring of a vampire father and human mother. He lives with one foot in the vampire world and one foot out of it as a consequence of birth. His job is to keep the vampire world a secret from humans and in doing so he often has to kill. He protects vampires who seek an end to their eternal life, and kills anyone who might witness their end. Bessina is such a witness and it’s Trace’s job to kill her after she witnessed the suicide of two vampires. However Trace finds himself drawn to Bessina and wanting to protect her instead of kill her. Now Trace and Bessina are on a wild ride to escape Trace’s employer who is set on finishing the job.

The novel was short and the pacing was extremely fast. It only took me a little more than an hour to read the whole book. At the beginning I enjoyed the pacing but then it started to work against the book. I felt like not enough time was spent on developing the story and the characters. While the premise was promising, not enough of the world was explored, The book felt like a short quick introduction into what could have been a fascinating paranormal society.

The character development was equally as short. While I felt I had some understanding of who Bessina and Trace were as individuals, more time was spent on developing Bessina’s character through her relationship with her family and trauma in her past. She was strong and willing to do the right thing even in the face of danger. She was also traumatized by rape in her past, so having the love story and scenes develop as quickly as they did didn’t sit well with me as a reader. I did like how real feelings took a long time to develop but having been traumatized and then have Trace be sent to kill her. It would have been more believable to have this character wait to know Trace better before becoming physical with him.

Trace still remained very much a mystery for this book. I understood that he was a loyal to his people and the vampire/dhampir society and the need for keeping it a secret. It was believable that the murders he had to commit as a price of keeping this secret would have started to weigh on him. But a little more backstory on him and also on his world would have made me care for him more as the leading male character.

Many parts to this book showed quite a bit of promise. It kept me both entertained, intrigued, and wanting more. I’m hoping this book was more of an introduction to this world and Trace and Bessina and that their story isn’t over yet.

I believe this story might be classified as a young adult book. However I don’t believe it’s appropriate for younger teenage audiences. It might be appropriate for older ones but it does deal with mature sexual situations and graphic violence.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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RunningInTheDarkTourBanner

Welcome to my tour stop for for The Soul Summoner by Elicia Hyder. This is an adult contemporary fantasy. The tour runs November 9-20 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and exceluring as he is terrifying–shows up at her doorstep with a dark past and another puzzling mystery: she can’t see his soul at all.

Now, Sloan is on the hunt for a deadly psychopath with two irresistible men. One of them would die for her, and the other would kill to keep her safe.
***


Inger(1)

AUTHOR BIO:
Inger Iversen was born in 1982 to Anne and Kaii Iversen. She lives in Virginia Beach with her overweight lap cat, Max and her tree hugging boyfriend Joshua. She spends 90 percent of her time in Barnes and Noble and the other ten pretending not to want to be in Barnes and Noble.
Author links:
GIVEAWAY:
$25 Amazon Gift Card, a signed copy of Running in the Dark, + a Diary String Key Retro Vintage Classic Leather Bound Notebook, Dark Coffee
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Xpresso Book Tours

Review: “The Axe Factor” by Colin Cotterill

The Axe Factor by Colin CotterillA review by Hannah.

Jimm Juree was a crime reporter in the big city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, until her family moves to a rural village in southern Thailand.  Now, she splits her time between running the family resort, editing the English signs in the area, freelancing for the local paper, and stumbling upon mysteries.  She is assigned to interview a farang (European) author who writes award winning murder mysteries.  At the same time several local women have left town abruptly, leaving their possessions behind.  Among these women is the author’s young Thai wife and a local doctor.  With a severe storm coming in, can Jimm Juree solve the mystery and save the day?

Jimm is an excellent guide to Southern Thailand.  Even though Maprao, the small village she now lives in, is a fairly backward place, there is a wry fondness in the way Jimm sees her new home.   The joy of riding her bike in the rain, the frustration of trying to find a solid internet connection, and the nosiness of her neighbors all add up to a charmingly rural fishing village.

Jimm loves her country, but she is very aware of its shortcomings.  From the English signs so badly translated that they’re comical, to the blatant corruption of the local authorities, Jimm doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is.  The author’s depiction of Thailand is done in such a way that the foreign is familiar.  As a reader, you get to experience a new country without feeling like a tourist.

Jimm is lead to believe one thing while the reader is lead to believe another.  Both the Jimm and the reader are wrong in the best way possible.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Goldenfire: A Darkhaven Novel” by AFE Smith

Review of Goldenfire (The Darkhaven Novels, Book 2) by A.F.E. SMithA review by Vanessa.

First of all I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to continue reviewing this fantastic series. Goldenfire is the second installment of the Darkhaven series, the first of which I reviewed last year in July.

Spoiler alert! If you have not read the first book I strongly suggest it!

Ayla Nightshade has ruled over Arkannen and all of Mirrorvale for the past three years since the death of her father and brother. Her rescuer and lover Tomas Caraway is Captain of the Helm, leader of the guard that protects her. As a Changer creature, Ayla has strength unlike any human being. But with the recent discovery of firearms and their deadly effects, threats to the Nightshade line have become palpable. Despite that, Ayla is determined to live her life and rule her land in a fair and just way, and undo the cruel reign of her father. Most of all she wants to enjoy her new found freedoms to do as she wants, and to love whom she wants. Even so, the tragic and terrifying events of three years past are still with her. Tomas plays surrogate father to Ayla’s young nephew Marlon, but to her he is a painful reminder of her older brother. Ayla, who refuses to be at the mercy of anyone ever again, has convinced Tomas to train her in fighting and combat so that she can defend herself even in human form. Every day Ayla wonders about her young half brother, if she will ever see him again, and what will become of the Nightshade line.

Tomas Caraway never wanted to be the hero of Darkhaven. But he believes his desire to serve the Nightshade line, and to protect the woman who holds his heart, makes him the best man to Captain the Helm. When he receives a message from an old mercenary friend that tells of a real threat of assassination for Ayla, he knows in his gut that it is real. He will doing anything necessary to protect Ayla, whether she wants it or not. In Arkannen, a ragtag band of miscreants have arrived at the fifth ring to try their hand at becoming Helmsman. As the Captain this means Tomas will be busy with training, and a few surprises from the group. As Ayla’s protector he also knows that group is the perfect place for an assassin to try to infiltrate Darkhaven. And if the assassin finds a way to bring a gun to that fight, Ayla might not stand a chance.

Once again Smith delivers a wonderfully varied cast of characters to fall in love with, root for, and distrust. It’s a delightful mix of new characters, and repeat characters, as well as the chance to get to know some previous characters more thoroughly. The addition of the new recruits gives some significantly more in depth understanding of the people of Mirrorvale. Each of the young trainees is there for their own reasons, and readers will be able to dive into and enjoy their experiences and perspectives as much as those of the main characters. The leading romantic couple, Ayla and Tomas, have grown so much and still maintain an interesting point of romantic entanglement without dragging down the movement of the story. Even the adventurous mercenary Naeve Sorrow carries some of the action in the story and her part is woven into the rest in seamless intrigue. New characters to love, new mysteries to solve, and even more to learn about the fascinating city of Arkennan. Well done!

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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