Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: Autumn by Sierra Dean @NetGalley @sierradean

Title: Autumn

Author: Sierra Dean

Series: Dog Days #1

Publication date: June 12th, 2013

ISBN: 9781490486673

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Cooper Reynolds's life is going to the dogs... literally.

As if being a high school senior in a small Texas town wasn't hard enough, Cooper has bigger things to worry about than who he'll take to prom and whether or not the Poisonfoot Padres will win homecoming. He has less than a year before his eighteenth birthday, when a curse placed on his family will doom him to live in coyote form forever.

The last thing he needs to complicate his already messed-up life is a girl, but fate has other plans in mind for him when it brings Eloise "Lou" Whittaker to Poisonfoot. She's grouchy, sarcastic and has no love for her new Texas home, but she might be exactly the right person to help Cooper break the curse.

The clock is ticking, and Cooper will have to decide if he's willing to let Lou in on his dirty little secret before it's too late.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Strictly based on cover appeal and my lack of knowledge where the author was concerned was a bit of a worry of mine. I really expected this to be another low rated book because there hadn't been much buzz that I had seen around my fellow book bloggers. Regardless, I went into the book with an open mind. The synopsis was interesting since normally the young adult paranormal reads are centered around werewolves not coyote shifters. But the story was so much more than just about coyote shifters as I had first thought.

Eloise ("just call me Lou, please") didn't want to move away from all she had ever known in California. Add to that the fact that she is still grieving the loss of her father who had just recently died of cancer and you get one incredibly unhappy teenager. With the shear volume of medical bills, her mother sold most of their worldly possessions, packed a U-Haul, and dragged Lou, kicking and screaming, to Poisonfoot, the hometown of her deceased father. It is there where Lou starts to wonder if there is more to this town then she had first thought. It would seem that everyone feels it is there duty to warn her off of a certain boy whose family is the town outcasts. Lou, not to be deterred by simple hatred via word of mouth, she sets out to get to know the strange boy, and from the moment she laid eyes on him, she couldn't imagine staying away.

Cooper was used to being hated by everyone in his school, and even his town. He didn't know if it was his secret they all knew or if it was simply an ingrained instinct. All he knew was it sucked royally. He played football because the games were the only time anyone would acknowledge him, let alone cheer him on. Football is important to Texas inhabitants and it is the only time Cooper feels normal. When he is on the field he doesn't have to think about his brother's absence, the taunts from fellow students, or the fact that townsfolk would sooner cross the street than venture near him. He knows he only has a few short months until he is eighteen and then he won't have to worry about these people anymore. The curse almost seems a blessing in those terms. Until he meets Lou. Then the curse truly is a curse being as it means he'd have to leave her, just like his brother left him.

As the couple grows closer its only a matter of time before they both will have to face a town with secrets and Cooper's own personal family secret if they have any hope of remaining together.

I liked the overall format of the book. From one scenario to the next it flowed effortlessly. There was no point where I felt the story rushed or was drawn out. It was believable and that is hard to do as an author writing someone like paranormal or science fiction. I could see the blossoming romance happen exactly as described and I could even imagine that, with the way the curse tied into the history of Lou and Cooper's families, it actually could be plausible. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't particularly believe in curses, magic, or the like, but with the way Dean wrote Autumn I started to question whether it could be a possibility. It's a mark of a good author.

One of the only problems I had with the story was the fact that in the story's timeline, Lou had just lost her father a month ago. She states she was very close to him and yet, she hasn't mourned him at all in the story. She is all giddy of her new romantic interest and trying to find out Poisonfoot and Cooper's secrets, but shouldn't there be some time in between all that where she remembers her father has just passed? In the story, her father is referenced numerous times and whereas I would have crumbled into tears at the mention of my recently deceased loved one, Lou simply takes it in stride. I would think that mentality would be reserved for having lost her father several months ago and not just one. That was my own draw back.

Autumn is a new type of paranormal literature in which coyotes and magic are at the forefront. A welcome break from the werewolves and vampires that seem to be the height of popularity at this time.

