Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Review: An Urchin of Means by April White

I was lucky enough to get an advanced reading copy of this book and I tore through it over the weekend. It was the best thing April has ever written, and I can’t wait for you all to read it for the first time.

Note: It is a spin off of her Immortal Descendents series, but you don’t need to read that series to engulf yourself in this one. There are references back (and you should read it, it’s really good), but it definitely stands on its own two feet.

The Blurb

Ringo Devereux knows far too much for a man of his times. There’s no simple explanation for it that doesn’t involve improbable conversations about the future, and Ringo’s advanced understanding of three-phase generators and the secret histories of his city are not things he can discuss with the Victorian Londoners around him. Even his origins as an orphaned street thief are far too dangerous for a young gentleman of means to reveal.

An encounter with a ten-year-old pickpocket, and a luncheon with Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle draw Ringo back into the shadows of his criminal past. A stolen gemstone, a suspicious pawnbroker, and a damning bundle of letters are mysteries that require Ringo’s thief’s instincts, his obscure facts, and the help of a little girl with the skills of deduction like his.

But are these crimes as random as they first appear? What do a covert affair and a blue carbuncle have in common? Ringo knows too much, but someone knows more, and the identity of a mysterious red-haired woman is perhaps the most diabolically complicated plot of them all.

The Cover

How gorgeous is this cover?

The Review

This book was gorgeous. Before we even talk about the plot (riveting), the world-building (flawless, as per usual), or character development (omg, I want to hang out with Oscar Wilde and Charlie is the literal best), I want to talk about words.

This book is so beautifully written. April has done things with words that make me feel tingly and need some alone time with a dictionary, a bottle of wine, and maybe a cigarette after. At one point, I turned to the Beer Guy and said, “This is so wonderfully written that it makes my heart ache with the beauty of it.”

The mysteries were so well-crafted and definitely worthy of 221B Baker Street. Ringo’s involvement, due to Jess’s timely pick-pocketing, is natural and perfectly in character for him. The way he handles Jess’s concerns about her appearance is sensitive and so well-done – not to mention important for this day and age, and not just Victorian London.

 

The Quotes

“You, my lovely wife, are the center of the universe to which I will always naturally gravitate. What I have failed to do is find those things from which to gravitate toward you. I imagine I’ve become dreadfully boring.”
– Ringo

“All art, my dear man, is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”
– Oscar Wilde

“For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
– Oscar Wilde

Yeah, I liked Oscar. A lot. I just want to be BFFs with him forever. Pre-prison, Oscar, obviously.

The Verdict

I wish my review could do this book justice, but there’s no way I can. All I can say is this is the best book I’ve read this year. Yeah, it’s only January, but I read a lot, so bite me.

Buy this book immediately. Read it. Love it. Thank me later.

Book Review: The Silent

This is so much later than I intended it to be, and I probably owe Elizabeth Hunter an apology and a martini (or three), but here it is!

The Irin Chronicles (specifically The Scribe) were my introduction to Elizabeth Hunter. I’m pretty sure I read it at the insistence of my PSM, who occasionally introduces me to something good (and other times, according to my Facebook memories from today, insists I read shark-shifter romances that turn out to be not so good). She obviously hit the ball out of the park with this one.  Now here we are, 3 years later (I read it in 2014) and I’m reviewing an ARC of The Silent for you. (I’ve reviewed the third and fourth books in the series previously, in case you’re interested.)

The Blurb

They are called kareshta, the silent ones.
But the silent are waking.

Kyra has lived her life in the shadow of a powerful Grigori brother. She’s ignored her own desires for the good of her family, but an unexpected request from Thailand sends her on a mission that could change her life and alter the fate of free Grigori all over the world. Sons of the Fallen hidden in the mountains of Thailand have adapted an ancient human magic for their own purposes. Will this practice bring peace or lead to even greater danger for the Irin race?

A simple diplomatic mission sends Leo to Bangkok, but he didn’t expect to see a familiar face in surveillance photographs. He’s tried everything to drive Kyra from his mind, since he was convinced the gentle kareshta wanted to hide from the world. How did she turn up halfway across the globe, living with Grigori who may or may not be Irin allies?

