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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BOOK TOUR Review: “Girl Within Girl” by S.P. Aruna

BOOK TOUR Review:

A review by Domoni.

Katrina is a nurse in a psychiatric hospital.  She goes about her day helping the doctors help the patients. She notices things are off, but she just ignores them, even when those things are about herself.  Cherry is a photojournalist who wants to travel the world, take pictures of famous men, and sleep with them. The rougher the sex, the more she likes it. Anisa is a spy for the government. She will use her vast abilities to take out her targets; the perfect soldier. What do these three women have in common? They all exist in one body. Now they know about each other, and the government can’t have that. Things are falling apart, they are unravelling.  With the help of  young Dr. Paisley they run and hide, hoping to be saved and in the end be healed.

This was a strange take on The Manchurian Candidate. The Cia operates in a hospital where they use extreme electroshock therapy to erase people’s minds and reprogram them. The goal is to create the  most loyal, perfect soldier. It appears they have done that with Katrina. She is completely unaware of the acts her other personalities participate in. Even when she stumbles over evidence that makes her wonder, she is programmed to ignore it.  Until she meets and falls for the new doctor.

Dr. Sean Paisley is enjoying helping patients and really enjoying getting to know the nurse Katrina. Though when he follows the prescribed protocols on the patients needing shock therapy, he starts to feel like things are not right in the hospital. Somehow he locates a file on katrina, Anisa, and Cherry. He makes sure she sees the file before he is fired and this starts them on the path of learning the truth and running for their lives.

The book had some good moments and some not so good moments. I did not like it for the first half. The characters felt cliche and the events rather implausible. The sex scenes were detailed but the wording was juvenile. As I pushed through the book, I was more interested and invested in the storyline. Though the ending was very abrupt and I don’t know if I would wait around to read the next book in this series, it did somewhat redeem itself to me. This book would appeal to fans of rough erotica and those who enjoy the 50 Shades series.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: About the Book
Title: Girl Within Girl
Author: S.P. Aruna
Genre: Erotic Thriller
Katrina is never alone. She is bound to others inside her, tighter than any Siamese twins could ever be: Cherry, the freewheeling photojournalist, Anisa, the covert spy-assassin, and others as yet unknown, all sharing her body and mind as she goes about her work in a psychiatric hospital. But she is starting to unravel, and her sole hope is the handsome Dr. Sean Paisley, the only one who can make her whole again.
Girl Within Girl is a dark erotic thriller that wanders through a sensual maze of mind control and torture.

S.P. ArunaAuthor Bio
Half French, half Khmer (Cambodian), I’m a woman whose head is filled with fantasies and intriguing stories, and who wants to share them with others.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Wear White to Your Funeral” by Lisa Acerbo

Wear White to Your Funeral by Lisa Acerbo

A review by Domoni.

Rory just moved to Trumbull, a tiny slice of hell. Her mom took a job in Japan and sent her to live with her aunt. Used to a full life in Atlanta, this town with one movie theater and a mall does little to make her excited about her senior year of high school. No friends, no volleyball, no job and no car; what is there to do but be miserable? The first day of school brings Bowen, an attractive boy who convinces thier journalism teacher to pair them up for the big project. Rory and Bowen are going to write an article about the woman in white that haunts the local cemetery. Their first study date (or is it a real date?) has them sitting in the cemetery at night. When the woman in white appears, the teens flee. Unable to believe what they saw, Bowen convinces Rory to return on another night.  When Rory stumbles over a dead body before seeing the ghostly apparition again, things start to get complicated and terrifying.  Now the teens are trying to understand what they saw. Will they solve a murder mystery, a ghost story, or be victims themselves?

This was a great read for me. Well written and interesting, I liked that it wasn’t a classic ghost story. Rory is a rather typical 17 year old girl and Bowen an average 18 year old guy. They dig each other and romance develops. The romance aspect was not the central focus of the story and I liked that. The story mostly followed Rory’s story progression but occasionally we got the aspect of the mystery killer. I enjoyed the progression of the story and getting to know the inside thoughts of this character.  The story took interesting turns that kept things fresh and made the book an easy one-sitting read.

The author does a great job creating the scenes playing out in the story. The characters are fleshed out well and it is fairly easy to grasp who they are and their motivations. I liked the development of the recurring characters that kept this young couple living a normal life amid the unrealistic story that unfolds around them. Many times a book will focus so much on the mystery that you wonder how a couple of teenagers are able to just galavant around focused on being the Scooby Gang and not facing consequences; this story gave a more natural progression to the happenings experienced by Rory and Bowen. I enjoyed this book and would gladly read more by this author.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Wear White to Your Funeral
Lisa Acerbo
Publication date: October 28th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Young Adult

Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater, sure feels like the netherworld until Rory’s first day at her new school. That’s the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt’s house unharmed and unmolested.