Available at:
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Cracked by Eliza Crewe @strangechem @ElizaCrewe

Title: Cracked

Author: Eliza Crewe

Series: The Soul Eaters #1

Publication date: November 5th, 2013

ISBN: 9781908844675

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She's special. It's not her fault she enjoys it. She can't help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it's not like there are any other "soul-eaters" around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They're like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda's kind. This is her chance! Play along with the "good guys" and she'll finally figure out what, exactly, her 'kind' is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny... she may finally give into it.

Review:
I received a physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I am all for debut authors and when I got the e-mail from the publishers with the opportunity to read Eliza Crewe's new book, I jumped at the chance. I hadn't heard of any book that featured the power to eat souls until this little gem. I was intrigued. Not to mention the absolutely gorgeous cover. As I have been in sort of a romance novel bubble recently I wanted to get into something that didn't have a whole lot of that aspect. This one book was just the ticket.

Meda struggles with her moral compass her entire life. She is forced to eat souls to stay alive, but her choice in victims is all her own. Meda took from her mother's teachings that if she had to eat, might as well eat the souls of bad people instead of good. So that is exactly what Meda does. While tracking down the murderer of a ghost she has come in contact with, she comes face-to-face with something she never imagined possible. Men who were the same as her. Soul-eaters. And they called themselves demons.

With the assistance of a heroic crusader, Chi, Meda starts to piece together her existence as a half demon. Chi, of course, is not privy to Meda's family heritage and thinks her to be a supremely good person that the demons want to kill because she has a path in life to do good. How far from the truth could the boy be? Meda seizes the opportunity and convinces Chi and his friends Uri and Jo to take her back to their crusader homestead. Her idea is to gather intelligence on her enemies and escape before anyone is the wiser. Little does she know that her story is deeper than that and just because she is part demon does not mean she is heartless.

I enjoyed Cracked. It was an interesting world and an even more enthralling character base. We have all seen the battle between good and evil in numerous books, some of those are even between humans and demons such as in this one. What we don't normally see is what would come of the pinnacle of evil producing a child with a soldier of good. Where would the child's loyalties lie? In evil or good? If raised good will the child become good or is their nature too ingrained in them to even bother? I have always loved the nature vs. nurture theories and this book took it to a whole new level.

Cracked is a page turning read of good versus evil where good AND the bad are both in the shape of a clueless half-demon.

Available at:
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ARC Review: Sia by Josh Grayson @NetGalley

Title: Sia

Author: Josh Grayson

Publication date: November 23rd, 2013

ISBN: n/a

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she's reunited with her family. At school, she's powerful and popular. At home, she's wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel, and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the "geek" she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she'll become the bully she was before... and if she'll lose Kyle.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was intrigued by the idea of a popular rich girl who pretty much owns the world developing amnesia and having to relearn how to treat people. I have been trying new genres and books that are generally a little different than the ones I normally read lately and this was one of those that I added to my list. It has no sort of paranormal feel to it which is something I am trying to pull myself out of. I am stuck in a paranormal rut and needed a break. Enter, Sia.

The story opens on a girl named Sia, or so her iPod tells her, who awakes in the park with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or where she should go next. She ventures out into the world completely blind to the dangers surrounding her. As she is asleep beneath a bridge, she meets a kindly older lady named Carol. Carol immediately sees how desperate Sia is to survive and takes pity on her. She shows Sia how to be homeless and how to avoid certain death from the elements, hunger, or even other people (homeless and otherwise). Sia starts to enjoy her freedom, but when a car hits her and she is taken to the hospital she finds her parents and her original life may have been reason enough for her memories to take a vacation.

Her parents are on the verge of a divorce, their finances are in trouble, and Sia is slowly realizing that she took her troubles at home out on many innocent students at her school. She takes her week long experience on the street and her friendship with Carol and starts to better herself. She gets involved in helping others, bettering herself, being compassionate to people around her, and even repairing her family's relationships and finances. But this is the new Sia? What happens when the old Sia, the cruel, snobby, socialite returns?