Leo has bided his time. He’s given Kyra her space.

But this scribe is ready to hear a kareshta sing.

The Cover

 

The Review

Ugh. This was so good. (<—this was literally my entire review for a week.) I’ve never been to Thailand, and haven’t even much cared about the idea of going. There are so many other places on my bucket list that SE Asia doesn’t even register. But now? Now I want to go. So thank you, Ms. Hunter, for costing me future money. (Seriously. Thank you!)

Like all the Irin Chronicles, the world building in this book is just incredible. I’ve long enjoyed Leo but hadn’t much paid attention to Kyra before. I’m disappointed in myself and went back and reread The Secret just to make sure I could properly appreciate her.

I really enjoyed the character development of Kyra throughout this book as she goes from someone who is strong but willing to hide her light (out of necessity) to a commanding presence.

And the sex? Whoa. Elizabeth Hunter brought the goods this time. I wouldn’t have thought a “losing your virginity” sex scene could be so…steamy. *fans self*

The Verdict

I’m never not going to recommend that you head out and buy everything Elizabeth Hunter’s ever written. This series is so amazing, and trust me when I say you want to read every single book in it.

The Disclaimer

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

July Book Releases

There are so many exciting books out this month that I can barely contain myself! I’ll have some reviews coming up of a few of these, but today I’m just here to push you into purchasing books and being my reading buddy.

Out Today

Godkiller by Colleen Vanderlinden (psssstttt…today’s also her birthday! what better birthday gift is there than buying a copy of her book?)

The Cover

The Blurb

In the ten years since the end of the Undead Wars, Molly Brooks, goddess of death and protector of the Earthly realm, has achieved what no one would have thought possible: world peace. The Earth thrives under her protection, and her family and friends are finally safe from the enemies who have targeted her.

But not all of Molly’s battles are about her, and an ancient nemesis is ready to make his move on her world. With her mate and her closest allies at her side, Molly will face attacks from enemies both strange and well-known to her. This time around, the power of the gods just might not be enough.

July 15

Dustwalker by Tiffany Roberts

The Cover

The Blurb

A SYNTH SEARCHING FOR PURPOSE…

Walk. Scavenge. Destroy. Trade. A simple cycle that’s suited Ronin for one hundred and eighty-five years. With no clear grasp of his programming, the barren wasteland known as The Dust offers him purpose, a place where his armored undercasing, amped-up processors, and advanced optics can be put to use. The ramshackle towns on the edges of the waste serve merely as resupply stations between increasingly long treks. But one night — one human woman — makes him question everything.

A WOMAN WHO BRINGS HIM TO LIFE…

Lara Brooks struggles to survive under the strict rules imposed by the bots in Cheyenne. With her sister missing, she’s been on her own for weeks, and fears the worst. Her only hope comes from Ronin, a bot she catches spying on her. He promises to provide for Lara and search for her sister. All she has to do is dance. It should be easy; she’s done it before. But the longer she spends with Ronin, the harder it is to see him as just another bot.

A SANCTUARY HIDING DARK SECRETS…

In a city where humans are relegated to live in squalor, Ronin discovers a threat greater than any in the Dust — Warlord, Cheyenne’s tyrannical leader. When Ronin ignores the rules, he unwittingly puts Lara in danger. Warlord is as intolerant of disrespect as he is of mankind.

 

Last, but not least…

July 27

The Silent by Elizabeth Hunter

The Cover

The Blurb

They are called kareshta, the silent ones.
But the silent are waking.

Kyra has lived her life in the shadow of a powerful Grigori brother. She’s ignored her own desires for the good of her family, but an unexpected request from Thailand sends her on a mission that could change her life and alter the fate of free Grigori all over the world. Sons of the Fallen hidden in the mountains of Thailand have adapted an ancient human magic for their own purposes. Will this practice bring peace or lead to even greater danger for the Irin race?

A simple diplomatic mission sends Leo to Bangkok, but he didn’t expect to see a familiar face in surveillance photographs. He’s tried everything to drive Kyra from his mind, since he was convinced the gentle kareshta wanted to hide from the world. How did she turn up halfway across the globe, living with Grigori who may or may not be Irin allies?

Leo has bided his time. He’s given Kyra her space.