Nothing could go wrong, right? They talk, they laugh, and they wander among the tombstones looking for information on the local ghostly legend known as the White Lady. Then they have to run, but they cannot outrun a ghost. In addition to the ghostly woman, a half buried dead body leads Rory and Bowen into a deadly game of cat and mouse, but who is the killer? Is it human or something long dead and otherworldly?

The police are of little help, Rory’s aunt just wants her to remain safe, and Bowen, who she can’t stay away from, keeps finding ways to get her into more trouble than she has ever known. Whether breaking into a suspected killer’s house, being followed by a menacing ghost, or being stalked at school, Rory hopes finding the killer will put an end to the supernatural haunting. Before Rory can discover the identity of the killer, she is drawn into the mystery of the White Lady, which opens the door for some very real danger.

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Author Bio:

Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.

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Review: “The Afterlife of Alyx & Israel” by Hanna Peach

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Alyx and Israel are soul mates, warriors from heaven who gave it all up for a mortal life together. Only things did not work out how they had planned. Born to mortal bodies on Earth, they grew up in the same town and never met. Now Alyx is engaged to Daniel, a boring man she doesn’t really love, but he is dependable and Alyx craves dependable. Their friends from the other realm have watched over Alyx and Israel and refuse to sit idly by while Alyx marries the wrong man and turns down her dream job for the boring stability that keeps her fear of abandonment at bay. But messing with fate has consequences.

When their friends arrange for Alyx and Israel to meet on the steps of the cathedral, for the first time in this life, everyone finds out why intervening with fate is a bad idea. The lost loves meet and feel strangely drawn to each other, like a memory hiding in the back of one’s mind. Suddenly a storm kicks up and lightning strikes a gargoyle, causing it to fall and hit Alyx in the head. Now she’s locked in a coma the doctors cannot explain. Back at his apartment, Israel is confronted by two friends he doesn’t remember from the past life he has not unlocked. They tell him Alyx is locked in her own mind and the only way to save her is to go into it with her. Now Alyx and Israel must fight through the labyrinth of her mind while learning who they are and remembering who they were.

I enjoyed this complicated love story; two people meant for each other held back by their own insecurities and fears. Alyx lost her mortal parents when she was young and developed a severe case of abandonment issues. She has to learn to trust Israel, though she fights the resurfacing memories out of fear and stubbornness. Israel is witty and cocky and sure of himself. He has made mistakes that make him feel like he does not deserve happiness though. He has to learn to let go of the past to open himself up to a future. As they let go of their walls and recover their memories they have to battle time and the trap of Alyx’s mind to release her from her coma before it is too late. The couple battles for each other even though they do not know if they will wake up and retain all the memories that they recovered.

The writing style was nice. The author did a good job of creating the world the characters inhabited. I enjoyed the banter, especially from the group of friends who often could only watch, hidden while Alyx and Israel found their way. This book found a way to touch me and there was a moment where tears sprang into my eyes. Books that can bring out emotions are the best, in my opinion.

This is the 6th book in a series, though it was easy to read as a stand alone. I have not read the previous books in the series but I enjoyed this one so much I will be starting from the beginning. Containing some romance and violence, this would be a good book for YA audience and older.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Here’s The Thing” by Emily O’bierne

"Here’s The Thing" by Emily O’bierne

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Zelda has just moved to Sydney. A new school in a new place and the only friend she has is her cousin Antony. Zel is not happy to be leaving New York, which was her home for a year, to return to Australia, but not even the part of Australia where she grew up. Starting over is never easy for a teenager. Leaving behind Prim, her best friend and the first girl she loved, and with so much confusion, has not made it easier. Now she has to balance moving forward and holding on to hope that she can keep Prim in her life.

Zel is 16 and life can be confusing for any sixteen year old. Add in moving to a new place and being gay and you have a perfect storm of emotional turmoil. Even with all of that going on, Zel is a rather level headed girl. She is adapting to her new home and settling into her cousin’s group of drama friends. Focusing on her photography and the project for drama class fills the empty space after school. When she isn’t keeping herself busy, Zel replays her year in New York with Prim. She is struggling with the lack of communication and how much she misses her.

The story jumps between real time and Zel’s memories of New York. It is narrated in first person but in a style where she is suddenly talking to the reader. Though the main story is easy to follow, when she directly addresses the reader it disrupts the flow and pulls me out of her head and into my own. The author has done an amazing job creating the world in which the characters live though. She is description heavy and you can practically smell the Sydney air. Her ability to capture her characters is also on point. Each one has a distinct and developed personality. We get to know Zel’s group of friends at her new school. Antony, Zel’s cousin, who excels at dance and drama. Micheal the tall, neat boy who competes with Antony for the attention of Ashani. Ashani is the bossy, leader type girl who wants to be a director and likes to take control of the group dynamic and lastly, Stella, the quiet dancer, she is always late and somewhat of a mystery to Zel. I fell for Stella from early on. Her absent aloofness to cover a complex life made me want more of her. When her family struggles and her little brother’s autism were mentioned, I wanted much more of her.

