Review: “Ride the Storm (Cassandra Palmer #8)” by Karen Chance

Review:

A review by Amanda.

This review contains spoilers from the previous books in this series.

Ride the Storm picks up right where the last book ended. Cassie is still chasing after Pritkin’s soul with Rosier, hoping to counter the deadly curse that has been cast on the rugged war mage. Cassie’s court had just been attacked, and losses and injuries are everywhere. Betrayal from those she has been trying to help has affected Cassie’s usual good spirits. Even vampire master Mircea is struggling to recover from the recent events. Cassie is yanked back and forth in time, shifting from Arthurian times, where they have tracked down a young Pritkin and are awaiting the arrival of his soul, to present day at Dante’s, where the attacks keep coming from all sides. Exhausting both the Pythia power and her personal energy takes its toll, with devastating consequences. An unexpected revelation from a trusted person in her small circle of allies has Cassie (and readers) questioning everything that has happened since the events set in motion in the very first book.

This book is an absolute whirlwind of action and exposition. The first half of the story is nonstop action, with a few too many back-and-forth shifts, making it difficult to follow. No rest for our protagonist means no rest for readers. It feels as though the author tried to fit two books’ worth of plot into one book. Thankfully, the story slows down a bit and the pace evens out by the second half. Long-awaited answers to burning questions come to light, and the romantic entanglement that Cassie has found herself in might finally be unraveling. While some long-standing issues get wrapped up, others, frustratingly, do not. Cassie heroically maintains her snarky and irreverent sense of humor despite the adversity. There are a couple of steamy sex scenes, although these are somewhat mild compared to previous books. I, for one, am looking forward to the next book with the great hope that we won’t be strung along for too much longer (at least in certain areas). While the convolution of the first half of this book did affect my overall rating, the second half still makes it worth reading.

If you would like to start this series from the beginning, book one is Touch the Dark. Karen Chance also has a crossover series, featuring characters we know and love (or hate), and exciting new ones. The first book is Midnight’s Daughter.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Losing It” by Cora Carmack

Review: "Losing It” by Cora Carmack

A review by Vanessa.

I purchased this book on Amazon after finding Cora Carmack as a New York Times Best Seller, because sometimes we have to remember that the commercially popular authors are the ones that keep us all in business.

Being a theater major is hard, stressful work. The only thing even more stressful for Bliss Edwards is explaining to her best friend Kelsey why it is that at 22 years old, she is still a virgin. Because the reality is that Bliss is a bit of a control freak, and her lack of confidence in her abilities has kept her at “not ready” status for a long time. She is not really ready to graduate in one semester. She certainly isn’t ready for Kelsey’s reaction, which is to drag Bliss out to the nearest bar and proceed with finding her someone to help her lose it, and quick. But Bliss is tired of the stress and the worry and the wondering why she hasn’t just done it, so she decides to just do it. Just find a guy, and get it over with. The only other thing she is not ready for is Garrick.

The beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed, British man reading Shakespeare in the back of the bar catches Bliss’s eye, and completely turns her on in a way she never has been before. But when it comes to crunch time, Bliss can’t go through with it. For one thing she still isn’t ready, and for another she actually really likes Garrick. Rather than explain the truth and deal with the situation, Bliss gives an awkward lie and bolts. She’s ready to pretend it never happened until she makes it to the first day of spring term the next morning. Guess who is the new professor of Senior prep class? Of course it’s the recently-finished-with-graduate-school, former alumni, gorgeous man whom Bliss had just left naked and wanting in bed. But not only is he just as sweet and charming as he had been before the debacle, he actually seems to like her. Is he worth a risk that might get them both into a lot of trouble? When other people’s hearts are thrown into the mix as well, will Bliss finally let go and make a bold choice for what she really wants?