But this scribe is ready to hear a kareshta sing.

 

Notes and miscellany

I’ll have reviews of all three coming up in the next week or so, in order of publication date (so Dustwalker first, etc.). BUT, if you want to read along, go forth and purchase!

Colleen’s book is the latest in her Hidden series, and I am SO EXCITED to read this one. That was the first fiction of Colleen’s I ever read, and I just love this journey that Molly’s been on. (Plus, as you may remember, Colleen is my kill-count competitor, so I have to dig in to see how many kills I need to add into my rewrite of The Ruby Blade to try to keep up.)

Tiffany Roberts’s book is a new series for them (right? Am I making that up?) and I’m so excited to read what I’ve decided is a cyborg western romance.

Elizabeth Hunter’s is an upcoming release, but I’ve already read the advanced copy, and you guys! Once again, she’s knocked it out of the park. You are not going to want to miss the latest in her Irin Chronicles series.

Book Review Day: Summer Time Loving Books

It’s the Summer Time Lovin’ book giveaway this week over on Facebook. I’ve teamed up with 7 EIGHT (I don’t know who I left out of my original count…I may have gotten some sleep last night, but it hasn’t been enough, apparently) other authors and each day there are chances to win free books along with some other fun goodies!

In honor of the event, I wanted to give you a peek at some of the books I’ve read (or recently grabbed from Amazon) by my partners-in-crime.

In order of appearance!

Emma Hamm (Tuesday, July 11)

I recently picked up the first in her Silver Blood series, and although I haven’t cracked it yet (is it cracking when it’s an ebook?), it’s up next in my queue!

 

Vicki Stiefel (Tuesday, July 11)

I read Chest of Bone when it first came out, and it was one of those books that I stayed up past my bedtime to finish!

 

Tiffany Roberts (Wednesday, July 12)

Tiffany Roberts is a husband/wife writing duo and I can’t wait to start into Make Me Burn (Isle of the Forgotten #1). It’s currently burning a hole in my Kindle. (So many books! So little time!)

 

Genevieve St-Yves  (Wednesday, July 12)

I grabbed Flower Among the Ashes (The Tales of Remans 1) the other day and am super excited to dig in!

 

Monica Enderle Pierce (Wednesday, July 12)

Another book I’ve recently picked up and am desperate to read is The Shadow and the Sun (Militess & Mage 1). For some reason, I just have a soft spot for necromancy. (Or is that the slow decay of death taking over?)

 

Mel Sterling (Thursday, July 13)

You guys. I love Mel. First of all, she’s an amazing writer. I reviewed her first “Pink Sofa Secrets” when it came out, but my heart belongs to Tess & Thomas in Trueheart. I am eagerly awaiting the second in her Portland After Dark series and cannot wait to find out what Eleanor and Tess talk about when they run into each other in Forest Park.

 

RJ Blain (Thursday, July 13)

I wasn’t sure which of RJ’s books I wanted to feature here. The one featuring a unicorn shifter who really, really enjoys eating napalm or one written under another name that has a fucking sentient talking macaroni and cheese named Colby. (I picked that up, not knowing it was RJ’s, planned to hate read it for the mac and cheese and ended up loving it. So fucking hilarious and well done.)

You know me. I went unicorn.

 

Colleen Vanderlinden (Friday, July 14)

I have read so many books written by Colleen Vanderlinden who is a MACHINE. A typing machine. In addition to putting out more than two dozen books in the past few years, she’s also an editor for several more (including my latest and next!). Picking just one book to feature here is difficult, but I’m going to go ahead and pick the first one I ever read. I’d started following Colleen on Twitter when she was doing a lot of garden tweeting and I was a hippie with no kid and only a part-time job who spent more time in her garden than I can even conceive of now. You will not regret reading anything of Colleen’s, but you might want to start here.

 

Amy Cissell (Friday, July 14)

This is my favorite author of the group. She’s smart, funny, good looking, makes out with werewolves in the back hallway of a downtown Portland bar, and can kick your ass with her sword or her magic. Oh, wait. That’s her main character, not the author. (I do have a sword, but as far as I know, none of the people I’ve made out with in Portland bars have been werewolves. Sigh.) The Cardinal Gate will be on sale tomorrow on Amazon, so you can pick up your permanent copy for super discount if you want to wait!