Following Zelda as she navigated her emotions for Prim and opened herself to new relationships with Stella and the drama gang was moving. I could have read this book in one sitting if life hadn’t gotten in the way. I kept having to put it down but picked it back up the second I could.  Underneath the story of a girl finding her way in the world is the underlying theme of home. It’s seen in the assignments given in school and on the news stories Zelda watches, to the way she tries to find her own place. It makes the reader have to open their eyes to the world around them and their own home. I loved having that societal issue focused on without being the focus. I enjoyed this book.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Here’s the Thing by Emily O’Beirne
Genre: YA Contemporary (LGBT)
Release Date: October 19th 2016
Ylva Publishing
Summary from Goodreads:
It’s only for a year. That’s what sixteen-year-old Zel keeps telling herself after moving to Sydney for her dad’s work. She’ll just wait it out until she gets back to New York and Prim, her epic crush/best friend, and the unfinished subway project. Even if Prim hasn’t spoken to her since that day on Coney Island.
But Zel soon finds life in Sydney won’t let her hide. There’s her art teacher, who keeps forcing her to dig deeper. There’s the band of sweet, strange misfits her cousin has forced her to join for
a Drama project. And then there’s the curiosity that is the always-late Stella. As she waits for Prim to explain her radio silence and she begins to forge new friendships, Zel feels strung between two worlds. Finally, she must figure out how to move on while leaving no one behind.
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About the Author
Thirteen-year-old Emily woke up one morning with a sudden itch to write her first novel. All day, she sat through her classes, feverishly scribbling away (her rare silence probably a cherished respite for her teachers). And by the time the last bell rang, she had penned fifteen handwritten pages of angsty drivel, replete with blood-red sunsets, moody saxophone music playing somewhere far off in the night, and abandoned whiskey bottles rolling across tables. Needless to say, that singular literary accomplishment is buried in a box somewhere, ready for her later amusement. From Melbourne, Australia, Emily was recently granted h er PhD. She works part-time in academia, where she hates marking papers but loves working with her students. She also loves where she lives but travels as much as possible and tends to harbour crushes on cities more than on people. Living in an apartment, Emily sadly does not possess her dream writing room overlooking an idyllic garden of her creation. Instead, she spends a lot of her time staring over the screen of her laptop and out the window at the somewhat less pretty (but highly entertaining) combined kebab stand/carwash across the road.
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Review: “When A Lady Deceives” by Tara Kingston

“When A Lady Deceives” by Tara Kingston

A review by Vanessa.

I received this book for free in return for participation in the release book tour, and an honest review.

When Jennie Quinn discovers her most recent informant murdered in the streets of Whitechapel she reacts predictably; she loses her lunch in the gutter. But Jennie is anything but a predictable woman. Her determination, drive, and sense of justice have pushed her to become a successful and respected female journalist at a time in Victorian London when such a thing was quite rare. Jennie knows who killed her lovely actress turned informant. In fact, her contact with the lady is likely what caused her demise. Now Jennie will do whatever it takes, including taking a job as barmaid for a ruthless mobster, to catch the culprit. If only the mobster’s right hand man wasn’t so distractingly handsome… But Jennie has never let anything derail her from her course. Harwick has been ruling London’s criminal element for years, and Jennie has been trying to expose his crimes and bring him down. But she’s not the only one who has that goal firmly in mind.

Matthew Colton does not like having the new auburn haired barmaid around. She has a penchant for getting into trouble poking around all the bar’s patrons, and she is distractingly beautiful… a distraction he does not have time for. He has already sacrificed years of his life trying to bring down the man who had his partner murdered. A sacrifice he was willing to make, even when it meant being disgraced from the police force and having to work closely with that same man. He never questioned his sacrifice, until a certain beautiful woman walked into his life and he realized that the man he had become would never deserve a woman like her. But together they just might find the justice they’ve been searching for.

Though the story does occasionally wander into the realm of the cliché, I much prefer the term classic. While the characters are at times predictable, they cannot be described as boring. The romantic entanglement stays true to what a reader would normally expect from an historical romance genre novel. However, that does not make it any less engaging. The innocent waif overwhelmed with desire for the dark, handsome, more experienced rapscallion is an evident theme, but it’s the twists on this theme that make it the engaging piece that it is. The lady may be innocent of the effects of true desire, but not because she has been coddled and sheltered. It is because she has been through so much, chased her dreams as a journalist, and never met a man who truly made her feel more alive than her work does. The handsome rapscallion is drawn to the lady as expected, but what is most unexpected is how he holds back. He tries to resist her charms because he believes she deserves better than himself. And in a thoroughly modern twist, the lady gives in to her desire for him not because she seeks the expected route of love and marriage. She simply wants to fully experience and explore what she feels for him.

In addition, throughout all the busy back and forth of the romantic story arc, there are also interesting interactions with secondary characters. The mystery, murder and mayhem broiling in Whitechapel is an excellent backdrop for the story. Background characters are intriguing and well written, but sometimes a little under utilized. Kingston writes characters you want to know more about, and I hope that is a problem that will be rectified in what is likely to be a future series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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