A very engaging read, this book is satisfyingly predictable while also maintaining a status as refreshing and entertaining. Bliss is a very real character, with oodles of self doubt that any reader can relate to. Though her existence is very mainstream, in a social setting where virginity is something to be ashamed of while feminine sexuality is also something to feel shame about, Bliss finds her own way through. She uses her emotions to fuel her acting in a way that it is very easy to respect, and makes her an entirely likable character. Garrick is a very real character as well. He is completely straightforward, and very honest in his pursuit of Bliss. He does not play games, or throw around his authority over her. Their romance is tension filled, but also toe-curling. This book definitely falls on the side of cliche when it comes to the overall story as the romantic aspect dominates the story arc. There were some larger themes that I think could have been better embraced, while still paying proper tribute to the romance that was obviously the major focus of the book. A few things came a little too easily, but all in all it was still good writing and an entertainingly sexy read. I am very interested to read the next book in the series, Faking It.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J Maas

A review by Amanda.

Nineteen year old Feyre is the sole provider for her family. Her father is unable to work after losing the family’s fortune and his merchant business in a risky venture. Feyre’s two older sisters seem content to live off of what meager rations and coins her hunting brings in, while giving only bitterness and indifference in return. Feyre is accustomed to burying her hurt and anger under a mask of ice and is marking time until her sisters can be married off to become someone else’s burden. She longs to be free of her responsibilities but a vow made to her dying mother keeps her stuck in place.

Everything changes when Feyre hunts too close to the border between her human village and Prythian, a land of myth and magic ruled by faeries. Retribution comes in the form of Tamlin, a powerful faerie lord with a cold, secretive demeanor who gives Feyre a choice between death or captivity. She chooses to become his prisoner to live out her life in Prythian in hopes that escape might someday be an option. She does not expect to enjoy the beauty of Tamlin’s estate,nor to develop friendships with the faeries who reside there. She does not expect that the real danger of Prythian may be one that isn’t from the legends with which she is familiar.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a beautiful reimagining of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. The inspiration is clear while reading, but Feyre’s story is uniquely her own. Feyre is a wonderful protagonist. She is rough around the edges, distrusting of everyone and everything, and incredibly stubborn. Her strengths and weaknesses are rounded out, making her into a whole person. At no point is she a damsel in distress, although she is put into dangerous situations, some of which require help from others for her to survive.

Romance has a natural progression in this story, and is given enough weight to feel real, but not so much that it overshadows everything else. The world-building is seamless and beautiful. The plot is character-driven, and perfectly paced. Supporting characters are well-rounded and given plenty of agency, although there is a lack of diversity in both ethnicity and sexual orientation. Future books may address this issue. There is some violence in this story but nothing terribly graphic. There are a couple of consensual sexual encounters, as well as some non-consensual touching and kissing (again, not too graphic), but without compromising the integrity of the story or the characters. Fans of the author’s other series Throne of Glass and fans of authors Cinda Williams Chima, Marissa Meyer, and Cassandra Clare may enjoy this book. Book two, A Court of Mist and Fury has been released in hardcover. The third book, A Court of Wind and Ruin, will be released on May 2nd.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “At First Blush” by Beth Ellyn Summer

Review:

A review by Amanda.

At seventeen, Lacey Robbins has her future all planned out. She has spent years developing LaceyBlushes, her makeup tutorial channel on YouTube, although her romantic life has suffered a bit because of it. Her dedication has earned Lacey a coveted summer internship at On Trend, an online magazine. The internship could help Lacey reach her goals of finding sponsors for her channel and landing a contract with Glass Cube, a marketing and talent management company for YouTube. Life is looking bright for Lacey as well as her best friend Cynth who has the chance to intern for a late night show across the street. In a bid to help Lacey let some romance into her life, Cynth makes a bargain with her – she will accept the internship with the late night show if Lacey will flirt with hot guys at On Trend. Lacey reluctantly agrees, if only to ensure that Cynth takes the job. Little does Lacey know, the hottest guy at On Trend turns out to be their surprise guest editor and cover feature, musician Tyler Lance, whose reputation as a narcissistic party boy does not impress her. Add in a sponsorship from a subpar makeup company, family stress, and the struggle to keep her fans happy, and Lacey may have to reevaluate her life plan.