 

Book Review: Light’s Shadow

Light’s Shadow is the third (and final?) book in the Copper Falls trilogy by Colleen Vanderlinden. I have been anxiously waiting for this once since I finished the second in the series. I knew I wouldn’t have long to wait, because Colleen is a magical writing machine! She publishes fantastic stories every day! (That is an exaggeration, of course. It’s more like once a week.) (I’m not actually sure how often, I just know that her prolificness leaves me in awe. I’m beginning to suspect that her “home school” is just a book sweatshop.) (KIDDING!)

Although I picked this up via my Kindle Unlimited subscription, I should disclose that Colleen is a friend (and my editor) and we are locked in a fierce contest to see which of us can kill the most characters. She did alright in this book, but she really could’ve done better. Too much saving!

Disclosure: I am writing this pre-coffee, so there will probably be more parentheticals than are legally allowed.

The Cover

That hair! That dress! Those bosoms!

 

The Blurb

Born of the Light. Corrupted by Shadow.

After spending her entire life as a servant of the Light, Sophie Turner no longer knows where she fits into a world in which she’s been forced to become the very thing she’s come to hate. She doesn’t know herself anymore, and can’t seem to reconcile her strong belief in the tenets of Light as Shadow magic flows through her body, seducing her, tempting her to do the very things she swore she’d never do.

At the same time, her relationship with Calder Turcotte, the man she’s loved for practically her entire life, is on shaky ground. The things she had to do to break his curse haunt them both, and there’s a distance between them now that she doesn’t know if they can ever bridge.

All of that is bad enough, but when the alpha of the Copper Falls wolf pack ends up dead, Calder finds himself under suspicion for his murder, and it becomes abundantly clear that the quiet life Sophie and Calder crave is further from their reach than ever.

And when an ancient enemy returns to make his final move against Sophie, finally fulfilling his mission, she’ll be forced to rely on the tenuous alliances she’s made, as well as the Shadow magic she detests and distrusts, to save everything that matters to her.

A story of eternal love, forgiveness, and strength, Light’s Shadow is the final book in the Copper Falls paranormal romance trilogy.

The Review

I love the cover – it’s nice to see a more…buxom…woman gracing our fantasy stories (and not just your fantasies, Steve). I also really like Sophie. She’s a realistic blend of soft and strong.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, wise-cracking, my-weaknesses-are-secret, kick-ass heroines as much as the next person, but Sophie has human weaknesses, and that makes her more realistic. (As realistic as a witch who can throw you out of windows with her brain can be, anyway.)

Her relationship with Calder builds along fits and starts of misunderstandings, deliberate (but necessary) heart-breaking deception, and temper tantrums. I get this. This (except for not being able to break trees with my mind) (and the deliberate but necessary heartbreak) is me (down to the fantastic tatas).

The story winds along at a very good pace, speeding along and then slowing down to let you catch your breath. Although I figured we were in a HEA situation (regardless of body count), there was nothing predictable about the path we took to get there.

There were some scenes that made me gasp out loud and shake my fist in a vaguely threatening manner. Things that pierced me to my soul. People had to make hard decisions and my heart broke more for those decisions than they did for Calder in the second book.

The Quotes

“I’ve never been insulted by someone quoting Emily Dickinson before. That’s new,” Sophie said, looking up at the gray clouds above.

“I try to bring a little class to my insults. Sometimes, anyway,” Esme said.

That delights me, because who doesn’t love an educated, snarky witch? (According to Giles, Emily Dickinson is a pretty good poet…for an American.)

She wasn’t perfect. He knew that. She could be cold and standoffish. She could say things sometimes, not realizing how much they hurt. And she had a bad habit of closing herself off from everyone exactly at those moments in which she needed them most.

To be honest, she sounds pretty damn perfect – at least according to that description. (Or does she sound like me? Out of my head, Vanderlinden!)

The Verdict

This book is a fantastic end to a fun and interesting trilogy, and you should go out and get it immediately. It’s on Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited), and I don’t think you’ll regret a thing. Solid 4.5 stars.