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: “Silence Fallen” by Patricia Briggs

Review of Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

A review by Niraja.

After a nearly fatal accident, Mercy finds herself kidnapped by a powerful vampire who sought to use her in a plot against the Tri-cities.  Mercy escapes in her coyote form, only to discover she is alone in Europe without money, clothing, or a passport. Unable to rely on her mate or pack bonds to contact Adam and the pack, Mercy must use her wits to discover who she can trust as allies and who are the enemies she must fight, while simultaneously trying to prevent outright war between vampires and werewolves.  As if that wasn’t enough to handle, ghosts stir and an old power awakens in the heart of Prague…

Silence Fallen is the 11th book in the Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.  I awaited it’s release with baited breath and am pleased to report I was not disappointed.  Yet again, Patty delivered​ an exciting plot and well developed believable characters that we love (or love to hate).

Mercy shines as our heroine as she uses her wit and resourcefulness to get herself out of, and back into, sticky situations.  True to form Mercedes faces her situation with inner strength and determination.  As a result she is both impressing and bewildering werewolves and vampires alike as they find her more than what she appears to be.  Once again Patty weaves elements from past books into Silence Fallen.  I appreciate this element of her writing because not only does this strengthen the continuity of her stories, it also makes her characters feel real.  As in her other books, Silence fallen had moments where I was cheering the characters on, feeling sympathy, getting anxious, laughing out loud, and happily feeling warm and content.  

This book differs from previous books in the series as it has several chapters from Adam’s point of view as he struggles with factors surrounding Mercy’s kidnapping and as he plots to recover her.  I enjoyed these chapters immensely as they not only grant insight to Adam’s emotions and thought processes but also show some of our favorite supporting characters from a different perspective.  Patty also throws in a small surprise twist at the end to which there are cleverly subtle clues, discoverable in hindsight (and a thorough reread of certain scenes).

Overall the book felt comfortingly familiar and yet held refreshing changes.  I was engaged in the story and felt connected to the characters.  If you are a fan of the Mercy Thompson series, Silence Fallen will not disappoint.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Freeks” by Amanda Hocking

A review by Amanda.

Mara has had an unusual upbringing. She and her mother travel the country as part of Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow. Mara’s mother, along with many of the other carnies, have special abilities that make the carnival life appealing, and even rewarding on occasion. Despite her heritage, Mara doesn’t have any supernatural powers. She helps out where she can and enjoys exploring whichever town or city they happen to be in, forming fleeting friendships that end as soon as the carnival moves on. When the sideshow receives an invitation from a former worker to set up in a small town called Caudry, promising an exorbitant payday, Mara and the rest of the carnival workers are happy to go.

Things in Caudry are odd from the start. Abilities falter, animal attacks ravage the camp, and people go missing. Local boy Gabe, who intrigues Mara immediately, is the only good thing about Caudry as far as she’s concerned. Mara and Gabe each have secrets that threaten their emerging feelings, and Mara will have to decide who to trust as she works to try and solve the mystery of who or what is plaguing the carnival.

Freeks is a new story by Amanda Hocking, author of the popular Trylle trilogies and the Watersong series. It is unclear at this time whether or not it is a standalone or the first in a new series. Mara is an interesting character with a lot of potential. She does things her own way, is loyal to her loved ones, and fights insecurities as much as any teenager does. Both her mother and learning their family history added layers to Mara’s character. The supporting characters, particularly the carnies like Roxie and Luka, were diverse, although I would have enjoyed seeing them developed more richly. The romance was predictable, an “instalove” situation that is so prevalent in YA novels. Gabe was a decent character, mysterious and protective, if a bit cliché. I had trouble feeling connected to any of the characters, even Mara. The mystery kept me intrigued and had me guessing until the end. The writing style is simplistic, which suits the plot. Fans of the Trylle books, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, and C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series may enjoy this book.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review: “Mockingbird Volume 1: I Can Explain” by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk

Mockingbird Volume 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk

A review by Courtney.

I bought Volume 1 of Mockingbird when I saw the cover of issue 8 had Mockingbird wearing a shirt proclaiming, “ask me about my feminist agenda.” I decided this was a comic book I needed to start reading and I needed to catch up, because I really wanted to read issue 8. I had previously read and enjoyed the Mockingbird one shot, which was released about a year ago, so I was hopeful this was a comic I was going to enjoy.

Mockingbird (also known as Bobbi Morse, and Agent 19), starts with our heroine in a Shield medical center, going in for her regular exam. We learn Nick Fury injected her with Super Soldier Serum and Infinity formula to save her life.  Bobbi is now considered high risk and the doctors of Shield are taking precautions and keeping a close eye on her. She is given a beeper and must come into the doctor’s office whenever they page her. Bobbi is shown in the doctor’s office in a variety of different clothes and we learn that the progressing issues are her adventures and this explains the different clothes. Bobbi is a multifaceted spy who does excel at kicking butt, but she also loves math and science and is incredibly snarky. Bobbi’s adventures revolve around saving people, and sometimes those people are her exes, whom she still has good relationships with.