I did not hate this book. Wait, let me try that again. I semi-liked this book. Yes, that sounds a bit better. There were elements in the book that just did not seem plausible. If her home life was easy to repair then why could she not do it before? Things got resolved, actions were forgiven, and acceptance was given a little too easily for my liking. I would have like a little more resistance or a few more obsticles for Sia to overcome. Granted, losing her memory and having to relearn her life is a major obstacle, but, bettering herself shouldn't have been simply just come down to the decision of "I am not going to be mean anymore". Lots of people attempt to make that decision in their lives but there are always moments of backsliding. There are always times when positive thought is not the end-all and be-all of a situation. That is where this book lacked. The romance in the book seemed... unremarkable. It didn't resonate with me and I didn't feel anything for the couple. I think the story would have been better without it to be honest. That is hard for me to say because I love me some romance!

Sia is a psychological intrigue of how a girl overcomes the loss of her memory and creates a whole new better life for herself in its wake. Sia makes memories almost insignificant and determination the only thing that matters in how one lives their lives to the best they can.

Available at:
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: Burning Skies by Caris Roane @carisroane

Title: Burning Skies

Author: Caris Roane

Series: Guardians of Ascension #2

Publication date: April 26th, 2011

ISBN: 9780312533724

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
A vampire warrior in exile, Marcus Amargi resists the call to return to the ranks of the Guardians who fight the death vamp armies. Here on Mortal Earth, Marcus has another battle on his hands--the seductive lure of Havily Morgan. The woman meant for him. Whose blood he craves. The one who come to him in his dreams--and demands his surrender...

A beautiful immortal with extraordinary powers, Havily lives in the realm of Second Eath but, in her fantasies, yearns for her winged lover Marcus. Soon, their bond will be put to the ultimate test. When their bloodthirsty enemies set the night on fire with sky-blazing weapons, Marcus and Havily must unite body and soul, to unleash the full power of their passion--and fight fire with fire...

Burning Skies is another thrilling romance from Caris Roane, whom Romantic Times calls "a major new force in paranormal romance."

Review:
I purchased this book for the paranormal romance book club I am currently a member of. We decided we would read this series and ultimately have a group powwow about it afterwards with yummy food and warm conversation. I normally buy the book well in advance to make sure I get it read quickly, but for some reason I didn't get around to buying it until very close to the time of the book club meeting. I hope in my haste I didn't loose some of the book's appeal in the process.

Marcus was mentioned in the first book in the series Ascension. He was a deserter who had retired his warrior's sword and gone to live in Mortal Earth for two hundred years before he was called back to action to save and protect Alison. It was then that he first laid eyes on Havily. From the moment his eyes fell on her, he wanted her. He needed her and any male that came within spitting distance was a thorn in Marcus's side that he needed to pluck out and beat on a bit. After an encounter that left Marcus mad with the desire to make Havily his and a subsequent beat down by his Warrior brothers, he returned to Mortal Earth in hopes of forgetting the woman who called to his every instinct. Only he was not finished with Havily, he starts having strong sexual dreams about her where she comes to him, scantily clad, and attempts to seal the bond he left wide open when he left. Marcus enjoys the fantasies and the distance between the two of them, until Havily is in danger and he drops everything to run to her side. It is there where he realizes that fighting their connection is impossible. She is his, and he will have her.

Havily was a mouse of a vampire when first introduced. She had big plans for the future but no one to listen to her. That was until Alison came onto the scene and Havily became her Liason Officer. Havily soon starts enacting some of her plans for the administration of Second Earth, but it's Marcus who really enthralls her thoughts. She too has been having the fantasies in which she goes to him as if a moth to a flame. She fights it with every fiber of her being. He's a deserter. He abandoned his people. She wants nothing to do with someone so cowardly. Or so she tells herself. After she is attacked she realizes that she needs Marcus like she needs air. When he dashes to her side as if any other reaction would be unlike him, she starts to wonder if she had him figured all wrong. Maybe he wasn't a coward, maybe he was a good man. HER good man.