At first glance, this book may appear to be superficial and silly, like just another frilly story about a teenage girl falling for the cute boy. By the end of chapter one, however, Lacey has shown her potential to be a fully realized, multidimensional character. Her passion for makeup is not borne from a desire to simply look pretty; she has a natural eye and a deep appreciation for presentation and aesthetics. Lacey has found a way to turn her love of beauty into a profitable career, and she has sacrificed other aspects of a well-rounded life to make it happen. She has a genuine enjoyment of the process as well, from choosing the tutorials, to staging the background, filming, and interacting with her subscribers. While many adults consider teenaged girls to be silly and inconsequential, Lacey showcases the reality that girls can have ambition and goals beyond dating and boys. While there is romance in this story, it doesn’t dominate the plot. It is balanced nicely with both obstacles and pleasant surprises, and serves more as a metaphor for unexpected disruptions to even the best laid plans. The supporting characters have a realistic vibe and provide both drama and relief in Lacey’s life. There are some very minor cliché aspects, mostly regarding the romantic drama, and this is not a book that is full of dramatic plot twists but that does not take away from the enjoyment of the story. This is the first book from author Beth Ellyn Summer, and I will happily read future books.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Beauty and the Book Boyfriend” by K.M. Galvin

BOOK TOUR Review:

A review by Brit.

Bellamy Strong has it all. She’s the author of a bestselling series, and she’s about to embark on an epic book tour/road trip with her best friend (who also happens to be her assistant and publicist). It’s a bit surreal that this all happened because of the book series she wrote in high school. Her social anxiety and self-image as a “nerdy girl” have made her feel like an awkward person to this day. Though she’s going to have to get over that soon when she meets Caleb—the tall, golden and handsome man who’s accompanying her on the road trip. He’s being paid to pose as her protagonist’s love interest, i.e. the character she created to be her image of the perfect man.

Caleb is a model, but not the kind of model you would expect him to be. He’s gorgeous but also acutely aware of how he’s perceived by everyone around him. His attraction to Bellamy is first fostered by a desire to protect her from her own social anxiety. But as time goes on, he truly admires Bellamy’s work at such a young age and can’t believe she doesn’t regard herself as highly as everyone else who knows her. The result is a detour from the romance-as-self-esteem stereotype that can happen when the main character is painted as an ugly duckling. Caleb’s affection for Bellamy grows alongside her coming to terms with her own social anxiety. It inspires him to show off his own nuance.

The plot was against the grain for a romance book, especially for an unlikely lover plot. There were moments where I didn’t truly buy the extent of Caleb’s physical lust for her. The “I love you” moment also felt like the author wanted it to happen but it wasn’t natural to the characters. But Caleb and Bellamy’s buildup and the head-over-heels nature of it all felt very natural. Every character has something to like about them, and the road trip nature of the story worked very well for getting to know them. Galvin has built a very natural relationship that i hope will come back in future books.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review- Beauty and the Book Boyfriend by K.M. Galvin

About the Book

Title: Beauty and the Book Boyfriend

Author: K.M. Galvin

Genre: Contemporary Romance

When Bellamy Strong started writing, it wasn’t with the intention of becoming the next phenomenon. It was…to be blunt she had no friends. School is rough on the anti-social. It’s even harder publishing your books and the world decides it wants a piece of you.

Now her series is ending and her publisher is demanding she show up for her fans. End her reclusive persona. A three month, worldwide book tour dressed as Makyla, the lead character in her book. As for Maxsen, the love interest, her fans pick model Caleb Pace to play the role during a casting contest. No big deal right?

What happens when your fantasy comes to life and turns out better than you imagined?


**Recommended for ages 18 and up**

Author Bio

K.M. has a coffee addiction that’s just begging for an intervention and an obsession with music that borders on unhealthy. She’s undefeated in the Office trivia and looking for her own Ron Swanson while she writes. The entire Twenty-Something series is now available.