This comic is told from Mockingbird’s perspective; which I love and thought was incredibly smart because it allowed me to get in her head. Bobbi is the sarcastic, witty, intelligent, strong woman I want to be when I grow up. It’s not often when I can identify with superheroines, but Bobbi is so confident, that you can’t help but want to be like her. I had also initially underestimated how funny this comic was going to be, but I was literally laughing out loud reading this book. The art was great, with a number of visually awesome action sequences, I have no idea how they were conceived because there is a lot that happens very quickly. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys comics with a strong female lead, because honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this. I was going to add this comic to my pull list, but as of this writing Mockingbird has been cancelled, so go buy all 8 issues while you can!

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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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: “Carmine” by Alan Janney

Review:

A review by Domoni.

She wakes up alone, naked, and with no real memory inside a Walmart. She knows her world has changed. She knows she is a variant. Kidnapped and experimented on, she is stronger than a human. The other changed beings flock to her. She is only 18, but she is strong and they need a leader. She doesn’t remember being Katie Lopez. But she will be Carmine and she will protect them. America is divided. The humans fear the variants, they are hunting them. Some of the strongest infected ones want to use their abilities to rule the country. Carmine just wants peace, for variants and humans alike. Her kingdom of New Los Angeles will be a land where those who work, will eat. Those who follow the rules, will be protected.

I really enjoyed this story. The way it was written was unique and captivating. From the first paragraph to the end, I was pulled through the story and didn’t want to put it down. Carmine is a great character. She has depth and complexities. Her personality and conflict make her more interesting. Watching her battle who she is and what she was created to be while grappling with a past she does not fully remember gave me a deeper connection to her story.

The variants have a strange need to be lead and bond closely with the strong person in charge. Carmine has amassed a large following and given them a purpose outside of the destructive force they were created to be. This makes her a target of the other strong changed ones. She has many enemies and allies she did not want. One of those allies is The Outlaw Chase Jackson, who just happens to be Katie Lopez’s boyfriend. Though Carmine does not remember him, the pieces of Katie that survive in her crave him. His undying devotion to Katie also makes him hard for Carmine to resist. He is stronger than her in his abilities and this evokes the inner warrior drive in the variants who follow Carmine, which can be a problem. It is hard to decide how you feel about someone when all of your people want to kill him, and you kind of do too.

All of the characters are well developed and the decaying city of Los Angeles is crafted well. It is easy to fall into the world created by the author and embrace the battle for basic rights. This book is an easy to read stand alone story that has captured my attention enough that I will be purchasing and reading all of the Outcast series and learning more about The Outlaw and this world he lives in.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Carmine by
Alan Janney
Genre:
YA
Dystopian/Adventure/Romance
Sparkle Press
Summary:
She wakes as society crumbles
She wakes up with no memory
She wakes up a queen
The girl once known as Katie Lopez wakes up in an abandoned Wal-Mart with no memory, possessing only the vague sense that something has happened. Where is her family? Where is her boyfriend? She has a faint recollection of him, a ghost of a memory. The world, she discovers, is staggering from the weight of rampaging mutants, victims of a bizarre surgery gone wrong. Once intended to bring about a utopia, now the victims threaten societal meltdown. Much to her surprise, the girl with no memory discovers she is their queen.
Buy Link: Amazon
Author Links:

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Review: “The Assassin Game” by Kirsty McKay

The Assassin Game by Jesse McKay

A review by Amanda.

At Umfraville Hall, an isolated Welsh school for gifted and genius teens, The Game is everything and sixteen year old Cate is ecstatic when she is invited to play. Cate isn’t particularly gifted, nor is she a genius. She attends Umfraville because her parents own the island that it was built on. Being initiated into The Assassins Guild is her dream come true because it means the she has been accepted by the in-crowd. It also means that she and her two closest friends, also members of the Guild, get to have some extra fun this school year. The Game is known by many names in other parts of the world – Assassin, Murder, etc. One player is secretly chosen to be the “Killer”; they have to “kill” their fellow players one by one without getting caught. There are rules, of course. The kills are actually harmless pranks meant to simulate gruesome deaths. No one should ever actually be injured while playing The Game. They must also be discreet enough to not disrupt school life and annoy the staff. The Killer must eliminate everyone in entertaining ways while the rest of the players have to do their best to figure out who the Killer is before being taken out and removed from play. Whoever is left standing at the end is the winner.

The Game begins as it always does, with a disgusting initiation for the newest members. Then, chaos happens. Rules are bent to allow a new student to play, a boy from Cate’s past whose appearance rattles her in more ways than one. Awkwardness abounds as Cate has to deal with the emotions of two boys that she kissed and then jilted, as well as some threatening notes that may or may not be part of The Game. Her focus is torn when people start getting hurt, for real. Is someone taking The Game a little too seriously, or is there a wannabe serial killer at Umfraville?

The Assassin Game had plenty of intrigue and thrills to keep my attention. Cate narrated as though she was confiding in a friend; she even addressed the reader directly once or twice. The mystery was a good one and the author did a great job of concealing the culprit until the very end. I definitely enjoyed the thriller aspects, as well as the descriptions of the setting. Emotionally, however, I felt like I was in the mind of a sociopath – Cate reacted to various situations appropriately but it felt as though she was simply going through the motions. I knew what emotions Cate was supposed to be feeling, according to the writing, but I could not connect those emotions to her character. It was a struggle to care about what she was experiencing. The other characters had even less depth, which made the story feel oddly lacking.

Ultimately, I liked this book but did not love it.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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