As with the first novel, I loved this book. There were a few things I didn't much care for such as the redundancy of some of the detail work in the writing. A lot of what is mentioned is basically going over what happened in the first book. These books are not books you should read out of order. They go hand-in-hand together, so the author repeating everything just got a little tedious. Some of Roane's favorite phrases used throughout the book were "Whatever" and "Oh, shit". They seemed to be the punctuation to a long thought process for her characters. They have an internal monologue and seal the thought with one of those two phrases. Not exactly horrible, but again, tedious.

Despite the redundancy from time to time, I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment in the Guardians of Ascension series. I loved that she went back and referenced a lot of the characters from the previous book. We get to watch Alison and Kerrick's romance a bit longer and that is always one of my favorite parts of an ongoing series. I also like that she tends to start leading up to the next book in the series by spurring the romance between two other characters in the middle of the main character's romance. It gives you a book and a half detailed story line for two characters.

Burning Skies is the whirlwind sequel to an already astounding series. The Guardians of Ascension series reads like an alternative dimension to J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood and is steadily becoming another must read series just like Ward's.

Available at:
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: Ascension by Caris Roane @carisroane

Title: Ascension

Author: Caris Roane

Series: Guardians of Ascension #1

Publication date: December 28th, 2010

ISBN: 9780312533717

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Vampire. Warrior. Legend. Lover.

Discover a secret, sensual world of winged vampire warriors and the women they crave--in an epic battle between unearthly longing and immortal love...

On the Wings of Desire
Alison Wells is no ordinary woman. Born with supernatural powers, she can never make love to a man without putting him in grave danger. But when her special vision reveals a glorious muscled man soaring overhead on mighty wings, she feels an overwhelming attraction she cannot resist--even as he tells her: "I have come for you. Your blood belongs to me."

In the Heat of Passion
Kerrick is a vampire and a warrior who has fought his hunger for a woman's love for the past two hundred years. As a Guardian of Ascension, he is sworn to protect Alison from the death vamp armies who crave her blood and her power. But Kerrick has cravings of his own--a forbidden longing to open his heart and veins to Alison. To share his blood... satisfy his thirst... and seal their fates forever.

Review:
Caris Roane is a new author for me. This book was selected by my book club last month and I never got around to reading it. How silly that decision was for me, because in light of my book club reading the sequel in this series, I had to read the first one and haven't regretted finally picking the book up for a second.

Alison is a therapist who has trouble engaging in relationships with men. She longs to fall in love and start a family but after her one experience with a man ended in him in the hospital she has given up on that dream. She is content to focus on her career, but even that is hard to do when her mind keeps straying to what she could have. She thinks maybe going back to graduate school will help her find more appeal in her life, but it is on the last day at her practice that her life changes forever. She is confronted with a black-winged beautiful man who is determined to drink her blood and harness powers Alison has been trying to ignore. A white-winged gorgeous man comes to her rescue and she can't help but feel an irresistible pull towards him. She feels like she's known him for centuries and yet this is the first time she has laid eyes on him. She wants to dive into his arms and stay there for as long as he will have her, but with her powers, how can she be sure she won't hurt him like the last man she was with?

Kerrick has experienced heartbreak. He has lost two wives and three children due to his occupation as a Warrior of Blood. He has made a vow that he will not take another wife or even form any sort of relationship with another woman outside of a causal bite and sexual encounter. That all changes when he meets Alison. All of a sudden his vow is growing harder and harder to keep. He wants her in a way he has never wanted any other woman, even his previous wives. He is determined to help her and then leave her. He can't risk her getting killed simply for being close to him. Not again.

Alison and Kerrick are destined for each other. They have a draw to each other that can't be ignored. If only they would embrace their connection instead of fighting it tooth and nail, they could possibly have the happily ever after they both have dreamed about all their lives.

Wow, just... wow. I read this 500-page monster in the matter of a few hours. I was completely engulfed in the world and I just couldn't stop the turning of pages to eat, sleep, or do any of the other mundane human necessities. The in depth world created by the author was much the same as The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward (one of my absolute FAVORITE paranormal romance series, by the way). I never pictured vampires with wings and to be honest, when seeing the cover, I thought it was another angel book (hence my hesitation to read it). The authors new race of vampires is great, even the death vamps is a nice ultra baddie.