Links

Twitter: @kelsiegalvin
Instagram: @authorkmg
Website: http://kelsiegalvin.wix.com/kmgalvin
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7750593.K_M_Galvin
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/K.M.-Galvin/e/B00I80Z2JI

Preorder on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJ7Y6MT/

Book Excerpt:

Growling under my breath, I bend down and begin shoving my stuff back into my bag.

“Here, you forgot this,” a deep voice says from behind me. Still crouched, I spin on the balls of my feet and immediately fall flat on my ass when I see who’s behind me.

Standing above me is Max. My Max. But that’s not possible, right? Maybe I’m having a psychotic break; the stress of the series is causing me to hallucinate.

Max bends down, bringing us to eye level. His face is millimeters from mine. He lets out a breath and it washes over me. Actual breath. From his lungs. In. My. Face. I gulp in air, finally able to breathe, and that’s a little better. I blink.

“Huh?” I croak. Brilliant.

“I said you forgot this,” he responds, his voice filled with laughter as he waves a tampon in front of my face like a magic wand.

Goddammit, it’s a super.

My face fills with so much heat I’m surprised it doesn’t singe my eyebrows straight off. Jumping to my feet, I scrutinize him carefully. He follows my movements, standing to his full height, and holy hell he’s tall.

At least a foot taller than my 5’4.” Just like I’d imagined. His hair is a dark auburn, so dark it looks like spilled blood at midnight; so dark it looks black until the sun hits it. His eyes are honey-brown, almost supernatural in their color.

It’s supposed to be unreal because he’s not real. What the frick?!

His face looks as if it’s carved from granite. In fact, every inch of him is defined. Light golden skin is stretched tightly over his muscles, and even though he is wearing a loose work out tank and track pants, I can tell he’s hard all over. I can tell because that’s how I wrote him. I’ve known him for almost ten years now.

“Are you ok?” he asks, his eyes crinkling at the corners with concern.

So many thoughts and words, too bad they’re all trapped in my throat. My hand rises on its own violation and… I poke him.

I poke his chest.

I touch him.

Holy effing shit!

“Oh my God!” I whisper-yell. Am I dreaming? I pinch myself hard and yelp. Nope, I’m awake. “Oh my God. This is not happening!”

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Review: “A Mad and Mindless Night” by Elizabeth Cole

Review: “A Mad and Mindless Night” by Elizabeth Cole

A review by Vanessa.

I was offered a review copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. This book is set in an already existing series, but I was assured they were stand alones and you do not have to read previous books in order to enjoy others.

Elanora Morrison has a gift that has gotten her into a lot of trouble. She remembers everything. Her infallible memory and perfect recall, combined with her skill for scientific research, seemed like blessings when she met her husband Albert Morrison. But now they are the curse that keeps her under lock and key. Nora’s skills along with her husband’s innovation led them to create a highly valuable new form of communication. Their intent was to test it and sell the results to the government of England to aid them in their endeavors against their enemy, France. There is just one problem: Albert Morrison isn’t Albert Morrison anymore, and only Nora knows it. But he has told everyone that she is mad, and they believe it because he is a man. She has lost hope for escape, until one day an official from the government arrives to check on the progress of the project. Can Nora slip out of the confines of her locked attic room, and convince him to help her?

Ashley Allander is no government official. He is a scorned second son with a terrible reputation for torrid affairs and for ruining women; though many of the rumors are not true. He has no desire to play at being a spy, but when his older brother Bruce Allander, Lord Forrester, deigns to ask for his help he agrees. Bruce is a member of a highly secret organization of spies working for England, known as The Zodiac. Something has gone awry with Morrison’s project, and Bruce needs Ash to investigate. Ash would never admit it, but the role of hero is a tempting one. When he arrives at the estate and sees a woman standing on the roof near the window to an attic room, he is intrigued. Especially when he awakes to find the odd lady has snuck into his room, and begs him not to reveal that he even knows she exists. Are her wild stories true? Is something much more sinister brewing under the facade that is Albert Morrison? Perhaps together they can find out.

I totally enjoyed reading this book, and I will admit that I intend to seek out the rest of the Zodiac series because I believe they will be very fun reads. I was a bit worried at first that this novel would slip into the cliched and well worn story arc that can sometimes plague the historical romance genre, but the author definitely threw in enough twists to keep my interest. The character of Nora is very engaging, and not boringly typical at all. She is no wilting female ready to throw herself at the mercy of her savior. She is strong, incredibly clever, determined, and self-reliant. Though Ashley Allander does fit the mold of your typically misunderstood handsome rogue, the addition of his backstory is a very interesting twist on the “ruined woman” only with the gender roles turned upside down. In addition the romantic aspect was refreshing. There was no shy waif giving in to her desires for the man pursuing her. It was a determined and curious woman chasing her desire, and a handsome more experienced man giving in to his desire for her. Surrounded by a cast of engaging characters, who I only wish we could have learned more about, this was a very fun read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “A Bond of Venom and Magic” by Karen Tomlinson

BOOK TOUR Review: "A Bond of Venom and Magic" by Karen Tomlinson

A review by Domoni.

Diamond’s life isn’t easy. She is a half blood, half human and half fae. Unlike many half bloods, she cannot pass as one or the other and so she fits in with neither. In a world where prejudice against half bloods is strong, she has only her father and her friend Tom. Until the night the seekers found her. Sent by the Wraith Lord to kill her and steal her necklace, Diamond’s father is killed trying to save her.  Diamond is saved by Hugo and his troop of warrior Fae.  She is far from safe and far from being accepted.  Why does anyone want her dead, when half bloods matter so little?

This was a great read and an interesting story in the Fae world. The author did a wonderful job creating the characters and the world they lived in. The imagery was beautiful and the personalities distinct. Diamond is one of the more realistic female characters I have read in a long time. She is insecure and flawed with a habit of panicking. Her evolution through the story is not rushed, but flows in a manner that makes her believable and likeable.

Hugo is gruff and stern and a contradiction. He is a soldier of the queen, who hates all half bloods and is obsessed with magic. Currently he is assigned to fight under her ally the prince, to help him battle The Wraith Lord Ragor. Underneath his soldier exterior and the appearance of prejudice, he seems to be kind and loyal. And of course he is gorgeous, so how could Diamond not develop feelings for him?

I loved the evolution of this story; it did not feel like a typical fantasy with a forced love at first sight romance. The depiction of good and evil was complex and the presentation of magic was captivating. I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

I received this book as an ARC copy in exchange for a review.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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A Bond Of Venom and Magic
Karen Tomlinson
(The Goddess and the Guardians #1)
Publication date: October 14th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.

For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until her home is brutally attacked. Having lost everything she holds dear, Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Despite her growing feelings for her saviour, Commander Hugo Casimir, he remains a paradox – not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic.

As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector, or – an enemy not worthy of her trust?

A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Guardians and The Goddess.

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Author Bio:

Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books. Book one A Bond of Venom and Magic will be released October 14th 2016.

Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.

About me!

As soon as I could read I spent hours getting lost in the new worlds books could give me. Spending my pocket money had to be done (obviously) but not on sweets, well, not many…I spent my money on books. Back then it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five which sparked my young mind. I didn’t rest until I had the whole set, then I migrated to the secret seven…(there was no Harry Potter then) As a teenager I would trawl through all my mum and dad’s discarded books. It was probably highly inappropriate for a thirteen year old to be reading swoony Mills and Boon romances followed by Ian Flemming, Alistair Maclean and Wilbur Smith!
Because I read anything and everything I could get my hands on back then, I now have an eclectic taste in books. I will read anything that catches my eye and absolutely love illustrated book covers! In my late teens I discovered fantasy and that genre has stayed my firm favourite. I am and will always remain a complete sucker for a fantasy with kick ass characters and worlds steeped in magic and romance!

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