To summarize, the writing was excellent, the characters were stellar, and the plot was absolutely remarkable.

Ascension is a vampire world in another dimension that is out of this world. The romance, the action, and the sheer volume of awesomeness makes this book a must read for any paranormal romance buff.

Available at:
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Kiss the Night Goodbye by Keri Arthur @NetGalley @kezarthur

Title: Kiss the Night Goodbye

Author: Keri Arthur

Series: Nikki & Michael #4

Publication date: October 29th, 2013

ISBN: 9780440246541

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
THE PRICE OF LOVE

Nikki James is just an ordinary, risk-taking, psychically inclined private eye until she hooks up with Michael Kelly. Now she is something more: one of the few, the chosen, the magic-wielding undercover operatives of the Damask Circle, an organization protecting humanity from a rising tide of evil. She wants nothing more than to pass the Circle's strict entry exams so she can get on with the business of planning her wedding to Michael. But she quickly realizes that buying a wedding dress is the least of her worries.

One hundred years ago, Michael Kelly hunted down and killed the sorcerer responsible for murdering his lover. Now the brother of that man is out for revenge, and he intends to destroy all that Michael holds dear in the process. When Michael is kidnapped, the trail leads Nikki to a dusty ghost town surrounded by potent magical barrier, leaving her to battle a madman alone with only her wits, strength, and the one psychic gift she cannot fully control. And to make matters even worse, Michael no longer seems to remember who she is.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am steadily on the track to read every book ever published by the esteemed Keri Arthur. I have read the Riley Jensen Guardian series, I have read the spin off Dark Angel series, and now, after reading this book, I will have completed her Nikki & Michael series. Only a few more series to go before I have completely read every work of literature this author has produced. That is how much I enjoy her writing and her story lines. That is how greatly Keri Arthur draws me into the worlds she creates. I was anxious to see what happens in the last book of the series. I wondering if Nikki & Michael would be able to slip off into marital bliss without any sort of paranormal big baddie coming after them and ruining their plans.

Nikki is well on her way to completing training with the Damask Circle. She is just one trial away from being able to accompany Michael on his missions as not just his partner but as his wife. Little did she know but a blast from Michael's past is not ready to let him be happy and content in his life for long. Nikki is devastated when Michael is kidnapped and forced into a magical ghost town in which he no longer remembers who she is or that he even loves her. In his mind, all he knows is that he is hunting down an enemy that took a deceased lover from him. He is out for revenge that has long since been sated. It is up to Nikki to infiltrate the magic riddled town and rescue it's inhabitants and the man she loves.

Michael awakens in a town he recognizes but the only emotions he feels is one of rage and hungry for blood, figuratively and literally. Michael is struggling with his vampire instincts and it seems the strange woman who seems to be irritatingly getting under his skin is the only one who understand what he is and yet does not fear him. Instead he feels a barrage of love, attraction, arousal, and trust radiating from her. He does not know the woman set along his path of destruction, but he knows she means more to him than she is suppose to.

This book was a little odd for me, as opposed to the other books in the series. Nikki goes undercover as another operative in order to rescue Michael and yet Michael still can't keep his hands off her despite her looking completely different. And him taking her as his lover almost feels like him cheating on Nikki even though he's not? It's just... weird. But it gave the story line a lot of depth. Getting to watch Michael fall in love with Nikki all over again was a rare treat. Usually characters fall in love and you just get to see the little milestones of a relationship. A reader doesn't get to experience them falling in love again without copious amounts of anguish in the process. I liked that Nikki didn't fall to pieces over Michael not remembering her. She was strong and determined. Got to love a strong female lead!

All in all, this book was a good ending to the series. Although, the way the book ended, it doesn't really SEEM like an end. I would expect another book if I wasn't sure there wasn't going to be another.

Kiss the Night Goodbye will make you fall in love with Nikki & Michael all over again just as the characters are.

Available at:
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